Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Day in the Gilded Age Tasting Wine

What does the most perfect setting to taste food and wine look like to you?  Well, for me it would be under a silken white tent with a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Marble House mansion on the other side.  The sun would be shining bright and mixed with the ocean breezes; you could only think it to be the perfect temperature.  Mix in some sailboats out on the horizon and admiring people walking the Cliff Walk and suddenly I was a Vanderbilt.  Yes, on Sunday, I got to know what it would be like to be a shipping and railroad magnate during the Gilded Age relaxing in my backyard while imbibing on scrumptious food and drink.

Marble House

The View

The Newport Mansion’s Food & Wine Festival was this past weekend and while the mansion was closed, we still felt princely.  The restaurants that were present set up a regal feast for everyone.  Some that stood out were the Castle Hill Inn’s sandwich that consisted of a rice bun with lobster salad AND sliced steak.  Finally…someone read my mind.  Hudson Valley’s Foie Gras’ duck bacon, velvety foie gras and duck liver pate were something my taste buds will never forget.

The Chinese Tea House on the lawn

Alexian Pate served a pheasant liver pate with rosemary that was outstanding.  The rosemary was just perfect and balanced out the pheasant pate. The country style Pheasant Rosemary paté offers a unique flavor profile, and a palate combination of spices and port wine, which is highlighted by rosemary herb. These flavors are revealed slowly with each bite, making it an intriguing tasting experience – especially for those who aren’t familiar with paté or the taste of pheasant.

Other highlights in the culinary department are a King Crab Salad, a crab salad that was served with cucumber pearls (cucumber puree with all the air squeezed out-amazing taste).

Now…the wines…

As I gazed out to the Chinese Tea House, I sipped the 2008 vintage of Justin Vineyards “Isosceles,” a Bordeaux blend from (Paso Robles) California modeled after the left bank Bordeaux’s of Margaux and Paulliac.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Isosceles had deep, rich raspberry aromas.  The taste had layers of ripe fruits, brown spice and black currants that only intensified after each sip.

I also had the great pleasure of sipping on some 1999 Nicholas Feuillatte Palmes  d’Or Champagne.  The fine and delicate bubbles opened up to a lively effervescence.  In my glass, there was a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that had aromas of white flower with acacia and honey.  Hints of toffee and anise run through the flavors with coffee, pastry and candied orange peel flavors in this supple Champagne with a smoky note echoing on the finish.  Heavenly delicious and drinking quite well if you can find a bottle of the Palmers d’Or.

The Pinot Noir that stood out in the crowd of fine wines was the Bergstrom Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The rich crimson color emphasized my stately surroundings.  The deep and complex nose was a swirling mixture of toasted bread, incense, Asian spices, blueberry and black cherry, roses, violets, wet volcanic rock and Bresaola (dried beef.)  The flavors were mainly driven by cherry and red rock minerals.  This is one of those wines that can be drunk young or aged.

Overall, this was a spectacular day and I am so glad I took the time to go.  The weather had everyone in a great mood and it seems that the exhibitors were excited to be there as well.  Stella Artois had a tent there and as you can see from my picture below, they were giving us full pourings of beer from Stella Artois, Leffe, and Hoegaarden in glasses to keep.  What a way to refresh my palate after all those red wines.

Claiming my Stella glass

~Cheers!

John

Summer in a Glass: Celebrating the FLX Riesling 2010 Release

Last week I had the pleasure of joining in on a nationwide tasting of 2010 Finger Lakes Rieslings.  Wine bloggers, wine tradespeople and other media outlets alike receive 6 samples from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance last week and were asked to participate in the tasting via Twitter and Facebook.  Easy enough…I could taste the wines in the evening at my leisure and tweet what I thought of them.

Without the pressure of having a representative of the winery standing in front of me, I was allowed to truly evaluate these wines without any outside influence.  I liked that.  Sometimes when you attend tastings, the wine rep and overhearing other people’s thoughts taint your palate without you even knowing it.

The only information about the wines I wanted to know ahead of time  was the growing conditions during the season and thankfully it was easy to find:

“The 2010 Finger Lakes harvest was the warmest growing season in nearly 40 years and the wettest since 1973.  Combined with an early bud break in April and adequate rainfall throughout the summer and fall, the wines from the vintage are varied in style but with a general slant toward lower acid, intense fruit and wonderful ripeness.” -Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

Overall, my impressions of all the wines were good and you will see my ratings of the wine in the order that I liked them.  Some were more pleasing to my palate than others but still…they were all tasty.

2010 Red Oak Vineyard Riesling:  A medium-dry offering from Lamoreaux Landing.  This wine had it all: a floral nose with bright notes, a creamy mouthfeel that made the wine taste round and balanced.  The taste had citrus  and exotic fruits with a long finish.  Overall, this was a great Riesling and the fact that Lamoreaux Landing’s grapes are farmed sustainably sent them to the head of the class.

2010 Atwater Estate Vineyards Dry Riesling:  Like biting into a Granny Smith apple.  Just enough minerality to round out the high acidity, Atwater’s offering reflected the slate soil and ripe grapes with just a touch of sweetness.  Vibrant with citrus notes proved this Riesling to be perfectly balanced.

2010 Billsboro Winery Dry Riesling:  Honestly, this one is a tie with the Atwater so I listed it alphabetically.  Billsboro’s wine had rich stone fruit with just a hint of a floral nose.  The taste had honeydew, pears and peaches with a good amount of slate and minerals.

2010 Thirsty Owl Wine Company Dry Riesling:  This wine was complex with high acidity that begged for food.  With green apples, pineapple and citrus fruits in the mouth, I enjoyed this wine with a sliver of Gruyere cheese.

