Sunday, June 29, 2014

Val d'Orbieu means 'Unity, Ethics and Excellence'--A wine growers cooperative (association) that stretches from Bordeaux to Languedoc by Philip S. Kampe

                                                            Olivier Dauga

At a recent luncheon,wine expert and businessman, extraordinaire, Oliver Dauga, from Val d’Orbieu, the first French wine cooperative (winegrowers association) in existence, elaborated on their mix of premium wines from Bordeaux and  Langueduc.

Mr. Dauga, a tall man, full of humor and intrigue explained the Val d’Orbieu story. “Over forty years ago, a handful of winemakers, who believed their land and their wine were totally unique, came together to create a business that was founded on three important beliefs: Unity, Ethics and Excellence. Val d’Orbieu was born”.  

He further explained that Val d’Orbieu is a company that is of the people, where the vision of its founders to the present day make-up hasn’t changed at all. The inherited pioneering spirit and vision combined with hard work has put Val d’Orbieu on the map.

And the map is large.
Over two-thousand, five hundred  members from eleven wine cooperatives and sixty estates/chateaux. This group makes up Val d’Orbieu, the single biggest wine region in the world and the largest still wine cooperative in France.

                                      Val d'Orbieu CEO  Bertrand Girard

CEO Bertrand Girard, former Danon yogurt executive, explained that the mission of Val d’Orbieu is to suit the needs of the end client, through making wine in a style that they, the customer, approve of, thus creating the desire to purchase more. Mr. Girard said that the same philosophy was that of Danon yogurt, hence, his successful conversion to run the operations at Val d’Orbieu.

The luncheon took place at Orsay restaurant in Manhattan, where Isabelle Vermorel from Val d’Orbieu and Brinda Bourhis from Speechmark (Bordeaux) addressed the afternoon session with words of encouragement regarding the wines that we were going to sample alongside our French focused meal.
CEO Bertrand Girard presents a factual slide show about Val d'Orbieu

Facts that I learned about  the Val d’Orbieu group:
42,000 acres of vinyards.
2.500 winegrowers
11 million case production
10 million bag-in-box
20 million tetra pac (bag innov)
33% of wines produced are exported
60 Domaines and Chateauxs
12 wineries
72 medallions(awards) in 2013

Generally speaking, according to Susannah Gold of Vigneto Communications, the Val
D’Orbieu group produces wines that appeal to a large number of consumers throughout the world. The wines that the Val d’Orbieu group produce are known for their character and approachable price points.

At the luncheon I sampled a wonderful array of wines from the Black Reserve line of Val d’Orbieu and the Treasured Bordeaux Selections. My favorites, all well-priced, included:
Avant-Garde (white) 2012 ($15)  a crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc that is great for seafood or can easily be an aperitif. (Treasured Bordeaux)

Domaine Sainte Croix Rose 2013 ($20) is my all-time favorite rose from Val d’Orbieu. It is a true food wine that is intense (70% Grenache, 30% Syrah), yet not heavy.

Roche Darjac 2012 ($14) This red blend of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from Treasured Bordeaux is an exceptional, elegant, light and velvety red wine that can be poured to compliment many entrees, thanks to its mild tannins..

Avant-Garde (red) 2012($15) is made from 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. This outstanding fruit-forward, complex blend is another great selection from Treasured Bordeaux. The ripe tannins allow for a long, lingering finish.

Chateau Les Gravieres De la Brandille 2010 ($28), a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend was absurdly elegant, yet complex. This wine can be consumed on its own, as well as with a juicy steak. Its versatility and fair price deserve attention.

Chateu McKay 2011 ($20), a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvigon and Malbec. This classic Bordeaux style red combines ripe, sophisticated dark fruit with silky tannins that create an elegant wine with a long finish.

Chateau La Pirouette 2011 ($34) is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Ripe fruit, generous tannins of good quality and 25-30 year old vines make this wine very special. Ageing potential is suggested.

