Well last night I added about twelve wines to the wine-list. Its quite a long-winded process from start to finish. Heres a rundown on the process from the beginning.
Often I will encounter a new wine at a tasting, this may be here at the hotel with a sales rep and possibly a winemaker or winery marketing manager, or sometimes its one of those rare occasions that i get out of the hotel to a large trade tasting. Once I decide that the wine merits inclusion on our list, I have to negotiate a suitable price with the supplier. Usually we will just run with the listed price, but if we are looking at putting it on the list by the glass we will try and seek a better price. After all we are going to be purchasing the wine in some volume and so that helps make it more economical for both parties. Once I have my price, the next stage is to enter it into our stock computer and generate a bin number. When our cellar was first computerised many years ago, i dont think that they really thought about how big the list was going to be and so the numbering has become quite random. I would much prefer to have the numbers mean something. In other words allocate certain number orders to certain wines - 0 to 100 for champagne, 120 to 180 for Loire and Rhone, 200 to 400 for Bordeaux, 450 to 800 for burgundy etc etc. But to try and do that now would require a major reshuffle of the database and its not a task that i would relish doing myself.
Anyway, now we have the bin number we create a purchase order, get it signed off and order the stock. Once the stock is delivered it gets entered into the stock control system and the fun begins. Once I know that the stock is here, I have to start thinking about price. Now whether I like it or not, the margins that we are operating to are a bit higher than a stand-alone restaurant. We have considerable operating costs - we use Riedel stemware, flowers, payroll costs, linen, food costs, etc etc, but we are also contributing to supporting a whole hotel. So our margins are a bit higher than Im entirely comfortable with. Having said that, there are a few items that I can play around with, and so scattered around the wine-list there are some real bargains to be had, for those people with a bit of imagination, who take the time to read the list or ask for my support. We operate a floating margin, so that the wines at the upper spectrum of the list are marked up less than the house wines. (Insider advice - never order the house wine, as that is the most marked up wine on the wine-list. On my list you will find the best value for money between £50 and £90 on the wine-list). Once I have my selling price, I need to program it into our EPOS system. Then I find a space on the wine-list, type in the details, careful to make sure Ive spelt everything correctly (I copy the details exactly as they are on the wine labels. If the label is wrong, thats how it goes on the list), and paying careful attention to the vintage. Then I'm ready to rock and roll.
So what delights are on the list today?
a) Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2003. A stunning Pinot from one of the North Island of New Zealands best producers. 2003 was a great vintage, with very, very low yields and really intense fruit. This comes across with ultra ripe cherry flavours and and underpinning cedar/seasoned woody character. Really it needs a little more time in the bottle to get the best out of it, but its a stonking wine. Its not cheap at £85.00, but this was selling for nearly twice as much in Otago and sold out in days.
b)Matakana Estate, Matakana Moko 2000. Fantastic bordeaux blend wine from the northern most reaches of the North Island again. This is a maori produced wine, Moko being the traditional Moari facial tattoo's. Intense curranty berry fruit flavours with tightly integrated toasty oak characters. The tannins are starting to settle down and balancing the wine nicely. Still it needs a good half hour after decanting to really open out and show the forward fruity flavours.
c) A et P de Villaine, Mercurey Rouge "les Montots" 1996. Fantastic little Mercurey red from the principle name behind Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Aubert de Villaine. With a bit of bottle age on it this wine has really developed the distinctively earthy flavours that only Burgundy seems able to produce. This is simple red burgundy at its peak of perfection, and a wallet friendly £35 a bottle.
d)Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie "Poncie" 2004. Im not really a fan of Fleurie, personally I prefer Morgon and the deeper, darker Beaujolais cru's, but this wine makes me reconsider my tastes. A vibrant purple colour, with that classic beaujolais nose of strawberries and a hint of bubblegum. This wine takes a few moments to settle into character, but when it does it doesnt disappoint. Beaujolais is a sommelier "get out of jail free card". It seems to work really well with almost any food, and is usually a good crowd pleaser,suiting most palates and wallets at the same time.
Well thats about all for now, I need to get ready for service.