Daniel Johnnes: Wine Specialist

A wine master changes alliances

Daniel Johnnes reigns supreme as New York's crown prince of Pinot Noir.

He's the beverage director for Daniel Boulud's restaurants, an importer of artisanal wine and a quality winemaker in his own right.

But in a move as unpredictable as the noblest Burgundian vintages, Johnnes recently shifted his focus to France's other legendary–and oftentimes rival–wine region, Bordeaux.

At a time when a younger generation of sommeliers has neglected Bordeaux in favor of more overtly obscure wines, Johnnes has amassed a game-changing portfolio of imports from lesser-known, family-owned estates scattered along the banks of Bordeaux's two rivers. In doing so, he has uncovered an alternative image of Bordeaux, turning the region's luxurious stereotypes on their head. So raise a glass as a thank you for his efforts:

2005 Château Robin Côtes de Castillon (retail price: $23 for 750 ml) Poured at Daniel and Café Boulud, this bottling unleashes all of the heady black-currant fruit expected from its epic vintage but is also tamed by a graphite minerality typically reserved for Bordeaux's pricier growths. Available at Sherry-Lehmann

2008 Château Saint Dominique Puisseguin St. Emilion (retail price: $18 for 750 ml) Stylistically lighter and more refreshing, with hints of raspberries and spice, this wine is poured at Bar Boulud and Café Boulud and is a lovely summertime red: Polish it off alongside Bar Boulud's roast duck breast with braised Swiss chard and radishes. Available at Saratoga Wine Exchange