Announcing The Edward Bulwer-Lytton Award for Online Wine Writing

There’s a new sheriff in town, checking out the Parker wannabes, pros, bloggers, and amateurs.

For “Dark and stormy night” tasting notes that go beyond pretentious and snobby to downright silly and useless, the competition is fierce.

Today’s Nominee:

Wine Enthusiast 91 points, quoted by http://www.wtso.com

“Quite light and restrained on the nose, this bottling from Richard and Thekla Sanford shows pithy Key lime and scratched grapefruit-skin aromas. There is a decent sizzle of acidity to the palate, with lime rinds, pith and juice playing together. Touches of almond and flint add interest.”

Does this qualify as a “pith-poor” or pithy description?

Please vote.

 

Summertime Sippers for the Serious & Semi-Serious Wine Crowd

The prolonged. blistering heat wave here in the Napa-Sonoma area pushed

 many of us into re-thinking about the best wine to beat the sizzling summer heat.

Anyone paying attention to trends would immediately suggest Rose wines since pink wines are being touted by everyone, everywhere,  Or so it seems.

Nest up on the trendy charts would likely be a craft brew, a tangy IPA comes to mind.

Though personally delighted to see the new excitement around Rose wines and a major fan of IPAs,  I’m looking at a long hot spell and the possibility of this being a recurring pattern (yes, I’m thinking climate change.). So, I’m interested in a long-term solution.

Besides, so far in my experience many Roses now playing to rave reviews are hardly cheap as in over $20  for a summer sipper and not always as dry as advertised.

The goal is a summer sipper. No need for a 94 point blockbuster Rose which, I believe, is an oxymoron. Whispering Angle may be a “hot” seller, but it is really not worth 20 bucks.

Honestly, you might be better off buying a cheap Pinot Noir, adding an ice-cube or two, and a twist of lemon for a more satisfying experience.

So, returning to white wines and to finally get to the main point: Sauvignon Blanc is the obvious choice. The best are fresh, zesty, medium-with (not syrupy or ponderous like typical Chardonnay), offer a range of tropical fruit and, the clincher, they can stand up to a big chilling.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed several fine Albarinos which are another good choice for many of the same reasons.

But what makes me stand behind Sauvignon as the ideal summer sipper is its availability and, best of all, so many outstanding examples are priced below $20.

If you are with me, the easiest online shopping if you don’t want to work up a sweat is to open www.wine.com where you will find hundreds of Sauvignons offered. In the under $20 category, it lists 463.

Many wines are discounted and wine.com always has some added incentives. Currently, first time buyers get $20 off an order of $100. Usually there’s a shipping deal on a case, sometimes on 6 bottles,

In my recent tasting experiences, In the under $20 bracket, Chile dominates with New Zealand a strong second.

Okay, sure, we should try to Buy American. But, frankly, the low-end Sauvignons from the likes of Murphy-Goode, Joel Gott, Dark Horse, Geyser Peak are disappointingly bland and zest-less.

There are many other bland brands without a soul.

For lively, zesty, true to type Sauvignons, check out those from Chile’s   cooler regions: Casablanca, Limari, and Leyda.

My personal favorite turns out to be one of the least expensive, 20 Santa Carolina Reserva which offers all of the fresh tropical fruit you’d expect in a fine wine with the bonus of rich, smooth texture and good acidity. Santa Rita offers several Sauvignons, and the cheapest, the “120” is hard to beat at $6.99.

Matetic is another Chilean winery with several fine Sauvignons well worth your attention. Look for the Matetic “Corralillo”  or the Leyda Valley Sauvignon

From New Zealand, you can’t go wrong with Sauvignons from Brancott, Villa Maria, Gissen and The Crossings.

Many of you might be wondering, “What about Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc?” Well, it is everywhere…in every supermarket, in every wine shop,mega-store, and in every corner liquor store.

No need to look for Kim online.

Here are my top -12 recommended Summer Sipping Sauvignon Blancs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Santa Carolina Reserva, Leyda Valley, Chile $9.99

2016 Matetic EQ Coastal, Chile  $16.99

2016 Santa Rita Reserva, Casablanca, Chile $9.99

2016 Vina Leyda Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley $16.99

2015 Gissen NZ Marlborough, $11.99

2014 Château La Verriere Blanc, Bordeaux $13.99

2016 Santa Rita, Reserva, Chile $9.99

2016 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, $16.99

2016 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc $12.99

2015 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc,  $13.99

2016 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $14.99

2016 La Playa Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Colchagua, Chile $7.99

All are available from www.wine.com and I have no relationship with this website.

Thank Your Mom for these Wines

Today’s outstanding online deal:

Two High-end Wines from a first-class winery, with free shipping from:
TESTAROSSA WINERY * 300A COLLEGE AVE, LOS GATOS, CA 95031

 408.354.6150 * www.testarossa.com

“This year, give the mothers in your life what they really want- a bottle of Testarossa’s award winning Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, like the
Wine Enthusiast Editor’s Choice 2015 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
or the 94 point 2014 La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir!

