Monday, December 30, 2019

Tenuta del Meriggio: A Family Winery In Irpinia by Philip S. Kampe

                                       Tenuta del Meriggio: 'A Family Winery'
                                        In Irpinia, Province of Avellino (Campagnia)

                                              Founder Bruno Pizza with son, Saverio

                                                Founder Nunzia Guerriero
                                          Paulo Sibillo, sales manager, with Bruno Pizza

If you have never visited Campania, a region in southern Italy, facing the dramatic coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the time to go is now. Not only is Campania home to the historic city of Naples, the Amalfi Coast with views of the Island of Capri, it is also home to Irpinia wines whose varietals, many indigenous, grow in the fertile soil of the province.

The Apennine mountain range is the focal point of the province..   

The Province of Avellino, in Irpinia (part of Campania) incorporates beautiful mountain ranges, valleys, lakes and plateaus. It is famous for its culinary products: chestnuts, black truffles, cheese, ham and more.

Many people visit the region solely for its wines. For a not so large geographical area, the Irpinia region has had its success with the excessive number of DOCG wines that are produced.

The area is well known for its Fiano di Avellino; Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Aglianico and Coda di Volpe.  

Avellino province has numerous vineyards, many of which reside in or close to Montemiletto, an ancient mountainous town, with numerous mountain peaks topping 2,000 feet.

The mountains meander in-between valleys and rivers. It’s a beautiful region that dates back to the Stone Age.

Sampling wines from the province of Avellino led me to a Tre Buccheri award winning winery, Tenuta del Meriggio. It is a family owned winery with open space for farming. In relative terms, it is a new winery that has commanded respect, worldwide, for its 2017 Fiano di Avellino being awarded a Tre Buccheri. What that means it that that wine was selected as one of the best wines in Italy and was awarded with that honor.

Tenuta del Meriggio was founded by the husband and wife team of Bruno Pizza and Nunzia Guerriero. Together, their passion for wine led them to this estate in 2010. They purchased 100 acres of land, half of which are planted with both new and older (50 years) vines.

The two adult children of Bruno and Nunzia, Emilia and Saverio are learning the ins and outs of the wine business and with the help of a distinguished staff and consultants, the future of the winery is in good hands.

I spent an afternoon with sales manager, Paolo Sibillo. He explained that production at the winery is 100,000 bottles plus or minus depending on conditions. In future years, output could reach 300,000 bottles, if needed. Domestic sales are 70% of production, with foreign entities, including the United States (California) receiving 30% of production.

The wines produced at the vineyard are: Coda di Volpe DOC; Benevento Falanghia IGT; Fiano di Avellino DOCG; Greco di Tufo DOCG; Irpinia Aglianico DOCG and Taurasi DOCG.

The wines are produced in a new, modern winery at Tenuta del Meriggio. Principles of environmental sustainability dominate with a deep respect for the terroir exists. Vinification can be both traditional and modern. Both stainless steel and oak are used for aging. The cellar has a green roof with a wall that is kept constantly wet by water seeping in from the ground, which guarantees the correct amount of humidity.

My next article will highlight the wines from Tenuta del Meriggio.

Winery: Tenuta del Meriggio
Address: Contrada Serra 78/81A, 83038 Montemiletto (AV) Italy
Telephone: +39 0825 962282

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, November 25, 2019

Superstar Winemaker Alejandro Galaz Is At The Forefront of Winemaking in Chile by Philip S. Kampe

                         Winemaker Alejandro Galaz Is At The Forefront of Winemaking in Chile

Vina Ventisquero winemaker Alejandro Galaz specializes in cool climate wines. His goal through the years is to produce wines that are a sincere expression of elegance, distinction and subtle expression of the varietal.
Alejandro expressed that cool climate winemaking is a challenge. The 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 a minimum of three months before battonage.
Alejandro is a very fortunate winemaker. Several years ago, Chile, had a true wine renaissance. High technology coupled with innovative winemakers has paid big dividends.
The world has been a stage for the wines from Chile. The isolated wine producing region is protected by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes mountains to the east. These two factors have transformed Chile into a rare wine producing country that has not seen measurable climate change.
The wines I sampled are from distinct winegrowing regions in Chile. The Casablanca Valley is not close to the sea. The varietals ripen slowly and are more like a typical vineyard elsewhere in the world. I sampled the HERU Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley, 2017.
Contrasting locations, the Leyda Valley is only four miles from the Pacific Ocean, where morning fog and sea breezes cool the vines. The GREY Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, 2018 was sampled.

