Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

April 21, 2012: Our Last Day In Brazil: The Voyage Home!

Leavoing Florainopolis
Sleep was restless and morning came quick. With all the last minute checks done I went down for breakfast around 7 AM. I was later met by Roy and we spent some time sitting in front of the hotel, people watching. We were approached by a rather unkempt person asking for smokes. We had none to give and he left disgruntled and talking to himself, Soon Marcio showed up and having checked out already we put our luggage into the vehicle. Marcio did not stay at the hotel since he lived in the city. Sandi and Paula showed up a few minutes later and by 10 AM we were on our way to catch our flights home.
We arrived at Florainopolis International Airport by ten thirty and Paula left to finish off some business with the vehicle. We bed farewell to Marcio and promised to keep in touch. She then came with us to "check in" for our flights to San Paulo. Fortunately our flight to Canada via San Paulo was classed as an international flight so our luggage was booked straight through to Canada. Relief was hearing that. No lugging luggage around San Paulo.
Here we had to say good-bye to Paula. While we were at the airport catching flights, we were going our separate ways----we to San Paulo and she to Porto Alegre. She had become a good friend. We would miss her. After a short period of time we boarded our flight to San Paulo and then repeated the procedure at that airport. We did have one scare. Actually two scares.
The first was when Roy and I became separated from Sandie at San Paulo. It happened so innocently yet became so frightening. It reminded me of an episode of the old series "The Twilight Zone". On minute we were walking behind Sandie who assumed control of the push cart that was loaded with our "carry on" bags and the next she was gone-----lost in the crowd. Now one would have thought that finding a beautiful blonde in a crowd of dark haired people would be a cinch but a half hour went by and nothing. We looked. We searched. We worried. I was starting to think that we would miss our flight. My imagination went wild. Did she get kidnapped! No not possible! Did she get suddenly sick? We got in line just in case we could spot her.
When we were about to be called to get our boarding passes, I spotted her in another line. She came over to us and was equally upset. By that time I had broken into a cold sweat and no doubt so did Roy.
We had just missed each other by a "hair" and look what happened. No wonder children have gotten lost and/or taken in crowded areas such as these. One thing, if Sandie did not want to be found, she would not have. Scary but this ended happily.
The next scare happened while en route to Canada and about three hours into our flight which was still over Brazil. We were approaching the border and coast when we hit some air turbulence. In one instance, the plane plunged over 500 feet. I heard some screams and concerned gasps and the fellow next to me grabbed my right arm with both his in a panic. It was his first time in an airplane. I quietly mentioned.
" If the plane was going to crash I don't think that would help verv much!" He looked frightened and held onto my arm even harder.
I continued, "Look! Just think of this as an amusement coaster ride. You have done that right?"
He nodded! His arm released a bit. I kept on. "Besides, this happens all the time!" His arms tightened up again! I finally convinced him that flying was safe and that the plane was not going to crash. My arm will never feel the same again!!!!
Other than that the flight was uneventful and three movies later, I was more than ready to get off the plane and get home. The rest of the story would be pretty familiar to many travelers. Disembarking, walking seemingly endlessly and waiting to get through customs and then pick up our luggage.
Roy's son was there to pick us up and our final journey home was pretty matter of fact.
I got home at approximately 9 AM and Darlene was sitting in the living room. "You're early!", greeted my entrance! Ah The Pain! The Pain!
We must be all familiar with the usual question from a person unfamiliar with the size of a country the size of Canada, the United States and/or Russia. "Ah you live in Toronto! You may know a friend of mine who lives in Vancouver." It is hard to imagine the sheer size of our countries. I made the same mistake with Brazil.
Brazil is HUGE and I had visions of paddling down an Amazon stream and eating Piranha for breakfast and doing all sorts things like manhandling Anacondas and Caimans. I was unprepared for the geography/climate that we stepped into.
If I was to describe the area in general terms it would be "Tuscan/Veneto like". Lush greenery, mild climate with some extremes of temperature, mountainous, aquiferos with many streams and rivers, diverse and breathtaking in beauty. The people were so hospitable and friendly. I could have easily become accustomed to it all.
We were in the lower third of South America which meant four seasons and some snow. It was strange to go from Spring to Fall in eleven hours and then back again to Spring on the way back home.
The other thing that in some way concerned me was that we visited two regions of Brazil: Bento Goncalvs and Santa Catarina. There are four more regions. One of them has two harvest a year and warm temperatures throughout the year. The question in my mind, "Did I do Brazil justice?"
The answer is yes!
The task of visiting every wine region would require awesome effort and time. It is better to do a great job in two regions than a quick but poor job in all of them. What we achieved was to visit effectively a great wine region that was relatively unknown and in one instance we another were was the first to be filmed by a wine television series. Being first was truly unique.
Brazil was an experience that we will long remember and it will be our continuing endeavour to publicize both Brazil and these two wine regions.
We would like to thank the Wines of Brasil and the Brazilian Consulate in Canada for assisting us with our visit. Most of all a big thank you to Paula, Jefferson, Marcio for making this trip so enjoyable.
Finally, I would like to thank the team. Sandie combined good looks and enthusiasm with talent and knowledge to make filming her easy. The show would not have been possible without Roy. The easiest way of describing his talent is this way.
Me "Roy there is a a nice shot that we should get!"
Roy: "Got it already!"
That's the way it was. Without him and his editing skills, there would be no series.
Thank you all!
End of Days 11/12

