Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Yorkers "Wine Down" with sunsets on the Hudson

Story and Photos by Dwight Casimere
1."The Girls" enjoy the scene at Wine Down Wednesday at Hudson Terrace
2. Tasting room at Jacob's Creek Winery, Barossa Valley, South Australia
3. Barossa Valley at sunset
4. Dwight The Wine Doctor and Chief Winemaker Bernard Hickin of Jacob's Creek
5. Jacob's Creek vineyards
6. The view from the tasting room
7. Jacob's Creek Chief Winemaker Bernard Hickin
8. Hudson Terrace and its new retractable roof
9. Sunset over the Barossa Valley
10. Sunset over Hudson Terrace with the USS Intrepid and New York Harbor in the offing

With the sun setting over the bow of the USS Intrepid, visible from Hudson Terrace lounge with its new retractable roof overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan, wine lovers take a weekly excursion known as “Wine Down Wednesdays.”

Generous pourings of a half dozen wines from the major wine producing regions of the world give drinkers a chance to explore the various flavors and styles of winemaking while enjoying the spectacular setting and munching on an innovative array of hors d’oeuvres. The promotional event turns the Happy Hour into a fun opportunity for folks to learn about wine in an informal setting.

On this night, the tasting featured two selections from Jacobs Creek of Australia’s Barossa Valley, which I had the pleasure of visiting last year during the Landmark Wine Scholar Tutorial sponsored by Wines of Australia. Jacob Creek Reserve Pinot Noir, 2007 ($10.99) and Jacob Creek Reserve Shiraz 2007($16.79) headed a list that included Rosenblum Cellars Kathy’s Cuvee Viognier 2008($17), Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Chardonnay Atalayas Vineyard 2008($16.99), Notorious Grillo Sicilia 2007($9.78) and Monsanto Chianti Classico($17.99). Despite their being from the far corners of the winemaking globe; South Austrlalia’s Barossa Valley(Jacob’s Creek), California’s Lodi Valley (Rosenblum), Chile’s Casablanca Valley (Lapostolle) and Italy’s Tuscany region (Monsanto), they all had one thing in common, they were all highly approachable, drinakable wines that can be had for $10-$18 a bottle. The wines could stand on their own as a cocktail or they can serve as an excellent accompaniment to food.

Back to the Jacob’s Creek wines, which I became familiar with through my visit to the winery in Australia, where I had a private tasting with Chief Winemaker Bernard Hickin.

“Our Pinot Noir is one of our most popular wines and certainly one of the most luscious,” he told me during the tasting session in the winery’s picturesque tasting room, overlooking the historic property. “The first thing that strikes you is the aromas of fresh strawberrys and black cherries. That’s because the wine is made from grapes from regions that have two distinct climates, one quite warm, which gives off the strawberry characteristic, the other quite cool, from which you get the flavor of dark forest fruit.” The wine stands on its own, but its also great with a range of dishes from that Australian favorite “shrimp on the ‘barbie” to a rack of lamb.

Shiraz is Australia’s national grape and Jacob’s Creek celebrates it in fine style with its Reserve Shiraz 2005($16.79). “This wine features rich blackberry and plum flavors with the added hint of spice balanced by coffed and vanilla flavors with a hint of cedar notes derived from oak aging,” Hickin rhapsodized. “This is really an excellent value, considering that you’re getting a wine that could easily age for another 10 years and grow in character, but it sells for less than $20.”

Hickin’s words echoed in my ears from all those months ago and thousands of miles away as I lifted my glass toward the setting sun and allowed the crimson light to dance across the like-colored wine in my glass.

The music from the DJ amped up and the crowd became more lively. As the wine flowed, the retractable roof began to allow the cooling evening breeze from the Hudson River to flow across the room, providing a fitting punctuation to a perfect evening.

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