Chelsea Wine Vault - Meet the Staff

 Chelsea Wine Vault - Meet the Staff  
Robert Fritz
Director of Fine Wine

What did you do before you came to CWV?
I've spent most of my working life in the wine business, but have alternatively worked in Environmental Science and two start ups.

Favorite part of the job so far?
Meeting people who are passionate about wine and discovering new producers or wines that represent great values.

What are a few great wines or spirits that you've discovered here?
Alexandre Filaine Champagne Cuvee Sensuum Vertigo
Lustau Solera Brandy
Chidaine Montlouis

Standout/favorite/most thought-provoking customer question?
Intricate food and wine pairings are my favorite questions, followed closely by a customer asking me to source hard to find wines.

What's your single most important tip for wine lovers looking to learn?
Don't be afraid to try new things and keep notes when you do!

 

 Chelsea Wine Vault - Meet the Staff  
Felix P. Sanchez
Director of Sales

What did you do before you came to CWV?
I exported food and wine for many years, and after a time I found that I enjoyed retail. While on a trip to Paris, a girlfriend made dinner reservations on Bateaux Mouches (an excursion boat that provide a unique view of the city from along the river Seine) and while I felt it was touristy, I went along, and I was happy I did. It was terrific. We enjoyed a good red Burgundy, but the game changer for me was a bottle of Baron de L' Pouilly Fumeā€”just delicious and I still remember the flavors. Since that night I've enjoyed many wines, but during that time in France, my next great adventure began: great wine!

What's your favorite part of the job so far?
My colleagues: they understand wine, but more importantly they understand straightforward service. We value our clients, and it’s very important for us to get a wine in their hands that best suits their needs. I want to listen to, and engage each client in order to deliver as perfect an experience as possible—it’s a team effort.

What are a few great wines or spirits that you've discovered here?
That depends. I do enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernets, and Barolo. But it’s a mood thing for me, and we have such an extraordinary selection that there is always something new to enjoy and discover. Thanks to working here, I have re-discovered the beauty of Burgundy and the finesse of Riesling.

Standout/favorite/most thought-provoking customer question?
Many customers ask, "what's the best wine?" This can be difficult to answer or not, and it depends on interpretation. Quality, and budget are a factor, but the best wine is always the wine that meets expectations, and fits a particular purpose; a dinner, casual drinking, a big date, a grand celebration or a wine to save or cellar for many years. In the broadest sense, great, ageable, highly sought after wine is sometimes rare, and in some cases can be the best, but a bottle that's delicious, and leaves you with a wonderful memory is always best.

What's your single most important tip for wine lovers looking to learn?
Drink and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! I believe that wine is a luxury for everyone. As I've always said, you should drink wine you enjoy and not a trend or the common flavor of the month. While there are rare and expensive bottles you could pursue, a wine's true appeal and value is in the pleasure it brings to you.

 

 Chelsea Wine Vault - Meet the Staff  
John Ferro
Wine Buyer

What did you do before you came to CWV?
I was in IT for over 30 years, and responsible for a multitude of disciplines.

What's your favorite part of the job so far?
Meeting and chatting with other passionate wine folks: customers, brand reps, and winemakers.

What are a few great wines or spirits that you've discovered here?
We are lucky enough to taste new, exciting wines and spirits regularly -- it’s hard to pick only a few. Bourbon has become a favorite spirit and I'm enjoying more Spanish wines these days.

Standout/favorite/most thought-provoking customer question?
We constantly get challenging food pairing questions. Blue cheese, rabbit, asparagus, venison--you name it!

What's your single most important tip for wine lovers looking to learn?
Drink a lot! Seriously, try different wines from different places to really experience the breadth of wine and to understand what you like or dislike.

 

 Chelsea Wine Vault - Meet the Staff  
Chris Penwarden, Dip WSET
Wine Specialist / Wine Educator

What did you do before you came to CWV?
I was studying for my WSET wine qualifications while working for a wine importer in London, England.


Favorite part of the job so far?
I love chatting to our customers, helping them to get the best out of their chosen bottle of wine. Whether they are looking for a wine for $20 or $2,000, I want their experience to be truly memorable.


What are a few great wines or spirits that you've discovered here?
Even though I have a Diploma in wine and spirits, I am constantly learning about new exciting regions and styles - especially here at CWV. So far I've had many "wow" experiences, but I've particularly loved discovering Nicolas Joly's Biodynamic Clos de la Bergerie Loire white from Savennieres and also a wonderful 'Grower Champagne' from Savart called L'Ouverture, an artisan wine from Premier Cru vineyards. Both are also complete bargains!

Standout/favorite/most thought-provoking customer question?
We get a lot of customers asking for wines they've tried before and it's always fun to try to de-code what they want. "Have you got the one with the red label from Italy that I tried last week in Holland; oh, maybe it was France... I think it was a red." If we can't find the exact wine, we'll go out of our way to find something that will equal it, or hopefully surpass it!

What's your single most important tip for wine lovers looking to learn?
My tip is to take a photo of the label of a wine you've tried and write a little note to describe what you liked or not liked about it. It helps with the above question (!) but will also mean that you can start to build a picture of your tastes. Hey, it's what we do!

 

 

 Chelsea Wine Vault - Meet   the Staff  
Moriah Simmons
Web Editor


What did you do before you came to CWV?
Before CWV, I worked at a website for professional chefs. Before that, I was a pastry chef. So working in the wine industry is a whole new exploration of flavor.

What's your favorite part of the job?
We have such a friendly, knowledgeable group of staff, and I'm always learning from them. That sounds like a pageant answer, but really, come in and talk to Steve about Napa, Felix about Burgundy, and have David recommend a Barolo. You'll see what I mean.

What are a few great wines or spirits that you've discovered here?
I’ve learned that pretty much any wine from the Loire valley is going to be delicious, especially the Franc de Pied from Catherine and Pierre Breton. I also discovered that I really like dessert wines that taste like nuts, leaves, and mushrooms. We have some fantastic Tokaji, and we also have a few excellent Sherries from Equipo Navazos.

Standout/favorite/most thought-provoking customer question?
I spend most of my time at a computer, but every once in a while I’m on the floor and get to help a customer. Recently, someone was looking for an Italian white that had to be DOCG labeled, so I got to recommend an amazing Arneis, and explain a little bit about the Italian wine labeling system.

What's your single most important tip for wine lovers looking to learn?
Drink what you like, but keep exploring. It's the best way to keep learning, and it keeps you from getting into a rut. Taste everything you can get your hands on, and try to categorize what you taste. Does this wine taste like apple? Does the smell remind you of leather? Building a taste vocabulary will help you remember what you like and find more wines that suit your palate in the future.