“Were I to prescribe a rule for drinking, it should be formed upon a saying quoted by Sir William Temple: the first glass for myself, the second for my friends, the third for good humor and the fourth for mine enemies,” Addison, The Spectator, 195 (October 13, 1711)
Many of us remember the devastating tornadoes that decked Barneveld many years ago. Fortunately, all was not lost, and there are bright spots sparkling today.
In 1989, Peter Botham opened the Botham Winery, a 10-acre, pristine parcel packed with 8,000 vines, many of which were sourced from French hybrid stock in upstate New York. Surrounded by more than 900 acres of nature conservancy, the wines are made by Peter and with the able assistance of energetic wife Sarah (vice president and director of marketing), Botham’s wines have garnered national and international recognition, with more than 300 medals under the winery’s belt over the past dozen years.
Quite a bit of the winery’s raw material comes from its own estate-grown grapes (mainly reds), augmented by some white juice from the Finger Lakes area of New York (where your fearless columnist toured and tasted ad nauseum). Because the latitude is similar to ours, the winters present similar daunting challenges. Luckily, Botham has prevailed.
Botham’s wines are available at most Pick & Save stores as well as a grouping of others, including Discount Wine and Liquor in downtown Waukesha.
After a long talk with Sarah recently, followed by a tasting of their offerings, I see a solid future for this Barneveld Beauty.
And now, on to my tasting, using my normal “A”-“F” scoring scale:
1. Riesling, $9: Totally pleasantly clear with no hue. Lightly floral and pleasantly scented nose. Lightly fruity middle, with delicious and fruity notes of peach and apricot. Clean, light finish. Great patio wine! A
2. Cupola, American semi-dry white, $8.25: Light straw color with light to medium body. Faintly scented nose with hints of clover. Lightly fruity middle with just a touch of bitterness on the finish (this blew away with time). B
3. Vin 10, American semi-dry white, $8.50: This Geisenheim varietal had a very pale, almost uncommitted color. With a medium body, it had a medium-deep nose with vague hints of limestone and butterscotch. Light fruit, with a barely short finish. Nice. B+
4. Badger Blush, American semi-dry red, $8.25: The winery calls this a White Zinfandel lookalike. Blush wines like this are often made by lightly pressing red grapes and minimizing skin contact while gently extracting a tad of color. I found this lightly pink wine to have medium body with a faintly fruity nose. The taste was similarly lightly fruity with medium depth. To me, this hinted a tad of Catawba grapes in New York state. B
5. Big Stuff Red, American semi-dry red, $8.75: Mostly estate-grown red grapes that compose what Botham says is its best seller. Light brick hue with medium body. Subdued, lightly fruity nose with light depth. The body was similarly light with some depth. Botham suggests serving this slightly chilled. Two-time gold medal winner at the San Francisco competition. B
6. Uplands Reserve, 2008, Wisconsin Dry Red, $9.50: Estate-grown Marechal Foch and Leon Millot grapes. Light ruby color with heavy body. Nose carries notes of blackberry overlaid on briar. Medium-fruity middle with a somewhat abrupt finish and just a hint of bitterness. B-
Today’s clear winner for both quality and price/value was the Riesling, a new candidate for Miss Wisconsin.
Cheers to Peter and Sarah for their own modern-day tornado!