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

April 20: The Final Frontier---Our Last Winery "Villa Francioni"

The End Is In Sight
 The resonating sound of a church bell woke me out of a deep slumber. I don't mind the sound of bells and this sound was so inviting. In many ways it reminded me of my birth country, Malta, where the bells of churches announced their spirituality and welcomed a new day. It made me feel alive and yet, sad, since today marked our and my final day in this grand community of Treze Tilias. Soon we would be off back towards Sao Joaquim and to our final winery destination. After breakfast we were heading to Villa Francioni.
We left at 8 AM. The trip was quite a drive. It gave new meaning to the phrased "the long and winding road."
Marcio was his usual, good humoured and laughing self------speeding down the road at around 150 to 170 kls/hour. We were getting high again and the driving certainly kept us alert!
Marcio well earned the name of Super Mario Andretti on this trip.
Even with Marcio adeptness in speed and maneuvering, the trip still was quite long. Finally however, Villa Francioni announced itself by appearing majestically on the horizon.
Villa Francioni       
This winery was the concept and creation of Mr. Manoel Dilor whose passion for wine drove him to search many parts of the World to find out the best in wine and art. Mr. Dilor had a love of life and he wanted to express it via wine and art.
We were met by Orgalindo Bettu who was the Winemaker and Technical Director.He gave us a tour of the very large building that served as major winery and storage facility.

The building was a unique work of architecture. The brick and wood design was prepared and carried through by a California Architect. It was designed both to be esthetic and productive. The design also reflected Nature, Man and Technology. The multi levels combined with intricate art work made use of gravity as a means of lessening the mechanical influence was used in collaboration with the artwork to further combine human and natural influences in the making of wine. Fermentation was in the most up to date equipment on floors above storage tanks and barrels which in turn were above the storage area where the wines in the  barrels slept and matured before being bottled in automatic bottling machines.
The levels were subtle in their appearance. They were not rigid in their appearance but melded with the rest of the architecture. We were then led through a hallway where displays of photos involving the founding of the winery and the founder who passed away several years ago.
Art Display
Oralindo then took us to the art gallery which displayed national and international paintings and pieces of sculpture. Again, there was a natural synch between the nature outside and the beauty inside. The feeling of one with nature was so correct.
Wine Tasting 
The group then joined Oralindo and an independent Sommelier for a wine tasting of various Francioni wines.
We were seated in a very spacious and well lit tasting room. The table was large and had a substantial number of wine glasses on it which meant a serious wine tasting. Orgalindo introduced Eduardo Araujo who had a private business called Santa Adega. He was there to assist and advise at the tasting/dinner.

We went on to taste some superb wines. A well made Sauvignon Blanc, four exceptional Chardonnays, an excellent Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec blend, a great Merlot and an astounding wine called Micheli which was a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 
The wines were excellent in every way and among the very best we tasted anywhere.

