California Wine Club Month 2: A party in my glass?

The month 2 shipment from the California Wine Club has arrived. If you read Month 1, then you may remember that I was offered a 3 month membership into the Premium Club (a $50/month value) to offer up my opinion on the experience.

Month 1 featured the Fess Parker Winery and Month 2 is featuring Tobin James Cellars from Paso Robles. Uncorked, the Club’s magazine, declared ‘It’s a Party in Your Glass at Tobin James Cellars.” So, how was trying these wines?

Tobin James was established in 1987 and produces 50,000 cases a year. Their relationship with the California Wine Club goes back to 1994. From what I read in Uncorked and from chatting with a few people who have been there, a visit to Tobin James does seem to be like going to a party.

This quote alone made me want to hang out with Tobin: “Our winery is all about people enjoying every day, and a glass of wine makes the day better. If you come home from work and don’t have a glass of wine, that is a boring day.” Well said!

This month’s shipment included the 2010 Tobin James Radiance Chardonnay and 2008 Titan Hills Fiasco. The Radiance Chardonnay gave me pears and lemon with a hit of sweet tropical fruit.

Thankfully it was not overoaked like a lot of California Chards are. According to Tobin, “if someone doesn’t like our Radiance Chardonnay, they need to see a psychologist!” Hmmm, the wine was okay but I didn’t love it.

The Titan Hills Fiasco had a surprisingly amount of cinnamon spice on the nose and hit me with sour cherry flavors. Fruit for the Fiasco came from Paso Robles and is a mixture of Syrah (55%), Znfandel (25%) and Barbera (20%). At a high 14.9% ABV, this was still fairly food friendly. Having tasted 2 of their wines, I can see why Tobin James is a “party” winery. Both wines would go over well at a summer barbecue.

After my post on Month 1, a few folks commented about the price of the membership. I wanted to wait to fully form an opinion until all 3 months went by, but this month really surprised me.

According to Uncorked, the Titan Hills Fiasco has a suggested retail of $21 and a restaurant wine list price of $32-$38. I found this to be widely inaccurate. Fiasco is not listed on the Tobin James website, but you can find it here for $6.99 a bottle retail, and here for $13.95 in a restaurant. That is an enormous discrepancy and really bothers me. I hope to find out more about why the pricing seems so wrong to me.


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