Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Finger Lakes "New Vines' Vineyard Could Be Your Home Away From Home by Philip S. Kampe

 Seneca Lake 'New Vines' Vineyard is Also a B&B

There are many ingredients that are necessary for a memorable wine vacation. One of those ingredients, possibly the most important, to many, is where you are going to spend the nights while vineyard hunting during the day.

Well, that problem of where to stay and feel welcome has been solved if you visit the Finger Lakes region of central New York state. Logistically, it is a two plus hour drive from Albany, five from Manhattan and five plus from Boston.

The Finger Lakes are named for a series of eleven, long, thin lakes, roughly running from north to south. The lakes shapes reminded early map-makers of human fingers and the name was given to this cluster of lakes. The lakes are glacial and some are the deepest lakes in America. Cayuga Lake is 435 feet deep, while Seneca boasts a depth of 618 feet and is 38.1 miles in length.

The eleven Finger Lakes from west to east are:
Conesus Lake
Hemlock Lake
Canadice Lake
Honeoye Lake
Canandaigua Lake
Keuka Lake
Seneca Lake
Cayuga Lake
Owasco Lake
Skaneateles Lake
Otisco Lake

Close to two million years ago, the first of many continental glaciers of the Laurentide Ice Sheet moved southward from the Hudson Bay area. The movement initiated the Pleistocene glaciation, which widened and deepened the existing river valleys. Glacial debris left behind by the receding ice acted as dams, allowing lakes to form. The deep cutting of the thin ice left some tributaries hanging above the valley floor.

With so many lakes and numerous microclimates, the Finger Lakes region is New York’s largest wine producing region. Over one hundred and fifty vineyards are located around Seneca, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Keuka, Conesus and Hemlock Lakes. It is a #winelover paradise featuring many grape varieties including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir , Lemberger and Cabernet Franc.

There is a romantic charm to the region-vines, lakes and small hills. It’s a splendid setting and one that was enhanced by our stay at New Vines B&B, where award winning ‘Estate Wines’ are made by co-owner Todd Eichas.

In 2016 at the New York Wine and Food Classic, which awards the Governor’s Cup to the best wines in New York, New Vines Dry Riesling was awarded a Gold medal and New Vines Gruner Veltliner won a Silver medal.

That’s not too shabby for a one acre vineyard that was planted and one hundred per cent cared for by Todd, alone. To me, Todd is the true definition of a focused winemaker who knows every inch and leaf in the vineyard. His support system is Dani, his wife, a gourmet cook who runs New Vines and a true cheerleader for the Finger Lakes region. Her breakfasts, along with homemade baked goods, vineyard grown concord grape juice, revolve around what is fresh from the garden that morning, to what local vendor can she buy homemade cheese from or who is selling maple syrup that day.

During late afternoon, Dani and Todd Eichas host a ‘Wine and Cheese’ get to know you social hour where Todd pours his wines and Dani serves locally made cheese and snacks from the Finger Lakes. Todd reflects on his wines by saying that the cool climate results in crisp acidity in New Vines white wines and fruit forwardness in the reds. Todd goes on to say that winemakers from the Finger Lakes benefit from the cooperative nature of the industry, where honest feedback is shared by all, which ultimately benefits vineyard quality and production.

New Vines B&B was built in 2007. There are seven wineries within two miles (you can walk or bike it) and is located on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Besides a garden full of tomatoes, onions and seasonal vegetables, which Todd tends to, his one acre vineyard is home to Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Lemberger, Marquette (for Rose), Cabernet Franc, Concord and Niagara.

New Vines B&B is located off Route 14, south of Geneva at 1138 Travis Road. There is a New Vines B&B signpost on the road. Literally, New Vines is a one minute drive to the Anthony Road Winery. You can reach Dani and Todd at (315) 536-4087 or find them at the New Vines Bed & Breakfast webpage on Facebook.

Philip S. Kampe 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Tuscany's Tyrrhenian Seacoast Is Home To Terroir Driven Maremma Wines by Philip S.Kampe

                                  Affordable Wines from Maremma

The wind driven, undeveloped land of Maremma is home to a wonderful array of both white and red wines. Located in southwest Tuscany and extending to part of northern Lazio, this wind-driven,sun-drenched corner of the world supports sandy and clay soil that is the nucleus for intense wines from the region.

Traditionally, cattle herders occupied the marsh lands of Maremma, having been last drained in the 1930's.

