Azule - Saturday

There are certain things that help remind us that the holidays are approaching. The gorgeous falling leaves, the frosty snap that greets us in the morning, the double-checking of all windows to make sure they're closed and secured against oncoming winter. For me, one of the signs that winter is coming is the yearly Azule Night hosted at Nashoba Valley Winery.

This evening celebration is held in J's Restaurant, located right next door to the winery. J's is well known for its crackling fire in the fireplace, comfortable atmosphere with wood floors and colonial knickknacks, and of course its top-notch cuisine. On one special night each year they put forth a special meal to celebrate the release of Azule - Nashoba's rich blueberry dessert wine.

We began with an amuse-bouche of Mediterranean stuffed oyster, with wakami seaweed and lime bearnaise. This was paired with Cyser - a honey-apple favorite of ours, which we heard other tables commenting favorably on as well. Its light, fruity, pineapple-pear flavor was great with the tart-sweet combination in the oyster.

For the appetizer, there was a choice of veal sweetbreads, a Nashoba Valley salad, or warm apple consomme. We had enough people in our party to try some of everything. The veal came with an exotic mushroom choux puff, with white truffle pistachio cream and foie gras butter. This was mild mannered, delicate but flavorful. The Chrysleton apple wine went very well with it, cutting through the richness of the cream. The Salad included Lancaster turkey confit, candied pumpkin, bacon, and chestnuts, with a peach wine honey yogurt dressing. Paired with the cranberry-apple wine, it was very light, fruity, crisp and flavorful. The warm apple consomme looked like a thin soup - but appearances can be deceiving! Flavored with Nashoba Valley Foggy Bog (a fortified cranberry drink), this paired with the dry pear. The pear's tartness cut through the thick sweetness of the consomme quite nicely.

We were already pretty full when they brought the palate cleansing entremets - a blueberry currant granita. This had frozen grapes and Vermont maple syrup. It was delightful, with the crisp grapes making me think of ice wine, created from crushed frozen grapes.

New Zealand Venison Wellington

Now, on to the entrees. The portions on all of the servings until now had been pretty large, and the entree was no exception. The three choices were the juniper blackened salmon and scallop, a New Zealand venison Wellington, and a grilled apple and Camembert risotto cakes. We were all huge salmon and venison fans and stuck with those two dishes. The salmon came with cedar plank sea scallops, Hubbardston blue chevre potato souffle and caper papaya beurre blanc. We couldn't finish it, but we definitely tried - it was amazing. The souffle was rich and fresh, the salmon light and flaky, and the scallops quite tender. It paired very well with a vidal blanc. The venison was laced with foie gras and mushroom duxelles, with tri-color mashed potato and elderberry jus lie. The venison was very tender and rich, and the potato was a treat. We heard people nearby who tried the risotto commenting on how wonderful it was as well.

At this point, most people were simply asking to have their dessert packed to take home, and to drink the Azule as their dessert. We fell into that category as well - there was no way we could have stuffed another morsel into our mouths. The two desserts were a chocolate lava cake, with white chocolate macadamia sauce, and a baked apple crisp with cinnamon creme anglaise and blueberry caramel sauce. Both, we discovered later, were amazingly delicious. But for now, we toasted with our Azule glasses and sipped.

It was, if possible, even better than previous years. Smooth, rich, heart-warmingly good, with berry and spice flavors. I already have several bottles from previous years in my cellar, and this trip ended with us bringing several more home. A delightful finish to a wonderful evening.

It was not only our palates that were entertained this November night. During the long meal, Rich Pelletier, the owner, and Larry Ames, the wine maker, visited the tables, talking about their year of wine making and their thoughts on the latest vintage. We were able to ask questions about the wines we were drinking, and learn more about their plans for the coming year.

If you haven't been to an Azule night yet, make sure to mark your calendar for next year! It's first-come first-served, and it's always been an incredible treat.

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.