Kampa Group Wine Club

An exquisite opportunity for bon viveurs on a budget

The Kampa Group is starting a wine club that will convene once a month at selected Kampa restaurants. The first wine club event introduced Prague diners to the Ceretto label from the Piedmont region in Italy.

The dinner was held at Hergetova Cihelna on May 3rd and, for a very reasonable 995 CZK per person, guests were treated to a sumptuous five-course meal and exceptional service.

For each course, Head Sommelier Guillame Lahournat carefully selects a harmonizing wine.

The purpose of the wine club is to expose diners to outstanding wine, and to introduce new labels to Prague. "People order what they know," explains Lahournat, "and they are sometimes afraid to try something new." Another aim of the wine club is to offer wine education to English speakers.

It was a unique opportunity for me - when I go to dinner, I usually order only one bottle of wine and stick to it, but at this event I was able to sample five different wines.

With the duck course, for example, Lahournat selected the Barola "Zonchera" 2000. The Barolo Brunate is normally only available on Kampa's private wine list for 6,000 CZK per bottle. I probably wouldn't have ordered this wine normally, so it was a special opportunity for a wine lover without the resources to order such an exquisite selection. Via the Kampa Wine group, members can purchase a bottle of Barola for 1,150 CZK.

Frederico Ceretto, from the wine-producing family, represented the wines personally at the event. "The Barola's complex, earthy, slight spicy flavor makes it an ideal accompaniment to rich entries like duck," he said.

I personally preferred the younger variety of Barbaresco Asij, 2001. It's fruitier and a bit softer than a merlot. The Barboresco is a light red, which fit delightfully with the fish course. Yes, you can order red with fish and according to Mr. Neubauer of Neubauer and Son Distributors - the "rule" that you must order white with fish has become passé, especially with the now-popular lighter varieties of reds, such as Pinot Noir and Beaujolais Gamay . The Barboresco variety is brand new to the Czech Republic and available to wine club members for 995 CZK per bottle.

Mr. Ceretto spoke articulately about his family's wine, boasting that the climate in the Piedmonte region offers "the widest variety of perfumes." After five samples, I was convinced - the flavor ranged from the crisp, modern taste of the Arneis Langhe "Blanghe" 2004, to the full-bodied red Monsordo which was served with the cheese course.

While the Arneis Langhe is a modern-tasting white with a new, effervescent quality, the dark ruby Monsordo Rosso, with its combination of old world grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Nebbiolo - holds a classical flavor.

The next wine club event will be held on June 14th and will feature wines from the "Cold Water" label of New Zealand's Marlborough Valley, followed in July by a gathering that will introduce the Buchegger label of Austria.

Membership of the Kampa Group's Morethandining frequent diner's club automatically entitles you to wine club membership. Register online at www.morethandining.com. Alternatively, call 800-1-KAMPA (toll-free in the Czech Republic).

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