Chasing Booker

I joined Booker’s wine club about a year ago and so far I hadn’t received a single bottle of vino. Here’s what happened. On a trip to Paso in June 2010 I fell head over heels for Booker White, a luscious roussane blend fermented in a hip Euro concrete tank. Golden in color, it drinks like pure nectar.

So I signed up. A month later they said I could buy wine online within a 48 hour window of a special date. Only my password didn’t work. I called vintner Eric Jensen and he said he would let me buy two bottles of white after that date, “Call Addy, she’ll fix it.” She did but when I brought up the two bottles she said no. I whined. “But Eric said…” Still it was no.

I let it go. But I started asking around in Paso about Booker. I heard everything from, “His tasting notes are bogus, they’re cut-and-paste from some other winery,” to “He just doesn’t make enough wine.” I started to suspect the latter because just after I’d written about his tasting room for the magazine he told me it was closed. Aw, man!

Four weeks ago I got an email: “Booker wine club shipment! Coming in May.” Awesome. I was planning a trip up there so I called to find out if I could pick it up and save myself $15 shipping. “Uh. OK. Email Eric before noon that day. Then call us in the afternoon.” I email and get Eric who tells me to call Addy again, “She might have some bottles ready. We’re bottling and waxing.” Wait. Waxing? Beauty thing? No. Sealing the tops. OK. I call Saturday. Twice. No answer. I call Sunday. No answer.

At this point I’m so irritated I decide to drive over to the tasting room. Gate’s locked. I call again. No answer. So I head a few hundred feet down Anderson road to Caliza and get in vintner Carl Bowker’s face. “Hey, what’s the dealio with Booker?” He stares up with those big eyes behind some high tech spectacles so nerdy he looks like Jim Carrey playing a vintner. “You’re the second person to ask this weekend. I had some folks in yesterday and they had the same problem so I offered to call the cell phone number and Booker said they were still waxing. ‘So what do I tell people? Please, guys. Don’t put me in the middle!’”

Those other wine club members didn’t get their bottles either. So we’re all frustrated. Only one thing to do. Taste Carl’s wine. The first one he pours is a white Rhone blend. It’s fantastic. Great bouquet and flavors of honey. There’s something about the roussanes around here. And Carl’s is only $25 while Booker charges $40. Sold. “Hey, Booker! You’re the high maintenance boyfriend who always says he’s gonna call and then doesn’t. Fergit you. I’m dating Caliza now.”—Anne Valdespino



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