CAMP GOOD DAYS AND SPECIAL TIMES
By John Salvi
CAMP GOOD DAYS AND SPECIAL TIMES
1332 Pittsford–Meadon Road, NY14506. Fax 585 624 5799
I can do no better than to start by quoting the official statement of
the Camp itself.
“Camp Good Days and Special Times is a 501 (c) 3 not–for–profit organisation
dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and their families,
whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life–threatening challenges,
through residential camping programmes and year–round activities and events.
The camp is located in the heart of the New York Finger Lakes Wine Country,
on the shores of Lake Keuka. 100% of Net Proceeds from the wine auction
and the wine tasting competition go to benefit Camp Good Days and Special
Times. The camp has existed now for over 25 years and can be found on
www.campgooddays.org and the wine competition on www.fliwc.com 2005 Finger
A LOOK AT CANCER
564,000 people will die of cancer in the USA during 2005. More will die
in 14 months than perished in every war that the USA has ever fought.
The majority are under 75 years old. Cancer, from the age of 45, is responsible
for more deaths than heart diseases, accidents and strokes combined.
WINE TASTING COMPETITION
I have very real pleasure in writing about the above Wine Tasting Competition
for all of the reasons above. Could there possibly be a better cause or
a better reason???
The tasting was created by a small group of altruistic and energetic persons,
exclusively with a view to raising money and increasing the funds of the
camp, thereby allowing it to do more and for more people. It has been
quite incredibly successful. The driving force and the leading light is
an ex–marine, a disciplinarian, an organiser and a great character – David
Male. Founded 1979–80, Camp Good Days was the first camp in the Adirondack
Mountains – 63 boys and girls and 70 volunteers. In 1983 they moved to
a new home on Canandaigua Lake. In 1985, a junior camp for cancer victims
from 4–6 years of age was created. It has continued to grow, and today
looks after many THOUSANDS of cancer victims, supported by HUNDREDS of
generous volunteers, and has become the largest organisation of its kind
in the world. Gary Mervis was, and is, the Founder and Chairman of the
camp, motivated by the tragedy of his own cancer–ridden daughter, Teddy.
The Wine Competition is now in its 5th year of “International World Class”
Industry wine professionals have teamed up to make this judging event,
and its complementary charity auction, truly worthwhile events. I was
fortunate enough to be invited as a judge this year. It took place in
Rochester, New York State, from April 2–3.
The judges were wine writers, sommeliers, educators, wine makers, importers,
retailers and industry consultants. David Male, already mentioned, was
competition chairman. About 28 judges attended, including many well known
names both from the USA and abroad. I was one of the fortunate ones flown
over from France. We made up 7 judging panels of 4 each. The chief judge
was the highly respected Craig Goldwyn and David Male’s decisions were
final. Discussion was not only allowed but actively encouraged. All the
glasses were Riedel, which was wonderful for tasting. We were firmly instructed
to judge the wines, not on what they might become, but for what they were
at the time of judging and entirely on their own independent merit. The
OIV 100–point system was used to give the marks, and Double Gold, Gold,
Silver and Bronze medals were awarded. Hedonism was given great importance.
It was not a small tasting. Over 1000 wines had been submitted from 15
countries and from no less than 30 different States throughout the USA.
When our job was done we found that we had awarded 131 medals. This is
under 15% and is less than half the total number of medals permitted by
the rules of FEDAVIN (see below). This attests to the seriousness of the
competition and the value of the medals awarded.
We worked slowly and carefully, but we none the less judged 14 flights
of up to 7 wines per flight, on each of the two days, using an adaptation
of the OIV tasting sheet. I think it is safe to affirm that the judging
was in every way as serious, as competent and as professional as at any
of the well known tasting competitions in Europe, Canada, Argentina or
Brazil, which are members of FEDAVIN (Federation of International Tasting
Competitions) and patronised by the OIV or the International Union of
Oenologists, or of those competitions held in Australia.
For me personally, coming from Europe and France, one of the most fascinating
aspects of the tasting was the chance to taste both hybrids and fruit
wines. We almost never come across these in Europe, especially since EU
law forbids the importation of wines made with hybrid grapes, and also
strictly forbids the importation of hybrid plant-material. We were given
a short talk on these wines by Bill Rochford. We were told how a classical
fruit wine should capture the essence of the pure fresh fruit. How it
should be in balance, like a wine, not too sweet and not too acid. These
wines are made to drink fresh and not to age, and should NOT show signs
of maturity. Bonus points should be given for complexity. A taste of cherry
pie with cinnamon and spice should rate higher than plain cherry pie.
The tasting of hybrids was fascinating and enormously enlightening and
instructive. In Europe no “quality wine” can be made from a hybrid. We
tasted Aurore, Bacchus (not really a hybrid), Baco Noir, Bianca, Cabernet
Severny, Catawba, Cayuga, Chancellor, Chardonel, Concord, De Chaunac,
Cameo, Delaware, Marechal Foch, Melody, Niagara, Norton, Noah, Rkatsitela
(probably vinifera), Seyval Blanc, Saint Vincent, Traminette, Vidal, Vignoles
and a few others who escape me.
I learned, to my amazement, that wine is now grown in every single one
of the 50 States of America – including Puerto Rico!- and that many of
these States produce wines with these aforementioned hybrids as well as
with the full range of Vinifera varieties. Contrary to what France and
a number of other European wine producing countries believe, or rather
want to believe and insist upon believing, hybrids are very far indeed
from a thing of the past of even from a thing receding into the past.
They are being improved and developed and are not even vaguely being phased
out. They still represent the majority of both the plantation and the
production in many of the smaller producing states outside California,
Oregon and Washington State. Some of them were very good indeed. Europe
has been decidedly hypocritical about them and, as we know, one of them,
Vidal, has been allowed to be imported in the Canadian Ice Wine by some
very clever bargaining.
This Wine Tasting Competition is not only an event for a cause and a thoroughly
enjoyable couple of days; it is also an instructive, fascinating, useful
and eye–opening competition with serious and professional tasting and
judgement. I commend it to anybody who is interested in broadening his
or her horizons and who is prepared to go with an open mind and an eager
Talking of eager palates, the competition was followed a few weeks later
by a gala dinner and an auction of the winning wines. The auctioneer was
Dennis Foley from Zachys in New York, the Master of Ceremonies was Chet
Walker and the Honorary Chairman no less than my old friend Donald Ziraldo
of Inniskillin. Once again all proceeds went to Camp Good Days and Special
Times. Any more bids anyone??