The Blind Side

There’s an old Hollywood adage, famously coined by screenwriter William Goldman that when it comes to predicting which movies will succeed and which will fail, “Nobody Knows Anything.”  To wit:  Columbia Pictures passed on the chance to produce “Star Wars”, leaving the plucky sci-fi movie to Fox, thereby losing out on billions of dollars in revenue.  They did however say yes to “Close Encounters” which earned them about the same amount of money (at the time) while it was 20th Century Fox that said no to Spielberg’s masterpiece.

Even more telling is that in asking studio executives of the era about their choices, they commented that if they’d said “yes” to everything they said “no” to and vice versa, they’d have pretty much ended up in the same place.  Put another way you can’t over or under-estimate the public when it comes to what they like.  They just do.

This proved to be true the other night at a dinner party where we did a blind tasting of various wines.  Now I’ve been an advocate of blind tastings many times before and while part of me still believes it’s the only fair way to gauge a wine, I’m now second guessing that in favor of Mr. Goldman’s assessment.  That when it comes to the evaluation of any subjective thing, the only person who does know anything is you.

There’s no need to get into the details of the tasting but I will tell you that the wine I brought – I wine I was a fan of and still am –  a Pinot from New Zealand called, Latitude 41 scored the lowest of seven wines (I had it as my third worse) or that a 2007 CA Cab from Jam Cellars was far and away everyone’s favorite.

What really struck me was that in looking at the scores of the individual wines, the loser I brought was scored (on the ubiquitous 100 pt. scale) by one person as 100 and by another as 1.  Holy swing, Batman!

And it was then and there, in a suburban kitchen, that I realized all this hand-wringing over scores/reviews of anything that isn’t decided by a clock or a scoreboard is a wasted exercise; whether you are trying to evaluate a wine, a building by I.M. Pei or a Hollywood movie, nobody does know anything.  And anyone who leaves their own choices to someone else is missing out on one of the true pleasures of freedom, the ability to do so for oneself.  I know too many people who won’t buy a wine that scores under a 90 (and I bet you do too) or takes the word of (fill in wine reviewer’s name here) as gospel.

I now realize, more than ever, the best wines in the world, the ones that get my 100 points, are the ones I like.  And that makes any number of wines I drink better than anything you drink no matter what’s on the label, who scored it or what its provenance.

The Founders envisioned a world of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  So from now on I suggest you embrace the things you like, be it a no name $6.00 wine from Slovenia or a nonsensical movie set in 2154 where science has made it possible to telekinetically leap into the body of a blue alien but the weapon of choice is still a bullet.

At the end of the day, no one knows anything but you.

Advertisements
Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 10:43 am  Comments (6)  

La Dolce Vita: A Contest

Given the sporadic nature of my postings and as such the sporadic traffic I enjoy, it’s always great when someone in the world reaches out to me after reading the blog.

It’s even more exciting when that person is the owner of a property in Barolo that they rent out to people like me and you.

And it’s even more exciting when for the simple act of becoming a Facebook fan of this property, you can get a chance for a free three night stay.  Yes, this is social networking at its finest.

Italy is my favorite country – I mean really, isn’t it everyone’s favorite?  In fact, I’ve been planning a two-month long villa retreat for next summer with the family, a one of a kind journey that will be cheaper than camp here in California but offer so much more than the 500th game of dodgeball, a rigged fishing trip to a fully stocked fake lake or the chance to make a comb sheath out of bits of leather and lanyard string (thanks for the memories, “Modern Family”)

So if you’re the gambling type who’d just as soon drop 100 quarters into a video poker machine, please ask lady luck to grant you an even better reward than a $5.00 surf and turf; a few nights in wine country paradise and a trip you’ll never forget.

Friend TorreBarolo NOW!  Everyone who becomes a fan of TorreBarolo between now and the end of January will be eligible for this free drawing.  Winner will be announced on February 1st.

And please remember my family only numbers four so you won’t even notice us as we come and go through the extra bedroom…

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 10:24 am  Comments (1)  

Harlan County, USA

harlan-county-usaIts happened.

After 15 years as a wine lover, collector and purveyor I’ve finally gotten to taste a true California cult Cab.

Wine Spectator scored it a 90, Parker gave it a 95  (does he ever not like what it seems he should), and the estimable Steve Heimoff at The Enthusiast bestowed it a whopping 98.

I’m referring to a bottle of 2003 Harlan Estate Cabernet, lovingly shared by our best friends on the occasion of their anniversary (though as I remarked – it felt like mine!)

