April 25, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Australia Redux (an evening with Bernard Hickin)

Bernard Hickin, Winemaker at Jacob’s Creek. Photo by Katie Sokoler.

Australia spoke, and we listened. So it was, on the 19th of April 2011 in downtown Manhattan (16 Beaver Street) that we, The Noble Rot, did host an exciting event with Bernard Hickin, winemaker of Jacob’s Creek.

The literature on it will tell you that Australia is a continent of vast unknown and traversed landscapes, home to a ruling majority of the world’s most deadly creatures, arid deserts and unexplored hotbeds of archeological history. And of the scores of European cultures that have descended upon its shores in efforts to populate and conquer the continent, we may in the coming years be thanking the many early German Farmers who begat Australia’s wine country. As the wine-growing community undergoes its Renaissance, the fruits of their labor will undoubtedly yield great benefits to us all.

Wonderful images were on display of some of the famed Jacob’s Creek vineyards.                           Photo by Katie Sokoler.

The year was 1847. The man was Johann Gramp. He missed the wine he used to drink in Bavaria, his homeland, and so he planted some vineyards to make a wine. We spent an enjoyable night tasting through Gramp’s present day wines and learning of their evolution over time.

We tasted through:

  • Jacob’s Creek NV Chardonnay/Pinot Noir Sparkling
  • Adelaide Hills Reserve Chardonnay
  • Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
  • Barossa Shiraz
  • Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

Jacob’s Creek wines defining their “Regionality.” My favorites: the sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend and the Shiraz. Photo by Katie Sokoler.

My personal favorite was the sparkling. It’s a perfect crisp delight and reminded me of the summer I was a billionaire, dressing in three-piece super-light-weight Seersucker suits, sipping bubbly every afternoon overlooking the harbor (any harbor really). I also enjoyed the Shiraz, which was ripe with dark fruit and smooth tannin – a very pleasant and very enjoyable wine. And it is good to point out to all you young and fabulously broke superheroes that all these wines retail at around $13 a bottle. Heck, this would be an ideal wine to make a superbly delightful summer sangria. A bit of peach, strawberry, some spiced rum, and voila!

We feasted upon:  An array of small plates, paired to highlight each wine by Chef Christine Wells of The French Culinary Institute as well as savored Tuck-Shop meat pies – as an homage to Australian cuisine. Wells’ cooking was utterly mouth-watering. She marinated lamb in the Adelaide Hills Cab and Barossa Shiraz, cooked up a mouth-watering fillet served over creamy risotto, confounded people with a fennel-herb and shrimp salad, a buckwheat crepe with duck and mushroom ragu… on and on. With the help of Gabrielle another FCI grad, they turned out 75 consistent portions – which for FCI folk apparently is all in a night’s work.

Buckwheat crepe with duck and mushroom ragu and a balsamic reduction, paired with the Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir. Dish by Chef Christine Wells. Photo by Katie Sokoler.

Bernard Hickin was a delightful presence, full of wit and wine-speak. I had the chance to interview him about his experience making wine for Jacob’s Creek. Like any winemaker, he would like his wines to express the essence of where they come from – that ever elusive notion of “Terroir.” Bernard is like a modern Paul Revere delivering news to us all, not that the British are coming, but that Australia’s wine regions are indeed full of micro-climates and micro-terroirs and that the soil, climate and environmental elements that are present in these regions define the characteristics of wine. “Regionality” is the new lingo and what you might consider when searching for an Australian Cab (you want a Cab from Coonawarra) or Pinot (from Adelaide Hills) or whatever it is you’re in the mood for. Like many wine regions in the U.S. it’s taken time for growers to figure out what varietals grow best in which regions. Have a listen below, or run out and grab a bottle of the Barossa Shiraz (everyone’s favorite from the event), and let Bernard’s Aussie accent transport you to Australia’s wine country.

The Noble Rot Talks with Bernard Hickin. (Left to right: Brian Quinn, Bernard Hickin, Jonny Cigar). Photo by Katie Sokoler.

THE NOBLE ROT TALKS with Bernard Hickin:

JACOBSCREEKpart1a (4:39 – Intros)

JACOBSCREEKpart1b (3:52 – True or False?)

JACOBSCREEKpart2a (5:26 – Bernard and Jacob’s Creek)

JACOBSCREEKpart2b (5:02) – Bernard and Jacob’s Creek cont’d)


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