Tag Archives: Total Wine & More

Review: Mascota Vineyards Unánime 2011

Sometimes a wine comes along that is special in ways that transcend the quality and ratings. Unánime 2011 is such a wine. Sure, Wine Enthusiast gave it 93 points. That’s impressive all on its own. Yes, it’s the Total Wine & More No. 1 red wine of 2016. All those customers and store associates can’t be wrong, so there’s that. Accolades certainly generate interest and drive sales, and that’s always a good thing. However, what makes this bottle special is the circumstances by which it ended up in my hands, and its contents in my glass.

Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Not long ago, I found myself facing a particularly difficult pitch. Fortunately, I have a great coaching staff around me, so I was able to swing and make contact. Circumstances arose that required we sell our home, and quick. As luck would have it, my brother-in-law, Todd, is a realtor, so we engaged his services. Through a combination of his professional talents and 11 years of loving care of our home, we accepted an offer after just 7 days on the market. The entire process ran smoothly and, thanks largely to Todd’s influence, the 30-day escrow closed on time.

I can’t begin to adequately express my appreciation for Todd’s help and expertise throughout this very stressful process. So imagine my surprise this morning, when I answered a knock at my new door, and there stood Todd, gift bag in hand. I should be buying him gifts, and yet as a “thank you” for allowing him to serve us, he brought me a gift of Unánime 2011.

unanime-2011

As it happened, I was planning to grill a New York steak for dinner tonight – my first grilling experience after several weeks in transition. It was to be a simple, but special dinner. I was debating what wine to open with my steak, but as soon as I pulled the bottle from the bag, I had my answer.

As I mentioned, Mascota Vineyards Unánime 2011 is the Total Wine & More No. 1 red wine of 2016. I’ve wanted to try it for some weeks, but just haven’t had the time. Todd solved this problem for me. From the back label:

UNANIME, from the Latin “Unanimis” refers to a group of people sharing the same opinions or views; being in complete harmony or accord.

This simple word summarizes this special project. When we were finishing the harvest 2005, both our Winemakers and Agronomists agreed that it was the time to start crafting a superior red blend, a “Gran Vino Tinto”.

We wanted to reflect the great wines Argentina can offer when exceptional climate and passionate people come together in harmony.

A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec, and 15% Cabernet Franc, from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, the 2011 spent 20 months in French oak. Here’s what I thought about it:

Inky doesn’t begin to describe the color. Nearly black in the decanter with deep violet rim. Early aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry, chocolate, and soft oak. On the palate, this is a big, bold, chewy wine with flavors of ripe blackberry, black currant, black pepper, spice, and black cherry. Full bodied with massive tannins, even after 3 hours in the decanter. The finish is long, with black pepper, spice, and dark chocolate. When paired with a juicy New York strip steak, spectacular. This wine will age well for the next 5-10 years.

4.5 stars, 92 – 94 points

$24.99 at Total Wine & More

ny-strip-steak-and-baked-sweet-potato-with-unanime

NY Strip Steak and Baked Sweet Potato. The salad was on the side. Honest.

Argentina and beef are synonymous, and this wine is a natural complement to a juicy cut. Grab a bottle of Unánime 2011, fire up the grill, and enjoy the magic.

Cheers!

 

Old World v. New World Cabernet: A Total Wine & More Event

old-v-new

Total Wine & More bills itself as “America’s Wine Superstore.” I would have to agree. The first two times I walked into a Total Wine store, I walked out empty handed. It was simply overwhelming. Those of you fortunate enough to live near one of their 135 stores in 18 states know what I mean. They stock more wine, beer, and spirits on their shelves than anywhere else I’ve ever seen. Simply walking through the store can be disorienting to the uninitiated. I recommend hiring a guide. If you’re ever in the Sacramento area, drop me a line and for a small fee (a bottle of sumpin’ sumpin’) I will gladly help you navigate the labyrinth.

Like so many retailers these days, Total Wine has a loyalty rewards program; they call the Total Discovery Program. Basically, you earn points for each dollar spent in the store. You start at the “Select” level, which basically gets you coupons. Rack up enough points and you level up to the “Reserve”, then “Grand Reserve” levels. At these levels, you receive discounts on products and classes, and invitations to complimentary Members-Only events.

