A hockey night at D. Vine Wines with no Don Cherry, in fact we had the finance partner for the evening and he was passionate about the wines. I mean Detroit is a hockey town and has been forever. The Original Six is part of Detroit’s legacy concerning hockey and most people think of hockey as a beer sport, I mean when one thought of hockey, one thought of Canada, and when one thought of Canada they either thought of Molson’s and Labatt’s or Whisky without the superfluous “e.” Of course, that was years ago and the sport has changed and so have the players, along with Canada and everything else in this dynamic world. My family is from Canada and I can remember my first pair of CCM skates, almost a rite of passage, but alas I bombed at skating, to this day, I still have trouble going backwards on them.
As Jason Earnest was explaining the genesis of Vineyard 36, he explained that both Tim Gleason and Cam Ward both discovered wine in restaurants and dinner parties with their fellow team mates. Hockey players these days are paid princely sums of money and with that comes the trappings of the position. It is only natural that fine wines come into the picture. Somehow a lager with an aged Kobe steak almost sounds uncivilized and professional athletes can indulge in First Growths and Grand Crus and cult wines much easier than the majority of the fans. As Jason was telling the story the three of them finalized the plans to become winemakers over dinner in Manhattan. These two hockey players took their appreciation for wines one step further and became winemakers, but they stayed humble and didn’t use their names and status as marketing tools, they let the wine be the spokesperson, and the wines that we tried that evening did an excellent job of selling themselves.
After having the Unmask and then the Cross Check wine, it was only fitting that the third wine of the evening was Vineyard 36 Foundation Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. Even the label demanded to be placed third in the tasting order as it had a simple white label with a basic hockey rink in silver, with the numeral three in Roman numerals for the Silver won by the U.S. Olympics team and if you look closely at the white ice background of the label one can see all of the cuts in the ice from the skates that have traversed the arena, until they can smooth the ice again. This wine is their base wine and their base wine could easily compete with other wineries top of the line selection. This Cabernet Sauvignon was made from fruit harvested from their micro-sites in St. Helena and Coombsville. This wine was aged for twenty-four months in French oak, but with thirty percent of the barrels being new. The wine delivered a great nose, long legs, deep color and a strong after taste, all the hall marks of what I look for in a good wine. I couldn’t wait for the last two wines to be poured and tasted.