Full Court (Wine) Press
Wisco winery tops Final Four face-off
The Wisconsin Badgers may have lost a heartbreaker to Duke in the Final Four, but a Badger State winemaker had better luck in a hoops-themed competition judged by the staff of Wine Spectator magazine. In early April, the magazine selected wineries located near the colleges playing in the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Staller Estate of Delavan (an hour southeast of Madison) represented the Badgers; Chateau Chantal of Traverse City, Mich., stood in for Michigan State; Round Peak Vineyards of Mt. Airy, N.C., took the place of Duke; and Springhill Winery of Bloomfield, Ky., suited up for the University of Kentucky.
Staller Estate was founded by UW-Whitewater grads Joe and Wendy Staller on a former dairy farm the couple bought in 2006. The planted it with cold-hardy grape varieties such as Marechal Foch, Frontenac, La Crescent, and Marquette. (Incidentally, the latter three vines were developed at the University of Minnesota. How’s that for Big Ten pride?) Wine Spectator reports the Stallers produce 2,500 to 3,000 cases of wine annually and sell most of it at the winery.
“The winemaking community (in Wisconsin) is really exciting,” Staller told the magazine. “There’s a tremendous amount of camaraderie – everyone’s willing to help everyone out, and it’s for the benefit of the industry.”
By contrast, the Stallers’ vintages took no prisoners in the Spectator’s wine tourney. In the first round, the winery’s La Crescent Reserve bested a Cabernet Franc from Kentucky. “It gets an extended malolactic fermentation, with neutral oak aging, letting the floral, honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas and flavors shine through,” the Spectator judges declared of the Badger beverage.
In the finals, a Staller Estate Ice Wine 2013 defeated a Pinot Gris from Michigan. The ice wine, the Spectator declared, “was a powerhouse contender that seven of our eight tasters picked as their champion.” (Call it Frank the Tank in a bottle, if you will.) The wine “impressed with honey, cantaloupe, gold apple and apricot on a lush, unctuous frame held up by acidity that zipped around the court.” Sounds like a slam dunk!
If you’re interested in washing the bitter taste of the Badgers’ defeat out of your mouth, visit www.stallerestate.com to learn more about this fine Wisconsin vineyard.