We were just sitting down with Dave Powell of Torbreck Vintners, sipping on a vintage bottle of RunRig and discussing how to curate the perfect collection. Are you interested in drinking good wine? Are you a collector? Do you want to impress or is your wine cellar going to be private? The most important takeaway from the conversation was that you need a good wine guy in your life. He’ll be more important than your accountant, your girlfriend, your lawyer even. You need someone who knows wine inside and out, has the ability to get you great deals, find obscure bottles and won’t try and oversell or overcharge you. We found that in Sam Choi of Yorkshire Wines & Spirits on the Upper East Side of NYC.
Sam moved from the women’s clothing manufacturing business to the wine world 15 years ago when his accountant and close friend advised him on a steady, close to home new business venture. He’s made a name for himself carrying high quality wine and spirits in all price ranges, and now runs the business with his son, Edlin. We stopped by the shop before store hours (#breakfastwine) for a personal wine tasting and a glimpse of how they build their customer loyalty.
This boutique New York City shop focuses on stocking everything from Armand de Brignac Brut Gold Champagne to Chevalier de Lascombes Margaux, a bottle you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Sam buys all of his wine in bulk quantity, so he’s able to sell at a significant discount—the 2007 Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon we popped open at 9:30am sells for $120 here, but $140 at any other retailer. His philosophy is to pass the savings onto his customers…he makes less per bottle, but sells more bottles. Smart business sense, and delicious wine.
You have only so many bottles in your life, so never drink a bad one. – Len Evans
At Yorkshire Wines & Spirits they taste everything they stock, and Sam does a decent amount of travelling overseas and to Napa to source new brands and boutique wines to sell. He won’t push you to any decision or make you feel pressured into buying anything…his staff focuses on finding out your needs and going from there. If you’re looking for advice, wonderful! They will help you figure you whatever it is you want. If you know what you want, they are happy to point you down the right aisle. It’s a beautiful array of bottle after bottle, mind-boggling eye candy of an unfathomable amount of alcohol in this little shop. By 10:30am it was already milling with loyal customers shopping for the weekend, trying their hand at recreating the amazing sommelier experience they just had at Del Frisco’s or Ai Fiori.
“If you’re serious about your wines you need to get a retailer you can trust, a neighborhood block fine wine shop. Find someone where you live, read about them. Check them out see if they’re trying to pump people full of shit or see if they know what they’re talking about. Don’t just buy what they recommend, go home and drink them.” – Dave Powell, Torbreck Vintners