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Sep 16, 2013 08:20 AM

Where do you shop for under-the-radar wines?

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I'm a fan of the less well-known wine regions -- I've found them to often be a source of interesting wines at good prices. Unfortunately, they're often hard to find. I've had some luck at Vinidivino and a bit less at Boston Wine Exchange. The larger stores like Blanchard's and Martignetti's are a crapshoot and always involve wading through aisles of Barefoot and the like, and I've never seen anything that wasn't straight-up conventional at Trader Joe's. If you like less-common wines from less-popular regions, where do you go to get them?

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  1. Urban Grape, Central Bottle (had a great Santorini Assyrtiko from here yesterday), Martignetti's (yes, you have to wade but they have a large stock), Marty's. Also Julio's if you're up for a drive.

    Trader Joe's can occasionally have a great find albeit it takes a lot of wading. Recently I've found the Louis Latour Marsannay at $13 to be a pretty killer deal.

    Vinodivino is definitely not going to have much under-the-radar stuff. The first time I went in I was poking around and started asking if they had any Cru Beaujolais or Jura wines and they looked at me like I had three heads. Then I asked about higher quality vermouths... To be fair though, judging by their stock they are all about WS/Parker style scores and big name regions, so under-the-radar isn't their focus.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Klunco

      Thanks for the tips on Urban Grape and Central Bottle - I've never been to either. You're correct about 90% of the shelf space at Vinodivino, but the other 10% is worth a look.

      Oh did I forget to mention Wine Bottega in the North End? Love this place, not a huge fan of the location, but you can't have everything.

      1. re: LilBrownBat

        Wine Bottega is great - I also love Bin Ends (now in Needham!)

        1. re: LilBrownBat

          Central Bottle is local to me, but I never go there. This thread offers a perspective on their pricing:

          I stick with the Wine & Cheese Cask locally and Gordon's if I can drive a bit.

          1. re: Gabatta

            Wine & Cheese is great and very well stock with liquor as well for such a small store.

            Agreed on Central's pricing and should make it out to Gordon's more often, but sometimes convenience trumps price and I do think they have good selections.

            1. re: Klunco

              I like both the Cask and Central Bottle.

              The Cask has a great section of wines from less-famous parts of France: Loire, Rhone, Jura, etc (i.e., not Bordeaux or Burgundy). And good prices. Lots of hits, lots of misses, as you'd expect, but more interesting selection than most places.

              Central Bottle, I find I can grab any bottle off the shelf and have a very good chance of it being delicious and exciting. It's very well curated, at least for my taste. And yes, you pay for that.

              So much of choosing a wine shop is finding one whose taste agrees with your own.

      2. If you're anywhere near Waltham, try Gordon's. Not intimidating at all, good listeners, and just tell them your price point, and they'll help you out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: okra

          +1 on Gordon's. The assistant wine director, Cheryl, has great recommendations for bottles at every price point when we go. Italian and French selection is especially strong -- there's more,
          but that's what we are mostly looking for. Plenty of small producers represented.

          We've also tried and enjoyed Vintages in West Concord for their wines from the Piedmont region of Italy. (Never been to their Belmont shop.)

          For overall selection, value, and personal wine shopping (thanks to help from Cheryl) our nod goes to Gordon's for an interesting wine adventure.

          1. re: tomatotomato

            i like the people at the wine cask; they do a pretty good job of finding interesting wines at all price points though they seem to be more interested in wines under 20 dollars. If you are looking for more expensive wines, Gordon's would be better.

        2. I have had great luck at Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville for under $20 bottles and Federal Wines in downtown Boston for the rest. The staff at both stores are very knowledgeable and they know their inventory really well. I have been a happy customer of both stores for 15 years.

          1 Reply
          1. re: weg

            The fact that Federal delivers is a huge bonus.

            1. Hi LilBrownBat,

              I venture now and then to stock up at the NH Wine/Liquor outlet. They have some great sales, and it's not a hardship for me given where I live; if I were in the city, I'd do Martignetti's.