Just about every craft cocktail lover we meet in the US attributes the pisco sour to Peru. But don’t tell Chileans that. The heart of the slushy cold beverage, pisco, is actually the national spirit of both countries, and there’s a long-standing rivalry between the nations over which country invented it — and whose version is better. Pisco serves as the base liquor for both Chilean and Peruvian pisco sours, but Peruvians add lime juice, bitters and frothy egg whites to the mix. Chileans make a simpler variety blended with the pure, fresh juice of the pica lime. Recently, you can also find trendier varieties supplemented with cucumbers or basil for added flair.
Our family ends many days and starts many evening meals year-round like most Chileans do – with a pisco sour. We even have a dedicated spot on the farm – affectionately dubbed Pisco Hill – where we drink them. For generations our family has been climbing to the top of the hill overlooking what is now the vineyard, with freshly made quesillo from our dairy cows and our pisco sours in tow. Some of our happiest family times take place here; while we watch the sun set, the kids have a blast running around getting thistles stuck in their socks.
Although we love drinking pisco sours, we must admit something that might alarm you purists out there – we generally only make them from scratch for guests. We’re usually just too tired to make that effort after a day on the farm. You can buy pre-made pisco sours in a bottle, much like the margaritas you get in the US with the alcohol already in them, so we do that instead. We store them in the freezer until we’re ready to head for the hill. That way they’re perfect level of slushiness when we get to the top. But for those of you who want to try your hand at making your own, here’s our winemaker, Amael’s, favorite recipe. It’s a bit of a blend between what we think are the best parts of a pisco sour: Chilean pisco (of course), limón pica (you’ll have to use lime if you can’t find limón pica), and egg white – but none of the bitters on top.
Amael’s Pisco Sour Recipe
1 part limón de pica juice (or lime juice if you can’t find limón de pica)
1 part simple syrup
2.5 parts pisco
1 egg white
Lots of ice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and serve in a tall narrow glass, such as a champagne flute, or a short cocktail glass.
We should mention that these are very potent! We really don’t recommend drinking more than one per evening.
The asado is Chile’s version of a BBQ and most hosts kick off the event by handing guests a pisco sour when they walk in the door. Unlike a typical American BBQ though, the asado is a marathon affair. They usually begin around 1 PM and can continue well past dessert, which in Chile may not be served until 10 PM. (We have distinct memories of our great-grandparents sitting under a wisteria-covered pergola trying to figure out how to get rid of guests who wouldn’t go home long after dessert was finished.)
If you’re ever invited to an asado, there are a couple of things you should know. First, it’s a carnivore’s delight. With nearly 2,700 miles of coastline, Chileans eat their fair share of fish, but the asado is all about the meat. Not long after you’re served your pisco sour (the red wine comes out later) the “appetizer” course of meat appears. Often there are cheeses and a ceviche set out at this point, too. Then the meat just keeps coming. Although we’d been to asados as kids, we didn’t remember this when we were invited to one as adults. So we ate the first offering as if it were the main course, and then had two or three full meals after that. This brings us to the second thing you need to know: arrive hungry.
Many kinds and cuts of meat are served at an asado, and vary depending upon where you are. But they’re all cooked on a massive grill, called a parilla, and typically include large cuts of lamb or grass-fed beef. Entire lambs are grilled on a metal pole called an asadon. (We had a good chuckle when one of our wonderfully earnest Chilean winery employees translated the meal we were about to serve to a roomful of guests as “goat on a stick.”) Generally you’ll also find hearty servings of chorizo on buns, and anticuchos, which are like shish kebabs. Side dishes such as tomato salad and potatoes abound, too. The eating concludes with a super-sweet dessert, usually consisting of manjar, which you might also know as dulce de leche. Because Chile is a very family-friendly country, kids are always included in these festive gatherings. So if you plan to take yours to an asado you will want to plan accordingly.
While most asados take place in the summer, the biggest celebration involving the traditional barbecue actually occurs in the spring. Starting around September 1, red, white and blue flags begin to emerge, marking the beginning of nearly a month of celebrations of Chile’s Independence Day. Officially held on September 18, it marks the date that the Chilean people declared independence from Spain in 1810. However, they didn’t actually break free from Spanish rule until eight years later, on February 12, 1818, after a long war. Although historians would probably disagree with us, we think they chose the September date (spring in Chile) to celebrate Fiestas Patrias because Chileans are too busy with other parties in the summer. That’s when many people leave the cities and head to the coast or the lake district to relax by the beach and grill meat to their heart’s content.
