Thursday, October 16, 2008

Great Values

Well the market just fell another 700 pts and we're all broke. What to do? There are some things we cannot do without and these are called necessity's and you cannot tell me wine's not included. We can all cut back, however on the prices we pay. Most of you probably think that the place to go is not a small fine wine shop but, dear reader, that is where we disagree. Why? Because we offer many wines below market price because we know how to buy. Will you get Yellow Tail here? No. Kendall Jackson? No. But you will get great value from small producers that are fighting for market share and will offer a small store very low prices on volume. O.K. volume here is 10 to 15 cases not the 300 plus at chain stores but 15 is to Camille Cayron ( Who?) what 300 is to Yellow Tail. And the quality is, well, let me show you. Come in for a sample of any one of our SWI specials, such as Le Pas de la Beaume Cote du Rhone, Dacu Tempranillo, Sansilvestro Barbera, Secret de Campane, or Le Poule Blanche. All at or below $10. In the 10-15 dollar range we have Altos de la Hoya Monastrell, Bouchard Pinot Noir, Puydeval Cab. Franc. and many others. I guess the point is that you can rely on small shops to deliver high value in every price range. Doubt it? How about 05' Leonetti Sangiovese for $35.00. Try and beat that anywhere any place. Yes you have to pick and choose and the choices are limited but I think we can keep you happy with the 300 selections we have. Sorry for the advertisement but business is slow today.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Well, like it or not were into Fall and beautiful day it is. Wine preference tends to go red or heavier whites along with the drop in temperature and we're gearing up for just that eventuality. Spain has been offering great value in white summer wines and they now give us exceptional fall-winter reds to enjoy at low prices. Three bargains to consider are: 1. 05 Vega Sindoa, 50% Cab and 5o% Tempranillo It shows deep purple colors with deep, riveting cherry, cassis finish with a touch licorice. Finishes dry and long. 2. Venta Mazzaron 05' Tempranillo from a small, relatively unknown region, Zamora, has a grapey richness with fleshy fruit and chocolate flavors. New world in style it finishes smoothly with a less drying finish. Pretty big here. 3. My personal favorite is back, the 06' Altos de la Hoya, Monastrell,from Jumilla. Incredibly complex for the price, it has medium body, nice fruit with an intriguing white pepper finish. All three under $15.00. Come and see the quality and value flowing out of Spain.
Were going to try something different this fall and winter---Delivery. Yes we will deliver to any Salem resident with 2 or more cases ordered.(within two days) Marblehead or Beverly will be 3 cases or a $15.00 charge for one or two cases. In this vein we will also offer a monthly sampler case with wines from around the world that are typical of a region. Twelve reds or a eight red four white mix will be put together for delivery or pick up. Prices per bottle will average $12.99 with some more or less expensive but a final case price of $156 normally will be $130. This month we feature a red case of 2 Bordeaux, Spanish Tempranillo, Greek Agiorgitiko, Carmenere from Chile, Argentine Malbec, Australia Shiraz, Ca. Cab and Ca. Petit Sirah, Sicilian Nero D'Avola, Chianti, and So. France Grenache. To pick up, call ahead with order and Credit card info. When in the neighborhood call on cell phone and we will bring out order as you pull up to curb. No parking necessary.
Have to mention the wine tasting event at The Lyceum last week. Cannot say enough about the quantity and quality of attendees. A full sell out at about 175 very (I don't want to use the word serious) interested and fun people made this an event to remember. The sales people presenting the wines said the same and mentioned it was one of the best they've been involved with. I am not patting myself on the back because the interest was generated by a great group of wine "students" who know how to appreciate wine drinking and enjoyment without the pretense and the great Lyceum venue. Way to go. We will consider another in Spring. Any interest?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grand Tasting

Hi from Church St. on a beautiful day before Labor Day. Would like to mention a very important event for Salem Wine Imports on Thurs. Sept. 25th at the Lyceum Restaurant from 6 until 10 pm. Co sponsored by The Salem Athaeneum and Historic New England we will have over 80 wines to sample along with light appetizers and live music. A few winery owners and winemakers will be in attendance to talk about and discuss their wines and methods and to answer questions. Silver Oak, Ch. Gloria, Bollinger, Pride Mtn, and just some of the great wines available to try that night. All wines will be discounted 20% for the event and will give everyone an opportunity to fill the cellar for the winter months at great savings.
We will be getting back to regular blogs after the tasting and I apologize for lack of info recently. I've been very busy working on particulars for the tasting but I do have a lot of stored up things to bring to you. One such point of information is, to me, one spectacular value from the value capital of France, the Cotes du Rhone. Had a chance to buy the final cases of Domaine Servans, 05 CDR and it is super. Weight without being weighty, flavors that broaden and deepen, and a beautiful mineral, leather, dried fruit finish that goes on and on. This wine is perfection to me and I think you will agree. Perfection, that is, for a $11.99
wine. Very limited, come and get it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Geography and hang time.

Every day during the week sales people come in with wines to try and, hopefully sell. This is not a bad thing. Except for staying awake until closing, but it really is an exciting time for a wine "nut". I know, get a life but tasting wine from almost every corner of the world and the different styles and tastes is an incredible experience. The one thing that is , to me, readily apparent is the universal high quality. Do I like every wine? Certainly not but they are all worth the experience and most all are balanced and flavorful and worth consideration The "old world" have been praticing for hundreds of years and seems to have gotten it right most times.
That brings us to "new World" and their "experience" It didn't take much fooling around to know the Napa Valley was very good for Cabernet but they've wasted time and money trying Pinot Noir there. Time has shown that Carneros, Russian River and the more southern climes(Santa Barbera etc) make better Pinot's. Napa is too hot and the cooler regions allow for more hang time and consequently, better Pinot. Takes us off in a tangent but yes, the southern coast in Ca. is cooler than Napa and Sonoma, much further north. Why? The mountains. Up north of San Francisco the mountain's go north to south along the coast effectively stopping the cooling sea breezes and fog that delays ripening and dictates a longer "hang time" from reaching Sonoma or Napa. Below San Francisco the mountains go east to west allowing the afformentioned breezes to flow into the vineyards slowing the ripening and making better hang time and better Pinot. Why Carneros since it is located north of SF? Because its position close to San Francisco bay creates cooling fog most every night. With Pinot Noir, cooler is better---see Oregon So. Cal ,Burgundy,and New Zealand.
Those are my personal thoughts concerning quality and you, of course, may disagree. It makes the wine world go round.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


First of all I want to thank the few or the many who nominated us for "Best of North Shore", wine shop in the "North Shore" magazine. Although we did not get best from the magazine we got enough votes to be one of the "Readers Choice" best and the only one in Salem. Thanks. Next year the magazine will see it's error.
Just booked the "Lyceum" restaurant for our first annual "Salem Wine Expo" on Thurs., Sept. 25th. We hope to get winemakers, importers and maybe an owner or two, to be there. Regardless we will be pouring upwards of 100 wines from all around the world and all with SWI's guarantee of quality. Grazing food as well as some light entertainment will be there so we should have a great time. Please tell your friends and make it a night to remember in your wine life. We have decided to charge (ugh) for this event but only after much consideration concerning the need for "great" wines to be available. A modest $20 pre pay or $25 at the door. Further info will be forthcoming as more details. Thanks

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rain, Rain go away

Seems like it's been raining for a week straight and I believe everyone is getting quite fed up with it. What to do? Well, you know what I'm going to recommend---Take home a different wine tonight and feel the excitement mount. Wash away those rainy day blues and experiment with a totally unknown entity. Expand you horizons. Well, I guess that's enough, but seriously, or semi-seriously wine experimenting is fun for the adventuresome and for people like myself who believe that it's better to be disappointed than bored. Buy a Brachetto from Piedmontese and after chilling a bit open and discover. Discover what? A sweet, sparkling, low alcohol red wine that is delightful alone or after dinner with chocolate or other sweet things. Will you appreciate a "sweet, sparkling red? If are open to new tastes, then yes, I believe you will. If you refuse to try sweet then try a Montefalco Rosso from Umbria that contains a bit of the Sagrantino grape and is dry and rich at the same time. Want something in between then step up to the incredible Zind Humbrecht, Herrenweg Gewurtztraminer from the 02' vintage. No one squeezes more flavor from a grape than ZH and you can darn near taste the sun even if you cannot see it.
Some ideas for a rainy day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

bloggers block

I know you can get writers block,I think I have bloggers block. I love wine and I love to talk about it so what's the prob? I think I'll just start out like this and see---Lambrusco, aha just looked up and saw the new Lini Lambrusco that we tried at Tues. tasting. Remember Lambrusco from years ago, well forget about that. It's been years before a reputable producer of this grape decided to export the real thing---ie dry. Lini has been making dry "Labrusca" since 1910 and it shows. They make a white, rose and red, all priced around $16.00 per and well worth a try. The red, my favorite, is bright fruit flavors with good acidity, low alcohol (11%) and a gentle sparkle that is just perfect with rich foods like tagliatelle alla bolognese or the regional Prosiutto di Parma. The Labrusco Bianco, my daughters favorite, is clean, fresh, racy, and an ideal aperitif. Recommended food--Prosciutto with cantalope.. Wow. The rose was sold out so I cannot give any info but if it were around I would buy and try. Funny thing about both red and white, they were very controversial. I would say about 1/3 did not like either but the other 2/3 loved them. Never seen such a strange phenomenum. Usually I find about a 80-20 split one way or the other on most wines. Getting to be a "sample" expert here with my cruvinet. When people try the wines it's always interesting to see reaction to different styles. No wine gets 100% approval, no matter how good but that is to be expected. Too dry, too acidic, too flat too full, too whatever, wines are a unique and personal sensation and God bless that. Do you like it? then it's good. Pure and simple. Long live all the different styles we can choose from to please and accentuate all of our eating, social and life's adventures.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Open anything

