It seems like just a week ago that I was bemoaning the death of tomato and corn season, but just like that I’m officially excited for fall food. The savory deliciousness, the ease of wine pairing, the joy of eating dinner by a quiet fire – it does feel pretty exciting to have these moments back in our lives after a hectic, hot summer.
Summer is upon us, which means three months of juggling work, kids, and fun has begun. I feel guilty for admitting it, but in years past I dreaded the start of summer. The kids were so little and exhausting, and for many years I would always have a flare of my Lyme Disease that coincided with their release from school (stress related, obviously). I often felt like I was crawling through the days and not really succeeding at anything.
A question we get asked a lot is, “Is it okay to like blends?” To which we always answer, “Um, OF COURSE!” After all, some the greatest wines in the world are blends, but because they’re called Bordeaux you think they’re something more special.
Four great bottles of wine handpicked by our staff, always $50
“Summer Crush!” Urban Sampler
It is finally heating up and Urban Grape has the perfect companion to enliven your summer escapades. Our June, “Summer Crush” Urban Sampler delivers four wines that are perfect to bring on outdoor dates such as the beach, boat, and backyard BBQs. Introduce this summer crush to friends and family and receive unanimous approval! These wines are perfectly crushable and easy access-no corkscrew necessary!
NV Les Vins Breban Bo Rivage Blanc de Blancs Brut 80% Ugni Blanc, 20% Colombard (Provence, France)
Owner, Jean-Jacques Bréban has partnerships with more than 20 producers, which work in collaboration with “Vins Bréban” in the Var department of Provence. Ugni-Blanc and Colombard are traditional grape varietals, highly appreciated for their aromatic qualities. Bo Rivage Brut is a delightful, refreshing and well-balanced sparkling, which begs for a beachfront view and shellfish!
NV Solimar Vinho Verde 1W Loureiro and Azal (Minho, Portugal)
Northwestern Portugal is home to the Vinho Verde region, producing lovely zingy whites from local grapes. “Verde” meaning green refers to the tradition of drinking Vinho Verde wines while they are young. This fizzy wine with delicate citrus and melon aromas will pair nicely with Asian summer rolls and summer scorchers!
2015 DeMorgenzon “DMZ” Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
DeMorgenzon pipes Baroque music through the vineyards 24×7 because they believe the power of music positively influences the ripening process. This crowd-pleasing rosé combines New World-style fruit with Old World-style elegance. Fire up the grill, this rosé is a match with veggie, or chicken kebabs!
The highest respect for centuries-old traditions, combined with the best terroir in addition to the latest technology summarizes the philosophy at Viña Herminia. This medium bodied Rioja with a long fruity finish makes a perfect threesome with burgers and summer sunsets!
I am a composed salad junkie. As a family dinner vehicle, composed salads are unparalleled in their flexibility and ease. TJ and I get to eat something healthy and delicious, the kids get to eat the parts of said healthy and delicious food that make them happy. One meal, many different options, no fights at the dinner table.
May 2016 Urban Sampler
Four great bottles of wine handpicked by our staff, always $50
“Les Rosés Français!” Urban Sampler Experience everything French Rosé has to offer with our “Les Rosés Français” May Sampler. Although Provence is often considered the epicenter of rosé, other examples can also be found along the Mediterranean where regional varieties are blended together creating bolder, earthier wines. Expect to find zippier rosés from the Loire Valley where flavors of citrus, mint and even bell pepper are common. In Bordeaux, rosé can lean toward the fruity side with aromas of strawberry and peaches. Experience the ultimate Tour de Rosé— the perfect accompaniment to a Memorial weekend BBQ, or Mother’s Day celebration!
2015 Chateau Nicot Rosé 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux)
Château Nicot is a small Bordeaux property on the Right Bank. Bordeaux rosés typically blend Merlot, which contributes softness, while Cabernet contributes a fresh, grassy, and herbal character. Bordeaux rosé is best enjoyed with seafood!
