What a busy, fun, and informative wine-filled weekend! From Friday Feb. 22, until Sunday Feb. 24, Miami was buzzing with wine geeks, wine aficionados and food and beverage industry professionals for the 2013 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
This very popular annual Festival can be somewhat exhausting and overwhelming due to the size, so people that come to gain wine knowledge like to selectively choose the specific seminars they would like to attend. Every specific wine has a story behind it and hearing it first hand from the vintners and winery owners makes these events that much more personal.
Starting on Friday, Miamians had the opportunity to taste a range of vintages from Fattoria Fontodi, and their iconic Flaccianello Della Pieve. This much smaller and intimate event was held near downtown Miami away from the hustle bustle of South Beach at Wines by the Bay, which is a small, quaint Miami wine bar/wine shop owned by Stefano Campanini of Italy.
The Fontodi wines were provided by the sole U.S. distributor Vinifera Imports. These amazing wines were a huge hit and everyone at the event seemed to have had a very enjoyable experience.
The Wine Spectator Seminars series A started the next day at the James Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach and was presented by Bruce Sanderson who is the tasting director for Wine Spectator.
First off, Enguerrand Baijot, who is Chateaux Lanson’s Brand Director for the Americas in New York, gave attendees some very interesting insight into Champagne Lanson. Founded in 1760 and currently owned by the LVMH Group, it is the champagne house with the longest lasting wine maker Jean Paul Gandot (who has been with Lanson for 41 years).
Lanson’s signature non-malolactic fermentation wine making style is all about freshness, fruit and power (made primarily of Pinot Noir). Attendees learned that these wines have excellent aging potential and pair really well with creamy cheeses and smoked fish.
People found these wines to have a firm attack on the palate and a very clean finish. Enguerrand even gave everyone a special treat which was a taste of their 1976 vintage (one of the best vintages of the last Century)!
After this, everyone switched over to the next ballroom, for the Pinnacle Wines of Washington and Oregon. Invited guest speakers were Mark de Vere, Gary Horner, and David Merfeld, who are the actual wine makers from Erath wines, Northstar and Col Solare who happens to be in a partnership with Villa Antinori of Florence Italy. The interesting wine making philosophies and passion of these young wine makers made for a very special treat that everyone enjoyed.
Next and for the final portion of this Wine Spectator event, Cristian Ridolfi (Winemaker) and Stefano Mangiarotti (Export Manager) from Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella were invited to give some insight on their very meticulously made wines. According to Cristian and Stefano, Bertani Amarones are "powerful wines but not loud."
Bertani, located in the romantic city of Verona, as well as most fattorias making Amarone, use the ripasso method of drying out the harvested grapes over straw mats. This method concentrates the flavors of the grape and their sugar content. The result is not of a dessert wine but of a wine with lovely raisin characteristics with the subtle flavors of the straw used in drying.
Ridolfi blends his wine with 80 percent Corvina and 20 percent Rondinella. These Amarones are fermented dry in order for them not to become too sweet. A crowd favorite was the 2003 which was apparently an extremely hot year, but showed great evenness throughout the growing season and people said it definitely reflected in the wine.
An amazing weekend overall which everyone seemed to have enjoyed. So, if you are a wine novice or wine geek, why not give this fun wine filled event a try next year?