A "work-with" is when the representative of a winery follows its distributor's salesperson to various accounts, such as restaurants and stores. There, he talks up and pours the wine for the various wine buyers. It's a way to generate interest in your wine with both the wholesaler's rep and the people who deal with the buying public, ie sommeliers and store salespeople.
So yesterday I had my first work-with, with a great guy named Howard, who works for the Little Wine Company. They are the NY wholesaler who grabbed my Cahors producer, Chateau de Gaudou. They bought a split pallet of 2 wines, the 1733 and the Tradition. Howard and I clicked almost immediately, he was down to earth and really made me feel comfortable, which of course made my job easier.
Malbec and Tannat are the traditional grapes from the Cahors region of South-West France (MAP). The 1733 is a bottling made from relatively young vines (about 30 years old), a 100% Malbec with absolutely no oak (no wonder I like it so much!), all steel-fermented and focusing more on the grape's dark fruit aspects than its tannic ways. This is the entry-level cuvée for Gaudou, but it's still well-made and an easy quaffer. It should retail for around $12.
The Tradition is a blend of Malbec (80%), Merlot (15%) and Tannat (5%) from a patchwork of aged vineyards, most between 30 and 120 years old. Again, there's no oak here, which allows the fruit to shine through without any distraction. This wine is much more complex than the 1733, due to the blending of the various grapes. In fact, there's a flowery, fruity aspect to it, with a tannic background from the Tannat, and smelling this is as much a pleasure as tasting it. This will be around $16.
Granted, I am terribly biased, as you can imagine.
In any case, the work-with was a real pleasure. I had been a bit apprehensive, as this was my first one. And while I liked my wines, I wasn't sure how others in the wine community would take to them. After all, my tastes aren't exactly mainstream... But I was wrong to worry about anything. In fact, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Between the quality of the wines and the price points, the wine buyers loved them. Several joints in NYC grabbed 1-2 cases of both wines, to my surprise. July, as you can imagine, isn't a big red-wine-buying month, and it wasn't exactly cool outside on Tuesday (86F and 75% humidity).
Our very first stop, a little bistrot on the Upper East Side called Demare (formerly Bandol), grabbed a few cases of the Tradition right off the bat, and the day stayed positive after that. I was, as you can imagine, thrilled. We hit the UES, Alphabet City and Hell's Kitchen, and the reaction was the same everywhere. Between this day and last week's review of my Chateau de Montfaucon, I'm starting to think I chose well. Nice to be vindicated by your peers...
So I have another Little Wine Company work-with at the end of the month, but I won't be so nervous this time. I know what to do, what to say, how much to pour, and when to keep my mouth shut (probably the best thing I can do - let the wines do the talking!). I'd like to thank Howard for making me feel really comfortable and making my job that much easier. On a side note, Howard is auditioning for a TV trivia show, so let's all wish him well.
PS: Some of you have asked where you can buy my wines, email me and I'll send a list of places that grabbed them.