Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Jason Carlen was appointed wine director and sommelier of Spiaggia in early 2011. Believing that the worlds finest selection of artisan wines come from Italy, Carlen further enhanced the restaurant's wine list by expanding the selection from small, family owned estates.
Under Carlen, the Spiaggia wine list, awarded the "Best of Award of Exellence" by Wine Spectator, continues to be a reference point for Italian wine lists in the United States. With a selection of more than 700 labels, the wine list represents the more reknown wines from the regions of Toscana, Piemonte, as well as regions that are seeing a resurgence such as Sicilia, Campania and Friuli.
Carlen reorganized the Spiaggia wine list by dissecting each region by comune, village and vineyard. He has long believed that the crus or vineyards of Italy can be compared to those of Burgundy, each tasting vastly different from the next while only mere feet apart. To further his knowledge and discover new regions and wines he travles to Italy multiple times every year. He believes that you should only buy wines from people you know and when you know the source.
With a degree in theatre and music, one of the aspects that Carlen looks forward to each day is interacting with guests and sharing his excitement and knowledge for wine. He likes to get to know each guests likes and dislikes in order to provide them with a singular dining experience.
Prior to Spiaggia, Carlen spent four years as the sommelier at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff an Auberge Resort, in Bluffton, S.C. Carlen honed his skills from New York City to Santa Fe, N.M. in establishments such as: Gotham Bar and Grill; Geronimo Restaurant; and The Old House Restaurant at The Eldorado Hotel and Spa.
Follow Jason on Twitter: @jjcarlen