Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Papillon liquidation sale in Stillorgan

A restaurateur friend sent me the Papillon liquidation list by e-mail yesterday and, apparently there were big crowds eager to get a bargain at the old (also closed down) Slainte premises in Stillorgan.

It is quite a clever move by the liquidators because these wines have already been offered to the trade, they are the leftovers from 2 rounds of bidding of the extensive Papillon stock. They have priced the wines at (very) full retail prices and then discounted them by 30-40%. So, is this a bargain? No, it is not, and for the following reasons:

1. The wines are not up to much anyway - I know the Papillon list and there was a lot of dross, partly the reason why it didn't sell in the first place. Anything half decent has already been sold by the liquidators into the trade.

2. The wines are too old - especially for the whites, 2004 Chardonnay or 2005 Sauv Blanc from South Africa is likely to be way past its best and quite possibly undrinkable. If many of the whites on the list were offered to me for free, I wouldn't take them. The reds might be hanging in there, but probably past their best as well.

3. The wines are too dear. By marking them up to the full retail prices and discounting them back down again, the wines are being offered at not far off the wholesale prices. So you have people queuing up to pay cash for wines at the same prices that Papillon couldn't sell them to the wine trade at a few years ago.

It's a big swizz, if you ask me, but there are no shortage of people who will pay any price to get what they think is a bargain.

If you get a dodgy looking bottle of 6 year old South African Chenin Blanc over Christmas, make sure you open it for the person who brought it!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rully from Vincent Daux

A couple of new wines in last week, from a producer we first me last year, but visited again earlier in 2009. Rully (pronounced as it is spelt) is an appellation on the southern side of Burgundy, near Mercurey and between the Cote d'Or and the Maconnais. It is an area that offers good value, something we have been sniffing out even more than usual the last couple of years.

The Rully Blanc " Les Maizieres" is a single vineyard 100% Chardonnay, part of which gets a little time in old oak, just to round it out, not to impart oak flavour. Medium bodied, very nice concentration of appley fruit with a citrus streak, think Chablis, but with a bit of meat on its bones.

The Rully Rouge "Brange", again single-vineyard 100% Pinot Noir. Ripe and juicy, light in body but with very nice concentration of strawberry and raspberry fruit. Very quaffable, think of Fleurie, but with proper fruit flavours instead of bubblegum.

Both are €20.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dastardly French

Bit of grumbling going on about France this morning following Henry's blatant handball last night turfing us out of the World Cup.

That's why I will wait until tomorrow to tell you about our new Burgundies just arrived.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interview with Giusto from COS

For an interview with the charming Giusto from COS winery, explaining the magic behind Cerasuolo di Vittoria, click Fast forward to 17.30 into the programme to see the COS bit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Locks finally closed

Another restaurant has gone into liquidation, this time Locks Restaurant in Portobello. Locks was an istitution back in the days when you could go on a long boozy lunch, ring the secretary that you were out for the afternoon and then drive home, half drunk. Similar behaviour nowadays and you would find yourself arrested for drunk driving and then fired the next day.

Kelvin Rynhardt and his wife Teresa took it a little over two years ago, spent way too much doing the place up and then tried to sell over-priced food to a non-existent market, just as the economy ent into meltdown. Two years on and we went to a creditors meeting yesterday, to be told by the examiner taht the company has gone into liquidation.

There is the usual, predictable, sad trail of destruction in its wake. Revenue, suppliers, the landlord, even the staff are owed large amounts of money. Kelvin and Teresa have lost a lot of money as well, but there are a lot of questions that will remain unanswered - the main one being: where did all the money go? There was a lot of wine sold, presumably food to go with it, but nobody was getting paid...strange?

For our own part, our bad debt represented about two months sales. If you stop supplying completely, you will never get paid, so we went on COD and tried to get the old debt down, but didn't get it down quickly enough. Lesson learned.

In the end, it is better to close it down as it was a business going nowhere.

Move on.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shopping in the North

A business owner I know needs to buy spirits. Not for himself, for his business. He tells me he is thinking of getting them in the North to save money. It's technically illegal, but who is going to know? I try to persuade him to keep his business this side of the border.

Hang on a second, I said, you can get bottles of vodka on promotion now for €18.99 - somebody somewhere always has them on sale at or below cost to try and keep people shopping in the Republic. Surely the savings can't be that much?

So we looked at it, a bottle of Smirnoff in Sainsbury's for £12.50 stg. Today's exchange rate is about 90p which makes it €13.89, call it €14.50 to allow for being ripped off by the bank on the exchange rate. Take the VAT off the €19 and the cost comes down to €15.64. Cost in the travel, food etc and you can add €50 to the trip. That's not costing in the waste of time - is time still money? Not sure any more. Anyway, it suddenly means you have to buy a lot of spirits to make it worth your while. Will they have all you need for a business in Sainsbury's or will you have to drive and queue up to get into a different supermarket?

Is it worth the hassle? Probably not in this instance because he can claim back the VAT on his purchases in the Republic.

However, for a punter who can't claim back the VAT, the price differences are compelling, particularly on booze, including wine. The fact that the wine selection available in the North's supermarkets is poor has little relevance, given that the majority of people don't really care as long as it is alcoholic and cheap.

Without some action on duty and VAT, or without a massive weakening of the euro, I'm afraid the exodus North will continue for some time to come.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wine Fair

Getting ready for our wine fair next Thursday, 12th, in Fitzpatricks Killiney Castle Hotel. WE will have over 100 wines open for tasting; we are offering 20% discount for orders taken on the night, so it's a great opportunity to try and then buy your wine for Christmas at a great price.
Sheridan's cheese will have a stand at the fair as well and we will have great ideas for wine and food gift ideas.

What's in it for us? Weel, it means that we can get a chunk of good customers sorted early and helps our planning for the busy Christmas period. It's also a chance to try all the wines ourselves and it's usually good craic!