Best Wines at Total Wine

Monday, December 28, 2009

A good friend asked for some wine recommendations for gift-giving purposes, so I thought to share my suggestions here to see if anyone else had a tip to share based on inventory at Phoenix-area Total Wine stores.  Let us know in the comments section.

Looking to give a gift of 3-4 wines to a friend who drinks mostly California Cabernet.  Average cost around $25/bottle.  Shopping to be done at Total Wine's Desert Ridge location in Phoenix, Arizona. 

For gift giving purposes, there's a few different ways to go.  You can give wines you think they'll like based on awareness of the categories they're fond of.  Or, it can be nice to focus on a region (France, Italy, Napa) and then combine the wine with a book about wines/travel to that region.  Or, you can mix it up and give them wines that align with the taste profile of their favorite category. 

Here’s 4 Napa Cabs that I’d recommend:
Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Cuvee $24.99
-Delicious entry-level offering from a winery making incredible Cab (Chappellet Signature) at the $40 price-point. For immediate consumption (as opposed to cellaring it for a couple years) I think their Mountain Cuvee is a better play.

Honig Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $31.99
-This is an outstanding wine and a good buy at $32. Big, bold, aromatic Napa Cab that drinks like a $50 wine. Highly recommended.

2006 Groth Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon $39.99
-Long-standing brand that’s staged a bit of a comeback with this vintage. Drinking very nicely. Big and chewy without being harsh. Elegant label too.

Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $27.99
-Buehler consistently makes a legit Napa Cab at a reasonable price-point.  This isn’t the best price I’ve seen on this wine, but if you want to do 4 Napa Cabs this is one I’d choose to round it out. Or ask someone who works there for a recommendation within your budget.

Other Red Value Picks:
Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Mendoza $9.99
-Haven’t had the ’08 vintage of this wine yet, but the 2007 was a WSJ value-pick and an amazingly delicious $10 wine.

2008 Two Hands Wines Shiraz Angels Share McLaren Vale $31.99
-Not the best price on this one (I’ve seen it for just over $20 here in Massachusetts) but this is a very delicious (if higher alcohol) Australian Shiraz.

Hall Merlot Napa Valley $22.99
-Haven’t had their Merlot but really enjoyed their Cabs.  Don’t see that Total Wine carries the Cab but if you wanted a Merlot to mix in with an assortment of varieties I’d give this one a go.

Carmel Road Winery Pinot Noir Monterey $14.99
-It’s tough to find a good bottle of Pinot Noir under $20 but luscious soft fruit makes this one a crowd pleaser. 

Pedroncelli Winery Pinot Noir $16.99
-The label isn’t much to look at but this wine is legit Pinot.

Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $24.99
-Love love love this Oregon Pinot Noir. Every time. Big and fruity while still being serious.  Great looking bottle, and not too pricey. Highly recommended.

Sanford Winery Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County $28.49
-Decent price for this classic Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.

Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Paso Robles $22.99
-Can’t go wrong with a big luscious red Zinfandel from this famous CA producer.

I really appreciate the way Total Wine has per-location inventory online.  It enables me to give suggestions to friends they can easily find.  Vintages weren't available for all of the wines, but I assumed the current vintage was consistent with is coming to market now.

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Question of the Day:
What do you think of these picks?  What $25 gift-friendly red wine would you recommend from this Total Wine location?


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