The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 150 of 152

Taking Inventory with. . . Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, Santa Barbara, CA by Michael Cervin / photos by Jeremy Ball S anta Barbara's trendy Funk Zone already has 17 wine tasting rooms, but when Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant opened shop in August it was a labor of love between two sommeliers, Eric Railsback and Brian McClintic, inspired by seamless retail, dining and educational components. "I think the combination of really good, simple food with a very thoughtful wine program is hard to come by," says Brian McClintic, who is Brian McClintic, MS, co-owner of familiar to people Les Marchands. from his appearance in the film SOMM. "Most wine bars that Eric and I love, tackle just food or just wine, but we wanted to strive for both." With the demographics of wine consumers changing, might "safe" wines such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon be losing ground to rising star varietals like Grüner and Albariño? "I wouldn't say Chard and Cab are losing their appeal, but people are more willing to be adventurous," McClintic says, adding, "Trends come and go and I think pendulums will cease to swing widely in one direction with a specific style or grape." Les Marchands boasts an even split between Santa Barbara wines and under-represented regions of France, Italy, Austria and Germany. Ambiance is also a critical factor for any wine bar, and Les Marchands delivers a space that is informal, uncluttered and unpretentious—a visual cue giving patrons an idea of what to expect. "There is an intimidation factor with anything related to wine," admits McClintic, "Eric and I have been on both sides, and remember what it feels like to be a patron. We work doubly hard to make people feel at ease, and honestly, the majority of people we meet are excited to try something new." THE "5" LIST Eric Railsback's Top Pet Peeves 1 People think all Riesling is sweet. They're missing out on Austrian Riesling. 2 That rosé is only for the summer. 3 Sommeliers are there to get you to spend more money. If you make friends with your sommelier and put some trust in them, you will come out saving money and enjoying a better bottle. 4 Corkage bottles brought into a restaurant that are handled poorly. Ask your sommelier for advice. We're here to make the whole experience better, not just for wines we sell off our list. 5 Cabernet Sauvignon and oysters. Enough said. Brian McClintic's Top Faves 1 When people mention California wine, their first inclination is Napa and Sonoma. Getting people to think about Santa Barbara is a huge area of opportunity. 2 To focus on 30-somethings making 100 cases, doing amazing things. 3 Diversity. We've been selling Corsican and Languedoc wines left and right. 4 Independence. Eric and I pour what we like to drink. If our taste buds migrate, the list will migrate with us. 5 Getting a collector to consign their cellar to us. It's a great way for consumers to taste tasting vintage wines that are really cool. 150  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2013 TP1113_109-156.indd 150 10/24/13 9:18 AM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - November 2013