5 bottles & 5 questions John Kapon [usa]

Picture of Björnstierne Antonsson

Björnstierne Antonsson

Every Friday TheChampagneSommelier will ask 5 questions about 5 coeur de bouteilles to friends and Champagne lovers from near and far. This Week we took a bubbly chat with auctioneer & CEO John Kapon of Acker Merrall & Conduit.


John Kapon is the third-generation chairman of Acker, America’s oldest wine merchant, which has sold fine and rare wines since 1820. Under his leadership, the firm has become the largest fine and rare wine auction house in the world. A leading fine wine expert and master taster, Kapon is the author of The Compendium: Tasting the World’s Finest Wines (Vol. I), an insider’s glimpse into the exclusive world of fine wine, featuring hundreds of tasting notes and illustrated with dozens of photos of the world’s greatest estates and vineyards.

In 1998, third-generation wine merchant John Kapon expanded his family’s retail store operation to conduct independent, live auctions in New York City. Rather than follow in the footsteps of traditional auction houses who, at the time, charged commissions to both buyer and seller, Kapon set Acker apart by removing the sellers commission entirely, attracting many new collectors to the world of wine auctions.

Generally known to be little more than open rooms with rows of chairs facing an auctioneer, Acker’s auctions became food and wine celebrations – convivial, social gatherings hosted at some of New York’s best restaurants – all of which were “bring your own bottle” friendly and offered tastes of wines from the collections being sold. Almost overnight, the wine auction archetype was transformed from a starchy, stiff, business event to a vivacious assembly of oenophiles, and Acker continued to set itself apart from its competitors. It remains to this day an innovator in the wine industry, embracing technology and emerging trends, while employing a unique, warm and welcoming approach to offering fine and rare wine to collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. 

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Which Champagne would You treat your parents or in-laws?

‘For my parents, I would serve an old bottle of Dom Perignon, like 1966 or 1971, as they would appreciate the body and flavors of a mature Champagne, and Doms from this era are very special.’

Which Champagne would You treat your lover?

‘I would treat my wife to something from something from the phenomenal 1996 vintage, that is still electric and exciting, but just starting to show a kiss of maturity.

Which Champagne would You treat your boss?

‘If I had a boss, I would give him the best, and that means something Krug, perhaps the ’88, which is in a fantastic spot and still reasonable in price compared to older vintages.

Which Champagne would You treat yourself?

‘1914 Pol Roger. Simply put, the best Champagne I’ve ever tasted.

Which Champagne would You treat a dream guest, and why?

‘I would gather Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin around a table and serve 1905 Salon. Though I’m not sure if this vintage was commercially released, it is the first vintage for Salon, and, as a big history buff, it would be a momentous occasion for all.’

[ what piece of music would you listen to drinking wine with Your dream guest ?]

We would listen to the soundtrack of Hamilton the Musical, of course! 

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