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The Third Place

Wine_barStarbucks has popularized and capitalized on the notion that humans seek a third gathering place—a third pillar to the three-legged stool that already includes home and work.

The death of the popularity of legion halls after our eldest living generation grew older gave way to the country clubs and community pools of the Baby-Boomer generation which has given way to the transitional wi-fi third-place spots like Starbucks for Gen. X, Y and the business set.

I’ve often thought that with the growing popularity of wine as a shared affinity beverage amongst legions of twenty-something’s, this would/should give way to a casual wine bar—a wine bar that wasn’t so much a restaurant or a Tapas joint—concepts that are in vogue these days, but instead a sort of retail environment where you could sit back, relax and have a conversation, or browse a book.

So, it was with curiosity that I read an article in the current issue of Food and Wine that highlighted a newer New York City wine shop called Passanella and Son that is a cross of bohemian chic shop with a small, eclectic mix of boutique wines. The article quotes the proprietor, Marco Pasanella, as saying the following regarding his shop:

It’s really a neighborhood shop. It feels very comfortable and very sophisticated but welcoming. There’s this third-place phenomenon, where you have home, you have work and you this other place, where people want to hang out. The shop is basically some people’s third place. Last night, I basically had to kick people out—“Guys, you can’t hang out here anymore, you’ve got to go home. I need to walk the dog.”

Interesting that a wine shop would be able to key in on the gathering phenomena, though, if the pictures in the magazine are accurate, the shop, replete with a 1967 Ferrari in the middle of the store, is a place you’d want to hang out at. And, assuredly Marco is probably a pretty hospitable host with an interesting, personal and authentic place.

On the other side, less neighborhood and independent, is PJ’s Coffee and Wine, a franchise concept that is starting to make some penetration in the Southeast, with roots in Atlanta, GA. You can check out PJ’s site here. Interesting thatAtlanta is also home to another concept that is hews closer to the aforementioned tapas restaurant deal called The Grape—a combo wine bar and retail concept.

Overall, I continue to be skeptical of franchise concepts for consumer based wine shops and tasting bars. The fact is people that frequent those places are looking for wine that is unique and interesting and a franchise just doesn’t afford an authentic environment to buy an authentic wine. Because of this, I think the overall experience for a customer is incongruent—it might work once or twice, but I’m doubtful that it would instill customer loyalty.

Though, Marco’s place on the other hand seems like a darn fine third place. No death to the independent wine retailer, that’s for sure. And, Pasannella and
Son, a third place, maybe, but probably #1 in the hearts of a lot of New York City wine lovers.

The challenge, then, is for existing wine specialty retailers in places other then NYC to pick up the ball and rethink their concepts to fulfill this emerging niche!


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New World

Good Grape is going to go through some changes over the course of the next couple of weeks—a site redesign, a move away from Typepad to another platform accessible via the domain goodgrape.com and a higher caliber quality for "New World"—the cartoon that I’ve cobbled together that delicately skewers wine and the wine industry.  Below is a first example of the new strips.  I’ll wait for another post to introduce the characters.  But, if you have any feedback (aside from sizing/legibility issues that I’ll rectify) please do leave a comment.

New_world_mouthsofbabes_1


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New World

Good Grape is going to go through some changes over the course of the next couple of weeks—a site redesign, a move away from Typepad to another platform accessible via the domain goodgrape.com and a higher caliber quality for "New World"—the cartoon that I’ve cobbled together that delicately skewers wine and the wine industry. Below is a first example of the new strips. I’ll wait for another post to introduce the characters. But, if you have any feedback (aside from sizing/legibility issues that I’ll rectify) please do leave a comment.

New_world_mouthsofbabes_1


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Request for a Dinner Party Invitation:  Chateau Palmer

SherrylehmannIf you’re the #1 rated wine store in Zagat’s New York City Marketplace survey you’ve earned your stripes.

If you’re a wine shop that has been doing it in the Big Apple since 1934, the toughest retail environment in the country, then you’ve got some chops.

But, that doesn’t mean some of the things they offer still doesn’t make you sit in awe wondering if you’re not hanging out with the wrong crowd, at least occasionally.

I can tell that that I would NEVER, in my current network of friends, run across an invite to drink through a ‘45 that costs thousands of dollars.  Not that a guy can’t wish ...

