Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Agony of TCA

TCA can bring a grown man to his knees.

I have been a pretty good customer of Jacques and Hamptons Wine Shoppe for a bit so when Jacques decided to come to Florida for the holidays, he said that we should get together one evening over a bottle of 1986 Mouton that he would be bringing into town.  Never one to turn down an opportunity to drink old first growths, I said "sure."  Jacques called me regularly to ensure that things were still a "go" and said, "Oh, by the way, you can bring some friends along because I will be bringing two bottles."  I made the dinner reservations at Capital Grille and invited two of my buddies and their wives to partake(@hlyterroir declined the invite because he was still recovering from having drunk a 2006 Shafer Hillside Select on the preceding Thursday.).

On the morning of the dinner, Jacques called and asked if I could direct him to someone at the restaurant because he wanted to go over and decant the wines prior to the dinner.  Dinner was at 7.  Fred and Laurie rode with us and we were the first to arrive.  Jacques came in a little after and, as we were completing introductions, Jeff and Dee strolled in and completed the party.  We were shown to a circular table in a comfy, cozy corner towards the back of the restaurant.  This was the first time that I had met Jacques face to face, and the first time that any of my friends had spoken to him, but "many a friend is made over a bottle of wine" and we quickly settled down to comfortable conversation.  Jeff launched the wine proceedings with a bottle of Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs NV and I followed in short order with a 1953 Remoissenet Vosne-Romanee Clos de Reas and a 1968 Vina-Valoria Rioja.  These wines drunk beautifully with the Rioja being the more longer-lived of the two in the glass.

By this time we had worked our way to the main course and the main event -- the 1986 Moutons.  Jacques had the decanted wines brought over and the first one poured into our glasses.  After an initial whiff, a crestfallen look overcame him. "It's corked," he said.  Dee did not agree.  Both Jeff and I felt that the wine was flat and I did get some TCA.  Jacques pushed the first decanter aside and called for the second.  The look on his face after sniffing the wine was one of pure disbelief.  This one was also corked.  As a matter of fact, it had higher levels of TCA than did the first.  Jacques was mortified.  He had taken such care in setting this up.  He was in a new town with new friends.  He had drunk my Remoissenet and Vina-Valoria.  And he had delivered two corked bottles.  He was inconsolable.  His wife tried to tell him that it was not his fault; that it could have happened to anyone.  He looked daggers at her.  Of course it was his fault.  He had brought the wines.  Even worse, he and I were in negotiations for me to purchase some '86 Moutons off him.  And now this.  I sought to defuse the situation by by whipping out a 1998 Alvaro Palacios L'Ermita and then a soothing 1983 d'Yquem; but to no avail.  Jacques was a beaten man.  TCA had racked up another notch on its belt.  It had taken the dignity of another innocent victim. 

Jacques dragged himself dejectedly back to the valet stand to retrieve his car and, as he faded into the mist that enveloped the area, I thought to myself, there, but for the grace of God, go I.

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