Tag Archives: champagne

February Beer & Wine of the Month Club

Beers To Love

The slightly cynical, male driven nature of the beer world makes us hesitant to fill this box with fruity, romantic beers just to meet the status quo of the Valentine holiday that drives this month. Having said that, these beers are all beautiful and somewhat “Valentine-esque” in their own way…even if it’s a stretch.


Driven by enchanting natural scenes, passion filled ingredients, and simply the color red — these beers will romance you with their killer flavors, seducing textures, and overall attractiveness. Whether you are spending this V-Day alone or sharing these “love” themed goodies, we wish you a happy February — one month closer to spring!

Omnipollo Fatamorgana DIPANamed after the Arthurian shape shifting enchantress Morgan le Fay, a Fata Morgana is a superior mirage that occurs above the horizon. Henok Fentie, one of the founders of Omnipollo Brewery, named this Swedish IPA after the optical phenomenon he witnessed on one of his many trips to Ethiopia when he stumbled upon an hidden oasis deep in the middle of a dry savanna. Mystic and enchanting, this double IPA will hopefully be a luscious haven of tropical fruit scents and flavors in the midst of our New England winter. A generous dry hopping with Columbus, Centennial, and Citra creates a plethora of tangy flavors like mango, pineapple, and clementine, which are beautifully matched by piney floral hops and a slightly sweet oaty body.    ABV {8%}

Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar Crime Passional Belgian IPAWhile not exactly a crime of passion, this Belgian IPA may be guilty for stealing some characteristics from different beer styles. Almost all of the beers coming out of Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar have this unique similarity in that they are very difficult to categorize, while all stunningly crafted by this talented small brewery. Although labeled an IPA, Crime Passional does have signature Belgian wheat beer qualities, such as a dough like sweetness, as well as notes of spicy herbs like coriander, white pepper, and juniper. The hops do make their presence known with a good amount of grassy, citrus bitterness, as well as a dry finish.  ABV {7.5%}

Alesmith Brewing My Bloody Valentine Red Ale:  While the other beers in this box are subtly romantic, this choice brew may go overboard with its heavy connotations towards the Valentine season. Despite the somewhat violent exterior to this bottle, the interior is nothing but smooth sweetness and balanced hops. AleSmith Brewing Company puts this crimson colored ale out every February as a tribute to all the go it alone singles on Valentine’s day. But that doesn’t mean that anyone can’t enjoy (and share!) this handcrafted ale. True to it’s name, My Bloody Valentine pours a dark ruby, almost bloody color, but boasts bright fruit and pine driven hop aromas. Slightly creamy and medium bodied, this bottle offers all our favorite flavors: sweet caramel malts, bittersweet chocolate, and fruity bitterness! ABV {6.66%}

Vino

Wine makes romantics of us all. Whether you’re sipping it alone for a sappy movie night or sharing the liquid wealth with your boo, this powerful concoction is too enticing to deny. So let us wine and dine you with this February box –we’ve covered all the bases:

A bursting bottle of bubbles for a celebratory start; a sensuously textured, incredibly vibrant white wine just waiting for it’s bivalve buddy from the sea; and a drop dead gorgeous lady-in-red bottle of wine with a presence so commanding it has us falling in love…

Celine et Laurent Tripoz Cremant de Bourgogne Nature: Start off your second Valentine’s celebration with a bottle that will beautifully display your affection for that special someone. This gorgeous bottle of 100% Chardonnay comes to us from the organic, small run estate of husband and wife team Celine and Laurent Tripoz in the revered Mâconnais region of Burgundy. Their Cremant de Bourgogne Nature is made with a process very similar to Champagne méthode traditionnelle but with slightly reduced levels of carbon dioxide, which produces a wine with a creamier mouthfeel and soft, luxurious bubbles. Bright notes of crisp green apple, buttery brioche, and fragrant white flowers fill the palate after a sip of this lovely wine.

André-Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine 2014For the month of love, we wanted to find a wine that essentially begs to be paired with one of nature’s strongest aphrodisiacs: oysters. And for such decadent sea offerings, the wine that comes to mind is Muscadet. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet wine is known for being fresh, citrus driven, and young. There are those who are challenging this particular notion however, by keeping Muscadet for as long as seven years! Michel Brégeon is the fun loving crusader who is expertly lengthening the sur lie time of his wines — producing complex offerings with such unexpected freshness and depth that the critics can’t comment on his processes. This 2014 Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine does not spend seven years on the lees, yet it is far from ordinary with its seductive texture, enticingly tangy citrus notes, and savory acidity.

Domaine De Le Bergerie La Cerisaie 2013: These wines have ranged from pretty to seductive, but now — for the romance. Fall in love with “La Cerisaie”, a lovely bottle of red wine from Domaine de Le Bergerie, an estate run by the 7th generation of the Guégniard family. Nestled in the heart of Côteaux du Layon in central Loire Valley, Domaine Bergerie produces highly crafted, organic, fascinating wines by adhering to strict sorting and vinification processes. That standard of excellence is evident in this gorgeously expressive bottle of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The deep garnet colored body glistens attractively with dark purple tints, while wafting an enticing aroma of ripe blackberries and cherries. Rich and full, this elegant red displays great fruit and depth – perfect for a romantic dinner for two.

The Goods

Askinosie Chocolate Malted Milk Bar & Crunchy Sugar Crystals & Vanilla Bean Bar: Besides being uber typical Valentine-esque, chocolate is just downright delicious..so we hope you enjoy these interesting bars from an even more interesting producer: Askinosie Chocolate. The founder of this Missourian company is Shawn Askinosie, who created the company in 2005 after quitting his grueling job as a criminal defense attorney. As one of the first to source beans directly from farms, a practice we now know as “bean to bar”, Askinosie Chocolate does everything in house from pressing their own cocoa butter to molding the chocolate.The Malted Milk Bar is a collaboration with Jeni’s Ice Cream, giving the bar a creamy malted milk texture. The Crunchy Sugar Vanilla bar is made with unrefined sugar which gives the bar an added extra crunch.

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Weak Knees Gochujang SrirachaGo weak in the knees this V-Day with this traditional Korean spicy sauce! Based on Gochujang sauce, this fermented condiment is created from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, soybeans, and salt. Made in Brooklyn, NY,  MixedMade has created this Sriracha sauce hybrid by adding sugar, garlic, and vinegar. The simplicity of this recipe is a testament to MixedMade’s mission to let their beautiful, natural ingredients shine. This adorable squeeze bottle is perfect for squirting into Bloody Mary’s for an added kick, mixing into eggs for a spicy morning, or as a hoppin’ topping on some succulent oysters!

Obere Mühle Co-operative Chiriboga BlueThis cheese is truly the result of a love story; one that involves an Ecuadorian man falling in love with a Bavarian woman to make beautiful cheese together and live happily ever after… That might not be exactly the whole story but we’d like to think so. This Ecuadorian man is Arturo Chiriboga, who heads up the Obere Mühle co-operative dairy, which is based in the Bavarian Alps. This pasteurized cow’s milk blue that Arturo stamped with his own name is one of the most decadent, creamy blue cheeses you may ever taste. We suggest pairing this rich hunk of goodness with some of the Askinosie chocolate in this box, for a pairing that was “made to be”!

Opinel N°09 OYSTER KnifeThere is really no excuse to not buy your own bag of fresh oysters to accompany this month’s wine box. You already have the perfect wine for the succulent aphrodisiacs, and now you are equipped with the ideal oyster knife! Not only are these Opinel knives beautiful to use and look at, they come with over 200 years of history. The Opinel line can be traced back to the 1800’s when Victor-Amédée Opinel first set up his blacksmith workshop. Two generations later, in 1897, Joseph Opinel manufactured a line of 12 different size knives, which would become the foundry of many more to come. Following a tradition that King Charles IX put into place in 1565, Joseph added the Crowned Hand emblem to the Opinel blade to signify their origin and quality. The N°09 OYSTER knife you have before you is a 6.5 cm long blade, perfectly crafted to gently open oysters and shellfish. Made with a handle of a compact African wood called Bubinga, this gorgeous knife also sports the Opinel invented Virobloc® system, which allows you to lock the blade while open for added safety.

