Last week, Andy and I had the privilege of attending a private wine tasting at Total Wine & More to select my holiday picks that will be featured in the Sacramento area Total Wine & More stores, as well as right here and right now on cavegrrl.com. For the next month, I’ll be pictured next to my wine selections (with a tag that will resemble the one below) in Sacramento area stores with a link back to this website.
Total Wine & More is pretty much my version of a Chocolate Factory and Theo Snyder is my Willy Wonka. She’s the manager of the Arden Total Wine & More, and has come to know my tastes in wine. For the tasting, she pulled several wines for me that were a refreshing departure from the normal Chardonnay and Pinot Noir picks synonymous with Thanksgiving and other holiday meals.
And now, I get to pass them on to you. As not only fantastic beverage choices that will leave your taste buds dancing, but also as picks of value. Nothing in this round up is more than $29.99 per bottle, and you could actually buy all 6 wines on my list for $112!
First up is a sparkling wine that hails from Lodi! It’s the Oak Ridge Sparkling Wine (Private Cuvee) that as far as we know is probably a bubbly made from grapes of Pinot and Chardonnay. It’s $12.99 per bottle and approachable for all of your party guests. It’s off dry, and spectacular with appetizers… a great pairing with anything that has little cheese or a buttery crust. I like sparkling wines so much I could drink them during my entire meal. 🙂
Next up is a wine made by Shenandoah Vineyards (Sobon Family Wines). It’s their 2011 Amador Chenin Viognier Blend. I don’t want to give away my favorite wine of the tasting so soon in the blog post, but I have to tell you… this is the wine I am really still thinking about a week later. It was so unique. It was earthy, buttery and had a certain petroleum characteristic to it. I really love those kinds of wine. They can stand by themselves or pair beautifully with the first course of your holiday meal! Well done, Sobons! A true gem for the $14.99 price. 🙂
For my next pick, we’ll travel into Placer County near the Newcastle/Auburn area to Dono dal Cielo. That’s the 2009 Zinfandel (Foothills) I have chosen to drink with our holiday meal. Maybe you aren’t on speaking terms with your parents, but this wine will ease the tension and have everyone singing together by the second course. It’s also the most expensive wine of my picks coming in at $29.99, but I am pretty sure that’s cheaper than therapy and a whole lot more palatable.
Let’s travel back to Lodi for a visit with one of my favorite wineries, St. Amant. They make two of my favorite local wines in existence: a Barbera and a Tempranillo (the grapes in the Tempranillo hail from Amador). You can find both the Barbera and the Tempranillo at Total Wines & More, but for today, let’s focus on their Tempranillo. Tempranillo is probably my favorite red wine. I love the subtle fruit and the earthiness of the varietal. If I see it on a wine list next to any other red wine, I always choose it. It’s typically cheaper than most other reds, but far more interesting. I would drink this Tempranillo with any of the following ingredients: mushrooms, truffle, olives, meats like pork chops, prosciutto, pancetta, etc, stews, hard cheeses.
Are you ready for a powerhouse wine? Then try the 2011 Macchia Barbera Delicious. ($21.99) Macchia is located in Lodi and makes some of the best (and more potent) wines in the region. Barbera is an Italian grape varietal is the second most widely planted grape variety in Italy. If you are into big and bold, you’ll love the Delicious. It’s an intense concentration of berries with a 14.8% alcohol content.
When God gave out wine making talent, he gave an unfair advantage to Paul Sobon. I don’t think he could make a bad wine if he tried. He’s also the winemaker behind my final holiday selection, and a perfect ending to any celebration, the 2011 Sobon Zinfandel Port ($14.00, 375 mL). Port is something I only drink on very special occasions (and usually during winter) because its sugar level is very high. I treat it like dessert: I would rather have a little glass of it with some fruit and cheese instead of a piece of pecan pie any day! Another reason I like port is because it keeps longer than other wines do in the refrigerator, so no pressure to drink it all in one day. (Even though I don’t think that will be a problem with the Sobon port!)
I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous food and wine events (at no cost to me) since I started writing about the topic in 2005. See, this website is good for something. 🙂 My love of wine began when I was about 24. Someone introduced me to a few labels you could actually get in Ohio back in 2002 without traveling very far: Yellowtail Chardonnay, Penfolds Shiraz, and Beringer (shriek) White Zinfandel. I was intrigued with wine not only because I liked the flavor and smell, but because it seemed to amplify flavors in food and make all the things I cooked taste so much better. Even the White Zinfandel 😉
So I kept drinking the very mainstream stuff until I came out to California for the first time in 2003. I visited Napa Valley and had my first winery tour at Mondavi. I also saw V. Sattui and Coppola’s estate. It was really something for me to experience. I felt something I had never felt before standing there in front of the chateau at Francis Ford Coppola Winery: like I belonged there. In California. In Napa Valley. On a Sunday. A warm, breezy afternoon, two glasses in. Feeling this warm, true, honest feeling as much as possible. This. Is. The. Life.
