“We have nearly 4,200 wines to choose from—more than any other store in the state—with room for about another 350,” says Ellsworth. The 300 West wine store is a pleasing place to shop—a beautiful, well-organized store with subtle lighting and great tunes playing. Around the edges of the store, on display in wooden racks and in glass cases, are premium-priced wines. The collection includes a double magnum (3000 ml) of 2005 Chateau Margaux, given a perfect 100 rating by Wine Spectator, and priced to sell at a mere $4,720—50 percent off the original price. Thankfully, the wine store also carries hundreds of wines priced for those of us who don’t drive Bentleys.
Ellsworth, a chef who owned the original Dijon restaurant in Holladay back in the ’80s and still teaches cooking and wine classes at his school (EcoleDijonCookingSchool.com), is more than happy to share his knowledge of wine and food with customers. Got an especially persnickety food-and-wine-pairing problem? Ellsworth can help you solve it. With the range of wines carried at the 3oo West wine store, there is virtually no food that can’t be perfectly paired with a wine in stock.
When I ask him about his favorite part of the wine store, Ellsworth leads me to the French wine section. He’s a French wine expert with a special fondness for affordable wines from the Rhone region in the south of France. Speaking about the red Rhones, he says, “These great blended wines from the south of France are what the Australians call ‘GSM’ (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre). The great 2007 vintage is coming out right now, and these are the best deals in the store—even exceeding Spanish wines, in my view. There are currently about 10 of these red Rhone wines under $15 at the store. If you’re a GSM person or a Rhone person, you need to come by and check out these deals on earth, old-world wines.”
When asked to suggest some other interesting, slightly under-the-radar varietals to look for at the 300 West wine store, Ellsworth says, “Torrontes is a white grape varietal, originally from northern Spain, which is almost extinct in that country now. In a blind tasting once, I mistook it for a German or Alsatian wine. Torrontes has found its way to Argentina now, where it grows like a weed. It has a Muscat/ Gewurztraminer nose: very floral, and ranges from dry to mildly off dry. I love some of the different Torrontes products we have right now, so different and refreshing, and so unlike Chardonnay or any other white wine. These wines are great starters for holiday get-togethers.”
Ellsworth also suggests trying Viognier: “It has a beautiful nose and richness, and is often used in red wines to enhance those qualities. It is, to me, honey, lavender and soft spice—I love it, and I have a whole section of Viognier to choose from. Viognier would be a great white wine for Thanksgiving.”