No. 3 Memory Lane, Bob Ross
I see I started to form two excellent habits and one bad habit during the first month of my serious wine adventures.
The most powerful habit was to form a working relationship with a good wine retailer. It took me about three months, but I finally hooked up with Joel Mitchel at Beekmans. Beekmans was a half block from the train station, and I would stop by two or three times a week on my way home. Joel believed in trying lots of different wines, and I was a willing pupil.
Also useful habit was to read the labels -- with a case of this baby, I had plenty of practice. But then I'll read any label on almost anything -- I've memorized our Quaker Oats box, for example. As Jancis Robinson taught us in Boston at a wine seminar several years later: "Let's see what the wine makers promise us. We may not agree, but it cannot hurt to understand what they are trying to do."
The bad habit was buying too much wine too soon. Joel helped me cure that habit over time, but I still have a yearly standing order for one favorite for a case of California Syrah. I must say though that the La Cardonne worked out quite well -- 13 bottles, and not a clinker in the bunch.
I like that little touch about the similarities between the two Bordeaux wines, somewhat different ends of the spectrum I should have guessed based on price alone. :-)
5/__/95 1989 Château La Cardonne Médoc Crû Bougeois Médoc Bordeaux France. Administered by Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite); bottled at the Château. Beekman, Glen Rock. $11. Pleasant. I thought at first it may have been the same wine as Janet and I had in Normandy but it was not. 2*.
Label on reverse of bottle reads:
"The wines of the 'Domaines Barons de Rothschild' identified by the family crest of five arrows, for a collection of some of the finest vineyards of Bordeaux. The wines include:
Château Lafite Rothschild: Premier Gran Crû.
Carruades de Lafite: 'Second Wine' of Château Lafite.
Chat. Duhart Milon Rothschild: Grand Crû Classé.
Château La Cardonne: Crû Grand Bourgeois.
Château Rieussec: Premier Grand Crû de Sauternes.
From the planting of the vine to the final bottling of each vintage, very step in the production of these exceptional wines is directed by the management of Domaines Rothschild, headed by Baron Eric de Rothschild."
Frank Prial, NYT, June 17, 1998: "One of the best buys among the lesser Médoc chateaux is La Cardonne, in the commune of Blaignan. From 1973 to 1990, it vwas owned by members of the Rothschild family, who virtually rebuilt both the winery and the vineyards. Thanks to their efforts, Cardonne is a deeply colored, fruity wine that is at its best after three or four years. La Cardonne usually sells for $10 or less."
5/__/95 1989 Château La Cardonne Médoc Crû Bougeois Médoc Bordeaux France. Purchased a case from Beekman in Glen Rock at Janet's suggestion. Spectator: $11. 80+. 3*.
The first case of wine we ever bought; Joel Mitchel, Beekman's owner would later say: "It is easy to buy, and hard to drink, a case of wine." He suggested that one buy three to six bottles maximum of any wine, and then be adventuresome in trying new wines. [I dealt with someone else that day, and I am sure Joel would have dissuaded me from buying that case of wine.]
5/__/95 1990 Château La Cardonne Médoc Crû Bougeois Médoc Bordeaux France. Administered by Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite); bottled at the Château. Beekman, Glen Rock. Spectator: "Ripe and inviting, with plenty of fruit and balanced tannins. A lovely wine and a good value. 80+." Pleasant; both Janet and I liked it. 3*.