After my inaugural trip, I became obsessed with relocating to California and living my dream.* I worked two jobs and by June of 2004, I made it happen, moving myself and my most essential belongings 2,319 miles in my car in 3 days.
Fast forward 9 years later, and I am still loving wine, learning more about it everyday and have (not so) secret aspirations to eventually become a sommelier. In an effort to learn more and an indulgence to taste some really great selections, Andy and I recently attended a wine class at Total Wine & More led by Theo Snyder, the manager at Total Wines & More, Arden Location.
It was titled “Romancing the Rhone”. A “Bordeaux, How do I love thee … let me count the ways” class will be offered on Thursday, October 10th, from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
And does it ever. At the class, you get a printed breakdown of all the wines you’ll be trying, as well as a writing utensil to take notes. You can write all the things you liked/disliked about the wines. Theo is an encyclopedia of knowledge and I promise you, you will walk away with something you didn’t know before the class.
My mind was um, blown to say the least with this white châteauneuf-du-pape (25% Roussanne, 25% Grenache, 25% Bourboulenc and 25% Clairette) which I didn’t even know was produced/existed. That one is a must try.
We tried about 6 different wines during the class. Beyond that, they were all French wines (hence the Rhône name of the class) and very obscure to me. I don’t have the chance to try them that often, because I usually try new wines at local fundraisers and wine events, at which mostly local wines are poured. I loved having a forum to taste new things and discuss them with people of all knowledge levels. To hear feedback from other class members noting what they liked and why. And to hear Theo tell me all the stuff I didn’t know.
You can visit Total Wine & More’s facebook page here. Cheers!
A few weeks ago, I was chosen by Total Wine & More for their Total Wine & More “Local Favorite!” program. This program features a local media “influencer” each month and allows them to pick their favorite wines to recommend to customers. For the next month, I’ll be pictured next to my wine selections (with a tag that will resemble the one above) in the Sacramento (Arden) store with a link back to this website.
I was very honored to be approached, and I quickly decided I would select some rosés for the month of August. I couldn’t think of a more perfect wine for summer––a wine that pairs well with almost anything. I feel rosés are overlooked, slightly under appreciated and all too often confused with that sickly sweet white zinfandel stuff that was first made by mistake, (but a serendipitous one for them at that) by Sutter Home in 1975.
No, the rosés I am talking about are so much more than their cloying white zin “dopplegängers”. These wines have finesse, refinement and are fruity and flavorful, yet much drier. I discovered I truly did like pink colored wines again (and the difference between a white zinfandel and a rosé) a few years ago (2008 to be exact) when I tasted the Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese at the California State Fair’s Grape and Gourmet event. Since then, the rosé thing has been slowly catching on. I have tried and enjoyed several since: Bray Vineyard’s Rose of Barbera and Nichelini’s Rose of Cabernet to name a few.
Since that Grape and Gourmet event, every time the thermometer rises, my go-to wine is a rosé. And I think this summer especially, I am completely
obsessed with interested in them and want to try as many as possible so I can learn even more about them.
Andy and I met up with Total Wine’s (Arden Store) Wine Manager Theo Snyder last Friday evening to taste an assortment of French and California rosés, so I could personally recommend three of them to you and the customers at Total Wine & More, Arden.
My first selection is a French rosé, Domaine Rabiotte Aix Provence Rosé 2012 ($11.99). It would fall into the “very dry” category, and it’s almost apricot/peach in color. It’s great appetizer wine, but I would be just as happy drinking it with sushi, a light fish dish, or even pork loin. It’s everything I look for in a rosé and it’s French, so it has sex appeal, no? 😉
My second pick is the Sobon Rose Rezerve 2012 ($11.99). This rosé is a special blend of grenache, syrah and carignane and another great food wine. I could really smell the fruit when I examined the wine, and I could taste some minerality (I tend to love a little bit of earthiness in my wines) present. I wasn’t shocked that this rosé made my top three, because I have been a Sobon fan for years. Check out their Cougar Hill Zinfandel and their Barbera for more tasty adventures. 🙂
My third choice is the Truett Hurst Zin Rosé Dry Creek 2012 ($17.99), which I feel is the perfect rosé wine for red wine lovers who might think they aren’t a fan of rosés. It delivers a burst of flavor and settles in between a Goldilocks-esque not-too-sweet, yet not-too dry flavor. This one works with or without food and if I stuck with straight rosés through a whole dinner, I would have this one for dessert with fresh fruits and cheeses.
