Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.


Harvest Time in Virginia

Posted in: Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wine vocabulary, Wineries and Vineyards

A Visit to Breaux Vineyards

IMG_4058As I suss out my favorite Virginia wineries for Bon Vivant’s New Virginia Wine Concierge Program, I’m continually surprised.  Pre-conceived notions and even the most well-intentioned recommendations are often wrong or out of date, which is why I make it a point to visit each vineyard myself.

One of the most difficult things to find in a Virginia vineyard is a property that “checks all the boxes”. Although I aim to offer my clients tailored itineraries, sometimes you’re just on the hunt for a property that hits the Big Four:

1. Atmosphere

2. Customer service

3. Quality wine

4. Good Value

You may be wondering why I list wine third?  I’ve had more than one good glass of wine sour to vinegar on the palette if the atmosphere and customer service just aren’t there.

It can be especially hard to find this elusive combination at a property that accepts large parties. Breaux Vineyards does so graciously, in addition to offering perks like behind the scenes tours of the barrel room, tank room and vineyards, paired with a private group tasting of 8 wines for just $25!

2010 Nebbiolo

2010 Nebbiolo

Favorites from the tasting were the Equation Red Blend- a wine that drinks easily and tastes more expensive than it’s $17 price tag.

Madeleine’s Chardonnay ($24) was also lovely, with nice apple and pear fruit, a creamy and full mouthfeel from the sur lie aging process, and a crispness from the stainless steel fermentation.

The Cellar Club exclusive Nebbiolo- an Italian varietal not generally seen in Virginia- was also exquisite, a bottle of which made it back to DC.


We were lucky to visit on a harvest day, and happened upon a crew hard at work culling the Cab Franc from the vines to beat the rain- just one winemaker’s harvest nightmare! Luckily, 2013 looks to be a promising vintage for Breaux Vineyards, and much of Virginia’s wine country!


For more pictures, visit my facebook album of the visit.

Have you been to Breaux?  What was your favorite wine?


What do you look for when visiting wineries?  Have you ever had a great wine ruined by less than stellar customer service?

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We’re Expanding!

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Event Planning, New Services, Virginia Wine, Wine Concierge, Wineries and Vineyards


I’m excited to announce an expansion of services Bon Vivant will be offering to DC area clients!  We’re in close proximity to a number of Virginia wineries and vineyards, and I look forward to offering wine country concierge services.

With so many options to choose from, I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently touring Virginia wine country- sussing out the good, the bad and the ugly for myself!

One of the things that’s become increasingly apparent is that not all Virginia wine (and wineries) are created equal!  There are a number of quality vineyards that offer guests varying experiences.

The good news is, there is a vineyard out there to meet almost anything you’re looking for in an excursion- whether it’s scenery, world class wines, large group tours, behind the scenes experiences, exclusive wine pairing dinners in elegant settings, bachelorette excursions, as well as intimate and serene getaways (see my recent post on Linden Vineyards!).

With so many options to choose from, I aim to offer my clients highly tailored wine concierge services, custom designed for each client to show you some of the very best of what Virgina Wine Country has to offer- no matter what it is you’re looking for in your excursion!

Checking out the Cab Franc at Breaux Vineyards during Harvest!  2013 is looking like a promising vintage!

Checking out the Cab Franc at Breaux Vineyards during Harvest! 2013 is looking like a promising vintage!



What do you look for when visiting vineyards?


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Tried and Trues

Posted in: Tried and Trues, Wine Pairing, Wineries and Vineyards

My Desert Island Wine

As much as I encourage people to try new wines, we all have our favorites- the ones that we come back to again and again.  Occasionally, I’ll be updating the blog with reviews of some my own tried and trues, many of which you may notice popping up on the Bon Vivant DC facebook “Currently Sipping” album from time to time!

A recent interview with a vintner introduced me to the concept of a “desert island wines”- the one wine that you couldn’t live without if you lived out the rest of your days in isolation.  And so, I think it only appropriate to start this series with one of my top contenders: AN2.


This is the wine we pull out when invited to a dinner party or when we have friends over.  Or, often,  just because! I’ve never served it to anyone that didn’t love it- in fact, usually there’s a fight over the last dregs of the bottle!

From the Spanish island of Mallorca, this medium bodied red is comprised of lesser known varietals: old vine Callet, Mantonegre, Fogoneu and Syrah fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete.  It’s then aged for 13 months in a combination of French barriques and American oak.

This wine balances earthy and fruity notes in perfect harmony, resulting in an elegant wine that’s both easy drinking and nuanced. There are spicy notes, in addition to a light smokiness to balance out the bright fruit notes- most notably raspberry and cherry. Its medium body and high acidity make it intensely food friendly, and it goes well with a variety a of dishes.