I’ve often lamented the whole nature of the cult wine world, with their wallet busting price points (this Harlan can currently be had for between $400-600.00 – actually not bad for this level of cultishness), their unchallenged pedigree and the standoffish attitude of these producers.

For those of you who recall Steve Martin’s attempt to get reservations at a swank eatery in, “LA Story” you get the idea of what it’s like to procure a spot on one of these coveted mailing lists.

So a day after we whined here in California that our winemaker, Ryan, was treated to an ’82 Petrus at a market visit in Michigan, we sat down to try and do him one better.

There is certainly an anticipatory moment before you take that first sip of something you suspect will be amazing. That deep purple color (especially next to the Burgundy we very much enjoyed for our second bottle of the evening), the trail the wine leaves along the side of the glass, that chocolately, truffeley nose.

Then, the sip.

Hmmm.

Was it good?  Yes, it was.  Very good.  But as I’m not in the business of keeping score, I’ll simply say this – not many wines can compare to this level of structure, balance, and the knowledge that it’s a bottle bred for greatness.  It delivers.

But as I’ve commented on these pages before, I can’t honestly say it tasted five or six times better than any number of $100.00 Cabs I’ve had over the years.  I suppose it’s like asking if a Bentley is that much better than a Lexus.  For some it will be, based on quality and craftsmanship but at the end of the day, when both cars are sitting in their respective dark garages, you’ll notice each has four wheels, an engine, leather seats, good sound system and will both, providing there is enough gas in the tank, get you anywhere you want to go.

And yet prices and exclusivity keep it away from the many and in the hands of the few.

The good news, from what I hear, is that mailing lists are becoming easier to gain access to.  And Harlan themselves are now offering people behind their velvet rope the opportunity to buy just one bottle (previously I believe, you had to purchase six).

Yes, I’ve joined the wine equivalent of the mile high club, and soared near the top of the Cult Cab mountain. And the view from up here was good.

But as a bleeding heart, I’ll always take the coal miner’s side, the one that says, fairness for all is better than the best  for some.   So the next time I’m lucky enough to get my hands on something as rare as a Cult Cab, you’re all invited to my house to share it.

Published in: on September 3, 2009 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Hollywood (Bowl) and Vine

PIC-0078For those that know me, my taste in current, popular music is a bit anachronistic, with most of my iPod selections being created somewhere in the century between 1880-1980.  Sure there are exceptions, I’ve liked much of what Coldplay has done, have been known to download a dance track (see: Britney, Beyonce, Cristina) here and there and even attended a KCRW concert last year featuring The Shins and Lily Allen, an artist I somehow came into contact with and liked *before* the show.

This all said, most new music I buy and listen to these days still arrives via artists who made their first records during the time period above (see:  Springsteen, Costello et. al).

So I’ll admit to no advance excitement when I was invited to the Hollywood Bowl this past Sunday to see a British singer named Adele.  My desire to go stood solely in the fact that I love the venue, especially when I get to enjoy it within the confines of the cozy boxes that round the front section.  It’s always a great excuse to pack up the picnic basket with goodies (see:  cheese, bread, almonds, salads, desserts) and head outside to listen to music under the stars.

But my favorite part of being in the boxes is sneaking peaks at people’s wine selections (I do this at restaurants too but for some reason it feels more like a competition at the Bowl).  Within sight of my corrective lenses were familiar labels like Williams-Seylem, Longoria, Guigal, Cakebread.  In my own box we had a Chateauneuf Du Pape,  a 2004 Cab and a (shameless plug) Six Degrees.  All complimented the food and atmosphere perfectly.

The highlight of the night though was the singer herself, a 21 year old with a voice that carried through the Bowl and lifted us up.  Surely there were others like me, there with a season ticket in hand, who come out regardless of the performer, be it the LA Phil or David Byrne.  So no doubt there were many among us who had never heard of Adele.

I’ll venture to guess though that more than a few people (myself included) came home and downloaded her amazing album 19 and are listening to it right now, as I am.  Every once in awhile, as fellow blogger Marc Goldsmith often notes, music has the ability to fly us places we thought we’d never go.  To feel something the dictionary can’t help us to describe.

Do yourself a favor and download the track, Hometown Glory.  If it doesn’t move you to tears, I’d check your pulse.

You might be dead.

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grape Madness – The Championship

# Team                           Spread       Money Line      Total Points
101 Bodega Norton       7.5(-110)     +305                  153.5(-110)
102 Chateau Chevalier -7.5(-110)    -370                 153.5(-110)

sportsbookThirty-two wines started this competition a few weeks ago, all with a chance to win the first year of Grape Madness, but there can only be one winner.

The tournament was filled with upsets, interesting observations about our own palates, controversy and of course many purple stained teeth.  In fact, I hereby give a shout out to Crest White Strips as a sponsor next year!

When it came down to the Final Four though, I don’t think any of the wines were a complete surprise.  Regardless of their price point (and subsequent initial ranking) all four finalists had the pedigree, if not in brand, then in region and varietal.

So Marc and I went into our final tasting expecting both wines to show well.  The Chevalier was my pick to win it all, and admittedly my mind set for this pick could be misconstrued as “insider trading.”  You see, the Chevalier is a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Spring Mountain appellation of Napa.  So was the 2002 Waugh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, our first Cab vintage and a wine that exhibited such wonderful tannins and soft fruit right out of the gate, that I’ve been a fan of the region and its Cabs ever since.

As for the Bodega, well, not only did I pick it out of obscurity and into my shopping cart but it stormed through the Cost Plus bracket with authority, making it (in my mind) a slight favorite, even though you’d have to consider it the underdog.

(1) Chateau Chevalier versus (3) Bodega Norton Malbec

The Chevalier came out tentative, and I could not help but wonder whether or not its completely blank cork was indicative of an imposter (read: a shiner) – wine biz speak for a wine bought pre-bottled but unlabeled and then branded by a third company.  There is nothing wrong with this very common practice but perhaps the big stage was too much at the start.

Meanwhile the Bodega came out with a big spicy, jammy nose with a touch of Menthol.  The fruit wasn’t there, which was surprising and the wine was noticeably tannic but you could tell it would open up.

The game was close.

In the second half, the Chevalier was displaying a nice nose of musty apples (okay, that doesn’t sound pleasant – but it was) and a great balance, something I look for in all the wines I drink (instilled in me by talented winemaker – and fellow Grape Madness participant – Ryan Waugh.)

The Bodega, so impesssive in earlier rounds wasn’t going anywhere though, its ever present fruit muted in the confines of the big game.  Could nerves be playing a part for the young Argentine too?

Before unveiling the wines from their paper bags, Marc and I compared notes and both agreed that the wine on the left had prevailed, narrowly, by buzzer beater like margins.  And we were a little disappointed because we really thought the Malbec was going to show better and it just came up short to the tougher and more expensive opponent.

We arrived at a score of 87-86 for the winner and Champion in the first annual Grape Madness…

…And then we ripped open the bags…

ncb_g_mens_ncaa_trophy_2001Bodega Norton Malbec

Amazingly, after spending the whole blind tasting believing the Chevalier was the more impressive wine, and frankly exhibiting characteristics not normally associated with Cabs, we now knew why, it wasn’t the Cab after all.

And on the flip side, the Bodega, which had been so fruit forward and unbeatable in the previous rounds tasted like a different wine, one that we preferred by a hair despite its showing.

Once again, the real winner in Grape Madness was the process of blind tasting.  You never know what you might discover.

It was a blast taking part in this event and with a little discussion, taking into account what worked well – and what didn’t, I’m sure the head to head tastings each March will become a favorite, one that I hope will garner more and more readers and participants.

For those that did fill out brackets, you have my thanks.   See you next time!

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 8:03 pm  Comments (3)  

Grape Madness – Round Three (Cost Plus Bracket)

number4_openAnd then there were four.

After two weekends of tasting thirty-two wines, the inaugural Grape Madness event is down to four worthy champions.

One last match-up, in my own Cost Plus bracket, to complete the Final Four and set up a dual-city tasting that will crown the first ever Grape Madness champ.

(2) The Show versus (3) Bodega Norton

I’m too lazy to research this fully but I think The Show was picked by far the most to come out of  the Cost Plus bracket and sure enough it did.  I had only heard about this wine recently and then promptly forgot about it, but as I said when the tournament opened and I found myself in the aisles at Cost Plus, something about the bottle itself just hit the right emotional buttons.  And  the juice did not disappoint.  It methodically made its way through each game not with flash, like some Tampa Bay Buccaneer, one year winning it all, the next four missing the playoffs.  No, The Show was more like my beloved Eagles, in every game, winning most of them.  In the end, would it make a city proud, or crush our hopes and dreams again, like some overworked dad, home too late to tuck us kids into bed and read us a story?