Last night we had a good group of 9 people to sample some extraordinary wines on our open anything night. We invite any and all to come and for a nominal fee of $20 we pool our resources and discuss which wines to buy and open. We had a nice kitty of $180 (including myself) and decided to open David Clarke's Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire from 05' and the irrepressible 04 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, SLV. First the Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, a very seldom seen appellation in Burgundy near Clos Vougeot. Farmed organically David cuts his yield per hectare to a very low 30hl and neither filters or fines his wines. This wine was incredibly wound up and tight but with a potential to unleash a terrific product given time. Most tasters found it too acidic but with the intensity of fruit involved, I believe,this will bode well for the future. Big, but not heavy, this 100% Pinot will be a star in a few years. What doesn't need any time is the super smooth, velvety Stags Leap. Long, rich, elegant and refined, this cabernet is quintessintial Stags Leap District wine. An "iron fist in a velvet glove" as Warren Winiarski often opined, it truely lived up to its billing. Firm and complex with cedar, raspberry, spice with firm but soft tannins. It finish is beautifully long for which we were very grateful. This vineyard was the actual winner of the famous or infamous, depending "Judgement at Paris", tasting of 1976. You can see why in this bottle, a world class expression of farming and winemaking at its best.
We also opened a bottle of 1997 St. Laurent from Pretterebner in Austria to discuss and found it to be pretty interesting. Well matured, it was not yet over any hill but displayed good fruit, if a bit earthy,(not negatively) and balance with a good grip and intensity.
Just some of the wines we can and will open if we get some interest. The more the better. If we get enough we will open two of each. Every Thurs. at 6:30 except next Thurs. Next Thurs. we will be having a free tasting of some of Ca. and Italy's best. From 5:00-8:00. Special discounts apply. Ramey, Richie Vineyard, Ramey, Russian River Chard. Landmark, Chard., Chappellet Cab. and Gaja's Tuscan project, Ca' Marcanda. Try and come by and taste. Buy if you want or don't buy. We would just like you to enjoy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fire in the hole

Long time no blog. If you haven't heard, my entire stock was destroyed two weeks ago by a raging thermostat. I am now, reluctantly, the N. Shore's resident expert on cooked wine. Upon entering store Monday morning, two weeks past, I realized I was cooked as well. Temp. was about 90-95 and that is not good. Fortunately my insurance was paid up and on the money as everything was covered. Trying between 80-90 different wines I thought I'd share my perceptions. First of all, the tannic reds were worse than worthless. Nothing but bitter, dry dusty flavors on the finish. Surprisingly the nose and entry were fine on all wines. It was the middle and finish that was devoid of fruit. The white wines were "drinkable" as my daughter opined so I gave her six bottles and trashed the rest. I wouldn't drink and thought them dull and lifeless but in a sangria?? It was tough to throw out some expensive favorites but one has to be brave in times like these. Actually I've saved some wines too difficult to trash and try 1 or 2 per evening hoping to salvage one. No luck. Ch. Monbousquet, Silver Oak, Matrot Volnay, Ruinart, what a pity. My favorite, Felsina 04' reserva--the last of the vintage--oh well. We are all restocked with fresh, new product and all is well again.
Some interesting news for June 12th. One of my suppliers and I have conjured up a high end wine tasting and sale for that night, Thursday 5:00-8:00. He will bring some very special wines from California and Italy for your sampling and purchase. All wines will be discounted 15% / bottle for that night and 20% for a case. Wine are--Drums please

1. Landmark 05 "Overlook" Chardonnay. reg. $32.00 Bottle $27.00 case $25.60
2. Ramey 06 Russian River Chardonnay $44.00 $37.00 $35.20
3. Ramey 05 "Richie" Vineyard Chard. $75.00 $64.00 $60.00
4. Chappellet 05 Napa, Cabernet $50.00 $42.50 $40.00
5. Ca'marcanda(Gaja)05' "Promis" $50.00 . $42.50 $40.00
6. Ca'Marcanda (Gaja)05' "Magari" $84.00 $71.40 $67.20

Ca'Marcanda is a Gaja project in Tuscany and bears his indisputable genius. Mark it on your calendar. It's time to live it up.

