Sunday, November 23, 2014

A 'RARE' Vertical Tasting of Piper-Heidsieck with Chef de Caves, Regis Camus by Philip S. Kampe

It was a rainy evening in Manhattan when the taxi dropped me off at a pop-up space (Isn’t that the fad?) for what was going to be a truly ‘Rare’ vintage Champagne event. As the raindrops disappeared, the warmth and brightness of the evening was revealed immediately, as I was handed a flute of the current vintage of the 2002 ‘Rare’ Piper-Heidsieck Champagne.

As I was sipping this magnificent reception cuvee, made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, I caught the attention of the honoree of the evening, Regis Camus.


        Chef de Caves and twenty year veteran with Piper-Heidsieck, Regis Camus

Mr. Camus embraced me and we talked about what we were going to experience at this soiree. He said quite humbly that this was an evening that would honor his accomplishments in winemaking for the estate.. 

Regis Camus is the Chef de Caves for Piper-Heidsieck and was proud that this event focused on his ’20th Anniversary with Piper-Heidsieck.  He explained that he joined the company in 1994 and moved up the ladder methodically.

After seven years of grooming and the passing of Chef de Caves, Daniel Thibault, the legacy of the talented wine student from the University of Reims began. The Chef de Caves (main winemaker) explained that the road to his stardom has been anything but easy.

In his French accent, Mr. Camus explained the road ‘has been very bumpy’. His job, he said, is to make the road straight.

The ‘Rare’ vintage years are the years, according to Camus, when the environment causes havoc with the grapes. Nature shows its dominance and as the chief winemaker, I must show mine, as well.

The evening proved that the ‘Rare’ wine years were years of unparalleled taste profiles.

The 2002, the first ‘Rare’ and current vintage for Mr.Camus, showed amazing acidity paired with abundant creaminess and a full-body. Its spiciness with Asian overtones will age well over the upcoming years. 

The 1999 ‘Rare’ was fresh and vibrant with spice and citrusy overtones. The vintage year of 1999 was characterized as very hot and dry, the factors which create historical, opulent vintages. This vintage was one of them.

1998 proved to be a year of short periods of exceptional heat, thus creating a rich, mineral driven, elegant vintage that is on its way to stardom. Notes of orange blossom coupled with nectarine rind and cedar dominated my palate.

1990 proved to be a vintage where the rich, lush, full-bodied characteristics dominated the palate. Aromas of vanilla and ginger gave way to the pleasures on the palate of dried mango, white peach and peppercorn, thus creating a really elegant vintage.

The 1988 ‘Rare’ vintage year was a sunny, yet cool year, resulting in a fruit forward, spicy vintage that is full of personality and elegance.

1985 was a year of frost and frozen vines. The ‘Rare’ vintage showed its sturdiness with concentrated Hawaiian fruit paired with figs, dates and spice. The amber color indicated that this wine was in transition, at least visually. Pairing the wine with squab risotto resulted in a marriage made in heaven.

1979 was considered a banner year for Champagne. The ‘Piper-Heidsieck ‘Rare’1979’ exemplified the myth of that harvest. Elegant floral notes went hand in hand with a backbone of Madagascar vanilla and Kenyan coffee.

The Champagne region remembers 1976 as the year of the drought. Somehow, the Chef de Caves at Piper-Heidsieck had different thoughts. This, the oldest ‘Rare’ vintage available, spoke to purity and flavor.

When you say Champagne, say 'Rare' vintage Piper-Heidsieck. And take your hat off to Chef de Caves, Regis Camus and all his accomplishments for the last twenty years.

 Philip S. Kampe

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wines that go with Thanksgiving Pie by Philip S. Kampe

                                                   Joseph Carr of Josh Cellars

 I know I may sound a little like a Joseph Carr ad in this article, but, after reading the latest issue of The Tasting Panel magazine, where Joseph is featured, it was only fitting for me to sample his wines for the Holiday season.

Joseph and I have been friends for years. We met originally at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, followed by the Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic, when, at the time I was involved behind the scenes.

