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Q & A

San Leandro, CA



Photographs courtesy of Selection Massale

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Q & A with Cory Cartwright & Guilhaume Gerard

Q. For people who have not been introduced to Selection Massale, can we get a brief description of the work you do and how it came about?

A. Guilhaume: We import and sell wines online, the kind of wines we drink. We also sell some to the restaurants we like to eat at, the bars we like to drink at, and the shops we like to shop at in California and New York.

Cory: Guilhaume and I met at Terroir in San Francisco when he was bartending. I would go in and slowly drink at least some of every wine on the list, and we’d bullshit back and forth, or argue or whatever. We’re the type of people who would text each other at two in the morning to talk about this wine or that wine.

Guilhaume in Pupillin | Cory tasting with Franz Saumon

Photographs courtesy of Selection Massale

Q. You both have worked in the wine industry prior to working together. What made you decide to create Selection Massale? How are you hoping to make a difference?

A. Guilhaume: The big idea was to bring wines to a price as close as possible to the French retail price. I was one of the owners of Terroir in San Francisco, and it was difficult to see the price difference between France and the States. I thought it wasn't fair to the consumer to be paying so much for simple wines. So we decided to do it all ourselves. Warehouse, import, retail, distribution, and never try to grow too big, so we could handle every wine, every producer as professionally as they deserved.

Cory: We were a little freaked out when we first went to France for the first time. Some other importers had laughed and told us there was nothing left and everything good had been picked over. So while we were in the Loire freezing our asses off in February we found Jerome Lenoir and Frantz Saumon in the same day. That felt good, finding two outstanding producers working honestly who needed importers.

Q. In the spirit of passing it forward, who should we interview in the wine industry next and why?

Bill Brasile from Minetta Tavern

Guilhaume: Because these days, with the sommeliers being the new “rockstars,” we are missing the link between food and wine, and to me, a chef that loves wine, truly, that's someone that needs to be exposed more.

Kris Yenbamroong at Night Market

Guilhaume: In the same spirit, he’s a very talented chef in L.A, who makes some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had, and a true wine lover again.

Anthony Wilson

Cory: He’s a guitarist, so nothing to do with the wine/restaurant world, but he’s one of the most passionate people about food and wine I know. We like people who drink and eat for pleasure. Not to be seen or take precious pictures at hard-to-get-in restaurants, but people who are truly passionate about eating.


Wine Importers’ Recs | Wine

Didier Barrouillet of Clos Roche Blanche | Vineyards at Clos Roche Blanche

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

Find | Wine

Wines You Keep At Home | Clos Roche Blanche

Guilhaume: Always Clos Roche Blanche -- the rose, the Cot and the Cabernets. Then mostly white wines we import, and some bubbles from Belluard.

Chris Brockway | The Vineywards at La Clarine Farm

Photographs courtesy of Broc Cellars | La Clarine Farm

Undiscovered Gems | Chris Brockway & Hank Beckmeyer

Cory: I have nothing but respect in the states for these two guys. People have accused Guilhaume and me of snobbery in the past (and probably present, and most likely future) for having a low opinion of American wines, but truthfully, most wine is not that great everywhere, and you need to find producers you like first, not countries.

Wine Regions

Guilhaume: Jura, Savoie, Haute Savoie, Languedoc/Roussilon.

Cory: Seriously, it’s not about regions, it’s about producers. I’m sick of people saying things like ‘the ____ is the next Jura.’  If you stick to producers,  you’re going to find good wines. If you try and make a wine list around a specific region, you’re going to end up reaching for some mediocre wine.


Guilhaume: I like my wine not to be too manipulated and I have to say that sherry just doesn't do it for me. I know the same people that were all about natural wines three years ago are now the biggest sherry fans, but to me, it makes no sense whatsoever. I really have a hard time with wine lists carrying mostly natural wines and showcasing that industrial plonk, because it's the new trend. So, no, I won’t recommend you La Bota and act like it’s the coolest shit that ever happened to wine, it simply isn’t.

[See details.]


Wine Importers’ Recs | San Francisco & Oakland

Bi-Rite | Terroir

Photographs courtesy of Bi-Rite | Photo Credit: BitBoy [flickr]

Find | Wine Stores


Guilhaume: His selection is always very exciting for a small one.


Guilhaume: The selection is big. I used to buy for them, so I know of a few bottles in there that not everyone has access to, so it kind of makes it special, for me at least. Truth is, to me at least, wine is about the producer, not the merchant. I would purchase a great bottle from the worst idiot in the world and have no issue with it.

