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?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Organic Rose of the Week-IGT Fattoria Sardi Rose 2017 by Philip S. Kampe

                             Organic Rose of the Week-Fattoria Sardi Rose 2017

We all love Tuscany. And many, like me, love the grape varietal that has helped put Tuscany on the map. Bet that you can guess the grape?

Sangiovese, of course.

Known as the pizza grape to many-think Chianti-this grape has been the cornerstone of wine production throughout the region.

What struck me in such a positive way was that the two-hundred year old winery, Fattoria Sardi, located between the sea and the mountains has been recognized as having a perfect climate for the grapes that they grow. You should recognize the winery, Fattoria Sardi. They produce the iconic brand,‘Santa Margherita’.

Santa Margherita took the world by storm and is onsidered by many, as a marketing miracle.

Well, be prepared to yearn for another wine in their portfolio. It’s an ‘organic’ rose made with organic grapes, specifically, Sangiovese, Cillegiolo and Merlot.

Fattoria Sardi Toscana Rosato 2017 is an organic wine that is made following organic farming and biodynamic agriculture. Winemakers, Matteo and wife, Mina Giustinini produce this crisp, salmon colored, clean wine full of minerality and acidity. It’s a very mineral driven wine with a nice balance of fruit and terroir.

The 2017 is a very bright wine with obvious aromas of summer raspberries, honey dew melon and morning red roses.

Overall, at under $20, this rose can be used as an aperitif, as well as for a light lunch or dinner.

This is my ‘Rose of the Week.’

Philip S. Kampe


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Amarone Loves Corvina by Philip S. Kampe

                                                   Amarone Loves Corvina

Why is Amarone della Valpolicella so special?
First of all, it’s sort of scarce. And it is difficult to make.

The Corvina and Corvinone grapes make up the majority of the blend used in making Amarone. Add Molinara for acidity and Rondinella for soft tannins. Aromas vary by grape variety-from tobacco to black pepper.

Together, these varietals, plus appropriate aging, by law, four years for Reserva and two years for Valpolicella DOCG and Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG, are some of the reasons why these wines are like none others.||

Verona is my favorite city in the whole world. Not sure why, but, that’s reality. Maybe it’s the pink marble or maybe it’s the wine. Or  maybe its Restaurant Greppia, my personal favorite. Who knows?

When you travel in pursuit of Valpolicella, there are three sub-regions in Veneto that accommodate the wine lover. Est (means east) and contains (4 ) four valleys and seven (7) destinations. Valpantena has three (3) designations and Classico has six (6) designations in three (3) valleys.

Having visited the region on several occasions, but, never during the harvest, I have learned that the grapes are hand-harvested and laid out on straw mats for a minimum of four months to turn into the prime grape (s) for Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG. Then, the grapes are pressed. Fermentation can last up to two months, thanks to low temperature fermentation.  The wine is then transferred to chestnut or oak barrels to age, following the laws of the region.

As I mentioned earlier, Amarone is scarce. There are only 12,000 acres that satisfy the region for Amarone. That is where the Corvina and Corvinone grapes thrive.

Interviewing several winemakers, the Corvina grape is their favorite varietal. It may be because the other grape they love is Corvinone. Unfortunately, the grape is rare, making Corvina their first choice.

The rule of thumb with Amarone is quite simple.
‘The older, the better.’

At a recent Anteprima Amarone tasting, I sampled a 1950 Amarone that was as fresh and acidic as a wine of that age could be. The true flavor profile of Amarone existed, sixty-eight (68) years later-fig, sweet chocolate and vanilla bean.

Amarone goes through a different process of aging versus other wines. The final palate flavor resonates with me.

Few wines are made the same way-grapes are dried for four months, then the grapes are slowly pressed and then fermented for sixty (60) days.

These are just a few reasons why I believe Valpolicella is like no other wine.

Philip S. Kampe


Monday, July 30, 2018

Valpolicella, The Whole Story by Philip S.Kampe

                              The map of Italy highlighting the Valpolicella region
                   Besides Corvina, Valpolicella is home to many other varietals
                                                          Drying of the grapes

Its always uplifting to receive so many emails about my many Valpolicella articles.

Yes, my father gave me my first sip of Valpolicella when I was under ten years old. Yes, my wife, from Italian roots has family members who drink a glass or two of Valpolicella daily. They say it is for health reasons. And, yes, I always try to promote Valpolicella to others at dinners or parties at our house or bring a bottle as a gift to those with or without wine knowledge.

