It's our hope that you found us because you want to know more about wine than you know already... perhaps just a little more, perhaps a lot. Whether your experience has been broad or this is your first sip from the glass, there’s always more to know. And while the offerings of the wine world are nearly endless, they can also be daunting. In fact, if you ask most people anything about wine, they’ll say something like, "I don’t know anything about wine... but I know what I like." Well we think that "What I Like" is a great place to start. TheWineArray has been designed and built to put the focus back on what you like rather than on reviews or ratings. We have found a better way to bring information and understanding to the wine drinking public. Our collective of great sommeliers from NYC's top restaurants, break down each wine into tasting components, assuring you an exact match to what you want. As you encounter new wines with us, your "what I like" will expand and you will understand more about why you like it. We invite you to a new online community of wine drinking, discussion and discovery.

May we introduce...


Michael Nelson Co-Creator of TheWineArray.com

After a decade of working on the restaurant floor of Gotham Bar and Grill (a leading 3-Star restaurant in NYC), Michael honed a fine ear for the wants of the wine drinker. In attempting to please the daily visitors, armed with a constantly changing wine cellar of nearly a 1000 selections, it was essential that he was able to translate both the voice of the consumer and the expression of the bottle. With his considerate manner and a prodigious palate, Michael prompted selections always with a tone of excitement. Now, as a Wine Director of thewinearray, nothing but the audience has changed (now expanded well beyond the dining room!). He believes that everyone enjoys wine, no matter how experienced they may be in drinking and there is something to learn with each sip. His questioning of his own daily tasting demands that he recognize the evolution of his own palate too. This forces a search for a more vibrant vocabulary, one which expands the contexts of wine understanding and allows easier entry into the pleasure for the wine intiates. That search is the drive behind thewinearray.com.

Michael has an effortless way of speaking about wine; an ease to sipping and musing that makes the wine the pleasure it was meant to be. He is always on hand to help answer any wine inquiry, from the simple to the more complex. He welcomes the conversation as thewinearray becomes part of your wine experience!

Current Pick: Az.Ag. COS Pithos Rosso IGT 2010 Fpto

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Rick Pitcher General Manger & Wine Director Manzanilla Restaurant NYC

 

The sheer intensity that Rick adds to a simple wine tasting should be then added to the list of ingredients on the back label. His quick observations are always leading to the next sensation and there is always commentary in between. A great gent to drink alongside and play your own thoughts against; then repeat again and again. Whether in Spain, Cali, Italy or France (or anywhere else where wine is born), it is obvious why so many wine makers love to share their wines with him…he is the fun professional. We certainly need that with us.
 He was once the Wine Director and Director of Operations of KBFK Corp (Mesa Grill, Bolo and Bar American NY and Las Vegas), then Wine Director and General Manager of Toqueville restaurant NY
 and now running one of New York's newest spots, the Spanish brasserie known as Manzanilla. He was also wine-sidekick at Gotham Bar and Grill (with Michael Nelson),while this whole fun idea was drafted, making him one of the original thewinearray.com innovators. He is a master of Spanish offerings but his palate extends around the globe. Rick's extended history has included tours in the vineyards of France, California, New York, Italy, Spain and Germany
.

Where it all began: The son of a wine importer, he began his career with a sip of Lafite Rothschild at age 10! Call it destiny but it lit the fuse for a lifestyle of wine and food. He later secured a diploma from the American Sommelier Association, who in turn, asked him to become an educator in the ranks. We ask Rick for his 
best wine memory and he recalls: Sipping Fino sherry on the beach in Tariffa while looking across to Morocco. If you don't want to taste and enjoy the wine lifestyle the way he does, perhaps wine is not your thing! We'll happily keep sipping right him!

