Friday, May 18, 2018

Tuscany's Tyrrhenian Seacoast Is Home To Terroir Driven Maremma Wines by Philip S.Kampe

                                  Affordable Wines from Maremma

The wind driven, undeveloped land of Maremma is home to a wonderful array of both white and red wines. Located in southwest Tuscany and extending to part of northern Lazio, this wind-driven,sun-drenched corner of the world supports sandy and clay soil that is the nucleus for intense wines from the region.

Traditionally, cattle herders occupied the marsh lands of Maremma, having been last drained in the 1930's.

Today, Maremma Toscana is an appellation from the Grosseto province of Tuscany.In 2011, DOC status was awarded to the region. 

Both local and international grapes are used to make a variety of both dry and sweet wines. Fortune came my way on several occasions where I had the opportunity to sample a high quality Vin Santo (red) and a late harvest Vendemmia Tardiva style (white).

Diversity reigns in Maremma, where Metodo Classico sparkling wines made from a single variety, Vermentino or Ansonica varietal reign.

The principal white grapes of the region inlude: Malvasia, Vermentino, Viognier, Ansonica, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Trebbiano.

Red grape varieties include: Syrah, Sangiovese (Morellino), Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegioli and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Microclimates abound in Maremma. The moderate temperature and daily sun helps produce wines with soft tannins and drinkability.Minerality comes from the closeness to the sea paired with the sandy and clay soil, as was mentioned earlier.
A couple of wines were sent to me to sample from Rocca di Montemassi, an estate located in-between the shoreline and the hills. With nearly 400acres and proximity to the sea (only 6 miles away), the cooling breezes and abundant sun make for terroir driven wines, especially the (white) 2016 Calasole Vermentino DOC. Maremma is a favored growing site for the mineral laden varietal.Liguria and Sardinia are also home to this indigenous grape. The vines at Rocca di Montemassi estate are on the site of an old lgnite mine, beneficial for minerals, which ignite the fresh, crisp style of the wine. The rich minerals and the sea breezes help make this under $15 wine intriguing.  The wine is overly expressive, focusing on stone fruit and youthfulness. The 2016 has ample acidity with a creamy, velvety finish.

The second wine is a red 2016 Rocca di Montemassi Le Foccaie (Maremma Toscana). This wine is made from Tuscany's favorite grape, Sangiovese. Cinnamon, balsamic sweetness and red cherries play havoc with the tannins that create dryness on your palate. Its a pizza wine, its a food wine, its a bargain wine ($12) that is the perfect Italian ambassador that does not break the bank. Off dry, high acidity with a sweetness that turns sour and earthy in a short time. The soils of Maremma shape this memorable wine.

These two wines are true bargain wines from Maremma. There are many more complex wines on the horizon from this unique area in the world.

Philip S. Kampe


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Albarino, Especially 2Amigos Albariño Is My Warm Weather Wine by Philip S. Kampe

                                          The Warm weather season is upon us.                                 

It is the time of year that Sparkling, Rose and specifically New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tend to steal the show. And many of us diehard wine drinkers opt for a good cold brew this time of year.

Whatever you choose helps calm the heat of the summer. Add ceviche, shrimp cocktail, lobster and clams to the menu and you have many ‘matches made in heaven.’

After sampling a dozen bottles of various Albariño styles from the Rias Baixas appellation of northwest Spain, it seemed obvious to me that there is another warm weather wine that is off the radar. That wines name and grape is the same-Albariño.

Albariño, as I mentioned earlier, is the most abundant grape grown in northwest Spain, in the Rias Baixas region. The grape is on its way to stardom, thanks to its clean and fresh, crisp flavor that shines through its complexity.

Albariño is a very likable wine, in part, due to what the locals believe about Albariño. The local sentiment says, ‘Albariño is considered the New World wine of the Old World.’

Translating the statement means a few obvious points to reflect on. Albariño does not age well. It is bottled early to help preserve its freshness and tenacious acidity. Tropical fruits abound in the palate, followed by a mouth cleaning minerality on the long, lingering finish.