As a true novice Valpolicella wine lover, I am happy to share with you the facts I know about this wine and realize that there are numerous Valpolicella Ambassadors who know so much more then I do and live the life of true devotion to ‘everything Valpolicella.’

Where is Valpolicella’s home:
The province of Verona, east of Lake Garda.

Mild to cool Continental climate

Valpolicella styles:
Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Recioto, Amarone

When did Valpolicella receive DOC status?

Serve Valpolicella:
Slightly chilled

The Valpolicella Story:
Historical documents suggest that in the 5th century, Cassiodorus, minister of Theodoric the Great, suggested to the barbaric king of the Osthrogots that he should try a sweet wine from one of the territories of his kingdom.

The wine he suggested was from near Verona, which was the capital of the Italian territories that Theodoric the Great, his King, ruled.

Cassiodorus went on to explain that the wine comes in both red and white varieties and was made with the Corvina grape, which is left to dry (four months) until winter before being crushed.

Fast forward 1600 years and similar wines from the Valpolicella region are made using the same process and the same, Corvina varietal. The grapes are dried, many for four months, after harvest and turned into the Recioto style of Valpolicella.

The grape drying process is actually quite complex. The process activates more then four-hundred (400) genes that control the metabolism of the grapes, which activates secondary flavors and classic aromas of both Recioto and Amarone. Corvina may be the only grape that remains active and functioning during the drying process. Other grapes remain inactive. While being active when drying, the Corvina grape develops the classic aromatic profile of Amarone.

If the Corvina grapes grow in different appellations throughout the world, the grape would take on different characteristics and would not remain active when drying. That tells us that the perfect conditions for the Corvina varietal exist only in the Valpolicella region. It has been that way, as I illustrated, for thousands of years. This is why Valpolicella wines excite my palate..

Where did the name come from?
The name, Valpolicella, comes from Latin, Vallis Polis Cellas, which translated, means, ‘Valley of the Many Cellars.’

Are there other indigenous grape varieties grown in Valpolicella?
Yes, besides Corvina, many varieties exist. Molinara, Oseletto, Rondinella, Pelara, Garganega and Croatina, to name a few.

What you need to know about Valpolicella DOC:
Valpolicella is made using fresh grapes. Recioto and Amarone are made using dried grapes. The three most popular grapes in the Valpolicella wines include, Corvina (which you should know about), Molinara and Rondinella.

How do I read the labels?
If the label has Valpolicella Classico on it, the wine was produced in the historical wine producing area of Valpolicella. If the label just has Valpolicella, the wine comes from the extended Valpolicella wine producing region. Valpolicella grapes are always picked after the grapes for Recioto and Amarone. The quality may be the same, but, those grapes that are picked first are purposely picked out for their drying potential. Most grapes can’t withstand the four month drying period.

What should you expect when tasting Valpolicella?
Valpolicella is a medium-bodied, crisp, acidic wine with a secondary fruitiness, typical of the Corvina grape, which normally accounts for 70% of the grape blend. Its deep ruby color and soft palate appeal make for a terrific food wine. As I mentioned earlier, chill your bottles for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Are Valpolicella wines expensive?
No, quite the opposite.
Valpolicella wines are inexpensive and very affordable.

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, July 20, 2018

Valpolicella Is A Soft, Fruity Summer Wine by Philip S. Kampe

                                           Valpolicella DOC Celebrates ’50 Years’

During the summer, many of us tend to drink lighter wines-Rose, Prosecco and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.

So do I, to a point.

When that point arrives, my psyche tells me, quite loudly, ‘Where is the Valpolicella?’
Maybe its in my DNA-and it could be. In one of my articles I related to my readers that my father, a man with a curious palate, was a big fan of Valpolicella. Nearly every evening he would have a glass of Valpolicella before bedtime. It was his brandy.When company came over and my parents entertained, my father was most proud to open a couple bottles of Valpolicella and discuss the flavors and vintages with their guests. Needless to say, I sampled many vintages during the years and was so pleased to take part in a vertical tasting in Verona, hosted by the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella/ I’m sure that many of the wines I sampled were the same as my father poured.

2018 is the 50th Anniversary of Valpolicella receiving its Denomiazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) cerification. Did you know that Valpolicella ranks just after Chianti in total Italian DOC production. The reason is that the vinicultural zone of the province of Verona, east of Lake Garda, in Veneto, is an agricultural powerhouse.

The hilly, fertile land is home to endless wine production.

Three grape varieties are the core of Valpolicella:

Molinara, Rondinella and Corvina Veronese. Many wine variations are produced from these grapes. All are my favorites, which include Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Amarone and a Recioto dessert wine.

The fertile land in Veneto was the home of the ancient Greeks, who coined the name, Valpolicella, in the 12th century, which loosely translated means, ‘Valley of Cellars.’
With over 60 million bottles produced a year and 75% of the bottles exported, Valpocella remains a sought after wine commodity. The three categories of Valpolicella, sales wise, break down to: 45% Ripasso DOC, 32% Valpolicella ROC and 22% Amarone DOCG.

Authenticity has popped up regarding European wines, mostly due to several issues concerning Spanish, French and Italian wines. To address the issue, the Corsorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella has adopted the Reduce, Respect, Retrench (RRR) certification. The RRR certifies ‘ethical vineyards.’ What that means is that the vineyards receive certification after five years of work practicing sustainable vine growing and wine producing. According to Olga Bussinello, director of the Valpolicella Consorzio, ‘The RRR certification was a necessary change to foster its spread even more and to reward the virtuous viniculturalists who have followed the process in its pilot phase. This is the first certification of an area with an appellation ‘startup’ in Italy, shared and achieved with the support of local towns, partners in the project, which includes 73% of the vineyard surface area in the Valpolicella appellation Certifying an area entails understanding the landscape and that of the ecosystem, from resource management to safeguarding biodiversity, to the protection of a territory where processional viniculture and urbanization are side-by-side-which is just one chapter in the process.’

A territory as outstanding as Valpolicella understands the demands of the western world, where sustainability comes into play.

Why I love Valpolicella: 97% of the grapes used are indigenous varietals. Sustainability is on the radar. There are 2,347 grape growers, 213 wine companies, 7 cooperatives and 275 bottlers.

Plus, it was my fathers favorite wine.

Happy 50th DOC Anniversary Valpolicella.
We Love You…

Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My Favorite BBQ Wines by Philip S. Kampe

                                               My Favorite BBQ Wines

Well, on the 4th of July, the truly ‘All American’ holiday, its hard not to celebrate what our country has done in the past and ponder the future. Family celebrations, parades and the smell of the BBQ seduces many of us.

If you are a BBQ fan and want to pass on beer with the main course, I have found a couple of ‘American’ wines that do the trick for the main BBQ meat course pairing.
Both wines are under $20 and are made in the USA.

Donald Hess purchased vineyards on Mount Veeder (California) in 1978. Mr. Hess is not American, but, a Swiss entrepreneur. He bottled his wines in 1983 and in 1986 renovated the winery, its biggest renovation since being constructed in 1903 by Colonel Theadore Gier.

The winery was open to the public, tasting room and all, in 1989. It is now part of the Hess Collection of wines, that includes Su’skol and Allomi in Napa Valley and Shirtaol Creek Vineyard in Monterey.

Donald Hess is known worldwide because of his wine philosophy. ‘Nurture the land, return what you take.’

The two wines that work well with BBQ are the Hess Select Central Coast 2016 Pinot Noir and the Hess Select North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon.

Both wines deliver the essential acidity, spice and fruitiness that is needed when you eat BBQ.

Hesss Select is distributed nationwide and should be at your wine merchants shop or online.

These two wines are what I usually bring to a BBQ.

I don’t grill, so, feel free to invite me over to share your BBQ and I will bring the wine.

Philip S. Kampe


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Finger Lakes-'Gateway To American Wines' by Philip S. Kampe

          Finger Lakes- The Gateway to Wine In America

On the spur of the moment, we decided to hop into the car, a 2012 Honda Civic, and drive the three plus hours to the heralded ‘Finger Lakes’, eleven lakes, shaped like fingers, hence the name, The Finger Lakes.

Located in central New York state, somewhere in-between Buffalo and Albany, the Finger Lakes occupy four Interstate 90 exits. Some lakes are as long as 34 miles long, others have a depth of up to 415 feet. The glacier, ice age period in history created what now is a wine destination for the world.

This was our first visit-odd, since we live so close.

My wine history is traced to the close to eight years I lived in Europe, specifically in southern Germany, Nuremberg. No, I wasn’t in the military. I was a high school journalism, photography and movie-making teacher for the high school kids whose parents worked on the base or nearby. Those years were the years where my wine curiosity peaked-a time when you could purchase, what is known today as ‘classic’ wines for affordable prices.

