Toasting Tousey Wines

toussey wine






Over the years I’ve heard a lot of women lament the glass ceilings in the food business. When I was younger, I very clearly remember saying to a trusted female mentor, now friend, “What ceiling?” She said, “You’ll figure it out. ….”

Sure have, but I’m far more interested in celebrating women in the food and wine field who make it happen and make a difference in a tough line of work. Kimberly Tousey of Tousey Winery is an obvious example; she is a force to be reckoned with.

Kimberly astounds me with her energy, passion, and extraordinary ability to multitask. Do not even think about telling her something is “not possible.” (She’s really hard to say ‘no’ to as well!) With complete confidence in her products, incredible sales skills, and sheer energy, Kimberly wills things to happen. She manages all of this with 2, 4 and 6-year-old children, and she’s always quick to point out the very different yet complementary roles that she and her husband, Ben Peacock, play in the ever-growing New York State wine business they took over and developed from Kimberly’s father Ray nearly a decade ago.

Kimberly describes herself as the practical extrovert, sound businesswoman, and endless promoter of their edgy and modern European style wines. She describes Ben as the “rock star” who produces their products and dreams big.  Kimberly says it is Ben’s management of the vineyard and exceptional palate that results in their award-winning wines. She manages the staff, education programs, promotion and sales, and so much more. Knowing both of them, there’s a lot of gray area too–they work as a team to produce and distribute top-notch wines, and educate people from near and far about their craft and products, and special Hudson Valley foods to enjoy them with.

Together Kimberly and Ben have put together a collection of 10 wines using 85% of their own grapes (most are single vintage), the remainder from treasured vines of NYS friends and colleagues. Kimberly and Ben are busting out of their space for both grape growing and their tasting room at Blue Roof in Clermont. Last year their exceptional Rosé sold out in 6 weeks.

While they look forward to growing their business, at the same time they ask themselves the same questions that many small-to-mid-size businesses ask– how much do I want to scale up, and what will the implications be, both to the quality of my product and my life?

In late 2013, Ben was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a battle that has only made him and Kimberly and their winery stronger. After a year of treatment, Ben is doing well and regaining strength. During this time, Kimberly was forced to understand that even the most driven and energetic person can’t “do it all.” So together they made decisions that are still positively impacting their business today.

One was bringing Matt Spaccanelli on board as vineyard manager. They also added a trusted bookkeeper and other support staff. Kimberly clearly recognizes her many skills and these decisions better allow her  to focus on them as well her lovely family, delegating what just becomes too much.

She also credits the local community for assisting with medical bills and lifting their spirits when Ben was sick. Coming from self-sufficient European backgrounds (Kimberly Danish and Ben British), “charity” seemed awkward to accept at first. But both Kimberly and Ben express enormous gratitude for the outpouring of well wishes and contributions, including Friends Helping Friends, that helped them during one of life’s great challenges. (Friends Helping Friends is an annual community fundraiser started and sponsored by CJ’s Italian Restaurant in Rhinebeck.)

Kimberly credits many people for the growth and success of Tousey Winery. Among them are Chris Kanienberg, a Delaware-based painter and sculptor, who “got us and helped curate our brand;” and Peter Bell, a renowned winemaker and Ben’s mentor.  As they make their final bottling decisions for each of their 10 wines, it comes down to three glasses. Side by side Kimberly, Ben, and Peter taste and get in sync with the profiles and characteristics of each–from there the fun begins!

Whenever I meet a strong and driven woman like Kimberly, younger or older, I quickly suss out whether they want a spiritual partnership, industry soul-sister, so to speak, or a mentor. I’m always eager to be a part of any of these relationships that often, too, result in amazing friendships.  I KNOW, if we’d all stick together a little better, the whole landscape would be a heck of a lot easier, and tastier!

Laura Pensiero, a registered dietician, is founder and creative force behind Gigi Hudson Valley, which operates the award-winning Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck and a catering business. She is author of Hudson Valley Mediterranean cookbook.

The Tousey Wine List

The Queen of Clermont (white wine blend, with a hint of sweetness)
Dry Riesling

The Riot (A red blend with red berries on the nose and easy-going palate; ‘A  fun and riotous wine for all occasions.’)
Killer Red (A soft, dark, and silky 100% Merlot)
Cabernet Franc
Pinot Noir

Crème de Cassis: From a blend of 4 varieties of currants grown on the estate, along with father Ray’s honey, this lovely cassis can be added to sparkling wine or cocktails, drizzled over ice cream or gelato, blended into marinades and vinaigrettes, or simply enjoyed on its own.

