Vine and Vinyl #3
It’s not about the money. It’s about the money.

Bob Mould's Silver Age is cranked to the rafters. I’ve got a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and I’m working on an article for American Winery Guide. Silver Age is one of those albums full of “get shit done music,” and it sees a lot of action around deadline. The Kim Crawford is a go to cheapie for a lot of people I know but not for me (this one was given to Jai). I’ve only liked one of her wines, and it wasn’t under her label. It was a Barbera he made under contract that ended up being sold by Firesteed.

The story of the wine is a little murky but from what I gathered, the company that commissioned the wine went under and Firesteed bought the product for pennies on the dollar. That would account for how it ended up in Trader Joe’s for $2 a bottle (this was in the days before Chuck came to town). I bought one on the strength of the brand and got a nice surprise when I opened it that night—such a nice surprise that I went back to the store and bought every bottle on the shelf.

From there, my friend Donna and I proceeded to visit every Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles and purchase every single bottle of Firesteed Barbera we could lay our hands on. All told, I ended up with exactly 100 bottles. According to wine industry experts, cork taint affects 5% of production, which was interesting because exactly five bottles out of that hundred were corked. Good to know but that’s hardly the best part of the story. 

The fun began when I started shipping them to my friends across the country. Rachel in Austin was thrilled to receive wine in the mail (you could send wine in the mail those days), and was elated to get two. Since it cost more to ship than to buy it, two seemed like a good balance. Next was Ward in Connecticut, who was equally pleased and gracious, and knew it must be special. About a year later, I was having dinner with him and mentioned the amazing wine I’d found for two dollars, and asked if he’d enjoyed it.

“Wait wait wait… That Italian wine you sent us was two dollars?”

“Yeah. Wasn’t it great?”

“TWO DOLLARS?!”

“Well, yeah.” I was trying to suppress a grin but couldn’t.

“Rob, we kept that in the rack for months because it came from Rob Boss, so it must be expensive!”

“But it was good wasn’t it?”

“Um. Yeah. It was.”

“Well, all right then.”

We ordered coffee at the end of the meal and he spun toward me again.

“TWO DOLLARS?!”

Wine is about friends and memories, not dollars and cents—although that can factor into the memory.

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