Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Laffite and the Troglodyte

Last week I dined with my husband George at a high-end restaurant in midtown Austin. The outing was inspired by a gift card given to me from a generous voice student of mine at Christmas time and we only now found the time to take advantage of the sweet offering.

I had dined there in the past, not surprisingly due to gifts from other extremely generous clients, so at least I knew how to dress. Now I am not proud of this fact but I knew that driving up to the valet parking in my 2002 hail damaged, bumper stickered, Texas sun toasted faded finish red Honda Accord would send up red flags and make me
self conscious, so we parked several blocks away and walked to the front door of the restaurant. As we approached I did indeed notice a shinny new Porsche, a gleaming Alfa Romeo and a Lamborghini.   (I know it seems out of character for me, but I actually do notice cars when they are well-crafted beautiful machines).

 I was glad that we walked.
A woman greeted us with a stony expression
 Yes? May I help you? 
I have a reservation for Stern
Yesfollow me…”
Without meeting eyes, she placed a leather bound book on the table that was designated to be ours. 
Enjoy your meal…”

Oh good…the wine list…
My eyes scan the 21-page leather bound book.
I’m wondering if buying wine by the glass is gauche. What ever…I don’t want to have more than one glass of wine so I keep perusing the manuscript.

A young man comes over with his hands neatly held behind his back in a formal Downton Abby server sort of fashion.
“Are we having anything special to drink this evening?”
He said “Are WE” so I wondered for a second if he was planning to join us?
“Yes…do you have any wine by the glass?”
His eyes looking past me…over my head, chin held high he replies…
”Page 11”

I flip to page 11. Oh good…they do have some choices…all French? OK I like French wine…scanning the page my eyes go past the “by the glass” section and onto page 12…$3500.00…what wine is that?  A Laffite…Ok I know that’s an expensive wine but $3500 really? $3500? Good grief. I couldn’t help myself and at the risk of sounding like a complete troglodyte, out of my mouth poured “Do people ever really purchase a bottle of wine for $3500?”
Still looking over my head, hands still behind his back a la Downton Abbey, with out a smile, his left eyebrow slightly raising he said in a matter of fact way  “Oh yes, certainly…”

Gee I was thinking I might have broken this pretentious barrier he had crafted and perhaps he’d bond with us…you know, he’s a young working boy…and here was an opportunity to say something like “Yah…crazy, right? I sold a bottle to someone once” etc. bla  bla…but he answered me like it made perfect sense to spend almost $4000.00 on a bottle of wine that you will piss out in an hour!  I felt like telling the haughty little whippersnapper that one can buy an excellent bottle of wine for $200…like an astounding bottle of wine, and with the rest of that dough feed 100 refugee families…or mail a check to a charity of your choice, but don’t make me feel like you are above me for thinking that’s a stupid way to spend an awful lot of money. Go ahead and spend a month’s salary on a bottle of good wine if you want to, but at some point you get diminishing returns. I wonder if I poured a $25 bottle of Columbia Crest into a bottle that said 1986 Laffite on it would YOU young Downton Abby server child know the difference…or your diners for that matter?

But that fierce and righteous speech crossed through my brain in perhaps one millisecond as I starred at the waiter still standing steadfast arms neat behind his back eyes straight ahead.
”Oh wow…” is all that I said. “I’ll have a glass of Champagne…I always love that…thanks!”

I often write awesome responses to a personal experience well after the fact…lying in bed…thinking about a better ending to a particular scenario.
  I wish I had looked at the young man and said

“Ahh Yes..The Laffite…Dark, with brick edges.  Blackberry, fig, currant, and cedar present on the nose.  Palate is filled with currant and hints of fig, cedar, whiffs of pipe tobacco and faint earth notes.  Tannins are melding into the wine, and acid is present but not particularly lively.  A touch heavy.  It is indeed a wonderful wine, but a bit lost in the crowd.  Not as complex as the 1996 Margaux, and not as balanced as the 1990 Beasejour.  Very good, but far from perfect. In fact not worth the Hype in my opinion…I’ll have a glass of your Champagne. Thank you very much!”

I guess I am just a Troglodyte!