Call the store at (617) 269-6100, email us at info@americanprovisions.com, or ask a staffer for more information on signing yourself or someone you love up for the Beer or Wine of the Month Club!

Photos all taken by Caley Mahoney

Old World Methods, New World Ciders

Al & Denise Snape have big ideas. And whether they’re starting an alternative cider company in an already niche market or brewing out-there pumpkin sours, they don’t hesitate to act on these ideas.

The founders of Salem, MA’s Far From The Tree Cider set out on a lark about four years ago—the two quit their day jobs to move to Europe so that Al could study viticulture and oenology—and they’ve been following their guts ever since.

DiptychbarrelsillouhetteBefore the move, Denise was a project manager for a pharmaceutical company (and living in Southie)  while Al was in charge of radioactive waste management and disposal for MIT and then GE. “There were barrels, half lives, some similarities between that and all this,” Al said, gesturing towards his chilly cellar full of dozens of cider barrels at Far From The Tree’s headquarters. They operate out of the Ketchum Building on Jackson Street, just a few minutes from Salem’s spooky town center. Their space in the old brick building was previously unoccupied for several years, but before that housed a food packaging & distribution warehouse, a slaughterhouse, and a gym.vscocam1104 (1)

“It was a mess when we moved in,” Denise said, showing us around the unheated transitional space that is equal parts storage, cellar, tap room, and living room, “These lights were all falling off the ceiling.” The Snapes hand-scrubbed every concrete surface and wooden beam to reveal a beautiful industrial-antique space, and they’ve had the cooperation of the building owner (who runs a marine construction company) every step of the way.

“Everything we’ve wanted to do, he’s said sure,” Al remarked, sliding open a door between their space and the landlord’s to reveal a fairly huge boat undergoing repairs. “Can we knock that wall down, sure, can we build the first tasting room in Salem, sure.”

tastingroomBut before any of this was a reality, Al & Denise just knew that they both loved wine & beer. And one day, they decided a change of pace could be nice. “We thought, why not get a different perspective for a couple years,” Denise said about their move. So Al sought out the only European wine program taught in English and enrolled, while Denise worked for Novartis and eventually started her own clinical project management company. During the three year program, Al spent school breaks helping out at several wineries across the continent. After stints in Germany’s Mosel Valley and in Bordeaux (where he made a type of sparkling rosé wine with Bordeaux grapes), Al stayed with a family in Champagne who helped plant the seed for Far From The Tree.

“I did a vintage in Champagne where I stayed with a family, where the kids would help and taste the juice,” Al said, “it left a real impression on me. I wanted to go back to where I came from and create something.”

ciderslineupAl & Denise returned from Europe eager to create their own taste of place, though at first they weren’t sure where that place would be. The booming cider culture of Oregon & Washington tempted them toward the west coast, but after spending their first winter back at a beach rental on Plum Island, they became certain that theirs would be an east coast cider company.

The couple chose cider because Al knew he could make a better cider in Massachusetts than he could a wine—in fact, he wrote his dissertation on the uncertainty of growing Reisling grapes in New England. But they didn’t want to make just any cider. In an homage to the ciders they drank in England, the couple decided on a dry cider, fermented entirely in barrels, using 100% juice (apparently, “hard cider” on an ingredient label can mean as little as 49% juice, and it often does).

IMG_1554“We wanted to be different by doing what everyone thinks cider is,” Al said. “We wanted to do it really traditional, the way they would’ve done it 250 years ago.” This mentality is right in keeping with the terroir of Far From The Tree—sitting at the wooden bar in their dusky taproom-in-progress, you can just imagine residents of a much older Salem, sipping a cider a lot like the one Denise & Al are making today.

They also wanted to add something new and interesting to the increasingly crowded cider canon, which they felt was missing a really dry product. Their most basic cider, Roots, is made up of 100% local ingredients, from the Meadowbrook Orchard Cortland & McIntosh apples to the hint of maple syrup, which they source from a couple who do all of their own maple extracting.

