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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Douro region of Portugal, the Eighth Wonder of The World by Maria Reveley

                             The beauty of the Douro Valley with its magical vineyards

The first time I saw the Douro Region of Portugal, I gasped at the beauty.  I will never forget the impact of seeing such majestic mountains, with the Douro River running through them.  It reminded me of the first time I saw the Alps.  These mountains, however, were softer, rounder and covered with vineyards.  What a discovery!

The Douro Region of Portugal, on the northeast border of Portugal adjacent to Spain, was the first demarcated and regulated wine region in the world, named in 1756. This valley, with the graceful and winding Douro River pacing its way through it, is amazingly beautiful.  High mountains have been terraced over many generations, by hand, to create vineyards that produce the famous Port, excellent DOC Douro wine, sparkling wine and Muscat.
                                                          The Douro Valley

This impressive landscape was considered World Heritage by UNESCO in 2001 as a living evolving cultural landscape and called the Douro Valley.  There is a harmonious interaction in this area between Man and Nature, as they coexist with one another.  The Douro River flows from the Spanish border to the east of Porto and depending on the time of year, its slopes may be decorated with almond trees, cherry blossoms or vines rich with grapes and ready for harvest.

For visitors, this is a beautiful region to explore. In addition to visiting vineyards, there are many National Parks, of Douro International, of Alvao and the Geopark of Arouca.
Located in the Upper Douro, Vila Nova de Foz Coa has had a recent discovery of its Paleolithic open air Rock Art.  This is considered World Heritage by UNESCO, and is one of the biggest archeological centers, showing man lived in this period outside of caves.  The art on the rocks are often viewed at night with flashlights to better see the forms and shapes, all 1,000 of them!


                                                             Casa de Mateus


                                          An amazing cedar tree at Casa de Mateus

In Vila Real, you can visit the Casa de Mateus Foundation, a magnificent building owned by the Mateus family.  This building, with its reflecting pool on entrance, has beautiful architecture, and a magnficient huge cedar tree planted in 1870, which opens its arms to all visitors.  You can tour this building and its lovely gardens, which include a labyrinth of hedges, rose bushes, and trees.
                                                 Mesao-Frio vineyards in Belmont


                                              Mesao-Frio vineyards in Belmont
                            In Belmont, you can stay in a hotel that is a converted convent and walk out your door to see the terraced vineyards surrounding you. In Belmont is a Jewish Museum, one of the best 50 small museums in Europe.  Here you will see that a small number of Jews kept themselves hidden for generations! The Inquisition in Portugal, starting in the 16th century killed 40,000 Jews until the 19th century.  So the few who were left hid, and managed to celebrate their rituals in hiding. In Belmont, the Quintos dos Termos vineyard, with 25 wines in its portfolio, earned votes for the number one wine in Portugal with the Fonte Cal grape.  A visit to the vineyard can be arranged, and some visitors choose to participate in the harvesting.


                                          The monument to freedom in Almeida

                                                   The fortress protecting Almeida

                                                  Almeida Military Museum
In Almeida, there are two of twelve historical villages in Portugal that are World Heritage sites. In Almeida you will find ancient villages restored for use.  There is a Fortress, a Military Museum, a riding ring and a Monument to Freedom, denoting the change from a dictatorship to freedom in 1974. There are annual reenactments of these events the last weekend of August.
         Alvaro Martinho Lopes, the guru of Quinta Companhia Vehla, is also a folk singer


                                A breathtaking view from Quinta Companhia Vehla

If you visit the Quinta Companhia Vehla nearby, try to meet its passionate keeper of the vines, Alvaro Martinho Lopes. He will explain how there are mini-climates within the altitude of each mountain, and that the weather, the land and the altitude all contribute to the nature of the grapes, and therefore the wines they produce. All work continues to be done by hand in this region, as it has been done for hundreds of years. The work is hard, but the beauty and landscape, and the quality of life, make up for the exhaustion!  Near here, one can also visit the Douro Museum in Regua, with a boat sitting in front to remind visitors of the slow trip down the river the barrels used to take to reach Porto, the capital of the Douro region!

