Drafting Just-Released Wines for the Cellar

Contributor
Like the NFL teams, wine cabinets need refreshing with new juice
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Do you draft for immediate needs or the best bottle available?

I got really excited by the recent NFL draft process — three days in which 32 teams chose 256 college players in seven rounds. Each team came into the event with a number of draft picks — some high and some low — depending on their philosophy to collect picks or collect players in making trades with other teams.

OK, so now I’m ready to use my own wine draft picks to choose from recent winery releases in order to restock my wine cellar. Some choices will be for my own current consumption, some will go for entertaining friends, some will be used to lay down for a few years. Finally, I’ll pick a special purpose wine or two — a category not unlike choosing punters and place kickers in the NFL.

I have three first-round picks and four second-round picks. Let’s see if I can use them wisely. Cheering when a pick is made is permissible. Booing my choices gets you ejected from the cellar.

Round One

I’ve decided in this round to pick the best wines available from the sample rack.

First selection: Paul Hobbs “Catherine Lindsay” Russian River Pinot Noir 2012. ($88). This is a big and burly wine that nevertheless dresses up well to take to the table — drink it now or let it sit on the bench for a few years. It is a complex wine with dark cherry flavors, a touch of tangy balsamic, some notes of mocha cream, and a finish of dark raspberries.

Second selection: Zenato “Alanera” Rosso Veronese 2012 ($20). A steal from one of the lesser-known regions, this Corvina-based wine has lots of rounded blackberry/blueberry fruit with good finishing acidity and a pleasant tanginess. Can be inserted practically anywhere in the food-matching lineup.

Third selection: Martinelli “Bella Vigna” Sonoma County Chardonnay 2011 ($40). A very big chard with lots of creamy oak and caramel tastes to go along with the apple fruitiness. Rather than start immediately, it may need to sit an hour or so in the decanter.

Second Round

The real gems are often chosen in the later rounds, and now I’m picking for a specific need.

First selection: Paul Mas “Saint Hilaire” Pays d’Oc Chardonnay 2012 ($12). There aren’t a lot of good white wines in this draft pool, so I grabbed this one before someone else did. While the Martinelli may need some time, this one is ready now — a lot like a southern Burgundy with crisp apple flavors and just a hint of toffee at the end. Very long on the palate.

Second selection: Badia a Coltibuono “Sangioveto di Toscana’ IGT 2009 ($59). B a C has several players available in this draft, but I like this one because of its combination of power and finesse — rounded, ripe flavors of dried cherries with crisp, savory notes and an echo of raspberry cream in the finish.

Third Selection: CVNE Viña Real Rioja Rosado 2014 ($9). I’m out of rosés, so I can’t leave the draft without choosing one. Even though it’s a pink, close your eyes and you taste Marlborough sauvignon blanc — tart strawberries with some citrus and lots of acidity and minerality.

Final Selection: Li Veli Santino “Orion” Primitivo 2013 ($14). I like its work ethic — rich and complex with dark flavors of black grapes and fresh figs and an excellent finish.

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