Mark D.

Mark's blog comments

i think they're missing the point

A new Vodka in town called Ace? How long has this been Going on? …(i wonder if anybody will get this)

Going to miss my leash holder at the sommelier award tastings. It's fair to say Casper and I did not have the best of first impressions about eachother. We both thought that the other was a cock . We discovered this while sharing a beer or two at the Fox at EXCEL.
Actually Casper and I became pretty good friends in the end. I think we had the same ideals about wine but came at it from different angles. Once we realised this it made tasting with Casper quick and fun. We also shared a love of dodgy punk bands and the fact that I could sing along with Casper to the likes of Peter and the Testube Babies or The Mac Lads probably won me favour.
Going to miss you Casper r.i.p.

better late than never

What I find hard to believe is that I assume Isa interviewed or at least sat in on the interview for the beverage staff. Having worked with Isa I know how shit hot he is in getting the wine list on the table and that requests for aperatif are taken as soon as the customer has made them self comfortable at the table

I find being an absolute dictator when managing the cellar is the way to go. When I set up accounts I make sure that the supplier knows that no vintage change will be accepted with out a sample being sent and approved. I make the orders and I see in the deliveries. Any thing that turns up that is not specifically what I have ordered gets returned. If you have a good epos system it will keep a record of of the bottles you have in stock and woe betide any one who sells the wrong bottle under the wrong code. I favour the systenm of putting little sticky black dots next to the wines i sell out of during service and reprinting any pages after service. I also have no fear, indeed I like the idea of a constantly evolving wine list

If we are going back to the BYO debate I'm getting my hard hat and battening down the hatches

yes and the more alcohol in their wines the less drunk you'll get too

Wine complaint 17-02-2011

It's strange but until you just put it like that, I never really thought of it as my own tuition. I always thought it was we (the sommelier) doing the customer the service of making sure faulty wine never reaches the table, and that's certainly how I explained it to the customers (which probably illicited a more sympathetic response from said customer). But you are right the amount of learning that just passes your lips without thinking, yet sticks in your brain.

It's open 17-02-2011

My original article about BYO in Imbibe was suggested merely as a way to look ways of drumming up business without discounting food. I get offers of 25% off or vouchers from Time out, London eating, and various other dining related issues that block up my inbox.
I hate discounting, because as Roger says it gives out the wrong signals. But i don't see BYO as a discount. I see it as a way in to new customers, to eventually upsell from ones own wine list.
If you are a restaurant who is seeing out this financial storm then that is great and the piece I wrote had little or no relevance to you. But not every restaurant's customer demagraphic is the same. We are not all fighting over the top 20% of earners over the age of 35 who have a knowlege of wine. Some act as nursery restaurants. They take the young or uninitiated diner and groom them until they aspire to go to restaurants such as the Harrow or Texture and drop a ton per head.
That may well mean allowing the new diner to save money by bringing in ‘crap wine’ so they can spend their money on the food, to get them involved in a dining experience, get them to trust restaurants, they will come round to your wine lists eventually.
I spent my first tenure as a Sommelier working in a restaurant in Theatre land. We and just about every other restaurant in the vacinity offered Pre theatre meal deals (money off food, free glass of wine/champagne), and that is pretty much all we did in the two hour run up to 7:30. It was soul destroying. Even then I knew that food discounting was not the best way forward. And that's how I consider BYO…a different way forward. At least there would be something that engages you with the customer. Something to talk about; the let's see what you've brought moment. Rather than plonking two glasses of house white and two glasses of tap water on the table at the beginning of the meal and not having to recieve that glare of rage directed at you should you have the temerity to ask if the customer might like a second glass. ('that's quite clearly not part of the deal is it?')
My original question was ‘have you considered BYO?’ and quite clearly some of you have and it didn't work out for you. But I am surprised and the bile and vitriol the issue has brought forth.

more shameless self promotion?

Website launch 02-10-2010

i would have thought you'd have to pay to advertise in Imbibe?

yes but what does the glamour and the glitz say about the wine? It would be like us (the English) harping on about Shakespeare, Turner and Ted Hughes in an effort to promote British Leyland back in the 70's. The fact was no matter how great and English those English men were, the British Leyland product did not stand up to scrutiny. This kind of marketing is spin designed to distract the eye away from the hand.
Dyson doesn't market his vacuums on the back of a long English heritage. He markets them on the strength and effectiveness of his product against the flawes he sees in the design of his opposition. That is fair Marketing. It gives the consumer facts and information on which the consumer can make a considered choice. If ( in this example) wines of Argentina feel the need to look elsewhere other than the strength of the product they are supposed to be marketing (i.e. the wine) that suggests to me that there is a fundamental weakness with the product.
I didn't say I did not find ANY interesting Malbec or for that matter Torrontes. My point was that it all became a bit monotonous and that the wine industry of Argentina is too focused on them. Much like New Zealand is now scrambling around looking at the ‘Aromatic’ white varieties just in case the arse ever falls out of the Sauvignon Blanc market. Now if a nation that has successfully founded an identity on one grape variety is thinking that way then again, i think that shows a flaw in the strategy of the Marketing of WOA. In the end quality and diversity will be the deciding factor in the success of Argentine wines.

