Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this", and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending, we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.
This weekend is the Super Bowl, but who cares? The real world championship of note is the Cyclocross World Championships hosted for the first time in America, in Louisville, Kentucky. I'm a huge football fan, well, more accurately, I'm a huge fan of my hometown team, the Northwest's favorite football villains the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rest of them I don't really care about. In fact, if the Steelers aren't in the Super Bowl, I don't even watch. Ridiculous? Really? It's three hours of my time, time is precious why should I waste it watching two teams that don't matter to me, and one of which the Ravens I outright hate?
Besides, there's Cyclocross to watch. What's Cyclocross you ask? Only the world's greatest competitive sport. Take what essentially looks like a road bicycle, now put what are essentially mountain bike tires on it, and now ride it around in mud, sand, water, and throw in a few stairs and running sections and maybe a few obstacles and you've got Cyclocross. But ride it as fast as you can, elbow to elbow with other racers. It's quite simply the most fun you can have on a bicycle, except it's really hard and truthfully it hurts if you're doing it right.
What's great about Cyclocross is that it's got all the competitive elements of bicycle racing and none of the attitude. Instead of hoity toity lycra clad snobs you get a lot of guys racing 'cross who look like they drink a lot of beer, it's because they do. Some of these guys are actually disturbingly fast. And, in fact it's not uncommon while you're racing for a spectator to actually hand you a beer, or a shot, or a piece of bacon, or a doughnut. I've even seen women and men offer racers dollar bills; "hand-ups" from various naughty parts of their bodies. How can you not love a sport like that?
Cyclocross developed as a way for the professional road racers in Europe to stay fit through the winter, and in fact, old time Cyclocross races were really rugged. People were swimming through rivers with their big heavy steel bicycles. Today the sport has exploded in America, which is of course a relative term, but Cyclocross is king in Belgium. Seriously, those folks are bat shit crazy over Cyclocross. At the World Championships in Koksijde last year, 61,000 people came out to watch. They stood in the cold and the mud and watched Cyclocross. They might be the greatest sports fans in the world.
I urge you to check out some of the racing this weekend, there's a live feed of the action here. And if you're so inclined come out to watch the action or race. Both Washington and Seattle have some of the biggest 'cross racing scenes in the country. Portland has the Cross Crusade and Seattle has two series, the Seattle Cyclocross Series and MFG Cyclocross. If you need another reason, none of the competitors in this week's World Championships ever stabbed anyone.
In fact, my Motofish Racing teammate Jenni Gaertner out of Coeur d'Alene Idaho, is racing in Worlds today, so get over there and give her a shout.
Today's Friday Find has a bit of a worldly look to it's label in the form of a mysterious post card. The Vin de Tabula Rasa or the Wine of the Blank Slate from Andrew Rich Wines comes in around $18. The Oregon winery makes plenty of Washington wine, sourcing a fair bit of it from Red Willow Vineyard, but this Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache blend comes from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA mostly, and a dash of it from Red Mountain. This wine is so named because each year and vintage it's a chance to start over anew. Lots of great fruit and spice aromatics, white pepper and blackberrry reduction and more white pepper in the palate of the wine, maybe it's from the Mourvedre as well as red raspberries and black plum. The wine is soft and supple to drink but it's not simplistic.