Monday, May 30, 2016

'Adopt A Grapevine' at Devinssi Winery in D.O. Priorat by Philip S. Kampe

                             Winemaker and Founder of Devinssi Winery, Josep Roca

There is a wine making genius, Josep Roca, the founder of Devinssi, a small, but hugely, important vineyard, which is located on the beautiful Les Planes estate, in Gratallops, the center of Priorat in Spain’s Catalonia region.

Mr.Roca is well known and respected throughout Spain and the world, as he has been an instrumental figure  in the wine trade for the past twenty-five years.

Josep has an MS in both Viticulture and Oenology.

In 2001, the first vineyards of the Devinssi Winery were planted,

Grenache and Carignan made-up the first harvest.

Business opportunities for growth arose in 2005. A second estate was acquired  by Devinssi. The acquired vineyard was rich with old vine Carignan grapes.

Seeking small acquisitions in the Gratallops area has been a long term goal of Josep Roca.

In fact, to create a link between his customers and the winery, Joseph and his vineyard are part of the ‘Adopt A Grapevine’ concept. The program is a direct link that joins wine lovers with their favorite vineyards, such as Devinssi.  

Essentially, the ‘Adopt A Grapevine’ theory is to familiarize the consumer with the region and vintner by offering grapevines for adoption. The Devinssi Winery program is a smart way for the consumer to adopt specific vines, visit the winery and stroke the vines, while saving on the DOC Priorat purchases.

In fact, the consumer can get customized labels on the bottles that represent the vines that were adopted. It’s a way of making a contribution to the cultivation of the vines, while receiving a discounted price for the purchase of the custom labeled wine.

If you join the ‘Adopt A Grapevine’ program you will receive an adoption certificate, and adopter ID and the right to purchase wine.

The vineyards are located in the village of Gratallops.

There are three different adoption programs, all of which can be found on their website:

The ‘Adopt A Grapevine’ program is a smart way to do something unconventional. The program allows you the chance to see your vines grow, take part in winery chores and to get to know the local winemaking community, specifically Devinssi.

The wines that Josep Roca makes are Penin rated, small production and highly sought after by collectors.

My visit to the headquarters was a day to remember. Josep Roca is a soft spoken professional that invited me into his house to sample many of the wines he produces.


                                                 2013 Mas de les Valls Red

                                                             2012 Rocapoll

These are my findings:

2012 Rocapoll (D.O. Priorat)
Production: 300 bottles
Alcohol: 14%
2016 Penin Guide: 92 ponts
The Carignan grape shines with expression throughout as this spicy, mineral-laden, velvety wine gains character from its own yeast aged in Allier oak casks. The intensity and balance of this wine will only grow as it ages.

2013 Mas de les Valls Blanc (D.O. Priorat)
Production: 800 bottles
Alcohol: 13.5%
2016 Penin Guid: 89 points
This pale gold, white wine, made from the Pedro Ximenez and white Grenache grapes explodes with intensity of smoky acidity in the palate, while a lingering herbal composite of flavors engulfs your mid-palate. Aged three months in 225 liter French oak casks, then in the bottle, this unique white wine is one of my all time favorites.

2013 Mas de les Valls Red (D.O. Priorat)
Production: 6,000 bottles
Alcohol: 14%
2016 Penin Guide:89 points
Aged eight months in French and American oak casks, this fragrant Garnacha, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon mix emphasizes a fruity cherry jam flavor with undertones of vanilla beans and sweet, dried, intense sugary figs.

2013 Il.lia (D.O. Priorat)
Production: 4,000 bottles
Alcohol: 14%
2016 Penin Guide: 91 points
This special wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. Made entirely from a mixture of Red Garnacha, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this aromatic, highly-structured wine evokes the brilliance of the winemaker, Josep Roca.

The wines of Devinssi Winery are all specially handcrafted and made to be appreciated by all wine lovers who are looking for that special wine.