Well, Andy and I made it back home after spending Thanksgiving in Ixtapa Guerrero, Mexico. It was the most relaxing, fun, and romantic vacation I have ever experienced. 🙂 I will post some pictures on here in the next week to let you in on some of the food we had and to show you how beautiful of a place Ixtapa is. 🙂 My heart and soul have been enriched forever and I can’t wait to go back.
We got back just in time to attend a preview party for the new Total Wine & More in Folsom, which opens today. We sipped sparkling wine from Mumm Napa, and tried other 15-20 different wines that will be available for purchase in the store–including a great deal of wines from Sobon Estates. Paul Sobon (the winemaker) was there pouring a few different zinfandels and a barbera (a personal favorite of mine) from the family portfolio. We snacked on food catered by Randy Peters Catering. I’d like to thank Total Wine & More for the invitation and include the press release (below) that was sent to me to give you a little bit more information on the store.
PS: Today’s opening will include live music, tastings and more! The official ribbon cutting will be on December 6th from 6-7pm.
Total Wine & More, America’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, spirits and beer, has announced that it is expanding its presence in the Greater Sacramento area with a new location in Folsom, Calif., which is expected to open on November 29
“Our newest investment in the Sacramento community will benefit our customers, as well as the overall community,” says David Trone, who co-owns Total Wine & More with his brother Robert Trone. “Our expansion into Folsom will bring an estimated 50 jobs to the community, while also creating a thriving business which will generate retail sales tax that can bring additional city services to residents.”
Total Wine & More, which is known for its large selection and competitive prices, offers more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers in each of its superstores, including hard-to-find labels and locally produced product.
“The key to our success lies in our basic principles: we provide our customers with an unbelievable selection, at market-leading prices,” explains Trone. “From wine connoisseurs seeking rare finds to complete their vintage collection, to beer aficionados who enjoy building their own six-packs with hard-to-find micro-brews, Total Wine & More is dedicated to providing customers with exactly what they seek, at the most competitive prices in the market.”
Trone notes that in addition to selection and price, Total Wine & More is also committed to creating an unparalleled retail experience for its shoppers. The retailer delivers on this promise through unique staff training programs and state-of-the-art in-store technologies.
“When you walk into our stores, there is a wow factor that is undeniable,” he says. “Customers are impressed with the bright, beautiful appearance of each store, and we build on this by also offering our shoppers the most well-trained staff in the industry, as well as the latest tools and technologies to help enhance their visit to our stores.”
Staff training is a cornerstone of the Total Wine & More business platform, and each member of the Total Wine & More sales team is trained for 150 hours prior to working in the stores, including education on various regions, production methods, varietals, brew styles, and tasting analysis.
The company also offers its employees continuous training throughout their career, including the opportunity to meet with the world’s key wine, beer and spirits producers. Every year, Total Wine treats select team members to a trip to California’s major wine regions for a week-long training session, as well as a two-week trip to Europe’s key wine regions every other year, to increase their knowledge of various products.
“A knowledgeable team can mean the difference between a good experience and a great one. Through our industry-leading training programs, Total Wine & More’s sales team members are equipped to always deliver a great experience to our customers,” says Trone.
Another area of focus for Total Wine & More is the delivery of a state-of-the-art retail environment, and the company delivers on this promise through its new, “next-generation” in-store technologies. The new Folsom store will feature many of these new technologies, which will allow customers to become more engaged with the products and increase their knowledge of many different wines, beers and spirits, according to Trone.
“Next-generation” features in the Folsom store will include:
- A state-of-the-art tasting bar where customers can treat their palates to tastes of various wines, beers and spirits while learning about the background of each beverage.
- In-store iPads equipped with a proprietary app which provides recommendations on specific beverages to pair with various meals.
- Flat panel screens throughout the store that stream video content on vintners, their wineries and how various wines are made.
- An updated education center, which will be used to host classes on various types of wines, beers and spirits throughout each month. The state-of-the-art education center is also available to be booked for use by local non-profits and businesses at no charge.
The Folsom store will be the 88th location for Total Wine & More, and its 11th California location. The new store is located at 2765 E. Bidwell St. Folsom, Calif., a former Borders location.
Total Wine & More’s vast selection of products, combined with low everyday prices and expertly trained wine associates, brings a unique shopping experience to the customer. Total Wine & More has the distinction of being Beverage Dynamic’s 2008 Wine Retailer of the Year, Market Watch’s 2006 Retailer of the Year, and Wine Enthusiast’s 2004 Retailer of the Year. Since opening its first store in 1991, Total Wine & More has been committed to being the premier wine retailer in every community that it serves. More information and stores locations are available at www.totalwine.com