I was in Chicago on business, and stumbled across a WineStyles store in Woodridge, IL. Through a stroke of luck, I picked the day of a wine tasting to stop in. Luck o’ the Irish, I guess… I tried a few wines:
Chateau de Paraza hails fom Languedoc, France, and was a very light wine that was well-balanced and, despite its light nature, had some nice fruit and spice. As the first wine tasted, it was great – I almost bought a bottle. After sampling some bigger reds and retasting this wine, it seemed to have lost some of its appeal. I think it would be a nice red when you don’t want to overwhelm a mild food pairing.
Maxwell Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. This Cab had a great aroma with berry and vanilla notes, and a big, bold flavor. On the palate, there were cherry, blackberry and oak notes. Despite decanting, though, the wine was a bit tannic in its finish. Still, it had a lot of flavor – perhaps a bit more air would have evened it out.
Liberty School Syrah 2004. This was a bonus wine not on the tasting list, and it wasn’t bad at all. We found blackberries and anise in the nose, and more berries and licorice on the palate. A pleasant Syrah.
Rudulf Muller Riesling. This seemed like quite a sweet Riesling, with peach, pear, and grapefruit flavors. Surprisingly, the sweetess wasn’t cloying – the finish was quite clean.
Nettare Moscato D’Asti. I’m not a huge fan of sweet, sparkling wines, and this sweet sparkler was pleasant but failed to excite.
This was my first visit to a WineStyle shop, and it was quite nice. It’s a franchise, and there are more than 150 locations around the U.S. This store was located in an upscale retail center, and the store featured faux cave-like nooks to hold the wine bottles. The staff seemed knowledgeable enough, and when I first looked in one of the owners was manning the counter. The most impressive thing to me was the volume of wine that seemed to be going out the door, at least in part driven by a 6 for $60 special on wines that normally sold for well over $10. There also was a wine club that seemed to be popular. In the half hour that I was there, a lot of wine was sold.