On a blustery night in November I battle my way out of Old Street Underground station in London, my destination involves an evening of tasting a collection of Golfers Wines under the Nick Faldo banner. The event is taking place at Urban Coterie which is located on the 17th floor of the Hotel M by Montcalm, an impressive city high-rise and recent edition to the London skyline.
Sir Nick Faldo and Milton Sandford Wines have joined forces to create an exceptional range of wines from six classic European regions. The collection celebrates the six major Championships that Nick has won in his illustrious career. Each wine bears the distinctive Faldo shield, six vertical stripes in claret and green that represent these wins. From left to right they run Claret Jug, Green Jacket, Green Jacket, Claret Jug, Claret Jug and Green Jacket.
The Faldo Collection combines wines from regions of France, Italy and Spain, they are;
Rioja Special Selection from the Bodega Baigorri Winery. This is a deep cherry-red wine with plenty of depth and aromas of black fruit compote with notes of spice. It is an elegant wine that is smooth and silky in the mouth and has a warm long finish and pair beautifully with roasted pork belly and any meat tapas dishes
Barolo produced by Paolo Monti in the village of Monforte d ‘Alba in Italy has depth and complexity. Its rich autumnal flavours and balanced tannins make this a great companion to slow roasted beef and is delicious with pheasant and other game meats.
The Sauvignon de Touraine Domaine de la Renaudie from the Loire Valley in France, easily stands up to the more expensive Sancerres and Pouilly Fumes. Its Grassy and elderflower notes balance perfectly with powerful fruit flavours. A great match when serving asparagus, delicate white fish dishes or goat cheese salads.
Chablis produced by Jean-Marc Brocard and his son Julien in Prehy, just outside the village of Chablis in France. Its beautiful mineral structure is linked to the chalky soils of the vineyards in the hills surrounding Chablis. With apple notes and piercing edginess this wine has a real richness in the mouth. Excellent with cream sauces or hollandaise on fish.
The Valpolicella is made by Le Tobele. This Ripasso Valpolicella was selected for its intense chocolate and black cherry flavours. It’s dry and fruity on the finish with wonderful spicy notes with hints of raisins. This is a very versatile wine in terms of food matching, but it pairs wonderfully with duck breast, veal and barbecued lamb chops.
Chateauneuf Du Pape - This classic French ruby wine blends boysenberry, bramble fruits and cassis in a rich concentration of ripe dark fruit flavours. Made by Domaine Berthet-Rayne, this wine is carefully produced and loyal to the place where it’s grown. It is a fine example of provenance and typicity. A superb match for a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. The ripe fruit will stand up to a variety of accompanying sauces - cranberry, apple and whatever the meat, if it's slow-roasted and flavoursome - turkey, pork, beef or lamb, this is a real winner of a wine.
Wines & Canapes
Nick is going to be at the event and I am booked in to interview him. It seems that whenever we meet, I never actually get to talk much about golf, the last interview was to discuss a watch brand.
Almost the first person I see upon arriving is John Winchester, the owner of Milton Sandford Wines and the brains behind the “Golfers Wines” concept. It turns out that the idea for the Faldo Wines Series came about from a conversation with Nick Faldo in a car park!
The wines within the Faldo collection have each been assigned a table for tasting along with suitable canapes provided by Michelin starred Chef Anthony Demetre.
I decide that it may be wise to actually do the interview before I begin tasting, I have never been one for spitting out good wines and the numbers would be stacked against me to actually ask any sensible questions or indeed make any sense.
GGM - So why have you got involved in wine
NF - “I was actually involved with another company back in 2002 but the wines never got pushed, which was a shame. Then John (Winchester) approached me about this concept and it seemed like a nice project to be involved in. We started the process couple of years ago and went through a trial of what appealed to my palette, tasting specific wines down in the cellars at Milton Sandford HQ. Through this process we came up with the idea to stick to a European selection. It actually makes perfect sense as I am a European player and obviously some of the finest wine regions of the world are to be found in Europe. Golfer’s wines did not have any European offerings, there are some great wines from the USA represented by Arnold Palmer and some lovely wines from Australia represented by Greg Norman. It’s nice to have the wine representing the golfer in terms of region.
It took a period of two summers to get a selection together, we then added a specific Rioja to complete it. We have what I think is an interesting collection, very quaffable. It was important from the very beginning to be able to match particular dishes that you may find at a golf club with particulars wines, while also offering good value.”
GGM - Any ambitions to start your own winery
NF – “Who knows, obviously several of my fellow golfers from the Golfers Wines selection do, maybe at some point in the future, buy a nice winery when I retire.”
GGM - Have you tried any of the other golfer’s wines?
NF – “Yes I have and they are all good, but they are all from different regions and so are not really competition.”
GGM - Do you have plans to add more wines to the collection?
NF – “Yes, we keep looking at different regions across Europe, a sparkling wine from England would be good to add, but yes, we will be adding, why not.”
GGM – You have your golf course design company, will these clubs and resorts be stocking the Faldo Collection?
NF – “Yes, Banyan tree want it, Elea in Cyprus are keen, as well as Vietnam. I have also been living in hotels for 40 years and know all the food & beverage managers so we will see what we can do.”
What about possibly including a Winery on one of the course that you design?
NF – “Maybe I know several that have done so and it would be nice.”
Which of the wines is your favourite?
NF – “It has to be the Rioja.”
I thank Sir Nick for his time and head back upstairs to taste the wines. Having a particular canape made from ingredients to complement each wine makes the experience even more special, Michelin quality food combined with excellent wine, what could be better.
I am no expert, but I know what I like and I have to say that each wine received my undivided attention. I am a big fan of red wines but the whites also surprised me and I would quite happily have taken one of each home with me.
The feedback from the various attendees was all very positive and I think that it is safe to say that the Faldo Wine series will be expanding. My favourite wine? I would have to agree with Nick on that one, I do love a good Rioja!
Good to know
The Nick Faldo Collection is available in the 19th Hole section at Great Golf Proshop: