Last month, we welcomed a new addition to the Gotham management team: Wine Director, Joshua Lit. We’re thrilled to have him on board and before he gets too settled, we thought we’d broker introductions.
What did you think you wanted to be, before discovering wine.
I was born and raised in Freehold, NJ — also known as the home of “The Boss” — and then moved down south for college. I graduated from College of Charleston, with a B.A. in Political Science. (Thinking I would pursue a law degree; for a while I wanted to be a sports agent.)
When did you first get introduced wine?
My first real exposure to wine was just after I’d finished college, while I was working at Charleston Grill. I asked my General Manager, Mickey Bakst, “How do I get promoted in this restaurant?” He told me I needed to learn about wine. So I went out and bought Kevin Zraly’s Windows of the World Book, and started going to the restaurant’s weekly blind tastings held by their Wine Director, Rick Rubel. About a year into my wine education, I decided to start building a full time career.
Can you talk a little bit about your wine journey?
After Charleston, I moved to Walla Walla Valley, WA for four months to work harvest at Gramercy Cellars with Greg Harrington, MS. My time out there was like a crash course in winemaking, and Greg (one of the most generous guys I know) walked me through every step of the process. I quickly realized just how much effort goes into making a great-tasting wine. Then in 2015 I was lucky enough to land a job working with Michael Engelmann, MS as a sommelier at The Modern. Michael is hands-down the hardest working person I have ever been around. He taught me that through hard work, one can accomplish anything. He set team goals for us such as obtaining a Grand Award from Wine Spectator and achieving a 2 Michelin Star rating. I’m proud to say we accomplished both during my time working with Michael and the wine team at The Modern.
What was it about Gotham that made you want to come work here?
Gotham is one of those iconic restaurants in New York City, with a long history of accolades. Simply put, it was like my dream job had opened up. I jumped at the opportunity to build on its already great legacy.
Can you talk a bit about your philosophy when it comes to wine?
Wine can sometimes be intimidating, and so my goal is to always keep it fun. It’s one of those things in life that can bring so much joy, so I try to approach it with a smile and a bit of humility.
What’s your vision for the Gotham wine program? What kind of changes can we expect?
I am fortunate enough to be inheriting an extraordinary wine list, that offers both variety and depth. Moving forward there will be a large focus on wines from California, Bordeaux, and the Northern Rhone — all regions that pair well with Chef Portale’s menu. That’s not to say we’ll ignore the other great regions of the world. My goal is to strike a balance between old-school, new-school, and everything in between.
Any specific plans we should know about?
Spain is an exciting place right now — both in the culinary and wine world — with a ton of great, young winemakers making waves. I’m going to work hard to feature these emerging producers on our by-the-glass list. Also, a focal point of the list will be California wines with a good amount of age on them. We recently added a Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon from the 70’s, some Kistler Cabernet Sauvignon from the 80’s, and Mt. Eden Chardonnay from the 90’s.
Tell us about 3 new wines you’re recently brought on that you’re excited to share with our guests.
2012 Thomas Fogarty, Will’s Cabin Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains: Fogarty is an outstanding producer making delicious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This Pinot Noir is grown at high elevation and has notes of bing cherry, hanger steak, and crushed rock.
2014 Mooroduc Estate, Macintyre Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Australia: This Pinot Noir is coming from just south of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and I love it. Bright red fruit, sage, and fresh acidity make this an outstanding wine from down under.
2016 Cobb, Vonarburg Vineyard, Riesling, Anderson Valley: Coming from the northern part of California in Mendocino County, the wine is pure and full of freshness and acidity. Great on its own, or a perfect match Gotham’s signature Yellowfin Tuna Tartare.