Category Archives: Gift Ideas

Golfers and Wine

golf flag

Last week at an event, we poured wines to fit the theme, “Golfers and Wine.” Who knew so many wines would have a golfing hand (or club?) behind them! I have yet to see another sport with so many members in the winemaking field. The styles of wine from these swinging guys (though gals are getting into the fray as well!) range the gamut, with some sparkling, some white, some red.

Here are the wines we poured at the event and the stories behind them.

greg norman

Golfer & Wine: Greg Norman Sparkling Brut – Dry and crisp, with citrus and stone fruits. Because it’s a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, you get that bright citrus mixed with a richer, almost nutty character. Great value for the bubbles.

About: Greg Norman, aka “The Shark,” began drinking wine on the tour, soaking up the wines from Europe and California as he played and tasted his way around the world. In the 1990’s, Greg paired up with Beringer Blass Estates to create Greg Norman Estates in Australia. More recently, Norman put his name on Greg Norman California Wine Estates, producing a range of wines from the entire state. Though he does not  make the wine or own the vineyards, he approves the decisions and the wines reflect his style – approachable, easy-to-drink but with lots of character.

Golfer & Wine: Arnold Palmer Santa Barbara Chardonnay – Ripe stone fruits and juicy citrus backed by a good acidic backbone. A touch of oak and a creamy texture round out the wine making it refreshing and delicious.

About: Before Tiger there was Arnold. This guy has won 92 national and international golf championships! Not too shabby. A savvy businessman and wine lover, Palmer partnered with Luna Vineyards, a well-known winery in California, to create his line of wines. Established in 2003, Palmer just released the 2005 vintage of his Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Santa Barbara Chardonnay. Both are typical of their region and quite good.

luke donald

Golfer & Wine: Luke Donald Claret – Ripe black fruits dominate this blend with a spicy and smooth texture. Soft tannins, big fruit.

About: A native of England, Luke Donald has been on the tour since 2001. He got into the wine business more recently, partnering with the Terlato Wine Group (he’s good friends with Bill Terlato) and releasing his first vintage in spring of 2008. His Claret, or Bordeaux Blend, is a classic Napa Valley blend. Big fruit, smooth tannins, long finish. Earlier this year he released his first white, a Burgundian-style Chardonnay from Carneros.

 

Golfer & Wine: Nick Faldo Shiraz- Spicy pepper and sweet plums mix to create a well-balanced red. More spicy than sweet, this Shiraz shows the typical style of Coonawarra reds.

About: Like Donald, Faldo is of English origin, but chose Australia as his country of choice to produce wine – the Coonawarra region to be exact. Longer in the game (both golf and wine) than Donald as well, Nick’s first vintage was 2000. His wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon, come from the Terra Rossa (red earth) soils of Coonawarra, giving the wines lots of backbone and a touch of eucalyptus and spice.

Golfer & Wine: Ernie Els Engelbrecht-Els Red Blendripe black fruits, spice and smoke marry well in this blend, with a solid tannin backbone and els a lingering finish. Will get better over time, but delicious now, too.

About: South African golf legend, Ernie Els, partnered up with old friend and wine veteran, Jean Englebrecht, for his wine venture in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. They launched their first wine in 1999 and opened a winery in the region 5 years later. The brand creates a range of wines, from the affordable Guardian Peak to the collectible flagship wine, Ernie Els. The Englebrecht-Els blend is distinctively South African, a blend that marries Els’ love of Bordeaux Blends with Engelbrecht’s passion for Shriaz.

Not only the boys are making wine. Annika Sorenstam recently partnered with Wente Vineyards and launched a $60 Syrah under her name. We’ll keep you posted on more golfers that turn to producing wine, as well as other sports that have players in the wine game. What other sports have you seen in the wine field?

Gift Tips for Wedding Season

It's wedding season. We're travelling coast-to-coast, from destination wedding to hometown celebration, watching friends and family tie the knot. Sometimes we have more invitations that we can get to, but wedding season does mean one thing – gifts for the couple. If you're like me, you've already been to a few weddings this year, but have not yet gotten the gift. This always puts me in a pickle because when I check the registry, it seems completely picked over and I can't imagine my friends REALLY want yet another set of crystal glassware. I mean, it's crystal. When do we ever drink out of crystal?

I wanted to share a few ideas for you, wedding friends, that are sure to make any wine-loving couple happy.

