Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Masterpiece Aussie Shiraz: Two Hands ‘Angels’ Share’ by Philip S. Kampe

Even though Two Hands Wines was founded in 1999 by Richard Mintz and Michael Twelftree, their wines have come of age. Their goal has always been to produce the best wines possible from Shiraz, with no compromise. It seems that winemaker Matt Wenk has struck gold with the recent release of the 2018 Angels’ Share,
McLaren Vale, in sunny Australia, is well known for red, dynamic, powerful wines. Shiraz wines from this region are made the classic style focusing on concentration of grapes that show their intensity on your palate.
Having sampled the new release, knowing its still a baby, I found the solid foundation this wine exudes. Its deep color of dark red with purple on the perimeter open up to a bouquet of lavender, creole pepper, blackcurrent , sweet tobacco, dark baked fruits and cranberry jelly. On the palate, with its medium body, flavors of Michigan blueberries, raspberries, vanilla and strawberries evolve before freshly cut hay enters.
This young wine is full of chewy tannins that persist an eternity. High acidity helps make this wine a big and bold Shiraz worth buying and holding onto.
The wine retails in the $30 range.

Philip S. Kampe

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 from Lodi by Philip S. Kampe

Tagged as a ‘Revolutionary’ wine by the producers, this 14%, predominantly (93%) Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, at $17 a bottle is a real steal.
The purplish red hue and nose of cinnamon and tart cherry fool the palate of the drinker. The 5% usage of Zinfandel, aged like the Cabernet Sauvignon for 15 months in 35% new oak, is the backbone of the wines character,
The palate flavors are characterized with nuances of blackberry, black cherry, plum, strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and chocolate. Medium tannins, with a soft, rather dry acidity make this wine most desirable. Add some oakiness and earthly characteristics and you have a funky wine.
For a wine in this price range, it has everything you want.
California Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys the same status as in its native home of Bordeaux. It is a prized grape, known for its long aging potential.
As far as food pairings go, I would suggest game, lamb and beef.
DNA testing has proven that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
How interesting!

Philip S. Kampe

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Great Wines From Chile Revisited, 'Kalfu' Kuda Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc by Philip S. Kampe


                                        Two Great Wines From Chile, Revisited

Five years ago I had lunch with the winemaker at Kalfu, a close to the Pacific Ocean Chilean producer, who believes that the terroir is the most important choice as where to plant grapes. At that time, Chile had undergone a viticultural transformation. High technology coupled with innovative winemakers who were willing to take risks, paid big dividends.

Thanks to that revolution, today, Chilean wines of high quality are sold at affordable prices. Winemaker Alejandro Galaz , of Vina Ventisquero, was ahead of the curve.

Chile is an isolated wine region, protected by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the east. The isolated conditions with its environmentally protected land are ideal for consistent varietals year after year. Climate change has not affected this region, which is nearly unheard of in other wine regions of the world.

This isolated region includes Leyda Valley, where these two bottles are from. If you haven’t been, the Leyda Valley is only four miles from the Pacific Ocean, close to the Maipo River. The valley has lots of morning fog and sea breezes that cool the vineyards.

Nearby is the Colchagua Valley, a hilly region near the ocean.

The Casablanca Valley is not close to the sea, hence, more like your typical vineyard where the varietals ripen slowly.
My favorite area is the Huasco Valley, which is situated in the worlds ‘driest desert.’ The vineyards in the valley deal with overly hot days, followed by cool nights. Located only fifteen miles from the ocean, the Huasco Valley is well known for its salty soil. Wines from this valley are unique.

The two wines I sampled are sustainable. In fact, Vina Ventisquero was awarded the first of its kind of certification as the only winery in Chile to have all of its vineyards certified 100% sustainable by Wines of Chile.

