Whenever someone messages me looking for wine of course I suggest our local wine bars and stores as we all support locally owned businesses. However, if they are looking for a larger selection then they simply must go to BevMo. There really isn’t any other option for us locals. And lucky us we have two to choose from in the Santa Clarita Valley. I happen to choose the one in Stevenson Ranch, on the Old Road, as I’ve been successful finding what I need there from spirits to wine.
Lucky me again when fellow wine writer, Carl Kanowsky, invited me to join him for a tasting with store manager Brian Ilvento and Wine Specialist Doug Characky a few weeks ago. They promised to expose us – and our readers – to some of their broad selection, and specifically to lesser known wines that they carry.
Our invitation read that we would be doing a tasting of “… wines that are a bit under the radar… (and are) considered ‘undiscovered’ and ‘hidden gems,’ as well as some from other regions.”
Characky, a local who had taken the wine studies program offered by Elizabeth Schweitzer and DiMaggio Washington at College of the Canyons, said they are seeing a lot of wine from up and coming areas that include Chile, South Africa and Greece. He also noted the popularity of Spanish Cavas and kosher wines from Israel. He commented, “I think this is a place where people that love wine will find paradise.”
Ilvento, who keeps staff trained with tastings among other things, said that everyone in the store can help shoppers find what they’re looking for. He added, “We’re here to find the perfect drink for every glass.”
We had six wines in our tasting lineup, most hovering about $20 and a couple toward $40. These are my tasting notes with the aromas and flavors separated by ; and, I enjoyed them all:
Honig 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: Green apple, fruit cocktail, flint; same flavors as on the nose with a mouth coating viscosity and medium acidity.
Burgans 2017 Albariño, Spain: Crisp citrus fruits, wet pebbles fresh fruit, crisp, medium acid and stainless steel.
Frog’s Leap 2016 Chardonnay, Napa: Butter, oak, bruised apple and white flower; then that same oak and butter, popcorn kernel and almond.
Hahn 2016 Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands: Dark cherry, stems, cigar, mushroom and wet earth; same aroma profile for the flavor as well.
Michele Chiarlo Il Principe Langhe 2015 Nebbiolo, Italy: Barnyard blew off within a couple of swirls, then came toast, chalk, hard grape candy, and Characky also noted lots of cranberry and pomegranate that I had to agree with; noted much more of that red fruit Characky had found, a bit tight (so decant this one) and a long length.
Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Napa Valley: Ilvento explained that he liked this wine for its six-Cabernet blend and winemaker Joe Wagner. Aromas of dark fruit, spice, black pepper, perfumy; balanced and smooth, pepper and fruit working perfectly together, a wine that’s good to go now.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 15k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.