Friday Fright Fest

October 31, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

October is the month of spooky photos, films and activities to keep you frightened for 30 straight days. Well, here’s our contribution. 

This horrific scene happened last night at UG when TJ knocked a bottle of Quintarelli off of his desk. The pool of blood red wine looks like a crime scene, and frankly it was. TJ has broken a lot of bottles in his day and always remarks at how wine on the floor, no matter how expensive, just “smells like any old wine.” Last night he told me, “Quintarelli on the floor smells like Quintarelli.” Sob. 

This Halloween, don’t let your loved ones pile bottles of wine on the edge of their desk. Especially wines made by a now deceased winemaker of unparalleled finesse. 



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So a Chicken Walks Into a Bar….

October 30, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

*Here’s the secret at UG – we’re all obsessed with cocktails. Even our Urban Hops beer manager, Ben! In today’s blog he encourages us to start experimenting with flips and fizzes! 


I don’t particularly need any added reason to enjoy a delicious cocktail. More often than not, my drink choice of the evening will fall to cocktails. Call me a creative type- I love experimenting with flavors and textures, with all the choices out there for ingredients, I am pretty much always able to find something that fits my mood. Sometimes concoctions don’t turn out the way I had hoped, so I drink it anyways and move along. When they turn out well… well, I drink those too and celebrate in the victory. A style of classic cocktail has quickly become one of my favorites to play with, and it might sound a bit weird. I hope that I can convince you, though, that adding an egg.. a raw one, might be one of the most exciting things you’ve ever done with your cocktails at home.

First things first, yes. Eggs, raw ones. You might be asking yourself, “Hey Ben… what the heck is wrong with you? Why would I ever purposely put raw eggs in my drink? That sounds horrendous.” Well, the answer is simple, because it is AWESOME. The addition of eggs to your cocktail mostly lends texture to whatever you’re drinking. One of my all time favorite desserts is my grandma’s lemon meringue pie. Now, imagine that awesome meringue texture mixed up with some boozy goodness in a chilled glass. Yes please!!!

The flip (generally using a whole egg) and fizz (generally using only the whites of the egg) were all the rage during the golden age of cocktails. With the establishment of the FDA and more strict regulations on food, consumers became wary of foodborne illnesses like salmonella. Living in a time of near obsession with getting all food-things as local and fresh as possible, there are a few easy steps to make sure you won’t get sick from raw eggs. According to the National Safety Council, you’re about four times as likely to choke on a handful of bar nuts as you are to get salmonella poisoning. With eggs that do carry salmonella and other little monsters, washing them well can help to minimize risk. If that still hasn’t convinced you, most egg drinks will utilize citrus. Citric acid (along with the alcohol) will also serve to eliminate any potential problems! When choosing your eggs, stick with organic when you can. If you have a farm nearby with fresh eggs, you will be good to go!

So what do you do? You’re going to need a cocktail shaker. Shaking cocktails is pretty fun, and you can practice that ‘signature shake’ at home to impress all your friends when they come over. Most bartenders will start with a ‘dry shake,’ that is, shaking all of your ingredients together without ice first. This allows the proteins in the egg to break down, while air whips into them. As you shake the cocktail, the proteins will expand and foam and will begin to build. After you’ve shaken vigorously for 10-15 seconds, throw some ice in your shaker and continue to shake. (Fun fact: the ‘Ramos Gin Flip’ recipe originally called for 12 MINUTES of shaking to properly create the cocktail!!) After you’ve adequately shaken your cocktail, strain it into a chilled glass and finish however the recipe dictates.

If you’re looking for a really fun way to add some complexity to your cocktails at home, experimenting with fizzes and flips can be a ton of fun. I’ve included three recipes (not my own) that I’ve experimented with at home that are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. Most of the ingredients you need to make these cocktails can be purchased at The Urban Grape, and are great additions to your bar. Seriously, give eggs a shot and shake up your home bar! Puns completely intended.


Cotogna’s Aperol Fizz (this tastes like alcoholic orange sherbert… really)

-2oz Aperol
-1oz fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
-1/2oz St. Martinique Cane Sugar Syrup (buy turbinado sugar from Trader Joe’s and make the syrup yourself- 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar)
-1 egg white
-grapefruit twist

1. Add Aperol, lemon juice, can syrup, & egg white to cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously without ice for 15 seconds.

