November 24, 2017

January Wine of the Month Club Tasting Notes

January, 2013vina-chocalan
Wine of the Month Club
Selections and tasting notes

Viña Chocalán has made a mission out of elevating Chilean wines to a level that will be recognized by the world as the equal of any.  They work toward this goal while maintaining a vision of sustainability and social responsibility.

The vineyard and winery is located in the Maipo Valley of Chile a mere 21 miles from the Pacific ocean.  Vines are planted at between 600 and 1,250 feet in elevation close to the Maipo River.  During the “maturity period” of the grapes daytime highs reach 82ºF and nighttime lows average 53ºF.  Average annual rainfall is only a bit over one foot.

The soils range from almost none over a solid bedrock on the hillsides to a mixture of granite and quartz over a sandy base at the foot of the neighboring mountain.  This infertile soil combined with low rainfall is actually an ideal scenario for grape production.  The stress experiences by the vines results in less fruit but the berries have more flavor and intensity.

Viña Chocalán averages about 75,000 cases annually, of which 80% is red and 20% is white.  From the standpoint of environmental responsibility, they bottle these wines in 70% recycled glass and have also been working for years to reduce the weight of the bottles thereby reducing the winery’s environmental footprint.

Viña Chocalán is rapidly becoming a player on the world stage of wine and the quality of these two wines reflects their commitment to the high standards they have set forth for themselves.

vina-chocalan-sauvignon-lgViña Chocalán
2011 Sauvignon Blanc
Maipo Valley, Chile

 Vinified from 100% Sauvignon Blanc from 18 year-old-vines grown in alluvial soils of sandy clay loam, this delightful wine has an alcohol content of 13.0%, a total acidity of 4.56 g/l and a residual sugar level of 0.83 g/l.

The grapes, which are subject to a morning mist and strong maritime influence due to proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Maipo River, were handpicked during the second week of March, 2011.

This wine is intensely aromatic and is bright yellow with green reflections.  It shows notes of citrus (particularly limes) and white peaches mixing with tropical fruits and followed by a smooth herbal finish.  It is very fresh on the palate, medium-bodied with rich acidity and a long finish.  Serve between 45 and 50ºF with seafood, cheese, oysters or salad.

Club price: $10.99 (Regular price: $12.99)

Viña Chocalánvina-chocalan-carmenere
2010 Carmènere
Maipo Valley, Chile

Composed of 85% Carmènere, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, this guy has some oomph!  It is made of grapes from 12-year-old vines that are grown in granitic, clay and loamy soil of medium depth where foggy mornings and a smooth breeze during the afternoon help to refresh the vines.

It has an alcohol content of 14.0%, a total acidity of 3.58 g/l and a residual sugar level of 2.43 g/l.  The grapes were hand-picked during the second week of May, 2010 and the must was initially fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Post-fermentation, 60% was aged for 8 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels while the remainder stayed in stainless.

The wine has a brilliant and deep ruby-red color.  Intense fruit aromas on the nose are confirmed on the palate along with mocha, tobacco, dark chocolate and black pepper.  It is medium-bodied with a pleasingly soft texture.  Serve around 62ºF with spicy stewed red meat, roast beef, grilled lamb or well-seasoned pork chops.

Club price: $10.99 (Regular price: $12.99)

To learn more about our Wine of the Month Club please click on this link:  Tinnell’s Wine of the Month Club

Adam Markham,
Beverage Manager
Tinnell’s Finer Foods

December Wine of the Month Tasting Notes

December, 2012
Wine of the Month Club
Selections and tasting notes

Featuring “The Best-of the Best” Wines!