We were led to a sitting room, dining room and meeting parlor. The parlor/dining room/sitting area was located on the top floor overlooking the expansive vineyards and scenery. A large window bordered by two sculptured statues allowed us to have a continuous exhibit of the breath taking view while we sipped on Francioni Sauvignon Blanc and sat in the comfort of the salon chairs.
The large dining room table on the other side of the salon and directly in front of the two sculptured statutes  was fully prepared with dinner settings for thirteen persons. We were called to the table by Mrs. Daniela Borges de Freitas who was the President of the winery. She had preset the seating plan although she graciously changed it around to suit our filming needs.
Ms. Broges de Freitas was as elegant and lovely as she was the perfect host. She wore a well coordinated over which she had an equally coordinated shawl. Her long shoulder length hair was perfectly manicured and she spoke with a classic style reminiscent of royalty. In other words she was nice to look at as well as talk to.
We had a multitude of varied dishes with special Brazilian (Santa Catarina) treats such as a special dish called Farofa de Pinhao which is a a flour mixture mixed with rice and containing seeds from the Araucaria tree which resembles a pine. The seeds are about two inches (five centimetres) long and are used as snacks. We had a plethora of fish, meat, rice and vegetable dishes to accompany the delicious nuts. Another dish was called Entevero which was a mixture of what seemed to be rice and meat but I understand that Pinhao and other items could be used. The accompanying wines were excellent.
With the fish we had the Francioni Chardonnay. A Francioni Francesco Merlot/Syrah/Malbec Blend was enjoyed with the meat and rice dishes and a Sauvignon Late Harvest Wine was enjoyed with Ice Cream, Tapioca and Cooked Whole Apples with Cinnamon. Coffee followed.
Daniela was called away to a phone call as we finished our coffee. As we were about to bid our farewells, she came out and graciously sent us on our way.
Destination Florainopolis  
The trip to Florainopolis was long---very long. Even with Marcio's super speed and magic maneuvering it took us about five or six hours to get from Sao Joaquim to our destination. The trip was not without its excitement. Some of the best scenery anywhere came up as we shot our way down mountain slopes, ravines, winding roads, gorgeous forests and colourful towns. On shot that stood out in my mind was just before we arrived in Florainopolis when atop one of the massive hills we could see the road winding down the mountain side for miles below. Here we could see the mountain meeting the floor of the valley as the blue Atlantic outlined the shore. We descended some 900 metres to "ground level" and made our way to the city.
Enter Hotel Valarium
Downtown Florainopolis is basically like many cities. Pavement, buildings and people were the mode. We arrived at the hotel just before 8 PM and we had not eaten so after registration, had to scurry to the restaurant in order to get some food. We then made our way to the rooms and dropped from travel exhaustion. The next day was our final day in Brazil.
End of Day 10 


