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Watching the Big Game

Back in 1970, when I was working with IBM, I remember that we were told to operate on “Lombardi time”. In other words, if a test was scheduled for 8am the next day, you better expect it to start ten minutes earlier. I knew nothing of this coach, or his team, or of a trophy bearing his name that will be hotly contested on this Super Bowl Sunday.

Just one thing more; in 1977 I find myself in a fairly small Midwest city and my new friend points with reverence to a sign that reads Lambeau Field.

Again, I knew nothing of a young shipping clerk named Curly Lambeau, or of him persuading his boss at the Indian Packing Company in Green Bay to donate jerseys for a team they were forming to play a new game called football. Oh it was so close this year, but we will always be the ultimate “Packer Backers” in our home.

So what do we enjoy wine-wise with our Johnsonville brats from Wisconsin?

I have fond memories of a wine going back to my early days in the wine trade and so it will be Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vines Zinfandel 2013 from Sonoma County.

Refined and balanced, the wine integrates seamlessly on the palate offering a broad array of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and toasty oak notes.

The wine finishes with elegance and sophistication. This is thoughtful zinfandel — the kind of wine that requires some good football for a long evening of enjoyment.

It is a blend of 75 per cent zinfandel, 23 per cent petite sirah and 2 per cent carignane.

Here is what had to say about it: “92/100. The 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel has beautiful aromas of different berries, great textures and balance and a finish that lasts and lasts.

“The wine's seamlessness pairs it well with lightly grilled loin lamb chops. Drinks well now and will improve over the next few years.” (Tasted: July 19, 2016, San Francisco, CA).” $33.30 and remember that all Dry Creek bottles have beautiful labels depicting sailing craft, so appropriate for this year in Bermuda.

Now I am going to drive (in my mind) only a few miles from Dry Creek Vineyards until I come to my old friend Ed Sbragia's hilltop winery, with such beautiful views of the valley. He ranks among the most talented winemakers that I have ever had the good fortune to meet, and an evening of conversation in our home was so enlightening.

In case we want white wine, I have a bottle of Ed's Gamble Ranch Chardonnay 2013, a vineyard that he has been sourcing fruit from for over 40 years.

This Napa Valley property produces grapes that can stand up to the style of chardonnay that is big, bold and gusty, but never out of balance, rather like the football players that we will watch.

I would like to quote Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: “Another rich, honeyed style of wine fermented and aged in 100 per cent new French oak. A light gold, greenish-hued colour and plenty of white peach, honeysuckle and toasty oak. Medium to full-bodied with outstanding purity, richness and length.” This is not for the faint-hearted, but neither is football. I love this wine that encompasses all the finest attributes of new world chardonnay. $56.45.

Maybe you are having a football party and need something that costs a tad less, but still packs the wallop to suit the occasion? As it has to be from the USA, have you joined the “red blend trend” and tried Primal Roots 2015?

It is a lush, mouthwatering red blend of three of California's most versatile and distinctive grapes: merlot, syrah and zinfandel.

Oak ageing adds to the nuance and complexity while the softness, richness and ripe fruit of 49 per cent merlot marries with the bold texture and earthiness of 42 per cent syrah and the zesty berry and spice of 9 per cent zinfandel for a mouthful of wine that's both tasty and satisfying. Aged in American and French oak barrels, it's the perfect choice for everyday foods and enjoyment. $13.45

A lovely party-white is our Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Chenin Blanc, again with a sailing yacht on its label. Here is what the Wine Enthusiast thinks of it: “90/100. This California classic is still a winner, offering great flavour and refreshment in a dry, unoaked style. It smells like crisp Granny Smith apples, tastes like white peach and has a nervy acidity that will wash down appetisers and seafood with aplomb. Best Buy.” $17.65.

This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at

Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc

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Published February 03, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 03, 2017 at 12:51 am)

Watching the Big Game

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