I just returned yesterday from the eighth annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami, where a weekend of wine, food, sun and sand lifted the spirits, at least temporarily, of thousands. Wine Spectator has been involved in the event since 2003, sponsoring seminar programs, Trade Day at the Grand Tastings and Best of the Best, a walk-around tasting of fine wines, with small plates of food prepared by some of the country’s best chefs.
For me it was the second year at the festival. I moderated seminars, along with my colleague, executive editor Thomas Matthews. It’s a busy, long weekend packed with food and wine events, held at several venues in South Beach and other parts of Miami.
Thursday night, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Jorge Padrón and his family, of Padrón Cigars Inc. The Palm d’Or restaurant at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables prepared a four-course meal for us while, nearby in the hotel’s ballroom, more than 400 people paid $1,000 a plate for a Spanish dinner with special guest, the king of Spain.
Afterward, many of those diners relaxed with Padrón Serie 1926 No. 2 Maduro cigars at a lounge sponsored by our sister publication, Cigar Aficionado.
Wine Spectator had a booth at the Grand Tastings on the beach Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Thousands sampled wine and food in the Miami sun over the three days.
While the casual beach crowd sipped on the sand, Matthews and I were busy at the Miami Convention Center, where three days of seminars treated attendees to dozens of great wines.
The seminar program kicked off Friday evening with a sold-out vertical of Screaming Eagle, the Napa Valley cult Cabernet (more on that later). Saturday and Sunday, the seminar schedule featured verticals of Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne Fleur de Champagne Cuvée Belle Epoque, Rudd Oakville Estate, Dolce, Rubicon Estate and Marqués de Murrieta, in addition to several winery presentations from Spain, the Northern Rhône and elsewhere.
Friday evening, our Best of the Best featured more than 65 wineries pouring highly rated wines next to 40 chef stations at the newly renovated Fontainebleau Miami Beach. It was a predominately young, beautiful crowd that tasted and nibbled while moving to the disco beat, forgetting the economic crisis, at least for a night.
I was pretty exhausted by the time Sunday afternoon arrived and I finished my last seminar. Exhausted, yet invigorated at the same time.
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — February 26, 2009 1:28am ET
Jim Holliman — February 26, 2009 1:54pm ET
Dana Nigro — New York, NY — February 26, 2009 4:06pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions