Two years after he helped to open Flatiron Wines in Manhattan, general manager Beau Rapier began to think about moving back to the West Coast. Coincidentally, Flatiron partners Je Patten and John Cohen had been considering opening a second store, and with Rapier as the anchor, they zeroed in on San Francisco. Rapier saw a clear dividing line between the city’s large chain shops and the small indies. Until now, he says, K&L was the only store to fi ll the middle ground. Flatiron San Francisco is three times larger than the New York store, with an upstairs bar where you can order wines by the glass whenever the store’s open, and regular winemaker events downstairs—Steve Edmunds (of Edmunds St. John in Berkeley) and Silvia Altare (of Elio Altare in Barolo) were two recent visitors. Flatiron SF is particularly deep in wines from Piedmont, Burgundy, the Loire and Champagne. “Basically piggybacking on what we do in New York,” Rapier says. He draws on the store’s relationships with individual producers, as well as access to private cellars and auction houses, to stock a selection of back vintages. You’ll find mature grand cru Burgundies in their climate-controlled wine fridges, but also plenty of older wines, from Vouvray to Alto Piemonte, for under $50—ready for anyone without a cellar stocked with well-aged bottles.
This review appears in the print edition of the June 2016 issue. Like what you just read? Subscribe now.