Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby Lyle Fass » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:08 pm

Judd,

Saw the F & W piece and seems like LT is a bit less discerning than I . . .

Anthony 44,

I find Chilean wines, NZ etc to be poor ones that are mostly one dimensional at this price point. Sorry but that is my opinion, ignorant slut or not (with and ode to Chevy Chase!). I have tasted a boatload of crappy Southern Rhone, don't get me wrong but when it comes to matching with food I would rather have a wine that has some earthiness instead of a glammed up fruit bomb from NZ or Chile or Australia.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby guitarguy » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:04 pm

Okay, Lyle, now I have to take you to task. Let's eliminate the word spoof or spoofulated or any such derivative from our wine vernacular. Not sure who made it up but it ticks me off every time I see it in print, especially from a supposed expert in wine. No more spoofulating please. If a wine is overmanipulated or overextracted or whatever over-problem you have with it, spit it out, but no more spoofing. I have ranted on this in my blog and it still pisses me off to see it used, even in a low key forum such as this. Thank you for NOT adopting the lingo of the in-crowd. You can do better. ;)
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby guitarguy » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:19 pm

If you want to talk travesty you should come to Houston and check out the wine prices in most (there are a few very notable and to applauded exceptions) fine restaurants. I recently had a $65 Malbec at Americas in the Woodlands and the next day found the bottle AT RETAIL for $20. So what does that mean, maybe a 5-1 mark-up versus wholesale? Americas is just going along with this sick, sick crowd of restaurants and I hope they all fail. Also keep in mind that Texas has one of the most restricted distribution networks and captured retail markets in the US for a semi-reciprocal state (certain limits are in place, but wine can be bought from out of state) which leads to some of the highest retail prices in the country for most wines (there are occasional values to be had). That same Malbec sold for under $15 RETAIL on the West Coast. To top this off, Texas law forbids a consumer from bringing in a bottle if the restaurant has a hard liquor license. If he only sells wine and beer then the restauranteur can allow carry-in. So do you think, just possibly, the liquor lobby had anything to do with these restrictions on corkage? Hmm.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby Lyle Fass » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:07 am

Hey Guitar Guy,

I been using spoofilated since back in the day. It's gonna be hard as it is such a perfect word to describe a certain style of wine or even movie or food. Mcdonaald's is spoofilated as is Titanic. Sushi Yasuda isn't and neither is Pierrot le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard.

Asking me to give up spoofilated is like asking me to give up dude or yo. Can't do it. :D
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby Lyle Fass » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:08 am

Guitar Guy,

That sounds rough. Sometimes us New Yawkas's don't know how lucky we are.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby artn » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:52 am

Great job! Recession or no recession, I've often wondered about the bottom-line economics of restaurant pricing at 300-400% mark-up. I think you've pretty much provided the answer here: "This would be a no-brainer to try, and cheap enough to try another bottle (or two)!" Why don't restaurants get it? Simply put, if the prices were lower, we'd drink more--right? The math is pretty simple too: if they pay $15 and charge $45, they make $30 when I buy a bottle; if they charge $35 instead for the same bottle and I buy TWO, then they make $40. That's $10 MORE; plus they move more inventory faster, thus reducing overhead. Case closed! (This "analysis" works even better with glass pours.)
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby Lyle Fass » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:00 am

artn.

I always believed in the lower cost more volume theory but most restauranters subscribe to the theory of pricing it a high price and letting it sit and the high price paying its rent on the list or on the shelf if it is a retailer so ultimately when the sale happens it is worth the high price. It's a crappy way to look at business but it is a popular model.

