Bali & Beyond - - CONTENTS - By Wi­win Wir­widya

James Kalleske, the wine­maker of Hat­ten Wines

He is the pas­sion­ate young man be­hind Bali’s well­known win­ery, Hat­ten Wines. His ded­i­ca­tion has brought the pi­o­neer­ing win­ery in Bali and Asia to var­i­ous re­gional awards for sev­eral years, in­clud­ing the Win­ery of The Year 2017 by Asian Wine Re­view. How does he do it? Bali & Be­yond (BB) talks to James Kalleske (JK) to find out his se­crets in mak­ing Bali’s very own fine wine…

BB: What has brought you to this is­land and make wines?

JK: Gus Rai Bu­di­arsa, the owner of Hat­ten Wines, in­vited me to work in Bali in 2012. When I was pre­sented with the op­por­tu­nity to make wine here, there were so many chal­lenges in my mind. I thought it was time for me to make some kind of a ground­break­ing. Here in Bali, it is a chal­lenge al­ready to grow grapes, let alone to pro­duce trop­i­cal in­ter­est­ing wines us­ing grape va­ri­eties that no one else grows in the world. It is just in­ter­est­ing for a wine­maker. I guess it is more ex­per­i­men­tal and more pro­gres­sive. Those chal­lenges brought me here.

BB: What are the top two chal­lenges, es­pe­cially in grow­ing grapes, in Bali?

JK: We have no dor­mancy be­cause of the trop­i­cal cli­mate. Here, grapes don’t seem to go to “sleep”, so we have three har­vest times in a year. One har­vest in the wet sea­son, one in the dry sea­son and one some­where in be­tween. That’s why the fla­vor and the qual­ity may change sig­nif­i­cantly. That is our num­ber one chal­lenge.

The se­cond is the va­ri­ety of the grape. Cur­rently we have three va­ri­eties; Probol­inggo Biru, Alphonse-Lavallee and Bel­gia. The chal­lenge is how many styles we can make only from those three grapes. In France and Aus­tralia, there are 30 va­ri­eties of grapes. This year we are plan­ning to have an­other three va­ri­eties, which is only 10 per­cent of what they have in France and Aus­tralia. Why only 10 per­cent? It is be­cause of the trop­i­cal cli­mate in Bali. But still, it is quite ex­cit­ing. Other than that, I find chal­lenges al­most ev­ery day be­cause I am ac­tive in re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

BB: Where did you learn your wine­mak­ing skills?

JK: Wine­mak­ing is sort of an art and a sci­ence. To be more spe­cific, it is a craft. You learn sci­ence at the univer­sity, while the craft or the art side is purely passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. I got all the ba­sics and the pas­sion of wine­mak­ing from my mother and I am lucky to have the chance to work with five of Aus­tralia’s and France’s num­ber one wine­mak­ers. I learned a lot from Vir­ginia Wil­cock from Vasse Felix Win­ery, Cliff Royle from Voy­ager Es­tate, Bob Cartwright from Leeuwin Es­tate win­ery — he is an amaz­ing Aus­tralian wine­maker who likes to re­de­fine wines from the late ‘70s and ‘80s! I also learn from Alphonse Mel­lot from Do­maine Alphonse Mel­lot.

BB: How do you en­rich your wine­mak­ing knowl­edge?

JK: I travel a lot, tast­ing as much wine as pos­si­ble from all around the world so that I can keep a good per­spec­tive of my own wine styles by com­par­ing them to other wines that I tasted. Be­cause it is easy to lose per­spec­tives of good and bad if you only taste your own wine. I also do wine judg­ing. Last year, I did it in Hong Kong and it was amaz­ing be­cause I tasted more than 200 Asian wines, which is rel­e­vant to what I am do­ing now.

BB: Hat­ten Wines has just won

sev­eral awards this year. Is re­ceiv­ing awards also one of your goals?

JK: Win­ning awards is great, but my num­ber one goal is to un­der­stand my mar­ket so I can pro­duce at least good (if not great) wines that consumers en­joy drink­ing. If I can do that, then I am do­ing my job well and I am happy. And if our wines win awards, then that is a great en­dorse­ment or ac­knowl­edge­ment of our qual­ity and hard work. But what we re­ally want to do is to make wines that peo­ple like and talk about.

Gus Rai’s and my goal for the com­pany are the same; to make Hat­ten Wines the real icon of In­done­sia that is in­ter­na­tion­ally known. We want to make our win­ery not only as the pi­o­neer but also a bench­mark for qual­ity wine, es­pe­cially Asian wine, in the world. There­fore, I think awards are im­por­tant as they can help us ful­fill that dream.

BB: What are Hat­ten Wines’ next projects?

JK: In three to five years we are go­ing to build a new win­ery in Gian­yar. Aside from that, my main goal is to pro­duce an­other high qual­ity red wine us­ing our grapes in Bali. Cur­rently, we only have Aga Red which style is more light and bur­gundy. It is fine, but I would like to pro­duce a heavy, strong, bold and com­plex red wine. As we speak, we are plant­ing grapes like Shi­raz, some Tem­pranillo that is new in In­done­sia.

BB: Would you please ex­plain a lit­tle bit about Hat­ten Wine’s vine­yard tour in North Bali and how it sup­ports the tourism in­dus­try there?

JK: It is a big step that we opened our vine­yard to the pub­lic so ev­ery­one can visit any­time. Peo­ple can see how we grow grapes and how the vine­yard is de­vel­oped. They can also see the mod­ern and tra­di­tional method of wine­mak­ing. We work to­gether with www. vis­it­north­ to pro­mote the north coast of Bali as a tourist des­ti­na­tion.

James Kalleske

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