Red Wings and
And so, the Stanley Cup finalists were set, pitting the teams of two rival multimillionaire Detroit area businessmen against each other. The Detroit Red Wings, owned by Little Caesar’s pizza magnate Mike Ilitch, appeared to be the overwhelming favorites against Compuware head honcho Peter Karmonos’ Carolina Hurricanes. Most observers, excluding the Carolina faithful and the Red Wings themselves, gave the ‘Canes no chance of taking this series. But despite having a minimum of 9 future Hall of Famers to Carolina’s 1 sure bet at this point in time (Ron Francis), the Wings knew that they’d have to play their best hockey yet to win the coveted Lord Stanley’s trophy again.
Game 1 - Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI: The Red Wings took a 1-0 lead in the 1st period on a goal by Sergei Fedorov, only to see their lead evaporate on Sean Hill's 5 on 3 power play goal early in the 2nd. At 10:39 of the same period, Detroit took the lead once again, when Kirk Maltby blistered a shot past ‘Canes’ goalie Arturs Irbe. However, former Red Wing Aaron Ward (to whom I once sold a bottle of a good Red Rhône) made a perfect up-ice pass to Jeff O’Neil, who skated in alone to put the puck past a sprawling Dominik Hasek. The Wings turned the puck over far too many times during the game, and when neither team scored in the 3rd period, a certain dread set in, because the ‘Canes had capitalized on overtime situations far more frequently than Detroit in the playoffs up to that point.
Sure enough, Captain Ron Francis, whom Wings coach Scotty Bowman had coached at Pittsburgh during the Penguins' glory years in the early ‘90s, took advantage of another Detroit lapse to win for Carolina at 58 seconds into overtime. The game, while having all the tension one might expect in the Stanley Cup finals, was not nearly as exciting as 6 of the 7 games in the Detroit - Colorado series. The boys would surely have to pick it up a notch or two for Game 2 on Thursday.
1995 Bernard Chave Crozes Hermitage, $12.99, 12.5 % alc.: This dark garnet is perhaps just starting to rust a little, and shows a strong streak of underbrush and rhubarb that is almost reminiscent of boxwood, or dare I say cat pee? Kim commented, "This has kind of a resin thing going on." (Not much has changed since we last tasted it in that regard.) These dominate the red currant and plum aromas, all of which carry over into the flavors. There’re still some significant tannins to go with the good acidity and an astringent finish; it still tastes like a rather tight young wine, even at 7 years of age and after a couple of hours in a decanter. It does gradually open with extended air, and while interesting and enjoyable, it could still use at least a few more years of aging.
Imported by Martine’s Wines Inc., San Rafael, CA 91901
2000 J.L. Chave Saint-Joseph Offerus, $25.99, 12.5% alc.: The nose on this deep dark garnet features dusty plum and blackberry aromas with chocolate overtones and a hint of underbrush. The flavors echo, more or less, with the chocolate coming more to the fore. Tannins are unobtrusive, and the acidity is good, as is the finish, but while there’s nothing really "wrong" with it, there’s not much here to distinguish it either. It’s just red wine, and overpriced at that, making for some bad Red Wings - Red Rhône mojo. I won’t make that mistake again. Bernard’s Crozes is a much more satisfying wine at half the price for this taster, though Kim didn’t care much for either.
Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA
Game 2 - Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday, June 6, 2002, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI: The Wings and ‘Canes traded shorthanded goals in the 1st period, with Kirk Maltby and Rod Brind’Amor scoring for their respective teams. From then on, it was tight checking by both teams, allowing few chances through 2 periods. Then the Red Wings found their offensive game, turning up the pressure in the 3rd, and finally, Nicklas Lidstrom scored on the power play (the 1st in 8 opportunities) at 14:92, and Kris Draper added an insurance goal 13 seconds later. Detroit had to win this game and they did, but the series headed to Carolina for games 3 and 4 with the Hurricanes having accomplished their goal of gaining at least a split in Games 1 and 2, as well as home ice advantage.
1997 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône, $12.99, 12.5% alc.: Just a few hours before game time, I decided to see how this is progressing since our last taste, thinking that it would be an interesting pairing with the 2nd wine. It’s still a dark garnet, showing no hint of rust yet, and why should it? The nice bouquet features earthy plum shaded with notes of leather, underbrush, and even a little cinnamon and chocolate. The medium-full to full bodied flavors echo, with a good dose of tannins and acidity, and a decent finish that turns a little stemmy. Hints of coffee and cola come out with air through the 1st period, but it still has a hard leanness to it that needs a few years to soften up a little.
Imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL
1998 Perrin Châteauneuf du Pape Les Sinards, $29.99, 13.5% alc.: A ruby dark garnet, with nice, if not overly effusive Châteauneuf character on the nose, this shows smoke, plum, berry, leather and licorice character that carries over into the medium-full to full bodied flavors. Not as tannic or as concentrated as the Coudoulet, with good acidity, this isn’t a bad wine by any means, but I‘d like a little more oomph on the mid-palate and the finish. The shelf talker was a bit misleading about this one, and it's certainly overpriced for what's in the bottle. Maybe a few more years in the cellar will make a difference, but we won’t be buying another to find out.
Imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL
I poured another glass of the Coudoulet in the 3rd period, and it just gets Rhône-ier and Rhône-ier as it opens, with more leather, coffee and cola emerging, and it blows the Les Sinards away. This is some really good stuff, and I still don’t believe the price we paid for it.