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New York’s Montrachet to auction cellar

About half the cellar at Montrachet, one of New York’s most sophisticated wine-oriented restaurants, will be auctioned on 11 May.

Montrachet has been closed since last year. Drew Nieporent, an owner, said today he hoped to reopen it but did not say when. It has been on a ‘sabbatical’ pending resolution of ‘internal business issues,’ he said.

The 536 lots Zachys hopes to sell include 383 of red and white Burgundy, dominated by the biggest names and ranging through the 1980s, 1990s and the current decade.

Many New Yorkers have assumed that the restaurant was dead. Careful language on Zachys’ catalogue cover suggests the opposite, speaking only of ‘a significant offering’ from Montrachet’s cellar.

Montrachet’s birth in 1985 helped spark the renewal of Tribeca, a once drab industrial neighborhood downtown. For 21 years, especially in the 1980s, it was synonymous with patrons’ wine education.

The cellar was dominantly the handiwork of Daniel Johnnes, wine director for 20 years. For nine of them, he was assisted by Tim Kopec, currently wine director at Veritas, a major wine-oriented restaurant.

In a memoir in Zachys’ catalogue, Johnnes observes that, at Montrachet, Nieporent realized a ‘vision for fine dining in a casual setting’ that became ‘the beacon for Burgundy in New York.’

Montrachet has been a crown jewel in Nieporent’s Myriad Restaurant Group, which includes Tribeca Grill in New York, Nobu London and Rubicon in San Francisco. The actor Robert DeNiro is a partner of Nieporent.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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