I am so taken by the wines that I am ready to ‘Adopt A Grapevine”

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hudson-Berkshire Wine & Food Festival (May 28th & May 29th) by Philip S. Kampe

This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be sunny and unusually warm, upper 80’s. To me, that means summer. And what is summer about in the Hudson-Berkshire region? Festivals, farmer markets  and country fairs.

Well, the first Festival of the season is this weekend, Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May29th.  It is time for the 4th Annual Hudson-Berkshire Wine and Food Festival, Activities take place at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Route 66 in Chatham, New York.

Hours are 11-6pm on Saturday and 11-5pm on Sunday.

Purchase tickets with a savings in advance at .

Or buy tickets on the day of the event for $25, which includes one day of admission, a tasting glass and all ‘all the wine you care to drink’. 
Children under 12 are free.
Non-tasting admission is $10 and includes a souvenir glass on exiting the festival.

The line-up for local wineries and distilleries includes:
Tousey Winery
Les Trois Emme
Hillrock Estate Distillery
Clermont Vineyards & Winery
Hudson Valley Distillers
Hudson-Chatham Winery
Harvest Spirits
Furnace Brook Winery
Berkshire Mountain Distillers
Brookview Station Winery

A partial list of other participants include:
Whitecliff Winery
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
Sun Dog Cider
Pazdar Winery
Montezuma Winery
Hummingbird Hills Winery
Adirondack Winery
Cascade Mountain.Winery
Cereghino Smith Winery
Gravity Ciders
Yankee Distillers
The Olive Table
Smokin Oak
Ioka Valley Farm
Grandpa Pete’s Gourmet Sauces
Goats and Gourmets
Highland Farms

The Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail extends from southeast of Albany to Hudson, NY The trail features handcrafted, award-winning wines, beers and spirits.

I love this festival and eagerly await Memorial Day weekend each year. I cherish the idea that all of the wine, food and spirits are local products from both New York and Massachusetts. The opportunity to visit the producer of your favorite product, whether wine, spirits or food, is a reality. Use the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail map as a guide for your tasting adventure.


Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 23, 2016

Jordi Domenech: Priorat's Busiest Winemaker by Philip S. Kampe

                                                           Jordi Domenech
                                                          Steep vineyards
                                                       Celler Jordi Domenech

Winemaker Jordi Domenech is bigger then life.

Literally, by day Jordi works for Miro, a high-end vermouth producer and by night and weekends he helps his wife run their Bar Restaurant, he babysits their young son and somehow finds time to work on the vineyard, preparing for the harvest and the wine making that follows.

The day that I spent with Jordi, I met his son, ate dinner at the family restaurant, met his wife, walked Finca Les Comes, his vineyard, went to his wine cellar, sampled his wines and had a glass of Miro vermouth at the end of a tapas dinner at his families restaurant.

Jordi Domenech is charismatic, positive, passionate and a true family man. His goals and aspirations are large and achievable. He is an impressive winemaker. Jordi, an oenoligist, gained his wine experience at various wine companies..

His fascination, as he says, is with the Priorat region.

In 2006 Finca Les Comes was created. His plots are located within the historic Priorat township of Poboleda. Historically, in Poboleda, vines have been cultivated from the 12th century until phylloxera killed the vines in the 1800's.

Jordi stressed that the vines he cultivates on his thirty acres, range in age from 5 to 35 years old. He has only cultivated  a small portion of his acreage and has many acres to grow his vineyard for the future.

All tasks are performed manually. The land is steep and hard to maneuver. Slate dominates the terrain, known as llicorella, the typical soil of Priorat.

Rainfall does not exist in the summer, where daytime to nighttime temperatures fluctuate thirty degrees Fahrenheit. With less water and nutrients, the grapes excel in the concentration of sugars, which enhances structure, from the low-yielding vines.

Finca Les Comes focuses on red wines. The two that we sampled, Petit Clos Penat and Clos Penat, were made-up of Garnacha and Syrah. The DOC Priorat wines are aged in French oak barrels from eight (Petit Clos Penat) to fourteen months (Clos Penat).

