Thursday, May 5, 2011
The Beaucastel Diaries
Not many people know this about me. But one of the things I love most in this world is going to a Laker Game. I can't get enough of the action and energy of watching the game live, with thousands of other people who seem to be as excited as I am. I jump at any opportunity to go to a game and think that my all time fantasy would to be to have season tickets...floor seats of course. Which is why, when one of my favorite winemakers, Chad Melville, emailed me the other day to see if I wanted join him and some his friends at the play-off game that night, I jumped at the chance. Not only would I be going to do the thing that I love, but I would get to hang out with Chad, someone who besides being really talented is sincerely so nice and fun to be with. Hell yes, I'm there!
Apparently though, I've been doing Staples Center the wrong way. Now, I'm the first person to say that I don't get out enough, which is why I had no idea that there is a restaurant at Staples or that there is a super exclusive club on the top floor called The Lexus Club. Maybe if I had season tickets I would know that. But more importantly, I never knew that Staples Center actually has a really deep cellar of wines, an insane array of legendary wines and libraries of vintages. Thankfully, Chad knew this so I was saved from staring at a sweating plastic tumbler of beer all night.
Well, for anyone who actually watched the second game of the playoffs against the Mavericks, it can be no surprise that being able to drink some incredible wines was a great diversion from the ugliness on the court. We began in the restaurant with a 2007 La Fenetre Pinot Noir and 2001 Kongsgaard Syrah, not a bad start, and which I have to say caught me a little off guard. It felt kind of strange drinking serious wine at a basketball game. Somehow I only relate the volume of noise, the flashing lights and general atmosphere of sporting events with drinking bad beer. However, I am a person who is not averse to change and was more than happy to attempt to alter my view of this. As one can imagine, it didn't take long for me to adjust. What we didn't finish of those wines we took back to the luxury suite with us in plastic cups, which was another odd concept to me. Most people were carrying tumblers of beer or coca cola, but we were carrying red wine...whatever works.
I have to say that by the second quarter when a bottle of 1999 Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe showed up, I found that drinking old and rare wine while watching the Lakers felt perfectly normal. Château de Beaucastel is a world renowned estate that has been in existence since the 16th century and has been in the possession of the Perrin family since the early 1900's. They were one of the first to farm their vineyards organically and make wines that are remarkably age-worthy. A good part of this is due to the fact that the final blend of the wine usually contains around 30% Mourvedre, giving the wine a strong tannic backbone, resistance to oxidation and good overall structure. Another approximately 30% Grenache adds a fleshiness and fruity depth, with Syrah, Muscardin, Vaccarese and Cinsault rounding out the blend. Year in and year out, these are wines of power and purity. The 1999 was no disappointment. Though much softened from age, the wine still showed a good deal of grace and balance. On the palate, flavors of coffee and sour plum mingled with notes of leather and dusty rose, giving the wine a slightly velvety texture and long finish accented by delicate acidity. The wine was incredibly elegant with an interesting balance of masculine muscularity and finessed femininity.
I've decided that from here on out I will approach Laker games, and any other sporting event at Staples Center, in a whole new way. Gone are the days of bitter, bulk beer. Gone are the days of appeasing my inner armchair althete while disappointing my wine-loving self. From now on, I will order a bottle off of the Staples wine list and be the one happily munching on popcorn, sipping my glass of older Burgundy and screaming at the refs.