We know it can be hard to live far from Mom on this special day, so we will include shipping with all orders placed before May 10th.

Just use code WELOVEMOM at checkout to save!”

 

Insider Tips on Buying Bordeaux

The best Bordeaux tasted recently is the 2015 Chateau Corbin from Montagne St. Emilion. So good I bought another, and if I published scores, it would get a 92-93.

Oh, and the price was $12.95 at Trader Joe’s.

No, this wasn’t a total surprise.  I lived part-time in Bordeaux from 2000-2010, return frequently, and tasted many wines when there last September-early October.

The fact is that there has never been a better time in recent memory to check out and stock up on Bordeaux red wines. And not just the famous, high-priced stuff; you can find authentic, beautiful Bordeaux for under $25.

Here are five reasons why every red wine lover should be focusing on Bordeaux now for good wines at great prices. We are also offering five buying tips to help you stay focused on value.

Recent vintages, 2014 and 2015, are of consistent high quality across the board, from the least expensive appellations to the fabled names.

The strong dollar versus the Euro (thanks Brexit) is playing to our advantage. (And, no Donald, you cant take credit for that.)

Bordeaux needs to be reasonably priced  to regain its market share after 3 mediocre vintages (2011, 2012, & 2013) that allowed Cabernet and Merlot from California, Washington, and South America to come on strong. Actually, 2012 wasn’t that bad.

Now that China’s brief romance with high-priced, legendary chateaux is over, Bordeaux winemakers have experienced the wake-up call, come back down to earth and are re-focusing efforts on making the best Bordeaux wines which feature balance, subtlety, harmony, and elegance.

The 2016 vintage, still in oak is being touted at greater than 2015, and the pressure of a third consecutive fine vintage will motivate the wine trade to bomb out the remaining 2014s to make room for the 2015s.

So how to take advantage of the present situation?

First, get re-acquainted with how things work in Bordeaux. A quick review would be helpful to get a feel for the interplay of multiple grape varieties, the existence of numerous sub-regions and tiny appellations, and the background of the classification systems.

Hint: go to www.winesearcher.com, click on France and then on Bordeaux. Or for a shorter review, go to http://www.wine.com.

Then, ram dump the stuff about the 1855 Classification and the St. Emilion classification system. And don’t pay too much attention to the high scores and hype from Parker and The Wine Spectator.

To me, James Suckling and The Wine Enthusiast Magazine are much more reliable, if you need a guide.

Third, understand that vintage ratings are all weather-related. Bordeaux is a large region but the weather conditions are generally shared in all. When the spring weather favors a good crop, and when the summer weeks are dry and warm but not too hot, and when the harvest conditions are favorable, these conditions hold true for the entire region.

Fourth, therefore, in good to excellent vintages, like 2014 and 2015, look to less prestigious appellations which enjoy the same conditions. They often are the neighbors of a famous chateau. In St. Emilion, for example, check out wines from Montagne St. Emilion or from Castillon which is on the eastern slope as you head out of St. Emilion.

Fifth, in these less prestigious appellations, look for wines made by a real chateau-owner. Wines from co-ops and private labels from negociants are less likely to offer authentic Bordeaux.

Best Bordeaux Buys at www.wine.com

2014 Chateau Cap de Faugeres, Castillon $16.99

2014 Chateau Clement Pichon, Haut Medoc $19.99

2014 Chateau de France, Pessac-Leognan  $24.99

2015 Chateau Fourcas Dupre, Listrac-Medoc, $15.99

2015 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc, $16.99

Best Buys from www.getwineonline.com

2014 Chateau de Parenchere Bordeaux Superieur, $13.99

2014 Chateau Hyot Cotes de Castillon $13.99

One from http://www.wineexpress.com

2014 Chateau La Grange Clinet Grande Reserve, Cotes de Bordeaux

14.95 by the case

Millennials, Malbecs, & Magical Moments

 

Millennials now represent a major force within the wine market that will increase in importance. And for that reason, they are being surveyed, prodded, and studied by every wine marketing geek and MBA grad.

Everyone agrees, millennials are definitely drinking more wine on a per capita basis than either the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, and more females are making the wine buying choices.

Recently, two insightful online articles added a little more to the emerging profile. One was featured on Yahoo Finance, “Millennials Creating Wine Industry Change.” It verified that millennials represent 29% of wine drinkers but consume 34% of all wines. It made the point that the group also favors organically grown things, including wine.

Even Fox News got into the act with a lifestyle story, “Why millennials can’t get enough wine.”  Surprisingly,  it was a fairly coherent, albeit a cut-and-paste article, and ended with this quotation:

“Millennials are adventurous in their choices, too. They like to choose  lesser-known varietals from regions that are under the radar.They want to create their own cool,” said Marc Irving, the sommelier at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.

