On Tuesday, December 10, the New York Yankees signed Gerrit Cole on a nine-year contract worth a record-breaking $324 million. But with a number of suitors for the ace pitcher, the Yankees pulled out all the stops to land their man, including two extremely rare and extremely expensive bottles of wine.
Speaking to reporters during his introductory press conference (later transcribed by CBS Sports), Cole revealed that Yankees manager Aaron Boone presented him with two bottles of legendary Super Tuscan Masseto (the 2004 and 2005 vintage) during a meeting in California two weeks ago.
Made entirely from Merlot, Masseto’s grapes come from a 17-acre vineyard located in Tuscany’s Maremma coast. The single-vineyard bottling is a collector’s item, retailing with an average price of $750 and regularly fetching over $1,000 at auction.
Cole mentioned his preference for the wine to Yankees visiting clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza during a prior visit to the Bronx as an opposition player.
“We were talking about my trip to Italy with my wife the other year, and he always likes to know what I’m cooking because I like to cook at my house,” Cole told reporters. “I showed him pictures of a meal that we ate in a cellar in Florence and there’s a picture of a bottle of Masseto. He asked me what the bottle was and I said, ‘It’s Masseto, it’s probably acknowledged as the second best red wine in the world.’”
During the California meeting, one of the bottles Boone presented to Cole was the very same vintage (2004) he had enjoyed in Florence. “I was a little bit back on my heels,” he said. “I remember trying to stay focused on the meeting and not thinking about booze the entire time, but I still couldn’t figure it out […] Not many people in the world know that that’s my favorite wine.”
When he finally put two and two together, Cole was so blown away by the gesture that he eventually agreed to sign for the Yankees.
Now earning $36 million per year, he can afford as much Masseto as his heart desires.