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19 hours ago, Mark Slater said:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-great-sommeliers-an-endangered-species This cool interview with Bobby Stuckey says a lot of good things. I have always thought that the first thing a sommelier needs to learn is humility. Especially since the first sommelier I worked with was a completely pompous jerk. 

Interesting article - thanks for the link. I really appreciate it when, discussing a few bottles I have it narrow down to with the somm., I ask 'Which one is drinking better right now (and would work best with our food elections)?', that I get a response that is unexpected to me. Try this one because <insert example why it will work with the fish dish *and* the guinea fowl> and hey, it's the cheaper one. Threading the needle of price, deliciousness and how it will work with the food *and still be in my chosen wheelhouse I as the diner am feeling that night* is almost impossible - but getting close to it is super and that is what the somm. is there to help you do. I think the best thing you can do to help the somm. is to briefly communicate preferences, budget, and a smidge of your own wine knowledge - it helps everyone.

16 hours ago, Count Bobulescu said:

@PB  

Not sure if there is any precise definition of microlist. We could probably debate that for a few years.......
When I said 4-6 per menu item I wasn't applying that to micros, but to lists more generally.
 
The 75 item Trailblazer list referenced in the piece I posted doesn't really cut it as "micro" in my book. That menu has 25 items and 75 wines, so in one sense it kinda does cut it, 3 wines per menu item, but if I were the ruler of all wine lists I'd say 50 max, 35 better, to qualify for micro. You can cover a lot of ground with 15-20 grape varietals and 2-3 price points each.
 
 I think diners generally, and American diners in particular, are much less interested in who makes the wine, and where does it come from, than will I like it, and is it reasonable value. 

Now I see. I think a microlist could work and work really well, but I think that in practice that most attempts at this will be average at best and likely sub-par. In the article starting this all, there were a couple of quotes about how hard it is to get a microlist right because there is no place to hide and mistakes will be glaring (too heavy in one area, too pricey, too heavy in this region or that - you get the idea).

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On 3/12/2013 at 5:36 PM, DonRocks said:

A conversation about Washington, DC's best wine list:

Bigg: "Proof!"

Johnson: "Plume!"

Bigg: "Proof!"

Johnson: "Plume!"

Bigg: "Proof!"

Johnson: "Plume!"

Joe: "Galileo!"

---

DonRocks: "Range."

Range Wine List.pdf

Not Proof

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Greatly enjoying this whole debate, although I did have to google Silver Oak Cabernet.  A great sommelier - I would argue - is essential for a perfect/top-tier meal, where an expansive wine list is fairly mandatory.  Sommeliers that are just salespeople in disguise can ruin a fine dining experience, though. I'd argue that the micro lists are best as you move down the formality spectrum (and that having those by the glass gets you even more brownie points).  A good wine at a good price that I don't have to think about complements the $20-30 entree well.  

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58 minutes ago, zgast said:

Greatly enjoying this whole debate, although I did have to google Silver Oak Cabernet.  A great sommelier - I would argue - is essential for a perfect/top-tier meal, where an expansive wine list is fairly mandatory.  Sommeliers that are just salespeople in disguise can ruin a fine dining experience, though. I'd argue that the micro lists are best as you move down the formality spectrum (and that having those by the glass gets you even more brownie points).  A good wine at a good price that I don't have to think about complements the $20-30 entree well.  

Among sommeliers who enjoy Old World wines, Silver Oak Cabernet is referred to as Silver Joke. People put it on wine lists because it is guaranteed to sell.

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I dislike the micro lists at: Supra, Doi Moi, Espita Mezcaleria (I know, I know, but I HATE Mezcal).  They don't have enough options and they are all often based on what they want the consumer to like rather than what the consumer may like.  I am sure I could name others.  

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1 hour ago, Mark Slater said:

Among sommeliers who enjoy Old World wines, Silver Oak Cabernet is referred to as Silver Joke. People put it on wine lists because it is guaranteed to sell.

I went to Silver Oak in 1990-ish, and bought a couple bottles of 1986 Bonny's Vineyard - anyone tried it lately? Ever?

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5 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I went to Silver Oak in 1990-ish, and bought a couple bottles of 1986 Bonny's Vineyard - anyone tried it lately? Ever?

When Silver Oak came out in the 80s,  to buy Napa Valley bottling, you had to commit to many cases of Alexander Valley. Ditto for Bonny's (which is now known as Meyer Family). Silver Oak was also one of the very first Napa Valley cabernets to break the $100 mark on wine lists. 

