When searching for words to describe the journey of Ms. Julia Scavo, impressive is the first thing that comes to mind.
Studying in her native Craiova, Romania, Julia Scavo easily conquered a Bilingual Baccalaureate in English-Mathmatics and Physics. While this does not sound like the starting point of a sommelier’s journey, Julia would soon discover the world that awaited her as she moved to France to study engineering and mathematics. Being the restless intellectual she is, spending idle time in the same place every weekend was nearly impossible…and in Lyon, France, of all places! It was only a matter of time before she was planted deep into the French terroir herself.
Her love for cooking and expansive curiosity met, and the result was a dive into the complete world of French gastronomy. Here she met the great mystique that binds us all — the vines and all they have to offer. Her love for wine would only grow from this moment, and has brought her to the spotlight as one of the leading sommeliers in the world.
Julia put her palate mastery to work in numerous restaurants across Europe. From Monte Carlo to greater Monaco, Nice to Romania; Wherever Julia goes, distinctive and expansive wine is sure to follow. Her secret to a successful wine menu? As she puts it:
“The sommelier should work hand in hand with the chef in order to give the most important axis of their wine menu in terms of style of wines adapted to the cuisine style, local choice and original pairings for original dishes. All the wines by the glass should have an alter-ego in the cuisine that should be inspired note by note by the wine. As for the rest, it should be a signature of the sommelier; like a story of their travels and discoveries!”
With her expanding resume under her belt, if anyone is speaking from experience here, it is Julia. And as pragmatic as the mathematics & engineering personality can seem, Julia favors the emotion and story of a wine. Asking her take on the “Old world vs. New World” wine debate, she had a perfectly modern answer. In her eyes, it is not the system that makes a wine perfect, but the tale it must tell.
The journey it has taken from the earth to your mouth can be told in countless ways, why value one more than the other? Old World wine has a long history to tell, rich, deep, and sensual. Yet New World wine is mastered in a much quicker way. What took generations to explore in the Old World has been developed in one or two seasons of curiosity in the New. So long as a wine speaks with passion and bravely exposes every subtlety for savoring, it is highly appreciated.
And for her own personal favorite food and wine combination moment, Julia recollects a meal during the Möet &Chandon gala at the Best World Sommelier 2013 in Tokyo. It was a stuffed quail, gently straw-smoked en cocote, served with a Möet &Chandon Vintage Rosé 1990. She lost herself for a moment in the description:
“The noble tertiary of the wine reminded me of some spicy faded flowers, like potpourri with slightly smoky scents. A winy personality, with silky pearling in order to meet the mellow texture of the quail, like a satin kimono with lots of character!”
With such high taste, it is no wonder her explored palate offers regional delicacies many have never even heard of. When asked about the most underrated wine, Julia quickly answered Alsace wines. To her, the region is complex and versatile, with a terroir so rich and so many variables it is hard to experience the same thing twice. Between the different varietals, soil types, typography, climate, vintner, and every style choice, the diverse range this region offers is impressive. As Julia puts it: “From bone dry to luscious drinkable gold..vivid and vibrant!” We can’t wait to uncork a bottle.
But as far as the most versatile region goes, Julia is a fan of the majestic Douro Valley. Taking into account the ability of the region to produce magnificent table wines alongside aromatic moscatels, port, and a choice selection of sparkling wine, Douro Valley has a bit of everything thanks to the diverse climate.
Speaking briefly of regional combinations in Belgium, Julia thinks about what many of us do: cheese, chocolate, and fries! With many Belgian cheeses, the pairing is obvious — a great Belgian beer. Beers like Deus, Herve and Westmalle Tripel, Oraval, Chimey, Maredous have their own cheese pairings, but if she had to pick a wine to go with a Belgian cheese, it would be Fabrice Pouillon Solera Champagne.
To Julia, Belgian chocolate is best experienced with a rich 20 years Taylor’s Tawny Port. Bleieve it or not, she even has a recommendation for fries! Her recommendation is to grab some Belgian fries, add some mussels, and enjoy the pair with a white wine like Gavaisson Inspiration.
We asked how many wines she tries on an average week, but there is just no way to quantify it. To Julia, the experience is about gaining knowledge. Extensive research goes into every sip, and largely depends on the region and varietal she is studying at the time. Sometimes she tastes more than she reads, and sometimes it seems she knows the entire history of a particular grape before the first sip. To her, the increase in knowledge is both the desire and its reward.
“It makes you feel that you know so little that you should go on and on; taste and taste and read again and again!”
On and on the quest goes.
This thirst for knowledge is something Julia shares with both her customers and students on a daily basis. Sharing not only the knowledge about wine, but the emotion it seeks to impart is key to learning.
“[I want to] make them travel through history or around the globe with a drop of wine. I think wine is one of the rare products that can make history touchable…I still remember my tears on some of these memorable events when I realized that I was tasting wines from a time when I didn't exist… but history was moving on…”.
This appreciation is a key to unlocking the world of wine. When asked to give a word of advice to the beginners and wine novices out there, Julia’s personality shines through.
“Be curious, read a lot, be pure and taste without any prior judgment!”
Wise words, Julia. This seems to apply not only to wine, but life itself. Curiosity and questioning will get you far, so will an unquenchable thirst for knowledge — and wine!
We asked Julia to describe what wine means to her in one word. Her answer? Culture, of course! Julia embodies that meaning every day by contributing to the rich culture surrounding her, in hopes to spark similar unforgettable moments as she has had in other people.
Currently, Julia Scavo spends time as a brand ambassador for the Reveal’UP glassware range from Chef&Sommelier. Her passion for the industry and education has led Julia to become an educator, wine trainer, and consultant throughout the wine world, and she also finds the time to teach wine to curious minds in restaurants and training facilities all across France.
From our curious souls to yours, Mersi Julia.