FOUR MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL TEAM at the Presidents Cup at Harding Park (pictured), not to mention captain Greg Norman and his assistant, Frank Nobilo, are in the wine business. So with which drink will they celebrate should they win for the first time since 1998?
Champagne, of course.
October is a big month for bubbly, thanks to baseball teams celebrating the winning of their divisions all the way to the World Series. And the Presidents Cup is certainly a major event on the sports calendar, worthy of breaking out the good stuff.
Because of Harding's proximity to one of the word's great grape-growing regions, let me make one significant clarification. I’m often asked about the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne, and the answer is quite simple: All Champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.
Only French sparkling wines made in the Champagne district of France can legally be called “Champagne.” American sparkling wine, while produced using the same méthode Champenoise process, can only be called “sparkling wine.”
Most sparkling wines are made from 100 percent Chardonnay grapes and are called “blanc de blanc.” A richer style of sparkling wine is made from a combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and is called “blanc de noir,” as long as it is made from at least 75 percent Pinot Noir grapes.
America has developed a fine reputation for sparkling wine, albeit at a lower price than Champagne. Even in these current economic conditions, there are good values available. Whether you’re celebrating a U.S. victory on Sunday, your own hole-in-one at your home course or a member-guest victory, one of my recommendations below should meet your needs.
The very best vintage French Champagne
Moet & Chandon’s Dom Perignon Brut 2000 ($120 per bottle)
Louis Roederer “Cristal” 2002 ($180 per bottle)
Laurent-Perrier’s “Salon” 1997 ($450 per bottle)
Dom Perignon “White Gold” 1990 ($40,000 for a jeroboam: four bottles)
The best non-vintage French Champagne (Value)
Veuve Cliquot’s Ponsardin ($40 per bottle)
Moet & Chandon Imperial ($35 per bottle)
The very best sparkling wines
Schramsberg (Napa) “Blanc de Noir” ($28 per bottle)
Roederer (Sonoma/Anderson Valley) “Estate” ($20 per bottle)
Domaine Ste. Michelle (Washington State) “Brut” ($15 per bottle)