Current Pick: Aalto Aalto 2009 Temp

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Mariko Kobayashi Member of the Elite buyers of Vintry Wines NYC

 

If Mariko is quiet while a wine sits in her glass, it is not from confusion of what she tastes. It is more likely she is trying to decide which reference from the vast pool in her memory bank she feels would be the best comparison. She is a studious and thoughtful wine taster, the librarian with a massive dewey-decimal system, the zen philosopher quietly nodding her approval. Her demeanor matches her search for the balance and harmony in wine, and her biggest smile comes across from the glass that is perfect in its component combination. Because of this, our consideration for the wines to list within thewinearray always involves a second (and maybe third) look before determining the exact array. Mariko somehow intuitively knows that despite what we may assume about any given wine, it is always a new conversation when it is poured. There is always the keen obseravtion and new insight in our discussions with her. She unfolds the simple pleasure of wine drinking into a larger illustration, a better story, somerthing more to smile about. And always with a placid, gentle delivery.

In her past wine-roles, she worked with Sherry-Lehmann, VOS Selections, Jerobaum Wines and Big Nose Full Body on the retail/wholesale side of things. Mariko has also held the title role as sommelier with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, Studio del Gusto at the renowned Italian Wine Merchants in NYC and Wine Director at Esca Restaurant
. Now, she comes to thewinearray tasting panel as a member of the amazing team at Vintry Fine Wines, an dynamic retail shop in NYC that has one of the most remarkable collections of Champagne (Mariko's favorite topic!), Burgundy, & Italian selections and ridiculous stock of larger format bottles of rare wines from incredible vintages. Who else has this depth of tasting with the honest desire to allow everyone that same access and enjoyment?

Mariko was first introduced to wine at a Heuriger in Vienna at the age of 15! From there she earned certification with: American Sommelier Association, Wine and Spirits Education Trust, The Windows on the World Wine School and the Artisanal Premium Cheese Master Class!. She has also traveled to almost every corner of the wine making world.

Current Pick: Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Rotes-Tor Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2011 GVlt

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Kelli White Co-Wine Director at Press in St.Helena California (Napa Valley)

 

We could not have found a better combination of the profound and the familiar in one person. Kelli is a must-have for thewinearray team and has been since the very beginning, helping to craft much of our dialogue into print within our pages. Her ability to translate sensations into words is magical and well proven with her successes in writing for many wine-related websites and journals. The mojo of Kelli (which would take only seconds to realize!) is her ability to disarm the snoots of winedom with wit and workable words. She can turn the most serious bottle of wine into a Pooh Bear pondering. Brilliant, exuberant and clever, in speech as well as character, you would want to drink another bottle just to spend time with her at the table. Consider an ivy-league professor by day/ punk guitarist by night and you will understand her range and grand perspective. And that’s before she starts talking about the wine...


If we describe her history a bit, you can see from where the depth of experience evolved. As a wine buyer in a small University Wine Shop in Cambridge, Mass, she was local legend with her candid wine classes, opening the door to a stint as wine educator at Harvard Unviersity. Taking the stage in front of a bigger audience, she moved to NYC and nabbed the diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (No easy Feat!) and began selling wine for an importer/distributor, where she befriended most of our TWA sommeliers. A few years later, she joined the ranks herself as Head Sommelier at Veritas Restaurant (possibly one the best cellars in New York). Not satisified sufficiently, Kelli then packed up to Napa Valley to write the ultimate tome on Californian wine regions and terroir while racking up the award for Sommelier of the Year 2013 (with her partner Scott Brenner at Press Restaurant) by Food & WIne Magazine. We like to think that if in her off time, she is award winning, imagine when she turns her attention to serious matters. We cannot be honored or happy enough to have her include thewinearray as part of her deep history.

