November 24, 2017

November Wine of the Month

It’s time to strap in for fall, which of course brings our favorite feasting holiday: Thanksgiving! I’ve picked out a couple bottles perfect for that turkey, or way before then.

Zaca MesaZaca Mesa Viognier 2012

2012 Estate Viognier

Santa Ynez Valley, California

Sustainably farmed grapes that are 100% estate grown, produced and bottled; under 3,500 cases made! Zaca Mesa started growing Rhone varieties in 1978 when they were the first to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara County. The soils are Chamise Loam and Chamise Shaly Loam; well-drained over gravelly beds of silt, clay, shale, etc. at elevations of 1,500ft with cool nights for natural acidity. This translates into a Viognier that is not too perfume-y, but with an enticingly fantastic nose.

Hand harvested then halfway fermented in stainless steel, then finishing in neutral French oak barrels at least 10yrs old for 3 months. This was enough time to build body, but stopped before any Malolactic nuttiness could take shape. It’s a perfect balance of time to give this wine a backbone, but retain its citrus brightness.

With honeysuckle and white peach aromas, and a palate of apricot, lemon-lime, melon, lychee, and a lingering minerality, this is a fantastic selection for Thanksgiving dinner!

Club price: $14.99

(Regular price: $16.99)



Morgon Cote du Py Gamay 2012Morgon

2012 Cote du Py Gamay
Burgundy, France

In the spirit of Beaujolais Nouveau Day (November 20th), this month’s red will feature the star grape, Pinot Noir’s cousin: Gamay Noir!

The house of Albert Bichot has been producing wine in Burgundy since 1831. The winery is operated today by a sixth-generation member of the family.

Bichot produces a vast array of reds and whites from many locations throughout Burgundy, including the Beaujolais appellation between Beaune and Lyon. Here, the favored varietal, Gamay, is transformed into wines of delightful fruitiness and elegance.

Albert Bichot Morgon Bourgogne has a deep and bright garnet-red color. Fresh, it is very true to type, with silicious and sandy soil minerality and floral notes of iris and carnation, cherry & kirsch. Its body is fat and full with earthy, meaty, tart fruit lends the wines fine structure, and the modest tannins hang in to the end.

Club price: $13.49

(Regular price: $15.49)


Join us 4pm-7pm Friday, November 5th to give these wines a try!

October’s Wine of the Month: Virginia Wine Month!

October is Virginia Wine Month! Hooray! I know most wine connoisseurs will groan, but Virginia’s wine has been steadily improving. The best selections remain far above the Wine of the Month’s promised price ceiling, but there are still some I dug up for you all.

Horton Vineyards are in Gordonsville; a mere 17mi NE of Charlottesville. Wine lover and entrepreneur Dennis Horton began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County in 1983. After researching in the Rhone valley, he and longtime business partner Joan Bieda acquired 55 acres for the beginning of Horton Vineyards in 1988. From there they continued to plant European grapes well suited for our warm Virginian summers with humid conditions that favor growing grapes with thick skins and loose clusters. Horton’s Tannat won gold in the Governor’s Cup this year, so we should delve into their other varietals!

Horton RkatsiteliHorton Vineyards

2013 Rkatsiteli

Orange County, Virginia

Still very rare in the U.S. but one of Horton’s most popular wines, Rkatsiteli produces an aromatic white wine redolent of orange zest and honeysuckle.  This varietal is native to Georgia, and is the most widely planted grape in Russia, thus the image of St. Basil’s Cathedral on the back label. The nose is cloyingly sweet, yet the bright fruit on the front of the palate gives way to a citrusy mineral finish. Its light to medium light body makes it a delightful surprise. Just say R-Kats!

Club price: $13.99

(Regular price: $15.99)


Horton Cabernet FrancHorton Vineyards

2013 Cabernet Franc
Orange County, Virginia

The red that is best suited for Virginia’s climate, Bordeaux varietal Cabernet Franc is the perfect choice for the month of October.

Aromas of violets and tar combine with spicy oak flavors in this robust wine. Horton Cabernet Franc is the first produced in the United States using the traditional blending variety, Tannat. The result is a wine with a firm structure and a spicy finish. The wine is 100% steel fermented and then barrel aged (new and once used American & French oak) for 18 months.

The nose is fantastic and pulls you in. Strong spice and soft tannins make this a mellow red, and with a balanced acidity, it’s perfect for the fall. Horton calls this their “pasta wine,” and I’d have to agree!

Club price: $12.99

(Regular price: $14.99)


Andrea Shank

Beverage Manager

Tinnell’s Finer Foods


September Wine of the Month

Happy Labor Day!

