So many of us buy our wine at grocery stores; they are an important spot for wine buying. But it's been almost 18
months since I reviewed the wine offering at Whole Foods Market. My
interest was piqued at a recent wine and cheese tasting at Whole Foods, where I was pretty
bowled over by the quality of the wines tasted, especially the quality they
del\ivered for the price. Want to see my picks for the summer?
So, this week off I went to see if a random shopping expedition could deliver the same positive return. As Whole Foods is only permitted to have one wine store in New York City, located on Columbus Avenue and 97th street, this is where I headed.
Despite the rainy day outside, the store looked bright, airy and welcoming and there is plenty of signage to guide you through the selections. Perhaps it was the time of the day, or the inclement weather, but I practically had the store to myself.
As I browsed the aisles I thought to myself, “There really is something for every taste and every budget here.” I noticed everything from the vast selection of value wines under $10 to some of my favorite, special occasion Pinot Noirs from California such as Cobb Wines and William Seylem in the $75+ price range, and everything in between.
This visit I was especially aware of the diversity of wine on offer between $12 and $20 – which seems to be the sweet spot that many wine consumers are trading up to these days, up from the value segment, which dominated the wine market since the recession in 2009.
As to be expected, popular styles such as Moscato and sweet red blends had whole sections to themselves, as did eco-friendly (which I assume is a catch-all label for their selection of organic, biodynamic and natural wines) and a new section that I had not noticed on previous visits called ‘no sulfites added’ – an important section for anyone with chronic asthma and or an acute sensitivity to sulfites
I was delighted to see that the section labeled ‘Local’, devoted to locally produced wines, seems to have grown exponentially since my last visit. Globally the world of wine is well represented in the store. Apart from the expected countries and regions such as California, France, Italy and Spain I was pleased to see a diverse selection of wines from Portugal, Greece, Austria and Slovenia.
Mary’s Personal Picks for Summer
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 under $20. I tasted through all the wines the next day and am pleased to say that there was not a dud among the lot. As a simple random selection it augurs well for the rest of the wines in the store. I specifically did not choose any rosé wines for this post as I have a dedicated rosé post coming up later this week.
2010 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Branco Seco, Vinho Verde, Portugal, $14.99 – This is a dry, slightly ‘spritzy’ white from Portugal. It has a youthful, delicate nose of green apple, laurel leaf and lemon citrus. The palate has a delightful, ‘spritzy’ prickle that energizes the citrusy flavors and opens up the palate to show more stone and exotic fruit notes. There is also a lovely waxiness to the texture. A sure winner with simply prepared seafood – razor clams, charred squid or oysters.
2012 Domaine Reine Juliette Terres Rouges Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, France, $11.99 – Made from the local Picpoul grape this wine has a ripe nose of exotic orange citrus – tangerine, navel and blood orange with hints of candied orange peel. The lively citrus continues on the palate with spicy notes. Texture is moderately viscous with a lively tangy finish. Pair with seafood or simple grilled white fish.
2011 Tramin Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy, $13.99 – Another lovely white from the Italian Alps. Spicy, floral and stone fruit aromas with a slightly earthy savoriness on the nose. Flavors mirror the nose, but with a more distinct spiciness and stone fruit pith. The mouthfeel is round and flavorful. A great summer sipper on its own, or pair with salty nibbles and a nutty cheese such as Comté.
2011 Les Greniers du Moulin, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie, Loire valley, France, $13.99 - Youthful, bright and delicately citrusy on the nose, with notes of candied apple and pear. It is lively, zesty and refreshing on the palate with an attractive leesy creaminess mid-palate. Bring on the oysters!
2011 Bastianich Friulano, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy - $14.99. From northeastern Italy and made from the Friulano grape, this wine has a subtle, creamy nose, with a delicate nuttiness, flinty notes and restrained aromas of stone fruit. While a little shy on the nose the palate pops with flavor, rich, ripe stone and citrus fruit flavors are quite intense and persistent across the palate. An attractive spiciness on the finish adds an extra dimension. This wine is rich enough to pair with roast stuffed chicken, grilled swordfish or other more robust summer fare.
