Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pay Attention To Israeli Wines by Philip S. Kampe


                                   Pay Attention To Israeli Wines: They Are Serious Wines

Israeli wines have a true sense of history.

From biblical times until today, (Kosher) Israeli wine has been the only standard used for religious observances- a practice dating back thousands of years.

Today, Israel has been identified by consumers and trade people as a country that, like France, has many appellations that produce regional wine with international grapes in a climate and terroir that is unique only to wines from the Middle East.

Israel, like neighboring Lebanon, is a land of micro-climates resulting from its diverse topographical variations. Wines from Galilee, Negev, Shomron, Shimshon and the Jerusalem Hills each offer unique profiles consistent with the varied climate in Israel.

Since the 1990’s, Israel has seen a positive turnaround in its wine production and facilities. With the insertion of new, up to date technology and skilled winemakers, the wine industry has been the darling of those who like both Old World wines from the Judean Hills or New World styles from Galilee.

As what is typical elsewhere in the wine world, visiting winemakers or those apprenticing come to Israel and work with the existing winemakers and share their trade secrets.

As the winemakers have always kidded about, there is no difference in flavor of Kosher wine versus that of non-Kosher wine. The winemaking process is always the same. Quality is the concern of the winemakers, not quantity, as was the rule during the last century.

The French varieties have been widely planted throughout the wine regions. The most popular varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Riesling, Gewurtztraminer,  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

High sugar levels persist in the warmer wine regions. Winemakers must maintain adequate acid levels to produce consistent wine.

Some of my favorite and easy to find or order online Israeli wines include:

2016 Galil Mountain Winery Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99)
+Aged two years in stainless and bottle. 13.5% alcohol
+ Citrus amid a burst of minerality with a lingering finish
+ Winemaker: Micha Vaadia

2014 Yarden Oden Vineyard Galilee Chardonnay  ($20.99)
+Organic, French oak aged, 13.9% alcohol
+Big, buttery vanilla focused wine with hints of apricot and banana
+Winemaker, Victor J. Schoenfeld

2014 Gilgal Galilee Sangiovese ($14.99)
+Aged for twelve months in oak barrels, this spicy volcanic wine lights up food
+14.5% alcohol. Produced in Golan Heights amid 42,000 concentric basalt rocks
+Winemaker, Victor J.Schoenfeld

2014 Yarden Golan Heights Winery Malbec ($32.99)
+Aged eighteen months in French Oak
+14.5% alcohol. Elegant, well-balanced and full-bodied.
+Winemaker, Victor J. Schoenfeld

2014 Yarden Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.99)
+Aged eighteen months in French oak barrels
+14.5% alcohol. Big, tannic and tasty. Best decanted for several hours.
+Winemaker, Victor J. Schoenfeld

2014 Galil Mountain Winery Yiron ($31.99)
+Blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 7% Syrah
+Aged sixteen months in French oak
+Chocolate, vanilla, leather mixed with fruity spice and vanilla
+Interesting mixture of grapes resulting in a complex, well balanced wine
+15% alcohol
+Winemaker, Micha Vaadia

Viticulture has existed in Israel since biblical times. In the book of ‘Deuteronomy (Deut 8.8), the ‘fruit of the vine’ was listed as one of the seven blessed species of fruit found in the land of Israel. Isn’t it time to pay attention to this ‘blessed fruit?’

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, December 11, 2017

Judging Wine for TAP Airlines At 40,000 feet by Philip S. Kampe


                                                    Judging Wine At 40,000 Feet
Did you know that if you fly east, you fly at an odd number altitude wise, for example, 39,000 feet, while, when you fly west, you fly at an even number, maybe 38,000 or 40, 000 feet, The pilot needs to find the sweet spot where the air is not thin (always at higher altitudes) and where there is less drag on the plane, so less fuel is needed to reach the desired speed (always at lower altitudes),   

Desired altitudes for commercial flights range from 35,000 feet to 42,000 feet.

