Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winestone: A Gem for Wine Lovers

Last year, one of my favorite wine tastings was the Japanese Koshu tasting held at Uni.  One of the hosts of the tasting was Yoko Ota, a very pleasant and passionate woman who also works at Winestone, a wine store in Chestnut Hill, located not far from Urban Grape.  I had never visited the store before and it sounded interesting, so one of my goals for 2011 was to visit the store and I recently did exactly that.  

As you drive down Route 9, you will see a bright yellow sign "Winestone, Unique Wine Experience" and just after the sign you can turn right into a parking lot, which is shared with Starbucks. Winestone is owned by Patrick Dubsky, who used to work at Rialto as a sommelier, wine director and general manager. I met Patrick, who seems very nice and not pretentious in the least.  And I love what he has created in Winestone, as it is the type of wine store I really enjoy.

The two-story shop carries about 300-400 wines, using a metal racking system that allows you to more readily see the labels.  I was impressed by the diversity of wines they carry.  Though there are familiar labels, they have plenty of lesser known wines as well, and those are sure to peak the interest of wine lovers.  They have wines from all over the world, including from Greece, Switzerland, the Finger Lakes of New York and at least a couple local wines, from Turtle Creek and Westport Rivers. You'll find South African Pinotage, Spanish Kosher Wine and French Picpoul.  I found some of my favorite wines here as well as plenty I would love to try.

Prices are average, and have not inflated due to its location, plus you get a 10% discount for purchases of 6 or more bottles, and a 15% discount for a case.  Above, is their "PG-13" section, which includes "Great Values Under $13," a nice selection of value wines, and not your usual suspects.  Overall, many of the wines are at reasonable price points, including plenty under $25, though of course they have some higher-end wines as well.

The lower level is small, and contains a wall of racks of Burgundy and Bordeaux, at various price points.

In addition, the lower level has a section of their high-end wines, behind glass, and the wines range from Champagne to California Cabernet, from Port to Bordeaux. There are some very compelling bottles here for the collector or if you desire to splurge.

I was pleased to see two displays at the store, highlighting two importers: Adonna Imports and Cynthia Hurley Imports. I have advised consumers before that sometimes you can select a good wine by looking for the name of the importer on the back label.  Certain importers have a deserved reputation for bringing in excellent wines, and you often cannot go wrong by choosing a bottle imported by these people. For example, importers Kermit Lynch and Neal Rosenthal are very well known and respected and plenty of people allover the country will seek out their names when selecting wines.

Locally, Adonna and Hurley are also well respected and I am a fan of both importers.  I have probably enjoyed 99% of the wines brought in by Adonna Imports, who primarily import Italian wines. Cynthia Hurley primarily brings in French wines, including some delicious Loire, Burgundy, Rhone and much more.  Few other wine stores emphasize importers in their own displays, though I think it is a great and innovative way to help consumers find wines they will enjoy.

Near the front of the store, there is a shelving unit with some of their more unique offerings, including dessert wines, sherry, spirits, liqueurs, sparkling wines and more.  Wine lovers will find plenty of interest there. Near the unit, on the counter, there were two boxed wines, including from one of my favorite producers, the 2008 Poderi Zanusso Sant'Andrat Rosso.  I am always glad to see the better wine stores willing to carry boxed wines, especially as there are some excellent boxed wines now available.

Near the front of the store is their refrigerated unit which contains chilled wines, a few beers and two sakes (Momokawa Silver and Kikusui Junmai Ginjo).

Complimentary wine tastings are held every Saturday, from 12pm-5pm, and you can check out their list of upcoming tasting themes.

This is a spot that all wine lovers should visit. A great selection, reasonable prices, weekly tastings, and obviously a store that was founded on a passion for wine.  This is not a store afraid to hand sell their wines, or to introduce their customers to new and less common wines.  If I had been going straight home after my visit, I easily could have bought a case of various wines that interested me.  Unfortunately, I was going to be out for most of the rest of the day and didn't want the wines to sit in a freezing trunk for eight or so hours.  But I will be returning here soon to restock my wine cellar.

1160 Boylston Street (Route 9)
Chestnut Hill, MA
Phone: 617-264-0393

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