 

Current Pick: Az.Ag. COS Pithos Rosso IGT 2010 Fpto

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Chris McPherson Wine/Beverage Director at Saxon + Parole Restaurant and Madam Geneva in New York City

There are somms out there in the big, scary world of wine that are considered the good guys, the real meat-and-potatoes guys, the 'let's cut the haugthy talk and get to drinking guys and Chris may well be their standard bearer. How else would you assume a former top-notch Cricket player from Down Undah cum primo wine palate otherwise be? Honest, thoughtful and always grinning, he is the disarming sommelier, more likely to be seen in rolled up shirt sleeves than in the proper fat-knotted brocade tie (although he can look rather dapper!). To him, wine can be magic but it is still just a beverage. That is not to say though, we define him as anything less than serious when it comes to tasting. Chris is one of the most festidious note takers in the game. He does not want to forget any thrill along his journey. Burgundy is his first love but he admires wines from all over the globe and is optimistic in their potential. Perhaps coming up in the game, as a child in the vineyards of the Yarra Valley of Southern Australia, he has a unique global perspective. Chris is more often happy that a new project has proven itself than twisted over the ruin of tradition. Not many somms have that open-minded approach, nor do they smile as much when its good!

So let's talk technical training. Chris has been at this for the last 13 years, guiding a successful wine and beverage program with his current restaurant group in New York. In 2006, he moved to NYC to open Public (MIchelin starred hide away in Soho) and continued to carry the torch of hospitality to the Monday Room, Double Crown and now to Saxon and Parole and Madam Geneva. His acquistion of the advanced certificate from the WSET, demonstartes his determination and knowledge but his early years planted the roots, so to speak. Growing up in the cool, coastal wine climates near Melbourne, he was more or less raised to consider wine in his everyday life. There he tried his wine making hand with the accliamed Yering Station Vineyards. Mixology runs deep too. He shakes a mean cold one. His love for artisanal spirits and mixers is just as passionate as vinous tastes. When we get around to building a site to help tasters determine cockatil preferences as well, he will be our lead consultant. For now though, we'll take his word on the wine!

Current Pick: Lemelson Vineyards Pinot Noir Jerome Reserve 2008 PNr

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Matthew Conway Director of Operations of Marc Forgione Restaurant in NYC

 

If your insecurity about wine builds from the image of a smug sommelier, repeatedly donned with Michelin Stars upon his lapel and from the shadow cast by the upward arrogant chin, attained by the rigorous tutelage in one of the world’s best cellars, then you are misreading the image of who sits before you. Matthew may well be one of our most fierce tasters but rightly so. It matches his drive and devotion for learning about his palate and the fascination that wine provides him. Step a little closer, well past his resume, and just start talking wine with him. You will agree. He is passionate and proud and obsessed with wine that thrills, no matter the place, people or popularity surrounding it. He will determine its merits himself. Honesty comes first. It may be a simple, classic country white or a complex, robust red of the new world. If its good wine, honest and made well with pure intentions, then he with sniff it out. That adds a clear-cut definition to our tastings at thewinearray. His conviction is what has propelled him so far in his young career.

We mentioned the formal training Matthew endured. He graduated and now teaches new students at the American Sommelier Assosciation, helping to draft new curriculum as the program expands beyond wine 101. He was hired by the acclaimed chef, Gray Koonz, trained to curate his brilliant collection at both Café Gray and Grayz in New York City. When that era ended, he was asked to become a sommelier at Taillevent in Paris, one of only 3 Americans ever to survive the daunting task. There he was exposed to greatest wines, from a history of vintages, in the company of some of the top critics and foodies around the globe. Now back in NYC, he has relaxed a bit, in atmosphere (ie. tossed aside the taste-du-vin) but not in spirit, driving the beverage program for a growing restaurant group with Marc Forgione (perhaps a chef with matched intensity!). In his spare time, he is the maestro (and everything else) of a web address called, Underripe.com. There he translates everything he loves into the language of the youth. We are the beneficiary of his his hard work. His attention is focused, his words are strong, his palate accurate and his partnership with our little gig is more than appreciated. 

