My recent blog on Red Stitch, the new wine project involving ex-San Francisco Giants Rich Aurilia and Dave Roberts, got me thinking. On reflection, there are more than a few things wine and baseball have in common. The game has a hold on me about as much as wine does, as the following ruminations might demonstrate.
When I heard that Rich Aurilia and Dave Roberts had started to produce wine in their own winery, I must admit I was unimpressed. As big a fan as I am of the San Francisco Giants, where the players met, I am as skeptical as the next guy of people who are good at something else thinking they can be as successful with wine.Earlier this week, over dinner at Boulevard, Roberts bought a bottle of their Cabernet, Red Stitch, off the list for us to drink with dinner. The wine showed a sense of refinement and elegance without losing the opulence and power that Napa Valley can deliver. Red Stitch is worth paying attention to.
I like light, refined wines. I really do. When I rummage through my wine cellar to find something to drink with dinner, most nights I gravitate toward the bright, tangy Rieslings and delicate Pinot Noirs. But when I want something that will create a memorable experience for myself or my guests, I am more likely to choose a deep, complex Chardonnay, a nicely aged Barolo or a rich Syrah.
I have been thinking about this as, in preparation for meetings coming up in a few weeks to decide Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year, I looked over my list of highest-scoring wines in the past 12 months. Plenty of outstanding wines in a delicate style dotted the list, but not among the big scores.
Alex Golitzin should know a thing or two about making ageable Cabernet Sauvignon. His uncle, André Tchelistcheff, made some great wines when he was chief winemaker for Beaulieu VIneyard in Napa Valley from the 1930s through the early 1970s. Tchelistcheff helped Golitzin to make his first home wine, a 1974 Merlot, and encouraged him to go commercial and start his own winery in 1978. That’s how Quilceda Creek got started, and it quickly became the iconic Cabernet Sauvignon in Washington.
Before lunch recently at the winery in Snohomish, a suburb of Seattle, Alex, Paul Golitzin (Alex’s son) and I tasted through a vertical of 10 Quilceda Creek Cabernets from 2007 back to 1998, and ended with the 1992.
Some of my friends never go to a restaurant, any restaurant, without a bottle of wine in hand from their own stash. Others are appalled when someone brings even a special bottle for an occasion. Similarly, some restaurateurs hate the idea, while others treat it benignly.
I hate it when a restaurant that puts serious effort into a collection of wines that match up well with their food marks up the prices so high that it’s prohibitive for me to enjoy it. In San Francisco, where I live, I often bring a bottle and pay the corkage. The topic came up recently in another blog in which I mentioned the wine lists of several well-known steak-house chains.