2. Add ice to shaker and shake until very cold. Strain into glass and top with seltzer, garnishing with grapefruit twist.


Buttermilk Maple Gin Flip

-1 whole egg, separated
-2oz gin
-1oz buttermilk
-1/2oz maple syrup
-freshly grated nutmeg

1. Place egg yolk in cocktail shaker, seal shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

2. Fill shaker with ice. Add gin, buttermilk, egg white, and maple syrup. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and strain into chilled glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.


Pisco Sour

-3oz pisco
-3/4oz simple syrup (1:1)
-1oz fresh lemon juice
-1 fresh egg white
-2 dashes Angostura bitters

1. Place egg white, pisco, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.

2. Fill shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into chilled glass and dash with bitters.


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Chelsea’s Oregon Trail

October 29, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

*Here’s Chelsea’s staff blog about her adventures in Oregon. Enjoy! 


The best way to get to know a wine, is to become acquainted with the vineyard. Last May, I had the opportunity to stay at the Alexana Property in Oregon’s Willamette Valley with my parents and little sister.

First, let me share the story of how we got there.

Two years ago, my family and I traveled to see friends in Big Sky, Montana when they hosted a group of 20 wine-loving guests at their home. Little did I know, in attendance would be an actual winery owner, Dr. Madaiah Revana. Through fly fishing, drinking memorable wine, and relaxing under Montana’s countless starry sky, my family and I got to know Dr. Revana. The more we learned, the more we liked.

Dr. Revana grew up in rural India near the city of Bangalore where his family had been farming for generations. His interest in becoming a winegrower was led by a love of wine, but the instinct for grape growing is part of his family heritage. When he came to the United States, he started a successful cardiology practice in Houston, which he is still operating today.

First introduced to fine wine by friends, he quickly became fascinated with Bordeaux’s first growths. This led him to create Revana Vineyards, a picturesque 9 acre estate in Napa’s St. Helena district that focuses on estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Alexana Winery (named after his daughter Alexandra) was born of Dr. Revana’s love of Burgundy. In the spring of 2005, Dr. Revana began a search for an ideal region that could produce Pinot Noir that rivaled those from Burgundy. His search ended in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where he purchased the 200 acre Alexana property.

Back to Oregon this past May.

My family and I were planning a trip to celebrate my sister Morgan’s college graduation, we thought Oregon would be the perfect destination. Dr. Revana invited us to stay at his apartment on the Alexana property and visit the estate.

We landed at the Portland airport and drove to the Willamette Valley, which was just about an hour south of Portland. When we arrived in Newburg (part of the Dundee Hills AVA), we banged a right down an inconspicuous dirt road which led us to the Alexana property. While many other winery facilities in the Willamette look like glorified tool-sheds, this facility was world class and meticulously tended to.

Our apartment was right above the gravity winery/tasting room and overlooked the 200 acre winery. The sights were breathtaking- the property boasts some impressively large trees which looked like they had been there for centuries.

The Red Hills of Dundee are marked by distinct geographic elements that insulate this region from the dramatic weather variations experienced in other nearby growing areas. Because of the slope and elevation, vineyards in the Dundee Hills benefit from warmer nights and less frost and fog from the nearby valley floor. This is perfect for Pinot Noir, since temperature fluctuations make it susceptible to rot.

In 2003, the previous property owner planted 13 acres of Pinot Noir and three acres of Pinot Gris. Over the next five years, Dr. Revana continued to develop another 39 acres, including Riesling, Chardonnay and additional Pinot Noir. The soils of Dundee are primarily sedimentary silt and stone as well as volcanic stone with clay, and the bedrock beneath is sediment and basalt. There are also over 18 different soil types that run throughout the vineyard, adding to the complexity of these wines!

Alexana was such a beautiful and hospitable property to experience. During our time there, my family had wonderful interactions with the staff, including winemaker Brian Weil and Manager John Gabelhausen.

The last night we had a cookout at Alexana’s outdoor kitchen with the entire staff. Brian is also an amazing chef, serving us freshly-caught grilled salmon perfectly paired with the Alexana Pinot Noir. The whole experience was truly memorable for my family.

I am excited to share that we just brought in the 2011 Alexana Revana Vineyard Riesling, 2011 Alexana Red Label Pinot Noir, and also 2009 Revana Cabernet! These wines are all perfect companions at any dinner table.

Are you inspired to meet Dr. Revana? Save the date for a visit from Dr Revana at The Urban Grape South End on Friday, February 27th from 5-8pm!


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Spotlight: 2010 Domaine de Cristia “Renaissance” Châteauneuf-du-Pape

October 28, 2014 by: The Urban Grape


The Urban Grape’s philosophy is not built on points, but we know collectors want to know when something has scored well. To that end, this wine was bestowed with 96 points from Wine Spectator, 93 points from Stephen Tanzer, and 92 Points from Robert Parker. Now, to the question of whether or not YOU will like it…

This wine is geeky cool, because it sources grapes from two very different parcels within the property. The first parcel is cool and sandy, and the grapes that are grown are full of big, round tannins. The second parcel stays an even, warm temperature all growing season, thanks to round stones that heat up during the day and keep the vines warm all night long. So unique and awesome! The resulting grapes make great alcohol, which as we know is essential for aging wines. 

This particular wine is 60% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, grown off of vines that are 100 years and 50 years old, respectively. The wines are aged separately, and then blended and aged again. This wine needs to be aged for another 8 years to reach its full potential, but after that it will last another 15+ years. Your patience will be rewarded by a wine that has incredible complexity of fruit, spice, espresso and tobacco. A gem. 

Regular Price: $100

15% off per single bottle: $85

25% off Four Bottles: $300 ($100 savings at $75/bottle) That’s Like Buy 3, Get 1 Free!




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Geek Out with UG: Right Bank vs Left Bank 101

October 27, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

As employers, it makes us proud when our staff uses their time at UG to springboard into careers in wine. Such is the case with former UG star employee, Celine Della Ventura. After working her way up from floor staff to our Special Orders position, Celine spread her wings for New York, where she now works for Medocaine, a world class Bordeaux importer. 

We’re thrilled to welcome Celine back on Monday, November 3rd, from 6:30 to 8 pm for Geek Out with UG: Right Bank vs Left Bank 101.  In this intimate class, Celine will share her extensive knowledge of the Bordeaux region, and break down the differences between right bank and left bank wines, through wine tasting of course!

Bordeaux is one of the most confusing regions in the world, and one that always intimidates Americans, especially those newer to wine drinking. Celine will show us that Bordeaux is accessible and affordable, and send us away with many reasons to embrace the wines of this region.

Tickets are $10, and are available here. Educational materials and a selection of French cheese is included in the fee for the evening.  

This event is 21+. 


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Adventures in Italy

October 17, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

On a recent trip in August to visit my fiancée in Switzerland, we decided to take a little weekend trip to one of my favorite wine regions of Italy: Piedmont. We had been staying in Luino, a quaint small town just right across the Swiss border, on the beautiful Lago Maggiore. From there, Piedmont is a short two and a half hour drive away. Perfect for a little getaway.

We arrived on a glorious day and quickly learned we were lucky to have such good weather after a week of relentless rain. I had been to Piedmont on previous trips, but never during this time of year, when the vines are getting heavy with lush fruit, almost ready for the great harvest.


Since we arrived in the late afternoon, we only had time to visit one wine maker, but a very special one indeed. Located in the town of Barolo, we had the incredible opportunity to indulge in the wines of Chiara Boschis, winemaker and proprietor of E. Pira & Figli. One of the first emerging female winemakers of Barolo, in an industry previously dominated by men, Chiara paved the way with her philosophy and approach in creating naturally powerful Barolo with great finesse and stunning elegance. After our delightful tour of the small winery, we tasted her Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera, and two Barolo (2009 Barolo Cannubi and 2010 Barolo via Nuova). Needless to say, we walked out of the winery skipping, excited with the anticipation of enjoying our newly purchased treasures from such a special producer.

The next day happened to be an Italian national holiday called Ferragosto. Consequently, everything in town shuts down, and rightly so! Italians truly understand the importance of coming together with family and friends and celebrating the occasion with abundant food, wine, laughter…and even dancing. Luckily I had some insider information of a celebration in the town of Bussia. That early evening we arrived and immediately followed our noses to the top of a small hill where a church was situated, and rows and rows of tables were aligned around a large grill, wine stations and an open-air dance floor.