2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir
Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
14% alcohol
Aroma: raspberry, vanilla and cherry
Dry with medium acid. Forest berries with medium tannins and body. Complex, yet balanced. Chalky, with a spicy aftertaste. Earthy notes dominate the oaky vanilla undertones.
$18 a bottle

2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc

Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
13% alcohol
Tropical aromas pineapple and lychee.
Dry with a wonderful minerality of fizzy grapefruit, lime, pear, quince and stone.
Undertones of green olive, white pepper and grass balance this medium-bodied, acidic saline wine.
$16 a bottle

Galaz is known as the winemaker who specializes in cool climate wines. He says he is always striving to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtlety of the grape. He reminds us that producing cool climate wines is a challenge. Grapes are handpicked in the morning, where the best grapes are selected for a fourteen hour maceration. After fermentation, the grapes are aged on lees for three months followed by battonage.

If you can find these wines, they are both worth seeking out.

Monday, August 12, 2019

What Do Wine Writers Do On Summer Vacation? Well, They Don't Ski Vermont by Philip S. Kampe

                                                 Our first E-bike experience

                                              Don’t SKI VERMONT.

It’s summertime.

We all need a break from the wine world. Our body tells us so.

Each summer, at least in our case, we find an outlet to balance the demanding life of the wine world. One summer, it was discovering the ocean. Another year, it was live music. And another year, it was hiking.

This year, it’s about ‘adventure parks’ at ski slopes.

Vermont borders Massachusetts, where we live, making the drive to the famous ski slopes accessible year round. In the winter, we drink wine on the ski slopes. In the summer, we try to take a break.

Vermont ski slopes are about excitement, the type of excitement you don’t need skis for.
                                                                    Disc Golf
                                                                       Zip line

Our family took a ‘spur of the moment’ holiday in Vermont, known to many as the state Bernie Sanders is from.

We came for the beauty, to bond with nature and to explore. What we found was all of the above plus ‘adventure parks’ at just about all of the ski slopes we passed. We didn’t realize that the adventure parks utilize the chairlifts and real estate of the ski slopes for summer adventure.

What that means, business wise, is two fold: the winter ski staff now has a summer income, while the mountain remains open and the tourists and locals have a summer outlet where families and friends can enjoy the mountain air with the numerous activities these mountains have to offer.

Our first ‘adventure park’ experience started at Bromley, in southern Vermont. We purchased an all day ‘adventure park’ pass and began our experience in a truly non-traditional way-we learned how to play disc golf-nine holes at the base of the mountain and the final nine on top by way of a chairlift ride. Who knew that there were over a dozen shapes of Frisbees, those are the golf clubs, to use?  One was a driver, another a wedge and another was a putter. Playing disc golf was addictive and much more difficult then it looked.

The Green Mountains were the backdrop for our first attempt at ‘zip lining’ Bromley’s course has a 700 foot vertical drop with a lovely view high atop the mountain. Zip line speeds reach 50mph, which I am glad to admit, was no big deal. It seems that this sport is all glamour with no fear factor at all. And for what its worth, in my case, the zip line was addictive. We managed four runs before the 4pm closing time.

From Bromley you can see Stratton’s majestic peak, which was our next stop.

When we arrived at the village at Stratton, it was immediately reminiscent of Mont-Tremblant (Quebec). You could really stretch your imagination and think you were in Aspen.

There is always something magical about ski villages.

We checked into the Black Bear Lodge, a five minute walk from village square, took a necessary whirlpool to get our bodies back into shape and then headed to Benedict’s, in the village for libations and dinner, followed by handmade cannoli’s at Village Pie.

The next morning was the day of challenge-climbing the mountain on an e-bike. What is an e-bike you may ask? An e-bike, in this case is a TREK mountain bike with a battery charged engine. If the hill is too steep and your peddling can’t help you get up the mountain, the turbo engine kicks in, like magic.

Since we vowed to try everything, we changed to golf clothes, at least our version of golf clothes and drove to the Stratton Mountain 27 hole golf course. We chose the nine hole course, teed up, and had an enjoyable two hours plus chasing our golf balls. In reality, the beauty of the environment was all one needed on the golf course.

