Super Bowl: Game Tops Wines in a Close One

[ed. everything RIGHT with the Super Bowl in one image]
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For the third year in a row the Super Bowl presented a pretty good football game that managed to outshine the wine selections. We usually expect the wine selections for a Super Bowl to be slightly more entertaining than the game. The whole mishpokhe surrounding the super2010wrong.jpggame is far too familiar to expect anything other than an ordinary game, ordinary food and and ordinary wine menu. Mrs. IGTY made sure the cioppino was exceptional and Mr. IGTY did his best to make sure we opened some big hitters. Dotoré ensured swift justice prevailed. [ed. everything WRONG with the Super Bowl in one image]
This year we hoped for more from the wines and the teams. Both featured crowd favorites so all signals pointed to a decent afternoon. Now more about everything RIGHT with the Super Bowl…this time…
rochRBchard98WEB.jpg1998 Rochioli River Block Chardonnay $??: Oak on the nose and in the mouth right away, quickly joined by butterscotch flavors reminiscent of the best aged white Burgundies [ed. a 1979 Domaine Leflaive Chassagne Montrachet came to mind]. Still young showing tannins but rich and refined. Quite Burgundian moreso than the Pinot Noir wines from Rochioli. The thought crosses the mind that perhaps Rochioli produces more spectacular and approachable Chardonnay than Pinot Noir. Beautiful. Side note: Rochioli wines are simply out of range price-wise for anyone but the most fervent and fevered collectors. We are lucky to have enough back logged to keep rendering opinions on whether the wines at least deserve the hype if not the price. This one sure did. Anytime a California Chardonnay recalls a Grand Cru Burgundy it is notable. But if I was spending $160 on a Chardonnay it would be a 20 year old Burgundy. 14%
Foxen07SSVPinotNoirFcweb.jpg2003 Foxen Sea Smoke Pinot Noir $100+: The game chugs along and we have all winners except the lone loser so the host pops this rare bottle (230 cases, first vintage)>. Foxen was instrumental in helping Sea Smoke establish itself and in return Foxen receives the only outside allocation of Sea Smoke juice on an annual basis. And what do they do with it? They make a Pinot Noir without the fussy attention that strips Sea Smoke the label of character and terroir; a strategy that works very well to please a strong following of trophy hunters. Of course, all Sea Smoke wines are anointed by the Wine Speculator. In fact, Sea Smoke the label nd Foxen’s version appear to be quite different. This bottle is a monster wine that tastes like Bourbon. The wine is lean and rich. It has the sweet aroma and flavors of sour mash whiskey. File it under the growing file named “just-cuz-it-says-Pinot-don’t-mean-it-is”! As Mouse might say, a great young Chateuaneuf du Pape! 14.%
WSrochRB00WEB.jpg2000 Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Pinot Noir $fuggedaboudid: Sharp,lean with high tone fruit. Pretty serious for Williams Selyem. Dark fruit with sweet beet flavors. Intense and integrated nicely. Not your typical W-S. Like it a lot. 14.3%
esmoninrucho96WEB.jpg1996 Esmonin Ruchotte-Chambertin Grand Cru $50 (release price): This is a Grand Cru vineyard in a very good year that should produce a fantastic example of French Pinot Noir at its top. Except it sucked. Unfortunately, this cohort of 95-96 Esmonin bottles, all purchased at the same time, have pretty much sucked. This one is kind of pretty and very delicate when opened, only to immediately fall into a psychotic state faster than Amy Winehouse slipping off a stage. Or Sarah Palin talking foreign policy. Or Larry Kudlow calling the end of the recession. But we regress. The fruit disappeared and the woody flavors emerged. Totally out of whack. Never again for this producer. 13.5%
lato03WEB.jpg2003 Paul Lato Duende Gold Coast Pinot Noir $50: Second vintage of the winemaker now widely regarded as the top guy in the Central Coast. Why? He makes wines that, at least in his earliest vintages, were lighter in alcohol and more restrained in style. This may be changing in later vintages but not it was still the case in 2003. This is the antithesis of the Foxen wine. Gentle, beautifully balanced, light weight. Perfect in many ways. Hard to find a flaw. Parker ratings have steadily climbed up one point a year since this bottle. Honestly, it is embarrassing to watch the world’s most widely read taster try to scramble to catch up with what was obvious to tasters unburdened with the weight of supreme authority who first came across Paul Lato, and his 75 cases of first release, humble and much ignored, wines at the Wine Cask 2004 tasting. Lato’s skill was obvious. His light handed style stood in stark contrast to the fruit bombs that littered the adjacent tables throughout. tBoW is sitting on a bunch of Syrahs from 2005 and 2006 which Parker rated very highly; higher than the PNs which suggests a somewhat desperate maneuver to stake out “discovery” territory for the obvious darling of the scene…Parker having missed the first Lato go round. When Parker likes your wines it maybe good for sales (which is always good for wineries) but it is generally the bacio del morte for tBoW readers.
Some jaundiced words on Wine Spectator ratings….tBoW read recently that a Parker 93 is now considered ordinary and only wines rated 95 and higher deserve the attention of the serious trophy wine hunter. Is this a kind of inflation? It takes more points than ever to fire the imaginations of the “look-what-I-got” crew. Such folly is inevitable when a “100 point” scale that starts at 93 and ends at 100 is only 7 points. The “hunnerd” part is just for all those wonderful people out there in the dark!
The science behind the 100 point rating scale is explained here in this fabulous clip from Gloria the Wine Critic.

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