The Miami Wine Fair Tasting Floor
The Miami Wine Fair opened today, and as anticipated, has improved greatly over previous years. The tasting floor held a plethora of vendors, offering over 1,500 wines to taste, along with quite a variety of other exhibitors, including several charitable organizations, Yelp!, and a few local food spots.
As always, the seminars were my favorite. The day started with “Grandes Pagos de España” which translates to “The Great Estates of Spain”, a group of 21 estate growers who are focused on producing superior quality wine. Their group is very similar to the cru structure in other countries. We tried 9 wines in 3 flights, and all of them were quite good. My favorite was Escena 2004, from Manuel Manzaneque winery. The blend is 90% Tempranillo, 5% Syrah, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The initial nose was spicy cinnamon candy, with smoky, dark cherry, cigar box and licorice notes. The taste was very nice: chocolate covered cherries, blueberry, with a slight vegetal undertone. It was a bit tannic, but smoothed out on the finish. I can see this aging quite nicely, and going very well with roasted lamb, or some braised short ribs.
The second seminar was titled “Wine Tour de France” and explored a number of France’s wine regions. In this session, we tasted 7 wines, including a Rosé Champagne that was quite tasty – my initial impression of the nose was a rich strawberry soup, with sweet cherries, vanilla and light fruits on the palate. The other wines covered a broad range of appellations, including a Chablis, an Alsace Riesling, a Chinon that was quite nice, an excellent Beaujolais Villages from Louis Tête – really nice, followed by a nice Bordeaux. We finished with a Sauterne from Château d’Arche that had to be one of the sexist wines I have ever put my nose to. The aroma in that glass was superb, and I could not stop inhaling. In most cases, the olfactory system shuts down after a few sniffs, but for this wine, there was something that kept coming. Yum.
The third session was Ribera del Duero, which is probably my favorite wine region of Spain, and which produces some of my favorite wines. This was a massive tasting of 16 wines, all Tempranillos, with a very wine expression of the grape – I was quite surprised in several cases, and found some very nice wines.
The last session of the day was wines from Castilla-La Mancha, another of my personal favorites, and given by Charlie Arturaola, one of my favorite instructors. Charlie took us through 10 wines from the region, including 4 whites and 6 reds. It was an interesting journey; we tried a couple of grapes indigenous to the area that I had not tasted, including a Airén that was very interesting, and a Macabeo-Sauvignon Blanc blend that was quite nice. The reds, as expected, were delicious.
On the tasting floor, I tried quite a few wines of which the most memorable were those from:
Esporão, a Portuguese producer, whose winemaker I met last year. He’s an Australian fellow who went to Portugal some years ago to make great wines (and boy, has he succeeded!). They make a very nice Reserva White, a Reserva Red, and a great Verdelho, but the magnificent example of what they do is in their Private Selection 2005. This wine just blew me away. It’s made from a blend of Alicante Bouschet and Syrah, and has such a rich, deep nose and velvety, soft, complex taste, that I was sorely tempted to grab a bottle and run. They are at booth P-14, if you attend tomorrow! That wine alone is worth the trip.
I also tried wines from Peter Figge; I had tasted these about 2 weeks ago with a wine tasting panel I belong to. Peter is from California, runs a solo operation, but makes some very nice wines, including a great Chardonnay, and several nice Pinots. I’ll be writing about those in more detail in the near future.
The other wines that really impressed me were from a Argentine producer called Oyikil (pronounced O-gee-Kill). The winemaker was there; her work is superb, and included several Malbecs and a very nice Cab. We’re going to be trying those on October 7th at our tasting panel, so I will write about those wines as well.
I’ll post an update tomorrow about my day at the fair, and I’ll be sharing more of the wines I tried with more in-depth commentary over the next few weeks.