A Fond Farewell to a Friend in Wine

The wine industry loses a friend with the passing of Burgundy expert Ned Benedict at age 60

A Fond Farewell to a Friend in Wine
Ned Benedict always brought something new to the conversation.
Jul 22, 2019

I met Ned Benedict for the first time in the late 1990s, at a tasting at Judson Grill, the midtown New York restaurant where chefs Bobby Flay and Bill Telepan drew raves, and wine lovers flocked (it closed in 2004). At the time, Ned was working as the wine director at Aureole. Over the years, Ned and I got to know each other, bonding over our mutual love for Burgundy. For the past decade or so, we had lunch together about three or four times a year.

I saw Ned a month ago at David Bowler’s annual backyard barbecue. We shared a few good glasses of wine, had a few laughs. He was looking forward to his vacation and we planned to get together again for lunch before the summer was over.

On the morning of July 15, I received a phone call. Ned had died. I was in disbelief. Only 60 years old, he left us too soon. It hits hard when one of your peers is gone so unexpectedly.

Ned was well-known in New York wine circles. A veteran of the Manhattan restaurant scene, he left Aureole to become the Burgundy buyer at Zachys in 2002. I bought a lot of Burgundy from him during that time, especially 2005 Pinot Noirs. He was also a resource for what was happening in the Burgundy market. Ned was a fixture in Burgundy, where we would run into each other from time to time. He traveled frequently to Champagne and Italy too, making many friends in wine regions around the world. In 2009, he joined Grand Cru Selections as managing partner, building a portfolio of some of the most sought-after wines from France and Italy.

Our lunches together were an opportunity to try a new restaurant, new wines or revisit old favorites. There was almost always Champagne and, naturally, Burgundy. Ned had a dry sarcasm and pulled no punches. Needless to say, our discussions about wine, the business, new trends and life in general were always enjoyable and informative. But what I remember the most were the laughs and the camaraderie. In 2009 a group of us had dinner at Eleven Madison Park. The quote of the night for me came from Ned, describing chef Daniel Humm’s cuisine: “The guy can cook!”

Nobody was immune to Ned’s sarcasm (even himself), however, he was just as quick to give praise and generous with his time and vast knowledge of wine and the restaurant and wine business. He was driven, but he also enjoyed life. If his emails were more than six words, it must have been an off day for him.

I will miss our lunches, the discussions and the tasting. Ned always brought something new to the conversation—wine, a restaurant opening, a question or a comment—that enriched the debate. But most of all, he was a lot of fun.

I’ll see you on the other side for a good glass of Burgundy one day, my friend.

A memorial service for Ned Benedict will be held on Sunday, July 28, at 3:00 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue in New York.

News Obituaries Pinot Noir Burgundy France

You Might Also Like

Can Anyone Stop the Sticky, Sap-Sucking Invader Attacking American Vineyards?

Can Anyone Stop the Sticky, Sap-Sucking Invader Attacking American Vineyards?

Native to China, the spotted lanternfly is killing vines on the East Coast and is spreading

Aug 21, 2019
Wine Shipping Watch: Florida Opens Door to Out-of-State Retailer Shipping

Wine Shipping Watch: Florida Opens Door to Out-of-State Retailer Shipping

Plus, Connecticut passed legislation to allow direct shipping; seven other states face …

Aug 19, 2019
Could the Wine Compound Resveratrol Help Manage Depression?

Could the Wine Compound Resveratrol Help Manage Depression?

A new study suggests the heralded polyphenol found in red wine may help your brain ward off …

Aug 15, 2019
Stephen Starr Debuts Restaurant in Hudson Yards

Stephen Starr Debuts Restaurant in Hudson Yards

Plus, chef Amy Brandwein opens a new spot in D.C., Ristorante Morini closes, and more

Aug 15, 2019
The 2019 New York Wine Experience: Gathering for the Good Life

The 2019 New York Wine Experience: Gathering for the Good Life

The October event will feature two days of seminars featuring great bottlings and compellin…

Aug 12, 2019
Moderate Wine Drinkers Live Longer, Study Shows

Moderate Wine Drinkers Live Longer, Study Shows

The debate over alcohol and health gets a positive boost from a detailed analysis of 8,000 …

Aug 7, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search