Wine tasting and exploring three wineries from around the world including VIK from Chile, Ruffino from Italy and Kim Crawford from New Zealand.
How much fun would it be to travel the world touring wineries, tasting wine, learning about their history and operations and even talking food and wine parings? If you are a wine drinker, sampling wines from a variety of vineyards is part of the enjoyment you get from each glass. Having the opportunity to explore wines from around the globe just enhances not only the taste but the education on how each bottle is produced.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with 3 winemakers from Italy, New Zealand and Chile. In each experience, I learned about the importance of the soil, surroundings (ie. Mediterranean Sea, landscape, cooler temperatures) and traditions that produced each bottle of wine. We talked about such details as the percentage of each type of grape that was put into a bottle of wine and how that dramatically impacts the ultimate taste. We looked at maps that showed us how regions became exclusive producers of certain types of wine like Chiantis. And of course, we talked about wine and food pairings.
I want to share three vineyards from across the world with you as not only are the wines delicious but there are stories to be told about each one.
WINE TASTING FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Founded more than 140 years ago in Tuscany by cousins, Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino, Ruffino is now a collection of the best vineyard estates that produce the top fine wines from the area. As the years went on, Ruffino continued to invest in new vineyards and became one of the first major wineries with vineyard estates in Italy’s three most renowned wine producing regions: Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Ruffino is known for their clean, balanced wines. Ruffino wines benefit from the mineral laden salts, the cooling influence of the Mediterranean Sea, the dry summers that wine grapes favor and the sun drenched hills of the area. The first Chianti imported to the U.S. was Ruffino. In 2010, Ruffino’s Modus (modern Tuscan wine) was named one of Wine Spectator’s top 100 Wines. While in 2015, Riserva Ducale Oro was awarded Chianti Classico Gran Selezione status.
Senior Global Brand Ambassador, Beppe D’Andrea, not only shared the history of Ruffino with us but taught us how to make pasta! We were truly paring wine and food together which was a fun experience. All of Ruffino wines are made to accompany food as you would expect of the Italian lifestyle.
South America’s pioneers, Alexander and Carrie Vik, known for their building of luxury resorts, created VIK vineyard south of Santiago, Chile. This high end brand artistically designs their La Piu Belle bottles with a full wrap around label that is applied by hand to each bottle. Given their appreciation for art, this is in line with their style.
This is a destination wine experience. Located around an 11,000 acre vineyard where some of the country’s finest wines are produced, you will find a luxury hotel and spa. The landscape is that of densely forested hills with a variety of soils. Situated between the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Andes mountains to the East, the vineyard benefits from both. Temperature shifts during the day from warmth to cool air protects the grapes while the Andes provides water for irrigation. Interestingly, only 20 percent of the grape production is for VIK wine. The remainder is sold to other wineries. That will change once the vines are of the same age as what is being used for VIK wines.
Three wines are produced by VIK winery:
- Milla Cala: Vibrant red fruit aromas, elegant tannins and smooth mouth feel. Fresh spices, perfume and berry aromas accented with hints of toast and maple. In the mouth, black cherry and plum are underscored by a hint of black licorice.
- La Piu Belle: Intense and well balanced with notes of berries, wildflowers, spices and a touch of oak. Flavor of cranberries, the palate is incredibly fresh, silky smooth, with body and structure. Notice the artistically created label hand applied on each bottle.
- VIK: Elegant and balanced wine, dynamic with high precision of tannins and great structure that deliver an exquisite mouth feel. A mixture of aromas, including strawberry, raspberry and vanilla. Spicy and savory dark berry fruit on the tongue tempered by an elegant structure.
While you would be most welcomed at the VIK luxury resort in Chile to experience their wines firsthand, you can also visit Fogo de Chao Brazilian restaurants who are offering two of the wines in their best-in-class wine program. They are the first U.S. restaurant brand to be pouring VIK Chilean wines. Both the Milla Cala and VIK are being offered now with the La Piu Belle coming soon. Enjoy a paring perfectly designed to highlight the best of the dish and the wine. Truly an experience a wine lover must have.
NEW ZEALAND WINES
Started in 1996 in New Zealand by Kim and Erica Crawford, the Kim Crawford brand became known for their Sauvignon Blanc. With the location of the vineyards along the coastline where the grapes were treated to clean sea breezes and crisp nights as well as a long and dry autumn season, they were able to create that perfect balance of fruit and acidity. The more stony soils give wines a tropical fruit taste while the heavier soils give great intensity and grassier character.
The brand is now growing grapes in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. This is thought to be the best place to grow sauvignon grapes as it keeps the acid level high due to the landscape and temperature.
- The Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is a premium offering from the finest Marlborough grapes produced in the region. The top two vineyards go into this wine.
- For the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, 125 different vineyards went into the development of this wine.
Sauvignon Blanc wines make up more than 85% of New Zealand’s total wine exports, which hit a record $1.2 billion in June, 2017. The U.S. is the biggest overseas market for the crisp, clean taste of sauvignons from the area. There are a few key factors that Kim Crawford considers critical for their brand:
- They want grassy, citrus and passionfruit flavors
- Not too much grapefruit
- Interesting note: cool nights stop grapefruit from ripening overnight
- The wines are to be enjoyed for up to two years but best timing is at 18 months. These are not wines to be stored in a wine room for years.
Anthony Walkenhorst is the head winemaker, having been with the brand since 2005, officially taking the title in 2010. His creativity and interest in science has played a key role in success of the brand. His first Marlborough batch won the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. His philosophy is “wine should showcase the region that it’s growing in.”
Along with their highly regarded Sauvignon Blanc, you will also find delicious Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Rose.
A few notes:
- Pinot Gris – Slightly sweeter than Pinot Grigio, more pears, apples and riper fruits
- Chardonnay 2017 – Stainless steel fermentation
- Taste is a creamy butterscotch!
Kim Crawford wines are easy to drink wines for any occasion. While known for their Sauvignon Blanc – perfect for the warmth of summer – explore their varietals as you will discover having a selection in your home is a good thing.