July is the Cruellest Month: The Burial of the Dead

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Today I investigated the state of my wine collection after Vancouver’s record breaking heatwave with a week of weather ranging from 30-39 degrees celsius (86-102 F). It seems that the heat proved too much for the majority of my collection that was not cellared in a proper wine cellar but merely sat in my closet. It seems as though 4 years of collecting and a huge amount of money (which in my own stupidity was funded by student loans during law school) will be but a lost promise as seepage, raised or depressed corks have effected the majority of my wines.

I suppose this lies as a reminder of the power of nature, the foolishness of humanity, and the fact that life can sometimes really mess with your expectations and hopes. I suppose the lesson here is that wine is but something to be enjoyed and perhaps we can get carried away in our excitement for such a fleeting product, the real value of which comes from the stories it helps to create. In the hopes that many lost stories can converge into one major story that I will eventually look back on in a not-so-negative light, here is a list of all the bottles that are now but garbled and deformed images of their former selves:

Magdalena Toso ’40 Barrels Selection’ Malbec 2005
Penfolds ‘St. Henri’ Shiraz 2002
Miner ‘Rosella’s Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2005
Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou “les pepinieres’ Chenin Blanc 2005
Damilano ‘Liste’ Nebbiolo 2003
Allegrini Amarone 2001
Dogpoint Pinot Noir 2005
Condado De Haza Tempranillo 2005
Long Shadows ‘Sequel’ Syrah 2004
Torbreck ‘Descendant’ Shiraz/Viognier 2005
Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Ridock Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Chateau de Beauregard Joseph Burrier ‘Vers Crus’ Chardonnay 2006
Beringer Private Reserve ‘Bancroft Ranch’ Merlot 1998
Beringer Private Reserve ‘Bancroft Ranch’ Merlot 1997
Ridge ‘Monte Bello’ Chardonnay 2004
Giuseppe Quintarelli ‘Promofiore’ Valpolicella 2003
Tardieu-Laurent ‘Cuvée Speciale’ Chateauneuf du Papes 2003
Clos Mogador Grenache 2005
Miguel Merino ‘Gran Riserva’ Tempranillo 1996
Grosset Pinot Noir 2005
Chateau de Beauregard Joseph Burrier ‘Aux Charmes’ Chardonnay 2006
Saintsbury ‘Brown Ranch’ Chardonnay 2004
Orwin Swift ‘Papillon’ Cab Blend 2005
David Fulton Petite Sirah 2003
Damilano Nebbiolo 2001
Chateau de Saint Cosme ‘Valbelle’ Grenache 2005
Bodegas y Vinedos ‘Alion’ Tempranillo 2003
Roda I ‘Reserva’ Tempranillo 2003
Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2004
Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2005
Montes ‘Purple Angel’ Carmenere 2005
Didier Dagueneau ‘Buison Renard’ Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese 2005
Quinta Do Crasto Reserva Old Vines Douro Blend 2003
Quinta Do Crasto Reserva Old Vines Douro Blend 2004
Quinta Do Crasto Reserva Old Vines Douro Blend 2005
Quinta do Crasto ‘Reserva’ Old Vines Douro Blend 2006
Graham’s Vintage Port 1997
Graham’s Vintage Port 2000
Vega Sicilia ‘Pintia’ Tempranillo 2003
Long Shadows ‘Pirouette’ Cab Blend 2004
Tyrrell’s ‘Vat 1’ Hunter Semillon Semillon 1998
Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards ‘Block 6’ Shiraz 2005
Clarendon Hills ‘Moritz’ Syrah 2003
Chateau Lafon-Rochet Bordeaux 2005
Domaine Jo Pithon Coteaux du layon ‘Les 4 Villages’ Chenin Blanc 2005
Prunotto Nebbiolo 2004
Zenato Amarone 2003
Niepoort ‘Vintage’ Port 2000
Auguste Clape ‘Renaissance’ Syrah 2004
Tardieu Laurent Syrah/Viognier 2001
Domaine Les Pallieres Greanche 2003
Kilikanoon ‘Oracle’ Shiraz 2004
Daniel Dampt ‘Fourchaume’ Premier Cru Chardonnay 2006
Domaine Christian Moreau ‘Les Clos’ Grand Cru Chardonnay 2006
William Fevre ‘Fourchaume’ Premier Cru Chardonnay 2006
Patrice Rion ‘clos prieur’ Pinot Noir 2005
Ridge ‘Santa Cruz Mountains Estate’ Chardonnay 2006
Damilano ‘Cannubi’ Nebbiolo 2003
Quinta Do Crasto ‘Vinha Maria Teresa’ Douro Blend 2003
Domaine de la Charbonniere ‘Les Hautes Brusquieres Cuvée Speciale’ Chateauneuf du Papes 2005
Auguste Clape ‘Renaissance’ Syrah 2005
Francois Villard ‘Le Gallet Blanc’ Syrah/Viognier 2003
Two Hands ‘Lily’s Garden’ Shiraz 2006
Betz Family Winery ‘Clos de Betz’ (Magnum) Cab Blend 2005
Long Shadows ‘Feather’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Sinean ‘Baby Poux Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Achaval Ferrer ‘Finca Altamira’ Malbec 2006
Domaine Jacques Prieur Premier Crus Pinot Noir 2005
Jean-Marc Brocard Grand Cru ‘Les Clos’ Chardonnay 2005
William Fevre ‘Les Preuses’ Grand Cru Chardonnay 2006
S.A. Huet ‘Le Haut-Lieu’ Moelleux Chenin Blanc 2005
