De Toren all over town! Plus taste and learn with two Masters

What a week we have coming up in Central Florida!

First off, winemaker Albie Koch from South Africa’s celebrated De Toren winery will be in town, offering three opportunities to taste his boutique wines:

Wednesday at Swirlery

Thursday at Vintage Vino

Friday at Wine Bar George for a twelve vintage retrospective of the flagship Bordeaux blend, De Toren Fusion V.

But that’s not all!

Tuesday offers opportunities to learn from two of Central Florida’s resident wine masters:

Master Sommelier John Blazon will lead a tasting of Spire Collection wines at Bella Tuscany in Windermere.

Master of Wine Jean K. Reilly kicks off her latest WSET Level 2 certification course at Tim’s Orlando.

On top of all that, there are two Southern Italian tastings next week, as well as a tasting of New York wines led by three prominent women in that state’s growing wine industry, via Facebook Live.

Check out the Events Page for details of these events and other options for next week and beyond.

Get out and taste the wine, Orlando!

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Big Tastings, Blind Tastings, & More

Orlando’s wine purveyors want you to expand your palate over the coming week, with two opportunities to try and compare a vast array of wines.

Tomorrow (Saturday, September 8), Swirlery is celebrating its third anniversary with a grand tasting of more than 30 wines. Light bites are included.

Next Saturday, September 15, Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford is celebrating harvest with a patio tasting, also featuring more than 30 wines.

Also coming up …

A blind tasting tomorrow with Master Sommelier George Miliotes at his eponymous Disney Springs wine bar;

A dinner with the winemaker from Silkwood Wines in California’s Central Valley on Wednesday at The Vineyard;

And a tasting of Spanish coastal wines at Luisa’s Cellar on Thursday.

Details are on the Events Page, where you’ll also find barrels of new entries for the rest of the month and into October.

Cheers to Almost Fall, Orlando!

The Inquisitor Wine Company: How two Orlando friends turned a “pipe dream” into a local importer of private label South African wines

On June 18, 2016, a small group of sommeliers from some of Orlando’s swankiest dining spots sat down for an invitation-only blind tasting. Hosts Laura Fletcher, then 29, and Christie Briscoe, then 23, were good friends and colleagues at Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton, where they worked in sales and marketing. But this event was about something completely different.

They poured tastes from a few well known, high end bottles alongside samples from a largely unknown South African winemaker, Christian Kuun. His wines got good reviews, sometimes beating out the big names.

“In that moment, I was like, ok it can happen,” said Christie, whose last name is now McLeod.

“We looked at each other,” Fletcher recalls, and thought, “let’s do this.”

Continue reading “The Inquisitor Wine Company: How two Orlando friends turned a “pipe dream” into a local importer of private label South African wines”

England’s Camel Valley Vineyards Pulling Back from US Market

On a stone terrace in the county of Cornwall, overlooking rolling hills blanketed with vines and fields, Camel Valley Vineyards founder Bob Lindo beams with pride as he shows off award after award to visitors sipping on the tasty fruits of his labor.

This winery is one of England’s most decorated, at the forefront of the country’s surging wine business. Producers here are winning plenty of awards, particularly for their bubbly, which has come out ahead of Champagne on enough occasions to make a Frenchman blush.

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Founder Bob Lindo welcomes guests on the terrace at Camel Valley Vineyards in Cornwall.

In 2016, the UK wine industry made a collective commitment to a tenfold increase in exports over five years, and American wine lovers are starting to reap the benefits. Just under two years ago, Camel Valley wines were part of the first full shipping container of English wine ever sent to a foreign shore; they were bound for the US.

Here in Orlando, though, you still have to look hard to find British bubbly. Wine Bar George serves a brut from producer Digby Fine English; Tim’s Wine Market Orlando has Ridgeview in stock.

But Camel Valley is not available in Florida, and sadly, that’s not likely to change. Bob Lindo says he’s pulling back from the US market.

Continue reading “England’s Camel Valley Vineyards Pulling Back from US Market”

Chocolate, Grilled Cheese & Music – Wild Week of Wine Pairings ahead!

Looks like the summer holidays are over for the wine community here in Central Florida! Tomorrow is awash in vin-soaked Bastille Day celebrations – check out the highlights in my previous post. (LATE ADD: The PinkNIC event at Tim’s Windermere has been rescheduled. Check the Events Page for details.)

Next week’s theme is all about creative pairings.

You’ve heard of pairing wine with all kinds of food – what about wine and music pairings? Two events next week aim to engage your ears along with your nose and taste buds.

  • Thursday, Swirlery’s co-owner Damian Roman (aka, DJ Collaborator!) is pairing ten tunes with ten wines, each chosen by one of Orlando’s top Sommeliers, for a “Wine & Vinyl Top 10 Listening Tasting.”
  • Friday, Hard Rock Universal’s “Wine Riffs” series hosts BV winemaker Trevor Durling and features his wines alongside a five-course meal and a specially chosen soundtrack.

Next on the list of crazy pairings is Swirlery’s Wine & Grilled Cheese Night on Wednesday. Uncommon Catering will supply four gourmet grilled cheeses, to be paired with four wines chosen by Swirlery’s Advanced Somm Melissa McAvoy.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with a classic – Champagne and chocolate. The Vineyard Orlando is hosting winemaker Gilles Dumangin on Wednesday and pairing his Dumangin Champanges with chocolates by chef & chocolatier Luis Mendez.

If you’re not into pairings, there are many more events next week where the wine stands alone. Check them out, along with a robust list of happenings over the next few weeks, on the Event Page.

Cheers, Orlando!

 

Happy 4th … and 14th!

Most of our local wine establishments seem to be taking their own July 4th holiday from hosting events next week! They’ve been busy, and I don’t blame them!

But there’s a great option next Saturday, after you’ve recovered from the festivities — a dinner paired with wines from Oregon’s Domaine Serene at Norman’s.

That kicks off a week of events dominated by the national holiday of perhaps the world’s most famous wine producer – France’s Bastille Day. Orlando does love to celebrate Le Quatorze Juillet!

But before those Champagne corks start popping, keep celebrating American wines a bit longer with a late-night party at Wine Bar George on the twelfth of July, featuring Napa winemaker Michael Honig of Honig Winery and local Master Somm George Miliotes.

On the 14th itself, you can start off quite appropriately by expanding your wine knowledge. Master of Wine Jean Reilly holds the first of a two-day WSET Level One course at Tim’s Orlando that morning.

After that, you have your pick of Bastille Day festivities across the region, from Swirlery in Orlando to Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford. And while it’s a Bastille Day event per se, I’m sure Provencals would approve of the PINKnic rosé extravaganza at Tim’s Windermere.

Details of these events and many more are on the Events Page.

Cheers and Santé!

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NOTE: You won’t see an events post here next week, as I’ll be in the UK, tasting a bit of British bubbly (and perhaps some still wine too)! Follow my adventures on Instagram and Facebook!

From Rosé to Cabernet: Diverse array of upcoming events

If you ask me, it’s always rosé season, especially in Florida, but for those of you who concentrate your rosé consumption around a certain time of year – that time is now!

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 9) is National Rosé Day, and there are a couple ways to celebrate – IF you act quickly. As of this morning, there were a few seats left for both these events:

  • Wine Bar George’s Saturday afternoon tasting of six rosés
  • Tim’s Orlando’s Rosé Open House on Wednesday, offering two dozen different rosés.

But these aren’t only the days of wine and rosés. Next week is full of events that don’t center on the pink stuff.

  • Tuesday, Tim’s Avalon hosts a wine & cheese pairing.
  • Wednesday, winemaker Dave Petterson of Oregon’s Vista Hills Winery leads a tasting for 16 people in The Vineyard Orlando’s wine cellar.
  • Thursday is “Flying Winemaker Night” at Vintage Vino, with a tasting of Mas Janeil wines from southern France’s Rousillon region.

Top off the week with cabernet with Saturday’s pre-Fathers Day Big Daddy Blind Cabernet Tasting at Tim’s Windermere.

Details for all these events, plus more later in June, are on the Events Page.

Whether or not you drink pink this weekend, have fun, be safe, and happy sipping, Orlando!