Two words – WINE CLUB. Such an easy, perfect gift. You can do anything from three months to a year, with an entry-level club or a high-end club. The gift that keeps giving… and while you can have too much glassware, you can never have enough wine to drink out of them! We've also got a great list of wedding gift ideas from our wine and gift selection.

Wine Registry – encourage friends to join our community & create a registry wine list with all the wines they love! Again, you don't have to worry about someone else buying that same wine, as you can never have enough of your favorite! To join our community, just go to www.wine.com/v6/community, create a profile page and then create a list. You can add any wine you want to that list and share the link with your friends.

And… we've just launched our wedding services, which include free wine consultation for your wedding wines – just e-mail weddings@wine.com with your theme, budget and state and any other pertinent information – we'll get back to you with some answers!

Buying Champagne 101

One of the questions I hear most often is "what is a good Champagne for ____ price range that I can get for my boss/friend's engagement/sister's housewarming/parent's anniversary/other celebration?" Champagne reigns as the gift-of-choice on so many occasions, and for good reason.

True Champagne, the real stuff from the actual region of Champagne; there is nothing like it. Just drinking it ignites all of your senses. The sigh of the cork, the shape of the flute in your hand, the foam rising dangerously fast to the edge as the wine pours into your glass. The steady twirling dance of the bubbles as they push themselves from the liquid to the air. The feel of those bubbles bursting in your mouth when you capture them in your first sip. And the wonderful taste of a wine that is full and rich and refreshing all at once. Okay, I'm thirsty now.

Think of this as your cheat sheet on buying Champagne – and other sparkling wine – whether it is for you or for a gift.

The facts about Champagne & tips on how to read the label

The grapes
There are 3 grapes used to make Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Some wines have all 3 grapes, some have only one or two.
On the label you may see the following:
• Blanc de Blanc – means “white of white” and is made only of Chardonnay; lighter in style & crisply delicious – this is a great apperatif or with seafood. A great producer is Salon
• Blanc de Noir – means “white of black” and is a white champagne made from either Pinot Noir or both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (both red grapes); usually fuller-bodied than blanc de blanc, this style enjoys the ability to match with a variety of foods.
• Rose – could be only one grape or all three, but must contain some % of a red grape – that’s where it gets the pink color! Champagne is actually one of the only regions of France that blends red and white wine to create rose, rather than the saignee method, or bleeding. Also a great match with food – and good for any reason you might be in the mood for pink.

Non-Vintage vs. Vintage
Non-vintage wines are exactly what they say they are – not from a particular vintage. They are blends of a few wines from different years. Remember, Champagne begins as a blend of still wine. If the Chardonnay of 2005 is not acidic enough, they’ll pull some of the 2003 or 2004 Chardonnay and blend it in for acidity. The goal is consistency. So that the NV of Veuve Clicquot you buy this year will be consistent with the one you bought last year. Most NV Champagne represent a house “style” that the winemaker tries to maintain so that the consumer knows what they are getting. NV wines should be drunk within a year or two of purchase.

Some years the vintage is so perfect that the houses of Champagne declare a vintage year. The blend is made only from grapes in that vintage – no adding of back vintages allowed. Vintage wines are low in supply and high in demand, and therefore a bit more pricy than that NV. Most vintage champagnes can age about 10 to 15 years, sometimes longer. Some houses don’t even release their Champagne until 10 years later because of the amount of bottle aging they prefer – Dom Perignon released their 1999 vintage about the same time Krug released their 1995!

Other label tid-bits
Premier Cuvee or Tete de Cuvee – means the top of the top, the best blend of the house. Some good examples include Krug's Grand Cuvee, Bollinger's Grand Annee and Charles Heidsieck's Champagne Charlie
Premier Cru and Grand Cru – Some vineyards in Champagne, like other areas of France are labeled Premier Cru or Grand Cru vineyards. If a house purchases all of its grapes from grand cru or premier cru vineyards, they may put that on their label. Egly-Ouriet has a lot of Grand Cru wines, as do

Levels of Sweetness
Extra Brut – Bone dry
Brut – very dry, but with more dosage
Sec – Still very dry, but with a hint of sweetness
Demi-Sec – technically means "half dry" but really is half sweet
Doux – sweetest of the Champagne, more rare, often more expensive, and a delicious balance of sweetness and acidity.