The latest of the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge themes has been proffered. The theme is to be “success.” I have been pondering this theme for several days trying to come up with a suitable way to tackle it. It is a real poser when it comes to wine and how to apply. I have even taken a sabbatical from my usual reading of other Wine Blogs, until I could come up with something that I am happy about, and I am not happy about not reading everyone’s writings, but I did not want to be influenced by someone else’s take on the subject. I will be back to reading shortly, I promise.
Success in wine, the obvious is to write about the winners of the Classification of 1855 for the Medoc, which by and large is still true to this day. Then one could append this with the success of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and their triumphant day in 1970, when they were no longer a Deuxiemes Cru, but a Premiers Cru; and I might add long overdue. Another easy road would be to write about the story of Chateau Montelena from Napa and how they beat the French in 1976, and the great wine themed film “Bottle Shock.” Of course that story has been told often. Then there are the many cult wines that have become legendary to wine lovers and those that like to write about wines. I have to admit that I have really only had one true cult wine, because they are really out of the realm of my wallet. Any of these concepts would merit a worthy article about success in wine.
Then it dawned upon me, a story of a bittersweet success, to me. Let me add that it is a success story and the winery should be proud of what they have accomplished, but it just makes the wine, all that more dear and more difficult for me to acquire and that is what I mean by bittersweet.
The first bottle of wine that I ever had from Cain Vineyard & Winery was at a restaurant with a friend, who was rather full of himself and his “vast” knowledge of wine. When I saw this particular wine on the list, I strongly suggested it, because I had heard of it, but had never tried it; it was a major selling job for me that evening because he did not want to drink a “fake Bordeaux” wine. The wine was great and it became the focal point of the rest of the evening’s discussions. I still remember that Cain Five ’94.
I believe two years later, after my friend had married, and so had my Bride and I, the four of us went on a lovely trip to Napa Valley for a week. I had taken on the responsibility of selecting some wineries that we had to go to, and to book them ahead of time. I also selected a couple of restaurants and got reservations for them months in advance as well.
One of the wineries that I had booked for a tour and tasting was Cain Vineyards & Winery and it was a lovely visit and it was quite a story in its own right. Of course this Raconteur always likes to embellish and related this story as it was worthy of an article. One of the most telling moments of this trip was that I was only allowed to purchase two bottles of Cain Five ’95, as this was the allotment that we were allowed. I suggested that my Bride also then buy two bottles on a separate invoice, but they would not allow that either. I was a bit surprised at their rather cavalier attitude, but there was nothing I could do about.
All of this exposition and a bit of a circuitous route, now comes to why I consider this story to be about a “bittersweet” success. This winery which I feel that I have proselytized over the years now sells this great wine by subscription. A success for them and their ability to maintain such a recognized high standard of quality, but it makes it all that more difficult to acquire the wine for my own cellar. For their vigilance and pursuit of making a fine wine, I salute them.