Join An Exclusive Club?

2015 Brasas Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 95 points

Available only to club members, this Cabernet got this frugal, non-joiner’s attention.

Unlike many club “exclusives,” this one is not a leftover or a teaser. It was not made in tiny quantities. It is beautifully finished. The complete deal!

It is a true 95 point quality Cabernet.

It is from Palmaz Vineyards, an ultra-high tech family winery in Southern Napa. A blend of Cabernet and Malbec, this 2015 is concentrated with lovely ripe fruit and refined oak notes. It was aged in new oak, but shows restraint, silky tannins and flavors that unfold ever so slowly. Multi-layered, beautifully structured, it is more like a Bordeaux than your typical pricey, juicy Napa Cab. This one sells to member for $115. Sightly over 1,000 cases were made. 

Mia Klein, a super winemaker with a special knack for Cabernet, is the consultant.

The family also owns a cattle ranch which explains the Gaucho image on the label. And they sell products other than wine, meaning steaks and stuff.

Check out or

Full disclosures:

My source: gift from a family member.

I’m not an affilate on a commission or looking for a freebie.

If I weren’t such a cheap SOB, I’d join this club.

Over and Under Albarino

Wine Discovery of the Week

The 2019 Abacela Winery Albarino is an over-achiever in many ways. It offers the desirable aromas of ripe apricot and tangerine with some citrus. All very fresh and lively.

But the flavors are rich and complex with hints of honeysuckle and spice. Yet, and this is the added bonus, it finishes with the expected tang and zest you associate with Albarino.

Though it has been making first-class wines from Spanish varieties for 25 years, Abacela flies under the radar, mainly enjoying a hard-earned reputation among local wine lovers in Southern Oregon. It is in the Umpqua Valley which ironically led the way in the Oregon wine revival.

If you are tired of simple commercial Pinot Grigio or find most Sauvignon Blancs a little too grassy and thin, you might consider or re-consider Albarino.

And begin with this one from Abacela which sells it direct to consumers. It is priced around $20. I bought this one at Margo’s Wine Bar in Medford for $16.99.

Heads Up! The first End of Summer Wine Sale

 See the full list at for today’s sale.

It begins with a 2016 Bordeaux for $7.47 which is 75% below retail

There’s also the 2015 Napa Cellars V Collection Pinot Noit 50% off.

After checking out the sale items, look at the other featured wines. You’ll find great wines like Caymus Special Select Cabernet and Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cab, wines rarely offered online.

Read the following detailed review to see why we selected  as the best website for High-end wines in 2020:

BEST FOR HIGH END, Luxury Wines tries to balance “value and service” which suggests it is neither a giant warehouse nor a down-and-dirty discount site.  It is the exclusive online wine shop partner of The Wine Enthusiast catalog and website. So it is well-financed and has an excellent facility for storage and shipping.

So far in 2020, it has risen to the occasion and has picked up many once allocated wines from California and has vastly improved its high-end imported selections.

It really leads the field in upgrading to big-named wines like Gaja, Dominus, Sassicaia, Shafer, Caymus Special Select, and, yes Perrier-Jouet and Dom…all slightly discounted with the Sassicaia 25% below retail. 

I’ve not yet seen anyone else offer Phelps Insignia or Cakebread’s Reserve Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. And recently it secured an allotment of the luxury Corton-Charlemagne from Louis Latour and a 2017 Puligny Montrachet, Les Folatieres.”  

Add the Pahlmeyer Merlot and Chardonnay to the recent offerings and the point is clear: is getting first dibs on many wines once exclusive to top restaurants and/or sold direct from the winery.

The site works through the usual sorting procedures with click on searches by variety, price and region. It also offers several wine club options and gift packages.

One special touch is a series of videos taking you through tastings that are conducted by Josh Farrell, its Wine Director.

He often runs through the daily wine special which can then be purchased. He is one excellent swirler, BTW, and he encourages decanting and/or aerating young wine.

You can learn a lot about judging wine by watching a few of his videos.

And it continues to offer several good value wines under $20.

But overall,  this online site sticks to the high road ($50 and up) and allows some wriggle room for choices within each category.

A Personal Wine Shopper’s One Stop Shopping Plan


In this era of online shopping and home deliveries, we all tend to prefer one stop shopping. It is simply easier, less annoying and frustrating. And studying several websites and going over lists will only add a little more stress to daily living. We dont need that.

If you share these beliefs, then allow me to share where I would go online for one-stop wine shopping. Since my choice may surprise you, let me explain my reasoning. 

First, I prefer more than bargain wines, I want wines with some excitement and sizzle. Small production, distinctive wines, not wines or brands owned by giants like Gallo and Treasury which will always be available.

I also look for wines that before discounts, I would normally find way over my budget.

And right now, I am going all out to take advantage of the temporary market which has many restaurants unable to take showcase wines allocated to them. 

