After several months of procrastination, Dezel finally made it to the Whole Foods – Fair Lakes store location to visit their new state of the art wine tasting room. I was joined by friends and fellow bloggers Matt and Mary of $10 Dollar Wines and Chris of Northern Virginia Luxury Living. The high technology tasting room is located in the rear of the store near the wine sales area, up a flight of stairs, and overlooks the stores shopping area. Somewhat secluded and off the beaten path, much like the beautiful Virginia wineries and vineyards Vine Spot visits on a regular basis.
Upon entering Enoteca Ottanta, or more simply, the tasting room, Dezel felt like a kid in a candy store just after a generous allowance. After all, these Italian designed Enomatic wine dispensing robots have aroused a lot of buzz and are still a rarity, and I was surrounded by a myriad of these advanced wine servers. The only contact with a humanoid you will experience is exchanging dollars for a debit-like Enomatic card; I suppose the humanoids do not quite trust the robots with the money yet. With card in hand, it is now time to have a little fun!
Surrounded by Enomatics - Beautiful!
As the subject suggests, insert card, press button, enjoy wine – So simple even a Caveman can do it! Now let’s talk about the automated wine system, which gives a new meaning to wine tasting. Here is how the system works: Upon entering the tasting room you will secure your Enomatic debit-like card and grab yourself a wine glass; if you wish you can have a clean glass for every taste. Next, you will select 1 of 80 available wines, accompanied by tasting notes and choose a pour size of 1 ounce (tasting size), 3 ounce (1/2 glass), or 6 ounce (full glass). After inserting your Enomatic card and selecting the wine and pouring size, the machine deducts the amount from your card and pours the wine in your glass. On every table in the attractive tasting room are shoe string crackers, a copy of Karen McNeil’s Wine Bible, pens and blank tasting cards. Swirl, sniff, sip and enjoy! Guests can also purchase cheese and fruit platters and other gourmet fare to enjoy with the fine selection of wines available, whilst overlooking the busy shoppers in what I call the Walt Disney of grocery stores.
So simple friends, even Dezel can do it - Insert, Press and Enjoy!
So what is so special about the Enomatic you ask? The Enomatic is indeed an exceptional wine server who pours with care and precision. After all, the price of each machine roughly equates to a brand spanking new Dodge Neon. The down-side of the wine robot is no befriending the Enomatic and hoping for an extra ounce or two like in some human run tasting rooms. The Enomatic plays by the rules and is unbiased. Whole Foods currently has 10 Enomatic wine dispensing machines, so there are always 80 fresh wines on tap for your sipping pleasure. The highly regarded wine dispensing system shines in the areas of ensuring the control of quality, quantity and temperature of your wine. Very important factors! The Enomatic system prevents air, thus oxygen, from contacting the wine, and uses a pressurized food grade nitrogen gas (argon) system to ensure the continual freshness of the wine. This translates into every pour being as fresh as the very first pour; it is essentially as if the bottle was never opened. With such a system the bottle can remain consistent for weeks without change. Wow! Let’s talk about a few of the wines that were available for tastes.
1 0f 10 Enomatic Stations
First things first, there were 2 Virginia wines amongst the 80: Pearmund Cellars Cabernet Franc 2004 and Breaux Vineyards Viognier 2005. Yummy! The reaming 78 were from numerous wine producing regions and priced from $20 per bottle to 600$ per bottle. The great thing here is you can opt for a taste of a $400 bottle for under $20 if you so wish. Overall, most 1 ounce tastes range from $1 to $6 and there is a nice mix of white, red, dry, off dry, sweet – fortified and ice wines for your sampling pleasure. For $20 I enjoyed the following wines in 1 ounce pours:
$3 Taste - Domaine Chene Condrieu 2004 (Viognier) - Tropical, lush, dry, mouth filling. $45
$4 Taste - Chateau De Beaucastel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 1996 – Complex, baked fruit. $90
$1 Taste - Fairview Shiraz (South Africa) 2003 – Dark berry, mineral, floral, very nice.
$3 Taste – AP Vin Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 (Santa Barbara) – burgundy like $56
$3 Taste – Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Napa) Rich, full flavored, structured - $42
$2 Taste – Hendry Block 28 Napa Zinfandel 2003 – Aromatic, dark fruit, rich, spice $35
$1 Taste – Crivelli Ruche Di Castagnole Monferrato 2005 – Easy drinking, Pinot qualities $21
$3 Taste – Rare Wine Company Historic Series NY Malmsey Special Reserve Madeira $41
As you can see, I was feeling sort of red, but not a bad tasting selection for $20 considering the wines poured. I plan on visiting again this weekend and enjoying some of the premium wines which includes the following, but not limited to (1 ounce taste are $4-$22 for these wines): Stag’s Leap 23 Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 $199 per bottle, Domaine De La Romaine Conti Echezeaux $599 per bottle, Leoville Barton (2nd Growth) Bordeaux $239 per bottle, Harlan Estate “ The Maiden” 2001 $269 per bottle, Chapoutier “La Mordoree” Côte Rôtie 2000 $149 per bottle, Dominus (Napa Cab blend) $95 per bottle, and a plethora of other nice selections.
The Purple Pen will be back for another Enomatic Experience!
In closing friends, Dezel highly recommends a visit this state of the art tasting room if you have not already. The Enomatic Wine-Bots ensures perfection and customer satisfaction with every pour. Where else can you sample up to 80 wines at your leisure, from good, great to super premium? Perhaps an International Wine Festival, but this is a more restrained and relaxed venue. Bring a game, a book, your laptop or grab a few friends and enjoy a step into the future of self serve wine tasting rooms. I would say tell the Enomatic’s Vine Spot sent you, but who knows what language those Wine-Bots speak!
- Stay tuned friends! Want to know which Virgnia winery has the oldest Chardonnay vines?
Happy Sipping Friends - Thanks for your support and kind emails !