Interview with Portland Rising Star Sommelier Jack Hott of Castagna - Portland, OR

November 2011

Francoise Villeneuve: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Jack Hott: In many ways by accident. I’ve been working here for almost 22 years; I started as a busser, and I'm often referred to as the utility server. When Kevin Gibson left, they needed someone to take over the wine program. As a waiter, I had done a lot of stuff, so it fit.

FV: Describe your fondest wine memory?
JH: You know it's hard to think of a specific one. I guess my fondest wine memory is actually my favorite pairing.

FV: Tell me about a perfect wine and food match
JH: Elias Cairo made this chorizo, and we were doing a wine pairing so I tried this Diventura Canero. We put them together, and the dish was as good as the wine.

FV: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
JH: I have different philosophies for different situations. When I'm working with regional cuisine, I go with the cliché that "if it grows together it goes together."

FV: What regions are you interested in at the moment?
JH: I've been collecting some Cru Beaujolais. I've been told they age very well. It refers to how it becomes Pinot Noir-like when it ages. I've been putting it away. I'm also aging Champagne because you don't get punished for opening it early; you get rewarded.

FV: What wine trends are you seeing in your city?
JH: I think a lot of people are starting to realize that aromatic white wines are really viable wines in Oregon. I'm seeing more and more Riesling and single vineyard Riesling and using it as a base to blend. It excites me because it gives Oregon a very fruit friendly wine.