Come Visit! As always, we’d love to welcome you to our farm to sample our wines, have a meal in our tasting room, or even try a fresh pisco sour. (We promise to make it from scratch, not serve the pre-made version that we often drink.) Salud!
On occasion we come across tasty family recipes from years past that show a piece of our family's history. The one below, which we've dubbed CJ's Chicken, is the first of many we hope to share going forward.
This particular recipe was a favorite of CJ Kingston II, (not to be confused with his namesake, Carl John Kingston, family patriarch and founder of the Farm), the oldest of the third generation of Kingstons in Chile. Born and raised on the Farm in Chile, CJ II as he’s called within the family, grew up to become an avid cook and fan of entertaining friends and family at his home. Often he would make this recipe because of its suitability for a group of five or six and its simplicity to make.
As we were preparing to make this dish we noticed that the recipe was not Chilean or American but possibly Portuguese or Brazilian given its name. Entitled “Galinha à moda de Ana Pereira” with references to the recipe's author as Mrs. Pereira, we wondered where the recipe might have come from. A Brazilian or Portuguese neighbor? A friend who often made the recipe and introduced it to CJ? The answer turned out to be simpler, it is a Portuguese recipe found in CJ’s beloved stained copy of Brazilian Cookery by Margarette de Andrade. Wanting to share it with his sister, Susan, CJ wrote it out by hand adding his own notes for best preparation.
With the origins of the recipe solved, we delved into the preparation, buying the ingredients and prepping them for cooking. The most difficult part of this simple recipe was probably just chopping up all the ingredients. In retrospect we probably did not need to chop the onions and tomatoes so small since they managed to melt into the sauce over the hour or so of simmering. Throughout the cooking process we photographed, did lots of tasting and prepared rice and a salad. Most importantly, however, we found time to invite a group of friends over to share it. We paired the meal with our 2015 Cariblanco and 2014 Sabino and it was quite the hit. Now, we hope you'll enjoy sharing it with your family and friends accompanied by a nice glass of wine.
CJ's Chicken Recipe
6 chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons of margarine (or butter*)
1 finely minced onion
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped green pepper
2 chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups stock or water
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper (optional)
3 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
1)Melt margarine and sauté onions for 5 minutes.
2) Then add other vegetables and continue sautéing adding small amounts of the stock or water for another 5 minutes.
3) Season the sauce, add the chicken, re-cover and steam the chicken in this sauce. Turn the chicken over once in a while and add the stock or water as necessary so that there will always be at least 1 cup of sauce.
4) When chicken is fork tender and pulls away from the bones, often cooking over medium heat for at least 1 hour, remove to a platter and strain the sauce (Note from CJ: I don’t bother straining).
5) Mix the egg yolks with the lemon juice and add to thicken the sauce. Taste and correct seasoning.
6) Return chicken to the sauce and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
7) Serve with rice (*or salad).
Note: Mrs. Pereira prepares shrimp in this sauce also.
*Notes from our most recent preparation of the dish
First in a series of posts by Courtney Kingston (Founder, Kingston Family Vineyards) about her year in Chile.
I write from a flight to Chile, embarking on a new adventure. For the past 10+ years, I’ve been traveling to our family’s vineyard in Casablanca four to five times per year from the San Francisco Bay Area. I usually fly with Byron (Kosuge, our Napa-basedconsulting winemaker), and/or meet my father Michael in Dallas to continue the 10-hour flight down to Santiago. My trips usually last around a week to 10 days, and then I return home to my family in northern California. In many ways, this month’s trip is like many others this time of year. Byron and I are headed south to check on the 2013 pinot noir and chardonnay blends before bottling. We’ll also be surveying the vineyard in anticipation of the upcoming 2014 harvest in March. The big difference is this: Byron flies home midweek, and I’ll stay to live in Chile for the balance of the year.
My husband Andy and our young daughters (ages 8, 6, and 4) arrive this weekend. We have rented an apartment in Santiago, where Annie, Louisa and Caroline will attend an all-girls’ school nearby with their Chilean cousins. I brought back the girls’ navy school uniforms after my November trip, which they eyed cautiously (especially Annie who “doesn’t wear dresses”). They were more easily enthused when Andy and I talked up the ascensor in our El Golf apartment building. (Clearly an elevator is a bit of urban glamour for kids used to living the more rural and suburban setting of Portola Valley, California.) For the past two months, Andy and the older girls have been cramming Duolingo online Spanish lessons together. While Andy hopes the lessons will temper the girls’ adjustment to an all-Spanish speaking school, the girls are clearly in it to spend time with their father on the sofa.