It's all about offering the best value to the customer.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby focusisfragile » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:25 am

Hi Lyle,
Long time listener, first time caller. This is of course a fascinating and layered topic, and as a west coast somm i thought i'd toss in my two cents.
Firstly, i feel like i must offer at least a rudimentary defense of restaurant wine prices in San Francisco, as i think we deal with certain issues that New Yorkers don't. Minimum wage here is just under $10/hour, a fact i LOVED back in the server days (especially moving here from Boston, where i got $2.63 an hour, ouch). Also, last year we had a well intentioned but somewhat sloppily executed "Healthy San Francisco" universal healthcare fee dropped on businesses here. While i won't bore you with the complete details, the end result is something like an extra $1.34 per hr per worker! Not a huge burden in a retail store, but in a fine dining restaurant paying servers/bussers/dishwashers/hosts/etc what is basically $11.50/hr, you can see where i'm going with this. The beverage department is a no-brainer way, nay a neccesity, to ensure survival. So yes, our wine by the glass programs are designed to maximize profitability, and cult wines (i don't mean that in the awful, Screaming Eagle fashion, more like the Rouget/Dugat/Vogue/Vega Sicilia/Gaia sense) will hurt those who dare to tread, but the downward economy combined with the infant dimwit cum foodwriter we're saddled with has brought the issue of affordability to the forefront, and everyone has had to get creative to cope. What you see are a lot of "40 under $40", "White Wines $60 and Under" etc...

It's in these categories that i've actually had the best luck turning people on to the rustic, weirdo wines that i like to drink, seeing as i'm simply unable to buy bottles in a restaurant over $75 or so (yes, it is hard to reconcile business with my personal taste and desire, but we ALL work under Wine Directors who set markups at some point in our careers, no?). Thank god for Kermit Lynch and North Berkeley!!!
Regions that kill it for me as far as value are concerned are, in no particular order

*Languedoc/Roussilon/Central-Southern France- St. Chinian (Mas Champart), Cahors (have you had the Clos la Coutale?! Cheap spicy and delicious), Minervois, Madiran, Cotes du Rhone and their various and sundry Villages (I think Feraud Brunel makes wines that WAY outperform their price!!). Yeah, I know that some of these wines are insanely rustic and/or unfamiliar to your regular Cali Cab drinkers, but I think these people need to understand that if they want to spend $35-50/bottle in a swanky joint, they might just have to travel out of their comfort zones and let the folks who spend 60 hours a week humping boxes and processing invoices and tasting loads of awful crap just to find one good Russian River pinot guide them toward some tasty juice. Imagine if no one had ever turned you on to Mourvedre? Life without Bandol? No thank you!

*Beaujolais- God this can be a hard sell at first, but i've yet to see an unhappy face at a table drinking their first Lapierre or Foillard.

*Burgundy-HA! Get frack real. I've become an expert on Marsannay, Fixin and Ladoix just so I can feed my desire to sell Burgundy to the masses, but who am I kidding, these wines are still at least $65. I think Audoin, Chevalier, Gay, etc are doing a nice job. I just wish i could drink Chambolle instead of Chorey...

*Loire- You're SPOT ON about Dressner. Freak of the week or not, i'm always reassured when i see the Louis/Dressner sticker a bottle. I think there are still good buys in Sancerre and Pouilly, but with a little nudging we've had success with Quincy, Jasnieres, Montlouis and Cheverny. And i think it is the duty of any good somm to identify potential acolytes and promptly start them on their journey towards Huet. Today Cheverny, tomorrow Le Mont!!! Oh, and let us not forget Bourgeuil and Chinon, yum.

Well this was supposed to be a quick response, now it has ballooned out of proportion, but i guess what i'm trying to say is that a good wine department can offer heavy hitters AND sick deals, it just requires a well trained staff and owners willing to invest enough capital to cover all the bases. Oh, and as for putting a bunch of dead in the water, faded wines on the list, that just sucks! I like shopping end of bins as much as the next guy, but often times there's a REASON that 01 Verdicchio is only $6/btl ;)
Cheers!
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby focusisfragile » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:49 am

oh my god! you have a Battlestar Galactica obscenity filter? FRACKING BRILLIANT!
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 3-12-09; Wine Lists

Postby Lyle Fass » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:04 am

Focus is Fragile,

All great points and glad to see you in the fray especially coming from the on-premise side of things. Are your customers drinking more or less bottles at the $85 or over price point? Are they looking for values and balking when you offer them a Jasnieres, Mondeuse or a Touraine Rouge? Then ordering something more expensive as it is something they recognize?
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