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Fountains of Wine

Plus, New York’s (the country’s?) first all-kosher wine bar, and a month-long charity rosé run on Long Island

Posted: May 6, 2010

• In 1520, Henry VIII, the Tudor monarch and wife aficionado, met French King Francis I for a legendary summit at the Field of the Cloth of Gold (previously known as a field of nothing special, until the grandstanding monarchs bedecked the site with gold-cloth tents and gold-clothed royal retainers). Among the summit’s greatest accomplishments was the construction of a 13-foot wine fountain, “which by conduits in the earth ran to all people plenteously with red, white and claret wine,” according to one contemporary witness. It was adorned with a relief of Bacchus and invited imbibers with the carved announcement “make goode cheere who wyshes.” Now the fountain has been replicated at Hampton Court, the London palace where Henry hosted some of Europe’s most historic ragers. The full-scale reproduction is based on Hans Holbein’s 1520 painting The Field of the Cloth of Gold, which shows revelers celebrating the fountain with “English yodeling”(vomiting), “English checkers” (fistfights) and “English napping” (like regular napping, but in the street). The new fountain will pour up King Henry’s favorite session cuvées for tourists and scholars at £3.50 a glass.

• Unfiltered was somewhat indifferent toward this past weekend’s Run for the Roses as vintner and horseman Jess Jackson didn’t have a horse in the Kentucky Derby. We are, however, excited about Long Island’s Run for the Rosés (especially since there’s no actual running involved). The month-long tasting program will feature numerous special events at participating wineries, with $1 from the sale of each bottle of 2009 Long Island rosé going to CancerCare, a non-profit organization which supports people affected by all types of cancer. Not only will wineries such as Wölffer Estate and Palmer offer free tastings of rosé wines, many will host special events. Jamesport will pair local oysters with their rosés, while Croteaux will match its bottlings with fresh crêpes. Clovis Point teams up with local musicians for live music nights and Bedell has a croquet tournament planned. Plus, local restaurants and accommodations are in on the action too, offering rosé specials, private tours and more, all benefiting CancerCare.

• Unfiltered traveled to Kingston Avenue in Brooklyn this past weekend to attend the opening of Basil, the first all-kosher wine bar in New York. Breakfast and coffee bar by morning and full-fledged wine bar and restaurant by night, Basil serves only kosher wines and only kosher food. But don’t expect to find any gefilte fish or Manischewitz. The wine bar features Weinstock, Goose Bay and Baron Herzog by the glass and high-end bottles such as The Cave and Bartenura Ovadia Estates Barolo. Dishes draw from a Mediterranean, mostly Italian, influence. Highlights include Parmigiano and white asparagus with paprika on a wood-fired pizza, crisp, charred sardine tarts and fluke Milanese. As for the vibe, it's low-key and casual, a trendy but not intimidating neighborhood spot, according to owner Danny Branover. "I want a place where people can come together for good food and good drink," he said. The guest of honor was Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz who, by semi-official proclamation, declared Basil the “only exclusively kosher wine bar in the New York area, if not the entire U.S.”

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