Today, Maremma Toscana is an appellation from the Grosseto province of Tuscany.In 2011, DOC status was awarded to the region. 

Both local and international grapes are used to make a variety of both dry and sweet wines. Fortune came my way on several occasions where I had the opportunity to sample a high quality Vin Santo (red) and a late harvest Vendemmia Tardiva style (white).

Diversity reigns in Maremma, where Metodo Classico sparkling wines made from a single variety, Vermentino or Ansonica varietal reign.

The principal white grapes of the region inlude: Malvasia, Vermentino, Viognier, Ansonica, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Trebbiano.

Red grape varieties include: Syrah, Sangiovese (Morellino), Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegioli and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Microclimates abound in Maremma. The moderate temperature and daily sun helps produce wines with soft tannins and drinkability.Minerality comes from the closeness to the sea paired with the sandy and clay soil, as was mentioned earlier.
A couple of wines were sent to me to sample from Rocca di Montemassi, an estate located in-between the shoreline and the hills. With nearly 400acres and proximity to the sea (only 6 miles away), the cooling breezes and abundant sun make for terroir driven wines, especially the (white) 2016 Calasole Vermentino DOC. Maremma is a favored growing site for the mineral laden varietal.Liguria and Sardinia are also home to this indigenous grape. The vines at Rocca di Montemassi estate are on the site of an old lgnite mine, beneficial for minerals, which ignite the fresh, crisp style of the wine. The rich minerals and the sea breezes help make this under $15 wine intriguing.  The wine is overly expressive, focusing on stone fruit and youthfulness. The 2016 has ample acidity with a creamy, velvety finish.

The second wine is a red 2016 Rocca di Montemassi Le Foccaie (Maremma Toscana). This wine is made from Tuscany's favorite grape, Sangiovese. Cinnamon, balsamic sweetness and red cherries play havoc with the tannins that create dryness on your palate. Its a pizza wine, its a food wine, its a bargain wine ($12) that is the perfect Italian ambassador that does not break the bank. Off dry, high acidity with a sweetness that turns sour and earthy in a short time. The soils of Maremma shape this memorable wine.

These two wines are true bargain wines from Maremma. There are many more complex wines on the horizon from this unique area in the world.

Philip S. Kampe


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Albarino, Especially 2Amigos Albariño Is My Warm Weather Wine by Philip S. Kampe

                                          The Warm weather season is upon us.                                 

It is the time of year that Sparkling, Rose and specifically New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tend to steal the show. And many of us diehard wine drinkers opt for a good cold brew this time of year.

Whatever you choose helps calm the heat of the summer. Add ceviche, shrimp cocktail, lobster and clams to the menu and you have many ‘matches made in heaven.’

After sampling a dozen bottles of various Albariño styles from the Rias Baixas appellation of northwest Spain, it seemed obvious to me that there is another warm weather wine that is off the radar. That wines name and grape is the same-Albariño.

Albariño, as I mentioned earlier, is the most abundant grape grown in northwest Spain, in the Rias Baixas region. The grape is on its way to stardom, thanks to its clean and fresh, crisp flavor that shines through its complexity.

Albariño is a very likable wine, in part, due to what the locals believe about Albariño. The local sentiment says, ‘Albariño is considered the New World wine of the Old World.’

Translating the statement means a few obvious points to reflect on. Albariño does not age well. It is bottled early to help preserve its freshness and tenacious acidity. Tropical fruits abound in the palate, followed by a mouth cleaning minerality on the long, lingering finish.

Pairing 2Amigos Albariño with seafood and spicy food was today’s challenge. As you can see from the photo, I marinated raw shrimp, scallops and trout with loads of garlic, red pepper flakes, Serrano peppers and high quality extra virgin olive oil. I added a bay leaf and cooked it in a casserole dish at 425 for 25 minutes.

Add a bottle of 2Amigos or any other Albariño and you have a near perfect pairing.

For close to $20 a bottle-the range of Albariño varies from $12-$45, you could have your new warm weather wine.

Isn’t it time to add Albarino to your warm weather wine mix?

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 14, 2018

2016 Is A Declared Vintage Port Year by Philip S. Kampe

                                             2016 Is A Declared Vintage Port Year

I have been a huge Port wine fan since my father, who drank a glass of Port nightly, gave me a taste at age eight. He figured that one taste was enough, but, since that day, I requested a taste each night he sampled this life changing concoction. 

Legal drinking age in Louisiana, in those days, was eighteen, so, it wasn’t too long that I could buy my own.

Those days are behind us, but, my love for Port wine has never changed.

Being in the wine business often has its benefits. And receiving an invitation from Michelle Keene inviting me to a “2016 ‘Declared Vintage Port” tasting was music to my ears.

The Symington family declared 2016 as a Vintage Port year. This was the fourth vintage declaration since 2000. The last declared vintage year was 2011. According to the Symington’s, ‘2016 Vintage Ports are exceptional with tannins that are amongst the most refined ever, supporting beautiful red fruit flavors with extraordinary purple intense colors. They have impressive structure and balance, with baumes, acidity, tannins and color in rare and perfect alignment. There is no doubt a result of the late ripening cycle which allowed our grapes to mature evenly and completely.’

This is what made 2016 exceptional. The viticulture year started in the Douro with a wet winter with double the rainfall of the previous year. The wet weather continued through May, causing the river to flood and remain unnavigable. June and July were normal. August was unusually hot lots of rain at the end of the month. Picking was delayed until late September finishing in the first week of October.

The result was low yields, which translates to small batches, making the 2016 Vintage Ports a rare commodity.

The impressive list of 2016 Vintage Ports include:
Cockburn’s 2016
Complexity, structure and length highlight the clove and ginger profile.

Croft 2016
Poised in-between opulence and restraint, the tight tannins dance the line between silkiness and elegance.

Dow’s 2016
Heavy on the palate with lots of acidity and longevity, this vintage is close to exploding.

Fronseco 2016
It’s all about the fruit. Complex, fresh with lots of minerality.

Graham’s 2016
Concentrated opulence. Rich and floral.

Quinta Do Novel 2016
Finesse and complexity of dried figs and dates. Long finish with firm tannins.

Quinta Do Novel Nacional 2016
My notes exclaim, a very hot vintage wine, much like that of a Sagrantiono.

Quinta Do Romaneira 2016
A powerhouse of tannins. Complexity of aromas. Soft on the palate.

Taylor Fladgate 2016
Austere. Round, with dry tannins.

Warre’s 2016
Lively on the palate with hints of anisette and mint.

Quinta Do Vesuvio 2016
Spicy, velvety,  Intense with cherry overtones.

All of these ports are young and certainly will develop with time. Grab a bottle as soon as you see a bottle on your wine merchants shelf. There may only be one chance….

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, May 4, 2018

Do You Know Umbria's Sagrantino Wines? by Philip S.Kampe

                                   Do You Know Umbria's Sagrantino Wines?


Umbria is the only landlocked province in Italy. The other 19 provinces all touch water. Tuscany is to the northwest. Le Marche is east and Lazio, where Rome is located is southwest.
Unfortunately, the wines from Tuscany and the Sangiovese grape dominates conversation. The wines of Umbria rarely surface in consumer conversation, but, those on the trade side worship the wines from Umbria, specifically Sagrantiono, from the area in and adjoining Montefalco.

Sagrantino is an indigenous grape that only grows in the hilltop areas around Montefalco.

According to recent scholarly research, the first mention of the cultivation of the Sagrantino varietal in Montefalco dates back to 1549.  The name, Sagrantino, can be traced back to the ‘Sagrament’ because the varietal was cultivated by monks to produce a raisin wine used for religious rites.

There are many theories regarding the origin of the grape.

Some say Saint Frances of Assisi brought the grape, which was used in sacramental wine. Others contend that the grape was brought to Umbria by the Greeks. Scolars have traced the grape to Franciscan (French) Friars.

Its still a debate today.

Montefalco lies in a valley surrounded by the Apennine mountains. I have been there many times when temperatures reach 95F (35C). Summers are often very warm. Sand and limestone keep the roots of the vines cool during the warm days.Fortunately, mountain breezes cool Montefalco by night. The breeze is known to locals, according to Umbrian wine expert, Fausto Proietti, as the Tramontano. The drying breeze comes from the north, effectively helping to limit rot.

In the evening, while staying in the medieval guest house, Tetti de Trevi, owned and managed by Fausto Proietti and his wife, Patrizia, you can hear the winds howl through the vineyard. That moment was an opportune time to savor a glass of Sagrantino, while starring at the stars and Montefalco valley from one of the many balconies that overlook the countryside.

