I grew up on an orchard in Michigan, and, since there wasn’t much to be done between the sale of the last apples in December and the start of tree pruning in March, we spent many winters in a house-trailer park in Bradenton.
Fruit growers these days take a more ambitious view. Many a winemaker or grower at Northern Hemisphere vineyards in California or France gets the last of the grapes picked in November and heads straightway to prepare a Southern Hemisphere vineyard in Chile or South Africa for its harvest in March.
They call them “flying winemakers.” They must really rack up the frequent-flyer miles.
Francois Lurton is a flying winemaker. The fifth generation of a respected family that has made Bordeaux since 1897, he owns and runs vineyards in France, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile.
One remarkable vineyard in Chile, founded by Francois and his brother, Jacques, is Hacienda Araucano, in the country’s Lolo Valley, an offshoot of the better known Colchagua Valley, about 100 miles south of Santiago.
Located between the Pacific Ocean with its frigid Humboldt Current and the Andes Mountains, the east-west valley is a funnel for cold ocean breezes that create chilly, foggy mornings but also is warmed by the southern sun, creating the dramatic temperature shifts that make great grapes. As in California’s Sonoma Valley, a day might start at 50 degrees and hit 100 degrees by mid-afternoon.
Most of Hacienda Araucano’s wines are in the $11-to-$13 range. An exception is Lurton’s remarkable $50 carmenere, a smooth, creamy, plum-and-mint-scented wine from a grape that has been grown in Chile for many years but until a decade or so ago was mistaken for merlot.
These are some well-priced wines, well worth trying. Highly recommended
• 2007 Hacienda Araucano “Alka” Carmenere
, by Francois Lurton, Colchagua Valley, Chile: intense, concentrated black plum, herb and mint aromas and flavors, big, ripe tannins, smooth, long finish; $50.
• 2010 Hacienda Araucano Syrah Reserva
, by Francois Lurton, Lolol Valley, Chile: rich and fruity, with aromas and flavor of black cherries and black pepper; $13. Recommended
• 2011 Hacienda Araucano Sauvignon Blanc
, by Francois Lurton, Valle de Lolol, Chile: crisp and lean and fruity, with aromas and flavors of white grapefruit, limes; $11.
• 2010 Hacienda Araucano Pinot Noir Reserva
, by Francois Lurton, Valle de Lolol, Chile: pale ruby color, red raspberry aroma and flavors, delicate and subtle; $13.
• 2011 Hacienda Araucano Carmenere
, by Francois Lurton, Valle de Colchagua, Chile: lush and rich, with flavors of mulberries and eucalyptus; $11.
• 2010 Hacienda Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon
, by Francois Lurton, Central Valley, Chile: soft and round, with aromas and flavors of cassis and spice; $11.
• 2008 Gran Araucano Cabernet Sauvignon
, by Francois Lurton, Lolol Valley, Chile: aromas and flavors of black cherries and herbs, big, ripe tannins, full body, hearty; $35.