Franciacorta Consortium chooses Orlando for first Florida masterclass

Franciacorta is a baby, as Italian wine regions go. It wasn’t officially recognized until the 1960s, and its DOCG status was granted just over two decades ago.

But sparkling wine from this region near Milan is starting to turn heads, and its producers are getting more savvy in their efforts to raise its profile around the world.

Franciacorta Rashmi
Rashmi Primlani, Franciacorta’s new brand ambassador

Earlier this year, the Franciacorta Consortium hired Orlando sommelier Rashmi Primlani as a brand ambassador. Last week, she hosted a small group of local journalists and wine professionals at Orlando Chef Kevin Fonzo‘s “La Tavola” in College Park for the Consortium’s first Florida masterclass.

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Aromatized Wines: Where wine and cocktails meet

You may have never heard of “aromatized wines,” but if you’ve ever had a martini or a Negroni, you’ve enjoyed them. You’ve also experienced this ancient beverage category if you’ve ever ordered a craft cocktail with “Cardamaro” or “Cocchi Americano” buried in its long list of ingredients.

By definition, aromatized wines are fortified wines (think Port and Sherry) flavored with herbs, spices, bark, flowers, or just about anything else you can find in a forest.

Cardamaro and Cocchi Americano are both aromatized wines, as are the vermouth in your martini and the Campari in your Negroni. (Campari is a brand of amaro, which falls within the broader aromatized wine family.) Seriously, this stuff is like science class … but studying it is a lot more fun!

Orlando’s Master of Wine Jean K. Reilly, who runs Slate Wine & Spirits Academy, hosted a class on aromatized wines last week at Norman’s at the Ritz Carlton. The presenter, Rob McCaughey, is a jovial Brit now based in Charleston, SC, who works on the spirits side of the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust).

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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.

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Tim’s Avalon Park: First wine bar in the Tim’s Wine Market empire likely won’t be the last

If you’ve been an Orlando oenophile for any significant period of time, you’ve probably been to a Tim’s Wine Market.

Tim Varan is a cornerstone of Central Florida’s wine community. Since he opened his original bottle shop on Orange Avenue across from Lake Ivanhoe almost thirteen years ago, his empire has grown to six stores sprinkled around Central and North Florida.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard Tim hint at his desire to sell wine by the glass, but nothing came of it … until this spring.

The Wine Bar at Tim’s Wine Market in East Orlando’s Avalon Park celebrates its first-quarter anniversary on Saturday, three months after opening its doors in March.

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7 Tips for Wine Bar George Newbies; Miliotes dishes on his wine list, Orlando’s wine community, & more

George Miliotes hasn’t been spending much time at his home in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood recently.

The Master Sommelier told me he’s been sleeping at the Lake Buena Vista Hilton since last Saturday, the day his eponymous wine bar opened for business across the street at Disney Springs.

Actually, he says he hasn’t done much sleeping, what with the 17 hour days he’s been working to get the long-awaited Wine Bar George up and running.

Tips for First Timers

My husband and I dodged the raindrops last Sunday afternoon to visit the establishment on its first full day of operation (Saturday’s opening started at 5pm). Bottom line, this place is deliciously dangerous for wine geeks. If you are one, here are a few quick tips to make the most out of your experience:

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Wine Bar George Confirms Saturday Opening. Extensive Wine List Includes $500 Glass of Bordeaux.

Wine Bar George today confirmed what Orlando Wine Blog first reported a week ago — the long-awaited – and long-delayed – Disney Springs establishment will open this Saturday, May 19 with its full wine list and food menu ready to go. Doors will open at 5pm; regular opening hours (11am-2am) will kick off the following day.

Wine Bar George Exterior by Natasia Lynn
Photo credit: Natasia Lynn

The venue will be helmed by Master Sommelier and Disney alum George Miliotes. Back in the mid-90s, he helped open Disney’s California Grill; he returns to WDW with his eponymous wine bar, boasting what quite probably will be the most extensive by-the-glass wine list in metro Orlando.

Here’s your first look!

The bar-restaurant will offer more than 130 eclectic selections by the glass, representing over 40 grape varietals. Of those, thirty are high-end, rare, and vintage wines that will be available in one- and three-ounce pours too.

Glass prices range from $8 … to $500. Yes, you read that right. If you’re so inclined, you can pay $500 for a glass (or $84 for an ounce) of 1988 Chateau Margaux from Bordeaux. Most offerings, however, hover around the mid-high teens.

Appealing to Disparate Audiences

Miliotes had a fine line to walk when he created this list. He had to satisfy the tourists who’ll stumble in with screaming kids in tow, as well as the oenophiles, wine collectors, and wine industry folks for whom the establishment – Florida’s only Master Somm-led wine bar – will be a destination.

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Wine Bar George Tentative Opening Next Week

For those of you eagerly awaiting the delayed opening of Wine Bar George at Disney Springs, an anonymous source tells Orlando Wine Blog that the tentative opening date is a week from Saturday – May 19 – pending approval from Disney inspectors.

The establishment, helmed by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, will feature 140 wines by the glass (everything from obscure varietals to Caymus), flights, small plates, and more. Stay tuned.