Tuesday, June 10, 2008
In 1969 I was a young Cubs fan. Games were broadcast from Wrigley Field on Channel 9 with memorable sponsors such as Hamms Beer, Harris Bank & Trust, Wrigley's (of course) and a handful of other Chicago institutions. When I couldn't watch the game, Jack Brickhouse provided the soothing voice I listened to for the hours in which the game unfolded. Baseball was my religion and Wrigley Field was my temple.
I watched a lot of games that year, and felt as if the intensity of my fandom could help my Cubbies cinch the National League pennant. They would win and I'd walk on air for an hour, they would lose and I was no fun to be around. Their rise seemed fated - they had a comfortable, multi-game lead going into the month of August. Ohh, sure there was some young guy named Tom Seaver who was making news with the New York Mets, but they were in last place going into August, and I'd scratched them off the list of possible threats to my Cubbies. Fans of the game know the rest - the Cubbies slipped, Seaver didn't, and the "Miracle Mets" are a part of baseball history.
Now Tom Seaver is making history again. At the ripe age of 63 he's pitching the first release of his own wine label using grapes from his own vineyard located in a prestigious sub-Napa appelation. I'm pleased to see him getting into wine, but I don't plan to carry it in my shop. It's not because of his $65 price tag. And it's not because it's from Napa and I focus on wines of the exciting Central Coast. It's because, as any self-respecting sports fan knows, you never let go of a good grudge.
My Grudge Wines
Want good Bordeaux blends without the price of a Napa Cab? Check these out. Paso Robles has always been known for it's Bordeaux wines, and now the Happy Canyon AVA is giving it a run for its money as well. Try these great producers and let me know what you think:
- Buttonwood Farm, 2000 Trevin, Bordeaux Blend, $30. The Bordeaux vines in Eastern Santa Ynez Valley grow in an area typified by warm days and cool nights. This wine is the premium wine from Buttonwood, and with 8 years of bottle age is ready to drink tonight! Forget about cellaring, we've done it for you.
- Happy Canyon, 2003 Piocho (Bordeaux Blend), $38. Happy Canyon is the newest area to apply for AVA status in Santa Barbara County. It is the farthest East, so the cooling Pacific breeze that makes most of the County so good for Pinot and Chardonnay, and so inappropriate for Bordeaux varietals, is thorougly warmed by the time it gets to Happy Canyon. Though not cheap, this is a good value in Bordeaux blends! Doug Margerum, winemaker.
- Cass Winery, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles), $42. A blend with 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the miserly 750 cases of this wine produced by Steve Cass will sell through quickly. Look for classic essence of Cabernet, with ripe berry, tobacco, pencil shavings and cigar box, but made more complex by its blending partners that bring a bigger nose and softer mouthfeel. 90 points, Wine Enthusiast
- Barrack 2005 "Brand" Bordeaux Blend, $42. Deeply-colored blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot taking the dominant role. Offers deep scents of plums, cassis, licorice, dark earth, toasty oak, and cedar forest. The tannins the wine will improve with four to five years of bottle age though you will never regret opening a bottle. While not quite as dark and concentrated as the 2004, the 2005 offers an elegant expression of Merlot. The wine has a very fine nose with hints of blackberry, plum, oak wood, and currants. On the palate it is very diverse from front to back jammy fruit, hints of espresso, herbs, and tobacco. Only 200 cases produced!
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