There’s a saying, “When in Rome…,” and as cheesy as it sounds, it is clever advice. Going where the locals go, and immersing yourself in customary traditions is the best way to experience a culture. Looking around at the crowd, we were the only “outsiders” in attendance, and we couldn’t have felt more welcome and happy to be a part of such a memorable experience.

That evening we had some delicious grilled pork ribs and sausage along with vedure fritte (fried vegetables). Of course, these things were further enjoyed with a lovely Dolcetto, whose lingering dark fruit flavors lent well to the salty but juicy pork. We just couldn’t get enough!

The following day we had to head home, but not without stumbling across a lovely restaurant serving a special seven-course lunch for Ferragosto in which we delighted in without a blink of an eye, sipping on refreshing glasses of Roero Arneis in the August heat. But alas, our trip had come to an end, and we drove home with full tummies and simply unforgettable memories. Ci vediamo Italia!

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A Texas Sized Pig Roast

October 16, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

Every October we take the kids to Dallas to visit my brothers and their families, and to visit the State Fair of Texas. I’ve written exhaustively about my love affair with Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, and my pilgrimage to their booth next to the Crazy Mouse roller coaster on many previous blogs. Don’t worry, I had one and it was wonderful. But even more wonderful was the pig and goat roast that my brother and sister-in-law put together on Friday night to celebrate all of our October and November family birthdays, and our ten year wedding anniversary. 

The evening was made possible by two fantastic Dallas chefs, Sharon Hage and Tim Byres. Sharon became friends with the Dallas contingent of our family after they became regulars at her restaurant York Street. Sharon closed York Street a few years ago, and now is a restaurant consultant. We’re lucky enough to have her cook for us as a family on occasion, and it’s always thoughtful, delightful food. Once the pig roast theme was settled on for our party, Sharon enlisted Tim Byres, owner of Smoke and Chicken Scratch in Dallas. His cookbook Smoke won a James Beard award last year, and it will make you want to go camping with Tim so he can cook you skillet cornbread and brisket hash. And yes, I did ask him if I could go camping with him next time I’m in Dallas. Was that weird and forward of me? 

It’s rare for us that an evening focuses more on the food than the wine, but this was a backyard affair with rum Manhattans, a keg, and some bottles of wine in an ice bucket. It was refreshing for us that we weren’t pairing anything, but rather just digging into a plate piled high with food, washed down by whatever happened to be in our glass in that moment. If you’re in Dallas, definitely hit up Tim’s restaurants – Chicken Scratch is one of my favorite places in the world. From this point on, I’ll let the pictures do the talking! 

Tim and his sous chef Israel work the pit. My brothers keep close watch. Tim had the pieces for this home smoker delivered that morning from Home Depot. Needless to say, my brother isn’t taking it down any time soon. 

TJ surveying the scene. If you couldn’t find your man during the smoking process, all you had to do was check the pit. 

Flipping the pig. 

The pig and goat. The goat was packed in cactus leaves. The last goat I tried was in Kenya, circa 1993. This one was better!

Here piggie, piggie! 

Even my momma got in on the action. 

Very deadly run Manhattans. We had several. 

Bubbly was served and enjoyed. A great surprise to have this Graham Beck bubbly on our ten year anniversary – we first discovered it on our honeymoon!

Sharon lays out the sides: a best ever brussels sprout slaw; a cucumber salad that will never be correctly described by such a boring name…it was amazing; beans; and okra. This was my first successful okra experience! 

Here’s that glorious cucumber salad in more detail. 

Sauces and sides for the pig and goat. Best tomatillo sauce ever. Seriously. 

Homemade honey gelato was a huge hit on the hot, humid night. 

The cousins storm the State Fair of Texas. 

A huge thanks to our Dallas peeps, and Sharon and Tim for such a memorable evening. A precedent has been set, and we can’t wait for next October! 



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Catching Up on Instagram!

October 15, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

It’s been a busy few weeks on our Instagram accounts – @urbangrape, @urbantj and @urbanhops. Instagram has become the quickest way to find out what highly allocated items have been coming in, and snag them before they go on the shelves. You’ll also get to see pictures of our kids and how we spend our time away from work! Here’s what we’ve been up to: 


The fall season is the most exciting time for allocated wine, and TJ’s been getting in some great orders like Ornelia (this is one person’s order!) and magnums of cool wines like Salon and Ridge. 

