Greetings all and welcome to the Travelers Championship edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier. I’ve been on a little hiatus lately but glad to be back talking some vino and vintage plays for the week. The PGA Tour heads back east for a stopover in Connecticut on a fantastic course in TPC River Highlands. I keep hearing the field is crap, but I’m not so sure I agree with that when we have guys like Koepka, Cantlay, Spieth (yeh I said it, come at me), Day and JT. Even Mickelson is here who may be playing awful but is still a big name so I’m sure the fans will be treated to a great show of golf this week. As we move into the hot summer months, I thought this week we would take a dive into the best summer wines. Now just so you people don’t freak out because I tend to like a pink wine, NO, I am not only going to talk about Rose’ and how great a summer wine it is (seriously, it is though). I’m going to go outside the box a little and talk some about summer reds also that might surprise you as refreshing despite the fact that we normally think of crisp white wines when it comes to what pleases the palate when it’s hot AF outside.
When we look at wines for the summer months the key, as I’ve mentioned, is that refreshing crisp taste, especially from what we get in white wines. We want those whites to be light to medium bodied, and usually on the dry side. Truth be told also, I tend to be a little more selective and go with the pricier white wines in the summer because they are just better and the cheap ones are way too sweet. I am going to discuss Rose’ first because (and I can’t beat it into your heads enough) it is one of the best summer wines and definitely my go-to. For those that don’t know it’s typically a dry wine, that usually has a fruity type flavor, BUT, don’t just think of fruity as meaning sweet. That is not the case with Rose’, especially with the dryer ones. Rose’ is not the pink white Zinfandel shit that you think of when you are strictly just judging by color. It’s anything but and you’re missing out if you like refreshing “white” (you’ll see why that’s in quotation marks here in a minute) wines during the hot summer months. I’m particularly enjoying the Grenache Rose’ that the good folks at L’Ecole No 41 winery sent me to try (check out the link at the end of the article and you can even use our code FORE to get a 15% discount on your orders. We say no free ads but this one is actually free). Another white that I really enjoy in the summer is a Sauvignon Blanc. I’m obviously in the South and one of the things we are known for is Peaches. Hell, we live in the peach state for gods sakes! Well most Sauvignon Blanc tends to have a peachy flavor combined pear and green apple and are dry just by the very nature of the varietal. Another very refreshing wine that’s not at all sweet and perfect for a hot summer day. I know that Chardonnay is probably the most popular white, but in my mind a good Sauvignon Blanc blows Chard out of the water, especially in the summer.
Now let’s move on to the Reds, and I know we tend not to think of Reds as being a good summer wine, but they actually are at the right times. One of those times by the way, is not immediately following a golf round when you have sweated your ass off all day and had a few beers. Trust me on that one. However, if you’re having folks over for dinner and maybe the night is just perfect and cool enough to sit outside, try a good Pinot Noir as they are typically a more “thin skinned” grape that produce a lighter taste that just aren’t as bold as you typically see in red wines. This may sound like heresy also when it comes to red wine, but try it slightly chilled if you really feel like going nuts one evening this summer. Another one would be a Grenache which is also a thin skinned grape but produces a refreshingly light red that’s great for a nice summer evening. But wait FGS! Didn’t you just say you were drinking a Grenache Rose’ that is a white wine! Yep, I did, which brings up another common misconception. Just because it may be a red grape by color, doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be harvested into what most would consider is a white wine like we think of Rose’. Contrary to popular belief, you do not get Rose’ by mixing red and white grapes. Without going into too much detail, basically Rose’ is born out of Red varietal where the skin of the grape has been extracted early in the process creating the lighter/pink color, but most would never have known that because they are too caught up in the color of the wine itself. As with anything (like perhaps choosing golfers?) perception isn’t always reality. I’ll sum up by saying that summer is a great time to try some different wines and open your mind to some new flavors in your life. You never know what you might be missing out on if you don’t stop sometimes and rethink your approach. I do the same actually when it comes to how I look at golfers. Sometimes you just have to reset and not assume based off what you’re told or perceive. Check into everything yourself. You may just stumble upon a new favorite wine, or golfer, you never imagined would turn out to be what or who you thought it was.
