Category Archives: Spain

Hola Rioja

As the weather threatened all day to put a damper on our Rioja celebration on October 1st, we could only sit back and wait.  I looked nervously outside every few minutes while I set-up all afternoon.  Dark skies looked ominous and the store was quiet. Uh-oh.  Tonight’s going to be a dud I thought to myself.

Would the rain or the threat of rain keep people in?

As it turns out, my answer was no.  The rain held off and the Back Bay showed up to help us celebrate our month long promotion of Rioja.  Known as the “little black dress” of wine, Rioja is one of the most food-friendly wines on the market.  Winemakers in the Rioja region of Spain only release their wines to the public when they feel that they are truly ready for consumption, so when you purchase a bottle you can open it with confidence that night.  They also age well, so buy the Gran Reserva to save for a special occasion and know that you can store the wine until you are ready to open it.

Food among some Spanish flair

 

Because we wanted to feature as many wines as possible we set up two tasting areas.  One right in the front of the store and was manned by Kristen Butke of European Cellars, Eric Solomon Selections.  Kristen poured for the eager crowd two high-end Riojas and two other Spanish wines.  She started everyone off with the 2010 Gessami Gramona (a muscat blend), then a 2006 Izadi Reserva Rioja, 2006 Orben Rioja and 2008 Black Slate Priorat for fun.

Tom helping Kirsten at front table

Muga and Juve

The Riojas

The second tasting area had both Marco Dreary of Winebow Boston and Coleen Noonan from Tapeo Restaurant.  Marco was pouring for the crowd a 2007 Juve Y Camps Gran Reserva Cava, 2009 Muga Bianco, 2009 Sierra Cantabria Tinto, 2007 Sierra Cantabria Crianza and the 2007 Muga Reserva.  Coleen’s adjacent table, for the tapas, was set up with a Spanish flair with flamenco dancer figurines and a shawl to decorate the table full of goodies.  And by goodies, I mean Chorizo y Apricot Skewers, Croquettas de Pollo (chicken croquettes) and Gorditas (prunes Stuffed with goat cheese).  The food went fast as no one could resist the delicious tapas that went perfectly with Marco’s wines.

Howie, Marco, and Coleen

Tapeo's yummy spread

All in all, it was a great night for us all!  Thank you everyone who came to kick off this great month dedicated to all things Rioja, from our staff to our guests to Marco and Kristen for pouring amazing wines.  I especially thank Tapeo Restaurant for spending a couple of hours with us and offering something delicious for Bauer’s faithful to try.

Vibrant Rioja and Laura P…you made it possible for us to host such a great event.  What a wonderful night for everyone! 

Cheers!

Ladies enjoying some Cava

Karen and her friend

Rioja and Tapas

Some of the crowd

Hey, I’m More Than Just a Cute, Fuzzy Face

After 12 years I have picked up a lot of wine knowledge from my humans.  All day I listen to Howie, John and Nick discuss wines with customers and amongst themselves.  You could say I have picked up a thing or two and I want to start sharing that with all of you.

Recently, I have been joining Corinne in the office as she writes because she likes the company and I get lots of attention.  Watching her work,  I got to thinking about my take on this store and my contributions.  I’m more than night-time security with a cute face and my voice needs to be heard.   I made it clear to Corinne

Sitting with Corinne waiting for a pat

that it was time for me to start my own recommendations.  As the king in this place, she immediately obeyed.  I always get what I want. I hope it will work on you too.  Let me send out the Jedi mind trick now:  mmmmmm…..tuna.  You want to give me tuna.  Delicious tuna….NOW.

But I digress…

You can ask Howie or John about their personal favorites and they will tell you all about them. Want my opinion?  Look around the store and you will start to find little grey cat stickers on my favorites.  I figured that was the easiest way to make recommendations since I am sleeping all day before my nighttime security shift in the store.

My wines right now are the NV Perrier-Jouet Champagne, 2010 Frisk Prickly Riesling, 2004 Trimbach Pinot Gris (hey…that’s named after me!) Reserve Personelle, and 2009 G.D. Vajra Langhe Ross.  Come check them out and make sure you buy one before they are gone!

Cheers!

Gris 

A Rose by Any Other Name…

As the worst heat wave Boston has seen in a long time finally subsides, I can’t help but wonder-what were people drinking?  Other than water, did Bostonians still imbibe?  As the thermometer crept up, I craved rosés.  Every bottle that was pink screamed out…DRINK ME!  I’m refreshing!!!  As someone who has never turned her back on Bacchus, I listened, opened and enjoyed every sip.

Rosés are probably the most misunderstood wine in America.  Men and women alike seem to think pink automatically means sweet.  Thanks to the White Zinfandel craze of the 70s and 80s, we have been tainted.  Men, of course, think a wine that is pink is an assault on their masculinity…so not true fellas!  A dry, crisp pink rosé can be your best friend on a hot day.

Of course, not all rosés are made alike.  Like any wine, they reflect the terroir that they are grown on.   There are three different countries as of late that I have tasted the rosé and smiled with delight: France, Spain and the United States.

Embrace the “joie de vivre” and pick yourself up a bottled of sun-blushed rosés from Provence.  Made from the red grapes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and occasionally a little Cabernet Sauvignon, Provencal rosés are pale in color, fun to drink and refreshing.  They are soft and delicate with crisp ripe fruit flavors and in particular the strawberry notes we have come to expect from rose.  I can highly recommend the mas de la dame we have here at Bauer.  At a great price, this wine is a true summer pleaser for all.