The Bodega on the other hand came in unknown and proceeded to pump out the highest consistent scores in this bracket.  After making short order with another nice CA Cab (337), it crushed the #1 seed killing Aussie handily to find itself in the Elite Eight.  Regardless of the outcome, everyone would know their name now.

The Bulldozer from Mendozer raced out to a lead with a big, jammy nose that like or or not, I like.  But The Show did what champions do, chipping away at the Malbec’s lead with a floral, fruity nose of its own, surprisingly mild for a young-ish Cabernet.

Halftime – Bodega 46, The Show, 41.

As the wines opened up in the third quarter, The Show earned its name by displaying a great balance,  soft fruit and just a hint of acidity, turning the tables on the Bodega, which seemed to have more fruit on the nose than on the palate.

Third Quarter – The Show, 63, Bodega 60.

Marc and I tasted and retasted these two wines, going back and forth on which one we liked best (not the same one again), and sure enough the fourth quarter was a low scoring affair. A last second missed jump shot by the Show sent this game into overtime, the first one of the tournament.

It would be a costly miss.

The teams came out for the extra stanza cautious.  The wines continued to open up and mellow but the Malbec started showing more than the Cab, which had slowed, perhaps its close, opening round games catching up.  The Show was getting tired.

With 42 seconds left to play and The Show up by one, 81-80, Bodega and its younger 2007 fruit took the ball up the court and promptly made a quick bucket (82-81, Bodega).  The Show called time out but as anyone in the crowd of two will tell you, they did not come back on the floor with a plan to win.

The inbounds pass was stolen, along with the hopes of many, who picked it to go all the way.

Final Score – Bodega Norton 82, The Show 81

And then there were four:  Bodega Norton Malbec, Talus Pinot Noir, Steven Vincent Meritage and Chateau Chevalier Cab

This has been a great ride so far.  Can’t wait to see what happens in the Finals.

Published in: on March 29, 2009 at 9:05 am  Comments (1)  

Grape Madness – Round Three (BevMo Bracket)

crowLast I checked the Grape Madness Scoreboard I was sitting pretty in third place, one of only five people whose pick to win it all still remained.  Yet it is with great humility that I acknowledge that this success did not come as a result of the BevMo bracket.  In fact, the two wines that made it out were my anticipated losers, showing once and for all that you have to be lucky sometimes too.

(3) 2007 Talus Pinot Noir versus (3) 2007 Penfolds Rawsons Retreat

For some reason I’ve always thought of Talus as a so-so brand, probably because it’s the kind of thing my wife will bring home when she heads to Ralph’s after work.  You know, the type of bottle that’s usually found on the close out table alongside a marked down jar of spicy pickles or those fried crunchy onions that only sell during the Thanksgiving season.

I may have been totally wrong about this assessment but my mind has a way of saying, “There’s no way The Devil Wears Prada is going to be a good film.” But then I see it and really like it.

As for the Rawson’s Retreat, I bagged on Marc prior to the tourney, calling it the poor step-cousin of Penfold’s other Cab/Shiraz offering, the Koonunga Hill, which I’ve always liked.

So when both of these wines came out on top during his first and second round tastings, the taste on my palate was crow (it’s just like chicken!).

This next round of competition was tough, as we now had to match our own subjective likes and dislikes against one another .  Marc, in his usual MIT scientist meets The Galloping Gourmet way had a pre-printed, seemingly thousand point scoring chart, covering everything from brix level to region, from varietal to ph.

I had a white sheet of paper pulled from my printer.

Still the games are played in the glass and both wines showed well, with noticeable fruit on the nose, red for the Aussie, black for the Pinot.  And both showed nice subdued balance throughout, though the Talus was a bit tannic, which for me kept the RR on top at the half.

Each of us tried the wines several times, going back and forth between the glasses and I was pretty sure we were both going to pick different wines.  And of course we did.  But in the end after letting the wines open up even further, someone has to move on and someone has to go home.

After scoring them both, the loser has a much longer flight, that they should travel with heads held high, back to the land down under.

Talus 74, Penfold’s 71 (again, these are basketball type scores, not wine ratings)

Stay tuned for Sunday’s matchup between The Show from Californ-ia and pesky small forward from Argentina, Bodega Norton.

Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Grape Madness – Round Two

17fb095fde4f77be My stinky palate and I went into Round Two feeling pretty good about the results so far.  The moral minority had spoken, questioning foul calls, screaming about illegal defenses and even suggesting that a late three pointer should have only been a two since part of the players shoelace had actually grazed the line.