TJ’s also been busy doing cellar consultations and wine parties for some of our clients. This particular night he did a cellar stocking event for a group of businessmen who wanted one-stop shopping. It’s hard to tell who has more fun at these events – TJ or the clients! It’s easy to book Chelsea or TJ for your own in-home or in-office tasting events. Just email Chelsea to get started!

Ben has been on cloud nine with the arrival of Trillium beer. This local Fort Point brewery has been sending everything they bottle our way. Some times the amounts are small, so stay tuned to Ben’s Instagram and Twitter for breaking news on this and other highly allocated bottles. 

On a personal note, we’ve been celebrating the wedding of our dear friends Nicole Kanner and Josh Childs. This Roederer Estate Brut we chose was a huge hit at Nicole’s “Showerette.” It’s such a fantastic choice for Champagne quality without the Champagne price tag!

The Douglas boys put on their finest for the actual wedding. #socute #proudmomma #toomanyhashtagpossibilities

We were thrilled to get signed copies of Jeremy Sewall and Erin Byers Murray’s new cookbook The New England Kitchen at their first signing event at Lineage. The cookbook is amazing. I can already tell that my father is going to ask me to cook every recipe in it next summer. It’s a seasonal look at New England food – but the “new” New England, not the pot roast New England. It’s gorgeous. You can get your own signed copies when Jeremy visits UGSE on October 19th. Tickets are available here

Lastly, I’ve been resisting fall (I mourn the loss of corn and tomatoes every year), but this quick trip to Walker’s Farm Stand in Little Compton gave me pause. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country and see scenes like this every day. 

See you on Instagram! 



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The Menu for Cornucopia of Brews and Bites!

October 9, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

On Tuesday night, we headed over to Lineage in Coolidge Corner for the release party for The New England Kitchen, Chef Jeremy Sewall’s new cookbook. We were excited for our New England event with Jeremy and his Chef de Cuisine at Lineage, Rich Morin, beforehand, but after seeing the book in person – mouthwatering recipes, gorgeous photography – we’re even more excited. And then Ben and Rich sent their beer and menu pairings to me, and well….it’s gonna be good. 

Here’s the menu for the night: 

Shacksbury Cider “The Basque” (VT) paired with a selection of New England Cheeses and Preserves

Two Roads Ol’ Factory Pils (CT) paired with Citrus-Cured Salmon, Lemon Purée, and Chives on Brioche Toast

Foolproof “La Ferme Urbaine” Farmhouse Ale (RI) paired with Roasted Heirloom Squash, Sesame, White Miso and Chocolate

Trillium “Fort Point” Pale Ale (MA) paired with Steamed Mussels, Spicy Tomato Sauce and Roasted Fennel

Smuttynose Brewing “Old Brown Dog” Brown Ale (NH) paired with Braised Beef Shortrib, Pearled Barley, and Grilled Onion

Allagash Black (ME) paired with Pumpkin Chocolate Macarons from Miam Miam Macaronie

Six states, six courses, six beers, lots of education and fun, a chance to have Jeremy Sewall sign your cookbook, just $25. Buy your tickets today! 


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Wine In Context

October 8, 2014 by: The Urban Grape

*Another UG staff blog, this time from Kevin. Kevin is relatively new to UG, having just started at the end of the summer. We love his infectious passion for wine, which you’ll see evidence of in his guest blog post below. Enjoy! 


This is not a tale of travel to glorious wine country, but rather a tale of travel with wine to the relatively barren country of Phoenix, Arizona. Ever since Ellis left Boston for grad school, I had been meaning to visit. My cohort and I are both chronic planners who want to control everything. But sometimes one needs a vacation from one’s own habits, and I requested that he take over the entirety of our vacation planning for me. I didn’t want to plan anything except for what we were going to drink. In this case I found myself pondering the notion of pairing wine to the occasion, trying to plan ahead for drinking wine in context. It is often surprising how the right circumstances can make an ordinary wine extraordinary. In turn, a great wine can make a wonderful evening truly unforgettable. Ellis told me that we would spend one night soaking in crystal clear hot spring water in the desert, and staring up at the Milky Way.

