Chandler's Crabhouse is a northwest favorite for great seafood since 1988. They have been one of my favorite places in Seattle for extraordinarily tasty crab cakes and they make an incredible whiskey crab sou as well. Their wine list has achieved serious acclaim, as they have achieved the award of excellence from Wine Spectator every year since 2008 (wine list: http://www.schwartzbros.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/CCH-wine-list-8.21.2015.pdf). Wine Director, Victoria Antilla has created a Northwest-centric list that has great produces such as Long Shadows, L'Ecole No. 41 and Alexandria Nicole. The pricing is also very reasonable. Great wine by the glass options include the 2014 Alexandria Nicole 'Crawford Vineyard' Viognier ($14.00) or the 2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Chardonnay ($12.00), as well as the 2009 Five Star Cellars Cabernet ($16.00) and the 2010 Hedges Red Blend ($13.00). On the bottle list relative bargains include the 2012 Sbragia 'Home Ranch' Chardonnay ($65.00) as well as the 2013 Long Shadows Poet's Leap ($50.00) and the 2012 McCrea Cellars ‘Ciel du Cheval Vineyard’ Viognier ($64.00). On the red side there are good values aplenty with the 2009 Five Star Cellars Cabernet ($64.00), the 2012 King Estate Pinot Noir ($68.00) or for a splurge try the 2013 Long Shadows ‘Saggi’ ($105.00), one of the best Super Tuscan Washington Blends out there.
Chandler’s happy hour is also one of the best in Seattle, serving up some fantastic calamari and ceviche. As part of our somm series, I recently had the chance to sit down with Chandler's Crabhouse Wine Director, Victoria Antilla. Vitoria has a management background but fell in love with wine and wanted to become a wine director. She is a fan of the big Washington producers but has a soft spot for French wines as well!
Check out their menu and great wine list at http://www.schwartzbros.com/chandlers-crabhouse/ #chandlerscrabhouse
WWB: What made you want to decide to become a sommelier?
VA: Wine brings many of subjects I find most interesting together. History, Geology, Sociology, Chemistry, Botany and more. Working as a server and bartender exposed me to wine and how much the right wine added to a mealMy first bottle of exceptional wine, 1986 Vieux Telegraph, Chateau Neuf de Pape turned my interest into a passion.
WWB: What were some of your first jobs in wine like?
VA: My path to wine on a personal level has been intentional, professionally has been much a matter of 'right place right time'. I had resisted going into restaurant management with the intent to go back to school to pursue a degree in brain science, however a wrist injury sidelined my ability to work the floor for several months. During that time I worked as a manager for Chandler's Crabhouse and discovered and aptitude for it. The job was made doubly appealing as there was a vacuum of wine knowledge on the management staff and I given the role of store wine director. During that time I was able to take advantage of educational opportunities and attend trade events giving me much needed exposure to wines from around the world
WWB: How did you decide to come to Chandler's Crabhouse?
VA: Schwartz Brothers is a great company to work for, in addition to offering benefits to all full time employees, they also promote from within whenever possible.
WWB: Can you talk about the obstacles in gaining your somm certification and what the process was like for you?
VA: My role as Wine Director for Schwartz Brothers in combination with my role as General Manager leaves little study time. On a positive side, I have the privilege of being exposed to some of the best wine and wine professionals in the world.
WWB: Chandlers has an incredibly impressive wine list, one that's particularly strong with selections from Washington, Oregon and California. What were some of the goals in crafting this exceptional wine list?
VA: The list at Chandler's is so much fun to work with as the clientele is composed largely of tourists from all over the world. Most of our out of town guest are looking to be introduced to Washington wine, while many of our world travelers enjoy something more familiar to them. Most of our wine sales at Chandler's fall in the $50-$80 price range, I love the challenge of finding the best offering from each region that will pair best with the phenomenal seafood served there.
WWB: Any chances to strengthen the list with more Washington producers? Who are some of your favorite producers of Washington wine?
VA: Inventory space is limited, so usually if we add a producer, it means we have selected one to go. The in house inventory is over 65% percent Washington wine. Much of the high end Bordeaux and CA wine is cellared at our sister restaurant Daniel's just across the parking lot. Of course we continue to evolve the list, and as we are exposed to more great new up and coming Washington wineries, some will make to the list. Current personal WA wineries are Avennia, Gramercy Cellars, Chateau Rollat and Reynvaan Family Vineyards. But ask me again next week