It is a while since I posted on the wine offerings at the Whole Foods Market wine shop in New York City. I first visited the store shortly after it opened in 2009. This week I went back for another glimpse, in particular to seek out some delicious but good value offerings around $10-$12 / bottle. I was more than pleasantly surprised.
To be honest, when I first visited the store in 2009 and sampled the wines, I was a little underwhelmed by what was on offer. I found little by way of differentiation, and too much of the same old big brands. In contrast, this time I felt more like the kid in the candy store, a little mesmerized, excited by what I saw and had to remind myself not to go completely mad.
The store is well laid out, bright and airy. What particularly appealed to me was the nice-sized area dedicated to local wines from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Lots of wines from Long Island, including some of my favorites (Channing Daughters, Lieb) and even a Grüner Veltliner from One Woman Winery. Now that is something interesting. The Fingerlakes is also well represented, a region that is now really coming of age, as I talked about when I reviewed Evan Dawson's book Summer in a Glass.
I was also delighted to see a wide selection of American wines, not just from California, which of course was well represented, but also lots on offer from Oregon and Washington State. Compared to my last visit the current wine offerings will appeal to many different consumers. I noted many excellent wines for $9.99, which is a particularly sweet price point, as well as lots between $15 and $20 and of course above. There is also a very good selection of "super" value wines between $2.99 and $6.
While I certainly spotted lots of the familiar producer names, I was taken with the number of smaller brands and producers on offer. Noted quite a few Greek gems (and not Retsina! ) as well as a delicious dry Furmint from Hungary.
Mary's Personal Picks
And so on to my selection, randomly picked, because my interest was piqued, or I liked the bottle, or the back label and wanted to see what I could get for around $10. Not a poor wine in my selection. As a simple randon selection it augurs well for the rest of the wines in the store.
• 2010 Ravines Keuka Village White Wine, Fingerlakes, $9.99 - Aromas of ripe, sweet stone fruit cocktail with hint of spice. Mouthwatering with brisk, racy acidity. Juicy, very refreshing. Light-bodied and easy drinking (if you are a high acid lover!).
• 2010 Michel Delhommeau Cuvée St. Vincent Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie, Loire Valley, France $12.99 - Subtle nose, more mineral and characteristically leesy. Delightful spritzy tingle on the palate. Lively and refreshing. Nicely focused, decent depth of flavor and minerally finish.
• 2010 Jardin de la Fruitière, Loire Atlantique White Wine, Loire Valley, France $11.99 - Blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Melon de Bourgogne. Broad, nose of fresh orchard fruit. Crisp, nice earthy flavor adds depth. Clean, bright with hints of fresh ferns and evergreens. More mineral than fruit driven.
• 2009 Harlaftis Dry Red Wine, Nemea, Greece, $9.99 - 100% Agiorgitiko. Earthy, gamey aromas of roasted meats. Dry, savory with tasty red plummy fruit, hints of tobacco. Supple, chewy texture. Seems a very honest wine and one very suited to food.
• 2010 Leydier et Fils Vin de Pays du Vaucluse, France (Kermit Lynch Selection), $9.00 - Bright forest fruit aromas mingled with subtle creamy milk chocolate and warm butterscotch sauce. Vibrant taste, full of ripe jammy fruit. Soft, smooth mouthfeel and creamy texture. Really quite delicious. Fairly simple and easy-drinking but well-made, no harsh edges.
• 2010 Cave de Rasteau, Les Peyrières Rasteau, Rhône Valley, France, $12.99 - Though the most expensive of my selection it was my favorite of the reds. A typical southern Rhone blend of mainly Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre. Lively red berry aromas jump from the glass. Invigorating. Good depth of fruit and vibrant flavors persist. Chewy texture, fairly robust with lots of savory minerality.
Love to hear from our readers on your recent experiences with wines from Whole Foods. Next week I'll share some thoughts from the Whole Foods buyer John O'Neill on wine trends he is currently observing.
Until next week happy sipping!
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.
Related: Whole Foods Market Opens New Wine Store in Manhattan
(Images: Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW)