A Farewell to Ab Simon

The importer who brought fine Bordeaux to American wine devotees passes away at 88.


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Abdallah H. Simon—known to most in the world of wine as “Ab”—died on January 1, 2011, at the age of 88.  Simon was widely considered to be the most important importer of Bordeaux wines into the United States.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1922, Simon attended the American University of Beirut prior to emigrating to the States in 1944. He served in the U.S. Army for two years and briefly worked with his brother in the textile business before moving into wine importing. He joined the Bronfman family, owners of spirits giant Seagram & Sons, in 1974, creating Seagram Chateau and Estate Wines, which grew to become America’s number one importer of Bordeaux wines. During his 25 years at Seagram, Simon fueled the market’s demand for first growth Bordeaux.

“His greatest contribution was re-establishing the Bordeaux market to a level beyond anyone’s wildest dreams,” says Robin Kelley O’Connor, former U.S. trade liaison for the Bordeaux Wine Trade Council. “He brought a fragmented Bordeaux market together to form one cohesive national U.S. network. He made it possible for someone to buy fine Bordeaux even in Alaska.”

“Ab was a legend who contributed to the growth of Sherry Lehmann in particular and Bordeaux wine in general in the USA,” says Chris Adams, CEO of Sherry-Lehmann, the New York City wine shop. “He was an amazing man and a real gentleman."

Simon is survived by his wife, Francine, and two sons.

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