This region is truly a gem – a place where you can get lost in the beauty and the friendliness of the people. You can travel by train in the Douro Valley, take a River Cruise, or drive.  You can dine in restaurants that serve fresh local food, and in quintas and drink excellent wines produced in the area. You can visit museums, ride horses, go swimming, go rafting and or just relax and take in this gorgeous scenery.
Whatever one chooses to do, a visitor will leave the Douro with fond memories and a longing to return.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut 2013 Rose by Michel Chapoutier is the Best IGP Rose ($12.99) in Pays d'Oc by Philip S. Kampe

Imagine my dream: The sun is shining and it is 73 degrees in Montpellier, France. The day has begun and the first image I see is a guy donning a black beret riding his bicycle down a small hill with three loaves of French bread attached to the metal bar on the back of his black, vintage bicycle.
It is a scene out of a movie.

Welcome to France, I say, with a big smile on my face.

I am half French, so, I should be quite proud to be in the country of my ancestors.

The sun-drenched Mediterranean region of south-east France will be my home for the next five days. I am in search of the best rose wine that is made in Pays d'Oc.

Geographically, the Pays d’Oc is a unique area that stretches along the Mediterranean Sea, from the Spanish border to the Rhone Delta. The majority of the vines face the Mediterranean Sea. The area of Pays d'Oc is vast, with over 200,000 plus acres. This large area includes Pyreness-Orientales, Ande, Herault Gard and six towns in Lozere. Languendoc-Rousseillion offer a wide range of contrasting landscapes and weather conditions. Besides the sea, the area is made up of foothills, and coastal plains.

Imagine owning a vineyard on a hillside slope facing the Mediterranean on a sunny day with clear blue skies, birds singing and the Atlantic breezes blowing through your hair.

Welcome to Pays d'Oc.

The Pays d’Oc region  has adopted its vineyards and grape varieties, fifty-six in all, from different regions in France. The winemakers are known as innovators and creative artists who guarantee quality, traceability and geographical origin. What I am told is that the wines from Pays d’Oc seduce your senses and create an enjoyable moment wherever you are.

Some facts about Pays d’Oc :
There are over 20,000 winemakers and as mentioned before, 56 grape varieties that wines are made from. All wines with the Pays d’Oc label are controlled wines that have been sampled  before being allowed to be put on the retail store shelf.

Pays d’Oc IGP( Indication Geographique  Protegee) wines, made up of 90% French varietals,  are the first produced. The region is the  leading French exporter by volume and is the Fifth largest world exporter by volume.The U.S. only represents 3.9%  ($33 million) of wines exported. The breakdown is simple, 72% red and rose wines are exported mixed with 28% white wines.

Prior to leaving on my trip to Pays d'Oc, Mr. Gravegeal, President of Pays d’Oc IGP guided me through a flight of wines from the region that literally awoke my senses with the freshness, exceptional high quality and unrealistic reasonable prices.

The possibilities of the wines produced are endless, due to the fact that the winemaker can make a single variety, two grapes combined or a blend of grapes. With fifty-six varieties allowed by law to use, the combinations tend to be both unique and creative.

The region celebrates the harvest with the release of Primeur, a wine that is released on the third Thursday of October, a month prior to other releases. Pats d'Oc has 2,500 winemakers who use the IGP certification symbol to announce to the world that they are from this unique region.

In this unique region, I was searching for the perfectly styled rose. I was advised to visit the vineyards if Michel Chapoutier, a well known and highly regarded winemaker who recently (1999) purchased many plots in the Languendoc-Rousillion area. Mr. Chapoutier chose to combine the Cinsault grape from the Gard district of Pays d'Oc to blend with the Grenache grape. According to Michel Chapoutier, the grapes are hand picked, then carefully vinified at low, even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, where it is left to age. After a short maceration of the skins, the delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is carefully blended prior to bottling.

The Les Vignes Bila-Haut Rose 2013 is a sustainable wine that has a watermelon, strawberry, pot of black tea aroma. My palate exploded with crisp, mineral flavors of red plum, thyme and black cherry that were perfectly balanced.

