I went to a wine tasting today at Total Wine & More at the Tustin Marketplace. In addition to the usual wine tasting held by Total Wine every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Loring Wine Company was also offering tastes of its Pinot Noir selections.
The Loring wines were all from the 2007 vintage, and included “Clos Pepe”, “Keefer Ranch” and “Russell Family”. All three were good, but the real standout was the Keefer Ranch. However, good as it was, I cannot recommend it at the $50 price. You could store a bottle for five years to see if something special develops, but there are better Pinots offered at less than $20 that are ready to drink now. Try the Rosemount Estate Pinot Noir 2004 or even the Yellow Tail Pinot Noir which sells for just $7.
If you have yet to attend a wine tasting at Total Wine, you are missing a nice experience. The tastings run from noon to six, give or take an hour depending on the day. Since by law they cannot give away alcoholic beverages, the price of admission is a dime. This is not a lecture-type tasting where you need to follow along in a certain order. Just show up anytime during the tasting hours, toss your dime in the bucket, and enjoy. Ten cents allows you to taste five or so good wines or, as on this occasion, around a dozen if there is a guest winery displaying its wares. Of course the store wants you to find and buy a bottle you like, so they are generous with the higher-end wines. If you do decide to buy a bottle, ask the server for a coupon. Typically the coupon shaves a dollar off the price of the bottle. Hey, a buck is a buck.
Sometimes the store adds mid-week tastings, so check the website to make sure the wine will be flowing when you go on a day other than Friday through Sunday. The mid-week tastings are generally limited to four wines.
There is also a very cool help yourself dispenser for times when there is no wine tasting going on (and even when there is for that matter). You purchase a reloadable cash card, and sample to your heart’s content. No ten cent tastings here though. A very small tasting will cost you from 50 cents to $2.25, depending on the cost of the wine. Still, if you are trying to find something new for a party, it is really nice to be able to taste eight different wines to find something you like, rather than taking a chance on an unknown bottle. I have found some exceptional values as a result of the dispenser.
If you prefer the lecture format, Total Wine also offers evening wine classes which are typically held one Thursday a month from 6:30 to 9:30, and cost $25.