Monday, October 8, 2018

'FEEL THE HEEL' of Puglia Wine Country by Philip S. Kampe & Maria Reveley

                                                     'FEEL THE HEEL'
When you speak about the boot of Italy, many people are unaware that the reference is to Puglia.

Puglia is the boot of Italy.

Some of my favorite red wines come from Puglia. It is the easternmost region in Italy, known as the ‘boot or heel’ of Italy.

Isn’t it time to ‘Feel The Heel’ of Italy?

Puglia is a long, narrow peninsula bordered by two seas, the Ionian and the Adriatic. Puglia is the least mountainous region in Italy. The few mountains that exist are from the southern Apwnnine chain. The second group of mountains that run through Puglia have high, steep cliffs and are known as the Gargano Hills.

Half of the territory is flat, like a pancake. The flat plains are called Tavoliere delle Puglia, while other smaller plains exist throughout  the territory, one id the Terrra di Bari and the other is known as Pianura Salentino.

Puglia is a land where ancient settlers left innumerable monuments throughout the territory. The land is rich in culinary traditions, thanks to the millions of olive trees, wine and the bounty of the sea. (I was told that there are more olive trees in Puglia then people)

Puglia is divided into six provinces: Bari, Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce, Taranto and Barletta-Andria-Tranim the newest, established in 2004.

Since wine is my focus, I realize that the two seas that border Puglia are a gift for the vineyards. The seas influence paired with the hot summers help make the wines acidic, which is perfect for food pairing. With over 325 miles of coastline and vineyards near the coast, it is no surprise how large of an effect the coastline of Puglia has on the vineyards.

The three main indigenous grapes that make Puglia unique are: Primitivo di Manduria (the grape I will focus on this coming week), Negroamaro and Nero di Troia. Primitivo, from central Puglia, means ‘the first’ because the grape is the first to mature. The characteristics of the Primitivo grape differ from most other varietals is due to its size. The berries are small clusters with skins that have medium thickness. Early maturation (late August) helps create a very juicy pulp which comes from the naturally high concentration of sugars in the grapes.

The resulting wines are often opulent with obvious cherry overtones.

Primitivo has the same DNA as Zinfandel, so, don’t be afraid to try it. You already know it by a different name.
The red grapes of Puglia make way for some interesting white varietals, of which, these my favorites: Verdeca, Bombino Bianco, Fiano, Bianco D;Alessano and Moscato Reale.

Northern Puglia wines, with its undulating weather conditions, differs from the bitter hot weather conditions in the south. The main red grape from this area is Nero di Troia, a black, thick skin, late maturing grape, whose flavor resembles a peppery blackberry.

The third most important red grape is Negroamaro, which grows with passion in southern Puglia, home of Brindisi and Lecce. The word, Nnegroamaro, comes from the Latin and Greek words meaning ;black.’ Historically speaking, Negroamaro, is the oldest cultivated grape variety in Puglia. The grape has been around for the past three thousand years. The grape is small and compact, creating simple clusters. Thick skin grapes that are compact, like Negroamaro, create wonderful wines that age well. Hints of thyme and licorice define this overly acidic varietal.

All in all, the upcoming visit to Puglia, will educate me, so, I can ‘FEEL THE HEEL’

Philip S. Kampe

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 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Rose of the (Holiday) Week (end) by Philip S. Kampe


                                                 My favorite rose wine bottle design

One of the many things I love about Rose is its versatility.

Roses are getting a lot more complex these days, with winemakers using indigenous grapes, as well as those using classic, red grapes, like Sangiovese or Syrah, in this Casillero del Diablo (the devil's cellar) 2017 Reserva Rose.

The bottom line is what consumers look for is an easy drinking rose that pairs with the majority of foods, and a wine that could double as an apertif. The goal is to find a wine that doesn't break the bank-unless you love Tavel. the classic 'rose.'

Since the holiday weekend is approaching, in fact, its here.
Today is Friday and Labor Day is Monday.

The 'Rose Wine of the Week' that I have saved for the holiday weekend is a rose that is BBQ friendly, retails under ten dollars ($10) and in my mind is the perfect rose for the Labor Day Weekend.

