Over the past weekend, I decided to check out Vinodivino, a wine store in Newton that I had never been to before. I was on their mailing list so I had received notice of their upcoming wine tastings and such. I wanted to check it out, see what it was like.
Vinodivino, which has been open for about three years, is owned by Raphael Keller-Go, a former investment banker, and Nancy Keller-Go, his wife. The store manager is Adam Petronzio, a trained chef and former sommelier. The store stocks about 200 wines, with the majority costing under $20. They want to carry many good wines that are affordably priced.
All of the wines they stock have scored at least 85 points from the major wine publications. They do carry around 30 cellar wines, that have scored 95 points or higher, and which are priced over $20. The staff at Vindivino also adds their own scores to each wine they sell.
Vinodivino is a small, one-room wine store with wine racks covering about three-quarters of the walls, except for the windows looking out onto the street. It has nice wooden racks and the wines are generally separated by grape, with the white wines to your left as you enter the store. Each wine on the racks has an attached wine card providing some detailed information about the wine.
It is an added benefit that when you purchase a bottle of wine here, they give you a copy of the wine card. These cards contain the name of the wine, the producer, the latest date when you should drink your wine, an indication of the wine's richness and fullness, the grape varieties, food pairing ideas, wine scores, tasting notes and more. It can be quite handy to have some of this information later at home when you open your wine. The info on the wine cards is also available on their website.
Prices seemed average and they certainly have plenty of options under $20. They also have discounts if you purchase 6 bottles or more. They hold free wine tastings every Saturday from 1-5pm plus they have several wines available for tasting all the time in a small, sampling machine. The staff was knowledgeable and helpful.
I was present for a Saturday tasting, the Flavors of Spring, which had four wines.
The first was the 2005 Aminea Fiano di Avellino ($20), a white wine from the Campania region of Italy. The grape is Fiano, an indigenous Italian grape that I had never had before. It was an intriguing wine with mineral notes, subdud fruit and a touch of earthiness. It was crisp and had a medium body. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Definitely something different and well worth giving it a try.
Next up was a 2006 Williamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris ($18.50). This wine is a blend of 91% Pinot Gris, 7% Pinot Blanc, 1% Muscat and 1% Auxerois. Only the Auxerois was fermented in French oak. This was a crisp wine though it had a bit of a creamy feel as well. It had good fruit flavors, including some apple and pear. Overall, a good wine.
The 2005 Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Vigne Nuove ($14) is a newer style wine, a ligher approach. It had a medium red color with a fruity nose. On the palate, there were interesting blueberry, plum and black cherry flavors. It had a decent finish and some mild tannins. A good, easy-drinking wine for dinner.
Finally, I tried the 2004 Livernano Chianti Classico Riserva ($36). This was also a good wine, though a bit young and which should improve with age. It had nice dark berry flavors with some spice notes. It has a good structure and a moderately long finish. But, I am not sure it is worth the price tag. It did not impress me enough for me to pay $36 for it.
I did pick up a couple of bottles of wine while I was there. First, I found a bottle of Golfo 7, a Spanish wine that I very much enjoy but which is hard to find. Second, I picked up, on the recommendation of the staff, the 2004 Alaia Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon. This is also a Spanish wine and an intriguing blend of 50% Prieto Picudo, 45% Tempranillo, and 5% Merlot.
My only gripe about this wine store is its over reliance on wine scores. Criticisms of wine scores are everywhere and I have discussed the issue before as well. I won't go into a long rant against wine scores right now. But I think Vinodivino misses out on some excellent, as well as affordable wines, just because the wines have either never received a score or the wines did not receive a score of 85 or higher.
Plus, just because a wine has been highly rated does not mean a specific customer will like that particular wine. Since Vinodivino uses wine scores from the major publications, why do they need their own score as well? How many customers just look at the scores and generally ignore the rest of the information about the wines?
It is good that Vinodivino tries to deliver quality wine at an affordable price, but I don't think they need to use the scores to accomplish that goal. It is also good that they provide wine cards with information about the wines, but I don't see a need for scores on those cards either.
899 Walnut St.
Phone: 617-527-VINO (617-527-8466)