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Perspective: There’s Always Someone With a Better Bottle

I generally consider myself a pretty lucky person.  My family has never wanted for anything reasonable, my two children have made it through private college without the burden of loans, and we’ve managed to travel a good bit.  Of course we’ve also drunk a significant amount of wine as well along the journey, and some of it was really good.  Every now and then though, a few things happen which make me feel my experience in the wine world is totally pedestrian compared to most.  That is a dangerous road, and one which is really untrue as the vast majority of people have less than I do, so fixating on the few that have more doesn’t seem reasonable.  It’s soooo easy to do however, especially when stuff like this happens.

First, I’m on Reddit (the wine group page) and see some pictures  about a dinner party that will be happening (in Europe I think?) and there are a group of the wines that were dropped off a couple of weeks early to settle.  This is totally insane.  They include:

1996 Mouton Rothschild

1937 Vosne Romanee

1934 Chateau Gazin

1959 Chateau L’Evangile

1969 La Mission Haut Brion

1978 B&G Nuits St. George

1923 Chateau Talbot

1940 Niepoort Porto

1900 Burmester Porto


Wow.  I mean, wow.  One year short of breaking into the 1800s.  This is a crazy list.  It makes me feel inferior.  I opened a bottle of 1989 Ducru Beaucaillou on my anniversary a few years ago and thought that was special.  It was MadDog 20/20 compared to these.  At least by rarity and reputation it was.

The second thing which happened was a visit to my dermatologist, a wonderful woman with a great sense of humor and a young at heart spirit.  She’s great.  We’re chatting about this and that during my visit and we sort of get around to “doing what you love”, which is what she does.  I unfortunately do not do that currently, but I mentioned I was doing a wine blog in an attempt to change that.  She then mentioned she had a 5000 bottle wine cellar.  I have about 250 bottles in mine.  Talk about feeling inferior.  Of course part of her collection was her father’s French wine collection which she inherited.  I can only imagine what’s in there, maybe some of the one’s listed above?  More likely 1982, 1963, 1945 and 1927 Bordeaux.  I just know there’s a case or two of the 45 Latour somewhere in the group.  Then she mentions that she’s currently drinking the Heitz Martha’s Vineyard from the early 90s.  OK, so I’m not drinking that.  I’m drinking good values in the $5-$20 range.  In case you don’t know, Martha’s Vineyard is a very collectible Cabernet from Heitz Cellars in Napa, and it doesn’t cost between $5 and $20.  Think three figures minimum.

To be clear I don’t begrudge her drinking the Martha’s Vineyard at all, quite the opposite.  Too many people certainly look at their high priced wines as precious things and never open them.  She’s having a party and the Chateau Margaux is on the menu.  This is great!  She also works her butt off so good for her.  I did of course offer my services should she need help in drinking down the cellar a tad.  I’m not expecting a phone call.

So what about my cellar?  The bottom line is it’s my cellar, I built it out of scrap wood piece by piece and it holds my fine wine, damn it.  I made a comment on the Reddit post referenced above about feeling my wines are pedestrian and got a great comment back from a very wise person.  It said, ” There will always be something bigger and better. Best to just enjoy what you’ve got.”  Very succinct and very deep.  Also very true.  My 1989 Ducru Beaucaillou was special, as was the 2001 Monte Rosso Cabernet we have loved and the recent bottle of 2009 Justin Isosceles.  Not a single $100 bottle or 40+ year age among them, but they were outstanding and helped us celebrate parts of our lives that became good memories.

As for the spectacular list of wines above?  Half of them are probably bad by now, and looking at the label will potentially hold more pleasure than actually drinking them.  I would love to try them though, if someone was popping a few.  Personally, I had a bottle of 1993 Latour recently that I was torn between opening or selling.  I sold it for $350.  It was a 93, not a great vintage and probably a sad wine when compared to the excellent 2003’s I’ve started opening that were in the $30 price range.  I’m fairly certain I made the right decision.   There’s always someone with a better bottle.  Who cares,  at least until they offer you a glass.

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