Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Masterpiece Aussie Shiraz: Two Hands ‘Angels’ Share’ by Philip S. Kampe

Even though Two Hands Wines was founded in 1999 by Richard Mintz and Michael Twelftree, their wines have come of age. Their goal has always been to produce the best wines possible from Shiraz, with no compromise. It seems that winemaker Matt Wenk has struck gold with the recent release of the 2018 Angels’ Share,
McLaren Vale, in sunny Australia, is well known for red, dynamic, powerful wines. Shiraz wines from this region are made the classic style focusing on concentration of grapes that show their intensity on your palate.
Having sampled the new release, knowing its still a baby, I found the solid foundation this wine exudes. Its deep color of dark red with purple on the perimeter open up to a bouquet of lavender, creole pepper, blackcurrent , sweet tobacco, dark baked fruits and cranberry jelly. On the palate, with its medium body, flavors of Michigan blueberries, raspberries, vanilla and strawberries evolve before freshly cut hay enters.
This young wine is full of chewy tannins that persist an eternity. High acidity helps make this wine a big and bold Shiraz worth buying and holding onto.
The wine retails in the $30 range.

Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 from Lodi by Philip S. Kampe

Tagged as a ‘Revolutionary’ wine by the producers, this 14%, predominantly (93%) Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, at $17 a bottle is a real steal.
The purplish red hue and nose of cinnamon and tart cherry fool the palate of the drinker. The 5% usage of Zinfandel, aged like the Cabernet Sauvignon for 15 months in 35% new oak, is the backbone of the wines character,
The palate flavors are characterized with nuances of blackberry, black cherry, plum, strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and chocolate. Medium tannins, with a soft, rather dry acidity make this wine most desirable. Add some oakiness and earthly characteristics and you have a funky wine.
For a wine in this price range, it has everything you want.
California Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys the same status as in its native home of Bordeaux. It is a prized grape, known for its long aging potential.
As far as food pairings go, I would suggest game, lamb and beef.
DNA testing has proven that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
How interesting!

Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Great Wines From Chile Revisited, 'Kalfu' Kuda Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc by Philip S. Kampe




                                                                             






                                        Two Great Wines From Chile, Revisited

Five years ago I had lunch with the winemaker at Kalfu, a close to the Pacific Ocean Chilean producer, who believes that the terroir is the most important choice as where to plant grapes. At that time, Chile had undergone a viticultural transformation. High technology coupled with innovative winemakers who were willing to take risks, paid big dividends.

Thanks to that revolution, today, Chilean wines of high quality are sold at affordable prices. Winemaker Alejandro Galaz , of Vina Ventisquero, was ahead of the curve.

Chile is an isolated wine region, protected by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the east. The isolated conditions with its environmentally protected land are ideal for consistent varietals year after year. Climate change has not affected this region, which is nearly unheard of in other wine regions of the world.

This isolated region includes Leyda Valley, where these two bottles are from. If you haven’t been, the Leyda Valley is only four miles from the Pacific Ocean, close to the Maipo River. The valley has lots of morning fog and sea breezes that cool the vineyards.

Nearby is the Colchagua Valley, a hilly region near the ocean.

The Casablanca Valley is not close to the sea, hence, more like your typical vineyard where the varietals ripen slowly.
 
My favorite area is the Huasco Valley, which is situated in the worlds ‘driest desert.’ The vineyards in the valley deal with overly hot days, followed by cool nights. Located only fifteen miles from the ocean, the Huasco Valley is well known for its salty soil. Wines from this valley are unique.

The two wines I sampled are sustainable. In fact, Vina Ventisquero was awarded the first of its kind of certification as the only winery in Chile to have all of its vineyards certified 100% sustainable by Wines of Chile.

2017 Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir
Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
14% alcohol
Aroma: raspberry, vanilla and cherry
Dry with medium acid. Forest berries with medium tannins and body. Complex, yet balanced. Chalky, with a spicy aftertaste. Earthy notes dominate the oaky vanilla undertones.
$18 a bottle

2018 Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc

Leyda Valley (Chile)
Winemaker Alejandro Galaz
13% alcohol
Tropical aromas pineapple and lychee.
Dry with a wonderful minerality of fizzy grapefruit, lime, pear, quince and stone.
Undertones of green olive, white pepper and grass balance this medium-bodied, acidic saline wine.
$16 a bottle

Galaz is known as the winemaker who specializes in cool climate wines. He says he is always striving to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtlety of the grape. He reminds us that producing cool climate wines is a challenge. Grapes are handpicked in the morning, where the best grapes are selected for a fourteen hour maceration. After fermentation, the grapes are aged on lees for three months followed by battonage.

If you can find these wines, they are both worth seeking out.





Monday, August 12, 2019

What Do Wine Writers Do On Summer Vacation? Well, They Don't Ski Vermont by Philip S. Kampe



                                                 Our first E-bike experience




                                              Don’t SKI VERMONT.

It’s summertime.

We all need a break from the wine world. Our body tells us so.

Each summer, at least in our case, we find an outlet to balance the demanding life of the wine world. One summer, it was discovering the ocean. Another year, it was live music. And another year, it was hiking.

This year, it’s about ‘adventure parks’ at ski slopes.

Vermont borders Massachusetts, where we live, making the drive to the famous ski slopes accessible year round. In the winter, we drink wine on the ski slopes. In the summer, we try to take a break.

Vermont ski slopes are about excitement, the type of excitement you don’t need skis for.
                                                                    Disc Golf
                                                                       Zip line
                                                                     Chairlift

Our family took a ‘spur of the moment’ holiday in Vermont, known to many as the state Bernie Sanders is from.

We came for the beauty, to bond with nature and to explore. What we found was all of the above plus ‘adventure parks’ at just about all of the ski slopes we passed. We didn’t realize that the adventure parks utilize the chairlifts and real estate of the ski slopes for summer adventure.

What that means, business wise, is two fold: the winter ski staff now has a summer income, while the mountain remains open and the tourists and locals have a summer outlet where families and friends can enjoy the mountain air with the numerous activities these mountains have to offer.

Our first ‘adventure park’ experience started at Bromley, in southern Vermont. We purchased an all day ‘adventure park’ pass and began our experience in a truly non-traditional way-we learned how to play disc golf-nine holes at the base of the mountain and the final nine on top by way of a chairlift ride. Who knew that there were over a dozen shapes of Frisbees, those are the golf clubs, to use?  One was a driver, another a wedge and another was a putter. Playing disc golf was addictive and much more difficult then it looked.

The Green Mountains were the backdrop for our first attempt at ‘zip lining’ Bromley’s course has a 700 foot vertical drop with a lovely view high atop the mountain. Zip line speeds reach 50mph, which I am glad to admit, was no big deal. It seems that this sport is all glamour with no fear factor at all. And for what its worth, in my case, the zip line was addictive. We managed four runs before the 4pm closing time.

From Bromley you can see Stratton’s majestic peak, which was our next stop.

When we arrived at the village at Stratton, it was immediately reminiscent of Mont-Tremblant (Quebec). You could really stretch your imagination and think you were in Aspen.

There is always something magical about ski villages.

We checked into the Black Bear Lodge, a five minute walk from village square, took a necessary whirlpool to get our bodies back into shape and then headed to Benedict’s, in the village for libations and dinner, followed by handmade cannoli’s at Village Pie.

The next morning was the day of challenge-climbing the mountain on an e-bike. What is an e-bike you may ask? An e-bike, in this case is a TREK mountain bike with a battery charged engine. If the hill is too steep and your peddling can’t help you get up the mountain, the turbo engine kicks in, like magic.

Since we vowed to try everything, we changed to golf clothes, at least our version of golf clothes and drove to the Stratton Mountain 27 hole golf course. We chose the nine hole course, teed up, and had an enjoyable two hours plus chasing our golf balls. In reality, the beauty of the environment was all one needed on the golf course.

Afterwards, we had our version of ‘Happy Hour’ at the Green Apron, overlooking the majestic golf course. Our server told us that Stratton Mountain has hosted seven LPGA (women’s) professional golf tournaments over the years.

This short experience has wet our appetitive for more. There are so many ‘Adventure Parks’ to discover in Vermont. The list goes on…Killington…Sugarbush…Stowe…Mount Snow…Pico…Magic Mountain…Jay Peak…Bolton Valley…Mad River Glen….Suicide Six….Okemo…Mount Snow…

Some people want to visit all of the professional baseball stadiums in America.

Not us, we want to visit all of Vermont’s ‘adventure parks’ before the end of 2020.
It’s a goal we can reach. With it, comes bragging rights.











Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Hudson-Berkshire Wine & Food Festival in Chatham, New York by Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley


                                                

We remember attending the first edition of this hometown country festival.

Now, in its 'Seventh Year', the small country festival has not changed much from its roots. What has changed is the high quality of the vendors products. From pickles to artisan cheese, the food vendors have risen to 'gourmet 'levels of quality.

On the beverage end, many products merit national attention. From Bourbon to vodka to wine, new companies with high goals fill the pavilion with generous samples for the thousands that attend each day.

Admission is $25 for tasting admission and $10 for general admission.
There is no greater bargain in the country.

As a yearly event, plan on attending in the future, on either Saturday or Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
The 11am to 5pm event takes place at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in Chatham, New York. Chatham is located less then an hour to Albany, N.Y. or the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Its a fun, family day that includes music, food vendors, tons of wine and spirit samples, kids activities and the feel of the country.




Thursday, May 16, 2019

Roses For All Seasons-What I Am Drinking by Philip S. Kampe




                                                


Springtime has arrived, even in New England (May 2019), where I was stopped on Sunday for two hours on the Massachusetts Turnpike, due to a snow storm. Several inches of snow accumulated on the ground, a constant reminder that winter hasn’t totally disappeared.

Putting that situation behind me, a couple of weeks after Easter, I realize, in both good and bad weather, Rose wine is the perfect substitute to brighten your day. 

