The High Line was a length of elevated tracks that ran down 10th Avenue from 34th Street to Spring Street which carried goods to/from Manhattan’s industrial district and was active from 1934 to 1980. In 1999 the Friends of the High Line was founded, advocating the preservation of the High Line and its development as a public space. The High Line opened as an urban park in 2009 and today represents a 1.5 mile oasis in midtown Manhattan and stretches from the Hudson Rail Yards on 34th to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. I have walked the High Line numerous times and have even done a High Line pub crawl. Each time I’ve done the walk, I’ve taken a picture of InterActive Company Building. The IAC building, which was designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2007, has always been one of the architectural highlights of the walk. Little did I know when I decided to take the High Line down to a wine tasting on 18th Street (instead of the subway) I was heading to that exact same building where the Vias Imports Grand Portfolio Tasting was being held, one of the premiere annual trade tastings in New York City. This was the 33rd annual Vias Imports Grand Portfolio Tasting and featured wines from 91 wineries with 83 different grape varieties. Vias Imports was established in 1983 and offers one of the most comprehensive portfolios of Italian wines in the United States. They also import wines from Argentina, Austria, France and Spain.
Having an autumn vacation already planned for Tuscany, I decided to make that region my first priority. Here I tried a pair of Brunello di Montalcinos: (the 2011 and 2010 Reserva) from Cantina Argiano and the 2012 Chianti Classico from Castello di Meleto. Catina Argiano is a Tuscan estate winery in Montalcino dating back to the end of the 16th century. Castello di Meleto is even older and is mentioned in a surveying book in the 13th century. I continued my Tuscan sojourn with some whites from Fattoria del Cerro in Montepulciano: The 2015 Vermentino and the Manero Bianco di Toscanna, a Trebbiano Chardonnay blend. Fattoria del Cerro is the largest private estate producing Vino Nobile and was founded by the Baiocchi family in 1922. They played a major role in the renaissance of the area with the creation of the DOCG appellations in 1980. Not only were these wines exquisite, but with each visit I started making a mental checklist of wineries to visit during my upcoming holiday.
Next stop on my tour was a visit to the Veneto where I tasted the wines of Le Salette, a winery north of Verona and east of Lake Garda in northern Italy. Le Salette is a “newer” winery which dates back to 1860, when the local farmers built the sanctuary of Le Salette as an offering to the Madonna after the vineyards were rid of insect pests that were decimating the crops. Today the Scamperle family grows vines on 50 acres and is located in the Classica Valpolicella of the Veneto, where they make wines that coexist with the rhythm of the land. Here I was introduced to some new grapes (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Molinara) and some delicious wines: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Ripasso and Amarone della Valpolicella. I was also introduced to Rosella, the sister of the winemaker, who was pouring wines. She graciously complemented me on my limited knowledge of Italian and walked me through their portfolio.
My tour of Italy continued with a stop in the Alto Adige, with a sampling of wines from Pacherhof, another winery with a long history. The Pacherhof farm in South Tyrol is mentioned in church documents dating back to the 12th Century. In the mid-19th Century one of the Pacherhof daughters married winemaker Josef Huber, who brought his winemaking skills to the farm. The Huber family was one of the pioneers to the Eisack Valley of the Alto Adige and expanded their plantings to include Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Muller Thurgau and Kerner. Of course, I went with the more uncommon grapes (at least for me) and sampled the Sylvaner, Muller Thurgau and Kerner, all from 2014.
Reluctantly, I pulled myself away from Italy and journeyed half-way around the world to Patagonia. Here I sampled a few wines from Bodega Malma, a producer established in 2004 and now part of the vanguard of the next generation of Argentine wineries. First I tasted a pair of Malbecs: the 2015 Malma Finca La Papay Malbec and the 2011 Malma Universo Malbec. Both had an intense red color, aromas of dark red fruits with hints of vanilla. And while I enjoyed both of the Malbecs, I preferred the Universo, which had a complexity reminiscent of the best Malbecs from Mendoza. Lastly I tasted the 2010 Malma Cuvee Reserve Extra Brut. Their website states that “We have achieved our dream: we have put inside every bottle the silence, the color and the mystery of this far away valley.” A perfect way to bid a fond farewell to Patagonia!
While there were many more countries to visit (and wines to try), I decided to end my world tour back in the United States with a stop at a local winery, Suhru Wines of Long Island. Suhru, which was established in 2008 by Susan and Russell Hearn (the SU and RU of the name). Russell began his winemaking career in his native Australia and has 30 years of winemaking experience. In addition to Australia, he has also worked in New Zealand and France before coming to the United States. He started out at Pellegrini Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island in 1971 and is now the winemaker for Lieb Cellars and a founding partner at the Premium Wine Group, a custom crush facility in Mattituck. Susan, a physical therapist and mother of two grown children, has entered a new phase of her life and has now fully embraced her husband’s passion for making wine. Here I tasted their 2012 Shiraz, a 100% Shiraz blended from the grapes of two North Fork vineyards. And lastly was the 2010 Red Blend, a mostly Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc blend that is big and bold, with aromas of blackberry, plums and cassis.
Having completed my mini tour of the wine world, I thought it was only fitting that I head back to the High Line for my return trip. And like with most vacations, I was sad to leave, but after traveling halfway around the world I was glad to be heading home. With one last view of the IAC Building, I sighed and headed back to Penn Station. My adventure was over, at least for today. But who knows where my next walk on the High Line will lead me!