Archive for the ‘Random Musings’ Category

Random Thoughts while filing W-2s

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I’m filing our W-2s online right now, and for whatever reason that makes me feel really good. I never thought much about paying our employees before other than as a straight financial transaction (and usually in a conversative small-business-owner sort of way – damn, payroll was that much this period!?!). But looking at our yearly outlay, I’m proud that we’re able to help support two lives – we’re helping Kari & Maggie go to school, pay bills, save money for the future, etc. (They’re earning it, of course; we’re not just giving them the money, but still.) I’ve never been on this side of the fence before, and its a nice feeling.

Aimee’s birthday wines

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Aimee’s birthday was a week ago Sunday, so of course we had to break out some great wine! She got the day off with friends while I worked at the shop; she came in around 5 and some other friends met us for a small celebration. We started off with some Champagne that I had chilled, the Duval Leroy Paris Cuvee. It was a nice wine that the occasion made much better. Totally serviceable Champagne, but nothing overly memorable on its own. All Champagne is good, though, so I set a high standard. Not distinctive enough to carry in the shop, but again, the occasion made it great. Talk turned to sabering Champagne, which is a fun party trick that I love to do. My champagne saber was at home, so I found a chef’s knife (the back of any heavy knife will work just as well), grabbed a bottle of Gran Sarao Cava (you don’t want to use anything expensive, since you’ll lose some in the process) and we trekked outside for the demo. Everyone was duly impressed. (like I said, good party trick – visually impressive and once you know how, easy to do.) After we had the Cava, we headed home for a birthday dinner of Jing’s Chinese food and a special wine that I brought home from France.

I visited several domaines when I was in Burgundy in February 2007, and fell in love with the white wines of Morey-Coffinet – they’re a very small producer that I got hooked up with because I’m friends with the people at Martine’s Wines, their US importer. Michel Morey is a young guy who is utterly unassuming and almost shy about his wines, but they’re stunning. I barrel tasted all the 2006’s when I was there and then most of the ’05s in bottle. I brought back the 2005 Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er cru. (Out of all the 1er crus, I thought that was the most accessible in youth, and thought I would be drinking it shortly after I got back; I didn’t plan on cellaring it until now.)

We opened it up with dinner, and it was magical. I just love white Burgundy – at its heights it’s the greatest white wine in the world. Great complexity – primary fruit, minerality, integrated spicy oak, creaminess from lees aging and malolactic fermentation, good acidity, very long finish. Simply lovely; a great way to end the day.

A related note about Morey Coffinet – when we started up the shop, I immediately contacted Martine’s to find out who their WI distributor was so I could carry the portfolio. Turns out they didn’t have one, but my interest helped facilitate them getting one. We’re just about the only place in the state thus far working with their portfolio, since I had the advantage of being familiar with many of the producers. In addition to a Bourgogne Rouge from Christophe Perrot Minot (rising superstar who I also visited; his wines are highly sought after, and I snapped up Wisconsin’s entire allocation of the Rouge – a whopping six bottles!) we now carry three stunning wines from Morey Coffinet – a Bourgogne Blanc, a Chassagne-Montrachet “Blanchots-Dessus” 1er cru, and a Puligny-Montrachet “Les Pucelles” 1er cru.

Store Re-org

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Big changes in the store this past week – we tripled our beer selection and moved just about every bottle of wine around.

We wanted to capture the beer sales that Sheridan’s has been doing, so knew for the last few months that we’d need to expand that. The challenge was how to do it. When we were designing the store we thought the bar in the retail side would be a nice asset, letting people look out the window as they had a glass of wine. It ended up being just dead space, though, mainly used as overflow for our paperwork or random bottles. So, a couple of weeks ago we had our carpenter (the fabulous Greg Beaupre of Willow Design) come in to cut the bar down significantly, allowing for another wine rack along the back wall.

On Tuesday, we got in another double beer cooler to put next to our existing cooler; we moved the wood shelving that had been there to the corner near the retail cash register; and moved the wine rack that was there to the newly created space along the back wall. So far, so good.

What we’ve also been noticing, though, is that our wine racks were leaning forward, and it was starting to freak me out. (All that inventory crashing to the ground, plus potential liability….) The manufacturer recommends securing them to the wall, but when we started up the shelving units were several weeks late in arriving and I needed to put them together and get the wine in them ASAP so we could open, and the way the space is configured there was no easy way to secure them. They seemed sturdy enough, so I hoped they’d be fine.  They weren’t. Rather than risk losing several thousand dollars worth of inventory, I had Greg come in on Wednesday morning to fix it. Tuesday night after the sparkling wine tasting we pulled down all of the bottles in the racks (fortunately, there was some sparkling wine left over from the tasting, which made the late night more tolerable). I got back to the shop at 6 on Wednesday morning to help Greg pull back the racks, install 2×4s by the windows, and secure and align the racks. They’re upright and rock solid now, and Greg secured them to each other so that when you look down the row, it’s a smooth unbroken line instead of being herky-jerky like it had been. Little things like that make me inordinately happy.

We also took the opportunity to reorganize all of the wine – the US had been all over the place, with California red in one section, white in another, and WA and OR still another. We unified the US (if only the real world was that easy) and created a more logical flow. (imagine, OR Pinot next to CA Pinot!)

A busy week, but a definite improvement.  It’s hard and all-consuming now, but if we just keep plugging away and working to improve all the time, I know it’s going to pay off.

Shoplifters Suck

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Today was our first bad experience with humanity – we had an attempted shoplifter. Some guy, probably mid to late 20s, browsed around the shop for a bit, picked up a bottle and then stated to walk out with it. That happens occasionally since people who aren’t familiar with the market think that they can pay for their purchases at one central spot, so I called out to him. He didn’t stop, and as I followed he broke into a run as he left the building. I closed on him in the parking lot and he put down the bottle – fairly gently, actually, so that he wouldn’t break it (and so that I’d stop to pick it up, which I did) – and took off down the street. Odd choice of wine, too – a 2007 Verget St. Veran, which is a lovely white Burgundy, but somewhat esoteric, and is only $24.50 but surrounded on the shelves by wines 2 and 3 times as much.

We’ve got so many great customers, but something like this makes me way more uncertain of people’s motives than I wish I had to be.

Labor Day & Rose

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Labor Day this past Monday was our first day off since we opened on July 21; needless to say, it was really nice to have a break. Aimee & picked up a bunch of stuff for a picnic lunch, grabbed a bottle of Domaine Tempier rosé from the shop, and spent a nice afternoon at the beach. This was the first time we’d had the ‘07 Tempier, and it was delightful, as well it should be for just under $40. Great depth of flavor, with abundant floral notes, fruit, and minerality. (Generally it seems most rosés only have 2 of the three, if that.)

As good as it was, for me personally if I was going to spend $40 on a bottle it wouldn’t be on rosé. (The Tempier, though, along with all the other rosés at the shop, has been selling quite well, probably since we put them front and center and talk abou them at the drop of a hat.) For whites a good Burgundy or Alsatian Riesling would be my first pick; for reds Burgundy, anything from Spain (Priorat, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rioja), a domestic Pinot, or a Barbaresco.

Back to rosé – it’s been great how many people are willing to try a bottle based on our enthusiasm, and even better that most of them have returned within a couple of days to pick up a few more bottles. It’s a great summer wine, but it’s also a great year-round food wine. People drink white all year long, so it makes no sense to me why they don’t drink rosé all year long. The wines have good acidity, the body and red fruit flavors to stand up to richer foods, and the delicacy to work well with lighter fare.

I’ll cut down on our selection for fall and winter (and put another display on the metal tree), but we’ll keep a few choices for throughout the year; I actually just ordered 5 cases of the Triebaumer rosé of Blaufrankisch from Austria, which we’re pouring by the glass and is phenomenal (especially for about a third of the price of the Tempier!)