One of the joys of being involved in a wine store is having the opportunity to attend trade events. These events are usually held once or twice a year by most distributors. Often there are several hundred wines to sample, from value wines at $10 to trophy wines priced at $100 or more. Better than a trade event is an educational seminar. These seminars are priceless opportunities to learn about wine and how better to appreciate them.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on Barolos and Brunello di Montalcino. This was conducted by one of Ohio’s only Master Sommeliers. I have been to other classes taught by Matt and he is extremely knowledgeable and even more humble. We got to sample four examples of each wine and he pointed out the differences between the different sub-regions for each wine. We were also given marketing tips, such as acreage of these regions versus Bordeaux and Napa Valley. We were shown how this information could be used to show the value of Brunello and Barolos even though they have gone up substantially in price in recent years. It was pointed out that although these wines hail from much smaller regions and have substantially smaller production numbers, they are still much less expensive than many Bordeaux and high-end Cabernets.
We were able to sample another seventy-five Italian wines after the seminar. Some of these were presales for new vintages. We were able to meet winemaker Valter Fissore from Elvio Cogno and sample five of his wines and I was able to revisit a number of wines that I have already brought into the store. Additionally, I found some neat new wines that I will be bringing into the store later this summer.
As summer moves into fall most of the larger distributors will be having their holiday show, which give them an opportunity to show off wines for the holidays. I was able to go to these last year and am looking forward to going again this year. They often will bring in winemakers or principals from the wineries they handle. This gives me an chance to get first hand information about many of the wines I carry. I can get interesting stories about the development of some wines or the thinking behind a label change. It is always a treat to meet some of the Icons 0f the wine world and to realize they are just like the rest of us. I love attending these for my own enjoyment, but always try to come away with something in which my customers would be interested.
It has been some time since I have updated our travels through the start up of a new wine store. Well, a lot has gone on through the last several months. We have ironed out the glitches in our Point of Sale system for the most part. The store has been operating fairly smoothly and we have had fantastic turnout for our Friday night tastings. We have officially started up Saturday afternoon tastings and we are beginning to see attendance increase at those tastings. We have held several Premium Tastings, that we have moved to Monday night. These have been well attended and give a more intimate group a chance to sample a more focused selection of wines. This Month we will be sampling six single vineyard Pinot Noirs from Merry Edwards. We have had two successful Sparkling Brunches, the first sampling 8 grower champagnes and the second eight Franciacorta Sparkler.
We have been learning a lot from our customers. Our selection has more than doubled to just over 1300 different wines, including more than 140 sparkling wines , 50 Rose’ (no white zinfandel) and almost sixty Rieslings. We have made an effort to carry wines that may not be found elsewhere. We have been lucky enough to be able to offer dozens of distributor closeouts, some as much as fifty percent off of retail. My wife, Jan, has repeatedly come up with great dishes to pair with the wines tasted.
I have had the opportunity to sample some fantastic wines from all over the world, which gives me a greater knowledge base to assist our customers in selecting the right wine. Our redecorating and improvement of our building is almost complete. We have achieved the homey atmosphere we wanted with our cozy tasting areas which can seat nearly sixty people. Our web site is fully operational and offers a calendar of our tastings. We have fine tuned our weekly e-mails that can be signed up for through our web site.
We have seen solid growth since the first of the year. With the coming of summer we look forward to being able to better use our shaded deck and try some new ideas for tastings. We welcome input from you, what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong. Most importantly we have been thrilled with the loyal following we have developed in just under eight months. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have or any wines you are having trouble locating.
Thanks for your continued interest!
This week we again welcome Bryant Phillips to our occasional column Wine Shop Wednesday. You may remember Bryant from Sturkey’s or Chalk. Currently you can find him at the excellent Wise Owl Wine Bar in West Chester. If you’re anywhere near IKEA, you’re near the Wise Owl. Stop by and have a drink – it’s worth it. I visit whenever I’m on my way home from meetings in Dayton.
This week he turns us onto an excellent white wine to kick off your summer.
If you read last week’s post, you already know how I feel about Spanish Whites. The Godeval from last week got me thinking about the region itself and Rias Biaxas was a logical next step.
