Jackie Nespral

02/05/2014 10:30 AM

01/24/2014 1:31 PM

As a young couple, Jackie Nespral and her husband Armando fortuitously met a bottle of Château Margaux, an expensive wine from France’s legendary Bordeaux region. The two were celebrating a special anniversary at a French restaurant in South Beach and had ordered what they thought would be an equally special wine at a reasonable price. The restaurant ran out of their selection and, without telling them, poured the pricier Bordeaux—then charged them for it. “We didn’t know what we were drinking. We just knew it was spectacular,” remembers Nespral, the award-winning journalist who anchors the nightly news for NBC 6 South Florida. Of course, “the bill came and it was crazy, but the wine made me realize that I really wanted to get into this.” Soon after her serendipitous discovery, the Nesprals began collecting wine and now, more than 25 years later, their collection has grown to 1,000 bottles. Ranging in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars, their wines are on display in a sitting room in their Coral Gables home, dedicated to tasting and sharing these prized pours. Her favorites—the 2005 Harlan, 1994 and 2001 Petrus, and 2001 Château Haut-Brion—sit center stage in coolers that were built into the walls about six years ago when the couple renovated and expanded the home to accommodate a growing family (they have four children, ages 8 to 26) along with a growing desire to entertain. “These showstoppers will likely go untouched,” says Nespral, whose face lights up as she scans her collection, thumbing the labels as though each has a story to tell. “We have wines we are very proud of and showcase, but we really prefer to enjoy most of our other wines with family and friends.”

For drinking, Nespral favors robust, bold and heavy cabs from Napa Valley in California, specifically the 2002 Shafer Hillside Select from the Stag’s Leap district. “I’m a Napa person. Nothing against Bordeaux, but I really love Napa,” she says, describing her yearly visits with her husband to the region. They rent a convertible, get lost and stumble upon hidden vineyards. Meetings with different winemakers are always on their itinerary. When they plan to taste a lot, she says a driver is necessary. “I’m like a sponge when I sit with a winemaker. I want to know everything—their passion, their inspiration, their story,” says Nespral. It’s that emotional layer that adds to a wine’s palatable charm for her, whereas her husband, a physician, is all about the science. “I’m not into the chemistry as much as I enjoy how wine brings people together,” Nespral says. “You can have a dinner and be done in 45 minutes flat. Open up a bottle of wine, and you can actually have a meaningful conversation.”

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