Whereas my goal in November was to find the best possible Thanksgiving wines for you (within the price limits of the club), my task this month was to find the best wines I could get to our members for $15.00 or less. To give myself a little extra “breathing room” I decided (like last December) to give members $3.00 off per bottle instead of the usual $2.00.
Every month of the year I try and establish a theme of some sort: wines of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo; Southern France; unusual varietals from Argentina. These are a few from this past year. For November and December, however, I let go of those constraints and simply looked for the best wines PERIOD regardless of origin. Consequentially, this month’s offerings are quite different from each other… a Semilllon from Washington State and an Argentine Malbec!
I would estimate that every month I taste over 100 wines. Very few of these are brought into our wine program here at Tinnell’s and even fewer make the cut as a Wine of the Month. When it comes to December I practically drive myself and my wine reps nuts tasting, re-tasting and narrowing down the possibilities. I am quite pleased with this month’s choices and, as usual, I would love to hear what you think. When you are next in the store please hunt me down and give me feedback on this (or any) month’s Club selections. Your input will only help me continue to improve Tinnell’s Wine of the Month Club as we move forward together!
Happy Holidays and Many Thanks,

L’Ecole No. 41 2010 Semillon
Columbia Valley, Washington

L’Ecole has been making Semillon since 1983 and is recognized in the industry as one of the top producers of this varietal. Few Semillons show their richness and complexity as those produced in Washington State. Cool harvest nights help to ensure crisp natural acidity, making this a wonderful food pairing wine.
Remarkably brilliant with vibrant fruit and balanced acidity, this wine shows fragrant citrus blossom and honey aromas, with pretty layers of lemon bar, apricot and keylime expanding on a balanced finish. Pair with grilled or sautéed seafood, cheeses or a simple French salad.
This wine is a blend of 86% Semillon and 14% Sauvignon Blanc, the two most common grapes use in the production of Bordeaux Blanc. Bottled in June 2011 and released in January of this year, it has an acidity level of 6.4 g/l and an alcohol by volume of 14.5%.

Club price: $14.99 (Regular price: $17.99)

Benegas S.A. 2010 Estate Vineyards Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina

This wine is made from grapes grown in the “La Encerrada” Vineyard located at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Uco Valley, Mendoza at an altitude of 4,750 feet. The high altitude, the pure thaw water coming from the Andes for irrigation, the unique soil, and the selection of the best grapes all result in this elegant, immense but balanced Malbec.

Here’s what Mendoza Malbec is all about. From organic vineyards and older vines, this wine opens with a pure perfume of plum and raspberry fruit with floral and spice accents. Round and complexly textured and flavored in the mouth, the fruit stays in the front with accents of stone, coffee, and cocoa. It displays a long and lingering finish over sweet, ripe, tannins. An extraordinary value!

Club price: $14.99 (Regular price: $17.99)

For information on the Wine of the Month Club please visit this link: Tinnell’s Wine of the Month Club


Adam Markham,
Beverage Manager – Tinnell’s Finer Foods
540.345.7334 –

November Wine of the Month Club Selections Have Arrived at Tinnell’s Finer Foods!

November, 2012 Wine of the Month Club Selections and Tasting notes

Featuring “Happy Thanksgiving” Wines!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

What is the perfect Thanksgiving wine?  Choosing a perfect wine to pair with Thanksgiving meals can seem like a daunting task.  The variety of textures and tastes often leave one wondering what the ideal choice might be.  For me the perfect pairings are a Pinot Noir and a dry to semi-dry Riesling.

Pinot Noir, by its very nature lighter than most reds, features good fruit flavors accompanied by a deep earthiness which lends itself to natural pairing with turkey and ham as well as with most typical holiday side dishes.  In particular, it teams up beautifully with fall vegetables, squashes and cranberries.

Riesling, on the other hand, is typified by a bracing acidity followed up by beautiful fruit and mineral undertones.  This combination (combined with affordability) makes Riesling one of the best food wines on Earth.  Salty appetizers, cheese-based dishes, sweet potatoes, maple glaze on the turkey – Riesling handles them all equally well.

Our goal this year – within the price constraints of the Wine of the Month Club – was to find the best wines possible for the Thanksgiving table.  We are very happy to present these two wines to you and highly recommend that you save them for your family’s Thanksgiving celebration!

Waimea Estates 2009 Takutai Riesling
Nelson, New Zealand

Takutai Riesling

Takutai Riesling

Waimea Estates is one of Nelson’s largest producers with over 140 hectares (345 acres) of their own vineyards.  The cool climate and alluvial soils of Nelson’s Waimea plains combined with the longest sunshine hours in New Zealand allow vibrant, fruit-focused wines to be made.  Waimea’s export varieties are based on highly awarded Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and Waimea has now gathered 99 Gold Medals and 20 Trophies across seven different wine styles – proving the versatility Waimea and the Nelson region provides.

