Of all the sportsmen that seem to love buying wine farms or making wine, none seem keener than golfers. Historically, rugby players were the sportsmen you could count on to be involved in this business, and this is still the case, but of late golfers have made a serious effort to lead the category (which probably says more about earnings in golf than anything else).
Of our local star golfers engaged in this 19th hole activity, we can list Ernie Els, David Frost, Retief Goosen and recently Gary Player. Cleary, these men don’t spend much time picking grapes, hauling pipes or rolling barrels. What they do is to find experts to collaborate with, to make the wine for them. These wines, with the famous name imprimatur, sell pretty well (and have captive markets in clubhouses).
Interestingly, all the wines made under the names of these golfers are red wines. I can only imagine this is because the bywords here are luxury and premium. The first of these wines I encountered was the Ernie Els, made by the team behind the Rust en Vrede and Guardian Peak wines. It’s been made since 2000, so now has something of a track record. This wine is rich and modern, but always made from the traditional Bordeaux varieties so that it retains a classical style. You can count on it to impress.
For some reason, I have only recently tried the David Frost, from his own farm in the Voor Paardeberg. A former Rust en Vrede winemaker is in charge of the wine making, interestingly, and of the four red wines in the range, I most enjoyed the “Par Excellence,” despite its name. It’s also made from the five Bordeaux stalwart varieties and is bold in style and tends towards the over-ripe. The other wines, single variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz, took this too far and were far too big and alcoholic for my taste.
Recently, the Gary Player “Muirfield 1959” 2003 was released, made by the Quoin Rock winery. This is the most probing wine of the lot, since it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Pinotage. It’s very rich, both on the nose and palate, where it is remarkably dense – and has an intriguing savoury dimension. Certainly a masculine wine, it continues to roll powerfully over your tongue, perhaps too forcefully, but I have great confidence in the Quoin Rock team so will be intrigued to track its development. Only nine future vintages are planned (to commemorate his nine Majors).