In a global exclusive, The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie spoke this month to Welsh golfing superstar Ian Woosnam and winemaker Aurore Legrand about their combined role in Wines of Golf Legends, the innovative concept from French wine company Peuch & Besse that last week was named winner of The QDF Factor*.

As reported, Wines of Golf Legends is a unique collaboration between some of the world’s most illustrious golfers and a selection of outstanding winemakers. Travel retail is the key target market.

[Click on the YouTube icon to hear Martin Moodie’s interview with Ian Woosnam and winemaker Aurore Legrand. A written version of the interview is featured below.]

The collection begins with an initial range of fine wines selected in collaboration with golfing stars Jean Van de Velde (France), José María Olazábal (Spain), Costantino Rocca (Italy), David Frost (South Africa) and Ian Woosnam (Wales). Wines produced in association with Nancy Lopez and Davis Love from the USA and Michael Campbell from New Zealand will join the line-up in early 2022 with others to follow soon after. The range will eventually stretch to 18 golfers and winemakers, in keeping with the number of holes on a golf course.

[Watch the big reveal as Wines of Golf Legends is named winner of The QDF Factor 2021]

[Meet Ian Woosnam and Aurore Legrand, the winemaker behind Château Pas du Cerf Côtes de Provence 2020]

[Meet Jean Van de Velde and the winemaking team behind Château Fourney Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2016]

 

(Left to right) Château Fourney Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2016, Winemaker Hélène Rollet, Golfer Jean Van de Velde; Il Palazzo Chianti Riserva 2016, Winemaker Lorenzo Pitirra, Golfer Costantino Rocca; Koelenbosch Pinotage 2018, Winemaker Andrew de Vries, Golfer David Frost; Château Pas du Cerf Côtes de Provence 2020, Winemaker Aurore Legrand, Golfer Ian Woosnam; Santalba Rioja Reserva 2015, Winemaker Roberto Ijalba, Golfer José María Olazábal

Peuch & Besse CEO Sylvain Combe (centre) with Château Pas du Cerf winemaker Aurore Legrand and golfing legend Ian Woosnam. The rosé wine from Côtes de Provence is a style particularly favoured by the Welsh ace. 

The range is being showcased for the first time on the Peuch & Besse stand at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo which runs until the end of November  and then at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes next week. Distribution will be strictly limited to travel retail, certain golf clubs and select restaurants.

The launch is particularly notable for its clever use of technology and engaging storytelling. Each bottle has a QR code on the back label which when scanned leads to a compelling short video featuring the winemaker and golfer together at the winery or in the vineyards.

[Meet golfer Costantino Rocca and Il Palazzo Chianti Riserva 2016 winemaker Lorenzo Pitirra]

The front label features the name, signature and national flag of the golfer, while the back label features his or her photo and comments from the winemaker alongside the QR code. A neck collar resembling a golf ball features the five golfers to date on the flip side with their signatures and national flags.

Highlights of the interview with Ian Woosnam and Aurore Legrand

Martin Moodie: How did you get involved in this partnership Ian and how did the process unfold?

Ian Woosnam: I’ve always been interested in wine, especially drinking it! But I’ve always been thinking of having my own winery or my own bottles. So when Sylvain came and put this concept in front of me, I thought, ‘Well, what a wonderful idea.’ It’s not about making money but about just having the thought that you’re involved with a wine and having these other golfers involved with it too.

It’s amazing while you’re sitting at a table and you can say, ‘Let’s have a Michael Campbell tonight or let’s have a [Ian Woosnam] rosé.’ Or you might have the lot! But start with a rosé, I would say.

It all depends where you are and what kind of situation you are in. So we spent a wonderful three days with Aurore. It’s beautiful to put my name to this rosé from Provence… it’s fantastic.

You’ve had an interest in wine for a long time. Where did that start and how did it evolve down the years?

Well, I wasn’t a wine lover to start off with, but when drinking Liebfraumilch or whatever it was called, which was most probably about a pound [in those days], it just gave you indigestion.

So as I earned a bit more money I started drinking better wines and then I got the bug. In 1982 I bought a lot of wine off [top Northern Irish golfer] Ronan Rafferty. He’s right into his wines, big time. I kept them in the cellar and then drank them. But then you keep them in your cellar for years and you’re giving them to your friends and you realise they’ve gone up in value about four times.

So that’s how my interest started. And then as you go around the world in different classes of restaurants, you’re drinking different wines. And one of my favourite things when I am travelling is to go to a nice restaurant and try the wine from that region. It’s amazing to see the different tastes and textures and everything. I wouldn’t be an expert but I used to fly home every Sunday night after the tour and we used to always have a wine tasting. So that was one of my favourite nights to try and get back home in time.

I understand from talking to Sylvain that each of the golfers is very involved in choosing the wine-growing region, maybe even the style of wine. So was this very deliberate on your part that you wanted a rosé? You wanted to be down in Provence?

Well, you know, there is a Welsh wine but they couldn’t do a Welsh one, could they?

I’ve got to take you back to that wonderful moment in your life, 1991, and the Masters. I bet you had a glass that night.

I certainly did. But the thing was, I didn’t realise that I had to do a dinner after it. So it was pretty late finishing. By the time I did all the press and everything, I think it was more like 8pm and then they said, ‘You’ve got to go to a dinner.’ So I ended up going to a dinner and then after the dinner I had to go to the British press to get it in the paper in the morning. That was 12 o’clock. I think I got back in my room to my house at about 1:30, so it was a long day. But, yeah, a few drinks were taken.

What was the bottle I had? Château Mouton Rothschild 1976.

Aurore, over to you. You’re a great winemaker who has been involved in many vintages, with many varietals. But this is a very different kind of project. It must be exciting for you.