Casillero del Diablo
2017 Reserva Rose
13% alcohol
100% Shiraz grapes
Fermented in stainless steel
Winemaker Marcello Papa
Producer: Concho y Toro (Chile)

Over one-hundred years ago, Concho y Toro owner, Don Melchor, spread a rumor, specifically, so, he could keep the best batches of his wines away from strangers. He wanted to keep the wines in his private reserve. He created a haunting rumor that the devil lived in his winery and named the devil, Casillero Del Diablo, 'The Devil's Cellar'.

Winemaker Marcello Papa explained that the wine is made by vinifying red Shiraz grapes, as if it were a white wine. The end result is a soft, refreshing, easy to drink wine that is closer to a red wine on your palate then a white, The aromas of cherry and raspberry are followed by classic red wine palate flavors of dark plums, spice and fresh blackberries lead to a crisp, fresh, food friendly flavor.

At under ten dollars per bottle, this versatile rose surpasses its price point in many ways. Its great with just about anything-pasta, BBQ, burgers, fresh cheeses and salads.

Rose can be made in so many styles with a multitude of grapes. This wine, as mentioned earlier is made with Shiraz, the other name for Syrah, the grape you probably know.

The holiday weekend is here.
Think rose.

Philip S. Kampe 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sustainable 'Rose of the Week' from Calabria by Philip S. Kampe


                                                            'Sustainable ' Rose of the Week'
Pescanera Rosato 2017

The ‘Rose of the Week’ is made from a rare grape, Greco Nero. Grown on the Ippolito estate in the heart of Calabria’s  (Italy) wine-growing region, in historic Ciro Marina, near the Ionian Sea.

Rolling hills mixed with plains filled with sun, this 950 foot vineyard, founded in 1845 by Vincenzo Ippolito, maintains sustainable farming practices. Besides Greco Nero, the  Ippolito winery grows an array of indigenous grapes, such as Pecorello, Calabrese and Gaglioppo.

The 2017 Pescanera Rose is terroir driven-just like the rest of the portfolio. The wine is fruity without being acidic. Nice structure, with a long, fresh finish.

My belief is that this Rose would make a great aperitif. It is lively and fresh, with a light minerality that comes from wines near the sea.

Salmon pink in color, the aromas seduce you immediately. An intense floral boutique hangs over citrus undertones, followed by a whim of white pepper.

The nose is a crowd pleaser.

The grapes are hand harvested, softly crushed without maceration.

At 13% alcohol and available for under $20, this 2017 Ippolito Pescanera Rose is an IGT worth looking into. It pairs favorably with shelled seafood and soft, fresh cheese. Even raspberries and strawberries melt into this luscious wine.

When was the last time you had a Rose from Calabria?

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, August 13, 2018

'Rose of the Week'-- a Pinot Grigio from Casata Monfort by Philip S. Kampe


Its not difficult to find a Rose with the grapes that you like.

Take the 2017 Casata Monfort Pinot Grigio as an example. Under $15 and considered a ‘good buy,’ this wine from the Dolomotes (northern Italy) has a lot of fresh, crisp, acidity that holds up on warm summer nights.

Salmon colored and pleasing on the eye, this high quality Trentiono DOC wine, with the Frencch clone, Pinot Gris, grows uninterrupted in the sandy soil near the foothills between Lavis and Trento, where winds dominate through harvest.

Casata Monfort began operations  after WW11, in 1945. Giovanni Simoni founded the vineyard. Today, his grandson, Lorenzo, runs the operation.

With the emerging Rose market, which has been exploding for the past three years, the wines from this vineyard seem to draw attention from those who are after a wine with a full profile, from first sip to last.

Last week, I touted a Sangiovese. This week, a Pinot Grigio.

It’s a lot of fun  to sample these wines bcause each wine has its own story that needs to be shared with our readers. Five years ago, no body drank Rose. Today, obviously, the story is different.

More men buy Rose then women.
That’s a true fact that you should know.
Are you surprised?

'FEEL THE HEEL' of Puglia Wine Country by Philip S. Kampe & Maria Reveley

                                                     'FEEL THE HEEL'                                                    When yo...