[See details.]

Paul Marcus

Cory: I’m over in the East Bay and I tend to go to Paul Marcus pretty much exclusively. They have a bunch of people doing the buying, so you get a lot of diversity in wine and you’ll never walk out without something.

[See details.]


Find | Online Wine Resources

Guilhaume: Most wine I buy, I drink within a couple hours, except for a little cellar in France and the wines we put aside for ourselves at the warehouse, so no I do not buy wine online.

As far as online resources, I used to read blogs a lot more than I do now, the likes of Wine Terroirs, Glougueule, Olif, etc., but these days, I have other ways of finding my information about producers... I just visit them all.

Cory: I’ve always dug Lyle Fass’ site, Rockss and Fruit. I like Lyle, and he’s a rare person whose taste is wholly his own, and it really shows through.

[See details.]

Wine Importers’ Recs | Wine

Wine Imported By Jose Pastor Selections

Photograph courtesy of Jose Pastor Selections

Find | Wine Importers

Jose Pastor

Guilhaume: Jose Pastor is the man, in my opinion. Of course, he's a real friend so I'm biased, but I think the way he's done it is very impressive.

Neal Rosenthal

Guilhaume: I like Neal Rosenthal's book, because I think his back label still means something. There's a real stamp of quality in all of his wines, natural or not.

Charles Neal

Cory: I like his portfolio, especially his spirits, and seriously, he’s a guy who wrote a 700 page book about Calvados. It’s real passion to do something like that and the wine world needs a few people like him.

[See details.]


Eat | Restaurants

Tacos at Taqueria Vallarta | Tacos at Sinaloa

Photo Credit: OctopusHat [flickr] | goodiesfirst [flickr]

Where To Take A Visiting Wine Producer

Taqueria Vallarta

Guilhaume: For Lengua with red salsa and Al Pastor with green salsa. The best tacos in San Francisco, all “al vapor.”

[See details.]

Taqueria Sinaloa

Cory: Just because Guilhaume knows the tacos are better in Oakland.

Guilhaume: And yes, the tacos are better in Oakland. Being in NYC now, tacos are the one thing I miss the most, food wise.

Bakesale Betty’s

Cory: For fried chicken sandwiches.

[See details.]

Pasta with Shaved Cured Tuna Heart at La Ciccia | Pho at Turtle Tower

Photo Credit: Charles Haynes [flickr] | Gary Soup [flickr]

Favorite San Francisco Restaurants

La Ciccia

Guilhaume: It’s my home away from home. One the best restaurant experiences in the States. They do a linguine pasta with shaved cured tuna heart that I would eat on my death bed if I could. Also the Calamari dish, Sardines, and about everything else on the menu. Amazing list, with a real focus on Sardegna. And Lorella and Massimo are the sweetest people in the world, period

Mission Chinese Food

Guilhaume: I know it's very trendy, but they deserve it. Anthony was making the best burgers next door (in some Asian supermarket) before taking over the parents restaurant, and I think what they've done there is truly amazing. Chicken wings, smoked eel, pork jowl, chicken rice. It's hard to go wrong there.

Turtle Tower

Guilhaume: A little Pho place that's better than everything I've ever had in the States, Start with the fried rolls and get a Pho Ga (chicken soup). It's the real deal.


Cory: I’m always disappointed when I go to a restaurant and the bread is shitty.  It’s such a crucial ingredient and so many people just don’t give a shit what they serve to people. So Outerlands does all their bread and it’s amazing. It sort of starts there for the restaurant and everything has that sort of simple honesty to it.

[See details.]

Poached then Seared Duck at Commis | Greens at Camino

Photo Credit: arnold | inuyaki [flickr] | Photograph Courtesy of Camino

Camino & Commis

Cory: Two of my favorite spots, doing very different cooking. Russ at Camino is doing this very hearty pastoral thing, and James over at Commis is doing this very focused, precise, personal style. I love both.

[See details.]

Foreign Cinema | The Last Bottle Board at RN74

Photographs Courtesy of Foreign Cinema | RN74

Restaurants For The Wine List

Foreign Cinema

Guilhaume: Because they always have some older wines on the list, and I think it's the sign of a smart wine program, even if sometimes it's a mediocre burgundy, they are mostly well priced, and it's fun to see something else than the same muscadet, the same arbois and the same fucking bourgueil and be like ‘wow, that's a great natural wine list!’ Natural wines are cool, but people have been making the same wine list all over the world and it gets a little tiring in my opinion, I like more adventurous ones I guess. Food is nothing special though.

