Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My Favorite BBQ Wines by Philip S. Kampe

                                               My Favorite BBQ Wines

Well, on the 4th of July, the truly ‘All American’ holiday, its hard not to celebrate what our country has done in the past and ponder the future. Family celebrations, parades and the smell of the BBQ seduces many of us.

If you are a BBQ fan and want to pass on beer with the main course, I have found a couple of ‘American’ wines that do the trick for the main BBQ meat course pairing.
Both wines are under $20 and are made in the USA.

Donald Hess purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder (California) in 1978. Mr. Hess is not American, but, a Swiss entrepreneur. He bottled his wines in 1983 and in 1986 renovated the winery, its biggest renovation since being constructed in 1903 by Colonel Theadore Gier.

The winery was open to the public, tasting room and all, in 1989. It is now part of the Hess Collection of wines, that includes Su’skol and Allomi in Napa Valley and Shirtaol Creek Vineyard in Monterey.

Donald Hess is known worldwide because of his wine philosophy. ‘Nurture the land, return what you take.’

The two wines that work well with BBQ are the Hess Select Central Coast 2016 Pinot Noir and the Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon.

Both wines deliver the essential acidity, spice and fruitiness that is needed when you eat BBQ.

Hesss Select is distributed nationwide and should be at your wine merchants shop or online.

These two wines are what I usually bring to a BBQ.

I don’t grill, so, feel free to invite me over to share your BBQ and I will bring the wine.

Philip S. Kampe


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Finger Lakes-'Gateway To American Wines' by Philip S. Kampe

          Finger Lakes- The Gateway to Wine In America

On the spur of the moment, we decided to hop into the car, a 2012 Honda Civic, and drive the three plus hours to the heralded ‘Finger Lakes’, eleven lakes, shaped like fingers, hence the name, The Finger Lakes.

Located in central New York state, somewhere in-between Buffalo and Albany, the Finger Lakes occupy four Interstate 90 exits. Some lakes are as long as 34 miles long, others have a depth of up to 415 feet. The glacier, ice age period in history created what now is a wine destination for the world.

This was our first visit-odd, since we live so close.

My wine history is traced to the close to eight years I lived in Europe, specifically in southern Germany, Nuremberg. No, I wasn’t in the military. I was a high school journalism, photography and movie-making teacher for the high school kids whose parents worked on the base or nearby. Those years were the years where my wine curiosity peaked-a time when you could purchase, what is known today as ‘classic’ wines for affordable prices.

But, when you live in Germany, only German wines are offered for sale in the wine shops and supermarkets. Looking back, that was a perfect solution for a novice wine drinker. Consume what the locals consume and through osmosis, you become the wiser about the styles of wines your adopted country produces. As time went by, we attended harvest parties in the Mosel, drank classic wines in the Ratskellers of quaint villages and had the opportunity to sample wines with high enough residual sugar to turn you into a diabetic.

With that history and fast-forwarding 35 years later, my wine knowledge is finally in full-stride, thanks to workshops, intensive wine seminars and travel to wine destinations worldwide.

Unfortunately, Germany has not been one of those destinations. But, after three full days in the Finger Lakes, why go to Germany? The Finger Lakes has it all….

Not to toot my own horn-but, quite the opposite-I feel like the missed opportunities during the years by not visiting the Finger Lakes years ago will be one of the ten biggest mistakes in my life. Having lived in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, on and off since 1982-and only three plus hours to the Finger Lakes and not visiting was a big mistake.

Being a free spirit and working only for myself-Fabulous Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream-The Candy People-Board Stiff Snowboard and Skateboard Shop-just to mention a few of my entrepreneurial experiences made me blind to the Gateway to Wine in America-The Finger Lakes.

Now that I have seen the light, it’s time to suggest to you to wake up and visit the Finger Lakes. With an abundance of vineyards, beautiful scenery and people who live their life worshipping their favorite varietals, why not take the plunge?

In a three day, two night visit, we had the chance to visit close to ten vineyards-taste barrel samples, chat with winemakers, see wine cellars and learn what makes this area special. Add great vineyard restaurants to the mix with incredibly positive staff and the opportunity to over sample the wines from vineyard tasting rooms to your bed and breakfast-ours came equipped with a resident winemaker, an acre plot, and a host who seemed to feature ‘social hour’ all day long.

If wine hospitality is what you are looking for-visit the Finger Lakes.

There are over one hundred twenty wineries in the Finger Lakes region. The area is known for ‘cool climate’ wines, focusing on those varietals that survive in cold, long winters. Riesling is one of the varietals that is the superstar of the region, thanks to  its both sweet and dry personalities.  Focusing on stone fruits interpretations has made the regions winemakers ambitious and willing to experiment with other varietals. Some of the wineries are just fun-they provide music, food and a fun loving clientele, while other wineries focus on the art of winemaking. A few do both.