Since those early days, Joseph Carr has become a large wine personality. He teamed up with winemaker Aaron Pott and has successfully made Napa wines at the fraction of Napa prices. He has a new line of wines from his JOSH Cellars collection.

JOSH Cellar wines
are available at your local wine merchant, as well at restaurants throughout the America and all over the world. Mr. Carr is a marketing genius.

As you will see, the results of the wines I sampled should rate 90+, on most critics lists. Pairing the JOSH Cellars collection with Thanksgiving or Christmas desserts has its advantages.

Below are the results.
           Always lay your wines down sideways says Joseph Carr.

Apple Pie, the American tradition
Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc
Aromatics of fresh lime and citrus are the core of this Sauvignon Blanc. The bouquet is intense, with nectar, peach, and tropical melon. My palate was crisp, acidic and alive with clean, balanced fruit flavors of apple, kiwi and pear.

Pecan Pie, the southern tradition
Josh Cellars Chardonnay
Chardonnay pairs well as it is a medium bodied wine that is versatile enough to stand up to some of the richer flavors and sweetness in the pie. Tropical fruits and citrus, beautifully marry the background  notes of oak. Bright yellow and white stone fruit lingers on the palate followed by fresh acidity.
Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie, a New England tradition
Josh Cellars Pinot Noir
Aromas of cherry and strawberry on the nose with layers of spicy oak are captured in Josh Cellars’ Pinot Noir.  On the palate, the wine is plush and subtle, yet has a firm texture. Dark cherry and chocolate flavors fill the mouth with a rich intensity and lingering finish.  The earthiness and spice of the Pinot Noir compliments both pies’ cinnamon and spice.
Mincemeat Pie, our parents tradition
Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
This Cabernet is an approachable blend with aromas of rich, dark fruit and baking spices on the nose yielding to fresh plum, blackberry, violet, dried fig and vanilla bean. The cab has intense plum and blackberry flavors, prominently layered with smoky and sappy maple oak followed by roasted almonds and hazelnuts. Its firm tannins and full body will stand up against the rich fruit flavors, spices and brown sugar featured in this decadent pie.
Philip S. Kampe


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#winelover-s, I just would like you to get your attention for a very urgent problem in Italy: #SaveLugana

Dear all, friends and #winelover-s... 
I just would like you to get your attention for a very urgent problem in Italy. Just imagine, in one of your favorite regions, 20% of the quality producing vineyards are threatened by plans for a High Speed train. This is what happens now in Lugana. 
That is why, as co-ambassador of the #winelover community in the Netherlands, I would like to invite you to have a look at this web-page, and then decide if you too want to sign the petition! 
Don't let it happen, please! Thank you for your attention.
Wishing you all the very best! Have a great day! 
Warm greetings, 
Christian Callec, #winelover 

Monday, November 17, 2014

The 'other' Sangiovese-- Morellino di Scansano by Philip S. Kampe

The word ‘Tuscany’ has a special heartfelt meaning to so many of us. What comes to mind is the beauty of this province, with its spectacular scenery, historic cities, art, food, medieval hill towns and beautiful countryside.

Dotted with landmark cities like Florence, Sienna, Pisa, Cortona, San Gimignano, Lucca, Pienza & Monrepulciano, Tuscany never ceases to amaze its locals and its numerous visitors. 

When we think of the grape varietal in Tuscany, we naturally think of the Sangiovese grape.

Chianti, Vin Santo, Vino Nobile di Montepulcino and Brunello di Montalcino are made with this elegant grape.

So, is Morellino di Scansano, located a wine region that is a little off the beaten path.
The area is Italy’s newest DOCG  and is located close to the ocean in southwestern Tuscany, .Morellino di Scansano is made in the hilly village of Scansano, in the Maremma, which has an ancient winemaking tradition that dates back to the 1500’s.

