Blog: NYC Winter Wine Festival
On any given night, Times Square plays host to a limitless collection of people and cultures, most of whom spend their evening with their necks perched back glaring up at the thousands of bright lights overhead. On Saturday, a massive venue typically reserved for sold out rock concerts was similarly transformed into a smorgasbord of differing regions in celebration of all things wine. The Best Buy Theater turned off the fog machine and light show for the night, playing host to The 4th Annual New York City Winter Wine Festival. LocalBozo.com dropped by the three hour evening session for an unparalleled sampling of over 240 wines and some delicious eats serving hundreds of unpretentious tasters.
With nearly a foot of snow blanketing Manhattan the night before, the Winter Wine Fest was never in question and the event was pulled off seamlessly. After all, there’s nothing better than a glass of red wine to warm you up on a cold winter evening. The layout of the roomy venue was optimal with tables placed to maximize the selection of wines, arranged primarily by region. Meanwhile, heaping portions of hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, breads, and crudités were strategically positioned in each room with enough to satiate even the hungriest wine taster.
What’s exceptional about the weekend’s two different sessions was the ability to try such a wide variety of different wines and vintages, although attendance was such that conversing with some of the reps on hand proved to be distracting to guests with their arms stretched out awaiting their next pour. Any frequent attendee of tastings of this caliber will tell you that some volunteers certainly tend to have heavier handed pours than others and needless to say we sought out these pourers immediately. We eschewed familiar producers like Barefoot Wine and Bubbly and The Naked Grape in an effort to taste varietals previously unknown to us.
Opting to begin with reds, we enjoyed so many different selections that naming them would prove far too challenging in this space. Among our highlights included Australia’s “Nine Mile Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2008,” a medium bodied pour with hints of coffee, Argentina’s “Felipe Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon 2007,” a fruitier spicier wine, but with similar hints of cocoa, France’s “Chateau D’Aussieres Blason D’Aussieres Corbieres 2008,” which an excellent full bodied wine with earthy notes, and even Spain’s “Loxarel Amaltea Red 2009,” a nice, drinkable blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes fruity and soft. Best of all however was the retail price on these- each tasty in their own right and most reasonably priced in the $13-$20 range.
We also went wild for domestic varieties from the west coast with the cherry infused “Benton Lane Pinot Noir 2010” from Oregon, California’s “Migration Pinot Noir 2009” which was bold and fruity at once (our favorite), and Washington State’s “Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2009” which left us with subtle hints of tobacco meshed with a bright, cherry nose. With wines offered from Chile, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, and even Austria, the entire spectrum of wines was appropriately represented at the Festival. Also worthy of praise were some local wines from Dr. Konstantin Frank up in the Finger Lakes, whose “Riesling Dry 2011” is among some of the most consistently tasty we’ve found anywhere. And we’d be remiss not to mention Germany’s “Twisted River Gewurztraminer,” which is a flavor explosion of white fruits, uncompromised and delicious and infinitely drinkable.
With so many distinctive wineries and regions to taste, after awhile your likes and dislikes always seem to mesh together in a boozy haze. Understanding this, the organizers cleverly handed each patron a pen and guide to be able to reflect back on their tastes and re-live the evening that was. The next time we trek out to a wine store (ie this weekend), we’ll make sure to bring our handy booklet with us and pick up several of these affordable bottles so that we can turn our friends on to just what kind of wines we discovered at the Best Buy Theater on Saturday night. We can only hope they’ll be just as impressed as we were.
- Jane Van Arsdale