Sunday, May 6, 2012

April 19th: Villagio Grando and a View From The Top

Breakfast At Tirol
Today was one of those rare days that we were not scheduled to leave at 6:30, 7:30 or 8:30 AM but at 10:30 AM. I woke up around 7 AM and spent some time on the room balcony over looking over at the uniquely shaped swimming pool four floors below. I could see a major part of the city from this height and from the looks of the streets, gardens, church steeples and symbolic statues such as the one of a man, woman and child dressed in traditional costume not far from the hotel . For all intents and purposes I could have easily been some seven thousand kilometres away in Austria which ironically we visited almost one year previous. The day was sunny and we were so very fortunate on this trip that the weather gods were very good and considerate.
The hotel did intrigue me. It was established in 1972 and in 1985 a new hotel was built. This hotel has undergone renovations ever since. Hotel Tirol was to be a symbol of Austrian decoration, culture, cuisine and architecture. I knew that it had achieved this end.  If one were to see this city from the air, it could easily be mistaken for an Alpine village.
I took the elevator to the first floor and made my way to the very spacious dining room. German/Austrian music filled the air. The on air disc jockey spoke in German. Large ceiling beams and heavy wooden tables and chairs gave a warm feeling to the area. A large hot and cold buffet complete with traditional food and pastry was at hand and of course there was a copious amount of coffee.
After breakfast I made my way back to my room and made ready for the trip to our next destination: Villagio Grando. At 10 AM I met Roy in front of the hotel. A few minutes later Sandie and Paula met us. Marcio was waiting for us in the van.
Soon we were off to Villagio Grando!
Villagio Grando Winery 
After being on the road for quite some time and ascending to some very high land, we arrived at a pair of beautiful interlocking wrought iron gates.There was a good sized VG in the middle where the two gates met. There was also a larger VG on a very large, seemingly granite frame.Once passed this gate, we drove down a long road bordered by tall, trellised grapevines still heavy with their Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.
As we came upon the actual building another large sign signified that we had reached Villagio Grando and before us was a large modern building overlooking a massive man made pond.
We were met by Guilherme Grando who was the Commercial Director and son of Mauricio Carlos Grando who was the owner. Both were exceptionally hospitable.
We were given a tour of the winery where we tasted some exceptional blend of wines. For example the gorgeous classic Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier Sparkling blend. The Merlot/Pinot Noir Brut Rose was equally good. The other still whites tasted Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were exceptional also. The reds were also amazing. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot yet again as in other wineries were something to speak about with depth, power and grace.
On our tour of this modern facility, we barrel tasted some exceptional blends of both red and white wines.
One such blend involved, a trio of grapes Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. We also tasted a seven wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot and Marcella. In addition, we tasted a white blend of late harvest wine with Gros Menseng and Petiti Menseng.  We also tasted an amazingly new brandy. We met the young or seemingly young winemaker whose humility was as great as his wines. Antonio Jose Saramago makes great wines.
We were then led back to the main building where we were seated in the spacious dining room. The room was arranged with a large buffet lunch that was spread out in front of a massive stone fireplace. We sat down and looked out of the huge "picture window" that overlooked the pond. "Any fish?" I asked.        
"Black Bass", replied Mauricio Grando.
Ducks and water birds were also enjoying the scene as the afternoon sun shone on the glimmering pond.
Mauricio described some of the history of the winery. Apparently a friend of the family had come down and took a look at the area. He declared that the area was excellent for wine production. Soon afterward the founder Mauricio met with Jean Pierre Rosier (Where have we heard that name before???).
In 2000 Rosier brought down some seedlings and thus started a foundation for what was to become a testing area for vines. The resultant 42 Hectares produce some 240,000 bottles.
The success of the wines was exhibited in the wines we tasted for lunch. One such wine was called "Alem Mar" or "Over Seas" (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec) and "Innominable" (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot).     
After lunch we were told that we were going to pick grapes and then go to the highest point in the area.
We went back from whence we had come and obtained a couple of baskets where we pretended to pick grapes as a rather disdainful Commercial Director looked on. Guilherme just watched as we picked a bit from here and a bit from there. My basket kept on falling sliding off my shoulders. In Portugal the baskets were larger and kept on the ground. We took some pictures and then went to the point where we were to have our breaths taken away. Almost 1330 metres above the valley floor the view was magnificent. We took several pictures of Canadian Ice Wines next to the sign and on top of the high point we were at. A bottle of "Equifera" made by co-founder of Inniskillin Winery, and Canadian Wine Ambassador, Dr. Donald Ziraldo was left with our Commercial Director Host.
We bid our farewell to Guilherme and his father. Soon we were off back to our hotel in Treze Tilias.
 Back To The Hotel
Roy and I got together to observe some of the pictures and opened one of the majestic wines of Santa Catarina. By mistake we opened the top wine given to us by Nazario dos Santos of Quinta Santa Maria. It was a shame to open a magnificent bottle so young but when tasted all I could say was "Oh My God! Imagine what this will taste like in another five or six years if not twenty??"  It was already approachable with a roundness, elegance and depth of an ultra premium wine. Of course it was the Amarone style wine and it was a delight. I had a glass and said "This must be eaten with some food!"
So we went down to the hotel's restaurant and waited for the Sandie, Paula and Marcio to show. The wine accompanied the varied buffet that the hotel so competently prepared. Deli meat sausage, cheese, chicken, beef, vegetables and some super bread all made tremendous partners.  It was a highlight of the day.
The night went well and soon it was time to prepare for our final visit to a winery and our long trip back to Florainopolis. It was time to get some sleep.
End of Day Nine

Friday, May 4, 2012

April 18: Suzin Winery, Santa Augusta Winery, Kranz Winery And An Austrian Town!

