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Friday, August 1, 2014

Come and join me at the TANGLEWOOD Wine & Food Classic in Lenox, Ma. on August 7th to 10th (next week) by Philip S. Kampe

                      Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic, August 7th to 10th in Lenox, Ma.

“Tanglewood Isn’t All Music”.

In fact, Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, means to most of us, music, opera, piano concertos, perhaps a rock concert, scenic beauty, James Taylor and a wine and cheese picnic overlooking Stockbridge Bowl.

Tanglewood is located in western Massachusetts, known as the ‘Berkshires’, in the historical town of Lenox. Tanglewood is only a two hour ride from Boston and a two and a half hour ride from Manhattan. It is the summer home of thousands, due to the wonderful cultural programs that exist in Berkshire county

But, from August 7th to 10th, Tanglewood means a lot more. Tanglewood will be the home of the ‘Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic’.

The four day event focuses specifically on wine and food. If you have not attended the Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic in the past, this is a great opportunity to learn about food and wine from some of the country’s leading authorities.



                          Sample hundreds of wines and food offerings st the Grand Tasting

Experts will lead seminars, tastings and wine dinners within the bucolic Tanglewood setting.

The four-day schedule is designed specifically for the consumer to learn about food and wine. Experts in these  fields will educate the attendees through seminars and tastings.
If there is ever a week to support Tanglewood, this is the week.

All of the events take place on the grounds of Tanglewood and are void of large crowds.
Consider attending the wine and food events during the day and afterwards, why not take in a concert at the Shed or Ozawa Hall.

The signature event (as always) is the Grand Tasting at the Hawthorne Tent ($90), which takes place on Saturday, August 9th,,  from high noon to three in the afternoon.
Hundreds of wines from around the world and locally sourced food, cooked by local chefs will be available to sample on the beautiful Tanglewood grounds.

                      Attend a concert at Tanglewood at night or Sunday afternoon


                  Sample my friend, Joseph Carr's, Dylan's Ghost wine with him on August 7th

Opening this great schedule of events is ‘The Best of the Berkshires Cocktail Reception (Hawthorne Tent)  ($85) from 4:15-5:30pm on Thursday, August 7th, Following the cocktail reception, from (5:45-7:45pm) (Hawthorne Tent)  will be an amazing dinner ($195) featuring Joseph Carr and his Dylan’s Ghost Wines and Chefs Daire Rooney (Allium) and Brian Arlberg (Red Lion Inn).  From 6-7pm ($55) on the same date, Josh Needleman, master chocolatier .and owner of Lenox’s Chocolate Springs will team up with Toni McKone, representing Sandman Port wines for a fun, educational port and chocolate tasting seminar.

On Friday, August 8th, infamous winemaker Ray Coursen, of Elyse Winery (Napa), will host a one-of-a-kind, memorable wine dinner at Seranak, possibly the most beautiful vantage point in the Berkshires, from 5:30-8pm ($195).  Chef Ian Just, owner of Boston’s Society on High will prepare the first three courses of the dinner which will accompany Ray Coursen’s wines. Max McCalman will select a cheese course to accompany Ray’s fourth and final wine for the dinner. At Tanglewood from 7-8pm, Jeremy Stanton, proprietor of Fire Roasted Catering of the Berkshires, will host a ‘Great Meats and Great Grapes’ seminar ($55) with wine pairing at the Hawthorne Tent cooking stage.

And then comes Saturday, August 9th, what I believe is the “Best Wine Day of the Year in the Berkshires”.  From 11-noon, at Highlawn, Pittsfield’s own Jim Nejaime of Spirited and Nina Wemyss will discuss “Wine’s History and Rich Relatioonship with the Arts”($55).  The highlight of the weekend, the Grand Tasting follows from 12-3pm at the Hawthorne Tent ($90).  The day ends with a special Rose et Petanque event from 3:30-5:30pm on Kennedy Lawn, next to the Tent Club ($55). Attendees will taste sumptuous summer wines, the way they do in Provence.

Sunday is not the day of rest.

At noon, Max McCalman will teach an artisanal cheese class and will conduct a wine seminar. The event run from 12-1pm and takes place at Seranak ($65).  “The Wonders of Riedel with Miner Wines and Lindt Chocolate” seminar will take place from 1-2pm at the Hawthorne Tent ($55). Those attending will learn how glassware enhances grape varietals on the palate. Three Riedel glasses will be given to each attendee.
               What could be better than the events at Tanglewood's Wine & Food Classic..

The festival ends with the much anticipated rare wine and luxury lifestyle package auction. The event is titled “ Bliss at Blantyre: Biennial Tanglewood Auction Dinner” ($250). Chef Arnaud Cotar from Blantyre and Chef Daniel Bruce of Meritage, Boston Harbor Hotel will prepare a dinner that will be accompanied with Darioush Wines. Nina Wemyss is the auctioneer. The elegant event will take place from 6-11pm at Blantyre.

For tickets to any or all of the events, call 888-266-1200 or visit

I look forward to seeing my hundreds of friends at Tanglewood, only 8 minutes from my home!
                                                                   Philip S. Kampe

                                             Enjoying a glass of wine at Seranak

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Argentina, a Wine Country with History, focusing on Wine Producer, Achaval-Ferrer by Philip S. Kampe

                                                       The history of Argentina....

It has been over 500 years since the first vines were planted in northern Argentina, specifically, the area near and around Mendoza.  The wine industry had been slowly developing and not until recently were the wines of Argentina well known internationally.

The history of Argentine wine making starts with the arrival of Italian, French and Spanish immigrants in the 19th century. Intertwined within this group were winemakers, by trade, who carried international and indigenous varieties with them during their long, agonizing journey to Argentina.

