Archive for the 'New York City' Category

Back to school with my new NYU wine class

wine barrels This fall, all you grown ups can go back to school thanks to my NYU wine class.

Now in its ninth year, the course provides a lively forum to discuss hot-button issues of the wine world, explore key countries and regions, as well as taste at least six wines each session.

It runs for six weekly sessions from October 15 through November 19. It’s always fun to see site readers in the class–hope to meet you there!

Full details and registration.

New York City has the world’s best wine lists: WFW

WFW Infographics World sm

New York City has the most top wine lists in the world according to a new ranking from the World of Fine Wine. London is second, San Francisco third, and Chicago fourth according to the British publication, which rolled out the annual awards for best wine lists for the first time this year.

Instead of taking the measure of a wine list’s length, the panel of experts looked at quality. Here’s how Neil Beckett, the magazine’s editor put it in a press release, “As we were judging, we had in mind the wise words of our fellow judge Francis Percival about the difference between ‘a great wine list and a mere list with great wines on it’.” More about the wine list judging methods can be found on the WFW site. It is not immediately clear if the restaurants had to pay a fee in the nomination process. And it’s not clear if value/markups played a role in the deliberations.

In all, 224 restaurants achieved the top grade, a three-star rating. The list of New York’s 36 restaurants follows after the jump. Read more…

Union Square Cafe is the latest victim of rentmageddon

A few weeks ago, Wylie Dufresne announced that he had been forced to close his pioneering restaurant WD-50 on the Lower East Side as of 11/30. The reason is that the building will be razed and a new apartment building will go on the site; and said he hoped to reopen elsewhere soon. Then Rouge Tomate announced they will be leaving their spacious locale next to Barney’s as of August 9, citing rent. They will be relocating to an unspecified location “downtown” later this year.

Now, the monstrous Rentmageddon sweeping the NYC restaurants has claimed another scalp: Union Square Cafe. The iconic restaurant that opened 30 years ago on East 16th street and contributed to revitalizing the Union Square has fallen victim to rising rents and will close at the end of next year. USQ also hopes to move to a new location, though one has not been announced. Julia Moskin has a good, if sad, story on the trend in the NYT that is today’s must-read. She says that USQ paid $8/sf or $48,000/yr back when it opened; now the rent may be as high as $650,000 as international retailers, banks, and pharmacies have driven up rents. She also mentions that Marco Canora and partners at Hearth restaurant have been hit with a 65% increase in rent–this year.

Moskin asks Danny Meyer, whose other restaurants include Gramercy Tavern and The Modern as well as Shake Shack, why he doesn’t just pay for a renovation and the increased rent out of his own pocket? Because it doesn’t make financial sense, he says, making the analogy that it would be like doing a million-dollar renovation on a studio apartment.

In twisting the knife for fine dining, the landlord is quoted as saying that he thinks a Shake Shack would do well in the space.

Eataly Vino turns into a Nutella bar

eataly nutella

Remember Eataly Vino NYC? Yes, the wine shop that is serving six months in the penalty box for liquor law infractions. Well, the at-grade storefront on the 23rd St. side of Eataly New York has been transformed at least temporarily into…wait for it…a Nutella bar!

Eater reports that, building on the success of a Nutella bar in Eataly Chicago (pictured above; Eater credit), the Italian gastroplex will roll one out in NYC on Monday. The Chicago spot offers Nutella on rustic bread, square pastries and crepes for prices ranging from $2.80 – $5.80 (see menu). Eater says that the line on weekends is 45 minutes long. Nuts!

Batali and Bastianich group threatened with suspension

eataly wine
Can you imagine dining at Del Posto and not having a glass of vino?

That might be the case. The New York SLA (State Liquor Authority) has posted to their website a list of items on their March 25 meeting. On the agenda are several items relating to liquor licenses held by Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, for Eataly, Del Posto and other of their restaurants.

The item for Eataly states two charges: (1.) Read more…

No, NYC doesn’t have too many wine shops

nyc wine store

Crain’s New York ran a piece over the weekend pointing to a 14% rise in wine shops in NYC since 2010. Will the proliferation of shops “bottle up profit” they wondered?

The short answer is: no.

There’s a huge thirst for wine in America right now and especially in New York City. The city has some terrific shops and, throwing in the knowledge and offerings at the city’s restaurants and wine bars, it is today the best wine destination on the planet (here’s looking at you, Paris). Sure, the existing 1,368 wine shops can serve the city’s residents and tourists. But a growing market that’s relatively protected (grocery stores can’t sell wine) will probably mean more stores in the coming years.

Today, there are discounters and full-service shops. There are ones focusing in small estate wines and others with lots of well-known brands. There are shops with particular slants such as selling wines made by women, wines from California or Chile, wines from a single importer, shops that sell wine by occasion or food pairing rather than region, or shops that have tastings every day of the week.

Not all of them will succeed. But the more the merrier. While some of the unsuccessful approaches may be reoriented in another four years, I’d venture to say that, barring economic collapse or a shift to allow chains or wine in grocery stores, the number of wine shops will be higher still, by a similar measure as over the last four years.

One thing that could improve the finances of these small shops (chains are not allowed in NY), is if they could also sell craft beer. That happens in Connecticut and levels of social unrest are not higher as a result. In places like Illinois or New Jersey, wine shops can even sell gourmet comestibles, such as cheese. Imagine!

Map of my favorite NYC wine shops

Fall wine class at NYU

nyu class Registration for my fall wine class at NYU is open. It starts on 10/16 and runs six consecutive Wednesdays.

In the class, we survey the wine landscape, discussing they story of wine in several key countries and covering hot-button issues. Each class includes a tasting to highlight points from the discussion. It’s a non-credit course without grades, so you don’t have to worry about failing a wine class appearing on your transcript!

It’s always great to meet site readers in the class–so check it out!

The Vintner Group acquires Martin Scott Wines

martin scott wines Consolidation strikes the Empire State: The Vintner Group, the Virginia-based distributor, is acquiring Martin Scott Wines, a distributor based in Lake Success, NY.

Founded in 1990 by Martin Gold and Scott Gerber, Martin Scott Wines has grown to have a thick “book,” distributing wines from about 450 wineries, ranging from Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Bonneau du Martray, and Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier in Burgundy to Ponzi Vineyards and Chateau Montelena from the US.

The Vintner Group, formerly known as The Country Vintner, is an importer and wholesaler of fine wine and spirits. CEO David Townsend has led the company on an acquisition spree of late and the company now has operations in nine states in the mid-Atlantic and southeast. They now add New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to that list. According to Shanken Daily News, the company recapitalized in the mid-2000s and now have Brockway Moran as a private equity partner.

What does this mean for the New York City wine market? If you’re in the trade, share your thoughts in the comments. Here’s a link to the press release.


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