Thursday, December 31, 2015
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Monday, December 28, 2015
When a vineyard combines centuries of tradition with innovative technology, they have made a statement worth acknowledging.
Vigne Surrau, a relatively new venture in Sardinia, is one of those rare breeds of producers that claims the past while living in the present. Yes, there is innovation, experimentation and state-of-the-art-technology. The history lies in the choice of grapes used for production, Vermentino, Carignano, Muristellu and Cannonau. Those grapes, historically, are age specific to the region.
Vigne Surrau is located near the sea, a few kilometers from Costa Smeralda, in the region of Gallura, an area that is not tourist infested, like much of Sardinia. Crushed granite stone dominates the vineyards soils and help influence the unique expression of the wines.
Export manager, Giovanni Melis, hosted a small tasting, recently, and explained that the wines that we will taste represent several interpretations of the Vermentino and Cannonau grape. The first wine we sampled was a white 2014 Branu Vermentino di Gallura DOCG ($25). Minerality and acidity combined for a very bright, medium-bodied wine destined for seafood. The wine was fresh, crisp, creamy and pleasingly aromatic. Giovanni said that this wine was a lot like Prosecco, which means, drink it young, usually no more than two years after bottling. I found a fair amount of citrus and herbs in the wine, which help make it a true winner.
The next wine we tried was a Vermentino, as well, but, one that prospers with age. The 2014 Sciala Vermentino di Gallura DOCG was extremely aromatic. Peach, honey and lemon were predominant, while a fair amount of minerality and acidity filled my palate. This wine was aged for six months in medium-toasted oak barrels. It was obvious that the complexity and balance were emerging glass by glass. By my third pouring, the wine was bursting out of the glass.
The Vermentino was followed by a 2013 Sincaru Cannonau di Sardinia DOCG. Stored in cement, this wine was velvety, well balanced and complex on the palate. As with the Vermentino’s, all of these wines are food wines.
Mr. Melis explained that the wines have been well received throughout the world. Needless to say, the wines excite the palate with old world grapes brought to new world heights with innovative technology.
If you can’t visit Vigne Surrau to sample the wines, I’m sure they are waiting for you at your favorite wine merchant, nationwide.
Philip S. Kampe
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Even though we just returned from a fabulous vacation in the Azores, where fish is the king, my heart beckons for our twice yearly holiday fix at the historic Grand Central Oyster Bar. Executive Chef Sandy Imgber always tantalizes us with his spot on dishes, which pair nicely with his extensive wine list.
This year was no different, we were seated at 11:30am, opening time for The Feast of Seven Fishes. We always try to be the first seated for this yearly feast. Knowing what we plan to order, it was obvious to make a good wine selection-or maybe two, before ordering the food.
We started with a 2011 Auvigue 'Solutre' Pouilly Fusse from Burgundy ($68). The minerality in this Chardonnay is perfect for seafood, as it is always one of my favorite pairings.
Now, comes the hard part.
What to order for the feast?
The menu for Christmas Eve was enticing. Pasta e Fagiole with Shrimp and Basil Oil ($7.25); Italian Seafood Salad with Pulpo, Scungelli, Calamari & Shrimp ($28.95); Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Puttnesca Sauce over Spaghettini ($29.95); Maine Lobster Thermidor over Rice Pilaf ($31.95) and Salt Cod Potato Crusted and Grilled Norwegian Salmon Filet with Spicy Amalet Tomato Sauce and Milanese Rice ($29.95).
Besides Sea Urchin (Rizzi) Gelato ($6.75) for dessert, the list looked intimidating: Espresso Sambuca Creme Brulee; Almond Chestnut-Praline Chocolate Buche de Noel; Panettone and Caramelized Apple Charlotte with Crystalized Ginger Creme Anglaise and Florida Key Lime Pie, just to mention a few.
As you can well see, the choices were varied, but, without hesitation, my wife, Maria, ordered a cup of Pasta Fagiole with Rock Shrimp and the Maine Lobster Thermidor. That made my choice easy: Italian Seafood Salad with Pulpo, Scungelli, Calamari & Shrimp plus an order of Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Puttanesca Sauce over Spaghettini. (I asked for that dish to be hotly spiced).
We devoured the dishes, finished the bottle of white Burgundy and ordered a glass each of 2013 Otto's Constant Dream Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($10) and 2012 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio ($14).
Maria had a Hot Fudge Sundae for dessert, while I had a slice of New York Cheesecake. Add a glass of Barbadillo Amontillado 'Principe' to the meal and you have a perfect 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' celebration.
The Grand Central Oyster Bar last seating is at 10pm tonight. I think its the absolute best place to eat for Christmas Eve. Check out their menu at www.oysterbarny.com or call for reservations at 212-490-6650.
