A Trip to NYC for Australian Wines

I don’t usually make a habit of travelling 3000 miles to taste wine, but this occasion deserved the trip. I packed my bags and headed east to the city they call the “big apple” to taste wine from Clare Valley, Australia. I mean really, how often does one get to taste Australian Shiraz?

Actually, I lie; we were in New York City (specifically Manhattan) for our annual family vacation. We gave our son the choice of NYC or Washington DC. He chose NYC, which means next year we’ll be headed to DC. Timing couldn’t be better as we can coordinate the trip with the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference and visit my family just a few hours south in Roanoke, VA.

Before I get back to the wine, let me just say that Manhattan is a-ma-zing! The energy, the vibe, the fashion, the hustle, the passion, the art! Walking the streets felt as if we were walking in the center of what makes the United States (and even the world) run. The eye wall of Times Square rotates out spinning its massive energy force touching the corners of our globe. Would I want to live there? Nope. I couldn’t afford to, but it sure is a fun place to visit.

While on our travels, through the wonders of Twitter, I learned that Cork’d was hosting a wine tasting at the Roger Smith Hotel. In a previous business trip to Manhattan, I had the opportunity to tip a glass with Jon Troutman of Cork’d and Kristen Murphy of Wine Library. Any opportunity to reconnect with these ambassadors of wine immediately shot to the top of my priority list. A quick tangent here – my social media experience has been amazing. Because of the relationships I’ve established on Twitter and Facebook, every city I travel to results in cheers and toasts with “old friends.”

On To The Wine:

When I say Australia, you say?


Okay, when I say Australian wine, you say?


Well, yes, that’s quite true. Most people have narrow thoughts when it comes to Australian wine and it is usually the little kangaroo of Yellow Tail, Jacob’s Creek or Penfolds. The wine tasting at Cork’d hoped to shed some additional light on a region that exports over 1 billion bottles of wine per year (fourth largest in the world).

After a long day of meandering through the Metropolitan Arts Museum, the family was very accommodating and semi-enthusiastically agreed to accompany me to the Roger Smith Hotel (just off Park Avenue and 47th). The eclectic, warm and urban vibe of the hotel made me re-think my lodging choice at a national chain.

At the tasting I was excited to finally meet Lindsay Ronga, CEO of Corkd.com. We’ve spoken via phone and twitter, but in person, Lindsay is infinitely more adorable. She’s also smart as a whip! Lindsay and Jonathan introduced us to their guest, Tom Barry, a third generation wine maker for Jim Barry wines and explained the tasting “rules of engagement.” Immediately the ladies, and some of the men, were smitten with Tom’s thick accent. Most of the crowd was armed with laptops, but I committed to my family to leave mine at home, so I attempted to document the journey with a smart phone whose battery was about to go the way of some of the art exhibits we had just discovered.

Due to the nature of the tasting, these are my initial thoughts and observations of Jim Barry wines. This is not the full attention that I typically try to give to one of my reviews, but should give you a general framework of my thoughts.

Jim Barry Wine Tasting

2007 Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling

The dry Riesling (under 2% residual sugar) had surprising aromas of toasted nuts, white pepper and that standard petrol aroma of a well aged Riesling. The wine was clean fermented with no malolactic and zero oak. With 13%ABV the wine is slightly off balance with only mild acidity. Great flavors of apple, lemon zest, lime and a tart finish. Quite a surprising wine and at $17-$20, could be a good selling price point in the US. 3+/5 (Recommend)

2008 Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon

This 100% Cabernet is a blend from various Coonawarra fruit. The name, and labeling design is inspired from the 30 acres of Cabernet that grow on former Cricket playing fields. The wine receives 12 months in American oak. In the glass there is a good thick color to the edge of the glass. Aromas of bright cherry, are offset by vegetal components, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. In the mouth the wine is slightly thin on fruit with heavy tobacco mid palate and a sweet zing at the end. A bold chalky tannin begs to be decanted, paired with food, or cellared for 5-7 years. $20. 3/5

2008 Jim Barry The Lodge Shiraz

We ended the evening by looking at two Shiraz; one, a new release, and the other from 2004 that should give an indication of age ability. In the glass, the 08 is thick and leaves a crimson residue on the edges of the glass. The 14.5%ABV is low comparatively speaking for some Aussie Shiraz. Fragrance of blackberry and clove present themselves to me. I love the way the wine feels in the mouth. A lush velvet coats the tongue. The black pepper is perfectly balanced with the sweet fruit. The wine is big without being jammy. $20 and a great buy. 3+/5 (Recommend)

2004 Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz

The final wine of the night is dark and inky in the glass; a brooding color similar to moonless foggy night. The nose offers up green berry twigs, sour black cherry and some hints of what I would guess coffee syrup would smell like. In the mouth the wine is big on fruit, but it is slightly sour. The finish offered moderate tannins with well integrated acidity. Many of the tasters were very impressed with the wine but this one left me feeling a little empty; a perfect example of taste variance and subjectivity. At $45 this was the highest priced wine of the night. 3/5

Tom Barry of Jim Barry Wines. Follow them on Twitter @JimBarryWines


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

6 comments on “A Trip to NYC for Australian Wines

  1. Constance C

    Couple things:
    #1- your son made an excellent choice to go to NY instead of DC, NY definitely trumps.

    #2 – Australia definitely has a lot of great producers down in that corner of the world. When I visited the Barossa and Adelaide in April my palate was pleasantly accommodated over and over again 😉 I haven’t had this producer, but seems like the wines are worth a try!

  2. Jon Troutman

    It was awesome to have you on the east coast, Josh. Great breakdown of the wines and the tasting. That Tom Barry is seriously charming and the accent is just icing on the cake. I can still hear the ladies wooing haha.

    I guess it’s my turn to come out to WA and pay you a visit now!

  3. Lindsay Ronga

    Josh, thanks for the kind words and great post on the wines. I was super impressed with these wines and so pleased you and your fam were there for the tasting!

    1. drinknectar

      Constance – I have to admit I wanted him to pick DC, but by delaying it a year we get to combine family, WBC11 and vacation and will save a little money. If I were only as lucky as you to travel the world and taste wine :)

      Jon – Indeed you need to bring the whole Cork’d gang out to Washington.

      Lindsay – It’s easy to say kind words about someone so cool and amazing. Keep up the great work at Corkd.


  4. Ben Simons

    I’ve never been to NYC, but I would really like to visit there. Seems like you had a great trip, and it’s awesome that you were able to fit in some wine tasting action.

    1. drinknectar

      Ben, NYC was really amazing. I could see visiting there time and time again and not get tired of it. Being able to connect with WineLibrary and Corkd people was an added bonus!


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