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Focus on:  Mirror Wine Company

Launching what is now an annual, vigorous conversation amongst pro football pundits: “Who should be the first player selected in the NFL draft,” two quarterbacks with intermingling paths were chosen first and second in the 1993 NFL draft inciting the now annual speculation turned conversational sport from the football talking heads while in the process sparking a friendly and competitive personal journey of success that continues between the two to this day, now off the gridiron and in the wine industry. 

Drew Bledsoe, a prep quarterback from Walla, Walla before matriculating to nearby Washington State University, was the first selection in the ’93 NFL draft, chosen by the New England Patriots. 

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Rick Mirer, similarly, a local boy “done good” from Goshen, Indiana became a three-year starter for the University of Notre Dame, just a half-hour from home, before becoming the second selection in the same draft, chosen by the Seattle Seahawks.

This dual “degree of separation” story continued as Drew Bledsoe later was replaced as starting quarterback of the Patriots, infamously losing his job to injury and a young Tom Brady. Charlie Weis, who later went on to become the head football coach at Mirer’s alma mater, presided over the decision as the Patriots Offensive Coordinator.

Today, nearly 20 years later, after successful football careers that lasted more than a decade each, both quarterbacks are now making their mark not by eluding defensive end’s and throwing touchdowns, but by crafting high-end Cabernet.

Bledsoe and his Washington state wine project, Doubleback, has been featured in several media profiles recently.  Looking at the other half of this former NFL quarterback dynamic duo, the subject of my focus is Rick Mirer and his Mirror Wine Company, based in St. Helena, California.

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(On a personal and parenthetical note, having grown up in South Bend, IN, home to Notre Dame, as a lifelong fan now turned wine enthusiast, Mirer figures prominently in my collegiate memories—many a Saturday in the early 90s made better by a Notre Dame victory, including the legendary Snow Bowl game against Penn State in 1992 when, as a senior playing his last game at Notre Dame stadium, Mirer rallied the Fighting Irish to a 17-15 victory in the final seconds.)

Nearly a decade ago,  during a four year stretch from 2000-2003, a period of time in which Mirer played on both sides of the bay, spending two years with both the San Francisco 49’ers and the Oakland Raiders, his proximity to “wine country” sparked an interest in matters of the grape.  In particular, it was while he was with the Raiders that Mirer struck up a friendship with Jeff Smith, proprietor of Hourglass, the high-end Napa cab specialist, charting the beginning of his post-football career.

Already wine curious with a taste for California Cab, and having had discussions with Bledsoe about collaborating on a wine project, Mirer had his wine epiphany during a dinner at Tra Vigne, with an ’98 Hourglass and Smith’s company.

Mirer notes in an interview with Good Grape, “(Bledsoe and I) started thinking about doing something together maybe 10 years ago. There were lots of good ideas in those early talks. I believe the best idea of all was to have two separate programs that we can share and be proud of.  Walla Walla is home for him and he’s started something really cool there. I wanted to stay in (California) and (a) Napa (wine) was a perfect fit for me. So far so good.”

Following that Tra Vigne dinner and an introduction from Smith to winemaker Rob Lawson, former General Manager at Napa Wine Company during the influential and formative period in which cult Cabs like Colgin and Bryant come of age, Mirer would soon launch Mirror Wine Company so named at the suggestion of Lawson, and a phonetic coincidence to the oft-mis-pronounced way of saying “Mirer.”

Starting with the 2005 vintage, now sold out, Mirror is on the cusp of launching a Sauvignon Blanc to go alongside the Cabernet sourced from Oakville and St. Helena fruit.  A single vineyard from Howell Mountain will likely round out the wine offerings in the future with production anticipated to stay small, not exceeding 1200 cases or so.

Envisioned as an allocated offering, but more elastically available given the economy, Mirror is available in select states, mostly California with spot distribution in Illinois, Indiana, and New York.  I picked up my bottle at a wine shop in Mishawaka, Indiana, a stone’s throw from the campus at Notre Dame where Mirer is still a local legend.

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At $75 the ’06 Cabernet is a lush beauty in the cult Napa Cabernet tradition with a price tag that DOESN’T match.  Bargain hunters looking for velvety Napa Cabernet would do well to pick up the Mirror.  I do have some question about the ageability of this wine given the fact that it drinks like it’s at its peak right now with minimal decanting, but buyers who live for the moment will be triumphantly pleased like a touchdown strike to win the game.

Tasting Note: Opens with some dustiness, big blackberry, spice and dark chocolate on the nose before giving way to a lush, velvety smooth mid-palate.  Tastes like 72% cacao Ghirardelli chocolate bathed in Kirsch and crème de cassis liqueur, dashed with nutmeg with a menthol undertone.  Seamlessly balanced and structured with a silky, velvety smooth, rich character.  An impeccable wine and worth every penny of its $75—so good in fact, I bogarted pours to our guests while eating our Saturday night NY strips, unsure of their appreciation for this beauty. Score:  94/100



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Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (8) |


Comments

On 05/31, Kristi Davis wrote:

I’ve been hearing great things about the Mirror Cabernet. I can’t wait to taste it and learn more about the new Sauvignon Blanc.

On 10/22, superbowl wrote:

The game of football is any of several similar team sports, of similar origins which involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot in an attempt to score a goal. The most popular of these sports worldwide is association football, more commonly known as just “football” or “soccer”.

On 12/21, super bowl suite wrote:

I really want to play football extremely badly next year. I signed up for it and they said to go to the head coach and talk to him if you want to play. I went to the coach, and he looked extremely serious and sort of uninterested but my friends said that he is always like that.

On 03/14, London Handyman wrote:

The NFL and AFL agreed to merge before the 1966 season. The first championship game between the two leagues; champions was to take place after that season.

On 04/05, numbering software wrote:

The “economy,” price of oil, inflation and away it goes - wineries know that they are after your disposable income and many are making sure that they are truly contenders for that portion of your budget by offering good, value priced wine as their first tier offering to consumers.

On 04/25, donkey trekking wrote:

Bargain hunters looking for velvety Napa Cabernet would do well to pick up the Mirror.  I do have some question about the ageability of this wine given the fact that it drinks like it’s at its peak right now with minimal decanting

On 06/01, Machu Picchu Trips wrote:

I’ve heard and read a lot of good reviews about this wine. Maybe it’s time to prove it myself.

On 11/21, How to be a gardener wrote:

so I have I, but does anyone know how strong it is?


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