Customer Service – How Much is Enough (or Too Much or Not Enough)?

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When I was much younger than I am now, Nordstrom opened their first store in our area. My oldest brother went down and purchased a suit from them, and remained a happy customer for a long time. Flash forward a few years later – he’d  gained some weight and the suit did not fit him anymore, so he brought it back to Nordstrom – and received a full refund!

This was clearly ingrained in my head as the ‘ultimate’ for customer service. Keep the customer happy – even if it really did not make any sense to. (and yes, I do not believe they should have given him a refund for his weight gain!!!!). Back in that day, Nordstrom set the bar for customer service and, as far as I know, still retains a high level of it.

That said, is it really fair to ‘assume’ a business will go so far out of their way to ‘keep a customer’? This especially pertains to the wine industry, where a ‘subjective product’ may either be ‘damaged’, ‘faulty’, or simply not live up to a customer’s expectations of it.

In many cases, a winery should stand by their products and ‘make things right’. If a product is damaged during shipping, the winery should make right and either refund the money or send along a replacement product. In most cases, the winery will file a claim and recoup their costs as well.

Now let’s say a product is ‘simply faulty’. What in the heck could ‘faulty’ mean in our industry? Could it be excessive amounts of solids or grit, as a famous Spanish winery has experienced in one of their wines and just issued a recall notice for? Could it be that the wine is infected with brettanomyces, a spoilage yeast that causes a wine to smell like a ‘barnyard’ or like ‘band aid’? Could it be that ‘it was just off’, not living up to the expectation of the consumer? Could it be that the ‘cork was bad’ – and I’ve already talked about the plethora of things this might entail from a consumer standpoint.

I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on this issue. I don’t think there’s an absolute right or wrong answer here – to me, it depends (my favorite answer to almost any wine-related question!!!).

Join in and voice your opinions please . . .

Cheers!

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Who Doesn’t Like an Underdog?

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If I were to take a poll of folks and ask what variety of wine immediately comes to their mind first when I say ‘popular wines’, my guess is that this list would include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, perhaps Pinot Grigio, and maybe a few more.

One group of wines that you would rarely see as part of these lists would be Rhone varieties such as Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and the like.

Yep, Rhone varieties are certainly ‘underdogs’ in the wine world these days. While most folks have heard of ‘Bordeaux’ varieties or ‘Burgundian’ varieties, one would get a lot of head scratching if asking folks to name ‘rhone’ varieties.

That said, Rhone varieties make some pretty darned impressive wines if I must say so myself! Each of the 22 different varieties that encompass this collection – and no, there will NOT be a test on this afterwards – brings something different to the table. And many of the varieties, such as Syrah and Grenache, can exhibit themselves quite differently depending upon the soil and climate in which they are grown.

The first step in understanding these varieties from a domestic standpoint is to head over the Rhone Rangers website. This group, of which I am a winery member and a Board Member ta boot, is comprised of about 125 wineries located throughout the US who focus on Rhone varieties grown domestically. Though the focus is on California, there are member wineries from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Michigan and even Virginia.

As the organization strives itself on educating the public, spend some time perusing it and check out the information about the different varieties that comprise the Rhone spectrum. You’ll discover that Mourvedre, for instance, is called Monastrell or Mataro in Spain, where it was believed to originate from. And that Petite Sirah, which is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin, is not really grown in the Rhone at all.

To further your education, you may also choose to attend the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, which takes place this Sunday at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA. Discount tickets for the event, as well as the seminars (I’ll be taking part in the Grenache one, by the way), are available – use code GT-20 for a 20% discount on the Grand Tastings tickets for Sunday, and  SUNPASS-20 to receive $20 off an all – Sunday ticket that includes the seminars.

I do hope to discuss these varieties more in the future, and hopefully meet some of you this weekend – I’ll be the guy on crutches (long story – will leave that for another blog post!).

Cheers!