If VeritageMiami were a wine instead of a wine celebration, I could praise it’s elegance and dynamism – it was the event equivalent of a full-bodied yet racy wine, all forward fruit and crisp acidity. It was what a winemaker would call an exhausting vintage – it took hundreds of volunteers weeks of work to mount the four-day, four-venue gathering, and it was worth it.
From the first sip – that would be the incredibly energetic craft beer tasting that kicked off the event on Wednesday, April 9th – one had the tingle of excitement that heralds a great wine. It spread with what wine geeks call a “broad palate” with the fine wine tasting on Thursday, and then the multi-layered flavors of VeritageMiami became evident at the interactive dinner on Friday night at the InterContinental Miami when not one, or even two, but five chefs took to the stage to create an astonishing, and astonishingly varied, meal – think of it as a delicate meritage blend of five different grape varieties.
And then there is the finish of our festival wine, the glorious dinner and auction at Marlins Park. In this place where success is measured in pitches and hits, we had the ultimate home run, the long, lingering finish that so entrances us wine lovers about a special bottle.
VeritageMiami Sponsor Wine Spectator brought not only their iconic magazine, but the organization Wines of Chile as well
Here’s how it all shook out: if I might switch sports for an apt metaphor, Wednesday craft beer tasting was a slam-dunk. Amid the bright colors and art-driven atmosphere of Wynwood Walls, more than 40 breweries tapped their wares and spread their suds for a crowd of 800 joyous tasters. Many attendees told me they thought we hit the sweet spot (oops, now we could be in tennis, golf or back to baseball) with the balance of restaurants, breweries and number of guests. I think everyone there was thrilled with the variety and the ease with which it all came together.
Thursday’s fine wine tasting brought more than 30 restaurants and 60 tables showcasing nearly 300 different wines. We had some special tasting areas as well – Wine Spectator brought a number of wineries to the event plus Wines of Chile, our friends from World of Wine Imports sponsored their own pavilion and I was personally so happy to encounter the wines of the Spanish region of Cariñena. In the Cariñena region they talk about their wines being “crafted in stone,” and it was a pleasure to talk about the wines – their diversity and similarities – with the DO (Denominación de Origin) Cariñena representatives. To me this is the real joy of the fine wine tasting – the chance to not only discover great wines but talk with the people who produce them, people who know the story behind the wine. Every great wine has a great story behind it, and VeritageMiami is where those stories are told.
One of the many exciting wines from Cariñena, Spain highlighted at this year’s VeritageMiami
I was also pleased to see how many Best in Glass Medal-winning wines were poured, and how many great restaurants came out to offer some very imaginative food pairings. You can find the complete list of participating restaurants on the VeritageMiami website, and I encourage you to visit them in person – there wasn’t an off note anywhere to be tasted.
Friday brought VeritageMiami to the Hotel InterContinental for the Interactive Dinner. We had been away from the InterContinental for two years and it was like a homecoming to be working again with Executive Chef Alex Feher and his team. Chef Alex is the ultimate pro with a difficult mission – he’s working to help other chefs look good. In fact, there were nearly 90 chefs in the house that night – 85 tables making their own dinner, following directions from the stage provided by our guest chef…except this year, we had five guest chefs, each with his own course, his own approach and his own style.
I’ll tell you about that saga, and Saturday at Marlins Park, in a follow up post in two days