What happens to your palate when you drink wine at those altitudes?  
Aircraft cabins are extremely dry and the drier you get, the drier your olfactory system is, which translates into your inability to translate complexity in wines. The wines you know won’t be totally unrecognizable, but, they will be new wines, in a sense, on your compromised palate. Your nasal passages are naturally dry in the air, which throws your aroma and taste buds off course. Add background noise, biorhythms, time change and flight vibration to the gamut and you are really not yourself when you sample wine on flights.

To relieve the stress of how you will perceive the wines taste, TAP airlines has a crew of ten wine experts who take all of the misguidance into account when sampling Portuguese wines to establish those few that will make the cut for your tasting pleasure onboard.

As a member of the TAP blind wine tasting team, made up of Portuguese and Brazilian wine experts, the sampling of the wines was tedious.

In a matter of three days, our team sampled over six hundred wines-all Portuguese-on the ground. The top scoring fifty vote getters, twenty-five (25) white and twenty-five (25) red were then sampled in the air, on a six hour flight, to and from Lisbon to Prague.

Each was judged and given a score. wine a score. These wines were the final cut.

There a few lessons to be learned when tasting wine at altitudes close to 40,000 feet.
First, hydrate yourself when drinking wine. A simple rule is one glass of water for each glass of wine that you drink.  Yes, dehydration coupled with alcohol is avoidable.

Two, avoid tannins. Tannins tend to become over-exaggerated in the air.

Three, wines with concentrated fruit and’ New World’ ripeness tend to be the ‘go to’ airline wines.

Four, bottle-aged reds that are tannin free work well.

Five, sparkling wine, only made in the traditional methode champenoise style fare well.

Six, let your red wine rest a few minutes, to warm up, before sampling.

Seven, always remember that the dryness of the air aboard an airliner and the low pressure in the airplane cabin combine to disrupt your taste buds that focus on salt and sweetness, but, don’t affect spicy, bitter or sour tastes.

Eight, wine doesn’t change flavors at high altitudes, our palate changes due to the re-cycling of the cabin air.

All in all, TAP Airlines puts in a lot of due diligence before selecting wines for your transatlantic flights.

Visit www.TAP.com to learn more.

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, December 1, 2017

TAP-The Airline That Cares About Your Portuguese Experience by Philip S. Kampe

                          TAP-The Airline That Cares About Your Portuguese Experience

Confidence in the airline that you fly is essential.
Allegiance to that particular airline normally follows.
And if you choose correctly, similar to a life partner, the future blossoms together.

As Paul McCartney once sang, ‘It’s a long and winding road.’

And that has been the case until my discovery of TAP Airlines, a Portuguese based carrier.

Little did I know, TAP has been upping its game for years. The airline has both public and private ownership and has recently ordered fifty-three (53) Airbus jets, preparing for their promising future. (Estimates of 15.5 million passengers in 2018)

In Business class, fully flat seats have created a necessary comfort zone for those transatlantic flights.

TAP is an award-winning airline, well respected for its wine service. The broadened  selection of small producer Portuguese wines on its international routes exemplifies what Portugal is about. Five (5) Michelin Star Portuguese chefs contribute the various gourmet courses served in both Business and Economy class. Plus a handful of wine experts blind taste hundreds of wines on board the airline before choosing the wines that will be served on board. If you are unaware, wine at sea level does not taste the same in flight. The profile is different.

Abilio Martins, a TAP Marketing executive, in conjunction with his marketing staff, led by Joel Fragata, shared TAP’s vision.

Mr. Martins elaborated extensively. He said: “We, meaning Portugal, have the ‘Best Wines in the World. There are many undiscovered wines.  Believe me, its true. Portugal is a small country that has a large selection of wines, whether the wine is made with one grape or the wine is a blend. Our wines, still, are the best kept secret. Once you start drinking our wines you can’t stop. We want to show the world our wines and want to increase the sales of Portuguese wine. Each person who flies TAP should have the best opportunity to taste the best food and wine in the country. TAP wants to give our passengers the opportunity to fully understand Portugal through our in-flight food and wine experience. Its 70F today (November) and this is winter. Imagine, we have it all in Portugal. Our campaign is about modes. Its time to switch to wine tasting mode-its time to switch to food mode-its time to switch to sunny modes-Portugal is a country of many modes. Our long term goal, jointly, with the National Tourist Board is to take care of each and every tourist that visits our country. TAP’s job is to become Portugal’s flying ambassador by utilizing the wine and food experience. Wouldn’t it be great if you could bring some of our Portuguese wines we served on board the flight home with you?”

