On Sundays, Enjoy Fine Wine Tasting

Weekly Savvy Cellar's sommeliers bring the world of grapes to Mountain View without breaking the bank.

Do you know what's the world's most widely planted grape?

Facts about grapes along with what regions to find them, their impact on the palate, color and blends are the types of details people can learn if they attend the Sunday tastings at , in Centennial Park on Castro Street. Though open to the public, but it's 50 percent cheaper for wine club members.

"Grenache is the most widely found grape but it taste different from region to region," said Joel Kampf, one of the sommeliers at the wine shop. "From France to California, it's a world of difference."

He was right. The 100 percent grenache from the 2007 Les Rabasses Vinsobre from Rhone in France tasted a little spicier and heavier on the palate than the 100 percent 2008 Adelaide Grenache from Paso Robles, California—a much lighter, but just as flavorful wine.

Sommelier Joel Kampf helps develop the weekly tastings from client suggestions or from his own experience of what clients might like. His week starts on Monday, when wine distributors send their sales agents to Savvy Cellar to promote their goods. Kampf tells them what he's looking for "and they tell me what they have," he said. They select wines that have scored 90 points or greater on Wine Spectator's list of reviewed wine.

This Sunday, a few regular Mountain View residents sat at the bar including Michele Fisher, , and a gay couple, who wished to remained unidentified. All members of the wine club, they each listed off the benefits for oenophiles like themselves.

"I like wine, but I was stuck in a white wine rut," said Fisher. "It's kind of a hobby. You can ask questions of the sommeliers and have a great time."

Fisher has found she now likes a lot of reds and now has learned to pair wines with the Sunday night dinners she cooks for her family. She took home a bottle of the 2007 La Montessa Rioja, a blend of tempranillo and Garnacha. another option could have been the 2009 Chateau Mattes-Sabran Corbieres, blend of carignane and grenache.

As part of her membership, $49 per month to taste reds and whites, Fisher gets to take home two free bottles a month.

"Plus it's fun because it's a bunch of regulars," she said. "It's a California pub."

One Sunday, Kampfe had tasters sample wines perfect for Thanksgiving. On another, wines from the Iberian Peninsula or great fall wines. The sommelier, who soon begins a two year certificate program toward a Diploma in Wine and Spirits, takes his work seriously in the hopes to create smart wine shoppers.

"It's nice to learn about the versatility of wines," he said. "We taste all the bad stuff so you don't have too."

Heather Scharf December 22, 2011 at 07:26 AM
I have experienced the amazing talent of Joel Kampfe first hand as I witnessed him do several blind tastings! It was truly amazing to witness him take us through his deductive reasoning sip by sip as he nailed the region, variatals, sugar and alcohol content and the exact year it was made! He's not the youngest up and coming sommelier in California for nothing!


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