Friday, February 26, 2016

Gagliole--Tuscan Wines from a Legendary Estate by Philip S. Kampe

Sangiovese is my favorite Italian grape. Yes, according to the winemakers, it is difficult to work with, but, when success is achieved, the reward in the palate is memorable.

One small boutique Tuscan producer, Gagliole, has found the secret to taming the lush Sangiovese grape.

The winery was started by Monika, an accomplished gallery manager and husband, Thomas Bar-Bettschart, a Swiss lawyer and banker. Both family members have focused on developing high quality wines from their estate, where argillite rich soils combined with south/southwest exposure produce award-winning wines.

Historically, the Gagliole estate was bequeathed by a son of King Berengarius  (Langobard)  in 994 A.D., to his wife.  The winery evokes memories of the distant past. Rolling hills in the Tuscan countryside lined with classic cypress trees surround the villa where the Bar-Bettschart family lives.

The vineyards are terraced, geometric and follow the contour of the rolling hills, which reach 1,800 feet altitude, a perfect height for the adventurous Sangiovese grape. Recently, I sampled two of their wines with sales manager, Alessia Riccieri, a bright, effervescent wine lover who knows the wines she represents.

The Wines:
2013 Gagliole Rubiolo Chianti Classico DOCG ($14)

90% Sangiovese  10% Merlot
13.5% alcohol
3, 750 cases produced
Winemaker: Stefano Chioccioli
Aging process: 1/3 aged French barriques,1/3 stainless steel tanks and 1/3 big oak Slovonion barrels for 12 months, plus 3 months in the bottle
Tasting notes: Dark ruby in color with obvious cherry aromas. On the palate, candied, syrupy cherries
abound with a backbone of vanilla, honeysuckle and rosemary. Medium-bodied, tame and fruity in nature, this wine begs for food.

2011 Gagliole Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT ($30)
90% Sangiovese  10% Cabernet Sauvignon
14% alcohol

665 cases produced
Winemaker: Stefano Chioccioli
Aging process: French oak for 18 months, then 12 months in the bottle.
Tasting Notes: Bright ruby red in color. Notes of spice on the bouquet, highlighted by a mix of black licorice and honeyed-cinnamon. Dark fruit dominates the palate with nuances of blackcurrant and plum. The wine is balanced, full-bodied with ample acidity and soft tannins. The wine is ready to drink, although aging for up to ten years would only enhance the ripeness.

Gagliole wines show the Sangiovese grape at its best.
According to Alessia Riccieri, the wines keep improving year by year, thanks to winemaker Stefano Chioccioli’s expertise and his love for the property.

Vias Imports distributes the wines from the Gagliole Estate.

Philip S.Kampe


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Miner Family Wines are Not Minor Wines by Philip S.Kampe


Maybe it’s me, but, I really like to age my better wines a little longer then the norm. Some wineries release wine to be consumed immediately and others wait until the appropriate time.

Oakville, California’s Miner Family Winery understands that aging before release is essential

The Real Story of Miner Family Wines:
Dave Miner’s uncle, Robert Miner, had always been a huge influence on Dave. His passion for wine was the main ingredient needed to stimulate Dave’s love for wine. Robert Miner, who owned Oakville Ranch Vineyards, fell ill and reached out to Dave. He asked Dave to run his winery during his absence.

Dave agreed and made the move from Houston. This was 1993.
There the story begins.

In 1994, Oakville Ranch Vineyards hires a tasting room manager, named Emily, a Minnesota transplant. She meets Dave, they fall in love and marry. Dave remains as the President of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, but, in 1996, Dave and Emily take the leap and personally become a custom crush client.

They start their own wine business, share Oakville Ranch Vineyards winemaker, Gary Brookman, and have their own label (1997).  Dave’s parents, Ed & Norma, join Dave & Emily as owners. (It’s already a family business before producing the first bottle).

After a year and a half of preparation, Miner Family Wines debuts in 1999.

In 2001, Oracle was released and to this day is their flagship wine.
In 2004, Miner Family Wines were named as one of the ‘Top Five American Wines of 2004’ by Bon Appetit Magazine.

Many awards have followed, including being honored by Wine & Spirits Magazine as a Top 100 ‘Winery of the Year’. In 2007, the 2004 Wild Yeast Chardonnay was featured at a White House dinner. Since then, on five other occasions their wines have been featured on Government menus.

In 2008, Miner Family Wines became totally solar dependent. 2013 marked the year that winemaker Gray Brookman was named General Manager and associate winemaker, Stacy Vogel took over as the head winemaker.

