Tim Parkhouse, Sommelier, Ritz Carlton, California
Tim Parkhouse
Sommelier, Ritz Carlton, California, USA

NAME: Tim Parkhouse

POSITION: Sommelier, Ritz Carlton, California, USA


FAVOURITE MOMENT: 2001 Gaja Barbaresco

BEST VARIETAL/REGION: Torrontes from Salta and the Bordeaux region




MEMBERS' TIP-OFF: 2009 Argyros, Assyrtiko, from Santorini

Tim Parkhouse describes himself as a father, musician, keen cook and surfer by day and a server/sommelier at the Ritz Carlton in Eno,California, by night. This man of many parts recalls that the last wine he opened with his Code38 was a 375 ml. bottle of 2009 Seghesio Zinfandel. “I would love to tell you that it was something crazy but it wasn’t.” So much for that then. On the other hand, one wine which did truly excite him, opened too by “the Code”, was a 1990 Margaux. “It was the first Bordeaux first growth that I got to use the Code on and you never know what you are going to get with 20+ year old corks. That unpredictability and the price of the wine involved definitely got the blood flowing. Needless to say that the Code got the cork out intact, in one shot.”

What Tim is currently loving is the Torrontes variety, especially from Salta – a fragrant white Argentinian – and the Bordeaux region. Although he is quick to state that what he really loves is “all quality wine with a real sense of what it is and where it is from.” He reckons that to nominate a white and a favourite red is, however, impossible. “I know this seems like a real cop out, but it really depends on the situation or what I’m eating…I like the analogy of wine being like my surfboard collection. I have six great boards and they all work well in different conditions…”

He does have a particularly potent wine memory. It was his first taste of a 2001 Gaja Barbaresco. “It definitely exceeded the hype”, Tim tells me. “I had heard so much and really didn’t want to believe the hype. It had me on my knees!”

Then I ask Tim which wine he might recommend to other Code38 members – and it turns out it’s extremely hard to track down! It is the 2009 Argyros, Assyrtiko, from Santorini. And according to Tim it is “really interesting. It is like Chablis on steroids. It is citrus driven with a mineral core and has a searing acidity akin to that of a Rheingau Riesling, even though it is grown just off the coast of north Africa. Assyrtiko is a very thick-skinned grape variety to protect against the sun’s relentless rays. It comes from low yielding old vines trained in a basket formation to protect against the fierce wind on Santorini’s volcanic slopes.” Tim claims it marries superbly with deep fried calamari and a squeeze of lemon to echo the acid levels and varietal character. ” I have only had success online”, he says of his attempts at sourcing it. “It is worth the hunt.”

Finally, what he loves most about his Code38 is – everything! “They are simple, stylish, strong, efficient, and a left-handed version is available, which is awesome for us lefties. Jeff is also a great guy to deal with and really cares about what he is doing. He puts everything together by hand and offers a lifetime guarantee. No one else in the industry can touch those credentials. I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but it had to be said.”

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