Monday, August 28, 2017

Armagnac-the Secret, Hip Ingredient in Cocktails by Philip S. Kampe

                                                  ARMAGNAC, the New Ingredient in Cocktails

As mixologists, we all know that creativity and innovation set the bar for the industry. Great ideas come from new sources, new products and the discovery of products in the industry that are often under the radar.

One of the tools for the evolution in the industry is the emergence of Armagnac as an ingredient for cocktails, a substitute for whisky, scotch, vodka and various other traditionally used mixers.

Armagnac is not Cognac and is distilled in Gascony, south of Bordeaux.

Armagnac is a brandy, distilled once in a continuous alembic still and left at cask strength (48%) in French oak barrels with no water added. Flavors of orange, plum, prune and apricot dominate the palate, while aromas of smoke and spice create the bouquet, much like that of a Scotch whisky.

Ten grapes are allowed for the production of Armagnac, but, only four are generally used. The most commonly used grape is the Ugni Blanc, followed by Folle Blanc, Baco Blanc and Colombard. Each grape varietal is distilled and aged in French oak separately, because they impart distinctive qualities.

Blanche Armagnac is a traditional young eau-de-vie that has been destined as the compulsory Armagnac that is used as the ‘special ingredient’ for mixologists. It is a clear spirit full of fruit and freshness, a perfect accompaniment for a cocktail. VS and VSOP are aged brown hued Armagnacs used in cocktails.

The cocktail rule: replace white spirits with Blanche Armagnac and brown spirits with Armagnac.

Classic Armagnac Cocktail Recipes

Armagnac Sour
Juice ½ lemon
2 oz Armagnac VS or VSOP
1 cube of sugar
Add one ice cube and shake


Blanche Mojito
2 oz Blanche Armagnac
½ lime
7 mint leaves
1 oz sparkling water
2 tsp brown sugar
Muddle the lime, brown sugar and  mint leaves in a glass, add the Armagnac, lightly shake and top with sparkling water and a mint sprig.

Blanche Sunrise
2 oz Blanche Armagnac
1 oz Curacao
1 oz orange juice
3 oz pineapple juice
Fill shaker with ice, add Blanche Armagnac, Curacao, orange and pineapple juice, shake and strain into a martini glass.
Philip S. Kampe


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Maximize your impact in this world. We will all love life more when that happens.

My dear friends,

I pondered a lot before writing this… but, as you can see, I decided that I should. 

Please don’t think that I am judging you. I wouldn’t do it because I have no right to do so. What I am doing here is presenting a solution I found that works for me. And I have high hopes that it will work for you as well. If you try, that is. 

We just look at catastrophes, and politics, and a lot of bad things that are happening in the world today and these are the things that just stress ourselves out. This is not doing me any good. This is not doing you any good. This is not doing anybody any good unless we are going to do something about it. 

If I cannot do anything about it, I’ll just drive on by. If possible, I’ll even ignore it. 

It’s so exhausting to pay attention to “bad stuff.”

So what should you do?  

Absolve yourself of the need to have an opinion about every political leader of the world. Absolve yourself of the need to try to save the world. You can’t! What you and I (and all of us) can do is to find the things that we really care about and then go and do something about them. 

Maximize your impact in this world. We will all love life more when that happens. 

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Luiz Alberto
Founder & CEO of the #LifeLover community.

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

My Labor Day Supplies: Riondo Prosecco and The Federalist Zinfandel by Philip S.Kampe

My task: Find a sparkling and a red wine to bring to a BBQ (Labor Day)

In preparation for a friends BBQ, the task of finding suitable wine or sparklers was my job. The more I thought about it, the surer I was that a sparkling wine and a red wine would be my choices.

At one of the larger wine stores in the metro New York City area, I spotted and was fascinated to see a three pack of Prosecco miniatures, each bottle is 187ml, large enough for two small servings or a good mixer for an Aeperol spritz or a Bellini.

Riondo (recognize the bottle) has just started marketing the three pack ($14.99). Its a solution, price wise to Champagne and is the same Riondo Spago Nero Frizzante that is in the 750ml bottle.

Sparkling wines seem to pair well with every dish.

