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October 04, 2010

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Who is this Daniel Posner fellow anyway? I've seen his name pop up on Wark's blog.

Hello, Daniel.

Of course, you know that I will disagree with someone who issues a personal assessment of wine without saying what it is that he doesn't think makes the wine good. Don't be lazy--give constructive criticism when you don't like a wine. Also, add some color when you praise a wine; you know, like why is it so good to you?

As for your take on the Finger Lakes--are you surprised that I agree ;)

And (big AND) you are so right about the hybrid thing. I wish everyone would understand that with only scant exceptions, all wine grape varieties are hybrids. Some are inter-specific species hybrids and some are same species hybrids. It really matters not that hybrids exist--it matters whether or not the wines are what people seek and worth the money.

I think some of Daniel's comments represent the disconnect between the current reality and retail outlets. In other words, Daniel's views on NY wine are pretty far outdated. It's an open debate whether that's his fault for not knowing the latest, or the fault of the industry for not making sure retailers like him know.

First of all, Lyle Fass attended TasteCamp on Long Island, and Lyle now works for Daniel. Here's Lyle's first post regarding LI wines, which he also criticizes as lacking value in the market:

http://rockssandfruit.blogspot.com/2009/05/tastecamp-east-report-for-few-dollars.html

However, he praises many wines specifically, and was willing to take another trip out to check out value wines. And he was largely won over -- check out his follow:

http://rockssandfruit.blogspot.com/2009/07/shinn-estate-vineyards-does-make.html

Lyle described LI wine with comments like this one: "Effusive and friendly fruit dominates this wine. Chewy, fresh and pure all at the same time with good earthy grit. I like. Honest wine."

I would suggest Daniel consult with Lyle on some value Long Island wines!

Regarding Chardonnay, my take is: Yep, I'm bored to tears by almost all new world chardonnay, but who cares? It's not like it's the centerpiece of Long Island wine; every new world region is making it to pay bills; it's irrelevant. It shouldn't color one's opinion of the star performers of a region.

Daniel has always been an open-minded guy, from what I have seen. I'm no cheerleader for anyone (as recent posts will attest!). But I would expect retailers like Daniel to view NY wine with an open mind, just as Lyle Fass has done. And I think the NY wine industry needs to know the opinions of movers like Daniel, whether they like those opinions or not.

Daniel,

First, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

Because of the exchange we had this morning I know that you've tasted around 50 New York wines in the past year, many of them Long Island. Without getting into a wine-by-wine discussion, I'd argue that perhaps you haven't tasted, or don't taste regularly, enough New York wines to paint them with such broad strokes.

Of course, that's not necessarily your fault. Sure, there are retailers today who are keenly interested in "local" and actively seek them out, working hard to find the real local gems. If you're not tasting the good stuff, that partly falls to the wineries for not getting them in front of you as well.

You're right to say that the Finger Lakes should focus on riesling, gewurztraminer, etc. But that you aren't even sure of the varieties best suited to Long Island worries me. That says to me that Long Island wineries aren't doing a good enough job of targeted retailers such as yourself.

I'm sure that there are New York winemakers and winery owners reading this post today getting upset at your comments, but this is probably the way that many retailers look upon New York wines. The question is (and this is a key reason why we asked you to be included in this series) what can NY wineries do to address this perception? (something Charles Massoud has already asked).

Fact is, the quality is there but it's not to be found at every single winery. Of course, that is true of ANY region.

You and I do agree (again, based on our exchange this morning) that entry-level reds from Long Island can be inconsistent, but I don't think that rules out "value" from the region. Value exists at every price point, not just in the $15 and under category. I think we ALL need to be reminded of that.

As for your chardonnay comments, I mostly agree...to a point. There are some beautiful chardonnays being made on Long Island -- at wineries like Channing Daughters, Lenz, Peconic Bay Winery and Wolffer just to name a few -- but they aren't the wines that will put the region on the map. They are rarely distinctive and rarely express Long Island in a unique way. I want those acres planted with sauvignon blanc and other up-and-coming grapes for the region, but that's another discussion entirely. I think it's too simple to say that there aren't any good ones.