At $12.99 a bottle, I found the best rose wine in Pays d'Oc, thanks to Michel Chapoutier.

Philip S. Kampe


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Porto and the Douro region of Portugal, the 'First Demarcated and Regulated Wine Region In the World' by Maria Reveley

                           Porto and the Douro river with Port hauling boats

If you are looking to make a travel discovery, one that will encompass great natural beauty, delicious food and wines, wonderful welcoming people and much history, you might want to think about northern Portugal as a new destination.  Porto and the north are often overlooked, perhaps for Lisbon, the beaches, and the Algarve in southern Portugal.  But Porto and the Douro Valley, UNESCO World Heritage areas, are stunningly beautiful and delightful to visit.  With only one million visitors per year, you will find much to discover, with fewer crowds and with very reasonable prices. 

The northern Portugese are very hospitable and proud of their heritage, their cultures, their traditions, their cuisine and their famous wines, including their famous Port.
This area of Portugal is rich with history, churches and monasteries, museums, castles, gardens and wonderful architecture.  And the steep mountains of the Douro Valley, with its hand-tended vineyards can take your breath away  with its beauty.  The Douro River runs through the region and the city of Porto. And, at sunset, you can begin to understand why the name – River of Gold – is so on target.

Let’s start with the city of Porto, which has about two million inhabitants including the surrounding areas.  Porto is the capital of the north and is one of the oldest cities in the country.  You can take a tram to the mouth of the Douro River, get to know the beaches and the outdoor cafes and also see some modern buildings desogned by architects like Size Vieira or Rem Koolhaas.

The River is dotted with boats – some with visitors cruising; others to remind us that barrels of wine were brought down the river in picturesque boats years ago, before the roads were built.  The area is hilly on both sides of the River, and there are Port Wine Cellars in the hills.  You can enjoy Port Wine tastings from many producers and buy their product in their adjoining stores.  When you go, you will learn about white, ruby, tawny, rose and late bottled vintage (LBV) Port Wines.  And you will see the methods used to make these delicious wines are much the same as hundreds of years ago.

A few words about Port Wine, some call nectar of the gods.  Port wine has a richness and intensity of aroma that is unique, with a high level of alcohol (between 19% and 22% by volume).  The LBVs are considered by many to be the Crown Jewels of Port Wine.

The Douro Region is upstream from Porto, and the Douro River winds through granite escarpments and terraces of schist. These steep mountains have been tended for hundreds of years by hand. 

The Douro region is the FIRST DEMARCATED AND REGULATED WINE REGION IN THE WORLD!  This area produces Port, excellent DOC Douro wine, sparkling wine and Muscat. It was established by decree in 1765 by the Marquis of Pombal and classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.


                                                           The Douro river in Porto

 Among the producers who offer tastings in Porto are: Calem, Sandeman, Croft, Porto Cruz, Offley, and many others.  If you are interested in the history and technical aspects of Port Wine, you can visit the Port Institute of Wine and the Port Wine Museum, which are dedicated to the important role Port Wine has made in the history of the region and of Porto. The Rabelo boats, on the river, remind us of their history of moving barrels through this region to the city of Porto.


                                                   Porto Cruz Rose Port Cocktails

We visited three Port Wine producers: Calem, Sandeman and Porto Cruz.  Sandeman’s presentation was the most’corporate’ and least personal, although their wines were delicious.  Sandeman was founded in 1790 in London,  and was one of the first to label and advertise its wines. It has used the iconic black caped man as a trademark since the 1930s.  The vineyards are harvested in September each year for all the producers.

Calem was founded in 1859 by Antonio Alves Calem.  It is a major producer and has a wonderful tour of its history and cellar.  Calem has a delightful tasting room, and will offer most visitors three Ports, with one a vintage. 

