Tuesday, October 26, 2021

40 Years of Winemaking at Russian River Valleys Sonoma-Cutrer by Philip S. Kampe

 Innovation in Winemaking at Sonoma-Cutrer began forty years ago. The focus has always been innovation for this Russian River Valley winery. Doing things right, for the right reasons has always been their mantra, according to founder Brice Jones. 

His focus was to single out one varietal and experiment with the varietal until he got it right. In this case, he started with Chardonnay using old world techniques. The result after many years of trials and tribulations resulted in an award winning Chardonnay with structure, body and flavor. Part of the success must be related to the state-of-the art cooling tunnel that they invented in 1982. Each step of the process from picking the grape to winemaking is under control.

The project of perfecting wines began with Chardonnay and was followed, years later in making Pinot Noir in the Burgundian winemaking style. 

Both wines, the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir offer distinctive, well thought out wines that both hit the bullseye. Winemaker, Mark Schroeder said this recently about Sonma-Cutrer. It resonates with me. “ I could not be more proud and humbled to be part of Sonoma-Cutrer. I am honored to carry the brands storied legacy and am inspired by the great winemakers before me to maintain the consistency of style through 40 years.”

On top of his bold statement regarding the previous winemakers, Winemaker Mick Schroeder is hosting a “Romantic Danube River Cruis For Wine Lovers” from 4-11 April, 2022.  If you have interest, contact: wineclub@expediacruises.com  

Philip S. Kampe


Friday, April 16, 2021

Earth Day is Everyday at Sonoma-Cutrer by Philip S. Kampe


Earth Day is Everyday at Sonoma-Cutrer by Philip S. Kampe

The month of April is the yearly designated month for Earth Day (April 21st) and to many of us, the whole month of April is Earth Month.

Choosing wine to match the love and respect of the earth leads us to search for sustainable wine producers. Their practices help the environment. The wine market is highly competitive. Sustainable wine producers have a marketable edge when it comes to conscious consumers.

In America, specifically California, Sonoma County is the first region to be certified 99% sustainable. Protecting the environment in all wine producing phases is the prime goal of numerous, earth conscious producers. Sonoma-Cutrer is one of the Sonoma companies that follows sustainable practices. Sustainable standards begins with social responsibility, farm planning, water conservation, water reduction, awareness of biodiversity and environmental consciousness. It takes years to achieve these goals.

On March 15, 2015, Sonoma-Cutrer was declared sustainable. The world has taken notice.

The vineyards-Vine Hill, Shiloh, Owsley, Less Pierres, Kent and Cutrer were certified sustainable. Being sustainable is a marriage of topography, soil and climate. The right mix in Sonoma and Russian River produce lush wines. Grapes are hand picked when the weather is cool-either late at night or early in the morning. After picking, the grapes end a unique cooling tunnel, set at 50F (10C). This unique process permits grapes to retain acidity, while reducing oxidation.

French oak barrels are used to store the wine-through a long standing 30 year relationship with the foresters. Barrels, at least for Chardonnay, are stored in a water-temperature controlled hillside location.

Pinots are stored in a 'Pinot Barn', which is located within the Cutrer vineyard.

(The three wines I sampled are available nationwide)

The full-bodied Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a very fruity wine, with large doses of cantaloupe, lemon, pear, green apple and citrus flavors that create a lively minerality that blends into a not too oaky, lightly spiced background. This is a well-balanced wine, at 13.5% alcohol, that gives you a big bang for your buck ($22).

One of the most difficult grapes to master is Pinot Noir. Its a delicate grape that needs perfect conditions to make this grape lively. Plus, Pinot Noir prices often seem out of whack versus the quality of the bottle. Thats not the case for the Sonoma-Cutrer, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. At $35, the wine shows depth and complexity, while focusing on brightness and texture. The rich aroma of blackberry paves the way for the oncoming tobacco and vanilla flavors.

It was a thrill to sample the acidic Rose of Pinot Noir ($22), The wine is elegant with  Provence style flavor that was delicate, crisp and tangy. Its such a special Rose, it can stand on its own.