Finally, you all know how I like to name drop so I would be remiss if I didn't mention a nice visit from my old friend Matteo Ascheri from Piedmont, Italy. Matteo stopped by last week when I was re stocking and amidst hugs and pledges of great friendship we tried his wines. I know you are going to say I'm not an objective taster but regardless, all his wines shone. Perfect Gavi, excellent Arneis, friendly Dolcetto, lip smacking Barbera and sublime Barolo. I bought some of his 04 Sorano vineyard Barolo and when it comes in, Barolo fans, you must buy. Again, sublime. A case of very good man making very good wine. It's nice when that happens. See you again soon Matteo.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Paolo di Marchi

Special note to introduce you to a special winemaker and person, Paolo de Marchi of Isole e Olena. Paolo is an old friend and one of Italy's best winemakers and he will be in our store next Wed., to sample his extraordinary wines. Chianti Classico, Super Tuscan Cepparello, Chardonnay and more. This is a great opportunity to talk with a true master in his field and one of the nicest. Come and join us Wed evening the 23rd, from 5:00 til 6:00.
Five new French whites have just arrived I thought you might like. 1. "Les Rials" from the south west of France is an easy drinking, charming, light bodied delight for warm summer? eve's. The grape--the very obscure Loin de L'oel.$9.99 2. Macon-Uchizy, 100% Chardonnay, it dispalys a soft easy entry but finishes with beautiful butterscotch and spice. $14.00 3. Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc. A classy, very typically French white Burgundy from the highly acclaimed 06' vintage at a great price---$19.99. 06' produced relatively soft wines with decent acidity and for immediate enjoyment. I love those words. Next a classic Chablis from Domaine Defaix that shows typical minerality with lemon and other citrus flavors. Try, obviously, with oysters or any shellfish and richer fish. Finally, a beautifully crafted Montagny from Boillot. Elegant, perfectly balanced and delicious. It is a eye closing (know what I mean?) type of wine. $29.99--Don't wait.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Arrivals

Some new and interesting wines have arrived this week that I thought you'd like to know about.
First is the very pretty, Le Pas de la Beaume from Cave de Cairanne in the southern Rhone valley. A cepage of 76%Grenache, 8% Syrah, 8% carignan, 8% Cinsault it has a nice red berry and garrique (oak,lavender thyme etc. from Provence)aromas. In the mouth the wine exhibits soft and clean fruit flavors with nice drying tannins on the finish. Typically French and a very good everyday wine for spring barbecue. $8.99
Next a clever package and a nice French blend called "Le Coq Rouge". A blend of Syrah and Cab. with splash of Merlot, it is easy to drink and easier to enjoy. Black cherry nose with a wiff of black pepper it has soft, smooth tannins that carry the blackberry and pepper flavors nicely. Its twin sister white is called "Le Poule Blanche" a blend of Chard, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier and is crisp and fruity with a slight touch of oak on the finish. Both from the South of France and very well priced at $9.99 each. $8.99 /bottle 12 or more.
For the serious Chateaneuf du Pape collector the just arrived 05' Lucien Barrot et Fils ( 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre) at $37.99 is a steal that should be in your cellar. Come to think of it with the forecast this weekend, open one up Sat., make a roast leg of lamb, and forget the weather. " Living well is the best revenge".
Will be away from Sat. night until Thurs. Store will be open reg. hours. No tasting tues. however.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spanish Superlatives

Thinking about the new Spanish wines I've been introduced to the last couple months and thought I'd share some conclusions. When I opened three months ago I thought my Spanish section would be fairly small. I liked what I had tried from Spain but naively thought I had seen most of the "good stuff" (Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat, etc). The reeducation of Eric has been fast and very enjoyable as I've been shown wonderful wines from Bierzo, Jumilla, Mentrida, Campo de Borja, and others regions not previously "important". Lets look at a few.
First and foremost the elegant "Petalos" from the Descendents De J. Palacios, the actual winery name. Guess some years back the son of J. Palacios, Alvaro, went his separate way from a prestigeous Rioja wine family and struck out alone. I guess it wasn't a pleasant separation. Years later after traveling France and working in Bordeaux, including a stint at Petrus, Alvaro returned to Spain looking for the the perfect place to begin his own venture. After investigating almost every sq. mile looking for the perfect combination of grapes, climate, and land he settled in Bierzo, in the N.W. corner of Spain near the Atlantic coast. An old winemaking region, Bierzo suffered from antiquated techniques and low quality products. No longer as Alvaro has brought some Bordeaux techniques (French Oak, less wood ageing, lower yields)) to the region and its Mencia grape. His winery named after his father after a rapprochement, honors his family and here produces a truely fine wine. Elegant and polished it shows nice cherry and mineral aromas, smooth entry with berry and mineral flavors. beautiful mouth feel and a high toned, long, flavorful finish. I think you will enjoy this "unusual" wine as much as I. Lovely reason to spend $26.99.
Next the soon to be gone, "Tres Patas" from Mentrida, near Madrid. Not as much story but just as much wine the 75% Garnacha and 25% Syrah is a deep ruby mouthfull of surprises. I try to describe a big wine that is not in the least heavy and people look perplexed. Try this and see the concept--light and lively on the palate but with an incredible melange of flavors that are at once pure and clean with red berry and strawberry. Long, satisfying, complex finish. Bad news for this "steal" at $19.99 is I just bought the last 3 cases in the State. Come in or call cause 36 bottles won't last as I'm buying 6.

Don't forget Thurs at 6:30 we will have "open anything night:. Where we pay $20 per person and pool our resources to buy any wine or two in the store to taste. Cepparello anyone? Sandrone, Barolo? La Coulee de Serrant? Fay Cab.?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring has Sprung

Hello from Church St:
Well the temp doesn't show it much but we are into spring and the first sign is--no not a robin but new releases of rose wine. The 07's are trickling in and I hope and expect this to be the breakout year for these delightful wines. Colorful, easy, flavorful and with a touch of elegance, these wines have finally shaken the disastrous comparison to white zin. Similar in color only, the French, Italian and Spanish versions are wonderful examples of no nonsense, relax and enjoy spring wines of varying grapes and shades. Some with beautiful spice, wild strawberry, mineral, herbs or a combination, but all (ones we buy) with gentle acidity and firm finish. Backyard barbecue, fish on the grill, summer salad, or just while watching the boats go by these are very adaptable and versatile. If your not a believer, come and sample some next Tues. and see for yourself. The ultimate summer wine.

The 5th of April, Saturday at 4-6pm we will be hosting a Ca. winery, Cameron Hughes, at our shop. Cameron Hughes is a fairly new negociant who buys grapes from top growers and bottles under his name. His Napa Cabernet's and Chardonnay are excellent values and you can sample here before you buy. Hosted by Stephanie Restuccio of Cameron Hughes.

New summer hours are --Tues., Wed., Thurs., 12:00-8:00. Fri., Sat., 12:00-9:00. Sun. 1:00-5:00.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Everyday wines

My everyday wine expense keeps climbing and now is around $15 a bottle. Ten dollars used to be a nice point
at which to purchase wines but everything rises except my income. What to do? Well we started looking for under $10 values and came up with some fine wines. Certainly not complex, but simple on the good side, every day, no guilt, wines. Always well balanced and tasty, they help you pay your gasoline bill and still keep wine on the table. Anyway, the wines at our tasting last Tues. were-- 1,2,3. Masciarelli Trebbiano, Rosato, and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Always have believed the latter to be one of the best buys in the country. Straight forward, uncomplicated, it delivers fruit aplenty, is high toned and finishes with that tell tale Italian slightly bitter finish. Did I hear someone order pizza? Bring it on. The 06 rose was a favorite. Clean, fresh, throughly enjoyable. The Trebbiano, clean and refreshing-a perfect warm weather sipper. All three wines are $7.99 each--2 for $15 and THREE for $21. Next up, the personable Esteban Martin Tinto, from Spain a simple but well balanced, fruity, easy going sipper. A bit fuller than the aforementioned Montepulciano, it will find a nice place at my first burger backyard feast. $7.99 Next a very popular and rewarding wine from the south of Italy, IL Filare from Puglia. 50-50 Primativo and Sangiovese from a high altitude vineyard keeping the wine balanced and fresh tasting. Broad and ripe but not overly so it is full with some complexity. $9.99. Last, but certainly, not least, the most popular wine in the shop--Bouchard, Bourgogne Rouge(Pinot Noir). From the highly acclaimed 05' vintage. This wine is $11-$13 most places and absolutely will be around $14 after the next overseas delivery. $9.99 here,now. Please buy yourself a case or two while you still can @ $9.99 less 10%. You will thank me this summer.
For you white wine fans we have a Pinot Grigio with real class coming in today for $9.99. "Riff" from the world famous Alios Lageder winery in Alto Adige in Italy, this wine delivers dry stoney freshness and minerality and that will please all. If you are stuck on one of the commercial brands--come try a wine worthy of your 10 bucks.(and then some).
Early notice of a representative from a Califonia winery, Cameron Hughes, will be tasting here, April, 5, 4-6pm. Stunning values from this new "negotiant". Mark down the date if you like California. Some superior Napa Cabs from $19.00 and up will surprise you.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Notes on Bordeaux

