Chapter 325: God of Wine
The Coffee Master’s face hardened. “You can’t do that!”
Lan Jue rose to his feet. “Why not? I’ll go do it now.” He made for the door.
“Fine! I’ll make more Blue Mountain.” The Coffee Master’s voice was urgent.
“Too late! I’m a gentleman of moral integrity. I won’t accept gifts given in contempt.”
Lan Jue cackled.
Clearly he felt torturing the Coffee Master was an enjoyable past-time. Lan Jue was in a much better mood leaving Sunbucks.
The Coffee Master’s words had made a great deal of sense; if age was a factor, he was the most likely candidate. There were also other considerations. The Citadels were likely surprised when, during their bullying, so many high-class Adepts responded. In truth, Lan Jue himself was surprised by the sheer number. With the addition of the Gourmet and Bookworm as Paragons, the Avenue was certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Of course the North, with their storied high-handed nature, were not happy with this situation. This was likely a large part of their decision to hold the Adept tournament. Going would be nothing but helpful, and the patterns would be insightful. There was still a month to prepare.
If he didn’t go, he’d then have to find the descendant the Wine Master was after. The Wine Master was a…. tenacious fellow, so their trip was unlikely to be without incident. So much to do!
Despite the negative line of thought, he didn’t feel upset. Perhaps it was because he’d spent three years wasting time. In these last few months, with everything going on, he felt life to be more enriching. The crippling sadness he’d felt was slowly abating, the busier he became.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Lan Jue’s communicator started to buzz. He lifted his arms and smiled ever so slightly when he saw the number. He answered.
“You’re back?” A familiar voice greeted him.
Lan Jue chortled. “Yeah! Why, you didn’t save me any alcohol?”
The Gourmet’s voice was direct, and without mirth. “Come by.”
Lan Jue, who had been heading for the Underground, changed directions.
He found his way to the small building. When he arrived, he found the door shut and the lights off. However, with closer inspection he could see a screen blocking the light from inside. He pushed the door open, moved the curtain to one side, and entered. 1
He was greeted with the sight of several people, seated on either side of the Gourmet’s pride table. Among them was one of his more surprising recent discoveries – Windbreaker, the Seamstress. Her face bearing a bewitching smile, she waved him over. The Gourmet and the Pauper were on the opposite side. The newly minted paragon smiled warmly at Lan Jue.
The Jewelry Master pulled out a seat and joined them. “You two… so honest, so much integrity. You succeed, and then off you go leaving me in the Wine Master’s warpath. Luckily I had important business, otherwise he’d still be grilling me.”
The Gourmet smirked. “So we were supposed to wait around for him to catch us? You know as well as we do, the Wine Master’s famous temper. But in the end that stingy and crotchety exterior is an act – he’s a good man. At worst, we’ll find ways to compensate him in other areas.”
“Well if you haven’t drunk it yet, let’s take a look,” Lan Jue offered. For the Gourmet to result to outright thievery, it had to be a particularly special acquisition.
The Gourmet answered by rising to his feet, and walking to the back. He returned a moment later, holding a bottle.
It looked very similar to former era French bottles, from the burgundy area. The rich, dark red fluid was filled to the bottle’s shoulders. Clearly, someone had had a taste already.
The label was faded and yellow, but Lan Jue could still make out some of the lettering. At the very top was a coat of arms, but the ink was too worn for him to make out any detail besides an animal on its back legs swinging some sort of flag.
Beneath the image was a string of words: Vosne-Romanée. Lan Jue’s knowledge of fine wines immediately revealed it as a wine’s location – Romanée!
Beneath that was another: Cros Parantoux. It was a smaller area within the larger Vosne-Romanée.
In Ancient France, wines were labeled differently. Bordeaux, for instance, was labeled according to Chataeu. Chateau Lafite Rothschild, or Chateau Letour were examples. Burgundies were labeled by their region, often going from large to small. Romanée was a larger swath, with the second name being a smaller region within it. That was considered the wine’s name.