Then again, you only say that you've never had a good one. That's the chasm that needs to be crossed. New York wineries need to get their best wines in front of retailers, not just the cheap stuff that they want to move quickly at low prices. When I walk into a shop and find the NY section, all too often it's the mediocre stuff (at best).

I'm sorry, but comments like, "there are some good this or that..." or "I've never tasted a good this or that from..." are unbelievably meaningless characterizations.

As a wine consumer, I ask that you tell me what you expect from this or that, and why you expect what you expect, so that I can figure out if you have a palate that I should consider or whether or not your expectations make any sense.

Having said that, I agree with one thing, and this comes from trying to sell LI wine when I owned a retail shop: they generally have a price-quality-ratio problem when compared to mid-level wines from Europe, and even from the West Coast of this country. That's not a statement about their wine quality--just about their value to the general consumer who doesn't give a rat's ass about wine produced in his or her home state.

But yes, I think that Daniel's attitude is a general failure of the NY wine industry for not having changed his views.


Tell me of one wine region that does not have a large range of wine quality. Bordeaux, as an example, produces, they say, over 20,000 wines. We see only a couple hundred Bordeaux labels in this country, the best, and no one complains that most Bordeaux are inferior wines.

LI is held to a different standard. If by chance a wine is found to be good, then it is found expensive. And in the end it is easier to go to someone who is curious about an emerging region.

If Mr. Posner's point is that there are some passable wines on LI, fine. However in this article as elsewhere he does not seem to get past that point and that makes his contribution here of questionable value. There are many high profile retailers who are happy to carry LI wines. And there are enough high profile restaurants in NYC with well known sommeliers who feature LI wines. That makes his blanket condemnation of LI wines rather silly. Perhaps he enjoys stirring controversy as can be seen in some threads that he used to participate in on Marc Squires BB.

On a positive note, he supports my contention ( although he may not know of it) that the NY Wine Industry must learn basic selling and basic marketing. He does not say it in these words but alludes to the need for everyone to get out and sell.

The good news is that there are enough NY wineries that are doing well that it proves the point that it is doable. Why the industry does not respond is revealing of the lethargy that it is mired in. And here is where a body like the NY W & G F could have taken a more effective leadership role.

Now if in fact Mr. Posner is open minded enough to try a broad range of LI wines, then I extend him an invitation to come and visit us and we will work with Lenn to have him taste enough great wines, from several wineries, that will win him over as much as they won over many other skeptics. RSVP.

Here is what Juliette Pope, wine director at Gramercy Tavern, has to say about the New York State wine industry.

http://tinyurl.com/2a29a6a

Thanks for that link, David. Evan and I were just discussing yesterday that Juliette might be a good person to interview for an upcoming installment in this series of posts. Looks like we're right.

Thanks for letting me speak up, guys.

Sorry, I missed the post go up yesterday, so I am a little behind.

First, David, thanks the link to Juliette's comments. I did a cursory look at Juliette's fantastic wine list at Gramercy (fyi, I always recommend that restaurant to clients in from out of town, and a couple of years ago, she did an outstanding job with a business dinner for my brother in law) and Gramercy Tavern pours 3 NYS wines BTG and has 16 wines on the list. Interestingly enough, there is no Cab Franc. Sadly, 16 wines probably represents one of the most diverse selections of NYS wines in the entire Metro area. She does a great job of positioning the NYS wines at the top of the selections for each category. I am not sure how the sales are, but there is a 2006 Channing Daughters Pinot Grigio. Maybe that is current?

Regardless, I always love a good discussion with TP. Thomas, as you may know, Lyle is free to offer and sell whatever wines he chooses for his weekly email at Grapes. I hope he finds some NYS wines to sell. I truly do. On Saturday, he was out at Red Hook, helping with Riesling.

Maybe, I am behind the times with my opinion. Maybe I am not. When I am buying wine for the store, I am looking for "QPR" (Quality to Price Ratio). This is at the $10 cost, $50 cost and $500 cost. I want our clients to be wowed. Interestingly enough, I tasted the lineup of Ravines last week, and purchased the Dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc. The Riesling is $15.99 retail and the CF is $18.99...offering very good value from the FLX for those varietals.