  The wines of Treasured Bordeaux and Black Reserve by Val d'Orbieu

Th Black Reserve wines of Val d’Orbieu are a must buy. High quality and fair price points make these wines from Languedoc desirable. All bottles are priced in the $23 range. Winemaker Olivier Dauga, accompanies winegrowers and oenologists to create these ‘exceptional’ wines with the Black Reserve signature.
My favorites:
Chateau De Jonquieres 2012 ($23), a blend of 59% Grenache and 41% Syrah

Chateau de Pouzols 2012 ($23), a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache & 20% Mourvedre

Chateau Festiano 2013 ($23) is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan

Domaine de Cazelles-Verdier 2013 ($23), a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan andMourvedre.

Chateau Notre Dame du Quatourze 2013 ($23), a mix of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.

The Vald d’Orbieu group is an interesting company. It is a growers association essentially, not a cooperative in the usual sense. Each winemaker makes wine separately, only calling on the association for specific help when needed. Pooled marketing helps the smaller wine houses have a presence in the marketplace, one that would not exist if it weren’t for the Val d’Orbieu group.
From my experience with the wines from this group, the Treasured Bordeaux and Black Reserve lines of Val d’Orbieu excel with high quality products at affordable prices. They have achieved their goal of satisfying customer demands with superior products.

Philip S. Kampe

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The 34th Annual Holland Herring Festival Kicks off at Grand Central Oyster Bar by Philip S. Kampe

Dutch Counsel General Rob de Vos and Executive Chef Sandy Ingber swallow maatjes herring to kick-off the Festival that runs through July 5th at Grand Central Oyster Bar

Whether you drink a Dutch Martini, made with Ketel One vodka and Bols Genever Gin or a Heineken Dutch beer, with your first of the season, flown in daily from the Netherlands, "Maatjes Herring", served solely at the Grand Central Oyster Bar (NYC), there is no doubt your experience of tasting the 'freshest herring in America', will be with you for days to come.

                                                  Maatjes Herring Filets

My herring experience started immediately as I was seated. Waiter extraordinaire, Mohammad, suggested that I should start my herring experience with the famous 'Maatjes Herring' filets ($7.00)served with a chopped hard boiled egg, sweet onions and chives. Mohammad suggested a glass of cold Heineken and a Dutch Martini would help round out the first course of my all maatjes herring meal. My herring, egg, onion, chive mixture was so good that I felt like I was twenty years old, again,sampling the maatjes herring on the
waterfront in Amsterdam, as I did during summer break from college. It was deja vu.

My second herring course, unequivocally, should be in the 'All Star Herring Hall of Fame'. It was herring salad made with beets, pickles, walnuts, apples, eggs and sour cream. The herring salad ($7.95) was sweet, tasty and lingering on the palate. It was the best I have ever had--probably due to the freshness of the herring and Chef Sandy Ingber's unique recipe.

                                            The extraordinary Herring Salad at Grand Central Oyster Bar 

The Grand Central Oyster Bar, for three decades, has been the destination in America for the first Holland herring of the season. Herring arrives daily, air expressed, from Scheveningen, the Netherlands, on the North Sea, where the herring fleet makes its home. The Grand Central Oyster Bar receives the very first herring shipped to the U.S. The herring is the 'cream of the crop'.
Visit for more information.

Philip S. Kampe

Sunday, June 15, 2014

'The Wine & Food Festival of New Paltz'--only 350 days away! by Philip S. Kampe & Maria Reveley

                                                     The Ramic Family

It’s only 350 days to the much anticipated 2015 version of the ‘Wine & Food Festival of New Paltz’.

The brainchild and co-founder of the festival, Sam Ramic and his lovely wife, Dushka Ramic, with the generous help from the International Wine Masters pulled off a fascinating wine and food festival that was like none other. The difference was simple—everyone attending felt like they were part of the family. There was a unity and respect for one another that transcended typical wine and food festivals where events and people normally get lost in the shuffle.

