Whenever I travel I try to tune in to the local wine scene. After so many years in the business I can’t help it. Last Saturday my sister and her girlfriends took me to a small beach town in northern Florida for the once-monthly wine walk.
New Smyrna Beach is a town straight out of the 1950s, and the residents like it that way. No high rises, a pristine beach, sea grass everywhere, art galleries and friendly bars and restaurants. The mayor, a young guy, is trying hard to attract quality tourism to the town and one of the efforts most widely supported by the locals is the wine walk that takes place on the fourth Saturday of each month. You buy 20 tickets for 20 dollars, take a sheet where the route and available wines is mapped out, pick up your tasting glass and take off.
There are twelve stops on the route, at cafes, bars, gift shops and art galleries. At each stop you have a choice of between three and twenty bottles where you can use from one to five tickets. You are also encouraged to shop and have a snack.
The selection of wines was a microcosm of the U.S. wine scene. California was the most widely represented, followed closely by Italy. Surprisingly, Argentine malbec was on practically all the stops. Not surprisingly, no Spanish wines were poured unless you consider sangría, which is apparently enjoying quite a comeback. After years of trying to create a positive image for Spain, it was a shock to see everyone drinking sangria.
I tasted the following wines:
- BV Coastal pinot grigio
- Rosenblum zinfandel *
- Ferrari-Carano fume blanc 2009 (Sonoma) **
- Cupcake Vineyards Angel Food 2010
- Manos Negras carmenere 2009 (Chile) **
- Cain Concept 2007 (Napa) **
- Folie à Deux zinfandel 2009**
- Di Majo Norante sangiovese Osci 2010 *
As a rinse I also had a few glasses of Great White, a craft beer. Going to a beach bar was great fun. Since it was Daytona 500 race weekend there were lots of bikers, tan, 50-something beach bunnies and middle-aged hippies along with loud rock music which sure brought back memories for me.
In spite of my immense disappointment about the total absence of Spain in the tasting it was great to taste lots of new wines and see everyone having so much fun swirling, sipping and talking about the wines they were tasting.
If you’re ever in northeast Florida the fourth Saturday of the month, head over to New Smyrna Beach. You’ll have a blast!