Today, the winery is thriving. Dave’s goal of using the sourced land to grow international varieties has made the winery a worldwide leader.

The tasting room is usually packed during the season, which extends longer and longer each year.  

Every year since 2005, the Benedetto  Jazz Concert & Release Party takes place to release the limited production Benedetto Series Cabernet. The back story is that Mr.Benedetto makes guitars and annually makes a model that uses Miner Cabernet Sauvignon to stain the guitars face..

Sourcing grapes from nearby grape growers has been what many of this vineyards iconic wines have been built around. Stagecoach Vineyard, owned and farmed by Joe Krupp, is known for grapes that are age worthy and bold. The red, rocky, volcanic soil contributes favorably to the outcome of the varietals planted: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Marsanne. Gary’s Vineyard is located in the Santa Lucia Highlands and is known for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir grapes in California. Other grape sources for Miner Family Wines include: Rosella’s Vineyard, Sierra Mar Vineyard, Genny’s Vineyard, Hudson Vineyard, Hyde Vineyard, Naggiar Vineyard and Gibson Ranch.

Tasting Notes

2011 Miner Oracle (Napa Valley Red Blend) 14.4% alcohol
1,020 cases produced
49%Merlot/ 38% Cabernet Sauvignon/ 10% Cabernet Franc/ 3% Petit Verdot
The flagship, Bordeaux-style blend is full-bodied, elegant and well balanced. Layered dark fruit driven nuances mix with sweet panettone spice, vanilla flakes from Madagascar  and Spanish cocoa to create this decadent wine. ($90)

2012 Miner Gary’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir (14.3% alcohol)
790 cases produced
100% Pinot Noir
Dark rotten fruit with a hint of under ripe strawberry and zesty nutmeg join the tame tannins that make-up this 15 month aged, with new French oak (70%) wine.  Best to cellar until 2019 ($45)

2012 Miner Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (14.4% alcohol)
810 cases produced
91% Cabernet Sauvignon
9% Cabernet Franc
Aged 21 months using 60% new French oak
Black cherry, licorice and leather impress the palate. Pronounced tannins flatten as this wine ages. Lush & elegant. A crowd pleaser in the making. ($60)

2012 Miner Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot (14.7% alcohol)
1180 cases produced. Hand picked.
82% Merlot
10% Cabernet Sauvignon
8% Cabernet Franc
Aged 21 months using 55% new French oak
Juicy, fruit forward with a long, lingering finish. ($40)

2011 Miner Wild Yeast Napa Valley Chardonnay (14.1% alcohol)
Bright acidity, full-bodied, lush mouth feel. Flavors of vanilla, nutella, bosc pear and caramel blend with the wild yeast fermentation from the skins of the grapes. ($45)

2013 Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay (14.3% alcohol)
7,630 cases produced
Fermentation consists of ten months and 40% new French oak, 40% stainless and 50% malolactic fermentation
Light & crisp with flavors of rome apple, orange melon, grapefruit, lime, lemon and mango. The bright acidity of the wine entertains the palate.($30)

Miner Family Wines are not Minor Wines.

Philip S. Kampe

Provence Rose Increases Sales to the U.S, by 58% in 2015 posted by Philip S. Kampe

As we all know in the business, rose wines are a 'hot product'.

According to Michael Romano of Romano Brands and importer/distributor of Maison Belle Claire rose from Provence. 'sales during the past 18 months have been off the chart. There seems to be no end for the love of roses in America.'

Figures indicate that 2015 was a banner year with rose exports from Provence. Sales grew  58% by volume and 74% by value, according to the French customs agency and the Vins de Provence trade group(CIVP).
The rise of rose exports to the U.S. marks the 12th year in a row of double-digit growth for this segment. Provence rose outpaced the overall rose category with average bottle price over $12.

Overall, Provence rose accounts for 42% of all French rose sold in America and 30% of all roses sold in the U.S.

Philip S. Kampe

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Influential Winemaker Roberto Cipresso teams up with Natalie Oliveros at La Fiorita to produce 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva by Philip S. Kampe

* A black box arrived in a black bag. The box was opened and the contents from Tuscany appeared*

A package was left for me with the doorman at my building. The doorman said a petite woman dropped it off for you.  He said, ‘there is a note attached.’

Dear Philip,
Enjoy the bottle of La Fiorita 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva!
It’s a special year for me and I hope you like it.
I can’t wait to hear your honest thoughts.
Natalie Oliveros

The package was brought upstairs to my office, opened and photographed, as you can witness. The packaging was so elaborate, yet personal. The book was of wine photography, the wine glasses were made especially for Brunello and the opener was very special. A lot of effort went into the presentation of the 2006 La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Reserva.

