Naples Winter Wine Festival has announced January 27-29 as the dates for next year’s festival of high-spending Bacchanalia. OK, Bacchanalia might be an exaggeration. It is a wine fest, nonetheless, and the slightly more uptight mood might be explained by the fact that it is the highest-grossing charity wine auction on the map. Paupers need not apply. The dollars raised are growing exponentially every year that extends between the present and the recession so it is not a force to be ignored any time soon, although for those of us who stood in awe of its grandiose display it is a little yawn-worthy of late. The staggering bids and jaw dropping wine lots are so far fetched for the people who can’t afford a thimble-full it’s almost as if we’re discussing the national debt. “huh? 100 bottles of 100 point wines? A ten-year vertical of Romanee-Conti? Whatev.”
If you are so inclined to drop an annual six-digit salary on a single lot, tickets for the weekend-long fest are $8,500 per couple. Orif you have a pair of like-funded friends you can reserve a spot for your besties right next to you at a winemaker dinner (and of course the auction) for a mere $20,000. This year’s honored vintner is the charming and quite humorous Prince Robert of Luxembourg of Chateau Haut-Brion. He was here in 2010 for the Naples Winter Wine Fest when he was presented with a 1936 bottle from his chateau by a local collector. He was the most down-to-earth person I met at the fest that year.
Well, actually, the who’s who of local wine enthusiasts who strap on an apron to lend a hand at the auction and the dinners are the MOST down to earth. But who am I? Simply an observer.
Co-chairs this year are the remarkably welcoming Bob and Joan Clifford whose elegant hosting of wine dinners is legendary among Festival-going crowds. The chef-de-cuisine for the event will be their home-town pick Tony Mantuano of Chicago’s Spiaggia. So….what to pair with a once-in-a-lifetime vertical of Chateau Haut-Brion? We have until January 27 to submit our suggestions.