May 2009

Rollers Port Royal Plaza: The best in grapes and grains for winos, wine snobs, booze hounds and more

Author: Kate Hanzalik

If you read CH2 regularly, then you probably stumbled upon Ann Demart’s smashing story in the November issue about Rollers wine buyer and manager, Camille Copeland, and the lavish new wine selection at the store’s Coligny Plaza location.

Today our glasses must again be raised for the longest standing wine and spirits shop on the island, but this time in celebration of its fledgling Port Royal Plaza location that opened in February and its healthy selection of wine, scotch, liquors, and weekly wine tastings.

Owner John Kelsey said the location offers them more traffic and visibility and offers the customers more products. “I don’t think you’ll find another store on the island that has the breadth of products or the variety of products. And if somebody wants something, we will do whatever we can do to bring it in for them.” Leading up to the opening of the new shop, Rollers bought out Port Royal Liquors, closed that, then shut down the Rollers in Morningstar Commons. For nearly 50 years, the business has withstood the test of time.

“Rollers has been around on the South End since 1960. I’ve had the store for almost 10 years now; the selection of products we have at both stores and the volume allows us to be very competitive,” said Kelsey.

“There is so much respect there with John and what he’s done over the years,” said Copeland. “When we buy, that is always taken into consideration. This privately owned, local guy; we do a lot of business for the community.”

Kelsey, who said his business has traditionally been driven by locals, is interested to see how the new location will be impacted by tourism. He’s also interested in making sure his business remains an integral part of the local restaurant industry.
“We do a huge amount of supplying the bars and restaurants with products. That is a big part of our business, and as a result of that, it enhances our buying power and makes it really competitive.”

Wine Aficionados
The shelves are robust with Malbecs, rosés, light whites, classics like Rombauer and Shafer, boutique wines, organic styles, and the list goes on. Buy wine by region, from South Africa and New Zealand to California and the Pacific Northewest.

“The popular seller this season so far has been Malbecs, and with the warmer weather coming, the lighter whites,” said manager Chris Locascio, a certified specialist of wine who has worked in the industry for 19 years.
Copeland said she and Locascio are fearless when it comes to trying out new wines. “We’re not too snotty to say it has to be high-end. We’ll drink an $8 dollar bottle, a $6 dollar bottle, as well as a $60 dollar bottle.
They team up to host weekly tastings. “Usually we’ll try to have a theme, and give a little education as well, in an unpretentious setting. It’s really laid back,” said Locascio.

The tastings this month at the new location will focus on Malbec wines from Argentina, inexpensive and extraordinary wines from Australia and New Zealand, and the wines of the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon and Washington.
“To have a female palate and a male palate, and we’ve been friends for a long time, it helps the communication, ideas, the passion,” said Copeland, adding that the tastings are free of plastic cups. “That’s a huge pet peeve of people who go to tastings; you’d be amazed at how many people compliment that. The plastic cup thing…you can’t swirl, you can’t taste.”

Got Scotch?
If you’re into scotch, the new location offers a separate room with a stellar collection. And bourbons too. “I’m really passionate about bourbons,” said Kelsey. “You will never find a better high-end bourbon selection…Our single malt scotch selection is better than any you will see in almost any store in the state.”

The team at Rollers have developed a camaraderie with their patrons perhaps because they understand the elements of a perfect wine tasting, and the science that goes behind good wine and whiskey, and most certainly because of the customer service. Special requests are always welcome and customers receive 10 percent off any case purchases.

May 5: Argentina: Malbec, malbec, malbec & more.
May 12: Australia/New Zealand: Highly rated wines with low price tags.
May 19: Porch Wines: Come enjoy the wines that make this special time of year that much better.
May 26: Pacific North West: Learn about Oregon & Washington wines, various regions, and the current happenings relevant to the tasting theme.

For more information, call (843) 681-8454.

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