Pairing 2Amigos Albariño with seafood and spicy food was today’s challenge. As you can see from the photo, I marinated raw shrimp, scallops and trout with loads of garlic, red pepper flakes, Serrano peppers and high quality extra virgin olive oil. I added a bay leaf and cooked it in a casserole dish at 425 for 25 minutes.

Add a bottle of 2Amigos or any other Albariño and you have a near perfect pairing.

For close to $20 a bottle-the range of Albariño varies from $12-$45, you could have your new warm weather wine.

Isn’t it time to add Albarino to your warm weather wine mix?

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, May 14, 2018

2016 Is A Declared Vintage Port Year by Philip S. Kampe

                                             2016 Is A Declared Vintage Port Year

I have been a huge Port wine fan since my father, who drank a glass of Port nightly, gave me a taste at age eight. He figured that one taste was enough, but, since that day, I requested a taste each night he sampled this life changing concoction. 

Legal drinking age in Louisiana, in those days, was eighteen, so, it wasn’t too long that I could buy my own.

Those days are behind us, but, my love for Port wine has never changed.

Being in the wine business often has its benefits. And receiving an invitation from Michelle Keene inviting me to a “2016 ‘Declared Vintage Port” tasting was music to my ears.

The Symington family declared 2016 as a Vintage Port year. This was the fourth vintage declaration since 2000. The last declared vintage year was 2011. According to the Symington’s, ‘2016 Vintage Ports are exceptional with tannins that are amongst the most refined ever, supporting beautiful red fruit flavors with extraordinary purple intense colors. They have impressive structure and balance, with baumes, acidity, tannins and color in rare and perfect alignment. There is no doubt a result of the late ripening cycle which allowed our grapes to mature evenly and completely.’

This is what made 2016 exceptional. The viticulture year started in the Douro with a wet winter with double the rainfall of the previous year. The wet weather continued through May, causing the river to flood and remain unnavigable. June and July were normal. August was unusually hot lots of rain at the end of the month. Picking was delayed until late September finishing in the first week of October.

The result was low yields, which translates to small batches, making the 2016 Vintage Ports a rare commodity.

The impressive list of 2016 Vintage Ports include:
Cockburn’s 2016
Complexity, structure and length highlight the clove and ginger profile.

Croft 2016
Poised in-between opulence and restraint, the tight tannins dance the line between silkiness and elegance.

Dow’s 2016
Heavy on the palate with lots of acidity and longevity, this vintage is close to exploding.

Fronseco 2016
It’s all about the fruit. Complex, fresh with lots of minerality.

Graham’s 2016
Concentrated opulence. Rich and floral.

Quinta Do Novel 2016
Finesse and complexity of dried figs and dates. Long finish with firm tannins.

Quinta Do Novel Nacional 2016
My notes exclaim, a very hot vintage wine, much like that of a Sagrantiono.

Quinta Do Romaneira 2016
A powerhouse of tannins. Complexity of aromas. Soft on the palate.

Taylor Fladgate 2016
Austere. Round, with dry tannins.

Warre’s 2016
Lively on the palate with hints of anisette and mint.

Quinta Do Vesuvio 2016
Spicy, velvety,  Intense with cherry overtones.

All of these ports are young and certainly will develop with time. Grab a bottle as soon as you see a bottle on your wine merchants shelf. There may only be one chance….

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, May 4, 2018

Do You Know Umbria's Sagrantino Wines? by Philip S.Kampe

                                   Do You Know Umbria's Sagrantino Wines?


Umbria is the only landlocked province in Italy. The other 19 provinces all touch water. Tuscany is to the northwest. Le Marche is east and Lazio, where Rome is located is southwest.
Unfortunately, the wines from Tuscany and the Sangiovese grape dominates conversation. The wines of Umbria rarely surface in consumer conversation, but, those on the trade side worship the wines from Umbria, specifically Sagrantiono, from the area in and adjoining Montefalco.

