When Alain the Latin lover got to Marc the banker's country house in Normandy, he said, "I was briefly the owner of two bottles of Mouton Rothschild." And proceeded to tell us of his well-planned shopping trips to several mega-supermarkets in the Paris region for the annual Foires aux Vins. He had the catalogues, he had his priorities, and at the Auchan in Vélizy he went to the register with two bottles of Mouton Rothschild, of a vintage he did not specify (I didn't want to interrupt with my reporter-style request for full disclosure).
"They charged me 169 € per bottle at the register. I told the cashier that they were marked 155 € on the shelf. She said no, that was the Lafite Rothschild. I said no, it was the Mouton. She said to go to the manager and see. So I paid for them and went to the main desk with my receipt to get reimbursed for the difference. But they said the same thing - no, they were at 169 €. So in the end, I got my money refunded and left without the two bottles."
That's Alain. I looked at the floor meditatively, wondering where between 155 and 169 the worth-it-ness broke. But he's of Spanish blood, a hidalgo, a man of violent principle.
Alain's temperament was also the source of good things to come... He owed Arnaud one - another question of principle - and at the end of the weekend, as he was packing his daughter Rose's stroller into the trunk of his car, he reached into a wood case and turned around with a bottle of 1999 Cheval Blanc in his hand.
That bottle is now in our little Paris cave, waiting patiently. As for me, I'm chomping at the bit, but I'll let it age, I promise. I promise...