This Saturday, Acker Auctions from wine merchants Acker Merrall & Condit closes off their season with "A Night in the Hamptons." The auction features a mix of burgundies, bordeaux, and beyond, showcasing everything from new favorites to old staples. We spoke with Acker Merrall & Condit CEO John Kapon on his favorite Hamptons summer wines, which bottles you should be buying, what to look for at the auction, and more.
What would you say is the quintessential Hamptons wine?
JOHN KAPON: When I think about the Hamptons, I always think about the summer whites. The classic Hamptons wine is a great white burgundy—white burgundy is chardonnay at its finest expression, there is a lot of diversity between vintage, producer region [and] there are just many different ways to go. Having a great Puligny-Montrachet is the perfect way to welcome in the weekend.
What are the ultimate wines for a day at the beach, boating, and a garden party in the Hamptons?
JK: For the beach, riesling is great because it's easier to drink on its own. Chardonnay might be better for the boat—with the white burgundy you may want to have some food or hors d’oeuvres. And the garden party depends; with food, the white burgundy or the Puligny-Montrachet. The garden party can go both ways.
Tell us about your favorite food and wine pairings for summer.
JK: The key is to avoid foods that are too sweet or too spicy because it can detract from the wine enjoyment. Good old-fashioned California red wine goes well with barbecue. It doesn’t really matter what type of grape it is—the grape can be your preference. The California style tends to be a little bit richer, a little more extracted and concentrated, and that tends to go very well with barbecue.
Any advice for storing wine well in the summer heat?
JK: Having a professional storage account is great and I recommend Domaine Wine Storage, which is a great company in the tri-state area. If you collect wine, you should at least have a mini unit that can hold up to 50-100 bottles at the house, and anything beyond that you should keep in professional storage. Space is expensive in New York, why keep it around the house when you can keep it offsite in ideal conditions and have anything delivered to you when you need?
Are there any buying trends or opportunities in high-end wine you're seeing this summer?
JK: It’s a great time to be buying bordeaux, which is the number one commodity in the world of wine. Over the last year there’s been a price adjustment for many different reasons, but bordeaux in general is available at prices that are 30-40 percent less than it was a year or two ago. What history has proven is when these corrections happen, it’s only for a limited amount of time and the market just goes right back up again.
Which wine at the auction are you most excited about?
JK: Old wine gets me very excited and there is a big collection of old wines that came to us from a former wine dealer in Belgium and he's had these wines for decades—unmoved. There are two cases of original wooden-case Petrus, which is considered one of the top two or three wines in the world. There is an original case from 1959 and a 1964 original in Magnum that is in great condition. Finding an old case of a wine that hasn't moved or really been bought and sold many times doesn't happen that often.
Anything else you’re looking forward to at the auction?
JK: There is an opportunity to taste a lot of different wines—we believe that wine is meant to be shared. We encourage people to bring their own wines as well, and it turns into a great party. You can actually learn and taste while you buy, which is something that is very important. Because if it's not fun, you can't learn, and then what's the point?