Friday, December 2, 2011

Bottles is open, and tomorrow it'll be grand

Get some champagne for New Year's Eve

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Have you stopped by and stocked up at Bottles yet? The locally owned wine, beer, and liquor superstore has been up and running for a few weeks now, and we've been in there several times to grab some bottles of wine and beer whenever we find ourselves in Mt. P.

Last week, I snagged a bottle of Marc Herbart growers champagne ($36.99), which I had first heard about at a seminar hosted by Grassroots Wine Distributors and led by Kevin Pike a few weeks ago. I sampled so many delicious wines that day and enthusiastically drank the bubbly Kool-Aid of Terry Theise, an importer whose wine philosophy can be summed up thusly: "Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil, and artisanality." Essentially, the lesson of the seminar was those big-house champagnes are all about brand and have no soul. For the best bubbles, look for the champagne produced by the growers in that region.

Mike van Beyrer, one of the owners of Bottles, is a wine guy who would love to turn you on to the particular pleasures of farmers fizz. At Bottles, he's got a floor display of the Herbart. I suggest you get a bottle and ring in the New Year with some soul.

If you stop by on Saturday, Dec. 3 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., you can take part in the grand opening celebration. They'll have tastings and giveaways throughout the day. It's a cool store, and I've found the staff to be exceptionally friendly on the occasions I've been by.

Bottles is located at 610 Coleman Blvd. (843) 849-9463

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Clint Sloan leaving McCrady's after 12 years

NDG promotes two from within

Posted by Stephanie Barna on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Clint Sloan began his career at McCrady's as a mere bread boy and has worked his way up the ranks to sommelier, with an advanced certification in the Master Sommelier program. Not a bad trajectory. Now, he's leaving the Neighborhood Dining Group, which owns McCrady's and Husk, for a gig in New York with Michael Skurnik Wines representing the Terry Theise portfolio. He'll be on the other side of the equation, selling wines to sommeliers and distributors throughout the country.

"It's my favorite portfolio and importer in the U.S.," says Sloan. “Sommeliers from all over the country love it right now. This is what major markets are buying and this is what’s happening in the wine world.”

Which is good, because Sloan will be transitioning from making wine sales on the floor of a restaurant, where customers come in the door already planning to buy a bottle of wine, to a more competitive sales climate. “I’m going to have to deal with more ‘no’s.’ Me as a buyer, I say no a lot. So, that’s just the way it is. There’s a lot of juice out there, and you can’t say yes to everything.”

Sloan leaves the wine programs at the two restaurants in the capable hands of his hand-picked successors Cappie Peete at McCrady’s and Adam Brunelle at Husk.

Sloan hired Peete as a cocktail server and promoted her to wine assistant. She’s been working closely with him for the last eight months, helping manage the wine program. “It’s only a matter of time before she passes the advanced sommelier certification,” says Sloan. “She has the talent and the brain for it.”

David Howard of the Neighborhood Dining Group says it was important to promote from within. “This is the same opportunity that was presented to Clint. Somebody took a gamble, took that risk to keep him within the organization, and we continue to do the same thing.”

Howard says Peete and Brunelle will work together and won’t be making significant changes to the wine program that Sloan established. And he expects Peete to work towards her advanced sommelier certification. “It’s important to us to have that. It sends a message that we are extremely focused on having a superior wine program. We don’t need someone to just open wine. We need a level of expertise and continued education of our staff. The educational component is a big issue. We need expertise to make wine pairings on a day-to-day basis with Sean [Brock’s] food, with special events, and with visiting chefs.”

Sloan’s last night at McCrady’s, fittingly, will be New Year’s Eve. Expect sabers, champagne, and rousing toasts to send him off to his new venture.

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