Cabernet Sauvignon | Chardonnay | Sparkling | Wine column | Wine Culture

Egalite and Penfolds make wines with a mission

(Image courtesy of Biagio Cru)

(Image courtesy of Biagio Cru)

Wine has become so common in our lives that organizations, vintners themselves, and proponents of certain lifestyles turn to the fruit of the vine to send their message.

The pink ribbons and pink labels on wines during Breast Cancer Awareness Month  come to mind first, along with renowned winemaker Daryl Groom’s Colby Red to raise funds for charities that promote heart health and Redwood Creek’s affiliation with the Arbor Day Foundation for tree-planting initiatives.

Enter two more examples — the exciting, high-quality French sparkling wine Egalite released just last month to support equality for gay Americans and Penfolds’ Koonunga Hill wines, which share 15 percent of the profits with The Global Fund to help fund HIV/AIDS grants for Africa.

Egalite — the French word for equality — celebrates the equal rights and growing acceptance of marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Imported and introduced by Biagio Cru and Estate Wines in Roslyn Heights, N.Y., the wine is a Cremant from France’s Burgundy region and almost instantly became available in six states — New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire and Illinois.

“Cremant” is a term for a wine that is usually just “gently” bubbly and is made in the methode champenoise way (fermented a second time in the bottle), but cannot be called “Champagne” because of French wine laws.

It’s a dry bubbly with flavors of toast, mushrooms, tangerine, honey and lime, suited to most all food pairings.

In celebration of its launch, Egalite will contribute $1,000 to each of five groups that support equality for gay Americans. The suggested price is $23.99. Talk to your local wine merchant about bringing this wine to Michigan. It’s important to know the importer’s name — Biagio Cru and Estate Wines.

(Image courtesy of Penfolds)

(Image courtesy of Penfolds)

To fight AIDS in Africa, Australia’s world-famous Penfolds winery became a partner of the organization called (RED) to contribute 15 percent of profits from its Koonunga Hill and Thomas Hyland lines to The Global Fund. To date the winery has contributed more than a million dollars to help eradicate AIDS from Africa.

Two of the most widely distributed wines are the Koonunga Hill Chardonnay and Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet, both at the SRP of $12.

Penfolds’ value-priced Koonunga Hill line is inspired by the Barossa Valley vineyard of the same name where the winery makes its luxury reds — Grange and Bin 707.

The Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet is mainly Shiraz-driven — it’s a spicy “cocktail” of blackberries, dark cherries, plums and brown cooking spices. The Chardonnay is packed with Gala apple, ripe Bartlett pear, tangerine, kiwi and floral notes with just a touch of oak to broaden the flavors.

This brand is easy to find at Michigan supermarkets and independent wine shops. Look for the red capsule over the bottle closure and bold red Penfolds name on the label.

You can reach Sandra Silfven at