18 November 2009

Benito Revisits Long Island with Bouké Wines

Bouké is a winery on the north fork of Long Island. I've previously written about the White and the Red blends from Bouké, and with these two wines below I round out the current lineup from this creative winery. All of them are made by Gilles Martin under the direction of founder and proprietor Lisa Donneson.

I'm fascinated by the reviews of all of the wonderful wines made on that little strip of land floating next to the Big Apple, but so few of them make their way down South. How much Tennessee whiskey is consumed in New York? Let's work out a cultural trade here, people. After all, men from Tennessee and New York volunteered to fight at The Alamo; surely we can drink together 173 years later.

Let's start off with the 2008 Bouké Rosé. $16, 12.5% abv. It's made from a blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot--you don't often see Bourdeaux blends made into pinks but the results are great in the right hands. This luscious dry rosé has elements of red apples, raspberries, just barely tart, with an earthy undertone that emerges as the wine warms up. Aside from its use as a great lunchtime wine, this would be a great Thanksgiving selection since A) it's American, from one of the original colonies, and B) it should stand up to the wide range of dishes found on the family holiday table. Personally I'd gather my most joy from drinking it with a turkey sandwich and leftovers on Black Friday while everyone else is out shopping and fighting traffic. Which leads me to this...

I found myself really craving a muffaletta* to go along with this wine, even before I'd opened it. It would be a natural pairing, with the ham, mortadella, salami, cheese, olive salad: a good rosé goes great with Mediterranean snack ingredients. And yes, it did match quite well. It was only after I started writing this review that I realized the different colored stripes on the label look just like the layers of ham, mortadella, salami, cheese, and olive salad, just a little more evenly distributed. Look at it--both the label and my sandwich have one dark red stripe, in the latter denoting the most savory of the cured pork products. In fact, looking at it days later I'm thinking about mortadella and Genoa salami, which makes me very happy indeed. (For New Yorkers: if you can't find a decent muffaletta, perhaps a not-too-lean pastrami on rye would work well. I haven't had one, but I appreciate them in theory.)

Days after emerging from my muffaletta and rosé reverie, it was time to tackle the dessert wine. The 2008 Bouquet Dessert Wine is a new offering this year. 96% Gewürztraminer, 4% Chardonnay. $36 (375mL bottle), 17% abv. It's a fortified wine boosted with a Chardonnay-derived brandy, unoaked and made following a warm and wet season on Long Island.

This has a lovely floral aroma (honeysuckle and jasmine came to mind), with balanced flavors of honey and apricot nectar, perhaps just a hint of ginger. Definitely sweet and best for small doses, but not cloying or thick. Despite the Port-like levels of alcohol, you can't really taste it. It is surprisingly light, going down smooth and easy, and I had the opportunity to serve this to a few friends with varying levels of wine experience. One couple had never had a dessert wine before, and were pleasantly delighted at this sweet treat. "I didn't know you could have wine for dessert!" one of them said. Sometimes, I replied, wine is dessert.

It's always a good idea to keep an assortment of wines on hand for any occasion, particularly as we approach the holidays: a sparkling wine, a Port or Madeira, and a half-bottle dessert wine for capping off the perfect gathering. I'd strongly recommend the Bouquet Dessert Wine for that last category.

*I've been eating these since I was a teenager, but I'm often surprised at how people in other parts of the country haven't heard of this great sandwich. The muffaletta is a New Orleans creation based on a similar Sicilian sandwich. Typically you only eat a quarter of one (as in my picture) or a half if you're starving. It's more economical to buy a whole one, but be ready to split it with a couple of friends. It's a delicious mound of salt, fat, and love.

Required FTC Disclosure: I received these wines as a sample from Bouké.


lisa said...

Benito, I just learned from my lawyer that the law in TN has changed and direct shipping is permitted. So, I'm going to apply for a permit.
I love your picture of Bouké Rosé with the muffaletta, and saw the resemblance to my label right away.
Happy Thanksgiving, Lisa

Benito said...


Glad to hear it! When you're "Tennessee legal", let me know and I'll post a note. Also, there's a blog called Wine Shipping to TN that is listing wineries as they get permits.


fredric koeppel said...

"Fat, salt and love" ... sounds like the name of a book about Southern cooking.

Benito said...


I hope I haven't scooped the title of the next Paula Deen cookbook.


Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for a most interesting blog on wines and foods such as your blog. I have been following your articles for some time now and thanks to you, I have relocated a friend of mine that I've lost track of since a few years now.

Thanks to your story on Bouké wines,
I was able to get back in contact with Gilles Martin, who before living in Long Island, is a native of a small town a few miles away from me here in the south of France.

Thank you for the great job that you're doing to inform lovers of wines & foods of all the goodies out there in the world.
Guy Buscéma,
Calvisson, France

Benito said...

Je vous en prie, Monsieur Buscéma.