MIKE RICE

is Fish & Game’s beverage director.


As I sit writing this, dreadfully late for the deadline as usual, the magnificent, fleeting fall has disappeared, swept away for another year by the punch in the face that is winter in the Hudson Valley. And, needless to say, this year the cold weather isn’t the only cause we have to drink heavily. Oh, to think there were days not too long ago when we laughed, and drank pink bubbly wine, and thought everything was going to be OK! On November 5th (or as I like to say, back in the days when things could still be fun) we hosted Peripheral natural wine fest at BackBar. It was a day filled with friends new and old and a lot of great wine. Everything isn’t ok, but I’ve been finding solace (and a nice combination of numbing powers and encouragement to fight the good fight) in the wines from these winemakers (and many more) who joined us for the first of what will surely become a great Hudson Valley natural wine tradition…

 

Château de Beru

The vineyards of Athénaïs de Béru - latest in a long line of grape growers and winemakers who have worked this land (the most famous part of which takes its name from her family - the ‘Clos Beru’) since the Middle Ages (with a brief 20th Century disruption thanks to Phylloxera) - grow from chalky, stony soils in the heart of Chablis. Since Athénaïs took over the domain, she’s converted to organic and biodynamic viticulture. The result: stunning wines that truly tell the story of the ground from which they come.

 

Fabio de Beaumont

Don Fa! Fabio is revisiting an old family recipe, making a fortified wine with a maceration of black cherry leaves. It starts with Aglianico and Barbera grown in the family’s vineyards in Irpinia. The grapes are harvested in late October and early November and after the fermentation and maceration, it rests in steel drums until the next fall. Everything that goes into the bottle comes from the vineyards and neighboring fruit farms (natural fortified wine!) - ‘Don Fa’ is gorgeous and elegant…and not yet available here (Fabio brought a little bit up to Hudson to tease us).

But soon it will be here for real! And when it is we should all get together and toast to the ethereal powers of fortified cherry leaf wine, and to brilliant women making natural wine in Chablis, and to all of the tireless winemakers and importers who give us reason to go on (and the means by which to make it through).