Monday, September 10, 2018

If you Love Gewurztraminer, Try Alsace's Domaine Charles Baur by Philip S. Kampe


                    If you Love Gewurztraminer from Alsace, Try Domaine Charles Baur

Gewurztraminer from Alsace is one of my favorite styles of wine. Maybe its because this is the region my fathers side of the family is from. His mother was born in Alsace and eventually moved to Paris before fleeing Europe before WW11.

They brought their food and wine history to America.

My dad always touted French wines and knew that Gewurztraminer was not for everyone, so, he added white and red Burgundies to his wine list for entertaining. Through osmosis, here I am-a true lover of Gewurztraminer and Burgundies.

Today I will focus on one of my dad’s favorite Gewurztraminer producers, Charles Baur, whose winery is located in the heart of Alsace, miles from Colmar. The property has been with the Baur family since the early 19th century.

After purchasing neighboring property in 1930 to establish a working winery, it wasn’t until 1950 that Charles started bottling and marketing his wine. Success came quite quickly. Charles acquired several other estates and took his son, Armand, who obtained a degree in oenology (1980) into the business.

Today, Armand’s son, Arnaud (names get tricky), joined the family business in 2009 after obtaining a degree in oenology and agricultural engineering, specializing in winemaking.

The original estate has grown to forty-five (45) acres, spread across several plots located on the classic slopes of Eguisheim and its vicinity, including Grand Cru Pfersiberg and Eichberg. All wines are made from estate fruit.

The grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted, then pressed in a pneumatic press. Low yields and total focus through each stage of development have made the Baur wines sought after.

Like Burgundy, Eguisheim is made-up mostly of limestone and clay soil. The slopes are neither large nor small. Little rain and protection from the foothills of the Vosges has made Baur a safe vineyard that has become organic since 2014.

Legend and history support the fact that the slopes that Baur grows their grapes on as been revered since the Middle Ages.

Enough said about Baur-let’s talk wine. I sampled a:
2014 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru ‘Pfersigberg’
Producer: Domaine Charles Baur
Country: France
Region: Alsace
Vintage: 2014
Grape: Gewurztraminer
Alcohol: 14%
Style: Medium sweet white wine
Farming: Organic
Vines: 25 year old
Price: under $30

It was easy to fall for the intense, overly powerful aromatics of fresh, concentrated ripe pears, peaches and cantaloupe. These great odors were followed by dried rose petals and candied ginger

My nose was in a frenzy until my first sip. Suddenly, my palate exploded and was wowed with a sweet fusion of juicy, runny, Georgia peaches, followed by a heavy dose of overripe mangos. All hell broke loose.

My palate was succumbing to a higher power of grape ripeness, which means one thing to me-this Gewurztraminer could be used as an aperitif, as well. Wouldn’t it pair perfectly with blue cheese or foie gras, like an expensive Sauterne?

With optimum ripeness and balanced body, this 2014 Gewurztraminer  Gran Cru Pfersigberg would be an obvious choice if you are after this style of wine. This vintage from Baur is destined to become a classic.

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, September 7, 2018

Does Zinfandel Stand-up To Bourbon Barrels? by Philip S. Kampe


So you love Zindandel and you drink whiskey.

What do the two have in common?

In reality, very little, but in today’s experimental world of winemakers, much like my old profession of ice cream making (Fabulous Phil’s), experimentation is like a science experiment.

Ask California’s !000 Stories winemaker, Bob Blue, about experimentation and wine barrels and he will tell you, ‘ that years ago, wine barrels were not widely available. American oak barrels were for whiskey, not wine. But, we still needed barrels to age our wine. We purchased and neutralized used bourbon barrels. As time passed, instead of neutralizing the unique nuances of the bourbon barrels, we use them to enhance the complexity of the wine’.

In the past ten years, a small group of winemakers now age their wine only in used spirits barrels. The trend has grown, as the  consumers who appreciate the extra nuances welcome the variety in the marketplace.

Zinfandel loves bourbon barrels.

Zinfandel is a very hearty grape that can successfully take on the nuances of a bourbon barrel. If done correctly, the mingling of the two flavors is like a marriage made in heaven.

I sampled a couple of bottles yesterday and came to the realization that each bourbon barrel adds another dimension to a well made Zinfandel.

Sampling the two wines:
1000 Stories, California Zinfandel 2016
 Batch #42 & Batch #47.
Alcohol: Batch #42  15.0%
Batch #47  15.5%
Under $20

The bourbon bled through the Zinfandel in both instances. An obvious burnt vanilla with pepper spice was the undertone of flavor that married with the fruity varietal. I was beginning to get it and to understand that you have to get it right to work correctly. It is like ‘Hit or Miss?’.

Looks like 1000 Stories got it right.

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, September 3, 2018

Trivento Torrontes 2017 Reserve, 'A Wine For All Seasons' by Phiip S. Kampe


                                     Trivento Torrontes, White Orchid (Argentina) 2017 Resereve
                                                           "A Wine For All Seasons"

Whats more desirable then a distinctively fragrant, fun wine that is known worldwide as the true, white grape of Argentina. Like its close relative, Muscat, Torrontes has many similarities, but, has a major difference-it is always vinified as a dry wine.

Torrontes is sweet on the nose. It seduces you into thinking that you will get sweetness on the palate. That is the lure of this wine. Once on the palate, dryness develops.

Torrontes is most known from the Salta region of Argentina. It is also grown in Mendoza,not to such a large extent, as well as in neighboring Uruguay. I chose the area of Mendoza to sample the varietal for this review.
The wines name, 'White Orchid' helped influence my decision.

As I had hoped, the wine, which is made up of 85% Torrontes and 15% Pinot Grigio, has definite floral notes of white orchid, hence the name, and red roses. The intoxicating aromas suggest a sweet wine. But, as I mentioned earlier, orange rind, its bitterness and complexity covers your palate. Faint apple skin, meyer lemon, stone fruit  and banana are followed by the classic pineapple flavor Torrontes is known for.

The Trivento winery that makes this structured wine is named after the three winds that sweep through the vineyards, influencing the varietals characteristics.

In the winter, the icy polar wind invades the vineyard, forcing the sap within the vines. Pruning occurs when the warm, spring, Zonda wind come from the Andes forcing each plants dormant sap to supply new spring growth. The third wind, Sudestada, comes from the east. It is a fresh, humid wind that eases berry ripening during the extreme heat that penetrates Mendoza during the summer season.

The three winds mold the harsh acidity and salinity Torrontes has to offer in its youth. It is a wine that should be consumed young. Older bottles lose the vibrancy associated with the varietal.

I found this wine to be a wonderful aperitif and a tremendous buy for under $12 a bottle.

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...