Porto Cruz is another experience altogether.  Located at Largo Miguel Bombarda, 23,Villa Nova de Gaia (on the opposite side of the Douro River from Porto is Gaia).
Porto Cruz has a multimedia experience for the visitor, allowing one to determine from various questions asked, which Port Wine would be their favorite.  There is a wine shop, an exhibition of art, a restaurant and Terrace Lounge 360 on the roof, offering stunning views of Porto.  Porto Cruz offers Port Wine tastings, along with cheeses and chocolates.  They also offer Port Wine workshops with lunch.  The food in the restaurant is fantastic! And they also suggest using Port Wine in cocktails.  My favorite was Cruz Mandarina, Cruz Pink with Tangerine and Basil.  Yum!  They also pair Cruz White with Ginger, Rosemary and Tonic Water.  Very refreshing!


                                              A Port wine boat on the Douro river

There is a charm about the cafes on the River, an invitation to take a stroll and stop when the desire strikes. In addition to boat tours, and the tram, you can take bus tours and visit the Old Town area of Porto.  There is also the Guindais Funicular, a fun way to reach the top of the city for views. From a Rabelo boat, you can see the six bridges of the city.  You can visit the Sao Francisco Church, the Stock Exchange Palace, and for contrast, the Casa da Musica and the Museum of Modern Art of Serralves.  A new (four years old) cable car can also entice the visitor to see Porto from above, moving over the river,  looking down on boats and people walking.

A beautiful building is the Stock Exchange Palace, which started to be built in 1842.  It is a magnificent building, with a unique room, The Arabian Room, begun in 1862. It was designed by Goncalves de Sousa, following the model of the Alhambra Palace in Grenada.


                                  Traditional tile on the outside of homes in Porto

A visit to the Church of S. Francisco is worthwhile.  This is one of the most significant Baroque works in Portugal.  It has three naves, covered with gilt carving from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  There is a beautiful wall painting of Nossa Senhora da Rosa on the inside of the church.

The Soares dos Reis National Museum was the first art museum in Portugal.  It is in the Carrancas Palace and has a large collection of paintings from Romanticism, Naturalism,
and Symbolism movements, and it also has a room dedicated to the sculpture of Soares dos Reis.  A floor is dedicated to Portugese decorative arts, including jewelry, furniture, ceramics, and two exceptional Namban screens.

For a wonderful view of the Douro River, you can visit the Palacio de Cristal gardens, designed by the landscape architect Emile David in the nineteenth century.  These gardens have fountains, allegoric statues and many species of flora.  From the garden is a passageway to the Romantic Museum, which is a recreation of a bourgeois home from the nineteenth century.

The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is the most important artistic cultural institution in the north of Portugal.  It was inaugurated in 1999 and comprises 18 hectors, with a house, a contemporary art museum and a vast green area with trees, formal gardens, farm land, a rose garden and a lake.  The museum was designed by Alvaro Siza.  The house, designed by Marques da Silva, is ART DECO.  The gardens were designed by the French landscaper, Jacques Greber in 1932 and are considered one of Portugal’s most remarkable of its kind in the twentieth century.

Porto’s Historical Centre is Ribeira and is the oldest part of the city.  It was classified as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1996.  Traces of the medieval origins of the city can be found here. At the Praca da Ribeira, from where cruises depart, you can see where history and the present meet.

As you can tell, there are many things to see and enjoy in Porto.  You can explore on foot, by boat, by tramway, by bus, by mini-train, by funicular railway or the metro.  Any way you choose, you will be sure to relax as you take in the beauty of this wonderful city.

 Maria Reveley

Monday, July 21, 2014

Why is Prosecco so popular in America? Thank Mionetto for the Philip S. Kampe

                                                  Brut DOC--the 'classic Prosecco'

My wife’s family owns a restaurant, La Capannina, on the island of Capri. For the past twenty or so years, we have visited and stayed with our relatives, the DeAngelis family.

Upon arrival at the quaint harbor in Capri, Antonio and his wife Aurelia, would greet us with a glass of Prosecco in hand. They always exclaimed joyously, ‘Welcome to our island, the land of dreams’.

We toast and believe if there is a heaven, the Isle of Capri is where we want to be and La Capannina would be where we would want to eat our last meal.

Twenty years ago Prosecco was not a common word in a bar or restaurant in America. In fact, in 1997, less than 500 cases of Mionetto Prosecco, now America’s most popular brand, were sold in the states.

