When New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone met with then-Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole earlier this month to convince him to sign with the Bronx Bombers, he wanted to show that the team was ageworthy enough for Cole to ink a nine-year deal. What better way than to spring for some long-lived wines the pitcher loves? Cole was taken aback to find bottles of 2004 and 2005 Masseto at his negotiation for the biggest pitcher contract in history—how did management know it was a sentimental favorite of his? Turns out the Yankees have their clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza to thank for adding a personal touch to the proceedings.
After his introductory press conference, Cole explained to reporters how he figured it out. Cucuzza remembered a recent conversation with Cole when the pitcher mentioned celebrating his anniversary in Florence with his wife and a bottle of '04 Masseto. Cucuzza didn’t understand the hype, but Cole explained that some considered Masseto the second-best red wine in the world (behind Pétrus, in his standings). When it came time to bat, bases loaded with cash, Cucuzza recalled the conversation to deliver the sentimental grand slam the Yankees needed to land Cole.
"We are very proud to hear that Masseto is one of Gerrit Cole’s favorite wines and that it helped ‘seal’ the agreement between him and the New York Yankees, especially with two great vintages for Masseto as 2004 and 2005,” Masseto estate director Axel Heinz told Unfiltered via email. “We wish him a successful career with the Yankees, and anytime he is interested in coming to Tuscany, we will be more than happy to host him at the new Masseto winery.”
Bottles of Masseto go for nearly $800 a pop on release, but with Cole’s $36 million salary he’ll be able to revisit that 2004 vintage anytime—45,000 times a year, to be precise, if he converts all his dollars into Massetos.
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