I’m going to ask everyone to indulge my age and possible senility today. I’m starting with a story that I don’t think I told here and building on that. If I’ve already told the story or if you were maybe there and know the story, skip over it, it’s just the set up.
The Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants have different wineries in every couple of weeks. I got to introduce my pals up there to Keenan a couple of months ago. That gave me street cred with the gals up there. About a month before that, Rombauer was up there. Rombauer does some things very right but their style is really high end wine with training wheels. I used to love the Joan’s Vineyard Zinfandel when it had a peppery side to it. Now it’s all jam, jam and more jam. The reserve cabs lay down nicely and after a few years are really decent cabs. They’re close to priced to obsolescence right now in my opinion. So when they had an event and brought in Rombauer, it brought in all the folks who like the big fruity jammy Zins and of course the Danville Crack Chardonnay crowd. The room was packed and we decided to get the hell out of there. One of the gals lives nearby and had some wine left over from a fundraiser the night before. We headed over there. There were three of us. Our hostess pulled out nine glasses and gave us each pours of the three whites that were open. She kind of has a bar in the kitchen and the other two of us were sitting at the bar. (Imagine that) Suddenly, the other gal pitches forward. Keep in mind we’re about 20 minutes into the evening. I say “Hey are you ok?” Crickets. She gives me a blank look and collapses. Luckily our hostess was now standing behind her and caught her. We lay her on the kitchen floor and only now do I find out she’s 78 years old. WTF? I figure she’s stroking out and call 911. I am the youngest person at this gathering at 50 years old. This is important later. The paramedics arrive and start taking her vitals. Her heart rate is elevated and they’re calling a bus. I am so vindicated. When it was all said and done, she spent a few hours at the hospital getting her vitals checked and she had probably not eaten enough that day and that’s why she passed out. So dieting is bad for you. Got it. I turned to our hostess and remarked “You know it’s been 30 years since the paramedics came to a party I was at.”
So last Friday night was the first time I ran into those two since the “incident”. I knew she was mad at the time that I called the paramedics so I was really ok not running into them until long after the bill arrived. To my surprise she thanked me for looking after her. I felt a lot better. You see the Old Woman is a retired RN, actually having spent the last portion of her career in geriatric care. So blowing it and letting a senior stroke out would have been the kiss of death for me. I had no choice. This particular Friday night the two of them had been sitting by the pool running through a series of white wines and sparkling wines since 1pm that afternoon. It was 6pm. They didn’t like a single wine that was offered. Oh, did I mention that Grgich Hills was up there pouring? Grgich brought the line with them. These two hated every one up to the Old Vine. They had their current release of FumÃ© Blanc, Chardonnay, the select Chardonnay (retails at $85) the Zin, the old vine Zin, the Merlot, the Cab select and the Violetta. I started to work through the line with one of our pals, who missed the paramedics and was not present at the pool party. (Goddamn those old girls know how to party) We determined that they’d been drinking wine for too long that day and their palates were dead. Anywho, we liked the 2007 FumÃ© Blanc. I think it was $24 for the wine club and I would have spent that on that wine, if I’d been drinking by the time I got to the cashier. Really the pricing was at critical mass even for that. It was a lot more complex than most with a real nice finish, I figured it was probably very food friendly. Citrus and minerals without the tightness. The Estate Chard was an interesting wine. No malolactic fermentation for their wines so none of that creaminess that comes with it. It was a little more citrusy than most Chards (the ML does that) well balanced with a breath of honey on the mid palate. A very interesting wine, but really priced at obsolescence at $34 for wine club members. The 2005 Select Chard was stupid. It was priced at $65 for wine club members, retail is $75. It was nowhere near a $65 wine. I’d pay no more than $30 for it. No ML, that’s cool, good fruit, citrus, honey, typical of Grgich wines, but for that kind of wine dollars I want to be blown away. Blow me away with fruit. Blow me away with elegance. Blow me away with balance. Not nearly enough of any one of those present to make it that expensive. Is it because they are farming Biodynamically and organically? Frog’s Leap, Chappellet and Keenan have all been doing that and their wines aren’t priced out of this world. The rest of the line continued on that vein. The Miljenko’s Old Vine Zin was ok, but at $85 it better be a lot more than ok. (Miljenko is Mike Grgich’s given name) The only one that was close after that was the Yountville Selection 2004 Cabernet at $135. It was a very good Cab, well balanced, licorice, spice and big ripe blackberries. Nice finish with gentle tannins. I wanted a steak immediately after tasting that wine. It was the only one that seemed priced anywhere near appropriately. I would have definitely gone for this wine at $80 or $90. If I were flush I’d got $110, but I sure as hell didn’t have $135 worth of love for it. I don’t know if their costs are so high that they have to pass it on or if they’re capitalizing on the recent interest in the Judgement of Paris. Or Bottleshock. Either way, you can’t price your product out of the world like that. Yeah, people are going to buy it, but people who know better won’t. And the trendiness will disappear and then what do you have left? Sorry Mike, you need to talk to your marketing guys. They’re blowing it.