Rather then open the bottle immediately,I thought it would be best to age the wine a little longer. And that is what I did.

Natalie Oliveros is wine driven.

In 2011, Natalie partnered with Roberto Cipresso, a legendary influential winemaker and consultant. The two have made considerable upgrades at La Fiorita since joining forces. The planting of newly acquired plots and an expansion of production were the priorities, coupled with a new cellar that housed state of the art equipment.

The vineyard is relatively new by any standard, 1992.

The first vintage netted 1000 bottles. Since the early days, the vintages have grown steadily. The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Reserva vintage amounted to 10,000 bottles.
Before bottling, the wine spent twenty-four (24) months in either French or Slovonian oak, eight (8) months in stainless steel and then thirty (30) months in the bottle. The non-reserve follows the same aging process except it is aged six months less in the bottle. Total production of Brunello is 25,000 bottles.

Roberto Cipresso was the head winemaker for esteemed Achaval Ferrer (Argentina) and several of Italy’s classic vineyards, Ciacci Piccolomini, Casa Basse and Poggio Antico. Mr. Cipresso started with a little over an acre at La Fiorita. Since the partnership of Natalie Oliveros, La Fiorita has grown leaps and bounds. Sangiovese is the main grape on the property. Sangiovese is the main grape grown on the property.

The vineyard is now divided into two parts, the first part is the nine acre Poggio plot that faces the south-east, with elevation of 700 feet. The second plot (7 acres) is called Pian Bossolino and faces towards the east.

Mr. Cipresso pulls out all of the stops with his wines, as you can see via his aging process. I decanted the 2006 Reserva for four (long) hours. The thought of the wine was my focus during that period of time. As the time approached, I poured a glass of the 2006 La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Reserva. My intention is to keep three glasses in the decanter and try this wine, again, on day two, three and four. At close to $90 a bottle, my hope was that I made the right decision.

Wine Impressions:
Day 1
Elegant, creamy, glycerol with hidden minerality. Aromas of dark fruit like plums, blackcurrants and sour cherry abound. The wine needs more time to breath.
Day 2
A bouquet of violets and mocha with a powerful intensity fill the air. The tannins have settled somewhat and are quite hidden. A glycerol coating of my mouth is hidden under the lush ripe cherry flavors that linger on my palate for several minutes.
Day 3
The legs on the glass show what sustaining power this wine has. The aromas are subtle, but dominate. Lavender prevails, followed by smoked chorizo. My palate is immersed with a silky, flavorful and concentrated black raspberry flavor. The wine is bold and ageless.
Day 4
The wine has held up to the elements on day four. Aromas of strawberries and hazelnuts abound. My palate detects leather, vanilla and smoke nuances as key elements in this rich, complex, balanced wine.

Decanting for several days or aging this wine is suggested. The 2006 La Fiorita Brunello do Maontalcino is a classic wine that is well made and has lasting power due to the ability of master winemaker, Roberto Cipresso. Add Natalie Oliveros’s sincere love for wine and success at any price policy to the scenario and you have a vineyard whose better days lie ahead.

The 2006 Reserva wine received 95 points from Wine Spectator.
My belief, a near 100 point wine will emerge for La Fiorita in the next couple of years.

Philip S. Kampe

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Taste 180 Iconic Wines at Robert Parker's 'matter of taste' (today in NYC) by Philip S. Kampe

                                                                Robert Parker

                                             'matter of taste' mission statement

After listening to Robert Parker and his team of esteemed wine tasting journalists, I have to admit I am now one of his fans. During the Q&A session, Mr. Parker explained that he is a child of the 60's (he is 68) and he grew up in normal Woodstock fashion. Somewhere along the way, wine seeped into his life and the rest is history.

Ralph Nader was a big influence on how Robert Parker would live his life. It translates, wine wise, as a champion of the little producer. That is how Mr. Parker has lived his past 38 years. He is a spokesman for the boutique producer. His staff, which he admits are more talented then he was at their age, travel the world after the smaller producers who produce iconic wines.

Today (February 20th) from 2pm-6pm, Robert Parker brings his 'matter of taste' show to the Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle. There will be over 180 wines to sample, all above 90+ points. If you are a member, entrance is $120, if not, $180, which equals to $1 per taste.

Tickets must be purchased in advance at

I was fortunate enough to acquire a tasting book and this is what I found.

