Everyone loves a party, especially one done in grand style. Such was the case for the 2012 Forks and Corks Grand Tasting held on Sunday, Jan. 29. The 5th Annual Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival was hosted by the Sarasota-Manatee Originals and made possible through event sponsors, donors and business partners.  Sarasota’s culinary creativity, range and diversity were all  showcased in a series of winemaker dinners, interactive seminars and classes and with the culminating public event, the Grand Tasting.

The Sunday afternoon was “picture perfect” for an outdoor event: bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky with temps in the 70s. The magnificent courtyard of the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art served as center stage for a palate-pleasing presentation. The performers, approximately 50 local chefs and restaurateurs, combined their culinary talents with 80 international winemakers to present one of the finest flavorful food festivals in Sarasota.

The Grand Tasting event was scheduled from 12-4 pm. We arrived fashionably late (12:20pm), only to find the crowd already sizeable. With 1000-plus people attending and this event being a quick sell-out, we anticipated some difficulty with logistics. This was not the case at all! Registration was easy, the program well-organized, signage was good and the flow of people easily managed. All we needed was a plan to navigate more than 85 tables offering food, beer and wine. Our initial plan was amazingly simple in concept: start in numeric order, do a quick survey of the various foods and wines being offered (noting the ones we wanted to explore further) and then circle back to those tables we highlighted. We quickly realized our levels of interest far exceeded our capacity to taste and consume. So much for best-laid plans! Here are some of the highlights from our gastronomic trek.

Osso Bucco from Ophelia's

Local Food:

– Lamb Osso Bucco from Ophelia’s on the Bay
– Grilled Flank Steak on Artisan Roll from Michael’s on East
– Bruchetta Pomodoro and Agnolotti from Salute!
– Spicy Korean Pork Belly Happy Buns from The Polo Grill & Bar
– Kobe Beef Sliders from Square 1 Burgers & Bar
– Classic Caesar Salad from Euphemia Haye

Taylor Bay Scallop Crudo from Derek's

– Taylor Bay Scallop Crudo from Derek’s Culinary Casual
– White Bean Cassoulet from Bijou Café

Food photos courtesy of Larry Hoffman.

 

 

Wines from around the world:

– Bell Pinot Gris from Bell Wine Cellars
– Whispering Angel Rosé from Chateau D’Esclans
– Sondraia Bolgheri DOC from Poggio al Tesoro
– Noble Riesling from Helfrich
– Carneros Chardonnay from Merryvale Winery
– Champagne Rosé from Nicholas Feuillatte
– Mint Haven Cabernet from Morgenhof Estate
– Chenin Blanc from Post House

The afternoon was truly delightful, combining some of Sarasota’s finest assets: food, wine, people and weather in one amazing place.  Plus, on your way out all of the wines tasted were offered for purchase in a special retail tent at a discounted price. Now how is that for an added bonus? For those who like to plan ahead, next year’s Forks & Corks is scheduled for Jan. 25-28, 2013. Tickets go on sale Nov. 12, 2012.

Congratulations to all the people who made the 2012 Forks & Corks such a great success. Sarasota was proudly represented!

Photo by Peter Acker.

 

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SRQ Reviews Network - Dining Guide

Continuing our tour of wines from the Southern Hemisphere, today we are tasting one of the most popular varietals from Argentina. The 2007 Malbec from Dolium Winery.

Background: Old World comes of Age

Wine making in Argentina can be traced back to the 16th century when vine stock was brought into the country from Chile and Spain. Cultivation of the vines expanded and the Mendoza wine region began to emerge as the country’s most important wine-producing region.

Historically wine production in Argentina was primarily a domestic business. That is, the wine produced by Argentine vineyards was for domestic consumption and not of export quality. This focus on domestic production continued for centuries. A series political dictatorships and economic threats began to have a influence on the Argentine wine industry. With the hyperinflation of the 1980’s and the drop in domestic wine consumption within Argentina, the Argentine wine industry began to think about exports. The success of Chile’s wine exports provided a  further catalyst for the Argentine wine producers to make wine worthy of export.

With an emphasis on producing higher quality of wine for export, investments were made in technology and equipment to improve both quality and yield. Today, Argentina is ranked 5th in worldwide production.

The winery: Dolium Wines

The Old world comes of age is exemplified by Dolium Wines. Taking the Latin name for amphora, the ceramic wine storage vessels used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, Dolium is making a connection to the old world. In ancient Rome, wine was stored underground as a means of temperature control. Today Dolium is the 1st underground winery in Argentina to combine old world traditions with modern-day technology to produce their wine.  

In 1997, Mario Giadorou, a mechanical engineer, turned his attention to his ancient Italian family’s business of wine making and a new Argentinian winery emerged. The winery continues to invest in technology to produce distinctive wines representing the characteristics of the Mendoza region and the international standards of wine consumers around the world.

Our Tasting:

On our 1st pour we were impressed with the dark red ruby colored wine. We expected depth of flavor and were not disappointed. With a nice aroma we took our taste and were very surprised in a good way. Expecting a big “malbec mouth” we discerned the characteristics of the grape but also a subtly sweet taste as well. Very good.

On our next pour we were pairing the wine with some sweet and spicy bbq spare ribs. It was a delicious pairing. The subtle sweetness of the wine matched perfectly with the smokey sweetness of the sauce on the spare ribs. It worked very well together.

On our next pouring we wanted to try something a little more spicy for a pairing. We choose a lemon, jalapeno sauced fettucine. This was a spicy dish so were not sure how this wine would hold up.  Once again, the subtly fruity flavor was enhanced with the spicy sauced pasta. The wine was a winner!

Smooth, rich, with a subtle sweetness, and a deep red color, this Malbec from Dolium is a versatile wine which pairs well with grilled meats and spicy flavored dishes.

Where to buy the wine:

Retailers:

Restaurants:

A special thank you to the folks at GOS Wines for their support in providing information and the wine.

SRQ Reviews, the restaurant guide you need to find the best dining and new restaurants in Sarasota, Florida.