Golf life: Taste of the tours

Master Sommelier, Randall Bertao at Los Altos Golf and Country Club.

Golf life: Taste of the tours

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Golf life: Taste of the tours

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the May 23 issue of Golfweek.

These days you can’t walk into a wine store without seeing names familiar to golfers: Ernie Els, David Frost and Arnold Palmer, among others. All have their own labels, and some of the players are deeply invested in their wine businesses.

Golfweek wanted an expert’s opinion of these wines, so we asked Randall Bertao to do a tasting. Bertao has the unique distinction of being a master sommelier and also the general manager of Los Altos (Calif.) Golf & Country Club. What follows are his tasting notes.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald2011 LDC Red – Napa Valley, Calif.
A serious wine driven by the complexity of the grape mixture and 20 months in French oak. Donald likes to call this Claret, an English term for a Bordeaux-style red wine. Dark red and black fruits are wrapped with floral notes of violets and red roses.

2013 Chardonnay – Carneros, Calif.
Ripe yellow pears wrapped by butterscotch and crème brulée highlight this tasty chardonnay from a cool region of California. Toasty on the finish, this wine still has refreshing acidity to finish long.

Ernie Els

Ernie Els Big Easy

Ernie Els Big Easy

Big Easy 2015 Chenin Blanc – Western Cape, South Africa
When I visited South Africa, chenin blanc was one of the wines that most impressed me. Outside of the Loire Valley in France no  one really grows much of it, and South Africa has specialized in making it the most widely planted grape in their country. Ernie’s Big Easy Chenin offers a very good expression of just what the grape has to offer. Very bright red apple fruit (think unoaked chardonnay) with mouth-watering acidity and a clean finish. This is a perfect alternate to lighter chardonnay or sauvignon blanc without the herbal edge.

Big Easy 2014 Red – Western Cape, South Africa
There’s a lot going on with this wine. Spice and flesh from the syrah, structure from the cab and variety from the other grape contributors. Dark fruited with exotic spices and a savory flavor.

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

2014 Valpolicella Ripasso – Veneto, Italy
Ripasso is when they pass the new wine over spent fermentation lees, creating extra flavor. This wine is juicy red berries with a refreshing, mouthwatering finish. This reminds me of juicy zinfandel ideal for BBQ ribs and lamb.

2014 Chablis – France
Clean, flinty, with crisp acidity typical of what chardonnay delivers from this small region in Burgundy. Pair it with shellfish or lightly prepared fish and chicken.

2010 Rioja Crianza – Spain
Tempranillo always reminds me of something between merlot and cabernet, with a raisinated quality. This wine speaks of that and more. Firmly structured, with solid fruit and finish.

David Frost

David Frost

David Frost

2014 Shiraz – Western Cape, South Africa
Juicy red fruit (think red raspberries and plums) with a good kiss of oak make this charming wine very user-friendly. Medium bodied, so you can enjoy it on its own or with a variety of food, such as roasted chicken, pork and lamb.

2015 Sauvignon Blanc – Western Cape, South Africa
Like New Zealand sauvignon blanc but think there’s too much grass? If so, you’ll love this wine. It has that zesty, citrusy character and a distinctive herbal edge, though much more subtle. Crisp and lively on the palate, this wine offers the brightness of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and the elegance of a sancerre.

Retief Goosen

Retief Goosen

Retief Goosen

2012 Shiraz The Goose – Upper Langkloof, South Africa
A good example of what South African shiraz can be. Clocking in at just 13 percent alcohol, this wine proves you don’t have to be overripe to be tasty. Red and dark plums, smooth texture and ripe but not pruney.

2015 Chardonnay The Goose – Western Cape, South Africa
Seductive floral aromas mix with tropical fruit and a soft touch of vanilla. Chardonnay from South Africa is very distinctive – unlike any other country, in my opinion – and that’s what makes them so interesting. Think south coast California mixed with New Zealand’s North Island.

Cristie Kerr

Cristie Kerr

Cristie Kerr

2013 Kerr Red Wine – Napa Valley, Calif.
Cabernet and merlot aged 22 months in new French oak adds depth and power to this full-bodied red. It needs some time in bottle, so you’ll be able to enjoy this wine for years to come.

2014 Curvature Chardonnay – Sonoma County, Calif.
Richly textured and full on the palate, with a long finish. This chard satisfies. Though long on oak, it has the body to carry it well.

2013 Curvature Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley, Calif.
Dark, plush fruit with a touch of rich earth on the finish. Rich and full-bodied, with tannins to match. A serious cab for serious cab lovers.

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus

2014 Jack’s House Cabernet Sauvignon – California
Easy fruit, very little tannin and some oak on the finish that almost catches you by surprise. Enjoyable in almost any setting, it’s perfect for a group outing.

2014 Jack’s House Chardonnay – California
Bright and fresh, this wine has a light, leesy character that adds creaminess to the palate. Fresh and fun. You can enjoy this wine anytime.

Greg Norman Estates

Greg Norman Estates

Greg Norman Estates

2012 Reserve Shiraz – Limestone Coast, Australia
Rich and savory, with blueberries, dark black plums and Asian spice. Fleshy texture and full, spicy finish.

2014 Chardonnay – Eden Valley, Australia
Clean, citrusy nose topped with ripe red and golden apples on the palate, with just enough vanilla from light oak to add complexity on the finish. I really like the balance of this wine. Food-friendly and enjoyable by itself.

2013 Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara County, Calif.
Fresh red cherries and raspberries highlight this wine. While soft on your palate, it delivers a basketful of fruit.

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – California
The first thing that hits you is the cinnamon-spiced laden red raspberry fruit. Delivering a lot of flavor, this cab can be used in many settings. Flavorful enough for food while tasty enough to enjoy on its own.

2014 Chardonnay – California
Rich lemon curd layered with bright red apples. Toasty on the finish, this wine is full of California sunshine.

Gary Player

Gary Player

Gary Player

2004 Augusta 1961 Red Wine – Western Cape, South Africa
Deep, brooding, with dark fruit and a sauvage character. There is so much to describe with this wine. Minty, spicy, fleshy, dark-fruited, chewy, lengthy and delicious. Take your time and enjoy it with something rich, such as braised lamb shank or any roasted meats.

2003 Muirfield 1959 Red Wine – Western Cape, South Africa
I thought right bank Bordeaux when I first tasted it. Bordeaux-like with cedar/cigar box and cassis-black currant character that finishes very strong. Made at Quoin Rock, a winery that impressed me when I visited South Africa, it is still drinking superbly.

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