A perfect summer evening in Central Park

Cerdon du Bugey:

Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” 8.0 alcohol, $17.99

Lingot Martin, 8.0 alcohol, $21.99

Renardat-Fache, 7.5 alcohol $16.99


Ancho Deviled Eggs

French radishes with butter and sea salt

Green bean salad with fennel, cherry tomatos, black olives , red onion

Selection of cheeses from Fairway Selection of salumi from Salumaria Rosi

“Strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring, my summerwine is really made from all these things…….take off those silver spurs and help me pass the time, and I will give to you summer wine.” Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood, Summer Wine

Carlita: ……….ohhh, oh summer wine.  Ahh,  the seductive pleasures of the perfect wine that screams summer.  A light, clean, refreshing quencher for those hot summer nights.    Usually picnic season in New York City is over by early summer but this year we’ve had seemingly constant torrential rains… except for the day of our vinartculture picnic! After picking up some goodies at Salumeria Rosi, we headed over to Central park and found a picnic table in the Pinetum, between the stables and ball fields.   After one of the first truly hot days of summer, the night turned ideal for dining al fresco with a perfect breeze, great company and temperatures in the lower 70’s.

Bugey bottles Our summer wine of choice? Cerdon du Bugey, a semi dry pink sparkling rose made from Gamay and Poulsard with natural fermentation.  This is a strawberry soda of a sparkler, revered by wine geeks, coveted by underage wine stock boys, unpretentious yet sophisticated (it is French after all) and fun!  Bugey is a tiny region between the Savoie and the Jura.  I can only imagine the people living a hard scrabble life in the French alps, then ending their day with a fruity refreshing glass of Cerdon du Bugey.   This is the land of fondue, wild strawberries, chartreuse, cured meats, brook trout and I’m sure a few ski resorts nearby.

Gastronomeg introduced me to Cerdon Bugey several years ago when we were up at her old house in the Hudson Valley.  We arrived in time for lunch, fired up the grill, popped the Bugey, threw on the steaks and made a big salad while surveying her incredible yard and garden.  Gastronomeg was on the crest of a new wine wave then — not that Cerdon du Bugey is new, but there was little imported until a few years ago.  I’m just now starting to see it on more restaurant wine lists and more variety in wine shops.

In the past I’ve used Bugey as a dessert wine, and especially like it with my strawberry shortcake as it is not too sweet and the strawberry notes in the wine play off the shortcake.  But it pairs well with American picnic fare: smoky, salty or spicy flavors, fried or bbq chicken, potato salad etc.  You could also pair Bugey with the sweet, salty, spicy flavors of Chinese or Thai food….  We decided to go a more traditional route, pairing with cured meats.  So we headed to Salumeria Rosi (convenienty close to Central Park!) to pick up some of their incredible Porchetta Toscana, Finocchinona, andSalumeria RosiSoppressata.  I can’t get enough of this place; if you haven’t been, go immediately!  For a side dish, since the green beans have been amazing this year, I made a bean salad with wax, green and broad beans, baby fennel, cherry tomatoes, black olives and red onion. I made a simple Dijon vinaigrette with red wine vinegar , olive oil and 3 T. mustard.  Every picnic needs deviled eggs and the smoky, spicy flavors played beautifully off the Bugey.

eggs Ancho Deviled Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs

3 T ancho mayo

3 T half and half

3 scallions thin slice

S & P Paprika, chives as garnish

Put the yolks from the eggs in a bowl and mash with mayo and ½ and ½ until smooth.  Add more cream if necessary to get the right consistency.  Add scallions and put back into egg whites and garnish with paprika and chopped chives.  To make the ancho mayo, re-constitute a package of ancho chilis, food process with one jar of mayo (or make your own if you’re up for it). This is also great on cubano sandwiches.