These are just a few of the wine with scores that will be poured today:
2012 Abreu Vineyards Madrona Ranch  RP100
2009 Chateau Haut-Bailly  RP100
2009 Chateau Leoville Poyferre  RP100
2009 Chateau Pontet-Canet  RP100
2010 Clarendon Hills Astralis Estate  RP100
2013 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah  RP98-100
2012 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder  RP100
2012 Ermitage Pavillon  RP100
2005 Verite La Joie   RP100

Not too shabby!

In addition to the wines, three Master Classes will take place.
At noon: Harlan Estate, California's 'First Growth' (2 RP100 wines will be poured)
At 2pm: Lokoya, Scaling the Heights of Cabernet (3 RP100 wines will be poured)
At 4pm: A Century of Colheitas, The Jewel of Ports

Philip S. Kampe

Thursday, February 11, 2016

O Pescador: Terceira Island's Premier Restaurant in the Azores by Philip S. Kampe & Maria Reveley

There is always something special about a vacation. Food and restaurants are always, should I say, on my mind.

Take this last vacation to the Portuguese possession, Terceira Island, Azores.
Being the foodie that I am, my goal was to search for the perfect restaurant for our needs.
And that was seafood and a great local wine list.

After a few hours of inquiries with our hotel staff, the Visit Azores tourist group and numerous other locals and tourists, the universal reply was,“ O Pecador?”, a local seafood restaurant in the seaside town of Praia da Vitoria.

With a solution in hand, we called the restaurant for reservations for an evening meal. The man on the other line was Jose Costa, owner of O Pescador.

We talked like old friends for several minutes and Jose suddenly asked me if we would like to join his wife, Patricia and himself, for dinner at the restaurant.
He said, “I want to show you what makes us famous.”

The evening was set.

Mr. Costa volunteered to drive us.
One thing that we noted was that the people on this small island are happy, nice and helpful to everyone.

Terceira Island seems like an island where the word, ‘stress’, has no meaning. And to all of us in the real world, isn’t this the place you would want to be?

As the hours passed, before Jose Costa’s arrival, we pilfered through our suitcase to find a suitable gift for Jose and Patricia Costa as a thank you for their good intentions. We didn’t have to look hard to find a couple of presents for the Costa’s.

Inside the suitcase was a large bag of homemade candied pecans and a restaurant size box of Louisiana crab boil. We always prepare for the unknown.

Our evening was set.

At a little after six in the evening, Mr.Costa showed up at our hotel. We talked for several minutes, like college buddies and headed off to O Pescador.

Upon arrival at the restaurant we were greeted by Patricia, Jose’s lovely wife, one of four pediatricians on the island.

Immediately the wine steward came over with a glass of volcanic wine from the islands. The winewas a Sauvignon Blanc/Verdelho blend from Casa Ermelinda de Freitas. The wine was excellent. High minerality, with a resemblance to white burgundy..

The evening was off to a good start.

We chatted for quite awhile and Jose asked us if it was OK for him to order for us.

Within minutes, a seafood trio came out: Lapas Grelhades (grilled limpets), Cambas ao Alho (prawns with garlic) and a creamy tuna spread. All of the appetizers paired perfectly with the wine.

This was our first time we consumed limpets, a shelled sea specimen similar to conch in a shell.. Jose placed a second order of grilled limpets for the table, probably due to the fact that I consumed my share in record time. I explained to Patricia and Jose that I grew up in New Orleans and could easily consume ten pounds of fresh shrimp, two dozen oysters and a half dozen crabs at one sitting.

Next came out a dish of pheasant and rabbit fried balls that resembled rice balls. In Portuguese, this dish is called Alheira Caca Lapas. The combination was satisfying, tasty and a new eating experience that was not only pleasurable, but, desirable.

My wife, Maria, agreed with me.

If this was just a preview of the cuisine of Terceria Island, what could be next? Enter Seafood Cataplana in a light cream sauce. The dish resembled a bisque style soup filled with mussels, limpets, shrimp and squid. Jose explained that the dish was made in a specially made copper pan with an attached lid that was made in Portugal.

The richness of the cream sauce loaded with seafood ranks in the top five favorite seafood dishes of my lifetime.

Next came dessert.
                                                         Donna Amelia
                                                     Seafood Cataplana
                                                  Sauvignon Blanc/Verdelho blend
                                                Over 1000 bottle wine program
                                                   Ports and Donna Amelia desserts
                                                              Jose Costa

Jose explained that the Queen of Portugal visited the Azores during her reign. As a tribute to her, a dessert was made and named after her. Its called ‘Donna Amelia’ and was presented to the Queen during her visit in the 19th century.

