There are lot of great wine shops in the metro Boston area, but none get a higher percentage of my wine spend than the Hingham Wine Merchant. Here’s why:
Dick, Duncan, and Sean apply two rounds of sorting on the wines they carry. First, they survey their past experience with respected producers and consult wine publications to find candidate wines. Next, the taste through the wines. Lots of them. Finally, they connect the dots between price and quality to find value. If it doesn’t pass through their filter, it’s not in the shop. As a result, there is no “fat” in the store. If it’s not good- they don’t carry it.
As an example, I remember the first time I went along with one of their suggestions without prior knowledge of the wine. I asked for a nice bottle of Australian Shiraz- I think I asked for Two Hands or some similar name that’s perennially scored highly by Wine Spectator. Dick suggested a 2005 John Duval Entity that was available at a great price. When I got home and checked the Spectator rating I was pleasantly surprised to see the wine received 94 points. Brilliant! Better yet, when I cracked it open I thought it was fantastic. It was one of the few times I’ve bought a wine with such a high rating without specifically seeking it out, and it went a long way towards earning my trust for future purchases.
First Class Events
These guys know how to throw a party. Their events bring together:
- Really high end wines from the most important wine regions
- Ample amounts of really good food
- Elegant ambiance- usually at an interesting location on the South Shore
Attending one of their tastings truly feels like a night on the town; a special occasion. At the end of the event, just drop your order form off and pick your wines up a week or two later. It couldn’t be easier.
Kids’ Play Area
I don’t think I’ve seen another wine shop anywhere that has a kids’ play area. What could be better than a safe environment to keep the little ones happy while you’re making your wine selections? My 4-year-old *loves* a trip to the Wine Merchant, and I don’t blame him. Coloring books, puzzles, cartoons, Hot Wheels and more. Bring the whole family!
Check ’em out:Hingham Wine Merchant 74 North St
This is the first in a series of blog posts that will focus on Boston-area wine stores and some reasons why each is a great place to shop for wine. I will be cross-posting to Bob Dwyer’s wine blog The Wellesley Wine Press so we can cover the greater Boston area in our respective blogs.
Groton Market, located on Route 119 (Great Road) in Groton, MA, is a great little wine shop for the following reasons:
Careful Selection of Quality Wines
The store has a good selection of wines, mostly from small producers, from most of the more popular wine producing regions, and quite often with good ratings from International Wine Cellar, Wine Spectator, or Wine Advocate, which are helpfully posted. As a consumer, I like that information posted clearly.
Thoughtful Selection of Price Points and Sale Items
The store features at various price points 2-Fer sale bins, Featured White Wines, Featured Red Wines, items on sale on End Caps, and regular sale items in inventory. I assume the 2-Fer sale bins are the most popular with most consumers, but even the cheapest offerings there that are 2-For $12.99 represent good quality.
How many wine shops do you know that will accept returns? This shop accepts returns on opened or unopened bottles, if you are unhappy.
Friendly and Helpful Staff
I always have a nice time chatting with J.P., owner John, and the other people who work there. They also know their inventory, and their stuff. Quite often there is a bottle open to taste.
Proximity to Filho’s Cucina
The shop is actually attached to and flows through to a very nice Italian restaurant called Filho’s Cucina, which conveniently has a BYOB policy. The shop is also attractively airy and sunny, and although small, doesn’t feel too cramped.
I also want to mention that the shop has a very good selection of craft beers, although that is not really my bag.Groton Market 235 Main Street Groton, MA 01450 (978) 448-6387
This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme is Wines of Piedmont, Italy and is hosted by David McDuff and his excellent blog, McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail. This is a great theme as there are really a great variety of interesting wines, some very well known and some not so well known, available from this north-west region of Italy. Just a quick perusal of my wine book Wines of the World (Eyewitness Companions) which is handily arranged by country and region leads me to consider some of my options: Barolo and Barbaresco (Nebbiolo), Barbera, Dolcetto, Gavi (Cortese), Moscato (still and sparkling), Arnies, Asti (sparkling), to name a few of the well-known offerings.
I chose for this assignment an affordable ($11.99) wine from producer G.D. Vajra, the 2007 Langhe Rosso, Langhe D.O.C. appellation, purchased from Groton Market. Groton Market has a relatively rich selection of Italian wines from small producers as they work with New England importer Adonna Imports, as do a number of fine wine stores in the Boston area.
This is the newest vintage of this blended red wine from G.D. Vajra. Each vintage represents an entirely different blend of grapes from the vineyards under the pervue of this producer in different areas, and as such has to be labeled Langhe D.O.C. It was difficult for me to find out exactly what is in this wine as the G.D. Vajra web site is quite… larval. I found a reference to this 2007 vintage on the website of Cambridge, MA gourmet food & wine store Formaggio Kitchen, here. This blend according to this writeup is composed of Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa and Merlot (not sure of percentages). There is a nice writeup of G.D. Vajra in a web site devoted to producers of Barolo, here. This is an great writeup of the 2006 vintage of this Rosso and other wines on… McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail (hi, David!), here. This is apparently a great Piedmont producer.
I don’t have a lot of experience drinking wines from Piedmont. A few weeks ago I did enjoy a Nebbiolo varietal wine from producer Vietti quite a bit. This Rosso from G.D. Vajra has some Nebbiolo so I expect to detect the famous ‘tar and roses’ from that varietal. Tasting notes – color is a lovely mid-raspberry, would make a fantastic lipstick color. Body is light-medium. On the nose are wafts of woodiness, perfume and sour cherry and… roses? The mouthfeel is pleasantly sour-acidic mouthfilling while maintaining some roundness. The finish is good and reminds of red licorice. I do like it quite a bit. It is light and somewhat refined and would probably go with a variety of foods as is not too alcoholic (13.5% ABV). Not a powerhouse, but well-made. So, this is a great WBW theme. We could probably have a Piedmont WBW every month and be able to post about different great wines for years if we were so inclined!
UPDATE March 21, 2014
Anna from G.D. Vajra has helpfully pointed me to their new beautiful web site and the fact sheet for this wine which lists the grape varieties blended into this wine: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Albarossa, Freisa, and Pinot Noir.