But wine does not often lie when it comes to blind tasting and while some would rather take the word of others over their own judgements, I call them as I taste them.

First round action saw two upsets, one close win for the underdog and a favorite advance, making the second set of tastings a real pick ’em when it came down to what would happen on the court.  Here’s a recap of these exciting matchups.

(3) Bodega Norton Malbec versus (4) Aaku Cabernet Sauvignon

On paper this was a close one going in.  Two lower priced wines, one from South America, one from Australia, both generally fruit forward offerings, which are often times hard to judge against each other.

The Aaku continued to slow it down early, with its unusually vegetative and earthy nose, allowing the Malbec with its red fruit  showing well, to jump out to an early 24-14 lead.  The mid palate for the Argentine showed good structure and fruit while the Aussie, so minimally tannic in the early round, tightened up, perhaps simple rookie nerves, finding themselves on the bigger stage with far more to lose this time out.  Norton at halftime, 46-32.

The Aaku came out in the second half, seemingly playing for pride only.  It took no chances, showing a little fruit on a finish that still felt dry.  Their prevent defense against a wine whose low tannins and great balance only prevented the Cab from winning.

The Malbec runs away in the second half like Secretariat at Belmont in ’73.

Bodega Norton 82, Aaku 65

(2) The Show versus (4) Pinot Evil

The Show came into the second round on a roll.  Many had picked them to win it all and it came out strong against Talia Rosso and never looked back.

This time around they did not know what to expect.  They had never seen Pinot Evil before, a wine that only three short years ago was playing Division II under a pesky head coach known only at that time  for a series of recruiting violations.

But no French Pinot cannot be taken lightly as Baron De Magana found out, further solidifying the Franco-Spanish feuding that’s been going on for hundreds of years.

The Show, and its brash young Americaness, pressed hard in the opening minutes, “showing” great color but a minty, musty nose that reminded one of old Wrigley’s chewing gum.  Maybe the larger stage was spooking them too. The Pinot showed its first round performance was no fluke, with a nose of rasberries and coffee.

Both wines showed nice fruit and balance through the middle of the game but the Pinot, its smaller players with something to prove held a slim lead at the half, 42-40.

The wines battled back an forth throughout the second half, finishing the third quarter deadlocked at 59.

For me and my (Warner Bros-esque) palate though, wine is all about structure and balance.  It’s what separates a great winemaker from simply a good one.  And it’s often what makes the difference between a $5.00 & $12.00 bottle of wine.

The Show delivered down the stretch not only a balance that was noticeable throughout the game but also told me that this was a wine that could have played another full game that night, while the French wine, however game, had run its course.

The Show 75, Pinot Evil 70

So the controversial Cost Plus Bracket end with two solid wine in the Elite Eight:

(2) The Show versus (3) Bodega Norton

What’s your bracket look like???

Published in: on March 23, 2009 at 9:01 am  Comments (1)  

Grape Madness – Round One, Part Two

42070d39a88b8-71-1Editors Note:  My scoring system for Grape Madness is meant to resemble basketball scores, not globally recognized wine critics who write newsletters or publish in major magazine’s scores…

The upper tier of our Grape Madness brackets have been completed and immediately there’s been some controversy.  We had comments from people (and when I say people, I mean one person) – but I’m thrilled someone is paying enough attention to call out the Ombudsman on us humble wine bloggers.

Yes, the first round brought some surprises, lower than expected scores, in my case upsets, but that’s the nature of blind tasting.  And it’s what I find so amazing when reading wine reviews by the aforementioned experts.  No doubt they’ve got better palates than I do, know more about the process of taste and proper criticism, yet I’m often mystified that the wines on the surface you’d expect would get monster scores all seem to deliver on the page.  Hmmmm.

But take heart sports fans (and if the girls in this photo are reading my blog please say hello – as a fellow Eagles fan I know exactly what you’re feeling.)  If your favorite wine lost, suck it up and look forward to next year.  That’s what us Birds fans always do…

(Cue ESPN music):  But now it’s off to the hardwoods for some more Grape Madness action from last night:

(2) 337 Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.00) versus (3) Bodega Norton Malbec ($8.00)

After the low scoring in the first set of match-ups (and by low scoring, I mean in basketball terms, Danny), these next two games offered the hope of some serious chucking from three point land.

