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Winecast 52 – Wine shops that feel the love

Winecast 52 – Wine shops that feel the love

by Tim Elliott on February 1, 2006

The theme this month was suggested by Tyler a.k.a. Dr. Vino who didn’t suggest a wine grape variety or region, but to buy wines suggested by the staff at wine stores “that feel the love�. This being February, it seems like a great pre-Valentine’s day theme for WBW.

After this theme was posted, I immediately thought of Solo Vino, my current favorite Twin Cities wine store. The store is located in St. Paul conveniently near the university where I teach part-time, so when I am on campus, I generally stop by to pick up some wines. What I like about the store is the wine selection, which is hand selected by the owners. Many selections are only locally available at Solo Vino and they are always open to bring in new selections based upon customer demand. For example, I asked for Trinitas, Bigalow Vineyard, Zinfandel and it was in the rack a couple of weeks later.

Solo Vino was founded and is run by three wine geeks: Dana, Robert and Chuck who are almost always in the store to speak with. I stopped by yesterday and chatted with Dana who provided me with a list of the top 9 values they have chosen from their current stock. She also suggested the Alsatian Pinot Noir from WBW 14, so I picked Dana’s suggested Rhone wine made from 100% Counoise. This grape is one of several that usually gets blended into the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it adds a bit of aromatics, fruit, acidity and soft tannins. It’s quite rare to see this bottled on its own, so I had to give this one a taste.

Domaine Monpertuis, Cuvee Counoise, Vignoble de la Ramiere, Vin de Pays du Gard 2003 ($13) – Medium ruby in color with aromas of violets, earth, fennel and other spices; plum, earth and spice flavors with a silky mouthfeel and nice acidity to match well with food. A delicious wine that balances the earthy characteristics and fruit perfectly. Also an awesome value. Score: 9/10

The second wine is one of Chuck’s picks and is a Spanish wine made from Tempranillo, Mazuelo (Carignan) and Garnacha (Grenache) grapes. It’s from Bodegas Ostatu, a small family winery from Samaniego, one of the fifteen villages of the Rioja region.

Bodegas Ostatu, Crianza, Rioja 2002 ($18.50) – Deep purple color with ripe raspberry, black cherry and spice on the nose; black cherry fruit flavors with white pepper, minerals, a thick mouthfeel and fine tannins. Nice concentration and great balance make this a delicious wine in the fruit forward model I favor. Score: 9/10

So the best wine and best value go to Domaine Monpertuis, Cuvee Counoise 2003 the most complex wine of the tasting. Thanks again to Dr Vino from a great theme and for Dana and Chuck for picking some killer values this time out.

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  • Solo Vino is so fabulous, I actually feel guilty when I buy wine elsewhere (which doesn’t happen often because I live within walking distance of Solo Vino). Dana, Chuck, and Robert aren’t just good at stocking wines, they’re good at creating a lovely retail experience. They make it easy to ask for advice without losing face. They always make me feel as though they appreciate my business, even though I typically buy wines priced at $10 or less. And they let me bring my lumbering, extroverted, 80-pound greyhound into the store. I’d call them a neighborhood treasure but that would not only be a cliché, it would be an understatement.

  • Pat Uphues

    A wine shop that feels the love in the near west suburbs of Chicago is “The Cork”, located in Riverside, IL. Issa and Jaime Swies go to great lengths to accommodate their customers. In an area with many choices for shopping, including some warehouse-sized wine stores, The Cork is a haven for tasting and buying in a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere. Let’s hear from other “winecastheads” about their favorite spots. After all, we’re all in this together.

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  • Great episode. I have two shops that I am loyal to & being a regular customer really pays off. My wine guys are starting to know my likes & dislikes & can now point me in the direction of wines they think I will like. If ever in Memphis check out Joe’s & Buster’s both in Midtown.

  • Michael Uphues

    If you are in the Billings Montana metropolitan area, stop at The City Vineyard. You’ll momentarily forget that you are in Montana, but do not be fooled,it’s still Montana. It is a warm and friendly place and the staff is extremely accomodating. If you ask them, they might even find you something special to go with Montana raised bison. Time to eat. Later.

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