Need A Fool-Proof Wine Recommendation? Check the Importer

For all the cues that a wine label can deliver—the grape, provenance, vintage—often the most useful piece of info is found on the back of the bottle: the importer.

Photograph by Adam Voorhes; Prop styling by Robin Finlay.

For all the cues that a wine label can deliver—the grape, provenance, vintage—often the most useful piece of info is found on the back of the bottle: the importer. Because if you trust that name, it may be all you need. Think of it as a favorite record label that keeps turning you on to music you never would've found otherwise. "We go back to certain distributors all the time," says Joe Campanale, the beverage director at New York City's Dell'Anima and L'Apicio. "These are guys who have a clear mission statement of what kind of wine they want to sell. Their approach is very consistent." Here are five who get it right every time.

Jenny and François

Specialty: All-natural

Backstory: Living in France in the nineties, film student Jenny Lefcourt and jazz pianist François Ecot discovered a common thread in the wines they liked: no chemicals. They've since found a sweet spot with organic and biodynamic selections.

One to Try: Ca' dei Zago Prosecco Col Fondo

jennyandfrancois.com

De Maison Selections

Specialty: Spain and France

Backstory: If you've tried a boutique sherry or a funky Spanish cider at a tapas bar recently, it was likely from French-American André Tamers, who studied painting in Barcelona for three years, then brought some of his favorites back to the States.

One to Try: Cava Avinyó Blanc de Noirs

demaisonselections.com

Blue Danube Wine Company

Specialty: Austria and Eastern Europe

Backstory: Husband-and-wife team Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar were pushing American IT systems in Eastern Europe when they discovered the region's indigenous varieties—Grner Veltliner, Furmint, Plavac Mali—and wineries using local traditions.

One to Try: 2011 Tokaj Nobilis Susogó Furmint

bluedanubewine.com

Vine Connections

Specialty: South America

Backstory: "We found the world's fifth-largest wine-producing country hiding amazing wine in plain sight," says cofounder Ed Lehrman, who sold his mail-order company before a vacation to Argentina 14 years ago and ended up creating the first boutique-only portfolio from Mendoza.

One to Try: 2012 Mayu Pedro Ximenez

vineconnections.com

Rosenthal Wine Merchant

Specialty: The Alps

Backstory: Neal Rosenthal gave up his New York law practice in 1977 to bring European classics to America. Today, his impeccably curated list reflects a growing interest in high-altitude wines from Switzerland and the Haute-Savoie in France.

One to Try: 2008 Cave des Tilleuls Amigne de Vetroz Grand Cru

madrose.com

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