While most of us were sweating our drivers’ tests, 16-year-old Sebastien Long was apprenticing with a winemaker and learning the ins and outs of wine sales. Hailing from a long line of industry folks in France’s Bordeaux and Rhône regions, Long now works with Maison de Grand Esprit, a French label aiming to win over younger drinkers with splashy packaging and gentle pricing. (The line’s stellar Crémant L’être Magique retails from $28.)
We caught up with Long on his recent visit to NYC to hear what wine feels like home, where he watches soccer in France, and what he would drink if there were no more wine.
1. What’s the bottle that made you fall in love with wine?
A 1999 Syrah from my family winery, Domaine Fond Croze. Growing up on the family vineyards, there was always wine around. In 2001, for Christmas, we had as always our family dinner at my uncle’s place, and he opened a few great wines. I remember this Syrah was just wonderful, full of dark fruit, cherry, and black olive. It was still very young and full of potential. It was even more special when I realized that I had picked the grapes with them that year.
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2. FMK three varieties: Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
F: Cabernet. It’s like a first date; either full of surprises and excitement, or disappointing.
M: Pinot Noir is like a life partner. You discover and love each other a bit more every day.
K: Chardonnay — very oaky Chardonnay. This is the type of wine, or “oak juice,” as I call it, that has lost its identity.
3. You’re on death row. What’s your last-supper wine?
Domaine Romanée Conti La Tache 2005. I love Pinot Noir, and DRC is one of the best wineries in the world.
4. You can only drink one wine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Syrah. It always makes me feel like I’m at home.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What is it?
The Golden Eagle in Marseille to watch my soccer team, Olympique de Marseille!
6. What’s the best and worst wine on your rack (or in your fridge) right now?
The best will have to be either Opus One 2002 or a magnum of Penfolds RWT ’09. The first one reminds me of the great time I had in Sonoma, during the 2005 vintage, and the other one makes me think about the Barossa Valley, in Australia, where I lived the past five years.
The 1997 vintage was just terrible in the southern Rhône, I never had the courage to open that bottle of Côtes du Rhône from the local cave cooperative, Coste Rousse.
7. If you could no longer drink wine, what would be your beverage of choice?
Craft beer. I find a lot of similarities with wine. Each country or region has a different profile.