Albariño is widely accepted as the quintessential cheese wine. It’s typical round an juicy texture stands up the your triple cream cheeses like Camembert, while its medium acidity wont overpower sharper and harder cheeses.
So we know that Albariño works with cheese, what else?
For me the grape, and La Cana in particular exhibits some really great stone fruit notes, think juicy white peach that ends up all over your fingers and chin. While it does have some pleasant floral aromatics, these wines are never incredibly complex. I think there is more depth to the La Cana than is usually the case for Albariño, but I also believe the simplicity of these wines are profound in their understatedness.
Every Sunday for the last few weeks I have been at some friend or family members house nibbling on a selection of killer cheese before throwing some dead animal on a fire. Every Sunday for the next few weeks I will be bringing a bottle of this stellar wine.
This week we again welcome Bryant Phillips to Wine Shop Wednesday. You may remember Bryant from Sturkey’s or Chalk. Currently you can find him at the excellent Wise Owl Wine Bar in West Chester. If you’re anywhere near IKEA, you’re near the Wise Owl. Stop by and have a drink – it’s worth it. I visit whenever I’m on my way home from meetings in Dayton.
Surprising as it may be, we’ve been drinking some great Chardonnay at the Wise Owl. Not surprising because Chardonnay isn’t great (although we’ve all had a few that aren’t), but because we’ve just been drinking so many heady, opulent reds during these past few frigid months. Particularly, we’ve stumbled upon a brilliant Chablis from Domaine Servin. It’s their “Selection Massale” Vieilles Vignes 2005.
Domain Servin is a small family owned winery with just about 33 hectares of vineyard property including some 1er & Grand Cru parcels. Chablis itself consists of about 6000 hectares. The Servin name dates back to to the middle of the 17th century and has owned and worked the Domaine for seven generations.
For us, the ’05 Massale is at once silky and yet rustic . The bottle age has integrated the tell tale, flinty, minerality of Chablis. It also shows opulent baked apple and slight tropical notes. Its deceptively dry even as the nose teases you with something like apple custard. Balanced alcohol and an excruciatingly long finish make this wine our “go-to” wine for the springtime days that have us flirting with our T-shirt collection.
The fact that its only $50 on our list, makes this wine that much more appealing.
We’ve had a great few months at the Wise Owl. We saw some great wines from Old Bridge Cellars, learned a ton about blind tasting and pinot noir, hosted an event with Some Young Punks, and Chef Dave’s new kitchen menu kept everyone warm and full. March promises to be even better as we welcome a new acoustic duo and on March 24 we’ll see the glorious return of cocktail mistress Molly Wellman.
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This is the one of several recurring posts from David Lazarus about the intricacies of opening and running a wine shop. David’s posts will appear on Wednesdays. I’m also starting to get interest from other wine shops, so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot of different perspectives in this column.
Store operations are starting to settle into a routine. Since we are a new store, we are not getting swamped like many other stores do this season. We have had a slight bump in our already steady sales. Thanks to Michelle and Kevin we were able to launch our e-mail newsletter this week, which makes it a lot easier to get the word out about goings on at the store. I continue to be surprised at the tremendous deals on fantastic wines on the Ohio side of the river. Many of these discounts remind me of those I was used to when I worked in Kentucky. I am happy to offer my customers such good deals and must refrain from taking wine home for myself.
We hosted dessert for the annual Water Tower lighting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and had several hundred people through our building. It was a good move to show our commitment to community involvement and all in all it went very well. The only issue I had was that they closed the street in front of our building several hours before the event started and had neglected to mention it beforehand. Hopefully next year we will coordinate better with the city. Our customer base continues to grow and our inventory is now almost nine hundred different wines.
Our computer system is almost complete. I had a scare the other day when it just quit on me. After three plus hours with my local computer specialist, we had salvaged the inventory and all other important data from the hard drive, which we determined was corrupted. I now have a temporary hard drive until we get a replacement for the damaged one. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the change out goes smoothly and that this is the last computer issue I have with our POS system.
I continue to be indebted to all of those who have helped our business succeed. To sign up for our new e-mail newsletter, go to the web site and click on subscribe at the bottom of the main page. Thanks again!
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