The other wine that seems to satisfy everyone at a BBQ is one that I sampled at a wine tasting this past year. Its labeled The Federalist , a unique California (Mendocino County) 2014 Zinfandel ($15.99) that is aged in 'bourbon barrels' for a minimum of six months and has a truly smoky flavor-all the better to pair with BBQ.

The problem: not drinking them before the BBQ...

Philip S. Kampe

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Languedoc's AOC Pezenas Quality Wines Thrive Worldwide by Philip S. Kampe


Since the 5th century, BC, Languedoc-especially Narbonne, has been a hot spot for grapes. Other then Provence, Languedoc has the oldest planted vineyards in France.

Until the early 19th century, when phylloxera invaded and wiped out the wine industry, Languedoc had a reputation for producing high quality wine. And today, the reputation is leaning towards the production of quality wines, after an era of producing large quantities of wine from top to bottom levels. Success is due in part to outside investment, with the focus on quality.

After attending a wonderful get together with the AOC Pezenas winemakers for the launch of Terroirs & Millesimes Week in the Languedoc, the realization that something special was happening in AOC Pezenas was illustrated by an amazing assortment of wines and regional delicacies  from the AOC.

AOC Pezenas is home to numerous wineries.
My favorites include:
Chateau Abbaye de Cassan
Villa Tempora
Domaine de St Preignan
Sainte Cecile du Parc
Domaine de Fondouce
Domaine La Grange
Domaine les Aurelles
Domaine Stella Nova
Les Caves Moliere
Domaine Monplezy
Domaine du Clos Roca
Domaine de Gravanel
Domaine du Pech Rome
Domaine de la Resclauze
Domaine Allegria
Mas Gabriel
Domaine Magellan
La Fontesole
Les Vignerons du Vent Neffies
Domaine Belle Fontaine
Domaine Turner Pageot
Domaine Ribiera
Mas Belle Eaux
Villa Symposia
Domaine de Daurion
Domaine de Bayelle-Caux
Cave la Clairette d'Adissan
Mas d;Arlenques
Domaine de Nizas et Salleles

With the regions Mediterranean climate, dry summers and wet winters, the wineries have thrived due to the wide variety of grapes that they can grow. The perpetual tramontane inland wind that comes from the northwest helps the dry climate breath in the warm summer months.

The inland soil composition favors chalk, gravel and limestone, while alluvial soils dominate the coastline.

Chardonnay is one of the major white grapes used in white wine, as is Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. There are numerous red grapes that are used in wine production: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsaut and Maccabeo.

Languedoc is France’s largest wine region, with close to 500,000 acres. One out of every ten bottles sold in the world comes from Languedoc.

Isn’t it time to enjoy the riches of the Languedoc, especially the wines from AOC Pezenas?

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Legend Vintage 1929 'Maury' Tasting Has A Twist by Philip S. Kampe

                                                                                                                                                            1929 was the year of the Stock Market Crash (Thursday, October 24th), the beginning of the Great Depression, Unemployment was 15% and it was also the year, Jody and Harold Nelson were born. They are our neighbors.

When they were ten, in 1939, the Great Depression was nearly over.

Conversely, in 1929, French wine production was at the forefront and in Languedoc-Roussillion, the Grenache grape was the featured item.

During that year, the Bertrand Family produced ‘Maury’, 1929 Legend Vintage.

Only 795 bottles were produced of this16% Grenache, fortified wine.

Grenache is a red wine grape that is grown in France, Spain, Italy, the U.S. and Australia. Grenache is the French name, though the same grape is known as Garnacha in Spain and Cannonau in Sardinia, where history suggests the grape originated in the 14th century.

Grenache has always been a fascinating grape-its very versatile and dominant on its own, as well as an international grape for blending. My love of this grape escalated in 2011 when Gerard Bertrand presented the 1929 Maury at a luncheon I was invited to at Per Se in Manhattan.

Lunch had ended after sampling a half dozen wines and Gerard Bertrand quieted everybody down and said that I have a special announcement. He said, I have decided to surprise you by serving the 1929 Maury Legend Vintage with a special dessert prepared at Per Se.  I remember vividly that the spectacular dessert was a chocolate mousse combined with whisky puree and almond ice cream.

To this day, many of my dreams reenacted he pairing of the wine with the dessert.

As life has its many curves, two of our friends, both journalists, from Manhattan, share the same year of birth, 1929, as the Nelsons.