For instance today the Flowers 2016 Sonoma Coast, Seaview Ridge Pinot Noir is offered at $55, but it retails for $80 and is usually on wine lists for around $125.

As for timing, I’m looking for more lively, refreshing wines to drink over the summer, not blockbusters or age-worthy monsters.

So, here’s this weekend’s shopping list for one-stop wine shopping. Within a monthly wine budget of $250, I would buy 3 bottles each of the following:

2019 Private Property by Caraccioli, Rosé Santa Lucia Highlands, $14.00

2017 Le P’tit Paysan, Chardonnay Jack’s Hill Monterey, $14.00

2018 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine L’Abbe Dine, $15.00

2018 Brassfield Estate Malbec, Volcanic Ridge $18.00

2018 Tank Garage Winery Fast Machine Red Blend Sierra Foothills $20.00

So, there you have it.

And, yes I expect most have not heard about these wines. These are all limited production wines normally sold direct and/or destined for restaurant wine lists.

The lovely Rose is from a region famous for Pinot noir. The racey Chardonnay is a single vineyard version made by Ian Brand, noted sommelier. The Rhone is made by a famous winemaker. The pure, balanced Malbec is from Lake County which is known for red wines, and Tank Garage in Calistoga was on its way to becoming a hot wine destination for the in crowd. 

You can find these wines at which is based in Napa County.

Any Disclaimers? 

None. I’m not an influencer auditioning for free samples. I’m not an affiliate working on a commission. I have no personal relationship with anyone at 

Next week, new selections.

I drink wines and I know things.




4 Cult Wine Wannabes Now Available Online


Restaurant trophy wines are now surfacing in the online wine world. Wines like Dominus, Silver Oak, and Caymus Cabernet are being offered nationally at slightly discounted prices. You could always find these wines at a few select retail outlets if you looked hard enough.

But when I saw today’s offer from, lots of thoughts came together.

The wine is 2017 Domaine Santa Duc,  Habemus Papam, Châteauneuf du Pape, priced at $42. The announcement mentioned it had 15 cases available. 

This fabulous Santa Duc Chateauneuf, a personal favorite, is often a highlight on many upscale restaurant lists. My theory is that 5 restaurants had to decline the usual 3 case order. So a wholesaler turned to the invino folks.

A few minutes later, the daily offer came in with another Heidi Barrett wine. This time it was from Amuse Bouche which has a cult-like, well-deserved reputation built over 20 vintages. The winery’s other label is Vin Perdu. It too is a wine list super-star conveying special status on the restaurant or sommelier.

Both wines are from 2017, meaning current release, not old stock.

Not to be outgunned, is selling a 2017 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Stewart Cellars. Yes, 2017 is the current vintage. And yes, Stewart is on many Napa wine lists and also sells from its cozy tasting room in tourist-oriented Yountville. At $30 a bottle, half off, this is another stellar deal. 

Stewart is relatively new, but with Paul Hobbs as a consultant it was on a course to join the cult Cab circle until recent events.

And the clincher, struck a deal to sell another near cult wine:

Erikson & Caradin 2018 Ivy & Thistle Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak.

In only its third vintage, this wine was selling for about $125. But vivino has it for $39.99.

Think of me as your personal wine shopper.

Now go shop!

Two Correctly Curated Pinot Noirs

Two online wine sellers recently reappeared on my radar and today they did not disappoint.

Funny thing is that both have uncovered an excellent Pinot Noir for the identical discounted price of $29.00. 

The primary difference is the vineyard location: cool North Coast versus cool South Coast.  offered the 2016 Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir Anderson Valley, $29.00 came up with the 2015 Ryan Cochrane Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard,  $29.00

The choice is between Anderson Valley and the Sta Rita Hills. Not a bad choice at all.

And both Pinots were rated 93 points by The Wine Enthusiast.

These days both sites may lack the sizzle and bombast of the flash sale, deal of the day guys.

But in my recent research, each one offers a wide selection of first-rate wines at good prices.

My detailed review of these two sellers and buying suggestions will soon follow.

But for now, better to suggest you act fast if you are looking for super Pinot Noir.

You can thank me later

3 Cult Wines to Buy Today

2016 Booker Vineyard Red, “My Favorite Neighbor,” Paso Robles, $59.95

This is Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% Syrah and a splash of Petit Verdot.

Booker is indeed somewhat of a cult winery, usually grouped with Saxum and others in the Paso Robles region. Normally, it retails in the $70-$80 range with winery price at $80.

2017 Three Sticks Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Durell Vineyard  $41.95

Once again, Three Sticks normally sells every bottle from the tasting room.

Try this if you want to experience classic, complex Chardonnay.


2014 Sullivan Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, $49.00

Simply put: this is great wine at a stunning price!!

Normally, priced way over $100.

But nothing is normal, right?


5 Great Deals for Restocking Your Wine Cellar

When anyone can buy Heitz Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon online with free shipping,  there seems to be no  end in sight for online wine deals.

All you need to buy one bottle of the Martha’s is $299.

