Champs of Sports ::: Champs of Wine

Dom Moulin Aux Moines

Domaine Moulin Aux Moines

Baseball fever is here. 100 point scales for ratings wines are dumb. Can these claims be related? YES. Baseball is dreary for 162 games then suddenly it is wonderful to watch. Most wines are bad. Until you hit on one that you know will be good but it is, in fact, remarkable. Why slog through the long hot summer when you can tune in to exciting play on the diamond come October? Why slog through plonk upon plonk from TJs or Costco – and they are the best of the worst – when every bottle of wine can be like watching at least a divisional playoff game?

BUT… does the best of every region offer the same quality and excitement? We have answers.

Forget wine’s 100 point scale for “scoring” wines. It is more useful and far more interesting – not to mention more defensible methodologically – to rank regions/varietals.

RIP RnR Animal

RIP RnR Animal

Then drill down to vineyards, vintages, wineries and winemakers. Suppose you were asked to rank playoff series in sports. The playoffs are when the greatest games are played. Athletes are at their finest. As they say “the cream rises to the top.” However, is it possible one sporting form produces more thrills than another? But how would you rank different sports in terms of their likelihood to produce the most electrifying, captivating and enduring achievements, greatest thrills, most memorable experiences?

Let’s ask the same thing about wine regions and wine styles. Which regions consistently produce the most electrifying wines, the greatest thrills, the most memorable experiences. Tinkaboudid. If we try this we can reduce the RISK OF BEING SLAVES TO PLONK.

5 PROFESSIONAL SPORTS – football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer.

5 WINES REGIONS AND THEIR PRINCIPAL VARIETALS – Germany (Riesling), Burgundy (Pinot Noir), Bordeaux (Cab blends), Piedmont (Barolo)/Tuscany (Sangio), and Napa (Cab).


The comments apply to the sports and the wines. Baseball and the best Burgundies produce the purest thrills for hedonistic consumption. babe-ruth-crownWEBIs it ironic or essential that both also produce the dullest products that dim the senses and leaves one scratching her head how can the same thing that is so transportative [ed. I think he means transformative] also be so defeating? Baseball is watching a chess match on dirt and grass. The nuances are endless much like great Burg. Mistakes turn into runs turning victory into tragedy almost without fail. The complexity difference is in maximum effect with playoff baseball and Burgundy. Mistakes turn into points in other sports but not with so much ennui as in baseball and Burgundy. When everything works well the reward builds to supreme satisfaction in a slow grind of complexity. can be almost as turgid as Baseball during the regular season when the pros dog it for 3 quarters. Half as many games would be welcome respite. However, the playoffs capture everything great about hoops. Running, gunning, with the most spectacular moves coming in bunches. Barolo and Tuscan wines at their best always surprise with their finesse and truth, which some think is terroir. Tradition plays big in Barolo and with the best teams – Lakers, Celtics, Bulls; and producers – Giacosa, Roagna, Ornellaia, Sassicaia. Each has occupied primary roles for decades.

Soccer goes ahead of Football because Soccer is closer to Burgundy and Barolo than it is to the Cabernet sports which would include Football.

Pele the original!

Pele the original!

Where Football is often predictable, Soccer is just as often surprising. Where Football is a game of inches Soccer is a game of moments. Riesling from Germany can be somewhat predictable with its high acid balanced by lush fruit. However, you would never mistake a Txakolina (high acid) for a Mösel wine (acid and fruit). Where German Riesling excels is this. Mösel wines at their best hit spots on the palate and in the heart than might have been untouched for decades. A great Mösel is like a great bicycle kick. This can happen in Soccer when Uruguay returns to the World Cup. Both Mösel and Soccer can be somewhat predictable. Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy surprise no one when they get to the quarters. The Patriots will ride Tom Brady until he can no longer be ridden. Like the Broncos rode Elway. Like Brazil rode Pele.

