Dan and I drove out to Windsor to sell the truck yesterday. After selling the truck, we took the train back into town. Now, Julian had promised to drop by our apartment after work to share a bottle of wine before we headed off for dinner with his Mom and his partner Bill. I'd been thinking I'd share the bottle of Daniel No. 1 that's in the fridge (a sparkling blanc de blancs), but the problem was that I didn't have any proper glasses (I really am annoyed by sparkling wine in a cheap red wine glass). So, I thought I'd get off the train a stop earlier and go by this bottle shop in Chinatown Julian had kind of pointed out when we were out with Russel and Seumas for dumplings. Good idea, right?
Well, at Chinatown Cellars, they don't sell wine glasses (save for plastic ones). The staff was pretty friendly about it; I managed to find a promotional pack of Jacob's Creek sparkling wine (which I've had before, and which isn't particularly good) with two decent sparkling wine glasses in their fridge, and I took it up to the register to find out the price. Just before I did, Dan said, hey, they've got some Californian wine here. Uh huh, I said, OK, hang on a sec. It took them a while to figure out how much the Jacob's Creek was - they wanted A$17, which is a bit much (the wine goes for A$10 at most discount stores). I said thanks, but no thanks, and put the wine back in the fridge. At this point Dan showed me the Californian wine they had - about nine bottles of 1994 Ridge Geyserville. Now, this is seriously good stuff. For those of you unfamiliar with Californian wines, Zinfandel is a grape (almost completely) peculiar to California which makes very distinctive wines; there's not a lot planted outside the country, and what there is is largely in Italy, Croatia, and a few spots in New Zealand (Kemblefield), SA (McLaren Vale), and WA (Margaret River). Of all the Californian zins, Ridge are perhaps the very best of them. Geyserville is more properly speaking a proprietary wine; it's highly unusual in that it's often only about 70% zinfandel, with mataro and carignane in there as well. It's also unusual in that it's designed to age - it's good young, but it's better old. Finding a 1994 these days is virtually impossible, and if and when you find one, it should cost you about A$120 (the current releases are about A$75).
Hey, I was curious. I had to find out how much they wanted for it. I do this often when I see Californian wines, be it Beringer white zin (shudder) or a Ridge wine. The staff at Chinatown Cellars went about trying to find any record of the wine in their computer inventory system... and failed. It got to be kind of funny. Lots of people stacked up in line behind me, and they still couldn't find it. The manager got in on the action, all to no avail. Finally, the guy who was helping me said, well, would you pay us A$11 for it? I said, what, are you kidding me? Sure! And I did. Actually, I paid A$12 for the bottle.
I opened it about an hour later with Julian and Dan. It was fantastic. The only problem was a crumbly cork that made for some gritty drinking at first, but hey. Not a problem. It's one of the better wines I've ever had.
The story gets stranger, though. We made it to dinner on time (where we had the 2001 Te Mata Estate sauvignon blanc and a lovely pinot noir from Canberra), and at some point got to talking about the Wine Deal of the Century. Being, well, slightly drunk at the time, Julian and I decided we'd go for broke and head back to the bottle shop and see how much more of the Ridge we could score.
We managed to get three more bottles out of them. They've also got my mobile number and promised to call back if the owner would let them sell any more. They started to get a little panicked when I declared my intent to by all of the bottles (nine of them) they had in the shop - "well, the deal still stands, but only because we don't know how much to charge for it" - but what the fuck. I mean, I paid what they asked, I know it's a steal, but it's Not My Fault.
I doubt they'll be calling back today, but it was worth a shot. In the meantime, Julian's got two of the four bottles hiding back at his place for some upcoming special event. Me, I'm just happy I got to have the one.