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Saturday, October 18, 2014

'Loveblock' Wines puts Founder Erica Crawford and New Zealand Organics on the Map by Philip S. Kampe





                                                The 'Prudence' has been a working steamboat since 1911

When the invitation arrived, I was certainly intrigued.
We will pick you up with a car service and deliver you to a waiting boat, docked in Greenwich, Ct. The boat is the oldest working steamboat in America.

Shortly afterwards, we will rendezvous with another boat, an oyster harvester and sample freshly caught oysters with the skipper and Erica Crawford, founder of Loveblock wines.

Afterwards, the car service will bring you home.

Having driven or taken subways and buses most of my life made this invitation look more curious than it would to those who live n Manhattan and own no vehicle.

They are used to being chauffeured about.

It wasn't hard to accept the offer.

The big day arrived.

Somehow my journalist, wine and theater critic wife and photographer received an invite, as well.
We joined forces, together, in the backseat, a big, black Mercedes. The driver was wearing a skippers hat.

Maybe its me, but, sitting in the back of a big car with a chauffeur makes me feel any conversation would be heard by not only my wife, but, the driver as well.

I remained quiet during the hour plus ride.



                                  Photos of Erica Crawford, the Prudence, the Oysters and Loveblock wines.
          
                      Founder Erica Crawford of Loveblock. That's me on the right.
                         Erica Crawford explaining about organics and Loveblocks mission
                                      A 'Happy Wine Journalist'
                                  Crisp, cold, Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc
                        Aquaculturist Jardar Nygard shucking freshly caught oysters
                                A pairing 'Made in Heaven'...oysters and Sauvignon Blanc
                                           Loveblock ' wines
                                    Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc 2013


We finally arrived at the dock in Greenwich, Ct.. The boat we were meeting, named Prudence, was waiting for us..

We climbed aboard Prudence and was met by our friend who represents some of the best wine producers in the world.  A glass of Loveblock wine was put in our hand.

Our day was set.

Who could complain?

The invitation said, that all attendees will be on ‘An excursion to the oyster flats of Greenwich, Ct, in the waters of Long Island Sound to discover what makes a good oyster and what makes a good wine! Please join Loveblock wines founder, Erica Crawford and Aquaculturist Jardar Nygard for a wine and oyster pairing luncheon aboard the ‘Prudence’, one of only three original Maine Steamboats still on the water today and the oldest working ship in America. Watch first hand as local oysters are harvested and shucked by our expert, taste various kinds, and discover the significance of a vineyard ‘s Terroir and an oyster farms Merrior’.

 As the Prudence pulled away from shore, we learned some facts about oysters. Did you know oysters are sequential hermaphrodites? Newly spawned oysters only need microscopic bits of calcium to start growing their shell. Oysters in the wild attach to old oyster shells. Oysters can live up to 30 years. The lighter the oyster is, the younger it is. The best time to eat oysters is September and October.

Growing up in New Orleans has made me an oyster fan from a very young age.. Even the public schools served oyster po boys on Fridays.  At a young age, I remember my parents ate fresh oysters and drank Sauvignon Blanc.

Unfortunately, they did not live long enough to experience the best Sauvignon Blanc to pair oysters with, New Zealand style, specifically, Loveblock.

Founder of Loveblock, Erica Crawford, an ex-medical scientist  takes organics seriously.  Erica is the wife of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc guru, Kim Crawford.  Maybe it’s a woman’s touch, but, the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc that accompanied the luncheon was easily the best in the market.

It was the true New Zealand style, grapefruit, melons and acidity. What was different about Loveblock is the fact that the wine is fuller bodied and denser, lusher than others in the market.

Erica spoke to the lucky group of invitees on the boat emphasizing that at Loveblock, we have a deeply held belief that we are the custodians of the land. We farm the land and grow grapes in accordance with organic certification standards, sustainable wine growing principles and biodynamic practices .

Loveblock has several distinct vineyards. The ‘Hillside’ is a 180 acre vineyard perched on top of the hills overlooking the Awatere Valley. Erica says that the location is suitable because the wind keeps down the bug population, the northern exposure of the Hillside is the same as southern exposure in Europe. Finally Crawford stresses that the soil is not glacial, but, is made of redwood pass soil which helps with even ripening of the grapes. The huge vineyard primarily produces Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Many other varietals, including Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtzraminer, Pinot Blanc  and Tempranillo have been planted, harvested and experimented with.

The ‘Woolshed’ and the ‘Triangle’ are at the bottom of the hill. The soil is typical of the Awatere Valley—stilt over stone. The ‘Woolshed’ devotes its 27 acres to Sauvignon Blanc, while the ‘Triangle’s’ four acres are where the Pinot Gris is planted. Both areas were planted in 2003 and were converted to organics in 2012.

Pinot Noir, from Loveblock’s Central Otago vineyard is an example of a difficult grape that thrives when extra attention, care and patience are part of the scenario. The newly bottled Pinot Noir is a welcome addition to Loveblock’s portfolio, which includes, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurrztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.

Loveblock Vineyards and Erica Crawford have my vote of confidence !!

Philip S. Kampe
photos by Maria Reveley

philip.kampe@thewinehub.com






Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spanish Wines Older than Me...1928 to 1982..from Spanish-Wine-Exclusives by Philip S. Kampe

Often words are hard to come by when you have the privilege to sample icon Spanish wines that date back to 1928. Thanks to the generosity of Justin Berlin at Spanish-Wine-Exclusives (www.spanish-wine-exclusives.com), I had the rare opportunity to sample these 'ageless' beauties.

Yes, many of the wines were wines that were considered average when released, but, as time ages the wines, a major transformation takes place, making average wines taste like historic wines.

                                           Justin Berlin pouring a rare old vintage

   The classic line-up, starting with 1928 on the left and ending with 1982 on the right

Words are hard to come by when explaining each wine...so,in this rare case, I will not bore you with explanations of each wine. Just think raisins, dates and figs and you will get the picture.

            


                                               1982 Alfares Rioja Reserve Red


                                                       
                                        1981 Marquis de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Red



                                         1981 Marques de Caceres Rioja Gran Reserva



                                       1970 Royal Tete de Cuvee Rioja Gran Reserva


            
                       1964 Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva (also, 1970 was poured)



                                    (far left) 1928 Paternina Rioja Gran Reserva   

Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com