Chapter 2

“He says so what do you mean you don’t have any more of that Syrah, the Gone Saint Joe you know the one you sold me some time ago that’s expensive and smells like ox blood and pea gravel. We print our menus twice a year sometimes six months, sometimes eight months you see. This means I’m going to have to reprint my menus at a cost of 46.99 in copy. You know I told you we are a busy restaurant here and we move a lot of wine and you tell me how many times am I supposed to sit here and listen to you tell me its small production, its year to year, vintage to vintage, comes and goes like a spring wind. God dammit 46.99. You sure you don’t have anymore? No, I say, the Gonon St Joseph Syrah is gone. We got a total of two cases and you ordered three bottles and sold them in about five months. It’s not a wine we can supply year-around. In fact, unfortunately, we have very few year-around wines. In fact, unfortunately, maybe none. I apologize for the vagaries of 46.99. Might you be interested in taking this wine here? We have stock on it. Here is just a short pour for you, a snap. It was Clos du Tue Boeuf La Butte Gamay. His eyes are red saucers. Why would I buy that wine, he says. Why? A wine that all of my customers are going to think says Butt? Why? No I don’t want that wine. I want the Syrah. I understand that I say. I fully understand that you want the wine we no longer have and surly you would admit that while it’s very important for a wine to be easily sellable, a wine that doesn’t say Butt on it, it is equally if not more important to consider these variables: who is making the wine, how are they making it and where are they making it. All those variables are very important and should lead to the wine being variable every year and real, right, real? Anything else, any other way, is just an experiment in capitalism, right?”

Chapter 1

“You’re back the buyer balked who had recently pulled his eyebrows too tight for a buyer in a box store. Now I won’t forget this from my salesman because it struck me in a sad and brilliant way and so much of this game is shit, brutal stuff but I won’t forget this because he sang ever so softly, taciturn, but clear and gentle and really rather lovely. I won’t forget it. So he goes, this my salesman, and he softly sings through his slightly stained teeth: In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame I am leaving, I am leaving but the fighter still remains. Silence from the buyer. Yes, the fighter still remains, the salesman says no longer singing. His hands are stinging and he says now I have something for you, buyer. I have something for you to taste and for you to consider. I think it may work in this big box grocery store. The wine maker, his name is Jean-Pierre Robinot. He works in the Loir Valley, with Pinot d’Aunis and Chenin Blanc as his muse so to speak. Jasnieres. Muse, from the buyer? He floats about from vineyard to vineyard of which he rents from like-minded friends. Like-minded, from the buyer? Growers. This wine is called Fetembulles. It’s Chenin Blanc. Petillant Natural you know. Sparkling, from the buyer and May I see the label? That’s the idea my salesman says. France? That’s the idea my salesman says. He’s young. It smells different. I wouldn’t say pleasing, from the buyer. Then don’t, my salesman says. And the buyer reflects. I would say different, he says. And off and tattered and unique but not in a good way for me because it smells like cheese and cream and rocks in mud really wet mud by a river that’s not clean and unique to itself because it used to be clean though it has fish like Catfish now and Chinese fish that crawl from river to river pond to pond lake to lake and kill all that is flotsam and jetsam and fish bones and Butter with salt and trace minerals plus dirt from an underground mine. Ore you see. It’s Robinot, my salesman says. He’s young. May I see the label? It’s Robinot. He turns it two quarter inches. Artsy the buyer says. He’s frowning and his teeth are showing, milky and gray, fleur del sel. Do you have anything that’s sparkling that says somewhere on label, anywhere is fine, I’m not picky: Butter or any type of lactic connotation, malolactic fermentation you know it all comes together. We can’t keep those in stock, though they are still wines. This would be our first sparkler and we could case stack it right here and over there by the vegetables and people would think of their vegetables in Butter and it would sell man it would sell. You know like what Outback does with their little bowls of vegetables in Butter, and he holds his hand as if it’s a little bowl. We sell a lot of wine for a mid-size store in our chain, he continues, in a mid to small market like Reno Nevada. We sell a lot of wine with Butter on the label and we make more than our regular margin and that’s what I would call the kicker the topper on the plate is that the money is good and the people like Butter so do you have anything available that says Butter? I don’t even need to taste it. I’m not a picky man. It’s Robinot my salesman says. It’s Robinot he continues and he’s looking at the Vermouth. It was Dolin. Dolin Vermouth.”