The three day event took place in the spacious and historical hotel, Mohonk Mountain House, the ‘gem’ of the Hudson Valley.
Sam Ramic completes the 'Saber Ceremony' successfully.

Upon arrival, we (my wife Maria and I)  were whisked off to the Sunset Porch at Mohonk to experience the opening night ‘Meet and Greet Reception’, hosted by the founding committee. The highlight of the reception was the ‘Saber Ceremony’, the uncorking of the Bellussi bubbly with a saber, completed successfully in Sam Ramic’s unique saber uncorking style.

I must share a special heartfelt welcoming message from Dushka and Sam Ramic, “ As longtime members of this community, Sam and I decided to create a festival where the beauty and uniqueness of New Paltz will be combined with our passion for wine and food. Our ambition is to bring people together from near and far to celebrate and experience the enchantment of the Hudson Valley at Mohonk Mountain House”

Let the games begin!

For the next forty-two hours, Dushka, Sam and the Hudson Valley at Mohonk were in our lives. We experienced wine with Kevin Zraly, broke bread with Lidia Bastianich, danced with Dushka and met proud father, Sam’s (& Dushka’s) beautiful children. We felt like we were at a wedding, this one, the ‘Marriage of Wine to Food’, hosted by Sam, Dushka and the International Wine Masters.
 The students at the Culinary Institute of America had a 'cook-off'. The judges accompany the winners.

Yes, I can tell you that the seminars led by Steven Koplan, Lidia Bastianich, Michael Weiss, Lou DiPalo, Mile Rupcic, Ric Orlando, Kevin Zraly and Anthony Giglo were amazing, the wines from around the world were outstanding, the cheese from the Italian Trade Agency unbelievable, the cooking demonstrations by Rosanna DiMichele, Marcus Guiliano, David McCue were wonderful, the Istrian food by Ines was mouthwatering  and the truffles from Urbani, heaven.  
                                       Crowd favorite Lidia Bastianich.

It’s easy for me to tell you how wonderful the 2014 ‘Wine & Food Festival of New Paltz’ was, but, with a little luck and pre-planning, you can attend the 2015 version.

It’s only 350 days away!

  The  partners: Italian Trade Agency (ITA) and Wine World Wide Inc. (WWW) and sponsors: CTG, The Lost Tribe, Emperor’s Brand, Chronogram, IWG, Apuzzo Kitchens, Vignobles Terroir, Empire State Bank, Verum, Casa Cornoer, Bastianich, Piera Belpoggio Collesole Cantine and Bellussi helped make the event possible.

Follow the 2015 ‘Wine & Food Festival of New Paltz’ at:

Philip S. Kampe
Maria Reveley

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finally, a Rose Wine Club (La Nuit En Rose) Launches in America by Philip S. Kampe

Rose consumption in America has been growing by leaps and bounds (double digit numbers) for the past several years. In the past when you consumed a pink wine, everyone believed it was a white zinfandel. Due to that wine, a true stigma was attached by society to the color of pink in a wine.

All of that has changed with the introduction of hundreds, even thousands of amazing rose wines from around the world. Rose wines are accepted wines by all of society--statistically shared between men and women. In the past when a man consumed a pink wine, his masculinity was often threatened.

That is then--this is now.

Skyrocketing sales of rose wines have been making the headlines during the recent years. My belief is that since men buy Rose wine for themselves, the sales have increased dramatically. By opening up a new market, a new revenue stream, sales increase. 

Anyway, however you look at it, Rose sales and enthusiasm is at an all-time high. Hence, on Friday and Saturday, June 13th and 14th, the World's First Rose Tasting Cruise Ship, the Hornblower, will depart from Manhattan carrying an inventory of 85 different rose wines to be sampled by the attendees.

The three scheduled cruises are sold out, which shows that the arrival of Rose and a Rose only party ship was long overdue.

That shouldn't stop you, thanks to the La Nuit En Rose Wine Club. The Rose Club scheduled the cruise as a platform and launch for their first showing in America.

The La Nuit En Rose Wine Club will offer to their monthly customers Roses from around the world. Some of the best Roses I have sampled during the past year are from France, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey, the United States and Lebanon.

The opportunity to learn about Roses has arrived.
Isn't it time to join the monthly La Nuit En Rose Wine Club to improve your knowledge of Roses???

To become a member of the 'La Nuit En Rose Wine Club', please contact Hortense Bernard of Millesima (1355 2nd Avenue NYC) 212 639-9463


Philip S. Kampe

Sunday, June 8, 2014

All Aboard Spain's 'Al Andalus' Luxury Train! Next stop, Extremadura, home of art, museums, vineyards, UNESCO Heritage Sights and world-class cuisine by Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley

                                                   Spain's Al Andalus Luxury Train

You never know when you discover another mode of travel within Europe that is ‘timeless’.

Yes, you can travel by bus, boat, bicycle, motorcycle, automobile, camper and train within Europe to your destination, but, none so grand as the infamous ‘Al Andalus Express’ Luxury Train, which operates solely throughout Spain, visiting historical cities throughout the country, including Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Zaragoza, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Burgos, Pomplana, Jerez and Madrid, just to name a few..

All aboard!

As a youngster I used to ride the ‘City of New Orleans’, a train made famous by the song sung by folk singer Woody Guthrie’s son, Arlo Guthrie. The train departed from my home town, New Orleans and traveled overnight to Chicago, where my mother’s family would meet us upon arrival at the train station...

Its been half a century since I boarded the ‘City of New Orleans, but the memory of riding in a luxury train has been with me forever. In fact the thrill of riding classic trains like the Al Andalus has become a passion of mine.

With the ‘City of New Orleans’ in mind, I recently discovered that Spain has a train that will evoke your past memories with the amenities and  luxuries of today

That train is the Al Andalus, one of the ‘World’s Premier Luxury Trains’.

The 85 year old train (circa 1929-1930) has been restored to its original condition. From sleeper car to the bar car and lounge, the Al Andalus carries passengers from the modern world to the world of the past.

Spain is a real tourist destination. It is the only European country with such extremes, take architecture for example, who else could mastermind futuristic architectural buildings other than Gaudi. If you focus on art, think Picasso, a one of a kind artist.

With summer approaching and the prime vacation period of the year upon us, isn’t it time to think about Spain as a tourist destination. Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, a country that is full of tradition, folklore, experimental and traditional cuisine and highly rated wines.

With a little bit of luck, I plan to visit Spain at the end of this month, with hopes of traveling on the Al Andalus. My plan is to provide real time daily reports about my experience aboard the Al Andalus to my 22,000 Twitter followers and 4,800 Facebook friends that follow me viaThe Wine Hub..

The luxury train, the Al Andalus has seven beautifully renovated sleeper cars, five of which are from the original 1929-1930 train, plus twelve standard suites and twenty superior suites. The lounge and dining cars date back to 1928 and are used as the trains restaurant, saloon and lounge.
Spain is such a complex country for wine. Each region has its own indigenous grapes, creating a large variety of both white and red wines.

The Al Andalus travels on three different itineraries.
Routes include: Andalusia, Iberico and Extremadura-all separate trips.

Andalusia highlights Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda and Cadiz.

Iberico highlights the lesser known cities between Madrid and Zaragoza, while the
Extremadura trip takes the passenger from Seville to Madrid visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sights along the route, museums, restaurants with Michelin starred chefs and wineries.

There are few trains in the world that match the luxury of the Al Andalus.
Why not join me on the tour of a lifetime?

Contact for more information or call 800-724-5120

Philip S. Kampe
Maria Reveley

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...