The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2015

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Page 62 of 115

may 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  59 Fred Dame: Is there anything more elegant than The Sutter Club in Sacramento? And you have been here for all of four months. What a change from the Ella Dining Room! Jienna Basaldu: I was lucky to walk into an atmosphere that included many of my former customers. That being said, it was totally different. So, it's member-only. True, but the beauty is that they have ownership in the wine program. We have a wine committee that I work with. Is that good or bad? For me, it's an advantage. I have their input before I add anything to the wine list, which has more than 300 selections. They also have a great view of what the members enjoy. It's really great that I have that resource not only for the wine list, but for our wine events as well. I get a "test drive" on all the ideas that we come up with. Do you get a lot of politicians? It's a stone's throw from the capitol. Not as many as you might think. This is really an oasis from of all of that for those who live in Sacramento. The backbone of the community. Are you from California? Yes, I was born in Santa Cruz and spent part of my childhood here. I went to college at Chico State. So here we are in this beautiful building that serves lunch only. What are they drinking? I would hazard a guess that California wines are dominant. So true. We love the wines of California. And especially those wines that surround us: the Sierra Foothills, Eldorado Amador, Lodi. We regularly only do à la carte lunch service, but we do conduct three or four wine din- ners every month, themed based on region or producer. These dinners expose our members to numerous other wines from all over the world. What percentage of the list is California? Oh, at least 70 percent. That seems limited, but with that many wines on the list you really get to hand-pick the rest of the world's finest wines. Speaking of which, here we are about to taste a Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon from one of California's most famous wineries, Beaulieu Vineyards. The label is unique. Yes, this is a special blend that BV made for us. The label features our magnificent front doors that celebrate our 125th anniversary. Our members love it. So what is the mix of white versus red? I would venture a guess that red is dominant. That is true—at least 70 percent of our sales. But I have to say that white wine sales have picked up steam since I have arrived. And I have a few ideas that may very well continue that trend. And Cabernet Sauvignon is the big dog on the porch. Oh yes, we love our Cabernet. But we are starting to take a much more broad view with Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah. And pricing? That's a huge advantage to being a member here. The members own the club, so our pricing structure is very advantageous for them. I agree. So what is your vision for the future? Sacramento has a vibrant hospitality community and we need to stay on top of our game. With all the great restau- rants, and those to come, we must continue to stay abreast of the best new wines available—California and the world.

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