The following personal picks are for normal people on a normal wine budget:

2016 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Estate $54.99

Normally selling for $70, Grgich’s Cabs age long and well. This is the Estate, not the pricier Yountville bottling. Vivino is not always clear on such details. At, this wine is listed for $69.99.

2018 Edict Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $19.00

This is not Goldeneye Pinot in terms of depth, complexity and pedigree, but it is simply delicious Pinot from the Anderson Valley

2018 Joyce Tondré Grapefield Syrah Santa Lucia Highland, $30.00

From one of the rising stars in the Central Coast, this is intense Syrah from a prized vineyard.

2016 Château de Macard Réserve Bordeaux Supérieur $13.99

A well-known, reliable chateau, this is a terrific deal for a wine to enjoy over the next few years.

More Cab Franc than typical, giving it more character.

2016 Wrath Fermenta Chardonnay. $19.99.

Wrath had been developing quite a following and selling from its Carmel Valley tasting room. This is part of the winemaker’s series exploring different techniques. For you geeks, fermenta refers to partial malo-lactic.

Best Daily Wine Deals

Ever wanted to act like a wine snob and drop a few famous names like a Puligny Montrachet or try a wine from Heidi Barrett,  Napa’s most celebrated cult wine winemaker?

Or perhaps you simply are curious and want to see what these wines are all about but couldn’t find them?

Either way, it is now time to act and explore wines that possibly won’t be available in the future. 

For obvious reasons,  the wine market has changed. For the moment at least as more and more cult-like, hard-to-find wines are being offered by specially online wine sellers. Usually these are one-time, daily deals.

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet? No problem. It is now for sale on several sites. My guess is that this Cabernet which has been a featured item on high-end restaurant wine lists now needs to be sold by other means.

Whitehall Lane Cabernet? Well, it too has recently surfaced online. Until now, it was sold to tasting room visitors and wine club members. 

As was two of my all-time favorites, Pride Mountain Cabernet Franc and Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon.

As restaurant wine sales grind to a halt, rare French wines like a Grand Cru Alsatian Riesling or a French red from Cabardes are now showing up.

Let me share my game plan for checking out and stocking up on a few normally hard to find wines.

These are the 6 best websites to view daily:   Just added a Pahlmeyer Chardonnay for $99 to join other celebrities like Heitz Cellars, Nickel & Nickel and Pride Mountain. It also has the Enroute Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. These are not widely discounted,wines just seldom available.  These guys just offered Heidi Barrett’s 2015 La Sirena Pirate Red.  teased up all this week with a 1998 Puligny Montrachet ($120). And also a terrific 2017 Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling.  is the first to offer the 2016 Whitehall Lane Napa Cabernet for $33.95  came up with an absolute gem with the 2015 Chateau Auzias, “Gloria Mundi, Cabardes for $32. This is a Syrah/Cabernet wine from a great vineyard most French have never heard of.  uncovered the 2014 Beringer Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon for $29.00.

Today’s Mind Boggling Wine Deals

Today’ big decisions: should I buy the 2015 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, my all-time favorite for only $14 or should I go with another fav, 2015 Sbragia Monte Rosso Cabernet for $59.00 or the Robert Craig Merlot for $49? 

Oh wait, two websites are offering the 2017 Ridge Gerserville, a classic, another offers the new vintage of the rare Dominus and even a few wines from Rams’ Gate are available online. 

The choices are fascinating. But the real deals wont last long.

As winery and restaurant doors begin to open, the window featuring fine wines rarely offered online is beginning to close. 

With restaurants basically on hold now for 3 months, wine producers have been forced to find outlets for their often allocated wines. Mostly small wineries from California and Oregon have turned to online sellers. But also quite a few imports, usually favorite restaurant exclusives, have also been showing up online. 

Many but not all of the wines are discounted by 10% to 60%. A few are not discounted, but these are normally severely allocated.

Since it is crucial to act quickly, here are the best 6 wine sellers working hard to offer unusually great, often impossible to find wines during these most unusual times. 

The following are the current leaders and the wines /wineries I’m considering: Heitz Cabs, Silver Oak, Caymus Cab, Flowers Pinot, 2015 Bordeaux Sullivan Vineyards, Rams Gate, Chateau St. Michelle Ethos Reserve  Dash Cellars, Robert Craig, Spy Valley from New Zealand, Morgado Cellars 2015 Burgo Viejo Palacio de Primavera Rioja Reserva, and Cabs from Rudius, Anderson Conn Valley, Larkmead, Coho Headwater 2019 Domaine Ott Rose, Booker, and Pinots from Big Basin, Anthill Farms and Cakebread.   Williams Selyem Pinots and Zinfandel, Ridge Geyserville, Bergstrom Pinot Noir, Von Strasser Cab, Turnbull Cabernet, Scherrer Vineyard Zinfandel and Dutton Estate Pinot.

Time’s up. I hit the “Buy” button.

And you?  Better get moving. You can thank me later.