And so the casual drinker became not only a connoisseur, but a collector.
In May 2012, with a decade of collecting under his belt, Blake (who requested that his real name not be used) went shopping online for some wines from France’s vaunted Bordeaux and Burgundy regions. He contacted a high-end Manhattan retailer, and began receiving emails from the owner about choice wines for sale. “He had all kinds of stuff that was really rare, old, and hard to find,” Blake recalls. “He claimed he got everything from restaurants he’d known for 25 years or from friends at the wineries. He told me great stories about where the wine came from.”
Blake was impressed. “I asked around New York, and it seemed like a legit operation,” he says. “I knew wealthy people in New York, and he’d helped them find wines and seemed like a good guy.”
He selected three bottles of 1928 Chateau Petrus, each priced at $3,000, one bottle of 1964 Henri Jayer that set him back $6,500, and dozens more. In a series of purchases that month, Blake spent nearly $300,000, plus shipping costs, on Bordeaux wines alone.
The cases arrived and Blake tore them open. But once his excitement died down, he had some doubts. One of the bottles struck him as odd-looking, but he couldn’t put his finger on why. He turned to rare and fine wine expert Maureen Downey, who, among other things, distinguishes truly fine wines from imposters.
Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by J.S. Bach performed by Yo Yo Ma