“I’ve been suckered in!” is the phrase I’m ruminating on as I sit here tonight sipping on a bottle of red. My husband is setting up our surround sound speakers, almost 8 months after living in the new home, I’m enjoying some Michael Bublé in the background, and wondering how I “got suckered!”
Total Wine & More moved into little ‘ole Spokane, and just celebrated their grand opening of the store after months of renovating a large empty building, too close to my husband’s job. My first tweet went out to the world moments after I first stepped in, and went something along the lines of, “One word to describe @TotalWineWa: Overwhelming.” It is indeed, very large, and was a bit much to take in all at once. I went back in yesterday, and have mixed feelings on the store. I love to shop local, much prefer to do so, and I worry how this large store will effect the local wine shops here in Spokane. While I’m told in all there are only about 18 stores nationwide, Total Wine is not a Washington-born business. However, I’m a firm capitalist and understand large retailers have their place as well. I do greatly appreciate the set-up of the store, as it is laid out quite nicely; old-world wines have their own place, and each varietal is dedicated to their own aisles as well. The website is very helpful, and will inform you if a specific wine is available at your nearest store, with aisle information included to make getting your wine quick and easy. Very impressive! Perhaps what I love most about Spokane’s newest wine store is the selection! Total Wine does carry many Washington wineries I generally am unable to find in town (i.e. Matthews Estate or Patit Creek Cellars), and can access only through website (and shipping charges) or a road trip. I’m a graduate student, any idea how often I can travel right now? In addition, I now have easier access to some of my favorite varietals from other wineries I can find in town, but perhaps never the specific wine (Mourvédre, for example). The latter has me most grateful for Total Wine’s appearance to Spokane. Total Wine does provide wine tasting classes and provide a nice complimentary guide for any level of wine connoisseur. The prices? Highly competitive, and other wine stores here ought to take notice of it.
My biggest gripe with Total Wine may (hopefully) be a one time incident. I was talking with one of the associates, who was giving me the impression he felt I knew nothing about wine. As I tried to assert I do know at least a few things, he insisted on pushing me toward wines that were “great for someone just getting into wine.” Needless to say, I was not impressed. When he began discussing Washington wine, and how (accurately) they are very fruit-forward, he stated once again that Washington is great for this reason: “they really appeal to the developing palate.” I’m a red-head. I choose my battles. This was a battle. When I insisted it was more a difference of craft, and certainly NOT due to Washingtonian’s being “uneducated” in wine, he somewhat backed down. Remember, kind sir, any wine region will have those who are crafting for the “developing palate” just as much as for the sophisticated, and California is no exception to this rule. Everyone has to start somewhere. Most of the other associates in the store are very kind and quite pleasant to talk with. All in all, Total Wine & More is a store worth stepping into. But always, where you can, Buy Local!
The reason I’m a “sucker”: While at Total Wine, I picked up a bottle of WildHaven 2010 Blazing Red from the Columbia Valley. The label caught my attention immediately: think of the old black “scratch magic” papers from childhood, with a pointy pen-like object and you would scratch into the paper your drawing. The label is reminiscent of this, with two horses and the label “scratched” into the black paper background.
It’s a very nice label, and one I have not seen before. Tonight I cracked it open, pulled it up online, only to find what can only be a Total Wine & More-owned winery. Though located in Walla Walla, no such “WildHaven Winery” exists online beyond the Total Wine website. Suckered I have been! Ok, not the end of the world, and good for them for producing their own wines as well!
My first note regarding the 2010 WildHaven Blazing Red blend is to let it breathe, for a while. Right away the alcohol content is overpowering, and so it certainly needs to settle for a bit. On the nose, this wine presents with blackberry, spice, and lavender. The lavender aroma carries through to the palate, with jammy plum; oak and dark fruits finish out this wine. From start to finish, the lavender is present, too much so for my preference. The tannins are soft, the wine is fairly smooth and the finish does linger nicely. Varietals unknown, I suspect some Grenache given the herbaceous lavender flavor.
The Blazing Red could be a decent everyday wine, but for the price point of under $10, I do prefer Bogle wines or Maryhill’s Winemaker Red. If you would like to give this wine a try but don’t find yourself near a Total Wine & More store, you can purchase it online at http://www.totalwine.com for only $8.99.
WildHaven 2010 Blazing Red of the Columbia Valley: ★★☆☆☆ OK wine
Remember though, For every palate there is a wine, and for every wine there is a palate….
Have you tried this wine before? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Correction from a fellow wine enthusiast on March 30, 2013: Wild Haven is owned by Precept Wine, and not the Total Wine corporation.
“Precept Wine is a Seattle-based wine producer with vineyards, winemakers, wineries and tasting rooms across Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Precept Wine is the fastest growing wine company in the Northwest and the largest privately owned of its kind.”/em>
Thank you, Joe!