The hunt for the illusive Chateau d’Yquem

So, I know I’m unemployed and I’m not really supposed to be spending much money. And, really, I usually don’t. I collect my cheque every month, I pay my rent, my bills, I save most for a rainy day (like when I have to start paying back my debt, beginning next year) .. And then every once in a while, I go do something stupid. Like join the amazing race to secure, and willingly pay for, an illusive half bottle of 1998 Chateau d’Yquem which, for God knows whatever reason, was on sale at the local discount mega mart at the discount price of only DKK 699 – for half a bottle mind you.

Now, yes, I hear what you say. “Wow, Johan, you’ve really lost it!” But stick with me, my story gets better – or dumber, depending on how you look at it – but it will eventually include expensive wine and beautiful women, so there’s a little bit for everybody in there..

Now, first things first, why would anybody pay DKK 699 for a half bottle of 12 year old grape juice? Let alone be happy and excited about doing so? I’ll explain.. No, on second thought, I’ll TRY to explain. For starters, Chateau d’Yquem is THE premier sweet, noble rot white wine in the world. So you’re not just laying down hundreds of kroner for 12 year old grape juice, you’re laying down hundreds of kroner for ROTTEN wine juice.. Which is really a much better thing than it sounds like, I might add! Because just as with good cheeses, sometimes in the wine world, a little bit of mould isn’t that bad of a thing after all. In fact, in the case of Chateau d’Yquem, it’s a very good thing indeed. It lends a very distinct flavor to what is already a superior wine and causes it to rise a level above the competition in it’s class of Sauternes wines from Bordeaux, France. So much so above the competition, actually, that it has been placed in a class of it’s own “Premier Cru Supérieur” which is French for “very fancy wine” (well, no, actually it’s french for Superior First Growth”, but you get the idea).. Ahem, anyways, as can probably be imagined, the process of having a bunch of vines standing around, carrying grapes long enough as for them to get attacked by friendly mold, then harvesting them before things go awry and actually produce tasty wine from them which then needs to rest in oak barrels for a good three years before spending a quite a few more years in bottles before release.. is not an easy, let alone inexpensive process, which goes to explain why even younger bottles of the stuff go for about DKK 4000 a bottle.. And that all leads us back to why DKK 699 for a half bottle is a pretty sweet fucking deal indeed, and to why Johan nearly fell on his ass when he opened the weekly catalogue from the local discount market and saw that not only did they apparently carry one of the world’s most premium wines, they also carried it a downright ridiculous discount.

I know, I know, the reasonable – nay SANE – line of thought would have been “that’s a RIDICULOUS amount of money for half a bottle of wine.. No.. BAD JOHAN.. NO!” and indeed, that’s exactly the thoughts that went through my head as I jumped into my shoes and winter jacket and set in a full sprint towards the local discount market..

As I sprinted through the doors of the supermarket, leaving weary elderly women knocked over in my wake, I picked up pace and set off towards the wine section where I applied the brakes, wound down and joined the host of confused looking shoppers who, like me, had come in vain looking for Chateau d’Yquem and were now casually strolling around the place, like me, pretending that they weren’t at all looking for something, hoping, like me, to discover a half bottle that someone had missed.. But, alas, poor Yorrick, the wine was all gone.. So there I was, walking around, feeling strangely pissed that I was so rudely robbed of the chance to spend DKK 699 on a bottle of wine, then feeling strangely weirded out that I was even upset about said fact.. But I should probably add to the story that I am apparently turning 30 next year and that I have, apparently, decided to celebrate the ordeal with friends over a gourmet dinner and that the bottle would have made a good piece de resistance if served alongside the dessert.

My state of feeling pissed off didn’t last long, though, no no, it was pretty quickly followed by a state of “Oh fuck it.. If the discount market won’t sell me expensive wine, I’m gonna go do what I should have done in the first place – which is go see my wine pusher.. I mean, my go-to wine guy, Kresten, about some expensive bottles of wine!” – And so I did, and that turned out to be not such a bad choice after all!

See, not only was my wine guy in a pretty good mood, he was also happy to see me and, it turned out, he had some pretty sweet deals for me, starting out with what may easily have been the Chardonnay bargain of the year! Or at least the best value for money Chardonnay deal of the year.

“I need some wine for the starter for my 30th birthday dinner,” I told him, “I’m thinking lobster!” – “I’m thinking Chardonnay,” he answered. – “Burgundy Chardonnay?,” I asked. “Yes my friend,” he simply replied, showing me a bottle. – “I’ve heard of this,” I said, recognizing the bottle as a 2008 Clos de Loyse, “it’s supposed to be amazing..” – “It is,” Kresten replied, “I’ve got two bottles left at discount price.. DKK 130 a bottle.” – “Great, white Burgundy for DKK 130??” I asked in bewilderment. – “I understand your skepticism,” said Kresten, “but trust me.. I think you should take a bottle..” – “I’ll take two, then!” I said. – “Wise choice,” Kresten smiled.. And then that, as they say, was that.

Well, okay, not entirely, since I’d been so rudely robbed of my Chateau d’Yquem, I decided to get some white dessert wine as well – and after the rhetorical question of “is it okay we if up the price range a bit?” (how often does one turn 30 anyways?) Kresten had just the thing for me, a 1997 late harvest Alsace Gewürtztraminer (or Gewurtztraminer as I guess they’re called when they’re from France – shrug) which wasn’t exactly a Chateau d’Yquem but apparently quite a knockout in it’s class and only half as expensive as my first priority.. It was one of those purchases I just had to make, if for nothing else then for the sheerly ridiculous situation which ensued as a wine man who generally hates Gewürtztraminer with a passion sold an exclusive bottle of Gewürtztraminer to a guy who generally hates Gewürtztraminer with a passion.. With the promise that it was one of the best sweet wines he had ever tasted and his young protege would soon share his view.. Still, I was feeling a little apprehensive when I left the store with my purchases in hand. I don’t know, Kresten, I’ll have to trust you on this one, and hey, whatever happens, the girls will love it!

Speaking of the girls, they (Tina and Emelie, that is) were a pretty big part of the reason why I suddenly ended up with two bottles of white Burgundy.. See, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was lucky enough to have scored a date with the two of them and a bunch of burgers on this very fateful night after my wine hunting adventures, and now I just happened to have some secret (albeit slightly obvious) plans for the evening.. And no, I don’t think that burgers, fries, Aioli and white Burgundy go together, I’ll explain it all in my next post.. All shall soon be revealed, as of right now my lack of sleep and hurting head is killing me.


4 responses to “The hunt for the illusive Chateau d’Yquem

  1. How about some first growth wines? Familiar with Chateau Lafite?

  2. I most certainly am. I think it’s THE wine every wine lover hopes to be able to afford some day 😉

    I actually was thinking about getting a bottle of the slightly less insanely expensive Mouton-Rotschild ’81 for my birthday extravaganza, but I hear 1981 was a bad year for Bordeaux.

  3. Have you looked up on the following vintage year 1982? Mouton Rothschild was rated 100 points by Robert Parker; not sure if you’ve heard about him but he’s industry’s major wine critic. Or you can try looking at 2009, I heard it’s set to be the best vintage in 60 years… 😉

  4. Actually, I have not, apparently I have a source for every major vintage from 1924 and onwards – except 1982. But I’ve got this strange feeling that I wouldn’t be able to afford a 100 Parker points Mouton Rotschild anyways 😉 I fear the great Bordeauxs are still a few years into the future for me, unless one of these days I realize my dream of winning the lottery 😉

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