Current Pick: Aurelio Settimo Dolcetto DAlba 2009 Dolc

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Tom Gannon Sommelier of Cafe Tallulah and East Coast Mastermind for the Spire Collection of fine wines

We do our best to maintain a particular level of honesty at thewinearray, with a consistent relaxed and open dialogue. That is why we are so pleased to have Tom join us around the table. And honestly, it does not get any cooler than with him and his gentle, kick-back-and-enjoy-the-stuff style. With all the swirling promotion of wine, he remains the ultimate "chill" somm, dedicated to the task at hand. On one hand, he is always cheering on the experience.  He looks first to the positive in each wine he tastes. On the other, he is 100% honest in his response. So we can bet he will give any bottle its fair shake. His reflections on the experience therefore, are a combination of first impression and deep consideration, loaded with clever whit and wisdom. Each sip is met with a smile and nod. We attribute this to Tom's other role in life as a poet and playwright. It is a perspective from a very personal angle, with a unique interpretation that is revealed in the kindest manner. Few sommeliers have this combination of professional evaluation and free-form delivery. If thewinearray is about bringing wine drinkers closer to the meaning of their likes, then we positively need an artist like Tom on board to make it a fully realized experience and perhaps, an unexpected pleasure.

At the beginning of thewinearray, Tom was at Rothman’s Steakhouse NYC, for many years. He did have a run on the sales side too with a short stint with Atlantic Wines and Spirits NY. 
We also found his musings posted (as the Blogger) on Entaste and Good Life Diaries, rambling about wine and ridiculousness, drinking local and thinking global.
 Tom was one of the first students in the American Sommelier Association (way back in 2000), which made him give up his bartending days to pursue the vino life. After passing the Blind Tasting course with ASA, he has begun the process with the Court of Master Sommeliers. 
Now he is the starring Sommelier at Cafe Tallulah in Manhattan and the East Coast conatct for the Spire Collection of Fine Wines. Since joining the Spire Collection, he has gained the honors of 2012 Finalist of Top|Somm from the Guild of Sommelier. And you can hear his ramblings on wine on the Heritage Radio Network on occasion. Due to his travels, we cannot get Tom to every tasting, but he does bring back the word from outside the NYC area, again, keeping us grounded to real responses of the wine world.

Current Pick: Cantine Ascheri Barbera D'Alba Fontanelle 2009 Barb

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Nic Bradley Sommelier with Sherbrooke Cellars, NYC

The word passion is too often used to explain the connection one has to their career. It is common that the interest is there but the labors involved with a career sometimes seem forced, a distraction from what one really wants from life. Rarely does real passion come through so serenely and purely as it does with Mr. Nic Bradley. Nic has the uncanny ability to experience, meaning in every way slowing the world down wherever he is, whatever is flustering about him, to take all things in for consideration. Ponderous, sensitive and always optimistic, he notices the finer points and catalogs them for later use. You would just have to share one glass with Nic, envision his last encounter with it and you will slow down to take it all in too.

Perhaps it is due to his start in the whole game playing dual roles in both the kitchens and dining rooms of his first restaurant jobs. Starting in DC's famous 1789 Restaurant and moving north to conquer NYC, he developed a penchant for hospitality from both perspectives, echoing the search of the client and chef in his own attitude. That is why first, the crowned gem of restaurants, PerSe and then the Modern in NYC's MoMA took him eagerly onboard to delight their clients. His sincere interest while working through these cellars created friendships with many winemakers, which allowed him to travel to all wine regions on the map, from Europe to California. Adding more to digest, these intimate trips found Nic absorbing the energy of these places and the people working there, instilling in him the idea that wine is an identity of these factors.  Nic decided to move away from the nightly audiences of restaurants to recant what he was experincing now to the world of sommeliers, as regional manager for Europvin selections (a highly regarded international importer). This is where we caught his attention, joining our table when he smelled a good bottle being poured. He loves the translation of the tasting and the stories that explain the elements that stir these sensations. His desire to be in the moment and to share his history, enriches the tasting and gives dimension to our descriptions. If the entire mission of thewinearray is to share the joys of wine drinking, then why would we not want Nic alongside us? Nic now works for a new fine wine wholesaler in NY called Sherbrooke Cellars. He is helping to fill their portfolio with intriguing wineries and cataloging tomes of tales for us to hear. We are sure he will bring many to our attention as he finds them, one passionate presentation at a time.