I’m in Narragansett, Rhode Island for the next four days-an escape from the end of  winter- to tour this beautiful state and enjoy time to spend with friends, while catching up on so many articles that I am behind.

This is not one, but, an article that, hopefully, will open your mind and palate to what Rose wine has to offer, year round. Even in the off, non height of summer season.

The high today is 59F. It is 42F and early morning. No rain in the forecast-only sunshine.
What that means to me is quite simpley its Rose time.

Choosing Rose wine has always been simple, because, most bottles are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. Lately, Rose can be made from any varietal, so, the choices keep growing.

There are numerous Roses that I favor-those are the ones I brought with me to drink, while on this writers vacation. An organic wine and a wine from Israel are among my choices

Let me tell you about them:

PEYRASSOL Cuvee de la Caommanderie 2018 A.O.P. Cotes de Provence ($21)
Overly fruity, yet, light, with a hint of tannins, this Rose is sophisticated and is always ready to drink. Raspberries mixed with citrus dominate the palate. This Rose is so elegant, it can be used as an aperif or as an after dinner drink (In this case it is my breakfast)

FRESCOBALDI ALIE Rose 2017  ($19)
I Love Frescobaldi. This wine is both alluring in appearance, and bright on the palate. I drink it overly chilled, so, the ripe, red fruit and earthy flower nuances appear. It seems that all Frescobaldi wines are elegant and this one follows suit.

CANELLA Pinot Noir Rose Brut NV  ($23)
Character and class sum up this lively sparkling Rose, loaded with millions of bubbles that pop with flavorful fruit explosions of flavor. Production of only 100,000 bottles shouldn’t keep up with the demand for this show stopper of a wine.

LA BERNARDE ‘La Hauts du Lue; Rose 2018  ($15)
Quite a magical blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Mouvedre make up a mineral laden, velvety Rose full of peach, vanilla, cherry and grapefruit flavors that captivate your palate. Organic.

JACQUES CAPSOUTO Vignobles Cuvee EVA Rose de Gaililee Villages 2017  ($23)
A wonderful Rhone style blend, with bright citrus that lights up the room. A truly refreshing wine that cools you down on a warm summer day, with its refreshing acidity and lively fruit flavors. This wine is from Israel.

Philip S. Kampe
                                     









Tuesday, May 14, 2019

'Nino Franco' Celebrates 100 Years of Prosecco: 1919-2019 by Philip S. Kampe




                                  Primo Franco, The Architect of Modern Day Prosecco








 Prosecco may be ‘the newest sparkling wine’ to dominate the crowded bubbly market, but is Prosecco a new sparkling wine or has it been around and has been recently re-discovered?

That was the question I posed to Primo Franco, the voice and ambassador for his family’s
’Nino Franco’ winery from Veneto. They are a major Prosecco producer thanks to Antonio Franco who founded the winery in Valdobbiadene (Italy) in 1919, a mere ‘hundred years’ ago.

Antonio was a first generation winemaker who passed the reigns to son Nino, who, in time, passed it on to his son, Primo, who I dined with. Primo earned his diploma from the prestigious Conegliano Veneto, school of enology, and has guided the winery ever since.

Primo, as one can tell upon meeting him, is overly organized and philosophical about Cantine Franco. He elaborated that his mission was to make the best Prosecco in the marketplace.

To obtain his goal, thirty years ago, Primo, the enologist, experimented with planting techniques. He concluded that he favored old clones.

Glera, at least 85%, is the main grape variety used to produce Prosecco. Up to 15% of Pinot Bianco, Bianchetta, Verdiso, Perera, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio are allowed to be mixed with the Glera varietal. Glera was originally known as Prosecco, but, was changed to stop confusion regarding the town of Posecco.

Glera is an indigenous varietal. The grape grows in large clusters and is very thin-skinned. It is a cool climate grape that grows best on hillsides. On a trip to the area, the steepness of the vineyards astounded me. Each hillside had its own microclimate. The end result is in the grapes. Consistent acid paired with low alcohol are the make-up from the hilly strips of land in the province of Treviso. The Primo Franco plantings lie somewhere in-between the major towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. The region gained DOCG status in 2009 and represents the top tier of Prosecco production.

The Prosecco’s that I sampled from Nino Franco lived up to all expectations. Primo has been called the architect of the worldwide Prosecco explosion and his wines are all ‘All-Star’ status. By dedicating his life to Prosecco, Primo has changed the world’s taste buds.

He has introduced DOCG Prosecco to the world and should go down in history as the architect of modern-day Prosecco.

The four ‘Nino Franco’ Proseccos I recommend trying yo start your journey into Primo Franco’s World are:

Primo Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 ($37)
Classified as dry, I found this to be somewhat sweet, although it contains only 30-32 G/L sugar. The Charmat Method is used. The final product is elegant, full of green apple, tangerine, nutella qualities and walnut dust.

Vigneto Della Riva Di San Floriano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 ($37)
This was a wonderful Brut that was persistent on the palate and quite intense. It certainly was a dignified Prosecco that could and should be drunk on its own, if one chooses. Superior by all standards.

