[ PORTRAITS ]
NFL Wine Guy // United States
Will Blackmon has swapped the changing rooms for wine cellars. A native of Providence in the State of Rhode Island, the former American footballer – most notably with the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants with whom he won the Super Bowl in 2011 – has developed a passion for wine. At the end of his football career, he graduated with a diploma in Wine Business Management from the University of Sonoma in California. He may be fast and agile – he can run 100 metres in under 11 seconds – but we managed to pin him down for an interview at break-neck speed.
Do you remember your first emotion with wine?
Actually, it wasn’t so much about the taste of the wine as the people I shared it with! I have always loved the way wine brings people closer together. Even if you don’t speak the same language, you can speak wine. And in some ways, that’s what France is about!
Did you have a mentor?
Not just one! At the end of the day, a lot of people helped me discover wine. Two former NFL players, Charles Woodson – who has his own wine – and Drew Bledsoe, winegrowers like Daniel Daou, Doug Fabbioli and Michael Jordan (Jackson Family Wines) and wine merchants Tristen Beamon and Kyle Meyer from Wine Exchange in Santa Ana in California, to mention just a few.
Over the next five to ten years, I will have my own brand of wine and I may have invested in a vineyard.
And now wine has become your main line of business...
I do indeed own a company called The Wine MVP. It’s a club and a curated wine service – we organise wine-related events, trips, wine tastings and sales. And over the next five to ten years, I will have my own brand of wine and I may have invested in a vineyard.
I like mature vintages because they tell the story of a wine.
How many bottles do you own?
I don’t know, I need to check my EuroCave! I also use an app called InVintory which allows me to track all my bottles, but I need to update it. To answer your question, I’d say I have between 200 and 300 wines at home!
Including mature vintages?
I like mature vintages because they tell the story of a wine but I’m not particularly trying to collect them, even if the oldest wine I have is a 1984 Barbaresco Cascina Morassino!
I have between 200 and 300 wines at home!
Last question – if you were a wine, which one would it be?
Easy! I would be a Champagne. I am always there to have a good time! My favouring pairing is a Brut Champagne with fried chicken. And on a desert island, I would take a magnum of Dom Pérignon P2 Plénitude Brut Rosé with me...
Article - Stéphane Méjanès
A former sports journalist, Stéphane Méjanès has covered every aspect of gourmet cuisine since 2012 for a range of magazines and websites. He is the author of a booklet on gourmet food reviews titled ‘Tailler une Plume’ (Éditions de l’Épure, 2019) as well as several chef’s books. He is also a lecturer at ESTHUA in Angers where he teaches Master’s Degree students on gourmet food reviews. Along with Guillaume Gomez and Tiptoque, he launched the ‘Chefs with Caregivers’ movement which earned him the 2021 La Liste Community Spirit Award. On a personal basis, he was awarded the Plume d’Or accolade for writing in 2019 and the Amunategui-Curnonsky Award in 2018.
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