The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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Page 44 of 116

44  /  the tasting panel  / september 2016 SIP 'N SHOP A lthough wine retail has been around for thousands of years, Le Dû's Wines in Manhattan's West Village, established in 2005, holds fast to its reputation as a trailblazing retailer. For starters, it is the first wine shop in New York City that's wholly climate-controlled, ensuring the bottle will arrive in the hands of a customer in the same condition the winemaker intended when it left the winery. That said, what is the secret to Le Dû's continued success? It's the relationships, according to James Beard award–winning sommelier-turned-founder Jean-Luc Le Dû. He says the foundation of the shop's success lies in the close ties between the staff and the winemakers. It continues to build through staff educating customers in a variety of inspired ways. "From day one, I built my team with people well-versed in different areas of wine knowl- edge," explains Le Dû. "My forte, of course, is French wines. There is Duncan McRoberts, with his amazing knowledge of German and Austrian wines, and JT Robertson, the manager of the shop, who knows quite a lot more about spirits and American wines than just about anybody on this earth." There are other exclusives that keep exist- ing customers engaged and new ones coming in. Seminar-style tastings are staged every Saturday. "Barrique," the store's newsletter, covering a different wine region, variety or winemaker weekly, is distributed every Friday. Alerts are sent to customers about special bottles of wine offered for tasting, via the Coravin Tasting series. The shelves reflect the store's commitment to family-owned estates as well as organic and biodynamic wines. The store's support of West Village res- taurants and businesses is also a selling point, with tasting dinners at popular restaurants such as Market Table, Wallsé and Bouley. "It's important to emphasize we don't work with 'brands,'" affirms Le Dû. "We work with winemakers and small, family-owned estates we are passionate about. We work a lot with private cellars, and I love those allowing us to make vintages from the '80s and '90s available to customers at fair prices. We also take pride in offering 'rare' wines to customers—and by that we don't necessarily mean the most expensive. For example, we offer several micro-cuvées from the small, up-and-coming winemakers I meet during my regular trips to France." Le Dû also takes pride that his team mem- bers thoughtfully reply to customers indi- vidually by email whenever certain questions come up. That personal touch carries over to the shop's philanthropic involvements, including Wheeling Forward, founded by long-time employee Yannick Benjamin—one who has not allowed life in a wheelchair to slow him down. by Elyse Glickman / photos by Bob Gruen NEW YORK CITY'S MOST DISTINCTIVE WINE STORE SWIRLS TOGETHER A PERFECT BALANCE OF MODERN MARKETING AND TIME-HONORED CUSTOMER SERVICE James Beard award–winning sommelier-turned-founder Jean- Luc Le Dû, owner of Le Dû's Wines in Manhattan's West Village. C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Giving Le Dû Its Due

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