Spring Mailers, Second Wines, and Cat Pee

I know the cat pee got your attention, and if you’re the type that can’t wait, you can skip down to the last section.

Today I took delivery of the last of the spring mailers.  To go with our normal Bressler, Martinelli, and Kosta Browne (plus Sea Smoke, which won’t get delivered until the fall), this was our first shipment from Bedrock Wine Co.

We’d met and dined with Bedrock’s winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson (gotta love a guy whose favorite movie is “LA Confidential”) last year at the Mise en Place 25th Anniversary celebrations.  We had the pleasure of sampling some of his wines, to include what I considered some world-class Syrah.  When we got the allocation offering, we picked up three each of the Kick Ranch and T ‘n’ S Hudson Vineyard South Syrah as well as a case of the Ode to Lulu Rosé, a Mourvedre-driven beauty which I’m eagerly anticipating serving to both the Monday Night Gamers and our wine friends.

I’m a little sad that the mailer season is over, but I’m not sad about not having to sit around the house waiting for the delivery guy.


The other thing that I recently took delivery of was an issue of Wine Spectator, the cover blazoned with the headline “Bordeaux 2009” and “Second Wines Offer Great Value.”  I’ve long been a proponent of second wines from great Châteaux being a way to drink top-shelf stuff on the cheap—like the newly-renamed “Echo de Lynch-Bages” (previously Haut-Bages-Avérous), dropping $45 on a bottle instead of $150 for the first line stuff, or spending $60 on Château Palmer’s Margaux Alter Ego instead of $330 on the first label.  That said, I had a “REALLY?” moment when I looked at the cover of that WS, which suggests that $345 for Les Forts de Latour or $400 for Carruades de Lafite is an actual value.  I suppose there are some folks who live in the “$400 is a bargain” stratosphere, but to the rest of us who aren’t sheiks and railroad barons, those prices as values is a laughable idea, even compared to the $1,600 Latour and $1,800 Lafite price tags.

Wine Spectator’s absurd assertion aside, the prices of Bordeaux—which I fully understand come from the further opening of Asian markets, especially China—have just gotten out of hand.  Five years ago, our cellar was 61% French, most of it Bordeaux.  It currently stands at 28%, with Bordeaux still making up most of it.  Price-to-value ratio is the primary reason.  I absolutely love the wines, especially from the Left Bank (Pauillac and St-Estephe in particular), but at the prices they’re commanding, I’m sending my wine-buying dollars elsewhere, like toward those American producers who we get allocations from.  When my choice is one bottle of Bordeaux or three of Kosta Browne, it’s a no-brainer.  I’m still going to grab a few selections from favorite houses (like Lynch-Bages), but until and unless we’re independently wealthy, we’re dropping our budget on choices that still bear some semblance of sanity in pricing.


We were having a meal and some wines by the glass at the bar at Mise en Place.  We were on our second glass.  Dave, the Wine Director, was pouring for me a glass of 2009 Chateau Montelena Chard after whatever other Chard I had ordered just wasn’t right.  At the same time, Audrey, the Bartender, was pouring for Gretchyn a glass of 2010 Illumination Sauvignon Blanc.  The two of them walked away at the same time, and then it hit me.  I asked “what’s that smell?” She picked up her glass and said “I didn’t want to sway your opinion, but I smelled it too.”  She put her nose in the glass, then passed it to me.  I passed it back, and we said almost simultaneously:  “yep, that’s cat pee.”

You’re probably not going to believe me when I tell you it was a moderately pleasant grassy, sulfurous aroma—pleasant mostly because it didn’t come with the sharp ammonia you normally experience with, well, the other stuff.  The wine was pretty spectacular.  It was crisp, with notes of zesty citrus, and great acidity.  It’s something I’d for sure order again.

You never know what you’ll discover in your journey for life’s pleasures, but when you keep your mind—not to mention your nose—open, you can find thing you’d never expect.


About sheldonmenery

Sheldon Menery is a self-taught food and wine aficionado who has circled the globe in search of the riches it has to offer. He's wined and dined at some of the best (and worst) places in the world.
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