Florida wine travelogue - looong post with more to come

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Dan Kravitz
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Florida wine travelogue - looong post with more to come

#1 Post by Dan Kravitz » February 9th, 2019, 6:54 pm

Just back from 9 days in Florida. Between work, vacation, family new and old, tourism and going from Atlantic to Gulf coast and back, I’m tired. To make things worse, I apparently have lost one of the scraps of paper on which I wrote down the names and vintages of some of the wines.
I won’t go in order… landed in Fort Lauderdale Thursday 1/31, will post notes on those wines later, skipping straight to Tampa and Bern’s.

I booked my ticket a few months ago without looking at a sports calendar, not realizing that I was landing right as the Superbowl kicked off, and not expecting the Patriots there.
I don’t know Tampa much at all. However I was surprised during the cab ride from the airport to my downtown hotel to see two apparently homeless people f*ck on the sidewalk a block away. This is not a complaint, just an indication of the neighborhood. I will give the name of my hotel, just to say that it is a beautiful, reasonably priced landmark in a deteriorating downtown neighborhood with some of the worst service I have ever encountered in any hotel: The Floridan Palace is indeed a palace where the staff is all either comatose, dead, lazy, incompetent and/or really stupid. I’m pulling my punches here.

The next day I discovered that the act occurred almost in front of a tiny, interesting store called Lector Natural Wine Shop. I didn’t catch the owner’s name, but she was friendly, helpful and quite knowledgeable when I asked her advice on a bottle (“one with no bacteriological issues, please”).

I had some of my own wines delivered to the hotel in advance for the Superbowl, so no comment on them.

On to Bern’s: The food is distinctive; I love some things, like others less. The service was superb; polished, seamless, at the highest possible level. Eric Renaud, head of their wine program, was kind enough to dine with us, but I saw the same level of service at every other table in the room. The commitment to excellence is almost unparalleled, especially in this country.

Wines at Bern’s:

I was on a budget. I selected only wines at double digit prices, because Bern’s doesn’t have any wines at single digit prices. Still, everything was at least good, some were fine, there was one great wine. There were surprises, but in the end no surprises: Bern’s delivers!

NV Champagne Collet Brut – I represent a few excellent growers, but wouldn’t even try to replace this. Fresh, aged, subtle, brilliant, integrated, seamless. Aromas are more fresh apple than yeast, but with undertones of pear, cactus flower and hints of Rainier cherries. The palate is long and intricate, more like wine than Champagne. Bern’s sells it for a price I would happily pay at retail. Rated 92.

2012 Baumard Savennieres – Young and sullen at first, this opened quickly to notes of quince and fresh apricot. The palate was rich and layered, but with no hint of weight. 9 of us shared one bottle and I nursed my glass, but this really needs 5 years to strut its stuff. Rated 90, up to 4 points of improvement inevitable. 10 year old Savennieres is by far the world’s greatest value in dry white wine; 7 year old Savennieres is a contender.

Two pairs of red wines were fascinating: First Zins, then odds. One good, two fine, one almost great.

The were two Zinfandels listed from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Turns out both were California Appellation.

1996 Bonny Doon Cardinal Zin – Light crimson color. Aromas were between secondary and tertiary. There was enough fresh fruit there to identify as Zin, with some red raspberry and brambles, but the palate also showed some fatigue. A pleasant glass that faded fairly quickly. I would have guessed the age at 25 or more, tired. Rated 85.

1973 Concannon Zinfandel – Dark garnet color. Zin is supposed to become ‘claret-like’ with age, but this had none of that. Also no Zinfandel briar. There were red cherries, hints of strawberry and definite floral notes. This was far younger than the Bonny Doon. The finish was long and intricate. This was fine wine. If pushed to the wall, I would have said excellent Chianti Classico at 15 – 20 years of age. Rated 92.5. Bravo!

In the pantheon of California winemakers, the name of John Daniel shines as bright as any. Not many of the wines he made still exist. We had two, one fine, one on the border of greatness.

1973 Inglenook Charbono – Medium garnet color. The aromas are, well, aromatic. There is wild strawberry, there are green herbs, there is garrigue that shouts Provence. The palate is medium bodied, grainy, balanced, pleasant, an excellent accompaniment to my duck confit. The flavors lack youth, but are still a little surly. I would have guessed this as a Carignan-based French red from a savvy grower, at 20 years of age. Rated 90.5

1974 Inglenook Petite Sirah – Medium dark ruby color. Intense garrigue aromas, but on the palate the herbs are dominated by tiny red currants and ripe, powerful black raspberries. There is density, but also surprising and beautiful lacy nuances to the texture, something I’ve never had before in a varietal I appreciate. If this does not have the complexity of very great wine, it is still a stunner; it stopped conversation. Rated 94.5.

Dan Kravitz
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Karl K
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Re: Florida wine travelogue - looong post with more to come

#2 Post by Karl K » February 10th, 2019, 6:37 am

Nice!
(Except for the sketchy parts.)
K a z a k s

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Markus S
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Re: Florida wine travelogue - looong post with more to come

#3 Post by Markus S » February 10th, 2019, 11:06 am

The Pats were in Tampa? I thought the game was played in Atlanta?
$ _ € ® e . k @

Dan Kravitz
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Location: Harpswell, Maine

Re: Florida wine travelogue - looong post with more to come

#4 Post by Dan Kravitz » February 10th, 2019, 1:24 pm

I didn't expect the Patriots to make the Superbowl this year is what I meant. However once they made it I wanted to be in front of a TV at kickoff, not in a taxi in a dubious part of Tampa. Going to the Superbowl in person would be low on the list of ways I want to spend my disposable income.

Dan Kravitz
swillmaster - ITB

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