Discovering a palate-pleasing wine was not on my agenda at the two-day Tucson Festival of Books last weekend. And bear in mind, I don’t solicit wines to review, but my love of the grapes is legendary, especially among the authors I work with in my chosen career as a literary consultant (note: one cannot survive by writing about grapes alone).
One author I’m working with, Carl Paul Maggio from Sedona, AZ, brought more than his manuscript to our first meeting at the Festival; he presented me with a bottle of 2008 Maggio Petite Sirah from his family’s vineyards in the Lodi valley of California. I continue to be impressed with wines coming out of that region.
Maggio and I have spent hours on the phone discussing baseball and his project. His legacy includes playing on the 1951 American Legion National Championship baseball team, a team that fielded many renowned baseball greats, including the late George “Sparky” Anderson (who had penned the Foreward for this book before his death last year). I believe Maggio’s resulting book, Baseball’s Glorious Age of Innocence, will offer readers a nostalgic escape into a bygone era that will both entertain and enlighten. The manuscript lends itself to a potential on-screen movie; I’m thinking Disney-like innocence and magic. Carl is in the process of completing the screenplay.
So enough about the book and baseball reminiscence; just wish us luck in finding a bonafide publisher for this gem.
Now about that Maggio family wine. I opened the bottle later that evening, enjoying it with my homemade pasta sauce, chicken breast, and tortellini (a bit on the spicy side). The pairing was ideal. The 2008 Maggio Petite Sirah opened with a fruit-forward nose—blueberries and dark cherries—with just enough peppery notes that lingered on into a soft, mellow finish. This would be a perfect sipping wine to share while sitting around talking baseball. Priced at around $10 per bottle, this is truly a value wine.
The nearly famous Maggio name was the first thing that drew me to this project (and now the wine). I’m a lifelong baseball fan; one of my first sports biographies, read in third grade, was the story of the great Joe DiMaggio. Carl shares a similar name with Joe, one of the most famous New York Yankees to ever hit a baseball (and date Marilyn Monroe). Carl explained that he’s recently discovered that his father’s name was changed from DiMaggio to Maggio when he migrated to the United States from Italy many years ago. Carl, who also played professional baseball, came that close to sharing Joe’s fame. He’s even been told that his baseball fielding style mimicked Joe’s quick pace.
I believe Carl Maggio’s celebrity is yet to flourish, as this tender and nostalgic account of a group of young boys who remained bonded as they grew into skilled and responsible men and then confront their own mortality, will transport everyone back to the age before baseball was tainted. Once that happens, perhaps Carl should share in his relatives’ Maggio Family Vineyard fame as a winemaker as well. He is already a brilliant promoter of their efforts.
Cheers…to books and wine…and to a new friend who share the love of baseball.