Judging by the shelf space allotted, German Riesling is not a big category for Sussex Wines. "Chambers, Astor, Crush—they really have that market," explained Sussex's wine buyer, Jeremy Block, referring to other stores. "We can't compete with it." "I don't know if they've corned the market—maybe they've mastered the concept," replied Mr. Spingarn, who wasted no time pulling the bottles out of the bag and putting them on the counter for Mr. Block and his associate to taste as Mr. Haag delivered his spiel. "A fresh, delightful wine," he said of the "basic" 2010 Riesling. "How does 2011 compare to 2010?" asked Mr. Block. "Great again," shot back Mr. Haag. The next stop was a bit further uptown—Nobu 57, where wine director Deanna Lockard was waiting behind the bar. Messrs. Spingarn and Haag had relaxed into their respective roles, with Mr. Spingarn giving the broad overview, including a footnote about an exceptionally steep vineyard site that he called "a psychotic vineyard" (I assumed that meant dangerous).
OWJ contributor Evan Spingarn was followed around by The Wall Street Journal's Lettie Teague as he made the rounds selling the wines of Thomas Haag of Schloss Lieser: