No Signs of Down Economy at Blanchards Grand Re-Opening

Friday, February 13, 2009

This week, Blanchards West Roxbury, MA held a large wine tasting and sale to celebrate their recently-completed and ambitious remodeling project. I was amazed they pulled off the remodel without shutting down because the place looks completely different. The store definitely has a higher end feel to it, with an expanded focus on an already-excellent selection of wine. The place was packed and if this small data point is any indication, the bad economy hasn't stopped people from drinking wine.

What I noticed:

  • 19 different distributor tables sampling over 100 wines all available for immediate purchase
  • Wines being sampled ranged from $6.39 - $59.97 (roughly 20% off their regular prices of $7.99 - $79.99) with balanced representation at all price points
  • This was a pretty darn good (and free!) tasting. One of the best I've been to.
  • I really like tastings where I can buy the wine. Especially ones like this where you can carry the wines home with you that night. Contrast this with the Boston Wine Expo where none of the wines are available for purchase.
  • One of the tables from distributor Carolina Wine & Spirits was loaded up with some big names: Frog's Leap, Duckhorn, Cliff Lede, and Silver Oak. Definitely the most expensive table, and always interesting to taste these wines. I noticed a fellow taster who took advantage of the favorable pricing to pick up 4 bottles of Silver Oak and 4 bottles of Duckhorn. Wow! I can't seem to find enough special occasions to crack open wine that costs so much.
What I bought:

I really appreciated having their wine director, Steve Grant, as my wingman for a portion of my time there. I have been humbled by Steve's knowledge in the times I've spoken with him. He's always got a story to tell, and deep wine knowledge to share.
  • 2007 Verget Macon Villages $14.39
    A French Chardonnay- mouthwatering stuff.
  • 2006 Benton-Lane Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $19.99
    A delicious $20 Pinot.
  • 2007 Weingut Max Ferd. Richter Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett $19.99
    A long-named German Riesling. I may go on a Riesling kick soon because it's just so approachable on the palate and complex at the same time.
  • 2003 Laurona Montsant $23.19
    I'd never tasted a Montsant before. Steve told me it's kind of like a Priorat (not that I've had too many of those either!) Based on what I tasted, it's a fruit forward, full-bodied red wine that I'm looking forward to cracking open.
  • 2006 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Seven Springs $39.99
    An Oregon Pinot Noir. Pretty pricey for me, but also quite impressive to taste.
  • 2004 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $59.97
    I had a bottle of the 2003 vintage of this wine over the holidays so I wanted a replacement. Some wine wonks sneer at Silver Oak calling it a "steakhouse Cab" (code for high price, low quality, and a bad value that only gets its name from expense account nit wits who don't know any better.) Don't listen to them. This stuff is delicious and I trust my palate when it tells me to drink Silver Oak. A real treat that, for me, screams "Big Napa Cab."
In addition to tastings like this, Blanchards also offers some truly great deals online through E-mail blasts. Read more about one of their best offerings to date here.

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