Napa Cabernets encourage newcomer upstarts as is the game with franchise Football. When Hockey expanded it did so without much planning. Suddenly there was a team in San Jose and another in Phoenix.

football + hockey = lacrosse

football + hockey = lacrosse

New trophy Cabs appear annually in Napa. All you need is a name winemaker, some over the top fruit, and a ton of $$$. But do they thrill in the glass? Is there another pro sport as grindingly despite over-the-top fanfare than the NFL product? We argue it is not possible for Cabernet to be more than a simple one dimensional wine. That is the meat of the varietal. Does not matter whether the Cab blend comes from France or the Napa Valley. The moves Gretzky or Messier could make are nonetheless limited by the rink size and the goal. Hockey is about passion and grit. And violence. Napa Cabs are flashy. They are the enforcers of wine. The way Cabs pound your palate reminds us of Marty McSorley. Think of the famous line “I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out.” Yeah. Basketball and Soccer offer much more in their structure and execution than Football and Hockey. And Burgundy does it the best.

RotyMarsannay2010WEB2010 Joseph Roty Marsannay $37: Burgundy with the barnyard nose. Out of the bottle the wine is a bit astringent. Cherry fruit emerges. The acid gets tempered by the fruit. IGTY who has a baseball palate with a hockey mind said “I like that.” Earth with cherries. One wine captures the two strains of Burgundy Pinot Noir. The fruit penetrates the soil like a bud breaking out on the vine. Then it’s in our mouths. This is great and memorable wine. 13%

ileccio06WEB2006 Tenuta Oliveto Rosso di Toscano iL Leccio $20: This is the low end entry level wine form a premium Tuscan house. Think of the rookies coming into the NBA that nobody knows much about then they burn it up. That is Tuscany. More flavors of the earth. No musk means no brett. This is dark dark cacao. At this price it should be in Costco except it has too much character, too far off the grid. This kills the Napa Cabs… except for the trophy factor! trhese are the hardest wines to love because they are hardest to find. Everyone is, it seems, is a TAFI wine. Tuscans make wines to drink now… with dinner! Bravo! 13.5%

lynchbages89WEB1989 Lynch Bages Pauillac $190: One would be hard pressed to find a better representative of Bordeaux pedigree. These wines are supposed to be aged despite Parker’s insistence that they be made ready to drink earlier than 20 years. Deep reed brick color. Nose is classic cedar box, texture is creamy, flavors is dry – not dried – fruit. Cabernet dumbs these wines down. The Merlot wines form the region are preferred. Terrible value unless you hunt trophies. 12.5%

conternobarolo89WEB1989 Giacomo Conterno Barolo $dont’ask: This wine was old as the Pauillac yet it needed 90 minutes to open while the Pauillac faded quickly. Conterno is one of the most revered producers in Barolo. The color was red brown. The nose was fruit cake, dense, thick, but the appearance was clear, light weight. When it opens we get truffles, old dowager, graham crackers and peanut butter. Sachertorte says the Old ‘Un of the Young ‘Uns. Nothing in a bottle tastes like this, throws you back to Christmas in Nuremberg with a speed of light return to the present.

hoffmansimonWEB1998 Hoffmann-Simon Köwericher Laurentiuslay Riesling Spatlese $xx: Only Germans wines have labels with six words for the producer-village-vineyard-varietal-ripeness. Like reading Goethe. Never heard of this wine/producer/vineyard. This is typical of our knowledge of Riesling in Germany. All we know one can hit on something very special. This was one. Golden canary yellow, petrol nose, Ranier cherries, curry and cumin. And dill! The wine that stole Young ‘Un SawaEm’s heart. 10%

Postscript: tBoW picked the Cardinals winning in Game 6. But he also predicted the Tigers would win the World Series and they played goofier than Yasiel Puig. Cards vs Red Sox should be really good. Has to go seven games. It’s the “red” Cy Young winner Wacha vs. the top finish man in baseball, Koji Uehara. MVP vs. MVP. Champ vs. Champ. Definitely worth watching.


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