One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is head up to Orlando and visit Disney World. They have the best decorations, the weather is so crisp, and, honestly, it’s just magical place to be. To kick off the festivities, I stopped by Wine Bar George in Disney Springs for some dinner and, of course, wine!
A concept of his own, Master Sommelier George Miliotes wanted the restaurant to showcase an international wine list that’s both approachable and adventurous—catering to wine connoisseurs and novices alike—with a variety of delicious plates, highlighting local and seasonal products, to create the perfect pairings. I love perfect pairings, so I was excited to dive right into the menu.
I started the night with Digby Fine English Non-Vintage Brut—my first English sparkling wine. The base is Pinot Noir, which is complemented by aged Chardonnay reserve wines which have spent an additional 1.5 years on the lees, which helps to retain the vitality at the heart of Digby’s house style while bringing a mellow richness to the blend. The addition of Pinot Meunier keeps it light. It was fresh and dry, had nice acidity, notes of lemon and a toastiness, and was simply delicious—a perfect starter.
My husband Sean started with Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg Kamptal Riesling 2018 (I’ve been on such a Riesling kick lately). This Kamptal DAC Riesling comes mostly from vineyards less than 15 years old on the Gaisberg und Heiligenstein slopes. As one of the oldest wineries in Austria, Schloss Gobelsburg has some historical vineyard sites around the castle. Every site has its specialties and particularities with different soil and micro-climatic conditions. From the sun-exposed terraces on Zöbinger Heiligenstein and the Gaisberg mountain to the extensive garden facilities around Gobelsburg castle, the vines are subjected to a wide range of conditions. In accordance with their respective potential, the best possible development conditions are established for every grape variety. There was petroleum jelly on the nose right off the bat. It was dry and acidic with notes of apple, pear, and minerality. Another favorite.
Next up for me was Domaine Louis Michel et Fils Chablis Montmains 1er Cru 2017. Chablis was made famous by the merchants of Beaune. In the early eighteenth century, Beaune meant red burgundy; Chablis meant white. It caught on and that’s how Chablis became a synonym for dry white wine. Today, Domaine Louis Michel is one of the leading family-held estates in Chablis, not only in terms of production, but also in the reputation for quality. The Michel philosophy is “Let the wine make itself, as far as possible,” so they do not use barrels. It had notes of ripened apple, lemon, flowers, and a nice saline quality to it. It wasn’t oaky at all, the way I like my Chardonnay. It worked amazingly well with the Shishito peppers.
Sean’s next one was Bodegas Avancia Cuvée de O 2016. It’s made form Godello—a completely new varietal to my list (checking that off). Bodegas Avancia lies in the slate dominant mountainsides of Valdeorras, Spain, high above the Sil River. Named for the extensive gold mining that the Romans conducted in this area, Valdeorras (Val-de-Oras roughly translates to Valley-of-Gold in Latin) is home to the finest terroir for growing two of Spain’s most important indigenous grapes—Godello and Mencía. It was full of peach and herbs with a little minerality. He liked it, but preferred the first Riesling.
I ended the night with a side-by-side tasting of two Cirillo Estate Wines, which I was excited about because I haven’t had much Australian wine. The Cirillo family lead what is believed to be the oldest continuously producing Grenache and Semillon vineyards in the world. Planted in 1848, these vines are not only a part of the Barossa history, but Australia’s winemaking heritage. The Cirillo’s winemaking heritage spans back over nine generations to the Southern Italian province of Calabria. The vineyard sits an old inland lake over 100 Million years ago. The soil is deep silt sand over limestone and clay. This combination of free-draining topsoil and water-holding subsoil has sustained the seven acres of grenache. The gnarled and wizened basket pruned bush Grenache vines stand up to six feet high and nearly six feet wide. Owner and Winemaker Marco Cirillo spends every spare moment training, pruning, and nurturing each vine through its fragile life.
The first was Cirillo The Vincent Grenache 2015. During primary fermentation, the wine is hand tended 2 to 4 times per day. Once the fermentation is complete, it is carefully transferred into an 800kg basket press which will then allow intimate control of the tannin, fruit, and overall structure of the wine. It is then stored in seasoned 60% French and 40% American oak hogsheads for up to 24 months. It had a ripe, red fruit nose with pepper and was alcohol forward (at 14%). It was rich and jammy, but totally in a good way, and had a nice long finish.
The second was Cirillo 1850 Ancestor Vine Grenache 2011. The Cirillo 1850 Grenache grown on sandy soils situated in the old Seigersdorf or Light Pass area of the Barossa Valley. This single vineyard is believed to be the oldest Grenache vineyard in the world. Wine Bar George was the first in the U.S. to serve it. It was lovely—it still had the red fruits and berries, without the jamminess, and also had more of an earthy and savory quality to it. It was delicious and so fascinating to compare the two.
I’ve been talking about wine so much, that I haven’t event touched upon the food. We had the house-made meatballs, which had triple cheese polenta on them.
We went for the grilled octopus salad, that ended up reminding me a bit of a take on conch salad, since it was chopped so thin with vegetables. I’m always down for cheese—totally a cheese hound—so I didn’t pass up the burrata with a side of grilled bread and tomatoes.
As I mentioned with the Chablis, the Shishito peppers were not something I would normally order, but they were delicious. With my nature, there was no way I was going to pass up a charcuterie plate, so I threw one in too. The meats and cheeses were great, but I fell head-over-heels for the little blueberry mash they had going on and the locally-sourced honeycomb (I went next door and bought my own comb).
Between the excellent wine list, delicious food, adult ambiance, and knowledgeable staff, Wine Bar George is a can’t miss destination in Disney Springs. I’ll definitely head back the next time I’m in Orlando.