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September 26, 2007

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Thanks for the report, Sasha. As we talked about the other day, I've had some issues with Vintage New York in the past, mostly similar to yours.

I can certainly understand the potential need to increase their tasting fees. A buck a taste is a great price, but probably not very helpful when it comes to paying the bills.

But, pouring a corked wine is unacceptable. When my wife and I tasted at their Hudson Valley location (the Rivendell Winery tasting room is basically another Vintage NY shop), one of the reds we tasted had been open WAY too long. If I'm remembering correctly, it was marked on the bottle that it had been open well over a week.

As experienced wine drinkers, we were able to recognize a wine that had just been open, rather than a faulty wine, but like you said, others probably would have just thought the wine sucked.

I've also thought that their selection of wines was less than stellar. I remember a lot of sweetish wines and few of the state's best. Other than that Bergen Road, what were some of the better wines you tasted there this time?

Their selection was good and nothing tasted like it had been open too long -- this is a pretty high-traffic location, I would guess. Our favorites were the 06 Channing Daughters Sylvanus and the 04 Comtesse Therese Hungarian Oak Merlot. (Both recommended to us by one of the staffers.) We liked the 06 Rivendell Riesling and 05 Red Newt Reserve as well.

It's too bad that Sasha's experience with the corked wine, price increase, warm reds, etc. totally overshadowed her positive impressions of a few of the wines she tasted. I hope Vintage is reading this blog, because there's the unfortunate potential that they'll end up doing a real disservice to some good NY wines if they don't correct their errors. Thanks for the info, Sasha.

Sasha, glad that they've started selling some of New York's best. I'm a big fan of that Sylvanus. Thanks for the updated.

MB, thanks for the comment. I hope they are reading it too. They probably don't get a lot of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, which is exactly what Sasha has offered here. They have a great idea and focus, but execution can be tough sometimes, in any business.

Hi all - I'd posted on The Wine Chicks an experience at Vintage New York in Soho about a server pouring wines that had been open for nearly two weeks. It was horrifying. I actually had to suggest he open new ones, despite a brutal nail varnish odor pushing forth from the bottles. Vintage needs to spend a wee more time educating staff.

Doubtless the Vintage NY folks appreciate the constructive criticism. I've been to both NYC locations many times, but have not had these problems, nor any problems like these, so I'm surprised to see both of your comments. Without questioning Sasha's integrity (her comments seem spot on) let's not forget the unbelievable gift Susan and Bob have given the (NY wine) industry. The risk - the investment - the friendship - the time and energy might be more than any of us would be willing to lend to the growers and producers of NY state wines. Before we question in writing the "Justice" they dole out, Bob and Susan might have been due a quick phone call.

Jim: Thanks for the comment. While I agree with you that Susan and Bob have done a great thing for the world of NY wine, nobody is perfect or above criticism, as long as it's done in a constructive way. This isn't an attack on them personally at all.

I'm glad that you've never had any of the above issues when visiting, but others have, and I think that any shop/tasting bar owner would want to know that.

Jim - I agree that they've done a wonderful thing in bringing NY wines to a market that had previously - and disturbingly, considering the proximity - ignored them. What was so upsetting, though, is that should a tourist or first-time consumer walk in and taste the wines I'd had poured for me, he or she would have an awful impression of NY wines and likely not ever return to Vintage or buy them independently. The point of opening Vintage, I hope, was to promote NY wines, not to show how bad they can be. And since these less-than-stellar experiences have happened more than once, it points to an issue within Vintage that seriously needs to be address.

I have a ton of respect for the work Susan and Bob have done to promote New York wines. Having worked a little in wine retail myself, I can guess how hard it must be to own and operate a wine store. I also think they're in a tricky spot, as they're not just there to sell NY wines but promote them as well. Sherry-Lehmann doesn't need to worry about "promoting" Bordeaux or Burgundy or any other region for that matter. Sure, they're educating consumers about different regions and directing them to particular wines, based on their own tastes or sales goals or some combination of the two, but they don't have the kind of mission Vintage does. And while this mission is vital and admirable, it can create its own set of problems. Speaking for myself, sometimes I get wrapped up in the "go team!" boosterism of supporting NY wines and don't taste these wines as critically as I should. We (me, Vintage, anyone who wants to see NY wines do well) shouldn't relax our standards.

I enjoyed my visit there earlier this year, especially trying Sculpture Garden from Channing Daughters for the first time.
Kathleen

Last time I went there I was disapointed but not surprised by the 100% fee increase. My only complaint was the employee acted as if the Borghese Cab Franc was the only one worth tasting. My perception of Vintage NY in the future may depend on how open they are to stocking Niagara wines.

My guess is that they'd be very open to stocking Niagara wines, Bryan.

And CdB does make a good CF...but obviously it's not the only good one around :)

"I've also thought that their selection of wines was less than stellar."

That was my experience about 14 months ago. Nothing I tasted I wanted to buy. I left not excited about going back, too.

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