This weekend, after-dinner conversation with family focused on presidential politics, the upcoming campaign, and politically hued media bias.
I Googled around to see if anyone had posted thoughts or speculation on which wine it was but came up empty-handed. So I watched the video, and my observations follow.
Let's start with the decanter. It looks like a Riedel "O" series decanter, released by the glassmaker in 2006. According to the Riedel website, its price category is "exclusive." A search on Google.com/shopping reveals that the crystal decanter is generally available for roughly $190 before shipping and handling. So this gives us some idea of the connoisseurship of the host. Let's just call it "exclusive."
Now for the wine. It's definitely dark in color. This leads me to believe that it's made from thick-skinned red grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. And of course, gauging from commonly held stereotypes of wine lovers like the dinner's host, "party animal" Marc Leder, it's probably a wine from Northern California, although it could also be from the Rhône Valley of France or California's Central Coast, possibly made from Syrah or Grenache or maybe Mourvèdre, grapes that, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, can make for opaque dark-toned wines.
The fact that it's dark in color also leads me to believe that it's a young wine. And the fact that it's been decanted, possibly for the purpose of aerating it, prompts me to speculate that it's probably a tannic wine still youthful in its evolution.
This was about as far as my deductive reasoning got me. So I decided to call in the big guns. I rang up one of our state's top sommeliers, someone who regularly waits on the type of Republican crowd that can drop $50K on a fundraiser for a presidential candidate. He asked to remain anonymous because of the delicate nature of my inquiry.
"I can guarantee that the wine in that decanter," he told me without missing a beat, "is Scarecrow," referring to the "cult" California "Cab" du jour. "It's the wine that's on the tip of the 53 percent's tongue. It's in that circle of [California] Cabernet [Sauvignon] that [those guests] look for when they come in. 'Where's your allocation of Scarecrow?' is the first thing they say when they look at your [wine] list."
Scarecrow is one of the most "highly allocated" wines in the trade at the moment. Only select restaurants are able to obtain it, and it's sold mostly through an elite and impossible-to-get-on mailing list. According to WineSearcher.com, the average retail price for a bottle of Scarecrow is $483, with the majority of 750ml bottles weighing in around $350.
From what I read about Marc Leder and his love of the good life (and gauging from the price of the decanter), it seems that Scarecrow would be a good bet.
I've never tasted the wine and can't really tell you much about it other than what the winery's website reports: It's 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, of which 90 percent is aged for 21 months in small barrels (barriques) made from new French oak. Wine critic Robert Parker, Jr. gave the 2007 an impossibly perfect score of 100 points, calling it "a prodigious effort" in the pages of his Wine Advocate.
"Its perfect balance," he writes, "suggests it can be drunk at a relatively young age, but it should easily evolve over 30-35 years."
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Gauging from the technical information available and Parker's tastes, I doubt that I would be able to palate the wine. And I know that I can't afford to taste it: WineSearcher.com reveals that the average retail price for a bottle of the 2007 is $802.
The one thing we know for sure is that Romney didn't drink any of it. And this leads me to believe that he and I have at least one thing in common.