{"api":{"host":"https:\/\/pinot.decanter.com","authorization":"Bearer MDFhNWM0ZjIyMDhmOWU1ZDY5ZDQyYTY0ZDY5NmFmMzBhNjZiOTlhNzhjNmZkMGNjZmUzNjY0OGQyOTk3ZDhhZQ","version":"2.0"},"piano":{"sandbox":"false","aid":"6qv8OniKQO","rid":"RJXC8OC","offerId":"OFPHMJWYB8UK","offerTemplateId":"OFPHMJWYB8UK","wcTemplateId":"OTOW5EUWVZ4B"}}

My Franciacorta – with Zachary Kameron

Promotional feature

In a series of interviews with some of the world's most talented sommeliers, we discover their personal and professional journeys into Franciacorta and the role the wines play in their lists.

Zachary Kameron

Corporate Beverage Director
RHC Hospitality (including Peak Restaurant and Bar)
New York

Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do and how you got here.
I am the corporate beverage director of RHC, a group that manages restaurants, one night club and a number of caterers in and around New York City. My base of operations is at Peak Restaurant, on the 101st floor of Hudson Yards, which has a wine programme with more than 2000 references. I began my journey in restaurants when I was only 13 but it wasn’t until after college that I really got into wine, first as a cellar hand helping out a sommelier friend at Morello, a small bistro in Greenwich (Connecticut), where I eventually became a sommelier myself.
I then moved to New York and joined A Voce Columbus – then the leading Italian restaurant in NY – as a junior sommelier; I rose through the ranks and in 2012 became the head sommelier (this was the year the restaurant won the Grand Award from the Wine Spectator). It was at A Voce that I consolidated my background in Italian wines, a connection that only deepened through multiple trips to Italy. After leaving A Voce, I joined a leading importer, a position that again allowed me to travel extensively. I came back to the restaurant side of hospitality in 2019 to open Peak, a truly iconic project.

What was your first experience with the wines of Franciacorta?
When I started working at Morello, Italian sparkling was really coming to the forefront. The premiumisation of the category meant that people were increasingly willing to explore; progressing up the quality pyramid, one is naturally led to the wines of Franciacorta. This was in 2009, and suddenly we were being exposed to these wines of incredible quality. A huge effort to educate people about the character and quality of Franciacorta followed. The wines were always outstanding, so I was determined to introduce them to a larger audience. When I was at A Voce for example, we didn’t have Champagne by the glass; we only had Franciacorta [as a traditional method sparkling by the glass]. This in turn made people curious and started very interesting conversations.

You have been passionate about the wines of Franciacorta for a long time. How have you seen the evolution of the region and the wines? 
I wouldn’t say there’s been a drastic evolution – the quality and character were always there. But producers have fine-tuned production and I see more consistency across the board. I also think producers are more comfortable with their position on the market and therefore more confident about showcasing the more unique styles and exclusive wines that they create. When I started it wouldn’t be realistic to have a $200 bottle of Franciacorta on the list. Well, last week I sold a $300! The market is there. So I would say the wines haven’t necessarily evolved but the producers have become more open and daring, really pushing the limits of what they can do.

How is Franciacorta showcased at Peak? As a Head Sommelier how do you position it? 
We have an extensive sparkling selection, with over 300 wines. We feature between eight and ten by the glass at any given time. Franciacorta is always part of this selection as one of the greats of sparkling wine. I offer it as wine for those seeking a traditional method sparkling wine that does have texture as well as freshness, body as well as fruit. We also pair it with a couple of dishes in our lunch pre fixe. Above all we represent it as a style, a benchmark of quality with a strong sense of place. This is what ultimately drives my entire list; I am driven by quality.

You mentioned food pairings. So how and with what can you pair Franciacorta wines? 
We work with sparkling wine not just as a celebratory toast but as the ideal companion to start the dining experience. I really enjoy playing with the texture of Franciacorta, especially that of wines with extended lees contact. That makes it really fun to play with food; because you still have minerality and freshness but you bring in all this added texture to the palate. This in turn works really well with dishes that have a strong textural component of their own. But there’s such versatility. A Franciacorta goes just as well with oysters and caviar as it does with arancini, tempura vegetables, cream based soups or fish crudos. Over the winter we were pairing it with a potato and leek soup, served with a single square of lardo; which would be liquified by the warm soup. The Franciacorta’s acidity and unctuousness would cut through the fat of the lardo while also playing on the herbal components of the soup. Another favourite of mine was a rainbow trout we served with row and dill & horseradish cream – outstanding with a glass of Franciacorta.
The rosés also offer incredible possibilities. We poured a Brut rosé with lamb chops and it was simply divine. Again, we had a wine that had structure and body to keep up with the dish without overwhelming the delicate flavour of the meat. Plus it was so fun and unexpected. You bring a rosé fizz to the table along with a red meat dish and people are surprised. ‘Oh I don’t think you got the wine pairing right…’. Oh, I definitely did!

If you had to pick one style of Franciacorta as a personal favourite, which one would you choose? 
I tend to like traditional method sparkling wines that are very bready and yeasty, especially because I tend to enjoy them with food. So I would probably lean towards a Riserva. And I do believe that wines with extended lees contact represent Franciacorta particularly well from an historical standpoint – it is a natural progression of a wine that offers quality at all levels. It also showcases Franciacorta’s textural appeal particularly well.

Discover more about Franciacorta

Connect on
Facebook  |   Instagram
  |   Twitter  |   YouTube

Latest Wine News