According to Giacomo Pondini, Director of the Morellino di Scansano Consortium, ‘Morellino is the local dialect and is also the name for the Sangiovese grape varietal. The area was granted DOC status in 1978 and was upgraded to DOCG in 2007’. Mr. Pondini goes on to say that many people think that the origin of Morellino came from Morello, which means brown, the color of Maremmano horses.

Others believe that the name came from the Morello cherry. We may never know, said Giacomo, as its origin is still being debated’.

What we do know is that by law, the wines from Morellino di Scansano must contain a minimum of 85% Sangiovese grapes and can be blended with up to 15% of varietals, which may include both indigenous and international varietals..

The vineyards are near the sea. Warm mediterranean breezes combined with the soil from Scansano create wines that are quite different than the classic Sangiovese wines that we know when we sample them from Tuscany and other Italian regions.

The winemakers from Scansano follow few rules after crushing the grapes. Fermentation can take place in second-hand oak barrels, new French oak or cement. Whatever the winemaking process, the results of the numerous bottles of wines from Morellino di Scansano that I have sampled are all the same. The wines have an exceptional ‘fresh’quality. My palate suggests cherry and often licorice as the leading influence. Most of the wines are extremely soft, nearly velvet like. They are generally medium-balanced and have a long, lingering finish.

To highlight just one or two producers would not do the region justice.

Sales of Morellino di Scansano in America are on the upswing, yet, often the wines from this region are sometimes hard, if not impossible to find. I would encourage you to visit your local wine merchant. If he doesn’t carry Morellino di Scansano, please ask him to order a bottle for you.

Prices generally run under $20. 

Once you have tasted Morellino di Scansano, with certainty, you will be able to say, like I do, that Sangiovese will never taste the same.

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Treasures of Umbria by Philip S. Kampe

                                                The Treasures of Umbria 

It reads like a Hollywood movie script. Two young lovers from Umbria work hard for several years to save money to visit New York City, their land of dreams. They have friends near the city who give them shelter as they venture into Manhattan on a two-week dream holiday. From ‘Shake Shack’ hamburgers and fries to street vendors, the duo from Umbria live, breath and feel like they are New Yorkers.

Dressed in Halloween garb, the pair attend the annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, then rush to the best theatrical experience in Manhattan, Fuerza Bruta Wayra at a theater adjacent to Union Square.

Living like New Yorkers, the pair, Marta Petriachi and Gianluca Rubeca, both 24,attend what all New Yorkers do,  a New York Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden. The day before they saw Shaquile O’Neil on the street, tonight they will see Carmello Anthony score his 20,000 point and Spike Lee with his band of famous Knicks followers.

New York is exciting.
                                      The New York Knicks Number#1 Fans

             The 'Real Treasures of Umbria' Gianluca Rubeca & Marta Petriachi

New York is a way of life and Marta and Gianluca are displaced Umbrians.
Their DNA reads ‘N E W  Y O R K’.

Marta Petriachi is a law student and Gianluca Rubeca is studying engineering. The two met in Perugia, a college town in Umbria, where they were both in school.

My wife and I dream of living in Italy and the Italians dream of living in New York.
We always want what we don’t have.

Gianluca and Marta at a Columbia-Dartmouth Football (American style) game

            Maria & Gianluca savoring BBQ at the Star Chefs exposition in Brooklyn

Marta and Gianluca know that Maria and I love Umbria and its gastronomic treasures, its beauty and its people.Yes, we treasure the wines from Montefalco, the cheese of Umbria, specifically pecorino (sheep’s milk), the truffles and all that the only land-locked province of Italy has to offer.

Umbria is considered the ‘greenest’ province in Italy, only a mere hour and a half north of Rome.
The inhabitants do not have the big city attitude.

Gianluca and Marta are different.
Their attitude is like a New Yorker, one that we admire.

When they arrived they showered Maria and me with gifts. Four bottles of wine from Umbria, cheese, a beautiful  pocketbook and a cashmere shawl. These were great gifts, all unnecessary, but will be well appreciated.

The wines were the top wines from Umbria. They are my dream in a bottle.

Well, as time passes, so did the departure of Marta and Gianluca. They are now, certainly dreaming of their days in New York City. They have only been away for 24 hours and we miss them dearly.

Maybe Marta can work at a law firm in New York after graduation and Gianluca could finish school at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, only a hop, skip and jump from the ‘Big Apple’.

Stranger things have happened!!

The Treasures of Umbria in a bottle..

Photographs by Maria Reveley

Philip S. Kampe

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Barollo Wines--the 'New Dimension in Italian Winemaking'. A preview by Philip S. Kampe

                                     Marco Barollo, co-founder of Barollo wines
                                                   Gary Grunner, wine visionary

                                        Barollo-the new dimension in Italian winemaking.

There is a new Italian wine company on the block, headed by a new breed of winegrowers.

 The bothers, Marco and Nicola Barollo represent the new generation of winegrowers who have found nature, especially in their home area located in-between  the Dolomites and the Adriatic sea, a region of opportunity to grow and harvest grapes in this microclimate of warmth, frost, sun, rocks and water.

Northeast Italy, known as Veneto, is the home of the vineyard and bothers Barollo.
This is where they do their magic.

According to Marco Barollo, ‘Wine is an alchemic formula. A magic masterpiece that changes the wine, and it is never the same from one year to another. For this reason, every year we find ourselves forced to make brave decisions and invest carefully and only choose those techniques that are proven to help us to give our wine its originality and character’.

And that is what they did at the preview of the 2015 launch of Barollo wines.

The wines were discovered, I believe, at the elaborate VinItaly expo in Verona, Italy, by wine guru, Gary  Grunner, a formidable wine promoter and visionary.

Barollo produces wines from both international and indigenous grape varietals. The vineyards are located on old lands, where Roman wine making once took place. Marco broke down the make-up of how the vineyard is planted.

Prosecco is planted on 41 acres, followed by 18 for Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco each with 15 acres, followed by ten acres each of Merlot and Moscato. Six acres for Cabernet Franc and Manzoni Bianco each followed by one and a quarter acres of Sauvignon Blanc . Production has a potential of 300,000 bottles.
Presently, 100,000 bottles are produced.

Gary Grunner explained that the grapes are picked by hand. To Barollo, quality is their first commitment to the consumer. He went on to say that It takes about twenty people to pick the grapes from two and a half acres in a day.

Marco explained that ‘The environment is our most important resource. We support sustainable viticulture. Our main goal is to constantly reduce the ecological footprint and CO2 emissions. We involve all of our partners to achieve the same goal.’

Mr.Barollo emphasized that we are the new dimension in Italian winemaking. From sampling the wines, I would have to agree with him. Add the incredible packaging to the alluring wines and the new dimension of Italian wines evolves at Barollo.
Italy’s foremost winemaker, Riccardo Cotarella, heads the team.

The wines that I sampled are food friendly. Acidity and minerality abound.

What I sampled:
2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($19)
Sweet, herbaceous, acidic and grassy

2012 Pinot Bianco ($19)
Apple, pear flavor loaded with minerality and acidity

2012 Marzoni Bianco ($20)
Nose of Riesling, wine perfectly balanced with aggressive minerality.

2013 Piave Frater Merlot ($14)
Classic Merlot structure, medium weight with concentrated fruit.

2010 Frank Cabernet franc ($29)
Rich in flavor, well balanced, long finish of ripe fruit with mocha overtones.

Barollo Prosecco ($19)
Not your ordinary Prosecco. Lush, rich, elegant and creamy.
                                    As you can see, amazing packaging for each bottle.
                          If you can imagine, the wines taste better than the packaging.

 2015 promises to be a banner year for Barollo wines and their introduction into America.
It has been a long time since an Italian wine company has 'taken the industry by storm'.
My belief is that Barollo is that company.

Philip S. Kampe

                                                           Author Philip S. Kampe

Ignore the Name and Try this Wine: “B I T C H,” the Wine by Philip S. Kampe

You can’t help noticing the bottle on the shelf. With a pink neck and bold black label emphasizing  the word, “BITCH,” it’s had to ...