After further discussion, Abilio Martins went to great length to explain that the food onboard TAP’s flights has been the creation of five Michelin Star Chefs who have chosen to cook their own and traditional Portuguese recipes. In tandem with the chefs selections, the wines, like the food, rotate every three months. A new menu with new wines four times a year helps set TAP apart from other airlines. The wines chosen by the experts blind scores are then seeked out and ultimately, the TAP plan would allow passengers to purchase these wines onboard the flight and redeem their bottles upon their airport departure. The final plan hasn’t been worked out, but, it is in the pipeline. I guess, you could say, this is the ultimate wine promotion.

The marketing staff at TAP, with Abilio Martins advice, has opened the door to a new way of doing airline business. The recently introduced ‘Stopover’ concept is a unique opportunity to visit two places for the price of one. You can do this if your flight is either a round trip or one way. If your final destination is the Azores, Algarve or Madeira, you can stop off up to five (5) nights in either Lisbon or Porto, at no extra charge. You select your destination and the number of nights with your hotel choice. Several partner restaurants at your destination will give you a bottle of wine with your meal.

Isn’t it time to fly an airline that cares about you?

Philip S. Kampe


The Program of the Celebration of the 6th Anniversary of the #winelover Community

Here is the program:


Luiz Alberto
  • Master of Wine candidate (former)
  • Italian Wine Ambassador
  • I combine my passion for wine with social media

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tinazzi Winery and Cooking School-Where Else Could You Make Pasta Whle Drinking Bardolino Chiaretto by Philip S. Kampe

       Tinazzi Winery-Where Else Can You Cook Pasta While Drinking Chiaretto?

Tinazzi, located near Lake Garda began in the 1960’s and expanded to Puglia in 2001. In 1986, the Tinazzi family purchased Tenuta Valleselle from the Carnaidolesi order of monks. It is set in the hills near Lake Garda, close to Bardolino. Valleselle is 30 acres in size, with both vineyards and olive trees.

Tenuta Valleselle is Tinazzi’s location that is dedicated to the wine and food culture. It offers guided tours of the vineyard, wine tasting tours and cooking classes, which I was fortunate enough to attend. Well-known chefs teach participants about the preparation of traditional dishes, using Tinazzi wines to pair with the dish and, of course, to sample while cooking.

The founders, Eugenio Tinazzi and son, Gian Andrea, have both vision and an entrepreneurial spirit. Success has come easily with the two vineyards in Italy and the addition of the cooking school. The children, Francesca and Giorgio, now adults, of Gian Andrea’s family, pitch in and help supervise the family business. With the purchase of Feudo Croce, a 160 acre estate in Puglia, all family members focus on Tinazzi’s continued recognition as one of the leading, award winning producers of Primitivo.

Plus, a new project is in the works. The family has started to restore an old farmhouse, ‘Ca’ de’ Rocchi’, which is in the pipeline as their center for accommodation, with guest rooms for tourists and trade who plan to take part in the numerous options Tinazzi has to offer the visitor, both in the Veneto and Puglia.

The Tinazzi family, in its third generation, always chooses the longest and safest routes in its growth process, They discuss that there are no shortcuts and pride their success to honesty and respect for everyone involved.

Italian cooking classes are peaking in popularity worldwide. Who can resist the Italian menu? Certainly, not me. Thanks to the insight of Luca Ventrelli, Tinazzi’s all around wine promoter, our group was given the opportunity to learn how to make pasta by hand. How hard could it be to make dough from two eggs,oil,  flour, salt and pepper?  The reality, it wasn’t hard at all. We were taught by a chef, how to mold the dough by adding the eggs, pound it into a round, tight, ball and then feed it into a pasta machine over and over  until its consistency was acceptable for boiling.