All in all, these three wines from Sonoma-Cutrer have exceptional appeal and affordable price points that represent exceptional quality.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The LEGENDE begins in Bordeaux under the Supervision of the Lafite Empires Oenologist Diane Flammand by Philip S. Kampe


LEGENDE wines, produced by the Rothschild family, home of Chateau Lafite, and a project of notable winemaker, Diane Flammand, is a group of five, affordable, ready to drink Bordeaux’s that exceed expectations due to acceptable price points for these iconic wines.wines,  Quality is not sacrificed for these impeccable wines.

The five wines from the Legende portfolio represent Bordeaux in a light of ‘try me, I’m affordable.’ That is the case for all of the wines. Not just affordable, but drinkable from the get go. Iconic winemaker Diane Flammand has styled wines that involve both old and new world styles, all with incredible balance  

For new wine lovers, these wines are an affordable Bordeaux starting point. The grapes used are ones that didn’t make it into the flagship wines, hence, the reasonable price points. The wines were created by requests for classic wines that were lighter and ready to drink, similar to ‘house wines’ in bulk. 

Diane Flammand sourced grapes from Lafite’s vineyards for , Pauillac and Medoc, while sourcing grapes from the Entre-Deux-Mers region for the Blanc and partnering with a nearby vineyard for the Sant-Emilion. 

Legende is a discovery of each appellation under the guides of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).

These are the wines I sampled that help make up the Legende portfolio. 

Legende Bordeaux Blanc 2019. 85% Sauvignon Blanc 15% Semilion Tropical fruit, crisp, fresh and fruity.  Aromas of citrus, lemon and stone fruit. Apricot, Granny Smith and stone fruit explode on your palate. A lovely, lively wine.

Legende Bordeaux 2017. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot. Well balanced with obvious aromas of raspberry, cranberry and strawberry. On the palate, vanilla, strawberry and oak prevail. Its a definite food wine that matches with meat or tomato based cuisines. 

Legende Bordeaux Medoc 2016. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon 35% Merlot. Bold and spicy, memorable, ripe tannins and bright acidity define this superb Bordeaux. Flavors and aromas of blackcurrent, black cherry, cranberry, blackberry, leather, mushroom, vanilla, oak and tobacco prevail. 

Legende Bordeaux Saint-Emilion 2016  95% Merlot 5% Cabernet Sauvignon An interesting wine focused on nuisances of licorice, earth, red fruit and oak. Soft tannins evolved after some time opening flavors of vanilla, oak, spice, licorice and coffee on the palate. Full-bodied, well balanced with a pleasure to drink. 

Lege Bordeaux Pauillac 2016  60% Cabernet Sauvignon  40% Merlot. This wine is a true treat. Classic structure, spot on balance and bright acidity make this a legendary wine. Bold with smooth tannins, acidic with an intriguing dry finish help make this wine a standout. Plum, blackberry, blackcurrent, oak, vanilla, smoke and tobacco dominate the palate. Decant this wine for a couple of hours before pouring or cellar it for a half dozen years to reach its expectation. 

Philip S. Kampe


A Vongole Recipe for DO Vinho Verde, Home of Portuguese Wines, Ameal Loureiro 2019 & Esporao Bico Amarelo 2019 will Dazzle Your Taste Buds by Philip S. Kampe


If you like wines that are overflowing with citrus, lemon, lime, green apple, peach, honey, stone fruit, pineapple, straw, grass, oak, butter and caramel, then you are in for a treat.

The wines from Portugal’s DO Vinho Verde are value packed, big on flavor and continue to impress the palate.

During this long pandemic lockdown, wine has been a key ingredient in many of our survival tactics. Eight months ago most of us would hoard whatever wines were available. But, as time has passed, our selections have been more realistic in nature. With online ordering available in most states, we can purchase what our palate desires. 

I’m originally from New Orleans where seafood is king. Since moving away years ago, my food palate hasn’t changed. Seafood is still the focus of home cooked meals, as well as wines that compliment the seafood related entree or appetizers 

I have found two wines from Portugal that should be considered for your next seafood meal. The wines are extremely opposite from each other. One is lighter and fresher, perfect for all seafood, while the other is a bit complex and alluring. 

