My real job is publisher and president of The Buffalo News. My columnist job is an excuse to try plenty of good wine.
Sometimes I get to mix the two.
The News was recently on the hunt for a new sports writer. A prospective candidate was in town with her husband, so I invited them to dinner to share why we love Buffalo so much. I came up with a dinner theme of sports and wine.
We went to one of Buffalo’s newest hot spots, JT’s on Elmwood Avenue. My wife and I arrived early to ensure we had a nice table, and to open the wine and let it breathe. As our guests exited their Uber, we all spotted each other and the waving began. It took me all of three minutes to realize these are exactly the kind of people we want in Buffalo. We enjoyed a wonderful meal, a fun and spirited discussion, and two special "sport" wines. Each of these wines has a story.
2009 GTS Cabernet Sauvignon
A couple years ago I was asked to throw out the first pitch for the All-Star game at Coca-Cola Field. I was initially resistant because I’m kind of shy — and not much of an athlete. But after a bit of haggling over my contract terms, I agreed. Fast forward to game day: there I am, sitting in the dugout in my fancy uniform with "Colville" scripted across the back. Next to me is another fellow who’d also be throwing a pitch – his jersey read "Seaver." It took me about a second to realize I was sitting next to one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Tom Seaver.
I was literally shaking when the announcer called out my name.
I walked to the pitcher’s mound, and with no warm-up time in the bullpen, I threw the pitch. All I can say is that it got to home plate. I then watched the hall-of-fame pitcher walk out and throw a perfect strike.
After the pitches, I was eager to go back and talk baseball. But Seaver wanted to talk wine. Turns out he has his own winery. The name of his signature wine, GTS, comes from his full name: George Thomas Seaver. The wine is almost impossible to find.
I figured sports fans like our prospective new sports writer would appreciate the story – and the wine. So for dinner at JTs,
I brought a bottle of GTS I’d been saving. While it may not make the hall of fame, it’s a fabulous Cabernet. Tons of delicious dark fruit, perfectly matured but with plenty of more years of life.
2012 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla, Washington, $90
For the second bottle we shared at JT’s, I have another sports-meets-wine story.
Drew Bledsoe played for the Buffalo Bills from 2002 -2004. One evening back then, my wife and I were entertaining out-of-town clients at our favorite restaurant in East Aurora. We’d brought two bottles of excellent Pinot Noir to enjoy with dinner. We noticed Drew Bledsoe walking in, also carrying two bottles. Our dinner companions were huge Bledsoe fans and wanted to rush over and ask for a photo. I told them to be patient, I had another plan. I asked the server to bring me extra wine glasses, poured two glasses of our Pinot Noir and sent them to the Bledsoe table. He came right over to thank us, and we had a very nice conversation…and my friend got his picture.
I learned that Bledsoe was from Walla Walla, Washington, and that he had grown up with Chris Figgins, part of the Leonetti wine family. After his football career, Bledsoe ended up founding Doubleback winery with Figgins. Recently I wrote to Bledsoe, requesting a visit to the winery, and he remembered the wine we shared in East Aurora…right down to the grape. The 2012 is awesome — a big, bold Cab with tons of dark fruit and an amazing finish. This wine may seem pricey, but it compares to California wines costing triple the price.
Both wines were a hit at dinner — a true win/win scenario.
Warren T. Colville is publisher and president of The Buffalo News.