In order to run the wine-bar the way I do, with rotating brands and something always new, I need to work with good ‘reps’. A rep is a sales representative for a wine and spirits importing agency. Having run such an agency, I’ve worked with some of the best and I have a soft spot for good sales people. Some restaurant managers and liquor store managers don’t like dealing with reps because they require time and attention that some people just don’t have. Personally, I love them. I couldn’t run my business without them and they contribute to my education every time they walk through the door. Many have become great friends so when we work together, it isn’t anything like work.
Every once in a while a rep that knows me well will drop by if they have something open they know I’ll love, but for the most part, the best reps always make an appointment. They know that on any given day I may have tasted any number of wines, and the more wine I’ve tasted that day the less likely they are to make a sale. I never book more than two appointments in a day because I want my palate to be sharp when I’m tasting so that I can give the wine my best attention.
The other thing a good rep does, is focus on a handful of interesting wines each visit. If I like a wine I’ll order it, but I am only able to bring in up to six new wines in an average week, so bringing too many wines to taste is a bit of a waste.
The new rep I met yesterday made an appointment, showed up on time, and offered me the following lovely handful of wines:
Whoa Nelly Melon de Bourgogne 2011 Willamette Valley
I had assumed that the Melon de Bourgogne was a chardonnay clone, but no! It’s a synonym for Muscadet. You learn something new every day. This wine is a very clear light straw colour. It smells of caramel apples, strawberry and a bit of the CO2 cellar aroma that hangs in the air during fermentation. Dry acidic attack with hints of wild strawberry and peach. Crisp, elegant and playful. +756030 $$ Good value.
Copain Chardonnay 2011
Wine-maker Wells Guthrie apprenticed to Michel Chapoutier of France’s Rhone Valley fame. This wine has a clear, light straw hue. Aromas of roasted marshmallow and potato chips. All stainless steel production, it has a silky, old-world mouthfeel. The acidity is great! It stings the teeth. Lovely and full with crisp notes of peach and yellow plum. Nice. +755104 $$ Really good.
Whoa Nelly Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Light, clear ruby colour. Carmelized cherry creme brulee, marshmallow and neatsfoot oil. Lean bright attack that opens to sour cherry fruit and firm, chewy tannins. Very fresh and elegant. +756029 $$ Great deal!
Robert Biale Vineyards Black Chicken Zinfandel 2012
There’s a great story about how Biale Vineyards survived during the prohibition years. Because the phones in the area operated on a party line, anyone could be listening in, so you couldn’t order a bottle of wine with your groceries. Instead, people ‘in the know’, would tell the grocer to “throw in a black chicken”. This wine is that very same black chicken! It’s got a clear, mid-ruby hue with aromas of fresh carrot and spicy blueberry with menthol and Nicotiana. Silky sweet, fruity attack that opens to dried plum and white pepper and finishes with a dry, elegant profile that goes on and on. Great heavy mid palate and lots of nuance. +701423 low side of $$$ Hard to get, but worth trying to find. Just gorgeous. Love it.
Tom Eddy Elodian 2010 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark mid-ruby. Aromas of fresh-cut oak boards with deep cassis and blackberry fruit, menthol, star anise and five spice. Big splashy attack that shows beautifully balanced fruit and acidity on a backdrop of velvety dry tannins. Lovely and dense. Classic. +755106 $$ Good price.
Domaine de Poujol Podio Alto 2010 Languedoc
Uncertified organic Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault blend. Velvet mid-ruby hue. Fresh cut star fruit, fennel and Vicks cherry cough drops. Herbaceous amaro-like aromas with orange peel undertones. Dark, firmly tannic attack that blooms on the palate offering dried fig and a deeply herbaceous tincture quality. Well concentrated and elegant. Great winter wine, it cries out for fatty ribs and roasted meats. Dry and delicious. +757640 $$