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The Wine Super Villain Strikes

250px-Luthor_bright.pngSeems like every few months the news carries the story of some wine theft. Whether it's a mentally ill woman stealing wine from a gas station mini mart, or high profile thefts of bottles worth thousands of dollars, the concept is pretty well understood. Sneak in or break in, grab some bottles, and make a run for it.

Given how common wine theft is, I'm not sure whether it's the sign of a mastermind or a madman when someone steals the grapes before they're even made into wine.

Maybe what we're dealing with here is a wine Super Villain -- some sort of hybrid between Michel Rolland, Magneto, and Dr. Evil -- a guy that can pull grapes off the vine with his mind, levitate them into a tank, and micro-oxygenate them while cackling wildly about how tannin management is the key to world domination. I can totally imagine that.

We know he must have some super powers, because stealing 2000 pounds of ripe Mourvedre even under the cover of the night is pretty difficult to do without getting caught. You gotta back up a truck and fill a hell of a lot of plastic tubs with grapes. And you gotta do it without ruining the grapes, which would, of course, ruin your master plan.

Like most super villains, however, this one seems not to have counted on the small, small world that is Washington state wine. The number of people who make Mourvedre from Washington is pretty small, as are the number of people that might be in the market to buy the grapes, if that were the intention of the thieves. They won't even be as easy to get rid of (or make wine with) as, say, a world famous painting, which probably has a lot more private, clandestine buyers than this small parcel of Mourvedre.

I'm quite sorry to hear that Syncline Cellars won't be getting the grapes they planned on, because their wines are pretty great, and they're a tiny little producer who doesn't make a lot of wine. And I'm sure the grower could have used that revenue in tough times.

But who knows, maybe the grapes will be discovered mid-ferment somewhere and all will not be lost. My bet: perpetrators will be caught either within the month or when the wine they make with it hits the market.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.