P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
June 20, 2002
Wine-Tasting Features Manhattan Sommelier
(North Adams, Mass.) Austria may be all the rage in the Berkshires, but it doesn't stop there. In the worlds of wine and food Austria is also hot, with Wine Spectator recently holding an exclusive blind tasting of 143 Austrian wines and New York's famed Union Square CafÄ offering a special Austrian wine dinner. Austria is becoming well known for its outstanding Grčner Veltliner and Rieslings, their lighter reds and renowned dessert wines. On Saturday, July 20, at 6 P.M. Union Square CafÄ's James Beard Award-winning sommelier Karen King will introduce the Berkshires to some of her favorite Austrian wines in Vienna Vines at MASS MoCA. According to Wine Trader Magazine, "Everyone knows that Union Square CafÄ is one of the top restaurants in New York. This can be a great challenge for a sommelier and Karen is up to the task."
Karen King won the 1999 James Beard Award for Sub-Zero Outstanding Wine Service, among the highest accolades in the industry. In 2001 she was among the line-up of world-class sommeliers taking part in Crystal Cruises' Wine and Food Festival sailings and one of five All-Star Sommeliers at the Ray Wellington Wine Education Scholarship Dinner held at Drew Nieporent's restaurant, Icon. Earlier in 2002 King was among the special guest sommeliers at the Annual Kapalua Wine and Food Festival held at the Kapalua resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui (considered the state's premier event for food and wine fans).
Union Square CafÄ has been ranked New York's most popular restaurant by the Zagat Survey for five consecutive years. They've received two three-star rankings from The New York Times plus seven Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. Gourmet placed it among America's Top Tables. New York magazine listed it among its 100 favorite restaurants. They've won almost every award the James Beard Foundation has to offer, including Outstanding Restaurant of the Year, Sub-Zero Outstanding Wine Service, and the Rums of Puerto Rico Outstanding Service Award. Writing in Diversion, John Mariani called The Union Square CafÄ "a serious dining spot that does everything it does so well, and without a scintilla of pretension that it's won the hearts of New Yorkers, out-of-towners, and the most fastidious food critics."
Austrian Grčner Veltliner and Riesling wines are a growing presence at restaurants and retail shelves around the United States. Austrian Rieslings resemble their German neighbors aromatically - with scents of lime, peaches, sometimes tropical fruit - but the taste is dry, minerally and full-bodied, like the dry Rieslings of Alsace. They are racy, aristocratic and thrilling to drink. The top dry wines often don't smell or taste of fruit at all, but of soil, stones and exotic spices. At Wine Spectator's exclusive blind tasting, one young Riesling, Franz Hirtzberger Smaragd Wachau Singerriedel, earned a rating of classic (95 points out of 100). Nikolaihof Smaragd Wachau Vom Stein, Nigl Urgesteins-Riesling QualitŐtaswein Kremstal Senftenberger Ried HochŐcker, Prager Smaragd Wachau Weissenkirchner Ried Klaus and Freie WeingŐrtner Wachau Smaragd Wachau Weissenkirchner Achleiten all rated in the early 90s. (The term "smaragd" refers to the "emerald" color of lizards, which sun themselves in the vineyards of the Wachau region.)
Top-rated Grčner Veltliners of Austria include Prager QualitŐtswein Wachau Selection, Brčndlmayer QualitŐtswein Kamptal Alte Reben, and Brčndlmayer Kabinett Kamptal Langenloiser Berg-Vogelsang. These Grčners tend to age very well and display smoky, citrus-like aromas and rich, racy profiles. Grčner Veltliner's pepper, tobacco and lentil flavors combine nicely with beans and savory root vegetables, and the richness goes well with salmon or fowl.
Other whites offer a purity of fruit and delicate flavors when not exposed to new oak but rarely the raciness of Riesling or Grčner Veltliner. These include Pinot Blanc (called Weissburgunder in Austria), Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) and Sauvignon Blanc. The Austrian reds, including indigenous varieties BlaufrŐnkisch, St. Laurent, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon tend to be lighter.
Tickets to Vienna Vines are $25, which includes wine for tasting and light food for palate cleansing. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Positive proof of age is required when picking up tickets. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in North Adams from 10 am until 6 pm daily. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on a 13- acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of visual and performing artists charting new territory.
For Immediate Release