Hines Ward is making peace with white wine aficionados. He is coming out with the Hines Ward Seyval Blanc on Thursday at his Vines Wine Bar in Seven Fields, Butler County.
Mr. Ward uncorked his first wine label — the 2013 Napa Valley “Eighty-Six” cabernet — in January. “Now, I want to give another option to wine drinkers, to the ones who prefer whites,” he says.
Personally, says the Super Bowl MVP, he prefers reds as he likes steaks, but quickly adds that his wife is part of a large group of wine drinkers who like whites better.
The new white is made with 100 percent seyval blanc grapes that are grown at the John Schultz & Sons farm near Erie, says restaurateur Howard Shiller, who co-owns Vines and the adjacent restaurant Table 86 with Mr. Ward. “The dry Seyval Blanc is light, refreshing and brisk and has some acidity to it,” he says.
Grapes are processed within two to three hours at Webb Winery in Hermitage. “The fresher the grapes are the better the wine is,” says Kevin Webb, winemaker and co-owner of Webb Winery. “If white grapes sit out for a long time, they will begin to oxidize.” The wine then sits for 18 to 24 months in an oak barrel before it is bottled.
“I love that the Seyval Blanc has been aged in an oak barrel. It has a nice balance — a hint of oak and a few buttery notes,” Mr. Ward says. “It will be a great one to sip in spring and summer when people sit out on their patios. And it complements seafood, Asian and Mexican foods well.”
Mr. Webb says the Hines Ward white is similar to a real dry California chardonnay.
The label on the Seyval Blanc is not as dramatic as the one on the Napa Valley cabernet. There is no “Eighty-Six” or a sepia graphic of Mr. Ward — instead it just has the words “wine, whiskey, food and friends.” “The words on the label go with the Vines Wine Bar logo,” Mr. Shiller says. “Vines does not serve just wines. It also has a small boutique batch of scotches and bourbon, and of course it is about food and friends.”
The white wine release and barrel tasting at Vines on Thursday will feature two tastings but tickets for both are sold out. If you don’t have a ticket for the release party but would like to taste the wine, you could get a bottle for about $32 at Vines or Table 86 starting Friday.
In two months, Mr. Ward’s red wine label has earned loyal fans. One of them is Dan Potash, anchor and reporter of Root Sports. He says he got married in Napa Valley, and so is partial toward Napa Valley wines. “I found the cabernet to have earthy tones and a peppery and jammy taste,” he says. “I know you are not supposed to have reds with seafood but the cabernet even went well with the ahi tuna I ordered at Table 86.”
Attorney Scott Westcott of Mars who works at a Downtown law firm says he generally prefers whites but the Napa Valley cabernet has changed his mind. “My wife and I think it is delicious. We have been through 10 bottles,” he says. He will be attending the release party Thursday, and looks forward to going back to his wine of choice, a dry white.
Arthi Subramaniam: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1494 or on Twitter @asub.