Sagrantino is an indigenous grape that only grows in the hilltop areas around Montefalco.

According to recent scholarly research, the first mention of the cultivation of the Sagrantino varietal in Montefalco dates back to 1549.  The name, Sagrantino, can be traced back to the ‘Sagrament’ because the varietal was cultivated by monks to produce a raisin wine used for religious rites.

There are many theories regarding the origin of the grape.

Some say Saint Frances of Assisi brought the grape, which was used in sacramental wine. Others contend that the grape was brought to Umbria by the Greeks. Scolars have traced the grape to Franciscan (French) Friars.

Its still a debate today.

Montefalco lies in a valley surrounded by the Apennine mountains. I have been there many times when temperatures reach 95F (35C). Summers are often very warm. Sand and limestone keep the roots of the vines cool during the warm days.Fortunately, mountain breezes cool Montefalco by night. The breeze is known to locals, according to Umbrian wine expert, Fausto Proietti, as the Tramontano. The drying breeze comes from the north, effectively helping to limit rot.

In the evening, while staying in the medieval guest house, Tetti de Trevi, owned and managed by Fausto Proietti and his wife, Patrizia, you can hear the winds howl through the vineyard. That moment was an opportune time to savor a glass of Sagrantino, while starring at the stars and Montefalco valley from one of the many balconies that overlook the countryside.

The varied climate, from extremely hot to cool, and sometimes cold, result in grapes that have concentrated fruit that explodes, with the tannins on your palate.

Up until the 60’s , the Sagrantino varietal nearly disappeared from Umbria.It was revived, thanks to the pioneering wine producer, Fratelli Adanti.

Today, Sagrantino has surfaced as one of the worlds most interesting and revered varietal. At a recent comparative tasting earlier this week, two vintages were spotlighted, the 2012 and the 2008. The sampling included six wines and both vintages for each wine. It was obvious that Sagrantino has a long aging ability, as both wines were still babies. It was obvious that as the wines aged, the tannins began to disappear and a new wine-often velvety, appeared.

The wines that were poured were from these vineyards.
Tenuta Alzatura Uno di Undici DOCG
Briziarelli Vitruvio DOCG
Arnaldo Caprai 25 Anni DOCG
Scacciadiavoli DOCG
Perticaia DOCG
Antonelli DOCG

If the wines from Montefalco are new to you, they are worth purchasing. I would start with a Rosso di Montefalco ($20 range), then move forward to the Sagrantino di Montefalco ($35-95).

The older the vintage, normally, but, not always, less tannins.

These wines are truly food wines-hard cheeses, steaks and dark meat poultry balance the tannins in your palate.

Philip S. Kampe

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Miner Family Winery, A Napa Valley Star by Philip S. Kampe

                                          Miner Family Wines Are Napa Valley Stars

Through the years, I have had so much respect for the winemaker and the high quality of all of the wines from Miner Family Winery in Oakville, my favorite wine area in Napa Valley.

Dave Miner began his wine career in 1993, after realizing, like most of us, wine is more fun then most other industries, especially the software industry, where he was making a name for himself. His uncle and wine connection, Robert Miner recruited Dave and appointed him as President of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, a position that catapulted Dave into the wine industry. It was a natural fit.

As wine stories go, Dave met his future wife, Emily, in the tasting room of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, where she worked as the manager. It didn’t take too ling (1996) when the couple decided to start their own label. Fortunately, Gary Brookman, who is Oakville Ranch’s winemaker, took on double duty and helped establish Dave and Emily’s label. The common factor is that Dave and Emily sourced grapes from Oakville Ranch and the winemaker could make wine under their label, thanks to family ties.

In 1999, after a complete excavation of the land, creating a 20,000 square foot cave, on Oakville Ranch’s property, the Miner Family Vineyard was ready to take on the world.

The success of what transpired since has been astounding. In 2004, the winery was named as one of the ‘Top Five’ wineries in America.