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1 hour ago, Mark Slater said:

When Silver Oak came out in the 80s,  to buy Napa Valley bottling, you had to commit to many cases of Alexander Valley. Ditto for Bonny's (which is now known as Meyer Family). Silver Oak was also one of the very first Napa Valley cabernets to break the $100 mark on wine lists. 

Your post brought two memories to the forefront: I paid *exactly* $100 for a bottle of 1970 Beaulieu Vineyards (BV) Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon at (I think) Restaurant Palladin in the Watergate, probably in the late 1980s (this was not Jean-Louis, but his second restaurant, which was pretty darned good) - I don't know how or why I remember that price, but I do. And for whatever reason, I remember paying *exactly* $100 for a 1982 Leoville-Las Cases at Le Lion d'Or in the same time period - I guess these are the first three-digit bottles I ever purchased in restaurants, so they're buried deep within the recesses of my noodle.

As I type this, I'm having doubts about where I had the 1970 BV because I have this "visual" of a larger dining room - maybe I'll remember this later; I haven't thought about it in decades. As for the 1982 LLC, I can not only remember the restaurant, but also the table where I was sitting!

---

EDIT - Aha! I had the 1970 BV at The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City with Gerard Pangaud as Chef - I *knew* there was something wrong with that memory.

---

"I forget the name of the place, I forget the name of the girl, but the wine was Chambertin." -- Hillaire Belloc

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19 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

 

Now I see. I think a microlist could work and work really well, but I think that in practice that most attempts at this will be average at best and likely sub-par. In the article starting this all, there were a couple of quotes about how hard it is to get a microlist right because there is no place to hide and mistakes will be glaring (too heavy in one area, too pricey, too heavy in this region or that - you get the idea).

Indeed, and I think that list falls victim to that line of reasoning. When I looked at it the first  thing that jumped out at me was in the white section with 19-20 wines, there were six Rieslings and four Chenin Blancs. Two varietals accounting for 50% of the selection.  Allowing that Riesling is a versatile grape etc..........I think they could have found space for several others that are not represented at all.

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Might be a fun exercise to create a list here, of wines, like Silver Oak, mostly Californian I would suspect, but not forgetting Cloudy Bay, and Santa Margherita, that are no longer cutting edge, but continue to trade on past glories. Wines, that if you see them on a list, make you think, if they took this little care about their wine selection, should I really be eating their food.....
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This thread brings back two vivid restaurant wine memories, Years {decades) ago I was hosting at Landini Brothers in Alexandria.  I asked the waiter to recommend a red wine. He suggested Quintessa, and I have never looked back. A few years ago, I was hosting my girlfriends birthday party at Marcel’s.  I asked Moëz to recommend wine for us.  He recommended a wine that was phenomenal and not that expensive,   I highly recommend both places!

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4 hours ago, Count Bobulescu said:
Might be a fun exercise to create a list here, of wines, like Silver Oak, mostly Californian I would suspect, but not forgetting Cloudy Bay, and Santa Margherita, that are no longer cutting edge, but continue to trade on past glories. Wines, that if you see them on a list, make you think, if they took this little care about their wine selection, should I really be eating their food.....

Google Constellation Brands and you will have the starter list of wines to avoid. Meiomi is at the top of the list. 

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19 hours ago, Mark Slater said:

Google Constellation Brands and you will have the starter list of wines to avoid. Meiomi is at the top of the list. 

I'm with you on Constellation & Co, but I disagree on Meiomi, because I believe it's simply a brand that never achieved any critical acclaim. I'm thinking more about once respected independent wines/brands that were bought by Big Wine, and then screwed up by ramping up production at the expense of quality, in an attempt to recover the overpayment. Etude, and similar come to mind in that category.

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17 hours ago, Count Bobulescu said:

I'm with you on Constellation & Co, but I disagree on Meiomi, because I believe it's simply a brand that never achieved any critical acclaim. I'm thinking more about once respected independent wines/brands that were bought by Big Wine, and then screwed up by ramping up production at the expense of quality, in an attempt to recover the overpayment. Etude, and similar come to mind in that category.

Meiomi is one of the most shocking stories of the past 10 years in the wine world. Creating a sweet, full bodied pinot noir was bad enough. Meiomi was a virtual vineyard: no vineyards, no production facilities. It was merely a brand. Charles Wagner was able to sell the brand for $350 million. All Meiomi was were a bunch of grape contracts. When Duckhorn sold for $275 million, it included 4 wineries, over 200 acres of Napa Valley vineyard and excellent goodwill. 