 For the Takutai (“ta-coo-tie”) Riesling, sweet floral aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle mingle with lime and wild honey above a background of mandarin and candied apple.  A very faint touch of residual sweetness makes this wine quite versatile.  You will find what sweetness there is to be beautifully balanced by a bright acidity followed by a mineral-driven edge and a long finish.  The perfect Riesling for Thanksgiving!

 Club price: $13.99 (Regular price: $15.99)

Kingston Family Vineyards 2008 Tobiano Pinot Noir
Casablanca Valley, Chile

Tobiano Pinot Noir

Tobiano Pinot Noir

This Chilean family winery continually makes some of the best vinos Chilenos (Chilean wines) around.  Tobiano is a blend of different parcels within the greater Kingston vineyard, those which meet their standards but aren’t used for their top bottling, “Alazan.”  According to Courtney Kingston, her wines show a “gout de Casablanca,” a distinctly smoky and mineral tinged quality which she believes mark her red wines.  If you’re looking for a Pinot with a wonderful balance between fruit, mineral and earthy/savory flavors, then look no further.  According to Wine Enthusiast: “Common but clean aromas of tea and black cherry give this fuller-bodied Pinot a good start.  The palate is semi-soft and plump, with ripe, fat, black fruit flavors of plum and black tea.  A meaty, round wine with good acidity and structure.”

 Club price: $14.99 (Regular price: $16.99)

For information on the Wine of the Month Club please visit this link: Tinnell’s Wine of the Month Club 

Adam Markham, Beverage Manager,
Tinnell’s Finer Foods – 540.345.7334 –

Lambstock 2012! (Part II)


Mr. Les Moore

Mr. Les Moore

Earlier I had met a gentleman named Les Moore who, like me, was at the event to provide a little musical interlude or two.  Les and his lovely wife “Cookie” relocated to Patrick Springs from St. Louis.  With his porkpie hat he certainly looked the part of an authentic bluesman.  Deciding that perhaps it was time to start earning our keep, Les and I broke out our guitars and played acoustically for a bit.  He has a beautifully slappy fingerpicked style that intersperses blues chords and jazz formations.  I played lead with him for a while to some old standards and covers from artists such as Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder.  Later I got up on stage with my guitar and Les accompanied me with some artfully played harmonica.  Much thanks is extended to Les for the privilage of his musical company.

About this time they lit the bonfire.  When I say “bonfire” that doesn’t begin to convey the scope of this thing.  The basis was two three-quarter ton hay rolls,

Making Charcoal from the Bones of Lamb!

one stacked on top of the other.  Against this was leaned a perimeter of tree trunks about sixteen feet long and ranging from four to ten inches in diameter.  The whole mass was lit using a welding “rosebud” attached to a large propane tank.  When this gadget was fired up it sounded like (and essentially was) a flamethrower.  As an interesting sidenote to the fire, I had earlier noticed a 55 gallon steel drum in the remnants of the previous night’s conflagration.  Upon enquiring I was told the drum was full of lamb bones in a low-oxygen environment.  They were literally turning the bones into charcoal to use for grilling other foods later in the event!

Just to make sure noone went hungry while the spitted lamb was cooking, Rappahanock River Oysters was on hand shucking freshly harvested bi-valves as quickly as the crowd could possibly slurp them down.  If you have ever had half-shells at Lucky in downtown Roanoke then you are familiar with the unbelieveable quality of these oysters.  I have honestly never had better in my entire life.  They were accompanied by a remarkable okra mignonette whipped up by Chef Johnson of The Grocery.

Rappahanock River Oysters

Then the dinner bell rang.  Not only was the filleted lamb served in all its succulent glory, but there were slow-cooked and smoked lamb ribs, smoked heritage turkeys (also raised by Border Springs Farm) and there was pork belly.  Not just any pork belly either.  This stuff was bone-in and skin-on had been smoked throughout the previous day.  It was then slow grilled until the skin turned into golden cracklings.  I have rarely been more excited about a piece of pig flesh in my life and, believe me, I have been plenty excited.  In the overwhelming mass of gorgeous food, however, I forgot about the belly!  This will go down in my life as one that got away.  Amongst the various desserts was a multi-layered chocolate cake baked by a winner of a Food Network Cake Challenge.