This group replaced the Jesuits ‘criollo wines’ with noble varietals, like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Consumption was only domestic for many years until, like magic, the Argentinean wine trade took off in the early 2000’s, due mainly to the economic crash.

There are a number of obvious reasons for the quick spurt of growth, as well: Quality improved, exports increased while local consumption fell, controlled irrigation was established and variations in altitude enabled varieties to be planted at their correct height, favoring slopes at the 3,500 to 6,100 foot range.

In the Mendoza region water is piped in from the melting snow of the Andes.
Mendoza is known for Malbec and Malbec only.

The truth is, many winemakers are making expressive wines and blends focusing on the Bonardo, Tempranillo, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
                                                     Yes, it snows in Mendoza.

Regarding daily high and low temperatures for the vineyards, Mendoza has a distinct advantage. Warm days encourage sugar production and help the grapes develop a nice, thick skin. Cool nights help create high acidity levels.

Today, the winemakers are improving quality by producing fewer grapes per hectare with higher quality characteristics. Add oak barrels for aging and plantings of noble varieties to the game plan and you have a top quality wine.

You can’t talk about the wines of Argentina without noting that the price-to-quality ratio is amazingly low for the consumer.

The economic crash in 2001 turned, once non-competitive wines, into overly competitive wines overnight.

Prices plummeted as quality improved. Argentina was a key player on the world stage, after nearly 500 years of heartaches.

With the economic problems the United States is facing, many Americans are modifying their lifestyles, including the kind of wine they drink and where they travel for vacation.
For those of us who love viticulture and trips abroad, Argentina’s Mendoza region is the answer.

Mendoza, set against the foothills of the Andes mountains is a beautiful town that is visually Spanish oriented versus the European flair that Buenos Aires presents.
The town gathering place is the Plaza Independencia, where craft sellers stalls highlight silver jewelry, leather goods and gourds for the herbal drink Yerba Mate.
Street performers stage shows and lovers kiss on the benches.
                                                   Plaza Independencia in Mendoza

On one side of the square is the elegant Park Hyatt, while the other side of the main square is Sacrimento, where the smell of meat grilling, outdoor cafes and urban outfitters prepare for customers who want to hike and river raft the nearby towering peak of Aconcagua.

Inside the Park Hyatt, you can start your introduction of Argentinean wines at the Vines of Mendoza tasting room, where flights from over 125 wines from the region are offered.

Malbec thrives in Mendoza.

Malbec was brought to Argentina from France, where it was used mainly as a blending grape. Mendoza is blessed with over 300 days a year of sunlight. Add hot days and cool nights to the theory and you have the perfect growing conditions for Malbec.

Malbec is planted at high altitudes, ensuring thick skin development, deep colors and rich and robust flavors.

Malbec wines are usually full-bodied, due in part to the tannins. Tannic wines are generally paired with fattier cuts of meat, like the ones in Argentina.

In fact, growth of Argentinean wine exports to the U.S. grew 23% last year, with sales of 6.9 million cases, creating $271 million dollars in revenue.

If you haven’t experienced ‘Malbec’ wines from Argentina, this is the time to start.

There are over 500,000 acres of vineyards in Argentina, of which over 75,000 acres are planted with the Malbec grape, followed by, possibly the next breakthrough grape, Bonarda (50,000 acres).  Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for 40,000 acres.
                                               Modern wineries exist in Argentina

The flagship white grape is Torrontes, grown specifically in the Salta region, followed by Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio.

Wines made with the Torrontes grape stand out from the pack due to their fragrant aromatics, orange blossoms characteristics and the dry, full tropical fruit flavor on the palate, somewhat like an Alsatian Muscat.
Of the over 1400 wineries in Argentina, 1200 are in Mendoza. Europeans have invested their money in the Mendoza region as well as the emerging region of Patagonia, where numerous state-of-the-art technology wineries exist.

One of my favorite wineries in Mendoza is Achaval-Ferrer, which was founded in 1995 by winemaker Santiago Achaval and his partners. Achaval-Ferrer, according to Argentine wine guru, Nora Favelukes, helped put high end Argentine wine on the map. One of the four partners is Roberto Cipresso, one of the world’s foremost wine consultant and winemaker.

Together with Italian, Tiziano Siviero and Argentine Manuel Ferrer, the team has broken the barrier with exceptional well balanced, complex, concentrated wines that are now world-acclaimed. With low yields and terroir driven wines, Achaval-Ferrer has made a name for themselves in a short period of time.

I sampled the 2013 Malbec Cost: $19.99
Alcohol: 14.5%
Soil: Volcanic and gravel/loom. Sustainably farmed
Aged:  Aged nine months in two-year old oak barrels.

Palate:  Silky tannins, floral with raspberry and blackberry. Noticeable minerality with a long, lingering finish.
Nose: Aromatics of violets and white peach.
Yield: 17,000 12 bottle cases
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Cost: $19.99
Alcohol: 14.5%
Soil: Limestone, sand and clay
Aged: Oak
Palate: Old world charm, pepper, dusty tannins, red fruit and somewhat barnyard.

Nose: Truffles and dirt overpower the senses.
Yield: 2,500 12 bottle cases

As you can readily see, the wines from Achaval-Ferrer are low yield wines that express the varietal  personalities. Each bottle portrays a different expression of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, Considered by critics as a winery that focuses on the production of wines that are superior in quality, Achaval-Ferrer uses the best mix of soil and vine stock paired with up-to-date technology to produce quality wines,

Achaval-Ferrer leads the way in red wine production in Argentina.


Philip S. Kampe