The vineyard will be an easy hour’s drive on the Costanera Norte to Casablanca to visit the winery during the week. It will be a treat to watch summer fade into fall, fall fold into winter, winter burst into spring. Living in the US, I’ve always “dropped in” to Casablanca for 10 days here, 10 days there—rarely having the chance to watch the farm gradually shift with the seasons. Andy and I are planning a weekly date night to explore the food scene in Santiago, which has been coming of age lately. When we made our first Kingston Family wines over ten years ago, the local sommelier community was virtually non-existent. Now a connoisseurship of wine is developing in restaurants in Chile, and artisan wineries like ours are newly embraced.
We hope to spend many weekends at the farm as a family, gathering eggs from the chickens and hiking in the western Casablanca hills. When we’re not on the farm, we hope to explore greater Chile—and discover it in a whole new way. I’m always struck by the fact that Chile is as long as the United States is wide. Given my family’s five generations farming in Casablanca and my frequent trips south, many friends consider me to be quite knowledgeable about Chile. But in fact I know a lot more about our farm in Casablanca. My other travels to Patagonia were 15 years ago, before our vineyard’s inaugural harvest in 2001. This year will be all about depth and discovery. I have much to see and learn. I can’t wait to get started.
Horses are very important to the Kingston Family and have been on our farm for generations. Half working horses, half wild horses, the Kingston caballos are beloved by all on the Farm. Most of the time they’re occupied with reducing our risk of wildfires by gobbling up all the dry grass in the hills. Other times we take them on rides around the Farm to soak in the natural landscapes of the Casablanca Valley, stirring them from their resting place down next to the Old Corral for which we named our Old Corral Club. Sometimes they surprise us, emerging from the fog, right above the winery. Allowing us a peek of them as they amble about the hills munching diligently.
While growing up on the farm, my uncle Peter had a favorite horse named Alazan de Paso, for the characteristic deep red--almost burgundy--color of his coat and mane. Years later, when we were deciding what to name our flagship wine, similarly deep red in color, we decided Alazan was the perfect fit. We soon discovered that other names inspired by our Chilean horses' coats worked for our other wines and embodied the Kingston farm and our love of horses. We continued the theme with all our wines, not just Alazan but also Bayo Oscuro, Tobiano, Lucero, Cariblanco and Sabino.
We're often asked by guests at our winery to point out a descendant of Alazan and other horses on our farm. Below are some pictures taken by our friend and photographer, Elisabeth Calmes. On the day Liz visited, a pack of our horses had come down from the hills and was grazing within a stone's throw of the winery.
Alazan - Referred to as a chestnut horse in English, it simply means the horse is brown in color and completely devoid of any black hairs, the Spanish meaning assumes a more copper or reddish color coat.
Bayo Oscuro - With the same characteristics of a bay horse, the Bayo Oscuro or Dark Bay in English, has the unique quality of a very dark red or dark brown coat.
Tobiano - A pinto or painted horse whose coat is a patchwork of large brown and white spots. Typical characteristics include legs which are white from about the knees and down, a brown face and a white tail.
Sabino - Sadly unphotographed at the time of this publishing, a Sabino is another variety of painted horse characterized by a relatively solid colored coat which is mottled or speckled in some places, especially the belly.
Lucero - Referring not to the color of the horse’s coat in this instance, a Lucero is a horse which has a white star or diamond shaped marking on its forehead.
Cariblanco - As with the Sabino horse, unfortunately, we could not find a Cariblanco horse on the Farm the day Liz visited. Its name means “White faced horse”.
While Casablanca may seem like quite a small rural town with little to boast, we’ve tried to dig a little deeper to discover all the hidden gems that this valley has to offer. Aside from the wines and a sprinkling of top-notch restaurants, we’ve found there are many local products which are not to be missed when visiting this rural municipality. As such, we’ve recently been trying to incorporate those products into our tour offerings to give an even broader taste of Chile in our tours.
One of the producers which we looked at to provide top quality goods was Ízaro. Supposedly the first olive grove in Casablanca, they make their olives into oil in their tiny factory situated at the outskirts of the valley. Past vineyards and down curvey roads, difficult to find and with no marked entry point, much like Kingston, its largest landmark is its location next to a famous old pond, just a dry hole in the ground. Committed to selling from their factory and other small local retailers, (including Kingston) their olive oil is exquisite and we’re excited to be serving it to our guests at the winery.