The Oracle, made with sourced fruit, became the iconic wine that was hailed worldwide as one of the best Bordeaux blend wines to come out of Napa.

Success loomed again, this time with the Wild Yeast Chardonnay, a White House favorite.

Many changes have occurred in the twenty years since Miner has been in operation. The business runs totally off of solar power. Gary Brookman is now the General Manager and Director of Winemaking. Stacy Vogel took over as head winemaker in 2013.

Emily Miner lost her battle to cancer in 2011 and in 2016, Emily wine was launched by Dave Miner, who donates a portion of the proceeds to cancer research.

So much has happened since 1993 and Dave’s introduction into the family business….

The Miner Family Winery has been famous throughout the years with their exceptional Bordeaux style wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc), Burgundy styles (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) and Rhone styles (Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane) plus varietals of Tempranillo, Rosato and Sangiovese.

Rather then review all of the wines, I’ll focus on the two latest releases, the 2016 Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay ($30) and the 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($20).

The 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is a screw top bottle containing 100% Sauvignon Blanc, with grapes sourced from Stage Creek Vineyard (52%), Shartsis Vineyard in Rutherford (40%) and Crossroads Vineyard (8%).  The grapes were both fermented and aged in stainless steel. At 13.5% alcohol, the seamless Sauvignon Blanc was restrained with tropical flavors, highlighted by the balanced acidity of grapefruit and lime with hints of peach, nectarine and honeydew melon.

By contrast, the 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay, at 13.5% alcohol, was full of mixed aromas of apricots, pineapples and pears. On the palate, the buttery and toasty oaky flavor balanced the citrus flavors that encompass this beautiful wine.

Both wines warrant merit and should be on your wine merchants shelves any day now. With less then 2500 cases produces, I am confident that this reasonably priced wine will sell out in a short time.

Miner Family Winery sells their wines online. Visit  to learn more.

Philip S.Kampe

Friday, April 27, 2018

Antica, Napa's Extradorinary Wines from The World's Oldest, Active, Producer, Antinori by Philip S. Kampe

                                                            Glenn Salva

Our best friends live in Umbria. Umbria is adjacent to Tuscany. The land is both provinces have similarities to the Napa Valley, where Piero Antinori decided to extend his brand-Antinori, the oldest active winery in the world-to make Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnays in a fashion that traces his ancestry.

In 1993, he purchased 600 acres (225 hectares), at 1,800 feet (500 meters) to begin his journey to create ‘classic Antinori wines’ in an area that fits his credentials, according to Glenn Salva (see photo), his estate manager. Since then, he has added considerable acreage and has involved his daughters into the family business.

Mr. Salva explained that the alluvial and volcanic soils on the mountainside (1500-1800 feet) mimic what the family estates in Italy have accomplished for centuries, that being, vines that grow on mountain hillsides that are married to volcanic soils.

The results are astounding.

If you get the opportunity to sample or purchase the wines that I was privileged to taste with Glenn Salva-the 2016 Antica Chardonnay and the 2014 Antica Cabernet Sauvignon, you would have a sleepless night-dreaming about the classic nuisances both wines have.

14% abv didn’t slow down the 2016 Antica Antinori Family Estate Napa Chardonnay. Elegant, yet big in style, this intense California Chardonnay, from Antinori, is a mixed bag-the flavors focus on maple drenched pears and movie theater  milk duds, combining for a sweet, yet  tart, tangy finish. This wine is unique, not California style and not a classic white burgundy. Thats what makes it interesting and an obvious buy.

The 2014 Antica Cabernet Sauvignon is a well structured, balanced wine that was full of stylish elegance, focusing on a balance of  spicy blackcurrant riding on top of a bed of anise. Totally full-bodied with rich tannins and acceptable acidity, this vintage, with its long finish, certainly can be cellared for a dozen years.

Mr. Antinori and his family and team at the vineyard know how to make wine. This, certainly, is the oldest family in the world in the wine business. Who would know better?