But, when you live in Germany, only German wines are offered for sale in the wine shops and supermarkets. Looking back, that was a perfect solution for a novice wine drinker. Consume what the locals consume and through osmosis, you become the wiser about the styles of wines your adopted country produces. As time went by, we attended harvest parties in the Mosel, drank classic wines in the Ratskellers of quaint villages and had the opportunity to sample wines with high enough residual sugar to turn you into a diabetic.

With that history and fast-forwarding 35 years later, my wine knowledge is finally in full-stride, thanks to workshops, intensive wine seminars and travel to wine destinations worldwide.

Unfortunately, Germany has not been one of those destinations. But, after three full days in the Finger Lakes, why go to Germany? The Finger Lakes has it all….

Not to toot my own horn-but, quite the opposite-I feel like the missed opportunities during the years by not visiting the Finger Lakes years ago will be one of the ten biggest mistakes in my life. Having lived in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, on and off since 1982-and only three plus hours to the Finger Lakes and not visiting was a big mistake.

Being a free spirit and working only for myself-Fabulous Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream-The Candy People-Board Stiff Snowboard and Skateboard Shop-just to mention a few of my entrepreneurial experiences made me blind to the Gateway to Wine in America-The Finger Lakes.

Now that I have seen the light, it’s time to suggest to you to wake up and visit the Finger Lakes. With an abundance of vineyards, beautiful scenery and people who live their life worshipping their favorite varietals, why not take the plunge?

In a three day, two night visit, we had the chance to visit close to ten vineyards-taste barrel samples, chat with winemakers, see wine cellars and learn what makes this area special. Add great vineyard restaurants to the mix with incredibly positive staff and the opportunity to over sample the wines from vineyard tasting rooms to your bed and breakfast-ours came equipped with a resident winemaker, an acre plot, and a host who seemed to feature ‘social hour’ all day long.

If wine hospitality is what you are looking for-visit the Finger Lakes.

There are over one hundred twenty wineries in the Finger Lakes region. The area is known for ‘cool climate’ wines, focusing on those varietals that survive in cold, long winters. Riesling is one of the varietals that is the superstar of the region, thanks to  its both sweet and dry personalities.  Focusing on stone fruits interpretations has made the regions winemakers ambitious and willing to experiment with other varietals. Some of the wineries are just fun-they provide music, food and a fun loving clientele, while other wineries focus on the art of winemaking. A few do both.

During our life changing visit to the Finger Lakes, I am very happy to suggest that you visit the following vineyards to get a perspective of what the Finger Lakes have to offer. Yes, some vineyards are 45 minutes from the others, but, well worth the drive. Along the way, definitely pop into the numerous restaurants and BBQ mom and pop facilities that offer  the ‘BYOB Finger Lakes’ wine logo, offering no corking fee.

Vineyards to Visit:

                                                          Anthony Road
                                                             Heart & Hands
                                                             Hermann J. Wiemer
                                                                Fox Run
                                                      Dr. Konstantine Frank
                                                             Keuka Springs
                                                                  Red Newt
                                                          Shaw Vineyard BYOB
                                                        New Vines Vineyards & B&B    

Anthony Road   1020 Anthony Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-2182
Heart & Hands   4162 NY-90, Union Springs, NY 13160  (315) 889-8500
Shaw Vineyards  3901 NY-14, Himrod, NY 14837  (607) 243-7000
Hemann J. Wiemer  3962 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837  (607) 243-7971
Fox Run  670 NY-14, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-4616
Dr. Konstantin Frank  9749 Middle Road, Hammondsport, NY 14840 (800) 320-0735
Keuka Spring243 Route 54, East Lake Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-3147
Red Newt  3875 Tichenor Road, Hector, NY 14841  (607-546-4100)
New Vines 1138 Travis Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527 (315) 536-4087

Bed & Breakfast suggestion (with an acre vineyard of award winning wines)
New Vines Bed & Breakfast: 1138 Travis Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-4087)

There are numerous complimentary ‘Wine Trail’ maps, offering a list and a map of where the vineyards are located.

Remember, The Finger Lakes are ‘The Gateway To Wine In America.’

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Few Napa Valley Wines by Philip S. Kampe

A Few Napa Valley Wines to Consider

Before leaving for Portugal-I'm there now, I received my Fathers Day gift beforehand.

What was it? Three wines that I had mentioned might be a good gift for the holiday.

Three Napa Valley Wines that I have heard about and wanted to try.
Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014
Hunt & Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Having ample curiosity, I sampled, let's say drank all three before departing for Porto, Portugal.

This is what I learned:

The Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014 ($35) is a Bordeaux blend that is full-bodied, well balanced with toasty oak and silky tannins. The long finish of vanilla and ripe dark fruits flow seamlessly with this 15% alcohol wine.

Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($45).  Soft tannins and youthful, this 13.5% alcohol wine suggests complexity and balance with each sip. Ripe cherries coat your palate persisitantly during the long, pleasing finish. Their motto is: 'Excellence through Responsible Farming' hold true with this pure pleasure.

Hunt Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($25) is a fruit forward, light tannin Cabernet Sauvignon that is an easy drinking and smooth wine. I found this to be a perfect food friendly wine.

Fathers Day came early for me....thanks to Napa Valley.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Finger Lakes "New Vines' Vineyard Could Be Your Home Away From Home by Philip S. Kampe

 Seneca Lake 'New Vines' Vineyard is Also a B&B

There are many ingredients that are necessary for a memorable wine vacation. One of those ingredients, possibly the most important, to many, is where you are going to spend the nights while vineyard hunting during the day.

Well, that problem of where to stay and feel welcome has been solved if you visit the Finger Lakes region of central New York state. Logistically, it is a two plus hour drive from Albany, five from Manhattan and five plus from Boston.

The Finger Lakes are named for a series of eleven, long, thin lakes, roughly running from north to south. The lakes shapes reminded early map-makers of human fingers and the name was given to this cluster of lakes. The lakes are glacial and some are the deepest lakes in America. Cayuga Lake is 435 feet deep, while Seneca boasts a depth of 618 feet and is 38.1 miles in length.

The eleven Finger Lakes from west to east are:
Conesus Lake
Hemlock Lake
Canadice Lake
Honeoye Lake
Canandaigua Lake
Keuka Lake
Seneca Lake
Cayuga Lake
Owasco Lake
Skaneateles Lake
Otisco Lake

Close to two million years ago, the first of many continental glaciers of the Laurentide Ice Sheet moved southward from the Hudson Bay area. The movement initiated the Pleistocene glaciation, which widened and deepened the existing river valleys. Glacial debris left behind by the receding ice acted as dams, allowing lakes to form. The deep cutting of the thin ice left some tributaries hanging above the valley floor.

With so many lakes and numerous microclimates, the Finger Lakes region is New York’s largest wine producing region. Over one hundred and fifty vineyards are located around Seneca, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Keuka, Conesus and Hemlock Lakes. It is a #winelover paradise featuring many grape varieties including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir , Lemberger and Cabernet Franc.

There is a romantic charm to the region-vines, lakes and small hills. It’s a splendid setting and one that was enhanced by our stay at New Vines B&B, where award winning ‘Estate Wines’ are made by co-owner Todd Eichas.

In 2016 at the New York Wine and Food Classic, which awards the Governor’s Cup to the best wines in New York, New Vines Dry Riesling was awarded a Gold medal and New Vines Gruner Veltliner won a Silver medal.

That’s not too shabby for a one acre vineyard that was planted and one hundred per cent cared for by Todd, alone. To me, Todd is the true definition of a focused winemaker who knows every inch and leaf in the vineyard. His support system is Dani, his wife, a gourmet cook who runs New Vines and a true cheerleader for the Finger Lakes region. Her breakfasts, along with homemade baked goods, vineyard grown concord grape juice, revolve around what is fresh from the garden that morning, to what local vendor can she buy homemade cheese from or who is selling maple syrup that day.

During late afternoon, Dani and Todd Eichas host a ‘Wine and Cheese’ get to know you social hour where Todd pours his wines and Dani serves locally made cheese and snacks from the Finger Lakes. Todd reflects on his wines by saying that the cool climate results in crisp acidity in New Vines white wines and fruit forwardness in the reds. Todd goes on to say that winemakers from the Finger Lakes benefit from the cooperative nature of the industry, where honest feedback is shared by all, which ultimately benefits vineyard quality and production.

New Vines B&B was built in 2007. There are seven wineries within two miles (you can walk or bike it) and is located on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Besides a garden full of tomatoes, onions and seasonal vegetables, which Todd tends to, his one acre vineyard is home to Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Lemberger, Marquette (for Rose), Cabernet Franc, Concord and Niagara.

New Vines B&B is located off Route 14, south of Geneva at 1138 Travis Road. There is a New Vines B&B signpost on the road. Literally, New Vines is a one minute drive to the Anthony Road Winery. You can reach Dani and Todd at (315) 536-4087 or find them at the New Vines Bed & Breakfast webpage on Facebook.

Philip S. Kampe 

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

                                                     'FEEL THE HEEL'                                                    When yo...