During our life changing visit to the Finger Lakes, I am very happy to suggest that you visit the following vineyards to get a perspective of what the Finger Lakes have to offer. Yes, some vineyards are 45 minutes from the others, but, well worth the drive. Along the way, definitely pop into the numerous restaurants and BBQ mom and pop facilities that offer  the ‘BYOB Finger Lakes’ wine logo, offering no corking fee.

Vineyards to Visit:

                                                          Anthony Road
                                                             Heart & Hands
                                                             Hermann J. Wiemer
                                                                Fox Run
                                                      Dr. Konstantine Frank
                                                             Keuka Springs
                                                                  Red Newt
                                                          Shaw Vineyard BYOB
                                                        New Vines Vineyards & B&B    

Anthony Road   1020 Anthony Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-2182
Heart & Hands   4162 NY-90, Union Springs, NY 13160  (315) 889-8500
Shaw Vineyards  3901 NY-14, Himrod, NY 14837  (607) 243-7000
Hemann J. Wiemer  3962 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837  (607) 243-7971
Fox Run  670 NY-14, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-4616
Dr. Konstantin Frank  9749 Middle Road, Hammondsport, NY 14840 (800) 320-0735
Keuka Spring243 Route 54, East Lake Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-3147
Red Newt  3875 Tichenor Road, Hector, NY 14841  (607-546-4100)
New Vines 1138 Travis Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527 (315) 536-4087

Bed & Breakfast suggestion (with an acre vineyard of award winning wines)
New Vines Bed & Breakfast: 1138 Travis Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-4087)

There are numerous complimentary ‘Wine Trail’ maps, offering a list and a map of where the vineyards are located.

Remember, The Finger Lakes are ‘The Gateway To Wine In America.’

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Few Napa Valley Wines by Philip S. Kampe

A Few Napa Valley Wines to Consider

Before leaving for Portugal-I'm there now, I received my Fathers Day gift beforehand.

What was it? Three wines that I had mentioned might be a good gift for the holiday.

Three Napa Valley Wines that I have heard about and wanted to try.
Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014
Hunt & Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Having ample curiosity, I sampled, let's say drank all three before departing for Porto, Portugal.

This is what I learned:

The Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014 ($35) is a Bordeaux blend that is full-bodied, well balanced with toasty oak and silky tannins. The long finish of vanilla and ripe dark fruits flow seamlessly with this 15% alcohol wine.

Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($45).  Soft tannins and youthful, this 13.5% alcohol wine suggests complexity and balance with each sip. Ripe cherries coat your palate persisitantly during the long, pleasing finish. Their motto is: 'Excellence through Responsible Farming' hold true with this pure pleasure.

Hunt Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($25) is a fruit forward, light tannin Cabernet Sauvignon that is an easy drinking and smooth wine. I found this to be a perfect food friendly wine.

Fathers Day came early for me....thanks to Napa Valley.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Finger Lakes "New Vines' Vineyard Could Be Your Home Away From Home by Philip S. Kampe

 Seneca Lake 'New Vines' Vineyard is Also a B&B

There are many ingredients that are necessary for a memorable wine vacation. One of those ingredients, possibly the most important, to many, is where you are going to spend the nights while vineyard hunting during the day.

Well, that problem of where to stay and feel welcome has been solved if you visit the Finger Lakes region of central New York state. Logistically, it is a two plus hour drive from Albany, five from Manhattan and five plus from Boston.

The Finger Lakes are named for a series of eleven, long, thin lakes, roughly running from north to south. The lakes shapes reminded early map-makers of human fingers and the name was given to this cluster of lakes. The lakes are glacial and some are the deepest lakes in America. Cayuga Lake is 435 feet deep, while Seneca boasts a depth of 618 feet and is 38.1 miles in length.

The eleven Finger Lakes from west to east are:
Conesus Lake
Hemlock Lake
Canadice Lake
Honeoye Lake
Canandaigua Lake
Keuka Lake
Seneca Lake
Cayuga Lake
Owasco Lake
Skaneateles Lake
Otisco Lake

Close to two million years ago, the first of many continental glaciers of the Laurentide Ice Sheet moved southward from the Hudson Bay area. The movement initiated the Pleistocene glaciation, which widened and deepened the existing river valleys. Glacial debris left behind by the receding ice acted as dams, allowing lakes to form. The deep cutting of the thin ice left some tributaries hanging above the valley floor.

With so many lakes and numerous microclimates, the Finger Lakes region is New York’s largest wine producing region. Over one hundred and fifty vineyards are located around Seneca, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Keuka, Conesus and Hemlock Lakes. It is a #winelover paradise featuring many grape varieties including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir , Lemberger and Cabernet Franc.

