Friday, August 29, 2008

Reorganizing Italy ~ Part 2

Back to business. The streets have been pretty quiet in these times, so the times call for special operations. I called up Joey the Weasel and told him to meet me at the usual place, bring his young assistant. We were going in. Like Garibaldi, earlier in the morning I liberated Sicily, starting in Marsala. We weren’t going to let some of the greatest wine sit smoldering in an obscure corner. It took an unusual maneuver, but we got ‘em freed up. On to the mainland.

There’s been an iniquity of understanding in the world of Italian white wines, so we worked our way down the rows starting with Liguria and Umbria. In this particular setting the white wines are all grouped together. It’s not all Pinot Grigio.

Time out. The other day, on this blog, I had a bit of a discussion on the merits of the wine industry from my perspective. This week the mission was to go into a store that had seen a lot of action but had been rendered hither and yon (what is a yon?) and was looking skewed. Wines from everywhere were just mixed up. The act of a re-set is to logically re-order the selection so it makes sense, much like one would organize a wine list. In this case the setting calls for wines arranged by region. No big brain-drain here, just fitting everything in. In this case a smaller, niche company easily could have done the work, or a group of companies working together. I guess business has been so brisk that those folks just couldn’t get around to it. A couple of ‘em straggled in looked around, one of them freaked out and left. Another large company came in with their platoon, looked around ordered food and slipped into the back room. I was hoping they’d want to partake, but I figured they thought I was taking ownership of the task and maybe, just maybe they knew I knew just what to do. In this case, a rising tide does lift all boats and all Ligurian wines need to be together, even if they all come from Neal Rosenthal. Hey, Tony, just keeding.

So Joey the Weasel and his young assistant set about helping me. The young assistant was also busy sending SMS’s to the three people she was simultaneously having conversations and drama with. I guess what we were doing just wasn’t that interesting to a 20 something. Ya think?

But that is the work of the moment and with month end coming, and little or no hope of growing sales, how about a little housecleaning?

We tackled Liguria and Umbria, and Basilicata. Then on to unifying Friuli with Venezia and Giulia along with Collio. So far so good. Abruzzo needed to be found and relocated, Pecorino here we come. Good, that’s done. Lazio, wait on it. Then on to the Alto-Adige, the Pinot Grigio selection and Piemonte. Marche, over by Abruzzo, and we still have to figure out where to put Puglia. That leaves us with Trentino, Emilia-Romagna, Sardegna, Sicily and Calabria. Done. Sin adesso tutto bene. Then there is Tuscany and the Veneto.

Now we had a little problem figuring out how to make Campania get along with Lombardia, but after separating them from each other, we averted a cat fight. Then finally Lazio and Puglia are set. Then the rosatos. There, the whites and the sparkling and the rosatos (the chilled wines) are set. On to the red wines.

This is serious business but it was getting late, so Joey the weasel and his charge d'affaires took off to run a delivery and get her back to a young man waiting. I was alone, save for the gang of guys I thought was waiting in the back room for me to leave. But I was not finished reorganizing Italy.

Like I said, this is S.E.R.I.O.U.S. stuff, because the customer is our lifeline. And if his business is slow, we must do something to help him clean out his inventory, re-work it, help him with the investment and the trust he has put in us to move the wines through to the wine lover.

I figured once I got out of the place the thugs would undo everything I had just done. After all they are also a big company and aren’t all big companies bad to the bone? What I didn’t know was that they had gotten their food and slipped out a few hours before. So while I was guarding Ft. Laramie they were on to Little Big Horn.

No problem, I had a country of red wine to re-settle and unify. I saw first that Tuscany was asunder, and I took to separating Morellino from Vino Nobile. The Super Tuscans and Brunellos were all mixed up and I left ‘em that way for the time being. Just as in real life. Let God sort that out. Or Dr. J. Or Angelo Gaja.

I moved on to getting all the Abruzzo red collected. And then on to Puglia. It’s going well at this point, nice and cool in this section of Italy. Not like the 97°F it is outside and the 120°F it is in the trunk of my car, where my three Sicilian refugees were huddled. But Marsala can take the heat, yes? That’s what makes it so darn adorable.

Anyway I then took on the Veneto and Piemonte. I have more to do that we didn’t get to that day, but we reorganized Veneto with Valpolicella and Ripasso and Merlot and Refosco. Then on to my pet peeve, the separating of the Barbera D’Alba from the Barbera D’Asti sections. It’s real important, when setting a store, to make sure the shopper can have a clear delineation. Makes it easier for the salesperson on the floor to help guide the shopper. Got the Barberas worked out for the umpteenth jillion time. And then the Dolcetto and the other varieties, Grignolino, Rucche, etc. Even had time to do a little reconnaissance on the big boys, the Amarones and Barolos and Barbarescos, let a Carema find it’s way amongst them (you’re welcome, Tony) and those Nebbiolos that some wine salesperson thought should have been in with the Barberas. Sent them up with their own kind, unified and all real pretty like.

Two days later I went into the section and some knucklehead had already moved a Nebbiolo back with the Dolcettos and mixed up the Barberas. Time out. Again. Most likely, from looking at the wine, it was one of the small niche distributors. You know the ones those bleating-heart blah-gers think are the hope of the free world? Mind you, remember the big guys (us) are the scum bags, the ones fixing the mess, the rising tide that is often mischaracterized as a tsunami. In any event I wish someone knew how to scratch their niche correctly. Again, it isn’t about the size of a company, it’s the intent and the purpose of the individual. Or as Guy Stout likes to say, “It ain’t the wand, it’s the magician.”

Well, I did my best to wave my wand, and now am feeling pretty good. In less than a day we had gone all the way from Marsala to Lombardia, liberating and unifying all things Italian (wine that is). And it’s a good thing. While it lasts. Which will probably be a week or so. In the meantime, I got a date with a lady and a sunset.

Take it away, Bea, it's all yours. The Hamptons are calling.


Marco said...

On little old Loooooong Island, in the Hamptons "where else darling?"
a restaurant called The Laundry sells a $25 hot dog. And, believe it or not they are selling like hot dogs!!!!!!!

The foot long, all beef dog is served on a "Jumbo" grilled bun--with mustard or ketchup at no additional charge. With mandatory tip and tax the total comes to $32.16. During July 1000 were sold. "It's a whimsical dish" the owner said. Last weekend according to a waiter (who gets a mandatory 20% tip on the $25)(forget the calculator, that comes to $5) a group ordered ribs, burgers and dogs with a $275 bottle of Krug champagne. They were slumming. Burgers, by the way, are a bargain at $17--------Only in America !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow I really like your blog! I am an Italian online tutor and a blog about Italian wine would interest my students of Italian..Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll???

Alfonso Cevola said...


Certo, grazie!

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