Wines from Greg Norman, Ernie Els and Luke Donald for Spring

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Everyone knows spring is around the corner (even if it doesn't feel like it!) and one of the great things about that is golf.  Hitting the links on a warm sunny day with all the greenery and sand traps can be fun and relaxing, just like drinking a nice glass of wine.  Now combining those two, I have a nice selection of wines for you from three great golfers.

Most of the time I see wines with celebrity names on them usually means they slapped the name on the label and the celeb barely bothered to try the juice.  That is not the case here, as each golfer is personally involved with selecting grape varietals and vineyards- that says a lot about the product.

Greg Norman

Greg Norman

The first golfer is Greg Norman and "The Great White Shark" has appreciated wine since he started golfing in the 70s.  He brought that love back home to Australia and opened a winery in the early 90s and now makes wine in California and Argentina.  You can get a huge inexpensive lineup of varietals with his label including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Zinfandel, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I've tried a few of his Limestone Coast wines and they were all terrific, especially for the price ($12-19).

Ernie Els

Ernie Els

The next golfer is Ernie Els of South Africa.  He decided to settle down the efforts in Stellenbosch and has been producing rich reds since 2000.  He makes wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, plus his more affordable line, Big Easy,  The Big Easy wines come in white (Chenin Blanc) and red (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhone varietals) are really amazing wines and taste more than their worth ($20).

Bill Terlato and Luke Donald

Bill Terlato and Luke Donald

And finally, we come to Luke Donald Collection wines from Napa Valley, a joint venture between the golfer and Terlato Wines International.  Luke is from England, but went to school at Northwestern where he met both his wife and Bill Terlato.  This connection led to a partnership which created small batch Chardonnay from Carneros and a claret from Stags Leap and Rutherford.  With less than 3000 cases total made per year, the wines are in high demand and rightfully so- you can expect to pay around $30-40 for these premium wines.

All in all, I had a blast tasting these wines and featuring them on my site.  I hope one day you get to enjoy them.  Hit the links this spring and make sure to let me know what you think!

Chicago Gourmet Food Festival 2009

Chicago GourmetChicago Gourmet is on the way- a food and wine festival taking place on September 26 & 27 in Millenium Park.  This is just its second annual occurrence, and it will be a celebration of our city's culinary culture and history, highlighted by Chicago's best chefs and restaurants.  Also, hundreds of wines, local sommeliers, and wine experts will be onhand for tastings and seminars.

Many Chicago personalities like Mayor Daley will be in attendance, along with Chicago's favorite chefs: Rick Bayless (winner of Top Chef Masters) of Frontera Grill, Jose Garces of Mercat a la Planxa, John Coletta of Quartino, Dirk Flanigan of The Gage, Marcus Samuelsson of C-House, Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, Stephanie Izard (Top Chef winner) of The Drunken Goat, and lots of other local greats.

Awesome food is not the only think on the menu, as wines from Robert Mondavi, Mionetto (one of my favorite sparkling wine producers), and Gaja Wines presented by Gaia Gaja, will be there for tasting, along with famed importer and producer, Anthony Terlato of Terlato Wines International, and his amazing portfolio featured at the Festival's largest tent.

Tickets can be purchased beforehand for $150 for a single day, or $250 for the two day weekend.  There are also upgrades for those who don't mind spending extra, such as Grand Cru tastings for $175 featuring some of the finest wines in the world presented by Master Sommeliers.  Here is a little hint to avoid the ticket price, which may be worth your while: Chicago Dine Around.  Starting now through September 27, if you dine at five different restaurants using their special prix-fixe menu, and attach each receipt to the Chicago Gourmet Dine Around Passport (available at all participating restaurants), you will be eligible for a free one day pass to the Festival.

Make sure to plan ahead and get in on Chicago's greatest food and wine event!