Our festive meal ended with Donna Amelia and a glass of Porto Tawny.

Thanks to Jose and Patricia Costa, our introduction to the food of Terceira Island was turned into a lifelong memory.

Two nights later, we took the Costa family, including their eight year old son and twelve year old daughter out to eat at a local restaurant Jose suggested.

Friendships never die…

Jose Costa shared my favorite recipe of seafood cataplana. As you will see the recipe lacks measurable amounts. You will have to experiment.

Seafood Cataplana
*Try to use a round shaped Portuguese copper cooking dish (cataplana) or  a dutch oven*

* Lightly boil shrimp, fish, squid, mussels and clams.
* In the cataplana, add whole milk, mushrooms and broken up cooked bacon.
* Add the boiled seafood and season with salt, pepper, ketchup, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
* Cook until the cream milk turns yellow.

O Pescador (closed Sundays and open every other night for dinner)
Rua Constantino Jose Cardodo no.11
9760 Praia da Vitoria
Tel# 351 295 513 495

Article by: Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Are you ready for some competition?

The Sherry Wines Official Board has announced the hashtag competition during the ‪#‎winelover‬ conference you are attending in El Marco de Jerez. 
From tomorrow morning, Wednesday 10th at 9am and until Friday 12th at 9pm, we invite the #winelover group to participate in a fun & engaging competition via Twitter.

Luiz Alberto

  • >>> Member of the Circle of Wine Writers
  • >>> Italian Wine Ambassador
  • >>> I combine my passion for wine with social media

Friday, February 5, 2016

Today I have a "good news bad news" story to tell you... and it's not a joke!

Today I have a "good news bad news" story to tell you... and it's not a joke!

First, the bad news: Due to my new role as the managing partner of my lumber importing company, I will not be able to to join the programs of Jerez and Athens to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the #winelover community. I'm very sad but I am at the stage of rebuilding relationships with both customers and suppliers and I couldn't allow myself to be out for so long. My most sincere apologies for those of you who expected me to be there. frown emoticon

Now, the good news: Since I love you guys so much (you know who you are!), I'll do something really crazy and fly to Spain Friday night, enjoy the celebrations in Jerez on Saturday night, fly to Greece on Sunday morning, participate at the celebrations in Athens on Sunday evening, and fly to Boston on Monday morning... so I end up missing just one day at work! smile emoticon

Anyway, call me crazy... but at the end it's all good!

‪#‎SeeYouInSpain‬ and ‪#‎SeeYouInGreece‬!!! 

Luiz Alberto

  • >>> Member of the Circle of Wine Writers
  • >>> Italian Wine Ambassador
  • >>> I combine my passion for wine with social media

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Collefrisio Wines from Abruzzo stand out at 2016 Slow Wine Tasting by Philip S.Kampe

At the amazing and overcrowded Slow Wine tasting event that took place on February 3rd, 2016, Collefrisio Vineyards from Abruzzo stood out for price and quality at the show. Over 70 exhibitors from throughout Italy adorned the Highline Ballroom with over 300 wines to sample.

As of late, I have been looking for wines in the $10-$15 category for my clients. Big shows, like this one, bring smaller, boutique wineries to the stage of eager trades people that always look for what is next. Generally.I look for alcoholic content, price point and overall quality of the wine versus those that are in the same category. Hands above the competition were two wines from this young and forward thinking company from Chieti in the province of Abruzzo.

Abruzzo is known for the Montepulciano grapes, which thrive in Abruzzo's climate of hot days and cool nights. The Collefrisio estate occupies 80 acres and run by a team of young and dynamic winemakers who respect traditional winemaking with an openness to experimentation.

Both the 2013 Morrecine and 2011 Vignaquadra exhibit wine made with full expression. Soft tannins paired with juicy, clean, velevety fruit explode in your palate and linger afterwards.

                                                  2013 Collefrisio Morrecine
                                                2011 Collefrisio Vignaquadra

Both wines are 100% Montepulciano D'Abruzzo and are 14% alcohol. The wines have just arrived and should be at your favorite wine shop shortly.

To learn more about Collefrisio, visit: (the website is in Italian)

Philip S.Kampe

How Hungarian Cabernet Franc Changed My Life by Philip S. Kampe

My Dad was known to his friends as ‘Cab Franc.’ You see, his name was really Joseph and all of his social time with visiting frien...