Rustico NV ($24)
A fruity,lively Charmat Method Brut that works perfectly as an aperitif or as an after dinner sparkler. It’s a perfect hors d’oeuvre wine made with 100% Glera grapes.

Faive Rose Brut 2017 ($29)
A wonderful twist that sets Nino Franco apart from other vineyards in the region is Primo’s grape selection. Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, this bubble-filled Rose has all of the qualities that should make this bubbly the life of a party-think summer.

If you have further interest in learning about Primo Franco and Nino Franco wines, visit their website at: www.ninofranco.it 
The website is in both Italian and English.
It is a wonderful resource that acquaints you with Prosecco and how the Franco family contributed to Prosecco’s growth.











Tuesday, April 30, 2019

B O B A L.......B O B A L....B O B A L....B O B A L....by Philip S. Kampe







                                                                       B O B A L

Years ago, I spent time, as a tourist during years of epic travel in a Volkswagen camper, at the yearly pageantry of the ‘Las Fallas’ (the fires) religious event that took place in the city center of Valencia, in southeast Spain. Fires were lit at numerous intersections of the city to commemorate Saint Joseph.

While in Valencia, known for its paella, I recall that the wines from the area, Utiel-Requena, which comprise the interior plains of the province of Valencia, were unlike other wines that passed through my lips during this journey.

At a local restaurant in the center of historical Valencia was a restaurant with outdoor seating. I took a seat and ordered lunch (I was a vegetarian at the time). I also ordered a bottle of red wine from the region and was soon to learn that the wine was made with the Bobal grape. Understanding what I was drinking was important to me. It was the time when the internet didn’t exist and libraries and bookstores were your best friend.

It seems like wherever you travel in Europe, someone, wherever you are knows about wine. And in this case, a veteran wine connoisseur from Valencia eagerly sat next to me and started explaining about the wine-most specifically, the Bobal varietal. With pride, Fernando (his name) explained graphically about the 2,700 year history of winemaking in the Iberian Peninsula. Clearly, from his soliloquy, Bobal was the signature grape of the Utiel-Requena DO.

We shared the bottle as he spoke of the intense color of the wine. It was indicative of the concentrated, over-the-top fruit forward flavor that preceded the pronounced acidity that conquers your mid-palate. Add some spice and a long, robust finish to the profile and you have Bobal.

Fernando explained that Bobal was primarily a blending grape and it was rare to find bottles with the single varietal.
I felt blessed.

Fast forward many years to 2002-the year I entered the wine arena. As my journey from the cheese world (I was a cheese writer and educator) evolved into the wine world, I would never look back.

With the world of wine as my palate and so many worldwide winegrowing regions to learn about, my thoughts of Bobal disappeared until 2017, when wine educator Nora Favelukas, invited me to participate in her wine seminar focusing on Utiel-Requena and her journey to learn about the Bobal varietal.

Déjà vu.

Since 2002 and my taste of Bobal, to the present day, the Bobal (blending) grape has emerged as a single varietal. In fact, it’s the third most planted grape in Spain and is on its path to stardom. I know, because I had the opportunity to return to Utiel-Requena a month ago and sampled Bobal in many styles and from the many vineyards I visited.  

Generally, many of the wines I sampled have not made their way to America, yet, but may be where you are. With so many international readers of The Wine Hub, chances are that you could find Bobal. If not, do as we do and order your Bobal online.

If you are as curious as I am about Bobal, look for wines from these estates or if you visit Utiel-Requena, try and visit these vineyards:

BODEGA SIERRA NORTE www.bodegasierranorte.com
Manolo Olmo, winemaker, produces exceptional certified organic wines. The soil on the vineyard was overly rocky and may be the key to how integrated the Sierra Norte wines are. Manolo focuses on Bobal and shared a beautiful Rose that paired perfectly with three styles of paella that were served. Export manager, Ricardo Calatayud explained that this Bogeda was one of the first to plant Bobal (1914).

PAGO de THARSYS   www.pagodetharsys.com 
Having sampled the Unico Brut Reserva’ at Vinexpo in New York, I was overly excited to visit the vineyard and meet winemaker Vincent Garcia. My goal was to tell Mr. Garcia how exceptional his sparkling Bobal was and how extraordinary the iconic bottle with the artistic ceramic hanging was. My wish was granted and exceeded as Vincent Garcia opened three aged sparkling bottles, like the first, using the methode traditionelle. We shared three extraordinary reservas, a 2013,2014 and 2015, aged anywhere from 24 to 40 months.  

BODEGAS CHERUBINO VALSANGIACOMO  www.valsangiacomo.es
Old vines (40-60 years), new technology and the Bobal de San Juan project make this new (1997) vineyard with vines at 3,000 feet a must to both visit and sample their Bobal red and rose wines fermented in concrete tanks. The San Juan  project began in 2008 with the goal of raising worldwide awareness and recognition of the prestigious Bobal grape. Blessed with the Solano winds and a Mediterranean climate, the Bobal varietal shows its character at Bodegas Cherubino Valsangiacomo.

