February is about to end and it has been an exciting start in the NYC beverage market. It feels different this year, faster moving than ever. Hold on to your hats….
Here are a few dominant topics in the NYC market from the street level:
The Sancerre War
Love it or hate it, the market is about to hear about Sancerre even more. Should we get more into the terroir of Sancerre? Maybe. But one distributor is going to make a big play here–predominantly because they have to. This will test the wine buying community because they will have to answer this question: Do I buy the Sancerre that I never entertained before just because of a distribution shift? Not an easy one to answer in this particular case.
Rosé offers are going out (since January!!), buyers are committing and the question still remains: will darker hued rosés above the value line sell this year? I am still not sure. There are some outliers like Bandol, but the darker colored Rosé thing has historically been a difficult play. And, just in case anyone forgets: Rosé is still a seasonal game. The pre-arrival fashion in which it is distributed has something to do with it, but more importantly, the ‘Rosé all year round’ consumer is a small segment for now. Here’s to a long, mild summer….
Almost like clockwork, Beverage Director/Wine Director positions are becoming available in restaurants within major restaurant groups and beyond. Circumstances are driving this particular round, but the question remains: Why is the speed of turnover in buying positions seemingly gaining in velocity?
Recent big time, notable sales rep exits at top companies mean that new blood is in the water with accounts that have had the same rep for many years. Look for a few street level skirmishes here, especially if the Rep moves over to another viable company. These transitions are always harder than they seem….in both directions.
Can’t say this one enough: Producer shifts are the third big play in this market turnover trio. Big changes are imminent. Keep an eye.
What does all this movement say about the NYC market today? Some might say the rampant turnover indicates a ‘chaotic market’, but I think it is a new geometry: A natural recalibration of a market that has been in a super growth mode for at least a decade. Turnover is not at all new, but it does feel more frenetic than before.
“ Faster turnover in distribution, buying positions and sales reps is just one of the effects of a recalibrating market.
The buzz created from the fairs in the Loire valley this year is blaring loudly. New discoveries and most importantly, some serious heritage Natural wineries in play that have not been in play for a long time are going to continue to make waves. This bears repeating: Don’t sleep on this “category”. The wines are only a prologue, there is much more to it.
Bitterness – Behind the Bar
While the press has already anointed this year “the year of Rum” (I really hope this is true..), I am still seeing Amaro at a serious inflection point behind the bar. There is vintage, old, new, more domestic (and more coming). And, via a recent tasting: a lot of the dominant Amari are kind of terrible. Actually, a LOT worse than I remember them ever being. This leaves some bar space and an opportunity for market development. There is not one industry person I know who isn’t pro-amaro. If the beer and a shot thing goes beyond fernet, we could have something real.
Bonus: I have had multiple complaints from buyers about having to buy a certain required Negroni component from one of the giant companies. Whoever can answer this question with a replacement product, and provide a fair quantity for a decent price will get the gold….