2012 Anselmi San Vincenzo, Veneto, Italy - $14.99 – A white blend of predominantly Garganega alongside Chardonnay and a small amount of Trebbiano. This wine is bright, refreshing and crisp. Stone fruit aromas and flavors are well defined and persistent. A subtle spiciness adds interest and complexity. Delicious to enjoy on its own or pair with a range of summer salads, Gouda style cheese or simple grilled fish.
2010 Gesellmann ZB, Burgenland, Austria, $16.99 – The term ZB refers to the blend. This is a blend of Zweigelt and Blaufranckish, two Austrian red grape varieties. It has a bright fruity nose – black berry, bramble fruit and black cherry. Vibrant and juicy, with refreshing, well defined fruit flavors. Tannins are supple and gentle frame the wine – leaving a very pleasant almost cuddly texture. Enjoy with simple pizza, pasta, or a dish that springs to mind is Greek Moussaka. .
2011 Ludovicus, D.O. Terra Alta, Catalonia, Spain, $13.99. This is a red blend made from Garnacha, Syrah, Cariñena, Tempranillo and Merlot. Deeply colored, slightly brooding nose of ultra-ripe black fruit with aromas of jammy black berries, plums and cherries – slightly kirsch-like with notes of licorice and clove. Similar flavors follow on the palate, but I was pleasantly surprised by the brightness in the fruit. Powdery tannins give sufficient grip. This is a warming, fairly full-bodied wine with a sweet spice kick to the finish. Perfect with ribs or grilled spicy sausage such as Merguez.
2010 Montfaucon Les Gardettes, IGP Gard, France, $11.99 - This is a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan from the south of France. It has an attractive mineral nose, neither overtly fruity nor overly subdued. Aromas of ripe red fruit – plum, wild strawberry and cherry with hints of leather, wild dried herbs and underbrush. Bright with well-defined, more distinctly cherry like flavors on the palate. It has an appealing vinous texture and while the flavors are quiet they are persistent. Enjoy with a platter of hard, aged cheeses and air-dried / cured meats.
2010 Paul Mas Estate Single Vineyard Collection, “Carignan ‘Vieilles Vignes”, IGP Pays d’Hérault, France $11.99. This wine is made from gnarly old Carignan vines circa 50 years old. It is a deep inky purple, almost opaque in color and has a distinctive savory nose of wild black fruits, crackling and roasted meats. The juicy fruit – think cherry liqueur, black plum and jammy blueberry - emerge more strongly on the palate amid a generous sprinkling of sweet spice, smoke, earthiness and leather. Definitely one for the smoky barbecued meats.
2009 Chateau Viella Tradition, Madiran, Southwest France, $13.99 – This wine is made from the deeply colored Tannat grape with some Cabernet Franc to keep it company. Dark, almost opaque in color, the nose rich and ripe – showing lots of jammy black fruit aromas, ripe forest fruits with hints of clove, licorice and sweet spice. The tannins are ripe and moderately grippy to adequately frame the soft jammy fruit. A juicy, easy drinking wine to enjoy with a simple grilled burger or sweet Italian sausage.
2010 Cave de Rasteau, Rasteau Les Peyères, Southern Rhône Valley, France, $14.99 – A blend of predominantly Grenache alongside Syrah and Mourvèdre. Quite deeply colored, the nose is nicely layered with aromas of ripe black and red fruit, spicy, gamey and earthy with a touch of smoke and leather. Tannins are nicely grippy and they give the wine its due sense of ‘robustness’ or muscle. It is flavorful and persistent on the palate and the savory gaminess shines on the finish. A great all-rounder wine that will pair with a host of grilled food such as a grilled butterflied leg of lamb served with homemade fries.Have you found any good bottles lately at your own local Whole Foods, or other grocery stores? Do share!
(Images: Mary Gorman-McAdams)