By Peg San Felippo
City & Shore Magazine
One of my pet peeves is hearing about a terrific wine and then not being able to find it. So after this year’s American Fine Wine Competition in North Miami – which, full disclosure, I helped judge – I was on a mission to see which of the top winners were available in South Florida.
If you’re not familiar with the AFWC it’s one of the most well-respected wine competitions in the country. Held each January at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, the wines included are by invitation only.
Here are some Double Gold medal winners I was able to find locally:
Domaine Carneros 2014 Brut Vintage Cuvée. Taittinger Champagne started this winery in 1987, designed to emulate the Taittinger Family’s French country estate. Located in the Carneros Valley all of their sparkling wines are produced in the traditional méthode Champenoise, used in the Champagne region. While Domaine Carneros makes a variety of sparkling and still wines, this Brut cuvée is their signature wine. $30 at Total Wine & More and Crown Liquors locations
Kelleher Family Vineyard 2016 Block 21 St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc*. Founded by owners of the famous Brix Restaurant on Highway 29 in Napa, the winery was originally started to showcase the Cabernet vineyards behind the restaurant. The 2016 vintage marks the eighth release of this limited production (230 cases) Sauvignon Blanc. $28 at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach
Fox Run Vineyards 2015 Finger Lakes Riesling*. Located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, the winery has been producing wine commercially since 1990 and is now available in 10 states. While Fox Run makes seven different styles of Riesling it’s also well known for Chardonnay. The winery currently makes 18,000 cases annually. $14 at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits Delray Beach
Chappelett 2015 Napa Chardonnay. Recently celebrating 50 years of winemaking, it’s one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Napa, and the Chappelett family were first to implement high-elevation hillside vineyard planting. The view overlooking their vineyards and Lake Hennessey from the winery is spectacular. $39 at Wine Watch, Fort Lauderdale
Ferrante Winery 2016 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine*. The second time in five years that this Ohio winery has taken the award in the best sweet/dessert category. This is a true ice wine – grapes are left on the vine until they freeze, then harvested and pressed. It’s featured on the dessert menu at the Blue Restaurant, where Head Sommelier Roberto Columbi recommends pairing it with one of their fruit desserts, especially the rhubarb cobbler. $12 glass/$48 bottle, Boca Raton Resort & Club
St. Supery Estate Vineyard and Winery 2016 Napa Rosé. What gives this rosé depth and complexity is the combination of five red grape varietals that are also used to produce wines in Bordeaux. St. Supery prides itself on their educational and culinary programs and is the only winery offering an Ampelography class on identifying varietals by examining the grape leaves. $16 at Howards Market and Deli, Boca Raton
Mi Sueño Winery 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir*. Spanish for “my dream,” the winery is a dream come true for the Herrera Family. Rolando Herrera’s career started in 1982 as a dishwasher in a Napa Valley restaurant. Over the years, Herrera took a variety of jobs at iconic Napa wineries and eventually became a winemaker at Paul Hobbs. Mi Sueño was born in 1997 and has been making world-class wines ever since. $66, Houston’s Pompano Beach
Klinker Brick Winery 2014 Farrah Syrah*. Located in Lodi, Calif., Klinker Brick is best known for their Red Zinfandel production. Although they’ve been producing wine since 1995, the decision to add a Syrah came in 2001. The wine is named for the owner’s daughter, Farrah. $20 at Crown Liquor and Lucky’s Market in Coral Springs
Frank Family Vineyards 2014 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon*. Frank Family has been in the AWFC since the beginning and cleaned up at this year’s competition, winning four Double Golds. Owned by Rich Frank, Former CEO of Disney, the winery currently produces 18 wines, including four sparkling. $92 at Virginia Philip Wine, Spirits & Academy, Palm Beach
Shadowbox Cellars 2015 Outline California Red Blend. Owned by Monty and Sara Preiser and Ira and Eydie Holz of Palm Beach County, Shadowbox Cellars in Napa released its first wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, in 2009. This is the first vintage for Outline, a blend of Zinfandel and Petit Sirah. The winery currently produces 1,000 cases annually. $43 at Wine Watch, Fort Lauderdale
*Wines that also won “Best of Class”
If You Go
The American Fine Wine Competition 11th Annual Charity Wine Gala, 6:30-11 p.m.
May 5 at the Pier 66 Hotel & Marina, 2301 SW 17th St., Fort Lauderdale.
The Walk Around: The reception begins at 6:30 p.m. with passed hors d’oeuvres and numerous wine stations that will include 20 different winemakers and winery owners pouring their wines. There’ll be a Cork Pull, where you can select a cork with a number corresponding to a bottle of wine valued between $50-$200 that’s yours to keep. A silent auction includes 85-100 baskets of award-winning, autographed bottles of wines.
The Sit Down: Along with a gourmet meal more than 600 wines from the competition will be poured throughout the evening. There’ll be a short presentation honoring the 2018 Wineries of the Year, Krupp Brothers, Dr. Jan Krupp, Founder, Stagecoach Vineyards and Robert Biale Vineyards; and the Winemakers of the Year, Robert Rex of Deerfield Ranch Winery and Ernie Weir of Hagafen Cellars and Prix Vineyards. Some of the live auction highlights include trips to wine country, New York and a dinner in South Florida that will include multiple courses and fabulous wine pairings.
The Move Around: The RC Music Group, a band and DJ combo, will perform a variety of music to listen and dance to after dinner.
Stay the night: The Pier 66 is offering a special room rate for the evening of $129 for reservations made by April 15.
Tickets and information: The price is $300 a person, with proceeds going to the Autism Society of Florida. Call 561-504-0206 or visit americanfinewinecompetition.org.