Now let’s get into the plays of the week for the Travelers Championship. As always, we are going to use the classic Wine Spectator 100 point scale for the picks (think of it like a confidence factor):
- 95-100 Classic: a great wine
- 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
- 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
- 80-84 Good: a solid well-made wine
- 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
- 50-74 Not recommended (or a very shitty wine)
So, here we go, let’s meander on down into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf selections for the week…
Paul Casey – $9,500 – 96 Points – Casey has been as solid as they come at the Travelers the past 4 years with two 2nd place finishes, a T5, and a T17 gaining almost 40 strokes on the field in that time frame. I expect that trend to continue as well as Paul has had a great year with 4 top 5 finishes including a victory at the Valspar in late March. If you’re a fan of ball strikers also like I am this week then look no further than Casey who ranks number 2 in the field. He’s also 2nd in the field in Strokes Gained off the Tee and top 20 in Opportunities Gained. Casey should be core play in both your cash and GPP lineups this week.
Charley Hoffman – $8,100 – 94 Points – I probably shouldn’t have to tell you people this, but if you didn’t listen to the show this week you need to head over to Itunes or wherever you stream your podcasts from immediately after reading this and check it out. We had Joel Dahmen’s caddy Geno Bonnalie on and he was not only hilarious, but LOVES him some Hoffman this week, and even took him as his One and Done pick. Hoffman has the perfect game for this course and despite missing the cut at the Memorial has been extremely solid all year and almost always comes in under the radar as far as ownership is concerned. In his last 4 starts at the Travelers, Hoffman hasn’t finished worse than 26th back in 2014 and has two top 15 finishes including a T3 in 2017. If you want some stats also to back him up Charley ranks 14th in Ball Striking, 8th in Strokes Gained Approach, 16th in Opportunities Gained, and 1st in Par 4 scoring from 400-450 yards (8 par 4’s on the course in this range). All that being said I really don’t even know why you wouldn’t play this guy. The FGS likes him, Geno likes him, the stats say play him, I mean, it’s basically like saying FU United States of America if you fade this guy. But hey, it’s a free country, you can do what you want.
Pop the Cork on him and Let it Breathe – This is the guy we didn’t mention on the pod but after further review, popped later in the week and is a sneaky good, possibly low owned play.
Joaquin Niemann – $7,500 – 88 Points – I swear I can never get this guy right as I thought he would be an absolute stud this year and just really hasn’t had that great of a season. That being said, he has played fairly well considering his price tag making three straight cuts and finishing inside the top 35 in all of those. Niemann has never played at the Travelers but I don’t think that’s a huge issue on this course and he definitely has the right game to do well. He is ranked in the top 30 in the field in Ball Striking and Opportunities Gained and also is checking boxes Off the Tee and in Strokes Gained Approach. I think he’s worth a shot this week in tournament lineups so I say roll the dice!
The $10 Wine Special – Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Bud Cauley – $7,600 – 91 Points – This is a first for me in the FGS but I absolutely love me some Bud this week. I’ll give you this, he’s been inconsistent all year, but whenever I’ve got a feeling for some Bud it almost always seems to turn out right. Cauley missed the cut at the RBC Canadian, but was top 10 at the Memorial and has three top 15 finishes this year. He’s also made the cut here three straight years dating back to 2014 where he finished in the top 15. Bud is a great ball striker and can definitely score, especially on Par 5’s where he is ranked 22nd in the field. DB likes to talk about his Keegan radar being on, well mine is on for Bud this week and he’ll be a key GPP tournament play in my DraftKings lineups.
Peter Malnati – $6,900 – 89 Points – Malnati is another guy that Geno was a fan of on the podcast. Now was it because he rocks the bucket hat like his man Joel Dahmen? Possibly, but I don’t care, I’m running with the positive Geno vibes this week and will roll out some Malnati lineups in GPP’s on DraftKings this week. Peter has been solid all year making 12 of 18 cuts including 5 of his last 6 with 4 top 20 finishes this year. He also finished T26 last year here at TPC River Highlands and is in the top 40 in the field in Ball Striking, Strokes Gained Approach, and Opportunities Gained. Not sure what else you folks need, but Malnati is a great option for a low owned under 7K tournament play this week.
Boone’s Farm Vintage Fade of the Week – Boone’s Farm is basically convenience store wine we drank in college and possibly could kill you (not really, but it’s gross).
Phil Mickelson – $8,700 – 79 points – Sad face emoji. Don’t play him. Thanks for reading the Fantasy Golf Sommelier!