Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wine Wednesday: Bandwidth is cheap — Chateau d'Yquem is not.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 11:11 AM

I don't know if I've ever told you before, but I love being on Hoyt Hill's Village Wines email list. I'll admit that some folks think Hoyt can be a little brusque, often sitting at his desk in the back of the store reading the paper while shoppers scour the cooler for some sangria wine. Hell, I was that shopper once.

But the first time that I screwed up my courage to ask Hoyt for some advice, darned if he didn't point me to a great affordable bottle of Garnacha that I still go back to whenever I want to mix up a batch of that crimson Spanish devil punch. Of course, he didn't look up from his paper when he answered, but that's ok. It wasn't a tough question.

However, if you ask Hoyt (or in fact any of the employees at Village) specifically what you're looking for and give any price point you will almost invariably receive good advice. Don't be afraid to say you only want to spend $10 on a bottle; they've got great finds at many price strata. Hoyt has also been very helpful at educating me about some of the esoteric, expensive wines that I've only read about and wanted to try.

Me: Do you have a good Amarone for less than 30 bucks?
Hoyt: There isn't one.
Me: Oops, sorry.
Hoyt: But if you want a great Italian that is made in a very similar style for $22, try this one.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

So back to the mailing list...if you do sign up here, prepare to be bombarded daily with multiple offers from Village Wines. But hey, bandwidth is cheap, right? The reason they send out so many offers is so that their email list can be informed of the hot deals that Hoyt has negotiated before the wine ever arrives at the store.

If you want to give them your credit card in advance, they'll bill you and set bottles or cases aside for you to pick up to ensure that they don't sell out. If you don't want to give up your payment info, just tell them what you want and they'll still set some aside for you, subject to availability. And don't forget to pick them up promptly!

Often, the deals are from obscure French producers that I have never heard of, but slowly Hoyt and I have learned each other's sensibilities and what I'm willing and able to pay for a good bottle. That's how I found out about the 2005 Chateau Reignac, Bordeaux Superieur, a $35 wine that beat out many of the Grand Cru wines of France in a blind tasting at the European Grand Jury. I bought several bottles of the Reignac and Hoyt hit this recommendation right on the head, and right at the top of my price range.

But some times he's a little off the mark, at least in terms of my wine budget:

Dear Chris,

Two cases available (from the winery), each containing one bottle each

Yquem 1934 Chateau d'Yquem
1935 Chateau d'Yquem
1937 Chateau d'Yquem
1939 Chateau d'Yquem
1940 Chateau d'Yquem
1942 Chateau d'Yquem
1944 Chateau d'Yquem
1946 Chateau d'Yquem
1949 Chateau d'Yquem
1950 Chateau d'Yquem
1953 Chateau d'Yquem
1954 Chateau d'Yquem
1955 Chateau d'Yquem
1967 Chateau d'Yquem
1975 Chateau d'Yquem
1980 Chateau d'Yquem
1981 Chateau d'Yquem
1982 Chateau d'Yquem

$56,925 for the case

Swing and a miss. Thanks for thinking of me.

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