headlogo.gifIt was bound to happen. The Hamptons, or as Gothamist likes to think of it, a displacement home for wealthy New Yorkers, finally got their own wine and food festival. The talent read like a who’s who of the food and wine circuit: Rick Moonen, Michael Romano, Steven Jenkins and Floyd Cardoz all boarded the Hampton Jitney to share their secrets with those who could afford the $150 ticket. Or for the big spenders $650 gets you the VIP Platinum Pass that includes access to the Bentley Tailgate Party and Mojito Barbecue (unfortunately the Bentley’s were only for show and were not included in the $650 ticket – such a tease).

The festival was spread over two days and included classes ranging from “David Burke prepares tuna” to “Cool wines from red hot Spain with Steven Olson”. What made these classes phenomenal was the interaction with the talent. It wasn’t like your typical festival where you wait 15 minutes to make your way up to the table, have a sip, ask one question and are shooed away by the mass crowds. The talent walked around the classrooms (the festival was held at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton) and took the time to answer questions and connect with the crowds. It was this relaxed tempo and attention to detail that separated this festival from others that Gothamist attended.

The festival concluded with a Grand Tasting of 150 wines from around the world. The wines that stood out for Gothamist were the smaller, unique producers that you often don’t see. Among the sea of suits and white linen shirts was a burst of color – Barefoot Wines, a small producer from California, were clad in bright colored leis. Their approach to wine making is about having a good time, and you can taste it in their end product. We tasted their Sauvignon Blanc, the Cabernet Sauvignon, got our lei and continued on. The table we visited next gave us free magnets, a tough follow up to a free lei. We won’t mention them. We ended our night with a tasting of Far Niente Dolce, a fabulous dessert wine, with great acidity and luscious fruit notes.

We can’t wait for the festival to come back next year. We ate well, drank great wines and learned from the masters. It had the relaxed sophistication you would expect from the Hamptons with just a drop of the pretension…and it turns out a $10 bottle of wine only tastes marginally better when drunk leaning on a Bentely.