Mr. X was a fanatic for Rochioli Pinot Noir. He was on their mailing list. I had never heard of a wine mailing list.
A mailing list allows a winery to sell directly to wine drinkers. In practice it is a way to cultivate a sense of exclusivity. Sometimes you have to wait to get on the list. Once you do, you are presented a regular allocation of specific and theoretically limited items. If you decline to purchase them one time you might get kicked off the list! Or demoted.
All of this can seem justified if the wines in question are truly great and limited. But the use of mailing lists proliferated in the 90s and there were plenty of questionable uses of this sales tactic. A mailing list often was an arbitrary way to conjure the illusion of scarcity.
I would eventually visit Rochioli’s tasting room. It was a stiff impersonal experience. The vineyard was pretty.
The basic Rochioli wines are lackluster. In particular the Sauvignon Blanc was typically raging with sulfury thiols and mercaptans – indications of under ripe phenolics. The regular Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were merely decent. East Block and West Block Pinot Noir was what made Rochioli’s reputation. These were mailing list bait. Thick and perfumed, complex. The flavors and aromas were spiced and warm, like a forest made out of tea.
A little farther down the road there is a great little winery called Joseph Swan. I’d buy that.