Saks is a place which can exhaust shoppers-so much so that a little sustenance re-invigorates the credit card. My amazement was the shop fitout for shoe sales-bit like an open plan wine bar with lots of plush. The Saks diner, cleverly badged as Sfa (Saks Fifth Avenue, not slang!) is on the 8th floor; swish, waiters in black shirts, ties and aprons serve salads, grills and burgers as you would need for retail therapy. The order was chicken salad and prawn salad; well plated and flavoury, though the caramelised walnuts were an unwanted ingredient.
Wines were two glasses: Bouchaine Napa-Carneros Chardonnay 2007 (AUD 17.25 glass, 69 bottle); straw, green, punchy nose of very ripe chardonnay and charry oak, the palate very chunky, oak quite dominant and drying, and charry, acid in harmony but a thumper style; 13.9%. www.bouchaine.comSecond glass was Raphel Estate Merlot 2006, North Fork Long Island NY (AUD 9.20 glass, 36.80 bottle) 12.5%; a muddy colour typical of many merlot which do not fully ripen or achieve colour and tannin maturity (the world is full of them). It’s nose had the telltale sweet and sour (ripe and unripe mix-hints of cassis muddled with green tomato bush); again quite a normal occurrence for cool climate merlot trying to get there. On the palate quite good, tight tannin but not much unripe, more herbal tannins, sweet on finish, oak in the background, fairly decent, would have preferred the hint of brett to not be present. Just acceptable for merlot, and showing similarities to Tasmanian-grown Bordeaux varieties. www.raphelwine.com
Across the road in the Rockefeller Plaza was the wine merchant Morrell. This operator clearly dealt in blue chip Bordeaux and Burgundy although I noticed Heathcote Estate Shiraz for sale. The staff told me everything was “really nice” and who is a Master of Wine to argue with such subjective knowledge-wine untasted. Chose Beckmen Vineyards Syrah 2007 (AUD 31) from Santa Barbara County south of SFO, Santa Ynez actually. What a terrific wine; value, colour, integration and total impression (92). This company specialises in Rhone varietals-this being a blend of 11 micro-vinified lots which made up a 1500 dozen vintage. Surprising for me the natural cork was fine as the wine turned out so good (ten per cent won’t and I am dumbfounded by the choice of cork). The wine was complete for such an early age, oak was un-obtrusive, flavours seamless and not alcohol hot; 14.8%. Will have to return to Morrell to find another as “nice”. www.beckmenvineyards.com
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