The end result, with the chopped vegetables that we also prepared was amazing. 

Add a bottle of Tinazzi’s ‘Campo Delle Rose’ Bardolino Chiaretto DOP and you have a meal of a lifetime. The Corvina, Moliara ad Rondiella grapes create a round, fresh and intense flavor that has an extremely long finish, For me, this wine is a must for pasta dishes.

                                                                 Tenuta Valleselle

                                           'Campo Delle Rose' Bardolino Chiaretto DOP

Philip S. Kampe

TAP Innaugural Wine Tour 2017 by Maria Reveley

                                   Symington General Manager, Jose L. Alvaras Ribeiro

                                                             Quinta do Bomfim
                                             Terraced Vineyards on the Douro River

The Inaugural TAP Wine Tour
November 2017

The Douro Region

The Inaugural 2017 TAP Wine Tour celebrated the winners of a blind tasting to become the wines chosen for 2018 TAP flights.

Abilio Martins, SVP Marketing at TAP, and his teams developed this effort to promote the Portuguese culture on TAP through its wines and cuisines. 

In 2016, TAP served 1.2 million bottles of national wines making it the biggest showcase for Portuguese wines in the world.

TAP intends to broaden and diversify its on-flight ‘Wine List’ to include red, white, rose, muscatel, port and sparkling wines to create a true onboard Wine Experience.  It will offer quality wines from small and large producers with an estimate usage of 2.5 million bottles over the next two years.

This Inaugural Wine Tour was the culmination of many hours of tasting by wine experts, first in Lisbon, and then on two flights to Prague.  In the air, taste buds change with air pressure, so the winners on the ground were re-tasted, again blind, to make sure the very best wines would be served to TAP flyers in 2018.

To enhance this experience even further, the crews are being trained to better serve the wines of the new lists. The Wine Experience joins the Taste the Stars project, in which TAP invited five (5) Portuguese Chefs, all distinguished with Michelin stars to join Vitor Sobral, TAP’s gastronomical consultant, to create superior on-board taste experiences.

These chefs are: Henrique Sa Pessoa, Jose Avillez, Miguel Laffan, Rui Paula and Rui Silvestre.

As remarked by Fernando Pinto, TAP’s CEO, “Just like the Portuguese, TAP has huge passion for Portugal.  Not only do we bring the world to Portugal, as with us, this passion has no boundaries and we’ll take it all over the world.”

What follows is a description of one of the winning regions, the Douro, in northern Portugal, and its winning wines.

The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage area.  It is stunningly beautiful, with steep mountains and hand tended vineyards.  The Douro River runs through the region and the city of Porto. And, at sunset, you can begin to understand why the name – River of Gold – is so on target.

The river winds through granite escarpments and terraces of schist. The steep mountains of the Douro Valley have been tended for hundreds of years by hand.

The Douro Region is the FIRST DEMARCATED AND REGULATED WINE REGION IN THE WORLD!  This area produces port, excellent DOC Douro wine, sparkling wine and muscat.  It was established by decree in 1765 by the Marquis of Pombal and classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001.

A few words about Port Wine, which some call the nectar of the gods. Port wine has a richness and intensity of aroma that is unique, with a high level of alcohol (between 19% and 22%).  There is white, ruby, tawny, rose and late bottled vintage (LBV) Port Wines.

The methods used to make these delicious wines are much the same as hundreds of years ago.  The LBVs are considered by many to be the Crown Jewels of Port Wine.

TAP’s Wine Tour winner in the Douro was Symington which prompted a visit to Quinta do Bomfim, where we were met by Jose L. Alvares Ribeiro, Executive Director.

The Symingtons of Scottish, English and Portuguese descent have been Port producers for five generations since 1882. Five members of the family work together in their four historic Port houses: Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warres, being one of the foremost producers of premium quality Port.

The Symingtons were also pioneers in the development of Douro wines in the late 1990’s, producing Chryseia, Post Scriptum (both with the Prats family), Quinta do Vesuvio, Quinta do Ataide and Altano.

