Thursday, June 4, 2009
Just What Exactly is a Laker?
I don't like basketball. But that's probably because I'm short and tattoo-free. Like Ricardo Montalban after Herve Villechaize committed suicide. I love girls with a little tattoo! That's a young Judge Sotomayor on the right. But I occasionally watch the NBA during the playoffs because, well, who can resist a good freak show? It's always fun to watch the Los Angeles Lakers just to see what celebrities will turn up in the crowd. You know Jack Nicholson will be in attendance. (Someone pointed out to me that Jack is the only actor who has played the Joker who is still living. Turns out Heath Ledger is dead! Who knew?! I never saw anything about it in the papers. And Cesar Romero! Who cares?! So how do we get William Shatner cast in the next Batman movie?) Watching Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals I also spotted Denzel Washington, Penny Marshall, Hugh Hefner, Monica Lewinsky, Octomom, that old guy from Six Flags, and Son of Sam (you know how the NBA loves its gangster image!). Laker games are a lot like the Oscars--the celebs are in the best seats, the fans are in the rafters and everyone's waiting for the end of the show so they can go home.
I don't really appreciate the fine points of basketball, but that's because there aren't any. It's sort of like looking for plot points in pornography. The point is to get to the money shot. But it is riveting to watch. Basketball, I mean. Gigantic men running full-speed up and down the court dribbling. (Reminds me of the Roberts Supreme Court.) Their athleticism is breathtaking, particularly in such a meaningless pursuit. And then there are all the little guys in stripes blowing whistles when the big guys get out of control. NBA officials, I think, have the toughest refereeing job of any professional sport, and the reason for that is simple. There apparently aren't any rules in basketball. Well, there are rules, but no one is supposed to obey them. So the referees blow their whistles and point every now and then so that the game stops and other players get to play, and so that TNT can run Cialis commercials for the vast and impotent NBA audience.
So what wine does one pair with the NBA playoffs? I think that contrast is an interesting way to pair wines with food, or events, so what better contrast to the NBA than a white wine? I opened a bottle of Yorkville Cellars 2006 Eleanor of Aquitaine Yorkville Highlands, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from Mendocino County. Their winemaker is Greg Graziano (I've always wondered if he is related to Rocky. Not the boxer, the Flying Squirrel), a guy who has worked most of his life with Mendocino fruit. Here he takes Yorkville Cellars' certified organic fruit, barrel ferments both the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and meticulously blends them into a wine that seems consciously modeled after a white Graves. It takes a winemaker with skill and a light touch to successfully integrate oak into Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon without the oak dominating like Marv Albert's leather-clad mistress, and Graziano has that kind of talent and touch. Nice minerality, pretty grapefruit and melon flavors, a subtly powerful texture, and a juicy finish made this a mouthwatering bottle of white wine. It was so delicious I was called for a double dribble.