If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift for that special wine connoisseur in your life, listen to the annual WCAP (980 AM) Salvation Army Radiothon on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. That’s when I’ll be on the show with Warren Shaw, Sam Poulten and the rest of the crew to raise money for the less fortunate in the Greater Lowell area.
We’ll be doing another celebrity wine auction, this time with three precious bottles instead of one.
A year ago, a limited-edition bottle of Drew Bledsoe’s 2010 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon, which was signed personally by the New England Patriots Hall of Fame quarterback, was the star performer.
The bottle ignited an early morning-bidding war between Patriots fans and wine collectors. In the end, it sold for $1,000 to a generous Billerica couple, both attorneys, who put the hammer down on Lowell School Committee member Steve Gendron’s $700 bid. Despite losing the bottle, Gendron won the gratitude of all by graciously donating his $700 on the spot — producing a $1,700 Doubleback double whammy of a Christmas miracle for the Salvation Army.
It was an exciting moment, and Saturday we’ll triple the fun by auctioning three individual bottles. Each represents a unique, one-of-a-kind gift in Greater Lowell, if not Massachusetts and beyond.
First, as readers of this column know, I traveled with the Wine Goddess in June to Walla Walla, Wash., where we spent three days visiting Bledsoe and his Doubleback vineyards. Drew was gracious enough to autograph several bottles of his as-of-then unreleased 2011 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon. Because of the prevailing 90-degree heat, Bledsoe offered to hold the bottles until October when they could be shipped safely in cooler conditions. I obliged, of course, but not before tasting the vintage at Bledsoe’s annual winery outing. I was bowled over. This Cabernet was going to be his best, I told the Wine Goddess, and she agreed.
The reviews have since come in and they are superb. In September, Wine Enthusiast magazine selected the 2011 Doubleback for its Top 100 List of 2014 cellar-worthy wines. Here’s what reviewer Paul Gryet wrote:
“This is Doubleback’s first vintage to include estate-grown grapes in the blend. Truffle, mocha and ripe purple-fruit scents explode from the glass. Ample acidity underscores the chewy tannins. A dense and ageworthy wine, this needs more bottle-age to show its best; try after 2018. — (9/1/2014) — 94 points.”
Two weeks ago, highly respected international wine writer Steve Tanzer gave Doubleback 94 points, saying: “This has all the elements of a slow and graceful evolution in bottle but it makes for a pleasurable drink already. The best wine yet under the Drew Bledsoe label…”
Only 3,000 cases were produced, and Doubleback’s allocation list members get first preference on purchases. So this signed bottle is a rare find indeed. Get ready to make a generous bid to score Bledsoe’s best.
Also up for grabs are:
• A magnum (1.5 liter bottle) of the 2012 Mossback Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, signed by the entire 2013-14 Lowell City Council and City Manager Kevin Murphy. This makes for a wonderful conversation piece whether you enjoy Lowell’s bloodsport politics or not. Mayor Rodney Elliott’s name is so big and bold that I swear Stevie Wonder could read it. Not to be outdone, Rita M. Mercier’s signature makes a statement for her own celebrity wine label. Ed Kennedy’s got a flair for style, too, signing his name like, well, a famous “Ed K——dy.” Personally, I love Jim Milinazzo’s hand. He should sign baseballs for a living. The wine is good, too: nice strawberry aromas and flavors wrapped in an attractive bottle, donated by Richard “Wine Wizard” Rourke of Tutto Bene Wine & Cheese Cellar and yours truly.
• A double magnum (3 liters, or 4 regular bottles) of the 2012 Bogle Phantom Red, a juicy, jammy California Zinfandel blend. You need two hands to pick up this elegant bottle, enhanced with the autographs of all 24 members of the 2014 UMass Lowell River Hawks hockey team, including our Coach of the Year Norm Bazin. The Riverhawks reached the NCAA Division I semifinals a year ago, are ranked No. 7 in the nation today, and could win the entire 2014 national crown. If that happens, this bottle could be the keeper of a lifetime — well, at least until Billy Riley says open it. This magnificent bottling comes with a UMass Lowell gift pack. Sorry but there’s a $250 minimum bid attached to this piece, which comes from my personal cellar.
So may the bidding be with you — and good luck to the Salvation Army.