Finally. The weather is warm, the deck’s been power washed. We’ve been vaccinated and we’re ready to get together with friends and neighbors to celebrate being…normal.
In my neighborhood, the first post-Covid gathering was last weekend at Dave and Denise’s house, where the hospitality is unsurpassed, the wine is plentiful and everyone always feels welcome.

It was a last-minute, let’s-see-what-the-weather-does invitation, so I made a platter of cold peanut noodles and picked up a couple of bottles of rose; Les Hauts Plateaux Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé 2020, to be specific. But don’t let the haughty name fool you; this is an affordable and deliciously approachable wine.

From Southwestern France, formerly part of the Provence region, this vineyard is drenched in sunshine. And you can taste it in the wine. Light with distinct fruit and berry notes, it paired well with cheeses served as appetizers and made my peanut noodles seem elegant. The beautiful pale pink (thanks to the addition of Syrah grapes) looks beautiful in a glass and caught the evening light. It’s great with food (we also had grilled chicken), but would be delightful to sip unaccompanied on a summer afternoon. Even my discerning French neighbor, Jerome, proclaimed the wine to be “fantastique!” And it is. This proves that you don’t have to spend a lot to get a very respectable bottle of wine with a label that looks like you spent a lot. And it’s French!

I am looking forward to many more neighborhood gatherings this summer. I’ll bring the Les Hauts plateau Alpes de Haute Rose. You can bring peanut noodles.

Here’s the recipe for Carol’s Noodles:

  • 2/3 cup Teddy’s smooth unsalted peanut butter
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup teriyaki sauce
  •  tablespoons brown sugar
  • Water to thin, as needed
  • Boil a pound of fresh Asian-style noodles (I use Hoy Toy). Cool by running under cold water. Toss noodles with half of the sauce. Arrange on a platter and garnish with: bean sprouts (or shredded cabbage) chopped mint and cilantro, chopped peanuts, and scallions.
  • Serve with remaining sauce and a glass of rosé.

By Carol Band

Not sure what to pair with those tasty holiday dishes this year? We can help with these pairing suggestions for veggies, red meat, and turkey!

Veggies:

  • Trimbach Riesling (Alsace) Its delicate bouquet, the fine balance between its dry personality, its distinguished fruitiness and its natural vitality contribute to its exceptional richness. $21.99
  • St. Michael-Eppan Sauvignon Blanc (Italy) Gooseberry nose with grapefruit hints. Medium structure but nicely fresh and juicy, Off-dry, $16.99
  • Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino (Sardegna Italy) Costamolino is produced with the Mediterranean table in mind. Vermentino’s herbal flavor can also highlight vegetables such as fava beans or fennel. $14.99

Red Meat:

  • Torbreck Shiraz: A dark cherry, the central core of fruit gives way to an intense textural mid-palate full of blueberry, cocoa, spice, and dark chocolate. $19.99
  • Chateau Lanessan Haut-Medoc (France) Winery notes. Multilayered, elegant nose. Lovely Structure on the palate with fleshy tannins and a long finish. $24.99
  • Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa) Supple tannins, and vibrant black cherry, candied blackberry, and spices. A hint of coffee and dark chocolate create a lingering and delightful finish. $23.99

Turkey:

  • Boen Pinot Noir (California) The first sip of this tri-appellation Pinot Noir envelopes the mouth with a velvety richness. Flavors of bright cherry, dried herbs, and hints of vanilla, is supple and sumptuous, to the finish. $19.99
  • Argyle Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley Oregon) Red and dark fruit with savory spice and delicate floral notes. A lively, fresh middle palate along with classic Argyle silky texture and persistent length. $22.99
  • Frederic Esmonin Les Genevrieres Pinot Noir (France) Sumptuous aromas of red berries and cherry are supported by light notes of wildflower. On the palate, there are flavors of red fruit, spice, and floral accents. The tannins and acidity provide a delightful structure. $15.99

Lately, it seems we are all taking comfort in simple pleasures. We cook macaroni and cheese, we play Scrabble with our kids and we enjoy a glass of wine or two. Because after working at home all week, figuring out how to host Zoom calls, keeping the kids from going crazy inside* and watching our retirement accounts dissolve, we feel like we deserve a moment of pleasure. And we do. But before you uncork that Pinot Noir or uncap that Sauvignon Blanc, ask yourself: “Is this a quarantine-worthy wine?” A wine that’s worthy of self-isolation is one that pairs well with sweatpants and stubble, whose subtle notes of pencil shavings and the forest floor are discernable through a face mask; it’s a wine that you’re willing to commit to because you’ll be drinking all of it…. alone.

 

Such a wine is Gooseneck Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay. A white wine from Navarra, Spain, this vintage is a lovely golden color. It’s light but complex with lovely notes of vanilla, oak and to my untrained nose, a hint of pear.

Here on Bartlett Ave., when it hasn’t been raining, we’ve been social distancing with neighbors. That means we stand in the middle of the street and drink wine. Rain, however, forces us to Zoom and last Friday as the rain poured down, I thought it might be fun to bring everyone together electronically to virtually share the same wine. So I sprung for several bottles of the Gooseneck Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay (not a fortune), dropped them off to my neighbors with touchless delivery, and sent out the Zoom notice.

