A Pro’s Nose: Duffy Waldorf
Duffy Waldorf is a serious wine collector, which is not to say he’s overly serious about wine. The two bottles on prime display in his climate-controlled, earthquake-ready cellar in Northridge, California, are kitsch classics Thunderbird and Ripple. But Waldorf’s reserve of more than eighteen hundred carefully chosen bottles, estimated to be worth about $100,000, marks him as one of the PGA Tour’s top oenophiles.
"I have no idea what kind of golfer Duffy is, but he’s about a plus-five as a wine guy," says Kirk Triplett, one of several Tour players familiar with Waldorf’s collection. "Just when you think you know a little about wine, Duffy will pull out some incredibly obscure shiraz from Australia that you can never find again." Paul Smith, who owns Woodland Hills Wine Company in Los Angeles and who recently accompanied Waldorf on a tasting tour around Northern California (for charity), adds, "Duffy has an almost unparalleled palate in that he recognizes exceptional wines without caring the least about ratings. The man just knows wine."
Waldorf’s hobby-turned-obsession began shortly after he sampled a bottle of 1976 Château Lafite Rothschild in 1986, the year he turned pro. "I’d always been a beer drinker, but I wanted something I could savor with friends after great days and not so great days on the course," he says, adding that fellow Tour players including Triplett, Jeff Sluman and Brad Faxon are usually happy to clink glasses with him.
Waldorf’s choicest bottles?A 1952 Borgogno Barolo Riserva from Italy’s Piedmont region, a 1990 Château Angélus Saint-Emilion from Bordeaux and a stunning array of "impossible to find" syrahs from California cult winemaker Sine Qua Non. He also collects white wines, pointing to a new favorite: a 2005 Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. "I have to keep my wife happy," he says.