2015 Alliance Loire Cour de Rohan Rosé
100% Gamay (Coteaux D’Anciens, Loire Valley)
Alliance Loire is a cooperative winery leveraging the combined talents, resources and vineyards of growers situated across several winegrowing villages. This rosé boasts ripe strawberry fruits with attractive acidity and beautiful aromatics. Enjoy with Bucheron Goat cheese!
2015 Chateau Montfaucon ‘Les Gardettes” Rosé
Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache (Rhone Valley)
The history of Château de Montfaucon dates back to the 11th century. Les Gardettes are the two towers that guard the entrance to the castle. Les Gardettes rosé is a rosé de saignée, which pairs better with heartier dishes such as eggplant Provençal or roasted chicken with olives, tomato and basil.
2015 Terra Santa Rosé
100% Sciaccarellu (Corsica)
The Terra Santa vineyards, on the East coast of Corsica, are located between sea and mountain. Because of this ideal setting, the summer heat and the freshness of the night alternatively bath the vineyard. A great BBQ rosé, with peach and watermelon notes make it an ideal partner to accompany salads, and grilled meats.
Some time before Daylight Savings, as I stood in the encroaching afternoon darkness, folding laundry after a long work day, I sent a text of desperation to two friends that read, “I have to get out of here. Trip to NYC???” I think we had our trip booked seven minutes later.
I am a wee bit obsessed with my birthday. I’ve traced the genesis of this obsession back to the bunny cake my mom used to make me every year. I started to anticipate my birthday cake months in advance, and even though we never knew what the weather would be on April 2nd (case in point, this weekend), we knew we’d be eating big slices of candy-dotted, vanilla-iced goodness that night. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced red licorice whiskers on your birthday.
With marriage came the shifting of the birthday planning responsibility from my mother to TJ. I’ll be honest and say that I had no faith that he could fill the big expectations created by my mom, but time and again he has proved himself more than capable of the task. This year was no exception, and he planned a celebratory night at Eastern Standard and The Hawthorne with a small group of friends in tow. It was the exact celebration I had been hoping for. With such a big night out on Saturday, I knew I wanted to celebrate at home with the boys on Sunday. But, what to cook?
TJ made negronis while I prepped dinner and whipped up some Katharine Heburn brownies for dessert. It was a simple menu, but full of flavor and vibrantly green – the remedy to months of roasted winter root vegetables. The kids ate asparagus, a gift in itself. TJ and I drank the 2012 Realm “The Tempest,” his favorite new cult Napa Cab and one he feels is poised to soon eclipse better known labels. It was simple, it was sweet, it was just as perfect as the night before but in it’s own way. It’s what birthdays have become. The only thing missing was the bunny cake.
Realm will be getting an exhaustive blog post after we visit them in Napa later this month, but in the meantime here is what you need to know: their story is amazing, and their wines are coming onto the scene in a big way. TJ has been raving about them for a year, and we’ve finally got three of their offerings at UG. Right now, you can still get their wines for a (relative) steal in comparison to better known Napa Cab producers. But they’re still a small producer, and as demand grows for their wines, so will the prices.
We drank the store’s last bottle of The Tempest last night (sorry!), a Merlot blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It’s round and juicy on the first glass, a dark fruit Napa wine in all ways. But as it opens up it becomes decidedly European, moody and earthy with notes of tobacco and fall spices. 96 points Parker, if these things matter to you. It was a great pairing for the steak, which is what we cared about.
We still have the 2012 “The Bard” red blend in stock (99 points Parker), as well as the 2011 “Farella” Cabernet and 2011 “Dr. Krane” Cabernet. All are excellent wines, and worth exploring if you’re looking for new Napa rising stars! Please click the button below if you would like to inquire about purchasing these wines.
Something so amazing has happened at our house. I’d like to say the change occurred over night, but in honesty, it has been years of hard work, patience, and trial and error. Our children are eating like adults. Without complaining. Can I please get an amen?