Valle Reale Wine Review

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Everybody in Arlington thinks that they live in the best neighborhood, but I really do. On my street we don’t just get together for block parties, we regularly have backyard barbecues, game nights, afternoons with the Patriots and dinners together. And the food is always extraordinary. But on Friday, after a week at work when everyone just wants to hang out, we often throw together a big green salad order a couple of pizzas and holler to the ‘hood that the door is open.

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Since the venerable Nicola’s closed, we don’t have a regular place for pizza but, as long as there a hot cherry peppers on top, I’m good—so we’ve sampled lots of local places. This Friday, it was two large pizzas from the Northender Italian Kitchen in Arlington Heights. We got a plain cheese and a sausage, onion and hot cherry pepper (my favorite) and put out the call to the neighbors.
I’ve discovered that same way it can elevate a burger from fast food to fine dining, a nice glass of wine can make a takeout pizza feel like a meal in a trattoria. I had a bottle of Valle Reale Montepulcano D’Abruzzo (2010) and when I called in the pizza, I opened the wine to let it breathe a bit. We lit a fire in the fireplace, and the neighbors came in, grabbed a paper plate, a slice of pizza and pile their plates with salad. The fire was roaring and for a while, no one spoke. It was the silence of contentment. Then Dave said “Hey, what’s this wine? It’s pretty good.”  I poured myself a glass and took a sip. He was right.
I like a Montepulcano because it’s bold enough to hold up to hearty food without the strong tannins that I sometimes associate with Italian wine. The Valle Reale Montepulcano D’Abruzzo (2010) was a deep rich red—almost purple. The first sip was satiny and offered notes of blackberry, a bit of mineral and even a hint of chocolate as it lingered on my tongue. I sipped again and swore that I tasted vanilla. I piled some arugula salad on top of my pizza and took a bite.

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While I wasn’t exactly transported to a trattoria in the Italian foothills, it was a delicious combination and made even better by the wine, the company and the prospect of a weekend ahead.

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The neighborhood fun continued on Sunday when my neighbor Nancy, christened her new family room by inviting a gang in for an early supper, followed by football. The Patriots were playing Kansas City— which I think called for ribs, but Nancy made a wild mushroom and pasta dish that felt like pure comfort food. I pulled together another huge salad and brought another bottle of the Valle Reale Montepulcano D’Abruzzo (2010). While some thought that white wine would pair well, I found that the earthiness of the mushrooms was perfect with the Montepulcano. Others agreed and I congratulated them on their ability to cast aside outdated ideas like: “only drink white wine with mushrooms.”  But the real congratulations of the night went to the Patriots. What a great game! What a great neighborhood!

Thanks for reading, Carol Band

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The Huntsman

The Huntsman

The holidays were hectic. Beginning at Thanksgiving (actually, Halloween…) it’s been cooking, hunting for Tupperware tops, laundry, houseguests and dishes. It’s been fun, but I welcome getting back to the routine and a little peace and quiet. That’s why when my husband called at 5pm on Tuesday and said that he’d be working late, I was happy to have a few hours of solitude and meatloaf in the oven.

The week before, with house guests in tow, we had gone to TWK in Winchester for a burger. If I have a burger in the afternoon, I usually get a beer, but at night I’ll order a glass of red wine to elevate the burger to a higher cuisine. That’s what I did at TWK. The burger was delicious, but the wine really blew me away. Served by the glass, The Huntsman Cabernet Sauvignon from Ross Andrew in Washington’s Columbia Valley was silky, smooth and delicious.

I had two glasses and stopped by Mystic Wine Shoppe on my way home to see if they carried it. They do (!) and I picked up a bottle to share with my friends. But, in the flood of New Year’s champagne and morning-after Bloody Mary’s the Huntsman somehow, through the onslaught of guests, remained untouched.

Then, as I pulled the meatloaf out of the oven on that mundane Tuesday night, I wondered…if the Huntsman Cab could make a burger feel special, imagine what it would do for my meatloaf. Ordinarily, I might not open a nice bottle of wine just for myself – but I was savoring the solitude and somehow, it felt like a special occasion. I opened the cabinet, uncorked the bottle, poured a bit and swirled it in the glass. It was a gorgeous color— deep and fragrant. I sipped and tasted blackberries and whiff of vanilla.