Our Manhattan friends decided to spend ten days in the Berkshires in late July and early August. They wanted to attend Tanglewood, enjoy the fresh mountain air and whatever else accompanies their annual vacation in the country.

I thought it would be a novel idea for the Nelsons to meet our friends, especially since all four were peers.

They met at our house, we cooked lunch for the group and everyone got on well. Knowing that Jody Nelson’s birthday was upcoming, our NY friend said, ‘I’ll send you a surprise in the mail. Just confirm that you were born in 1929’.  That was very thoughtful, my wife exclaimed.

Jody Nelson confirmed her birth year, as our friends went on their way.

As promised, a package arrived at the Nelsons the day before her birthday.

Hours after the package arrived, the Nelsons were in our house enjoying appetizers. We wanted to toast Jody’s upcoming birthday before departing for our surprise restaurant destination that evening.

The Nelsons rarely come empty handed when invited over. Last week they brought a bottle of aged tawny port, the week before, a 1991 Rhone bottle and this week, a box that was unopened.

They asked me to open the box and much to my surprise the same 1929 Maury Legend Vintage that I often dreamt about after sampling six years earlier at Per Se with Gerard Bertrand and this same wine writer. Was there a connection?

Harold urged us to open the bottle and reluctantly I said, ‘we won’t drink it all before we go to the restaurant. Let’s save it for the next time you come over.’ It was agreed and that brings us to today-a day after Jody Nelsons birthday.

Having been born with curiosity in my blood, I did a little homework on the wine and this is what I found out. If you go from ratings-94-96 is impressive.

The proof is in the pudding (which may go well with the 1929 Maury).

More to come….after the Nelsons return for dinner and the unveiling of the 1929 Maury Legend Vintage,,,,,,,

                                                        Harold and Jody Nelson (88)

                                                              'Make a wish Jody'

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Be a #LifeLover: Seek For Joy!

"Joy and its variants are preferable to sorrow and related effects, and more conductive to health and the creative flourishing of our beings. We should seek joy, by reasoned decree, regardless of how foolish and unrealistic the quest may look. If we do not exist under oppression or famine and yet cannot convince ourselves how lucky we are to be alive, perhaps we are not trying hard enough."

=> Antonio Damasio in his book "Looking for Spinoza"

And I couldn't agree more...  
Be a #LifeLover: Seek For Joy!
Today, tomorrow, and always.

— feeling blessed 


Luiz Alberto
  • Master of Wine candidate
  • Member of the Circle of Wine Writers
  • Italian Wine Ambassador
  • I combine my passion for wine with social media

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Forget Everything-Your Favorite Wine For Seafood Should Be Picpoul de Pinet from Southern France by Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley

                                 Applellation President Guy Bascou Shares His Views

Picpoul de Pinet. A curious name for a grape and a wine and one that we should all know.

Once you know the Picpoul grape the south of France and near the seaside, you will understand why this appellation that stretches between Pezenas and Sete is so important to the wine world.

To the wine aficionado, Picpoul is the Muscadet of the south. Similar in the sense that the grape is floral, lemony fresh, acidic and full of minerality.

Originally, Picpoul was used in blends, but, wine drinkers and winemakers have discovered its bright acidity, saline characteristics, crisp minerality and appeal to pair with seafood as a perfect reason to bottle this unique grape on its own.

Southern France is home to oysters and mussels, a perfect match for Picpoul, as you can see from the photos. After talking to locals about Picpoul, I realized that they recite what Picpoul de Pinet is to the locals. They call it, ‘Son terroir, c’est la mer’, translated means,’Its terroir is the sea.’

The Picpoul grape is grown in southern France and in Rhone for Chateauneuf de Pape, where the grape is permitted in the blend.

The Picpoul guru is Guy Bascou, president of the appellation who was our tour guide during our visit. He said that the closeness to the ocean keeps the moisture high enough to guide the grape through its vinification process. He emphasized that the maturity of the grape is here because the heir apparent has chosen to follow in their parents footsteps. Bascou mentioned that the grape ripens late and is perfect for the probable climate change in the future. He said that Picpoul retains acid and will be the grape for global change, if that happens sooner than later.

