Exploring area eateries by the wines they select
Bernard Bouissou in the cellar of his eponymous restaurant. Burgundy is truly his love, but his wines from America are impressive too.
Photo Xenia Gross
Ridgefield offers a variety of exquisite dining options—French, Italian, farm-to-table, and more. Of course, these classifications reflect the food. Each restaurant below has its own carefully curated selection of wine that complements the cuisine.
If you can’t find a rosé to your liking on this list, its time to switch to beer. In addition to standard-sized bottles, Bernard’s offers half bottles, magnums, three-liter, and six-liter bottles, in case you want to bathe in rosé like a Hollywood starlet. All 20 on the list are French, and all are listed with their particular appellation, a legitimizing detail that many other restaurateurs skip.
But that’s just rosé. You wanna talk obsession, let’s look at the complete list. Starting with a wine specials-of-the-month category, I sense an angel on one shoulder (“Give them what they want”—pinot noir, montepulciano) and a devil on the other (“Put on what you want”—Arizona red, Finger Lakes meritage, German kabinett). Little gems are found here, like the classic Vina Tondonia Rioja in a half-bottle or a sparkling wine from New Mexico.
The bulk is heavy on Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Rhone offerings, both red and white (hey, he’s French), with American wines coming in a distant, but impressive second. It is easy to surmise from the listings that Burgundy is his love, and French wines are his pride. But his adopted home is here, and the labels listed from the U.S. are truly amazing. Aside from that, it is hard to find a wine-producing country that does not have space on this list. I would encourage any wine lover that has a reservation at Bernard’s to go to their website and scroll through. I would say, regarding Bernard’s list, that if you can’t find it, you don’t need it.
Luc’s Café and Restaurant
What I like most of all about Herve Aussavis is that he is French—unabashedly French. Shamelessly French. From his antique French cars to the trappings of his bistro. To that end, his wine list is completely devoid of California cabernet sauvignon, Austrian Gruner Veltliner (thank God for small blessings!), Oregon pinot noir, Argentine malbec, and New Zealand sauvignon blanc. If you don’t like it, too bad.
At Luc’s you will, by default, get a new experience. Oh, your favorite grape varieties are there, all right, but in the form of Bordeaux (cabernet sauvignon), Sancerre (sauvignon blanc), Bourgogne blanc and rouge (chardonnay and pinot noir). Cabernet Franc is wrapped in a label with the Chinon appellation, Syrah and Grenache with Rhone designations. All your favorite flavors, varietals, and taste sensations are there. They just need to be pointed out.
And Herve is just the man to do it. A little hint here: If you want to make Herve smile, zero in on Burgundy. That’s his passion. The all-French list fits in perfectly with the foods offered. Rosés from the south of France and the Loire valley are perfect foils for his baguette with pate. A multi-grape-blended Cotes-du-Rhone with a pork chop has almost no hedonistic equal, unless it’s the combination of Champagne and oysters. Don’t lament the unfamiliarity of labels. Ask the source of the list’s creation and you won’t be disappointed with whatever choice you make.
Gallo is an Italian restaurant (actually owned by Italians), where passion is worn on the owner’s sleeve. Full disclosure, I am responsible for Gallo’s wine list.
Ninety percent of the offerings are Italian, with the emphasis on the most popular regions of Tuscany and Piedmont. It is a list that is in a constant state of flux, because it mirrors my excitement for new and exciting Italian wines reaching the market.
Many regions are featured, such as Campania, Sicily, Abruzzi, Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Sardinia, and others. Piedmont, with its aristocratic, Nebbiolo-fueled Barolos and Barbarescos, is not for everybody, but it has a following of avid and sometimes rabid fans. These tannic, bold, and monumental bottlings represent the most recognizable wine names from the region, but they share regional list space with delicious and less expensive bottlings of Barberas, Dolcettos, and other Piemontese.
If you are paying a sitter, a Barbera will satisfy nicely. If the sitter is your mother-in-law, go for the Barolo. As for Tuscany, I have assembled classics, such as Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, and Rosso di Montalcino. The so-called Super Tuscan category is the biggest, representing new-age bottlings that appeal to a world palate and priced at all levels.
Wine-wise, Bailey’s Backyard is quietly doing it right under the leadership of wine manager Kyle Martinez. A savvy, eclectic mixed-bag of interesting wines seems to directly reflect not only Martinez’s excitement for wine, but also the chef Zach Campion’s choices of food preparations.
For summer whites, there is a godello from Spain, a sparkling blanc de blanc from New Mexico, and a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wines like these take some dedication, because it is one thing to list them, yet quite another to sell them to customers, making Bailey’s list a testament to Martinez’s enthusiasm.
Some well-known labels are featured, but many wines are popular for a reason, which is fine as long as the quality level is consistent. One-on-one wine education is easy here, because of the restaurant’s intimate square footage. Customers should be aware that, however well chosen the wines are, the list will change often, as Martinez stumbles onto yet another bold selection.
As an overall characteristic, the wines listed are extremely food-compatible, keeping in balance their fruit to acid to body ratios nicely. These wines will integrate with food, heightening the flavors and making a memorable pairing experience.