Mr. Ribeiro explained that there are 110 varietals in the Douro and that originally the Douro produced only red wines.  When they applied brandy to kill the yeast, they started making Port. Fifty-five per cent of all mountainous vineyards in the world are in the Douro and it is three to four times more expensive to produce wines here than in any other area of the world.

Although the soil in the Douro is poor, it does retain water because of the schist, and the vines are very resilient, developing deep roots to find the water. The vines can withstand the extreme weather of the Douro.

We tasted the Quinta do Ataide 2014, 100% Touriga National, the national grape of Portugal. Ruby red with dark cherry and plum notes, this young wine shows promise.  The long awaited Quinta do Vesuvio 2015 will be released shortly.  Both wines are from their best plots on the vineyard, where clay rather than schist prevails.

The Dow’s 1980 vintage Port ages beautifully with a clear color and velvety, rich tones.

All in all, this area of Portugal is a magical and beautiful place that honors hundreds of years of tradition in wine-making.  It’s a region one must visit.

 Maria Reveley

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bettilli Cristiana (Organic) and the Valetti Winery Produce Classic Chiaretto by Philip S. Kampe

                                              The Valetti ulta-modern winery
                                                    The Cristiana Collection
                                            The Valetti Brothers and their wines
What an exciting way to sample Chiaretto and other wines from two producers. The tasting was a side to side sampling from two family producers, who used the same space to show their products to a small group of wine enthusiasts.

Although many wines were poured, my sole purpose was to sample Chiaretto, a rose wine made from red grapes-a wine that has intrigued me since my first taste. Chiaretto is known as the rose version of Bardolino, as it is made with the same grapes and is from the same Veneto region, bordering Lake Garda. Chiaretto is a dry, crisp white wine, as I mentioned earlier, made from red grapes, following white winemaking practices. If you limit the juice’s contact with the skins, usually 6-8 hours, the pigments stay pale, the color of Chiaretto.

The Consorzio has set-up standard hues for the Chiaretto produced in the region and those guidelines must be followed and approved, before release.

The two vineyards that shared their Chiaretto wines were Valetti , a family vineyard that their Grandfather Angelo leased from his brother, who emigrated to America in the early 1900’s. Angelos’ son, Luigi, built the vineyard that is in use today and is run by brothers, Stefano, Luca and Davide. Today, the technology has been modernized to bottle the tradition that has been the driving force of Valetti wines.

The second presenter was Cristiana of Azienda Argricola Berrilli Cristiana Tenuta Vignega. Cristiana wines are known as ‘Organic Fashion-Cristiana Collection.’ Her organic wines are bottled under the ‘Sorsei’ label. The vineyard is located on the hills east of Verona, where her family began the business in the early 1900’s, similar to the Valetti story. Cristiana Collection is a project to promote three territories, three estates and three brands with their wines.

Sampling Cristiana’s Bardolino Chiaretto DOC and Sparkling Chiaretto, I learned that Tenuta Sorsei is located in the classic, oldest area of DOC Bardolino, on the morainic hills of the hinterland, near Lake Garda. Harvested by hand, the classic grapes of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Corvinone were used. Low alcohol, intense flavor and forceful minerality made these  Chiaretto’s a tour de force.

The Valetti brothers poured a Sparkling Chiaretto and a Badolino Chiaretto, both wines full of flavor, appropriate dryness and intensity of the fruit. It was obvious that the brothers had mastered the art of making Chiaretto through years of family involvement.

The Valetti facility was magnificent, a beautiful building with large glass windows to enhance the view of the magnificent vineyard. The cellar housed an up to date bottling machine. They produce close to 100,000 bottles a year.

All in all, Chiaretto thrives from these two producers.

As an advocate for Chiaretto, open your palate up to the other rose wine.

Philip S. Kampe

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Vigneti Villabella-An Italian Chiaretto Producing Estate With Views Of Lake Garda by Philip S. Kampe

                                             Vigneti Villabella                                                 

Amazing beautiful, well kept and classic in the true sense of the word, Vigneti Villabella is an Italian vine-growing estate, located in Calmassino, on the morainic hillside, with views of Lake Garda, in the province of Verona.

