Chilean Petit Sirah. Award-winning French Whisky. Dry wines from Portugal. Entire line of Spanish Sherries, from Fino to Cream. Glorious.
I was invited to a special tasting at the event center of the now-iconic Vegas building, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, part of the Cleveland Clinics. It is a huge stainless steel more or less brain-shaped building that has drawn the lenses of photographers ever since construction was completed in 2010.
Palm Bay International Fines Wines & Spirits held the event on Thursday afternoon, and there were about 40 wineries/distilleries presenting hundreds of wines and spirits. While it was impossible to taste each one, I hung in there until my palate (and my own personal brain) told me that they were tired and to stop, you fool. It had to happen; many of the flavors of the wine were luxurious, layered, and intense, and I gave my palate a real workout. Fortunately, there was plenty of food provided; I inhaled the smoked brisket sliders like there was no tomorrow!
Palm Bay Int’l. is a large distributor with a wide-ranging variety of brands from all over the world, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Chile, Scotland, and many more. I gloried in their portfolio.
It was wine-tasting heaven. Because it was an invitation-only event, there wasn’t the zoo-like madness that sometimes occurs at public tastings. This tasting was unique in that wine and spirits were both a part of the equation, there were Sommeliers and wine/spirits professionals in attendance, so a massive crowd focused only on getting drunk as quickly as possible would have been completely out of place. And annoying.
The Palm Bay portfolio includes some of my favorite brands including Cinzano (yes, I do indeed like the occasional martini), Arrogant Frog, MontGras, Tenute Lunelli, Planeta, Trimbach, and S.A. Prüm, just to name a few. Of course there were many that I was not familiar with – it’s a big world of wine and spirits out there!
I spent the first hour of the five-hour event at the Trimbach (Alsace) table before moseying over to the S.A. Prüm (Germany) table, where I had the wonderful honor of meeting Raimund Prüm and his lovely wife, Pirjo Oksanen-Prüm. Raimund has a bigger than life personality and shared with me the process that’s used for making his outstanding Rieslings. Excuse my moments of bragging, but I had the opportunity to taste through his entire line. The transcendent moment came when I sampled their exquisite Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Eiswein. Yes, I had them all. Don’t hate me because I’m Prüm. This was easily my funnest tasting through the event, with Trimbach a close second.
And then there were the Montrachets. OMG. I happen to be a real fan of the white Burgundies, and sipping through six of them was almost erotic. Then I came back for the red Burgundies, aka Pinot Noir. ‘Nuff said. That, needless to say, was my most ethereal tasting.
Other countries whose wares I had the opportunity to sample were Italy (Brunello, Vermentino, Chianti Classico), New Zealand (Sauv Blanc, Pinot Noir), Mexico (Mezcal), Chile (Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon), France (Whisky), and Scotland (Scotch. Of course). There were other countries and wineries that were also well-represented. So many wines. Just one of me.
Well, I’ve filled up enough blabbing space. Enjoy the slideshow!
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