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The Farmer

My client, Dr. Farmer, wants to try everything under the sun and winds up with a “bottle farm”—one of each type of wine, one from each producer. He has almost exactly one thousand bottles in his collection on seven hundred and fifty line-listings, an average of about one point three bottles per title. He buys mixed cases. Not mixed cases like six plus six or four and four and four. No. He buys twelve unique bottles in each case. So I asked him, “What’s up, doc?” (I waited almost my whole life to say that.)

He said that he gets bored.

Bored! I could kill this guy with my bare hands. Whatever happened to the idea that you try one bottle from a case when it’s young and coltish, get a sense of it, make a note in your journal, lock it away in your memory. Open another bottle when you suspect, or when Mr. Parker suggests, that it will be ready to drink, yet is still vivacious, jejune. It’s a completely different experience. Drink the others in their prime and save a couple to enjoy in their (and maybe your) declining years.

There was a wonderful jazz disc jockey in LA named Chuck Niles. He’d been around since the dawn of recorded sound, with a great basso vibrato voice. He once said that he didn’t dig Billie Holiday’s later recordings until he, himself, was older. My point is that you’re going to want to see these wines through their lives. A case of wine is not a chicken dinner. It’s a twelve-course feast in a box. You can’t, or most likely won’t, drink them all in one sitting, or one month, or one year, so how, exactly, do you get bored of a great wine? Even a pretty good wine? Heaven forbid he should actually like something and want to try it again. Heaven forbid he should have a party for more than two people. What then? Every time he goes out, it’s a crapshoot. He can never say, “I had this wine recently and it was terrific.” No, this guy can say something to the point of: “This is the first and last time I’m ever going to try this, so savor the moment, honey.”

I hate to admit it, but I’m something of a Farmer, myself. I don’t have enough money to buy everything in case lots, or in quantities of fours or sixes, and I see so many appetizing choices at the store that I can’t say no to. So many Rhones with scores in the low nineties that you can’t choose just one. So many odd-sounding Australian wines at prices that practically scream out, “Try me!”

And there’s nothing wrong with doing just that.