We’ve paired it with everything from charcuterie, to pork, red meat, and have enjoyed more than our fair share sans food.

It’s generally priced around $25 at area retailers, and worth every penny!

What are some of your “tried and trues” that you come back to again and again?

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Top 5 White Wines for under $12

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck

Check out my picks for white wines offering the most bang for your buck and where to buy them in the DC area!


1. Clean Slate Riesling $10

This Riesling from Mosel, Germany is an immensely food friendly wine. Off-dry with flavors of stone fruit and a floral nose, this wine is balanced by great acidity. Great for pairing with spicy Latin or Asian dishes .

Find it at: De Vinos and D’Vines. Their 2 for $20 bins, pictured above, are great for stocking up on bargain picks!

2.  Ponga Sauvignon Blanc $11.99

From Marlborough, New Zealand, this wine offers incredible value. From the region most associated for producing Sauvignon Blanc with citrus and grassy notes, this crisp wine doesn’t disappoint.

Find it at: Chat’s Wine and Liquors

3. La Baron Chardonnay 11.99

For fans of oakey, buttery Chardonnay, this wine offers a phenomenal value not often found in wines from Sonoma!  The oak is balanced with apple and pear notes for a full-bodied wine sure to please any California Chard lover.

Find it at: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill

4. Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul  $7.49

A great everyday pick, this dry wine from the Southwest of France is easy drinking and great with lighter fare. We actually served this wine at our wedding!

Find it at the Alexandria, VA Total Wine

5. Gran Cardiel $11.99

This Spanish sipper from Rueda, Spain is a blend of 50% Viura and 50% Verdejo.  Crisp and medium bodied, it boasts excellent acidity and notes of apple and pear.                                                                                                     

Find it at: Georgetown Wine & Spirits

What are your favorite bargain wine buys?

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Pairing wine with Asian Cuisine

Posted in: Restaurant Reviews, Wine Pairing

 Little Serow: Worth the hype!

image courtesy of Katherine Frey, Washington Post

image courtesy of Katherine Frey, Washington Post

Little Serow has become something of a right of passage for DC foodies.  The no reservations policy means diners line up down the block for the privilege of eating at the family style restaurant specializing in Northeastern Thai cuisine.  Last week we were lucky to land the last seat in the house.

After our wait outside, we were ready for something cool and refreshing, and promptly ordered the Punkt sparkling Grüner Vetliner. Crisp and acidic, the bubbly hit the spot.

Asian cuisine is notoriously difficult when it comes wine pairing.  The umami flavors and spice notes prompt many diners to stick to beer.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting and appropriate wine list, spearheaded by beverage director Bill Jensen.

When pairing wine with Asian food, I like to stick with a high acid, fruit forward, slightly sweeter wine.  Off dry and aromatic varietals such as Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Riesling are good picks to stand up to the spicy and strong flavor profiles.

The waitress’ suggestion of the Diel Riesling was spot on and paired perfectly with the food.  The bouquet exhibited notes of wet slate and minerality. The palette was an explosion of stone fruit, balanced by exceptional acid and just the right level of residual sugar balancing out the heat of the dishes. It was the best of what good Riesling- and a proper pairing- can offer.

I would’ve been content to order a second bottle of the Diel, but wanting to explore more of the wine list, we went with the heavier Grasparossa di Castlevelio Lambrusco.  This slightly sweet effervescent red from Italy stood up well to the strong flavors of the meal.  The finish was overwhelmingly malty- a distinct nod to a dark Belgian ale.

Little Serow isn’t for picky eaters.  There is a set menu each week, and a no substitution policy. The staff is easy-going, and extremely knowledgeable about both the food and beverage programs- a plus for a cuisine that features items many are unfamiliar with.

All four diners had a different favorite from the barrage of dishes, but not one plate left the table unfinished. The naem khao tod and the bowl of pork rinds on the table took me right back to a recent trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand in the tastiest of ways!

Our table’s only quip with the food or service was the slightly rushed pacing of the menu- perhaps a necessary evil of the strict 2 seating policy, but our experience certainly lived up to the hype!

This is the menu from last week:

nam prik narohk

salted fish / tamarind / khi nu chilies


som tum khao pod
corn / snake bean / bla rah


ma hor
sour fruit / dried shrimp / palm sugar


                               gai laap chiang mai                                   
chicken liver / sawtooth / long pepper


naem khao tod
crispy rice / sour pork / peanuts


het grapao
mushrooms / holy basil / egg


si krong muu
pork ribs / mekhong whiskey / dill



Do you ever pair wine with Asian food?  Have you braved the lines and eaten at Little Serow?


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