Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bourgogne Pinot Noir

On the search for a lighter red to drink during summer, I managed to score success with a French Pinot Noir I recently discovered. The wine is a 2010 Josephine Dubois - Bourgogne Pinot Noir and it is the color of dark Bing cherries.  Not only does it look beautiful in the glass with its rich, almost burgundy color, but it also smells delightful.  The nose of the wine has plenty of red fruits including strawberries and raspberries and it also has just a hint of chocolate.  This low tannin wine has an excellent mid-palate and is incredibly smooth.  The chocolate taste of the wine will pair beautifully with chocolate covered strawberries.  The medium body of the wine will pair with a medium bodied cheese like Gruyere or Camembert.  I would dub this Pinot Noir as slightly richer and fuller than other Pinots but it is still enjoyable on its own without food. It is a real bargain at about $9 a bottle.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Clinton Vineyards- Clinton Corners, NY

An afternoon jaunt to Clinton Corners was the perfect addition to my weekend not too long ago.  Driving to Clinton Corners is quite beautiful as the road to this vineyard meanders through the countryside, taking the happy traveler through many quaint towns and small farms.  The vineyard and tasting room itself are quite small but the staff is incredibly hospitable.

The vineyard offers a tasting of 5-6 wines for the price of $10.  Mostly this vineyard offers sweeter wines and champagnes made in the traditional methode champenoise fashion.  I was not particularly enamored with any of the champagnes as they were all incredibly sweet for my taste and lacked complexity and nuance.

The one wine I really enjoyed was the Seyval Blanc 2010.  It had a lot of fruit notes in the body, especially green apple.  It is defnitely a delicious sipping wine for a hot summer afternoon.  If you find yourself in the Clinton Corners area, pick yourself up a bottle and go enjoy on your porch!

Clifton Corners vineyard

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Brasserie 292- Poughkeepsie, NY

Some may say it is hard to find a good spot to dine in the Poughkeepsie area without traversing to Rhinebeck or heading to the outskirts of the city.  However, Brasserie 292 is one restaurant which is right on the main strip.  This little gem is tucked into a narrow building in the center of it all.  Upon entering the restaurant one feels that the old world charm of France is incredibly prominent.  The restaurant contains small, intimate tables with dainty chairs upholstered in leather.  The bar rises up formidably on the right and is a sight to behold as it scales all the way up to the ceiling.  A patron can choose to sit at the few seats at the bar or can grab one of the small tables or intimate booths scattered through the restaurant.  The atmosphere of the eatery is definitely lush as the entire space is done up in splashes of black and deep, mahogany red.  It is definitely a great environment for a quiet dinner or a romantic night out.

I journeyed here with a friend to share some good drinks and interesting food.  Each of us started with a cocktail.  I had the Hemingway No.2 which was comprised of grapefruit juice, campari, cinnamon simple syrup, and rum.  It arrived in a martini glass and was a beautiful orange hue, the color of a pink grapefruit.  The drink was well mixed, smooth and also quite strong but it was a crisp, refreshing way to start a summer dinner.  After enjoying my cocktail I progressed onto dinner.  My friend and I decided to share the pork belly and scallop entree as well as the baked Camembert plate.  When the entree arrived, it looked mouthwatering.  The two large scallops on the plate were tender and cooked perfectly.  The pork belly practically melted in my mouth and the risotto that accompied the two meats was cooked to perfection and simmering in a foie gras bordelaise.  Although rich, I felt the dish was pleasantly so, and it was delicious accompanied by the fresh bread and butter.

With my second course of Camembert cheese I drank a Niepoort Ruby Tawny Port which was divine.  It was the color of dark eggplant and smelled of rich black fruits.  The taste was sweet, pleasant and not overpowering and it had a smooth even body.  The wine had a great mid-palate and was an excellent accompaniment to the Camembert which was baked in phyllo and served with rhubarb compote.  The sweetness of the port definitely complemented the sweetness of the compote and contrasted nicely with the smooth, creamy, slightly tangy cheese.

