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Aug 2, 2010 04:37 PM

Wine selection, western MA.

Apologies in advance if this ought to be in the wine section, but I figured it more a propos for the regional coverage.

From my experience thus far, I've come to find that there are quite a few gems in the Pioneer Valley regarding wine stores and their selections and prices. I'm looking for more recommendations, specifically around Amherst and Northampton.

I've had very good luck with Russell Liquors. Although their selection of German Rieslings is rather old hat, (a particular personal gripe) I've found them to have reasonably priced wines and a good, varied selection across the board. Nice Riojas and Borelos, specifically.

I'm a huge fan of Spirit Haus, a little down the way in North Amherst. I had no idea they were so large and had so many wines. The building is deceptively large and they have bottles crammed every which way, just the way I like it. I've found some excellent selections there and a wide range of vintages, most notably a 2005 Sonnenuhr JJ Prum at the obscenely good price of $39.99. Massive selection, also good wines in their clearance section.

Amherst Wine can suck my tannins. I've found them to be rude and overpriced, probably taking advantage of their close proximity to UMass. Their selection is paltry at best, favoring trendy selections like Layer Cake over smaller vineyards with smaller hectare production. And they just don't have a lot that interests me. Specializing in Rieslings, both German and Altsatian, I was a little disappointed to see that a store boasting its high-end and expertly picked selection had no TBA's and prominently featured "Relax" as one of its better bottles.

University Liquors thinks Barefoot is top of the line and usually has scary people milling around, so I don't go there. I've had good luck at Liquors 44. Big Y Wines is priced well. And I know Table and Vine is the mecca of wines, but it's rare that I can make the trek out there.

So, where do you go? Any more local places you can recommend? I still haven't found any place that carries Rieslings from the Finger Lakes, alas!

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  1. I like State Street Wines and believe they have Finger Lakes wines. But I much prefer Nejames in Lenox to any you mention, worth the trip.

    1. Whole Foods actually tends to do pretty great on selection, not as much so on price. They do a 10% discount on any 6 bottles (i.e. mixed 1/2 case) and sometimes have a special sale where it's 20% off any 6. 10% off makes their prices palatable, 20% off makes them a good deal.

      1. Table and Vine on Riverdale Road (actually Riverdale Street) in West Springfield has the biggest selection from low end to very, very high end wines.


        9 Replies
        1. re: cabbagehead

          seconding table + vine, they are awesome.

          1. re: andytee

            third to Table and Vine. They also have Iggy's bread delivered fresh daily.

            1. re: Berheenia

              Just FYI --- River Valley in Northampton also has Iggy's bread delivered daily. Cranberry-nut bread, yum.
              Nejaime's wines on Route 7 in Lenox close to the Pittsfield line (as distinct from the ones in Stockbridge and the center of Lenox) is an excellent wine store. It's changed its name (family feud???) to Spirited.
              I too love Rieslings -- NOT from the Finger Lakes, thank you --- and get some nice ones at Big Y. In fact, when I think about it, I've had the best I've been able to snag from them, rather than some of the other places listed.

              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                We live off exit 2 on the pike and this is our first year as year round residents rather than Tanglewood visitors. Spirited is near and excellent but we consider it more of a special occasion store- it is pricey. Jim Nejaime is a terrific wine guy and is as gracious helping us choose a few bottles as he is with the wealthier clientele stocking a wine cellar. For cases we go to Empire in Albany but would rather not pay NY sales tax so Table and Vine is perfect for us. We love the local bakeries too but miss the crust on an Iggy's baguette!

                1. re: Berheenia

                  If you didn't know already, Spirited offers a 15% discount on cases of wine provided the bottles are not already on sale.

                  1. re: Lenox637

                    We have taken advantage of this a few times :)

                2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                  I agree that Spirited/Nejaime is great but kind of high end. For a good selection of $10-20 bottles Domaney's in G. Barrington is good.

                  BT What's wrong with Finger Lakes Rieslings? Probably the best outside of Germany.

                  1. re: nfnebwiri

                    I have driven by Domaney's many times. Will check it out. Per the website they have a number of my regular buys at a good price. Thanks!

                    1. re: nfnebwiri

                      Purely a personal opinion (disclaimer)
                      but I really don't like Finger Lake wines to begin with.
                      When it comes to Rieslings, which are my darlings, in truth nothing cuts it for me except Rieslings from Germany.
                      (Further disclaimer, I like all German Rieslings except the really dry they seem to be developing in hopes of them being mistaken for, oh I don't know, Chardonnay or something! ;-) Slight sweetness well balanced with acidity all the way up to beerenauslese, bring 'em on!)
                      Of course what I like is mostly either unavailable or wildly expensive, so I don't get them very often. If you or anyone has a recommendation --- I'd love to have it.

            2. Provisions in Noho. Wine cheese charcuterie I believe owner former table and vine manage

              2 Replies
              1. re: sakeandgin

                My husband is the wine drinker -- he loved the old Northampton Table & Vine (long gone) and is happy the wine guy from there is now at Provisions. They have a lovely selection of charcuterie and other edibles plus a big selection of hard ciders and craft beers, too. This isn't a place to save money, though.

                1. re: jzzy55

                  A little late to this conversation but . . .
                  Ryan & Casey's in Greenfield actually has 2 or 3 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes.

                  I like the selection at Provisions but you do have to pick wisely or you can spend a LOT of $$.

                  Windham Wines in Brattleboro (exit 3 off I-91) is well worth the trek. Great selection; knowledgeable owner; prices are very reasonable. Good deli next door.

                  My pet peeve are wine shops that are kept too warm . . .