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Master sommelier to open wine bar

Scott Harper, one of two Master Sommeliers in Louisville, and one of fewer than 150 such in the United States, has announced plans to open a wine bar in the former Papalino’s Pizza location at 3598 Springhurst Rd. Harper, who runs the wine program at the Bristol Bar & Grille organization, and also writes about wine for Food & Dining magazine, will partner with others at Bristol for the new enterprise, though the new wine bar will not be officially affiliated with the Bristol group.

The idea of such a wine bar had been percolating for a while. “We’ve done some due diligence before,”  Harper said in a phone interview, “but this seemed to be the right moment to carry through.” He and his partners hope to open by April of this year.

Harper plans to serve more than 100 wines, with about 60 sold by the glass. The wines will be drawn from producers world-wide, so customers can expect to discover unusual wines from perhaps unfamiliar producers, and with more familiar labels. After visiting Hungary a couple of years ago, for instance, he discovered that the Tokaj region, famous for sweet dessert wines, has been developing a dry wine industry since the end of Communism 20 or so years ago. “Now, those dry Tokajis are very interesting wines, and good values for what they are doing,” Harper said.

Harper plans include tasting and pairing events, to widen local patrons experience with wines. He said Edoardo Bacci, who is the Bristol catering supervisor, will develop the menu as executive chef and Larry Mcclain, who is coming from Majid’s, will be the chef de cuisine, who will have daily responsibility in the kitchen. The menu will focus on small plates such a flat breads, charcuterie, cheeses to pair with the wines selected by Harper and his team. Lunch will fast casual counter service, with full table service at night.

“It will be a wine bar first,” Harper said. “We will have a small selection of crafts beers and spirits, but lots more wine. We will offer 2-ounce portions for trying out new wines, and there will be plenty of events and tastings for people to try wines from different areas and vintages.”

For the next several months Harper will be working on the design for the space. He envisions keeping that bar that is currently in place, but pushing back the kitchen for more seating and removing the charcuterie room that was installed for Papalino’s.

The Master Sommelier status is the highest professional designation a wine expert can receive, and requires years of study and the passing of several rigorous tests. Louisville stands out by having two such designated wine guys, Harper and Brett Davis, who is with the Falls City Hospitality Group, which operates Doc Crow’s and other properties.