The second producer of our local goods is Carnicería Don Lolo. With a modest butcher shop located in the center of Casablanca, walking into the tiny place you would never know of his fame. With just one small case for meat and a wall of a few wine bottles, the shop is bare bones and attended only by one old man, Don Lolo. As we explained to him we wanted to feature his pernil and --- as part of or wine tastings, only then did he launch into his story of having his handmade --- served at House of Morandé by Pablo Morandé the valley’s founder for wine. He also handed over a couple of wine magazines with full page spreads of him and his business. Trying his wares makes it easy to see how he has earned such a good name.
Our next local producer is of cheese. Located on the curve of a narrow road leading away from Casablanca, there sits a small red house which would be easily passed by if not for its large signs advertising its hot empanadas. There they use queso chanco or a locally made type of white cheese similar to meunster cheese, to make their range of empanadas. Sold in huge hunky blocks, we like to take it and cut it into small chunks and sprinkle it with merkén, the Chilean spicy pepper. Together, the cheese’s light flavor is perfect for tasting with wine.
The closest of our local producers actually sits just yards down the road from the palm-lined entrance to Kingston. Located in a small yellow house with a small wooden gate, we have only a tiny way to go in order to pick up our delicious queso fresco or fresh cheese which we use for our wine tastings. A very white cheese, it is made using milk from the lechería on the other side of the winery. Also part of the Kingston family farm it’s great to know that the dairy provides milk for our neighbors to turn into tasty cheese!
Our 2012 Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc is here! Back in November our assistant winemaker, Alejandra, our tour guide, Judith and our marketing manager, Eliana, had the opportunity to present our 2012 Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc in beautiful event organized by the Casablanca Valley Association. As members of the association, we play a part in Casablanca’s efforts to promote the valley’s wines both in Chile and other parts of the world.
The event, aptly named “Sauvignon Blanc by the Sea” was a sunny seaside affair where thirteen Casablanca Valley vineyards presented their 2012 Sauvignon Blancs to 50 members of the press. The all white affair included press members from TV programs to bloggers to photographers dressed in all white in honor of the Casablanca Valley white wines.
It was our first presentation of our 2012 Cariblanco Savignon Blanc and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Several press members touted our 2012 Cariblanco as extremely complex and refreshing and many came back for second and third tastes.
After the event, the Casablanca winemakers sat on the beach together tasting each others wine and commenting on the closeness and the unity of the valley’s winemakers and wineries. Not seen in all other winemaking regions, it is this community of winemakers which critique each other, trade tips, and readily give advice to one another, that produces standout wines not just at Kingston, but throughout the valley.
Now, coming up in two weekends, if you're visiting Casablanca, be sure to come see us at the Casablanca Valley Association's latest, "Fiesta de la Vendimia" on April 13th and 14th in Casablanca's Plaza de Armas or town center. A harvest celebration, the festival will feature live folkloric music, a grape stomping contest, food from local restaurants and wines poured by at least fourteen different wineries from the valley.
At the beginning of October, we at Kingston Family Vineyards were excited to receive ratings from wine magazine, Descorchados. The most famous wine magazine in Chile and well known throughout Latin America, Descorchados is authored by the well respected Chilean wine writer, Patricio Tapia. Author of countless wine books and magazines of wines all over the world, he is also an associate editor of Wine & Spirits Magazine and is featured on Argentina’s food channel “ElGormet.com”
Given the respect for Patricio Tapia and Descorchados, Kingston was honored to receive 93 point ratings on both our 2011 Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc and our 2010 Lucero Syrah. We also received 90 points on our 2009 Bayo Oscuro Syrah.
Along with being highly rating in Descorchados, members of the Kingston team were invited to pour our wines at the Descorchados Fifth Annual Luxury Wine Fair (Quinta feria de vinos de lujo) which took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Santiago, Chile.
A fabulous all evening event, attended by an estimated 1000 wine lovers, attendees were given access to the 60 top Chilean wineries and the top three wines which they have to offer. Interspersed between the distinct wine tables were food stands where guests could try appetizers featuring ingredients from all 15 regions of Chile prepared by the Hyatt’s executive chef, Yvan Didelot.
Highlighting the best of Chilean wines and foods, Kingston was excited to be in attendance at the event and showcase the best of our cool climate wines from the Casablanca Valley.