Part 2 of 3: Road Trips
Work at compiling a concise list of New Jersey wine merchants you know will be particularly helpful in meeting your buying needs. Whether your regular local retailer's selections are good, bad or indifferent, it is highly unlikely that he/she will be able to lay hands on each and every bottle in which you may express interest. There are simply too many wine-growing regions, too many varieties, producers, vintages. Consciously or unconsciously, most retailers are forced to specialize (depending on their clientele) in this or that. Therefore, it always helps to keep several alternative wine merchants in mind.
As noted in Part 1, my wife and I are not about to run hither and thither in pursuit of the latest wine sale. We do, however, should we happen to be passing through specific areas of the Garden State, make a point of stopping by certain retailers to survey their stock for certain hard-to-find vintages that are not available to us locally. To those who have no interest in wine, this may seem so much fuss and nonsense; to the serious oenophile, on the other hand, it is not only an absolute necessity, it is also a labor of love. Nothing quite compares with the joy of tracking down an exceptional vintage that has for so long slipped through your fingers.
While your own location and needs will determine the wine merchants to whom you may pay an occasional visit, I list below those that have been especially helpful to me over the course of the years.
Bleiweis Wine, 1267 Route 22 East, Mountainside --- Extensive selection of Burgundies and Bordeaux. Les Amis du Vin affiliate. Knowledgeable staff. Prices on the high side.
Carlo Russo's Wine and Spirit World, 102 Linwood Plaza, Fort Lee --- While the inventory is excellent across-the-board, the great strength here is the fine selection of French wines, particularly those of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. There are also a goodly number of older and lesser-known Bordeaux available for immediately drinking. Robert Parker's recommendations are prominently displayed, and the staff is extremely knowledgeable. This retailer also sponsors wine tastings and wine dinners at local restaurants. Given the highbrow location, prices are quite reasonable.
Web site: www.carlorussowine.com
Circle Liquor Store, Routes 31 and 514, Pennington --- There is a 900 bottle selection of California varietals here, as well as an excellent representation of German wines, Italian reds and white Burgundies. Leave plenty of time for browsing. Prices are a tad elevated.
Corkscrewed, Village Walk Shopping Center #15, 1990 Marlton Pike (Route 70), Cherry Hill - In such a rush to update my list of recommended wine shops in the Garden State, I inadvertently omitted one of the very best in the South Jersey area, Corkscrewed, presided over by Mr. John McNulty. Here you will find an extremely knowledgeable staff and an excellent inventory of unique vintages not available in other establishments. Searching for a special wine for that special occasion? Or, perhaps, for a bottle to accompany a lovely dinner at restaurant Amea, just a few steps away? You will surely find it here. I've dropped in myself on several occasions and always found some intriguing choices to tempt the palate. Stop by on a Saturday afternoon between 3:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and listen to Mr. McNulty's radio show, "On the Town," broadcast from Corkscrewed's front window... or tune in on your radio at 1540 AM, as this extremely knowledgeable wine aficionado discusses food, wine, and a variety of lively topics. It was even my privilege to be a guest on one of Mr. McNulty's programs... If he'll forgive me my grievous faux pas, he might even invite me back in the future... For more info about Corkscrewed, "On the Town," or Mr. McNulty's ever-expanding BYOB favorites, be sure to check out: www.eatwelldrinkbetter.com. Once again, John, my deepest apologies.
Gary's Wine & Marketplace, 121 Main Street, Madison; 100 Morristown Road (Route 202), Bernardsville - Excellent inventory from around the world. Somewhat stronger in Italian and California selections. Both establishments feature a bevy of gourmet foods, cheese, and wine accessories. Gary's also hosts numerous wine events throughout the year. Some bargains, but, given the upscale locations, you should expect prices to be a tad elevated.
Web site: www.garyswine.com
Martin's Liquors, Route 38 & Marter Avenue (at Moorestown/Mt. Holly exit of I 295), Mt. Laurel --- The big drawing card here is the California inventory. You can often lay your hands on those small-specialized vineyards that are not readily available elsewhere. Relatively few bargains, but, if you know what you're looking for, you can hit on one now and again.
Moore Brothers Wine Company, 7200 North Park Drive, Pennsauken (also located at 1416 North DuPont Street, Wilmington, Delaware) - Opened in 1996 by Gregory Moore (former sommelier at Philadelphia's famous Le Bec-Fin), wine merchant David Moore, and importer Frank Splane, Moore Brothers Wine Company features a carefully selected inventory of estate-bottled wines, most at moderate prices. If you're looking for vintages that are a bit out of the ordinary, you will undoubtedly find them here.
Web site: www.moorebros.com
Spring Lake Bottle Shop, 1400 Third Avenue, Spring Lake --- Wonderful selections in all categories. Knowledgeable owner and staff. Relatively few bargains.
Total Wine & More, 135 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge; Prospect Avenue & Interstate 280, West Orange; 950 Springfield Road, Union; the Plaza at Cherry Hill, 2100 Route 38, Cherry Hill (also locations in several other states) - Total Wine & More bills there outlets as wine "superstore" and, indeed, they are. The selection of name brands is incredible - although you will find few boutique wines in attendance. Most vintages are priced below other retailers. If you know what to look for, bargains are plentiful.
Web site: www.totalwine.com
The Wine Cellar of Red Bank, 69 Broad Street, Red Bank - Excellent selections from around the world, especially some vintages from Greece and other areas rarely seen in most wine stores. Also, top-notch selection of French and Italian. Not a great many bargains to be found here, but definitely worth a visit& and quite handy, as there a numerous BYOB restaurants within a block or two.
Web site: www.thewinecellarredbank.com
The Wine Library, 8 Millburn Avenue, Springfield - An absolutely first-rate selection with a bevy of Robert Parker recommended vintages in residence. Also emphasizes best-selling more moderately priced wines.
Web site: www.winelibrary.com
Zachys Wine and Liquor, Inc., 16 East Parkway, Scarsdale, New York --- While not in the Garden State, if you are located anywhere in the vicinity, Zachys is definitely worth a sojourn. Should you be unable to lay your hands on that elusive Bordeaux or Burgundy elsewhere, you will probably find it here. In fact, no matter what your oenological preferences, you're bond to discover something that will tickle your discerning palate. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and courteous, and they will be glad to point you in the right direction, make recommendations, or take your order for an item that may not currently be in stock. If you're a lover of fine wine, you've just discovered paradise& with a hitch. Prices are on the expensive side, and there are relatively few bargains to be had.
Web site: www.zachys.com
Go to Wine Tips Part 3.