Pasanella and Son Vintners (115 South Street; 212-233-8383) has been an indispensable wine shop to Lower Manhattanites for a decade. Known for its Italian design flair — including a vintage Fiat on the retail floor — and 400-bottle-deep wine selection, the store, owned by husband-and-wife team Marco Pasanella and Rebecca Robertson, withstood the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The couple’s dedication to remaining open during the difficult months that followed, servicing bleary-eyed, disheartened locals, cemented customer loyalty enduringly.
The shop brought a new member into the fold of the community: Dhrubo Mazumdar joined Pasanella as head wine buyer in July. Marco Pasanella explained to the Voice why he hired him: “Because he’s passionate about wine, gets our sensibility, and seems like a very good person — important for this neighborhood shop whose owners live above the store.”
Born in India, admittedly “not exactly the wine capital of the world,” according to Mazumdar (although India, like practically every country, now produces wine), he has spent the preponderance of his life in NYC. Much of that time has been focused on the food and beverage industry, including turns at Brooklyn’s Slope Cellars and Fort Defiance, where he sharpened his wine knowledge and enthusiasm. Speaking with the Voice this week, Mazumdar discussed why he joined the beloved retailer, how wine consumers have evolved over the years, and what regions he suggests for interesting or value-driven wines.
According to Mazumdar, Pasanella and Son’s longstanding reputation for supporting artisanal, natural, and under-the-radar winemakers helped hook him into accepting the position when the opportunity presented itself. “Through my journey in wine,” said Mazumdar, “I have come to love and respect these winemakers. A wine’s ability to represent terroir and the vigneron’s work in the cellar are important criteria for me while choosing a wine.” Mazumdar believes accessibility and pure deliciousness trump dogma, however, and he ultimately selects bottles he would drink at home with friends.
Over the years Mazumdar has observed how wine drinkers have grown eager to know more about the selections they take home. “The distance between the winemaker and the consumer is becoming smaller — consumers want the connection,” he said. Right now, Mazumdar recommends examples from Galicia, in Spain, and Swabia, in Germany. “They can be great values and just all-around enjoyable. In particular, I’m crazy about the mineral-laden mencias of Pedro Rodriguez, and the aromatically cleansing and earthy expression of trollinger from Jochen Beurer in Baden-Württemberg.”
Traditionally, wine geeks and industry vets have toggled between appreciating the classics and the obscure — like sherry, wines from Jura, and chenin blanc from the Loire — but Mazumdar pointed out that his customers are more open than ever to trying new things, too: “Consumers still ask for their sauvignon blancs and malbecs, but who would have thought that one of our best-selling rosés would be a German trollinger?”
So what does Mazumdar imbibe at home? “I love to drink a lot of different wines, depending on the occasion and my mood. Some of my favorites include chablis from producers like Duplessis, rieslings from Weiser-Künstler, rosé from Maxime Magnon, chinon from Jerome Lenoir, and tinto fino from Goyo Garcia,” he said, adding that he also likes a good negroni and a martini from time to time.
On the travel front, Mazumdar acknowledged that New York has kept him busy, but that he one day looks forward to visiting the Savoie, Loire, and the Mosel because they have indelibly shaped his palate. In the meantime, working in wine retail lets him and his customers enjoy what the wider world offers, through the simplicity of uncorking — or unscrewing — a bottle. “I feed off of getting customers excited about wine without intimidating them. It’s something that makes me very happy, because at the end of the day, wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not overanalyzed.”
Pasanella and Son Vintners offers tastings from its current selections three times a week (up from once a week, Mazumdar noted), with the goal to give customers more opportunities to sample. Mazumdar advised checking Pasanella’s website, Instagram, and Facebook pages for updates and details.
The store also boasts an event space, an unusual feature for an intimate shop. “We work with our customers to provide a range of experiences from a casual soiree to private tastings for up to 75 people,” said Mazumdar. Other events have included partnering with the South Street Seaport Museum for Sip ’n’ Sails, a sunset tasting conducted aboard the nineteenth-century schooner Pioneer as it sails through the harbor.