Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Elite Cabal and Their Conspiracy for the Future of Wine

90 was the first one to arrive, always early, always ready to please. He took a seat, at a table set for twelve, and waited patiently.

He always did well in school, and afterwards, in graduate school, he didn’t finish because he wanted to get right into the swing of things. 90 is action oriented, favorite quote is, “Let’s make something happen.”

91 followed, looking a bit dazed and confused. She looked like she hadn’t slept in days, but she arrived in starched blouse and pressed trousers, no slouch was 91. Her biggest problem was that even though she excelled among her peers, she didn’t rise to the level of excellence that she was once thought capable of. But really, this was the same with 92, 93 and 94. They were good, very good. But not great. And great is what the world of premiumization is looking for. 92, 93 and 94 arrived and sat down on the other side of the table.

95 arrived five minutes late, as usual. But he’s the chairman of the group. He sits among the group and always strikes a balance between those on one side of him and those on the other.

96 showed up in a bright silver sports car, a Porsche or a Maserati. 96 likes exotica, and in her style of living, prefers to show it off. She’s good, she’s really, really good. But she’s a few points short of super turbo.

97, 98 and 99 turned up together in a black Lamborghini Urus SUV. They are often mistaken for on another, so brilliant is the gleam they each cast on anyone that gazes upon them. And they are a vison of sorts, gliding effortlessly from one place to another. They don’t walk, they levitate; nature (and Lamborghini) propels them, causing everything in their wake to follow them to the ends of the earth. They are excellence personified. But they aren’t quite the pinnacle.

That goes to 100, who just appears, whenever and however it wants to. Neither a he or a she, why would 100 limit themselves to commonplace classifications? 100 is the top, Everest, K2, Kilimanjaro and Mars, all rolled up into one. Now the tasting may begin. A working one, because being the best means to never sleep.

95: “Call to order, while the AI-somMS are decanting the wines, is there any new business?”

91: Yes, we are eleven of us and there are twelve chairs. We have two others, claiming a seat at the table.”

96: “How can that be? There no others worthy of sitting at this table. So, there is an extra chair. We can always take it out from the table.”

93: “That may be, but word has it that you, along with 97,98, 99 and 100 proposed a smaller table for just the five of you. That will never stand!”

90, 91, 92 and 94, in unison, as if they were a barbershop quartet: “Hear! Hear!”

95: “Order! Enough of this! We are eleven and we will not shrink. Some of you may have higher prestige, but we, in this room, are the ultimate influencers for millions of wine drinkers – do not forget it – #WeAreThePower!”

100: “Oh really, you think you all are so powerful and influential? I remind you, all of you are merely two-digit characters, while I am the only three-digit one. If anyone here should say whether or not another numerical has a seat at the table, it jolly well should be me. After all, it cannot get any higher than me. And who are these rogues?”

95: “These two 'rogues’, as you call them, are legitimate applicants. One is in the vestibule, waiting. The other should be here anytime, as his flight from Hong Kong was slightly delayed.”

Meanwhile the AI-somMS wheeled into the room with the decanted wine. “Thank you, that will be all,” 95 said. “You may go back to the cellar now and await our further instructions.” The wine was Burlotto's 2013 Barolo Monvigliero.

100: “That is more like it. Start at the top, never a disappointment with the best! Although it is still a good way from it's prime.”

There was a knock at the door. The chamberlain left to answer.

95: “The knock most likely signifies that the applicant from Hong Kong has finally arrived. In the meantime, the reason why I called you here for this convocation is discuss our succession plan and our path towards greater inclusiveness. It has come to the attention of this board that we have become an instrument of an elitist movement in wine. From private wine restaurant clubs in Hudson Yards to exclusive wine bars in Hong Kong’s Soho district, we’re being seen, more and more, as aloof and inaccessible to the aspirational, the young and the 99%. More and more, we have come to represent something out of reach, and by association, out of touch. Wine, especially the ones we evince, symbolize something for only the fortunate few. Wine, locked in a vault, never to be opened or enjoyed. Wine as a trophy. Wine as a status symbol. Meanwhile, we are losing elite members, as they are dying. And their heirs don’t care about precious things as much as their parents did. We are in crisis!”

100: “So, what do you propose we do, pour it all down the drain and go away? We’ve worked hard to get here, we are the ultimate expression of wine, are we not?”

98: “I agree, heartily, and my colleague 99 and I concur that there is a need for the unsurpassable. We are the champions; we are the winners! And we deserve to be honored thusly!”

91: “You might find that easy to say, but from where I sit, we are losing those tomorrows-to-come. We need greater inclusion, if we are to be relevant in the not-too-distant future. I have an applicant in the vestibule and I’d like to nominate them.”

95: “Alright, order! We must come to some kind of agreement in this room, and there clearly is another seat at this august table for some reason. So, we must decide and put it to a vote.”

Meanwhile, the chamberlain, came into the room and whispered in 95’s ear. “Oh, I see. Well, that changes everything!” 95 was clearly disconcerted. Then the chamberlain asked, “Shall I instruct the AI-somMS to roll in the next wine? It is the 1961 La Chapelle.” “Yes," answered 95. "And as for our two guests, bring them both in now. Let’s get this matter sorted out before the wine spoils!”

In walked the two outliers. There was an audible collective gasp. Before this group were the two candidates. No one was more shocked than 100. “Well, I’ll be damned if one of these gets to sit at the table!” 100 was clearly rattled. "Who let this imposter from Hong Kong in? Is there no decency, no honor, in this world anymore?”

90, as well, was perturbed. “I don’t mean to let the plebs in. 91, what the hell is wrong with you? What is happening to this world?” 91, hissed, and then purred, as the ’61 La Chapelle wafted from the glass.

95 arose and looked over the room, while also savoring the flavors of the ’61. “Well, then esteemed colleagues, it seems we must have a vote. Or does anyone have another idea?"

To the right of 95, 96 stood up. “Yes, I have an idea. Let them do battle and the strongest one, the last one standing, gets a seat at the table.” Everyone at the table appeared to approve of this proposal.

“Very well,” said 95, and looking at the two contestants, asked “And what are we to call you?” The number on the right answered, “I'm Gigondas Quatre-vingt-neuf, but you can call me Josh.”

The one to the left, brandishing enough aplomb for the room, replied, “I’m 101, #TheOnlyOne. But you can call me Giacomo.”

At which time, 90 bellowed, “Alright, let’s make something happen!”

And that is where must leave it for now…

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