Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pilgramage to the Holy Land

Those of you who aren't devotees of the temples of Global Mass Consumerism (heathen infidels! - may you burn in the 7th layer of hell for all eternity!) may not be aware that Costco (may their beneficence always shine on us!) has opened a new church store here in Chico. But it's true; behind the old Costco stands a gleaming new temple to mass consumption.

As a devoted believer, I hastened to pay homage at my first opportunity. Ostensibly, I went to worship at the printer cartridge aisle, but I knew I couldn't resist taking a peek at their new wine selection while I was there.

The parking was crazy as ever; worse in fact, now that there was a large open area in front of the doors with criss-crossing traffic and people dropping off worshipers. You'd think that people going to worship would be more charitable to their fellows, but I guess Global Consumerism isn't a very charitable god. The ushers at the door checked my Costco believer card, but my eyes were already focused on the grandeur beyond.

As befits any temple or church, I was in awe the moment I entered. I felt that I had truly entered a holy place. A phalanx of HDTVs greeted me as I made my way, slack-jawed in wonder, into the cavernous temple. Huge racks of consumer products soared three stories into the air, and disappeared into the dim distance. Two huge refrigeration units towered at the far end of the store like twin white Kaabas, chilling frozen pizzas and mozzarella cheese. Verily, this was a true consumer mecca.

I knelt in humility and prayed that my credit limit was worthy of such riches.

I paid my perfunctory respects to the print cartridge aisle (ten times as many cartridges as before, Consumerism be praised!), and then I spotted the wine aisle.

I almost trembled with reverence and anticipation as I approached.

It was huge; nearly twice as long as the old wine case and taller. And the wine selection! I fell to the floor and prostrated myself before riches I never thought I would ever have the honor to see in person. I had made it, it was becoming clear, to the Promised Land.

Here’s just a partial list of the wonders revealed before my eyes:

Dominus 2003 - $100
Opus One 2003 - $130
Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2004 - $159
Chateau d’Yquem 2003 - $159 (375ml)
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2004 - $165
Chateau Margaux 2004 - $166
Penfolds Grange 2002 - $200
Clarendon Hills Astralis 2004 - $250

Now, Costco has always had a few bottles of high end wines; a couple of bottles of Chateau Haut-Brion ($158) here, a few bottles of Dom Perignon there. But two full cases of Clarendon Hills Astralis? That represented $6000 of wine sitting right in front of me! I could literally reach out and touch a dozen of the most highly-acclaimed wines on the planet.

Truly I must have died and gone to Heaven, where world-class wines flow like milk and honey.

But then a heretical thought entered my mind: Who the hell in Chico is going to buy all this premium juice? Are there really enough rich, snotty Chicoans to buy up 30 bottles of Chateau d’Yquem at $159 a pop?

Counting up the number of bottles in stock for just the wines listed above, I came up with a total retail value of over $26,000! And that’s just the ones I chose to list. There were dozens of other pricey wines on the racks as well.

Admittedly, most of these are “good” prices for these wines. 2004 Mouton Rothschild typically goes for between $190 and $250 a bottle. So $160 is a pretty darn good deal (in as much as $160 could ever be a good deal for a bottle of spoiled grape juice).

I'm just not sure that there are enough people in this podunk valley town to buy all this pricey vino. And truth to be told, as much as I love wine, and as much as I am a true devotee of the Church of Costco, these wonderful, sacred, holy wines were too rich for my own wallet. I was not worthy of such bountiful riches, and CapitalOne knows it.

In the end, my tithe was limited to a bottle of 2005 Yangarra Estates McClaren Yale Shiraz ($18.69) and a bottle of 2005 Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($9.59) - testament to the sorry state of my financial soul.

I know the gods of Global Consumerism are disappointed in me, and I promise to devote my days and nights and weekends to working tirelessly to become worthy of such fine goods. Praise be!

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