If Its Wednesday Morning It Must Be Sao Joaquim
The night was frustrating since I could not get my internet to work. It would tease me by coming on and then when I was at a critical function, it would stop. I recalled the old television series "Lost In Space" when on of the characters, Dr. Smith would utter the phrase, "Oh The Pain! The Pain!"
Pain it was! I was tired and trying to keep up with my schedule. The fact that I am writing this now means that I did not succeed! I finally gave up at 3 AM and with discretion as a part of my valor, I caught some sleep.
I was up at around six thirty. We were checking out of the hotel that morning so my bags were already prepared. I went up to the top floor one last time.  I was still pleasantly full from the night before so I went lightly on breakfast. Marcio the racing demon was there and Jean Pierre walked in shortly after.
Had I clued in how important he was to the wineries and Santa Catarina, I would have asked for an interview but at that time my brain was not working with all "thrusters" so I basically made small talk with him.
To this area, Jean Pierre was as important as Michel Rolland was to wineries around the globe. He helped both Suzin and Quinta Santa Maria develop some dynamite wine.
Jean Pierre and I discussed some superficial aspects of wine and then I excused myself and went down to check out. I went outside to get some fresh air.
It was nippy! I estimated the temperature to be about 5 degrees Centigrade. The streets were partially deserted with a couple of park workers cleaning the Sao Joaquim Park across from the hotel. I looked down the street and noticed a nice dog wandering around. From its shape and demeanor I knew it was being fed and was in good shape. It stuck around me as I petted its tawny brown coat then as quickly as it came got up and was on its merry way leaving a wake of dogs barking as it encroached from one doggy territory to another.
Marcio came with the van and was loading the bags in the back and Everson Suzin drove up with his four by four to lead us to his winery. We piled in and we were soon on our way with a brief stop at the Acavitis Vinhos Finos Catarinenses office where he met his wife for a brief meeting and then we were on our way to see his vineyards.         
A Visit Suzin Winery 
The drive was not as bumpy as previous trips but bumpy enough to turn the coffee in my stomach to a cappuccino. We arrived at Vincola Suzin where Everson  was waiting to take us for a tour of his property. We first went to a spot where rows of trellised vines standing around the eight foot mark stood with their fruit waiting to be harvested. While in Bento Goncalves had already harvested their grapes in March, Santa Catarina vineyards had yet to harvest theirs.
The grapes looked good (Cabernet Sauvignon) but Everson told us that a November hail had destroyed about 45% of the fruit this year. Even the apple crop was damaged with pock marks from the hail. The remaining crop was "of excellent quality". 2012 apparently was a very good year indeed and when one considers that Suzin wines won some serious medals (Grand Gold) with their Zelindo wine at a Brussels event, one would wonder what this year would bring.
While visiting the expansive vineyards (named Rosemary) which had some of the oldest vines we ran into some Santa Catarina University students doing some studies on the Suzin vines. They were examining tests on magnesium and potassium in the soil and vines.
  Everson decided to check the sugar content of some of his grapes by using a spectrograph  and was ecstatic in seeing a reading of 24 Brix (one Brix is equal to one gram of sucrose per 100 grams of an aqueous solution).
"That is excellent," he said.
We spent some time touring the vines and apple trees (which showed hail damage to the fruit). Then he took us to a barn which housed what he called a "Stress" machine.  This machine blew high levels of heated air at the vines which in turn became stressed and built up immunities to the various challenges that awaited them.
The trip to Suzin was very informative and one could not feel positive that the serious commitment made by Everson would pay off with wines of exceptional quality and success.
Santa Augusta Winery 
As Marcio sped his way to the next stop in a city called Videira. Videira was known as the "Capital do Vinho" because of its past grape production. It was in this area that we encountered an absolutely lovely winery with an esthetic look about it. It had a garden like look to it with fruit trees, decorative plants and of course vines.
We were greeted by the winemaker, Jefferson Nunes who was also a sommelier. We were also met by two stunningly beautiful young ladies who just happened to be the Executive Directors of the winery. Both were Sommeliers. Morgana De Nardi was the spokesperson and described the wines while her cousin Taline De Nardi assisted. Taline was also a model and obviously with exquisite taste.While the wines we were going to taste were obviously attractive, the two executives certainly made looking worth while.
We were led to a spacious and well "laid out" with a serving counter and cooking facilities as well as comfortable tables. We were invited to take a slice of a special cake and then we tasted some wines beginning with a Blanc de Noir (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Blend), Rose (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Montepulciano Blend), Chardonnay (100% Chardonnay) and Merlot (from Barrel).  
