We were recently invited out onto the mighty Hudson for a wine and cheese tasting sunset cruise hosted by Classic Harbor Line New York. There’s nothing quite like escaping the hot sticky streets of New York to the open air. Summer can be very wonderful in this city, you just have to know how to make it so.
We met the Yacht Manhattan on Pier 62 of Chelsea Piers, and we were off. The pairing of the evening was Sparking Wines of the World and Cheeses That Love Them, created by Miss Wendy Crispell. How delightful, and absolutely perfect for a late summer evening.
We started off with a welcome glass of Brotherhood Winery Blanc de Blanc from New York to warm up our palates. Already charging North on the Hudson, we were on our way. The sunset was upon us, the sky pink and purple, and Manhattan’s skyline lighting up accordingly.
Then the cheese arrived.
Our first pairing featured the Szigeti Gruner Veltliner Brut, from Austria and a creamy Valancay goat cheese from Loire Valley. We were instructed to first taste the wine – crisp and almost citrusy with a touch of almond in the nose, then taste the cheese – creamy with a slightly sour kick, and then taste them together. The combinations were delightful, the clean flavors of the wine cut through the creaminess of the cheese, highlighting the citrus notes in each.
The second pairing was St Hiliare Blanquette Limoux from Languedoc, France, and La Tur, a sheep/goat/cow cheese from Piedmont, Italy. The wine was dry, yet creamy, with sweet flavors of citrus and apple, compared to the creamy, almost ice cream like La Tur. This was one of my favorite pairings of the evening, creamy, decadent, and delicious.
The third set of the evening featured Marques Gelida Exclusive Cava Reserve, a blend of Macabeo, X-arello, Parellado, and Chardonay, from Penendes, Spain, served with Gallego, a cow’s milk cheese from Galecia, Spain. Followed by a pairing of Jean Bourdy Cremant du Jura, a sparkling Chardonnay from Jura, France served with Delice D’ Bourgogne, another cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy, France. This cheese was another one of my favorites, probably because it is a Triple Cream, 75% butterfat, making it “unapologetically rich”, with a little bit of funkiness due to the mold rind which gives it the flavors of almost a mushroom. It paired very nicely with the Jean Bourdy, which was a bit citrusy, mineraly, and a touch nutty.
At this point patrons were out on the ship’s deck, watching the final bits of the sunset, taking photos, and staring mouths agape at the magnificent Lady Liberty. She’s a lovely one. The city was sparkly off in the distance, and the salty air complimented by our glass of sparkling Chardonnay. We were not exactly in a hurry to get back on shore.
The last pairing was the most surprising of the evening; a pour of Cleto Chiarli, Grasparossa di Castelvetro Lambrusco from Emilia Romangna, Italy, with Capra Sarda, a sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia, and a nice piece of dark chocolate. Yes, you read that correctly, chocolate. The flavor combinations were exquisite. It was almost as though the dark chocolate made the fruitiness of the wine more evident, and when paired with the cheese, it becomes irresistibly creamy. This pairing was so decadent, so surprising, and something we would love to try for a desert course at home.
It was a fabulous night to say the least. All of the pairings were delicious and interesting to say the least, and they were all supplemented with information about the history of the wines, technique of making, and flavor notes by our hostess, Wendy Crispell. Be warned, you’ll be spoiled in a second, imagining your daily commute on this fabulous 1920’s era yacht – greeted each night by a glass of sparkling wine, off to your mansion up the Hudson.