After I arrived in the Phoenix airport we stopped at home so I could unload my suitcase, which Ellis referred to as a “wino Mary Poppins bag.” It contained five (intact!) bottles of carefully selected wines wrapped in my travel clothes. Among them were two Urban Grape all-time favorites, reserved for our desert retreat: the Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne and the Fausse Piste Garde Manger Syrah-Viognier blend from California.

Mere hours after I arrived we were on our way to this treasured little desert settlement. In truth, words and even pictures can hardly prepare one for the reverie that is contained in that place. There was nothing off of the highway exit but a truck stop and a warehouse-sized Tex-Mex restaurant. We drove through miles of flat land framed by the mountains, and illuminated only by moonlight. Eventually we came upon a little patch of forest and an enormous sign reading “El-Dorado Hot Springs: Enter Here.” Underneath there was a slightly smaller sign reading “private property, do not enter.” It felt like we had arrived at a poorly hidden speakeasy with no password. A fence lined by palms and strung with christmas tree lights led the way to a trailer next to what appeared to be a large outdoor library. Dozens of shelves contained books that I didn’t bother to look at as we were abruptly stopped by a lanky gentleman who appeared to be using a fanny pack as a sling. “Eh, what can I help you with?” he grunted at us. A large bald man was visible inside the trailer, silently perusing a copy of Esquire magazine.

“We have a reservation for the Sunset Area,” said Ellis.

The man’s expression changed instantly. “Oh! The Sunset Area!” He produced a pen from inside his fanny pack. “You’ll need to sign here,” he gestured to a pad of paper lying amongst a pile of books about crystals, auras, and desert portals. I didn’t know what a portal was. Then he leaned in, and quietly said “that’ll be a hunnerd dollars.” Something about the transaction felt unnecessarily hush hush. He stuffed our cash into his sling along with the pen and instructed us to hop in our car and meet him “over yonder.”

We got back in the car and swung a turn around the corner. The fanny pack man was waving his good arm wildly in the air. We followed him to the campsite. “Sunset ar -ea, here we are! Enjoy your night folks.” And he was gone as quickly as he came. Tall shaggy palms surrounded the site and its two tubs. One was large, overflowing with fresh, hot spring water and the other was a peculiarly out of place ceramic bathtub filled with cold water. There was a carpet on the ground next to the large stone tub and two lawn chairs were set atop it. I thought, how peculiar to put a carpet outside; would it not mildew? I expressed to Ellis this criticism of the decor. He reminded me that moisture was sparse in the Arizona desert.

We popped open the Billecart Brut Sous Bois and dipped our feet in the hot tub. It was beautifully floral, with underlying notes of hefty red fruit. The small bubbles in the wine burst on the surface, releasing the aromas within. The desert mountains in front of us were lit dimly by the moon. Constellations twinkled brightly above. As the air cooled down we finished the Billecart and moved on to the Fausse Piste Garde Manger. Its bright acidity danced on the tongue – a wonderful follow-up to the Billecart’s bubbles. Layers of raspberry and tart cranberry practically sprung out of the glass; it had so much energy.

In my experience long-lasting memories are best formed when all of one’s senses are engaged, and the olfactory sense seems particularly well suited for recalling strong feelings of nostalgia. When one tastes a memorable wine for the second or third time, they may be drawn into the memory of their fist sip. It is through such recollections that wines are often identifiable, for example in blind tasting, like greeting an old friend. Without context, it can be hard to make out anything but the bare features of the wine, even a great wine. I sometimes wonder whether one can even get to really know a wine without such context.

After the Fausse Piste was done we haphazardly assembled our tent and fell asleep to the cooing of a mourning dove overhead. When I awoke a male peacock stood in full regalia on the ‘outside carpet.’ A rooster crowed in the distance. We scraped together some bread and jam for breakfast, gathered our belongings and began the long drive home.

That night the Phoenix area saw six hours of dense rainfall, eardrum shattering thunder, and blinding lightening that left behind a distinct silence the following day. We sat in the living room sipping scotch (another Urban Grape favorite – Bruichladdie “Laddie”) from Ellis’s dry bar, our peace interrupted only once by the accosting tones of the neighborhood ice cream truck. I said to Ellis, “what do you think about the carpeting at El-Dorado now?”


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