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Out on the far southeastern tip of Long Island is a playground of the rich called “The Hamptons.” It’s rumored that there, every summer, the rosé flows like water. That’s how Hampton Water Rosé got its name. And yeah, it was launched by rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his son, who wisely partnered with acclaimed French winemaker Gérard Bertrand to create a wine that is much better than the mid-life anthem “It’s My Life.” Made in France, with a blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 15% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah, the wine was proclaimed “Best Rosé of 2018” by Wine Spectator.


I didn’t know that when I picked it up, I just liked the label, which features an illustration of a woman diving into the water. So, even though my tastes edge more toward Salisbury Beach than Sag Harbor, I brought a bottle of Hampton Water to accompany a weekend with my adult kids on a lake in New Hampshire. It was almost 5pm when my daughter and I brought some snacks down to the dock and opened the bottle.

The sun was low, the water was sparkling and the wine was cold and delicious. I’ve found that some rosés can be too sweet, others a little harsh—a little alcohol-forward. This wasn’t. It was fruity and fresh and bold enough to stand up to ice cubes and even a splash of seltzer (hey, the day was still young!). We were impressed with the bottle’s glass stopper and we loved the way the wine tasted with sweet dark cherries and as well as with Irish cheddar. It even went with Cheez-Its (as I said, we’re not in the Hamptons).

After a glass each, we decided to try to recreate the picture on the label by diving off the dock. Our attempts resulted in a few stinging belly flops and exuberant splashes that damped the Cheez-Its. That’s when we decided that not only does Bon Jovi makes a very nice wine, but he was right: ‘We ain’t gonna live forever.” So we climbed out of the water, toweled off, and finished the bottle. Like the man says “It’s now or never.” We choose now.

By Carol Band (our local wine connoisseur)

Yeah, yeah…these are uncertain times. The only thing we can count on here on Bartlett Avenue is our Friday evening social distancing block party. We depend on it because these days our sanity hinges on ninety minutes of genuine human contact, which is made even more delicious with the addition of wine.

But times being tenuous, and this being May in New England, we know that although the block party is a certainty, the weather is anything but predictable. So it was last Friday when we fired up the barbecue, cranked up the music and piled on winter coats, gloves, and facemasks and joined our friends and neighbors for a chilly, overcast celebration of another week of successful isolation.

There were touchless, tooth-picked bites of sausage and cheese, a variety of beer, a bottle of optimistically chilled rose, and several red wines — including the one that I brought—a 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Eg by Educated Guess of the Roots Run Deep Vineyard in Napa, California. I like the name, which the vineyard founder, Mark Albrecht, says reflects how he approaches winemaking—weighing what he knows (what grapes grow well where and when to harvest) against what could go wrong (wacky weather, insects). He says that it’s similar to the process that we go through when we buy a bottle of wine.


We use what we know (I like the label), we call on our experience (I had a Cabernet Sauvignon that I liked last week) and we make an educated guess. Hence the name and a label adorned with mathematical equations. Not to be confused with the slightly pricier version, the Eg line is produced with grapes sourced from California’s North Coast. The result is a very drinkable (and affordable!) wine with a whiff of blackberry and vanilla.

It was a hit with my neighbor the musician, it was a home run with my friend the real estate agent and my next-door neighbor, who is from France, where they practically invented wine, gently lifted his face mask, took a sip and pronounced the Eg Cabernet Sauvignon “Magnifique!” There’s no guesswork required to know that this is a wine that I’ll be happy to drink for the duration of social isolation or sip with friends when we get back to normal. And, if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say that will be soon.

Thanks for following along, Carol (one of our local wine connoisseur)

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

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

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 

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

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!