Punch Down

Thanks for visiting my blog. Here is where my life in wine will be documented. I am a level two certified sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild. I have worked in virtually all aspects of the wine industry and, believe it or not, I am still enthusiastic as ever. So, please join me as I muse about regions, give reviews, and sometimes rant about this little thing we call wine.

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Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Open That Bottle!

Tonight, 28 February 2009, marks the ten year anniversary John and Dottie have tempted us to find that special bottle and crack it open. All sorts of bottles from Yellow Tail to Yquem will have their corks popped this evening to relish in the finer things life has to offer.

While enjoying the weekend up here in McCall, my parents, my wife, and I decided on two bottles that would be a fitting tribute to the ten years this event has been taking place. From our cellar, we offered up the 2002 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon. Michelle and I acquired this wine when we spent the summer of 2005 working at the Bistro 45 and these bottles would come throught the shop on a frequent basis. We bought this bottle with a stern warning from Kit, the owner, that it needed LOTS of time in the cellar. We sampled one that summer and didn't really see what the big deal was, but that's when the money was rolling in, so we splurged.

About two months after we returned to Boise from Portland, I was showing my mom through the Co-Op wine shop in hopes of finding something she could call her own. Dad usually does the wine shopping - especially the high end wines - and mom wanted something which was all hers in the cellar. She loves Sauvignon Blanc and I suggested she pick up the 2002 Didier Daganeau Silex, as it is supposed to be one of the best Sauvignon Blancs ever made. She decided to take a chance and took the bottle home.

Tonight seems like as good a night as any to indulge in the pleasures these to bottles have to offer. We first opened the Silex and I had to pause in mid sentence to savor the beauty of this wine. Simply fantastic all the way through. Didier pushed for a more intense example of wine from the region of Pouilly Fume, and he nailed it with this vintage. Earth, stone, stone fruits, tropical, and round are all good descriptions that fall way short on this bottle. Wish there was another one around, but a fitting tribute to the late, great winemaker from the Loire.

The Leonetti is good. Damn good. In fact, this makes me believe in the power of aged Washington wines again. On the initial nose, it is huge - typical for Washington - but in the glass it gets softer and more harmonious; less bombastic and more elegant. Lots of meat flavors and black currants and blueberry are all fantastically balanced and even the oak is well used: present, but not overpowering. This is one of the finest Cabernets I have ever had from the Pacific Northwest, and I am historically not a huge Leonetti fan. Massive kudos to Chris Figgins for this.

If you're reading this and also participated in Open That Bottle Night, I'd love to read what you have to share. Please leave your comments and happy drinking!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Volume One - The Restaurant

In these troubled economic times, people are dinning at classy establishments less and less; choosing either a homecooked meal or (gasp!) fast food to cure their hunger. I've seen over a dozen fine restaurants close here in the Boise area within the last year and I feel for this side of the industry. However, while I wish people who can still afford it would frequent their favorite dinning establishment more often, restaurants are doing nothing to make themselves more enticing to those of us who enjoy wine with our meals.

Most restaurants I see gouge the customer by charging 2 1/2 to 3 times wholesale pricing on wines. This mistake is a result of the flawed thinking that wines are an inelastic good and that people will buy Clos St Jean at any price because they want Clos St Jean. What they don't realize is that there are tons of wines that are cheaper (and better) than any Clos St Jean wine (or any of the big names, for that matter), but the people who write the wine lists won't consider them because they have never heard the names before. In these times, people will buy what is good and affordable.

Think about this: a wine costs you $20 wholesale. You put it on the shelf for $60. People know that they can go down to their local wine merchant and pick it up for $28.95. Do the right thing! Wine savvy people know they are getting ripped off here and they will be reluctant to come back. You don't have to sell the wine for retail price, but show that you care about the customer and charge 75-100% of wholesale. First, you attract more of the wine crowd by offering your beverages at a more reasonable price than the competition and, this is key, YOU'LL SELL MORE WINE! Let's think about that $20 bottle, shall we? If you sell one bottle per week at $60, you made $40. Good for you. Now, let's say you drop your selling price down to $40 and you sell three bottles. Now, you've made $60. By doing this, you do two things right:

1) You make more money.

2) You make your customers happy.

It really is simple economics here, and I don't see what is so hard about this. Once you master this concept, you will have created your very own stimulus package - and at no cost to you or your country.