Oh Glorious, Glorious Pork Belly…

All in all, Lambstock was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my culinary experience.  I have already been given the nod for next year’s event and await only a firm date to ink it in my calendar… I am counting the days!




Lamb Fresh off the Spit!

Lambstock 2012! (Part I)

Lambstock 2012

Man… talk about being in the right place at the right time!  Two weeks ago I was playing a guitar gig at Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur, Virginia.  The owner, Diane Flynt, asked me if I had heard of a gentleman named Craig Rogers.  Nope…  I had, however, heard of Rogers’ business, Border Springs Farm.  For over a decade Border Springs has been supplying some of the world’s best lamb to chefs all over the country.  In fact, there are very few food purveyors out there who can boast of a customer list like Rogers’: it reads like a virtual who’s-who of the culinary world.

Diane proceeded to tell me about this event thingy called “Lambstock” and how Rogers had had two bands cancel on him for the event.  She thought I might be interested.  Lambstock (I learned) is an under-the-radar foodie dream: a celebration of all things lamb with a bit of pork, heritage turkey and other delectables thrown in.  No amount of money can buy you a ticket – you have to be personally invited by Rogers.  The guest list is almost entirely industry insiders: chefs, butchers, food purveyors, brewers, winemakers, cider-makers (like Flynt) and, just for fun, musicians (lucky me!)  Yes, I believe I am interested.  After a lengthy phone conversation with Craig wherein he determined that I wasn’t some kook and was not only qualified musically but, perhaps even more importantly, I “got it” – the “zen” of Lambstock… I was in!

Lamb Corndogs!

Upon arrival my equipment and I were shuttled via golf cart to the stage area.  After unpacking I ventured down to the pavilion where most were gathered to check out the goings on.  My initial priority was to snag a beer.  Fullsteam Brewery in Durham was there pouring Fullsteam Southern Lager and the delicious “Summer Basil” Farmhouse Ale.  I settled on the ale.  Also pouring were Foggy Ridge Cider and Cardinal Point Winery.  In addition, the Virginia Wine Board was on hand pouring offerings from a dozen or so outstanding examples of Virginia wineries.

Beer in hand, I surveyed the goings-on.  The first thing I see is Chef Rob McDaniel from the Springhouse restaurant in Alexander City, Alabama.  McDaniel appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America back in February as Sous Chef to Chris Hastings (incidentally, during the battle they vanquished Iron Chef Bobby Flay).  Rob and his crew were carefully constructing a fire in order to smoke handmade lamb sausages.  After that they put a stick in them and battered and deep fried ’em… LAMB CORNDOGS!  They were absolutely remarkable and served with whole-grain mustard, harrissa, tzatziki and a homemade peach hot sauce.  That was just a little snack.

Pork Charcuterie

I then took a venture into the realm of the pig.  Kevin Johnson, Executive Chef at The Grocery in Charleston, South Carolina produced a wonderful assortment of porcine goodies: I enjoyed a pork liver mousse, pork liver terrine and pork head cheese all served with okra and green bean pickles and a butterbean hummus that was truly one of the best bites I had all day.  There was also a beautiful posole.  While traditionally a hominy and pork stew, this version was made with not only pork but with a handmade lamb chorizo as well.  It was purported to be the best hangover cure ever.  My visit was for Monday only so I had no need of the cure but several of the party-goers who had been there since Saturday evidently enjoyed its benefits greatly.

Next I witnessed a feat that was truly remarkable.  Chef Craig Deihl of Cypress Restaurant in Charlston, South Carolina brought out a field-dressed whole lamb carcass and proceeded to filet the entire thing.  In one piece.  In front of the whole crowd.  Without making any mistakes.  It was beautiful to watch.  He then added fresh rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil and rolled and tied it into one big roulade about three feet long and eight inches in diameter.  He put it on a spit and hung it high above the fire to roast for the next four hours.  Meanwhile he rendered out the fat from the trimmings and used the animal’s own fat (infused with oregano) to baste it during the long, slow cooking process.


NEXT WEEK:  Music, oysters, and charcoaled lamb bones!

