2013 Annual Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival

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What a busy, fun, and informative wine filled weekend! Starting on Friday 22, until Sunday 24, Miami was buzzing with wine geeks, wine aficionados and food and beverage Industry professionals. In my opinion, this annual Festival can be somewhat exhausting and overwhelming, so I like to selectively choose the specific seminars to attend. My idea of an event of this sort is for learning purposes so I love to go to the seminars. 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, I 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. These Fontodi wines were provided by the sole U.S. distributor Vinifera Imports. The wines were amazing and Everyone at the event seemed to have had a very enjoyable experience.

The next day, I was signed up for the wine Spectator seminars which I find to always be very professional. This event took place at the James Royal Palm Hotel and was presented by Bruce Sanderson who is the Tasting Director for Wine Spectator. It was treated as three different events encompassed into one larger event.

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, Lanson is the champagne house with the longest lasting wine maker Jean Paul Gandot (who has been with Lanson for 41 years). I can imagine they keep him quite content…

Lanson’s signature non-malolactic fermentation wine making style is all about freshness, fruit and power (made primarilly of Pinot Noir). We learned that these wines have excellent aging potential and pair really well with creamy cheeses and smoked fish. I found these wines to have a firm attack on the palate and a very clean finish. We even got 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 (which I found out is a fifty fifty collaboration with Villa Antinori of Florence Italy). The interesting wine making philosophies and passion of these young wine makers made for a very special treat (and by the way these wines are highly commendable).

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. The blend in their wine is of eighty percent Corvina and 20 percent Rondinella. The wines are fermented dry in order for them not to become too sweet. My favorite was the 2003 which was apparently an extremely hot year but showed great evenness throughout the growing season and 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 like me, why not give this fun wine filled event a try next year?

Categories: Wine Wisdom

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For any inquiries please email me at chris@cantinettavintners.com

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