Last Tues., the 4th we had a good crowd over to try the 05 Bordeaux's we sell. Surprisingly,because of the euro, I found the wines to be exceptional values. We tried just five reds, but each one had a personality and character all there own(what else is new) and are worthy of your consideration. Were talking 1. Ch. Des Jaubertes, a Graves with considerable talent at $9.99. Fairly tough with dry tannins but good black fruit and earth flavors and a very dry finish. This wine cemented my belief that Bordeaux's generally need the company of food more than any other wine. I liked as is but all of these would benefit a steak, duck or lamb and vice versa. Next a smoother velvety Medoc, Ch. Clos de Verdun. Smooth, fairly soft entry is followed by good grip and fresh clean berry and spice flavors that is eminently drikable. The Wall Street Journal "Best Buy", Ch. Au Grand Paris is, and I quote "lovely, with restrained but abundent fruit, red berry tastes and some complexity. Could age some." Couldn't have put it better--that's why they pay them the big $$. Next up, the ever popular, Ch. Mylord, an 87-88 pt Wine Advocate best buy probably the best of Jaubertes (dry, earthy) and Verdun(ripe, fruity) that was the tasting favorite. Dry and fruity seem contradictive but when tasting Bordeaux's you see perfectly the stlye I'm referring to. Finally, to reward the faithful, we opened a 2000 Medoc, Ch. La Cardonne. Ageing beautifully, this elegant example showed nice tobacco, spice and delicate herbal notes, with soft mature tannis. It is the quintessential "affordable($23.00) mature, Bordeaux.

Next Tues., the 11th we will try to impress you with our "everyday" values. A collection of under $10.00 wines that are increasingly hard to source. With the euro at an all time high, these affordable, drinkable, inexpensive wines are tough to come by. Unless you shop at SWI. Come and see for yourself. Always free, always 6:30, bring glass if possible.

Class for Cabernet night, the 13th almost full. Call or e-mail if interested.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Le Piane

Oftentimes the wine business is fun, exciting and educational but seldom all at once as it was here Fri. night Feb., 29th. We were treated to a visit from Christoph Kunzli owner of "Le Piane" as previoully mentioned and he did not disappoint. Large, affable, gregarious and seemingly continually happy, Christoph is, I guess, the 'perfect" winemaker. Somebody we all would like to meet on their own turf, and just happens to make incredible wines. He loves his wines and he loves the people who are interested in his wines as he showed during our two plus hours of tasting. Totally at ease and without pretense he had us engrossed (and jealous) in life on a vineyard in N. Piedmont. Unfortunately the tasting was so busy I was unable to write any real notes on the individual wines. My wife, Susan was ferrying different tastes to me at the register without vintage knowledge as I went from wine to wine just pleased to be there. I know they were full of spice, tobacco, fruit, earth and had an almost perfect mouth feel with a weight that was at once full yet delicate, not in the least heavy. For better notes try, "A Passionate Foodie", or "smells like grape". I bet they'll have good notes.
We will remember our visit with Christoph fondly for years to come and enjoy his wines while we do. Good luck, Christoph.

One more reminder of our Bordeaux tasting this Tues. March 4th. Also, last call for Cabernet class. March 13th.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Last and next tasting

Those of you who came over to Church St. Tues. last, were treated to a smorgasbord of wines from Austria, Switzerland, and Greece. The reasoning being was that I do not carry enough wines from any one of those countries to suffice so--
Austria led off with the ever popular Gruner Veltliner from Weinzierl in the convienient liter bottle. A light perfectly balanced charmer that is crisp and dry and delivers a touch of fruit and spice. "No brainer" white for sitting on your porch(later) and enjoying life. Next was a Moschofilreo a white wine, from the Mantinia region of Greece. This unique grape throws off a beautiful bouquet of flowers and fruit that is almost worth the price alone. The flavors are well integrated pear with spice held up by ample acidity. "Zorba the Greek" would drink two bottles and go singing and dancing into the night. Anybody remember the movie? Great stuff. He would have also liked the very popular red wine "Agiorgitko" due to its very charming personality. Smooth medium bodied, and just easy. A real discovery that would delight any "Zorba" in the house. Try it with lamb, Greek style and rejoice(good acidity for red sauces also). Then, ready?, from Pretterebner a Blaufrankisch( say that fast three times you could hurt yourself) An organic producer here uses minimal intervention, lets nature take its course and delivers a wine of complete originality. With aromas hard to describe but "barnyardish" might work with a touch raspberry and herbs. Very smooth mouthfeel. From Austria. Also from Austria the soft sophisticated elegant(dare I say feminine?) Zweigelt from Hillinger. More subtle that powerful in the best sense with red fruit flavors that linger nicely on the palate. Finally the delicious Germanier, Dole Balavaud from Switzerland. Dole is the blend that must be at least 85% pinot noir with some gamay added. Classy wine with "Burgundian" notes and a soft supple finish. Good match, I believe, for pork or turkey, among others.

Now for next week, the 26th. we will feature wines of Spain. From Jumilla, Valencia, Bierzo, Rioja, Priorat, and Penedes the incredible variety and quality of present day Spanish winemaking.

Have to mention again the visit to our store from the owner and winemaker of Le Piane estate in northern Piedmont. on the leap day the 29th of Feb. @6:30 See below for particulars.