Filleted Whole Lamb


Tinnell’s Prepared Foods

Tinnell's Finer Foods

Tinnell’s Finer Foods

I know you are all familiar with Tinnell’s ham biscuits.  Undoubtedly you are all also familiar with our pimento cheese… right?  However, other than these two delectable comestibles, do you know about the wide array of prepared foods and side dishes we offer here at Tinnell’s Finer Foods?

If you are in a hurry on your way home you can pick up (depending on the day) cooked babyback ribs, rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, boneless or bone-in chicken wings or chicken fingers.  On various days we also offer cooked New York strips and roasted salmon.

If you have a few minutes to cook then consider Tinnell’s famous crab cakes – both “everyday” and “jumbo-lump” varieties, salmon croquettes, chicken kabobs or filet mignon kabobs.

We have chicken salads: Thai, Cousin Laurie’s and traditional.  We have ham salad, tuna salad, seafood salad, egg salad, deviled

Tinnell's Specialty Foods

Tinnell’s Specialty Foods!

egg potato salad, pasta salad, zesty bow tie pasta salad, Rusty’s bean salad and pistachio salad.  For side dishes we have a feta-olive past “toss”, roasted veggie pasta blend, roasted baby potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes with maple seasoning, macaroni & cheese, roasted Fuji apples, stewed okra and tomatoes, cole slaw, broccoli cole slaw and carrot raisin slaw.

Of course we have our world-famous ham biscuits and our equally well-known pimento cheese (as well it’s “south-western cousin”, the Tex-Mex pimento cheese!)  We have cheese slaw, roasted tomato bruschetta, black bean dip, trout dip and crab dip.

We also have dessert!  You may choose from banana pudding, Casey’s mud pie, “Ultimate” chocolate cake, Kentucky-bourbon pecan pie or turtle cheesecake.

In short, whatever your mood, time availability or victual propensity Tinnell’s Finer Foods has what you are looking for.  Swing on

Tinnell's Crab Cakes

Tinnell’s Crab Cakes

by this evening and check it out for yourself!

Tinnell’s WIne of the Month Club July Tasting Notes

Here are the tasting notes for the June selections for Tinnell’s Finer Foods Wine of the Month Club!  For more information on the Club please click HERE, give us a call or email our Beverage Manager, Adam Markham at!

July, 2012
Wine of the Month Club
Selections and tasting notes


Michael David Winery

Michael David Winery


The Phillips family has been farming since Great, Great Grandfather Andrew Harshner and his wife Lucille homesteaded 160 acres near the town of Lodi, following the Civil War in the 1860′s. The region’s natural affinity for grape growing quickly became evident, and by the turn of the century (the last one), twenty-five percent of California’s grape acreage was in Lodi. A generation later saw the demise of many pioneering wineries in the state.

Originally devoted to vegetables, the Phillips’ farms evolved to include many different fruits, including fifteen different wine varietals that were shipped throughout the country during Prohibition with instructions on “how not to have the grapes turn into wine”. Thereby, Prohibition was good for Lodi growers, with families everywhere keeping up the tradition of wine with meals by ordering these grapes and “juice” to be bottled at home.

In 1984, Michael Phillips began a commercial winery on the family plot and five years later was joined by his brother David. Michael (who is a 5th generation Lodi grape grower) farmed with his father helping with grape harvesting. After graduating from U.C. Davis, Michael began planting vineyards of varietals not typical of Lodi and began winemaking through the production of small lots as a home winemaker. After nearly a decade of refining his techniques of winemaking, Michael, with the support of his father, decided to establish a bonded winery.

David grew up in the vineyards of the family Homestead, driving tractors and selling the farms produce at farmers markets and the local family fruit stands. After graduating from U.C Davis, David worked for an International cork company, importing corks from Portugal and marketing them to wineries throughout Northern California. David returned to Lodi in 1989 to work full time with his brother Michael. Together they started to increase production of their wines. David oversaw the early distribution and growth of the wines, starting with 1 distributor in Chicago in 1999 and growing to all 50 states by 2004. David travels often promoting the wines around the country, and now numerous export markets including Sweden, China, and Canada.