Current Pick: Red Newt Cellars Riesling Davis Farms Vineyard 2009 Ries

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Chandler Sante Co-Creator of TheWineArray.com

There are two sides to almost everything in life, a law of opposites that causes needed tension. All great drama results from their push-and-pull, this exchange of viewpoints, as the coin flips back and forth. It is no different in the wine experience and it is why so much dialogue exisits when a bottle is opened. One man's cherry-rhubarb is another's candied raspberry. An expert's proud, droning account is a screech on a chalkboard to another. So it is that Chandler Sante came into the grand stage of thewinearray.com, in fact, starting the script before it was titled as such. He is the other side of the game, the non-expert, a title he is proud to keep. Chandler brings with him the honest voice of a true wine lover. Sure, he has styles he prefers (don't we all?) but his willingness to hear through the countless sommeliers and there lofty language as they attempted to match his wants, forged the foundation for our forum. He tastes every wine alongside us as the counterpoint, unafraid to have his vote counted (as it should be) to keep our tasting scales in balance. He helps our team to remember the roots of their beginnings, to keep the jargin in line with real talk and to keep a glass of humility, humor and fun in each bottle. With an agile ability to converse, Chandler's history of dining helped establish the relationships with many on our team (as well as collect friends at the bar to join in the boisterous chats!). He is the type of guy who you WANT to drink wine with and talk things over as you go, no matter what the other guys say. As he puts it...

"Thoroughout my life wine has been a passion of mine, one that until now, has remained an avocation. From the time my interest in wine began- statring with Mateus Rosé- I've tried to learn as much as I could in the same way most other wine drinkers do; by reading reviews, going to tastings and getting recommendations from friends. Along with some incredible enjoyment, I've experienced firsthand just how frustrating and impenentrable the world of wine can be for a non-expert. I've always felt there was something missing in what's available to the general public in terms of talking about and learning about wine. One evening, Michael Nelson and I began a conversation about how best to bring a sommelier's knowledge and experience to the widest range of people, and how to help people accurately describe their tastes, so they can tap into the incredible knowledge of a skilled wine professional."

Thewinearray is a product of that dialogue.

Current Pick: Bodegas Mas Alta La Basseta Priorat 2010 Gcha

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Justin Spaller Wine Director at Commerce Restaurant NYC

Justin may label himself as a bit of a "late bloomer" to the game of wine despite being a youngster on the scene. With boyish good looks, and plenty of charm, he is as sharp and precise as a early picked, bone-dry feiderspiel riesling. We asked him to be part of the fun of thewinearray after tasting with him on many occasions and realizing that his response to wine was more an inuitive and thoughtful reflection than straight out critique (exactly what we need around here!). He is one of the more honest palates, with a open-mind to any glass set before him and a direct, quick read of the qualities that measure the grade. Add to this, his quiet demeanor, his kind smile and his delivery in his concise yet humble tone (maybe its his Mid-West upbrging?), then how could we not ask him to be a partner?  We see him as the perpetual student, not in that he needs to learn but that he never stops investigating. He is always looking for the next example, the next untasted gem. This extends to the world of cocktails and spirits as well. He first cut his teeth behind the bar at home in Milwaukee. Once settled in behind the bar at Commerce, he was found sneaking time away to study flashcards of wine notes he made for himself. Now he runs the cellar on a nightly basis in this hide-away classic in the West Village. If we can take that same investigative energy, and perhaps copy a few of those flashcards too, it would guarantee perfect content for our site and the cellar. If Justin still wants to be called the late-bloomer, so be it, but we know he has only begun to flower and the fruit ahead will be amazing.

Current Pick: Domaine Des Roches Neuves Saumur Champigny 2012 CabFc

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