Greg Norman Estates
Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir - Chardonnay •Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek & McLaren Vale
Australia: Adelaide Hills
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Mission Codename: Greg Norman Sparkling, Australian for Champagne, Mate!
Operative: Agent Sparkle
Objective: Send Agent Sparkle, herself a native of Australia, on a mission to uncover the secret of Pro-Golfer turned winemaker, Greg Norman’s, unique Sparkling Wine
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Greg Norman Estates
Wine Subject: Greg Norman Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Andrew Hales
Backgrounder: Often times, celebrity branded wines fall flat. With ears to the vineyards worldwide, The Wine Spies had been receiving positive intel on Greg Norman Estates wines – particularly his uniquely blended Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. On tasting this particular bubbly, it was clear that The Wine Spies should investigate. Resident Sparkling Wine and Champagne expert Agent Sparkle was immediately dispatched to investigate – and procure samples for our Operatives.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This sparkling wine is beautifully golden, with pale straw highlights and clear edges. This bubbly has two distinctly different sizes of bubbles, one tiny and the other small. Where they small bubbles rocket upward through the wine, the tiny ones take a more ballerina-like approach to their ascent by spiraling upward through the wine
Smell – Balanced aromatics of bright citrus, strawberry, white fruit and subtle golden apple and the slightest itchy hint of tomato vine (a great sensation!)
Feel – Wonderful medium to full-bodied mouthfeel that is light, wet, finely tingly and crisp. Smooth and round, not overly harsh or dry with bubbles that seem to pop in your mouth
Taste – An initial hit of clean and bright green apple and citrus are followed by green apple and subtle lemon-vanilla gelato, with a hint of fresh baked white bread
Finish – Initially wet, with flavors that ramp up quickly and then taper off slowly moving from sweet to gently tart
Conclusion – Overall I am very impressed with this offering from fellow Aussie, Greg Norman. This great bubbly is of a far higher quality than I expected. It is certainly more refined and cleaner-tasting than other Australian sparkling wines I have tried, and a sure competitor for more expensive and traditional French Champagnes.
The unique blend of Chardonnay with Pinot Noir certainly intrigued me, and the wine seems to benefit from the Pinot grape, which gives this bubbly a sweetness and flavor profile that I really love. The only thing that perplexes me about this sparkling wine is its low cost, for it drinks way above its price-class. I know that I’ll be taking advantage of the price by making this bubbly my choice for our Holiday gatherings this year – and the New Year!
Greg Norman Profile:
Greg Norman is an enterprise. Arguably one of the most accomplished professional golfers of all time, Greg has gone on to master the business world and, most recently, the world of fine wine.
Where many celebrity wines are more flash than quality, Greg prides himself of his ability to direct the winemaking efforts of his global wine enterprise. His secret? Make wines that please his own palate.
Today he serves as Chairman and CEO of Great White Shark Enterprises, a multinational corporation that comprises several companies and divisions including Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Medallist Golf Developments, Greg Norman Turf Company, Greg Norman Interactive, Greg Norman Production Company, merchandising and licensing.
When asked about how he discovered wine, he replied:
“My journey into the world of wine really started during my first trip to the United States in the fall of 1976 when I was chosen to represent Australia in the World Cup of Golf in Palm Springs. Instead of returning to Australia immediately after the event I stayed in California for six weeks. I made it a point to dine in some of California’s boutique restaurants and they had some very impressive wine lists. In fact, it was at this time that I was first introduced to some of the state’s finer chardonnays. I also made a point to visit several Napa Valley vineyards while in the area”.
With vintages under his belt in Sicily, Tunisia, Moldova, France, New Zealand and Australia, Andrew Hales brings a vast international perspective to Greg Norman Estates.
With a love of wine culture and history, Hales’ goal is to express the regionality and the varietal character of the Limestone Coast with wines that will turn the heads of even the toughest critics.
His bona fide spirit of adventure is reflected in his scuba diving, skiing and preference for visiting exotic places with a “rough edge.” For a man known for his elegant and well-balanced wines, Andrew’s future certainly has no boundaries.
Sometimes being a Wine Spy means having to travel to exquisite wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Monterey – or other wonderful wine growing regions around the US. Today’s mission required that I place Mr. Norman (codename: The Shark) under direct surveillance – which meant that I had to travel to South Africa, where he was competing in the South African Airways Open.
Using my favorite cover identity, Australian wine writer Dexie Corbou, I arrived at the normally pristine Pearl Valley Golf Estate just as the days golfing was wrapping up. Despite near gale force winds that have plagued the tournament, The Shark holds a top ten position on the leaderboard.
I was greeted by The Shark’s chief of staff, who escorted me into a private room in the clubhouse. He ushered me through the doors and when I heard them click shut behind me, I assumed that he was still in the room with me.
“Will The Shark be joining me soon for our interview?”, I asked.
Silence. I turned to see that I was alone. And then I noticed an envelope on the solitary table in the center of the room. The words, “Agent Sparkle” were written neatly on its front. My heart skipped a beat. Had my cover been blown? The note inside read:
“_Agent Sparkle: Do not be alarmed. The Shark welcomes you to South Africa, but regrets that he will not be able to grant you a personal audience. While you were en route to visit him, his own intelligence officers made contact with Wine Spies Central Command on a tip from one of our Assets in the United States._
This trusted Asset, it turns out, is a Wine Spies faithful and on their recommendation we contacted your organization through back channels. Your Central Command alerted us to you imminent arrival and we assured them that we would afford you our best support in completing your mission.
You will find several bottles of The Shark’s Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir chilling in your suite and we have made several cases available to your Stateside Operatives, should you find the sparkling wine to your satisfaction.
The Shark thanks you for the interest you have shown in his wines and wishes you a comfortable stay.
I made my way out of the Clubhouse and to my hotel, where the suite they had moved me to far exceeded the small room I had previously checked into. After a hot bath and an extended tasting of The Shark’s bubbly, it was clear that this was an incredible sparkling wine. It drinks far above its price category and it gets my biggest recommendation and earns the top spot as my favorite sparkling wine tasted in 2007!
Mission Postscript: I have surmised that the reason that The Shark could not meet me in person was due to the fact that this very weekend he announced his engagement to US Tennis legend, Chris Everet! Chris has the best win-loss ratio of any professional tennis player in history. Well, I raise my glass of The Shark’s bubbly to a real power couple.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Maclaren Vale vineyards in southern Australia can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
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Awards & Accolades:
91 Points – Wine Enthusiast
“Traditional scents and aromas of hay and citrus… mango and apricot. Frothy on the palate, with brisk acidity and a medium-length finish.”
91 Points – Wine Spectator
“Creamy, elegant sparkler combines elegance with delicious pear, vanilla and delicate spice flavors, all of which linger effortlessly on the open-textured finish.”
Graded: A – Atlanta Journal-Constitution (February 7, 2002)
“Opens up in glass, evolving into a rich, complex wine. Lively, persistent bead; clean, crisp, long finish. Worthy work indeed.” Jane Garvey
Gold-Medal Whites – Gannett News Service (January 2, 2002)
“Elegant and complex, like a French Champagne.” Frank Sutherland
The Wine News (December 1, 2004)
“Fresh bread and vanilla scents. Foamy mouth-feel with steely citrus flavors, Dry earthy finish.”
Epicurious (March 2004)
“Recommended. A fresh, appealing nonvintage Aussie bubbly with lively acidity and bright fruit.” – Anthony Dias Blue
Wall Street Journal (October 29, 2004)
“Nicely fruity, but with lively acids… Easy to drink.” – Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher
Chicago Sun-Times (November 10, 2004)
“Good/Very Good. Nicely fruity, but with lively acids… Easy to drink.”
Lexington Herald (March 7, 2004)
“Lovely, fruity, non-vintage Chardonnay/Pinot Noir sparkling wine.” – Wendy Miller
Colorado Wine News (January-March 2004)
“Opens with bakes pie crust and apple aromas which introduce nice apple and lemon flavors with moderate acidity. The finish is medium-broad and medium-long. Nicely balanced, integrated and structured and medium weight body.”
“Fine wine is one of my passions, and Australian wine in particular. In my opinion, Australia’s innovative winemakers have in recent years taken Australian wines to the forefront of world wine marketing,” said Greg Norman at the launch of his Greg Norman Estates. This sparkling white is a continuation of his desire to release premium typical Australian wine styles.
Pale straw green in color with a fine yet persistent bead. On the nose there are lifted strawberry, citrus and nutty aromas with a hint of sherbet character. It is a medium- to full-bodied style with generous stone fruit and citrus flavors, with a very smooth yet generous finish.
A combination of chardonnay (57%) and pinot noir (43%) sourced from premium vineyards within the premier grape-growing regions of Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale. Fruit was hand-picked to ensure maximum control of natural freshness and retention of primary flavors.
Traditional sparkling wine production techniques were used in the production of this wine. Whole bunch pressing was utilized to generate more fruit-driven elegance and skin phenolics were well measured. The wine was bottle-fermented and spent, on average, 24 months on lees before disgorgement.
Excellent drinking now but will reward careful cellaring for up to 10 years.
Winemaker: Andrew Hales
Bottling Date: October, annually
Acidity: 7.2 g/L
Residual Sugar: 9.9 g/L
Harvest Date: Feb. – March, annually
Cellaring: Drinking beautifully now and will do so for several years.