Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

 
Yes, it's a Charlie Brown tree

Between work and some personal issues, I've been slightly out of commission, but I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic New Year. I'll be taking a break until after then, so enjoy your family and friends and appreciate what you have.

And if you enjoy some Vinotas Selections wines, let me know!
Cheers!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Where Winos Dine


Well, we can't just drink, can we? I mean, wine is meant to be enjoyed with food and friends and family, not all alone. If you start doing that, you might need some assistance...

No, good wine is designed to go with good food, both adding their virtues to the experience of life. When the pairings work, they add up to more than their individual parts and become something else, something transcending.

Of course, not all food and wine pairings get so existential, but many are thoroughly enjoyable. But where to go and enjoy your precious bottle of wine and get a great meal without breaking the bank? Sure, there are many spots in New York City that offer BYO, but either these will induce nosebleed with stratospherically high pricing, or the quality of the dishes will not be up to the quality of the bottle you bring.

So where do winos go to dine when they want to drink and eat well?

One name comes to mind, and most NYC winelovers already know what I'm about to say: Apiary. This East Village restaurant has been around over a year and it's no secret, but if you have a nice bottle you want to open with someone and get a great meal, this is the place most of us visit. The pricing is very friendly, service is good, and best of all the food is delicious. Well-executed and thought out by Scott Bryan, formerly of Veritas, the dishes are very wine-friendly as well, as one would expect. And, of course, though they're BYO-friendly, their wine list is also pretty-well put together, pleasing to both the winegeeks as well as to the casual drinker.

Oh, and no I am not paid or rewarded for this, I just thought I'd offer a Public Service Announcement. In fact, I wouldn't mention my name if I were you...
Cheers!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Giddy Wines

 

Giddy wines? What are giddy wines? They are wines that make you sit up and smile, wines that are so lovely and well-made that they remind you why you like wines, and perhaps these particular wines, in the first place. If all wines did that the novelty of finding such a thing would wear off and instead we'd be living in a world where "everyone is special so no one is special." And that would be no fun.

Instead, wines, like life, have their highs and their lows. Luckily, I didn't just find one vinous high point last night (I did give a hint, "wines" in the title is plural), I didn't just find two, I found a whopping three, count 'em, three giddy wines. As you can imagine, I hit the pillow with a grin you could see from space.

I was celebrating a late Thanksgiving with Mom and a friend, and since I detest turkey (I've said it previously and it still holds true), I decided to roast a whole duck. I did this last Thanksgiving and it was a smashing success. Last night was no different, I am happy to report.

We began the night with a bottle of NV Veuve Fourny Brut Premier Cru. If you're looking for fruity, sweet bubbly, this ain't it. It's like drinking liquid steel in a mesh of fine bubbles. It makes your mouth pucker. This is masochistic Champage. I love it.

 

Next, as we sat down to dinner, I poured a bottle of 1998 Domaine Dujac Clos St Denis. One whiff of this and I almost burst into tears. This is the smell that proves the existence of God. Beautiful, muddy cherries wrapped in that underbrush smell (sous-bois in French), a real musk that envelops the senses and refuses to disappear. The wine in the mouth is the same, flowing over the palate and gripping you, refusing to let go, not wanting to be forgotten, a presence, a weightless weight that just seems to dance effortlessly on the tongue. Wow. I think I just fell in love with Burgundy again.

 

To say it went well with the roasted duck, sauteed wild mushrooms and roasted herb and garlic potatoes would be the understatement of the year.

 

Finally, a bottle open the previous night with some seafood pasta, a 2004 William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume. That night it was a slightly honeyed, lemony and minerally wine that was quite delicious but nothing special. What a difference 24 hours in the fridge made... The moment I opened this, I was almost bowled over by the thickness of the aroma. It was like a velvet glove to the nose, full of cheesy scallops and almonds and citrus notes. Wow. At this point, I may have had actual tears streaming down my face.

Yeah, these are the moments we live for. These are wines that make me giddy. Giddy wines.
Cheers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Simple Things

 

It's funny, despite my love of the simpler things in life, it's easy to lose one's way and forget this most basic principle. Every day we're assaulted by a barrage of desires, enticing us to do/eat/drink more. Yet when one takes a deep breath and a step back, we (re)discover how nice it is to take some time and enjoy the simpler things in life. Especially living in NYC with its hectic energy, we sometimes tend to forget to take that step back. Yesterday, I landed in Paris, and wandering the streets and shopping for dinner, I realized what I'd lost lately.

