We’re very fortunate living in the Orlando, FL area. While the rest of the country is still experiencing the bluster of March, we’re enjoying blue skies, low 80’s and gentle breezes. It was perfect weather for sitting on the back porch of Seasons 52 overlooking the lake, sipping on slights of wine and munching on flatbreads.

Seasons 52 is a Darden Restaurant original brand that specializes in fresh, locally sourced foods, with meals, appetizers and mini-desserts typically weighing in at no more than 500 calories, including the aforementioned flatbreads. The menu changes seasonally, and the wines offered on their stellar program called Flights & Flatbreads changes frequently. Each wine comes with tasting notes. The program is available daily up to 6 pm.

For $15, you can have a choice of whites or reds (roughly 3 ounces each) and one flatbread. For $20, their Acclaimed red wines are rated at 90+ points. According to Seasons 52, the Acclaimed wines are rated by Wine Spectator, The Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast or Stephen Tanzer. You select which wine you prefer and are then given a 6-oz pour.

Russ and I typically each order the Acclaimed wines and pick two of the five flatbreads typically offered. After we made our selections, we decided to really be wild and also ordered the other red wine flight and a third flatbread.

The afternoon became a sip and taste treat, introducing us to wines we’ve never experienced. The flatbreads chosen this day were:

Garlic Pesto Chicken: fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic onions, roasted red peppers and arugula.

All-Natural Pepperoni: roasted Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto.

Lobster & Fresh Mozzarella: little chunks of lobster, roasted sweet peppers, slivered scallion, and lobster-infused sour cream. (for $5 additional)

Remarkable Reds $15

Kanonkop, Kadette, Pinotage Blend from Stellenbosch, South Africa ‘12

Tasting notes: raspberries, black currant, mocha, elegant tannins, dry

I could smell the notes of raspberries, but neither of us could taste any.

Oyster Bay, Merlot, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ‘13

Tsting notes: Black plum, sweet berry fruits, spice, soft tannins, elegant

The heavy fruit came forward. I liked it better with the lobster than the chicken pesto, which seemed to overpower the wine.

Four Vines, Zinfandel Blend, Truant CA

Tasting notes: ripe blackberry, red plum, vanilla, full, smooth

This wine didn’t have the zing of zins. Very light in color, more like a pinot noir. The flavors emerged when eaten with the pepperoni flatbread. Much better than drunk alone.

Acclaimed (90+ points) $20

Catena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina

‘13 rated 90 pt

Tasting notes: cassis, cherry, tobacco, silky tannins, structured

The cherry stood out, but this was the weakest of the three in this flight. We were surprised it rated so high. Our view was that it was thin, tart, and tasted watered down.

Le Cirque Rouge, Grenache Blend, Cotes Catalanes, France

‘13 rated 90 – 92 pts

Tasting Notes: black raspberry, black cherry, leather, medium, tannins, balanced

The full smoothness came out better with the chicken pesto, though also good with the pepperoni. We found this to be less fruity, with a subtle balance.

Tait, Wild Ride, Shiraz Blend, Barossa, Australia

‘13  rated 91 pts

Tasting Notes: black plum, dark chocolate, liquorice, velvety, full flavors

By far, this was our favorite of the six wines. The plum and liquorice lingered on the tongue and had a long finish. Russ thought this one stood out the most with the pepperoni. I would have drunk it with or without any food. Just wonderful.

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI and is now serving on the 2015 – 2016 MPI Global advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

 

 

 

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