As a young winemaker, Jordi's talents exceed his age. The two red wines we sampled at his restaurant were made by a veteran winemaker, one that knows intimately, the grapes he work with.

Mr. Domenech is that  type of winemaker.


                        The French oak barrels in the Celler of Jordi Domenech

                                                      Petit Vlos Penat 2012
                                                           Clos Penat 2010
                                                    The entrance to the Celler
                                                      Jordi at the family restaurant
The Wines:
Clos Penat 2010
80% Garnacha  20% Syrah
Aged 14 months in French oak barrels
Alcohol 14.5%
Production: 2,500 bottles
An intense, concentrated, dark fruit forward wine that rolls its velvety texture off your tongue and coats your palate with a long, strawberry finish. There is a freshness and ripeness to the wine that is drenched with soft tannins and ample acidity. Cherry red in color, the aromatics suggest red raspberry, dark chocolate with an orange spice background.  Clos Penat is ready to drink, if decanted, but, would intensify in flavor if left to age 3-5 years.

Petit Clos Penat 2012
80% Garnacha   20% Syrah
Aged 8 months in French oak barrels
Alcohol  14.5%
Production: 10,000 bottles
A medium-bodied, brilliant cherry color wine that hypnotizes you with its fruity aromas of kiwi, red plum, red raspberry and banana, followed by a faint spicy milk chocolate fragrance. The palate comes alive with a lively mixture of red and black berries that sail motionless in the mineral laden, flavorful, persistent wine.

When asked about his wines at the dinner table, Jordi Domenesch stated that the Petit Clos Penat 2012 was created to be an easy, drinking wine that, in our lingo, could be considered a 'go-to' wine. He went on to elaborate that the wine can pair favorably with many foods, which he proved with the tapas dinner that was served to us. Courses ranged from potatoes with squid to meatballs in tomato sauce.

On the other hand, the Clos Penat 2010, according to Jordi was' a more classic style, with more complexity and more volume with a deep flavor. Although the same blend exists for the two different wines, when people see both labels, they think it is the same wine, just in two different bottles. The flavor is so different after they taste the two, they realize how much of a mistake they have made'.

Celler Jordi Domenech is a winery that is in the incubation stage, small and manageable, with growth in its future. His name is one to remember. He is bigger then life.

To learn more about the wines of Celler Jordi Domenech, visit

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 16, 2016

'A Day in Barcelona' or 'Putting 22,500 Steps to Good Use' by Philip S. Kampe

                                                       Nuria, Diane and Manos


                                                          Coffee near the Basilica

I have spent much time in Barcelona during the past several years. It is my wife’s favorite walking city. We have come on vacation and I have come on assignment.

This little tale of ‘A Day in Barcelona’ encompasses day one, the day three journalists, Diane, Manos and myself arrive at the Barcelona airport at 7am on a Sunday.

Our assignment begins on Monday.

We were met at the airport by our friend and trip coordinator, Nuria Ruiz, a wonderful and charming woman who organizes and facilitates journalist’s visits to the vineyards and restaurants of Catalonia.

It was early and as we drove into the center of Barcelona, we noticed that the streets were empty. Today was going to be a free day and one that was in the hands of Nuria. We were her sheep, following whatever she thought best for us.


                                                     Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
We were dropped off near the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s architectural masterpiece, a basilica dedicated to God and the expression of light. It was a bit too early to enter, so we found a lovely, local outdoor café and had coffee to attempt to wake us up from jet lag. We managed to talk long enough for us to hear the mass bells ringing in the background. That was our cue to visit the church, observe mass and apply for press passes to view the Basilica.

Our day had begun. We managed to spend four hours inside this magical architectural wonder.

Afterwards, we wandered through the streets of Barcelona, clocking, 22,500 steps, according to my reliable IPhone.

During the course of our walk, Nuria telephoned two friends to meet us for lunch, one was the legendary Ramon Raventos, a restaurant aficionado and founder of and Merche Dalman Cartes, owner of the well known vineyard, Clos Galena ( ).

The plan was to meet us for lunch at the BOCA Grande restaurant, , located in an ally, just off the Passeig de Grande, which is one of the main shopping streets in Barcelona.

We followed the plan, met inside of this overwhelming restaurant and that is where our introduction to the classical food of Catalonia began. We ate family style, drank bottles of cava and wine with our hosts and had a grand time. Service was  impeccable, the dishes were memorable and sophisticated.

BOCA Grande lived up to its reputation and relishes the ‘savoir faire’ style of service in an age where good service, high standards and quality cooking are a key to success. Add the visual uniqueness, designed by Lazaro Rosa Violan, of BOCA Grande and you have a restaurant that can stand on its laurels.

After a three hour tapas and main course meal, our party, now of six, chose to take the all, too familiar, after Sunday lunch walk.

Walking for hours, through the maze of beautiful and historical Barcelona only made me envious of those two million that live in the metro area.

Manos, a fellow journalist on the trip, had an assignment to write an article on Barcelona’s tapas offerings. Our culinary guide for the day, Ramon Raventos, suggested that we visit Chef Daniel Rueda’s two tapas bars, named Tapeo and Tapeo Bar, ( ).  We took his advice, had an amazing two hours of various tapas from both locations and managed to drink a bottle of Merche’s, Clos Galena 14.5%, well-balanced, fruit forward and velvety, red wine..

It looks like our 22,500 steps on Day one in Barcelona were put to good use.

                                                           Sagrada Familia

                                                      Tapas ar BOCA Grande
                                                    Grilled Turbot at BOCA Grande
                                                    Olive oil from Clos Galena
                                                             Catalonia Wine
                                                              BOCA Grande

                                                             More dessert

Philip S. Kampe 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

'Taste Your Way Through Spain' with the Guia Penin Guide 2016 by Philip S. Kampe

As the title suggests, the 2016 Penin Guide to Spanish Wine is 'hot off the press', just in time for my departure to Spain later this month. The guide has been the true Spanish Wine Source since its introduction into the market twenty-six years ago. Needless to say, I will be well equipped, guide in hand, when I arrive in Catalonia to visit a handful of vineyards.

My first encounter with Jose Penin was at one of book launches in New York City, some years back. I attended a press conference that launched the Penin Guide into America. Subsequently at the launch, with Penin Guide in-hand, I sampled well over two-hundred wines. Today, the print version is complemented by the Guia Penin website (

The scoring system for wines is on the 100 point scale.
95-100  Exceptional
90-94    Excellent
80-89    Very Good
70-79    Acceptable
60-69    Unremarkable, but not faulty
50-59    Not recommended

Mr. Penin will make a brief appearance in New York to launch the 2016 Guide. The event will  take place at the Astor Center on Thursday, May 19th, where there will be both a trade and a consumer component, which will benefit breast cancer research.

Mr. Penin will host a seminar for the trade, with a walk-around tasting that will highlight 39 producers from 28 wine regions. The wines will showcase Spain's diversity of terroir and grape varieties. The 2016 Penin Guide features 11,200 wines/2,100 top wineries and is easily the most comprehensive and widely-read guide to Spanish wine in the world. 

The essential reference book (1,042 pages) includes the latest vintages and wines that are ready for 2016 release. There is a best-value wine index and a section that explores wine-growing and the basics of wine tasting.

If you are in New York on May on May 19th and want to attend the event as trade or as a consumer, e-mail:

When: Thursday, May 19th
Noon-6pm  Trade walk-around tasting and seminar
5-7pm  Consumer Benefit for Breast Cancer Research

Where: Astor Center
            399 Lafayette Street
            New York, N.Y.


Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 9, 2016

Montpeyroux, a Languedoc 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Wine Festival with Jugglers and Aligot for Lunch by Philip S.Kampe

A wine journey to Languedoc wouldn't be complete without a visit to Montpeyroux, the northernmost of the Languedoc appellations.