DOMINGO de la VEGA   www.domingodelavega.com 
Simplicity, humility, experience, professionalism and a lot of perseverance are some of the values father and son vineyard owners, Emilio and Daniel Exposito, exhibit. They are committed to focus on Bobal, as the native grape variety of their choice. The Finca La Beata, 2006, 2012 and 2016 were testimonials that exposed Bobals aging capabilities.

GRUPO COVINAS   www.covinas.com 
Joining forces in the 60’s, ten cooperatives created Grupo Covinas and to date, own 41% of the vines in Utiel-Requena. Three thousand farmers are members of Grupo Covinas. Many Bobal wines have emerged from Grupo Covinas and are exported to thirty countries worldwide. Look for the 2018 Autentico and the 2017 Aula Rose, both 100% Bobal.
CHOZAS CARRASCAL  www.chozacarrascal.es 
Winemaker and grandson of the founders Julian Lopez and Jose Maria Peidro, Julian Lopez Peidro, was our guide at the museum quality winery that boasts an indexed collection of over two million wine labels. That’s another story. Certified organic, the winery, which launched its first wine in 2003 after acquiring the property in 1990. Jose explained that originally Bobal was a blending grape, a philosophy that believe in today. They grow eleven international varieties and use Bobal to blend with these grapes. The outcome, as illustrated by the 2016 Los Ochos (30% Bobal) was off the charts.

MARQUES del ATRIO  www.marquisdelatrio.com 
Since the late 19th century, the Rivero family has run the company. Today, the fourth and fifth generation continue to run Marquis del Atrio, although now owned by a Chinese group. With vineyards throughout Spain, the Utiel-Requena location, complete with an underground candlelit tasting room, brought the best out of Faustino 2013 Reserva (90% Bobal).

BODEGAS VIBE  www.bodegasvibe.com 
Winemaker Juan Carlos Garcia knows how to make Bobal a friendly wine, as we experienced with the 2017 Venusto, a deep cherry, full-bodied wine, which was full of dark fruit followed by licorice and eucalyptus. Owner, Raul Vincent Bezjak, led us through the tasting.

BODEGAS & VINEDOS LADRON de LUNAS  www.ladrondelunes.com 
Fernando Martinez, sixth generation winemaker, made a lifelong impression with his make shift tasting room in an underground cave, full of centuries old amphorae’s. Mr. Martinez said that it was first for him, tasting wines in this historical cave. The 15 month aged Exclusive LDL, with its fresh and intense plum and gooseberry aromas gave way to an acidic, well-balanced, integrated wine with a persistent ending.

Bobal wines from Utiel-Requena are a treat and should be discovered by wine lovers around the world. Learn more about Bobal at: www.utielrequena.org 




Philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 
Philip S. Kampe






Friday, April 19, 2019

2019 Easter Wine Suggestions by Philip S. Kampe




                                                Easter 2019 Wine Suggestions

                                          DANGIN Champagne  ($38)
Lovely, elegant and balanced. Bright fruit and wonderful depth.

                                         Ca di Pesa 'TRAMONTO' dry Rose 2017  ($28).
This lovely 100% Sangiovese Rose is from Tuscany. Medium-bodied with lively acidity makes this a perfect
holiday wine.

                                         Le CARTUJA  Prorat Red   2016 ($21)
Pure, full-bodied Garnacha (70%) Mazuelo (30%) mix that possess dark fruit notes paired with high acidity.If you grill meat for the holiday, this is your wine.

                                        Il GRULLAIO Costa Toscana 2016  ($16)
An usual Tuscan wine that is made from equal amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Earthy with dark fruit and lather blend to make this a perfect wine for the holidays.

                                        Storia Italia AMARONE della Valpolicella 2015  ($48)
A wonderfully balanced, newly released Amarone with wonderful underlying structure.  Pure concentration of fruit makes this wine explode with flavor.



Thursday, April 4, 2019

The BOBAL Journey Begins by Philip S. Kampe




                                                      The Bobal Journey and Quiz

The pursuit of red wine has always been one of my goals. Whether it’s a red Burgundy, a glass of Amarone or Primitivo or a Cabernet Sauvignon, I am a happy person when the juice of the red grape hits my discerning palate.

Not so long ago I sampled a red varietal (grape) that was overly friendly (juicy and delicious) and destined to be one of my new ‘go to’ grapes.  I attended a seminar on the Bobal varietal, led by one of the wine world’s luminaries, Nora Favelukas. Within the seminar hour I was converted.

The next day, I  arrived  home (western Massachusetts). It was time to  to pursue my  Bobal studies at home. I did my homework. (I always like to understand the muse I follow)

I learned that Bobal was Spain’s third most planted grape, after Tempranillo and Airen. Why hadn’t I heard of the grape until now? It is planted elsewhere, (France and Sardinia) but in small plots, In Spain it thrives.

D.O.Utiel-Requena, is known as the ‘Land of Bobal.’

