Fine pallets are not often refined by mouth guards, hard hits and 2-a-days, but for former Super Bowl Champion Will Blackmon, becoming a licensed sommelier was more of a pursuit than a purpose. Just like he studied offenses, Will dug into the details to learn about vintages, scents, and textures to become an expert in everything wine and connect with a new community.
In this sit down, we get candid with this all pro and ask him about the inspiration behind our brand’s name, the beautiful Rhone region, and what a sommelier like himself would try while there.
Red wine is king in the Rhone Valley. Which red wines are must-haves from this region and why?
In Rhone, there are two major parts. There is Northern Rhone where the grape varietal Syrah reigns supreme. These wines are bold, with aromas of smoked meat, olives, pepper and flavors of blackberry, & chocolate. Areas in Northern Rhone that produce some of the best Syrah come from Cote Rotie and Hermitage. Find ones that have some age on them.
In Southern Rhone you’ll get wine blends led by the grape varietal Grenache. Since the temperatures are hot here, these wines are more ripe and have high alcohol content. These wines have aromas of leather, tobacco, and violets and flavors of raspberry, strawberry, and black currant. The best region for this wine is Chateauneuf Du Pape!
Only 6% of wines made in the Rhone Valley are white. While the options are limited, for fans of white wine, what would you suggest and why?
Viognier is the main white wine in Rhone. It’s very aromatic with aromas of perfume, rose, citrus, and some honeysuckle. It’s a full body wine with medium to high alcohol. In Northern Rhone, look for the regions Condrieu and chateau grillet to find the best viogniers.
Just about everybody loves a good rosé. What is your go-to rosé from the Rhone Valley and why?
Tavel is a man’s rosé! It has more body than most rosés, is higher in alcohol and lower in acidity. It’s primarily made with Cinsault or Grenache. This is a great summertime rosé to have with your barbecue.
If you're planning to travel around the Rhone Valley to different vineyards and wineries, what would be an ideal outfit to keep things comfortable yet appropriate?
Like any wine tour, make sure you wear something very comfortable. I always wear my Commuter Five Pocket Pants because they are flexible like sweatpants, durable like jeans, and breathable like shorts for when it’s warm. I’d recommend a polo and a light jacket if visiting in the fall. The best time to visit Rhone would be late October or early November. It isn’t as busy and you’ll find better rates.