One more thing concerning wine classes. I have gotten some interest and will try to hold the first class the 2nd Thurs. in March the 13th. Salem Film Fest is next week and the week after I'll be at Carleton School benefit at Old Town House if you care to attend. Wine, beer tasting with auction 7:00-10:00. Let me know through e-mail( if you have interest in classes. $20 per for Cabernet night. Others priced accordingly

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wine maker visit

Just booked a visit from a stellar producer of Piedmontese wines to our humble wine shop. February 29, at 6:30 we will have a tasting of the wines of Le Piane, from the northern region of Piedmont called Boca with the winemaker-owner, Christoph Kunzli. The wines are familiar to some of you as we've been selling "La Maggiorina" red for some time. He will also be opening some of his better bottles for our and your enjoyment.
In the early 90's Christoph bought a very small vineyard in the Novara region of NE Piedmont in Boca. Realizing the great possibilities for winemaking in this historic area he has cleared and planted land until he had enough to commercially bottle his distinct style. We are the beneficiaries of his vision and skill. Mostly Nebbiolo with Vespolino and the native Bonarda added for complexity, they are big wines with a silky elegance. not to be missed. Stop by, have a glass or two, talk to Christoph and I'm sure he'd sign a label or two for your cellar.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tasting Feb., 19th.

Tuesday the 19th at 6:30 we will restart our weekly tasting events. Opening that week will be Austrian, Greek, and Swiss wines that are unique to those countries and, I think, will be a delight and revelation to all. My philosophy(often challenged) on these matters is that there really aren't bad wines just bad food matches with them. Now, obviously, there are abysmal wines true but I stand by my philosophy(generally) that wines most always need a proper partner to truely shine. Take, for instance, Agiorgitiko, (what?) from Greece and pair it with a Greek lamb dish and voila.(what is Greek for voila?). A perfect match made from hundreds or maybe thousands of years of practice on getting both right. Who's to argue? We won't have the lamb Tues. but we will have Agiorgitiko,and Moschofilero from Greece. The much easier to pronounce, Zwiegelt and Gruner from Austria, and two wines from Switzerland, Dole Balavaud and Dubaril. Plus a mystery wine. Stop by if you can and join us. Informal, as usual and any later arrivals welcome.

On a different note, I thought I'd test the waters so--anyone out there want a leather bond twelve pack of Ch. d'Yquem for a nominal price of $7000? Twelve vintages including 84,5,7,8,91,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 2000. The good news is they are full bottles. Seriously a great collectors item. As the guy says when he was trying to sell a million dollar TV "I only have to sell one".

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Valentines Day

The wine, flower, chocolate shop savior--Valentines Day. How unromantic you get with a retail business. Anyway I have gone to great extremes to meet your romantic needs in the way of the grape. First off a very commercial sounding name that just happened to have very good and (Salem Wine Imports favorite) unusual grapes. The names, gulp, "You are so Nice", and "You are so Pretty". Before I go any further and my loyal readership(?) thinks I've gone chain store on them let me tell you these are seriouly good wines. From the "Louis/Dressner firm that specializes in Loire Valley wines these two energetic and nervy wines are fruit driven charmers, in bottle as well as out. Slightly different in composition and flavor they are predominately Cot, better known as Malbec, with some gamay in Nice and Pineau D'aunis in Pretty. Take one or both home, smile while presenting, open and -- who knows? Made for us who are really romantic, we just can't express it.

Just introduced to a Bargain Rose Champagne. So pretty the sight of it coming over the threshold alone could save many a marriage. Beautiful color, beautiful flavors, beautiful price($39.99).

For something entirely different a "Vin de Bugy from the village of Cerdon near the Swiss border in France. Far away from any premier vinyard area this small VDQS produces this charmer of low alcohol, good effervescense, and off dry berry flavors that is a great match for chocolate cake or as an aperitif in front of the fire. Boy, if that isn't romantic enough I hear it's an aphrodisiac.

Just a reminder--No tasting the 12th but yes on the 19th. Emerging countries. Swiss, Austria, Greece, etc. Thanks Eric
PS special bottles open Sundays around 3:00.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Just as I had hoped, the tasting was very popular last night. We had appx. 35-40 people and all seemed to enjoy the excellent selection from Adonna wines, the importer who hosted the event. As an added bonus two fellow bloggers( and were in attendance and added quite interesting comments and opinions. In fact I'm so lazy today I am going to defer to Richard at foodie to supply my material. Saw this morning he already had his blog up and running concerning the tasting and thought an independent critic would be fun. Try the two blogs--they are quite good. Remember there will be no tasting next week, the 12th. Return to action the 19th with emerging countries. --Greek, Swiss, Austria, Luxembourg, etc. Obviously they are "emerging" only in the import sense. Wine has been a staple there for centuries. Come and see what they have to offer today.
Three very interesting items in stock for Valentines day. 1. Trentadue Chocolate Amore, yes sounds very contrived and commercial but the stuff is an after dinner dream come true. Made with Merlot in a port stlye but with chocolate infused in. I'm having difficulty keeping my hands off. Also #2 A great value in Rose Champagne from a hitherto unknown Beaumont des Crayeres. Beautiful copper-pink and as tasty as wines costing $20 more. and #3. A beautiful "Cerdun de Bugey" Rose from Patrick Bottex in the Savoie region of France. Come in Sunday after 3:00 and maybe we'll open a couple.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Italian Tasting

This Tues. the 5th of Feb., we will be trying our best selection yet. Joining us to moderate this time will be Salems' own, Eileen Wright. Eileen is responsible for importing the wines we will try and for that I'm forever grateful, and I think you will agree. It makes my life a lot more fun (not to mention, successful) with wine such as hers. We will try; 1. Martilde, "Gelo" white--from Oltrepo Pavese, 2, La Maggiorina, from Boca in the Piedmont, 3. The rustic, earthy, Bonarda also from Martilde, 4. The near spectacular Solatione Chianti Classico. 5. the intriging and delicious Teroldego Rotaliano (great name) from Trentino. # 6 will be a surprise Eileen will bring. Don't miss this one if you can help it.

Friday, February 1, 2008

New Arrivals

Just received some new, unusual wines in--- 2 Italian, a Teroldego, and a Lagrein. A new item from Austria, Zweigelt and the return of a favorite, the Italain white from Martilde with the sheep dog on the label( in case you didn't remember name). The Teroldego is smooth, velvety and with a tart finish. Kinda like a high toned Zinfandel. It would go very well with lamb, game or a steak. The Lagrien is from the Alto Adige in N. Italy and is a local grape not found many other places. Notice I hedged my bet. I'm sure someone uses it elsewhere but ??? It is a smokey(slightly) medium full bodied with good fruit, depth and grip. Try with pizza (lotta topings) rosemary flavored stew, of any persuasion, or barbecue. The Zweigelt is the most popular of Austrian reds and is a user friendly styly similar to beaujolais with good grapy freshness. Chill a bit and enjoy. The Martilde, called "Gelo" if some recall is fresh, fun and elegant. I won't devulge grape unless you come in. Company secret, but you would never guess. Great new Swiss white coming later today will be a favorite I do believe. Eric

Thursday, January 31, 2008

S. France tasting.

Great attendance for last Tues. tasting. 60 plus people tried 7 wines from various regions and various grapes. La Vieille Ferme Blanc was a favorite for its easy drinking fruit and a touch of spice. Great summer porch wine that sold well now--the rouge also was a popular wine with its lighter style of fruit and terrior it will be a staple this summer, a bit chilled. The Secret de Campane was the most popular as far as sales went--- medium bodied with a nice dollop of "garrique" or taste of provence. Les Sarments with its predominate Tannat grape was controversial but well received by those who wanted more ooomph and would benefit from a touch of beef stew. Domaine Petit Mas was another favorite with 70% syrah its spicy pepper fruit has nice mouthfeel and a dry earthy finish. Rotier with its strange (for us) grape varieties was a bit more polished and is a good "bistro" style for everyday pleasure. finally the Cote du Rhone, Cuvee Cypress a blend put together for Kermit Lynch-an excellent importer that I have great faith in--who also has a very well written newsletter(Ask if interested)Was, as expected full of tasty dried fruit flavors with spice and a velvety finish.
An incredible showing, thanks all. and for next Tues the 5th, Italian wines. Please note the 12th will Not be a tasting. Back to regular tasting the 19th. Also on every Sunday EXCEPT this one (Super Bowl) I will open 3-4 wines around 3:00 for your pleasure in addition to the 8 we always have. Try to drop by.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

tasting Jan.29

Tasting tonight--La Vieille Ferme-(Cote Ventoux)-Red & White, Secret de Campane(Orange,Provence), Les Sarments Rouge(Comte Tolosan), Domaine Petit Mas(Costieres de Nimes), Domaine Rotier(Gaillac), and Cypress Cuvee, Cotes du Rhone. 6:30

Friday, January 25, 2008

We will have a tasting of wines from the south of France next tues. the 29th @6;30. Come anytime promptness is not mandatory. Bring glasses if poss. Plastic will be avail. Some new, exciting wines from the Languedoc, Minervois, Provence, and the Rhone will be opened. Hope to see you all. Eric

Monday, January 14, 2008

start up

Thought I'd start a blog to compliment my web page and be able to converse quickly and easily with interested parties. Will be talking about any and all aspects of wine and the enjoyment of. Share tasting notes, food matching successes (and failures), vintages, geographical styles, grape types, restaurant experiences etc. Since I do own a small shop will be mentioning items of interest fom there. New arrivals, unusual types Peleverga, Falangina, to name two that just arrived. We will be tasting wines every Tues. and will blog results soon after. What do you think? Eric