All in all, the dinner was delicious and the entire experience was incredibly relaxing.  The fact that my friend and I lingered there for over three hours enjoying food, wine and conversation just proves this restaurant is a great spot for a relaxing dinner.  A quaint European find for sure.  And it's just around the corner for the locals!

Pork belly scallop, risotto, foie gras bordelaise
Camembert, fresh greens, rhubarb compote

Monday, June 3, 2013

Marvelous Millbrook

A relaxing day at a winery. As it turns out this is not just an activity for those lucky enough to tour the reputed valleys of California or the infamous vineyards of France, Italy, and Spain.  Oh no, happily enough, one can have their own marvelous winery experience right here in upstate New York.

To my utmost pleasure and delight I found myself at Millbrook Vineyards and Winery in Millbrook, NY this past weekend.  My friends and I decided to take a little journey into the beauty of upstate NY and tour one of the most reputable vineyards in the region.  We started our trip with a little tour of our destination.  Our tour started outside in the fields where we learned a little about how the grapes were grown, when they were harvested, and what types of grapes were local to the region.  Here, our guide imparted little notes of wisdom such as the fact that you have to trim back vines frequently to harvest plump, healthy grapes.  According to our guide, if the vines are never trimmed, all the energy of the plant goes into the leaves and roots and none into the fruit, leaving the plant barren.

From here, we journeyed into the wine cellars and were taught about everything from barrel making to battonage (the stirring of the "lees" or yeast cells in the wine).  We learned the difference between American and French oak barrels and we also learned how wine is harvested on a larger scale.  Our tour guide, who seemed altogether in his own fantasy land was prone to making jokes like "What does a Culinary student or English major learn at school?" The answer, he delivered with hysterics, was "Do you want fries with that?"  Seeing as one of my friends is an English major and I am a culinary student we both took this to be amusing and insulting simultaneously.  Later when I saw the tour guide sipping a glass of wine while pouring our tasting I somehow wasn't surprised.  He seemed happy in his own little world of wine and laughter.  I couldn't help but smile watching someone who clearly enjoyed every day at their job.

During the tasting we tried two particularly good wines.  One was the 2012 Tocai Frulano Proprietor's Special Reserve.  At $20 a bottle, this wine has aromas of grapefruit and tropical fruits and is pleasingly acidic.  The wine is definitely a palate cleanser but is crisp and inviting and definitely meant to be served with food.  The other wine was the Hunt Country white.  This blended wine smelled of honeysuckle, apricot and peach and had a fruit forward flavor with a long finish.  The tasting was accompanied by local hard crackers and some of the best olive oil I have ever tried.  The olive oil was called Villa Pillo and was an extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany, Italy.

We rounded out the day by walking sedately around the grounds, viewing some artwork in the upstairs room of the tasting center (which just happened to also be a converted barn), and watching a brilliant thunderstorm roll in.  All in all- a brilliant afternoon at a local spot.  This leads me to believe that there is one question that every resident of New York should learn to ask.  "Do you want a Millbrook wine with that?"

Villa Pillo Olive Oil and Rustic Crackers
A thunderstorm rolls in at Millbrook

The vineyard

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A very special Italian red

Last night my friends and I went out to enjoy a glass of wine and some good conversation.  We fancied upon a beautiful drinking wine called Antinori Chianti Superiore Santa Cristina 2010.  This wine is a Sangiovese blend and has a nose smelling of dark fruits including blackberries and plums.  The color is rich garnet and it looks opaque in the glass.  The wine is well balanced and light with a medium acidity and a long finish.  It definitely is a palate stimulant and it went beautiful with the French fries and garlic aioli I was enjoying with my friends.  The wine did not come on too strong but it was incredibly pleasant.  This wine sparked comments from both me and my friends that this wine created a somewhat special atmosphere.  I would equate this wine to a "romantic dinner" while my friend equated it to "fireworks".  Whichever way you view it the subtle magic in this wine is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Below, the Santa Cristina wine with the two Christinas.