It is also the grape that pairs perfectly with oysters. Many of the vineyards overlook the Etang de Thau, an oyster bed where close to 90% of France’s oysters are harvested.

At the Picpoul winemakers event that I attended (see photos), I’m sure that I had ten dozen oysters paired with a dozen local wines-all Picpol de Pinet. The combination plus the versatility of the hosts made this an event that one will remember for their lifetime. Add wild mussels and homemade sausage to the menu with Picpoul de Pinet and you will quickly realize that there is nothing better for the palate. The local winemakers for AOP Picpoul de Pinet, our hosts, called the dish, Mouclade, a name I will never forget.

This once in a lifetime experience was made possible by Terroirs & Millesimes, organized by CIVL, the Inter-professional Committee for Languedoc and Sud de France.

I am part French, grew up in New Orleans and have deep seafood roots- I must admit that this Picpoul and oyster/mussel experience out shadowed any other seafood/wine experiences that I have had in my life.

There are many producers who export Picpoul de Pinet. The UK seems to buy a third of their exports, but, there is a lot of room for the U.S. to jump aboard. Ask your wine merchant for Picpoul de Pinet. It is a wine that should be on your radar-especially if you enjoy seafood the way I do.

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ruca Malen (Argentina) Introduces the $9.99 Aime Wine Collection by Philip S. Kampe



                          The Aime Wine Collection of Ruca Malen

On a trip to Argentina, I had the pleasure of visiting Bodega Ruca Malen and was let in on a secret. Our tour leader brought us into a space where the winemaker and staff were experimenting with various blends of Malbec, Bonarda, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their goal-come up with wines that have flavor profiles that appeal to the younger generation-brighter, approachable and food friendly.

Well, that was in 2014-now its 2017 and Ruca Malen has just introduced the AIME series-affordable, bright wines that are food friendly with hip packaging that is easy on the eyes. Add a screw top and pricing under $9.99 a bottle to the scenario and you have the making of success.

The wines…
The Red Blend 2016 Aime
A blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bonarda.
The result-a flavorful, somewhat spicy wine that tastes closer to the high end wines Ruca Malen is known for.

Malbec 2016
100% Malbec Aime
A very balanced wine that lacks tannins and focuses on both vanilla and chocolate with concentrated red and black fruit that steals the show.

Sweet Moscato 2016 Aime
This 7.5% light alcohol white wine tempts the palate with its crisp, citrus flavor and subtle sweetness. It worked for me as both an aperitif and an after dinner drink. I am guessing Indian food would pair perfectly.

These wines were made for younger drinkers who were specifically looking for full-bodied, approachable and versatile wines, according to Federico Ruiz, U.S. Sales Manager for Ruca Malen. He went to say that our wine culture embraces friendship and good times. Aime’s goal is to capture the genuine joy (alegria) when friends get together.

Best said by Ruca Malen-on the back of each bottle-Aime (pronounced eye-MAY) is inspired by genuine experiences and a zest for life. Our wines deliver pure flavorand pleasure, best paired with friendship and good times.

Need I say more…….

Philip S. Kampe

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cantina Tramin To Unveil Gewurztraminer Epokale, a Wine Aged In a Silver Mine in Alto Adige by Philip S. Kampe

If I hadn't had the opportunity to sample the first bottle of Cantina Tramin's, soon to be released Gewurztraminer, this article would have only been conjecture.

I guess I was at the right place at the right time. Thanks to Cantina Tramin, I witnessed the opening and blind sampling of the first of 1,200 bottles of this 2009 vintage. The grapes come from two vineyards with old vines laying on clay soiul, chunks of limestone and a bed of porphry rock.

Epokale is bottle aged and rests in the Monteneve Mine, an ideal temperature controlled (52F) with 90% humidity natural silver mine shaft. Prior to its home for seven years, Epokale rested on lees for eight months.

Wines that are kept under water for aging or in 8,000 foor silver mine shafts, technically will deviate from the normal aging conditions in a wine cellar.

When released-if the 2009 Epokale reaches your wine merchant-scoop it up-as it will certainly be a collector's item and a bottle that can be talked about for years.

Philip S. Kampe

‘ART of Earth’ Affordable Organic Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC by Philip S. Kampe

Every once in awhile you sample wine and find a few standouts that are priced much less than what they retail for. Simply put, you fi...