Wines made in the Atacama Desert are in one of the driest places in the world. The sea meets the desert is the description Mr. Galaz evoked. The dry environment is home to the red grapes. Pinot Noir and Syrah, as well as home to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Vina Ventisquero produces three exceptional examples of wines from this plateau: TARA Red Wine 1/ Pinot Noir, Atacama 2016; TARA Red Wine 2/ Syrah, Atacama 2016 and TARA White Wine 1/ Chardonnay, Atacama 2016.

One of winemaker Alejanndro Galaz wines was selected as one of 250 wines with a score of 93 points or above by Robert Parkers ‘Matter of Taste’ committee. The event was held at the Ziegfield Ballroom in Manhattan this past weekend. (see photo)

Vina Ventisquero wines are well distributed in America and should be easy to find. All bottles are around $40, with the exception of 2017 Grey Pinot Noir, which retails close to $21.

Philip S. Kampe

Lamarca and Masottina Prosecco DOC: A Holiday Bubbly Tradition by PhilipS. Kampe

We host several Holiday parties, both in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Its a great time to share wines and holiday cheer with your close friends.
I have been the cook for the past twenty-five years. Everyone seems to come for lasagna, a tradition that my wife’s mother, Anna, began years before I was in the picture.
I’m blessed to carry on the tradition.
At one point, when I was in the cheese and gourmet food industry, I would stock up on cheese and easily would serve twenty styles of cheese along with an array of various foods.
Those days are over.
Now, since my life has focused on wine for the past fifteen years, wine is the focus. At parties, though, consumer wines are my go to. That brings us to these two great bubblies that are reasonably priced and are always well received by guests.
Northeastern Italy is famous for sparkling wines. The famous Prosecco growing region is hilly and beautiful. The glera grape is abundant and is the varietal used to make these two, DOC, crowd favorites.
Both Lamarca and Masottina add that special, festive quality that defines the holidays. They are both food friendly, have balanced acidity and enough fizz to whet your appetite. I like to use them as an aperitif, before or after the meal.
The choice is up to you...

Philip S. Kampe

Omni Wines-An Importer/Distributor With A Mission by Philip S. Kampe

In 2000, Omniwines Distributing Company was established in New York. Shortly after that, I met Camilo Ceballos, now wine director for this passionate company that specializes in estate bottled wines that have historical character integrated with heartfelt, inspirational wine making traditions.
Through the years Omniwines has showcased their wines at various tastings throughout Manhattan, where I had the opportunity to sample their focused portfolio.
Wines from Italy dominated at the wine tasting. Those Italian wines were not your usual suspects, but, wines from small producers in remote areas of the twenty provinces in Italy.
The same is true for their offerings from Argentina and Spain.
There are too many special wines to highlight. Its best for you to visit their website, to learn more.
I’ve included a few, random photos of some of the offerings I sampled.

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, November 18, 2019

L’Aperitivo Nonino-The Nonino Women Are Up to It Again by Philip S. Kampe

The Fifth generation of the Nonino family work together in the family business, which was created in Friuli, Italy in 1897. They are master distillers, whose spirits have been recognized worldwide for their quality and high standards.
The first time I sampled a Nonino grappa was at our relatives restaurant, La Capannina, on the island of Capri. Since that day, twenty years ago, Nonino products have been in my life and those that I entertain. 
Needless to say, when the Nonino sisters, Elizabetta, Antonella and Cristina get together and brainstorm about what product to focus on for future sales, a discussion followed about highlighting their grandmothers grappa. 
Their grandmother was Silvia Milocco. She was the first woman in Italy to produce grappa. In 1940 she created L’Aperitivo Nonino. It was lost to the war and just resurfaced as L’Aperitivo Nonino Botanical, thanks to the sisters.
The appetitivo is made with sixteen botanicals, is all natural and for today’s world, is vegan friendly. 
Its a bit bitter, with notes of fresh citrus, white peach, rhubarb and bitter, gentian root. The infusion of berries, herbs, flowers and roots help create a fruity and fresh, citrus product.
Distillation was batch with head and tail removal in artisanal copper steam stills.
I sampled the appetitivo with ice. Its 21% abv went unnoticed:
At close to $40 a bottle, it’s a no brainer. 
Hats off to the Nonino Women!

Philip S. Kampe 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Let's Learn About Greek Varietals by Philip S. Kampe

                                                10GR Founder Manolis Zaranis
                                               Sommelier Kosmas Sarakinis

                                            Let’s Learn About Greek Varietals

Greece is a very large country with volcanic terrain, sandy beaches, lots of sunny islands and tall mountains.