During the years since our initial visit to Capri in 1995, Prosecco has captured the hearts of Americans. Sales for Prosecco have averaged gains of 30-35% per year for the past five years.

Mionetto sales increased a whopping 62% in 2013.

I began to wonder why is Mionetto leading the category of Prosecco sales in the states? The answer is simple.

Mionetto has been educating the public about what Prosecco is and what it is not. For years, I have been going to Chelsea and Soho art districts in Manhattan for art gallery openings on Thursday evenings. I noticed at several openings that when I asked for a glass of Champagne, the pourer would respond, ‘This is not Champagne, it is Prosecco.
I will gladly pour a glass of Prosecco for you’.

And then the education began.

The conversation by the pourer of Mionetto was focused.  ‘What I am pouring  is Prosecco, an everyday, fresh wine, unlike Champagne, which is used for special occasions’.

We talked about the process of making Prosecco versus Champagne and why you drink Prosecco immediately and why it doesn’t age well. The Glera grape that Prosecco is made from is not an aging grape, unlike Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are used for aging in Champagne.

The mantra is: Prosecco is about ‘freshness and nothing more’.

                                          'Il' Prosecco with the bottle cap closure

So, my Prosecco journey began in the 90’s.
And America followed twenty years later.

During the years, I have purchased hundreds of bottles of Prosecco —some from $8 a bottle and a few from special plots for up to $20.
As of late, I have found that the most consistent and fresh Prosecco in the market is from Mionetto.
They bottle upon demand-who does that?

The company was founded by Francesco Mionetto in 1887. His grandson, Sergio Mionetto, was the first to introduce the Charmat technique to the area in the mid 1940’s. The bubbles are the result of the secondary fermentation that occurs in stainless steel tanks. The Prosecco sits in the tank until it is bottled.

Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, grown in the Veneto region of Italy.

Each producer has its signature style. My favorite producer is Mionetto, who bottles on request, as I mentioned earlier, resulting in the freshest Prosecco in the marketplace.

Below is a list of several Proseccos, all from Mionetto, that I recommend, which are in the under $20 range.

Brut DOC ($12.99) The signature Prosecco with the orange label. This is my ‘go to’ Prosecco for many reasons. Apple and pear are the dominate flavors. Low price, high quality. It can be used as an aperitif or for a cocktail. I use it for St. Germaine and mimosas.

‘Il’ Prosecco ($9.99) Somewhat sweet with highlights of apple and citrus, this cap closure bottle of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio is both delicate and soft on the palate. Yes, its not made from the Glera grape, but its freshness and acidity are exceptional, well worth the under $10 a bottle price tag.

Organic Prosecco DOC ($14.99) Certified 100% organic, with Glera grapes from Vazzola in the Treviso region, this Prosecco is dry, like a Brut, with hints of green apple, mango, papaya and guava. Aromatically, a hint of elderberries dominate this extraordinary Prosecco.

Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG ($17.99) The Glera grapes are grown in one of the premier Prosecco areas, Valdobbiadene, where the surrounding hills capture the essence of what Prosecco can be at its best. This Prosecco is elegant and creamy with hints of honey, vanilla and green apple.

                                           100% Certified Organic Prosecco
                                            Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG
                       Valdobbiadene Superior Di Cartizze DOCG

If you dare to move up the Prosecco scale to what is considered by many as the ‘Top Prosecco’, try Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Di Cartizze DOCG ($32). It is considered the ‘Grand Cru’ of Prosecco. It is all about creamy lightness and complexity.

Prosecco is an important segment in the wine and spirits category. Possibly it is due, in part, to what the Mionetto family has done through their marketing philosophy, which was straight forward. They have made the consumer aware that Prosecco is an everyday sparkler, unlike Champagne. Prosecco is all about freshness and unlike Champagne, does not age well.

What our society has turned into is a fast paced, show me what you have immediately society that loves products that are ready to consume. Waiting for a bottle of wine to age to twenty- somethings will take an eternity.

Open a bottle of Prosecco now and we will be happy, as a generation.