is petting a wallaby a euphemism??? Blue cheese and gewurtz are a match made in heaven. I agree that a fair proportion of gewurztraminer can err on the flabby side. But when it's right it's very right. It's the smae with Blondes. There are the Sam foxs' and there are the Faye Dunaways.

There are some old spit ‘n’ sawdust type pubs I miss, such as the Intrepid Fox in Soho. I'm not for gentrifying for gentrifying's sake. But a failed business is a failed business. What next nationalise the pub industry?

This is depressing news. Through various misdealings with Enotria I view them in much the same way as Americans see BP. But I have always had good dealings with Joel and his portfolio. The one area I disagree on will be how Enotria's relationship with GWW will be very different to how Halgarten will relate to Novum.
I took Halgarten with me each time I ventured somewhere new. Their customer service has always been spot on and actually their range of wines has some real hidden gems. But they have always had that perception of being rather straight laced. Novum (and in particular Steve Daniels) adds some street cred' to Halgarten and according to the last time I spoke to Steve he was saying very positive things about the arrangement.
Alas I see nothing in GWW future that suggests such a happy partnership. Enotia are bottom liners and supermarket feeders at heart, and any business they get from the on trade is just a bonus for them. R.I.P. GWW

71 is my favourite vintage (it is truly in the ‘great’ catagory) in the Mosel and leaves 76 in the shadows (I think 08's will be the new 71's). 71 was an excellent vintage in Piedmonte too.

The waiting game 23-07-2010

I like that wine can be released young. Buy a case of wine and drink 1 bottle per year or every 6 months. How else can you learn to understand how wine develops? It doesn't have to be uber expensive, I am on my last bottles of Paul Sauer 1995, Fesle Bonnezeaux 1997 and Von Bhul 1997 . It's been a great journey. Patience is it's own reward.

I think this blog should be filed under the ‘How to make friends and influence people’ heading. I do agree with your assessment on the wine stands attitudes. I guess there is a difficult balance to strike between educating those who want to learn more about wine and not fuelling those who just want to get shitfaced though. The Bar Staffs natural ebulliance could be confused with jollying. How about a pairing up scheme next year? I'd like to understand more about mixoligy and I'd happily guide a barman around the world of wine. I did see a lot of felllow sommeliers there though Chris. (admittedly London based)

You can expect a defence of typicty or at least how I understand it

Guess where? 24-05-2010

Is the Mate's vineyard a bit of a clue?

How did you score otherwise?

Ok. Cheval Blanc has 57% of it's vineyards is Cab/Franc. However the cepage varies vintage to vintage. Try as I might on Google, I have not found the cepage of the 61 vintage. In a desperate bid to add gravitas to my piece and salvage some comedy value I suggest that it may have been a merlot heavy vintage.

as a child of 1972 i feel your pain. Although I don't gey to feel so old as you though.

I've never been compared to Pol Pot before. My despot of choice would be Idi Amin

Novum and out 17-04-2010

was talking to Steve at the wines of portugal tasting. He said that Novum will continue as is just the backers are now Halgaarten. steve said it has been much better since.

are you saying that price or cru should dictate whether a wine is or is not disappointing?
I remember that Prestige Cuvee champagne tasting we did. What was it, 6 out 14 champagnes were faulty or something like that. That qualifies as disappointing in my books regardless that there was a couple of truly great wines within that flight. I tend not to talk in terms of disappointing tastings on the whole unless they are so obvious (like said Champagne tasting) But i will (as i think you know) will call a spade a spade on individual wines. I guess the equation would be simple. More good wines than bad wine over expectation will equal good tasting. Less good wines than bad wines over expectation equals disappointing.

I appear to be the only one in the trade who has never had a problem selling sherry. Indeed I have always seen them as essential aperitif and desert requirements. Of course they have to be ‘sold’ apart from the ubiquitous PX. But a good selection of by the glass sherries has always increased my wet sales. Manzanilla and finos work well with oriental foods to.

Sadly not just an English disease. I have American and Antipodean friends who still ‘enjoy’ BOGOF's and Pricepointed wines in their homelands.

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