One thing that may be lost in all of this, is that my answers are just my opinions, not any facts. I have never tasted a LI Chard that has wowed me. I have not tasted every single one produced, but, for me, I have tasted enough. Show me that is good and worth it, and I will carry it. Millbrook, which is also not far from our store, is a prime example of what is wrong with NYS wine prices. The wines are decent but vastly overpriced. Why should I offer a customer a Millbrook Chard for $30 when they can drink better for $15? Show me value, and I will show you a P.O.

Last year, I tasted (twice) the lineup of Macari wines. The cheaper label stuff was pretty dreadful. Their $40 to $100 wines were very very good. But, if it takes $40 to get me to a very good LI red, then put me in the "no thanks" category.

A few years ago, I was at a restaurant with about 8 other people. Channing Daughters Tocai Fruilano was on the list for about $45. This was shortly after David Schildknecht had done a very comprehensive report on LI wines. I bit...a couple of bottles for the group. My friends trust me to order the wines when we go out. After tasting, a few questioned the wine choice and a few others deemed it "passable." These were not my words but wine consumers looking for "value." It was a 90 point wine from DS, FYI. We had to order something else.

I am totally open minded to the idea of selling good value wines. If they are from NYS, great. If not, great too. I urge anyone to come into www.grapesthewineco.com and check out our selection before questioning it, though. We work very hard at what we do and I think it shows on the shelves!

Charles

I will respond to your post individually. I will let you know when I can make it out there. I did go to LI last summer and taste through 4 wineries.

As for your BDX comments...as critical as I am about NYS wines, I think that I have been more critical of Bordeaux. The region also suffers from a severe qualitative issue in the value category. So much so, that we have nothing from the region under $20/btlish.

Daniel,

If you can visit that would be great.
That LI wines do not offer attractive QPR in your store is quite possible. Price may be an issue and it reflects the fact that our costs are perhaps the highest of any grape growing region of the world. However your criticism of LI wine has not been about price. As a retailer you must make a profit and we have a limited ability to disocunt, unlike the imports where the margins are much wider.

So it would seem to me that if a wine is good it should be judged as such and you can still say it is expensive for you, even though you liked it. But when you trash indicriminatly not distinguishing quality from price then it is a little difficult to have a reasonable conversation.

Now as to QPR, you have your facts and I am sure they are right, for your circumstances. Yet if you look for example at the last issue of the Wine Advocate with David Schildknecht's reviews, it is noteworthy that within this issue if you compare similarly rated wines, you will find that LI wines are neither the least expensive nor the most expensive. That says that they are reasonably priced. The consumer seems to agree and so do many of your colleagues and as I stated many well known restaurants and their reputable sommeliers.

And finally how about doing a double blind tasting when you come here? You select a couple of varietals and we select a couple . You bring other brands and we bring several LI wines to match. Have them poured in blank bottles, bag them number them and pour them, each step by a different person then taste them and score them.
At such a prior tasting that you are familiar with Jamie Kutch documented the outcome which was quite favorable for LI.

Daniel,

I didn't even know that Lyle now works for you. Must have missed the gossip, but I usually bypass it anyway...

In any case, it wasn't I who brought up Lyle's name in this discussion.

I recommend that you take Charles up on the blind tasting offer--it's the only way for you to put your views to rest, either for yourself or for the LI wine industry.

Charles,

You wrote something above with which I take issue: that LI wine prices reflect the cost of grape growing. I don't take issue with that statement, as I understand its truth. But consumers don't care what it costs YOU to produce the wine; what does it cost ME is the question for a consumer.

With that in mind, LI wineries (and other NY regionals) need to decide on their target market.

If you want the general retail market, you need to compete in price-quality.

If you want the upscale market, you need to compete in promotion-quality, and especially in the restaurant trade.

If you want the tasting room market, you need to compete only with your peers at home.

If you want all three markets, you have an awful lot of work in front of you, not to mention expense.

Thomas,

Let me try again.

The conversation started about quality.
Then it shifted to price and QPR.

Both price and quality were addressed.

You state: "But consumers don't care what it costs YOU to produce the wine; what does it cost ME is the question for a consumer."

OK.

Apparently there are many consumers out there who find our prices acceptable since our wines are selling briskly, with NYC becoming a sizeable market for a number of wineries. What do you make of that?

