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Please tell us about Appellation Wine and Spirits?

Appellation focuses on small producers, most of whom farm organically and biodynamically. We seek wine coming from practices using minimal intervention in both the vineyard and cellar. Further, the wine should reflect the land from which the grapes were grown as well as be delicious.

Can you explain the difference between organic and biodynamic?

Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic herbicides, fungicides or insecticides.

Biodynamic farming builds upon organic practices by incorporating vineyard preparations such as natural composting and homeopathic treatments. Many producers work with the earth's rhythms (i.e., using a planetary calendar) and try to create a self-enclosed eco-system. I like to think of biodynamics as a hands-on-approach to organic farming.

What is your criteria for the wines you stock?

We look for wine coming from certified organic and biodynamic vineyards, or at the very least, producers who are recognized by their peers as farming naturally. We will make a few exceptions such as carrying New York State wines - while they are local, sadly, we have found none who are certified organic or biodynamic.

You now sell wine in a box. Box wine used to be the stuff of punchlines, what changed?

We love the idea of box wine; so when the wine is good, we do not hesitate to add another box to our inventory. For example, we embraced Yellow & Blue's Malbec when it was first imported two years ago. The wine is certified organic and comes in a one liter tetrapak. We also have a three liter bag-in-box Cotes-du-Rhone which is also certified organic. You now have many quality-minded producers offering box alternatives.

What are the advantages of this kind of packaging?

For both the tetrapak and bag-in-box, the packaging weighs less than bottles; the carbon footprint is much smaller than glass. Also, for the bag-in-box, very little air enters as you consume the wine. Our Garrigon box will keep for up to three weeks once opened - you can enjoy a glass each night from the same package for almost a month, and the wine will not turn to vinegar.

How has the knowledge of the clientele changed over the last five years?

Many of our customers view wine as a compliment to their meal. Five years ago, I think more people were looking for cocktail wines.

Has that impacted the types of wine you are able to more sell?

Our inventory is filled with lower alcohol wines. Most of our whites and reds hover around 12%, and we even have a biodynamic Aligote at 10.7% - it's like drinking unsweetened lemonade!

What wines do you keep at home as your go-to wines?

With wine, I have long-term A.D.D. - i.e., I generally do not drink the same wine two nights in a row and always like to try new wines. Lately, I have enjoyed:

- Gysler 2008 Rheinhessen Riesling Kabinett "Wheinheimer" $17.99

- de Moor 2008 Bourgogne Blanc "Chitry" $23.99

- Old River Road 2005 Sierra Foothills Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99

- Chateau Le Payral 2006 Bergerac Rouge $12.99

- Loacker 2007 Toscano Rosso IGT "Brillando" $14.99

- Foillard 2008 Morgon "Cote du Py" $75.99 (1.5l)

Are they any wine books that you think are very informative?

The following are all great resources:

- Jancis Robinson's "Oxford Companion to Wine"

- David Lynch and Joe Bastianich's “Vino Italiano Buying Guide”

- Monte Waldin's “Biodynamic Wines”

- Peter Liem's online Champagne journal

Is there a wine region that you are particularly passionate about?

I love Beaujolais and while there are some in the industry who champion the different crus and some of the great producers, it's mostly under-appreciated.  Producers like Chamonard and Foillard in Morgon and Lapalu in Brouilly and Jean Paul Dubost in Moulin-a-Vent are creating juice for the Gods from their vineyards. These wines will surely bring a longtime atheist to religion.

Is there an up and coming wine region / sub-region that you are

particularly excited by?

I love the Jura. The reds are light, aromatic and food-friendly.  The whites are aromatic, have a bit more body and can be made in an oxidized style.  I feel the region--near the French border with Switzerland, received a lot of attention a few years ago.  As the economy faltered and people turned their attention to “value” regions, the Jura was forgotten.

At the same time, not many producers are being imported, and their wines can be more expensive than what people like to spend on a daily basis. A trade group for Jura growers will host a tasting in New York at the end of April.  As a result, more attention for the region will be brought to store and restaurant wine buyers.  Some growers whose wines are not yet sold in the US will be matched with importers.  I hope to hear much more about this region.

What are some of the strangest wine - food pairings people have asked


The strangest pairing request lately was for wine to be served at a wake. They did not know what food would be served but wanted an uplifting bottle. I steered clear of bubbly but recommended Grosjean's Petite Arvigne, an aromatic white from the Vallee d'Aoste.

What advise would you give customers when shopping for wine and what’s the best way to build a relationship with your local retailer?

I don't think consumers should get hung up on the way they describe their wine likes and dislikes. They should use their own words and leave it up to the salesperson to find the right wine. Store staff should ask many questions, time and patience permitting, to assess the consumer's taste.

I recommend finding a store where the customer feels comfortable and upon return visits give the staff feedback about your last purchases. With additional information, you should improve your chances of receiving a suggestion which meets/exceeds your taste.

Do you have a favorite or even odd pre or post dinner drink / aperitif /

digestif /wine?

I love good mezcal and tequila. Lately, I have been enjoying Del Maguey Mezcal "Chicicappa" - I sleep like a child after a glass of this Mezcal. After two glasses, I begin to act like a child.

Who else in the wine and cocktail world (producers / importers / stores/sommeliers / etc) is doing interesting things that you should deserve more praise?  

Savio Soares is importing some of the best natural wines, and he is beginning to get some much-deserved recognition. At the same time, many of his wines/producers fly under the radar. Also, David Weitzenhoffer's Acid Inc. is importing some great natural Italian producers.

Best biodynamic or organic wine list?

Ten Bells.

Outstanding wine list?

Eleven Madison Park.

Affordable wine list?

Trestle on Tenth, Balthazar.

Interesting cocktails?


Wine recommendations for:

Rose for a hot summer day?

Roquefort's Cotes de Provence "Corail" $15.99

Good buys for under $20?

White: Filippi 2008 Soave "Castelcerino" $14.99

Red: Loacker 2007 Toscano Rosso IGT "Brillando" $14.99

Favorite wine regardless price?

I seriously don't have a favorite, but a truly sublime wine is Lopez de Heredia 1981 Rioja Blanco Gran Reserva "Vina Tondonia" $127.99.


Appellation’s recommendations for wines and restaurants in New York.

Appellation’s recommendations for wines and restaurants in New York.

Wine/Liquor Retailer


156 Tenth Avenue

New York, NY 10011 (view map)

T: 212.741.9474



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