 

A simple croissant (delicious, BTW), eaten on the street (very declasse, truthfully), was the epitome of that go-go-go attitude we have in NYC. And while that's great for a quick breakfast, I was in no rush, so why'd I do that? My first meetings/tastings weren't until the day after I landed, so I was in no hurry. Shame on me!

 

So my first dinner in Paris wasn't at a Michelin-starred restaurant (I prefer smaller, simpler bistrots, frankly), or even an intricate meal prepared at home, even though I'd bought some lovely baby chanterelles and other ingredients. No, dinner my first night back in Paris was a half-bottle of a biodynamic red from the Languedoc (nice and unassuming), some stinky cheeses, a saucisson sec (how is this not imported in the US????), and a very nice baguette. And it was the perfect meal. Me happy.

It doesn't get much simpler than that.
Cheers!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Free Booze!


Yes, it's that time of year again, when my wholesalers plop me down in front of a table and make me stand there like a human spigot. Granted, this is the part of the job I really love, where I get to interact with the vast, unwashed masses of humanity. Most of the time, it's pretty cool. But every once in a while, you get the bozos just there to get drunk. Don't be a bozo!

So this upcoming Saturday I'll be pouring three of my wines at Diplomat Wines, 939 2nd Avenue in East Midtown, between 49th and 50th streets. I'll be performing this song and dance from 5pm to 8pm, so if you're thirsty for some interesting, inexpensive and artisanal wines, come on down. If not, go away.

Oh, yeah, I'll be pouring Felines Jourdan's Picpoul de Pinet, Clos Bagatelle's St Chinian and Chateau La Bouscade's Les Septs Vents Minervois. All are yummy and inexpensive and you should stop in and buy case-loads. Seriously.
Cheers!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shameless Plug: Turkey Day Wines


Well, everyone else is doing it, so I suppose I should throw in a few suggestions for what to drink with the Bird, right? I mean, I do have some ideas of what I'd pair with a big old turkey and stuffing. Even if I am not a big fan of the stuff (see HERE).

Leaving aside my personal preferences about turkey and the sides, I figured I'd do some shameless shilling as well. I know you're supposed to serve American wines on this holiday, but I do have some wines in the US, might as well see if I can sell them, right? Best of all they all retail for under $16, so here we go...

SHAMELESS SHILLING WARNING!!!!

Now, if I were to serve my wines on Thanksgiving, what would I pour, you ask? How kind of you to inquire, let me see...


While everyone gathers and the appetizers are served, I'd pour the 2007 Jean-Pascal Aubron Grand Fief de l'Audigere Muscadet de Maine et Sevre sur Lie, with beautiful aromatics, good fruit and crisp acidity. It's light enough to whet your appetite without filling you up.


Next, as the first courses appear, if you're in the mood for white, I'd pour the 2007 Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet. It's also very aromatic, but heavier-bodied, and should hold up to the first dishes pretty well. Its acidity also lets it handle a ton of different flavors. I might even serve it with the turkey if you have a simple roast turkey.


If you want a red, I'd go for a light yet earthy red like the 2007 Chateau de Gaudou 1733, 100% Malbec. 2008 ain't bad either, BTW. This isn't your Argentinian Malbec, full of huge fruit and oak, this is light, earthy, and completely oak-free. It's got a darker fruit profile on a light frame, meaning it won't overwhelm lighter dishes.


Now the turkey arrives, and everyone's oohing and aaahing. If you're looking for an Old World-style red, you can reach for the 2007 Jardin de Bagatelle St. Chinian. Hitting the stores in NYC as I write, this wine offers deep, dark, earthy, funky red and black fruit with good heft and nice acidity. Assuming you don't have too many sweet sides, this should go nicely with the Big Bird.


But, you say, Thanksgiving is an American holiday, you want an American, or at least a more New World wine, to go with the Bird. OK, then try the 2006 Chateau La Bouscade's Septs Vents, a 100% Syrah from the Minervois. Big, bold, very fruity, with some hint of sweetness from the ripe fruit and slight oak, this wine should answer your request. Yet it also maintains the freshness that European wines can have from their higher perceived acidity than their American counterparts. And frankly, this well-balanced wine goes better with the foods on the table at Thanksgiving than most of its New World siblings.

