Tag Archives: Back Bay

Crisp, Bubbly American Summer

Boston may be a port city but in the everyday hustle and bustle…when do we get to enjoy the water?  Do we Bostonians ever get out on the water?  Most of us can answer that with a disappointed no.

When the days get longer and the temperature starts to to rose I begin to daydream of blue waters and crisp white sails.  I may not be able to hop on a sailboat and dead out to sea, but I certainly can continue the fantasy when I open up a bottle of Domaine Chandon Brut Classic’s Limited Edition of American Summer.

The look of the bottle IS the picture of summer: A trio of red, white and blue give the feel of looking at the mainsail of a sloop in Boston Harbor.  This refreshing sparkler that is crisp, lively and made in the Methode Traditionelle (Classic Champagne Method) that allows a second fermentation in the bottle.  In doing so, the wine gives aromas of green apple, cinnamon, lime and vanilla that lead to flavors of tropical fruit, pears and a hint on toast.

Chandon is comprised of the three classic Champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  Grown in some of California’s finest appellations: Yountville, Carneros and Mount Veeder, Chandon’s sparkling wines are Pinot Noir heavy due to the structure and body the grape gives to the wine.  Chardonnay adds delicacy with the tropical fruit and pear notes and the Pinot Meunier offers nutty and earthy flavors.

Pinot Noir

Chardonnay

Pinot Meunier

Most people save their bubbly for special occasions, but with Domaine Chandon’s competitive price…there is no need.  Drink this one whenever the mood strikes!  Ceasar Salad, Fried Calamari, oyster, or sushi are the perfect compliments to Chandon’s Brut Classic.  But really any salty, creamy or nutty foods will go great with this summer quaffer.

Move Over Bland Ciders. There’s a New Kid in Town-Bantam Cider Wunderkind.

Two years ago two enterprising women in Boston had an idea. They wanted to pursue a dream that blended a love of the culinary arts and local agriculture with a business opportunity. Dana Masterpolo and Michelle da Silva noticed that there were many fine wines and craft beers out there but very few fine ciders, especially locally made. Mass produced, unmemorable ciders that were on the sweet side gave inspiration to Dana and Michelle to “create a nicely crafted product, packaged in a more sophisticated way.” Two years later, Bantam Modern American Cider Wunderkind hit Bauer’s shelves and has become a favorite of the staff. Of course, at Bauer, we love local companies! We love being part of the homegrown movement that has been sweeping the Boston area, especially when we are introduced to a product like Bantam Cider.

But a lot had to happen in those two years between inspiration and realization. Good thing it’s in the blood. Michelle grew up making wine with her grandparents, so she knew the perseverance that was needed to make this endeavor a successful reality. To prepare themselves, Dana and Michelle took an intensive course at Cornell University (taught by a top UK cider maker) and dove into the technical aspects of production, such as bio-chemistry.
These two ladies are not afraid to experiment either. It’s through trial and error and endless experimentation with local apples that Wunderkind came to be. Thankfully, New England is one of the largest growing regions in the US for apples, so Dana and Michelle have access to the freshest products and inarguably, some of the country’s best fruit.

Continually inspired by other cider makers, orchard owners and apple enthusiasts, Dana and Michelle have been encouraged by the brewing business. Let’s face it…there are a lot of men in the brewing business so it is refreshing to see a couple of enterprising women making their way. Having the support of great people like Andris Veidis at Blue Hills Brewery, Bill Russell and Harry Smith at Just Beer/Buzzards Bay can go a long way. Not to mention what great write ups in publications like Bevnet, Brewhound and DrinkCraftBeer can do for your sales.

Bantam’s flagship cider, Wunderkind, is named for one of America’s greatest adventurers, Amelia Earhart. Dana and Michelle channel Earhart’s courage and sense of adventure and never allow themselves to settle for something less than extraordinary. This is why we are enjoying Bantam’s Wunderkind today. The cider is crisp and clean and on the first sip you get a nice aroma and flavor of honey. Not overpowering but just a hint of honey that is followed by crisp apple flavor. This is one you can enjoy on a hot summer day (and we know we have a lot of those coming in the next few months).

Drink Bantam by itself or because of its versatility, you can enjoy Wunderkind with an array of different foods at any point of the day. Think brunch with eggs, pancakes or crepes. Have it with your favorite cheese platter, Dana suggests a rich, creamy one such as Brie. It also goes great with salads, fish, oysters, pork and all spicy foods. Dana and Michelle love Indian or Thai with their Wunderkind!

You can find Bantam Cider Wunderkind on the shelves now at Bauer in 22 oz bottles! Pick up a few for your Memorial Day BBQ today!

Bantam Cider will also be at Bauer On Friday, June 18th from 6-8 pm handing out samples of Wunderkind.

Reflections on a Great Year of Drinking…

As 2011 comes to a close in just a few short hours, I can’t help but sit back, sip some bubbly and reflect on what an incredible year it has been.  From the ups and downs of a rocky economy, seeing freedom become a reality through the Arab Spring, watching an already toxic political environment grow worse in the US, witnessing natural disasters around the world to a royal wedding and the end of the Iraq war, we have seen our fair share awe inspiring and anger inciting events.  But we made it through and that is cause for celebration.

