Bouké Wines of North Fork – Long Island

Bouke Wines

lisa-donnesonLisa Donneson, having gained her Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma in 2006, set up Bouké wine to promote the wines of Long Island NY. Yes you have it correct – Long Island (NY) wines, – from internationally known vitis vinifera grape varieties. In French terms Lisa became a négotiant – éleveur (a person who buys grapes, – it could be wines, but not in her  case -, for the purpose of making and selling wines under her own name) With many of the French major red and white vine varieties represented (as they are grown commercially in the area around Long Island), what better name for her company than a play on the French word ‘Bouquet’ for the name of her company.

The wine making expertise comes from Giles Martin (no relation to yours truly) who hails from the Rhône Valley in France and honed his expertise with the likes of Roederer and Delas Frères. Together they select the grapes from the local growers and then produce some excellent quality wines.

Due to the complexity (and I put it mildly) of the US state and national wine laws, most of the wines are sold within New York and New York State, although some representation has been negotiated with merchants outside of this region.

Promotion and advertising of her wines is mainly through hotels, restaurants, and specialist functions – often allied to the fashion industry. Full details of these events can be found on her website (

nicole-and-christia-tasting-bouke-red-seot-2009I only wish that I had the opportunity to attend some of these promotions, especially those that are food related. That is not possible as I live in a small village situated in the Hautes Alpes region of France. Lisa and I go back in time to her study days when I was given the task of marking some of her ‘dummy’ essays from past WSET Diploma papers. It was obvious from the research she made before going into print with her essays that it was only a matter of time before she became fully involved with wine. Her strength of character was also indicative of ‘going it alone’ rather than be involved in some multi-national operation.

It is these ‘boutique’ operations that keep variety, quality, and variation in this wonderful world of wine and for those of us that enjoy, without wine snobbery entering the lists, long may it continue. Personally I try to avoid branded wines, produced at a price point, and launched through every major supermarket group.

Tasting Notes on Bouké wines
There are 4 wines currently in the range – a red, a rosé, a white and a white dessert wine that is fortified. By keeping the individual wine varieties separate, the blender can adjust them to suit not only the style of the wine but also the variations in the growing conditions from year to year. It is here that the true ‘art’ of the wine maker comes into its own.

Bouké – White –  2007 – Carefully selected grapes, well blended produce this excellent wine (What a change from just another Chardonnay). The make up here is Chardonnay (of course) but with substantial contributions from Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and to give a hint of spiciness, 7% Gewurztraminer. Faintly aromatic, crisp and well balanced, make this wine  the perfect aperitif. It will also match with poultry and fish dishes, provided the latter is not too bland.

bajun-mutton-curry-sept-2009Bouké Red – 2007 – A blend of the Bordeaux grape varieties with the addition of 15% Syrah. The latter adds depth to the colour and a hint of spiciness and liquorice to the taste. Using the produce of vines around 15 years of age ensures that there is a maturity in the wine from the onset. Full bodied, around 13% by volume alcohol, makes it a perfect marriage with full bodied red meat dishes, and venison. I accompanied it with a mutton, fruit curry with Caribbean vegetables – the recipe based on a traditional goat meat and fruit curry from Barbados (see photo) was accompanied by okra, plantain, sweet potato mash and Basmatti rice.

Bouké Rosé – 2008 – With the huge revival in the popularity of rosé wine, production of such a wine has become a necessity rather than a fad. Bouké rosé combines both accepted methods of producing ‘pink’ wines – purpose made – short term skin contact and the ‘saignée’ (bleeding) method that is so popular in France. (Taking away some of the juice at an early stage allows more colour to develop for the red wines).
Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – the major constituents of the Bordeaux blend – , Bouké rosé is salmon pink in colour, with soft summer berry fruits on both nose and in the taste. It is an ideal aperitif, but also pairs well with barbecued fish and chicken, crab or fish cakes and the lighter styles of cheese.

Bouquet Dessert Wine – NV
– 17% by vol alc – (37.5cl bottles) – This is a true bit of innovation. Using Gewurztraminer, mellowed with a small percentage of Chardonnay, fortifying the wine to stop the fermentation (Port style) with chardonnay based grape spirit, the result is a delightfully sweet, spicy wine that still retains a crisp acidity (one advantage of the cool temperatures of Long Island).

Ideally, this is a wine to accompany the ‘petits fours’ at the end of the meal, but try it with ‘fois gras’ (if you like it and can get it!)

If you are around the New York area contact Lisa for her list of up and coming events, or ask for your nearest stockist. Failing that, contact Bouké Wines on their website. ( or email  –

Grahame Martin AIWS
October 2009 ©

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