Thursday, May 16, 2019

Roses For All Seasons-What I Am Drinking by Philip S. Kampe




                                                


Springtime has arrived, even in New England (May 2019), where I was stopped on Sunday for two hours on the Massachusetts Turnpike, due to a snow storm. Several inches of snow accumulated on the ground, a constant reminder that winter hasn’t totally disappeared.

Putting that situation behind me, a couple of weeks after Easter, I realize, in both good and bad weather, Rose wine is the perfect substitute to brighten your day. 

I’m in Narragansett, Rhode Island for the next four days-an escape from the end of  winter- to tour this beautiful state and enjoy time to spend with friends, while catching up on so many articles that I am behind.

This is not one, but, an article that, hopefully, will open your mind and palate to what Rose wine has to offer, year round. Even in the off, non height of summer season.

The high today is 59F. It is 42F and early morning. No rain in the forecast-only sunshine.
What that means to me is quite simpley its Rose time.

Choosing Rose wine has always been simple, because, most bottles are easy on the palate and the pocketbook. Lately, Rose can be made from any varietal, so, the choices keep growing.

There are numerous Roses that I favor-those are the ones I brought with me to drink, while on this writers vacation. An organic wine and a wine from Israel are among my choices

Let me tell you about them:

PEYRASSOL Cuvee de la Caommanderie 2018 A.O.P. Cotes de Provence ($21)
Overly fruity, yet, light, with a hint of tannins, this Rose is sophisticated and is always ready to drink. Raspberries mixed with citrus dominate the palate. This Rose is so elegant, it can be used as an aperif or as an after dinner drink (In this case it is my breakfast)

FRESCOBALDI ALIE Rose 2017  ($19)
I Love Frescobaldi. This wine is both alluring in appearance, and bright on the palate. I drink it overly chilled, so, the ripe, red fruit and earthy flower nuances appear. It seems that all Frescobaldi wines are elegant and this one follows suit.

CANELLA Pinot Noir Rose Brut NV  ($23)
Character and class sum up this lively sparkling Rose, loaded with millions of bubbles that pop with flavorful fruit explosions of flavor. Production of only 100,000 bottles shouldn’t keep up with the demand for this show stopper of a wine.

LA BERNARDE ‘La Hauts du Lue; Rose 2018  ($15)
Quite a magical blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Mouvedre make up a mineral laden, velvety Rose full of peach, vanilla, cherry and grapefruit flavors that captivate your palate. Organic.

JACQUES CAPSOUTO Vignobles Cuvee EVA Rose de Gaililee Villages 2017  ($23)
A wonderful Rhone style blend, with bright citrus that lights up the room. A truly refreshing wine that cools you down on a warm summer day, with its refreshing acidity and lively fruit flavors. This wine is from Israel.

Philip S. Kampe
                                     









Tuesday, May 14, 2019

'Nino Franco' Celebrates 100 Years of Prosecco: 1919-2019 by Philip S. Kampe




                                  Primo Franco, The Architect of Modern Day Prosecco








 Prosecco may be ‘the newest sparkling wine’ to dominate the crowded bubbly market, but is Prosecco a new sparkling wine or has it been around and has been recently re-discovered?

That was the question I posed to Primo Franco, the voice and ambassador for his family’s
’Nino Franco’ winery from Veneto. They are a major Prosecco producer thanks to Antonio Franco who founded the winery in Valdobbiadene (Italy) in 1919, a mere ‘hundred years’ ago.

Antonio was a first generation winemaker who passed the reigns to son Nino, who, in time, passed it on to his son, Primo, who I dined with. Primo earned his diploma from the prestigious Conegliano Veneto, school of enology, and has guided the winery ever since.

Primo, as one can tell upon meeting him, is overly organized and philosophical about Cantine Franco. He elaborated that his mission was to make the best Prosecco in the marketplace.

To obtain his goal, thirty years ago, Primo, the enologist, experimented with planting techniques. He concluded that he favored old clones.

Glera, at least 85%, is the main grape variety used to produce Prosecco. Up to 15% of Pinot Bianco, Bianchetta, Verdiso, Perera, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio are allowed to be mixed with the Glera varietal. Glera was originally known as Prosecco, but, was changed to stop confusion regarding the town of Posecco.

Glera is an indigenous varietal. The grape grows in large clusters and is very thin-skinned. It is a cool climate grape that grows best on hillsides. On a trip to the area, the steepness of the vineyards astounded me. Each hillside had its own microclimate. The end result is in the grapes. Consistent acid paired with low alcohol are the make-up from the hilly strips of land in the province of Treviso. The Primo Franco plantings lie somewhere in-between the major towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. The region gained DOCG status in 2009 and represents the top tier of Prosecco production.

The Prosecco’s that I sampled from Nino Franco lived up to all expectations. Primo has been called the architect of the worldwide Prosecco explosion and his wines are all ‘All-Star’ status. By dedicating his life to Prosecco, Primo has changed the world’s taste buds.

He has introduced DOCG Prosecco to the world and should go down in history as the architect of modern-day Prosecco.