Afterwards, we had our version of ‘Happy Hour’ at the Green Apron, overlooking the majestic golf course. Our server told us that Stratton Mountain has hosted seven LPGA (women’s) professional golf tournaments over the years.

This short experience has wet our appetitive for more. There are so many ‘Adventure Parks’ to discover in Vermont. The list goes on…Killington…Sugarbush…Stowe…Mount Snow…Pico…Magic Mountain…Jay Peak…Bolton Valley…Mad River Glen….Suicide Six….Okemo…Mount Snow…

Some people want to visit all of the professional baseball stadiums in America.

Not us, we want to visit all of Vermont’s ‘adventure parks’ before the end of 2020.
It’s a goal we can reach. With it, comes bragging rights.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Hudson-Berkshire Wine & Food Festival in Chatham, New York by Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley


We remember attending the first edition of this hometown country festival.

Now, in its 'Seventh Year', the small country festival has not changed much from its roots. What has changed is the high quality of the vendors products. From pickles to artisan cheese, the food vendors have risen to 'gourmet 'levels of quality.

On the beverage end, many products merit national attention. From Bourbon to vodka to wine, new companies with high goals fill the pavilion with generous samples for the thousands that attend each day.

Admission is $25 for tasting admission and $10 for general admission.
There is no greater bargain in the country.

As a yearly event, plan on attending in the future, on either Saturday or Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
The 11am to 5pm event takes place at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in Chatham, New York. Chatham is located less then an hour to Albany, N.Y. or the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Its a fun, family day that includes music, food vendors, tons of wine and spirit samples, kids activities and the feel of the country.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Roses For All Seasons-What I Am Drinking by Philip S. Kampe


Springtime has arrived, even in New England (May 2019), where I was stopped on Sunday for two hours on the Massachusetts Turnpike, due to a snow storm. Several inches of snow accumulated on the ground, a constant reminder that winter hasn’t totally disappeared.

Putting that situation behind me, a couple of weeks after Easter, I realize, in both good and bad weather, Rose wine is the perfect substitute to brighten your day. 

I’m in Narragansett, Rhode Island for the next four days-an escape from the end of  winter- to tour this beautiful state and enjoy time to spend with friends, while catching up on so many articles that I am behind.

This is not one, but, an article that, hopefully, will open your mind and palate to what Rose wine has to offer, year round. Even in the off, non height of summer season.

The high today is 59F. It is 42F and early morning. No rain in the forecast-only sunshine.
What that means to me is quite simpley its Rose time.

Choosing Rose wine has always been simple, because, most bottles are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. Lately, Rose can be made from any varietal, so, the choices keep growing.

There are numerous Roses that I favor-those are the ones I brought with me to drink, while on this writers vacation. An organic wine and a wine from Israel are among my choices

Let me tell you about them:

PEYRASSOL Cuvee de la Caommanderie 2018 A.O.P. Cotes de Provence ($21)
Overly fruity, yet, light, with a hint of tannins, this Rose is sophisticated and is always ready to drink. Raspberries mixed with citrus dominate the palate. This Rose is so elegant, it can be used as an aperif or as an after dinner drink (In this case it is my breakfast)

FRESCOBALDI ALIE Rose 2017  ($19)
I Love Frescobaldi. This wine is both alluring in appearance, and bright on the palate. I drink it overly chilled, so, the ripe, red fruit and earthy flower nuances appear. It seems that all Frescobaldi wines are elegant and this one follows suit.

CANELLA Pinot Noir Rose Brut NV  ($23)
Character and class sum up this lively sparkling Rose, loaded with millions of bubbles that pop with flavorful fruit explosions of flavor. Production of only 100,000 bottles shouldn’t keep up with the demand for this show stopper of a wine.

LA BERNARDE ‘La Hauts du Lue; Rose 2018  ($15)
Quite a magical blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Mouvedre make up a mineral laden, velvety Rose full of peach, vanilla, cherry and grapefruit flavors that captivate your palate. Organic.

