When I was working at Belvedere Winery in the 1990s, Richard Mansfield was hired to be the winemaker for Bradford Mountain Winery. As colleagues go, I adored Richard; because, besides educating me, he could really make me laugh.
One instance was when we both traveled to Oregon to participate in a road show for our wholesaler.
The trip involved working and driving from Portland to Eugene, to Medford, and then to Bend, all in four days. At the end of each event, we were supposed to dispose of our samples and do “whatever” with them. After the first event in Portland, I just packed up the wine and took it to Eugene. After the Eugene event, I had even more samples left over and quickly realized that schlepping samples with me wasn’t really the way to go. So, I told one of the salesmen for the wholesaler that I wanted to give him my samples; and I had a lot more in my hotel room, if he’d like to come get them. (Each event was held in a hotel’s grand ballroom, and everyone doing the road show from “away” was staying at the hotel.)
Off we trotted to my room. Once in the room, he immediately took off his sweater. I thought, “He must be warm.”
Then, he started and had successfully taken off both of his shoes. Watching incredulously I thought, “Shoes? What the heck’s going on,” That just seemed a bit too comfortable.
I asked him, “What are you doing?” He just smiled.
I said, “Okay, when I asked you if you wanted my ‘samples,’ I meant the wine!”
He responded, “Well, I’ve had a lot to drink, and you have two beds in the room, why can’t I have just one for the night?”
“Are you kidding me? You live in this town. All you have to do is call a cab!”
He took the wine and left, probably dumbfounded that I wasn’t really coming on to him.
I couldn’t believe it. My days of being a babe were ~ and still are ~ well over. And… I’m really married. When you’ve found the best, there’s no room for the rest.
Then, Richard called my room, so we could meet for dinner. At dinner, I told him what had just happened, and we laughed hysterically about “my samples.” The next morning when it was time to leave, Richard called my room to see if I was ready to travel to the next town. I told him, “Yes, and I’ll just leave my door ajar, so you can help get all the wine stuff to the car.”
I went to the door and flipped the bolt attachment, so the door would remain open and began to gather my things. Within a couple of minutes, my door bust open and a shoe came flying across the room. At first I was startled, then I bust into fits of hysterical laughter, with Richard standing outside of my room with a really smug look on his face. Then he, too, burst into laughter.
I was queried: “My name is Rob Carpenter and I am the affiliate manager for GoldMedalWineClub.com. You have a great website and I wanted to see if there are some opportunities for us to work together?”
“Sure,” was my response. Wine samples allow for me to step outside of my good sized circle, and discover new products. I always know that I can probably concoct some back story, given 19 years of being in this wine business. “Bring them on.”
A package just arrived, and I have to tell you that I’m very impressed:
- The overall packaging is very welcoming, and really well executed.
- The outer package was very securely packed.
- The enclosed support materials over delivered.
- A really artistic box held the contents. My first impressions was a “Wow” moment.
- Each bottle was exclusively wrapped, and it was easy to know which was the white wine, and which was the red.
- A great gift card was enclosed, matching the box’s theme.
- A welcome letter told me about the Gold Medal Wine Club.
- A list of recently featured wines was also enclosed, in the event that I’d like to order more wine.
- An 8-page, glossy 4-color newsletter was enclosed.
- On pages 2 and 3, tech data is provided for those of us who just want to know all about TA, pH, and alcohol. (Yes, we can read alcohol content on the bottle, but it’s always great to have it in print with the content of other technical details, to simply put it into instant context.)
So, I started to read the newsletter. The wines delivered were from Grandmaster Winery. “Hum… interesting name,” I thought, as I read:
“Grandmaster Winery: An expert in crafting high quality, top value wines from throughout California’s most esteemed wine regions.”
Below the text was the picture and text:
“Winemaker Richard Mansfield brings over 30 years of experience to Grandmaster Winery.”
It still hadn’t clicked. I read on, then flipped to pages two and three. As I looked at these two pages contiguously, and looked at another picture of Richard, something was beginning to come together, and I thought, “Richard Mansfield. That name’s so familiar… Wait a minute… Richard Mansfield… Could it be?”
I began scrambling to find the missing link. Remember, it was now about 15 years later. There was nothing on these two pages that gave me the answer I needed… I flipped to pages four and five, and there it was.
I read, “… In 1995, he began a succession of winery posts that included Stag’s Leap Winery, Bradford Mountain Winery, and the highly respected Palmaz Vineyards. He also began consulting with the likes of GV Cellars, Lapis Luna, Murphy Vineyard, Peripoli Estate, and Oliver Estate.” There you go… Bradford Mountain… My Richard! Yeah!
Now I know what he’s up to, and I would be able to taste his wines. I have to say, even before tasting these wines, knowing Richard and the wines he made when we worked together, he’s a Grandmaster, so I get the name. I’m ready to highly recommend any wines he’s made. When you know the winemaker, you know the integrity of the wine in the bottle.
2010 Grandmaster Knights Valley Sauvignon Blanc: Knights Valley is just a stone’s throw away from my home, and I know that fruit coming from this location is highly prized, where Sauvignon Blanc thrives. Richard is sourcing his fruit from great regions, and this is one of those locations.
With only 1470 cases (245 barrels) of this wine being made… The nose of this Sauvignon Blanc has delectable, sweet melon and white peach aromas, with tropical fruit and lemon grass wafting up from the glass… Tart Granny Smith apples and Meyers lemons on the palate are followed by quite a long, lingering finish. This wine is all that I expected and more… deliciously delivered. If you love cheese, this wine would be perfect with tart, salty cheeses.
2009 Grandmaster Paso Robles Red Blend: This wine is coming from Paso Robles. I’ve never stated it before publicly, but I’m happy to tell you now that I love wines from Paso Robles. I can thank my PSILY members (Christian Lazo, Clavo Cellars, Estrella Creek Wines, Line Shack Winery, Grizzly Republic, Ranchita Canyon Vineyard, and Vina Robles) for turning me onto really exceptional wines. I “get” this area and love the rich, ripe wines that come from here.
This blend of 61 percent Syrah, 37 percent Zinfandel, and 2 percent Merlot is an intriguing blend of the Rhone, California, and a Bordeaux… Who would have thunk it? (Richard Mansfield, that’s who.) The same 1470 cases being made of this wine… The color was very inviting, almost as if I was looking at a solid Pinot Noir. I swirled, I sniffed, I found saddle leather right away. The Syrah was dominating and inviting, as I was thinking, pizza for lunch. Yes! Rich, supple flavors of earth and smoky spice were on my palate, with that famous saddle leather dominating, but on the back end, cassis was also definitely there. The finish brought home the Zin blackberries, and tobacco box lingered on the finish. This really tasty and delicious wine is headed for a heavy cheese pizza with purple onions.
These are delicious wines worth journaling about; not only because Richard’s wines are so tasty, but also because I was able to reconnect with my old friend simply through his wine…. if there’s anything simple about that process.
Besides making great wine, Richard also makes for good back stories, as I noted. And, this image of Richard Mansfield playing Richard III is a bit similar to my friend Richard Mansfield’s image, if he’d just don that wig.
I’m thinking that there may possibly be some DNA here that my Richard might want to check out on Ancestry.com.
What do you think?