Blake Leja – Sommelier, Prosecco restaurant, Chicago, USA
Blake Leja
Sommelier, Prosecco restaurant, Chicago, USA

NAME: Blake Leja

POSITION: Sommelier, Prosecco restaurant, Chicago, USA

MOST MEMORABLE WINE: 1996 Ridge Monte Bello


BEST VARIETAL/REGION: Cornas (Northern Rhone) and Gevery-Chamertin (Burgundy)




MEMBERS' TIP-OFF: 2007 Jacques Puffeny Cuvee Sacha

Sommelier at Chicago’s Prosecco restaurant, Blake tells me that for him wine is a way of life. His ‘epiphany moment’ was when he was sitting with his father and he opened a half bottle of 1996 Ridge Monte Bello. “I knew then”, he says, “how incredible wine was.”

A 2007 Chateau de PEZ was the last wine Blake opened with his Code38, which he think is “incredibly easy to use with one hand; the worm is a touch longer, and you don’t need to break it in – it is usable out of the box.”

The most exciting wine Blake has opened with his Code38 was a 1993 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape. Here is a man with tastes positively francophiliac; he says that the wines he is loving at the moment are those from Jacques Puffeny Cuvee Sacha (Jura), and that his favourite regions are Cornas (Northern Rhone) and Gevery-Chambertin (Burgundy).

He’ll drink any white made by Jean Philippe Fichet and any Clape Cornas red. (US wine writer Christopher Pratt after drinking a Clape Cornas wine wrote “the best wines in the world defy description; the only word that comes to mind in that situation (to me) is INEFFABLE… I stopped thinking, and a few minutes later I came to again…”)

Given Blake’s leanings, it is little surprise then, that he nominates a 2007 Jacques Puffeny Cuvee Sacha as a recommendation to fellow Code38 members. “It is made in an oxidative style, much like sherry. Almond notes, oxidised apples, bruised pear come through on the nose.” He claims that it “pairs incredibly” with butter-poached lobster, and can be sourced online – unless you happen to be in Chicago where Elston Avenue’s Wine Discount Center sells it.

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