The four ‘Nino Franco’ Proseccos I recommend trying yo start your journey into Primo Franco’s World are:

Primo Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 ($37)
Classified as dry, I found this to be somewhat sweet, although it contains only 30-32 G/L sugar. The Charmat Method is used. The final product is elegant, full of green apple, tangerine, nutella qualities and walnut dust.

Vigneto Della Riva Di San Floriano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 ($37)
This was a wonderful Brut that was persistent on the palate and quite intense. It certainly was a dignified Prosecco that could and should be drunk on its own, if one chooses. Superior by all standards.

Rustico NV ($24)
A fruity,lively Charmat Method Brut that works perfectly as an aperitif or as an after dinner sparkler. It’s a perfect hors d’oeuvre wine made with 100% Glera grapes.

Faive Rose Brut 2017 ($29)
A wonderful twist that sets Nino Franco apart from other vineyards in the region is Primo’s grape selection. Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, this bubble-filled Rose has all of the qualities that should make this bubbly the life of a party-think summer.

If you have further interest in learning about Primo Franco and Nino Franco wines, visit their website at: www.ninofranco.it 
The website is in both Italian and English.
It is a wonderful resource that acquaints you with Prosecco and how the Franco family contributed to Prosecco’s growth.











Tuesday, April 30, 2019

B O B A L.......B O B A L....B O B A L....B O B A L....by Philip S. Kampe







                                                                       B O B A L

Years ago, I spent time, as a tourist during years of epic travel in a Volkswagen camper, at the yearly pageantry of the ‘Las Fallas’ (the fires) religious event that took place in the city center of Valencia, in southeast Spain. Fires were lit at numerous intersections of the city to commemorate Saint Joseph.

While in Valencia, known for its paella, I recall that the wines from the area, Utiel-Requena, which comprise the interior plains of the province of Valencia, were unlike other wines that passed through my lips during this journey.

At a local restaurant in the center of historical Valencia was a restaurant with outdoor seating. I took a seat and ordered lunch (I was a vegetarian at the time). I also ordered a bottle of red wine from the region and was soon to learn that the wine was made with the Bobal grape. Understanding what I was drinking was important to me. It was the time when the internet didn’t exist and libraries and bookstores were your best friend.

It seems like wherever you travel in Europe, someone, wherever you are knows about wine. And in this case, a veteran wine connoisseur from Valencia eagerly sat next to me and started explaining about the wine-most specifically, the Bobal varietal. With pride, Fernando (his name) explained graphically about the 2,700 year history of winemaking in the Iberian Peninsula. Clearly, from his soliloquy, Bobal was the signature grape of the Utiel-Requena DO.

We shared the bottle as he spoke of the intense color of the wine. It was indicative of the concentrated, over-the-top fruit forward flavor that preceded the pronounced acidity that conquers your mid-palate. Add some spice and a long, robust finish to the profile and you have Bobal.

Fernando explained that Bobal was primarily a blending grape and it was rare to find bottles with the single varietal.
I felt blessed.

Fast forward many years to 2002-the year I entered the wine arena. As my journey from the cheese world (I was a cheese writer and educator) evolved into the wine world, I would never look back.

With the world of wine as my palate and so many worldwide winegrowing regions to learn about, my thoughts of Bobal disappeared until 2017, when wine educator Nora Favelukas, invited me to participate in her wine seminar focusing on Utiel-Requena and her journey to learn about the Bobal varietal.

Déjà vu.

Since 2002 and my taste of Bobal, to the present day, the Bobal (blending) grape has emerged as a single varietal. In fact, it’s the third most planted grape in Spain and is on its path to stardom. I know, because I had the opportunity to return to Utiel-Requena a month ago and sampled Bobal in many styles and from the many vineyards I visited.  

Generally, many of the wines I sampled have not made their way to America, yet, but may be where you are. With so many international readers of The Wine Hub, chances are that you could find Bobal. If not, do as we do and order your Bobal online.

If you are as curious as I am about Bobal, look for wines from these estates or if you visit Utiel-Requena, try and visit these vineyards:

BODEGA SIERRA NORTE www.bodegasierranorte.com
Manolo Olmo, winemaker, produces exceptional certified organic wines. The soil on the vineyard was overly rocky and may be the key to how integrated the Sierra Norte wines are. Manolo focuses on Bobal and shared a beautiful Rose that paired perfectly with three styles of paella that were served. Export manager, Ricardo Calatayud explained that this Bogeda was one of the first to plant Bobal (1914).

PAGO de THARSYS   www.pagodetharsys.com 
Having sampled the Unico Brut Reserva’ at Vinexpo in New York, I was overly excited to visit the vineyard and meet winemaker Vincent Garcia. My goal was to tell Mr. Garcia how exceptional his sparkling Bobal was and how extraordinary the iconic bottle with the artistic ceramic hanging was. My wish was granted and exceeded as Vincent Garcia opened three aged sparkling bottles, like the first, using the methode traditionelle. We shared three extraordinary reservas, a 2013,2014 and 2015, aged anywhere from 24 to 40 months.  

BODEGAS CHERUBINO VALSANGIACOMO  www.valsangiacomo.es
Old vines (40-60 years), new technology and the Bobal de San Juan project make this new (1997) vineyard with vines at 3,000 feet a must to both visit and sample their Bobal red and rose wines fermented in concrete tanks. The San Juan  project began in 2008 with the goal of raising worldwide awareness and recognition of the prestigious Bobal grape. Blessed with the Solano winds and a Mediterranean climate, the Bobal varietal shows its character at Bodegas Cherubino Valsangiacomo.

DOMINGO de la VEGA   www.domingodelavega.com 
Simplicity, humility, experience, professionalism and a lot of perseverance are some of the values father and son vineyard owners, Emilio and Daniel Exposito, exhibit. They are committed to focus on Bobal, as the native grape variety of their choice. The Finca La Beata, 2006, 2012 and 2016 were testimonials that exposed Bobals aging capabilities.

GRUPO COVINAS   www.covinas.com 
Joining forces in the 60’s, ten cooperatives created Grupo Covinas and to date, own 41% of the vines in Utiel-Requena. Three thousand farmers are members of Grupo Covinas. Many Bobal wines have emerged from Grupo Covinas and are exported to thirty countries worldwide. Look for the 2018 Autentico and the 2017 Aula Rose, both 100% Bobal.
CHOZAS CARRASCAL  www.chozacarrascal.es 
Winemaker and grandson of the founders Julian Lopez and Jose Maria Peidro, Julian Lopez Peidro, was our guide at the museum quality winery that boasts an indexed collection of over two million wine labels. That’s another story. Certified organic, the winery, which launched its first wine in 2003 after acquiring the property in 1990. Jose explained that originally Bobal was a blending grape, a philosophy that believe in today. They grow eleven international varieties and use Bobal to blend with these grapes. The outcome, as illustrated by the 2016 Los Ochos (30% Bobal) was off the charts.

MARQUES del ATRIO  www.marquisdelatrio.com 
Since the late 19th century, the Rivero family has run the company. Today, the fourth and fifth generation continue to run Marquis del Atrio, although now owned by a Chinese group. With vineyards throughout Spain, the Utiel-Requena location, complete with an underground candlelit tasting room, brought the best out of Faustino 2013 Reserva (90% Bobal).

BODEGAS VIBE  www.bodegasvibe.com 
Winemaker Juan Carlos Garcia knows how to make Bobal a friendly wine, as we experienced with the 2017 Venusto, a deep cherry, full-bodied wine, which was full of dark fruit followed by licorice and eucalyptus. Owner, Raul Vincent Bezjak, led us through the tasting.

BODEGAS & VINEDOS LADRON de LUNAS  www.ladrondelunes.com 
Fernando Martinez, sixth generation winemaker, made a lifelong impression with his make shift tasting room in an underground cave, full of centuries old amphorae’s. Mr. Martinez said that it was first for him, tasting wines in this historical cave. The 15 month aged Exclusive LDL, with its fresh and intense plum and gooseberry aromas gave way to an acidic, well-balanced, integrated wine with a persistent ending.

Bobal wines from Utiel-Requena are a treat and should be discovered by wine lovers around the world. Learn more about Bobal at: www.utielrequena.org 




Philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 
Philip S. Kampe






Friday, April 19, 2019

2019 Easter Wine Suggestions by Philip S. Kampe




                                                Easter 2019 Wine Suggestions

                                          DANGIN Champagne  ($38)
Lovely, elegant and balanced. Bright fruit and wonderful depth.

                                         Ca di Pesa 'TRAMONTO' dry Rose 2017  ($28).
This lovely 100% Sangiovese Rose is from Tuscany. Medium-bodied with lively acidity makes this a perfect
holiday wine.

                                         Le CARTUJA  Prorat Red   2016 ($21)
Pure, full-bodied Garnacha (70%) Mazuelo (30%) mix that possess dark fruit notes paired with high acidity.If you grill meat for the holiday, this is your wine.

                                        Il GRULLAIO Costa Toscana 2016  ($16)
An usual Tuscan wine that is made from equal amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Earthy with dark fruit and lather blend to make this a perfect wine for the holidays.

                                        Storia Italia AMARONE della Valpolicella 2015  ($48)
A wonderfully balanced, newly released Amarone with wonderful underlying structure.  Pure concentration of fruit makes this wine explode with flavor.



Thursday, April 4, 2019

The BOBAL Journey Begins by Philip S. Kampe




                                                      The Bobal Journey and Quiz

The pursuit of red wine has always been one of my goals. Whether it’s a red Burgundy, a glass of Amarone or Primitivo or a Cabernet Sauvignon, I am a happy person when the juice of the red grape hits my discerning palate.

Not so long ago I sampled a red varietal (grape) that was overly friendly (juicy and delicious) and destined to be one of my new ‘go to’ grapes.  I attended a seminar on the Bobal varietal, led by one of the wine world’s luminaries, Nora Favelukas. Within the seminar hour I was converted.

The next day, I  arrived  home (western Massachusetts). It was time to  to pursue my  Bobal studies at home. I did my homework. (I always like to understand the muse I follow)

I learned that Bobal was Spain’s third most planted grape, after Tempranillo and Airen. Why hadn’t I heard of the grape until now? It is planted elsewhere, (France and Sardinia) but in small plots, In Spain it thrives.

D.O.Utiel-Requena, is known as the ‘Land of Bobal.’

Located in southeast Spain, about an hour plus from beautiful Valencia, Utiel-Requena is sun-drenched. The region has produced wine for 2700 years. It is also on the list to become a UNESCO Heritage World Site in the near future. With over 100 vineyards and 70,000 acres of Bobal, the future growth of this region and the grape should be immediate. That is why I am writing this article.

The problem is, its difficult to find Bobal in your neighborhood wine shop. I have tried and have had to order online to secure bottles to sample. I don’t want to be the only Bobal voice, but, once you taste the wine, you will understand my position.

Bobal means ‘bull’. According to folklore, the large clusters of grapes resembles a bull’s head. The grapes are thick-skinned, deep in color and rich (full) bodied. Its not until recently that the grape has headed towards stardom. In the last 2700 years, the grape was mainly a blending grape and a grape whose skins were used to color Rose wine.

With the latest generation of young winemakers throughout the region and their pursuit  to success, coupled with the older winemakers of the region, the direction of Bobal production has changed or done an about face.

Now, the grape will be defined by the winemaker who will certainly retain the elegance and robust complexity that make Bobal special. Sure, notable dark fruits dominate the palate. Think fig, prune, plum, blueberry and blackberry,

The province of Valencia has three D.O’s, Valencia, Alicante and Utiel-Requena, home of Bobal.

Bobal’s newly acquired nobility has created a unified need for the local wine association to represent Utiel-Requena, (Learn more at: www.utielrequena.org).

Utiel-Requena is located less then fifty miles from the Mediterranean Sea. The  combination of both the Mediterranean and Continental climate is defined simply as dry and hot, with short summers and cold and long winters.The air is often windy. Insects don't like wind. Vineyards do, so, many vineyards are organic and practice sustainability.

Alluvial soil and clay with limestone deposits are the home base of Bobal. The warm, dry winds of the Piniente, from the west, passes through the region. The altitude is between 1,950 feet to 2,960 feet. 80% of the vineyards are planted with Bobal. Bobal is grown mainly in Utiel-Requena, as well as neighboring Manchela, Alicante and Murcia.

The region is quite historical, establishing a D.O. in the 1930’s. In those days, Bobal was used as a blending grape, as were many other international varietals. The problem with Bobal is the fact that the clusters ripen unevenly. A positive note is with late flowering, frost is rarely a problem. Bobal likes heat and with the new generation of winemakers, we are learning that Bobal ages well.

The wines from Utiel-Requena follow the Spanish classification rules. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva are common, as well as the word ‘Tradicion’ , which is on the bottle, guaranteeing a minimum of at least 70% of the varietal is in the blend. Vinification of Bobal is called doble pasta.

With over one hundred wineries and cooperatives, Utiel-Requena has the potential to become well known. Aren’t wine drinkers looking for the next, new varietal to try?

It may take a few years for this to happen, but, little by little, Bobal will reach the wine shops in your neighborhood. And if you are curious, ask your wine merchant to order Bobal or order Bobal online.

What you will get: a wine with low alcohol, elegant acidity and smooth tannins. Lots of fruit, while the bouquet is herbaceous. Plus, bottles are reasonably priced.

I sampled Bobal from the list of wineries below:
Sierra Norte
Marques del Atrio
Covinas
Dominio de la Vega
Chozas Carrascal
Bodegas Vibe
Valsangiacomo
Pago de Tharsys
Ladron de Lunas

Hope you find your Bobal.

Are you ready for a Bobal quiz?


The BOBAL Quiz

On a recent trip to the Utiel-Requena region of southeast Spain, near Valencia, I had the opportunity to learn about the Bobal varietal. Several years ago, I attended a seminar on Bobal, led by charismic wine educator Nora Favelukas, who opened my curiosity about this ‘fabled grape.’

I’m wondering how much you know about the Bobal grape?  
Let’s take a Quiz.
The correct answers are at the bottom…

1) Bobal is grown where?

a) Spain, France and Sardinia
b) Spain, France nd Portugal
c) Spain and Portugal
d) Spain, Sicily and Portugal

2) Bobal is the ……. most planted grape in Spain.

a) first
b) second
c) third
d) forth

3) Does Bobal have pyrazines?

 a) Yes
 b) No

4) Bobal generally grows on what type of soil(s)?

a) alluvial
b) clay
c) limestone
d) alluvial, clay with limestone

5) What percentage of the Bobal varietal is planted in Utiel-Requena, as compared to all other grapes planted in the region?

a) 50%
b) 60%
c) 70%
d) 80%

6) The word Bobal derives from bovale, meaning?

a) donkey
b) fox
c) bull
d) bobcat

7) Bobal follows the Spanish classified rules. Crianza is aged in oak for three months, Reserva has a minimum of twelve months in oak.  What is the minimum aging in oak for Gran Reserva?

a) 18 month
b) 24 months
c) 36 months
d) 48 months

8) Bobal grows in what type of climate(s)?

a) Continental
b) Mediterranean
c) Continental and Mediterranean

9) The Bobal grape has…..and is…..

a) thin skins and early budding
b) thick skins and is late budding

10) Bocal is permitted in the wines of……

a) Murcia
b) Alicante
c) Manchuela
d) Valencia
e) Valencia, Manchela, Alicante and Murcia


Answers:
1) a
2) c
3) b
4) d
5) d
6) c
7) b
8) c
9) b
10) e


The quiz was a way to introduce you to BOBAL, as well as a selfish way for me to learn about the varietal.

Philip S.Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 



















Monday, April 1, 2019

BOBAL- The Wine Quiz by Philip S. Kampe

                                                                  BOBAL


                                                                The BOBAL Quiz

On a recent trip to the Utiel-Requena region of southeast Spain, near Valencia, I had the opportunity to learn about the Bobal varietal. Several years ago, I attended a seminar on Bobal, led by charismatic wine educator Nora Favelukas, who opened my curiosity about this ‘fabled grape.’

I’m wondering how much you know about the Bobal grape?  
Let’s take a Quiz.
The correct answers are at the bottom…

1) Bobal is grown where?

a) Spain, France and Sardinia
b) Spain, France nd Portugal
c) Spain and Portugal
d) Spain, Sicily and Portugal

2) Bobal is the ……. most planted grape in Spain.

a) first
b) second
c) third
d) forth

3) Does Bobal have pyrazines?

 a) Yes
 b) No

4) Bobal generally grows on what type of soil(s)?

a) alluvial
b) clay
c) limestone
d) alluvial, clay with limestone

5) What percentage of the Bobal varietal is planted in Utiel-Requena, as compared to all other grapes planted in the region?

a) 50%
b) 60%
c) 70%
d) 80%

6) The word Bobal derives from bovale, meaning?

a) donkey
b) fox
c) bull
d) bobcat

7) Bobal follows the Spanish classified rules. Crianza is aged in oak for three months, Reserva has a minimum of twelve months in oak.  What is the minimum aging in oak for Gran Reserva?

a) 18 month
b) 24 months
c) 36 months
d) 48 months

8) Bobal grows in what type of climate(s)?

a) Continental
b) Mediterranean
c) Continental and Mediterranean

9) The Bobal grape has…..and is…..

a) thin skins and early budding
b) thick skins and is late budding

10) Bocal is permitted in the wines of……

a) Murcia
b) Alicante
c) Manchuela
d) Valencia
e) Valencia,Manchela, Alicante and Murcia


Answers:
1) a
2) c
3) b
4) d
5) d
6) c
7) b
8) c
9) b
10) e


Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Finally a Pinot Grigio I Like by Philip S. Kampe



                                                          Terlato Pinot Grigio 2017

Its really been a long time since I have truly liked a Pinot Grigio to the point that I want to write about my experience. For years, Pinot Grigio wines seem to be the wines one drinks at receptions or weddings. Its been quite awhile since I have taken the initiative to purchase a bottle on my own.

Recently, a wine friend influenced my decision to purchase a bottle (under $20) of Estate Grown Pinot Grigio from Terlato Vineyards. The vineyards are in northeastern Italy, in the Fruili Colli Orientali region.
Doing a little homework on the wine before sampling the bottle, I learned that this wine was handcrafted from start to finish. The vineyards are hillside and lie on soils of schist and marl. The vines are 20-30 years old and are Guyot-trained. They are hand harvested and bottled in darker bottles to help protect the quality of the wine from the sun.

My first sip of the wine found the 2017 to be complex and crisp. Flavors of fresh fruit burst in my mouth.It was obvious to me that concentrated flavors of peach and grapefruit sang their tune, while pears and apricots pierced my palate in-between the primary notes. The combination lent itself to a floral, fruity bouguet, one that was appealing in all aspects. Layers of fruit filled my mouth which burst into a crisp, acidic finish.

This luscious wine is 13% abv and is aged 6-8 months on the yeasts with weekly battonage. It is fermented in stainless steel tanks. There is no malolactic fermentation used in the process.

As of late, this is the best Pinot Grigio I have tasted in several years. Its worth a buy and should be rated at 94 points.
Philip S. Kampe

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Experience by Philip S. Kampe



                The San Miguel de Allende Experience

(We took a little break from the wine world for a  month or so to see what the world has to offer, tourist wise. We traveled to California, New Orleans and Mexico. This article is on one of the highlights of our travels)

San Miguel de Allende was the first town in Mexico, that I visited that was home to a large number of ex-pats. Close to twenty per cent of the population, or about 28,000 retires from America plus thousands from Canada line the cobblestone streets in numbers, searching for cultural events, restaurants, outdoor markets and that street side taco stand. Besides all of the above, San Miguel is an artistic learning center, full of art related lectures that educate and stimulate the mind, strolling musicians, opera, flamingo and musical entertainment in a hefty number of restaurants and bars. Many of the ex-pats are artists or are on their way to becoming artists. Every block has art galleries,some owned by ex-pats and others owned by locals.

If art is your thing, then San Miguel de Allende should be on your bucket list.

A multitude of art studios and art galleries dot the colorful town in all of the districts. The houses and businesses are all painted in similar dark red, brown and orange colors, making this town of 140,000 unique.

If you desire to visit or even move to San Miguel, the easiest route to visit this elegant town is to fly into Mexico City. Once at the airport, you will prepay a taxi vendor to book a taxi that will take you to the Norte bus station. It’s a 20-30 minute drive that will set you back $10-$15 dollars. At the bus station, you must book a bus to San Miguel de Allende. There are two reputable companies that vie for the four hour ride. Both ETN and Primera Plus follow the same route. It’s always best to take the next bus that is leaving.

Once in San Miguel, another taxi will be required to get you to your destination. Ours was a weeks stay at a penthouse above the popular Arroyo Gallery, located within walking distance of everything in San Miguel.

The owner of the penthouse and studio is Suzy Taylor, an ex-pat, who most recently (2007) lived in Washington Depot, Connecticut. Like so many others, she realized that San Miguel would fill her dream of opening a working studio and gallery. After purchasing land, Suzy Taylor designed the 3,000 sf multi-purpose building. Her dream became reality.

Today, Ms.Taylor, is a successful gallery owner that not only paints, but, designs clothes, focusing on women’s blouses ($85-$200) and furniture, which is made by local artisans. She also has a line of  jewelry that she sells.

Suzy’s background is in interior design. She was a photo stylist and magazine editor for Victoria Magazine and other publications. Her painting career has evolved through the years. Focusing on light, airy colors and composition, Suzy’s artwork is like none other in San Miguel.

The third floor penthouse that we stayed in was breathtaking, both inside and out. The views of the city, with its architecture and countless steeples could not have been better. A beautiful silhouette of the city could be seen from inside the penthouse. There are two outside terraces, as well, to take in the scenery while having a cocktail on the veranda. We preferred to hear the birds sing as we took breakfast on the covered terrace. The apartment has a galley kitchen, a coffee maker (coffee beans and milk provided) and a two burner hotplate with utensils as needed. With so many restaurants within walking distance,why cook?

San Miguel has happy hours daily. Normally 2x1 Margaritas are the prize. The Margaritas are not made with a mix. They are only made with two parts of Tequila, one part lime juice and one part Contreau (you can use triple sec).

With a Mardi Gras attitude and art mixed with local architecture, San Miguel is hard to beat.
Beware--Summers are very hot.

If you want to stay at Suzy Taylor’s penthouse or visit her studio at Arroyo Gallery, visit her at www.suzytaylor.com

                                                                 Arroyo Gallery



                                                       Artist Suzy Taylor, at work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Piper-Heidsieck Flows Liberally At The 2019 Oscar Party by Philip S. Kampe



                                     
Let me be honest.

I attend Oscar parties, not for the nominated movie announcements, but, for the Champagne. This is the fifth year, Piper-Heidsieck is the Champagne of choice at the 91st Oscars, which takes place on February 24th. Fortunately, thanks to contacts in the industry, I received an invite to view the live announcements from Hollywood.

The announcement party takes place at a popular iPic theater in Manhattan, where the seats have tables-sorta like boxes at concerts. Champagne, at each table is flowing as we watch the big screen with the announcements.

I was a bit surprised that the hosts, Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis, making the Oscar announcement did not have a glass of the red labeled Piper-Heidsieck Champagne in their hands.

My Piper Heidsieck days go back to Cannes Film Festival (1999) when Piper-Heidsieck started their twenty year run as the official Champagne of the festival. My father remembers seeing Rex Harrison standing next to a 48 liter bottle of Piper-Heidsieck in 1964, celebrating his role in ‘My Fair Lady.’

Historically, Piper-Heidsieck, originally supported the cinema in 1933, when a bottle appeared in a Laurel and Hardy movie, ‘Sons of the Desert.’ The first bottle of Piper Heidsieck was created for the Queen in 1785. The brand has always been synonymous with quality and excellence.

The 2019 Oscar nominations ran the gamut, from predictable, ‘A Star Is Born’ to new wave, home viewing movies like ‘Roma.’ Other nominations for Best Picture included, ‘Vice’, ‘BlackKlansman’, Green Book’, Black Panther’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘The Favourite.’

For the 91st Oscar nominations, Piper-Heidsieck created a limited edition magnum-which you can see in the photo. It is being  held by MC Michael Green (the guy in the red and gold jacket..)

The Oscar nominations each year carry a lot of surprises, Noticeable milestones this year included the ‘Black Panther’, the first Marvel Studio movie and the first superhero movie to receive a Best picture nomination. Popular, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was passed over, as was Bradley Cooper for Best director in ‘A Star Is Born.’ And last, but not least, Netflix streaming movie, ‘Roma,’ received ten Oscar nominations.

The 91st Academy Awards take place at 8pm (EST) on ABC.
Make sure your Piper-Heidsieck is chilling…

Philip S. Kampe
Philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 
                                                         The Oscar Party Begins

                                                                 MC Michael Green
                          Working on this article at home, with my Favorite Beverage.









Monday, January 21, 2019

Whats worse? Drinking Beer From a Tennis Can or Drinking Wine from a Pringles Can? by Philip S. Kampe




  Whats worse? Drinking beer from a tennis can or drinking wine from a Pringles can?






I am a copycat wine drinker.

Most people believe that I listen to my own drummer. And that really is the case, but, in certain circumstances, I follow someone else’s beat.

In this instance, a Texas woman was banned from Walmart for life because she drank wine from a Pringles potato chip container, while riding around a Walmart parking lot in an electric shopping cart. Mind you, she was caught at six thirty in the morning. Witnesses noticed her driving in circles and attempting wheelies for an hour or so before being apprehended..

This monumental event didn’t go unnoticed by me. It brought up a lot of questions, while raising my curiosity about this woman’s resourcefulness.

What I want to know: What flavor of Pringles potato chips (BBQ, Spicy, Original) container did she drink from? What type of wine was her preference? Did she clean the Pringles container out first or did she leave the residue inside the canister?

With all of these unanswered questions, I took to the task and set up my experiment during the Sunday football playoffs.

Having grown up in New Orleans, I have to admit that I am experienced with drinking beer from tennis ball cans. I’m guessing that the rubbery canned odor will be much worse then drinking wine from a Pringles can. The rubbery scent is foul. The Pringles odors vary, but, in a good sense.

One of my wine friends and Master Sommelier, Fred Dexheimer, suggested that I start my experiment with a Riesling. Apparently, he has had some prior experience with Pringles and wine somewhere in his illustrious career. Freed sets up bars and restaurants with unique spirit and wine concoctions.

My experiment began with two BBQ Pringles cans. Both cans were emptied. One was washed with water, the other was left with the debris (powder) from the chips. I pored half a bottle of Riesling in each canister. Apparently, a Pringle canister can hold a full bottle of wine and have room to spare. That was my first finding. Secondly, I put the transparent lid on top of each canister and turned each can upside down. No leaks.

Maybe I was onto something?

I turned both cans upright, It was time.

I drank from the clean can first. The aroma was noticeable-a vibrant BBQ odor that was mixed with honeysuckle and orange blossom. It didn’t turn me off, but, quite the opposite, it intrigued my palate. I was now ready to drink from the BBQ Pringles can. No surprises here. The Weingut Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg Riesling 2016 was as fruity as ever. The 50mg of sugar disappeared and was replaced with a faint smoky taste. Could that be the BBQ potato chips or just part of the wine? 

I sampled the second can, with the residue and believed that the results were the same, residue and all. The next sampling was an obvious pairing, pizza Pringles with  Chianti.
The classic twosome were like a match made in heaven. The Ruffino Ducale Chianti Classico Reserva 2015 was well balanced, velvety on the palate with hints of rosemary and tomato sauce on the palate. Did a hint of tomato sauce sneak its way into my mouth by way of the Pringles can? To answer this question, I went one step further. I poured a glass of the Chianti in a wine glass and proceeded to sample. What disappeared was the tomato sauce flavor. It was replaced with rosemary, an herb that normally dominates whatever it comes in contact with.

What I have learned from this experiment: Drinking wine from Pringles cans does add nuisances to a wines flavor. If you are not satisfied with a wine that you buy, try drinking it from a non-rinsed Pringles canister. Your results will vary, of course.

note: Save your empty Pringles cans and use them as wine glasses for your next together or experiment on your own.

                                                                   Philip S.Kampe





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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ferraton Pere & Fils 2015 Saint-Joseph 'La Source' at $30 Is a 'True Bargain' Rhone Valley Wine by Philip S. Kampe










Ferraton Pere & Fils, headed by onenologist Damien Brisset has scored a true ’tour de force’ with the 2015 Saint-Joseph ($30). The northern Rhone Valley, known for Syrah, has come to life with another of Ferraton Pere & Fils value wines. 

Normally, I drink the reasonably priced Cotes du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu. It’s a great wine to keep as a ‘go to’ everyday wine. But, at $30 and from the acclaimed 2015 vintage, why not splurge for the Saint-Joseph ‘La Source’ to start 2019 off.

I am glad I did.

Ferraton Pere & Fils (FPF from now on) was established in the center of Hermitage in 1946 by Jean Orens Ferraton. As the years went on, son, Michel, grew the estate to include plots in Saint-Joseph, as well as Crozes Hermitage.

Today, respected wine producer, Michel Chapoutier owns the property, but, has given the reigns to Damien Brisset to run the property independently.

Since 2015, all of the FPF  properties have become certified biodynamic.
Organic farming began in 1998.

The 2015 vintage in the Rhone Valley was considered by many as an ‘epic year.’ The conditions were perfect, warm and abundantly sunny days and just enough rain to precede an unusually long growing season. The end result was a bounty of exceptional 2015 vintage wines.

The 2015 Saint-Joseph embodies what determined grapes with an exceptional winemaker can achieve. Barrel aged for over a year (10% new oak) and deep in color (ruby), this mineral laden, spicy wine with an extremely long finish, drinks like a $60 counterpart.

FPF is known for high quality wines at value price points. The 2015 Saint-Joseph ‘La Source’ has well achieved M. Chapoutier’s goal.

If you are ever in the Rhone Valley and want to visit the winery or possibly meet Damien Brisset, visit their website: www.ferraton.fr  or call +33 (0)475 08 59 51

Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Wairau River-New Zealand's Top Family Estate Winery Blossoms In Both Wine and Food Venues by Philip S. Kampe and Maria Reveley




                                                                Dave Kenny

                                                                  Cellar Door

                                                                                   

While visiting New Zealand we stumbled onto Wairau River Winery, a winery that was established in 1978 (first vines planted) by Phil (love that name) and Chris Rose.

Today, in 2019, their five children (many are adults) and extended family pitch in to run this family owned estate in the world famous Marlborough region.

The Wairau Valley is extensive and is surrounded by the Awatere and Southern Valleys.  Once you drive out of Blenheim, all you can see are vines.I was told that nearly half of the vines in the Marlborough wine region exist in three valleys, where the Wairau River meets the Pacific Ocean. The Richmond Mountains in the North separate the region while the Wither Hills in the south protect the region from the nearby harsh weather elements that cause havoc.
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The Wairau Valley is mainly flat.

Wairau River winery is home to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, Riesling,  Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Naturally, Sauvignon Blanc is the most important grape in the region. The first vines were planted in 1973. Today, the demand has grown to the point that in years to come, the demand will outgrow the supply. In other words, there is no room to plant any new Sauvignon Blanc seedlings.

Historically, wine has been made in New Zealand for the past two hundred years. The European immigrants jump started the industry about a hundred years ago, while most recently, within the past twenty years, the focus on the cool climate grapes paired with modern technology has put New Zealand on the map. White varietals thrive alongside Pinot Noir.

Although the Rose’s planted their first grapes in 1978, it was not until 1991 that they released their first vintage. The years prior, they sourced their grapes to other vineyards. Being pioneers in the industry, Phil and Chris Rose have made the most out of this prestigious wine region. Marlborough wines are known for their intensity of flavor due to the cool climate, which was mentioned earlier. Low yields and ripe estate fruit define Wairau River wines.

Wairau River means ‘a hundred waters’ and on the banks of the river, known for its stone and silt, the Rose’s winegrowing days began. Today, they own 500 acres. They only use the finest grapes for their wines, focusing on –you guessed it-Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

The Rose dynasty estate covers nine (9) vineyards in the Rapaura appellation of Marlborough. According to Export Manager,  Dave Kenny of Wairau River, the Rose’s had their pick of the region in the late 70’s and chose wisely where to plant their vines. Early success led to expansion, followed by sustainable farming practices.  Protecting the environmental integrity of Wairau River has long been the path for ‘Green Country’ traditions and a credo of New Zealand wine production.

Beside sampling Wairau River’s bread and butter, Sauvigon Blanc and Pinot Noir, wine extraordinaire Dave Kenny shared an amazing batch of Wairau River wines with us. The Pinot Gris, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay stood out.

We had the opportunity to sample numerous reserve wines with our lunch at the popular ‘Cellar Door’ restaurant, adjacent to the winery. Tables inside and out-next to the vines- enhanced the Wairau River wine experience.

My lunch consisted of an amazing seafood chowder that paired perfectly with Pinot Gris, a wine that Wairau River exports to the states and is distributed by Terlato (they import Pinot Noir, as well).

On Dave Kenny’s recommendation, my wife, Maria, ordered a double baked blue cheese soufflé, which was so decadent that I had to ask Dave for the recipe.


Double Baked Blue Cheese Souffle

Ingredients:
6 ounces of butter
4 ounces of plain flour
24 ounces of whole milk
9 ounces of strong blue cheese
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
10 egg whites
6 egg yolks
Pinch of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Melt butter
Add flour and cook to blond color
Whisk in milk and simmer
Add salt and pepper
Add cheese and melt in
Turn heat off stove and let cool for three minutes
Transfer mix into a bowl and whisk in egg yolks
Whip egg white until ribbon stage
Fold in egg whites

Grease ramekins and fill to ¾
Place in water bath and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes
Take out of oven and let cool
Put on serving dish when ready

To reheat:
Slightly cover soufflé with cream and put in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes
Souffle should be puffy and colored when serving
Add mescalin salad and sliced pair with toasted walnuts as garnish on side
Top with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper vinaigrette


The Cellar Door Restaurant is where you may have the opportunity to meet Phil and Chris Rose. Rumor has it that Phil pops in each morning to have his morning tea. The relaxing atmosphere of the Cellar Door is where I want to be.

What could be better then pairing Wairau River wines with double baked blue cheese soufflé?

Nothing…..

Wairau River Wines
www.wairauriverwines.com 
phone +64 03 5727850
email: dave@wairauriverwines.com
address: 264 Rapaura Road  RD3  Blenheim, New Zealand 

Terlato Wines (Wairai River importer)
phone: +1 847 444 5500
email: pr@terlatowines.com 




 



















Roses For All Seasons-What I Am Drinking by Philip S. Kampe

                                                 Springtime has arrived, even in New England (May 2019), where I was stopped on...