2010 Seneca Shore Dry Riesling:  Wow.  The minerality in this wine made it stand out in the crowd.  Accompanied by lime and grapefruit flavors, Seneca Shore hit a home-run.  Well-structured and powerful: this was a great wine to sip.

Last but certainly not least, 2010 Standing Stone Vineyards Riesling:  This might be the only wine out of the six that I wasn’t completely psyched about.  Although it was still a decent wine, I felt it fell a little flat on the flavor.  I am willing to bet a little bottle aging would cure that.  There were hints of kiwi and citrus in the wine, but had a shorty and flinty finish.  Not disappointing but not to my particular liking I’m afraid.

Three Cheers to all the wonderful wines I was allowed to taste last week!  Thank you to all the Finger Lakes Wineries who participated and to the wonderful people over at the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance for letting me in on this special event!

She’s Hired!

As I sit here with a small kitten on my lap, I can’t help but think: awwwww, I missed having company in the office.

Sofia arrived on Wednesday morning to take her post as the Bauer store kitty and since a store can be a scary place for one tiny kitten, she spent the day in the office with me.  After we closed at night, she was allowed to explore the store on her own and now she is ready to meet you.  This little love bug loves people and loves to play!

Like her predecessors, Sofia is enjoying the front window:

Sofia captivating Donna with her cuteness

Getting into the Patron a little young....

Look at those whiskers and ear tufts!

We have had a lot of people asking us where she came from and we are proud to say that she was a rescue.  Sofia was being fostered at  MSPCA-Angell with two wonderful women, Amy first and then Laura, in their offices.   Laura had heard through the grapevine (Thanks Alex!!!) that Gris had passed away and contacted us to say that if we were ready, she had the perfect kitten to take Gris’ post in the store.  Of course, we were all feeling the sting still of losing Gris, but it only took one photo of Sofia to see that though we were broken hearted, we missed having an in-store cat.  Off we went to MSPCA-Angell to visit and we saw that this kitten was special.  Sofia’s beauty and charm won Howie and me over the moment we met her and she has only grown more charming since she arrived at Bauer.

For those of you who receive our email newsletters have already heard me say this, but I don’t mind repeating myself.  A big thank you goes to the MSPCA-Angell’s Adoption Center’s Director, Amanda.  She, along with Laura and Amy, made bringing  Sofia home to Bauer as easy as possible.  Thankfully, they know that not every perfect home is a traditional home!

Ethan and Sofia

Sofia gets a big hug from Lynn

Getting to know Keith

Claiming the laptop as hers

 

An Ancient Beverage Brought Back to Life

What do Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Sir Walter Scott, Yeats, James Frazer, a myriad of Norse writers, sacred texts, and fairy tales all have in common?  Mead.  Yes, mead.  All of these writers and texts reference mead as medicine, a drink for heroes, warriors and royalty alike, as a river that runs through paradise comprised of it  and is considered a source of wisdom.

The history of mead may go back as far as 8,000 years.  Research has shown that the oldest known meads were created on the Island of Crete (wine was not yet created even!).  The ancient philosophers saw mead as a way to gain the wisdom they needed for their writings. Mead was the drink of the Age of Gold.  In fact, the Greek’s word for drunk is translated to “honey-intoxicated.”   The ancient Greeks called mead, Ambrosia, or Nectar. It was believed to be the drink of the gods, and was thought to descend from the Heavens as dew, before being gathered in by the bees. Because of the believed ties to the gods, it is easy to see why the ancient Greeks believed mead to have magical and sacred properties. The Greeks believed that mead would prolong life, and bestow health, strength, virility, re-creative powers, wit and poetry. The bees themselves, we are told by Virgil’s Georgics are driven to the sky to honor the goddess Aphrodite. And, the prophetess’ at Delphi are suspected of drinking mead made from a honey from slightly toxic plants in order to induce their prophetic states, and visions of the future (courtesy of Sky River).

You may be reading this wondering why I am harping on the history of mead.  Quite simply, this is a drink that was almost obliterated from society.  It seems that over the last few decades, mead was relegated to consumption at Renaissance Fairs.  Forgotten about in everyday consumption, mead was only a reminder of an ancient past, mostly remember as a drink of Medieval ages.  Mead came dangerously close to being something that was only read about but no longer made.  So it pleases me to tell you that we have three new varieties of mead at Bauer for you to try.

Honeymaker mead, out of Portland, Maine, was founded in 2007 with an eye on innovation, the environment and a re-introduction to this ancient beverage.  Handcrafted in small batches, Honeymaker’s mead is known for its exceptional clarity and lightness.

Although Honeymaker has many different varieties, we chose our favorite three to share with you:

Howie’s favorite-Honeymaker Dry Hopped Mead ($17.99).  A medium-to-full bodied mead to be enjoyed all year round.  During the aging process, Honeymaker introduces fresh whole leaf Cascade hops and this yields a unique, floral, herbaceous flavor.  Bright tart, citrus fruit and a wildflower aroma is followed by a complex flavor of grapefruit, pine and sun-soaked grass.

John’s favorite- Honeymaker Lavender Mead ($17.99).  This one is medium-to-full bodied as well with a foundation of wildflower honey.  Honeymaker ferments this mead in the spirits of French botanical aperitifs.  It is aromatic and semi-sweet with the iconic scents of summer.  Locally grown English lavender imparts brilliant floral notes that is balanced out by a crisp minerality.  Lavender mead is creamy with a round finish that leaves citrus and pineapple on your palate.

Corinne’s favorite- Honeymaker Blueberry Mead ($21.99).  Rose-hued, this mead balances the delicate elements of honey from Maine’s most pristine farmlands with the tart notes of wild coastal blueberries.  It’s medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing-ideal for these late summer evenings or even a taste of harvest during the long winter months.  It is perfect with a slight chill.