A Big Strategy
As we continued our discussion I learned that my host Renee Bourassa is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and worked previously with Michael Mina. A native of Sonoma, Renee returned here after traveling and working abroad and in San Francisco. The strategy for Big 3 Wine Bar, as explained by Renee, is powerful in its simplicity:
- 100% focus on Sonoma wines, including labels which may be in limited or complete unavailability for tasting anywhere else.
- Renee meets with each winemaker to understand their intention for the wine and the winemaking style employed.
- Each wine is selected based on how it rounds out the Big 3 shelf, resulting in a diversity of winemaking styles for each varietal.
- Big 3 provides easy access to new wine experiences by offering well-priced flights and glasses, and bottles at retail pricing.
Talk and Taste with Renee
My discussion with Renee ranged from winemaking styles of France, varietals of Italy, to local practices and my own taste preferences. Next I tasted 2006 Kunde Primitivo from the PT02 Sonoma Valley vineyard and a 2006 Mayo Family Barbera also made with Kunde grapes. Both wines were purplish and seductive. The Primitivo offered a fruity aroma and flavor with an authentically rough finish; clearly employing a winemaking style like the Italian wines we talked about. Until now, the Kunde Primitivo has been available only at the winery. The Mayo Barbera was highly drinkable and built to age – another example of a classic Italian style.
Finally, reviewing the White Flight (Part 1)led to a Chardonnay discussion. How interesting local Chardonnays have become as winemaking moves away from the heavily oaked and buttered style of the previous decade! During that time I came to avoid Chardonnay entirely. Renee poured me a preview taste of 2008 Kopriva Chardonnay. This is a handcrafted wine made with 100% Carneros Cassidy Ranch grapes and fermented entirely in stainless steel with no oak and no ML. Nearly clear white in color, this wine presents a unique expression of crisp and subtly fruity cool Carneros Chardonnay varietal character. I was ready to change my Chardonnay avoidance habit and buy it, but I’ll need to return this week when Big 3 will stock it as a featured wine of the week. (I’m also planning to taste their “Unusual Suspects” Red Flight on my next visit.)
More than I Expected
Big 3 Wine Bar makes Sonoma wines highly accessible to wine novices and aficionados, locals and travelers alike — by offering a diverse selection at value-based pricing. Some labels – like Atmosphere, Kamen, or Kopriva – are not available anywhere else for tasting on a daily basis. I believe that to address today’s market conditions, wine sales and marketing practices must assertively reach out to consumers. Direct experiences of tasting and food pairing in a purchase environment are optimal. Big 3 is leveraging their guest traffic, highly visible location, and Sante Restaurant recognition to the benefit of local growers and vintners — offering unique Sonoma wine experiences to more people every day.
Big 3 Wine Bar is open 2-9pm daily, at the corner of Highway 12 and Boyes Boulevard. Many of the Vintners carried are members of Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance‘ (SVVGA).
Flights and Wines By the Glass list.
Wines By the Bottle list.