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Blue Nose, Blue Blood

This time it was Blue Nose. It was always something, but it was always something special. There are places to buy things and there are places where it’s an adventure to buy things. One of those places is Osprey Seafood in the town of Napa. 

We brought home some fabulous Bluenose bass from New Zealand this time, but whatever we bring home from there is always delicious. Why? Why are some merchants so much better than others? The fish at Osprey is more-or-less the same price as Whole Foods just down the road, but it is always, always better. Certainly it is more expensive than the seafood offerings of Safeway, but food that is inedible is never cheap enough.

The “why” is simple. They care at Osprey. They care in a way you just don’t see behind the counter at a chain, even at the level of a Whole Foods. At the likes of Safeway it’s not an issue of excitement as they have little interest or knowledge in what they’re selling. 

It’s always amazing at Osprey as, in spite of the fact they deal with fish day in and day out, they’re excited about today’s special arrivals. It’s that ability to be excited that makes them go out of their way to have something to be excited about. 

What’s happened to that excitement in the wine industry? Cynical buyers, loaded with attitude, but with closed minds who have already decided what wines are the best by the time they’re twenty-five. Their counterpoints are ego driven, “lifestyle” wineries more interested in points than quality, which pump out over-oaked, high octane, insanely priced fruit bombs.  All of the above driven by someone else’s pointed opinion instead of their own. True enough there’s a lot to be not excited about.

However, once a month, I get a package that reminds me that there still exists, in the increasingly corporate wine world, merchants filled with passion, excitement and energy that is all their own. That package is the monthly shipment I get from the Kermit Lynch Wine Club, one of the privileges of living in California.

Each package is a voyage of discovery. Not that I do not know some of the wines that arrive, but each shipment is an inside look at the mind of the Kermit Lynch company. The energy and commitment in that collective mind is clear in the quality and distinctive personality of each bottle that arrives. 

For about $40 a month you get two bottles of interesting wine. While that should not be an unusual thing, it is, and the arrival of each package makes me think about the wines we make. As always, there is no greater compliment you can give a wine than it makes you think. Any wine that costs more than $10 a bottle should at the very least make you notice you are drinking it. 

Kermit Lynch, Osprey and merchants like them are the blue bloods, the royalty of the merchant class. While it is said you get what you pay for, it is more than that. There are many places to get above average, but there are few places where you can travel together as excited explorers sharing the energy that discovery brings to those that share in the adventure together. 

You’ll never get this experience at Cost Plus, Trader Joe’s, Costco or any chain operation. You’ll also not save any money by shopping at these chains unless you insist on buying overpriced, industrial wines that are only pretenders to the throne. Yes, if you want to buy Silver Oak these are your places. However, the Osprey’s and Kermit Lynch’s of the world are the ones offering true value. 

There’s a sucker born every minute. Don’t be a sucker. Buying smart means not buying hype. It also means not buying on price alone. Smart buyers buy based on price and the energy and effort the merchant puts into bringing them the very best.

A Kermit Lynch selection with an Osprey selection makes not only for a wonderful dinner, but money well spent.