Simply stated, I love eating outside. Whether it’s on the patio of my favorite restaurant (cue the ivy covered brick walls), on the deck at home, or at The Perfect Picnic Spot, all I need is delicious food, an amazing bottle (or two) of wine, and sunshine. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to have a theme around which an al fresco moment can be arranged and on July 14, I’m celebrating Bastille Day with a traditional picnic (or pique-nique). My well-stocked basket will include plenty of red, white, and blue accoutrements, a few tasty baguette sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheeses, macarons, and two bottles of memorable wines from Beaujolais. Vive la France!

Ever since I was in France this past spring, I’ve been obsessed with a baguette sandwich I picked up at a local patisserie in Angers. Thick slices of blue cheese and crisp apple over fresh spinach leaves on a soft baguette spread with a thin layer of Dijon mustard combined for a flavor sensation like no other. Who cares about the calories? I certainly didn’t! My taste buds exploded with delight as I ate that savory sandwich on a park bench situated in the shadows of the Chateau d’Angers. I vowed to make this ahhhh-mazing baguette sandwich again…and I have, many times.

Inspired by that lunch in Angers, I’ve been collecting picnic worthy recipes in preparation for a Bastille Day celebration, to be held al fresco of course. I’m looking forward to creating and sharing a slight variation of that scrumptious blue cheese, apple, and spinach baguette with an Apple, Brie, and Dijon Baguette Sandwich – my mouth is watering right now! More favorites that I know my guests will enjoy include a French Ham and Cheese Baguette and a Turkey and Avocado Sandwich.

As you know, everything tastes better with a glass of wine and these baguette sandwiches are no exception. I received two wines from Beaujolais (sent as samples), one from Fleurie and the other from Brouilly, that are exceptional pairings with a variety of Bastille Day (or any day, for that matter) picnic fare.



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Beaujolais is located in eastern France, north of Lyon; 61 square miles of vineyards follow the Saône River. Abundant sunshine and mainly granite soil allow for grapes to thrive and present plenty of structure and complexity. The Gamay grape is prevalent, although a very small amount of Chardonnay is used to produce Beaujolais Blanc. Only hand harvesting is allowed in this pastoral wine region of France where 12 appellations can be found, 10 of which are Crus: Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Juliénas and Saint-Amour.

Fleurie, Julien Sunier 2015 ($31) –  This striking wine of Gamay is from the Fleurie appellation of Beaujolais, covering an unbroken area of three square miles in the north of the region. Beginning in 2008, Julien Sunier established his domaine, one that is focused on organic viticulture and natural winemaking. The parcel from which the grapes in this wine are cultivated is almost 500m in elevation with a southern exposure. Soil is pure pink granite with little topsoil and, by all accounts, is difficult in which to work. Harvested entirely by hand, the Gamay grapes were slowly, gently pressed over a 24-hour period using an ancient vertical press, then aged for up to 11 months in three to nine year old Burgundy barrels.

I loved this exceptional wine. Distinct aromas of vanilla spice, dark cherries, and herbal notes were enticing. On the lush palate, notes of earth, red meat, ripe, juicy cherries, freshly picked raspberries, and spice were bold and rich. Bolstered by medium tannins and bright acidity, this balanced wine from Fleurie was fresh, focused, and never to be forgotten.

Brouilly, Jean-Claude Lapalu, La Croix des Rameaux 2014 ($35) – A mixture of four different soil types gives the wines from Brouilly, an appellation that covers about 20% of the Beaujolais Cru area, its distinct profile. Considered by many to be the “finest Brouilly winemaker in the region”, Jean-Claude is a third generation winemaker who founded his domaine in 1996. The 60 – 80 year old Gamay vines on 12 hectares are from Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne, one of the communes on pink granite with mineral rich clays. Jean-Claude Lapalu is committed to organic viticulture and biodynamic practices. All grapes are hand harvested, then fermented in stainless steel tanks. This unfiltered wine was aged in five year old barrels for nine months.

Pique-nique worthy wine? Oui! Deep red fruit, sweet cherries, fresh raspberries, dried flowers, and a touch of vanilla were lovely on the nose and I anticipated that first sip. Complex and distinctive, mouthwatering acidity and bold tannins were the foundation on which I discovered elements of more red fruit, tobacco, a touch of smoke, bitter dark chocolate, and minerality. The finish was long and satisfying… Don’t forget to tuck in the basket some chocolate confections to pair with this beautiful Brouilly.



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  Cheers to an al fresco Bastille Day pique-nique! ~ Cindy

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    • Cindy Rynning


      Thanks, Sue. And it’s a beautiful day for a perfect picnic! Cheers!

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