Aurore Legrand: Yes, very exciting. It’s an exclusive project that we have with Ian Woosnam for the special cuvée. We selected together the grapes and the style of the wine. I know that Ian likes a balanced wine and he appreciates the freshness that we have in our wines. And it’s an honour for us to have this private label with the name of Ian Woosnam on it. It’s just incredible and very exciting for the vineyard.

It’s a really lovely concept. And with the QR code telling your story, Aurore, and you, Ian, talking so passionately about the wine, I think that’s great for consumers in the store. They can just scan the code and then hear Ian Woosnam and Aurore talk. That just gives it authenticity, doesn’t it, Ian?

Ian Woosnam: I think so. Just having that little bit more personal touch on it and me being involved in it… to actually scan it like that and it’s come out fantastically now. You think, how are they going to get all this into only 70 seconds or whatever. But it’s amazing. They’ve done a really good job and I think it explains the concept really well.

Aurore, tell us a little more about the wine.

Aurore Legrand: So it is a Côtes de Provence rosé wine with typical grapes from Provence like Grenache and Cinsaut. They are the two main grape varieties that we have in this wine with some Tibouren. Tibouren is not famous, it’s a very specific grape that you can find only in the Côtes de Provence appellation. And I like this wine. It’s very fruity, very aromatic and intense in the nose. You have aromas of peach and fruit, it’s fruity and round. And it has a nice balance, very refreshing, with a nice small acidity.

It’s typical from our terroir because all the vines are planted on the schist soil so it brings a lot of minerality from the rock. Also we are only eight kilometres from the sea, so it brings minerality and freshness. So the wine is very juicy and refreshing.

It’s a really lovely wine. You must be happy to have your name on that bottle Ian?

Ian Woosnam: Yeah. I’ve drunk a few rosés, and what I like about this wine is that it holds its dryness and it just doesn’t go away. That’s why you go back for some more.

Aurore, a winemaking question. Ian has matured like a fine wine and kept his career going and still plays wonderfully with that beautiful, easy swing of his. But I guess with your wine, you are going to drink it young and fresh? This is not one for putting away but one for those summer nights?

Aurore Legrand: Exactly. You can have it for an aperitif. It goes very well with grilled fish and grilled meat. Also with exotic food like sushi or Thai food the rosé is very nice. An aperitif is a nice moment. With rosé you can drink it at any time. It’s about moments to share with friends and family. That’s really the spirit of Provence and rosé wine.

Engaging and educational: Simply scan the QR code on the back of the bottle to meet the winemaker and the golfer (Click to enlarge image)

Peuch & Besse is a family business founded in 1904 and established as an owner-producer in Saint Émilion since 1978. The company entered the travel retail channel in 2005 and has cultivated a reputation as one of the sector’s most innovative wine houses.

“Wines of Golf Legends is simply an amazing project and a collection that will grow over time,” Peuch & Besse Managing Director Sylvain Combe told The Moodie Davitt Report. “It is in limited distribution and naturally reserved for travel retail and the finest golf courses.”

[Meet Santalba Rioja Reserva 2015 winemaker Roberto Ijalba and golfer José María Olazábal]

Peuch & Besse Advisor Business Development Rajiv Bhatia said: “The QR code which allows you to watch the video is consistent with what we’ve done with the earlier One Winemaker concept but this just takes it to a different level. When you look at the bottles and the labels, they look really consistent and you even have the capsule on the neck of the bottle saying Wines of Golf Legends.

“It’s done really nicely and when you see the collection on the shelf it highlights something very special. And given that the golfing community are often passionate about wine and travelling, it’s something different for the travel retail operators.

“Because the golfers are also so passionate and enthusiastic about what they’re doing, it means that at different times of the year we can do something with the golfers travelling through an airport. For example, they could be available with a travel retail operator to talk about the wine and sign bottles etc.”

Striking front and back labels and a clever pour-spout collar add to the allure of the winemaking-golfing marriage. Click to enlarge image.

[Meet Koelenbosch Pinotage 2018 winemaker Andrew de Vries and golfer David Frost]

How one legend helped spawn new legends

The Wines of Golf Legends concept was born out of a conversation between Sylvain Combe and French golfer Jean van de Velde – “the embodiment of a very French je-ne-sais-quoi” as Peuch & Bess puts it.

Van de Velde will forever be remembered for his gut-wrenching defeat at the 1999 Open held at Carnoustie when he famously lost a three-shot lead on the final hole, at one point removing his shoes and socks to contemplate playing a shot out of the Barry Burn water hazard.

His subsequent sanguine and humble reaction to sporting disaster has won him countless friends and followers around the world and in 2012 he was named by UNICEF France as an ambassador, only the second French person to be awarded the honour.

Van de Velde is as passionate about wines as he is about golf. He has been inducted into the Saint-Émilion guild The Jurade and often acts as an unofficial ambassador for French wines with his golfing peers.

He and Combe decided to combine their respective expertise and networks and create a range of wines for golf fans. Golf and wine share many values, they decided: patience, precision, elegance and conviviality among them.

As they talked, the project grew bigger, more ambitious and international. From a simple ambassadorial role for Van de Velde for wines from the southwest of France, the concept turned into a range of wines from the world’s best winegrowing regions, all selected by golf legends.

Each golfer chooses a winegrowing region which he or she has a strong connection with. Peuch & Besse directs the choice of suitable partners, all being local family-run companies.

*ABOUT THE QDF FACTOR

The QDF Factor is an extraordinary industry competition held in both 2020 and 2021 to encourage innovation and differentiation among brand owners. As a result of its success, Wines of Golf Legends has captured a six-month high-profile promotion at Qatar Duty Free’s award-winning retail offer in Hamad International Airport, Doha, plus a free six-month US$50,000 multi-media advertising campaign with The Moodie Davitt Report.