Located in southeast Spain, about an hour plus from beautiful Valencia, Utiel-Requena is sun-drenched. The region has produced wine for 2700 years. It is also on the list to become a UNESCO Heritage World Site in the near future. With over 100 vineyards and 70,000 acres of Bobal, the future growth of this region and the grape should be immediate. That is why I am writing this article.

The problem is, its difficult to find Bobal in your neighborhood wine shop. I have tried and have had to order online to secure bottles to sample. I don’t want to be the only Bobal voice, but, once you taste the wine, you will understand my position.

Bobal means ‘bull’. According to folklore, the large clusters of grapes resembles a bull’s head. The grapes are thick-skinned, deep in color and rich (full) bodied. Its not until recently that the grape has headed towards stardom. In the last 2700 years, the grape was mainly a blending grape and a grape whose skins were used to color Rose wine.

With the latest generation of young winemakers throughout the region and their pursuit  to success, coupled with the older winemakers of the region, the direction of Bobal production has changed or done an about face.

Now, the grape will be defined by the winemaker who will certainly retain the elegance and robust complexity that make Bobal special. Sure, notable dark fruits dominate the palate. Think fig, prune, plum, blueberry and blackberry,

The province of Valencia has three D.O’s, Valencia, Alicante and Utiel-Requena, home of Bobal.

Bobal’s newly acquired nobility has created a unified need for the local wine association to represent Utiel-Requena, (Learn more at: www.utielrequena.org).

Utiel-Requena is located less then fifty miles from the Mediterranean Sea. The  combination of both the Mediterranean and Continental climate is defined simply as dry and hot, with short summers and cold and long winters.The air is often windy. Insects don't like wind. Vineyards do, so, many vineyards are organic and practice sustainability.

Alluvial soil and clay with limestone deposits are the home base of Bobal. The warm, dry winds of the Piniente, from the west, passes through the region. The altitude is between 1,950 feet to 2,960 feet. 80% of the vineyards are planted with Bobal. Bobal is grown mainly in Utiel-Requena, as well as neighboring Manchela, Alicante and Murcia.

The region is quite historical, establishing a D.O. in the 1930’s. In those days, Bobal was used as a blending grape, as were many other international varietals. The problem with Bobal is the fact that the clusters ripen unevenly. A positive note is with late flowering, frost is rarely a problem. Bobal likes heat and with the new generation of winemakers, we are learning that Bobal ages well.

The wines from Utiel-Requena follow the Spanish classification rules. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva are common, as well as the word ‘Tradicion’ , which is on the bottle, guaranteeing a minimum of at least 70% of the varietal is in the blend. Vinification of Bobal is called doble pasta.

With over one hundred wineries and cooperatives, Utiel-Requena has the potential to become well known. Aren’t wine drinkers looking for the next, new varietal to try?

It may take a few years for this to happen, but, little by little, Bobal will reach the wine shops in your neighborhood. And if you are curious, ask your wine merchant to order Bobal or order Bobal online.

What you will get: a wine with low alcohol, elegant acidity and smooth tannins. Lots of fruit, while the bouquet is herbaceous. Plus, bottles are reasonably priced.

I sampled Bobal from the list of wineries below:
Sierra Norte
Marques del Atrio
Covinas
Dominio de la Vega
Chozas Carrascal
Bodegas Vibe
Valsangiacomo
Pago de Tharsys
Ladron de Lunas

Hope you find your Bobal.

Are you ready for a Bobal quiz?


The BOBAL Quiz

On a recent trip to the Utiel-Requena region of southeast Spain, near Valencia, I had the opportunity to learn about the Bobal varietal. Several years ago, I attended a seminar on Bobal, led by charismic wine educator Nora Favelukas, who opened my curiosity about this ‘fabled grape.’

I’m wondering how much you know about the Bobal grape?  
Let’s take a Quiz.
The correct answers are at the bottom…

1) Bobal is grown where?

a) Spain, France and Sardinia
b) Spain, France nd Portugal
c) Spain and Portugal
d) Spain, Sicily and Portugal

2) Bobal is the ……. most planted grape in Spain.

a) first
b) second
c) third
d) forth

3) Does Bobal have pyrazines?

 a) Yes
 b) No

4) Bobal generally grows on what type of soil(s)?

a) alluvial
b) clay
c) limestone
d) alluvial, clay with limestone

5) What percentage of the Bobal varietal is planted in Utiel-Requena, as compared to all other grapes planted in the region?

a) 50%
b) 60%
c) 70%
d) 80%

6) The word Bobal derives from bovale, meaning?

a) donkey
b) fox
c) bull
d) bobcat

7) Bobal follows the Spanish classified rules. Crianza is aged in oak for three months, Reserva has a minimum of twelve months in oak.  What is the minimum aging in oak for Gran Reserva?

a) 18 month
b) 24 months
c) 36 months
d) 48 months

8) Bobal grows in what type of climate(s)?

a) Continental
b) Mediterranean
c) Continental and Mediterranean

9) The Bobal grape has…..and is…..

a) thin skins and early budding
b) thick skins and is late budding

10) Bocal is permitted in the wines of……

a) Murcia
b) Alicante
c) Manchuela
d) Valencia
e) Valencia, Manchela, Alicante and Murcia


Answers:
1) a
2) c
3) b
4) d
5) d
6) c
7) b
8) c
9) b
10) e


The quiz was a way to introduce you to BOBAL, as well as a selfish way for me to learn about the varietal.

