When it'ês glass-recycling time in my neighborhood, I am the scorekeeper. I inspect each neighbor'ês recycling and give a rating between 60 and 100 based on the quality of the empty wine bottles. I also rate my own recycling. I almost always win — and not because of biased scorekeeping. To eliminate the taint of favoritism, I would welcome someone else assuming this responsibility, but to date no one has stepped forward.
Last week, because my recycling was weak on Bordeaux, I briefly considered pouring down the drain a bottle of 1989 Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou to enhance my offering. Under the rules (established by me) this is not cheating if done before the inspection. After all, any of my neighbors might also be dumping to improve their ratings.
Finally, I decided that a fine bottle of Burgundy, a good Rhone, plus a solid lineup of whites would bring me another victory. As shown by the ratings below, I was proven right:
Neighbor A (I have not revealed the names of my neighbors, although anyone in a ten-block area can easily guess who they are.) Rating: 81
A collection with a few good California cabernets, including a Joseph Phelps 2004, was marred by a bottle of RosÃ©. RosÃ© in May when the temperature is below 60?
Neighbor B. Rating: 85
If expense were the sole criteria, Neighbor B would be an easy winner. But two $40 Chardonnays (Cuvaison S Block Chardonnay 2006 and Franciscan CuvÃ©e Sauvage Chardonnay 2006) are criminally over oaked, while the Ch. Leoville Las Cases 2005, which retails for over $300, was too young for drinking. My ratings do not reward infanticide.
Neighbor C. Rating: 78
How to rate beer drinkers in a wine competition? I gave them a charitable 78 since the beer bottles, Molson and Moosehead, are at least imported from Canada.
Neighbor D. Rating: 88
A surprisingly strong showing from a normally lackluster competitor featured a fine vintage port, Neipoort 1983, and two well-chosen reds that retail for less than $20, Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva, 2004 and Domaine de Nizas Coteaux du Languedoc, 2004. I will have to stay on my game if Neighbor D keeps improving.
Neighbor E. Rating: 66
DaNapoli Beaujolais? Guatemalan Riesling? Moapa Cabernet from the Moapa Valley in Nevada? Where do they find this dreck?
Neighbor F. Rating: 86
As always, a solid lineup of good, inexpensive wines — Rosemont Shiraz, Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay, Columbia Crest Merlot, etc. Neighbor F could become serious competitors if they added a well-regarded premium wine. I trust the economy to prevent this.
Neighbor G. Rating: 61
Four empty bottles of dry vermouth (technically a fortified wine) and ten empty bottles of Tanqueray gin, and all within the two-week period. Aside from never being sober, these barbarians appear to mixing martinis at a beastly 2.5 to 1 ratio.
Neighbor H. Rating: TBD
Recycling showed evidence of a large party. If this was a fundraiser and others selected the wine, it will be excluded from the ratings. I left both email and phone messages inquiring about the nature of the party, but Neighbor H has not replied. Not very neighborly in my opinion.
Clifford. Rating: 89
A Grand Cru Burgundy, Corton Bressandes 2002 (Tollot Beaut), and a Gigondas from the respected producer, Guigal, compensate for a uncharacteristically disappointing Bordeaux representation, a single bottle of a Cru Bourgeois Superieur, Ch. Meyney 2003. Two Washington state whites, Ch. Ste. Michele Eroica (Dr. Lossen) 2005 and L'êEcole No. 41 Chardonnay 2006, reveal a refined appreciation of local wines.
I won again, but it was too close for comfort. Next time I will dump the Ducru Beaucaillou to ease my mind.