Tucked away in a corner of Windham is a gem of a wine shop that needs to be on your list of wine-lover shops to visit.
Lucia's Bodega, opened in 2011 by Chuck Palazzolo, offers a broad range of wines at a broad range of prices from the inexpensive everyday to wines for the special occasion. (For the record, Lucia's has been sponor of this column for almost two years.)
And it's not just wine. The shop offers craft beer, artisan cheese, olive oils and balsamic vinegars, including their unique Cucumber Melon Balsamic, and even cigars.
In the food category, there is far more than cheese (as if that weren't enough by itself), including prosciutto, cookies, Italian desserts, including made to order cannolis.
Chuck knows his stuff, being a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary program. And, as everyone wine lover knows, a good knowledge of food is to creating the perfect wine and food pairing.
But, this is a wine column, so we will focus on the wines, of which there are some 300 wines in the shop, all personally selected by Chuck. And if you don't happen to see one you want, let them know and he will do what he can to special order it for you.
On a recent visit I had the chance to talk with Chuck, who was pouring for a tasting at a wine bar right smack in the middle of the shop. He told me he wanted to open a wine shop for many years out of his passion for wine and food. A big Pinot Noir and Brunello fan, he traveled extensively for research purposes before opening his shop.
The shop holds tastings every Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 12 to 6. The Friday tasting always includes beer, though it may pop up at other times too. Let's take a look at a few being poured when I visited:
Lot 69 Sancerre, $19.99. A white from France, of medium intensity, with a clean nose of white fruit including green apple and gooseberry, with a dry palate, medium acidity, medium alcohol and body and medium flavor intensity reflecting the nose of white fruit. Very good quality. 89 points. It is one of those rare wines that will pair with asparagus.
La Noble Wood Oaked Chardonnay, 2012, $17.99. Now, don't run away screaming because it's an oaked Chardonnay. It's pale and lemon green in color with a clean nose of citrus and green fruit. It's dry, with unusually high and interesting acidity for a Chardonnay, medium alcohol and body, and medium plus flavor intensity of lemon and pear. Long finish and ready to drink now. Good structure, balance and concentration. 88 points.
Bread and Butter, Napa Valley, $19.99. The "butter" of the title comes from the mellow lactic fermentation which was conducted in order to specifically give it that buttery flavor. Lemon green in color, dry on the palate with medium-plus flavors of butter and pear in the background. 86 points.
Natura Emiliano Chile Pinot Noir, 2013, $13.99. South America has been making reds for a long time, and this includes Pinot Noir. This one is purple in color, dry on the palate with medium acidity and alcohol and medium plus flavor intensity that leans toward strawberry with a bit of raspberry in the background and some hints of marzipan. An excellent food wine. 85 points.
90+ Monster Blend 2009, $22.99. If you read this column regularly you know the story of 90+, which purchases high-end wines on the cheap from various wineries and sells them, relabeled, at lower prices. This particular line comes from the Columbia Valley of Washington state. It is a classic Bordeaux blend with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. It's a read of medium intensity purple, with a medium intensity knows, dry with good acidity. The tannin is intense but balanced. The wine is medium bodied with medium-plus flavor intensity including pencil shavings, black fruit and just a hint of oak. Ready drink now, if you happen to have a steak handy and have dug out a space for the grill on your back deck. 90 points.
Les Dauphin Cote du Rhone, $12.99. The classic Rhone blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre with a medium intensity nose of black fruit, a dry palate, high cannon, medium acidity, medium alcohol and body and medium plus flavor intensity. Very good quality and ready to drink now. 89 points
Bodega Lan La Crianza 2010, Rioja Spain, $70.99. A year in oak and then six months in bottle before release, it is purple with a clear rim suggesting that it is still fairly young and just beginning to develop. Dry, with medium acidity, tannin and alcohol with a long finish that includes blackberry, bramble, plum and a bit of smoke in the background. It's a little barnyardy on opening, as many good wines are, and benefits from a bit of decanting before serving. It will be worth the wait. 88 points.
Lucia's Bodega, named after Chuck's wife, is located at 30 Indian Rock Road (Route 111) in Windham. It's in the same building as Dunkin Donuts, about a mile west of Interstate 93. You can check out their website at luciasbodega.com or call 421-WINE (9463).
Reach local wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.