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  1. wineserver


    Toro Albala is imported by Classical Wines in Seattle, Washington. Pedro Ximenez is the grape and Montilla-Moriles is the Denominacion de Origen in Spain. These wines are close cousins to Sherry, geographically close too, but the Pedro Ximinex is the dominant grape in M-M for both dry and sweet fortified wines. In Sherry, PX is bottled varietally but much more rarely and more often used as a sweetening agent. I am thrilled to hear a restaurateur took the time to promote this wine. Might I ask where this was? By the way, the current vintage bottling, 2000, is delicious and one of the best values in sweet and sticky.
  2. I understand why serious wine enthusiasts have issues with state regualtions on beverage alcohol. State legislatures have become the well rewrded guard dog for the WSWA. Since the repeal of the 21st Amendment the wholesale industry has helped shape state laws to their best advantage. However, even if the problems that exist today are corrected, alcohol is a narcotic and as such will always fall under governtmental regualtion. There is not a civilized country on the planet where this is not the case. Not only is alcohol a drug, it is a recreational drug making it the perfect target for tax revenue generation at the state and federal level. There will never be a completely free market for beverage alcohol. Meanwhile, the fact remains the gray market problem can be solved by the producers themselves. They must cease selling wine to those that erode their ability to protect their wines integrity and yes, part of integrity is price point. We have adressed this issue with two of our producers directly and they are aware of the problem and needless to say they are not pleased by the Califronia situation. We are currently exploring all legal remedies and the producers plan to exercise greater due diligence in to whom they sell their wines.
  3. In January the Confrerie de la Chaine de Rotisseurs begins their 2004 Young Sommelier Competition with regional contests. There is no fee, but there is an application process and each candidate must have a member of the Chaine as a sponsor. Most importantly, candidates must be younger than 33 years of age in the calendar year 2004. Please review this link for details, Chaine Sommelier Competition Information. The regional and national competitions will be based on the Advanced Exam of the Court of Master Sommeliers and will include theory, tasting, and practical (service) examinations. One winner from each regional competition will compete in the national final to be held at Chalk Hill Winery in May 2004. Please contact me with any questions. Thanks for your assistance. Please pass this on to any candidates that might have an interest. Thank you
  4. I have no problem with the sale of a private cellar through a legally appointed auction. I do not believe I have the right to prevent a consumer from selling a wine through legally accepted means. That is not the case here. There is a difference between secondary market and gray market. The reason you can acquire the same Bordeaux chateau through a number of different importers is an antiquated system that I believe actually results in additional costs and collusion.
  5. wineserver

    Wine Wars

    As I stated in another discussion, the three tiered system of distribution and the rights of wine consumers across the country can coexist. If I were to take a poll, I am confident I would find that the wine conusmers' biggest complaints would be first and foremost availability and, not far behind, price. I am in the wine distribution business and I cannot see how the WSWA can stand in the way of a constitutional right to unimpeded interstate commerce. WSWA arguments are typically ridiculous and contrived. If a wine consumer cannot procure the wine of his or her desire in their state of residence, there should be nothing preventing them from procuring it from another state. If the wine is available but the price is not competitive with the national market, there should be nothing preventing them from procuring it from another state. However, I would like to present a realistic picture of availability and price. I know not all states are the same. I know in some states the government has a monopoly on selection, inventory, and price. Unfortunately for residents of those states there is little that can be done except to change the laws of that state. However, in FL, GA, NC, SC, and OH, states that I am very familiar with, I think even the most serious wine geek would be very surprised by the innumerable producers and wines that are available. Even the smallest production cherries are here save a very few. Now getting to them is another story. The third tier in this system is your local restaurateur or retailer. They, as a group of individuals, are as imposing a gate keeper as the WSWA. You can, however, request your local retailer to find something not currently on their shelf. In short, chances are the wine you want is available in your state. Its simply a matter of asking for it. Now, if you believe that prices are cheaper in other states or specifically from the large nationally known retailers, I once again think you would be surprised. As an example, you just gotta have Dalla Valle, Clos Erasmus, or Gagliole Pecchia (you get the point) by the time the wine arrives at your door you have saved little. And, with the wine market as competitve as its ever been, even the smallest winery can not rely on cellar door sales to meet its needs. These small wineries must appoint a wholesaler in select markets (yes I know not all markets will be selected) to deplete their inventory. As always, what appears on the surface to be a simple issue is actually very complicated. I look forward to a chance to further discuss this with all of you.
  6. There has never been a better time to be a wine buyer. Quality internationally has never been higher. Availability of incredible diversity in the United States is better than most any country in the world. Even with the weaker dollar, prices are reasonable if not quiet the value of a the late 1990s. With such circumstances, there is no excuse for a cookie cutter wine program. Unfortunately, most restaurateurs do not see the benefit of dedicated wine buyer/sommelier to take advantage of these conditions. This would be an unnecassary cost in their eyes. They completely miss the obvious point. This position is an investment capable of paying for itself as well as driving greater revenues and profitability. Show me a restaurant with a capable and competent sommelier and I will show you a restaurant capable of meeting even the most discerning wine geek's needs.
  7. Finally a challenge...Unfortunately you do misunderstand. I am not a wholesaler. The company I work for is an importer. We sell to the wholesaler and I was very clear in my previous statement about the three tiered system of distribution and consumer's rights. What we have in California is a system that allows the circumvention of a legally binding contract between my company and the producers we represent from the international market. As previously stated, we are the appointed, exclusive, legal importer for the United States with the exception of California where a loophole allows the exploitation of the gray market. I could be mistaken, but I belive this is the only state in the nation where this is legal. The District of Columbia has an unusual set of circumstances as well though I am not as familiar them. Are you saying that the producer of a product does not have the right to appoint a exclusive representative for its product?
  8. wineserver