Rediscovered and revamped to its ancient glory, partners, Giorgio Cristoforetti and Walter Delibori had a clear vision and knew the potential of this acquision they purchased years ago..

Today, after 40+ years of hard work and dedication, one now realizes that the potential has been surpassed at Vigneti Villabella.

Sustainable wines are the goal, a balance between nature and terroir. The original 25 acres have grown to 60 acres, focusing on organic farming techniques. Of the many varietals grown on property, the ones that make up Chiaretto have been applauded by the press and the public.

Chiaretto is the rose version of Bardolino, made from some of the same grapes, Corvina, Rondinello and Molinara.

Chiaretto is a dry and crisp wine made from red grapes using white winemaking practices. The juice’s exposure to the grape skins is limited to 6-8 hours traditionally, resulting in a pale rose color, a color that is truly appealing to the eye. The wines body is closer to red wine than white-it is a serious wine whose grapes are used in the production of Valpolicellas’ most famous wine, Amarone.

Vigneti Villabella is both a winery and a luxury hotel, part of the Relaix & Chateaux group.

Monica Margona, head of PR for the Villa, explained the history and present position of the hotel. She was clear that success was looming. That thought was backed up by family member and General Manager, Franco Cristoforetti, as he led us on a short tour of the property.

A toast of ‘Sparkling Chiaretto’ followed and lunch was served. The sparkling wine was both crisp and refreshing, quite dry, yet lingered in your palate long enough to realize that this sparkling wine was a real star-cementing the years of hard work to bring Vigneti Villabella up to the 21st century.

As wonderful as the ‘sparkler’ was, the still Chiaretto proved to be in a class of its own. Dry with obvious minerality paved the way for the pasta that followed.

As the saying goes about Chiaretto, it really is ‘A Lighter Shade of Pale.’

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, November 24, 2017

'Chiaretto'- A Lighter Shade Of Pale Makes Its Way To Your Wine Glass by Philip S.Kampe

If the name, Chiaretto, (Ch has a Key sound in Italian), is a name that is new to you, its time to wise up and get on the bandwagon and discover Italy’s most famous and certainly oldest DOC rose wine.

The various varietals used for this rose wine are grown in the Bardolino and Valtenesi areas of Veneto, with the vines touching or are nearby Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake in the north central portion of the country, less then an hours drive to Verona.

Bardolino Chiaretto was first produced in 1896 by a vineyard owner named Pompeo Molmenti. Nearly a 125 years later, I am writing this article as if it is a new discovery-in a way, this rose is a new discovery for our palates-because up to now, the Bardolino Chiaretto market was largely German and internal-which basically consumed the 8.5 million bottles produced annually.

After a visit to numerous wineries that produce Chiaretto, I am beginning to understand why their next focused market will be Canada and the United States.

Aren’t we all a bit ‘rose crazy?’ With growth in double digits and a new very pale pink rose entering the market, why wouldn’t retailers jump at the opportunity?

If you have not sampled Chiaretto, you are in for a treat when you do. The climate in Veneto is not the same as southern France. The key grapes used in Bardolino Chiaretto are ‘Corvina and Rondinella’, the same grapes used in Amarone (not too shabby).

The flavor profile has its own personality, due to the appellations terroir, climate, soil and unique variety of regional grapes.

Chiaretto is a crisp and dry rose wine made from ‘red grapes’ using white winemaking practices. Limiting the juice’s exposure to the grapes’ skins, the color of Chiaretto stays pale. Grape contact takes place over a 6-8 hour period, which lends Italians to call this wine the vino di una notte, or ‘wine of one night.’

Maybe Chiaretto really is the world’s first ‘orange wine?’

Like most roses, drinking Chiaretto young is advantageous. The freshness and crispness shine in its infancy. Add notes of strawberry and cherry with a hint of minerality and backbone and you have a picture of what Chiaretto aspires to be. Levels of 13-13.5% alcohol are normal and tend, in Chiaretto’s case, to make this wine very food friendly.

