Wine Ink: Super Bowl and wine are not so different after all
Kokomo Winery 2015 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County
Before the rains, and before the fires, the 2015 vintage of Dry Creek fruit in Sonoma produced some intense, drought-driven wines. This is one of my favorites. The flavors are dense and concentrated but despite the big-bodied fullness it retains balance and frivolity.
Ladera 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
While Pat and Anne Stotesberry left their mountain lair in 2016 they retained access to some fruit. This stunning Savvy is made from a combination of Howell Mountain and Oak Knoll fruit providing a lush, tropical mélange of flavors. Find a bottle and you’ll score on Super Sunday.
No offense to Presidents Day, Flag Day or even the 4th of July, but Super Bowl Sunday has become the most national of our national holidays. It is a day we gather, socialize, cheer and debate. It also is a day where drinking reigns supreme. What could be more American than that?
While other articles will suggest wine pairings for Super Bowl foods, let’s face it, Buffalo wings, chili, and guacamole and chips probably all go better with cold beer. You should have some wine on hand of course. Perhaps a versatile sauvignon blanc from Napa and maybe a fruity zinfandel from Sonoma (yes, I would stick to American wines from the regions hit by the fall fires as a show of solidarity), but don’t scrimp on the brewskis. At least that is my advice.
So, rather than trying to game plan wine pairings, I thought instead we’d pair some high-end wines with the personas of some of the key players. After all, though football is built on a base of controlled violence, it is the combination of balance, power and precision that makes the game so interesting. Other than the violence that’s kinda’ like wine, right?
As if you didn’t know, Super Bowl LII will be played in Minneapolis at US Bank Stadium between the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. If US Bank Stadium were a vineyard it would be too young for prime time as it is just two years old. But it is magnificent in its youth, and rest assured, there will be good juice poured in the corporate suites.
Let’s start with balance. Consider that both these teams are the top seeds in their respective conferences, both finished 13-3, and both lost to the Kansas City Chiefs (whaaaat?). And, get this, over the 16 game regular season schedule; the Patriots scored exactly 1 more point (458) than the Eagles. They also allowed just 1 more point (296). And you thought extra points were mere formalities.
Why not match the balance of the match-up but flip the paradigm a bit by celebrating the opening kickoff with Champagne? Maybe a bottle of Dom Perignon P3 Plénitude Brut? There could be no better celebration wine, nor one that is better balanced, than this treasure. Find a bottle from the 1969 vintage (the year the Jets Joe Namath shocked the world), write a check for two grand or so, and you’ll have an impressive opening drive.
If you are a power player, the kind who indulges in Napa cult cabernet like Screaming Eagle (owned by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke), you’ll likely relate to Eagles money players Fletcher Cox and LeGarrette Blount. Cox, a 6-4, 310 lb. defensive tackle, is one of the most dominating players in the game, and in 2016 he signed a six-year, $103 million contract making him the highest paid Eagle. He should leave the Patriots screaming. And he can afford any cult Cab he chooses.
And Blount is exactly what his name implies, a power runner with a smooth finish that can pack some punch and determine the outcome of a game. In 10 playoff games, eight of them with his former team the Patriots, Blount has scored 10 rushing touchdowns.
Patriots fans raise their chalice, er, glasses, in honor of the most precise and, let’s face it, best quarterback to ever play in the National Football League. The oldest player (non-kicker) ever to suit up for a Super Bowl, Brady was born during the summer of the vintage of ’77, making him just over 40 and a half years of age. The only wine appropriate to toast Tom would be Burgundy. And one from DRC at that. And, no, I am not referring to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants cornerback.
To paraphrase the old Schaefer beer slogan (you know this one, New Englanders), Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is “the one wine to have when you’re having more than one.” Yes, to celebrate the age of Brady, open a bottle of the 2005 DRC Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru in the fourth quarter and watch the comeback. If you can find a bottle on this planet, it may set you back about the price of a 50-yard line seat at Sunday’s game, or the amount of a fine for a helmet to helmet hit. I suggest the ’05, not just because it is one of the great vintages of all time, but because it also is the year the Patriots and Eagles last played in the Super Bowl. Yes, the Patriots won 24-21.
French Champagne. Napa Valley cabernet. Grand Cru burgundy. Who needs football?
Enjoy the game.