Interview with Greg Norman, Winemaker, Golfer and Shark
Greg Norman needs very little introduction. In addition to being one of the greatest golfers of the modern era, he is also one of the greatest entrepreneurs. Gottannins interest in the Shark has to do primarily with his Wine Estates (we also happen to be huge fans of his golf game). Mr. Norman was kind enough to offer our readers his insights into wine. This week you can catch him competing for the green jacket in Augusta at Masters.com.
The interview covers a wide variety of topics and a very funny story. Enjoy it and let us know what you think by posting a comment.
What was the first memory you have of wine?
Playing golf in France and Europe for the first time in 1977 -1978.
What was the first wine that you considered to be good wine?
One of the first wines I started to really drink and enjoy during my travels as a young golfer was Montrachet. But I remember being given a bottle of Penfold’s Grange in 1976 for winning the Westlakes Classic in Adelaide Australia. It is amazing how it has come full circle for me ultimately being led back to the regions of Southern Australia where we now produce the Greg Norman Estates Shiraz.
Do you think it's the taste of a good wine or the experience while drinking the wine that makes it good? Why?
Of course I like to drink a good tasting wine, but the entire experience behind drinking wine, the people you are sharing the bottle with, the food you will be eating alongside it, the location where you might be drinking it- comfortably at home or in another country- all heighten the experience of wine and make the memory of that wine last in your memory much longer.
How big is your cellar?
I have a decent size cellar (approx 1300 bottles) that holds a variety of wines from all over the world, as well as representing a few decades of vintages. I am always adding new wines I learn about through my travels, which keeps it pretty well stocked with exciting wines.
What is your favorite varietal (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)?
I typically drink Chardonnay from all over the world, but mainly Californian and Australian with dinner but if I am grilling up a nice steak, I will reach for a nice Australian Shiraz or California Cabernet Sauvignon.
What is your favorite region for wine (i.e. Napa Valley, Margaret River, Montelcino)?
Of course I love all the wine regions in Australia and am pulled to Napa for its peaceful nature but recently I visited Stellenbosch in South Africa and Mendoza in Aregentina and fell in love with their beauty as well. All the wine regions of the world hold such a unique feeling about them. They are all so different yet all so similar in a sense.
What is your favorite vineyard or brand?
Besides Greg Norman Estates, especially our Reserve Shiraz , I love to visit Stag’s Leap Winery in Napa and enjoy some of their beautiful wines.
Do you have a favorite bottle? (varietal, region, year)
I am a fan of a Penfolds Grange, but I must say one of my favourites is my Shiraz reserve – it was ranked #8 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2004.
What wine are you saving for a special day?
I have a few bottles of 1982 Chatuex Margaux in my cellar in Florida which is the year my daughter was born. We have enjoyed a few of these during special occasions in the past. But typically, I like to enjoy my wine when I want it and do not tend to save wine for the future.
Where do you buy the majority of your wine?
Since my daughter, Morgan, lives in Napa Valley and is the Marketing Manager for Greg Norman Estates, she tends to send me not only the wine I know and like but new and interesting smaller production wines that she discovers being a local. Otherwise, I pick up a few cases here and there while I am visiting different countries for golf tournaments or golf course design.
Have you ever had an organic wine? Did you like it?
Yes. The Greg Norman Estates’ Camatta Hills Reserve Syrah is farmed completely organic and in our line-up of wines, this is a true beauty that I really enjoy. I do not discern any difference in an organic to non-organic wine though.
What is the most you've ever spent on a bottle of wine?
What was your favorite wine experience (or one of your top experiences)? Since my daughter is a trained and talented chef, one of my favorite experiences is to sit in the kitchen with a glass of wine, watching her cook a dinner for the family to enjoy, while sharing a bottle of wine that she has paired up with her dish. Also, my wife and I love to have a wine or two at the end of the day, just catching up on the happenings in our respective worlds.
Do you have an embarrassing or funny experience to share?
Not embarrassing, but funny. At one President Cup ( a golf tournament, between an International team and the USA) we were on the bus heading back to the hotel, post our golf for the day, and the ladies wanted some wine, but forgot to bring a wine opener, so I volunteered to open the bottle without an opener. No one thought it possible, but I succeeded by taking off my shoe and hitting the bottle of wine forcing the cork out with the pressure of the wine. To say I was a hero at that time would be an understatement.
What one wine do you recommend for our readers to try?
Not one wine. Just do not be afraid to go out of the box and experiment with many different varietals. Broaden your wine experience.
What is an up-and-coming wine (or winery) you think is a good value right now?
Given the state of the economy on a global basis, you will see a retraction from the super premium wines to the premium wines as people attempt to save, but still enjoy satisfying their palates. So, wines that have not been noticed as much before and have great value for the $ will be noticed more. Especially with the fluctuation in the currency rate. Countries such as Australia will benefit with the weaker Aussie $ to the US $.