Philip S. Kampe


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Lucien Albrecht Wines from Alsace Are Underpriced by Philip S. Kampe

            Lucien Albrecht Wines from Alsace are Underpriced...

I have long been a fan of the sparkling wines from Lucien Albrecht. The ‘Cremant D’Alsace’ has been a real ‘got to’ wine of mine for get-togethers, parties and celebrations. At close to twenty dollars a bottle, my cellar has always been stocked with both the Cremant D’Alsace Brut and Rose, which is my true favorite.

One of the thrills of my life occurred last week when I had the opportunity to meet Lucien Albrecht’s winemaker, Jerome Keller.

Jerome Keller, the name behind the brand sat next to me at a luncheon for four and was so humbled to learn that his Cremant was at the top of my list for both quality and value. He knew he didn’t have to sell me on his wines because he knew that I knew the products inside and out.

What I didn’t know was that Jerome Keller produced a line of Lucien Albrecht wines, that represent what Alsace is all about, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. All vines are harvested by hand-a true trademark of Maison Lucien Albrecht.

Before sampling the wines, Mr. Keller explained that to produce wines at this level, he and his team must follow the grape from the birth on the vine until the varietal is picked and begins the process of fermentation. With cutting edge equipment and advanced winemaking skills, Jerome Keller executes what Lucien Albrecht wines are all about.

The journey began in 1425 when Romanus Albrecht started the winery. Eight generations have followed in the same footsteps.

In 1971 the first Cremant was produced by the family and in 1976, the methode traditionnelle was adopted. That means that the same method of making Champagne was adopted for all Cremants, which put them in the same league as Champagne and Spanish Cava. Double fermentation and aging creates Cremant’s profile.

The Brut is made from 100% Pinot Blanc grapes and was recently awarded four gold medals, giving Maison Lucien Albrecht more gold medals than any other Cremant producer in France.

The Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose is made from Pinot Noir grapes. It has a second fermentation in the bottle, then stays on the lees for nine months before being disgorged. The small bubbles circle the rim of the glass when poured, illustrating a well made wine. Red, exotic fruit prevails, rhubarb and red current bring out brightness to this salmon colored show stealer.

The 2016 Pinot Blanc Cuvee Balthazar ($17) was the first of the new series of wines, for me, that I sampled with winemaker Jerome Keller. The wine was pale yellow in color, fresh and supple with hints of apricots and sunflower seeds. Smooth and stylish on the palate, a great wine that could be used as both an aperitif and a food wine.
The 2016 Riesling Reserve ($16) jumped out of the bottle like a rocket. Balanced, yet not contained, the intensity and persistence of the wine’s acidity gave life to its citrus notes. Don’t get me wrong, it is overpowering in a good way. Riesling is the dominant grape in Alsace and this interpretation is special and stylized by winemaker, Jerome Keller.

The 2016 Pinot Gris Cuvee Romanus ($20), named after Romanus Albrecht, the wineries founder. The clay and limestone support the 100% Pinot Gris grape to dance on your palate. Distinctive flavors of orange spice, earth, chalk and honey are abundantly blended with a creamy smokiness that elevates with each sip.

The 2016 Gewurztraminer Reserve ($20) is a wine that I could drink everyday. The wine is very lively, like sunshine in a bottle. The faint spiciness and acidity of this medium bodied wine highlights the semi-sweet flavor of passion fruit and pineapple.

Alsace is an appellation in France that has been part of France and Germany throughout history. My family is from there. The region feels isolated and historically has followed centuries old traditions and maintained its own culture, a combination of both countries. Most of the wines (90% white) from Alsace come in the traditional tall, mostly green glass bottles.

Visit Alsace by visiting

                                                Winemaker Jerome Keller

Philip S. Kampe

Tuscany's Tyrrhenian Seacoast Is Home To Terroir Driven Maremma Wines by Philip S.Kampe

                                  Affordable Wines from Maremma The wind driven, undeveloped land of Maremma is home to a wonderful array of...