And that is what Mionetto has capitalized on. They see the future—TODAY.
Philip S. Kampe

Friday, July 18, 2014

What determines the COLOR of a Provence Rose? Adapted from Vins de Provence by Philip S. Kampe

Shades of Pink: What Determines the Color of a Provence Rosé?

Grape variety, climate, winemaking processes all play a role

New York, NY - The rosé boom that has taken hold across the United States has created a new thirst — not just for crisp, food-friendly pink wines, but also for a better understanding of how a dry rosé wine acquires its color and character. In Provence, the birthplace of rosé wine and the world’s fine rosé leader, winemakers take the color of their pink wines very seriously.
Researchers at the Center for Research and Experimentation on Rosé Wine in Vidauban, Provence, have been studying the question of color since 1999, when the center — the world’s only research institute dedicated to pink wine — was founded. Director Gilles Masson and his team have identified four factors that determine what shade of pink a Provence rosé will exhibit — whether it’s lighter or darker, whether it tends toward a purplish hue or leans more toward coral. The first two factors are the grape variety and the climate.  
  • Grape variety. All Provence rosés are made mainly from red grapes, such as Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some varieties naturally contain more pigment in their skins than others, and this greatly affects the amount of color that’s released into the clear juice. Grenache grapes, which are the most prevalent in Provence rosés, are lightly pigmented, resulting in paler pink wines. Rosés with a significant percentage of Syrah grapes in the blend will often have a slightly deeper tint because of Syrah’s more intense pigmentation.
  • Climatic conditions. As a region with varied terrains, Provence sees clear differences in temperature, sun, and soil from place to place. For example, vines growing in view of the Mediterranean Sea experience different conditions than vines planted farther north, in the foothills of the Alps. For five years in a row (1999–2003), the rosé research center made 14 batches of rosé wines from grapes grown in 14 locations throughout Provence. Each batch was made using exactly the same grape varieties and vinification methods — yet the color variations among the samples are striking. And along with differences in the shade of pink came variations in acidity, aroma, and flavor. “We have demonstrated that, like great white and red wines, rosé wines are also ‘wines of terroir,’” said Masson of the research center.
The other two factors influencing the color of Provence rosés have to do with the winemaking process: temperature control throughout vinification and the length of time the skins are in contact with the juice.
  • Temperature control during winemaking. The freshness found in a chilled glass of Provence rosé points to one of the skills of the local winemaking trade: the mastery of cold temperatures to minimize oxidation and coloration. “Controlling the temperature is essential to the production of the pale, aromatic, round rosé wines that are typical of Provence,” Masson said. Provence winemakers were the first to invest in cooling technologies, which are now standard across the region. But temperature control in Provence begins at harvest (conducted at night, when the grapes are their coolest) and includes the use of refrigerated presses, thermo-regulated fermentation tanks, and cold aging facilities — all to preserve the freshness and color of the wine.
  • Skin contact time. The final factor in the paleness of a pink wine is determined by length of time the dark grape skins are in contact with the clear juices. The shorter the time, the paler the wine — which is why Provence’s palest rosés are those made via the direct pressure method: the grapes are pressed right after being picked in order to minimize skin contact and maximize purity and aromas. More deeply shaded rosés are those whose grapes were crushed and then allowed to soak (or macerate), skins and juice together, for a precisely determined amount of time (2 to 20 hours) and at a specific temperature, before the pink juice was released into the fermentation tank.
As the gold standard for rosé wine, Provence remains committed to investing in the art and science of rosé winemaking, including color analysis, for the benefit of all who enjoy their beauty, freshness, and balance.
**I believe this is a great article that points to the 'Wines of the Terroir' and discusses the pigmentation of the roses from Provence. My belief is that it is useful for the consumer and especially the retailer to understand the 'why' is rose that color discussion.

**Philip S. Kampe
Wine Media Guild  member


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Six, Affordable Summer Red Wines from New Zealand, France and Spain by Philip S. Kampe

Six Summer Red Wines by Philip S. Kampe

People who know that I am a wine writer, ask me on numerous occasions, “Is it OK to drink red wine in the summer?” Without hesitation, I always answer with a definite ‘Yes’.  I often add that I chill my reds for about fifteen minutes before opening the bottle. 

I, also suggest that they should use a  trick that I have learned about red wine. Chill a bottle for half an hour before going out, and then put your bottle in a wine bag to keep the bottle somewhat cold. Certain red varietals thrive when cooled.

My summer in the Berkshires of Massachusetts is made up primarily of outdoor events, specifically Tanglewood (music), the Mount (Edith Wharton’s garden party), Jacob’s Pillow (dance), the Clark Museum (outdoor concerts) and family or friends BBQ’s.

Due to necessity, I have become knowledgeable about what red wines to bring to outdoor events. I look for wines that endure unforeseen weather conditions, wines that pair well with most types of food and wines that are not overly heavy, but are enjoyable on the palate. My goal is to find wines that are not about power, but, about harmony and balance.

If you can think beyond whites and roses for the summer, there are a number of reds, all fairly priced wines that can make your summer memorable.  

Pinot Noir is my favorite red grape for the summer. Historically, Pinot Noir is one of those grapes that is hard to grow. It needs the right soil and the right care to thrive. Maybe it is loved by so many because it is so difficult to grow. The grape hails from Burgundy and is one of the three major grapes used for Champagne production.

Now, world-class, new world Pinot Noir comes from Oregon, California and New Zealand. The ones I have chosen for my summer red wines are full of structure, are delicate and subtle which makes them perfect for pairing

Below is a list of six of my favorite summer red wines.

Dashwood Pinot Noir 2013 (New Zealand)
Price: $15.99
Aged: Stainless steel
Alcohol: 13.5%
Tasting notes: A very well balanced, acidic wine with subtle tannic notes that are highlighted with soft fruits, specifically blackcurrants, red plums, dark cherriesand blackberries, followed by a bit of white pepper.

Goldwater Pinot Noir 2012 (New Zealand)
Price: $23.99
Aged: Stainless steel
Alcohol: 13%
Tasting notes: Balanced and very approachable, this Pinot Noir, made by one of the oldest Pinot Noir producers in the Wairau Valley, is marked by hints of strawberries, cedar, mocha and nutmeg. The lingering finish of this sustainable wine distinguishes its versatility.

Saget La Petite Perriere Pinot Noir 2013 (France)
Price: $12.99
Aged: Stainless steel
Alcohol: 12.5%
Tasting notes: This is a true, go-to summer wine that thrives on being chilled.  Light strawberry notes on the palate mix with cherry spice notes, followed by a creamy raspberry flavor. The wine is delicate, food friendly and subtle at the same time.

Saget Marie De Beauregard Chinon 2012 (France)
Price: $17.99
Aged: Six to nine months in 2nd/3rd use oak barrels
Alcohol: 13%
Tasting notes: Silky tannins, intense fruit flavors of raspberries and blueberries mixed with spice and vanilla make this 100% Cabernet Franc wine a special red summer wine that should be drunk year round.

Bodegas Caro Aruma Malbec 2012 (Argentina)
Price: $12.99
Aged: Eight months in 50% oak barrels
Alcohol: 14%
Tasting Notes: A very fruit forward wine that suggests the concentrated fruit of high altitude Malbec—plums, raspberries, strawberries and violet. Add subtle hints of chocolate and vanilla to this depth of flavors.

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Argentina)
Price: $17.99
Aged: French oak barrels
Alcohol: 15%
Tasting notes: Old world meets new world with this robust, spicy, earthy, cherry laden blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. A lingering finish highlighted by raspberries, spice and earthiness make this wine stand out of the pack. This is my obvious wine pick for an outdoor summer BBQ.

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are you a T.H.? Well, Chilean winemaker Rafael Urrejola is. He is the 'World's Best Terroir Hunter (T.H.)" by Philip S. Kampe

                   Winemaker and "World's Best Terroir Hunter", Rafael Urrejola

 When you enter Le Cirque restaurant on 58th street in Manhattan, you automatically realize that you have entered a world known to few people in the world. Maybe the restaurant is a homage to Sirio Maccioni, its founder, or maybe it is a place where his sons have visions of their own.

Whatever the answer is, it really doesn’t matter.
The point of Le Cirque is clear—have a meal with us, show off your wines if you are in the business and we will do the rest. And last week, that happened.

I was fortunate enough to share a meal with Undurraga’s  celebrity winemaker,  Rafael Urrejola, who is responsible for the T.H. portfolio.

T.H. stands for” Terroir Hunter”. Rafael and his team search for small plots of land.The plots can be  no larger than 13 acres. He searches Chile’s diverse topography, for micro-terroirs with micro-climates, where he can manage the chosen area, in such a way that he can obtain the highest quality wines that the soils can offer. "Wines with strong character and terroir driven wines are the ultimate goal" says winemaker Rafael Urrejola..

Rafael was recently named one of the ‘Top Thirty’ young winemakers in the world.

As I mentioned earlier, our focus was wine, specifically the wines from T. H. (Terroir Hunter), Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Carignan.

Gifted winemaker, Rafael brought six wines for our meal, three different versions of  Sauvignon Blanc , two  of Syrah and one Carignan. . The goal was simple, using the same grape in three different locations, does it yield three completely different results.

Our goal was to find out.

Rafael explained that his hands-on approach and attention to detail drives him to look for the best micro-lots located in specifically selected vineyards. Mr. Urrejola focuses his winemaking attention in locating various plots to find the perfect grape that helps create his special wines.

His goal is to create fresh, intense flavors and aromas through the correct selection of varieties, their development through the season coupled with respect for the environment and climate. Harvesting the grapes at their peak is essential and a priority in Rafael’s mission.

Rafael explained that when you taste the six wines, you will see the spirit of the range of wines he can produce. The idea is to show how diverse the wines of Chile are.

Rafael said, “The different climates and different soils communicate to the world that the new winemakers from Chile can produce world-class wines. In the past we only made everyday wines. Undurraga has helped change that myth, by using winemakers, like myself, to be responsible for certain ranges. We invested in new vats, doubled our property and focused our winemaking in special locations that we knew would excel”.

With vines in hand from France and Germany, Don Francisco Undurraga founded the vineyard in 1885. After years of making everyday wine, the vineyard was sold in 2006 to the Picciotto Family, who have focused on improving the wines

The wines I sampled are true testament that the wines from Chile, specifically Undurraga, can compete in international judging. Apparently, the Picciotto Family and winemaker Rafael Urrejola know what they are doing.

The three Sauvignon Blancs (under $20) come from three distinctly different areas. The Leyda 2012 grapes grow within nine miles of the Pacific Ocean. Cooled by the South Pacific breezes and a layer of fog that is normally visible until midday, the grapes ripen slowly, while developing an intense, fresh flavor and aroma. The Casablanca 2012 grapes grow in the northern Casablanca Valley, east of the coastal mountain range. The area is known for warm days and cool nights, thus creating wines that are intense in flavor. The third Sauvignon Blanc, Lo Abarca 2012, comes from a small village in the San Antonio appellation, just two miles from the coast. The vineyard is surrounded by steep granite hills, which winemaker Rafael Urrejola contends is why this wine is unique. The fog, the ocean influence and the granite contribute equally to the development of the grapes.

The real test is to sample the three Sauvignon Blancs and analyze the results. I found that the same grape grown in three different areas producing three entirely different wines.

The two Syrahs (under $20) were interesting, as well. One came from Leyda (Leyda 2011), as we discussed earlier and the second from Maipo, the Maipo 2011. The Maipo Valley is well known for its perfect climate for red wines. Add alluvial soil with gravel to the scenario of high temperatures in January and February followed by cooler temperatures in March and April and you have perfect conditions for the Syrah to mature correctly.

The lone Carignan  (under $25), Maule 2011, is from the Maule D.O., located two hundred miles south of Santiago. It is the largest of Chile’s wine growing regions with over 75,000 planted acres of vines. Warm to hot days with cool nights create the character of wines from this region.

Even though Chile did not win the World Cup, these wines did.  Isn’t it time to take the Terroir Hunter challenge?

Author: Philip S. Kampe
Twitter: @gotophil

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

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