JACQUES CAPSOUTO Vignobles Cuvee EVA Rose de Gaililee Villages 2017  ($23)
A wonderful Rhone style blend, with bright citrus that lights up the room. A truly refreshing wine that cools you down on a warm summer day, with its refreshing acidity and lively fruit flavors. This wine is from Israel.

Philip S. Kampe

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

'Nino Franco' Celebrates 100 Years of Prosecco: 1919-2019 by Philip S. Kampe

                                  Primo Franco, The Architect of Modern Day Prosecco

 Prosecco may be ‘the newest sparkling wine’ to dominate the crowded bubbly market, but is Prosecco a new sparkling wine or has it been around and has been recently re-discovered?

That was the question I posed to Primo Franco, the voice and ambassador for his family’s
’Nino Franco’ winery from Veneto. They are a major Prosecco producer thanks to Antonio Franco who founded the winery in Valdobbiadene (Italy) in 1919, a mere ‘hundred years’ ago.

Antonio was a first generation winemaker who passed the reigns to son Nino, who, in time, passed it on to his son, Primo, who I dined with. Primo earned his diploma from the prestigious Conegliano Veneto, school of enology, and has guided the winery ever since.

Primo, as one can tell upon meeting him, is overly organized and philosophical about Cantine Franco. He elaborated that his mission was to make the best Prosecco in the marketplace.

To obtain his goal, thirty years ago, Primo, the enologist, experimented with planting techniques. He concluded that he favored old clones.

Glera, at least 85%, is the main grape variety used to produce Prosecco. Up to 15% of Pinot Bianco, Bianchetta, Verdiso, Perera, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio are allowed to be mixed with the Glera varietal. Glera was originally known as Prosecco, but, was changed to stop confusion regarding the town of Posecco.

Glera is an indigenous varietal. The grape grows in large clusters and is very thin-skinned. It is a cool climate grape that grows best on hillsides. On a trip to the area, the steepness of the vineyards astounded me. Each hillside had its own microclimate. The end result is in the grapes. Consistent acid paired with low alcohol are the make-up from the hilly strips of land in the province of Treviso. The Primo Franco plantings lie somewhere in-between the major towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. The region gained DOCG status in 2009 and represents the top tier of Prosecco production.

The Prosecco’s that I sampled from Nino Franco lived up to all expectations. Primo has been called the architect of the worldwide Prosecco explosion and his wines are all ‘All-Star’ status. By dedicating his life to Prosecco, Primo has changed the world’s taste buds.

He has introduced DOCG Prosecco to the world and should go down in history as the architect of modern-day Prosecco.

The four ‘Nino Franco’ Proseccos I recommend trying yo start your journey into Primo Franco’s World are:

Primo Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 ($37)
Classified as dry, I found this to be somewhat sweet, although it contains only 30-32 G/L sugar. The Charmat Method is used. The final product is elegant, full of green apple, tangerine, nutella qualities and walnut dust.

Vigneto Della Riva Di San Floriano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 ($37)
This was a wonderful Brut that was persistent on the palate and quite intense. It certainly was a dignified Prosecco that could and should be drunk on its own, if one chooses. Superior by all standards.

Rustico NV ($24)
A fruity,lively Charmat Method Brut that works perfectly as an aperitif or as an after dinner sparkler. It’s a perfect hors d’oeuvre wine made with 100% Glera grapes.

Faive Rose Brut 2017 ($29)
A wonderful twist that sets Nino Franco apart from other vineyards in the region is Primo’s grape selection. Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, this bubble-filled Rose has all of the qualities that should make this bubbly the life of a party-think summer.

If you have further interest in learning about Primo Franco and Nino Franco wines, visit their website at: 
The website is in both Italian and English.
It is a wonderful resource that acquaints you with Prosecco and how the Franco family contributed to Prosecco’s growth.

A Masterpiece Aussie Shiraz: Two Hands ‘Angels’ Share’ by Philip S. Kampe

Even though Two Hands Wines was founded in 1999 by Richard Mintz and Michael Twelftree, their wines have come of age. Their goal has always ...