Ameal Louretro 2019 is a complex wine whose bouquet is dominated by lemon zest and quince. Its quite alluring when your palate explodes with a powerful dose of minerality, followed by a glimmer of acidity with flavors of lemon, green apple, slate, unripe pear and day old cantaloupe. The wine is very fresh, grassy and floral with a saline finish. It is a truly premium level Vinho Verde at a reasonable price.

Opposite on the scale of complexity is the Esporao Bico Amarelo 2019. This lovely wine is the authentic Vinho Verde that wine lovers love. Its nose is pure pineapple with hints of passion fruit, lemon and green apple. On the palate, the wine is dry, overly fresh with an enticing acidity, containing citrus and blossom with a long, lingering finish. 

Both wines are readily available and worth seeking out. Their ‘giveaway prices’ still shock me.

I made Vongole, linguine with clam sauce as the entree for both wines and cooked the dish using the Bico Amarelo wine as one of the ingredients. 


Ingredients: 5 cloves of peeled garlic; 4 tablespoons of olive oil; dash of red pepper flakes; three dozen Manila clams; 1 cup of Vinho Verde; 3/4 pound of linguine; lemon zest; 2 tablespoons of lemon juice; fresh parsley; 1 jar of clam juice;  salt and pepper.

Process: Cook the slivered garlic in olive oil for a minute, then add red pepper flakes, wine, clam juice and clams. Cover the pot and cook on medium for seven minutes. Strain, save the broth and set the clams to cool. Boil the linguine, take the clams out of the shells, put the broth in a saucepan and add the lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper and the clams. Add the linguine, toss in the parsley and serve with the wines from Vinho Verde.

Philip S. Kampe


Monday, October 26, 2020

The Amazing WAPISA Wines from Patagonia from the Atlantic Coast of Argentina by Philip S. Kampe

From the first taste of the WAPISA Malbec, I knew that my tastebuds were in for a treat. You see, this Malbec was not the usual desirable unique flavor of Malbec, but, a much softer, elegant version that seduced your inner wine desires. 

It was like there was a new Malbec in town.

The reason why this version of Malbec was so special is because the vineyard is close to the maritime coast and the result is unlike any Malbec I have ever tasted before.

The Wapisa vineyard experiments with aging wines underwater, as well, which is considered optimum for aging wine due to its  pressurized atmosphere that provides constant temperature and maximum conditions for aging wines. 

Years ago, I visited winemaker Raul Perez in Spain,  who was experimenting with the underwater aging process. His results were exceptional. 

Not only was the 2017 Wapisa Malbec a big surprise to my palate, but, also the Pinot Noir and the Sauvignon Blsnc were just as life changing.

If you want to experiment with wines from Patagonia, these are the first wines I would try. Why? Because, they are unlike all others and are extremely affordable (Under twenty) and available. 

Wapisa Malbec 2017 Mature tannins, excellent structure, balanced acidity, quiet intensity, expressive aromatics, flavors of plum, blackberry, oak, chocolate, vanilla, smoke, leather and earth dominate the layers of flavors.

Wapisa Pinot Noir 2018 Dry, medium intensity, body and acidity with outstanding aromas of cherry and rose petals followed by flavors on your palate of strawberry, raspberry, vanilla, oak and clove. The wine is fresh, silky and delicate 

Wapisa Sauvignon Blanc 2019 is amazingly expressive with lightning intense  flavors of citrus, lime, pink grapefruit, ginger and sassafras. Its full body, juicy and ready to impress your palate.

The tasting of the three wines from Wapisa immediately has made me a true fan and can’t wait to order more bottles online so I can impress my wine buddies at our monthly blind wine tastings, as well as our pandemic friends. 

Philip S. Kampe


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Think Sherry: Harvey’s Bristol Cream, Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso and Think Halloween Candy by Philip S. Kampe


Back in the ‘good old days’ when I was a kid growing up in New Orleans, my parents, avid wine drinkers,  would always serve a glass of ‘Harvey’s Bristol Cream’ sherry to their guests with a scoop of Angelo Brocao’s, a local legend, famous Spumoni ice cream. 

