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“More items does not always mean a better wine list” Sabas Joosten of De Librije, Best Short Wine List in Europe 2018

By Alex Hunt MW |  November 29 2020

Offering a first-class dining experience in a first-class hotel (previously the setting of a prison) in the town of Zwolle in the Netherlands, De Librije at Librije’s Hotel is a destination for Dutch and international food lovers.

They come for Jonnie Boer’s food, which he describes as “idiosyncratic,” featuring delights such as foie gras, brown crab and red cabbage; and veal sweetbread with pineapple and peanut sauce. Guests are invited to choose from a variety of color-coded ingredient combinations from which the team creates a menu of five, six, or seven dishes. Boer’s passion extends to a commitment to fighting food waste, having highlighted the issue at the September 2018 biennial CHEFS®EVOLUTION festival, serving burgers and hotdogs made with meat that would otherwise have been discarded.

The World of Fine Wine spoke to Sabas Joosten, Sommelier at De Librije, after the restaurant’s win.

Congratulations on being featured in the World of Fine Wine Awards 2018. What does it mean to you to win Best Short Wine List in Europe?
This is an amazing honor for us. We work hard to keep our wine list focused and relevant and this award is a great compliment on our work.

How did you and the team celebrate?
Our sommelier went to the awards ceremony in London and celebrated the occasion with 2009 Cristal by Louis Roederer and a glass of the amazing 2012 Barbaresco Pajè by Luca Roagna.

Describe your wine list
As mentioned before, we aim to keep our wine list focused and relevant. More items does not always mean a better wine list. Looking at the style of our restaurant we believe we do have to offer well-known classics yet there is plenty of room for lesser-known regions, grapes, styles and producers.

What inspires your wine list?
We strive for the perfect balance between what is demanded by our guests and what we believe are inspirational wines.

Have you noticed any trends in the wine or the restaurant scene?
We experience more interest for wines in general, as well as interest for lesser-known styles such as orange and amphora wines. And the use of Coravin to offer a more interesting by-the-glass selection took a real flight in recent years.

What wine regions or producers have inspired you recently?
Our sommelier team is truly fascinated by the diversity and authenticity of the wines of Jerez. A few recent trips to the region and mind-boggling wine pairing lunches at restaurant Aponiente have further developed this fascination. Also a visit to the house of Bartolo Mascarello in Barolo was a true inspiration.

What would you say to encourage others to enter the World’s Best Wine Lists
The well-respected jury and publication are the most important reasons to take part.

Judge Andreas Larsson praised the depth that De Librije’s list achieves given its length. Is the size a conscious one and if so how do tackle the challenge?
We strongly believe that a longer list does not necessarily mean a better list. We try to divide our references between producers, regions and style to offer a variety of options.

How is the restaurant influenced by Librije’s as a hotel and vice versa?
We are a restaurant with 19 hotel rooms: all focus lies on the restaurant experience with the hotel in a supporting role.

Favorite dish on the menu?
Monkfish with an Indian cress-based green curry.

Go-to wine or drink to relax after work?
Wine: 2016 Riesling Trocken by Schäfer-Fröhlich, or beer: saison by Dupont.

Top tip for a local drinking spot?
Het Wijnhuis or Café In de Buurt, Zwolle.

Cork or screw cap?
Depending on the content of the bottle, the purpose of the wine and the occasion.

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