Usually there is some competition but this year it is the easiest award winner and it goes to: Thomas Liquors in St. Paul as my wine shop of the year. The only other shops in the running were Morelli’s & Wine Street Spirits. Many other shops have follow off my recommend list and really have little to offer the consumer.
Here are some of the reasons for the number one rating.
- The only consistent wine sale throughout the year. They offer 20% off on a case 365 days a year. They even offered 25% off in October as an anniversary sale.
- Communication. I personally buy a lot of wine throughout the year and when shop owners can’t get back to me within a day or two it tells me they don’t value good customers. Nick Thomas (son of owner Mike) & Peter Vars will either email back quickly or even call you about wines. NO one else in the Twin Cities does this and still offers great deals. Personally maybe some other shops have that customer service but I don’t pay retail prices on wine. Meet the team.
- Interesting Selections. I have documented throughout the year the many solid wines I have sampled at Thomas Liquors on my blog and they have the best prices in town on them when buying a case or more.
- Service. I trust the palates of Mike, Peter and Nick. They pretty much try every wine in the shop and back their selections.
- Charm. While Thomas Liquors is not a large shop they have charm. Located in the St. Thomas neighborhood in St. Paul it is in a location that is easy to get to off of 94. The store has everything well organized and if you need help just ask.
Enough talking here are some of the wines you should pick up.
Let’s start with the wine I am drinking right now. I love Rioja and think it is a much better value than Bordeaux. This is no exception as there is nothing in Bordeaux at this level for $26.
- 2017 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Imperial Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (12/11/2022)
Day 1: Had this before but no prep on day 1 and it needs it. This is an outstanding wine and purchased from my wine shop of the year Thomas Liquors in St. Paul. After an hour in the glass the oak and dill have blown off to reveal dark berries, spice, wood, pepper, floral, cigar and earth. Super complex wine and amazing value at $26 with tax. Outstanding wine to celebrate Thomas on my wine blog with the Twin Cities Wine Shop of the Year. 93 points (93 points)
- 2020 Tensley Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (8/4/2022)
Day 1: This is showing really well and for $32 a bottle hello! Exotic spices, black pepper, underbrush, blackberries, floral, earth and sour cherry. Medium plus and pleasing finish. For sure need to get more. 94 points
Day 2: Sour berries, exotic spices, black pepper, floral, underbrush, earth and dust. Very balanced effort and nice acidity. This is a stellar bottle. 94 points
Day 3: On day 1 and 2 each glass offered a sweet fruit taste. It always blew off as indicated with the notes above. Day 3 this is wine of the year territory especially at the price of $32. Wow! Black pepper, blueberries, boysenberries, bitter chocolate, floral, Asian spices, crushed rock and smoked meats. I had a lot of great Syrah wines from Walla Walla last month but this in a blind tasting might beat them all. 95+ points
Recommendation: I normally don’t buy a case of any wine but making an exception here! Patients will reward you on this wine and it is not a pop and pour. (95 points)
- Price: $35.20 (This is a wine of the year candidate) NOT AVAIABLE I SOLD IT OUT! No one sells out more wines in this town than me!
2021 Château d’Aqueria Tavel – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel (8/5/2022)
Day 1: Finally a real Rose. Just got back from Walla Walla and even Cayuse did not deliver in the Rose category. This is real Rose! Super fragrant featuring strawberry, dust, minerals, spice, rose petals and rhubarb. Medium plus finish. Drinking this at room temperature and amazing. 92 points
Day 2: Trying this at various serving temps.
55 degrees: Sour cherry, spice, watermelon and dried twigs. Finish is weak at this temperature. 85 points
65 degrees: Better and more vibrant wine. Strawberry, minerals, dust, spice, rose petals, cherry and earth. Very complex wine and completely better warmer. 92 points
70 degrees: Similar to 65 degrees so that is my sweet spot for good Rose.
Recommendation: This wine for $20 is a no brainer purchase. (92 points)
Price: $17.60 What? Better than any Rose from Walla Walla which are all way more!
2019 Rémy Ferbras Côtes du Rhône – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (8/2/2022)
Day 1: Rustic wine with earth, mild spice, raspberries, tar and twigs. For $10.00 it is hard to beat this wine. Medium finish. 90 points
Day 2: A bit softer wine with raspberries, mild spice, earth, water Chesnuts and black pepper. Medium finish. Very nice wine. 90 points
Day 3: More sour cherry, floral, dust and pepper. Certainly not a day 3 wine. 87 points
Recommendation: Drink these now to 2026. Great value! (90 points)
Price: $11.44 (Super Value wine!)
2020 Tensley Syrah – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (8/1/2022)
Day 1: A few that don’t like this wine but you also need to experience this over a few days. Now this bottle is stellar out of the gate. Blackberries, menthol, coffee beans, mild funk, earth and blueberries. Yes it has some sweetness to it but also has acidity and balance. Another stellar wine for $22 with tax. I love MN!
Day 2: Has not lost a beat and shows great fruit along with menthol, pepper, spice, floral, earth and coffee beans. Medium plus finish. 93 points
Day 3: The big fruit has died down and reveals more sour cherry, plum and mulberries. A touch of spice, earth and rose petals. Super complex wine for the price. I like day 3 version just a bit more. 93+ points
Recommendation: If you like big fruit drink this wine young and if you want more subtle fruit and less intensity drink after 2026. (93 points)
Price: $22.00 (Back up the truck)
Sold Out Thanks to Me!
2018 Swanson Merlot – USA, California, Napa Valley (7/30/2022)
Day 1: Nice fruit featuring plum, blueberries and boysenberries, Underbrush, bell pepper, exotic spices, rose petals and a touch of wood. Complex and medium plus finish. For under $30 a stellar value. 91 points
Day 1.5: This is even better and features blueberries, cherry, plum, spice, rose petals, menthol, milk chocolate and graphite. Maybe the best Napa wine I have tasted in a few years under $30. 92 points
Day 2: One of the better values and day 2 this is still excellent. Little Right Bank happening with earth, gravel, floral, funk, cherry and tobacco. Getting more next week! 92+ points
Day 3: Not as good as day 2 or 1. A bit tired and lacks the intensity of day 1/2.
Recommendation: Decant 2 hours and enjoy or drink this until 2026. (92 points)