Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Great Wines From Chile Revisited, 'Kalfu' Kuda Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc by Philip S. Kampe


                                        Two Great Wines From Chile, Revisited

Five years ago I had lunch with the winemaker at Kalfu, a close to the Pacific Ocean Chilean producer, who believes that the terroir is the most important choice as where to plant grapes. At that time, Chile had undergone a viticultural transformation. High technology coupled with innovative winemakers who were willing to take risks, paid big dividends.

Thanks to that revolution, today, Chilean wines of high quality are sold at affordable prices. Winemaker Alejandro Galaz , of Vina Ventisquero, was ahead of the curve.

Chile is an isolated wine region, protected by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the east. The isolated conditions with its environmentally protected land are ideal for consistent varietals year after year. Climate change has not affected this region, which is nearly unheard of in other wine regions of the world.

This isolated region includes Leyda Valley, where these two bottles are from. If you haven’t been, the Leyda Valley is only four miles from the Pacific Ocean, close to the Maipo River. The valley has lots of morning fog and sea breezes that cool the vineyards.

Nearby is the Colchagua Valley, a hilly region near the ocean.

The Casablanca Valley is not close to the sea, hence, more like your typical vineyard where the varietals ripen slowly.
My favorite area is the Huasco Valley, which is situated in the worlds ‘driest desert.’ The vineyards in the valley deal with overly hot days, followed by cool nights. Located only fifteen miles from the ocean, the Huasco Valley is well known for its salty soil. Wines from this valley are unique.

The two wines I sampled are sustainable. In fact, Vina Ventisquero was awarded the first of its kind of certification as the only winery in Chile to have all of its vineyards certified 100% sustainable by Wines of Chile.

2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir
Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
14% alcohol
Aroma: raspberry, vanilla and cherry
Dry with medium acid. Forest berries with medium tannins and body. Complex, yet balanced. Chalky, with a spicy aftertaste. Earthy notes dominate the oaky vanilla undertones.
$18 a bottle

2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc

Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
13% alcohol
Tropical aromas pineapple and lychee.
Dry with a wonderful minerality of fizzy grapefruit, lime, pear, quince and stone.
Undertones of green olive, white pepper and grass balance this medium-bodied, acidic saline wine.
$16 a bottle

Galaz is known as the winemaker who specializes in cool climate wines. He says he is always striving to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtlety of the grape. He reminds us that producing cool climate wines is a challenge. Grapes are handpicked in the morning, where the best grapes are selected for a fourteen hour maceration. After fermentation, the grapes are aged on lees for three months followed by battonage.

If you can find these wines, they are both worth seeking out.

Monday, August 12, 2019

What Do Wine Writers Do On Summer Vacation? Well, They Don't Ski Vermont by Philip S. Kampe

                                                 Our first E-bike experience

                                              Don’t SKI VERMONT.

It’s summertime.

We all need a break from the wine world. Our body tells us so.

Each summer, at least in our case, we find an outlet to balance the demanding life of the wine world. One summer, it was discovering the ocean. Another year, it was live music. And another year, it was hiking.

This year, it’s about ‘adventure parks’ at ski slopes.

Vermont borders Massachusetts, where we live, making the drive to the famous ski slopes accessible year round. In the winter, we drink wine on the ski slopes. In the summer, we try to take a break.

Vermont ski slopes are about excitement, the type of excitement you don’t need skis for.
                                                                    Disc Golf
                                                                       Zip line

Our family took a ‘spur of the moment’ holiday in Vermont, known to many as the state Bernie Sanders is from.

We came for the beauty, to bond with nature and to explore. What we found was all of the above plus ‘adventure parks’ at just about all of the ski slopes we passed. We didn’t realize that the adventure parks utilize the chairlifts and real estate of the ski slopes for summer adventure.

What that means, business wise, is two fold: the winter ski staff now has a summer income, while the mountain remains open and the tourists and locals have a summer outlet where families and friends can enjoy the mountain air with the numerous activities these mountains have to offer.

Our first ‘adventure park’ experience started at Bromley, in southern Vermont. We purchased an all day ‘adventure park’ pass and began our experience in a truly non-traditional way-we learned how to play disc golf-nine holes at the base of the mountain and the final nine on top by way of a chairlift ride. Who knew that there were over a dozen shapes of Frisbees, those are the golf clubs, to use?  One was a driver, another a wedge and another was a putter. Playing disc golf was addictive and much more difficult then it looked.

The Green Mountains were the backdrop for our first attempt at ‘zip lining’ Bromley’s course has a 700 foot vertical drop with a lovely view high atop the mountain. Zip line speeds reach 50mph, which I am glad to admit, was no big deal. It seems that this sport is all glamour with no fear factor at all. And for what its worth, in my case, the zip line was addictive. We managed four runs before the 4pm closing time.

From Bromley you can see Stratton’s majestic peak, which was our next stop.

When we arrived at the village at Stratton, it was immediately reminiscent of Mont-Tremblant (Quebec). You could really stretch your imagination and think you were in Aspen.

There is always something magical about ski villages.

We checked into the Black Bear Lodge, a five minute walk from village square, took a necessary whirlpool to get our bodies back into shape and then headed to Benedict’s, in the village for libations and dinner, followed by handmade cannoli’s at Village Pie.

The next morning was the day of challenge-climbing the mountain on an e-bike. What is an e-bike you may ask? An e-bike, in this case is a TREK mountain bike with a battery charged engine. If the hill is too steep and your peddling can’t help you get up the mountain, the turbo engine kicks in, like magic.

Since we vowed to try everything, we changed to golf clothes, at least our version of golf clothes and drove to the Stratton Mountain 27 hole golf course. We chose the nine hole course, teed up, and had an enjoyable two hours plus chasing our golf balls. In reality, the beauty of the environment was all one needed on the golf course.

Afterwards, we had our version of ‘Happy Hour’ at the Green Apron, overlooking the majestic golf course. Our server told us that Stratton Mountain has hosted seven LPGA (women’s) professional golf tournaments over the years.

This short experience has wet our appetitive for more. There are so many ‘Adventure Parks’ to discover in Vermont. The list goes on…Killington…Sugarbush…Stowe…Mount Snow…Pico…Magic Mountain…Jay Peak…Bolton Valley…Mad River Glen….Suicide Six….Okemo…Mount Snow…

Some people want to visit all of the professional baseball stadiums in America.

Not us, we want to visit all of Vermont’s ‘adventure parks’ before the end of 2020.
It’s a goal we can reach. With it, comes bragging rights.

Ignore the Name and Try this Wine: “B I T C H,” the Wine by Philip S. Kampe

You can’t help noticing the bottle on the shelf. With a pink neck and bold black label emphasizing  the word, “BITCH,” it’s had to ...