La Ciccia

Guilhaume: The list has a real focus, and I like that a lot, even if I'm not a big Italian wine lover.


Guilhaume: They serve Saint Geron water, I really like that. I used to go to the bar and drink a bottle of water and look at their big wine list. They also used to have that pinot blanc from Fourrier that's alright.

Monk's Kettle

Guilhaume: Because my boy Jeff was doing the list, and that seeing a good wine list in a beer bar is quite unusual.

[See details.]


Drink | Wine Bars


Photo Credit: BitBoy [flickr]

Terroir & The Punchdown

Guilhaume and Cory: Where we spend most of our time drinking in the Bay. They can get loud, and they have great by the glass pours and some older stuff, and if you’re nice enough, they’ll let you buy some stuff that isn’t even on the list.

[See details.]


Wine Importers’ Recs | France

Le Cercle Rouge | Le Grapiot

Photographs courtesy of Le Cercle Rouge | Le Grapiot

Eat | Restaurants

Angers | Le Cercle Rouge

Cory: Guilhaume and I went there after discovering both Jerome Lenoir and Frantz Saumon. It’s one of the best spots in the world to get a glass of wine.  It’s the kind of place you go to drink a lot and get loud. I don’t trust anyplace that is too quiet. It means people aren’t drinking.

[See details.]

Arbois | Bistrot des Claquets

Guilhaume: Go for lunch -- the appetizers are sitting inside as a buffet. Fromage de tete, pates and a couple salads or soups, then the entree changes everyday. One of the best “worker's menu” in France. They have some of the greatest wines from the region, Ratapoil, Cavarode, Gahier and that cool beer they brew in the area; La Franche.

[See details.]

Haute-Savoie | Chez l'Anais

Guilhaume: You don't expect much from a place in such a small village, but I had the best 10,000 calorie meal of my life there. Tartiflette au morilles. Great fondues and charcuterie as well.

[See details.]

Nimes | Les Halles de Nimes

Guilhaume: Order a dozen beers at the bar, and some Iberico at the first butcher on the left. I have very little love for my birthplace, but Les Halles is something I'm always going to miss. There, everything is just perfect. Ask the bar guys about boudin noir.

[See details.]

Pupillin | Le Grapiot

Guilhaume: It’s a bit of a fancier spot in the area, still very affordable (unless you order the Overnoy Vin Jaune). Very classic food from the Jura, with frog legs au vin jaune when in season. Amazing list representing almost every single great producer of the region.

[See details.]

Paris | Septime

Guilhaume: My boys Theo and Bertrand opened this place less than a year ago. I believe Bertrand is one of the greatest young chefs in Paris these days. The best products, always very simple, non-obstructive, but very inventive. A must go. The floor is run by Theo, the most charming host in all of Paris, seriously. The list includes favorites like Belluard, Frantz Saumon and Pfifferling.

Paris | Le Baratin

Guilhaume: Almost every American I've sent there hated the place. Truth is, I believe it's the best restaurant in the world and most Parisian chefs (Inaki, Bertrand, Sven etc..) believe so as well. Deep, deep cellar, and cuisine d'artiste by Raquel. Of course if you don't like food (how do you call that? vegetarians?) or if your thing is “service,” this isn't the right place for you.

Paris | Rosebud

Guilhaume: Classic american cocktail bar that serves a great simple cuisine and the best Chili con Carne in Paris. Everything served with bread and butter. Because after traveling for weeks and drinking wine at the nicest tables in France, it just feels good to have a chili and a Manhattan on the rocks.

L’As du Falafel | Pho 14

Photo Credit: Morbuto [flickr] | irene [flickr]

Paris | L'As du Falafel

Guilhaume: It’s in the marais. Do I really need to talk about falafels? Just go for it. Best in the world says the sign (ok, every other falafel shops says the same on that street).

Paris | Pho 14

Guilhaume: Both Pho Ga and Pho Tai are great. Better than anything I've had in the states (ok, Turtle Tower's noodles are nicer, but the broth here is superior). Vietnamese raviolis to start.

[See details.]

Tours | Casse-Cailloux

Guilhaume: Great bistro/gastro. I had the most amazing lievre a la royale there. Took three days to get rid of the gut taste in my mouth. Longest finish ever in a dish.

[See details.]


Details of Cory and Guilhaume’s recommendations on where to eat, drink and shop in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and around France.

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