More than a racer, Sato is a vintner too!
Add another Verizon IndyCar Series driver to the wine-producer list. We’ve seen bottles from Mario Andretti, the Foyt family, Jimmy Vasser’s V12, former INDYCAR driver Scott Pruett’s winery and now, Takuma Sato’s release of a unique and limited bottle Cabernet Sauvignon to commemorate his 2013 victory in the 39th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Driving at the time for A.J. Foyt Racing, Sato’s victory in the seminal street race makes him the sole Japanese driver to earn a win in the Indy car series. It’s also his only visit to Winner’s Circle in the series, although the former Formula One racer did come close to victory in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, crashing on the last lap and handing Dario Franchitti his third and final Indy 500 win.
“Long Beach has been my greatest accomplishment to date in my racing career,” the driver of Andretti Autosport’s No. 26 Honda acknowledged. “I really wanted to commemorate that fantastic day with a great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I feel like the wine does a great job of remembering how special that day was.”
A connoisseur of fine wines, Sato worked with winemaker Meadowcroft Wines to select grapes from the Mt Veeder area of Napa Valley, a growing region known for its excellent Cabernet varietals. That the grapes are from the 2013 vintage made the selection to produce an even easier one for the racer to make. The lush red, called TS Wine, will be available exclusively at the Foyt Wine Vault in Speedway, IN this May.
“I wanted to thank Chris Perry and Tom Meadowcroft to helping to make this great wine,” Sato said. “It was really a fun process that I quite enjoyed. I also wanted to thank Randy Owens for lending me his artwork for our table. Randy’s fantastic painting that also commemorates that great win.”
In an independent evaluation conducted March 26, 2017, the 2013 Takuma Sato “Long Beach Edition” Cabernet Sauvignon rated an overall score of 92 points by The Sommelier Company. Reaching “Sommelier grade”, the 14.5-percent alcohol-by-volume bottle just missed – by a single point – the designation of an “investment grade” wine by the evaluators.
In their judgment the tasters noted, “This is a juicy, velvety and intense Cabernet Sauvignon, with round, fresh fruit, lots of dried herbs and subtle oak. It opens up quickly and settles into its full character after an hour. The fruit is dark, underlined by piquant eucalyptus, mint and pine needles. Bitter, ashy minerals and beeswax make it highly typical as a Mount Veeder Cabernet.”
Evaluated in a blind tasting, Sato’s 2013 Cabernet was noted to have 7/10 complexity and balance, with 8/10 intensity. In non-blind tasting, its character was noted at 6/10 while typicity is rated at 9/10. Tasting notes reveal “clear, varied flavors from beginning to end, bringing complexity to the mouth.” Just like Sato, the intensity is high, especially “vigorous and persistent flavors on the palate,” the tasting notes continued. Tasters also noted the character as being satisfying, succulent, even complex.
The release price for each bottle of 2013 Takuma Sato “Long Beach Edition” Cabernet Sauvignon is $95. From the two barrels selected by Sato, there are only 600 bottles in this limited release.
Words and Photos By Anne Proffit