That you find our wines expensive for the quality they offer is your prerogative. Thankfuly it is a vast market out there. And in many blind tastings our wines did very well against many priced much higher. Perhaps others see value that you don't?

This conversation has no logical conclusion unless we can offer you the highest quality that you wish for at the lowest price possible that you deem acceptable to you. I hope that does not also come with a deadline :)

Charles,

You miss-characterize (and personalize) my comments.

I don't find your particular wines expensive; the consumer I used to serve found L.I. wines in general expensive, relative to what they could get from elsewhere at the same or better level of quality. Explaining what it costs LI to produce wine is not a conversation that a retailer needs to have with a consumer.

It is your prerogative to refuse to face the facts of retailing, and if, as you say, sales are brisk, then great; you don't need face the facts of retailing.

I do not doubt that blind tastings produce good results for your wines--many of your wines are fantastic, but that has little or nothing to do with the perceived value of consumers or of retailers who know their customers. I think Daniel's views are outdated, but then, he might conceivably cater to consumers with similarly outdated views--it's your job to change those views directly, and to persuade that the price is relative to the value--not to your cost.

In order to stay in business, a retailer needs to maintain movement, not inventory. The longer small wineries continue to not understand the dynamic behind retailing wine, the longer it will take to establish a good retailing market for those wines. Under those conditions, it might be best to focus solely on restaurants and direct sales.

This definately shows the need we have as an industry for better marketing/communications of the quality of today's NY wines. The QPR comments are something we have heard often and a big reason our entry level wines are $15 - it's a global market and we have to be able to compete on the shelves and in the restaurants. It would be nice if we didn't have to compet with the perception that ny wines are somehow defective.

Thomas: Just so the group commenting here knows, how long ago was it that you had your retail shop? I don't think anyone would argue that Long Island wines have seen a serious increase in overall quality over the last 5-7 years, so your former customers' comments on LI quality were more true then than now?

I don't know how many Long Island wines you drink nowadays either.

Duncan: Having entry-level wines at $15 seems like a very smart thing for NY wineries to do. Several down here have found success going that route. The problem comes in when many of those $15 wines just aren't that good. Some are, but that is the category that NY wineries need to up quality on in my opinion.

Lenn's last post took the words out of my mouth. The retail outlets I go in upstate all complain that the quality of the wine at $12-15 just isn't that great. I look at the NY Wines their shelves and see clearly why they say that.

Then, I list for them a bunch of Long Island red wines in that price point that they should stock. I hear time and time again that they can't get a wholesaler for the wine in Albany, that they are forced to buy a quantity that they do not feel that could sell, etc. I have even seen them call the wineries direct.

So the region becomes defined by the wines that get distribution, which are not always the best examples of the region.

Lenn,

Once again, I am not talking about quality--I am talking about perceived value. Two different subjects. I am talking about when quality is on a par among various wines but prices are not.

As for the question of credentials to speak on the issue, I left my store in 2005--I doubt those five years have seen that much of a shift. But I also remain quite connected to the wine business--not just the NY wine business.

One problem with wineries is that they start up their businesses without deciding in advance the identity of their intended customers and the route by which they will get their wines to those customers.

Consumers can buy quite solid European wines between $12 and $15? I can point you to solid European wines at even lower prices, and New York has always been a place where European wines sell. Even CA producers complain about the toughness of getting into the NY market albeit, a little less than they used to.

A winery has to think and target. At $15 a bottle, at one bottle per day, that's $5,500 per year on wine. Duncan, how many consumers do you think spend that much each year on wine? How many do you think spend half that much? If you operate a winery, you should know the answer.

Thomas: I'm not sure why you keep trying to separate quality and perception so absolutely. Quality is tied to perception, that cannot be argued. And that is my point here.

This blog is 6 years old, and I've seen a serious increase in quality over that period of time. I'm not saying that the top wines are that much better (though some are) but wines that were formerly mediocre have improved beyond that. That's why I say that overall quality is better.

Stated simply and directly -- until very recently, many of the LI wines with much distribution just weren't as good as they are now. That led to many of the perception problems LI wineries face now.

Quality leads to perception. And once a region is perceived as delivering poor QPR, it takes significant time -- time making better wines -- to change that. There is a lag time here.

But top producers can and ARE persevering. It's hard work and an arduous process.