Michael David winery

2010 “incognito” white

Incognito White

Incognito White

This wine was awarded “Best Rhone in the World” as a Roussanne at the 2000 Los Angeles International Wine Competition. However, using DNA testing, U.C. Davis later determined that this unique grape is a rare clone of Viognier that mysteriously appeared in California during the past decade and is not, in fact, a Roussanne after all. The phantom clone originated somewhere in the Chateauneuf du Pape region of the Rhone Valley in France, then mistakenly sold to Lodi grower – the talented Mr. Ripkin – as Roussanne, who, finally, sold the resulting grapes to Michael David Winery. The rest is history!

Ripe and crammed with fruit this wine has aromatics of honey, citrus, apricots, and summer melons. This full bodied wine is pure and unoaked, leaving only the expressions of the blended varietals showing.

“Best of Class” – 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

2009 “incognito” red

Incognito Red

Incognito Red

Unmask the true identity of this alluring wine. A field blend of primarily Rhone varietals, these grapes are grown in the Lodi Appellation, with its warm days and cool summer nights. This Rouge blend changes every vintage using very mysterious Rhone style varietals. Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Carignane are regulars to the bottle’s enticement, but really, the only thing you can be sure of is that the contents will please your palate.

This vintage’s blend is 40% Syrah, 25% Cinsault and smaller percentages of other varieties. It’s an oaky, cedar-tinged, gamy red that’s big in the mouth, dense and tannic with Michael David’s smoky signature.

Club price: $14.99 (Regular price: $16.99)



Adam Markham,
Beverage Manager
Tinnell’s Finer Foods
2205 Crystal Spring Avenue, SW
Roanoke, Virginia 24095

WHAT?!?!? You’ve Never Tried Tinnell’s Pimento Cheese?

Pimento Cheese

Tinnell’s Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese.  We’ve all had it.  We all love it.  On the face of things, however, it seems to be a pretty simple affair: some cheese, mayo, canned pimentos.  Oh, but think again Dear Reader!  If you have never tried the pimento cheese at Tinnell’s Finer Foods you will not believe the difference!For decades now our pimento cheese has been the number one selling item in the store, and for good reason.  This stuff is DELICIOUS and unlike any you have ever tasted.  Last Christmas alone we shipped orders to Chicago and Manhattan and it is not at all uncommon for out-of-town folks to stop by the store on their way through Roanoke because they remember it from 10 or more years ago!

Tinnell's Finer Foods

Tinnell’s Finer Foods

How did this all start?  Kitty Tinnell – wife of our founder Russell “Buddy” Tinnell (and grandmother of our current owner, Rett Ward) – had a recipe for pimento cheese that was just a little bit different in composition from more traditional formulas but oh, what a difference that little change made (before you ask: no… if we told you we would have to kill you)!  At the time she was attending what was then known as Radford College and decided to start selling the product to help underwrite her tuition.  She ended up entirely putting herself through college with sales of her delectable cheese spread!  Naturally, her devoted husband decided if it it was good enough for Radford… and the rest is history!

Kitty Tinnell

Kitty Tinnell

Get this: last year Tinnell’s sold 6,590 pounds of Pimento cheese.  That is more than 3 TONSof the stuff!!!  These days we make it at least four times a week and produce not only the original recipe but a “Tex-Mex” version as well, to which we add jalepenos.  Please, PLEASE do yourself a favor.  If you are one of the few who don’t yet know the joy of Kitty’s Pimento Cheese swing on by and ask for a sample… it will be a revelation!

Russell "Buddy" Tinnell (on right)

Russell “Buddy” Tinnell (on right)

Sean Minor Four Bears Chardonnay at Tinnell’s

When we brought it in we never imagined!

Four Bears Chardonnay

When we first tasted it we obviously loved the Four Bears Chardonnay from Sean Minor Wines but never imagined it would become our best-selling wine so quickly!  In the last three months alone we have sold more bottles of this delightful well-balanced Chardonnay than we sold of almost any wine in all of 2011 and there is good reason.  To paraphrase the Sean Minor tasting notes: The 2010 “Four Bears” Chardonnay (named after Sean’s four children) is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes grown in the Central Coast appellation of California and is a golden straw color.  It displays aromas of pears, apples and orange blossoms with subtle notes of toast and butter.  On the entry, green apple acidity integrates well with a medium body mid palate mouth feel.  The apricot, green apple and marmalade toast flavors evolve into a hint of minerality that adds complexity to the finish.

