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Four State Store Wine Picks From Kensington Quarters Sommelier

A few great recs from expert wine guy Tim Kweeder

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With the exception of a few premium collection flagships, venturing into a state-run Fine Wine and Good Spirits store is a daunting endeavor. The decor scheme brings to mind neon-lit K Mart on it's last legs, employees oftentimes don't know their syrah from Ciroc and the wine selection would surely get a failing grade from Robert Parker. In a town that's known for its award-winning BYOs, the state of wine in Philadelphia is a conundrum.

In order to find the best bottles that the state store has to offer, we're tapping some of the city's wine pros to walk us through the aisle, uncovering vintages and values from the mass market inventory that the PLCB is so very fond of.

Tim Kweeder has been championing good wines in Philadelphia beginning at his days in Mémé, James and Fish. Since then, he's gone on to push for wholesale wine reform in Harrisburg and taken over as GM at Kensington Quarters, where he's created a short and sweet list that always includes finds that manage to be conversation worthy and approachable all at once.

Kweeder's closest-to-home branch of the PLCB is on the corner of 11th and Wharton Streets, a particularly joyless location that just happens to sit on some prime Passyunk Square real estate.

Upon first glance of the store's selection, Kweeder was quick to point out a round bottle of Mateus. Apparently the Portuguese wine was a favorite of Saddam Hussein who liked it enough to keep his bunker stocked with the semi-sweet sparkler. Luckily, Kweeder was able to uncover a line up of worthwhile bottles all available at the 1237 S. 11th Street store.

1

Travaglini Gattinara - $29.99

Tucked between the Dolcettos, Amarones and Valpolicellas, Kweeder comes across a solid bottle from Piedmonte. "Definitely a higher price point but it’ll beat the hell out of these guys any day." For those in the market for a lighter red, Kweeder has these magic words: "It’s like Barolo meets Burgundy in a good way."

2

Cantine Colosi Nero - $14.99

Nothing but kind words for this southern Itlian winery that specializes in smaller production wines made with Sicilian vartiertals like Frappato, Inzolia and Catarratto. Their single varietal Nero D’Avola isn’t going to disappoint. "If I was looking at this whole wall of Italian, this is the go-to one," says Kweeder.

3

Hugel Gentile - $15.99

It's all about family history for Kweeder who noted that the Hugel family's winemaking chops date back to the 1600s. This Alsatian blend goes heavy on the Gewurtztraminer and incorporates a handful of floral varietals making for a dry, summertime sipper. "Tria refers to this as a porch pounder," Kweeder says.

4

Zazaou Corbieres - $12.99

History plays a part in this selection as well with the wine’s name coming from a group of post World War II bohemians who had a thing for jazz and long hair as well as an aversion to conservatism. Story aside, Kweeder is familiar with the importer, Boutique Wine Collection, and notes that this Languedoc-made bottle works well with grilled lamb and big, Mediterranean flavors.

Kensington Quarters

1310 Frankford Avenue, , PA 19125 (267) 314-5086 Visit Website

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