Philip S.Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 



















Monday, April 1, 2019

BOBAL- The Wine Quiz by Philip S. Kampe

                                                                  BOBAL


                                                                The BOBAL Quiz

On a recent trip to the Utiel-Requena region of southeast Spain, near Valencia, I had the opportunity to learn about the Bobal varietal. Several years ago, I attended a seminar on Bobal, led by charismatic wine educator Nora Favelukas, who opened my curiosity about this ‘fabled grape.’

I’m wondering how much you know about the Bobal grape?  
Let’s take a Quiz.
The correct answers are at the bottom…

1) Bobal is grown where?

a) Spain, France and Sardinia
b) Spain, France nd Portugal
c) Spain and Portugal
d) Spain, Sicily and Portugal

2) Bobal is the ……. most planted grape in Spain.

a) first
b) second
c) third
d) forth

3) Does Bobal have pyrazines?

 a) Yes
 b) No

4) Bobal generally grows on what type of soil(s)?

a) alluvial
b) clay
c) limestone
d) alluvial, clay with limestone

5) What percentage of the Bobal varietal is planted in Utiel-Requena, as compared to all other grapes planted in the region?

a) 50%
b) 60%
c) 70%
d) 80%

6) The word Bobal derives from bovale, meaning?

a) donkey
b) fox
c) bull
d) bobcat

7) Bobal follows the Spanish classified rules. Crianza is aged in oak for three months, Reserva has a minimum of twelve months in oak.  What is the minimum aging in oak for Gran Reserva?

a) 18 month
b) 24 months
c) 36 months
d) 48 months

8) Bobal grows in what type of climate(s)?

a) Continental
b) Mediterranean
c) Continental and Mediterranean

9) The Bobal grape has…..and is…..

a) thin skins and early budding
b) thick skins and is late budding

10) Bocal is permitted in the wines of……

a) Murcia
b) Alicante
c) Manchuela
d) Valencia
e) Valencia,Manchela, Alicante and Murcia


Answers:
1) a
2) c
3) b
4) d
5) d
6) c
7) b
8) c
9) b
10) e


Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Finally a Pinot Grigio I Like by Philip S. Kampe



                                                          Terlato Pinot Grigio 2017

Its really been a long time since I have truly liked a Pinot Grigio to the point that I want to write about my experience. For years, Pinot Grigio wines seem to be the wines one drinks at receptions or weddings. Its been quite awhile since I have taken the initiative to purchase a bottle on my own.

Recently, a wine friend influenced my decision to purchase a bottle (under $20) of Estate Grown Pinot Grigio from Terlato Vineyards. The vineyards are in northeastern Italy, in the Fruili Colli Orientali region.
Doing a little homework on the wine before sampling the bottle, I learned that this wine was handcrafted from start to finish. The vineyards are hillside and lie on soils of schist and marl. The vines are 20-30 years old and are Guyot-trained. They are hand harvested and bottled in darker bottles to help protect the quality of the wine from the sun.

My first sip of the wine found the 2017 to be complex and crisp. Flavors of fresh fruit burst in my mouth.It was obvious to me that concentrated flavors of peach and grapefruit sang their tune, while pears and apricots pierced my palate in-between the primary notes. The combination lent itself to a floral, fruity bouguet, one that was appealing in all aspects. Layers of fruit filled my mouth which burst into a crisp, acidic finish.

This luscious wine is 13% abv and is aged 6-8 months on the yeasts with weekly battonage. It is fermented in stainless steel tanks. There is no malolactic fermentation used in the process.

As of late, this is the best Pinot Grigio I have tasted in several years. Its worth a buy and should be rated at 94 points.
Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Experience by Philip S. Kampe



                The San Miguel de Allende Experience

(We took a little break from the wine world for a  month or so to see what the world has to offer, tourist wise. We traveled to California, New Orleans and Mexico. This article is on one of the highlights of our travels)

San Miguel de Allende was the first town in Mexico, that I visited that was home to a large number of ex-pats. Close to twenty per cent of the population, or about 28,000 retires from America plus thousands from Canada line the cobblestone streets in numbers, searching for cultural events, restaurants, outdoor markets and that street side taco stand. Besides all of the above, San Miguel is an artistic learning center, full of art related lectures that educate and stimulate the mind, strolling musicians, opera, flamingo and musical entertainment in a hefty number of restaurants and bars. Many of the ex-pats are artists or are on their way to becoming artists. Every block has art galleries,some owned by ex-pats and others owned by locals.

If art is your thing, then San Miguel de Allende should be on your bucket list.

