What impressed me at the 2017 Boston Wine Expo held in February were the quality of wines on display and their affordable prices. The only problem is finding these wines — especially foreign products — in local shops. Many small producers don’t have national or regional distributors.
That’s where Joe Meunier comes in.
Meunier is a former freight hauler from Holbrook who saw the need to give small producers a leg up. In 2010, he and his wife Janice launched World Wide Wine of New England and became the exclusive distributor for the Italian Wine Growers Inc., a New York import company supporting innovative, small-production Italian producers.
“I love wine and I used to deliver it all over the country as a trucker,” said Meunier at his busy exhibition booth. “I finally said, ‘You know, I could do this on my own and help these people build a market here in New England.’ So I did. It’s been fantastic.”
The best part about Meunier’s job is finding a good-tasting bargain and sharing it with others. “There are a lot of good, inexpensive wines out there. But these small wineries don’t always have the ability to get into the U.S. market. I like to open those doors if I can,” he said.
Most wines in WWW’s growing international portfolio (Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal) cost less than $13 a bottle. Meunier also carries several premium Barolo and Amarone wines that won’t bust the budget. The following wines are available in Greater Boston outlets (go to (WWWofNE.com for a store listing).
* Cormons Schioppettino Collio DOC 2013, $10: The schioppettino grape is indigenous to the Friuli-Venezia Guilia region in northeast Italy where it was nearly lost to extinction in the late 19th century from phylloxera. Its revival near the Slovenia-Italy border has produced an easy-drinking red wine of intense garnet color and black fruit aromas and flavors. Cantina Produttori Cormons is the producer.
* Cormons Pinot Grigio Collio DOC, 2013, $10: There’s nothing weak or flabby about this Pinot Grigio, which grabs the palate with its medium weight and crisp, grapefruit flavors. Refreshing.
* Duchessa Lia Barbaresco 2011, Piedmont, $15: This 100 percent nebbiolo is a bit softer now from aging and still delivers a good blast of big, bold fruit. The finish is less complex yet, for the price, why quibble over a great buy? Duchessa Lia also produces a Barolo ($24) from the classic 2010 vintage that is ready to enjoy now. It’s full-bodied and laden with violet aromas and dark cherry and plum flavors. A better-than-average, entry-level Barolo.
* Duchessa Lia Moscato d’Asti 2013, Piedmont, $8: A nice, fruity, after-dinner drink that is sure to impress guests. Serve almond or walnut biscotti with this semisweet beauty and relax.
* Fabiana Kalema Primitivo Salento IGT 2012, Puglia, $12: It’s inky-colored and grips the palate with full measure, delivering a jammy, black fruit profile. Nice, long finish.
* Fasoli Gino Alteo Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010, Veneto, $56: Plush ripe cherries and plum, layers of chocolate, coffee and cinnamon fill the mouth. It smooth and ends dry. Big alcohol content (16.5 percent). Plenty of sensations. An impressive effort.
* Bodegas Solar De Urbezo Granacha Old Vines 2015, Spain, $14.50: The Grenache grapes come from vines nearly six decades old, giving the fruit a distinct mineral trait to go along with the beautiful cherry compost and raspberry flavor.
* Belhara Estate Malbec 2015, Mendoza, $26: Belhara is known for its high-elevation, single-vineyard, quality Malbecs. The distinct terroir helps produce intense flavor profiles. This has a lot of spunk. It benefits from extended oak aging, which produces an elegant, spicy finish. Belhara’s Amayan Tupungato Malbec sells for half the price and is a decent everyday drinker.