By Maria McKinley   |   Friday, April 29, 2016 at 11:10 am   |   Leave a Comment »

A.J. Foyt, four-time winner Indy 500. Larry J. Foyt, three-time qualifier Indy 500. A.J. (Anthony) Foyt IV, six-time qualifier Indy 500. Recently, patriarch A.J. Foyt purchased an old bank building in Speedway to open a race shop. Larry and Anthony had merged their interest in wine after both left racing and decided the bank vault location would be the perfect place for a tasting room.

Although the vineyards and wine production are located in California, the Foyt family consider Indianapolis their second home, according to Larry’s YouTube video. At the Foyt Wine Vault, Larry says they have created a unique space that “pays tribute to A.J. and all that he has accomplished. It’s the perfect venue to showcase A.J.’s racing career and it’s become a little bit of a museum,” as well as a bar, tasting room, and lounge area.

Foyt Family Wines honor A.J.’s legacy by assigning a meaningful number from his career to each varietal. No. 39 is a Riesling grown in the Borden Ranch area of Lodi, California. It is a sweet but light wine that pairs well with smoked salmon or sushi or served with a dessert course, according to the company’s website. The number 39 refers to the year 1939 when A.J. Foyt was just four years old and his father built him his first race car. The No.39 bottle label displays the photograph of A.J. sitting in that car.

No.14, their debut wine, was a Cabernet Sauvignon from the St. Helena area of Napa Valley. This is A.J.’s favorite number for his many racing cars. His 3rd and 4th wins at Indy were in a #14 race car. When asked about the significance #14, A.J. replied, “I liked the way it looked on the car.”  The last car Foyt raced at Indy in 1992, #14, is on display in the tasting room. Other wines offered are No.61 Pinot Noir, No.67 Chardonnay, No.72 a red Meritage, and No.77 Cabernet Sauvignon. Each label tells the story of A.J. and the number’s significance.

In an interview last year, Detroit Free Press reporter Mike Brudenell asked A.J. if his wines were better than those from Andretti Winery. “I told the boys, it had better be better,” he replied.

The Foyt Wine Vault is located at 1182 Main Street, Speedway, Indiana. The bar serves Foyt wines, craft beers, appetizers, dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and Saturday lunch. The Vault is open Thursday through Saturday but call 317-672-4246 for current hours.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 3:47 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

On my first visit to Chateau Ausone in Bordeaux, a vineyard manager told me that “It’s crazy to grow grapes outside.” Those words, in April of 1976, rang very true these past two days as news of the freezing temperatures in the Loire Valley kept coming.

The vineyard manager back then was talking about just such catastrophes — insects, hail, tornadoes, and all the other freakish things weather brings to grape vines. A couple of years ago, hail wrought destruction in Burgundy. Not long ago wildfires swept by Napa Valley. A few years ago an earthquake wreaked havoc in Chile and tornadoes devastated Tuscany.

It’s too early to know the full extent of the damage to Loire wines, but there’s no doubt that some vineyards have been completely destroyed. While frost in late spring is not unknown in northerly wine districts, it is especially harmful at bud break, as has been the case in towns like Chinon, Bourguell, Azay-le-Rideau, and Vouvray.

Those of us who love and appreciate wine should reflect occasionally on the labor, risk, and love of the craft exerted in our behalf. No one has ever said that wine production is easy, and those who have chosen or have been born to do it deserve our gratitude. It is one thing to raise a glass at dinner or a festive occasion and quite another to keep the fire pots burning on an icy slope at daybreak.

We send our best wishes to the Loire vignerons.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Every once in a while I regret not paying much attention to the wines of South America. I don’t particularly like their being described as “New World,” because wines have been produced in Argentina and Chile since the mid sixteenth century. One reason I largely overlook them, I suspect, is that I have never made an opportunity to visit vineyards down there. Another is that my experience with wines from Chile was with a merchant in Paris several years ago who doubted they would cellar well.

Even so, I couldn’t help noticing that some of the world’s greatest producers, such as Lafite-Rothschild, were gravitating to the southern hemisphere, and that more and more wines from the Andes were finding their way to our shelves. Nonetheless, I continued to pursue my age-old habits.

Thanks to the largesse of a friend, I just enjoyed an exceptional bottle of Argentinian  wine from the Bodega Adrianna Catena Zapata. The Catena name I knew — a wine family of many generations. Adrianna I learned about because of the bottle. She is a scholar and historian with graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and Oxford.

When she teamed with a winemaker also with a historical bent to produce wine, the two created Gran Enemigo, a Pomerol-style wine based on the Cabernet Franc (73%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit-Verdot, and only 5% Malbec, the grape most often used on the Mendoza Plateaus. My bottle of the 2010 vintage could hardly qualify as aged, but it was in splendid condition — silky, gentle, and long. It has awakened my latent interest in wines from way down under.

Unfortunately, I cannot walk into any of my retailers for this wine, but it whetted my appetite for more of its neighbors. This particular wine is imported by Winebow of New York whose distribution is largely on the East Coast but does include Chicago. It is worth searching for.

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