For Bauer we have had some wonderful events that included top winemakers and incredible chefs coming into our store to pour wine and cook for us.  Being part of events like the Taste of the Back Bay and the Newbury Street Gala were hardly work and more like fun!

Some highlights that stick out in my mind:

Randall Grahm joining us for a tasting and signing of his book “Been Doon So Long”

Howie and Randall

Cathy and Julia from Red, White Boston with Howie

A visit from award winning wine maker Nik Weiss from St. Urbans Hof in Mosel, Germany

Gris listening to Nik

Chef’s Series Tasting took off with a bang!

Rob and Sean from City Table at our first Chef's Series Tasting

Vibrant Rioja, Tapeo and Bauer working together for a huge Rioja and Tapas Tasting

Partnering up with some other important people also helped make 2011 memorable.  Kathy from The Fish & Bone gave me an eye opening experience when she had a dog food and beer tasting in her store.

Working with Andrew Cabot and Nelse Clark for launching Privateer Rum in Boston made me see that rum is not just for making fruity cocktails.  If it is made right, you only need a glass.  Now they have launched their Amber Rum and started their barrel program with us as well.  I can only hope that 2012 is just as prosperous and exciting for them as 2011.

2011 had some low lights as well for us.  But thankfully, those low lights were turned into highlights.

Bauer Alum, Nick Demjen, left us in the beginning of the summer for a great sales position at Origin Beverage.  Good news for us…Bauer is in his sales area so we still get to see him once a week!

Nick's "private" going away party in the back of Bauer. Cake and Champagne courtesy of Sue!

Nick's public going away party where he received the gift of a lifetime. Look closely and you will see that jersey is signed by the Stanley Cup winning team!

As much as we miss Nick, our new Beer Manager, Tom, has been up to the task and bringing in great brews for everyone!  He has been a great addition to the Bauer staff.

We can’t close 2011 without mentioning Gris.  Our little grey man lived in Bauer for 12 great years protecting the store and giving joy to all that came into contact with him.  Our hearts broke when he died in August and it did make walking into work a little tough with no one at the door to greet us.

Checking out what wines he likes

Our sweet boy sleeping with a toy

But something good came out losing Gris.  A little homeless kitten named Sofia came to live at Bauer and she has taken to the store life very well.  She loves all and is loved by all.  Well, except maybe the dogs that is.  For something so small, she sure knows how to intimidate even the toughest of canines.

Passed out under the tree in the French wines.

Christmas morning at Tom's house with her presents

From all of us to all of you, we wish you a very Happy New Year!  May it be filled with joy and may only good things come out of the sorrows.

Now that we’ve all sufficiently recovered from our Thanksgiving holiday, its time to start focusing our attention on the festivities during the next few weeks. I’m sure there will be many Frank Costanza “SERENITY NOW!” moments along the way, but I look at it as a time to celebrate the holidays with friends and partially-dysfunctional family. And that’s what we’re here for, to supply the right ingredients to help you make it to the finish line.

Laurent-Perrier always helps

First of all, if you’re planning a small, or not-so-small, gathering at your house or office, we can come up with the right type, and quantity, of libation, and deliver it for you, at no charge. Its fun to have a variety of wines, fun seasonal beers, and perhaps a signature cocktail to ensure that your attendees will be holding their heads the next day thanking/cursing your good taste! We have many people on staff who can assist with the setup.

Secondly, gift-giving can quite frankly be a pain-in-the-ass (ask my wife), but once you walk through the door of Bauer Wines, that endless list can shrink very easily. Just do a little research and find out what your recipient likes to drink, because it’s the personal touch that hits the mark. We have all categories of all things spirits, artesenal beers, and wines at every price point. If you have a brain freeze and can’t come up with the right bottle, go for the increasingly-popular gift card. Let them decide what to choose.

Ask us about the "One for you. One for ME!" Gift card promotion

Thirdly (is that even a word?), we have some killer tastings coming up in the month of December, as we bring in some of our favorite purveyors to pour their wares. Here’s a list of whats coming up during the next few weeks. You can always sign up on our Facebook  page or follow us on Twitter to see whats happening in our hedonistic corner of the world.

And since it wouldn’t be a Bauer blog without the ramblings of young Sofia Bauer, here’s some photos to show you how she’s getting into the holiday spirit!

All I want for Christmas is a cute kitten...Oh...I got one!

Sofia loves hiding under the tree in the French wine.

She still loves her Clicquot

Lastly, and certainly not leastly, we’d like to thank all of you who support what we do, and how we do it. Its very gratifying to work with people that share the same passion about this business that we do. Have a great start to the holiday season, and try not to leave everything to the last minute.

 

Cheers,

Howie

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.

Harvest Time is coming. Do You Know What’s Happening at your Local Wineries?