Be prepared to join in the soon-to-appear, Chiaretto campaign. Some campaign mottos to remember about Chiaretto, as illustrated above, include:

”A Lighter Shade of Pale”
”Pink Goes With Everything”
“The Future looks Rose”
”Where The Sun Also Roses”
”Color Me Chiaretto”

As a journalist, I am truly excited to have been included in an early preview as to what will come in our future.

Rose is a trend. Chiaretto will be part of the trend and will bring rose wines to a new level of acceptance.

My favorite Chiaretto still and sparkling wine producers include:
Tenuta La Presa
Cantina di Negrar
Cantina di Custoza
Villa Galniga
Tinazzi Winery
La Fraghe
Albino Piona
La Morette
Bettilli Christiana
Vigneti Villabella

To discover Chiaretto, ask your local wine merchant what brands of Chiaretto do they carry and if the answer is ‘none,’ let them know that the ‘Chiaretto Revolution’ is coming and why not stock up now, before the campaign is in full swing.

Its always advantageous to be ahead of the curve.

Philip S. Kampe

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Zeni Winery Houses The Bardolino Wine Museum by Philip S. Kampe

                                                        Federica and Elena Zeni

Fifth generation charismatic winemaker Federica Zeni and her charming sister, Elena, were exceptional hosts during a recent visit to their winery and unique wine museum that historically chronicled winemaking in the Lake Garda area of Italy, (Veneto).

The Zeni winery is nearly 150 years old and has always been in the family. With wine history as essential to this family, the family has accumulated winemaking apparatus through their wine odyssey and opened an interactive ‘Bardolino Wine Museum,’ which visual shares their history and the history of Veneto with visitors.

Opened in 1991, the museum shares each stage of winemaking, from the planting of the vines to the bottling of the wine. If you visit, the address of Wine Museum Cantina F.lli Zeni is: Via Costabella, 9, 37011, Bardolino (Veneto). Telephone: +39 045 721 00 22

The Zeni winery lies on the hills along the eastern shore of Lake Garda. Zeni grows and manage other parcels in the Bardolino region. By combining grapes from their land and tending to their practices at other parcels, the grapes remain true to the terroir.

The Veneto region is famous for a large variety of wines and Zeni is one of the leaders of Veneto, with parcels throughout the region, hence, Zeni is able to produce the most sought after bottles from the Veneto.

Zeni produces the wines of the region, highlighted by Chiaretto, Bardolino, Lugana, Soave, Custoza, Valpolicella and Amarone.

The wines that were sampled were of the utmost quality and style, indicative of the terroir. Many bottles were awarded prizes via the numerous wine competitions worldwide. Particularly interesting were the Chiaretto and Bardolino wines that stand out as true wines from the Lake Garda area.

Elena Zeni created a special, darkened room, where wine enthusiasts can test their skills by identifying specific odors from aroma boxes. Its sort of a game, you are given a chalkboard with 12 blank spaces. You move from box to box and write down your perceived odor and at the end, you cross the room, where 12 other boxes are set up with the answers. I identified 8 out of 12 and was told that that was a very high number. Normally, 3-4is the average.

If you are in the Lake Garda area, a visit Zeni, the wine museum and the odor room are essential. Both a memorable and educational experience awaits you.

Philip S. Kampe

                                                           Zeni's Wine Cellar

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Homage to Winemaker Matilde Poggi of Lake Garda's Azienda Agricola La Fraghe by Philip S. Kampe

  A Homage to Matilde Poggi, Winemaker and Guru of Lake Garda;s Azienda Agricola La Fraghe

After spending a week in the Lake Garda area of Veneto, my experiences and overall wine education focused on the pink wines from the area, specifically,  Chiaretto. Certainly, without doubt, our secondary focus was on Bardolino, a wine well known, to many, as a relative of Amarone and those of the  Valpolicella classification, whose vineyards literally touch one another.

