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XIX by Keyshawn Johnson: Wine of the gods

by  Jeanine Lewis on September 29, 2012
XIX by Keyshawn Johnson: Wine of the gods

The Greek god Hermes, son of Zeus, is often referred to as the god of eloquence. Hermes was revered for his athletic excellence, determined spirit, bold and clever nature. It is an ideal symbol for former NFL Super Bowl Champion Keyshawn Johnson and his wine label, XIX. Together, the image of Hermes and Johnson’s football number in Roman numerals make up the label’s art design.

Los Angeles is home to Johnson who now adds the wine industry to his resume. After graduating from both high school and college in the city of angels, it was natural for him to come home after retiring from the football field. “It was a dream to get an education and have the opportunity to meet great people that helped to shape my life,” Johnson says. After leading the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans to win the Cotton Bowl, he was the No.1 pick in one of the most revered drafts for wide receivers in 1996. Graduating from USC with a Bachelor Degree in History and Social Science Education, Johnson went on to play in the NFL for eleven seasons until he retired in 2007 and became an analyst for ESPN.

Johnson wasn’t always a wine enthusiast, but as his network grew so did his interest in wine. “When I was playing football, I wasn’t a wine drinker. I was focused on the field. After retiring, my friends exposed me to good wines and I fell in love with it over time,” Johnson explains. Over the years, he developed a sophisticated palate for grape varietals. Partnering with successful restaurateur and wine connoisseur, R.C. Mills, was a perfect pairing to create a distinguished wine label.

Born in Trinidad, Mills began his career as a chef. He received culinary training in Bordeaux, France and moved up the ranks at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. “Cooking in France, the patrons didn’t drink much water with their meals, they drank wine. It was important for me as a chef to have a solid background on wines,” Mills shares. Mills spent 10 years in Oregon after his tenure with the Ritz-Carlton, which is where he discovered the best kept secret in the Pacific Northwest. “After the Mount St. Helens volcanic explosion of 1980, the ashes created a soil mixture that positively impacted the vines in northeast Oregon. “The unique plot of land in this area of Oregon includes vines that had to fight for life. The sweetness of the berries came from the struggle they endured to survive. All the vineyards in this area have extraordinary grape varietals that is the best kept secret of the wine world,” Mills continues. It is his belief that this area of the Columbia Valley will be well-known and highly sought after in the next five years. “The appellation and climate [warm during the day and cool at night] is similar to that of Bordeaux. The soil makes the area unique and the grape varietals are nothing short of spectacular,” Mills says enthusiastically.

XIX is a rich, voluptuous, full bodied red with hints of chocolate and black licorice. It is bold and intoxicating, much like the character of Hermes. At a super-premium price point at $125, a bottle XIX represents a lifestyle. It is a wine for celebratory occasions and limited for collection. It is available for purchase at fine wine retailers at each point of the United States and online. A discovery of a diamond in the rough terrain could turn out to be a sweet investment.

For more information, visit www.xixwine.com and follow the label on Twitter. You can also purchase XIX at the following locations:

Lincoln Fine Wines – Venice, CA

Firewines.com – Oregon, WA

The Wine Library – New Jersey

Wide World Wines – Washington, D.C.

Virginia Philip Wines Shop & Academy – West Palm Beach, FL

Jeanine Lewis

Jeanine Lewis

Jeanine Lewis is a renaissance freelance writer. As an alumna of University of Washington, she has been published in a variety of subject matters. full bio

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