There is a romantic charm to the region-vines, lakes and small hills. It’s a splendid setting and one that was enhanced by our stay at New Vines B&B, where award winning ‘Estate Wines’ are made by co-owner Todd Eichas.

In 2016 at the New York Wine and Food Classic, which awards the Governor’s Cup to the best wines in New York, New Vines Dry Riesling was awarded a Gold medal and New Vines Gruner Veltliner won a Silver medal.

That’s not too shabby for a one acre vineyard that was planted and one hundred per cent cared for by Todd, alone. To me, Todd is the true definition of a focused winemaker who knows every inch and leaf in the vineyard. His support system is Dani, his wife, a gourmet cook who runs New Vines and a true cheerleader for the Finger Lakes region. Her breakfasts, along with homemade baked goods, vineyard grown concord grape juice, revolve around what is fresh from the garden that morning, to what local vendor can she buy homemade cheese from or who is selling maple syrup that day.

During late afternoon, Dani and Todd Eichas host a ‘Wine and Cheese’ get to know you social hour where Todd pours his wines and Dani serves locally made cheese and snacks from the Finger Lakes. Todd reflects on his wines by saying that the cool climate results in crisp acidity in New Vines white wines and fruit forwardness in the reds. Todd goes on to say that winemakers from the Finger Lakes benefit from the cooperative nature of the industry, where honest feedback is shared by all, which ultimately benefits vineyard quality and production.

New Vines B&B was built in 2007. There are seven wineries within two miles (you can walk or bike it) and is located on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Besides a garden full of tomatoes, onions and seasonal vegetables, which Todd tends to, his one acre vineyard is home to Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Lemberger, Marquette (for Rose), Cabernet Franc, Concord and Niagara.

New Vines B&B is located off Route 14, south of Geneva at 1138 Travis Road. There is a New Vines B&B signpost on the road. Literally, New Vines is a one minute drive to the Anthony Road Winery. You can reach Dani and Todd at (315) 536-4087 or find them at the New Vines Bed & Breakfast webpage on Facebook.

Philip S. Kampe 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Tuscany's Tyrrhenian Seacoast Is Home To Terroir Driven Maremma Wines by Philip S.Kampe

                                  Affordable Wines from Maremma

The wind driven, undeveloped land of Maremma is home to a wonderful array of both white and red wines. Located in southwest Tuscany and extending to part of northern Lazio, this wind-driven,sun-drenched corner of the world supports sandy and clay soil that is the nucleus for intense wines from the region.

Traditionally, cattle herders occupied the marsh lands of Maremma, having been last drained in the 1930's.

Today, Maremma Toscana is an appellation from the Grosseto province of Tuscany.In 2011, DOC status was awarded to the region. 

Both local and international grapes are used to make a variety of both dry and sweet wines. Fortune came my way on several occasions where I had the opportunity to sample a high quality Vin Santo (red) and a late harvest Vendemmia Tardiva style (white).

Diversity reigns in Maremma, where Metodo Classico sparkling wines made from a single variety, Vermentino or Ansonica varietal reign.

The principal white grapes of the region inlude: Malvasia, Vermentino, Viognier, Ansonica, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Trebbiano.

Red grape varieties include: Syrah, Sangiovese (Morellino), Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegioli and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Microclimates abound in Maremma. The moderate temperature and daily sun helps produce wines with soft tannins and drinkability.Minerality comes from the closeness to the sea paired with the sandy and clay soil, as was mentioned earlier.
A couple of wines were sent to me to sample from Rocca di Montemassi, an estate located in-between the shoreline and the hills. With nearly 400acres and proximity to the sea (only 6 miles away), the cooling breezes and abundant sun make for terroir driven wines, especially the (white) 2016 Calasole Vermentino DOC. Maremma is a favored growing site for the mineral laden varietal.Liguria and Sardinia are also home to this indigenous grape. The vines at Rocca di Montemassi estate are on the site of an old lgnite mine, beneficial for minerals, which ignite the fresh, crisp style of the wine. The rich minerals and the sea breezes help make this under $15 wine intriguing.  The wine is overly expressive, focusing on stone fruit and youthfulness. The 2016 has ample acidity with a creamy, velvety finish.

The second wine is a red 2016 Rocca di Montemassi Le Foccaie (Maremma Toscana). This wine is made from Tuscany's favorite grape, Sangiovese. Cinnamon, balsamic sweetness and red cherries play havoc with the tannins that create dryness on your palate. Its a pizza wine, its a food wine, its a bargain wine ($12) that is the perfect Italian ambassador that does not break the bank. Off dry, high acidity with a sweetness that turns sour and earthy in a short time. The soils of Maremma shape this memorable wine.

These two wines are true bargain wines from Maremma. There are many more complex wines on the horizon from this unique area in the world.