Jefferson proved quite a great cook, making a Salmon and Pasta meal that was fit for Neptune himself!  
We were then shown around the winery which was extremely up to date.
A Bit Of History  
The parents of these two cousins founded the winery as a point of relaxation. They were industrialists who wanted more out of life and they could do it. Initially Morgana's father hired an Enologist to look after things but was not satisfied. For one thing, the vines were planted East to West which only allowed on area of the vines to get sun. Then Jefferson came on board and turned things around. First he planted the vines North to South which meant that both sides of the vines got equal amounts of sun . Jefferson then started developing the portfolio which now is showing results.
Jefferson also takes a "common sense" approach to viticulture and wine making. He tries to be as Bio-Dynamic and organic as possible. No herbicides are used and manual labor is a must.
It was hard to leave this winery and at some point I do hope to come back and see the results of Jefferson's toils. We bid our farewells and were soon on our way to Treze Tilas.
Treze Tilas
What a unique place we were about to visit. In many way it was of the same nature as Solvang, the Danish Community/City in the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County) in California, USA but this was an Austrian City of about 6,000 in the mountains of Southern Brazil.
It was founded by Andreas Thaler in the 1933 where he settled and built a castle like home. In Austria he was the Minister of Agriculture before leaving for Brazil. He died tragically in 1939 but no amount of my research had found a cause of death.
The town itself was named after a Northern Hemisphere tree called a Tilia or Linden tree. So the English translation would be Thirteen Tilias or Thirteen Lindens.The main industries were Dairy and Tourism. Temperatures could get cold (-10 Centigrade).
Treze Tilas was quite an amazing place. All the architecture was Germanic in style. Street names were in keeping with the theme and what was of great interest to me was the outward exhibition of religious faith which seemed mainly of the Catholic denomination. Crucifixes, religious themes and relics were everywhere. It was a truly unique place as was our hotel called Hotel Tirol. Complete with a lovely swimming pool, restaurant and lovely rooms it was comfort first class.    
Kranz Winery 
When we visited the Kranz Winery it was a hub of activity. Workmen were busy working on the new building. There was an air of freshness with the whole construction.The smell of cut wood and that of paint and plaster was everywhere when we were given the tour. Not far from the scene was another one equally active but yet so different. Workers were busy making juice from apples,
"This is what keeps us going until our wines become known and in demand" Walter Kranz stated,"We do not have our own vineyards at present since it takes a few years for vines to become productive and then we must harvest and age them.. So I have plots of vines at other wineries and I care for them. I do not have the time at this point to start from the beginning with new vines."  The grapes are vinified at Kranz Winery. He called over one of the workers and it turned out to be his wife. In addition to his wine and juice, he also makes a variety of jellies.
He also gave us a tour of his winery which was well organized and would be even better once the construction was finished and the new winery working. Walter was also working on a Agro-Touristic venture which would have animals, wine tasting, viticultural exhibits as well as points of local interest. It would be only occupy an small area around the winery but it would be of interest to locals as well as tourists. 
It was Walter's idea to form a cooperative called "Santa Catarina Producers Of Fine Wines Altitude" (ACTIVIS). It was a way to cut costs and combine the buying power of the eighteen wineries in the area and help them work together rather than against each other. As President of the cooperative he has guided the group to market their wines in a collective way.
We then went back to his home/office where we tasted some of his wines. His sparkling wines were excellent as were his Chardonnay, Cabernet (2008) and Merlot (2009). The Merlot was outstanding! His winemaker was happy that we had enjoyed the wines but admitted that she was new and the wines we were tasting were made prior to her arrival. Regardless I exclaimed that they were prize winners and Walter Kranz, smiling, confirmed that they in fact had won top awards. My reputation in tact we then decided to go and eat------though the "tidbits" that Walter had put on the table had pretty well filled me up.
We went to a restaurant which was called, of course "Edelweiss" and Walter brought with him a whole slew of his sparkling and still wines. Then the proverbial cap came off and the food "poured" down to us. Pizza, Sausage, Pork, Beef and other delicious items came our way. It was impossible to consume so much food and drink. It was getting late and it was a long, long day. I wanted to spend more time with Walter, his lovely winemaker and my team but we were tired and it was time to retire. We went back to the hotel!
End of Day Nine