• Tonight marks the start of the 2011 National Football League season, with a match up of two recent Super Bowl champs, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints, but a wine country contender is celebrating its 50th season—and perhaps a Super Bowl berth of its own if all goes as planned—with a 2008 Napa Cabernet. Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008 was released last week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the San Diego Chargers' first season. Made by Anthony Bell of Napa's Bell Wine Cellars, it retails for $25 and will be available at all Chargers home games this year. Despite the NFL's ban on alcohol endorsements (see Woodson, Charles), plenty of retired NFLers have taken to the grape. Napa native and Super Bowl champion coach Dick Vermeil has Jean-Louis Vermeil Napa Cab, named after his grandfather; retired Patriots and Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe has Doubleback Cabernet, a Bordeaux-style blend made by Leonetti Cellars' Chris Figgins; and former San Francisco 49ers owner Carmen Policy makes a Napa Cabernet as well, Casa Piena. Sounds like a touchdown to us.
• There’s a saying that it takes a lot of beer to make wine, and apparently it can take a lot of winemakers to make a beer. Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles has an annual tradition of turning over blending of its Anniversary Ale to neighboring winemakers, like Booker’s Eric Jensen, Terry Hoage and Matt Trevisan from Linne Calodo. Saxum’s Justin Smith, who participated, told Unfiltered, “It was a blast blending the beer. It was very similar to blending wine; taste through all the components, see what stands out, then start throwing potential blends together.” Smith should know—not only does he have bragging rights to 2010’s Wine Spectator Wine of the Year, but also he and his assistant winemaker, Mark Adams, were the team that created the blend chosen as the recipe for this year’s Firestone Walker XV Anniversary Ale. Why winemakers? “I really like what the winemakers bring to the process; they usually go for blends and flavor profiles that brewers never think of,” said brewmaster Matt Brynidson. The XV Anniversary Ale will be available Nov. 5, at the brewery’s anniversary party and afterward.
• Like all Russians, President Dmitry Medvedev knows that every drinking problem has a drinking solution. And Russia, where one in five men die of alcohol-related causes and some estimate that the average Russian adult drinks a bottle of vodka per week, has quite a drinking problem; Medvedev has called it a "national disaster." But judging by recent remarks, he has an idea for a cure. Forced march of millions to a Siberian rehab center? Surprisingly, no. “Winemaking is one of the branches that should be developed and contribute to the eradication of alcoholism. Countries where this branch is strong have no problems with alcohol abuse," the president said at a meeting with the governor of Russia’s southern Krasnodar Territory, which is home to a surprisingly robust sparkling wine industry. The problem with Russia, Medvedev continued, was "other drinks." So to the list of health benefits from wine—cardiac wellness, increased lifespan, weight gain prevention—we can now add "it is not vodka."
Morewine Bishar — Del Mar, California — September 9, 2011 1:23pm ET
Lance Guetschow — Elgin, Illinois, Kane — September 9, 2011 10:18pm ET
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