Nearly a decade later than some people, I last night got to watch Tony Soprano, the Mafioso anti-hero of the great TV series The Sopranos, stealing and then drinking Château Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse de Lalande 1986. The episode was first aired in 2006 (effectively presenting the wine as a nice mature 20-year-old), but I’ve been a bit slow in catching up to this great series (thanks for the DVD loan, Werner). Back then, I see by googling, the tale got quite a bit of online comment from wine aficionados.
The episode deals with it all rather deliciously and knowingly, and there’s plenty of stuff – including some digs at the boys – to make Bordeaux-savvy viewers smile smugly. When Tony and his appalling nephew Christopher spot some bikers breaking into a liquor store, Tony knows immediately it must be good wine: “It’s packed in wooden boxes!”
In fact Tony is clearly keen on wine – presumably it’s as much a part of his Italianesque culture as are less attractive parts of his lifestyle – and he’s very happy to have his share of the ten cases of Pichon-Lalande. We see him drinking it in various places, including his favourite restaurant with good glasses, at home from what look like rather inappropriate ones (he should really have organised to divert some Riedels or Zaltos his way), and from no glasses at all as he sits on a sidewalk with Chris and they happily take turns in swigging from the bottle.
Actually I hope for his sake that Tony got through his share pretty quickly, as the way he stores the bottles – on racks in the basement of his house, alongside the washing machine, drier etc – is not designed to promote the continued longevity of a fine Bordeaux from a good vintage as it enters its third decade.
What did nephew Christopher do with his? Well, if Tony can occasionally present offer a bit of charm and complexity to offset his violent, murderous criminality, Christopher continues to be someone relentlessly, vulgarly evil, with no redeeming features that I can discern – even when it comes to drinking. He’s also not quite as sharp as he appears: he proudly tells Tony that he managed to sell all five of his cases for $300. I wish he’d sold them to me.