Enjoying the Best of Bordeaux and California
Bill Macatee keeps a lot of balls in the air. As a play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports he provides live TV commentary for tennis, golf, and NFL coverage. He is the only broadcaster in the industry who announces two of the most prestigious events in sports, the Masters and Wimbledon. Over the 25 years of his career he’s covered skiing, figure skating, boxing and even sumo wrestling. More than a dozen years ago, somewhere between covering the PGA tour and the World Series, Macatee fell hard for wine collecting. We spoke to this Shafer collector from his home in Newport Coast, California.
How did you get into wine?
When I was working for the USA Network my friend, Jeff Filippi, first got me interested. He knows his stuff and has a lot of enthusiasm, but the thing with Jeff was that wine didn’t have to be a pretentious, Frasier Crane kind of thing. I find now that part of the fun is that hunter-gatherer thing. I love finding a wine that’s just impossible to get. And it’s also great when you can find something at an amazing, low-ball price. And then you’re in a restaurant and see this bottle that you paid $40 for listed in the menu at $500.
Do you remember the bottle that first made an impression?
Absolutely. It was the ’95 Ducru [Château Ducru-Beaucaillou St.-Julien]. It was Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year and I happened to find a bottle in New York. I bought it and thought ‘I’ll put this away, it’ll be fantastic.’ And then I was headed out for a dinner with some friends and it hit me, ‘Why am I going to hoard it? What’s the point of that?’
When did you open it?
That night! And it was really something special. First it was exciting to even find this wine and then even better because of who I got to share it with.
What do you tend to collect?
The majority of what I’ve got is Bordeaux because I know it. It’s an easy collectible. I have an off-site wine locker that holds about 1,000 bottles and at home I’ve probably got another 200 or so. I’ve got two 1945 La Fites, some Cheval Blanc, and Margaux. Some good years, good depth. ’55 Mouton is my birth year wine; I’ve secured a lot of that. From California there are wines I want every year like Phelps Insignia and Hillside Select. I get six-packs of both. I felt incredibly lucky to get on the Hillside list about six years ago. I have friends who’re just getting into wine and I tell them, whenever you see Shafer, buy it. Doesn’t matter the vintage, the varietal, it’s always great.
Good advice. Have you ever visited Bordeaux?
No, which is funny because I’m in Paris every year, when I cover the French Open. I’ve been to the Loire Valley, which is such a great place. You drive by and if you see the door on a cave that’s open, the owner’s inside probably smoking a Galloise and listening to Maurice Chevalier; they’ll fill up any bottle you have with a drink-it-by-Wednesday kind of wine.
What’s next for you as a collector?
Burgundy. I think if you’re into wine you should know something about Burgundy. I’ve also started picking up some beautiful Malbecs.