There are those days when the wine business can be a real treat. Yesterday was one of those. In fact all week has been a textbook “perfect beginning” to the October onslaught. Earlier I was driving home at the 11th hour and thinking about all the wines from the many countries I had tasted. New Mexico, Italy, Texas, Germany, California, Spain, Washington, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany. What, no France?
And while it has been a parade of riches from the vineyards of the world, what has really grabbed me? This week, I’d have to say, hands down, that I have been under the spell of Spain.
Starting earlier in the week, when I popped into a room to grab a glass and saw an array of wines from Montilla. Sherry-like, but with their own identity. I blogged about it a little on the business site. That really primed the pump.
Before I got to the tasting I had to run to get the white wines chilled. While I waited for that I got online to see how our new business social media beta site was faring. As I logged on, I felt an energy that I hadn’t felt with folks in my company. This new site was in a fast launch. In fact I got a call from one of the early adopters in the company. “Alfonso I can’t believe this. It’s going viral. I can barely breathe.” He was right, maybe we were actually going to embrace this enterprise social networking a little more earnestly.
But I had to run to the front lines, wine opener in hand, and get to the face-to-face work – trying wines for a new wine list. The young salesperson had a new computer, and it wasn’t booting up. She called me from the car out front. She: “I can’t get on the computer. Start without me.” Me: “We did already. But I need your samples too. Walk them into me. Customers before computers.” She did. And we were off to the races.
In a mere hour or so, we blitzed through 20+ wines. A sin, but a necessity. And it went quite well. Some surprises, but then when you taste with five people, you’re going to get five opinions. Funny thing is, at that table, and on paper, I had the edge on expertise. But several of the folks at the table, all very qualified in their fields, weren’t about to surrender the process to this self-appointed wine expert. So we duked it out. That’s right, street fighting. I love a good brawl, especially when I am fighting for the winemakers and for the folks who come into these food establishments looking for simple, good, pure, wines. Not necessarily name brands. Not necessarily big wines. And not always dry and oaky and full of alcohol. But several of the other folks at my table, who like big wines, they weren’t having anything to do with my take on the wine world. I mean this is America, where everyone has an opinion. Everyone. And everyone knows better what’s good for them. Remember, America. The good news was that I have been in this battle many, many times before. I know the armaments, the terrain, the lay of the land. And I like to fight and win for the folks I represent in the vineyards and in the consumer end.When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way.
So I didn’t win the war, but I didn’t lose the battle. And off to the next thing.
Rush home, change, and head back out. It’s 6:30 and there’s a bevy of Spanish wine and their importer waiting for our national accounts team to try his new wines at dinner. I’d met this importer once before. Liked him. Important guy, but really seemed like he was into wine and his country and was doing some important things to help bring his wines to the world and maybe even help them to craft their wines for a modern world. Not a bad thing when some of the ancient practices might need to have stayed in the past. Not all, but some, surely.
Lots of Viura, Tempranillo, Alicante, Garnacha, Moscatel, and I lost count at 20 wines. For me it was stimulating enough. But the interesting part was when we finished and all headed out to our cars. The importer went out with us to smoke a cigarette. Which is where I first saw him and talked to him earlier that night when I arrived.
And that is one of the reasons why I love this business so much. Because we can finish a conversation we started 700 years ago, and it doesn’t seem odd or out of place. Because the vine, and the wine, which has been traveling with us all this time, is still there, ready, willing and able to facilitate our ongoing conversations. Social networking the old fashioned way, with a bottle of good wine.
Yes, a good day. A very good day.