Wine Tasting at Marsh’s Wine and Spirits
The best things in life are free especially when you’re at a wine tasting at Marsh’s Wine and Spirits in Norwell.
~ by John C. Picardi
The second I walked into this lustrous shop (I shamefully confess this was my first time inside), I was immediately impressed with the cornucopia of spirits and wines. I would suspect there is little they don’t carry and I have a feeling if they didn’t have what you were looking for, they’d make a point in ordering it for you. Make no mistake, this large space is a first rate operation with shelves that are neatly stocked and racks that are full of an impressive wine collection. A spry and pristine place, you’ll unmistakably know you’re in no ordinary wine and spirit store, but a store that is quite special.
When I first arrived I was greeted and then directed by a courteous and enthusiastic clerk, “Come this way sir, the wine tasting is downstairs.” I followed him to the basement and I was wowed again. Tables of food and wine set up in a large storage area that felt like a wine cellar. Another clerk happily met me and brought me to a reception table where I was given a wine glass, a program that thoughtfully listed each wine and at what numbered table it was being poured. Before I hit the wine tables, I of course checked out the outstanding and impeccably displayed goodies provided by Mike Dias from Rye Deli; there were platters of cheeses, dips, cured meats, fruits and other luscious tidbits. Clearly owner, Steve Marsh doesn’t mess around when it comes to food either.
After eating a bit of blue, brie and prosciutto, it was time to taste some wine. I was among some serious wine aficionados and I listened carefully as people spoke to the wine pourers. I thrive on being amongst people who have passion for what they love. It makes life fascinating and interesting and it gives me the chance to do my most favorite thing: listen and learn. There was dialogue about tannins, oak barrels, deep robustness, sweetness, hints of vanilla, fruitiness, overlays and dry and refreshing finishes. My mind wandered to one of my favorite novels, Sideways, written by the brilliant Rex Pickett and made into the 2004 movie by the same name. I was reminded of a poignant scene in the film when the character Maya is asked by the protagonist Miles “why” she was “into wine,” Maya answers this question beautifully and poetically, (a scene written especially for the movie by Pickett):
“How it’s a living thing [wine]. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity.”
This sentiment that Pickett’s Maya expresses is what I felt from the people around me that evening. The feeling was real, earthy, unpretentious, passionate and intelligent. It was apparent from the moment I arrived that a lovely and exciting “happening” was unfolding before me.
There was close to one hundred wines at this event, each worth trying but impossible for me to try all. Overall, every one of the wines I tasted was fantastic. There were a few I didn’t care for yet I believe wine, like food, is deeply personal and I certainly wouldn’t want to deter someone from trying a wine they might love — that would be criminal of me.
Experiencing wine should be fun and enjoyable. For others it’s serious and intense. Don’t let these people intimidate you because most of the people who take wine seriously love talking about it. Trust me, they can go on about grapes and flavors for hours and so let them rattle on, ask questions and learn! If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a person who is snobbish and elitist about wine, his or her knowledge of wine wouldn’t be worth a hill of beans; the finest wine aficionado knows wine is about life and passion fat all to enjoy.
I tasted three Spanish wines. The first, Vall Llach ‘Embruix”, was big and bold with aromas of minerals, plum, spice, and a rich chocolaty finish. Next was Fillaboa Albarino Rasi Ejovj , a light, clean, elegant, and refreshing wine that reminded me of a Riesling. It had a vibrant greenish-straw-yellow color with strong hints of citrus, apple, a tad of pineapple and its finish stayed with me for a good while. After that was the bold and musty Artadi, Vinas De Gain, which was deep red and fruity with berry aromas, woody, but nicely structured and with subtle tannins and a perfect match with roasted lamb or grilled beef.
Moving on to a few California wines, I first tried Dreaming Tree Crush a combination of Zinfandel and Merlot. This wine is part of a project between Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band and Simi Winery Winemaker, Steve Reeder. Red-purplish, the nose is blueberry, vanilla and smoky. It starts out smooth, almost juicy and then continues with a nice tartness, a touch of spice, strong tannins with a full finish. I recommend this with beef and smoky flavored foods. Onto the Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a classic nose, blackberry, cherry, subtle notes of herb, vanilla and soft, deep tannins.
The Sonoma Cutrer was light and refreshing with aromas of apple, cinnamon and clove, and a tad nutty. I was told that the Cutrer Vineyard is about 12 miles from the Pacific shore and located on a sandy hillside that rises close to 300 feet above sea level. The Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres is delicate, fruity with hints of oak. Les Pierres, means “the rocks” or “stones” and this wine also has mineral aromas and flavors of the soil. This wine would be fantastic with buttery fish or shellfish. All their wines are aged in oak barrels.
I highly recommend the following wines: Frescobaldi Mormoreto from Tuscany, Monte Faliesi from Falanghina (a light wine and that would be an excellent paring with cheese), Acrobat Pinot Gris from Oregon which was fruity with nice refreshing finish, The Zuccardi “Q” Malbec from Argentina aged in French oak. A nose of cedar and spices, a tad flowery, this wine was dense and layered.
The last wine I tasted was Black Bird Paramour made with the combination of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The aromas were berry and coffee with an overlay of black cherry and grained tannin. The finish was well rounded and balanced, with a lasting powerful flavor. This wine will continue to develop in the bottle for years to come. It was one of the most expensive wines at the tasting, ($100 a bottle) and was truly excellent and definitely worth treating yourself to a bottle or two or three or a case. And just to make sure this wine was as excellent and outstanding as I first thought, I asked for another taste — you can never be too sure with a $100 bottle of wine – and, yes indeed, this was a superior, sublime wine.
Before I left, I shook hands with Steve Marsh who was busy being the ideal host to the full house (or cellar) of guests. I asked him for a quote. His eyes gleefully inspected the crowded space of happily, chatting and enthused guests. I felt Steve was indicating for me to follow his eyes and so I did. There were people busily coming and going from tasting table to tasting table, trying magnificent wines, eating fabulous cheeses and wholly enjoying themselves. Stephen smiled wildly. There was no need for quotes or philosophical meanings as to what was going on. No spoken word could convey the passion Steve clearly has for what he does. Instead, the atmosphere spoke for itself — alive, robust, exhibiting finesse and elegance with a bold, well balanced finish. I thanked Steve and left with my belly full of lush, ripe and fine wines and memories that will evolve with time. for all to enjoy.
MARSH’S WINE AND SPIRITS
104 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061