So there you have it, a smattering of Vinotas Selection wines that should handle the vast flavor differences at the Thanksgiving table. But, honestly, whatever you choose to serve, have a wonderful holiday, enjoy your time with family and friends, and be thankful for what you have.
Cheers!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Wine Online


You're interested in wine, but you're not sure where to start. You ask a friend who is "into wine", you ask your neighbors, you ask a local wine store. If it's a good store, you'll find a salesperson who knows what he's talking about, but let's face it, unless you have their mobile number, you can't get answers at all times of the day or night. And frankly most store employees are not that educated about interesting wines. Most of them are there to move product, and that's about it.

So what to do?

Thanks to Al Gore (kidding), we have that lovely series of interconnected tubes, also known as the Interwebs. Better known for its massive quantities of porn, or so I'm told, the Internet is also the best place to learn about wine without opening a bottle. Of course, it's not as much fun, but pouring yourself a glass at 9am is usually a sign of a serious, more urgent issue.

Luckily, there are hundreds of websites that can help you learn about wine. The best ones allow you to interact with other winelovers, asking questions and getting answers at your convenience. You can start at the Wine Spectator's website, where you can take quizzes, read about news, and sign up for online classes. This is a very good starting source for people intimidated by wine and the mystique that surrounds it.

Snooth is a growing community of wine-lovers that is great for beginners as well. The interface is a little confusing, but sticking with it will offer you a world of learning opportunities. If you've started a small collection of 6 bottles or even have a huge, thousand bottle cellar, visit CellarTracker, where you can keep track of your inventory and write tasting notes, sharing them with other like-minded and like-palated people.

The wine critic Robert Parker's website is a good next stop, though it should be noted that this is a bit more technical. The Bulletin Board attached to the site is an excellent source of information, with thousands of winelovers interacting on a daily basis. It should be noted that the board is pretty loyal and defensive of Parker, so if you find your tastes differing from his be wary. That said, it's a great place to learn even more about wine.

Another good place to talk about wine is Wine Disorder. This bulletin board is fiercely loyal to the wines imported by Louis Dressner. If you like your bottles with tons of oak and fruit, this is not the place for you. If you love high-acid, esoteric, unique wines, this could be of interest to you.

Lastly, one of the best, most rough-and-tumble yet welcoming places to chat about wine would be the Wine Berserkers Bulletin Board. While it's not the most sophisticated, it is the most down-to-earth and warm site for both newcomers and experts, and boasts fora for winemakers and wine peddlers. This gives you a view of what happens "behind the scenes", and is a very good place to learn about all aspects of wine.

You can meet fellow winelovers in all these places, from newbies to winemakers, and can learn vast amounts about this beautiful thing we call wine. So visit a few of these sites and see which ones you like while enjoying a glass of your favorite bottle.
Cheers!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Local Food, Imported Wines


Eric Azimov has an interesting article in today's NY Times about locavore restaurants in California which also serve European wines. It would seem to be hypocritical, but in many ways I can understand why they do this. Truth be told, most, not all, CA wines don't go with food. But before you get your panties in a bunch, please reread what I just wrote: I didn't say ALL CA wines don't go with food, I just said most.

In general, and again, this is a GENERALITY, many CA wines are not food-friendly, especially if the food is more on the delicate side (obviously, a hunk of BBQ'd beef is another matter). Ripe, sweet fruit, low acid, high alcohol do not translate to things one wants to drink with a meal. They tend to overpower most dishes. And don't get me started on the liberal use, or rather abuse, of oak.

Most (again, not all) European wines are not as big and brutish and their acidity lends itself to food much more easily than CA wines. So I can understand why many CA restaurant lists have these wines. It would be nice if more CA wineries tried to make more food-friendly wines, but these don't get the points and attention that big, oaky, sweet fruity alcohol bombs do. And don't get me started on points...

Luckily, here on the East Coast, we have a plethora of choices, both from the Old World and from the New World. We are truly blessed for living between the two and having access to them. Of course, this negates any attempts whatsoever at being a locavore unless you try to get Long Island wines (which are more European in style than their CA counterparts).

