François Audouze wrote:And for me the "unique" feeling is my motivation to pay a lot of money to enjoy an unforgettable taste, which is not ten times better, but is special.
The answer to the original question, as many of us have stated already, is "yes". But the right circumstances have to present themselves. An overflow of cash. Or a certain faith that the wine is truly extraordinary. Or simply not caring about any other uses one may have for that money (Hoke's "You have only weeks to live so you blow it all" example, you go Queen Latifah!). Or perhaps you have some strange investment scheme in your mind, or a charity...
Again, we have certain justifying circumstances involved. Hell, I've been known to pay even more than $500 for a bottle here and there.
The thing is that that bottle had a history attached to it. Its producer had a solid track record. Perhaps I had tried the wine before through the generosity of friends and thought it a sound investment in my own enjoyment. To paraphrase the immortal words (from only last night) of SFJoe: Here I am, going the extra few hundred miles to marry the hot girl. And what's great is that her mother and
her grandmother are still hot, too... So, pay a heap of money for a bottle of 2005 Ch. Pavie? What guarantees do I have that the current regime at that property is capable of creating a work of art worthy of said heap? But pay the same heap of money for 1970 Cheval Blanc, a wine I know I'll love? Probably.
It's all so relative. What I know is I refuse to accomodate the arrogance of certain new producers who, out of the blue, claim they're making a wine on the level of, say, Pétrus or La Tâche. Wines like Pétrus or La Tâche, from the right vintage and in the right context, can be soul-stirring, completely unique, indescribable--the equivalents of a sublime painting by Rembrandt or Chagall, a perfect performance by Coltrane or Miles, 375 Park Avenue seen in just the right light (that would be Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, for the non architecturally passionate among us), Glenn Gould in top form playing The Goldberg Variations, or Casals playing Bach's cello suites, Prince playing an exquisite solo on his old Telecaster, in a small club, or that first reading of Borges, or great sex, or a hurricane watched from safety, or a sunset in Key West (without tourists). One would be hard pressed to care about money in their presence.
But those "certain new producers" I was talking about... I remember very well the case of Peter Sisseck and his Dominio de Pingus, which caused such a great media stir in the wine world back in the late 1990s. Sisseck released the stuff at a ludicrous price, claiming it was "the Spanish Pétrus" (no less). I remember tasting it at one point, in one of those trade events that "don't hurt" (yes, I briefly partook of the wien trade once, long ago) and thinking that the wine could very well be from anywhere, since all one could taste in it were the barrels and some rather anonymous fruit. My comments at the event were that if that was "the Duero taken to the next level", I would gladly wait downstairs with a bottle of 1942 Vega Sicilia "Unico", which would have cost me about the same as that Pingus.
The point of this ramble? It's all relative. I remember when in the 1980s those "industrially-produced" paintings by Mark Kostabi were al the rage among "collectors" (I thought I'd rescue this old chestnut of an example from the days of the "old" WLDG). A whole bunch of people aspired to buy the stuff (along with those ridiculous Duran Duran prints by Patrick Nagel); there was speculation. Some clever folks made a killing trading in these "artworks". And where are those paintings now? What are they worth, really?
SUre, wines like Pétrus, La Tâche, Lafite, Margaux, etc. have been--historically--prohibitively expensive for the average man. Today they fetch absurd prices in an artificially overstimulated marketplace. I sit back and think, though, that they took their time (some of them centuries) in coming to this absurdity, which robs them of any dignity they may have had in the past.
I think that's enough for now...