Crime of Passion

After savoring a sip of good vino, a gunman’s taste for shooting subsides
2005 Clos du Val Pinot Noir Carneros

Something else may breed contempt, but it seems that wine breeds civility.

That’s what a group of friends discovered at a Washington, D.C., gathering, in what must be one of the most frightening but also funniest and most bizarre wine stories of the year.

For those who missed it, The Washington Post reported that it happened at a Capitol Hill townhouse backyard dinner party in June, featuring marinated steaks and shrimp, as well as a few bottles of fine wine.

A man slipped into the yard through a gate in a side fence and put his gun to a head of a 14-year-old girl whose parents were attending the event.

“Give me your money, or I’ll start shooting,” he threatened. The guests froze, then one of them said, “We were just finishing dinner. Why don’t you have a glass of wine with us?”

The intruder took a sip of their Château Malescot St.-Exupery and said, “Damn, that’s good wine.” (The police report did not note the vintage.)

Apparently encouraged by the intruder’s discriminating palate for wine, the girl’s father suggested the gunman take the whole glass with him. Someone said, “No, take the whole bottle, already!”

The would-be robber took another sip, had a bite of Camembert cheese, put the gun in his sweatpants, and announced: “I think I may have come to the wrong house. Then he apologized and said, “Can I get a hug?”

One by one, the five guests came and hugged the man, who then asked: “Can we have a group hug?” They all complied, and the intruder left with the wine glass in hand.

The friend retreated into the house, locked the doors and just stared at one another in disbelief. Then they called 911. At last word, police still did not have a suspect.
All of which conjures up several ideas for some new ads. How about: “Château Malescot, the wine for men on the go!” Or, in parody of the 1980s ad by actor Orson Welles for Paul Masson wines: “We will serve no wine, before you do the crime.”

Now, some wines for your next backyard party:
2005 Clos du Val Pinot Noir Carneros ($28): Elegant, refined, full-bodied with signature Carneros, bing cherry, and spice notes. Balanced and layered, it’s another success from winemaker Bernard Portet.
2000 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva ($21): A northern Spanish red made of 100-percent tempranillo grapes. Nutmeg and clove aromas, firm, rich fruit, and a round, full mouthfeel, followed by a soft, long finish. Nice wine.
2004 Michel Torino Malbec Don David ($16): An Argentinian wine and a good example of malbec grape wine. Floral notes on the  nose, and full, ripe, vibrant fruit notes followed by an even, lingering finish.

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