    Buying Wine in Europe

    Great advice from docsconz. Unless you have a particular favorite that is not available stateside, there is no practical reason to lug around the bubbles. Terry Thiese imports and markets an incredible range of the finest recoltant-manipulants. Kermit Lynch imports and markets J. Lassalle and Paul Bara. Duval-Leroy is once again availabe nationally after an initial nightmare of an introduction to the US. Stacole Company in Boca Raton, FL also imports and markets Egly-Ouriet and Oudinot. Obviously, no every single producer or label is available stateside, but I am confident in stating if its worth having, its here.
  9. wineserver

    House Wine

    In the US, an $8.00 glass of wine is typically poured from a bottle that cost the restaurant between $8.00 and $12.00. This is a huge range but it oftens falls right in the middle. I would say that most operators want to run a 30% cost of goods on wine by the glass. Wine by the bottle is a different story with a sliding scale of margin most often employed. A bottle that cost the restaurant $8.00 is often sold for $24.00, while a bottle that cost the restaurant $24.00 is often sold for $60.00, and finally, a bottle that costs the restaurant over $50.00 is often sold for twice cost. These are just generalities but they are fairly accurate.
  10. wineserver

    House Wine

    Though I have never had the pleasure of visiting England, its no secret that wine by the glass programs in the restaurant biz there are not the same as here in the United States. Approximately 15 to 18 years ago, the restaurant biz in the US realized the huge potential for sales and profit through offering a broader selection of higher quality wine by the glass. Truth is, I think many restaurateurs have gone way overboard with ridiculously huge numbers of by the glass, often with little true variety. Today, a good restaurant will offer some 8-15 wines by the glass and more often than not these wines are thoughtfully chosen, diverse, moderate to high quality selections. Wine by the glass pricing is often the steepest in terms of margin for the restaurant, but this is often used to balance a lower margin on wines sold by the bottle.
  11. This also always stirs great controversy, particularly issue of restaurant wine prices. A magic, one-size-fits-all formulas does not exist. The construction and goals of a wine program for a restaurant in a high rent district in Gotham City should not be the same for an operation of similar scope in Cleveland, Ohio. Though both these restaurants strive to be the best in their respective markets, their markets and costs of operations are completely different. Though wine means so many things to us as enthusiasts, a restaurant is a business and wine is a vehicle for profit. This however allows for an incredible degree of freedom for the sommelier or proprietor to assemble and present a wine list that is at once creative, balanced, and profitable. I will grant you most restaurateurs do not offer premium service or selection but feel the right to charge premium prices. You have the right not to dine in these restaurants or further not to buy wine if you do dine. This one gem per page philosophy obviously says quiet a bit the sommelier who promotes it.
  12. I know what I am about to say will cause great controversy, but damn the torpedos and full speed ahead. I am in the employ of one of the big, bad US importers that limits supply and protects its margins. Yeah right! In the most competitive wine market in history we are purposely limiting availability. As a sales represetative, I have for the last two years been adversely affected by the growing number of gray marketers in California specifically. I am the duly appointed, exclusive US importer for a number of superlative international producers, yet I must compete with retailers that only exist through a loophole in the laws of California. Please do not misunderstand. I fully support the right of consumers to shop the country on price and exercise their constitutional right to interstate commerce. I strongly believe that the three tier distribution system can coexist with complete consumer freedom to directly purchase and ship wine from the producer. The fact remains, however, that these small gray market retailers were not appointed by the producers. They are opportunistic pirates of a sort. This is not about the big corporate giant vs. the last of the small entrepeneurs. We were chosen by these producers because we can provide national distribution for all their wines not just their small production cherries. Importers like Kermit Lynch, Eric Solomon, Marc de Grazia, and many others that specialize in importing small estate producers from Europe will hardly be affected by this. The consumer in search of the best buy between $10 and $15 a bottle will not be affected by this measure. However, those wine enthusiasts in search of a back alley bargain on Europe's best small estates might be disappointed by the results of this security measure.
  13. wineserver

    Biodynamic Winemaking

    I was truly surprised to see Nicolas Joly mentioned only once in the 2 pages of discussion. Joly pioneered biodynamie in the realm of viticulture beginning in the early 1980s. He is widely regarded as the leading educator and practioner of this method. He preaches the benefits of biodynamie not with the zeal of a Pentacostal evangilist, but with thoughtful, passion and confidence. For those true wine geeks, his book Wine From Sky to Earth is an introduction of biodynamie for the layman.
  14. As an addendum, Classical Wines also imports and exclusively markets the wines of one of my favorite estates, Dr. Burklin-Wolf of the Pfalz.
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