Frankly, I am not saying CA wines are bad, just that they don't match with food as readily as European wines do. Someone once told me, CA wines are for cocktails, European wines for dinner. And I can understand why he said that.
Cheers!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvest in Spain

 
Sunrise in Navarra

Harvest is that magical time when the grapes are plump and ready to be taken off the vine, a wonderful period of the year when the air is humming with possibilities. Right? It's also a mad dash that goes on almost all day and night, when a year's preparations are focused into a 2-4 week period.

 
Vineyards awaiting the pickers

As in most parts of France, Spain had a fantastic year. 2009 is shaping up to be a very good year in many places, but we won't know for a while. In the meantime, the grapes came in clean and plump, as these pics show.

 
Back to work!

To give you an idea of what it looks like, here are a series of pictures from my winemaker Txus Macias in Navarra. Harvest here is a family and friends affair, with everyone pitching in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, at the end of the day, it's time to break bread and pop corks and enjoy the fruit of your labor, basking in the glow of a day's work and the warmth of your friends. But isn't that wine is all about? It's not about points, or what's supposed to be the "right wine", but about sharing good times with good friends and family, and realizing that these are the most important, and sometimes ephemeral, things in life.
Cheers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Battle of the Bojos

 

No, not the bozos. "Bojo" is short for Beaujolais, and I am sure as Hell not talking about that plonk that arrives in November labelled "Nouveau". Frankly, if you're into that, then there's nothing of interest to see here, please move along to the next blog. Seriously. Go away.

I am talking about real Beaujolais, which is real wine. Delicious wine. Long-lasting, intensely satisfying wine. Stuff that makes you wonder how Nouveau can even exist at all. Made by small farmers with a real love of the land, it speaks of its terroir as well as its northern cousin, Burgundy. It's also something I really like and appreciate, even if I haven't really written that much about it. I suppose I was too busy drinking it to really stop and write about it.

And in case you were wondering, it's made from the Gamay grape, once called "a treacherous grape", as it is quite vigorous and can make tons of crappy wine if not cultivated carefully. It was banned from Burgundy in the 14th century, and found a new home south of that region, in the Beaujolais. And here it's made some fantastic wines that are really not appreciated by either the serious drinker or the wayward wino.

Well, recently, I had the chance to open two Bojos side by side to see how they were doing. Admittedly, it wasn't completely fair, one was 2007 and the other 2008. That extra year was really important, as I've had the 2007 and it was completely different from the 2008.

The 2008 Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorees Vieilles Vignes L'Ancien Beaujolais was the first victim. Right from the start, this smelled gorgeous of light cherries and earth, yet was completely tight and unforgiving. Things in the mouth had yet to come together. This was like looking at the sketch of a beautiful suit, handling and choosing the fabric, but not finishing the stitching job. We decanted this for several hours, and it still refused to come to the party. Smell was great, taste was just not there. The 2007 of this is absolutely fantastic, BTW.

Compared to that, the 2007 Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Cuvee Traditionelle Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes was a sex bomb on the nose and in the mouth. With a sappy, ripe smell of cherries and light fruit and plums wrapping a core of earth and smoke, you just wanted to sit there smelling it. The palate was similar with a gorgeous mouthfeel that was almost velvety and ended with some crisp minerality with a long finish. Beautiful.

OK, so it wasn't a real battle, more of a skirmish. But I really encourage folks to drop their Nouveau and try one of these. It'll change the way you think of Beaujolais. And best of all, these wines cost less than $20 each.
Cheers!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Season of Tastings

 
The Orsay room is set up

'Tis the season for tastings, and so these past few weeks I've been busy standing behind tables pouring my wines that are distributed in NYC. At T Edward's tasting Jean-Pascal Aubron's Muscadet got very good reactions, a testament to his wine-making skills. But the biggest taste test was at Orsay, where Gabriella Wines held their Fall Portfolio Tasting. I poured four wines (Chateau La Bouscade, Clos Bagatelle, Felines Jourdan and Chateau Haut-Musiel) for eight hours, standing in a low-ceilinged room while hundreds of store and restaurant wine buyers filed past, sniffing, swirling, tasting and spitting (for the most part). To say I am exhausted is putting it mildly.

 
The room fills up

But I did find some things very interesting. For one thing, many folks are upbeat about the economy, which is a plus for everyone. Rising tides and all that. For another, it was really fascinating to see how the people who choose the wines the end consumer finds on lists or shelves make their decisions.

