Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tejo, home of Amazing, Affordable Portuguese Wines by Philip S. Kampe


Tejo is Portugal's second largest wine producing region and dates back to the 13th century. Tejo is in the middle of Portugal and is the heart of its wine-making country.

Tejo is the only land-locked region in Portugal,but, due to the Tejo river the region is one of the most fertile in Portugal. Historically,  large producers dominated, but recently, modernization and state of the art wine-making facilities have transformed the region to world-class standards. Vines have been replanted and experimentation  of new grape varieties exists.

Tejo is named after the' Rio Tejo', the river that divides the region between the north and south. The Tejo river flows into the Atlantic ocean after it passes near to and through the Teo towns of Santarem, Almeirim and Chamusca.

Tejo, with its temperate southern Mediterranean climate has 50,000 acres of vineyards, 2800 hours of sunlight a year, less than 30 inches of rainfall a year and temperatures than average 60°F.

Tejo has six major wine producing subregions: Tomar, Santarem,  Chamusca, Cartaxo, Almeirin and Coruche.

Tejo is divided into three distinct zones:
1) Brirro: north of he Tejo River, hilly, limestone, schist and clay.
2) Charneca: south of the Tejo River, infertile, sandy soils, warm and dry.
3)  Leziria: runs along the Tejo River, alluvial, fertile soils.

The vines have been bush trained and can be up to 100 years old. Over 20 million bottles are produced a year. Vinification takes place in either stainless steel or oak barrels. Reserva wines can be classified DOC, while Gawrrafeira wines have distinctive vintage characteristics and are classified as DOC or VR. To achieve such a rating, white (42% of production) and rose (6%) wines must age a minimum of six months in the bottle. Red wines (52%) must age a minimum of twelve months in the cask and twelve months in the bottle.
The wines from Tejo stand out in both quality and price. Wines from Portugal have recently made a big splash into the U.S. market. In fact, Portugal has over 250 grape varieties at last count. The diverse soils and multitude of micro-climates produce award winning wines that consistently exceed expectations of winemakers, consumers and critics alike.

The wines of Tejo have exceeded my expecations and are worth sampling. Producers that are worth sampling are: Quinta da Alorna: Casa Cadaval; Casul Branco; Fiuza and Bright and Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima.

If quality and price are what you base your wine purchases on, then the Wines from Tejo should be your next discovery. Most bottles retail for under $20.

Many of the wines are made with indigenous grapes. The favorite grapes of winemakers in Tejo include: Alicante Branco, Arinto, Castelao, Fernao Pires, Trincadeira, Verdelho, Alvarinho, Touriga Nacional and Aragones.

For more information on the Wines from Tejo, contact:

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, August 21, 2015

'Did you say cheese' at the Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic 2015 by Philip S. Kampe

Well, Tanglwood did it again.

Music has been Tanglewoods mantra for years, but, once a year, the staff under the guidance.of Debbi Otto, prepared themselves for a deluge of food and wine lovers.

Music, of course, ties into the weekend interest, but, from noon to three in the afternoon, the Hawthorne Tent at Tanglewood is at full capacity with a thousand joyous visitors who partake in the remarkable wine and food festival.

This year was no exception.

Attendees lines up more than half an hour in advance to secure tastes from the numerous vendors who wait for the consumers to sample their wares. This year was no different.

With a green wrist band in place and noon as the starting point, both the vendors and consumers knew that the next three hours would change their lives, even though just temporarily.

The Hawthorne Tent was like a circus tent...acts in every ring. Food vendors, wine vendors and the stages that were home to the demonstration chefs.

One of my backgrounds is cheese. I was a cheese writer for Trrance Brennan, owner of Artisanal Cheese and Picholine restaurant in Manhattan. Max McCalman, the 'Top Cheese Educator in America' was one of the stars of the day under the Hawthorne Tent. He was cutting cheese for the consumers, while educating them about the assets of each cheese they sampled.

Max was backed up. The line grew in numbers, mainly due to his fame. People recognized Max. Mr. McCalman asked for my help, which I gladly consented to. I grabbed a cheese knife, a pair of latex gloves and began my task. It was like deja vu ,once again. As I was giving samples, I explaind the historically background of the cheese, what it pairs with and where it came from. After nearly five hundred slices of cheese, I was released from my honorary position.

It was time to survey the rest of the tent, but, I was already far gone in 'cheese heaven'.


Philip S. Kampe

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blantyre's (Lenox, Massachusetts) 12,000 bottle Wine List Dazzles the Experts by Philip S. Kampe

Here it is, a portion of one of the most amazing wine lists in America. Blantyre, a Relais & Chateaux property, built during the 'Gilded Age' has maintained distinction in both its hotel and dining arenas.

Recently, I spent an afternoon with Wine Director, Christelle Cotar, and viewed Blantyre's wine cellars in the basement of the main building. There are three separate wine cellars, each housing close to 4,000 bottles, making a grand total of 12,000 bottles.

Bottles retail from $50 to $20,000.
Below is a snapshot view of the wine list, as of August, 2015.


Philip S. Kampe

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...