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About this Episode

Certified sommelier Michaela Quinlan and Robert Tas visit Bernards in Connecticut where they review the wine list and find a stellar noble rot wine from Hungary, a hidden gem from the Bourdeaux region, and a delicious Chenin blanc from the Loire valley that pairs beautifully with pairing for salmon, tuna, and soft cheeses at an exceptionally good price. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2011 Chateau Montus Tannat, Madiran
  • 2020 Andre Brunell “LesCailloux” Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc
  • 2016 El Encinal Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero
Transcript: Bernards


RT: Hello and welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where, in each episode, we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Michaela Quinlan, certified sommelier.

Hello Michaela, it’s great to be back together for another episode.

MQ: Hi Robert!

RT: Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules.

We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list.

RT: Today we are talking about Bernard’s in Ridgefield, CT. Bernard’s offers something for everyone, from fine dining at Bernard’s, to a more casual atmosphere upstairs at Sarah’s Wine Bar, both featuring seasonal ingredients with local, organic, meats and cheeses.

Michaela, I can’t wait to hear what do you think of their wine list?

MQ: This is a wonderfully diverse list featuring old-world, and new-world favorites, along with specials of the month. I can’t wait to get started.

RT: That’s really great, as you looked at the list did you see anything jump out at you?

MQ: Let’s begin with the 2020 Clement Sauvignon Blanc from Menetou Salon. Menetou Salon is a village in the eastern end of the Loire Valley in France. Classic Sauvignon Blanc with bright acidity, with grapefruit, pear, citrus notes, and a mineral finish. A wonderful pairing for shellfish, cheeses, and spicy dishes.

RT: That is for sure unique. Did you find any others that caught your eye right away?

MQ: I always enjoy reviewing Spanish selections in shops and on menus. I find they are some of the great quality meets value wines. One that caught my eye was the 2016 El Encinal Tempranillo, from Ribera del Duero. This red wine features ripe blackberries, black cherries, with notes of smoke and earth on the finish. A wonderful consideration to pair with any proteins on the menu.

RT: So, Michaela, their list seems to have lots of range but was there anything that you would say is a “must-try”?

MQ: A must-try would be the 2020 Andre Brunell “LesCailloux” Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc. Yes, the same Chateauneuf du Pape of the Southern Rhone that produces beautiful Grenache and Syrah blends, also offers a stellar white blend from the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc grape varietals. This unoaked white wine offers plenty of body with bright acidity, citrus, melon and pear. Another wonderful pairing for salmon, tuna, and duck.

RT: These are some great calls. So, you know I’m getting thirsty and will need to order a bottle with my dinner, where would you guide us?

MQ: Another unique, must-try that would pair beautifully with Bernard’s menu would be the 2011 Chateau Montus Tannat, from Madiran in Southwest France. Tannat is a red grape varietal that features blackberries, cassis, nutmeg, and earth. This is a wonderful consideration if you are eyeing anything with a rich sauce, or grilled vegetables.

RT: Ooh, Terrific. Michaela, speaking of price, sometimes people have a budget in mind.  any other great value wines you’d point us to? 

MQ: 2016 Domaine des Beaumard Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Chenin Blanc is a wonderful, white grape that features pear, melon, peach, and green apple. This is a beautiful, light bodied white wine with bright acidity and a mineral finish, and makes a perfect pairing for salmon, tuna, and soft cheeses.

RT: That sounds great. Any other great values out there?

MQ: Absolutely! Another consideration would be the 2006 Chateau Haut Bergey Rouge, from Graves. Graves is located within Bordeaux and produces beautifully mineral Sauvignon Blanc. However, this red blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon features black currants, leather, smoke, and herbs with smooth tannins to pair with all proteins on the menu. Another hidden gem at an excellent price.

RT: Now Michaela, what if I have a big client dinner or special occasion where I want to take it up a notch?

 MQ: I am one to turn to full-bodied red wines when we are discussing taking things up a notch. While there are many, worthy contenders, I happened upon a dessert wine on Bernard’s menu that is worth mentioning.

If you are looking to continue your evening with great company and conversation, a classic dessert wine to consider would be the 2010 Disznoko Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos from Hungary, a blend of grapes of noble rot that spend a minimum of 18 month in oak. This aromatic dessert wine features aromas and flavors of dried apricot, honey, and orange.

There are levels of sweetness, or Puttonyos from 3 to 6, that note the residual sugar added to the wine. While quite sweet, this wine also features balanced acidity. Pair this wine with some blue cheese and you could linger for hours.

RT: Michaela, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Bernard’s wine list. I can’t wait to go try them myself. 

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to:Info@CorkRules.com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. 

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.

Thank you.








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