Local cheeses to pair with Tousey wines:

Coach Farm:
Sprout Creek Farm:
Nettle Meadow:
Dancing Ewe:
Old Chatham Sheepherding:
Amazing Real Live Food Company:
Twin Maple Farms:

The beautiful Tousey grounds and Blue Roof Tasting Room are located on Route 9 in Clermont.

Mailing address is 1774 Rte 9 #1, Germantown, NY 12526; 518 567-5462

Summer’s Rosé

Spring is here and so is the newest addition to the Gigi Wine List: La Grand Piece Rosé!  We are delighted to have this delicious rosé from Provence to offer to our valued customers by the glass and by the bottle.  It is the perfect wine for the warm weather that is finally touching the Hudson Valley.

La Grand Piece Rosé produced by Chateau La Coste a picturesque winery just north of Aix-en-Provence.  This 250 acre vineyard adheres to biodynamic principles, striving to preserve terroir, protect fertility and safeguard the essence of the soil.  At Chateau La Coste, they believe that this newest technology brings life to the old wine making traditions while ensuring the quality of the wine.  The result is a truly exceptional rosé. chateau la coste 2

No hard work goes without recognition and just sipping a glass of the La Grand Piece Rosé will show the effort and detail put into this wine making process.  This 2012 rosé is a blend of 75% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 5% Cinsault.  The nose is full of red berries and with a bit of floral notes.  La Grand Piece has an unquestionable crispness that makes it wonderfully refreshing.  Hints of strawberries and citrus leave your palate rejuvenated.  Drink this rosé with grilled vegetables, cheeses and light fish dishes.  We recommend enjoying a glass of this rosé with our Salmone with hearts of palm and fennel. rose photo 2

Not only are we excited to be basking in the warmth of spring at Gigi Trattoria but we thrilled it is rosé season again!  And what better way to celebrate spring then with Wine Wednesday at Gigi Trattoria.  La Grand Piece Rosé and all bottled wines are 30% off!  But at only $10 a glass and $30 a bottle, this rosé is a steal any day.  Come join us on the Gigi Patio and sip a little bit of Provence.

To learn more about this Rose click here or here.

Wine Wednesday – Zizzolo

What can be more festive than a ruby red wine?  From a 10 year old vineyard near the foothills of Castagneto Carducci in the region of Tuscany comes one of our new favorite reds on the Gigi Wine List.  Zizzolo from Bolgheri Wine Road is a beautiful blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Acquiring this outstanding Tuscan red has added some cheer to our holiday season and we are truly excited to present it to you.

What is so surprising about Zizzolo is that despite its DOC regulation, like many Bolgheri reds, it is considered nothing more than a table wine.  Bolgheri was barely on the wine map until 1974 when a six year old Sassiacia defeated an assortment of Bordeaux wines in a competition.  In 1983 the DOC was established here for whites and rosés.  Not until 1994 did Bolheri reds get recognized as DOCs.  And boy did they deserve the recognition!

Zizzolo falls under the DOC Bolgheri Rosso because it is made of 60% Merlot and 30% Cabernet.  The grapes macerate for 12 days using only natural yeast.  It is aged in barriques, or barrels and then again in the bottle for 12 months.  The result is an exquisite ruby-red color.  Zizzolo has round tannins and notes of fresh fruit especially darker berries.  And what may be the best feature of Zizzolo is that it pairs well with just about anything.  From our Pork Scalloppine to the Bigoli Col’Anitra with braised Hudson Valley duck & Wiltbank Farm oyster and shitake mushrooms, this wine can be enjoyed with many of our Trattoria specialties.  It is even wonderful on its own.

What makes Zizzolo so special is that there are only about 1,800 cases produced a year!  Here at Gigi Trattoria, we are grateful to have such an amazing wine at such an affordable price.  For only $45 Zizzolo is our holiday gift to you.  And if you come on Wine Wednesday, all of our wines are 30% off!  Happy Holidays from our bottle to your glass!

Want to learn more about Zizzolo, click here. To learn more about Bolgheri click here or here.

Wine Wednesday – Müller Thurgau

With the holidays right around the corner, Gigi Trattoria has a real gift for you. One of our best white wines is now on our glass list! The Müller Thurgau from Muri Gries is really a stellar wine. From Trentino Alto-Adige right near the Austrian border, this light to medium bodied wine is cultivated 500 meters above sea level. The vines are planted on calcareous till facing east-south and some are up to 30 years old. But the grape itself is much older.