There were seven of us at this cyber-tasting and although my friends were impressed with my seeming generosity, I had to confess that the wine is shockingly affordable. As the Zoom party commenced, we talked about what we’ve binged on Netflix, we discussed mask designs and we talked about what we were eating with that night. One neighbor paired their Gooseneck Vineyards Chardonnay with an aged Brie and seeded crackers. Another thought that it perfectly complimented their homemade chicken tetrazzini, still another drank it with black beans and rice and I savored it with a fried haddock plate from Fresh Pond Seafood. The Gooseneck 2017 Chardonnay seemed to enhance each of these dishes and, I suspect, it would also go well exceedingly well with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix.

*It takes a village to raise a child but it takes a winery to homeschool one.

Article By: Carol Band, one of our amazing wine experts and connoisseur

 

Photos by Carol Band and Gooseneck Vineyards

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we thought this warming cranberry cocktail was appropriate. With just a few tasty ingredients (you know we like a nice and easy cocktail) this one is simple to make while also packing in some serious flavor. So, what’s our secret? Champlain Orchards Cranberry Hard Cider adds flavor, bubbles, and pairs perfectly with Doc Brown’s Really Bad Dark Rum.  Check it out –

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Ingredients:

Make This Cocktail:

  • Mix the cider, rum, and mixer together over ice
  • Garnish with an apple slice (or cranberries would be fancy too)

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What do you think? A new seasonal favorite? We think so!

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Head over to Mystic for all your Thanksgiving Day needs. Along with having high-end wines we also have fantastic boxed wines and 3 for $20 wines!

Thanks for reading, Taylor

I am fortunate that when my daughter was in elementary school, she picked her friends well.  What I mean is that she hung out with a group of elementary school girls whose parents I adore.

Best of all, everyone lives within a few blocks of each other. So, twenty years later, the girls have all gone their separate ways, but we parents, now a group of empty nesters, continue to see each other almost every weekend for dinners, election night gatherings, holidays, birthdays and lots of laughs.

This group is bound not just by our parenting experiences but we also we share a passion for politics, travel, the love of a good argument and we are all devoted to creating good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, (we’ve had amazing hot dog and bean dinners- homemade beans, of course-) but it’s always delicious.
Last Saturday at Andrea and Dennis’ house on Jason Street, was no exception. In fact, Andrea is probably the most serious cook in the group. She worked as a professional caterer and also had her own business providing meals to go that she made at home.  And, she knows wine. So a dinner at Andrea’s means that not only do I agonize over what to make for a dessert or appetizer, I also put some serious thought into the bottle of wine that I’ll bring to share.

Pork and chorizo stew was on the menu. Andrea had suggested a Gewürztraminer
(white and light) but I went with a red and matched the earthy flavors in the stew with a silky yet substantial Ken Forrester Renegade 2013, a blend of Grenache and Syrah from South Africa. I was glad I did.

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This wine did exactly what wine is supposed to do. It complimented the food (not that Andrea’s cooking needs any enhancement!). The slight heat in the stew, along with the green rice, spiced with poblano papers set the wine off perfectly and revealed its subtle notes of plum, black olive and a trace of chocolate that made me pour myself another glass to accompany the bourbon chocolate cake that someone else had brought for dessert. We lingered over the table, went back for seconds on the pork stew, sliced a little more off the chocolate cake, cleaned up the edges of my lemon meringue pie and were reminded again of just how lucky were are to have daughters with such exquisite taste in parents. Here’s to old friends, a new wine and to friends who can cook!

 

Thanks for reading, Carol Band

I’m not Jewish, but my husband is and, as is the case with holidays both secular and religious, it often falls upon the woman to create the traditions…which in my house means food.Potato-Latkes-300x257

So it has come to pass that I, the non-Jew, have become an expert at making latkes. I think that the crisp potato pancakes are the one thing that Hanukkah has over Christmas.

At our annual latke fry on Sunday, I grated both sweet and Yukon gold potatoes and served them with applesauce and sour cream, of course, but also with a hearty bowl of Portuguese kale soup and a romaine-free salad.

The soup is robust and smoky with chorizo and kielbasa, kidney beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and kale. But it cries out for a substantial red wine to elevate it from peasant food to festive holiday fare.

IMG_1318Bogle Phantom 2015 is just that wine.

 

Don’t be intimidated by the label that proclaims “mysterious and hauntingly seductive.” This is a very approachable blend  (44% Petite Sirah, 44% Zinfandel, 10% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon) that pairs well with comforting winter dishes like beef stew, pork loin and…my kale soup.

The girls and I opened it before dinner, let it breathe a bit and sampled it while pondering the New York Times crossword puzzle. Then we set the kitchen table and poured some for everyone.

It’s smooth but bodacious, yet it doesn’t overwhelm the tongue with tannins. This will become the winter house wine here on Bartlett Avenue.  Even my daughter (a millennial!) who tends to gravitate toward pinot noirs gave this wine high marks. It’s loaded with subtle flavors and it drinks like a high priced bottle. Good thing we had two.

