Monday, February 24, 2014

The Amazing Wines of Southeastern Spain's 'Region de Murcia' by Philip S. Kampe

Many years ago, much before the time when wine entered my life, I had the opportunity to visit the Murcia region of Spain. The area is famous for its old world charm, wonderful weather, rich history, tremendous agriculture--I remember eating the largest raisins in my life--and amazing wines.
That was many years ago.

Emcee for the Region de Murcia luncheon was well-known, Wine Educator, Michael Schaefer,CWE

Today, as a somewhat established wine journalist, some opportunities come to me. Take for example, a recent wine land food pairing luncheon that I attended. The luncheon was in honor of D. Jose Ballesta Germa, the Counselor of Industry, Business and Innovation of the Autonomous Region of Murcia.  Also in attendance was the Consul General of Spain, Juan Ramon Martinez Salazar.
The luncheon took place at one of the most beautiful, modern, sophisticated venues in New York, the Gabarron Foundation Art Museum and Gallery, 149 East 38th street.
The Gabarron Foundation is based on the promotion of culture that echos the Spanish land outside of its borders.

                                                       The Gabarron Foundation
While viewing the artsy Gabarron Foundation, appetizers of Canapes of Tortilla Espanola, Salmon Tartar and Pincho of Moroccan Spiced Lamb with yogurt sauce were served with a Bodegas Castano Rosado Monastell Yecla 2012.
                                   Bodegas Castano Rosado Monastrell Yecla 2012

A little history regarding the wines of Murcia:
In southeast Spain lies Murcia, in the Levante province. French winemakers settled in the area after Phylloxera killed their crops in the mid 1800's. The hot and dry, yet windy area resembled the area is France where they grew Mourvedre grapes , hence the Spanish Monastrell's birth in Murcia.
The D.O. Jumilla region is the best known area in Murcia for the Monastrell grape. Murcia is also home to the D.O. Yecla and D.O. Bullas regions, where the Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Syrah grapes are grown.
Some white grapes exist in the region of Murcia, primarily Macabeo, Merseguera and Airen.
In regard to the Monastrell grape, the wines are earthy, dark and meaty, often above 14% alcohol. The wines are special on their own and are often blended with other grapes from the region to create a new identity.

                                                      Ensalada Murciana
                 Bodegas Carchelo 'C' Monastrell-Tempranillo-Cabernat-Jumilla 2012
                                           Bodegas Luzon Bianco, Viura, Jumilla 2011

As we sat down for a wonderful speech on the region of Murcia, its wine history and varietals, Mr. Schaefer recommended that we start our meal off with by pairing the two wines poured, the Bodegas Luzon Bianco, Viura, Jumilla 2011 and the Bodegas Carchelo 'C' Monastrell-Tempranillo-Cabernet Jumilla 2012, with the Ensalada Murciana, composed of roasted peppers, onion, tomato, hard-boiled egg, capers, black olives, Mojama and almonds.
The pairing of both wines, white and red, did show the acidic versatility of the wines with what would be considered a variety of foods. The Mojama afforded the opportunity to sample both wines with a delicious ham that paired equally with both the red and white.
                                          Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell  Jumilla2011

                                        Bodegas Bleda 'Divus' Monastell Jumilla 2005

Our main course was a Paella de Vegetables--Vegetable Paella with Bomba rice paired with a wine that is a true Jumilla legend, the affordable Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell 12 Months Junilla 2011 and a bottle of Bodegas Bleda 'Divus' Monastrell Jumilla 2005.
Again, the wines seemed to be made for this dish.

Desserts followed with 'Drunken Goat' cheese with fig bread and assorted fruit. The classic Bodegas Barahonda 'Bellum El Remote' Monastrell Dulce, Yecla 2009 helped finish a wonderful and enlightening afternoon of wines and food from the Region de Murcia.

                                                          Philip S. Kampe

                                                 Wine Media Guild member

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Kosher Food & Wine Experience 2014 takes place on Monday, February 24th by Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley

The most comprehensive Kosher wine tasting of the year takes place on Monday night from
6:30 to 9:30pm at Chelsea Piers, Pier 60 (NYC).
As in the past, this is one of the most amazing wine and food shows one will ever attend. Beyond the beauty of the Hudson river and the newly added dessert luxury yacht, the quality of the over 200 wines that are poured paired with the endless food prepared by the tri-state areas top Kosher restaurants and caterers is unmatched.
Having been in this business as a wine and food journalist for the past dozen years, there is no other show that can match the professionalism that the Kosher Wine & Food Experience brings to the consumer.
The wines are under the wings of Royal wine imports. The 200 Kosher wines come from all parts of the world--from France to Argentina to Israel. Add a large spirits section to the show and you have the ultimate wine, spirits, food and dessert tasting.
The event is so good, that I am willing to drive three hours from the Berkshires (western Massachusetts) to attend.
I hope to see you on Monday evening at Chelsea Piers.
Tickets are still available at $125 and can be purchased online at the KFWE website:

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Year Round, BELLUSSI Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG, Extra Dry is the 'Best Prosecco Bargain' in the Market by Philip S. Kampe

Whether is it in the middle of winter or the heat of the summer, I have found that BELLUSSI Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG, Extra Dry, is the only dry Prosecco in the under $14 range that can stand-up to all weather conditions.
As you can see from my first photo, I put a bottle in the snow to chill, while unexpected guests showed up at our house. Thanks to Mr. Winter and the Artic Vortex that has settled in the northeast, it literally takes less than ten minutes to chill a bottle of Bellussi Prosecco. Add a few grilled shrimp on the stove and in ten minutes the party can begin.
Bellussi Prosecco uses the Charmat method of vinification, known as 'Autoclave' in Italy. The Charmat method was invented in the early 1900's by Eugene Charmat in Bordeaux. The method focuses on wines that do not require the intensive and costly aging process, as Champagne does. A second fermentation takes place in a tank rather than in the bottle.
The result of this process and especially Bellussi is an elegant, dry wine with an extremely delicate bouquet with hints of pear, white peach and yellow apple.
So, if you have 'cabin fever' this winter, why not do as I did and chill your bottle of Bellussi Prosecco in the snow, add a couple dozen shrimp to the scenerio (oysters if you an find them) and let the winter blues slide away.

                                                      Wine Media Guild member
                                                             Philip S. Kampe

Thursday, February 13, 2014

EJ Gallo is much more than EJ Gallo--Just Sample their WILLIAM HILL ESTATE Varietals by Philip S. Kampe

William Hill Estates

It is easy to understand why EJ Gallo is a household name.
Founded in 1938 by Ernest and Julio Gallo, the wine company has recently grown by leaps and bounds through recent acquisitions of numerous wine companies.

As a privately held company, it has been a difficult task to compile a list of Gallo’s holdings. Acquisitions from the Napa Valley and Sonoma have raised the bar for the Gallo holdings.
One of which is William Hill Estates, a winery founded in 1978 by none other than William, known to all as Bill, Hill.

The unique property setting, as explained by dynamic winemaker and visionary, Ralf Holdenreid, is on the Silverado Bench in southern Napa Valley, above the valley floor and below the ever so steep slopes of Atlas Peak. The Silverado Bench is a bend in the Napa River as it made its way to the valley thousands of years ago..

The rare soil profile resulted when river rocks mixed with volcanic soil. Couple the soil with southwestern exposure, explained Mr. Holdenreid, and you have perfect conditions for the grapes to thrive.
We grow red Bordeaux varietals because our location is perfect for those varietals to be true to their origin.

Our wines are fruit-driven, full of dark fruit aromas, some have hints of strawberry jam, others are earthy, yet velvety.

With those descriptions, it is easy to tell why William Hill Winemaker, Ralf Holdenreid, is on top of his game. He is grateful that he has the opportunity to craft expressive wines from the 140 acre estate.