Müller Thurgau is a variety of white grape created by Herman Müller in 1882. It is a cross between a Riesling with Madeleine Royale and is used to produce wines in many countries including Germany, Austria, the United States and of course, Northern Italy. It is considered one of the most widely planted grapes of the “new breed” variety.

The Muri Gries Müller Thurgau definitely makes the top of the list of wines produced with the Müller Thurgau grape. It has a delightful minerality with hints of flowers and citrus fruit. It has a young freshness that makes it beautiful as an aperitif or paired well with appetizers, fish and even lighter meat dishes. We recommend it with our mussels. Our mussels are from Prince Edward Island and most often served steamed in a broth of wine, garlic, red onions and tomato with just a hint of spice. The crispness and earthiness of the Müller Thurgau compliment the mussels while also refreshing the palate.

No matter what it is paired with, the Müller Thurgau from Muri Gries is a wine you cannot miss. It will only be on our glass list for a short period of time so hurry in to sample it. We will bet that you will be buying it by the bottle by your next visit.  If you come on a Wednesday, the Müller Thurgau and all of our bottle wines are 30% off.  And since it is the holidays and we are in a giving mood, a bottle is just $37 and a glass is $12.  Cheers!

Learn more about Müller Thurgau here and here.

Wine Weekly – Le Bourcier Macon Chardonnay

It has always seemed that there are chardonnay drinkers and then there are the non-chardonnay drinkers. That was until the Le Bourcier Macon Chardonnay. This wine seems to be loved by both the die-hards and the non-believers.

The Le Bourcier Macon has been on the wine list at Gigi Trattoria for some time now. We tried to take it off once and customers were more than upset. So we always have this delicious wine on our glass and bottle list.  What makes this particular chardonnay so pleasing to many is the fact that it is just about full bodied yet un-oaked. This 100% chardonnay is aged in stainless steel making it approachable for non-chardonnay drinkers. But with flavors of stone fruit, hints of minerality and a long lasting finish, it even appeals to avid chardonnay drinkers.

This special cuvee, or batch, is made by Jean-Luc Terrier and Christian Collovray of Domaine des Deux Roches. It is blended from a selection of the northernmost vineyards in the Macon appellation which is a part of the Burgundy region. Many say this wonderfully affordable wine drinks similar to a Cote d’Or. It pairs well with cheese, fish and chicken.  We recommend it with many of the new fall menu items. The citrus aspect of the Le Bourcier pairs nicely with our Pollo dish which is Northwind Farm Chicken brined in Montgomery Place Apple Cider and served with a Brussel Sprout Hash. It is also lovely with the Zucca Skizza topped with Delicata squash “pesto,” Coach Farm Fig Goat Cheese and coppa.

Pollo cooked by Chef Wilson with a glass of Le Bourcier Macon.

Whether you consider yourself a chardonnay drinker or not, you must come by and try the Le Bourcier Macon Chardonnay. And if you are already a fan, try it with one of the fall menu items. Either way we guarantee that at $10 a glass or $30 a bottle you won’t be disappointed. Stop in tomorrow or any Wednesday night and all our bottle wines are 30% off!  Now that will make a chardonnay drinker out of anyone.

Wine Weekly – Côté Est Catlan

At Gigi Trattoria we are always changing our wine list. With that said, there is one wine that is not only a crowd-pleaser but also a staff favorite.The Lafage Côté Est Catalan is a lovely blend from the Roussillon region of France. This 50% Grenache, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Marsanne is perfect for summer. The crisp and aromatic blend of wine expresses notes of citrus, white flowers and light minerals.

The young Jean-Marc Lafage has found a way to produce beautiful blends of wine. Though only in his thirties, he has almost 15 years of experience creating juicy and flavorful wines on his 200 hectares of land overlooking the Pyrenees of France and Spain.

Côté Est Catalan & a Bianca Skizza

This wine is best enjoyed chilled (especially on the Gigi patio.)  It pairs well with our mussels, Pollo con Tostone, Barbina salad, most fish specials, and our personal favorite, the Bianca Skizza.  It is also refreshing and delightful on its own and would be a perfect picnic accompaniment. Sold for $9  by the glass and $27 by the bottle, you must try out this gem of the Roussillon region next time you are in Gigi Trattoria. And if you happen to be dining with us on a Wednesday, a bottle of Côté Est Catalan or any of our bottle wines are 30% off!

Chin chin!