I just barely made it to class tonight after a study dinner at Johnny Farina's, the chosen restaurant where my partner and I will be rebuilding the wine list. With barely an hour left, and only one wine remaining, I wrung out the meagre dregs at the bottom of each bottle, and soaked up as much of the conversation as I could.
Both of the following wines were brought into class courtesy of Paul Meek at Lifford Wine Agency. His presentation / sales pitch was on consignment purchases (or, buying wine through an agency.) I've only had one experience so far with agencies. There's something to be said for buying a case of wine off the back of a truck in the middle of the Byward Market ...
I missed out on the bulk of the talk, and really would have liked to learn more, being the non-marketing, non-economics, non-numbers type that I am. How do you sell? How do you make connections with your buyers without coming across as smarmy or fake? How do you make those connections last? More importantly, how the heck do restaurants manage to stay afloat when it comes to liquor?
That's a mystery to which I don't think there's a straight answer. "It's guesswork," says Anthony, the in-house sommelier over at Johnny's. Ditto from Randy. Or anyone else in the biz. You can never know, one week from the next, what's going to be popular, or what's going to wind up hogging space in your cellar for months on end.
Poema Cava Brut NV (Penedes, Spain) - Pale straw sparkler with yeast, apple, floral notes and pear on the nose. Light acid, medium weight, with a creamy, dry mouthfeel and a balanced finish.
Hollick Red Ridge 2004 Cab/Shiraz/Merlot (Connawarra, Australia) - Deep, opaque ruby, overflowing with black- and strawberry jam, chocolate, eucalyptus and a bit of pencil lead. Velvety on the tongue, medium-to-high acid, medium tannins, with a plump, juicy sweetness on the finish.
PS - Didn't attempt another pour in class tonight, but my trial runs at home are definitely improving. At least, nobody's lost an eye yet ...