 
K&D Wines' Buyer

Most stopped and listened, either out of politeness or interest or both, as I rattled off the information about my wines. Many seemed to enjoy learning about what they were tasting, and took the time to ask questions and probe deeper. Others shot past, gulping the wines quickly and nodding a quick thanks.

 
One of Premier Cru's wine buyers

But I found it fascinating to think that all these people would be making business decisions that would affect what ends up in the glasses of the end consumer. Just like I'd gone through thousands of wines before choosing the ones I represent, they had to taste through hundreds of bottles lined up on tables like soldiers on the march. Like me, they seek the wines that are both well-made and sellable (the two are sometimes mutually exclusive, sadly).

With so much to taste, it is easy to become overwhelmed and fall back on the standard labels. So it was nice to see how dedicated these buyers were to finding interesting wines (sometimes mine! yay!). For me, it was physically and mentally exhausting (you'd be amazed at how tiring it can get, standing and talking ad nauseum about my wines for hours on end, and I love my wineries. But it's a part of the job I love precisely because I get to talk so much about my portfolio. And folks seemed to appreciate the effort, I am happy to say.
Cheers!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Deliciously Affordable Bubbly


Well, affordable bubbly is something I am always on the lookout for. However, inexpensive Champagne is difficult to find, though it is possible. But, what about Cremants or other sparkling wines? Is it possible to find one? Well, as it turns out, yes.

-NV Jean-Francois Ganevat "La Combe" Rotalier Oh! Cremant du Jura
Well, that's a mouthful of a name, no? I have to say, however, this is quite a lovely mouthful of a wine as well. I wasn't expecting much, as I've had some pretty lousy Cremants from all over France, and I've never been a huge Cava fan, though I do like some Prosecco. Usually, I find many Cremants too sweet or rough for my taste, but this one is quite different.

First off, the nose is very floral, with lemon, green apples, and quartz/mineral accents, and it doesn't smell sweet or overworked like other Cremants. The bubbles are quite small and piquant, tickling the palate and not rough around the edges. Think Badoit mineral water as opposed to Perrier. On the palate, this wine offers similar notes, with some nutty aspects that are backed up by a very tart finish that goes on a relatively long time. I daresay if this were poured blind among some BdB Champagnes (this is 100% Chardonnay), it might hold its own or at the very least put in a good showing. Heck, at Day Two, it was still going, though the bubbles had faded but were perceptable on the tongue, and it became much more floral. Delicious with the sushi I ordered.

In other words, I really enjoyed this. It is made like traditional Champagne, by an organic winemaker named Jean-Francois Ganevat who also has very old vines on his property in the Jura. And of course, it's always a pleasure to find something this enjoyable. When you get that "A-ha" moment, there's the small thrill of victory against the seas of swill that are sold.

At a whopping $18/bottle by the case, this is quite the value.
Cheers!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Video of 2009 Harvest in Cahors

video
Vintage 2009 at Chateau de Gaudou

I am travelling on business in the great state of Texas where some of the wines I represent will be appearing soon. In fact, you will also find them throughout Mexico as well since this distributor sells into both countries (now that's pretty cool!). So I leave you with a short video offered by Chateau de Gaudou in the Cahors of their 2009 harvest (another region where the year is looking wonderful).

You will notice that they mechanically harvest their lowland vineyards, but all the hillside vines are tended to by hand. This is where the grapes for the 1733 and the Tradition come from. The flatland stuff is sold off in bulk, so don't worry, they're being careful with your babies!
Cheers!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And Away We Go: Harvest 2009

 
Ripe, plump Chardonnay grapes in the Macon

I love Burgundy, as anyone who's ever even glanced at this blog could tell you. But, and this is a big BUT, it's too damned expensive. I wish I could represent some great, unheard-of winemaker who's toiling away in the Côte d'Or, but doing so would probably violate Vinotas Selections' whole raison d'être, namely to find small, high-quality producers making wines that will retail for under $25.

However, I do carry one white Burgundy that I am really fond of, the Domaine Cathérine et Didier Tripoz. After spending some time with them last year walking their vineyards and seeing their dedication, I fell in love with them and their lands.

