The Dutch catering world is in mourning after the unexpected death of the young wine connoisseur Lotte Wolf (1985). Wolf, wine director of the five-star Sofitel Legend The Grand and star restaurant Bridges in Amsterdam, was regarded as a great talent. She passed away last Tuesday as she was about to travel to her beloved South Africa.
Lotte Wolf was eighteen years old when she found her dream job as a backpacker in New Zealand: sommelier. Back in the Netherlands, she started working at Jamie Oliver’s training restaurant Fifteen in Amsterdam and followed the Vinologists’ training course at De Wijnacademie. She then worked successively at De Seinpost in Scheveningen, Callas in The Hague and ‘t Zilte in Belgium, until she was discovered at the age of 23 by top chef Sergio Herman of restaurant Oud Sluis in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. After two further stops at Pure C (Cadzand) and The Jane (Antwerp), she ended up at Bridges in Amsterdam in July 2015. There she was given carte blanche to put together the wine list.
As a sommelier, Lotte Wolf belonged to the absolute top at a young age. She was the youngest sommelier in the Netherlands for a long time, was named Most Talented Sommelier of 2013 by restaurant guide Gault Millau and was featured in the NCRV documentary series De Nieuwe Garde . Her preference was for organic wines ( vin naturels ).
Wolf also made his own wine. It started with a champagne for Jerôme Dehours and two wines from Gayda Languedoc. But her heart went out to South Africa. In the Swartland, Wolf made wine under her own label, “Lotte Wolf: Touch of Dutch”. This spring she presented her first three wines, which were greeted enthusiastically by the trade press and connoisseurs.
On the day of her death, Wolf would travel again to South Africa. She was found by her father, who would take her to Schiphol. Her friend Bjorn van Aalst, matre at restaurant Vermeer, had already traveled ahead of her. Wolf died of an unknown natural cause. A few years ago, Wolf suffered a severe cerebral infarction, which she had largely recovered.
Through social media, restaurateurs and wine professionals reacted with shock to Wolf’s death. What is striking is how often people write that they would have liked to meet Wolf again, but that it was not possible due to the hectic pace of life. “You really breathed wine, it was your life,” Sergio Herman wrote on Instagram. “So much respect for you but now also shame that I canceled our appointment.”
In a 2013 interview on the Wines of South Africa website, Wolf gives her vision on South African wines at the time. Asked how she sees the future of the South African wine company, she replies that she says South African winemakers are “doing very well”.
About the Swartland, where she has her own vineyard, she says: “What a wonderful area that is! I love the atmosphere there. And on the wines of Lammershoek, Eben Sadie and Chris Mullineux, just to name a few. […] Outside of Swartland it is a bit more limited. They should be more daring in the other areas.”
Wines from other areas touted by Wolf in 2013 include the Chenin Blanc van Raats from Stellenbosch and the Semillon from Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek. “But as an area I see a lot of potential in Hemel en Aarde. I tasted some of my favorite wines […] there: Ataraxia Serenity 2008 and Creation Wines Syrah-Grenache 2011.”
Lotte Wolf will be missed as an always positive and stylish ambassador of South African wines in the Netherlands.
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