Saturday, March 22, 2014

Miami Walkabout

What a difference the day makes!

Having run the gauntlet of Ocean Boulevard on a Friday night during Spring Break (which wasn't nearly as outrageous as you might expect - mind you we did head home by midnight), South Beach seemed downright tame today.

After a leisurely start to the day, we joined up with Esperanza and Cruncher for an art deco walk around the neighbourhood and along the beach promenade. The evening lights definitely add a whole different level to the feel of the city but the daylight views of the architecture offer an element of excitement all their own.

We battled a few showers through the afternoon and thought better of taking a guided tour of historical South Beach since the showers were at their heaviest just as we were scheduled to depart for the tour. The alternative was to hit Whole Paycheque and pick up a little poolside picnic. We'd gorged on a rather hefty lunch of Cuban fare earlier on and figured we'd all benefit from some lighter fare. Lighter fare and more wine, that is.

1569.  2011 Apothic Red - Winemaker's Blend (California)

After yesterday's "reveal" that Esperanza loves her value wines, it only made sense that we serve up a bottle of Apothic Red to whet her whistle. This was the one bottle that travelled back with us from Antigua. English Doc had left the bottle behind at our villa but, as I mentioned in the posts from there, the weather and food weren't all that conducive to red wine. Plus, I think Doc felt a tad tweaked when I mentioned that Apothic appears to be heir apparent to the [yellow tail] crown in the States as a big selling, easily approachable wine. It wasn't meant as a diss. I may not drink a lot of either Apothic or [yellow tail] but I think they're both keying in on what the general public enjoys in wine - and I'm all for anything that gets people drinking wine.

Esperanza and I picked up the other two bottles specifically with Cruncher in mind.

1570.  2010 Zenato Ripasso (Valpolicella Ripasso DOC - Italy)

While we we perusing the wine aisle, Esperanza said that Cruncher's favourite wine was Amarone - but added that they rarely grab a bottle as it's not generally available at bargain prices. Girl needs a little Ripasso in her life. I told her that, more often than not, my jones for Amarone needs to be satisfied by its "baby brother."

"Ripasso" is pretty much exactly what it means - "repassed." In an effort to impart additional colour, flavour and body to the lighter red of the Veneto, Valpolicella wine is "repassed" with the skins and lees (spent yeast cells) from fermented Amarone wines. In terms of Italian wine history, it's a relatively recent product but it has quickly become popular as a reasonably priced alternative to Amarone.

I'm always on the look out for a good Ripasso and I remembered having enjoyed this one some years back. I do believe that Cruncher is going to be searching out some bottles of his own down the road as well.

1571.  2013 Bodega La Flor - Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

The Ripasso was obviously picked because we thought it would be right up Cruncher's alley. The Malbec? Not so much. Cruncher's palate just has no affinity whatsoever for Malbec. He says that he just doesn't like anything about it - especially in that he finds it has a distinctive bouquet that he can't abide. I bought the Bodega La Flor because I thought I might be able to pull a fast one on him. You know, serve up an unannounced Malbec, see what he thinks and, then, tell him it's a Malbec after he says, "Boy, that's nice."

I haven't seen Bodega La Flor wines in the market back home in Vancouver but I knew the producer because Boo and I visited Pulenta Estate when we were in Argentina. La Flor is the entry level label for Pulenta and I knew that we'd have no problem finishing off the bottle even if Cruncher didn't want to have anything to do with it.

I didn't fool him. He said he knew it was Malbec before he'd even taken a sip and that, even if this was a fine expression of the varietal wine, it wasn't his cup of tea. As such, we left Cruncher to the Ripasso and we sipped back on other vacation memories.

Much to our surprise, Esperanza decided to call it an early night. She'd had enough of the "gauntlet" for the time being and not even the possibility of a dance or two could keep her from her bed.

Boo and I didn't have that option. We'd planned our flights to give us a Saturday night in South Beach and we knew we had to at least hit Ocean Boulevard for a perfunctory cruise. Luckily, our timing was such that we lucked into a street-side drag show at one of the bars along the strip. A beer or so later, the show was over and we could say that we hit the town. At least, we sort of "hit the town" - in a middle aged, milquetoast kind of way.

Next morning, we found out just how middle aged we'd become. We learned that, on our way home after the show, we'd walked right by one of the hottest gay bars in Miami and we hadn't noticed a thing. Apparently, things don't heat up until well after midnight and, predictably, we'd long gone to bed by then.

Good thing we were keeping ourselves busy during the day and starting our cocktails long before the young'uns had likely even gotten up from the night before.

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