That Wine Lyfe: Taylor Parsons of République, LA

America's sommeliers have access to some of the best wines in the world. But what are they drinking off duty? Welcome to "That Wine Lyfe," the drink diary of wine pros.

taylor parsons wine director republique los angeles

After a long night on the floor at one of Los Angeles’s buzziest and busiest new restaurants, République, Wine Director and Chef Sommelier Taylor Parsons retreats to the comfort of home. And his fridge. Anything chilled and at hand—champagne, chablis, rosé, fino sherry, ice-cold beer—is what goes in his glass. Luckily, his fridge is well-stocked.

Parsons has worked at some of LA’s finest and most high-profile restaurants before landing at République. Places like Spago, Mozza and Campanile, where a suit and tie are as de rigueur as the demanding guests and flow of industry professionals. But behind the jacket and confident, focused service is a guy who majored in Africana Studies at Brown, lived in Madrid for a spell playing jazz piano and got his start in wine as a buyer for a hippie grocery store in Lake Tahoe.

Clearly a man of many talents, Parsons is also a creature of habit. If you are trying to locate him on a Sunday, his one day off, you will find him at the farmers’ market. His weekend ritual always involves fresh California produce, a bottle of wine, a simple cheese plate, his fiancé and a home-cooked meal (he makes a mean roast chicken). On his dinner table at the moment, and on his wine list—which changes daily—are the white wines of Alsace and all things chenin blanc. He admits to deep love affair with the Loire Valley, which he finds “multi-faceted and captivating.”

Parsons is clearly one for the classics. Here are a handful of wines he’s enjoyed in the last week, all under $75, all worthy of your next Sunday supper. Now if we could only get him to play a little piano for us…

Domaine de Reuilly Rosé of Pinot Gris 2013 | $20
“​It was stinky hot today. Like depths-of-desert-summer hot. And with temps a good notch above 100 degrees, I want one of two things: a very cold lager or a wine that doesn’t require (much) thought or reverence. ‘Much’ is the key word here; you can gulp this down like sangria at a pool party if that’s your style, or stare at this beautiful coral liquid in your glass, and ruminate on its lifted, blood-orange tang. Deeeelish.”

Pierre Morey Aligoté 2011 | $20
​”This is a standard house wine for me. If you came over on any given day, there is a 93.7% chance of a cold bottle in my fridge. Pierre and his daughter Anne make some of my very favorite ‘serious’ white burgs, but the charm and versatility of this wine really never gets old. In any vintage.”

Monteraponi Chianti Classico 2011 | $25
“Chianti is a terribly misunderstood wine, even by wine people. Hell, sangiovese itself seems all but forgotten by my generation in the face of new and ever-more-esoteric stuff from all corners of the globe. I remain unapologetic, however, in my love of the wines grown in the hills between Florence and Siena. And for my money, Michele Braganti is making some of the best around. This is a long way from the watered-down-wicker-wrapped stuff of the ’60s, and light-years beyond the inky, overwrought crap we’ve seen more recently. This is pretty Chianti, which is no mean feat in a sweltering year like ’11. Great stuff.”

Sylvain Pataille Marsannay ‘Les Longeroies’ 2011 | $45
“I am totally captivated by Sylvain Pataille. His wines can be uneven at times, maybe a little rough around the edges, but the same holds true of Ornette Coleman’s records. Like Ornette’s playing, Pataille’s output is imbued with extraordinary energy and vitality. And this wine is just plain wonderful, even from a (wrongly) panned vintage. Supreme freshness. Juicy. Delicate. It’s the kind of burgundy more people should be drinking. We’ve been pouring this by the glass for the past few weeks—a rarely long engagement for us—but I just can’t seem to bring myself to pull it off.”

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