Here are Gastronomeg’s notes on the wines: Table Gastronomeg: The first Cerdon de Bugey I tasted was the Renardat-Fache, imported by Joe Dressner. This was about 5 years ago; I was working for Polaner (Joe’s NY distributor) at the time, and we all called the Renardat-Fache “pink happiness in a bottle.” I immediately fell in love with this natural, deliciously off-dry, totally down-to-earth wine. Rather than undergoing two fermentations (as with champagne), Cerdon de Bugey is simply bottled before it is totally finished fermenting. It does the final part of its fermentation in the bottle, resulting a lighter sparkle than in “methode traditionelle” bottlings and also a wonderful, slightly volatile, just-made grapey quality (which reminded me of drinking the still-fermenting “Neuer Wein” in Germany during harvest festivals.) Cerdon de Bugey is as close as you can get to drinking fresh wine directly from your neighbor’s cellar.


The Renardat-Fache had, at the time, a small but devoted wine-geek following. But then Bugey started catching on, and another friend introduced me to the Bottex “La Cuielle,” a new import at the time for Kermit Lynch. A group of us managed to polish off at least 6 bottles while sitting on his lovely Park Slope back terrace  one perfect summer night…. “Soda pop for grownups,” we called it.

Then two years ago, on a trip to Paris, I noticed that Cerdon de Bugey (and specifically the Renardat-Fache) had suddenly become all the rage, at least among the natural-wine-conscious, hip ‘gastronomique’ bistros that I was in pursuit of. My then-boyfriend (now husband! Soon to be father of our child!) and I sipped several glasses as an apertif over several romantic days –  the existence of the Renardat-Fache on a wine list became our  validation that indeed this was a restaurant worth dining in. We had it at Le Comptoir, Le Repaire de Cartouche, Le Villaret… All impeccable Parisian addresses on the bistro scene!

Salumaria Rosi goodies

Now I’d say that, while it is still far from mainstream, the existence of Cerdon de Bugey is a similar mark of the seriousness of a wine store, at least in New York. If they have it, this is a store where someone knows that one of the secrets to truly enjoying life is not being afraid to drink something pink and a little off dry (as long as it is naturally made, and so delicious!).

This was the first time I’d tasted all three Cerdon de Bugey wines that I know to be imported in New York at the same occasion. The Lingot-Martin is certainly the driest of the bunch. It’s probably the easiest to pair with food (or to serve to those skeptical of the bubbly and pink)  for that reason.  I loved it with the cured meats at our picnic. The Bottex, always a favorite of mine, got a little bit of a thumbs-down from the group for having a nose that slightly smelled of bananas. To me, it smelled more like cherry and certain notes of primary fermentation (a tad bit of acetone, if you know what I mean, but not in a bad way)… I’m sure in isolation it would have been sucked back with no complaints, but we were being picky since we had the easy ability to compare. The Renardat-Fache, rustic bottle that it is, was the sweetest and the most yeasty of the three. Being that it is an old friend of mine, I have no criticism to offer of it at all…. This is a wine that is made to quaff, not to analyse!

On a last, personal note, we were so glad to be able to join in on this Bugey picnic. It was our last weekend in New York before leaving permanently for our new Vermont  home, and we just happened to be on the Upper West Side at precisely the right time of day to meet up with the gang. The day had been sultry, but the evening turned lovely. It was great to sit in Central Park — site of a few memorable picnics over the last nine years, and where I have logged countless running miles in training for long-distance races – one last time, enjoying perfect picnic fare, tasting perfect summer wines, and enjoying a leisurely, easy, yet sophisticated time with friends. As much as we love our beautiful new home, we’ll miss such rare  and serendipitous New York happenings! But as soon as we figure out where to buy Cerdon de Bugey in Southern Vermont, we’ll raise a glass in celebration and thanks for its delicious simplicity.

summer sky
“I walked in town on silver spurs that jingled to
A song that I had only sang to just a few
She saw my silver spurs and said lets pass some time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine” Lee Hazelwood, Summerwine