As the harvest season approaches, I can’t help but wonder how much the wine-faithful of Boston know about the local vineyards that are gearing up for their busiest time of the year.  For those that are not in the know, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have some fantastic small production vineyards that should not be discounted.  Loved by locavores and critics, wineries  in  New England are worth the drive for both their offerings and the beautiful scenery.

Let’s face it, there is no where prettier on earth than New England in the fall and a visit to one of the wineries will show you just how beautiful it is.  Aside from the iconic scenery though, many people do wonder how it is possible to produce great wine in such a short growing season.   Comparable to the weather in the Loire Valley in France, the Southeastern facing coastline allows the warm Gulf Stream waters to keep these vineyards growing into the fall. And it’s all in the grapes; Southern New England wineries are producing mostly white wine, and sparkling and cool weather reds.  Only concentrating on vinifera varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, New England wineries are becoming rising stars in the wine world.

Now with that in mind, here are a few of my favorites that are a short drive from Boston:

Alfalfa Farm Winery Located at 267 Rowley Bridge Road in Topsfield, MA

Alfalfa Farm Winery is a family owned and operated vineyard that produces hand-crafted wines and hosts tasting events.    Throughout the summer (until August 28), Alfalfa hosts weekend tastings on Sunday from 1-5 pm.  Tastings expand in September until December to include Saturdays as well.  Looking for something to do other than just taste the wine?  Alfalfa loves to have volunteers help with their harvest!  You get paid with a T-shirt, lunch and some wine.

Visit their website www.alfalfafarmwinery.com for information about volunteering and check out their local festivals coming up.

Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery located at 417 Hixbridge Rd in Westport, MA

Westport Rivers believe that “Massachusetts’ grown wine is a blank canvas, begging for exploration and creativity.”   Once you visit their farm you learn all about ancient and new techniques of winemaking and how Westport Rivers uses them both to produce flavorful, crisp, cleans wines that Massachusetts should be proud to call their own.  Open for tastings Monday through Saturday from 11-5 pm; you should also check into their special tasting events such as barrel tastings of their Pinot Noir or Chardonnay!  Not to mention they have an art gallery and give private tours/tastings…

Visit Westport’s website for more information about all of their events!  www.westportrivers.com

Sakonnet Vineyards located at 162 West Main Rd in Little Compton, RI

This is a legendary vineyard because our very own Howie Rubin celebrated his nuptials at Sakonnet.  Tours and tastings are not the only offerings in this beautiful setting.  They have a separate, on-site B & B and offer cooking classes! Their “Master Chefs Series” is a series of several one-day classes with top chefs from Rhode Island and the Boston area, emphasizing the educational experience of combining food and wine.  While you are there, you can have a romantic picnic among the vines.  Just picture yourself….sitting with a glass of wine among the beautiful countryside that is divided by row after row of grapevines.

To learn more about tastings, cooking classes for events at Sakonnet visit their website: www.sakonnetwine.com

If you want more information about Wineries both along the coast and throughout the state here are some websites to check out:

www.coastalwinetrail.com

http://masswinery.com

http://turtlecreekwine.com/

Wine & Cheese Trail is now available too!

http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/docs/wine_cheese_brochure.pdf

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 New Look for Bauer…

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and said…”It’s time for a makeover?”  We sure have.  Today, we are unveiling only a small piece of what’s to come. Thanks to Ruby Wines we have replaced the old varietal signs above the wine stacks.  They had a good run…but the yellow signs were showing their age.  So when Ruby stepped up to the plate and offered us new ones we enthusiastically agreed.  How could we say no?  This is just a small, first step in a new Bauer Wine & Spirits.  We are planning a whole new look to the store and maybe a few more surprises in there as well.

Without further ado…the new in-store signs!


A Cat’s Eye View

Hi everyone.  Many of you already know me but I am going to introduce myself anyway.  My name is Gris and I live here at Bauer Wine & Spirits.  I know it appears that I am always sleeping in the front window but I assure you that it’s because I have a different schedule.  I am resting up for when my shift starts. Just like everyone else that works here, I have a job to do but my work day begins when the door is locked and the lights go down.  As part of security, I roam around late night and check on the doors and windows.  Once I am assure they are properly secured,  I sit in my favorite spot; no one is getting in on my watch.  You may ask why would I care so much when there is an alarm system.   Well, my dedication for the last 12 years is because this is not only my job but it’s my home.  My people here take good care of me  so I, in turn, take good care of them.  While everyone is dear to me (mainly because they fill my food bowl when I demand it) I have to admit I have my favorites.   John and I have a special bond.  When I need some attention and he is working, you can be sure to see me following him around the store.  Howie is the other, of course, and I love it when he picks me up for a quick snuggle!

Since everyone else I work with gets the chance to talk to you, I have decided that from time to time I am going to write about what is going on in Bauer from my eyes.  It’s a whole other world down here only 1 foot off the floor and I think it is time I share it with you.  Feel free to pet me anytime.  Sometimes I am in a deep sleep and don’t hear you coming (working nights is exhausting), but I always love to have my head scratched.  I look forward to telling you how I see things around her!

Until next time…

Cheers,

Gris 

Now you know why I love where my bed is

Those wine stacks look really tall from down here!