I’ve really been impressed with just about every Argentine Malbec I’ve tasted in the past few years, everything from the $2.99 La Boca (found at TJ’s) to more expensive versions of this big varietal.  Then again, I also know first hand what the 337 grape clone can do in the glass so I had high hopes for the Lodi appelated wine that uses it as its name.

Both wines exhibited fresh notes on the nose, the Malbec, raspeberries, the Cab a minty chocolatly thing not unlike the Girl Scout cookies I was strong-armed into buying last weekend.  But where the wines parted ways was on the mid palate where the 337 did not offer up much in the way of fruit (something I look for – your mileage may vary), while the Argentinian, not lush by any means displayed a balance of fruit that created a more satisfying finish.

Norton 82, 337, 76 (and by 82-76, I mean a basketball score, a close game that could have went either way but in the end, free throws made the difference)

(2) The Show ($13.00) versus (3) Talia Rosso ($7.00)

The last time the US and Italy met was the 2006 World Cup in front of 46,000 at Fritz-Walter Stadion, Kaiserslautern, Germany.  That match ended in a 1-1 tie (and the world wonders why we don’t like soccer).

This match up, drank before four fans in Encino, CA held much more excitement I assure you.

The Show lived up to it’s name and came out very strong, with a smoky, bacony nose that I must say was pleasing to this fifteen year veteran vegetarian.  I don’t normally like the smell of frying swine but I enjoyed this.  And yet the Rosso pressed back with some smoke of its own.

Both wines were a bit tight and tannic with nicely balanced finishes and headed to the locker rooms tied at the half.  But after a little bit more time in the glass, The Show, perhaps with a slightly conscious evaluation that it was a more age worthy wine, came out on top.

The Show 74, Talia Rosso 69

So the Cost Plus First Round bracket ends with some upsets and some higher seeds advancing.  Nothing to complain about there.

The Next Round looks like this:

(4) Aaku Cabernet Sauvignon versus (3) Bodega Norton Malbec &  (4) Pinot Evil versus (2) The Show

Hope you’ll all stick around for next week!!!

Published in: on March 20, 2009 at 9:54 am  Comments (4)  

Grape Madness – Round One

nl011Like Clay over Liston three days before I was born in ’65, Marissa Tomei over Joan Plowright at the Oscars in 1993 and Princeton defeating UCLA in 1996 (that one’s for you Jason), upsets have captivated crowds since some Gladiator took down a lion at the Coliseum in ‘2.

And yet I went into the first round of my Grape Madness bracket confident the higher seeds would prevail.

Here’s how real life played out…

(1) Edge Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.00) versus (4) Aaku Cabernet Sauvignon ($4.00)

It was the battle of the Cabs, Northern versus Southern Hemisphere, 2006 versus 2005.

On paper this was a mismatch, but as Vince Lombardi once said, the games are played on the field, or court, or I don’t even know if Lombardi said this.

The Edge came out strong, with a big, berry nose that pressed the Aaku’s green pepper all over the court.  By halftime though the minimal tannins of the Aussie made up a lot of ground on the tightness of the Napa Cab.  But the Edge still led with five minutes to play in a low scoring affair but could not convert its free throws, showing Aaku a glimmer of hope.

They called timeout with eleven seconds to go all tied up at 65.  Couldn’t have asked for a better chance to win this and not take any chances with overtime.  And as Cinderella stories go, the dry and slightly tight finish for the Edge could not stave off a clear shot from the corner by Aaku.  Nothing but net.

Aaku 68, Edge 65

(1) Baron De Magana ($18.00) versus (4) Pinot Evil  ($5.00)

Spain took on France in this first round matchup of 1 & 4 seeds.  2004 was a mixed year in Spain with weather alternating between miserable and almost perfect for grape growing.  And yet Baron did not start well, its barnyardy nose allowing the Pinot to jump out to a surprising but early 22-11 lead.

The mid palate on both wines was better, with the Pinot showing nice balance for the price point and the earthy nose of the Spaniard giving way to some decent black fruit.  At halftime the crowd was restless and feeling another upset in the making as Evil lead 48-38.

They say that defense wins championships in most sports and a smothering press in the second half, coupled with continued balance throughout never let Baron back in the game.

Pinot Evil 75, Baron De Magana, 66

Two games in, two BIG, surprising upsets.

As Clay said in ’65, “I shook up the world.”  And today, two little wines did too…

Stay tuned for second half of the Cost Plus bracket tomorrow

Published in: on March 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm  Comments (2)