Boisset buys Maison Alex Gambal: Famille Boisset is purchasing Maison Alex Gambal in Burgundy. The deal includes 30 acres of vineyards, a winery, the Gambal brand, and current inventory. The Boisset family now controls 1,800 acres of vineyards across Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, Jura, Beaujolais, and California. [Wine Spectator]
Prosecco now UNESCO site: UNESCO has designated the region of Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene a World Heritage site. The landscape has been shaped by grapevines trained there since the 17th century. There are now 55 UNESCO sites in Italy—the most in any one country. [Decanter]
Amazon wine competition: Though Amazon’s Prime Day will include deals at Whole Foods, they won’t extend to wine. In response, Kroger is offering a five-day deal on dozens of bottles and cases at reduced prices—free delivery included. The promotion will extend over Prime Day. [Newsweek]
Lafite’s Chinese wine: After 11 years of preparation, Château Lafite is launching its Chinese wine. Called Long Dai, or “chiseled mountain,” the wine is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and Marselan. There are 2,500 cases of the 2017 vintage, which will hit the market in September. [JancisRobinson.com]
New Pin Project: The Pin Project is a collective of bartenders in San Francisco promoting a healthy relationship with alcohol and support for those challenged by working around booze. Wearing the pin communicates that a bartender isn’t drinking on a given night. While some involved are sober, others just want to drink less for overall wellness. [SF Chronicle]
Better BTG: In Robb Report, David Lynch makes a case for improvements to restaurant by-the-glass wine lists. He suggests decent glassware, six-ounce pours, careful service temperature, pouring at the table, and more thoughtful selections. High prices aren’t an issue, he says, but there should be value alongside them. [Robb Report]
Our favorite SevenFifty Daily article this week
Sugar & cocktails: SevenFifty Daily takes on sugar in cocktails. Understanding the science of sugar and our perception of it can help bartenders use it more effectively. Different types of sweeteners and simple syrups shouldn’t be used interchangeably, and the impact of other sensory factors is important to consider as well. [SevenFifty Daily]
What do you think?
How might the new UNESCO designation benefit the wine business in Prosecco?
What do you think of Kroger’s effort to make a space for itself in the wine-delivery business?
What do you think of the pin project? Do you find it challenging to take a break from alcohol while working?
What are your BTG pet peeves? How do you construct a careful list?
How has your understanding of sugar in drinks developed over time? What are some of the factors or considerations you keep in mind as you create new cocktails?
What else have you been reading this week?
I think my two biggest by-the-glass pet peeves are a lack of diversity in style (please don't just give me a choice of Chardonnay/Sauv Blanc/Pinot Grigio/Riesling) and anything that makes it seem like the restaurant or bar doesn't give a shit about BTG wines: dirty or smudged glasses, wine that's been open for days on end, that sort of thing.
Humbly, I might add that my piece on wines from British Columbia on SevenFifty Daily might also be worth a read...
BTG Pet peeves: warm reds, either too esoteric w not enough classics or too basic in the New World without enough worldliness, and “peasant” glassware when I see proper glassware in house.
Construction of a careful BTG list: starts with knowing the menu and demographics. How you are able to train your staff needs to be apart of this exercise. Don’t make your servers “walk the plank” to the public if you haven’t trained them about your wines.
Some considerations: Is there the ability to pour interesting versions the “required” varietals? Ie. Quincy instead or Sancerre or NZ SB, or do we need to stick that landing? Verdicchio instead or Pinot Grigio? Or should we have a mix in those categories?
I like to try and find a few back vintage offerings, as well. For instance, pouring 2010 Bordeaux Superieur right now. Speaking of which, classic vintages for the win. Keep the outlying vintages for the bottle list, if possible, otherwise you will be having to set expectations in order to avoid wines being sent back.
I always like to have “bridge wines” or “crossroad wines”, wines that can wear different hats and cater to multiple audiences; ie Cahors, Valpolicella, Toro, Rioja, Washington.
Single vineyards, Vieilles Vignes, delimited wines, or second wines can offer impressive value, if jumping to 1er is too pricey for the venue.
