PETE Jones is one hell of an understanding father.
When he woke up last Saturday morning to discover that his daughter and her friends had imbibed his most treasured bottle of wine during a party, he didn’t hit the roof.
Rather, he blamed himself for leaving the bottle of Petrus, 1999 vintage, in plain view with a bunch of teenagers in the house.
“I am just gutted that after saving it for 17 years, I didn’t even get to taste it,” he told The Olive Press, shaking his head. “And the tragic thing is, neither did they, well not properly. By all accounts it was used to make sangria or tinto de verano”.
He refers to the typically Spanish summer drink of red wine mixed with casera or lemon fanta and poured over ice as a refreshing tipple.
Usually the cheapest red wine is used, often from a carton.
The British father, 56, who has lived in Madrid for more than 20 years, had gone out for the evening to allow his youngest daughter Lara, 19, to host a party for her friends at home near the Fuente del Berro park.
“They are all a sensible bunch and were at school together so this was a reunion because many were back in the city after the end of their first year at university,” said the Welsh restaurateur behind The Dough Thrower in Cardiff.
During the evening, Lara texted her father to insist he come home earlier than planned as “all her friends wanted to see me”, Jones said.
“I got home and the party was in full swing, I had a drink with them, did some embarrassing dancing in the kitchen, then headed up to bed to leave them to it.”
He also, stupidly, left the bottle from Bordeaux estate Château Pétrus in the fridge.
The famous wine maker only produces about 30,000 bottles of wine a year, and its product is consistently ranked among the most expensive in the world. The 1999 vintage can be currently sourced from vintners with a price tag between €2,500 – €3,000
“I don’t know why it was there really,” he admitted. “It used to be hidden away in the cellar, but I got it out recently to show a friend, showing off that I was waiting for the right occasion to open it. And I hadn’t got round to putting it back.”
The story of how he came to have the bottle is a good one. “It was Christmas Eve in 2004 and I suddenly realised that I hadn’t got potatoes so dashed out to this very expensive gourmet vegetable shop that was still open nearby,” Jones recalled.
“There was a long queue and when I got to the front on a whim I asked the chap behind the till to add a bottle of wine from the top shelf behind his head. I couldn’t see the price tag but thought it would be something special to drink at Christmas.”
“The man looked pleased as punch over the purchase and then added it up and I gave him my card. It was only when I looked at the receipt that I realised the potatoes cost €1,20 something and the wine was over a grand. But everyone was waiting in line behind me and I felt too embarrassed to say anything,” he confessed.
“My wife, Silv, was furious of course but I explained it away by insisting it was a vintage from the year of our eldest daughter’s birth and so we could keep it to drink with her on a special occasion,” he said.
But after 17 years, no occasion had yet seemed quite special enough.
This meant he also had to break the news to Sele, who is now 21, that her birthday vintage had been opened without her. “She was very understanding and did her best to mollify her little sister, who has been distraught about it.”
Jones discovered the bottle was not in the fridge on Saturday morning, just after daughter Lara had already left to catch a flight to visit family in Germany.
He sent her a casual text asking if perhaps she had seen the Petrus somewhere as he couldn’t locate it.
“I had this creeping suspicion that it had been drunk but was hoping I had hidden it somewhere and just forgotten where,” he admitted.
She wrote back that she hoped it wasn’t expensive as maybe her friends had opened it. He ran to the bottle bank near their home to check as Lara, a diligent daughter, had cleaned up well after the party and disposed of the recyclables.
“There it was; a dusty old Petrus lying empty on top of all the beer bottles,” bemoaned Jones.
“My daughter didn’t believe me when I told her how much it was actually worth. She thought I was pulling her leg. Then she cried a lot and asked if I could ever forgive her.”
He posted about the incident on Twitter and even got world renowned chef Michel Roux wading in: “Hahaaaa serves you right for leaving the cellar door open.”
“Yes, I’ve learnt my lesson,” said Jones.
READ MORE: Salud! What makes Spanish wine so special?