16 February 2007

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Out with some old wines, in with some new

All right. For a variety of reasons, I've done quite a bit with the by-the-glass wine menu. Some items I removed because they were becoming too widely available (and therefore the path more travelled) and others because their sales were poor. So, ever the inquisitive soul, I took it upon myself to explore the nooks and crannies of my distributor's catalogues and taste what there was to taste. After a number of months of, frankly, drinking I've dropped a number of our old wines and took on many new ones. And, still, I don't feel quite satsified so things may change mildly in the coming months but here's what's happened:

Gone are the:

-Gnarly Head Zinfandel - It's everywhere now. I like the new one better anyway. Perhaps because it has a touch of petite syrah to it.

-L de Lyeth Merlot and Domaine de Gournier Merlot
- I had two on the menu in the hopes to appeal to old world and new world fans. As it happens, there appear to be far more of the latter than the former but rather than stick to just California style I found a French merlot that has a French-like tendency for layers but also has a mildly California-like enthusiasm for full-fruit flavors.

-Henri Miquel Syrah & Big Five Shiraz
- Like the merlots, I wanted to appeal to both and, interestingly, found that tastes went for the old in this case. But, again, I'm going in a completely different direction and I've found a South American Shiraz that's got a deep, rich character that maintains a sense of syrah while being different in interesting ways.

-Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon-
This one is everywhere, too. I found a cab (the same people who make the above shiraz, actually. Normally I'd refrain from having two wines from the same vineyard on the menu but I genuinely liked these two enough.) that is just as big but has a tad more tannin and bit more oak.

-Fourplay and Menage a Trois
- I got the laugh so it's time to move on. I'm going to miss the former in particular - it may end up on the by the bottle list- but it got ordered so rarely that it had become a waste of money. One glass would get sold and then the open bottle would sit there until it went bad. Pity, but such is the nature of by-the-glass. And the latter is leaving because, again, it's popping up too widely. And I think it's gotten sweeter over the years and less to my taste than when I started.

-Kim Crawford Chardonnay
- This I'm almost on the fence about. Good name recognition without it inundating the market and it does sell fairly well but I found an unoaked chardonnay that I like much better. I think the new one is more lush and fruity with a more defined finish. Works really well with spicy foods and is actually less expensive, so rather than 8.50 a glass for the Kim Crawford I can now charge 7.95 a glass. Everybody wins. Except Kim Crawford, I guess.

-Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc & Domaine de Gournier
- De Gournier never sold. That one is as simple as that. And I've always felt a little odd carrying the Rodney Strong despite it being a genuinely good product. Nothing against Rodney Strong but it felt a bit like an unimaginative choice, going with a stand-by like that. Like I didn't want to put in the work to find a less well-known Sauvignon Blanc. So it's gone and I'm putting in a Chilean one that I think is great. In fact, I had it on the menu a while ago - it being one of the first white wines to grab my red-wine oriented attention - but it never sold. I felt like it was on account of the Spanish, perhaps difficult to pronounce, name but I'm not going to worry about that anymore so on it goes.

- Chateau St. Yves and Baumard Chenin Blanc
- Letting these go hurts me almost as much as seeing Arrested Development getting cancelled. And for the same reason: sparse audiences despite great product. These were solid wines that warmed my heart with their presence on my menu. A dry, hand-picked Chenin Blanc like that. What body. What grace. And I'm still on the same case as when I put it on the menu probably six, seven months ago. In fact, I've still got four or so bottles left that are going home with me.

And the future holds a different Pinot Blanc and a different Riesling, but I still have so many of the present ones I'm going to wait a little bit to switch them out.

Plus I've added two new reds. One's a fantastic, brawny Australian blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It's been received quite well. The other is a character-filled, southern France all-over-it Cotes du Rhone that I like so much because it's not as light as many I've tried. Like most Cotes du Rhone, this one works very well with food but unlike many this one is almost hardy.Almost. It comes from various villages, among them those wonderful regions like Vacqueryas, Gigondas and Rasteau. You can taste and smell that style in this Cotes Du Rhone enough that it reminds me of a baby Gigondas or Chateauneuf du Pape. I think it's a lot of fun and people better buy it because it's getting tougher to be stubborn about what goes on the menu.

So that's happening. I thought everybody should know.
I hope everyone is doing well,