Friday, 8 April 2016

The sportsmen wine

Celebrities from around the world are making wines but it is not often that we have a chance to taste them. Thanks Dream Wines that I could taste not only one, but two wines made from sportsmen from different parts of the world side by side. The fame of celebrities may sell the wine once but the wine must have the quality in order to sustain sales. So how did these two celebrity wines fare?

The first one was from Ernie Els, a professional golfer from South Africa and a former world number one. His estate, Ernie Els Wines, is located in the Golden Triangle of Stellenbosch where some of the best wines from the region is made. Its proximity to False Bay allows the vines to benefit from the cooling ocean breezes, producing smaller berries with optimum ripeness and concentration balanced by lively acidity and smooth tannins. Experienced winemaker Louis Strydom has been making wine for Ernie since the first vintage in 2000.

Ernie Els reds are particularly impressive. The Big Easy, named after Ernie’s nickname because of his size (6 ft 3 in tall) and his fluid golf swing, is a full-bodied yet easy-drinking Mediterranean style blend dominated by Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon - definitely a crowd pleaser perfect to be served by the glass. The Proprietor’s Blend is a notch up Bordeaux blend with 20% Shiraz to add the extra dimension, while the Signature is a classic Bordeaux blend that is one of the finest expression of Stellenbosch terroir - a structured wine with fine tannin and long finish supported by abundant fruit. No wonder the wine consistently scored 4.5 and 5 stars in the Platter’s Guide.

The second was Yao Ming, probably the most well-known and popular sport celebrity in China. The estate, Yao Family Wines, sourced grapes from different Napa vineyards and make only Bordeaux red blends heavily dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. Its first wines, Yao Ming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Yao Ming Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, both 2009 vintage, were released in China with great fanfare with the latter retailed at around HK$5,000/bottle. Today, the estate has two more affordable wines in its portfolio: Napa Crest and Gold Peak. Yao Ming’s wine, received acclaim from wine critics, is typical of California - powerful, bold and flashy.

Both Ernie and Yao extended their sports professionalism to their wine. Ernie’s secret of success in golf is discipline, focus and commitment; and he is determined to make his wine with the same focus and discipline. Yao, on the other hand, said a basketball game is not a one-man show, it requires team. Making a good wine is also the same and that no one person can do it alone. He is grateful for the team behind his wine.

Guests at the table agreed that both celebrity wines have the quality to back them up. Which wine you prefer will be up to your preferences. I was suggesting to Dream, the lady behind Dream Wines, to invite both Ernie Els and Yao Ming for a friendly tug-of-war here in Hong Kong, and we can count the number of fans behind them. Which side will I go with? For those who know me would probably guess the answer.

 Both Ernie Els Wines and Yao Family Wines are available from Dream Wines.

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