What I wouldn’t give to go to a dinner party where some of the truly sublime stuff is being poured—and all the better if it’s in a “more the merrier” manner, not in a who is the interloper with his glass slipping through the throng kind of way. 

And, I’ve heard of retailers having some nice library offerings, but this one is a doozy, particularly outside of the realm of auction. Sherry-Lehmann, the legendary wine shop in New York City, is offering Chateau Palmer from 36 different vintages—ranging from 1945 to 1998 til October 19th.

A third-classed growth according to the 1855 classification, Robert Parker notes:

Palmer can be as profound as any of the first growths.  In vintages such as 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1989, 1983, 1975, 1970, 1967, 1966 and 1961, it can be better than many of them.

Heady praise.  But, rest assured, ahem, the wines are fairly priced. The ’45 has never been tasted in the states and goes for a cool $7,900 a bottle or just $16,000 a magnum.  The ’55 is a relative bargain at $4,750 a bottle.  The nearer term vintages come back into this stratosphere with a split from ’66 going for $520.  And, while the tasting notes are attributed to any specific writer, it is assuredly Parker—the one writer in America that can take credit for popularizing the word “unctuous.”  As in:

“Powerful bouquet of blackberry, morello cherry, truffle, and liquorice.  Despite its age, this wine has a rich, unctuous texture with no asperity whatsoever on the palate.  The bouquet has hints of leather and tobacco.  The long, sleek aftertaste makes us forget about the wine’s age.  This Palmer is at it’s peak and shows no signs of declining.”

When I check out their website, interestingly, they have a blog. It’s called a webzine, but it’s updated and current content—including some notes from their harvest last week. 

Check out the blog here and Sherry-Lehman here.  If you decide to buy any, I want to remind you, gentle reader, that I am a hospitable house guest who brings dessert for dinner parties. 


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Request for a Dinner Party Invitation: Chateau Palmer

Sherrylehmann If you’re the #1 rated wine store in Zagat’s New York City Marketplace survey you’ve earned your stripes.

If you’re a wine shop that has been doing it in the Big Apple since 1934, the toughest retail environment in the country, then you’ve got some chops.

But, that doesn’t mean some of the things they offer still doesn’t make you sit in awe wondering if you’re not hanging out with the wrong crowd, at least occasionally.

I can tell that that I would NEVER, in my current network of friends, run across an invite to drink through a ‘45 that costs thousands of dollars. Not that a guy can’t wish ...

What I wouldn’t give to go to a dinner party where some of the truly sublime stuff is being poured—and all the better if it’s in a “more the merrier” manner, not in a who is the interloper with his glass slipping through the throng kind of way.

And, I’ve heard of retailers having some nice library offerings, but this one is a doozy, particularly outside of the realm of auction.Sherry-Lehmann, the legendary wine shop inNew York City, is offering Chateau Palmer from 36 different vintages—ranging from 1945 to 1998 til October 19th.

A third-classed growth according to the 1855 classification, Robert Parker notes:

Palmer can be as profound as any of the first growths. In vintages such as 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1989, 1983, 1975, 1970, 1967, 1966 and 1961, it can be better than many of them.

Heady praise. But, rest assured, ahem, the wines are fairly priced. The ’45 has never been tasted in the states and goes for a cool $7,900 a bottle or just $16,000 a magnum. The ’55 is a relative bargain at $4,750 a bottle. The nearer term vintages come back into this stratosphere with a split from ’66 going for $520. And, while the tasting notes are attributed to any specific writer, it is assuredly Parker—the one writer inAmericathat can take credit for popularizing the word “unctuous.” As in:

“Powerful bouquet of blackberry, morello cherry, truffle, and liquorice. Despite its age, this wine has a rich, unctuous texture with no asperity whatsoever on the palate. The bouquet has hints of leather and tobacco. The long, sleek aftertaste makes us forget about the wine’s age. This Palmer is at it’s peak and shows no signs of declining.”

When I check out their website, interestingly, they have a blog. It’s called a webzine, but it’s updated and current content—including some notes from their harvest last week.

Check out the blog here and Sherry-Lehman here. If you decide to buy any, I want to remind you, gentle reader, that I am a hospitable house guest who brings dessert for dinner parties.


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