“We met them at a Boston Expo,” Al said of this family, who tap every tree on their property in Shelburne Falls, MA themselves. “We buy about a quarter of the syrup they produce.”

DiptychciderAl (1) copyAl & Denise had support from the local cider community while putting these pieces of their business in place—Downeast Cider was a huge help, setting Far From The Tree up with Tom, their apple presser. Tom has been pressing apples in Stow, MA for years, and his father pressed apples on the same land before him. To hear Al tell it, their property is impeccably picturesque, like stepping onto a charming rural New England film set.

And on top of their support from the cider community, Al & Denise had very fruitful Craigslist searches—it’s where they found their logo designer, and their super-important barrel sourcer, Bob the Barrel Man. Bob sells used bourbon barrels in Maine, and keeps Far From The Tree’s cellar stocked full of beautiful, flavorful bourbon barrels from Kentucky.

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Al envisions using wine barrels for a later batch, but for now he has his hands full with experiments that use the barrels already in the cellar. At the top of the list is a sour cider, though what kind of sour really remains to be seen—he has mapped out the possibilities involving beer-friendly inoculators such as lactobacillus and brettanomyces, has considered using Flemish ale yeast, and even spoke of creating a solera system to facilitate the blending of different ages.

And that’s just the one project. Al also had an ice-cider experiment in the works when we dropped by, inconspicuously disguised as a pile of old pallets outside. Apparently, freezing the juice just until ice crystals start to form will remove some of the water content, giving the finished product a slightly darker color and higher sugar, alcohol, and acidity. They’re also working on something a little more off-dry, with more maple syrup and champagne-like characteristics.

diptychTastings

A few of the things we got to taste in the cellar—the beginnings of a pumpkin cider on the left (with real threads of pumpkin in it) and a pectin substance on the right that’s leftover when Al lets the juice settle out of unfermented cider.

“We want to keep doing crazy new stuff with cider,” Al said. “People have done a lot of cool stuff with beer and I want to take that approach to cider, do some things that haven’t been done before.”

A common beer trend they’re cider-fying soon? Pumpkin, only they’re leaving out all the pumpkin pie spice flavors we typically associate with such brews. This summer, Al & Denise bought 150 organic pumpkins at a nearby farm and roasted them for a cider recipe that is pure squash. It’s fermenting in barrels now, and Al was kind enough to pour us a taste during our visit. Refreshingly original and unlike any fall pumpkin beer on the market, this stuff has more flavors of melon, peach, & apricot than nutmeg, clove, & cinnamon. It tasted, in a word, revolutionary.

glassesWith all this innovation within just the world of dry cider, it’s easy to see why Al & Denise are pushing for a more diversified cider portfolio at local craft bars. They’re not looking to be competitive and kick other draft lines out of bars, but rather to add to the selection.

“These places have four or more IPAs on tap, why can’t we have two ciders,” Denise posited, “one sweet, and one dry.”

Growing the Boston cider scene is but one dream of Al & Denise, who seem to be coming up with new ideas every minute. Owning their own orchard some day is a definite goal, or at least using part of an existing orchard to experiment with growing different heirloom apples. While we were standing there talking, Al hatched a plan to create a lower-alcohol cider using coconut water, a cider stout using the pectin drained out of their apple juice before fermentation, and a mock “Chinese” cider full of sake, cherry blossoms, and Szechuan peppercorns (a joke on Big Cider companies, who import most of their apple juice from China).

But all experimental ideas aside, at the core of Al & Denise’s dream is a true terroir of the lush New England landscape—from its forests full of maple sap and orchards flush with apples trees, to the community of small family businesses leaning on each other to succeed. With Far From The Tree, these two have let the land speak for itself. Standing in their chilly taproom, clutching Dunkin Donuts coffees to keep their hands warm and getting starry-eyed about changing the craft cider world, they embody that taste of place completely.

You can pick up any of their four ciders at AP, and stay tuned for new releases coming soon!