Now that September is here, it’s time for a new wine of the month; I know it will be hard to beat last month’s choices, so hopefully you like these California selections!

Ancient Peaks Winery’s estate Margarita Vineyard stands alone as the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles region, tucked beneath the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean with fault lines running right through, providing five distinct soil zones. It resides in the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, which was first planted to vines by Franciscan missionaries in 1780. The ranch is one of the oldest continuously operated cattle ranches in the state of California. Their practices have earned SIP (Sustainability in Practice) Certification for Margarita Vineyard, including deficit irrigation, natural cover crops, wildlife corridors, rotational groundwater usage, wetlands preservation and the use of compost tea in place of synthetic fertilizers. They also manage vineyard pests naturally by promoting habits for native predators.

Ancient Peaks Winery

2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Paso Robles, California

Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc

The 2013 vintage comes from Margarita Vineyard, where the vines occupy rocky sedimentary soils that vary in density, elevation and exposure.

An authentic Sauvignon Blanc that reflects the cooler growing conditions, Ancient Peaks offers refreshing aromas of pear, gooseberry and citrus with a suggestion of jasmine and mineral. A full palate unfolds with rounded flavors of peach, grapefruit and guava. Notes of lime zest add lift to a clean, quenching finish. 100% Sauvignon Blanc that ages 4 months in stainless steel.

Club price: $12.99 (Regular price: $14.99)


Ancient Peaks Winery

2012 Merlot
Paso Robles, California

Ancient Peaks Merlot

Merlot excels at the estate Margarita Vineyard and has been a mainstay in their small family of wines since day one. Here, ancient sea bed soils combine with a long growing season to yield a Merlot with silky dark fruit flavors and a luscious texture, resulting in what has become one of the Paso Robles region’s most notable Merlots.

The 2012 has won the gold medals for “Best of Merlot” at the Central Coast Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition, where it was also awarded 90pts.

This blend of Merlot 85%, Malbec 13%, and Cabernet Sauvignon 2% was aged for 18 months in a combination of French (65%) and American (35%) oak barrels, 25 percent of which featured new oak.

A Cab-lover’s Merlot, the 2012 presents ample aromas of blueberry and plum with hints of vanilla, tobacco and baking spice. The palate is round and velvety, offering flavors of cherry, blackberry and mocha. Notes of oak and cinnamon join plump tannins on a rich, juicy finish.


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


Be sure to pick yours up and join us Friday (September 5th) to taste these new wines!

February Wine of the Month Club

Selections and tasting notes
Featuring selections from Sonoma

Balletto Vineyards
2010 Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay
Russian River Valley, California

Balletto Unoaked Chardonnay

Balletto Unoaked Chardonnay

It’s not often that tank-fermented Chardonnay delivers the depth and texture of Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay.  This rich and diverse wine has bright fruit aromas and a nicely balanced mouth feel.  The complex bouquet includes key lime, lemon peel, peaches and apricots which it certainly delivers upon drinking.  The crisp tartness complements the wine’s natural viscosity and creates balance and elegance.  Lemon-lime flavors then kick in for a long, citrusy finish that lasts several minutes and begs for the next sip.  Taken altogether, the aromas and mouth feel create a distinct style of Chardonnay that is made to highlight the grape itself and not the oak and malolactic aromas found in Chardonnay fermented and aged in oak barrels.

This wine is extremely versatile with food. It is textured and plush enough to compliment rich seafood like lobster, crab and scallops, but also has a crisp acidity and fruit flavors that can pair nicely with more diverse flavors like grilled pork tenderloin with a fresh apple reduction sauce.

The grapes for this wine were grown at Balletto’s Occidental Road Vineyard next to the winery and tasting room.  Known as Block A10½, the vines are planted with the “Robert Young Clone 17” clone of Chardonnay. Every year, this block produces a tropical juice that becomes Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay.

At Balletto Vineyards they farm more than 500 acres of wine grapes in the Russian River Valley and select the best 10 percent of these grapes to ferment and bottle under the Balletto label. It’s one of the many ways they maintain the high quality of their wines.

 Club price: $14.49 (Regular price: $16.49)

Highway 12

Highway 12

Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery
2010 Sonoma Red Blend
Sonoma valley, California

In keeping with Highway 12’s winemaking tradition and notoriety for Red Blends, this 2010 release showcases a marvelous varietal and vineyard composition that delivers once again.  Comprised of 77% Merlot, 12%, Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Sirah, the result is a wine that balances power and elegance.  A stunningly vibrant bouquet sets up the entry to a dense and complex wine.  This is where the power takes form showcasing developed tannins and flavors of cherry, chocolate and blackberry.  The ‘jammy-ness’ lingers on the mid-palate for some time leading to a velvety softness on the finish.