Coravin gives some extra runway for shelf-life to include wines that may push the ceiling on what your community will spend on a glass, as to have that special Barolo/Burgundy/Cabernet for spendier clientele, mitigating risk of loss/spoilage.
It’s all a "cocktail", and when something slows down in terms of movement, first give it some extra love in lineup to be sure it gets a true opportunity to be talked about by the team, then move it out or over to the bottle list. Having freshness on the BTG list is vital for interested, interesting drinkers- but be sure you know where your bread is buttered and there isn’t too much gambling going on there (again depending on concept, and what you're going for). I like to have a spectrum of classic to esoteric (which is very subjective depending your market), fresh to developed vintages, body, fruit to earth, oak treatment, a variety of winemaking techniques, and producers from discovery to a few splashy names to keep the less adventurous crowd comfortable too.
Don’t forget about Sparkling, aperitif, and fortified wines! Create a full suite of offerings from the moment they sit down, to wines that can entice cheese courses, and of course pair with dessert. Is there a way to cross utilize sparkling wine and Aperitifs in cocktails to avoid loss? Does it make sense to Coravin Champagne, or will it move quick enough? Fortified wines lose a bit of acidity after the first few days, but well made ports, Sherry, Marsala, and Madeira will offer a lengthy window of vitality to be served (product specific, but 2-4 weeks is a good baseline understanding). Can we use any of those fortifieds as a substitute for sweet vermouth in cocktails? Can the Chef use any of the above in their recipes to bridge menu flavors to the wine list, when the wines aren't quite servable at full price, but still usable? Cross-utilization with the bar and the kitchen is a great off-ramp for these types of wines so they don't hit your numbers.
Solve for mocking cellar temperature for reds if a wine fridge isn’t an option- my secret is to sit the wines on a few Yetti frozen ice packs after coming from cellar temp, concealed in a vessel with linen, of course. Glassware: I believe in making every wine drinker feel special, whether enjoying entry priced or Coarvin selection. Serve the wine at the table if your concept can support it (challenging in any setting, but dare to do it!), the interest and excitement levels rise when the labels make it to the table. Check open wines for freshness before each service, and create a discrete dating system on the back label.
Market, concept, on-going vendor dialogues/relationships, and staff training are the key indicators to always consider for any decisions.
Is the Lafite Long Dai part of the project previously announced as Domaine de Penglai, or something different entirely?
Biggest pet peeve is restaurants/bars (e.g. Brooklyn) where you order a glass of white wine and they bring you some highly oxidized orange wine but there was no indication on the wine list that this is what you would be getting. I get that some people dig that stuff but make a note on the list. If the BTG sheet just says “Godello” I don’t think you should be expecting to get some funked up orange wine. Just sayin. Happens way too often in Brooklyn.
I think in general if you're offering something that diverges wildly from what a reasonable wine drinker would assume based on the menu wording, you need to make that explicit somehow. I've been poured Sauv Blanc with RS, fully-carbonic Cab Sauv, and much more without any indication on the menu or warning from the server/bartender, and that shit ain't cool.
Great job on the BC article!
What if your market loves chardonnay/sauv blanc/pinot grigio/riesling? Having your BTG on your list each being a different variety is kinda the opposite of a lack thereof. I have found that (again, this is in my market at my restaurant) I need to keep some familiar options for my guests and throw in a few feature BTG on weekends to keep things fun and fresh. I can't give away glasses of champagne but I can sell oaky chard to book club groups like it's going out of style.
Absolutely you need to know your market and audience, and if even trying to sell Chenin Blanc, let alone something like Vernaccia or Soave is too much, then fine. But I go into restaurants in Seattle far too often that have the same clientele as mine and have the most unambitious BTG programs, and it bums me out.
Along this line is paying attention to what your clientele actually buys, not just what you think they will buy. My BTG is all-Austrian (like my whole program), so I thought I'd need to include Styrian SB or Leithaberg Chardonnay to balance the program so that I wouldn't just sell Grüner.... The only wine that has ever ousted Grüner from top spot BTG? Ingrid Groiss' Gemischter Satz. Go figure.