Thursday, March 17, 2011
Interview: Brooks Anderson of Veritas in Dallas
Anderson talks about why he left his career as a lawyer to open a wine bar.
Wine is an adventure. Each year, a million or so new vintages hit the shelves. Each year, bottles already stored away age — and change — just a little. No wonder people abandon lucrative careers to pursue the subject.
That’s the story of Brooks Anderson. After he and his brother, Brad, built a name for their law practice (Anderson & Anderson, naturally), the nuances and mysteries of fine wine began to creep into his mind. The brothers began studying, tasting, passing the first rigorous tests toward master sommelier status — and they found an empty space on Henderson Avenue.
Their wine room, Veritas, has earned both professional acclaim and word of mouth buzz. What are they doing right? Well, not watching basketball, for one…
Critic’s Guide: So when I first met you, you were a lawyer with a brand new Cadillac. And now?
Brooks Anderson: Now I’m a wine guy in a Cadillac with a lease up in three months. I think the next car will be a downgrade from the CTS. Now I carry cases of wine around everyday. I need space.
Critic’s Guide: Why leave a law career and, presumably, money?
Anderson: I didn’t enjoy the constant stress. Yes, there’s probably less money in a wine bar. But building the business has been so much fun.
Critic’s Guide: Sure — you get to taste a lot of wines. After a few thousand, do any stand out as favorites?
Anderson: You know, what I’ve found that happens to professional wine drinkers — that sounds funny to say — is that after a few years, your personal preferences change. For example, now I like whites that are light, crisp and acidic. The buttery, oaky wines are fine, but just don’t interest me. It’s a similar thing with reds. The big,
leathery fruity ones are just too heavy. Too me, the Napa Cabs are too fruity. I prefer Barolo or a crisp, light Pinot Noir — which is weird, because I love big huge beers.
Critic’s Guide: Does it take long to learn descriptors like “leathery?”
Anderson: Hey, I was an attorney and we deal with words. But I’m still learning. There are those times when an expert will say “I get boysenberry.” So what’s boysenberry taste like? And how is that specifically different from a range of other berries? The way I look at it, there are classes of flavors — red fruits, blue fruits. That’s what you look for. You can pick out floral notes in a wine. Now whether they are white flowers or yellow flowers is up to others. Really, I’m still learning wine every day.
Critic’s Guide: When tasting professionally, you swish and spit. Can you really get all the nuances that way?
Anderson: No. At least I don’t. What you get with the swish and spit method are the basic traits. You can tell whether or not it’s a wine you can sell at $15. But for real tasting notes — to truly understand a wine — you need a good half glass.
Critic’s Guide: So who is going to win the NCAA tournament?
Anderson: I just had a buddy invite me to participate in his bracket. I’ve been so busy I don’t even know the number one team. I have two ankle surgeries to prove my love of basketball. But now I’m the first guy in history to back out of a bracket.
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