Since those days, as an adult, I follow what my parents did, plus I have added a couple of other sherries to the mix because they inspire me to pair them with interesting  foods. 

Friends, who never have thought of purchasing sherry, use my example and imitate my tastes.

Since Halloween is upcoming and chances are everyone will be home with the kids, either zooming their friends or just celebrating at home, I suggest to drink your favorite sherry that evening. I’ll recommend three different styles of sherry to pair Halloween candy. Its a novel way to celebrate.

As mentioned earlier, Harvey’s Bristol Cream is a great starting point. Its a unique, seven year aged sherry that is made with a blend of  Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado and Pedro Ximenez grapes. At 17.5% alcohol and bottled in the sherry capital of the world (Jerez, Spain), it is the leading sherry in sales in the world. The dark brown hue opens up to a bouquet of caramel leading to a creamy, sweet fruit finish. I would recommend pairing it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with ground whoppers and a broken up Kit Kat bar.

The second sherry, using the dried, sweet white grape, Pedro Ximenez, tastes like the ‘ nectar of the gods.’ The sun dried grape is dried in the sun for a couple of weeks, evaporation takes over causing sugar concentration. Fermentation is followed by fortification. The next eight years the sherry follows the traditional‘Solera method.’ After that, the intense, syrupy wine transforms into a nectar reminiscent of figs, dates, raisins and honey. Nectar, the name of the wine from Gonzalez Byass is great poured over vanilla ice cream mixed dark chocolate candy bars.

The third recommendation is Alfonso, an Oloroso sherry made with 100% Palomino Fino grapes. Its aged eight years in American oak, using the solera system. Its 18% alcohol yields a very pronounced vanilla taste mixed with complex sweet notes.  The nose yields oak, leather and earthy truffle fragrances. Like the other two wines, this wine should be served chilled  and would pair with a peanut laden Payday candy bar. 

Halloween is on the horizon. 

Think Sherry and Halloween candy.

2020 is the year to mix it up!

Philip S. Kampe


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Searching Argentina for a Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon Blend? Well, I found the answer: AMANCAYA by Philip S. Kampe


After a weeks worth of my beloved Argentine Malbec, ARUMA, I decided to see what else is on the horizon from the partnership of Nicolas Catena and Barons de Rothschild Lafite. ARUMA, one of their wines, was so wonderful and affordable and was a great escape from European wines. 

What else do they make that is in or under the twenty dollar range? ARUMA was under fifteen.

A wine friend of mine from San Francisco suggested a Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, called AMANCAYA. Its 72% Malbec and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. She suggested that I try the 2017 because it’s classified as an exceptional vintage. 

The wines from Rothschild are well known for their lightly toasted barrels, which helps to preserve the aromatics. The oak integrates with the fruit, producing a well balanced, harmonious wine in the Bordeaux style. 

After finding AMANCAYA online,  it was apparent that the 2017 is a perfectly balanced blend of both the Bordeaux and Argentinian styles, resulting into an evolution of Malbec’s fruity side paired with the elegance  of Cabernet Sauvignon. The high altitude of Mendoza seems to be the perfect setting for the 2017 AMANCAYA Reserve Red Blend. 

The taste profile of this wine darts from dry to fairly acidic, a bit tannic, yet bold in style. The wine is an example of the meeting of the minds of Nicolas Catena and Barons de Rothschild Lafite.

Notes of vanilla, chocolate, plum, blackberry, leather, earth and smoke intermingle to make this a seamless wine. 

And a wine you should try.

Argentina is a land of wine bargains, especially those made by this partnership. I can only imagine what a high end wine might taste like. If the two under twenty dollar wines I have sampled were this good, there’s no telling what is in store in the premium category.

Stay tuned for my next installment.

Philip S. Kampe


40 Years of Winemaking at Russian River Valleys Sonoma-Cutrer by Philip S. Kampe

 Innovation in Winemaking at Sonoma-Cutrer began forty years ago. The focus has always been innovation for this Russian River Valley winery....