I cut a generous slice of meatloaf, buttered a baked sweet potato and served myself some roasted cauliflower. It was a plate of comfort food—a post-holiday celebration of a return to normal. The owner of the vineyard named this wine The Huntsman because he likes to hunt, I imagine that this wine would pair as nicely with venison or wild boar as it did with my meatloaf.

I drank two glasses, corked the bottle and put it in the fridge. I bet it’s fantastic with meatloaf sandwiches, too!

Here’s my meatloaf recipe (it’s not rocket science, so feel free to tweak).

  • 1-½ pounds of ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 large sweet onion chopped
  • 1-½ cups of old fashioned oats
  • Salt to taste
  • A generous sprinkling of pepper
  • Squirt of ketchup
  • Squish mixture until well blended then shape into loaf pan.
  • Frost generously with a mixture of ketchup, mustard and brown sugar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and done (about an hour).

Written by one of our wine guru’s, Carol Bend 

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Guess who’s coming to dinner? It’s Ken Forrester – He loves a good meal!

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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

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The Holiday Spirit is a Phantom: BOGLE PHANTOM 2015

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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!”

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10 Holiday Gifts You’ll Love

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The holiday season is officially here!!  Are you in search of a great gift this holiday season?!  We’re guessing you’re saying “um, yes of course… please help.” Don’t worry, we’re here to help with these 10 great gift ideas. Not seeing a gift idea you love? Head into Mystic Wine Shoppe and let our team of experts help you pick out the right gift.

 

10 Holiday Gifts You’ll Love

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1.Jim Beam Red Sox limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon Gift Basket: This is the perfect gift basket for the Red Sox fan in your life! Not a Jim Beam fan, come and create your own custom gift basket!

 

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2. Ken Forester Wines: Two great wines out of South Africa –

  • The Gypsy: The character is somewhat ‘wild’ a little brambly with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, dark spices, with vanilla scents and a distinct, concentrated red-fruit focus. Great for laying down and keeping for at least ten years but already rewarding if allowed to breathe in a decanter.
  • The FMC: The pinnacle of what we consider to be the finest expression of the grapes of this varietal – an icon chenin, a challenge to the world!  Rich, layered with dried apricot, vanilla and honey.

 

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3. A Midwinter Nights Dram: A limited engagement with only 4 left!!  This is a delicious blend of straight rye whiskeys.

 

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4. Patron Tequila Mini Gift Pack: The perfect stocking stuffer!

 

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5. Caymus Vineyards Wines: Calling all cab lovers!!!

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine serves up a bevy of berry aromas and flavors. Its layered and rounded palate make it a delectable choice with a thick and mouthwatering grilled ribeye.
  • Caymus Special Edition: A truly legendary wine, Caymus Special Selection is a wine that Cab lovers simply can’t get enough of. Introduced more than 30 years ago, Special Selection is a vivid expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley. Starting with the foundation of their Rutherford estate vineyard and then securing contracts for long-term farming control of vineyards across the valley, Caymus has been able to solidify the extraordinary character and over-the-top quality of this very special wine vintage after vintage.

 

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6. Willett Rye Whiskey: A special release!!! Even a quick nosing reveals that Rye nose of grassy, herbal goodness with a sweetness that follows it. The palate is well balanced with a herbal mintiness, intertwined with a sweetness that dances on your tongue until it exits with a spiciness. This is a great utility whiskey to drink neat, make an Old Fashioned, or hold up to a rock.

 

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7. The Dalmore 18: Dalmore’s trademark style is luscious notes of orange, chocolate and spices, and the 18-Year-Old bottling is a terrific example. Aged in both bourbon and sherry casks, it has seductive notes of vanilla, dark chocolate and candied orange on the nose, followed by a full-bodied, spicy palate of cinnamon and stewed fruit. Recently reduced to just $174

 

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8. Opus One Wine: The essence of time is expressed in Opus One by the character of each vintage. Place, often defined as terroir, represents the geography, the climate and the essential human element which is captured in the wine’s balance between power and finesse, structure and texture.

