Hallelujah! It’s baseball season again. It may not feel like it yet, but baseball’s opening day this week means that a change is coming. Soon it will be time to trade boots for sandals, and heavy reds for Rosé.
Over much of its 150 years of existence, booze and baseball have been closely tied. Babe Ruth was nearly as famous for his off the field antics and his home runs. John Kruk, the former Phillies 1st basemen, named a bar “Third Base” because it was the last place you went before going home. In his book, Ball Four, Jim Bouton wrote that assistant coaches were pretty much hired to be the manager’s drinking buddies.
Times have changed, however. Today you are more likely to find baseball offices staffed with statisticians, PhDs and MBAs. I don’t mean Masters of Beverage Appreciation, either. These are educated people with advanced degrees whose job it is to assemble the best talent for the best price.
A big job of today’s general manager is to use knowledge to acquire undervalued talent. For example, a centerfielder may be overlooked simply because he doesn’t look like a typical centerfielder even though he may be the fastest guy on the field. Good managers know that what a player can actually do is more important than what a player can look like he can do.
This phenomenon happens in the wine world, too. Most people buy wine based on the prettiness of the label and ease with which they can pronounce its name. Sancerre is coveted, while Pouilly Fume and Menetou-Salon are shunned, even though they are all made from the same grape (Sauvignon Blanc) grown in relatively similar soils. The best value wine is often the one with the subtle label or the obscure name. The wines from France’s Saint-Joseph region are adored by wine geeks, but generally ignored by everyone else. This is unfortunate because these are some of the most special wines you will ever taste.
Upon high hills overlooking the western bank of France’s Rhone river sit terraces of granitic soil that form the Saint-Joseph appellation. From these soils sprout fines that produce one of the purest expressions of Syrah on the planet. This is Syrah’s homeland, and our first offering from the Northern Rhone. It’s a reminder that Syrah grown in the proper place can make subtle, almost hypnotic wines.
The best part about this Saint-Joseph is that you don’t have to be a California Angel or a San Diego Padre to enjoy it. It’s really for everybody, even a Milwaukee Brewer. If you want to find great value, look to wines that are overlooked but always deliver in the clutch. A good strategy is to lead off with our Lot 115 Saint-Joseph.