We recently sat down with our Chief Wine Ambassador Wes to pick his brain about wine, what he loves about it, where he buys it, and where he drinks it. This is our first wine ambassador interview, expect many more with our amazing team! We’ll be posting their answers up on the blog for you to enjoy!
City Wine Tours: Wes, tell us what is your favorite everyday red?
Wes: That would be the Masi Campofiorin Ripasso. My favorite wine in the world is Italian Amarone, which costs $75 and up. Who can drink that everyday, other than Ernie Boch, Jr.? Be smart and drink Ripasso, the savvy wine drinker’s “Amarone.” Ripasso uses the same grape pressings left oer from the fermentation of Amarone. Masi is the winery who invented this process in 1964. Ripasso isn’t as lush and raw as Amarone, and isn’t as smooth as Amarone, but Masi Campofiorin Ripasso sells for $17. Come on down!
City Wine Tours: That’s great, okay so how about your favorite everyday White?
Wes: I’m going to have to go with Alsatian Pinot Gris. Alsace makes wine from 4 different grapes. From driest to sweetest, those wines are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer. Yes, Alsace is near Germany and, yes,\ their wines come in those long, skinny Riesling-style bottles. But, Alsatian white wines are much drier than the German wines. The best Alsatian Pinot Gris are dry, intensely flavorful, and never see any oak. Do you like pear and apple flavors without any smoke or butter? Try these! Look for wines by Willm, Trimbach, or Zind-Humbrecht. Usually $14-$17. By the way, legal Sea Foods has long been an advocate of Alsatian Pinot Gris, because they pair exquisitely with all types of seafood.
City Wine Tours: Okay, so where is your favorite place in Boston to enjoy a glass of wine?
Wes: Bergamot. It’s a tiny French-inspired restaurant on the Cambridge/Somerville line (118 Beacon Street, Somerville). The menu gets changed frequently, but you’ll always find something inspired, well-crafted, and amazing. And the wine? It’s one of the few places I can visit where I don’t a single thing about any of the wines on the list. It’s wonderful to leave my jaded wine preconceptions and just sample new stuff. Bergamot always reminds me why I love wine and good food.
City Wine Tours: Sounds like a great place to try out. Now, can you tell us about an experience that made you fall in love with wine.
Wes: That’s easy – 2000 Quintarelli Amarone. I like to present myself as an anti-wine snob. I espouse the “If-you-pay-more-than-$30-for-a-bottle-of-wine-you’re-a-chump” philosophy. Until I tasted the 2000 Quintarelli Amarone, priced at the time for $149. Now, if you can find it, you’ll pay at least $350. This is the only wine that brought tears to my eyes, made me understand what a a really, really, REALLY obsessed winemaker can create, and left me shocked that anything could taste so incredible. I hope you have your own wine epiphany some day. Giuseppe Quintarelli died in 2012. His family continues to make wines, which are consistently outstanding.
City Wine Tours: If you are going to shop for wine where do you shop? Why?
Wes: I’m headed to Martignetti’s on Soldier’s Field Road in Brighton. The Martignetti family keeps buying up all the liquor/wine distributorships in Massachusetts. The store is just a big, fluorescent-lit monstrosity. But they can get EVERYTHING.
City Wine Tours: Okay, so when you are there, What’s the best red wine for under $12?
Wes: Bodegas Lan Crianza. Red wines from Rioja, Spain are all made from the Tempranillo grape. Tempranillo gives you similar flavors and body to an Italian Chianti, cherry and violet, but without Chianti’s dirty earthiness. Crianza means the wine was aged in an oak barrel for at least 12 months. Oak barrel aging makes the wine smooth and soft.
City Wine Tours: How about the best white wine for under $12?
Wes: Domaine De Vaufuget Vouvray. Vouvray is a region in the Loire Valley in France. This is a wine made from the Chenin Blanc grape. It’s a slightly sweet, off-dry slice of peaches and melon. Your snooty wine friends with sneer at this, then drink the whole damn bottle. I bring it to family parties and my family immediately hides the bottles so they don’t have to share it. For $9.99 you can buy a whole case!
City Wine Tours: And finally, what’s the best sparkling wine for under $12?
Wes: Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava, Extra Dry. Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine. The Extra Dry version of sparkling wine means the opposity of what you’d expect. It’s actually a touch sweeter than any Brut style sparkling wine. So, it’s Less Dry, raelly. In any case, get soem and sip it! You’ll find slight scent of toast and pears, with a hint of Meyer lemon. This is refreshing, fruity, smooth, and easy to drink. And it only costs $7.99! Shh, no one needs to know.
City Wine Tours: Well thanks for taking the time for this wine ambassador interview Wes, see you on the tours!
Wes: You bet! Anytime!