Donnhoff ‘Schlosbockelheimer Felsenberg’ Spatlese Riesling 2006
Quinta Do Crasto Tinta Roriz 2003
Tardieu Laurent ‘Cuvée Speciale’ Grenache Blend 2005
Tardieu Laurent ‘Vieilles Vignes’ GSM 2005
Embruix de Vall Llach Grenache 2004
Bodegas Lan ‘Edicion Limitada’ Red Blend 2004
Catena Alta Malbec 2004
Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de Los Andes ‘Cheval des Andes’ Malbec Blend 2005
Grosset ‘Watervale’ Riesling 2006
Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2004
Domaine Louis Boillot & Fils Pinot Noir 2005
Beringer Private Reserve ‘Bancroft Ranch’ Merlot 1997
Tardieu Laurent Mourvedre 2005
Pascal Cotat ‘La Grande Cote’ Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Donnhoff ‘Kreuznacher Krotenhfuhl’ Spatlese Riesling 2006
Domaine La Bouissiere Grenache Blend 2005
Lo Givot Grenache 2004
Alonso del Yerro Tempranillo 2005
Donnhoff ‘Oberhauser Leistenberg’ Kabinett Riesling 2006
Alain Voge ‘Les Vieilles Fontaines’ Syrah 2005
Domaine Saint-Damien ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Grenache Blend 2007
Vi de Guarda ‘Les Eres’ Vinyes Velles Grenache 2003
Arrocal Tempranillo 2004
Condado De Haza Tempranillo 2005
Tinto Pesquera Tempranillo 2005
Tinto Pesquera Tempranillo 2005
Muga ‘Reserva’ Tempranillo 2004
Vega Sicilia ‘Pintia’ Tempranillo 2003
Vega Sicilia ‘Pintia’ Tempranillo 2004
Long Shadows ‘Chester Kidder’ Cab Blend 2005
Donnhoff ‘Estate’ Riesling 2006
Graham’s Vintage Port 2003
Smith Woodhouse ‘Vintage’ Port 1980
Beckmen Vineyards ‘Block Six’ Purisma Mountain Vineyard Syrah 2004
Domaine Jo Pithon Quarts de Chaume ‘Les Varennes’ Chenin Blanc – sweet 2003
Domaine Jo Pithon Csavennieres ‘La Croix Picot’ Chenin Blanc 2005
La Spinetta ‘Gallina’ Barbera 2004
Domaine Saint-Damien ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Grenache Blend 2007
Delas ‘Saint-Esprit’ Grenache Blend 2007
Domaine Saint-Damien ‘La louisiane’ Grenache 2005
Domaine Saint-Damien ‘La louisiane’ Grenache 2005
Domaine Grand Nicolet ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Grenache Blend 2006
Pujanza ‘Norte’ Tempranillo 2005
Cobos “Bramare” “Marchiori Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Pax “Obsidian” Syrah 2006
Sean Thackrey “Sirius” Petite Sirah 2004
Brown Estate Chardonnay 2006
Brown Estate “Chiles Valley” Zinfandel 2007
Brown Estate “Chiles Valley” Zinfandel 2002
St. Clement “Progeny Vineyards” Syrah 2002
Nickel and Nickel “Copper Streak Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Araujo “Altagracia” Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Beau Vigne “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Duckhorn Estate Grown Merlot 2004
Sean Thackrey “Orion” Syrah 2004
Sean Thackrey “Orion” Syrah 2005
Sean Thackrey “Orion” Syrah 2006
Doyenne “Grand Ciel Vineyard” Syrah/Viognier 2005
Nicolas Catena Zapata Cab Blend 2004
Catena Zapata ‘Argentino’ Malbec 2004
Charles Smith Wines ‘Skull’ Syrah 2005
Arnot-Roberts ‘Hudson Vinyeard North Block’ Syrah 2005
Hudson Vinyeard Syrah 2005
Spottswoode Estate ‘Lyndenhurst’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Spottswoode Estate ‘Lyndenhurst’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Quixote Petite Sirah 2004
Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Spottswoode Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Pharaoh Moans ‘Westside’ Syrah 2005
Pax ‘Walker Vine Hill Vineyard’ Syrah 2006
Foxen ‘Williamson-Doré Vineyard’ Syrah 2006
Pax ‘ Cuvée Moriah’ Grenache Blend 2005
Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier 2006
T-Vine ‘Brown Vineyard’ Zinfandel 2006
Outpost Zinfandel 2006
Seavy Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
David Fulton Petite Sirah 2005
T-Vine Petite Sirah 2006
Alma Rosa ‘La Encantada Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2006
Drew ‘Gatekeeper Rio Vista Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2007
Beckmen ‘Purisma Red Wine’ Grenache Blend 2005
Stolpman ‘Hilltops Syrah’ Syrah 2006
Sojourn Cellars ‘Sangiacomo Vineyards’ Pinot Noir 2006
K Vinters ‘Roma’ Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Domaine de la Vougeraie ‘Les Evocelles’ Pinot Noir 2005
Turley ‘Rattlesnake Ridge’ Petite Sirah 2006
Caliban ‘The Noble Savage’ Petite Sirah 2004
Ojai Vineyard ‘Santa Maria Valley’ Special Bottling Solomon Hills Vineyard 6 barrels made Chardonnay 2006
Domaine Weinbach ‘Cuvée Ste. Catherine’ Pinot Gris 2005
Domaine Weinbach Grand Cru ‘Schlossberg’ Riesling 2006
Luce La Vite Cuvente IGT 2006
Torres ‘Grans Muralles’ Red Blend 2001
Tinto Pesquera Reserva Tempranillo 2004
Finca Allende ‘Calvario’ Tempranillo 2002
Delille Cellars ‘Chaleur Estate’ Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2005

