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Trendspotting: Cosmopolitan Microwines [Gothamist and BlackTwitteratti]

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Urban Wineries in New
York Combine Best of Trends

André Hueston Mack
Sommelier
New York, NY
Despite
having a successful career with Citicorp Investment Services, Mack
decided to leave his “desk job” to pursue his passion for wine. While
working as a sommelier in San Antonio, Mack discovered the joys of
introducing guests to the little known vineyards that first attracted
him to the business and “the instant gratification of a guest’s
reaction.”

In 2003, while still in Texas, Mack was awarded the prestigious title
of Best Young Sommelier in America by the highly regarded Chaine des
Rotisseurs. This recognition propelled him into the opportunity to work
as sommelier at Thomas Keller’s world-renowned French Laundry in
Yountville, California. Mack went on to accept the position of Head
Sommelier at Keller’s equally famed Per Se in New York City, where he
managed a 1500 selection award-winning wine list and consulted with Chef
Keller on menu and pairing development regularly. In 2006, Mack was
appointed President and CEO of Noble House Wines, a boutique wine
wholesaler and distributor in New York City, making him the youngest in
the country to hold such an influential position. However, he ultimately
realized that his passion still lay in the restaurant industry and
earlier this year, a serendipitous meeting brought Mack and The Fireman
Hospitality Group together. Winemaking has always been a dream of his
and came to fruition when he founded Mouton Noir Wines. Through his
career Mack has forged special relationships with star growers and
winemakers from around the world to share in this project.

Mack has been featured in major publication such as Food and Wine,
Wine and Spirits Magazine, New York Times and Black Enterprise. At 34
years old, Mack is an ardent wine educator who has been invited to host
seminars as well as lead panel discussions at several of the country’s
most prestigious food and wine gatherings. He enjoys creating and
hosting wine dinners that share his love of wine with others.

Real quick. How many winemakers have street teams in New York
City? Suffice it to say, not very many and maybe only one. But, as far
as we can tell, there aren’t many wine hustlers like MoutonNoirWines – also known as Andre Mack. He
gets the word out about his “distinctive garage wines” in ways
that are unique to young urban entrepreneurs.
First some background:
Mack first became interested in wine while working in the restaurant
trade. Just a few short years later, he had worked his way up to head
sommelier at a four-star restaurant in New York and he eventually became
the first African-American to be named “Best Young Sommelier” by Chaine des Rotisseurs. He
founded Mouton Noir Wines in 2004 and began selling his bottles to
popular restaurants.

Today, he’s often featured in publications such as Black Enterprise
and Food & Wine Magazine. He drums up street level support through
wine-tastings, Mouton Noir paraphernalia, a street promotions and the
internet. In a relatively short amount of time, he has been building up
an army of wine-lovers on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Mack not only
does a bang up job of promoting his own wines, he’s also willing to
talk about other people’s beverages – including beer!- and even a little
history about wine-making. Looking for the perfect bottle to accompany
the perfect meal? It’s worth sending him a tweet to see if he can spare
some time for a recommendation. Just tell him the BlackTwitterati sent
ya.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MoutonNoirWines

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mouton-Noir-Wines/

Blog:
http://www.moutonnoirwines.net/blog/

041008grapes.jpgWine bars are popping
up
all over town these days,
and diners are also gravitating toward food made with local
ingredients, so it makes sense that the next wave in the vino trend will
be local wineries. Though a Staten
Island vineyard is in the works
, and the centuries-old Queens County Farm
plans to sell wine from its vineyard this fall, the new urban wineries
have to make do with grapes from Long Island or the Finger Lakes.

The
Village Voice surveys
the nascent scene and spends time with
Michael Dorf, the Knitting Factory founder who says making wine is
better than hanging with Mick Jagger. This fall Dorf will open City
Winery, where he hopes customers will pay $5,000 to make their own
barrel of wine, with the help of an expert. (A barrel yields about 250
bottles.)

In Greenpoint, Allie Shaper started Brooklyn Oenology; she also
founded the Urban Winery Alliance
to foster cooperation between wine makers. Brooklyn Oenology now has a
2005 Merlot and a Chardonnay, both made on Long Island. Asked why it’s
not called Long Island Oenology, Shaper says, “Technically, Brooklyn is
part of Long Island.” In a couple years she expects to make some of the
wine in Kings County.

The Brooklyn Oenology wines are available at Soho’s Vintage New York, where owner
Robert Ransom also makes a small amount of wine and hosts tastings. And
Red Hook will soon be jumping into the wine making game; wine blogger Dr.
Vino reports
that Abe Schoener, a Californian wine maker, will be
opening an operation in a huge complex on Beard Street at the end of the
summer. Again, the grapes will all be shipped in from out of town, but
maybe Brooklyn feet will be stomping them.

Photo: laTresca.

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