I was surprised and glad that so many tasting rooms have opened in Napa Valley this soon after the fire. Most if not all, are donating the fees to relief agencies. That is encouraging. I wasn’t sure at first about the re-openings but speaking with friends in the wine business there, they are encouraged to see the wineries coming together along with local support. They realize they need to boost the economy by bringing the tourist back, especially for those who work in the valley. Note also that the wineries are a soft touch for charities and are hit up all the time for donations, which they freely give.
It isn’t pretty like last Spring when I was there, and Sonoma County is in much worse shape. I am not in touch with any of the wineries in the Sonoma/Santa Rosa area, but everyone is saddened at the loss of life and homes in this multi-county tragedy. Let’s not forget Mendocino County where in the north they had destructive fires too.
One thing you might not have considered is marijuana growers, who are very active in Mendocino County…this time legally as they prepare for the arrival of the date of legalization of recreational marijuana in California. Due to the conflict with federal law, they have no insurance and are a cash basis as they can’t get credit either. They had harvested some the marijuana, much of which was destroyed by the fires along with warehouses. Also, about 50% remains in the fields which may be affected like wines with smoke taint. I mention the pot growers only as another victim of the fires, not as an endorsement…you decide.
If you watched finish of the United States Grand Prix from Austin, Texas, Sunday, you may have noticed the traditional champagne ‘brawl’ with the winner and other two top finishers. When I saw the three drivers shaking and spraying the bottles I noticed that all the jeroboams were lavender in collar and looked metallic. I freeze-framed it to see the name on the bottle but instead of the usual prestige house there was only one word on the bottle: CARBON, written in bold letters lengthwise on the bottle…huh???
Have any of you ever heard of CARBON? Most likely not, but at $3,000 a bottle perhaps you should! Furthermore if you want to buy one (suit yourself, not me), you probably have to go to St. Tropez as it isn’t sold in the U.S. and is very limited production.
Is it that good? Uh…in a word: no. Not saying it isn’t ‘good’, just that it isn’t that good. So how do they get $3,000 for a bottle of it? Hey, how do lots of luxury goods go for what they do? Because the wealthy can afford them and that, folks, is status.
How did the custom of spraying the crowd come about. After winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1996, driver Jo Siffert accidentally sprayed the crowd with his magnum bottle of Moët Chandon Brut. The following year, American Dan Gurney did the same and a tradition was born, a waste of good champagne if you ask TB, and messy too! Sacre Bleu!
In 2000, G.H. Mumm replaced Moët and the magnum was upgraded to a jeroboam so more people could be sprayed. They remained a Formula I sponsor until 2015 when Chandon – yes, the California ‘sparkler’ replaced them. Then in July of this year, CARBON replaced them as an official sponsor.
Now you know, but why a $3,000 bottle of champagne? Well, here’s the thing, you can buy Cuvée Carbon 2002 vintage champagne (same as used in the Ultra bottle), in a 1.5 litre bottle (jeroboam) for $990 from Amazon Wine Store* but that is in a standard champagne bottle that holds six bottles ($165 each). Actually, a 750 ml bottle will cost you about $80, the difference due to the cost of the bottle which in large format sizes has enormous pressure.
The difference? The company has created a process that covers the entire bottle in carbon creating the metallic look and it is expensive and very labor intensive. So if you, my friends, want to pay 3 times the price of a regular jeroboam, be my guest. That is also six time the cost of a standard bottle of CARBON. TB wonders if the drivers get to keep the bottle? Most likely, yes. After all it only costs $9,000 to give them the bottles each race.
To TB, this is the same as the way people pay outrageous prices for Cognac in Baccarat crystal, and other prestige bottlings of alcohol products. If you have the money and you want it…go for it, but TB will take the normal bottling of the same product every time (he won’t however be buying any of the ‘gimmicky’ CARBON. C’est la vie!
That’s it for now…TB with the champagne love but cava budget is done for today.
(c) Copyright, traderbillonwine.com 2017
*Note: Amazon is going out of the wine business at the end of the year due to their ownership of Whole Foods Markets. Reportedly, there are also licensing problems. Ouch!