He read it out loud, his voice rising with every syllable. He could feel his whole body tingling.
There were so few people who spoke the ancient French dialect, but his basic knowledge allowed for a passable translation. What this meant, made Lan Jue’s heart start racing. He quickly snuck a peek beneath the foot of the bottle. That was the name that would confirm it all.
As expected, stamped there in the glass was indeed a name: Henri Jayer!
Lan Jue let out a low gasp. “This is really it. It’s a bottle hand made by the legendary Henri Jayer. No wonder you resorted to thievery, who knew the Wine Master was hiding such a treasure!”
Henri Jayer. The name reverberated like thunder in Lan Jue’s ears. He was one of the three great vintners from ancient France – in fact, he was probably the greatest of them all! All with only a few choice fields.
Two of those fields were considered special, and one was ‘first class’. Richebourg and Cros Parantoux were those special regions. Once his Richebourg wine hit the auction, it was immediately adored, and fetched sky-high prices.
However, those who truly understood Henri Jayer, knew that the richebourg was not his masterwork. No, this master’s true magnum opus hailed from that first-class vineyard, a place they called the Vintner’s Jewel; Cros Parantoux.
The Wine Master always use to say that drinking was an never-ending hobby. He meant that there were always better wines out there. But this one was legendary. This was the wine the Wine Master was really talking about.
It indeed was special. In wine, the year it was produced is important. Only specific wines on specific years were really classified as legendary wines. They were uncontested treasures of the wine world.
For example, the Bordeaux 1941 and 1961 Chateau Letour. The 1941 and ’82 Lafite were also spectacular. There were a dozen perhaps, in all the thousands of years and types of wine.
There were a few burgundies, however, that are lauded as eternally special. No matter the year, this wine is the top of its class. One, was the Romanée-Conti he’d forced the Wine Master in to sharing. The bottle before him now was another.
If that Romanée-Conti was the King of Wines, than the Cros-Parantoux was God. Lan Jue couldn’t compare their flavors, since he’d never before been lucky enough to sample a Cros-Parantoux. What Lan Jue did know was that only roughly three hundred bottles had been produced for that year, and exceedingly small number. The Romanée-Conti, by comparison, was a lo yield but still produced six thousand bottles. That quite clearly underlined how uncommon a discovery like this really was.
For the longest time, Lan Jue had thought Henri Jayer was more legend than man. The likelihood of him ever coming across one of his storied bottles was nonexistent. The demand for this was astronomical, and so few remained. But here it was, made by the hands of a master. A 1993 Henri Jayer Cros-Parantoux.
Lan Jue almost felt dizzy. This thing would fetch enough at auction to buy a battleship. It would still not be enough to do it justice.
“What do you think? Was it worth it?” The Pauper finally chimed in, his face split in a wily smile. “I’ll tell you, I had to call on every ounce of willpower when nabbing this thing not to steal a swig or two!”
Lan Jue shot him a glance. “Oh this was worth it. This is like a glimpse of heaven.”
The Pauper took an appreciative gulp. “Well we’re all here, Gourmet. I say it’s time to start. You know how hard its been to wait!”
The Gourmet nodded. “People usually drink at night. The Wine Master wont expect anything if we’re missing during the day.”
“No! You can’t open it!” Lan Jue blurted out.
“Why?” The Pauper asked, incredulously.
Lan Jue sighed. “This is all so sudden. I had coffee this morning.”
The Pauper’s face suffered an irritated tick. “What coffee? Ugh, that taste wont be gone for a whole day.”
“tomorrow,” Lan Jue offered. “I’ll come back tomorrow morning, and we’ll enjoy the spoils of our misadventures.”
The Gourmet and the Pauper exchanged a glance. They each swallowed again, this time trying to choke down their regret. Together, they sighed. “Alright.”
The Seamstress finally let out a small laugh. “Look at you guys, all afraid of backbiting like little thieves. Relax, I wont drink your precious grape juice. On another note, Jewelry Master, what are your plans for the Star Alliance? The Clairvoyant put it in your hands, and that means you lead the way.”