So there is a rough sketch, a basic profile, emerging and these are the main attributes of Millennial Wine Buyers (MWB):

Confident and adventurous, willing to explore new types of wines

Impressed by brands with clever images but authenticity and organic practices are important

Not very interested in traditional wine types, the kind the Brits swoon over like Bordeaux, French Burgundy, Port, Sherry and others that come with vintage baggage.

Ratings from wine critics have little impact on buying decisions

Social gatherings like special events/ activities at wine clubs are a major part of the lifestyle, something to be shared

Wine is an event, an experience; collecting and cellaring pricey, famous wines for future drinking is, like, totally stupid

Buying wines online is a natural thing and a good reason to be constantly checking your messages. Even when on a date.

The same day those two articles appeared, several websites featured deals on Argentinian Malbecs, including two that rank among my current favorites. Here are the two beauties offered online at great prices that deliver the goods:

2015 Proemio Malbec, Argentina, $10.99 and free shipping on 6

At http://www.cinderellawine.com

2015 Amalaya Malbec, Argentina, Salta region, $13.99 @ http://www.wine.com

These two are stunning values that outscored my benchmark Malbec, Norton Reserve.

The Amalaya with a dollop of Tannat and Syrah is as bold and lively as its colorful label. Delivers big-time flavors from start to finish.

Over the last few years,  Malbec has become my go-to red wine by the glass because it is so versatile and well-priced.

And when talking about Malbec in these terms, the automatic assumption is that it is from Argentina. I have tasted wines from Cahors and Malbecs from Chile and Washington only to conclude Malbec is synonymous with Argentina.

But to return to the subject of millennials and wine, Malbec seems to be the perfect fit. It is a lesser known wine flying under the radar from a fascinating region, and with so many versions being featured by the online wine merchants, it is definitely up and coming and so much fun to explore.

Textbook Malbec is big, bold, dark, deep, dramatic and flashy.  It offers immediate pleasure from its lively aroma,  deep, delicious flavors, and great, round, satiny texture leading to a long aftertaste.

And, the clincher: Excellent Malbec need not be expensive. There are at least ten now available online for way under $20 a bottle.

2015 Proemio Malbec, Argentina, $10.99 and free shipping on 6

At http://www.cinderellawine.com

2015 Amalaya Malbec, Argentina, Salta region, $13.99 @ http://www.wine.com

2014 Fabre Montmayou, Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, $14.50

2015 Norton Reserva, $15.99

2015 Zuccardi Series A Malbec, $15.99

2015 Bodega Viamonte Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, $15.99

2015 Recuerdo Malbec, $16.99

2014 Kaiken Ultra, $17.99

2014 Ben Marco Malbec $17.99

2015 Susana Balbo Malbec, $19.99

Absolutely, The Best Under $15 White Wine Today

The quest to discover the greatest value and top all-purpose white came to a surprising end this week.  

No, it is neither a slick Chardonnay or fruity Pinot Gris nor is it among my long-time go-to whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache Blanc.

It is made from the most underrated, overlooked variety and by a winery with an amazingly consistent track record.

The wine: 2016 Chenin Blanc,  Dry Creek Vineyards

No, this is not an April Fool’s Joke.

It is the most versatile, most subtle, most intricate, most complex and most complete white wine under $15.

It is the complete package:

Authentic with real history

True to type

Subtle in its aromatics, multi-leveled in flavors

Complex but without heavy oak; lingering, vibrant palate-cleansing finish

Shows old vine character with its lush texture

With genuine minerality

Online deals from $8.95 at www.empirewine.com and $13.99 before discounts & with special shipping options at www.wine.com

A Spring Break One-Hour Blitz

 

                  www.cinderellawine.com

Cinderellawine, a website operated by the Wine Library, has vastly improved its selections so far this year. It is definitely trending up in the highly competitive market of online wine sales.

Always offering free shipping on six, it has gotten out of its

ho-hum rut of silly, over-priced wines with some great deals on wines rarely seen online.

Now the parent company headquartered in New Jersey needs to reduce its inventory, or as they say,

“With Spring arriving, we need to do a little additional inventory cleanup … and this is the perfect way to do it!

We want to move fast.

On Thursday, March 23rd at 12 Noon, we will launch a one hour sale on Winelibrary.com. Expect a selection of 25+ wines with prices that are beyond ridiculous.”

Here are samples of recent super deals:

2013 World’s End Rebel Reserve Chardonnay, Napa. $19.99

2013 Kangarilla Road Cabernet Sauvignon Mclaren Vale, $15.99

2013 Bello Megahertz Cabernet Sauvignon, $17.77

2013 Lone Birch Chardonnay, Washington, $9.99

2012 Paco Dos Cunhas Santar Nature, $10.98

You might look for these or similarly priced wines at Thursday’s flash sale, the one-hour blitz.

Read more about Flash Sales at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

by clicking on flash sales.