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He Caymus, he saw, he conquered

Maybe life ain’t so bad after all. See, earlier this year, we were picturing life in AZ without the iconic Sportsman’s Fine Wine & Spirits occupying the spot next to Tarbell’s restaurant at 32nd Street and Camelback. Sportsman’s closed over the summer and we were sad, as were thousands of others.

But then news came that the space would be breathed new oenophiliac life by neighbor, Mark Tarbell himself. It’s no secret that Tarbell loves wine – he writes a column for the Arizona Republic, keeps his restaurants’ list fresh and updated, and hosts a ton of winemaker dinners in that PDR.

Well Tuesday, the wine shop portion of the revamp opened its doors. With a fresh coat of paint and bit of a flow redux, the shop was packed with Tarbell’s regulars and other wine-loving folks. One of Napa’s winemaking godfathers, Chuck Wagner of Caymus fame, came in to pour wine and sign bottles. Guests sipped through a 2003, 2010, and 2011 Special Selection as well as various single vineyard Cabs. Out on the patio, Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Belle Glos Pinot Noir, and the popular new Silver Unoaked Chardonnay were available for pours (all made by Caymus).

The shop’s called simply, “The Wine Store,” and is now keeping regular daily hours. Next door, Tarbell and crew are fast at work with construction of the wine bistro portion. It won’t connect to Tarbell’s in any way, and he’s treating the neighboring takeover as a total stand-alone business.

Although Safeway across the street has got some great bottles in that climate-controlled cellar, nothing’s going to beat a stop by The Wine Store for that boutique shop experience – one that, dare we say, keeps a bit of that Sportsman’s dream alive. Once we can get a quick bite with that newly purchased bottle of Special Selection, it’ll feel downright honorary. Check out the new place soon.