Structurally, each varietal component contributes to this wine; Merlot from the Sonoma Valley ‘banana belt’ gives incredible depth and base, while the Cabernet Franc is responsible for the subtle earthy tones and soft mouth feel.  The Cabernet Sauvignon offers the perfect amount of bright acidity which is true to its source in the southern Sonoma Valley.

 Vineyard selection for the Sonoma Red Blend brings together various micro-climates.  This release showcases the mid-Sonoma Valley intensity of Valley’s ‘banana belt’ and the cooler southern reaches.  Each varietal is crushed, fermented and aged separately and blended after 18 months of barrel aging in French oak to achieve the optimal flavor profile.

The winemaking process focuses on minimal intervention of the wine during aging to allow the truest of the varietal characteristics to shine.  This philosophy results in a wine that purely represents the traditional style of the vineyards in Sonoma Wine Country.

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

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

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!

Tinnell’s Wine of the Month Club Tasting Notes for June!

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!

Bodegas Tapiz “Spirit of the Andes” Sparkling TorrontesTupungato, Mendoza, Argentina

To quote Bodegas Tapiz: “Going green never tasted so good!”

Spirit of the Andes Sparkling Torrontes

Spirit of the Andes Sparkling Torrontes

This delightful wine is produced in Las Uvas Organic Vineyard (high-altitude at 4,430’), in Tupungato, Mendoza.  The winery earned the GLOBAL G.A.P. (Global Partnership for Good Agricultural Practice) certification and was rewarded the Gold Medal for Sustainable Practices at the 2011 Best of Mendoza / Great Wine Capitals Awards.

 The winemaker, Fabian Valenzuela crafts this incredibly unique wine from 100% Torrontés Riojano using the Methode Champenoise.  The juice is initially fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Once in the bottle, yeasts are added to start the secondary fermentation where it is aged approximately 12 months sur lie or ‘on lees’ (the deposits of dead residual yeast) adding depth and creaminess to the texture.  After disgorgement just enough tirage is added to maintain an “extra brut” designation followed by immediate placement of the natural cork and wire muzzle.

This is a truly delightful and surprising sparkler with persistent and fresh bubbles.  Citrus and floral aromas are followed on the palate by more of the same accompanied by a pleasant acidity.  While this wine is technically bone dry, the aromatic qualities of Torrontés help to round out the palate.

 Alcohol: 12.8% ABV; Residual Sugar: 0.5%; Total Production: 560 cases

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

Manos Negras 2008 Pinot Noir – Nequen, Patagonia, Argentina (90 points:  Robert Parker, October, 2010)

Argentina and Chile’s winemaking regions stretch for one and a half thousand miles north to south along the Andes.  Each latitude possesses a unique terroir with singular combinations

Manos Negras Pinot Noir

Manos Negras Pinot Noir

of soil and temperature which are ideally suited for different varietals.  Manos Negras focuses on “latitude winemaking”.  With an average vineyard altitude of 1,500 feet and located at almost 39°S, vinification under these conditions has been described as “extreme winemaking”.  As they say at Manos Negras, “Real winemakers get their hands dirty.  Hands black with wine.  That’s what Manos Negras is all about.  Rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty.  That’s how we make these hand-crafted wines.”

Made with hand-picked grapes from a 100% sustainably-farmed vineyard in the municipality of Añelo in Neuquen Province, Argentina, the 2008 Manos Negras Pinot Noir is made from grapes sourced from selected lots within a twelve year old, fifty hectare vineyard.  After picking the grapes undergo a double manual sorting followed by a 6 day cold maceration and an 8 day fermentation (all with naturally-occurring indigenous yeasts) at a maximum temperature of 75°.  The result is then aged in 100% French oak, 20% of which is new.

 This extremely terroir-driven wine is a vivid reddish violet in color with touches of medium cherry red around the edges, it has a nose that gives a slight floral lift with a touch of earthy minerals (reflective of the clay and heaver iron laden soils) followed by bright red fruits, cinnamon and clove.  The palate plays upon Pinot Noir’s seductive elegance, featuring a soft suppleness to the texture.  Red fruits such as strawberry and cherry abound with surprising depth and length and, like the aromas, they are accompanied by spice.  All in all, this is an exceptional wine with a soft, supple texture that, with aeration, seems to really open up and broaden across the mid palate.  It should only continue to get better over the next couple of years.

Real winemakers get their hands dirty.  Hands black with wine.  That’s what Manos Negras is all about.  Rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty.  That’s how we make these hand-crafted wines.

Alcohol: 14.0% ABV; Residual Sugar: 0.24%; Total Production: 2000 cases

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