Aside from Provence, the Rhone valley produces arguable some of the best rosés in the world.  Mainly produced in the Tavel region, where rosé is exclusively made, these wines are serious, ambitious and vibrant in color.  Made from a Rhone red blend, they are full-bodied, bone dry with a bright acidity that makes them especially food friendly.  A wine that says they are from the sub-region Bandol are worth every penny.

Although not your typical rosé region, I do need to make special mention of my favorite rosé from the Loire Valley.  From the sub-region, Chinon, comes a delicious rosé made from Cabernet Franc.  It’s fuller bodied, fruit-forward and spectacular with grilled spicy shrimp kabobs.

Aside from France, you can find fuller wines from Spain that are especially food friendly.  Normally a blend of Garnacha, Monastrell and a smidge of Syrah that gives your palate something to cheer about with being ever-so slightly sweet, lower alcohol and bright acidity.  Meant to be drunk young, you will have aromas of strawberry with fresh cherry and currant flavors.  A perfect example is Senoiro de Sarria 2010 Rosado from Navarra.  And at $9.99 a bottle….you can’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy this gem.

Sometimes referred to as blush wine, please don’t call my next category the dreaded White Zinfandel.  Washington State is producing rosés that cannot be compared to the sticky, sweet pink wines the US produced in the 70s and 80s.  Nowadays, rosé from the West Coast leans towards  bright tropical fruits, citrus and Mexican orange blossom on the palate with great acidity and lively finish.  Winderlea Vineyards in the Willamette Valley in Oregon is producing wines from the oldest and most highly regarded sites in Oregon.  Made from Pinot Noir this is a fun summer wine with some serious pedigree.

So now that we are sliding quickly into August…Think Pink for the rest of the summer and Enjoy!

Oh so delicious Sangria!

Sangria sometimes get a bad rap that is not always undeserving.  Like any cocktail, if it is made with pre-mixed ingredients, you will end up with a syrupy sweet concoction that just  doesn’t do this historical drink justice.  I always endorse the use of fresh, quality ingredients in any cocktail, but that’s because I spend too many years behind a bar making them both ways.  The drinks that always got a “Wow!” were the ones that made to order with fresh juices, fruit and  garnishes.

Sangria should be no different.  Yes, it had a humble beginning in Spain but it has grown world-wide to be a refreshing party drink.  For you Jane Austen fans out there, The Claret Cup Punch she wrote about is, in fact, a sangria.  Mrs. Bennet served it after her mischevious daughter Lydia ran off with Wickham to celebrate their marriage, despite the scandal it caused in Pride & Prejudice.  In addition, Mr. Weston served it at his Christmas party, you know, the one where Mr. Elton imbibed too much and revealed his true feelings for the heroine in Emma.  Nearly everyone of Miss Austen’s stories has a party scene in which sangria was served.  And as it should be, sangria is a drink meant to be shared with friends over a punch bowl at a summer party.

But I digress….

Although Sangria is traditionally a punch made from red wine, modern recipes have evolved that use white wine and roses as well.  Rioja has been the most popular base but increasingly we’ve seen on restaurant menus white, rose and sparkling.   So I have decided to share with you my personal recipes for crowd pleasing cocktails.  I know that some people like to add fizz to their sangria so feel free to add seltzer to any of these still wine recipes.

Red Sangria:

1 BIG punch bowl

1 bottle of red wine.  Doesn’t have to be expensive.  I suggest Grenache or Rioja

½ cup of Clement Creole Shrubb (Orange liqeuor…can substitute Grand Marnier or Cointreau)

½ cup of raspberry or citrus flavored rum-depends on how fruity you like it.

¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup freshly pureed raspberries

Soak overnight in the wine: sliced orange, lime, lemon, raspberries, blueberries, apples and red grapes (halved).  Then mix the rest the ingredients in before serving.  Garnish with a slice of orange and a raspberry skewered.

White Sangria: 

**This recipe also goes great with a sparkling wine like a Cava Brut or Prosecco.

1 BIG punch bowl

1 bottle of white wine.  I like Vinho Verde for the crisp flavors it adds.

½ cup of pear brandy

½ cup of peach flavored rum

¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup    of freshly squeezed orange juice

1/3 cup freshly pureed peaches (for something more tropical use mangoes instead)

Soak overnight in the wine: sliced orange, lime, lemon, peach, apple, red and green grapes (halved).  Mix the rest of the ingredients in before serving.  Garnish with a slice of peach and a raspberry skewered.

Rose Sangria:

1 BIG punch bowl

1 bottle of rose.  Something dry and crisp like a rose from Provence.

½ cup of red berry flavored rum

½ cup of fruit liqueur.  I like Thatcher’s Blueberry or Yumberry

¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup    of freshly squeezed orange juice

1/3 Cup of freshly pureed strawberries

Soak overnight in the wine: sliced orange, lime, lemon, strawberries (halved), red and green grapes (halved).  Mix the rest of the ingredients in before serving.  Garnish with a slice of strawberry.  Add basil for a delicious kick!

I know these recipes may seem like a lot of work but trust me, the end result is worth the effort.  Get your friends slicing up the fruit and you have got yourself a pre-party!

Happy Sangria making everyone!