On a recent visit and tasting with the passionate winemaker, Matilde Poggi, founder of La Fraghe, it was obvious why her families vineyard stopped sourcing grapes to other wineries and accepted the challenge of bottling their own wine, under the La Fraghe label.

The venture began, literally in the 15th century, when the family estate was built. It did take until 1984 (remember George Orwell) for the first complete harvest to be bottled.
In 2009, La Fraghe was classified as ‘organic’ and Matilde has never looked back. Her 75 acre vineyard is located on the hills nearby Lake Garda, whose grapes are  influenced, ironically, by cold, northern winds that arrive on a daily basis, generally in the morning. She says that the wind and unique microclimate are the reason why her numerous indigenous grapes come alive.

And to keep her bottles intact, in 2008, Ms. Poggi started using screw top caps exclusively. There is a certain freshness to her wines that exude, especially in her Chiaretto, a wine full of fruit and crispness.

As one of the leaders of winemakers in her region, Matilde Poggi proudly displays the Federazione italiana Vignaiolo Indipendenti (FIVI) logo on her bottles. The logo represents those winemakers who perform all of the steps of winemaking, from picking the grapes to bottling the finished product.

La Fraghe is a destination winery. The vineyard houses agriturismo guests who want the liberating agricultural lifestyle within the stone walls of the property.

Matilde, who started years ago as one of the few female winemakers in her region, has seen her success grow after an early struggle in a male dominated business. Her stamina has paid off.  60% of her wines are exported worldwide. She has importers in America.

La Fraghe wines are wines of high quality.

The Rodon Bardolino Chiaretto was a very solid wine that aromatically resembled a Pinot Noir, full of strawberries and red currents. Its juicy red fruit coated my palate with a burst of flavor from the vibrant Corvina and Rondinella grapes.

The full-bodied Bardolino, made, also, with the Corvina and Rondinella grapes was a very balanced wine, a bit spicy, with hints of cinnamon, clove, white pepper and sour cherry. An amazingly long finish coated my palate, asking for more.

As a treat, Ms. Poggi poured an unbelievable, rich and creamy 2007 Campoorengo that filled your palate with almond paste, green apple and white peach. Made with the Garganega grape, this palate pleaser was elegant and full-bodied and a perfect wine to end our day with Matilde Poggi, a remarkable winemaker from Azienda Agricola La Fraghe.

                                                          Matilde Poggi

Philip S. Kampe

Monday, October 9, 2017

Languedoc Is All About Diversity by Philip S. Kampe


                                          Languedoc Is All About Diversity
I Love Languedoc and its wine diversity.

Wine blends are what the huge area is all about. Many, certainly, not all, producers choose to make blends of the hundreds of grapes that thieve in the area versus producing single varietal wines. There are many times that international grapes are part of the blend.
Take the typical red blend, often for export. Grenache, Mouvedre, Carignan and Syrah are the prime suspects, while Grenache Blanc and Picpoul create the normally unoaked, acidic white wines. Sparkling, of course, has become rather famous due to the use of Cremant de Limoux and sweet wine thrives its success from Muscat.

Languedoc was once known as a region that overproduced wines-when I visited the region in the late-70’s-inexpensive jug wine was the norm. Carignan was the go-to grape due to its high yield. That has changed and now the region produces smaller yields, focusing on blends with the new ultimate regional blending grape, Grenache, second to Carignan’s historical presence.

The wines from Languedoc are now terroir driven. They have personality and character paired with experimentation from the winemakers, many young, who are the new pioneers in the industry.

Historically, Languedoc has been extremely important for centuries. The port of Sete was the link to the Atlantic for exporting barrels of wine. The Canal du Midi, possibly the most important waterway in Languedoc, gave the wines exposure by way of the ocean. Winemaking has its roots in the 1st century-historically near Montpellier, in Clermont I’Herault.

As you can see from the photos, there are numerous areas that produce wines of varying degrees of discernable quality. The level of high quality wines from Languedoc has consistently outperformed expectations.

Isn’t it time for you to experiment with the many styles of wine from this rich and affordable area?

Philip S. Kampe

Pay Attention To Israeli Wines by Philip S. Kampe

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