 
Clipping the bunches

This past week harvest 2009 started, and it's looking like a good one. In fact, the only region that seems to have had a few issues is the area east of Muscadet, which saw some hail damage. But otherwise, reports all over France are that this year will be a great one. Didier had the same thing to say about his Clos des Tournons, another shipment of which will be arriving very soon in the NYC area.

 
Climbing the VERY steep hillside vineyard

As I couldn't be there this year, I asked him to send me some pictures of the harvest. I adore seeing this, it really brings it all into focus: the hard, manual labor, the long hours toiling in the field, the amount of dedication necessary to source great grapes and make a lovely wine.

 
Emptying the bins

Sure, in many cases it would be cheaper and easier to get a mechanical picker. And some great wines are made despite having been picked by a machine. Heck, it certainly gives the winemaker more flexibility as to timing and speed. But there's something so elemental and heart-warming to harvesting by hand, knowing that someone has carefully selected these bunches before they're sent to the sorting table to be selected again. It shows dedication to the utmost levels of quality.

 
Off to the winery

But it isn't easy, and not for those with bad backs or sore feet. For most folks it's this mythical time in the vineyard. For those who do it, it's back-breaking, non-stop abusive work, with plenty of bruises and scrapes and cuts to show. But it's so worth it. If you've ever wondered what it's like, I invite you to read my post about harvesting the 2006 vintage in Burgundy, HERE.
Cheers!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sunny bubbles


It's sometimes amazing how a wine can remind you of certain sights, sounds and smells. But then again, drinking wine is not just about its taste but also about the entirety of the experience, whether its hedonistic, introspective, contextual, or all three.

So over a long and lazy Labor Day weekend in La Jolla I happened upon a bottle of NV Roger Pouillon Rose. I had had a lovely bottle of a Solera-style Champagne they make in late July at the great restaurant 11 Madison Park, so I was eager to try this producer's Rose. Afterward, I also did a little research into Roger Pouillon, where he's located and how he makes his wines. I mean, I am wine geek after all, it's what I do.

So a little information: this small domaine is located in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, just north of the small city of Epernay. While they don't practice biodynamic viticulture, they do "lutte raisonnee", or sustainable agriculture, meaning they do everything they can to ensure the health of the soils and avoid nasty chemicals.

And the wine? Well, it's like a glass of sunshine-filled flowery bubbles. The fresh taste of kir, strawberries and cherries, with some creamy notes, is something that just feels and reminds one of summer. The salmon color is lovely to behold and contemplate while sitting outside with friends. Especially now that the memory of summer is fading into the cool reality of Fall.
Cheers!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer's Bounty Part Deux: Upstate NY

 

New York is known for many things, most of them ironically being on the very edges of the state: New York City, Niagara Falls, Lake George. But what many people don't realize is how beautiful and lush the very heart of the land is. Filled with huge natural parks and tons of villages with small farms, this is a truly beautiful state.

 

Best of all, the tomatoes in some friends' garden have escaped the blight that has afflicted the crops this year. And I LOVE tomatoes. These were succulent, fresh and with that refreshing tang of good fruit.

 

These made amazing bruschetta and were great while sitting outside on a cool late summer's evening.

 

The soils are rich with the bounty of summer, such as these fresh-picked potatoes and carrots. The carrots came home to NYC with me. The potatoes didn't last long. I love potatoes too.

 

Local farms also offer great meats, such as these cuts that were quickly grilled over a hot flame.

 

Those fresh potatoes? They went into a Pommes Ana tart that was filled with earthy, buttery goodness.

 

Everything was fresh, like these colorful flowers picked only a few minutes before dinner.

 

Apples, picked that afternoon, went into a Tarte Tatin that, unsurprisingly, was full of buttery goodness too. Hmmm... see a theme here?

 

And with such a rustic, lovely countryside dinner? What would you drink? I grabbed a bottle of 2007 Foillard Morgon Clos de Py Beaujolais, a deliciously earthy yet fruity wine that smells of the French countryside. Even the cat liked it.

 

I also revisited a place that had really impressed me the first time I was in the area: Swoon Kitchenbar, in Hudson. Like my first time there, the food was amazing, the wine list imaginative and well-priced, and the welcome warm. I even got some house-made smoked bacon from Chef Jeff. For a rustic bistrot, this was pretty cool!

Sometimes, it's nice to get away for a few days.
Cheers!