When it comes to wine shop owners, Arthur and Scott Wunderlich of Bedford Wine Merchants make a terrific team.
Arthur, Scott’s dad, is a fabulous cook with a marketing and advertising background. (He writes the recipes for the newsletter.) Scott, who joined the business in 2007 after 8 years as a trial attorney, is more of a take-care-of-business kind of guy. (He makes sure the shop looks great and that the books are in order.)
And they both have incomparable wine knowledge and a great palate.
Those are just two of the reasons we’ve chosen the Wunderliches to be our wine experts-in-residence for Spring 2014. For the next 12 Wednesdays in Life&Style, they’ll choose our LoHud Wine of the Week and include tasting notes and suggestions for pairings. (Their first recommendation is a 2010 Alpamanta Estate malbec from Argentina.) We’ll also arrange online chats with the Wunderliches, so you can ask them about wines, too. At the end of the 12 weeks, we’ll review our Mixed Case and recap their choices.
We’ll also turn to Bedford Wine Merchants for suggestions for pairing wines with meals, including Passover and Easter.
For some of those choices, the Wunderliches might lean on Arthur’s vast knowledge of California wines. He was one of the first wine store owners to specialize in California wines in the 1970s, at a time when most Americans drank imported French wines.
He opened his first wine store, Village Wine & Spirits, on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village and stocked it with bottles from then little-known vintners like Chateau Montelena and Chateau St. Jean. Today, of course, these are highly regarded labels that can fetch more than $100 a bottle. Back then, you could pick up Chateau Montelena for about $6.
Arthur grew up in the wine business as California did.
“When we opened the shop, we couldn’t afford to compete with (Sherry Lehmann) and Zachys, and the rest of the guys, nor could I find those old Bordeaux and Burgundys,” he says. “So California was just coming into its own at that time. It was 1976. So that’s what I focused on a lot of then: boutique wines that are now big-name wineries.”
In 1995, Arthur moved to his unassuming storefront in a row of white clapboard buildings right on the Village Green, where he and Scott stock a wide range of wines, including a strong showing in Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley (especially Chateaunuef du Pape), Italian, Spanish and South American wines.
But if you ask Scott to choose just one favorite region, it would be Burgundy.
“I always tell people if there’s one place I could go and never leave and drink wine, it would be Burgundy,” he says. “Because red and white, the wines are just spectacular. They’re not cheap but they’re just really very approachable and great food wines. So I’m a big fan of Burgundy.”
There are some great values at Bedford Wine Merchants, too. The Back Story Chardonnay, for example, which is one of their selections for this Mixed Case.
“When I first tasted it, I thought: ‘$25 bottle of wine,’” says Scott. “Then when I saw the price on it, I thought ‘Wow.’ So we sell it, I think it’s $11.99 and it’s a home run.”
“That’s amazing,” says Arthur. “It’s an amazing, amazing wine.”
The Mixed Case also includes wines from Italy, New Zealand and a bright, pink rose to welcome Memorial Day (yes, it will come eventually!).
Whatever their choices for the next three months, you can bet they’ll be chosen with care and served with a healthy sense of humor.
“The nice thing about this business is that we can hand sell all these wines because we’ve tasted all these wines,” says Scott. “Tough job, but someone’s got to do it.”
If you go …
If you go …
Bedford Wine Merchants, 24 Village Green. 888-315-8333, bedfordwines.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Noon-5 p.m. Sunday.