And for those who didn’t get the reference in the title to T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, here is the full version of the first stanza:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.


  1. Graham
    July 31, 2009


    This is heartbreaking. Are there any that could possibly be salvaged with a recork? (could be a little naive on my part)

    Small consolation, but this is a great piece of writing and I love the connection to Eliot.

  2. Shea
    July 31, 2009

    Thanks Graham – I'm not sure. I guess I'll be opening all of these as soon as possible to see the damage. But I don't feel fair in reviewing them since, even if some survived, I will never know whether their flavours were dulled or changed by the heat.

  3. Mark Ye
    July 31, 2009

    wow this is truly heartbreaking 🙁

    The Ridge, pax, Finca Altimira, Spotteswoode .. i mean this is unbelievable.

    Will you build/buy a cellar going forward?

    yah open and see.. but even if recorked, it won't age at the original timeline..
    I've heard you can freeze wine to suspend aging.. maybe you can mass freeze the survivors?

    again, sorry to hear dude.. i'll bring up a '98 Beaucastel for ya next time i'm up.. (read your review, u seem to like it)

  4. Shea
    July 31, 2009

    It will take me a good five years or so to pay down my student loans, so I don't think I'll be collecting any time soon. I just hope I can keep the blog going as all these wines were supposed to be my supply for the next couple years. Not sure what I'm going to do now.

  5. Edward
    August 1, 2009


    I can feel the pain and am equally amazed that you have such a big closet to fit all these gems! I suspect some of the Aussies reds will still be fine – as long as you get through them soon. Best of luck.

  6. Shea
    August 1, 2009

    Ed, Cheers mate – it was a pretty big closet and I plan to go through these as soon as possible. Hopefully some survived!

  7. Jacky
    August 4, 2009

    In the hopes that many lost stories can converge into one major story that I will eventually look back on in a not-so-negative light…

    Sorry about the news. The sentence above however demands that you have a wake for the wine. I suggest a spectacle that would make Bacchus proud.

  8. Shea
    August 4, 2009

    Hey Jacky, Yes it will be a Bacchanalian of biblical proportions ;).

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