This is Whole Foods’ fourth attempt at selling wine in New York City. The store at Columbus Circle was deemed illegal under New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) law, and licenses for both the Bowery and Union Square Whole Foods’ stores were denied. Under New York law, a wine store must be freestanding and separate from the food store. Additionally, chains of wine stores are not allowed – so this will be Whole Foods’ only NYC wine store.
The store, located on Columbus Avenue and 98th, is certainly well stocked, and it carries about one thousand different wines. It has a section dedicated to New York wines, which you don't see very often. It is bright and welcoming with friendly staff. Being a regular food shopper at Whole Foods, I was quite hopeful of discovering all sorts of interesting wines, especially some Whole Foods exclusives.
Well, I was a little disappointed. As I walked around the store I could see all of the familiar big brands that you can find nationwide in any wine store. But I was being adventurous, looking for something different. Perhaps that is the dilemma of any national chain – centralized buying and large volumes.
Determined, I carefully studied each aisle to find something to interest me. I scoured up and down, at times crouching on my knees to check out the value wines that tended to reside on the lower shelves. Finally I selected an interesting array of wines.
Please don't let me leave you with the impression that this is not a good wine store — it is an excellent wine store. However, if you, like me, enjoy finding interesting and unusual wines at good price points then this will probably not be the top of your list of wine stores to shop in.
• See also: Racked's review of the new WF wine store
• 2008 Gustav Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria $15.99 - Classic Grüner Veltliner nose of white pepper and wax grean with attractive notes of melon, grapefruit, fresh green bean / wax bean. Crisp and refreshing on the palate with lots of bright citrus fruit, ruby grapefruit, tangerine and a lovely kick of spicy white pepper on the finish.
• 2006 d’Arenberg The Jump Stump White, McLaren Vale, Australia, $11.99 – A blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rousanne and Marsanne. d’Arenberg is one of my favorite McLaren vale producers. Intense and fruit driven with peach, apricot, nectarine aromas and some fusel notes. Lots of citrus tang on the palate – tangerine, ruby grapefruit . Refreshing - a lovely wine to enjoy with salmon, clam bake, roast pork or halibut.
• 2007 Domaine Wachau Federspiel Riesling, Wachau, Austria, $19.99 – Minerally with lots of citrus aromas and flavors, limes, Meyer lemon. More fruit on the palate. Crisp acidity and lovely long finish. Great with fresh crab claws, grilled sole or flounder.
• 2006 Chateau La Roque, AC Coteaux du Languedoc $16.99 – A blend of traditional south of France grapes including Grenache Blanc, Rolle, Marsanne and Rousanne. Honey and ripe apricot notes on the nose with hints of dried herbs. Rich and palate covering, more mineral and earthy than fruity flavors with a spicy finish. Great with tarragon chicken or sweet & sour pork..
• 2006 Monte Antico, IGT Toscana, Italy - $11.99 – Predominantly Sangiovese with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot , this is s delightful everyday Italian. Characteristic Sangiovese cherry aromas and flavors, with broader plum notes on the mid-palate and hints of spice. An all-rounder with antipasti, simple grilled chicken breast or pizza.
• 2006 Vinum Cellars Reserve Petite Sirah, Clarksberg, California, $11.99 – Delicious bramble fruit and spice and a lifted floral note. On the palate, lots of dark fruit, bozenberries, wild blackberries and plums with chewy, ripe tannins, and lost of smoky notes. Great with spare ribs, grilled flank steak, pasta with spicy tomato sauce.
• 2008 Cono Sur Pinot Noir, Central Valley, Chile, $8.99 - Stewed black and red cherry aromas and hints of strawberry. Simple, fruity, clean. Cherry jam flavors with tinges of pepper. Straightforward, fresh and drinkable. Versatile at the table with any pasta or pizza.
• 2007 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Red Blend, South Australia, $11.99 – A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre from very old bush vines. Packed with bright ripe fruit – strawberry, raspberry, cranberry and blackberry aromas and flavors. Fruit forward but balanced with layers of spice, and earthy notes. Juicy tannins and refreshing.
• 2008 Loios Vinho Tinto, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal $8.99 – a blend of Aragonês (Alentejo name for Tempranillo), Castelão and Trincadeira. Lots of fresh jammy red cherries make this very easy drinking. Soft tannins, warm, baked fruit flavors with touch of butterscotch and allspice. Try with a burger, pizza or simple pasta dishes.
Until next week!
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She hold the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.