Lenn,

"Quality is tied to perception, that cannot be argued..."

Really? After having sold wine for many years, I question that statement with confidence, as it relates to a large segment of the wine-buying public.

Here you "kind of" support what I am saying.

"...a region is perceived as delivering poor QPR, it takes significant time -- time making better wines -- to change that."

Except that you mix "perceived" with "actual." Just because the perception is poor QPR that does not automatically mean that the quality is poor.

Most consumers compare products of equal quality by their pricing. A winery can indeed price quality out of the market, especially a winery that is not yet in the market or does not back up the retailing with truly great marketing and promotion. This is what I believe has been the situation with a great deal of LI wine--lately.

Having said that, I could be wrong, too, as I have lately tasted a few LI wines that at suggested $18 to $25 retail were overwhelmingly, to my taste, among the worst bargains that I've encountered.


Thomas: Other than consistent quality over time, what can change perception?

You say "Just because the perception is poor QPR that does not automatically mean that the quality is poor."

Did I imply or say otherwise?

As to your recent experience with LI wines, I have no idea what you've been tasting, so I can't speak to that either.

Lenn,

When you said: "...a region is perceived as delivering poor QPR, it takes significant time -- time making better wines -- to change that."

You imply that the perception demands better wine and it will change.

I'm saying that the perception demands equal quality at equal pricing and so, to your question:

"Other than consistent quality over time, what can change perception?"

The right price.

Steve G

Can you recommend some $12-15 LI Reds that can compete in the "QPR" department? I would love to get some recommendations. Maybe I am just tasting the wrong wineries.

TP, Sorry about the Lyle post. It was Evan who posted it.

I see that Evan says that my comments are outdated.

Maybe at the tasting that Charles can organize, Evan, Lenn, TP, and myself can all blind taste wines from all over, and make it real interesting.

If you really want to make the "Charles" tasting interesting, why don't you include some ordinary folk (non-wine geeks) who probably buy most of the wine you are trying to sell, and see if they agree with the experts.

Dan is a man of his words and was kind enough to give some of our wines a try, I'm glad to say!

Dan - Thank you for seeing our sales rep tomorrow. It's very gracious of you to take an appointment on short notice like that. He's bringing you a half a dozen wines I think are tremendous values from LI, ranging from $12-18 retail. We're very proud of these new wines - I hope you'll let us know your impression of them.

Best,

Jim (Peconic Bay Winery)

Jim

I look forward to being proven wrong! I am glad to hear that people will be proactive. I hope your salesman attempts to sell to other great shops in Westchester, as well. As I have said, I work hard, so I do not necessarily have the time to seek out the "gems" from LI. I would hope that wineries would seek us out. Let me know what your rep says about our store.

Harold

These sorts of events can happen at almost anytime/anywhere.

Jim,

Give Daniel hell...


Harold,

Nice try ;)

Thomas: I don't think Jim is planning to give Daniel "hell" or any other such thing. He's being proactive and getting his wines in front of a retailer who hasn't sampled them. Simple. Smart.

As to Harold's comment -- I think it has serious merit. Much of this comment thread surrounds perception and value. I think having non-writers and non-industry folks in such a tasting would bring a good perspective.

Lenn, I was kidding--there is room for that here, I hope.

In fact, I agree with Harold. The wine industry and retailers should always find ways to go directly to consumers. We did it every Saturday at my store, which is how we learned what consumers view as QPR and what they want in their wine. Sometimes, we had to "educate" them otherwise, because knowing what you want doesn't always mean that you want the best that you can get.

Daniel,

We did a blind tasting in 2005 which was quite successful, in that most tasters, including me, did not recognize the wines that they brought. The proposal is to repeat a similar format. So let me describe the event and see whether we can all agree to replicate it.

At the time, the summer of 2004, there was a good amount of bashing of LI wine going on on eBob. As I bashed back and challenged views based mostly on hearsay, Victor Hong suggested a Shootout. That became known as the Long Island wine Shootout.

It was attended by a total of 25 people over dinner on an ice cold evening on February 12, 2005, in our tasting room. We started with the Lenz bubbly (not blind) and oyters for everyone to get acquainted and warm up. 18 were Ebob posters that I never met before and only corresponded with on the BB. The other 7 were: Eric Fry, the Lenz winemaker, Louisa Hargrave co founder of Hargrave vineyards, Les Howard and his wife Gwen, Les being at the time assistant winemaker at Bedell Cellars, my wife Ursula, our son Kareem, presently winemaker at Paumanok and myself. Of the eBob names you might recognize were: Jamie Kutch, Ray Ormand, Paul Jaouen, Dan Myers, Jim Hamilton, Jeff Filippi and Peter Hirdt and in most cases their spouses or significant other.

They arranged to bring each 2 bottle of wine that we did not know about but it had to be a cabernet sauvignon, Merlot or a blend and it had to be from the mid 90s.
But they all knew what we would be pouring which were the equivalent wines from Bedell, Lenz and Paumanok.

On 2/12/05 they all showed up some of them with their own stems.

We had 2 groups of people, one representing LI wines and one for the rest of the world, transferring each wine into blank flint bordeaux bottles. They would give each bottle a letter. When done they would give all the bottles to another team who would put the bottles in bags and number them. A list of letters and matching numbers was kept by the team leaders.There were 2 bottles of each wine so that enough could be served for 25 tasters. As an example if Pahlmeyer was given the letter B both bottles would have letter B and if the number for letter B was 5 both bottles would be number 5. The tasters know the wine as number 5 and it was poured in the glass that was on spot number 5 on the placemat. The placemat had 6 circles numbered 1 through 6 and each flight had to be numbered 1 through 6. It made it easy to pour, to score then to tabulate and reveal results.

We tasted the wines in flights of 6 for each type, and in each case 3 LI and 3 rest of the world. We scored them on 100 point scale and at the end the scores were tabulated by a team representing both sides. And then the results were announced and Jamie documented them very nicely.

The unanimous feeling was that the format was excellent in that no one could guess which was which. That observation by itself betrays the results as Long Island wines could not be separated from Bordeaux and many mistook one for the other, including me. The California wines on the other hand were easier to recognize because of the alcohol levels. In the end what was useful was to recognize that in a blind tasting LI show very well and some prestigious labels did not. But that is not the point here.

Going back to format, let us decide what range of wines should be tasted. We could do a repeat of the above or we could do some whites and some reds. To make it manageable we should limit it to three wineries from LI and I will leave the choice of which to Lenn. And in order to make it representative we need to select varietals that are broadly available. And bacause Chardonnay gets a lot of bad press these days I think we should include some chardonnays and I would ask the visitors, (Daniel and others) to bring some good Burgundies from Meursault and Puligny Montrachet. Daniel seems to have a soft spot for Cabernet Franc so that would be another variety. And I think we definitely must have Merlot and I would include Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends. Lenn, I suspect you may want to throw in Sauvignon Blanc.
All these wines will be tasted blind against some equivalent wines. The word equivalent here is important. For the reds it means probably French as CA wines stand out like a sore thumb and would be easy to recognize. At the 2005 tasting we had such well known wines as Chateau Pavie, Ducru Beaucaillou, Grand Puy Lacoste, Pichon Baron and we had some CA wines like Chateau Montelena, Pahlmeyer and Insignia.
As to attendees, after we would have agreed on which wineries would participate, Daniel would bring along a couple of tasters, Lenn would bring a few more and the wineries would round out the contingent. More than 25 people would require 3 of each wine and also makes the logistics more difficult. So I propose we do again up to 25 people. I will be happy to host it at Paumanok and we can get a caterer to do a duck dinner for around $30 to $35 per person.
Of course this is a first cut and any suggestions that would further improve this are welcome for discussion. So Daniel and Lenn please reply with your suggestions.

Charles,

You and I have talked about recreating the 2005 Shoot Out for some time, and this seems a good opportunity and reason to do it!

If we can work out the logistics and seats at the tasting, I'd rather not be limited to 3 wineries -- especially if we're including sauvignon blanc as a category. That's a bit more limiting than other varieties. We can discuss that as we formulate the plans. Other than that, I think your setup is perfect.

And, I like the idea of including chardonnay. I keep hearing about these blind tastings against White Burgs but have yet to undertake such an endeavor.

What are our next steps? Getting a date nailed down?