 

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9. French Wines: Not sure which wine to choose, how about three delicious French wines… you can’t go wrong with any of these wines.

  • Terres Brulées Cornas Syrah: A deep ruby-black with purple hints. Blackcurrant, dark cherries and blackberries, with spices, licorice and cocoa on the nose. A very rich mouth-feel with flavors of black fruit, jam, vanilla, spice and mineral notes. This wine has firm tannins and a long lasting finish.
  • Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem: he Occultum Lapidem displays great dark garnet-red color in the glass. The nose is laden with aromas of black fruits, pepper, leather and graphite with hints of shrubs. On the palate, the fleshy quality of the wine is apparent straightaway from the attack. Rich and dense, the wine finishes with a balance of fruit and delicate tannins.
  • Prémices: A pure, elegant style, with an alluring raspberry puree note leading the way, while light blood orange, red currant and plum fruit flavors follow close behind. Nuances of incense, mulling spices and rooibos tea flitter throughout. The finish is silky and persistent.

 

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10. Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon: This full-bodied wine has beautiful complexity, with flowers, sandalwood and subtle currants, a dense centre palate and a long finish. Purity in cabernet sauvignon. Drinks great now or you can cellar it
for 10 years.

 

We hope to see you soon at Mystic Wine Shoppe! Let us know what you think about this years gift guide!

 

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Turkey Day Wine Guide

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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

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Grand Wine Tasting Event Recap

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What an event!!!  On Saturday, October 13th we held our second annual Grand Wine Tasting event at Mystic Wine Shoppe. We had customers from near and far, including dogs and babies, come sample over 20 delicious wines with us.  This year we held the event in our attached garage to allow plenty of space for sampling. It was a great turnout and we’re so thankful for all the support.

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Did you miss the event? Don’t worry, we hold weekly wine and beer tastings.  Plus, make sure you reserve your ticket for our Dec. 6th Bourbon Tasting.
Thanks again for everyone who joined us!

 

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Appassimento

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Raisins are nature’s candy. The dried, sugary essence of a grape, concentrated into one little morsel. It seems hard to imagine a wine made from such a thing, but there are actually many. The most famous ones are from Italy, specifically the majestic Amarone, a blend of grapes used to make the very light and delicious Valpolicella wines and Vin Santo, the sweet, luscious desert wine the Italians eat with little biscotti called “cantucci.”

There are other wines made from shriveled grapes – mostly those affected by “noble rot” or botrytis and some “icewine,” made after the water has frozen in the grape so that you when you cold-press the grapes, you just get the sugars and acids and none of the frozen liquid. Excellent examples of these techniques come from Bordeaux in the form of Sauternes or Barsac and Germany, with their Trockenbeerenauslese (dry-berry harvest), but also in the Finger Lakes and the Niagara area where the grapes hang until they freeze before harvesting. I have an on-going love affair with all raisinated, botrytized and frozen wines, but they are all “special occasion” wines, so not on the regular rotation of every day wines.

But this wine is something new, that maybe you could drink more regularly. It is a raisinated wine from the Montepulciano grape, famous for the light, bright, fruity wines of Abruzzo. Most Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines are meant for drinking casually, a cheerful blend of plums and cherries, with high acidity and low tannins that also “cleanse” the palate when you have it with pasta in a rich sauce. But when you dry the grapes and then press that precious, concentrated liquid into juice that ferments slowly and carefully, you get a deeply colored, deeply flavored wine that will stand up to heavy sauces and red meats and spice! This is a wine that has the intensity of a California Cabernet with all the mouth-filling aromas of fruit and some herbs, but has the acid brightness of wild cherries and summer plum, like a much lighter wine. It is a wonderful, unusual combination that will have you taking just one more sip, just to see if it really does have all that complexity. And the texture will have keep you sipping once you are used to the unusual mix of flavors, it is smooth and viscous. At $14.99, it will give that Amarone you’ve been saving for a special occasion a definite run for its money.

We had it last night with roasted leg of lamb and a wonderful mint sauce – definitely a regular from now on!