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The Convivial Table gets down and dirty
Sears Succulent Duck

By Josyane Colwell

Growing up in Nice in the south of the France, one of my fondest memories was vacationing in the “back country”– l’arrière-pays. On the weekends in mid-summer, the families with all their kids would pack into the cars and drive up north, just for fun. There, we would pick buckets full of the black currants that grew wild in the woodlands. We would take them back to the house to make jams, syrups and use them in our crépes, with yogurt and of course, with freshly-baked croissants. As I got older, I learned to enjoy the black currants in another form – Cassis! A Kir, or on special nights, a Kir Royale – made by filling a glass first with the Cassis, then topping it with white wine or Champagne – was a drink I enjoyed often.

So imagine my surprise to learn that black currants grow right here in the Hudson Valley, and Cassis is being made here too! With currants, as with grapes, you can taste the distinct terroir, so I was curious and anxious to taste some from the Hudson Valley. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the similarities, and the differences, between the styles.

French Créme de Cassis is typically a bit denser, thicker and sweeter than some of those I’ve tried here – perhaps because the berries get to linger in the sun a little longer in France. The fruit is more concentrated and the aroma very pungent. Like the Dijon countryside, it is rustic yet refined, with only 14 to 15% alcohol by volume.

Of the few Hudson Valley Cassis’ I’ve tried, when I opened Warwick Valley’s American Fruits Black Current Cordial there was an immediate emotional connection. The aroma reminded me of the hills and mountains where I picked the wild berries as a child. It is highlyfruited, with an earthy nose that reflects the maturity of the berries. I was intrigued by its part rustic, part “American rebel”style, with 18% alcohol.

So I decided to create a dish with duck to complement the robust, bold flavors of this cordial, and combined the liqueur with blueberries (another favorite fruit of mine, but more on that at another time) to glaze the sizzling meat. Try it with other Cassis made in the Hudson Valley too. Bon appetit!

Hudson Valley Wine magazine Summer 2014 issue

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