I am not too familiar with most Long Island wines. Due to my location (Rochester) it is far easier to find a huge selection of Finger Lakes wines. I can say that the QPR for many of the finger lakes wines especially at Century is extremely good $12-$15 of very high quality wines. After reading this website for a while I definitely need to get into Long Island wines, where would be the best place to find them in Rochester?

Lenn,

There is no magic about 3 wineries. It is all about logistics. Unless you want to taste in the absence of winery staff, which is possible but not my choice, the more wineries you include the more you swing the vote to a LI based crowd and that takes away from the results, if they turned out to favor LI. You need to have a preponderance of tasters from out of town as in the end they control the vote and if the outcome favors LI it will carry much more weight. This is a challenge I am happy to accept.

Therefore by proposing 3 it makes it easier to have 3 LI and 3 non LI in each flight and no more than 6 people (7 if I am hosting!) representing wineries such that their vote cannot be said to have swayed the results in their favor.

Furthermore how many flights can we have over dinner and keep a discriminating palate? I would say 4 to 6 flights. That is 24 to 36 wines, half of which would be from LI. And remember that we can always do more of these tastings later on.

As to next steps and not necessarily in sequence we need to decide at least on the following:

- You select other wineries
- You chat with Daniel off line about participants. You both need to scrub participants so that we have serious tasters. Wineries will have no say about outside participants.
- This is not work but fun so I encourage you to hink in terms of allowing spouses or significant others to participate as well.
- Each winery will have 2 reps. As the host I need to help out so there will be three from Paumanok. Plus I would like to meet Daniel to see if in person he is as warm as every one says he is.
- We select a date.
- We select the varietals and how many ( no more than 6 please!)
- We decide on whether to do same year wine or just varietal regardless of vintage
- We confirm participants
- We confirm menu
- Each side assigns wines to bring to each participant
- Make sure wines have been assembled 2 weeks before the tasting. Daniel for non LI, myself for LI to coordinate.
- Who will "blind" the wines? This is a minimum of 4 people, 2 from each side. (I recommend you seek Rev. Ray Ormand, even though I said wineries should have no say...)
- Recommend for out of towners to stay locally after event, as we do not carry enough insurance! And bring your driver...
- Bring cash to pay for dinner!

I am sure there are more to dos.
We could keep this thread going to document progress or go off line. I can go either way.

By the way I am flying to Germany tomorrow and will likely not have much access to a computer. So I hope some good conversation will have taken place when I am back on the 12th.

Whatever you do, don't invite brass knuckle...

If someone can get Eric Fry to put me up in his palace, I'm interested.

Daniel, are you in for this? In email Charles and I were thinking February/March timeframe.

I'd rather not flesh out all the details here on the site -- few readers want to read our planning. If Daniel is indeed interested, we'll take it to email.

I'm actually thinking it might make sense to do this at a neutral site -- perhaps a local restaurant -- and I think including wines from a variety of wineries makes more sense.

More on this soon, everyone.

Of course, I am in for this sort of event. But I have ADD and Charles remarks were really long. :)

Seriously, lets get set on a date and work out the details thereafter. End of February of any time in March will work for me.

Good. I'll email you once Charles is back in country and we'll get the ball rolling.

Just tasted 6 wines from Peconic Bay. Thanks Jim and Peter!

Lets make sure we do golf out in the North Fork when we do the tasting!

Golf! Now you're talking!

You name the date. I think you'll like the Great Rock Course in WAding River.

Steaks and LI Merlot afterward at Blackwells.

Golf would be excellent...I know Charles plays too. And if we can get Evan down for the tasting, he can take all of our money.

Great Rock is a great course and the steaks at Blackwell's are mighty fine to boot.

Take our money? With my 22 handicap, I am the ringer!

Just to update, I did buy one of the Peconic Bay wines to arrive shortly.

Daniel,

Good move on buying a Peconic Bay wine. Greg Gove is turning out some nice juice.

Lenn,

If we do this in February/March of 2011, count me out on Golfing :)

I like Harold's idea of including 'ordinary guys' in the tasting and would personally volunteer!!

Mark asked about places to get LI wines in Rochester. I would suggest the broadest selection is certainly at the Wine and Food Institute in Canandagua. Worht the trip.

Also, Bacchus Wine, who has an advertising link on this website, has a nice selection.

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