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 Filed as : Interviews

The Walrus Talks Wine

Jun 15, 2012
The Walrus Talks Wine
Wine recommendations for your golf-loving dad this Father's Day

walrusSome know him as the Walrus, others as the guy in those Smith & Wollensky ads of the past decade (the one with a glass of Robert Mondavi Reserve red and a big steak).

If you haven’t heard of him, Craig Stadler is one of the great PGA golfers of the past 40 years--having won the Masters in 1982, and since then, parented another professional golfer (Kevin) who is currently on the professional tour.

Most important to us at The Daily Sip, Craig loves wine. He loves it for all the reasons we love it: the joy of using wine as an organizing principle for international travel, or how tasty it can be when paired with a great home-cooked meal. Craig has even leveraged his celebrity status and love of wine to chair the annual Wine to Water charity event each November in Napa. There, PGA pros come to golf in Napa with event attendees. The festivities culminate with a winemaker dinner at the Miner family’s cellar--one replete with silent auction lots that rival those of Auction Napa Valley. Wine to Water gives clean water to children around the world in places like Africa and India. The annual charity event typically raises more than $750,000 for the cause.

(For those of you with wine-loving dads in your life, keep reading for ideas on one of the Walrus’ recommended wines to buy this Father’s Day!)

The Daily Sip Exclusive Interview with Craig Stadler

TDS: What got you into wine?
CS: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I played in a tournament at Silverado [country club]. A friend of my father’s was the chief medical officer in Yountville. We’d stay there; we’d taste and rate wines all week.

TDS: How’d that impact your level of play?
CS: Probably didn’t help. All we tasted and rated were white wines (chenin blanc, etc.). Cakebread, Markham, Charles Krug, Grgich Hills--at that time, we only drank their whites, as I only liked white wine at that time.

TDS: When did that change?
CS: 1997. I bought a house in Denver with a major cellar and started collecting in 1999/2000. I actually started with 1997s; 1998 Spottswoode [cabernet sauvignon] is still one of my favorite wines of all time. It just goes to show that even though the vintage was panned, the wine aged beautifully over time.

TDS: If you had to limit yourself for the rest of your life to five specific wines regardless of price, what would they be?
CS: If reds-- Petrus, Harlan, Spottswoode, Miner, Benedetto, Lancaster (especially awesome in last 2 years), Pride, La Flavie Polotrie…wait, that’s more than five. It could be a lot of wines!

TDS: What are your favorite non French and non Napa regions these days? Best values?
CS:For high value and high quality--Argentina. For high quality but not high value--Italy.

Argentina is putting out some of the best reds for the money these days. You have to try a little blend called Clos de los Siete. It has a white diamond on the front label. You can get it from $13 to $16. It’s just wonderful--great malbecs and cabs. Sophenia’s [cabernet/malbec] blends are wines that I also love. Le Colomé sits up on the mountain, by itself, just off the “highway” (AR40); they mainly do tanat. Their late harvest tanat 2007 is truly great.

When we went to Uruguay, we also tasted some phenomenal tanats for $7 to $10. We sipped on that all week.

Italy is a place I love--but super Tuscans absolutely have to sit. [Marchesi Antinori’s] Tignanello is one of my favorites, as is Solaia [also by the Antinoris].

I have a great story about super Tuscans, actually. I was once up in the Dolomites in a town with great hiking. We were staying at a little chachi hotel. They had all these little alcoves; one with an alcove of Sassicaia. I was wandering around, looked at the menu. They had every year’s production of Sassicaia on the menu in 750ml, magnum, and double magnum. So I took a right out of the restaurant and headed to the gift shop, and the owner’s cellar was right down there. From what I could see, it was probably 2000 to 3000 cases of Sassicaia. Evidently, he was the largest collector of Sassicaia in the world, and he’d amassed 3 times the collection of the winery itself. It’s all he sells at the hotel.

TDS: That wine-travel experience sounds hard to beat. But where would you like to go next?
CS: If I had my druthers, I’d love to spend a month in Mendoza [Argentina] and visit them ALL. They all have their idiosyncrasies, and many are hard to find. There are two places to stay in the whole area, but they are both within 30 minutes of 40 to 50 wineries. I’ve only visited 8 to 10 of them but would love to get to them all.

TDS: What philanthropic involvement do you have with wine? CS: Wine to Water—the 8th year! Wine to Water gives clean water to children around the world in places like Africa and India. The word wine in the title symbolizes fortune in our society. That’s, I think, the reason wineries get so passionate about the cause of clean water.

We do a big event every November. Big dinner in the caves at Miner Sunday night; play golf on Monday. Pros get paid only in wine! Spend three days in the valley picking up wine. Lancaster, Bremer, Pride, Viader, Shafer, Storybook, Gargiulo, David Arthur, etc.

TDS: Favorite pairing or meal?
CS: I’m not big on complicated pairings, but my favorite meal at home is one where I light the firepit, start wood burning at 6:30 pm, and open a bottle of red with either meat or chicken. Perfect meal!

Do you have your own great golf stories? How about wine? Tell us below!


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