French Open Favorites


S.W. and Rich Hermansen
Guest Writers
[email protected]

The French Open Men’s draw is narrowing down steadily to the favorites. Five-set matches on dusty red clay favor top-ranked players from countries that produce fine wines. What wines will players in the later rounds choose to celebrate their paydays? They can afford the best: each winner in the first round of the main draw takes home at least $90,000. Among the diverse countries represented in the draw, they will find great wines at modest prices.

The top seed, Novak Djokovic, represents Serbia, a country with a long tradition of wine-making. A wine make from a local grape variety, say the 2017 Aleksandrovic Rodoslov Grand Reserve Prokupac ($43), would showcase another Serbian competitor rated as one of the top 1% in the world.

In the current Las Vegas odds, the Spaniards have the edge over higher-seeded Russian and German players. Rafael Nadal, the perennial champion from Mallorca, would perhaps choose the local Raor Brut Nature a sparkling wine that blends the local Perellada and Chardonnay grapes.

The upstart nineteen year old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia, originally from the southeastern city of Murcia, would likely opt for the intense local Monastrell (called Mourvedre in France). The 2011 Bodegas Juan Gil “12 Meses” ($15) expresses the heat and scrappy terrain of Murcia and its hot sensation Carlos, who had to rally from the edge of defeat to win a gruelling second round five setter against Albert Ramos Vinolas of Barcelona.

In the women’s draw, Iga Swiatek from Poland is enjoying a winning streak that makes her the prohibitive favorite. While winemaking in Poland dates back to the 9th Century, 500 vineyards in Poland produce a relatively small volume of wine. The British wine guru, Jancis Robinson, recommends the 2015 Pałac Mierzęcin Riesling ($30). Iga would do well to follow her advice, as would another Pole, Hubert Hurkacz in the Men’s draw.

Stefanos Tsitsipas from Athens, the fourth seed, has a rich tradition of Greek wines from which to chose a celebratory bottle. Stefanos and fans celebrating with him would do well to choose the sparkling 2017 Domaine Karanika Brut Cuvée Rosé ($33). The exotic Xinomavro variety in it has a reputation as a grape difficult to tame but rewarding if done well.

The young American Sebastian Korda from Bradenton Florida faces Alcaraz in the third round. Korda defeated Alcaraz in the Monte Carlo tournament. Golfers know Sebastian’s sisters Nelly and Jessica, Both have attained high rankings in women’s golf. Lacking good choices in Florida wines, Sebastian may give a nod to the Czech Republic where his father Petr became a top ten player internationally. Better known for beer such as Pilsner Urquell, the Czech Republic has made great strides in winemaking. The Korda’s may well turn to the 2019 Vinarstvi Gotberg Palava white wine ($10) and a savory kolach for a taste of the old country.

We would be remiss to fail to mention the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who has progressed easily into the third round. Dimitrov has recently rejoined the favorites on the tour. He might choose another Jancis Robinson recommendation: the Logodaj Satin Rosé Brut NV PGI Thracian Lowland ($17), that features local Shiroka Melnishka grapes from the Struma Valley.

Sampling wines from native countries of the players on the courts of Roland Garros seems a particularly appropriate way to celebrate the victories of our favorites or to forgive their losses. The spectacular play in one match after another pairs beautifully with the best wines the players’ home countries produce.

S. W. Hermansen has used his expertise in econometrics, data science and epidemiology to help develop research databases for the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and Health Resources and Services. He has visited premier vineyards and taste wines from major appellations in California, Oregon, New York State, and internationally from Tuscany and the Piedmont in Italy, the Ribera del Duero in Spain, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in Australia, and the Otego Valley in New Zealand. Currently he splits time between residences in Chevy Chase, Maryland and St. Armand’s Circle in Florida.

Rich Hermansen selected has first wine list for a restaurant shortly after graduating from college with a degree in Mathematics. He has extensive service and management experience in the food and wine industry. Family and friends rate him as their favorite chef, bartender, and wine steward. He lives in Severna Park, Maryland.


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