Philip S. Kampe


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Albarino, Especially 2Amigos Albariño Is My Warm Weather Wine by Philip S. Kampe

                                          The Warm weather season is upon us.                                 

It is the time of year that Sparkling, Rose and specifically New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tend to steal the show. And many of us diehard wine drinkers opt for a good cold brew this time of year.

Whatever you choose helps calm the heat of the summer. Add ceviche, shrimp cocktail, lobster and clams to the menu and you have many ‘matches made in heaven.’

After sampling a dozen bottles of various Albariño styles from the Rias Baixas appellation of northwest Spain, it seemed obvious to me that there is another warm weather wine that is off the radar. That wines name and grape is the same-Albariño.

Albariño, as I mentioned earlier, is the most abundant grape grown in northwest Spain, in the Rias Baixas region. The grape is on its way to stardom, thanks to its clean and fresh, crisp flavor that shines through its complexity.

Albariño is a very likable wine, in part, due to what the locals believe about Albariño. The local sentiment says, ‘Albariño is considered the New World wine of the Old World.’

Translating the statement means a few obvious points to reflect on. Albariño does not age well. It is bottled early to help preserve its freshness and tenacious acidity. Tropical fruits abound in the palate, followed by a mouth cleaning minerality on the long, lingering finish.

Pairing 2Amigos Albariño with seafood and spicy food was today’s challenge. As you can see from the photo, I marinated raw shrimp, scallops and trout with loads of garlic, red pepper flakes, Serrano peppers and high quality extra virgin olive oil. I added a bay leaf and cooked it in a casserole dish at 425 for 25 minutes.

Add a bottle of 2Amigos or any other Albariño and you have a near perfect pairing.

For close to $20 a bottle-the range of Albariño varies from $12-$45, you could have your new warm weather wine.

Isn’t it time to add Albarino to your warm weather wine mix?

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 14, 2018

2016 Is A Declared Vintage Port Year by Philip S. Kampe

                                             2016 Is A Declared Vintage Port Year

I have been a huge Port wine fan since my father, who drank a glass of Port nightly, gave me a taste at age eight. He figured that one taste was enough, but, since that day, I requested a taste each night he sampled this life changing concoction. 

Legal drinking age in Louisiana, in those days, was eighteen, so, it wasn’t too long that I could buy my own.

Those days are behind us, but, my love for Port wine has never changed.

Being in the wine business often has its benefits. And receiving an invitation from Michelle Keene inviting me to a “2016 ‘Declared Vintage Port” tasting was music to my ears.

The Symington family declared 2016 as a Vintage Port year. This was the fourth vintage declaration since 2000. The last declared vintage year was 2011. According to the Symington’s, ‘2016 Vintage Ports are exceptional with tannins that are amongst the most refined ever, supporting beautiful red fruit flavors with extraordinary purple intense colors. They have impressive structure and balance, with baumes, acidity, tannins and color in rare and perfect alignment. There is no doubt a result of the late ripening cycle which allowed our grapes to mature evenly and completely.’

This is what made 2016 exceptional. The viticulture year started in the Douro with a wet winter with double the rainfall of the previous year. The wet weather continued through May, causing the river to flood and remain unnavigable. June and July were normal. August was unusually hot lots of rain at the end of the month. Picking was delayed until late September finishing in the first week of October.

The result was low yields, which translates to small batches, making the 2016 Vintage Ports a rare commodity.

The impressive list of 2016 Vintage Ports include:
Cockburn’s 2016
Complexity, structure and length highlight the clove and ginger profile.

Croft 2016
Poised in-between opulence and restraint, the tight tannins dance the line between silkiness and elegance.

Dow’s 2016
Heavy on the palate with lots of acidity and longevity, this vintage is close to exploding.

Fronseco 2016
It’s all about the fruit. Complex, fresh with lots of minerality.

Graham’s 2016
Concentrated opulence. Rich and floral.

Quinta Do Novel 2016
Finesse and complexity of dried figs and dates. Long finish with firm tannins.

Quinta Do Novel Nacional 2016
My notes exclaim, a very hot vintage wine, much like that of a Sagrantiono.

Quinta Do Romaneira 2016
A powerhouse of tannins. Complexity of aromas. Soft on the palate.

Taylor Fladgate 2016
Austere. Round, with dry tannins.

Warre’s 2016
Lively on the palate with hints of anisette and mint.

Quinta Do Vesuvio 2016
Spicy, velvety,  Intense with cherry overtones.

All of these ports are young and certainly will develop with time. Grab a bottle as soon as you see a bottle on your wine merchants shelf. There may only be one chance….

Philip S. Kampe

My Favorite BBQ Wines by Philip S. Kampe

                                                              My Favorite BBQ Wines Well, on the 4 th of July, the truly ‘All Americ...