Madera wins Wine Spectator Award under the stewardship of Paul Mekis
“The cellar has grown a bit,” Madera restaurant director of wine Paul Mekis told us when we caught up with him recently after first profiling him in 2014. The reason for our return visit: Madera, located in the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park, received the Grand Award from Wine Spectator this year, one of just seven to win that accolade.
A 30-year veteran of the wine industry, Paul joined Madera when it opened in 2008 and has built a wine program that includes 2,500 selections along with 17,645 bottles in the cellar. “This is the award you watch,” he said. “It means a lot to me to receive such a distinction.”
Paul reflected a bit on his time at Madera: “When you first start a cellar, it’s hard just to get allocations. But over the years, I’ve added more depth, older wines and more verticals. We now offer 55 wines by the glass.”
Paul acknowledged the business clientele that dines at Madera drives the high end/high cost bottles, although the scene slows down on the weekend with locals coming in, sometime, ironically bringing a bottle of wine from home. [The corkage fee at Madera is $50.]
While the Madera cellar boasts wines from around the world, Paul has some local favorites. “For Cabernets, it’s right here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wines from Ridge and others have great Bordeaux style flavors.
“For Pinot Noir, I like the lower acidic wines from Sonoma and the Santa Rita Hills. And for Chardonnay, again Santa Rita along with Santa Maria.”
Paul wanted to make sure we mentioned Madera’s Michelin Star. “A lot of times a new hotel is overlooked. But we’ve been serious about what we do from the start,” he said.
One thing that hasn’t changed about the cellar is where the red wines are kept: They’re still stored in brown cardboard boxes, all the better, said Paul, to “hold the wine more snugly and provide more stability if there’s an earthquake.”
Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2014