The wines from Greece vary from location to location because the varietals that can develop and mature on one terrain-think high mountains-don’t necessarily do well on the other-think sunny islands.

The wine regions in Greece include three mainland regions : Northern Greece (including Macedonia); Southern Greece,(including Crete); Central Greece,( including Attica); and the Aegean Islands, (including Rhodes and Santorini).

Winemaking dates back nearly 6,500 years. Historically, there is evidence that suggests that the earliest remnants of crushed grapes originated in Greece. 

So, why, after 6,500 years do we know so little about Greek wines?

I was in the same boat. I had limited knowledge about Greek wines until I took a trip to the Island of Rhodes. An hour by air from Athens, Rhodes is  located in the Aegean Sea., nearly touching Turkey.

The food is Mediterranean and the wine scene exists with random tastings day in and day out. The tastings take place all over town, in both the new and the walled Old Town of Rhodes.

Once inside the Old Town, you will find a ‘world class’ wine and spirits shop called “marinos s.a. The shop has been a fixture of the community for generations. Owner, Theofilos Marinos, who I met on my last night, was an impressive, knowledgeable and generous shop owner. He offered to open any bottle in his shop for us to sample. We (Kosmas Sarakinis) said, ‘next time.’

Kosmas manages the hip ‘10GR Wine Bar,’ located below the upscale 10GR Hotel. Owner and entrepreneur Mzanolis Zaranis opened both establishments, under one roof, because of his love for the hospitality business. He is an active owner and loves both businesses.

Kosmas introduced me to the wines from Rhodes-which is a perfect start to the puzzle of Greek wines. Rhodes is home to numerous wine varietals. Two PDO wines are from Rhodes, the PDO Muscat and the PDO Rhodes. Greeks like either sweet or dry wines. Restaurants ask it in that manner. Do you prefer white sparkling or red? Sweet or dry? It makes it easy for the consumer.

The varietals that I sampled from Rhodes were Malagousia, Athiri, Muscat di Trani, Mavrathiriko, Amorgiano, Muscat White and Assyrtiko.

If you can get past the difficult indigenous varietal names, the rest is easy. There are a few varietals that are essential to learn about. You must sample the wines with these grapes and understand what your palate tells you.

After a long conversation with a few Greek wine specialists, there are certain indigenous Greek varietals you should sample and learn about.

Life isn’t just Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Do your homework and search the internet, your local wine shops or your friends wine cellar for these varietals:

That’s a start….

As I mentioned earlier, Greece is a large country with numerous terroirs. Grapes grow everywhere that you travel in Greece. Vineyards are abundant in the Aegean Islands,  Peloponnese, Macedonia, Crete, Epirus, the Ionian Islands and Thessaly.

If you need suggestions for wines, here a few that I sampled at the 10GR Wine Bar.

2017 Alexandris White, Alexandris Winery, Rhodes, Athiri
2017 Patoinos, Domaine Del’, Apocalypse, PGI Dodekanese (Patmos Island) Assyrtiko
2016 Kavalieros, Domaine Sigalas, PDO Santorini, Assyrtiko
2017-2018  Rose, Estate Dimopoulos, PDO Amynyaio, Xinomavro
2017 Nemea, Estate Gofas, PDO Estate Nemea, Agiorgitiko
2017 Mavrostyfo, Papargynou Winery, Lalioti Korinthias, Mavrostyfo
2015 MOV, Petrakopoulos Winery, PGI Sopes of Aenos-Kefalonia, Mavrostyfo
2004 Limnio Kikones, Komotini Thrace
2006 Methistanes, Dougos Winery, Rapsani, Xinomavro-Krasato-Stavroto
2005-2002  Velvet Brut, CAIR, Rhodes, Athiri-Chardonnay
1996 Rose Reserve Brut, CAIR, Rhodes, Athiri-Mandilaria
2016 Methymnaeos, Orange, PGI Lesvos, Chidiriotiko

As I learn about the grapes of Greece, as well as searching wine sellers, local, online or wherever, Ill share my wine experience in America with my readers.
If you didn't know, Astoria, Queens, New York, where my wife grew up, is known to most Greeks as the largest Greek community outside of their homeland. That is where my search for Greek varietals will begin.
Again, I would like to thank Kosmas Sarakinis for starting me on this journey.

Philip S. Kampe 

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

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

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

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: 
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 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:

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).

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.  

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.

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.

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.
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.

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).

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.

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: 
Philip S. Kampe

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