But this post is not intended to be free advertising for this magical place. Rather, it is about an event I attended there yesterday evening. reserveApparently, even though most of my wine comes to me via online retailers, I buy enough product from Total Wine to have recently achieved “Reserve” level status. Thus, I received an invitation to their Sip & Mingle event, The Great Cab Debate: Old World vs. New World Cabernet Sauvignon. Not one to turn down an opportunity to taste world-class wine for free, I naturally submitted my RSVP accepting the invitation.

As one might imagine, this event pitted four Left Bank (Cabernet based) Bordeaux against four California Cabernet wines, in the spirit of this year’s 40th anniversary of the famous Judgment of Paris tasting. This was not a blind tasting, and as the name of the event, Sip & Mingle, implies, it was as much a social evening as a wine tasting. At these events, participants are encouraged to chat, socialize, and nibble on the snack foods provided. Sure, there were a couple of serious wine tasters present, who stood quietly in a corner sipping, spitting, and jotting notes without interacting much. But for the most part, the 20 or so people there relaxed at the tables and enjoyed the wine and conversation. It was certainly a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a Friday evening.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “What about the wine?” Ah, yes, the wine. Most of my Bordeaux experience has been Right Bank, Merlot based, so I was anxious to try some of the prestigious Left Bank Chateau creations. These hailed from the Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Pessac-Léognan, and Pauillac appellations. The California wines included one from Paso Robles, and three from the general Napa Valley AVA. In order of recommended tasting, here’s what I thought of them:

Sextant Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2014

01-sextant-paso-robles-2014Brick red, ruby rim. Nose of blackberry and red currant. Flavors of blackberry, red currant, black pepper and spice. A little hot but smooth tannins. Long, spicy finish.

Retail $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars (88-91 points)

Château Pierre de Montignac Médoc Cru Bourgeois 2011

02-chateau-pierre-de-montignac-medoc-2011Brick red, ruby rim. Plum and earth on the nose. Flavors of raspberry, sour cherry, soft oak, and spice. Bone dry with firm tannins and a medium finish.

Retail $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars (88-91 points)

Courtney Benham Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2011

03-courtney-benham-napa-2011Purple color with brick rim. On the nose, green bell pepper, light blackberry, and dusty earth. Blackberry, black plum flavors with soft, smooth tannins and light acidity. Medium finish with berry and white pepper.

Retail $24.99

3.5 out of 5 stars (85-87 points)

Château Landat Vieilles Vignes Haut-Médoc 2012

04-chateau-landat-vieille-vignes-haut-medoc-2012Ruby color. Nose of raspberry and blackberry. Flavors of ripe raspberry, plum, red currant, earth, and spice. Supple tannins, medium acidity, and a medium, spicy finish.

Retail $29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars (88-91 points)

Christophe Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012

05-christophe-limited-edition-napa-valley-2012Purple color with ruby rim. Aromas of ripe blackberry and soft oak. On the palate juicy blackberry, cassis, and white pepper. Super soft tannins and light acidity. Medium finish of dark berry.

Retail $35.99

4.5 out of 5 stars (91-94 points)

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan 2009

06-chateau-larrivet-haut-brion-pessac-leognan-2009Deep purple color with ruby rim. Nose is fig, mushroom, and cedar. Flavors of ripe blackberry, cassis, black pepper, and black plum. Soft, velvety tannins and balanced acidity with a long, fruity, spicy finish.

Retail $39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars (88-91 points)

Baldacci IV Four Sons Fraternity Napa Valley Red 2012

07-baldacci-four-sons-fraternity-napa-valley-2012Deep, inky purple color. Aromas of blackberry, bramble, cassis, and a hint of licorice. On the palate, blackberry, cassis, black pepper, and spice. Rich and fruity, with soft tannins and balanced acidity. Long finish with berry, cocoa, and spice. My favorite of the evening.

Retail $46.99

4.5 out of 5 stars (91-94 points)

Château d’Armailhac Grand Cru Classé Pauillac 2012

08-chateau-darmailhac-pauillac-2012Ruby color with brick rim. On the nose, herbal notes with green bell pepper and blackberry. Flavors of blackberry, bell pepper, earth, spice, and cedar. Still young, the tannins are edgy and its a little acidic. This one needs a few more years in the cellar.

Retail $44.99

3.5 out of 5 stars (85-57 points)

This was a fun evening. Although not a blind tasting, it was interesting to compare Old World v. New World Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. Overall, as in ’76, Napa won the evening. At least for me! I look forward to my next invitation to a Total Wine & More Sip & Mingle event!