I have a friend that runs an eco-friendly wine distribution/home delivery company called the20. When I complained about the challenge of getting people to pay high bottle prices for wines they’ve never tasted, he turned me on to this neat company called Tasting Room (@TastingRoomCom). They allow an individual to buy sample pours of a flight of top-notch wines – delivered right to your door. I finally decided to give them a try. They offered single vineyard options, varietal flights (cab/pinot/rose/shiraz) as well as red/white tours of specific viticultural areas, like Napa. My personal bias is typically towards Zinfandel – expecting to enjoy it the most, but the nerd in me opted for maximum value based on the average bottle price of the wines I would taste. The results: Zinfandel $28, Cabernet $34, Pinot Noir $35. The checkout process is an absolute breeze and I waited for my six bottles to arrive. The total cost for the tasting was $41, which covered taxes, shipping and 6-50ml bottles of wine. Essentially $41 for a half bottle of wine that would otherwise cost $35 (on average). You really need to buy into the benefits of tasting to use Tasting Room, or find an online coupon. Amazingly, my wine arrives at 10:22 AM the next day. Granted it didn’t have far to travel from Santa Rosa to San Francisco, but impressive nonetheless. Included in the Pinot Noir No. 2 tasting were:
’08 Fess Parker – Santa Barbara County ($24.99), @FollowFess
’08 Argyle Reserve – Willamette Valley ($39.99), @ArgyleWinery
’09 Patz & Hall – Sonoma Cost ($41.99), @PatzHall
’07 Gundlach Bunschu Estate Vineyard – Sonoma Coast ($33.99), @gunbunwine
’07 Papapietro Perry Elsbree Vineyard – Russian River Valley ($48.99), @papapietroperry
’08 La Follette – Sonoma Coast ($29.99), @LaFolletteWines
Committing the time, brain power, and wine volume to 300ml was challenging, and unfortunately, the Papapietro Perry fell victim to an after-work-wine-opening- emergency. Whether it was wine quality or circumstance, it was certainly excellent to taste. Surprisingly, the 50ml pour size was generous relative to the quantity you get in most tasting rooms in California. Later, I finally decided to “officially” crack my box of Tasting Room delights both before a meal and with dinner. Five wines was a lot to taste so we opted to put three head-to-head on a blind basis.
Wine 1 – Fess Parker: Typical earthy pinot with berry forward flavor, overshadowed by other wines
Wine 2 – La Follette: Light in color, woody, berries, low earth content, rich flavors, zestiest with food, best of the three with food.
Wine 3 – Gundlach Bundschu: Spiciest of the three, flat finish, low earth, didn’t pair well with dinner
After several tastes, the clear conclusion was La Follette is the bottle most likely to revisit. Overall, the Tasting Room experience is highlighted by EXCELLENT service, great wines, and somewhat expensive for the quantity of wine. However, it is a lot cheaper than driving to Napa and back and the designated driver is totally unnecessary. The best part of this…there are still two wines to taste!
The wines were paired with burgundy peppercorn tri-tip, spiced garbanzo beans and sautéed spinach with onions and garlic. Despite the packaging and recipe, 140 degree tri-tip is waaaaaaay overcooked. On a second attempt I’d take it out of the oven at 125 degrees.