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P.S. I made “Craft Beer Menorahs” for the “kids” and picked up some really interesting local brews to wish them all “Hoppy Holidays!”

Thanksgiving is around the corner (we can’t believe it either)!!! Don’t procrastinate this year… get ahead of the game and shop our delicious wines that pair perfectly with appetizers, turkey,  and dessert.  We’re making it easy for you with our Turkey Day Wine Guide!

Aperitifs:

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Riva Rosé is a delicious sparkling rosé from the Mediterranean. The wine displays delicate yet persistent bubbles. The nose exudes aromas of small red fruits such as strawberry and raspberry. The palate offers refreshing notes of grapefruit and spice. Perfect for aperitifs and to possibly drown out the noise of your relatives… haha, just kidding!

The Main Meal:

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Pinot Noir Wines are a perfect pairing for turkey!  Here are two that we love –

  • Elouan Pinot Noir Dark: Shimmering ruby red. Deep notes of plum, red cherries and blackcurrant jam with subtle touches of toasty vanilla and spice. Rich, ripe fruit flavors of plum, cherry, mixed berry jam, and blackberry. Smooth tannins round out the mouthfeel.

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Along with a good red, we also love a good white wine to pair with turkey. Here are two delicious white wines from Trimbach.

  • Trimbach Reisling: The nose shows restrained citrus and a slightly lifted, very slightly aromatic touch of conifer. The palate is taut and slender, presenting sober, clean citrus flavors. This stands upright and has a wonderful backbone of freshness.
  • Trimbach Gewurztraminer: A very shy nose just releases the most teasing hint of peach. The palate is utterly restrained: peach flavors are dry and brightened by lemon and have a wonderful lightness of touch. The finish is dry, clean and long.

Dessert/After-dinner Drink:

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You can’t forget about the post-feast wine!  A great dessert wine is in order

Haut Charmes Sauternes 2015: Haut Charmes is a very special Sauternes bottling, made from the younger vines of the region’s most legendary château. While we aren’t allowed to actually reveal the source, it’s safe to say its location in the Ciron Valley exposes the Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon fruit to conditions perfect for the development of botrytis. Charming, elegant and an exceptional value for what’s in the bottle.

Not in love with these wines?! Head on in and let us help you choose the perfect wine. Our educated staff is always happy to help!

Thanks,

The Mystic Wine Shoppe Team

Wine writers call wines like Black Ops by Hugh Hamilton a “rare red blend.” I would call it an “extremely rare red blend.” It is just luscious – deep, inky color paired with unmistakable notes of wild blueberries, dark blackberries, juicy red cherries and a slightly elusive savory/wild herb / ripe fruit note that soaks into every taste bud and makes your shoulders relax.

This wine is made of the unusual blend of Shiraz, Saperavi and Nero d’Avola. Shiraz, a mainstay of McLaren Vale, is the iconic grape of meaty, mighty and most especially tasty Australian wines. It is the same grape that is used in Rhône wines, notably Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and Cornas, which is the only French wine made with 100% Syrah. The primary distinction between Shiraz and Syrah is stylistic. Most Australian Shiraz tends to have a riper, fruitier, more concentrated set of flavors, whereas the cooler climate Syrahs of the Rhône Valley in Southern France, then to be a bit more savory, a bit more structured and a bit more peppery. The trend these days in Australia is that Shiraz is planted in cooler microclimates and is producing a more restrained type of wine, closer in character to the Syrahs of France, while the French are dealing with warmer, longer summers and are producing much more alcoholic, powerful wines than in the past. But despite this climatic convergence, they are still very distinct.

To add to this distinction, Hugh Hamilton has lived up to his Black Sheep logo by introducing an extraordinary grape to Australia called Saperavi. It is an ancient grape variety from the Republic of Georgia. In my mind, it evokes romantic images of farmers thousands of years ago, plucking grapes by hand, stomping the grapes in celebratory fashion with their families, fermenting that must in clay amphorae and drinking it with joy at every hearty meal. It is a grape that deserves this image. It brings to this wine a sort of wild, gamey nature that the buttoned-down varieties of Western Europe lack. It is a teinturier grape, that rare grape whose flesh, not just the skin, has color. And it is known for its depth, acidity, and full body.

Another bold move was to blend in Nero d’Avola. Again, this is an ancient variety that has found its home in the southern parts of Sicily. Like its happy compatriots, it is a dark, full-bodied wine that exhibits bright cherry notes that when oak-aged, can become plummy and juicy.

Together, these three varieties make Black Ops a truly exceptional wine. It is fruity and fragrant while still being structured and powerful. The wine starts strong with aromas of black currants, plums and cherries and fills your mid-palate with wonderful roundness and the complexity of pepper, dark chocolate and a small hint of herbs that seems ingrained in Australian terroir. The mellow tannins are more textural than grippy, rolling over your tongue with very pleasing sensations. It finishes with a long, slow slide of lingering fruits and tobacco and perhaps a hint of smoke.

You’d be a fool to pass up this wine at $19.99 a bottle!!!!

Your wine expert, Seema