Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nouvelle vague – the choice

Following the arrival of a new wave of wine distributors, I had a conversation with one of the leaders from one of these new companies. He told me that the internet is going to become one of the major way to sell wine in the future and that mass merchants and wine stores are going to lose market share.
I don’t have a crystal ball and thought that wine stores would be doomed because of mass merchants. Instead, new chains of stores are opening up, a few Lavinia are opening around the world, Nicolas, Le Repaire de Bacchus, V&B are all opening new stores and they are doing well.
On the internet, Chateauonline, Merlaut, Dubecq compete with cdiscount, vin-malin and others, one-day-one-wine, direct sales to consumers and many more. Just from your home, you can find everything: at a good price, with good information on the wine and delivered in 24 hours.
For example, I found a Pedro Jimenez 1927 for 24.5 Euros on vin-malin!
All of Bernard Magrez wines are available on cdiscount, etc…
Some of the wines are even sold for less than at the property. Buyers are sharp and able to buy a whole batch from an inheritance or bankruptcies. Competition has to be creative and this makes it hard for retailers asleep at the wheel.
As for me, I try to work seriously with every segment with no a priori, always responding to people who talk about “good” distribution. As Lapalisse would say, a good distributor is a distributor who sells!

Back to my meals
Yesterday evening, I had dinner with friends owners, négociants as well as Martine and Jean-Paul. The meal consisted of seasonal classics like truffles, beef rib grilled in the fireplace.
Clos du paradis 2003, a table wine from Luxemburg, good, and blind Quinault l’Enclos 2000 and Soutard 2000. Everyone guessed the appellation and gave 2001 as the vintage.
Soutard was a favorite for 6 out of 7 of our guests for the tannins are well integrated, pleasant, less show-off. It is in today’s trend. At least, both were good.
Following, Léoville Las Cases 2000 and l’Interdit de Clos Badon 2000. Everyone said 2003 or 2005 for both wines which changed categories! Well, the most surprising, even for me (yes), was that l’Interdit de Clos Badon was favored by 7 out of 7, thanks to its impression of sweetness and softness. Las Cases was so young, a bit in the style of a Pauillac, a bit austere.
Of course we drank everything and everyone guessed Right Bank and Left Bank.
We finished on the perfect pairing: egg custard and Doisy Daene 2003, simply sumptuous, a light bitterness of bitter almonds, mandarin peals, apricots and this purity and lightness missing in some more well known crus.
Life is rough when you’re a négociant!

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