January 11 2011
What do Michael Jordan and Jayson Woodbridge, proprietor of cult darling Hundred Acre, have in common? Perhaps, more than you think.
People that know and follow basketball say that Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. While others may achieve Jordan’s stature in championships won (Kobe Bryant) or may be more physically gifted (LeBron James), they will forever live in the shadow of Jordan based on one intrinsic factor – competitiveness and the will to win.
Having the heart of a champion isn’t something that can be taught or coached or manufactured. You’re born with it and you find it within yourself. And, the will to achieve excellence is a personal journey that is often fueled by the slightest provocation.
Jordan’s journey is well-documented and included being cut from his varsity basketball team as a sophomore, relegated to the junior varsity team, an indignity that caused a motivating fire that burned within him until he retired from the NBA.
We often see these motivating flashpoints in the realm of sports – what’s commonly referred to as “bulletin board material”—perceived slights, grudges and competitive gaffes that are used to stoke the fires of the elite who are at the very pinnacle of their game and looking for any mental edge to focus themselves and conquer their opponent, temporarily slaking an insatiable competitive thirst.
In the fall of 2009 when Jordan gave his acceptance speech at the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, it was his coup de grace, a final opportunity in the spotlight to name the names of those that motivated him based on their slights while also celebrating those that he vanquished.
Instantly after Jordan’s speech, sports pundits were abuzz and taking one of two positions – Jordan is either a competitor through and through who spoke with candor or he was a petty jerk who lacks grace and an ability to extend credit to those that helped him achieve success.
Personally speaking, I was aligned with the former opinion. He didn’t pull any punches and nor should he have had to.
This tale of Jordan as personification of competitive fire is top of mind because it’s the first thing I thought of as I read through Jayson Woodbridge’s recent letter to mailing list members titled, “For Those that Believe.”
You see, Parker recently anointed the 2007 Hundred Acre Ark Cabernet Sauvignon, “A perfect wine” and then backed it up by giving it 100 points whilst several other offerings from Woodbridge received scores at 98 or above.
The premise of Woodbridge’s letter is therefore a kick in the ass to those that doubted and slighted him.
Forwarded to me by an industry insider and reader of this site, here are a couple of choice quotes from Woodbridge’s pen (note – he’s no grammarian and his misplaced commas and such are maintained for integrity and accuracy):
“Some of you bought based upon the scores and some just believed, love you both, but probably the latter just a little more.”
“…those of you that did not order the 2008 vintage because of some misguided belief, created from the expoundings in large and stupid glossy wine magazines, that it wasn’t as strong as 2007 will be sadly disappointed, those that did will be rewarded handsomely.”
“Guess it pays not to double prices during the boom years, guess it pays to really deliver something amazing and truly hand made, by me and not some paid consultant or French, know it all, jet setting asshole who tastes the wine once or twice a year.”
I leave it to you, the readers – is Jayson Woodbridge an ass who pimp slaps Wine Spectator and Michel Rolland without grace? Or, is Woodbridge an elite winemaker operating at the pinnacle of his game who is finding message board material to hone his competitive edge while continuing his run at the top like Michael Jordan?
Leave a comment with your thoughts.
Woodbridge’s full letter link (initiates a PDF download)