This past weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Wine Spectator has been a longtime sponsor of several wine and cigar events, partnering with Southern Wine and Spirits, the organizer of the festival. More than 53,000 attendees enjoyed a wealth of wines, food and sunshine as the thermometer topped 80° F over the four-day event. The proceeds benefit Florida International University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
It was a particularly strong series of events from a wine perspective this year. Friday kicked off with the Wine Spectator-sponsored Trade Day tasting in the big tents on the beach. In the four years I have attended this event, it seemed to be the most crowded yet, with 7,000 attendees. Hopefully this is a sign that the economy is finally picking up.
Friday evening at the swanky Fontainebleau ballroom, Wine Spectator hosted the Best of the Best. Roughly 2,000 well-heeled guests sampled food from 40 of the country's top chefs accompanied by more than 200 great wines from around the globe. Perhaps it was just me, but others also commented that the small plates being served were the best ever.
One of the anchors of the wine program at South Beach is the Wine Spectator seminar series. This year was the year of the vertical tasting, with Louis Latour, Rocca della Macie, Joseph Phelps, Nicolas Feuillatte, Penfolds and Chateau Montelena all offering retrospective tastings of their top wines.
The series kicked off Friday with Maximilian Riedel, the 11th generation of the glassmaking dynasty leading a demonstration of how the proper glass makes a difference when it comes to enjoying fine wines. Riedel glasses were used throughout the seminars, enhancing wine lovers' enjoyment of the different wines presented.
One of my personal highlights was a tasting of Krug Champagne, beginning with the Clos du Mesnil 1998, a Chardonnay from a single vineyard, one of the house's "soloists," to the "symphony" Grande Cuvée and ending with the Krug Collection 1989.
On Sunday, Piero Antinori led the audience through a tasting of four of his estates, including both Solaia and Tignanello from the excellent 2007 and 1997 vintages in Tuscany.
At one of South Beach's newest landmarks, 11 11 Lincoln Road, essentially a futuristic, open-air parking garage with retail, dining and residential space, cigars were provided by Padron Cigars and EPC Cigar Co. for the Festival's 10th anniversary party. Part Blue Man Group, part Cirque du Soleil, the bash saw ice carvers, a human chandelier dangling upside down dispensing Champagne and brightly colored, feather-clad dancers moving through the crowd to a massive drumbeat.
To cap it all off, the weather was perfect, sunny and low 80s F. It was a respite for the winter-weary northerners and the perfect climate, fitting for a 10th anniversary weekend.
Eugene Kim — Houston, TX — March 3, 2011 2:16pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — March 3, 2011 3:17pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — March 4, 2011 7:36pm ET
Vito Candela — Miami, FL,USA — March 10, 2011 11:35am ET
Robert Horvath — michigan — March 29, 2011 5:56pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — April 1, 2011 8:20pm ET
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