My professional career in the wine business began in the late 1970s. But my interest and initiation to the wonders of fine wine began while I was a graduate student in Philosophy in early 1970s. Great wine was inexpensive and with a small cadre of budding wine enthusiasts I was able to taste many of the finest wines from the late 1940s through the early 1970s on a regular basis. My palate was formed on Grand Cru Bordeaux, Burgundies, German Rieslings and the handful of first rate California Cabernets then available. I look back to this golden age of affordable classified Bordeaux and Burgundy in gratitude and amazement. Over the course of 7-8 years I was able to taste thousands of wines whose contemporary prices would range from $100 to $5000 per bottle.
In the fall of 1979 I accepted a sales position at Morrell & Company where I stayed until the fall of 1983. During this period, in addition to learning much about the wine business from the inside, three decisive developments occurred which affected the wine world in general and my professional life in particular: The bull market in equities which began in August 1982, the bull market in Bordeaux and the emergence of one Robert Parker Jr. as the most influential independent wine critic since Thomas Jefferson. These three factors, to varying degrees, set the stage for me and a fellow salesman at Morrell, Howard Kaplan to create a wine education and events company which we named Executive Wine Seminars. Our nascent company first addressed the needs of the business community to provide the social skill of wine knowledge and sophistication to traders but then expanded significantly into a high level wine events program for knowledgeable wine lovers of course including many people from Wall street along with the usual suspects—lawyers, doctors and accountants. A long-running show, Executive Wine Seminars is now in its 28th Vintage and has conducted over 1000 tasting and wine seminars. We enjoy a reputation for integrity, impartiality and for conducting tastings in an exciting and entertaining manner. We have an exclusive relationship with Robert Parker who has been conducting a major tasting for Executive Wine Seminars each year since 1983.
From 1984 through 2001 I worked with two boutique wine importers [Wine Markets International and Associated Wine Distributors] helping them find outstanding small-producer estates in France and the west coast and writing catalogue material for their sales brochures. In 2001 I rejoined Morrell & Company as in house wine taster, buyer and writer. In my capacity as Head of The Tasting Division I tasted some 5000 wines each year in search of the 5-8% which deliver excellence at a comparatively fair price. The work of uncovering affordable vinous gems is among the most important services the wine industry can provide. My responsibilities included writing major sections of the Morrell Wine Catalogue and producing twice weekly e-mail recommendations.
I travel to France and Germany on a regular basis and have spent extensive amount of time tasting in the best cellars of Burgundy, Alsace, The Rhone Valley, Champagne and The Mosel. I am a regularly attendee at The International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon where I have visiting wineries since the lat 1980s.
In 2008 at the request of Mary Taylor who writes a successful blog called The Thoreau Wine Society, I joined her enterprise as advisor and wine writer. The TWS produces 4-6 offers each month of moderate prices wines of real distinction to her mailing list of value conscious wine lovers.
In the spring of 2010 my partner and I moved our venue from a mid town hotel to one of the cities’ most progressive and independent retail establishments: New York Vintners whose tasting room complete with its own kitchen is unlike anything else in Manhattan. In addition to conducting the EWS tastings at NYV, I joined the weekly blind tasting panel to participate in the detailed, objective analysis of 6-7 wines per week and to produce e-mail blasts for the wines most liked by the panel of experienced tasters. The blind tasting format is as challenging as it is educational for me and everyone involved.
I make it my business to attend every important distributor tasting in the NY area every year; I taste at least 5000 wines per year. My motto is “You are as good as your last tasting.” Rediscovering old friends is wonderful. Discovering new vinous gems is even better.