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The wines I had in mind when suggesting this list, were mostly once admired independents who either got swallowed up by corporate wine, or just failed to stay relevant to their consumers. I haven't had any of these wines in twenty years, so I'll be interested to see where people might disagree, or where they think the a wine/winery/brand is finding its roots again. That's always a pleasant surprise.
 
I'll start with the A's, and I realize I might be too harsh here, and exceptions prove the rule etc.
Acacia,  Arrowood,  Archery Summit,  Au Bon Climat.

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12 minutes ago, Mark Slater said:

Meiomi is one of the most shocking stories of the past 10 years in the wine world. Creating a sweet, full bodied pinot noir was bad enough. Meiomi was a virtual vineyard: no vineyards, no production facilities. It was merely a brand. Charles Wagner was able to sell the brand for $350 million. All Meiomi was were a bunch of grape contracts. When Duckhorn sold for $275 million, it included 4 wineries, over 200 acres of Napa Valley vineyard and excellent goodwill. 

That distinction between Meiomi and Duckhorn is exactly what I had in mind.

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17 hours ago, Count Bobulescu said:
The wines I had in mind when suggesting this list, were mostly once admired independents who either got swallowed up by corporate wine, or just failed to stay relevant to their consumers. I haven't had any of these wines in twenty years, so I'll be interested to see where people might disagree, or where they think the a wine/winery/brand is finding its roots again. That's always a pleasant surprise.
 
I'll start with the A's, and I realize I might be too harsh here, and exceptions prove the rule etc.
Acacia,  Arrowood,  Archery Summit,  Au Bon Climat.  

Acacia went corporate when The Chalone Group was sold to Diageo, Arrowood still makes wine, but I believe he has corporate backing, Gary Andrus started Archery Summit after Pine Ridge but then sold it to, I believe, Phillip Morris. Jim Clendenen still makes ABC. Its not well represented in this market. 

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2 minutes ago, Mark Slater said:

Acacia went corporate when The Chalone Group was sold to Diageo, Arrowood still makes wine, but I believe he has corporate backing, Gary Andrus started Archery Summit after Pine Ridge but then sold it to, I believe, Phillip Morris. Jim Clendenen still makes ABC. Its not well represented in this market. 

Can you think of any other A's that fit the bill?

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I think a well curated list of 100 wines is sufficient and a lot easier to maintain then a 19 page or larger  book. A small list can show love and focus between chef and Somm./Wine manager as opposed to buying every wine that is available. 

When in doubt I usually go to a Rioja.

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47 minutes ago, MarkS said:

When in doubt I usually go to a Rioja.

Interesting that you say that.  Rioja is generally my fallback as well.

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7 minutes ago, jpbloom said:

Interesting that you say that.  Rioja is generally my fallback as well. 

I'm attending a wine tasting and dinner this weekend featuring Kurt Venge representing his Napa and Sonoma wines and Roda from Rioja.  Should be very interesting.

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3 minutes ago, MarkS said:

I'm attending a wine tasting and dinner this weekend featuring Kurt Venge representing his Napa and Sonoma wines and Roda from Rioja.  Should be very interesting.

I've been to Roda - good stuff across the board.  You'll enjoy it.

(Sorry for the thread drift.)

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7 hours ago, MarkS said:

I think a well curated list of 100 wines is sufficient and a lot easier to maintain then a 19 page or larger  book. A small list can show love and focus between chef and Somm./Wine manager as opposed to buying every wine that is available. 

When in doubt I usually go to a Rioja.

Just catching up on this thread. Saw the Stuckey interview linked on Wineberserkers a while ago - very interesting. I agree that a 100 selection list of wines is sufficient (even if "curated" makes me nauseous) - my go to when in doubt is also Rioja - well, that or CNDP. Another bellwether for me is orange wine. If a list has a lot of it and/ or it's being heavily pushed, odds are I should just drink beer.

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11 hours ago, MarkS said:

I think a well curated list of 100 wines is sufficient and a lot easier to maintain then a 19 page or larger  book. A small list can show love and focus between chef and Somm./Wine manager as opposed to buying every wine that is available. 

When in doubt I usually go to a Rioja.

Can you recommend a rioja to try? I've always been....not interested in the ones I have tried in the past. I stopped trying.

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3 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

Can you recommend a rioja to try? I've always been....not interested in the ones I have tried in the past. I stopped trying.

Lopez Heradia Tondonia. Old style Rioja, light like Burgundy. 

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