Notes On a Scorecard: New vs Old World = USC vs UCLA?

uscuclaWEBMarch Madness is everywhere. tBoW is on holiday and waiting to tee off once it stops storming. The Bruins and Trojans are looking for coaches. Turmoil is everywhere. We have tasted several very interesting wines but before we report on those there are a few other matters worth referencing.

Alan Malamud, aka Mud, is our muse today. He was the other great LA sportswriter after his contemporary Jim Murray who was the most honored and deserving.

the Mud

the Mud

Murray was the national figure who dominated LA sports writing. My favorite Murray line which, was about golf, went something like this: “nobody wins a US Open. Somebody loses it.” This is the pickle in which UCLA finds itself today. Ben Howland who won twice as many games as he lost will be remembered for losing too many BIG games. Even Dotoré – who is as big a Bruin homer as Uncle Fred and Largenex – has shared the piece on how and when Howland’s shine began dullen [ed. cute, making up words again].

Pulitzer winner

Pulitzer winner

At the same time the Bruin faithful are pining over a new coach, across town the USC fan base is waiting for Pat Haden – USC Athletic Director – to name our new coach. The choices will say all that needs to be said about the two programs. Will UCLA prove to be the national top 3 legacy program the fans cherish? Will USC prove to be the stepchild in a Powder Blue city that will never be on par with the Pauley Peoples?

Have I tested your wine patience long enough?

Think of USC like the Torrontes varietal: a persistent winner that shows well no matter what winemaker is at the helm. Think of UCLA as a trophy wine whose glory days are long past.

Torrontes cannot catch a break among the wine glitterati. Nobody even scores Torrontes wines. Yet producer after producer handles the grape very nicely as these wines continue to prove durable, pleasing and winning when placed on a neutral court. Heitz was once the king of Napa Cabs. Anyone and everyone had to have a bottle or three. Heitz Marthas Vineyard was THE MOST COLLECTIBLE Cabernet in the New World. Today Heitz is a footnote. The challenge UCLA hoops faces is much larger than the one faced by USC’s basketball program. Bruin fans live in the past. Their program was outpaced decades ago by North Carolina, Kansas and Syracuse. Only the hard core subscribers aging fast as the label fades into history continue to notice. Pauley Pavilion has a new facade. But the Galen Center is still a better arena. The Trojans only have to find someone with a winning record and basketball smarts to please its fan base. UCLA has to top Georgetown, Michigan and Gonzaga [ed. Gonzaga, really].

dosfincastorrontes2011CROPW2011 Carlo Basso Dos Fincas Torrontes $13: Imported by Southern Wine Group of Bend Oregon. This screw top bottle is filled with peaches and pears with acid back. Spicy. Balance is there. Works wonderfully with all kinds of rich foods. Produced in the high altitude region of Salta which hot, dry and arid. SWG has an outstanding portfolio of New World wines. U20!! 13%

TerrazasTorrontes2011WEB2011 Terrezas Reserva Torrontes $12: Another screw top; this one bought at Costco on Kauai. Richer than the Dos Fincas product. First time we have seen the Riserva designation on the humble Torrontes. Seems to be warranted. More bright acidic fruity and this time oily fruit. Also from Salta which seems to be the ideal growing region for the varietal. Remember – look for Salta wineries. It just seems to be very difficult to make a bad version. Wine makers either go fruit or acid dominant. Both are delightful. U20 winner. 13.5%

phi_09WEB2009 Tenuta Vitalonga Phi $30: This is the coach UCLA SHOULD hire. But they won’t because it lacks the cache. A most unusual blend of Montepulciano and Cabernet Franc. Dotoré and I agree this is how wines form Paso Robles should taste. Some do – see Alata Colina – but in heavier syrup. This wine is on the thick side of medium weight. The blend brings exotic flavors. tBoW’s notes are lacking on how the wine tasted so we borrowed these from “anonymous” on cellartracker: “delicious wine with purple fruits, violets, iodine, herbs and ink.” We would only add the wine was unusual, special and very tasty. 13.5%

jaume_CdP09labelWEB2009 Alain Jaume Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape $100. This is the coach UCLA will want to hire. Took 45 minutes to open. Starts out lean and hard then rounds out. 70% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre. Pricey and very good. Do not be surprised if USC goes deep in the pocket to gran this one for the “Trojan family.”15.5%

The moves the two campuses make are worth watching. This will be Pat Haden’s first big decision. Firing Mike Garrett and Kevin O’Neil had to happen. These were reactive decisions that are easy to make compared to proactive ones. Dan Guerrero is in the same position with the firing of Boring Ben. Guerrero gained needed kudos by hiring Jim Mora who covered up his Neuheisel gaff. Haden will face his own big decision next year should Lane Kiffin flop again.

In the meantime we can only imagine what the late and great deans of LA sports writing might have said. We know this…it sure would beat Plaschke.


  1. Wavatar
    doc says:

    I think Bacchus has gone the Leonard Tose route.
    Rarely, if ever, have we been subjected to a raving filled with so many typos and so much misinformation. To wit:
    –Mike Garret (where’s the other “t”)
    –Dave Guerrero? I believe it’s Dan.
    –USC Basketball “a persistent winner”? Of what? OK, they’ve got a nice arena and occasionally are capable of an upset win. But this is, was, and will continue to be a second-rate program, not only a distant cousin to it’s football program, but an afterthought to its neighbors to the West. National titles, conference titles, tournament wins, players successful in the NBA–you name it–by any criteria the Bruins are the superior program. Nothing but wah-wah from the Toejam b-ballers.
    And, while were at it….
    reviews of Costco Torrentes? I can’t wait to rush out to get some! What’s next, a puff piece on Bevmo? Accolades for Total Bore?
    Who goofed? I’ve got to know.

    • Wavatar
      Bacchus says:

      tBoW attributes detestable typos to time lag and excessive showers. Anyone who quotes Jim Healy so skillfully earns one of my favorite quotables – She’s a lovely lady and my apologies to her. Shall share with annoying goof partner who took a beating yesterday and still wakened with marked aggressive tone. Keep in mind Underground Wineletter LOVES Costco. New wine store in Princeville is Princeville Wine Market operated by one Daniel Braun. Shall make repentant visit today.

  2. Wavatar
    doc says:

    What is a goof partner?
    Is Jim Hearn related to Chick Healy?
    I worry about you.

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