The town of 1,300 is a true maze of streets, all leading indirectly to the center of town, where 
each year, on the third Sunday in April, Montpeyroux hosts a wine festival.

Over 'twenty' producers highlight their wines in caves, on the street and in their production facilities.

At the 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' event, on the spot sales of the wines tried and liked are sold. The event was launched in 1999 by the Montpeyroux wine producers. It is a way of showing off their wine producing facilities, their wines and the picturesque village of Montpeyroux.

Entrance to the event is '7 euros ($8) for a tasting glass that entitles the holder with unlimited samples from the over one-hundred bottles poured.

Most of the wines , 80% are red, and feature the Languedoc line-up of grapes: Grenache, Mouvedre , Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault.  Unlike the rest of Languedoc, this area is much cooler and the wines take on more serious, full-bodied flavors. With summer storms and heavy annual rainstorms, the underground water table is sufficient to provide water to the vines, even during droughts.

The whites (20% of production) are more acidic then their Languedoc counterparts. The focus is acidity, using the grapes of the appellation, Vermentino  (known locally as Rolle), Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, PicpoulBlanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc.

Montpeyroux is located 25 miles northwest of Montpellier. The vineyards are anywhere from 450 feet to 1500 feet in altitude. Montpeyroux is nestled in the foothills of the Larzac, with views of Mount Baudille. The area is windy much of the time, while supporting a Mediterranean climate.

The soil in Montpeyroux is considered special, as limestone and clay dominate. There are traces of lava stones, ice age arid soils and hard blue marl in the mix.

The uniqueness of the soil profile is what makes the AOC Montpeyroux Languedoc wines special.

The rules for the blending of grapes are simple: three varieties or more can be blended at a time, with one principal variety representing at least 40% of the blend, while not going over 70%.

Participating in the 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Festival in Montpeyroux were 21wine producers, which included:
Domaine L'Aigueliere
Domaine Alain Chabanon
Domaine D'Aupilhac
Domaine Saint Andrieu & Boisantin
Castelberry Cooperative Artisanale
Le Clos De L'Aven

Domaine Des Crecaux
Domaine De L'Hortgrand
La Jasse Castel
Mas De La Fee Nomene
La Mas De Bertrand
Mas D' Amile
Mas De La Mellade
Domaine Puech Auger
Domaine Du Joncas
Villa Dondona
Domaine De Clememtine
Vignobles Vallat
Domaine Cinq Vents
Le Petit Domaine

The 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Wine Festival was a daylong event (10am-6pm) which included music, jugglers on stilts and inductions into Montpeyroux 'secret society' for the day. The day was home to an outdoor community meal that highlighted the dish, 'Aligot', made from potatoes, garlic, butter and mountain cheese. The elastic substance was topped with a local grilled sausage.

I've attached numerous photographs to tell the day's story of the 'Toutes Caves Ouvertes' Wine Festival.
For more information on Montpeyroux and the festival, visit:

                                         A map of the various participating producers

                                         Wines from producer Domaine D'Aupilhac


Philip S. Kampe


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Valpolicella Has Many Faces by Philip S. Kampe

With 62 million bottles produced a year and over 75% of the bottles exported, the flavor profile of Valpolicella has many faces.

Inside the bottle of Valpolicella is a new world of flavor, unique to each bottle, due primarily to the fact that 97% of the grapes used are indigenous varieties. Broken down, 71% of the grapes are Corvina and 21% are Rondinella.

Worldwide Valpolicella sales fall into three catagories.
Ripasso DOC (45%)
Valpolicella DOC (32%)
Amarone DOCG  (22%)

The Valpolicella region in Italy is located north of Verona, in the Veneto.

Below are a few photographs of the bottles and producers I sampled at a recent Valpolicella tasting.



                                          These are the producers of the wines.....






To learn more about Valpolicella, visit 

Philip S. Kampe

Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio and Baked Scallops with Shrimp by Philip S. Kampe

With the pandemic forcing us inside, there is little doubt that our cooking skills and wine drinking abilities should reach new...