Stellar Cellar

Our expert gets a taste of Rob Likoff’s astounding wine collection.
Rob Likoff's Wine Cellar

If you’re a wine enthusiast, get to know Rob Likoff. In this East Hampton oenophile’s high-design wine cellar, dinner guests get to pick any bottle they like from his collection of 4,500. With luck, they might spot—and snap up—the Screaming Eagle, the Sine Qua Non or the Harlan Estate. He never says no—even to “the Screamer,” which fetches a couple of thousand dollars a bottle— because it fascinates him to see what his friends pull, and he relishes giving them a taste of the greats.

Rob Likoff wth a giant bottle of wine
Grape Nut | East Hampton collector Rob Likoff’s 4,500-bottle cellar includes a selection of large-format nine-liter wines that he calls a “party in a bottle.”

Likoff and his wife, Sheri, entertain frequently and go through more than 600 bottles a year. “My cellar is full, so I really must drink as much as possible to make room for more,” Likoff explains. “I give wine- reduction parties!” He’s on the preferred-customer lists of 150 high-end wineries, so he has to keep ordering wine or risk losing his hard-earned spot (some of these elite vintners have five-year waiting lists).

Likoff discovered his passion for wine in 1994, when his host at a dinner party asked him to pick the best bottle on the list. He ordered a 1961 Château Latour (then listed at a mere $200 a bottle, it now fetches around $5,000 at retail). “It was magical, special, life-changing,” recalls Likoff, who resolved to build a great cellar of his own and immediately started investing in that dream

With the help of Michael Cinque of Amagansett Wine & Spirits, he got to know Napa Valley Cabernet, then moved on to Italian Nebbiolo and Barolo and Spanish Tempranillo; he had long flirtations with Rhône Valley Syrahs (Châteauneuf-du- Pape in particular), Australian Shiraz and Cab again. Lately he’s into Rhone Rangers from California, especially Pax Wine Cellars (also known by its new name, Donelan Family Wines).

His impressive cellar contains gems like Quilceda Creek (100 points every year from Wine Advocate), Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon and Pax Syrah Richard’s Family Vineyard. His Pinot Noir collection includes Antica Terra, Sine Qua Non (Covert Fingers and Over and Out) and Foxen Sea Smoke. Has any wine ever lived up to that first epiphany, though? “Screaming Eagle is phenomenal—so lush, so many layers, so much going on,” he explains. “But I’ve never again replicated the moment I had with that legendary 1961 Latour.”