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.
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.
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 Blend – ripe black fruits, spice and smoke marry well in this blend, with a solid tannin backbone and 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?