2011-08-04 / Cuisine

Biennial Vinexpo provides a taste of what’s new in wine and spirits


Jerry Greenfield with California winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt. 
COURTESY PHOTO Jerry Greenfield with California winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt. COURTESY PHOTO As it has every other year for three decades, Bordeaux recently hosted Vinexpo, the world’s most extensive and well-attended wine and spirits trade fair.

Showcasing products from 47 countries, the event attracted more than 48,000 visitors from 148 countries — with French attendants making up the largest group and, for the first time, the Chinese delegation the next most populous — to see the best the world of wine and spirits has to offer.

Although he isn’t in the business of selling wines, Fort Myers resident and wine devotee Jerry Greenfield, who is considering becoming an importer, took part in the five-day event.

“It was a great opportunity to get a handle on the whole market and see what’s hot in the marketplace,” he says about tasting wines and meeting and talking with producers from around the globe.

Booths hosted by trade associations representing specific winegrowing regions afforded the opportunity to sample a wide range of products. Mr. Greenfield says he was especially impressed by rosés, wines from Languedoc and malbecs, “not from Argentina, but from Cahors, where malbec has been made for centuries.”

The booth for the Cahors malbec producers showcased dozens of their wines from southwest France, and Mr. Greenfield tasted about 20 of them.

“They were big and chewy, and will go great with grilled meats because they are definitely a rustic style of wine,” he says. “The prices were good, mostly in the $20 to $35 range. They’re definitely fuller bodied than their Argentinean counterparts.”

Another up-and-coming district likely to be exporting more to the United States is France’s Languedoc region stretching along the Mediterranean coast. Most of the traditional grapes of France are grown here, but some of the best wines made here contain grenache, syrah and mourvedre, due in part to the proximity of the Rhone district to the east.

“There were some very well-made wines, wonderful bargains, with prices in the $10 to $15 range, and made in a more elegant style than the malbecs,” Mr. Greenfield says. “These wines are better matches with food, and very satisfying to drink.”

Yet another promising trend is the emergence of rosé wines from around the world.

“Everyone in the world is making rosés,” says Mr. Greenfield. “The wines from Tavel and Lirac showcased a wider range of styles and colors than ever before. Some we tasted were just the slightest shade of pink, and others were so rich and dark in color they looked like light-bodied pinot noir.”

He believes these wines are gaining popularity as wine drinkers get to know them better.

“There have been a lot of changes in the last five years in the way wine drinkers view rosés,” he says. “Rosés have gained respect because people are understanding this is not white zinfandel. They also appreciate how food friendly rosé wines are. Winemaker Sasha Lichine, with his savvy marketing skills and money, has popularized rosés today much like Robert Mondavi did the fumé blanc back in the ’70s.”

Winemakers are investing more effort and quality into making rosé wines, as recently confirmed in Wine Spectator magazine.

“There’s probably never been a better time to be a rosé drinker,” Jennifer Fiedler writes in the July 31 edition. “Vintners everywhere have been upping their game in the vineyards and cellars. The result is a new wave of high-quality dry rosés from around the world.”

Mr. Greenfield also devoted some time and energy to the Bordeaux Classified Growth booth, where a vast selection of 2010 vintage Bordeaux was available for sampling.

“Because these were so young in the bottle, it was hard to pick a winner,” he says. “They just all needed more age and development.” Not only that, he adds, the wines are very pricey. “My friends and I are drinking the Bordeaux we have in our cellars, but we’re not replacing them.” Instead, he says, he’s filling his racks with California cabernets and other wines.

He zeroed in on a couple of wines that interested him most and is exploring the prospect of importing them to the states. One is a white Bordeaux, Ch. La Fleur Jonquet, a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon that he believes would sell at about $25 per bottle.

He wasn’t the only one looking for new merchandise.

Bethany Frick is the senior vice president of merchandising for Total Wine & More. Quoted in the final Vinexpo news release, Ms. Frick says, “We met with over 200 producers and will be bringing in over 50 products.”

Adam Strum, co-founder and chairman for Wine Enthusiast magazine, was upbeat about this year’s fair.

“It’s the best exhibition I have taken part in for many years,” he says in the Vinexpo release. ¦

dining NOTES

Eateries close in Gardens, CityPlace

Two restaurants recently have closed.

Zuccarelli’s has closed its Palm Beach Gardens location and Kona Grill has shuttered its location at City- Place.

Zuccarelli’s, at PGA Commons, had indoor and outdoor seating, and served traditional Italian fare.

It will continue to serve its menu of meat, seafood and pasta dishes at its West Palm Beach location, where a man who answered the phone said the restaurant had closed its Gardens location because of the rent.

The restaurant’s other location is open at The Emporium Shoppes, 4595 Okeechobee Blvd. (at Military Trail), West Palm Beach; 686-7739.

Kona Grill sent an email Aug. 1 to its e-blast subscribers announcing the closing of its Pacific rim-inspired restaurant, which faced Okeechobee Boulevard at CityPlace in West Palm Beach.

No reason was given for the closing, and the email invited customers to visit the company’s Tampa location. www.konagrill.com. ¦

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