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Slate Guide to Importers


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You need "Never Buy a Bad Bottle of Wine Again" claims Slate, in publishing an interesting article on importers and including a clip 'n' save wallet-sized guide to the best of the best. Just check name pasted on the back of that $20 Rioja against the names on the list and, if it's on the list, buy with confidence. Some names are familiar -- my old pals Kermie Lynch and Bobbie Kacher -- and some heretofor unknown.

Anyone who knows more about this stuff than I do have an opinion?

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You need "Never Buy a Bad Bottle of Wine Again" claims Slate, in publishing an interesting article on importers and including a clip 'n' save wallet-sized guide to the best of the best. Just check name pasted on the back of that $20 Rioja against the names on the list and, if it's on the list, buy with confidence. Some names are familiar -- my old pals Kermie Lynch and Bobbie Kacher -- and some heretofor unknown.

Anyone who knows more about this stuff than I do have an opinion?

It can't hurt. I often do back of the label shopping. For example, I'm more willing to take a flyer on a Neal Rosenthal imported wine than on a wine from some importer I don't know. Not only because he gets high quality stuff but because I like the general style of wines he imports.
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You need "Never Buy a Bad Bottle of Wine Again" claims Slate, in publishing an interesting article on importers and including a clip 'n' save wallet-sized guide to the best of the best. Just check name pasted on the back of that $20 Rioja against the names on the list and, if it's on the list, buy with confidence. Some names are familiar -- my old pals Kermie Lynch and Bobbie Kacher -- and some heretofor unknown.

Anyone who knows more about this stuff than I do have an opinion?

Although it's a bit dated by now, I wrote a similar piece for Washingtonian a few years ago, featuring Washington-area importers (although most of my columns are online here, this one isn't for some reason).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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It can't hurt. I often do back of the label shopping. For example, I'm more willing to take a flyer on a Neal Rosenthal imported wine than on a wine from some importer I don't know. Not only because he gets high quality stuff but because I like the general style of wines he imports.

I do the same thing, but my knowledge of the importer universe is limited. I'd never heard of Peter Weygandt and Todd Ross, for example, but others think highly of them. I was wondering if Don, Jake, Mark etc. might have suggestions of names to add or names to be stricken.

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I love Dressner wines probably more than anyone on this board, save Jake. Plus is no secret that I am a good customer and friends with many of the guys at MacBev, but I find it funny that Cornwell is the one pontificating about L/D wines especially when I always give them shit for carrying a limited selection of them. Though they have brought more in recently, Les Champes Libres (Lard, de Choix), Nusserhof and Domaine de Belliviere to name a few.

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I do the same thing, but my knowledge of the importer universe is limited. I'd never heard of Peter Weygandt and Todd Ross, for example, but others think highly of them. I was wondering if Don, Jake, Mark etc. might have suggestions of names to add or names to be stricken.

Add Simon N for one.

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While many of the importers named do represent good quality wines, most if not all of them import for suppliers who then sell to distributors. This is called the 3 tier system. Simon N Cellars, Elite Wines Imports, Vinifrance, Vin de Terra, Kysela Pere et Fils sell some phenomenol wines and represent the 2 tier system (importer-retailer). They are the importers selling directly to the retailer. Kacher, Chadderdon, Weygandt, Kermit Lynch wines have 3 or 4 markups between the source and you. Imagine what a $10 bottle of wine at retail cost at the source after 4 guys (importer-supplier-distributor-retailer) have added their markup. I know who I'd rather buy from.

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And Wine Traditions.

Can't quibble too much with Slate's list. Neither Simon 'N' or Addiss is a national importer, so they would be below Slate's radar.

I completely agree about Wine Traditions. I would add Potomac Selections which represents broker Tom Calder's wines, although they aren't national either.
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What fascinates me about this thread is the apparent decline in the influence of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, as Parker used to make exactly this sort of list frequently and no one has brought this up until now. I haven't had a subscription to the Wine Advocate for years (a late-relative first gave me a subscription ages ago and when they passed on, I renewed it for a while then stopped. Nothing to read into that, I also gave up my subscriptions to W/S, CGCW, The Vine, et. al. Probably because too many issues went unread. There are only so many hours in the day.) I think that it began with the explosion in use of the World Wide Web and ubiquitous Internet access. Consumers now have more wine information at their fingertips than ever before and more diverse opinions.

Peter Weygandt's selections are (were?) routinely featured in the Wine Advocate. Many other importers wines were also routinely reviewed.

I have to give props to the folks at Bassins for having, on their home webpage, the following list of boutique wine importers:

Boutique Importers

* Cape Classics

* Chapin Cellars

* Classical Wines

* Neil Empson

* Epicurean Wines

* Eric Solomon

* Christopher Cannan

* Rudi Wiest

* Grateful Palate

* Grapes of Spain

* Dan Kravitz

* Kermit Lynch

* Fran Kysela

* Joe Dressner

* Neal Rosenthal

* Marc De Grazia

* Peter Vezan

* Ole

* Robert Kacher

* Langdon Shiverick

* Terry Thiese

* The Australian Premium Collection

* Vineyard Brands

* Roy Cloud

* Leonardo LoCasio

(Good grief, or perhaps, "Ach, du lieber!", they mis-spelled Terry Theise's last name)

Despite the economy, these are boon times for wine consumers, especially if you are in such a dynamic market as Washington, D.C.

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