I had the opportunity to sample a select group of William Hill wines, recently, and now understand why these under $15 retail wines have made a huge impact in the industry.

I can recommend three 2012 William Hill wines that are worth purchasing:

2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay
This ‘Classic California Chardonnay’ is a perfect California style, oaked Chardonnay that many of us dream about, me included. The wine is rich, buttery, toasty and well balanced with the necessary acid that pairs well with food.

2012 North Coast Chardonnay
What a perfect food wine the 2012 North Coast Chardonnay is.
With its caramel, butterscotch overtone, stone fruit bite and floral aromatic notes, this wine pairs perfectly with  goat's milk cheese, grains, seafood, specifically lobster,  trout, shrimp, oysters, mussels and scallops.

2012 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
Ralf explained that this was the initial vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon from the North Coast.
2012 was an exceptional year. The wine will need time to develop to its true potential, but, when it does, expect an overly complex wine that should focus on dark fruit, intense structure with  hints of cocoa and caramel on the palate.

My take on the 2012 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 
:Buy it now and store it in your wine cellar.
A case could cost as little as $144 from your wine merchant with a 20% case discount.
It is a no-brain er!

William Hill Estates is here to stay.
Why not take advantage of its low price points for the 2012 vintage?

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nicolas Feuillatte Introduces "D'Luscious', a 'World-Class 'Demi-Sec Rose'--in time for Valentine's Day by Philip S. Kampe

                         Pamela Wittmann, founder of Millissime PR, joins in the Festivities

You never know who you may run into at ‘Opening Night’ wine events, in this case, the unveiling of a new Cuvee from France’s #1 consumed Champagne, Nicolas Feuillatte.
As you can see from the photographs, the introduction of “D’Luscious’ Demi-Sec Rose took New York by storm.
Many fans of Nicolas Feuiillatte showed up for the premier of what tastes like another ‘Success’ for Cellar Master David Henault and his staff from the #3 Selling Champagne in the world.
It was by no accident when Mr. Henault created this world class affordable Rose. The world is ripe for Rose, according to statistics from the Champagne Bureau USA.
Over the past decade, the shipment of Rose from the Champagne region of France has enjoyed significant growth in the U.S.—just last year over 2.7 million bottles of Rose were shipped to the U.S., comprising 15.3% of all shipments to this country.
More and more Americans understand that Champagne only comes from Champagne, The fact that Nicolas Feuillatte Champagnes are the most widely consumed Champagnes in France justifies the ‘Rare’ edition of a new style of sparkling to their portfolio.
Nicolas Feuillatte’s growth has taken the Champagne industry by storm. Having been established in 1978, the company has grown leaps and bounds, year after year.
According to the growth chart for the industry, it only makes sense to add a new Rose to their prestigious portfolio.
D’Luscious is comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Aged to perfection for three years, this Cuvee is full-bodied, lots of small bubbles that remain in your flute, rich in flavor, specifically dark and red fruits- blueberries, cherries, raspberries and strawberries.
My first taste immediately made me realize that this Cuvee was sophisticated, yet lively.
Pair D’Luscious with all types of food, including truffles, mountain cheese (brings Comte to mind) and spicy foods.
The acidity in D’Luscious calls for food.
It is an off dry, barely sweet wine that is crisp and round with a velvety, long finish.

D’Luscious is my Valentine Champagne of choice.  It has all of the characteristics, my wife, Maria, would enjoy--acidity, off-dry with a subtle sweetness and a real food wine that can handle spice--think Indian.

At under $59 a bottle, why not make your Valentine Happy?

                                     D'Luscious--a perfect Valentine Champagne

Philip S. Kampe
Photos by Charles Roussel

How Hungarian Cabernet Franc Changed My Life by Philip S. Kampe

My Dad was known to his friends as ‘Cab Franc.’ You see, his name was really Joseph and all of his social time with visiting frien...