Meet Michael Acheson, the newest team member at Horseneck Wine in Greenwich. This Dad of one has a rock star wine resume, including stints as the GM & Wine Director at Babbo in NYC’s West Village and more recently, as the Corporate Wine Director at Citarella. His professional accolades include winning the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award, but this sommelier’s favorite role is as Dad to Olive, 2 1/2. We spoke to Michael about his new role with Horseneck, one of the oldest liquor stores in the country!
Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up an Army brat, so I have lived all over, from Virginia to Germany, Massachusetts, California, Utah etc. After spending close to a decade in California I was finally lured back to the East Coast by the lovely woman I was dating at the time, and now we have two small dogs and an amazing little girl named Olive. We live in BedStuy, and are currently enmeshed in the insanity that is trying to buy a home in this ridiculous market! If all things go according to plan we’ll be moving to Nyack, a nice place to grow up for Olive and a short trip across the bridge for me.
You have a fabulous resume. What do you consider to be the highlights of your career?
I’ve been extremely lucky to work for four great mentors in my career: the incomparable Cat Silirie at #9 Park in Boston, Andrew Green in San Francisco, the Italian wine ace Jeff Porter in New York, and now Greg Rubin here in Greenwich. Each teacher gave me the opportunity to learn, grow, and travel, and while there have been Michelin stars and Grand Award wine lists in the past, I’ve never been happier since I transitioned into the retail wine world. Greg and I are simpatico with our hospitality-first approach, and we’re blessed with some seriously awesome and interesting clients. It’s never a dull moment in the shop.
Amazing! What else attracted you to the position at Horseneck Wine?
About five minutes into my first conversation with Greg I figured out that we grew up in the same town (Needham, Massachusetts represent!), and a few minutes later I realized we basically had identical philosophies when it comes to hospitality, entertaining, and sharing our passion for great wine, food, and culture. I was hooked.
What are you looking forward to doing in your new role?
I absolutely cannot wait to start doing tastings and dinners again. I’m bursting at the seams with menus in my mind. White truffle season in Greenwich is going to be insane, I promise you this.
What are your favorite wines as the weather warms up?
For warm weather whites my heart lies in the coastal vineyards of Italy. On the cheap and cheerful side it’s hard not to love the Terenzuola “Vigne Basse” Vermentino from the Colli di Luni, the gorgeous part of Italy where Liguria meets Tuscany. Perfect on a warm Spring evening as an aperitivo or with linguine alle vongole.
If dinner is a bit more serious, or maybe I’m feeling frisky and want to fire up the grill, then I’ll serve a white from Sicily. Right now I’m enamored with Tornatore’s exceptional “Pietrarizzo”, an Etna Bianco crafted primarily from the native Carricante varietal. This bottling is dominated by the intense minerality that Mt Etna imbues in all of her best wines, and features stone fruit, freshly cut white flowers, and a little hint of salty sea air. It’s a perfect foil for a fatty piece of grilled swordfish and the salty/sweet tension of caponata.
What’s the biggest mistake you see people making when buying wine?
Everyone has their own approach to what they like to drink, so I’m not here to judge! I would counsel clients to not get too caught up with buzz around “bad” vintages, case in point being 2014 in Tuscany and Piedmont. Tons of the wines are now drinking wonderfully, at least the ones made in a classic style, and at a significant discount from the better regarded vintages bookending 2014. Keep an open mind!
Great advice. When can people come meet you?
I’m here Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and on alternating Wednesdays and Saturdays. I’m the big guy with a beard, pretty tough to miss. Come say hi!
We love to support local businesses. In the area what are your favorite places to:
We do our coffee drinking in-house. Greg has a “Jura” machine which makes tremendous espresso. Rudy, the store manager, is from Guatemala and has a connection there, so he sourced our most recent batch of beans from a farm not far from where he grew up. Really delicious stuff.
Raphaël’s Bakery! Their saucisson beurre sandwich brings me back to Paris every time I eat one, which is probably more often than I should! I love the family that runs the place as well, they’re warm and friendly and never bat an eye when I fumble my order in French.
I’m really digging The Cottage, which just opened on the Avenue.
Shop for clothes
Treads and Threads, great neighbors and a great shop!
Shop for a gift
My gifting is generally wine-based, and we’ve got a great gifting and shipping program at Horseneck, so I keep it in-house. Who doesn’t love a bottle of Champagne?!