11 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On 10:06 AM by The Bloggers @ 67 Wine   No comments

by Ben Wood | Follow on Twitter: @7stringben

Simply put, here at 67 Wine, we have too little space for mistakes in buying. We are trying to present the best wine we possibly can to customers at each placement, and at appropriate price points and styles. 

Each wine/spirits category of the store is bought independently of others; we have a buyer for Sake, one for champagne, another for Bordeaux, and so on. This means that in some way our buying may be more subjective than other shops due to the 10 buyers curating discrete categories. The upside is that an expert on that bottle (what it is, why it was chosen – the “context”) is readily available to customers. One almighty “master palate” does not drive the composition of the shop. 

I am responsible for deciding what wines to buy from the Languedoc, Rousillon, Sud-Ouest, Loire (red), Beaujolais, New York State, half bottles, as well as Georgia, Greece, Slovenia, Hungary and so on. The goal is to have available the best version of each wine I can provide for the customer. I taste a lot of wine, a weekly average of between 30-50 wines, and in an intense week, I may taste nearly 200. While I have my own preferences in terms of flavors and styles (which include, honesty, transparency, balance, and compelling scents, as well as the ability to complement food), I don’t buy only to my ideas about wine; doing so would be a disservice to customers who desire a different style of wine. 

That said, I naturally lean towards buying wines that are organic and biodynamic, as well as wines that are made in obscure, interesting, and unique ways. Again however, I have to balance that with our customers’ preferences. Finally, I always look to have delicious wines; at every price point – that is the first criteria, above all. 

Below, I’ve shared more “how we buy” details from a few of our wine buyers.

Melissa Sutherland Amado (Italian Whites, Sherry): “QPR, no doubt – this is retail after all. I taste tons (of wine), and sniff out what I think is distinctive now. But I also think about the customer’s journey, and the reliance (built on trust) of suggesting the unexpected bottle. And that is the discovery of Italy in broad terms – the joy of enjoying the unknown.”

Bart Hopkins (Burgundy, Austria, CA, Italian Reds): "More then buying for myself, I try to buy for what the customers want and I need to think of what customers come and ask for. Then ultimately I consider, is it worth the money at the end? That is the big question."

John Cherry (Bordeaux, Germany): "Taste, absolutely on taste. I believe that the differing palates within the buying team offer a great range of personality and span the breadth of subjectivity."

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