The Unassuming Wine Bros
MVP Wines from MVP NFL Players
The Unassuming Wine Bros
November in Florida means sunny days and a never-ending slate of sports to enjoy. During the height of football season and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Unassuming Wine Bros bring you Cabernet Sauvignons produced by NFL Hall of Famers this month.
We are The Unassuming Wine Bros (UWB) – Patrick and Vigo - two regular guys who love everything about wine, including writing about it. Our goal is to explore the nuances of wine, share our adventures with you, and have a little fun along the way.
As we researched the wines for this month's article, given the number of former players who dabble with it, it became evident that winemaking must be a lucrative retirement gig for NFL players. It also became apparent that our selections might not be considered "unassuming" if we purchased wines at the price points at which many former NFLers sell their wines. To compensate for these prices while drinking quality selections yet staying true to our roots, we opted this month to change up our typical format and go with one affordable bottle, one mid-priced bottle, and one more expensive bottle. Here are our thoughts:
2017 Charles Woodson Intercept, Cabernet Sauvignon; Paso Robles, California; $19.00 US; ABV 15%:
Vigo: To begin, Charles Woodson was a Heisman Trophy-winning defensive back that played for the
University of Michigan, the Oakland Raiders (twice), and the Green Bay Packers - all teams I despise. Minimizing the corresponding preconceived negative football bias, I held toward this wine required the focus of a cornerback in coverage on third and long with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
While UM, Oakland, and Green Bay will never be on my "must-watch list," Charles Woodson's 2017 Intercept Cabernet Sauvignon will now be on my "must drink list". The 2017 Intercept has a beautiful ruby red color that Cabernet Sauvignon is known for and a bouquet of dark cherry and blackberries with a hint of oakiness. Much like his on-field tenacity, Charles Woodson's Intercept will hit your palate hard with bold peppery, black cherry, blackberry, and oaky goodness. The Intercept has low acidity but has some palate sticking tannins. This is a classic bold Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon that is terrific at this price point. The 2017 Charles Woodson Intercept is an MVP that will be an excellent selection for a decadent Thanksgiving dinner or snacking on charcuterie while watching the game. As a bonus, you can pick it up locally at Publix.
Vigo Rating: 4 Bros.
Patrick: I was always a fan of Charles Woodson's game, and I similarly enjoyed his 2017 Intercept Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine's pronounced nose smells excellent and sets the tone for the entire bottle. This wine was rich and flavorful, full-bodied and bold with black cherry, chocolate, and cedar notes. Tannins and a lingering finish meant this wine out kicked its price coverage. At its affordable price point, this is an outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon with excellent value. It will also go great at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Patrick Rating: 4 Bros.
2018 7Cellars Elway's Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa Valley, California; $ 47.00 US, ABV 14.5 %:
Vigo: Former Denver Broncos Super Bowl-winning and NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway is no stranger to making bold and successful moves. Being a California native, it's no surprise that Elway has
dabbled with winemaking. This selection - the 2018 7Cellars Reserve - is a collaboration with winemaker Robert Mondavi Jr. After letting this selection breathe a bit, we waited for something exciting but found it was like the Broncos performance in Super Bowl XXXII - a great attempt, but one that fell short of the mark. The 2018 7Cellars Elway's Reserve's color is a pale ruby red, and its bouquet was so neutral that it bordered on non-existent. It took several spins around the wine glass to wake up the scent of delicate cherries and freshly bloomed roses. On the palate, this Cabernet Sauvignon is medium-bodied with the taste of newly picked cherries, soft raspberries, a hint of chocolate, and gentle oakiness. This is a light to medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that should pair well with a Thanksgiving turkey dinner but might overwhelm the palate if a spoonful of mash potatoes and gravy is combined with it. The 2018 7Cellars Elway's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a good wine, but at its price point, I expected something more.
Vigo's Rating: 3 Bros.
Patrick: The 2018 7Cellars Elway's Reserve was atypical for a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - perhaps due to its inclusion of 9% Petite Sirah and 1% Petite Verdot. Medium-bodied, bright, ripe, and juicy with red berries gave this elegant, easy-drinking, well-balanced wine an Old World flair - which was a nice change of pace next to the two much bolder, more traditional Cabernet Sauvignons we sampled. In fairness to this wine, it was much different than our other two selections in every way - which made it more difficult to evaluate. While it would pair perfectly with a day-after-Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, in a very un-Elway way, it left me slightly underwhelmed on its own at this price point considering its Hall of Fame and iconic wine family pedigree.
Patrick's Rating: 3.75 Bros.
2019 Passing Time, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Washington; $85.00 US; ABV 14.9%:
Vigo: In 1997, then Miami Dolphins quarterback Damon Huard was chatting with his teammate - Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino about the wines produced in his home state of Washington. Marino then
proceeded to uncorked a Washington wine that started a collaboration which later turned into Passing
Time. Although Huard's NFL career wasn't NFL Hall of Fame worthy on the field, if The Hall of Fame had a wine maker's wing, his collaboration with Dan Marino on the 2019 Passing Time would be first-ballot enshrined. Okay, this bottle's price isn't "unassuming", and having to contact the winery to get a bottle of 2019 Passing Time Cabernet Sauvignon was more work than we've done for any other article but, wow, it was worth it. This Red Mountain (WA) Cabernet Sauvignon has a classic dark ruby red color, and its bouquet is a delight with rich red fruits, spice, oak, and a hint of chocolate. On the palate, it scores a touchdown. It drank full-bodied, with rich fruit flavors, well-balanced acidity, tannins, and a soft and lasting finish. The 2019 Passing Time Red Mountain Cab was the most perfectly balanced Cabernet Sauvignon we've had this year and is a strong contender for Best of the Year
Vigo Rating: 5 Bros
Patrick : At this price point, I expect bottles to contain high-quality, outstanding wine. The 2019 Passing Time delivered! This wine has that smoothness and mouthfeel that you only find in fine wines. The cherry and licorice on the nose gave it a fabulous bouquet. The fruit on the palate was a dark cherry, and the wine had a subtle creaminess that accentuated the cherry notes. Full-bodied, rich, complex, and flavorful yet elegant and smooth, with great acidity and finish. This was my favorite of our selections this month, and this wine held its own at its more expensive price point. I imagine it will get even better with a few years of aging.
Patrick's Rating: 4 Bros
Vigo's Overall Impression: This month's wines were a lot of fun to read about, taste, and break down. Shout out to one of the unofficial Bros who helped us with the tasting. It is interesting how each respective wine equated closely to its winemaker/Hall of Famer's NFL reputation: Woodson - bold; Elway - a game changer compared to his peers; and Marino - polished. Although we only scratched the surface of wines produced by former football players, we're excited to see if this player/wine producer trend continues.
Patrick's Overall Impression: As a huge football fan, this month's article was fun to do from start to finish. Although it hard to fairly compare these wines side-by-side given the different price points, what is clear is that the 2017 Charles Woodson Intercept is high quality, affordable Cabernet Sauvignon and great value at its price point. Since they were both drafted in the First Round of the 1983 NFL Draft, John Elway and Dan Marino have been constantly compared to one another. After comparing a sampling of each of their wines, while Elway may have been drafted higher and won more Super Bowl rings than Marino, it is clear that Marino's 2019 Passing Time was the superior bottle in this particular head-to-head match up.
Fans and Readers:
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Vigo – / Patrick – UWB symbol. Ratings are given on a 1-5 scale, with five being the highest.