GLAMOROUS GOURMET Chateau D’Esclans Rosé Brunch Hosted by Martha Stewart & Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at The South Beach Wine & Food Festival

“Rosé is a delightful wine to serve year round at almost every meal…even breakfast!”
– Martha Stewart

Last month marked a major annual culinary occurrence here in South Florida, The South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Now in its 15th year, the festival continues to delight the palates of South Florida foodies and has definitely stood the test of time in a city where trends, culinary and otherwise, tend to quickly come and go. To this day, the weekend long culinary extravaganza features a veritable “who’s who” of the wine and food world in events ranging from Master Sommelier-taught wine seminars to late night ragers on the beach hosted by the likes of Guy Fieri. Part of it’s intrinsic magic is perhaps that there’s definitely something for everyone!
This year there was one event I was especially eager to attend: the Rosé Brunch co-hosted byMartha Stewart and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten featuring the Provençal rosé wines of Chateau D’Esclans. Now, I’m a huge fan of Chef Vongerichten and I count my visits to his Michelin-starred restaurants among some of my most memorable culinary experiences. And, if you know me at all or have ever read my blog you know how much I adore the marvelous rosés of the charismatic Sacha Lichine and Chateau D’Esclans.

As we enjoyed the ambiance, the most attractive wait staff I’ve ever seen plied us with glasses of the 2014 Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé and delicious, hand-passed hors d’oeuvres including Floridian Heirloom Tomato Toast, Crispy Salmon Sushi with Chipotle Mayo and Peekytoe Crab Fritters with Aioli and Basil.

As we sat down for brunch, festival founder and Executive Director, Lee Schrager took the microphone, welcomed everyone and explained how this particular event had garnered the nickname, “The Trifecta” during the planning process due to its impressive roster of hosts. After all, it’s not just every day America’s leading lifestyle doyenne, one of the planet’s most celebrated Chefs and the proprietor of Provence’s most beloved Chateau get together to throw a little brunch on the beach! Then Martha took the microphone and graciously welcomed everyone and elaborated on her respect for Chef Vongerichten, “a maestro of restaurants and cooking,” as well as her love of rosé wine. She explained how she discovered it years ago when she and her husband and daughter would travel to St. Bart’s (to view a video of her entire commentary, please click here). And just when I thought I couldn’t love her any more, she made the aforementioned comment about rosé being a wonderful wine for any meal, including breakfast!

Moments later, a round of family-style appetizers descended on our table which were paired with the Chateau’s newest release, the 2014 Chateau D’Esclans “Rock Angel” Rosé ($45). This delightfully pale pink wine is made from Grenache, Rolle and Tibouren grapes which were vinified in a combination of large oak barrels and stainless steel, resulting in a fresh, fruity wine with a lovely, dry finish. This wine was the perfect accompaniment for the wide variety of mouthwatering dishes laid before us, including Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, Marinated Olives with Poblano and Mint Pesto, and Sweet Pea Guacamole served with perfectly salted, crunchy tortillas. Next came Raw, Shaved Florida Red Snapper with Green Chili Dressing and Crunchy Rice and Herbs, Florida Stone Crab with Mustard Sauce, Raw Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad, Pear and Apple Salad, Wild Gulf Shrimp with Sizzling Garlic and Chili Oil and Chorizo Pizza with Broccoli Rabe.

Our next course featured round upon round of family style dishes paired with the jewel in the Chateau D’Esclans crown – Garrus! This wine changed the rosé game, turning what the French widely considered a “cheap and cheerful” wine into a thing of true beauty. Garrus is crafted from the fruit of 80 year old Grenache and Rolle vines which is fermented in new and second year barrels resulting in a serious wine with serious structure and depth of flavor. This incredibly food-friendly rosé paired beautifully with the creative and delicious dishes which featured a little Miami spice and flair which was definitely a big hit with attendees! Dishes like Crispy Florida Black Grouper Tacos with Aioli and Cabbage-Chili Pickle, Maitake Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Fresno Pepper Vinaigrette, Charred Florida Octopus with Crispy Potatoes and Paprika Emulsion renewed our appetites and were a feast for the eyes as much as the palate with their beautiful array of flavors and textures. Chef Vongerichten’s Arroz con Pollo with Crackling Skin and Lemon Zest was a hands-down favorite at our table as well as the Grilled Prime NY Strip with Chimichurri Sauce and Crunchy Potato Nuggets.

As we left Steve and I agreed this special event was, without a doubt, a very Good Thing!

By Stephanie Miskew