The varied climate, from extremely hot to cool, and sometimes cold, result in grapes that have concentrated fruit that explodes, with the tannins on your palate.

Up until the 60’s , the Sagrantino varietal nearly disappeared from Umbria.It was revived, thanks to the pioneering wine producer, Fratelli Adanti.

Today, Sagrantino has surfaced as one of the worlds most interesting and revered varietal. At a recent comparative tasting earlier this week, two vintages were spotlighted, the 2012 and the 2008. The sampling included six wines and both vintages for each wine. It was obvious that Sagrantino has a long aging ability, as both wines were still babies. It was obvious that as the wines aged, the tannins began to disappear and a new wine-often velvety, appeared.

The wines that were poured were from these vineyards.
Tenuta Alzatura Uno di Undici DOCG
Briziarelli Vitruvio DOCG
Arnaldo Caprai 25 Anni DOCG
Scacciadiavoli DOCG
Perticaia DOCG
Antonelli DOCG

If the wines from Montefalco are new to you, they are worth purchasing. I would start with a Rosso di Montefalco ($20 range), then move forward to the Sagrantino di Montefalco ($35-95).

The older the vintage, normally, but, not always, less tannins.

These wines are truly food wines-hard cheeses, steaks and dark meat poultry balance the tannins in your palate.

Philip S. Kampe

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Miner Family Winery, A Napa Valley Star by Philip S. Kampe

                                          Miner Family Wines Are Napa Valley Stars

Through the years, I have had so much respect for the winemaker and the high quality of all of the wines from Miner Family Winery in Oakville, my favorite wine area in Napa Valley.

Dave Miner began his wine career in 1993, after realizing, like most of us, wine is more fun then most other industries, especially the software industry, where he was making a name for himself. His uncle and wine connection, Robert Miner recruited Dave and appointed him as President of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, a position that catapulted Dave into the wine industry. It was a natural fit.

As wine stories go, Dave met his future wife, Emily, in the tasting room of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, where she worked as the manager. It didn’t take too ling (1996) when the couple decided to start their own label. Fortunately, Gary Brookman, who is Oakville Ranch’s winemaker, took on double duty and helped establish Dave and Emily’s label. The common factor is that Dave and Emily sourced grapes from Oakville Ranch and the winemaker could make wine under their label, thanks to family ties.

In 1999, after a complete excavation of the land, creating a 20,000 square foot cave, on Oakville Ranch’s property, the Miner Family Vineyard was ready to take on the world.

The success of what transpired since has been astounding. In 2004, the winery was named as one of the ‘Top Five’ wineries in America.

The Oracle, made with sourced fruit, became the iconic wine that was hailed worldwide as one of the best Bordeaux blend wines to come out of Napa.

Success loomed again, this time with the Wild Yeast Chardonnay, a White House favorite.

Many changes have occurred in the twenty years since Miner has been in operation. The business runs totally off of solar power. Gary Brookman is now the General Manager and Director of Winemaking. Stacy Vogel took over as head winemaker in 2013.

Emily Miner lost her battle to cancer in 2011 and in 2016, Emily wine was launched by Dave Miner, who donates a portion of the proceeds to cancer research.

So much has happened since 1993 and Dave’s introduction into the family business….

The Miner Family Winery has been famous throughout the years with their exceptional Bordeaux style wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc), Burgundy styles (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) and Rhone styles (Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane) plus varietals of Tempranillo, Rosato and Sangiovese.

Rather then review all of the wines, I’ll focus on the two latest releases, the 2016 Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay ($30) and the 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($20).

The 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a screw top bottle containing 100% Sauvignon Blanc, with grapes sourced from Stage Creek Vineyard (52%), Shartsis Vineyard in Rutherford (40%) and Crossroads Vineyard (8%).  The grapes were both fermented and aged in stainless steel. At 13.5% alcohol, the seamless Sauvignon Blanc was restrained with tropical flavors, highlighted by the balanced acidity of grapefruit and lime with hints of peach, nectarine and honeydew melon.

By contrast, the 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay, at 13.5% alcohol, was full of mixed aromas of apricots, pineapples and pears. On the palate, the buttery and toasty oaky flavor balanced the citrus flavors that encompass this beautiful wine.

Both wines warrant merit and should be on your wine merchants shelves any day now. With less then 2500 cases produces, I am confident that this reasonably priced wine will sell out in a short time.

Miner Family Winery sells their wines online. Visit  to learn more.

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...