Many of our customers tell us “I don’t like Chardonnay” and I believe them.  The judicious use of oak in Chardonnay production is a beautiful thing, much like the use of hot peppers when cooking.  What happens when you use too many peppers?  The result ends up being unpalatable (well… for most of us anyway)!  For years, many winemakers in California were guilty of producing Chardonnays that were ridicul0usly oaky.  There was so much wood in these things that drinking one was more akin to sucking on a popsicle stick than to drinking a glass of fine wine.  While the public (due to demand) was as responsible for this trend as the winemakers were, I believe in the long run it did more to hurt the reputation of Chard than it did to popularize it.  I remember the first time I brought home a lovely unoaked Chablis to my wife Kendall and she said she “didn’t like Chards”.  When she tasted it it was a revelation to her: “It tastes like fruit!”

The Four Bears Chardonnay, while oaked, is perfectly balanced.  It does indeed taste like it is made from fruit instead of the wooden pallets the fruit was shipped on!  If you “don’t like Chardonnay” do yourself a favor: try a bottle of this stuff – I think it will change your tune!  Here are the notes from Winemakers Will Bucklin and Sean Minor himself:  “Our Chardonnay fruit was 100% whole-cluster pressed to minimize astringency from the skins and immediately racked to stainless steel. Once settled, a portion was fermented in small French oak barrels while the remaining lot was left in stainless steel tanks to ferment. The slow and cool fermentation allowed the wine to develop a balance of ripe tropical fruit flavors and crisp apple and mineral nuances. Once primary fermentation was completed, a portion of the wine went through malo-lactic fermentation which softens the wine and provides a perfect balance.”  The ABV (alcohol by volume) racks in at 13.5% and the pH at 3.53.

In a nutshell?  This stuff is delicious.  And as if that weren’t enough, you can pick it up at Tinnell’s Finer Foods for only $11.99 (or buy a case and get it for $10.79)!  I often tell my customers that if this wine sold for $15.00 a bottle it would still be a bargain and I mean it…  Swing by Tinnell’s, pick some up for yourself and see!

ZUMMO! Tinnell’s Has Freshly-Squeezed Orange Juice!


Whoo-hooo!  We have been waiting like expectant parents and it is finally here: the Zummo Orange Juicer (CLICK HERE FOR NIFTY VIDEO)!

The Zummo is the latest and greatest state-of-the-art citrus juicer available on the planet.  Manufactured in Valencia, Spain (the orange captal of Europe), the Zummo is the only juicer available on the market that prevents any of the bitter oils from the zest or pith of the orange from getting in the juice.  The end result is an orange juice that is absolutely sublime!  It is lower in acid and sweeter than any commercially available orange juice and, being an unpasturized product, it hasn’t been “cooked” so it is a much fresher, more flavorful product (the lack of paturization does, however, limit the juice’s shelf life to 3 days).  The Zummo also has the distinction of being the only orange juice pressing machine in the world to have achieved “ISO14001” green acredidation.

Zummo Citrus Juicer

Zummo Citrus Juicer at Tinnell’s Finer Foods


Although these machines are ubiquitous in Europe, their presence in the U.S. is mostly limited to large metropolitan areas.  Until now, as far as we know, the closest one to the Roanoke Valley is in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The owner of Tinnell’s Finer Foods – Rett Ward – has had an interest in getting one of these machines since he purchase the neighborhood grocery from his Grandmother in 2000.  The final decision to purchase one was made when Ward recently attended the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago this past May.  When he saw one operating “up close and personal” he knew we needed one at Tinnell’s!  It arrived June 14th and we started selling juice on Friday the 15th… the response is tremendous!

We use boxes of fresh Valencia juicing oranges.  While Valencias are known for their flavor and inherant sweetnesss, the special “juicing” variety has an even sweeter, fresher-tasting profile and yields a better product.  We are picking them up fresh every week and are making the juice on a daily basis in order to ensure the best juice possible.  Currently we are selling half-gallon containers for $8.99.  We will also be offering quart and pint sized containers in the immediate future.