A multitude of art studios and art galleries dot the colorful town in all of the districts. The houses and businesses are all painted in similar dark red, brown and orange colors, making this town of 140,000 unique.

If you desire to visit or even move to San Miguel, the easiest route to visit this elegant town is to fly into Mexico City. Once at the airport, you will prepay a taxi vendor to book a taxi that will take you to the Norte bus station. It’s a 20-30 minute drive that will set you back $10-$15 dollars. At the bus station, you must book a bus to San Miguel de Allende. There are two reputable companies that vie for the four hour ride. Both ETN and Primera Plus follow the same route. It’s always best to take the next bus that is leaving.

Once in San Miguel, another taxi will be required to get you to your destination. Ours was a weeks stay at a penthouse above the popular Arroyo Gallery, located within walking distance of everything in San Miguel.

The owner of the penthouse and studio is Suzy Taylor, an ex-pat, who most recently (2007) lived in Washington Depot, Connecticut. Like so many others, she realized that San Miguel would fill her dream of opening a working studio and gallery. After purchasing land, Suzy Taylor designed the 3,000 sf multi-purpose building. Her dream became reality.

Today, Ms.Taylor, is a successful gallery owner that not only paints, but, designs clothes, focusing on women’s blouses ($85-$200) and furniture, which is made by local artisans. She also has a line of  jewelry that she sells.

Suzy’s background is in interior design. She was a photo stylist and magazine editor for Victoria Magazine and other publications. Her painting career has evolved through the years. Focusing on light, airy colors and composition, Suzy’s artwork is like none other in San Miguel.

The third floor penthouse that we stayed in was breathtaking, both inside and out. The views of the city, with its architecture and countless steeples could not have been better. A beautiful silhouette of the city could be seen from inside the penthouse. There are two outside terraces, as well, to take in the scenery while having a cocktail on the veranda. We preferred to hear the birds sing as we took breakfast on the covered terrace. The apartment has a galley kitchen, a coffee maker (coffee beans and milk provided) and a two burner hotplate with utensils as needed. With so many restaurants within walking distance,why cook?

San Miguel has happy hours daily. Normally 2x1 Margaritas are the prize. The Margaritas are not made with a mix. They are only made with two parts of Tequila, one part lime juice and one part Contreau (you can use triple sec).

With a Mardi Gras attitude and art mixed with local architecture, San Miguel is hard to beat.
Beware--Summers are very hot.

If you want to stay at Suzy Taylor’s penthouse or visit her studio at Arroyo Gallery, visit her at www.suzytaylor.com

                                                                 Arroyo Gallery



                                                       Artist Suzy Taylor, at work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Piper-Heidsieck Flows Liberally At The 2019 Oscar Party by Philip S. Kampe



                                     
Let me be honest.

I attend Oscar parties, not for the nominated movie announcements, but, for the Champagne. This is the fifth year, Piper-Heidsieck is the Champagne of choice at the 91st Oscars, which takes place on February 24th. Fortunately, thanks to contacts in the industry, I received an invite to view the live announcements from Hollywood.

The announcement party takes place at a popular iPic theater in Manhattan, where the seats have tables-sorta like boxes at concerts. Champagne, at each table is flowing as we watch the big screen with the announcements.

I was a bit surprised that the hosts, Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis, making the Oscar announcement did not have a glass of the red labeled Piper-Heidsieck Champagne in their hands.

My Piper Heidsieck days go back to Cannes Film Festival (1999) when Piper-Heidsieck started their twenty year run as the official Champagne of the festival. My father remembers seeing Rex Harrison standing next to a 48 liter bottle of Piper-Heidsieck in 1964, celebrating his role in ‘My Fair Lady.’

Historically, Piper-Heidsieck, originally supported the cinema in 1933, when a bottle appeared in a Laurel and Hardy movie, ‘Sons of the Desert.’ The first bottle of Piper Heidsieck was created for the Queen in 1785. The brand has always been synonymous with quality and excellence.

The 2019 Oscar nominations ran the gamut, from predictable, ‘A Star Is Born’ to new wave, home viewing movies like ‘Roma.’ Other nominations for Best Picture included, ‘Vice’, ‘BlackKlansman’, Green Book’, Black Panther’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘The Favourite.’

For the 91st Oscar nominations, Piper-Heidsieck created a limited edition magnum-which you can see in the photo. It is being  held by MC Michael Green (the guy in the red and gold jacket..)

The Oscar nominations each year carry a lot of surprises, Noticeable milestones this year included the ‘Black Panther’, the first Marvel Studio movie and the first superhero movie to receive a Best picture nomination. Popular, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was passed over, as was Bradley Cooper for Best director in ‘A Star Is Born.’ And last, but not least, Netflix streaming movie, ‘Roma,’ received ten Oscar nominations.

The 91st Academy Awards take place at 8pm (EST) on ABC.
Make sure your Piper-Heidsieck is chilling…

Philip S. Kampe
Philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 
                                                         The Oscar Party Begins

                                                                 MC Michael Green
                          Working on this article at home, with my Favorite Beverage.









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