I grew up playing and watching sports, and although I stopped playing anything competitively a few years ago (rugby), I remain a fan and will tune in to watch my favourite athletes and teams compete whenever possible. When I was very young, the athletes I admired became sources of inspiration to me. I would wake up in the morning to work-out as a young rugby player and try to emulate Johnny Wilkinson’s determination and structured approach, as well as his commitment to laying his body on the line. Training to join the military when I was in my late teens, I would think about the athletes who never gave up despite the odds and always pushed through to the bitter end, often victorious by virtue of grinding their opponents down.
As a man in my late 20’s and having been through the stage of life where you realise that you’re now older than many of the sporting stars you admire, I draw inspiration in a slightly different way. My work-outs are now more aimed at staying fit and healthy than packing on muscle or stripping fat, I’m more interested in setting achievable targets, hitting them and moving on rather than trying to be the absolute strongest, fastest and fittest guy in the gym. The inspiration I draw now, is more about how athletes conduct themselves professionally in times of stress and defeat, and there is no-one I admire more in this regard than Roger Federer.
I first discovered tennis in 2003, watching Mark Philippoussis and his enormous serve throughout Wimbledon; the beauty of school holidays meant I could watch the entire tournament from my own living room. He made it all the way to the final where he was beaten, to my great disappointment, by a young Swiss guy by the name of Roger Federer. It wasn’t even that close, finishing in 3 sets with two tie-breaks and Roger played him off Centre Court that day, the court that has largely gone on to define his career. Over the next 14 years, Roger has had the most accomplished career of any male tennis player to date and is, to my mind, the single greatest tennis player the world has ever seen.
What’s understated, however, is the endless hours of training, practice and effort he puts in. Commentators make a big fuss about the work-rate of Murray, Nadal and Djokovic and yet Federer has a professional career spanning 19 years, winning tournaments both large and small, charity events and also suffering some crushing losses on the way. I’ve suffered through so many of his defeats, often on clay to Rafael Nadal, and yet he never gave up. He’s never once retired during a game in over 1000 matches, an outrageous statistic that speaks to the courage of the man. Even more than that, regardless of how tough his opponent was, how crushing the defeats and the niggling injuries along the way, he always composed himself with dignity and humility, winning the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award 12 times.
Watching Federer come back from a serious injury and winning not only the Australian Open but then Wimbledon this year has been awe inspiring from a sports fans point of view, thrilling from the viewpoint of a Roger Federer fan and deeply satisfying for myself on a very personal level. Last Sunday I watched Federer dominate Centre Court once again for an unprecedented 8th Wimbledon title, cheered on by his wife and 4 children, 95% of the crowd and millions around the world. It feels like a full circle experience, casting me back the days of being a child in a mans body and wanting to push it to the limit, watching Federer win his first ever Major.
Even though I’m never going to be a professional athlete, or anywhere close to it, I will be a sports fan for my entire life. Whilst the motivation I used to draw from my heroes gave me the strength to get up at 5am and run like the wind, or commit myself to a painful tackle or lift more and more weight, I now hope it gives me the strength to tackle some of lifes more mundane challenges. How to achieve my personal ambitions whilst giving time back to my family, how to cope with the endless set backs and frustrations that come with modern life, how to see the world from my own point of view and how to accept it all with grace and a smile, especially in moments of defeat.
To pair with the momentous occasion of Federer’s 8th Wimbledon title, I watched the whole match with a stunning bottle of Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001.
This was a bottle I'd been holding onto for a while; Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendage Tardive 2001. Produced by Trimbach, one of the greatest Alsatian producers with a history going back to 1626, this is likely the best bottle of Riesling I've ever had. You can see the dramatic amber colour from the picture but the stunning aromas of orange marmalade, honeyed orchard fruits, cinnamon, marzipan and slate can only be imagined. Rich, not sweet, and unbelievably fresh! Drank over the two hours it took Roger Federer to win his 8th Wimbledon title; check out winecuentista.com for a full write-up! @trimbach #wine #france #riesling #alsace #lateharvest #instagood #instadaily #photo #wimbledon #federer #pairing #wineoclock #wineoftheday #delicious #dramatic #amber #2001 #best #history #travel
Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001
Trimbach are one of the great producers in Alsace, France, with a wine-making history stretching back to 1626 when Jean Trimbach registered as a citizen of the region. Fast forward almost 400 years and the winery is a thriving, quality based operation producing somewhere in the region of 1.2 million bottles a year, the majority of which is affordable, good quality varietal wines, the sort of thing that is perfect for introducing students and wine lovers to the region.
Whilst Trimbach produce a broad range of different varietal wines, their speciality is without a doubt Riesling, typified by Clos St. Hune, their flagship wine produced from the Rosacker vineyard. At €150-300 a pop, vintage dependent, it’s not exactly the most accessible of their wines but fortunately, their other highly acclaimed Riesling is. I picked up two bottles of Trimbach Frederic Emile Riesling VT 2001 for a song at Monvinic Store in 2016, one which was opened as part of my new years resolution and the other to be opened on a special occasion; thanks for providing that, Roger! The Frederic Emile Cuvee is only made in certain years from the Osterberg and Geisberg vineyards, with vines averaging 45 years of age and to find bottles of Vendange Tardive (late harvest) Frederic Emile, from an outstanding harvest, well, some people get all the luck!
The wine had a gorgeous, dramatic amber colour flecked with gold and you could almost smell the aromas wafting out of the glass. Ripe citrus fruits, orange marmalade and a whole series of honeyed stone-fruits, cinnamon and even a touch of marzipan. Trimbach are famously classic in their approach to Riesling, opting for concentration and verve over power, shown beautifully in this wine. Despite being 12.5% alcohol and late-harvest, the residual sugar is more a suggestion of sweetness than anything else, balanced with a lovely, refreshing acidity that propels the rich flavours into a very, very long finish. The energy and drive from a 16 year old wine was phenomenal and if I had more bottles, I may have considered leaving them for another 10 years or so! Probably the single best bottle of Riesling I’ve so far had the pleasure of trying and a great way to round off a special day. Life has its moments!