Don't Let Wines Get Away: Bucket List Bottles
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Ten years ago I moved across the country and began selling wine, little did I know that it would awaken a drive, a passion, a force within me. I had already been bitten by the wine bug a few years before but thought it something to be brushed aside. Just a habit or proclivity for the vilification of grape juice into something more palatable… How wrong I was.
So a year into my wine selling career (can I call it that now?, after a decade in the industry I guess I can) I was closing a long, twelve hour Saturday shift at the wine store I was working at when I got a call from a friend, let’s call him James. A bit about James, now James is a collector of the finer things in life, vintage Les Paul guitars, fast cars, and of course fine wines. Whenever my wife and I would go to visit James and his wife (who worked with me at the store) we would bring a bottle of wine, usually in the $50 range. Now at this time I was still a young pup and my wife was in graduate school so spending $50+ on a bottle of wine was a major splurge for us. However, James would reciprocate in spades. Opening up cult Cabernets like Dominus 1994 and Bryant Family, esteemed Super Tuscans like Tignanello and Sassicaia. It was at his kitchen table, at the ripe young age of 21, that I got my introduction to the First Growths of Bordeaux.
So when James called and said “Hey man, are you busy? Clear your night, I am opening up something special you won’t want to miss…” When the phone call ended, I did what any hardworking, new father would have done, I closed out my shift and went home to my family…. Wait no. I did not do that. Instead I immediately called my wife and told her not to expect me at the usual 10:30 after my hellish Saturday shift. I apologized and said I would be home later, much, much later and for her not to wait up. When I hung up I knew one thing for certain and one thing I was hopeful about. For certain, I was in the dog house with my wife and I was hopeful that the wine James was opening was going to be worth me sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future….
(Spoiler Alert, it was)
I got in my well-worn Outback and drove the 45 minutes out to their place, a swanky suburb of Raleigh. I arrived at their house near 11:00 pm, a bottle of Two Hands Bella’s Garden in hand and I knocked. The whole trip out I debated and pondered what bottle was going to be popped. Was it one of those vintage ports from the 1920’s, was it a rare 1980’s cult cab, a 1994 Harlan Estate? Some dusty Bordeaux from a vintage years past which James picked up decades ago? Nigh. It was none of the above. When I entered the house I made my way to the kitchen where I took a quick gander at the two wines which were being decanted. Their bottles faced away from my line of sight, so I could not discern the labels, but there was no shoulder in the glass. As I walked around the table and as my eyes gazed over the labels, my jaw hit the floor. I do not know what I said; if it was a coherent string of thoughts or even English.
The wines in question were a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conte and a bottle of La Tâche; two of the most cultish wines in existence. Either would have cost more than my car. These were once in a lifetime wines, at least thus far, as I have never had the chance to try them again. These were wines collectors and Somms geek out over. Wines to really try before I kicked the bucket or my wife strangled me for leaving her at home with a baby all day and again at night. Was the drive worth it, the exchange bottle, and the pillow on the couch? In my mind, yes it was. There exist vineyards and producers in the world that make some exceptional almost ethereal bottles of wine. Wine that transcends the boundaries of rational thought and the proclivities of normal taste. These were such wines. But wines of such a rare nature do not have to cost insane money ($2500+ a bottle), many are much more approachable just harder to locate and buy, they are hidden gems.
I tell you this story so that you can believe me when I tell you that we have something special planned for our bucket list tasting next weekend, April 21. We have done the leg work. Hours searching and debating what wines to have on offer, opened and available for tasting. We will be pouring and discussing numerous wines from throughout the world, each deserving of a place on a bucket list. Wines you must try before one expires. So call your significant other to avoid sleeping on the couch and/or having them change the locks on you, and make your plans to be at the 3rd Annual Bucket List Tasting. What are we opening? You have to wait like I did, but rest assured these wines will be memorable, of outstanding quality, and definitely not suck.