Mark Mendoza is one of the most knowledgeable sommeliers around town. Earlier in his career, he worked at Farallon in San Francisco and at Seeger's in Atlanta. Now, after eight years as wine director for the David Myers group, which included the now-shuttered Sona and its million-dollar wine cellar, Mendoza has joined Rivera as sommelier. The list here is focused on wines from Latin countries -- Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, southern Uruguay, Mexico. "We have a fair amount of sherries and Madeira too," says Mendoza.
What's your favorite wine region to visit? And do you have any secret spots there?
Probably, it was Alsace. I had a really great time visiting Domaine Weinbach and talking to Olivier Humbrecht at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht for hours. The varietals there are just so food friendly, especially Riesling and Pinot Gris. Not to mention that Alsace is really beautiful and has really great food. We didn't do any Michelin-starred restaurants, but ate lots of charcuterie, tarte flambé and regional food, which is all pretty fantastic.
What's the sleeper on your list?
I'd say the 2011 Bodegas Avanthia Godello from Valdorreas region of Spain. It's bright and crispy and fresh, but because it has a little bit of oak, it has a bit more richness. I'd suggest it to a guest who liked Chardonnay or white Burgundy.
If you could encourage every customer to buy just one bottle, what would it be?