Hot town, summer in the city! Isn’t Utrecht gorgeous in the sun? The canals glitter and the neighbors are happy. Everyone is outside, in the park, in the garden, on a roof terrace. The BBQ is on, you’ve got your salty snacks on hand… And a glass of wine? Of course! Crisp white, bubbles, or a thirst-quenching rosé. I’m in the mood for good company and a good glass of wine. Utrecht is bustling and the wine is bubbly. Bring on those sultry summer evenings. Climb into your hammock and read these tips. Wine, wine, wine! I jumped on my bike again to visit one of Utrecht’s nicest wine shops.
Grapedistrict on the Burgermeester Reigerstraat
I’m warmly welcomed by Jasper, who tells me everything about the shop, but also about his upcoming trip to Italy. But let’s start at the beginning, when three guys started Grapedistrict in Amsterdam because they felt that wine didn’t need to be so difficult. Old French men with handlebar mustaches who recommended the Grand Crus with a lot of fuss. Secretly, I can sometimes really enjoy that, but how nice is it when drinking wine is primarily about taste? Your taste! Based on that concept, wines were imported – not from known wine makers but from regular, cool businesses that make delicious and sustainable wine. In the stores, you’ll also find fresh, enthusiastic wine lovers, who can use their knowledge to help you pick out the best wines. Just tell them which flavors you like and they’ll get to work – it doesn’t get any easier than that, or more delicious! That’s why Grapedistrict is one of my favorites – not (too much) fussing, but tasting. Oh yeah, so Jasper is leaving for Italy soon in a baby blue Fiat500, to go try out all the wine regions there. If that’s not enthusiasm…
I got three wines from Jasper, all of which are a bit different and thirst-quenching in this heat. I’m curious..
A Fiësta in a bottle
Vega Caliza – Airen, Sauvignon Blanc – Tierra de Castilla
So, picture this. I’m sitting on my balcony. I’ve just planted some new pink flowers, laid some wooden tiles, and bought some new blue pillows for my beach chair. The summer is on! And then I hear the soft “pop” of these gorgeous bubbles being uncorked. You can hear it bubbling. Not a cava, but organic and Spanish. Made from Airen and Sauvignon Blanc, this is aromatic and fresh; the smell of citrus fruit is very friendly. Like biting into a green apple, your thirst is quenched and your taste buds are prickled – that’s what this wine is like. And the mousse, as you call bubbles, is deliciously soft. By the way, Airen is the most planted grape in Spain, though it’s not so well known here. But I don’t want to keep that secret to myself, because it’s a party in a bottle. Into the picnic basket and off to the park!
Boedapest here I come
Bardos – Pinot Grigio – Mátra
Admittedly, pinot grigio just isn’t my favorite. Still, I keep trying it if it’s on the wine list. I love having a taste explosion in my mouth and in my glass, but pinot grigio is often modest. Italy is of course the main producer of this introverted grape. But if it comes out of the Mátra mountains, then it’s suddenly a cool pinot with body. It smells sultry, like stone fruit. In my head I’m already planning my trip to Budapest. The taste is surprisingly full, as long as you don’t drink it ice cold. Deliciously juicy and soft. Peaches and apricots roll over my tongue. Maybe even a bit nutty? Pinot has surprised me again, and this time positively. Delicious with a summer salad, feet in the grass, and a ticket to Budapest. Summer in the city!
Whole lotta rosé
L’audacieuse – Syrah, Grenache, Cindault – Coteaux de l’ardeche
BAM! Boom! Blast! And more explosions. In your face. This rosé is not one to hold with satin gloves. It’s an oak-aged rosé, and it’s not necessarily summery and fresh. Dive in with your nose and smell flowers and wood, like you’re standing at the entrance to a forest. This Française is bold and elegant, Brigitte Bardot in a bottle. The taste is full, red fruit and a raisin here and there. Rounded off with a strong finish. This finale comes from the wooden Bordeaux barrels that are used, which come from Chateau d’Yquem – a well-known and renowned wine house in Sauternes. And besides its famous origins and its explosion of flavor worthy of Brigitte Bardot, this rosé is also organic. Turn on that BBW, grill that sea bream, that red mullet, and those shrimps, and let this Française join in. Enjoy your sultry summer’s eve!