Saturday, November 19, 2016

Six (6) D.O. Navarra Wines For The Holidays Cost Under $75 by Philip S. Kampe

After attending an amazing tasting of D.O. Navarra wines last week, I posted an article regarding my appreciate for this spectacular D.O.
I am happy to share with you the new Six Wines from D.O.Navarra that will be opened for the Holidays.
Total cost for all six bottles of wine was under $75-many wines under $10 and the rest, under $14.
I am in store for some fun with these wines for the Holiday Season.

These are the wines...

They are priced perfectly for Holiday parties, especially when the guests are looking for a house wine.
Hopefully, I chose six 'house wines' for our guests.

Happy Holidays!

Philip S. Kampe

Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Celebrates His Life In America by Philip S. Kampe

                                                           93 year old Mike Grgich

                                               The 'Judgement of Paris' 40th Anniversary Wine
                                                         Violetta named after Violet
                                                        40th Anniversary Chardonnay
                                                                    Violet Grgich

The Judgment of Paris, definitely the biggest judgment in favor of accepting and respecting the wines from America, occurred 40 years ago- in 1976.

If you are unaware of what happened, a Napa Valley wine from Chateau Montelena beat out its French counterparts in a blind tasting. If you read the account in George Taber’s book, ‘Judgment of Paris’, you will learn first-hand about the account, since Mr.Taber was the only journalist that was present at the event.

Recently, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Violet Grgich, a masterful storyteller and daughter of famed winemaker Mike Grgich, who combined with Stag’s Leap winemaker, Warren Winiarski to create the ‘Judgment of Paris’ winner.

Both winemakers worked for Robert Mondavi, who brought California wines to international, global attention 40 years ago. In fact, 40 years after the event, we are still talking or in this case writing about the achievement.

With the help of Violet Grgich, the opportunity to learn about her 93 year old father was intriguing. Yes, he makes great wines. Yes, Mike Grgich is a household name to wine lover’s worldwide. And Yes, everyone knows his famed wines from Grgich Hills. 

But, who is this man who entered America as an immigrant whose only dream was to see ‘paradise.’  Daughter Violet tells the story of her father’s journey from a family of eleven children (he was the youngest) to his move from Croatia to the ‘New World’, known as America.

Violet goes on to say that her father, Mike (born with the name, Miljenko) came to America after WWII. He was a survivor with a dream.

He had grown up around vineyards in his native Croatia. In his early 20’s he emigrated to California, worked in the vineyards-eventually working with the Zinfandel grape- a relative of the Plavac Muli grape-a grape he knew well in Croatia.

Somehow, the grape brought Mike’s mind back to Croatia- sort of uniting his wine experience past with the present-a feeling, he expressed-of not being alone anymore in America.

Years of hard work anf gratefulness blossomed as his winemaking skills were recognized by Robert Mondavi. He joined the team that catapulted California wines into orbit.

As time went by, his reputation as a winemaker spread and the opportunity to invest his hard earned money paid off immediately. He opened Grgich Hills. His reputation grew and is still alive.

Mike Grgich is an icon in the undustry.

To learn more about the Mike Grgich story,I suggest that you read Mike’s biography in ‘A Glass Full of Miracles.’ It is a wonderful book that affirms that a positive attitude mixed with a lot of talent breeds success.

Its easy to affirm that the wines served by Violet show the many facets of Mike’s winemaking life he excelled at. As I can attest to, Grgich Hills Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Plavac Muli (Zinfandel), Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon and a Late Harvest Violetta (guess who that is named for?) confirm that 93 year Mike Grgich has found his nirvana in America.

Philip S. Kampe 


Friday, November 18, 2016

Chateau De La Dauphine Fronsac, A Leader in Both Winemaking & Wine Tourism by Philip S. Kampe


                                                      Chateau De La Dauphine

It’s not often when you attend a rather intimate wine luncheon that you fall in love with the three wines that were poured with your meal. Well, that was the case at Gotham Bar and Grill (NYC) at a luncheon hosted by Marion Merker, who represents the chateau from the historic, Bordeaux winery, Chateau de La Dauphine.

Having never been to Bordeaux and always dreaming about the region and its eight thousand chateaux and sixty appellations, the wines from Chateau de La Dauphine were the vehicle that transported my palate to the diverse Fronsac appellation.

The wines from Chateau de La Dauphine have historical significance.

Louis XV praised the high quality of the wines after they were presented by Cardinal Richelieu. The mother of Louis XVI fancied the wines so much that the Chateau chose to use the slogan, ‘Wines Fit For A Princess’ in her honor.

That tradition is still alive today.

But, today, the vineyard is part of the 21st Century and has recently, in 2015, been awarded certification as an ‘Organic’ vineyard. With the adaptation of the environmental philosophy, biodynamic methods work hand in hand with the harmony of natures rhythms at the chateau.

Managing the vineyards according to the lunar calendar are an ingredient that make the wines from Chateau de La Dauphine special.

Chateau de La Dauphine has recently adopted a ‘Wine Tourism Service’ that shows the 18th century chateau, winner of the ‘Best of Gold’ award in the ‘Architecture and Landscape’ category, to the public.

Marion Merker leads the program of ‘Classic; Luxury; Tasting and Yummy Tours’ year round.

The chateau also won the ‘Best of Wine Tourism’ award in 2014.

As great as the chateau is, so are the wines.

Priced between $18 and $35, the three wines that I sampled showed the terroir of Fronsac in a new light. Working, as of late, with wine consultant and oenologist, Michel Rolland, the limited production wines excel both in quality and price.

Recommended Wines (all under $35)
2012 Chateau de La Dauphine Fronsac
Michel Rolland’s first vintage that I sampled and the first year for the chateau quest for ‘Organic’ certification. This impressive wine is made from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. At 15% alcohol, the wine was aged in oak for 12 months. Only 30% of the barrels were new, The 2012 was dark in color, a combination of ruby and plum visually. My palate exploded with dense fruit, that of tart raspberries and juicy Washington state cherries. That fruity combination helped balance well the ever so constant underlying acidity that helped propel a long and lasting finish. The wine was a signature Michel Rolland product, one that can be stored in the cellar until full maturation.

2010 Chateau de La Dauphine Fronsac
At 14.5% alcohol, this imposing 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc wine made by oenologist, Denis Dubourdieu is an example of a rich, fresh, fruity wine that is dense and somewhat dry, in a good way, on the palate. The wine is an example of a perfect food wine that can only enhance the dishes that pair well with this licorice gem.

2009 Chateau de La Dauphine Fronsac
Structured and expressive, the 2009 shows the best of the vineyard prior to focusing on organic farming. Made with the usual mix of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this example of a 14.5% alcohol content wine shows superior balance between the acidity and oak. The rather creamy texture and long finish make this wine a wine that could be drunk on its own. The 2009 is impressive and affordable.

As you should surmise by now, the wines from Chateau de La Dauphine are the exact wines that have made me a big fan of this chateau, prior to the addition of famed oenologist and consultant, Michel Rolland.

To learn more about the vineyard and the ‘Wine Tourism’ possibilities, visit:  

                                                                 Marion Merker

Philip S. Kampe

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

April Cullom & Robin Kelly O'Connor Make D.O. Navarra--One of Spain's Most Intriging Regions by Philip S. Kampe

                               Navarra presenters, April Cullom and Robin Kelly O'Connor

Having never been to Navarra, I could only imagine the beauty of this region in northern Spain. April Cullom and Robin Kelly O’Connor led a Masterclass on the region and both painted visual pictures associated with its location and proximity close to the Bay of Biscay, near the Atlantic Ocean, to the Pyrenees Mountains, bordered by the Ebro River in the south. The world knows this area as the ‘Basque’ region.

This region is well known for moderate temperatures creating the perfect ‘Mediterranean Climate.’ Due to its vast size from east to west, Navarra has been divided into five sub-zones: Baja Montana in the northeast; Valdizarbe in the north, Terra Estrella in the northwest, Robera Alta in the center, north of the Ebro River and Ribera Alta, in the south and below the Ebro River. In total, over 25,000 acres of vineyards thrive in this region.

Investment in modern, state of the art winemaking equipment coupled with non-native grape styles has given rise to the Navarra D.O.(granted in 1933), as an innovative region whose profile is on the rise. Traditionally, the region was known specifically for crisp, fruit-driven rose (rosada) wines using the Garnacha grape. Today, at the tasting that followed the Masterclass, there were examples of numerous international grapes, such as, Chardonnay, Moscatel, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

The white wines that I sampled were good, sound, long lasting wines that impressed the palate with strength and long lasting finishes that remained in your mouth for several minutes. The reds were bold, deep, and dense with exploding fruit that clung to my palate. The same is true for the addictive dessert wines.These wines are not for lightweights, but, are for wine drinkers who want to taste wines that explode in your palate.

After sampling a large number of the ‘food friendly’ wines from D.O. Navarra, I have come up with a list of my favorite producers.

This is the list-wines that you should sample are made by the following Bodegas:

Bodegas Camilo Castilla
Bodegas Vega de Castillo
Bodegas Principe de Viana
Bodegas Castillo de Monjardin
Bodegas Inurreta
Godegas Piedmonte
Bodegas Pago de Larrainzar
Bodegas Marco Real
Bodegas Nekeas
Bodegas Pago de Cirsus
Bodegas Ochoa

To learn more about the Wines of Navarra, visit:

Philip S. Kampe


Monday, November 14, 2016

The ROVINHUD Salon should be named one of the best wine shows in the world. Why? This is why.

This is going to be hard to put into words... But I'll try anyway.

• Let's begin with what it made so great for me:

I spent the last couple of days in Timisoara (Romania) attending the "ROVINHUD Salon", a wine event organized by my dear friend Szövérdfi-Szép Zoltán. In case you didn't know, the main reason for the existence of this event is to help people with disabilities. And guess what? People with disabilities "run the show" as well!

And what a fantastic job they did... I feel honored and thankful to have been part of this. I hope I'll be blessed in the future with another opportunity to be around such an amazing group of people.

You probably heard me saying this before, but I'll have to say it again: If you could see souls instead of bodies, you would be seeing me surrounded by the most beautiful people of our planet.

• And this is why it is also great for everybody else:

1) The entire profit of the event will be directed to support the young people with disabilities from the ‘Ceva de Spus’ (‘Something to Say’) Association, as they continue their work towards a more accessible society.

2) Amazing Master Classes:

3) If you are a #winelover (and if you are reading this, most likely you are!), you will subscribe to their belief that wine brings people together. The "ROVINHUD spirit" wants to bring about a positive change in the life of the people with disabilities. 

As I said a few days ago... I hope that wine will save us all! 

You can learn more about  the "ROVINHUD Salon" here:

Remember: Life happens. Wine helps.

Luiz Alberto

  • Master of Wine candidate
  • Member of the Circle of Wine Writers
  • Italian Wine Ambassador
  • I combine my passion for wine with social media

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Do you want to know how I feel about the last American presidential election?

Am I shocked with the result of our presidential election?
You bet I am.

And I can tell you that I didn't vote for the winner...

However, I think this quote pretty much expresses the way I feel about how the votes turned out to be in the election:
"I don't like to commit myself about Red or Blue America - you see, I have friends in both places." - Peter Lanberg.

I love this country too much to not hope that everything will turn out to be ok in the end. After all, I am a pathological optimist.

Remember: Life happens. Wine helps.

Luiz Alberto

  • Master of Wine candidate
  • Member of the Circle of Wine Writers
  • Italian Wine Ambassador
  • I combine my passion for wine with social media

Friday, November 4, 2016

PM Spirits--'Provider of Geeky Spirits' by Philip S. Kampe

I met Nicolas Palazzi several years ago, when he was just beginning to learn the 'Geeky Spirits' trade. Since his early wanderings to today-fast forward-Nicolas and PM Spirits has made a name for themselves, like none other.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to sample a majority of his New York Portfolio and found each taste, unique, on the cutting edge and inventive. Nicolas has an uncanny curiosity that seeks out the talents found in each bottle. If you chat with Mr. Palazzi, he is quick to add a story to each of the bottles he imports and distributes.

Last year I attended a tasting at his warehouse in Brooklyn and left, emotionally spent. I have waited a year, give or take to retry the 'Geeky Spirits' that make this company come alive.

There are many favorites that come to mind....
2014 Navazos Palazzi Single Oloroso Cask Rum    1500 bottles produced
VAGO Mezcal  Aquilino Garcia Lopez
1964 Chateau de Leberon Single Cask Tenareze Armagnac  120 liters produced
Laurent Cazottes-Poire Williams Eau-de-Vie

Attached are photos from the tasting.
PM Spirits can be contacted at:  or call Leonardo Comercio at: (347) 743 8713


Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#Winelover--Do You Need a Wine Friendly Lounge When You Have A Long Layover? by Philip S. Kampe

(You haven't heard from me for awhile, as I (we) took a three week 'true vacation' throughout Italy-all non-wine related-this is what I learned on Day 1)

I'm not one for airports, but, with a six hour layover at London's Gatwick airport and an untimely message from a colleague, who said, unfortunately, I can't meet you at the airport, as was planned months earlier-I realized that I was in a dilemma.

I decided to rely on the airport Lounge, as if it were my date for the afternoon.

In my past working life, I was a true 'Airport Lounge Lover' and frequented airport lounges around the world.

Those days are far gone.

Now, its me and the world and my unconventional journalistic skills.

Opting for a Lounge at Gatwick South, I chose the No 1 Lounge versus the stiff competition. My choice was for obvious reasons. It was close to my departure gate, the cost for using the lounge was $35, which enabled me to three hours of pleasure-drinks (wine,beer and alcohol), hot and cold food, a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, fresh fruit, a choice of newspapers in English, magazines, free WIFI, a television, a reading room, the use of a computer and best of all, waiter service.

All I had to d is show up.

After I entered the lounge, I canvassed the facility and found a perfect table, equipped with outlets for my iPad and iPhone.

The table was close to the bar, so, naturally, I made my way to the bar and questioned the bartender as to what wines did they carry. He rattled off a list to me that included, Real Rubio Rioja, La Serre du Haut (red), Lucello Pinot Grigio, Rivertone Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon Rose and Tariquet Classic White. 

My wine expectations were met.
The waiter stopped by, asked me what I would like to order-so, I gave him a drink order, which consisted of Pimm's and Lemonade, the 'classic British drink' and asked what he would suggest for food. He said why try the Mac n' Cheese and a Root salad.

I agreed and quickly ran to the snack table and filled several bowls full of nuts and olives.

The party had just begun.

I was eating a wholesome meal, drinking great libations, all in the comfort of what seemed to be a 'Private Club,'

It doesn't take much more then 'Hospitality' to win over the weary traveler and the No ! Lounge has won my allegiance.

Where: Gatwick South (London) Heathrow, Birmingham and Edinburgh

Price: $35

Hours: 4am-10pm


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...