As an added incentive, GCOB, hosts an amazing New Year's Eve a la carte menu that features Surf & Turf, Maine Lobster Newburg and Alaskan Red King Crabmeat over Spinach Salad.
Pastry Chef Januz Noka has a few sweet surprises for the evening, including Jack Daniels Gelato with Spiced Nuts.
Philip S. Kampe
All vineyards have history.
Catina Santa Maria La Palma is no different.
The land near the cove between the Gulf of Alghero and the Bay of Porto Conte is endless. It kisses the sea daily, as the sun shines on the cooperative and its 1750 acres. Over one hundred winemakers joined forces in 1959 to create Santa Maria La Palma Winery. Today, the winery is bustling with new technology paired with traditional winemaking. The past, the present and the future thrive at this vineyard in Sardinia.
There are numerous wines produced at the Catina, but, two that stood out and are widely distributed in the U.S, are an amazing Vermentino and a Cannonau. Both wines are imported and distributed by AJO Imports and M.S.Walker.
Growing up in New Orleans and seeing a bright shrimp on the label of a wine bottle meant one thing to me.
So, $13 later, I owned a bottle of 2014 ARAGOSTA Vermentino di Sardegna. Now, it was time to purchase shrimp and see if the wine label stands up to its food destiny. That task was easy, as a fishmonger has a small shop is in my neighborhood. In fact, the shop carries shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, only miles from where I grew up.
I normally saute the shrimp in garlic, butter and a drop of wine, Aragosta, in this case.
The process is quick and within minutes, it was time to pair the wine with the shrimp. As I sampled the wine first, a nearly citric flavor of a clementine exploded in my mouth, followed by an asian pear infusion. Minerality, freshness and balance found its way to the shrimp, making the pairing as close as can be to a 'match made in heaven'.
I am a true lover of the Grernache grape, a grape similar to Cannonau. It is one of the red grapes that often is drunk young. Cantina Santa Maria La Palma makes a popular, inexpensive Cannonau ($9) that is appealing on the palate, has few tannins and low acidity.
It screams for food, just like a Chianti screams for pizza.
The raspberry, pepper aroma transfers to the palate, a feat that is hard to accomplish. The medium body makes this wine a candidate for pasta with red sauce, dark poultry, pork chops and aged cheeses.
In fact, Le Bombardi Cannanau may just be the new pizza wine for me.
Are you ready to try it?
Philip S. Kampe
Friday, December 18, 2015
Fellow #winelover and dear friends of TheWineBlog, @Arto_Koskelo needs our help!
Why? He was shortlisted for "Food Culture Ambassador of Helsinki" and he needs a favor from you, his fellow #winelover and friends: All you need to do is to like the picture in the link below to help him win the trophy...
Let's make it happen? smile emoticon Thank YOU and Cheers!!
Brought to you by: #winelover against cancer
You still can get your t-shirt here:
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Ben Ryé, a wonderful Passito di Pantelleria from Donnafugata.
Donnafugata was founded in Sicily by an enterprising family with 160 years’ experience in premium wines. Giacomo Rallo and wife Gabriella, daughter José and son Antonio are engaged in an entrepreneurial project with a focus on attention to detail and synchronizing people and nature to make wines that correspond increasingly more to the potential of this area.
"Complex and ample sweet wine with an outstanding freshness. On the nose intense notes of apricot and peach follewed by sweet sensations of dried figs and honey, aromatic herbs and mineral notes."
Learn more about Ben Ryé here:
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Monday, December 14, 2015
Saturday, December 12, 2015
This book and 6 more with links to:
- Some great quotes
- How to buy the books themselves:
Friday, December 11, 2015
This is the historical audience of this blog by country.
Which county is the biggest surprise to you?
I'm undecided between Norway being #5 and Ukraine being #10...
And also very intrigued...
Why would Ukraine even make the list?
Why Norway is so high on the list?
Why Italy is not higher on the list?
What happened to the readers of some "wine countries" like Spain and Portugal?
What about Brazil not making the list?
If I had to guess it, I would probably only get right the USA being at the top...
Thursday, December 10, 2015
A €2,500.00 #winelover t-shirt: A short video about the amazing generosity of Sicilian wine producers.
Magda B. Mazerolles (Sicilia DOC) - Antonio Rallo (Donnafugata - President of the Consorzio Sicilia DOC) - Luiz Alberto (Founder of the #winelover community)
How Antonio Rallo (owner of the Donnafugata Winery in Marsala and the President of the Consorzio Sicilia DOC) ended up with a €2,500.00 #winelover t-shirt: A short video about the amazing generosity of Sicilian wine producers.
Here is the link: