Best Deal Ever on Fabulous Pinot Noir

Today’s Top Deal

2013 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast,  Mas Cavalls, Dona Margarita Vyd. $23.99

Why We Love This Deal

Lovely, classy Pinot Noir from a time-tested winery offered at $23.99,

50% off the real retail price.

This is an outstanding single-vineyard Pinot that can be enjoyed now or cellared 3-4 more years.

Almost too good of a deal to be true!

Free shipping on 6 or more bottles

But there it is at http://www.vivino.com

Read more about vivino at  http://www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

Red Wines for Those Dark & Stormy Nights

Focusing on Red Wines offered in Special January Sales, and came up with a stunning deal from a great winery now featured on my website. Too good not to share here.

Available through January but  wines like the Enigma will disappear quickly. And yes, the Viognier is a big-boy white and suitable for January drinking.

check out the sale at http://www.terrerougewines.com

Online Sale of Terre Rouge & Easton

2010 TERRE ROUGE Enigma ~ $25 reg./ $13.25 sale

  • 2009 TERRE ROUGE Viognier ~ $25 reg./ $13.25 sale
  • 2012 EASTON Cabernet Franc ~ $28 reg./ $17.50 sale
  • 2006 TERRE ROUGE Syrah, Sentinel Oak  ~ $40 reg./ $20 sale
  • 2009 TERRE ROUGE Syrah, Wilderotter ~ $32 reg./ $17.50 sale
  • 2005 EASTON Zinfandel, Rinaldi ~ $30 reg. /$15 sale
  • 2007 EASTON Zinfandel, Estate ~ $35 reg./ $18.75 sale

Case purchases only, but can mix and match.

Naked Truth About Nakedwines

NakedWines may well be the biggest, most successful wine club. But it is also not your typical wine club.

Some might find it a little weird.

Founded by British entrepreneur Rowan Gormley in December 2008, Naked Wines “operates as a crowdfunded business that has grown to over 300,000 subscribers.

These subscribers, known as ‘angels,’ help fund more than 150 independent winemakers across 14 countries in exchange for access to exclusive wines at reduced prices.”

It was purchased in 2015 by Majestic Wines, the mega UK superstore. Majestic Wine trades from more than 200 outlets with 640,000 active customers. The firm said the combination would give Naked Wines access to a nationwide store network in the UK to allow a click-and-collect delivery option for its customers.

Founder Roman Gormley is no newcomer to online sales and wine clubs. He was a force behind Virgin Wines which was part of Virgin Air. He was pushed out at some point by the UK-based Laithwaite’s wine company.

Dont know any of the details, but it is interesting to note that the Laithwaite family now operates a major online wine retail site and wine club in the US and Australia. It also is the source of wines for a few airlines.

nakedwines.com  has an office and warehouse in southern Napa and operates in both the UK and Australia.

Many wines are bottled in Kenwood in the Sonoma Valley and in Acampo which is near Lodi.

But let’s Enjoy a WTF pause here.

How does crowdfunding work, you ask? Well, each month subscribers deposit $40 into their account and they can apply funds from that account to purchase wines. Before you say, “This is stupid,” read on because there are a few steps along the way.

The first step is to sign up for the introductory 6-wine pack which costs $59.99 and includes shipping. You can look over a large list made up of specific winemakers around the world. Often, each will offer two or more wines.

The company is also very active in offering vouchers in mass marketing programs offering $100 off a case, billed as a “Discovery Case.” This case is sold at $79.99.

These are many established winemakers such as Daryl Groom, the Aussie, who came to turn Geyser Peak around years back. Rick Boyer, Ken Deis, Ernie Weir, Jonathan Maltus are other names very familiar to me.

Next, once your wines arrive, you rate them with tasting notes and that puts you on…a waiting list.

Not to worry, I was on a waiting list.

Amazingly, my prayers were soon answered and my name moved up that list rather quickly. Guess there’s plenty of room in angel land. The waiting game seems intended to make you feel fortunate to join.

Winging It

Yes, I was an angel for only a few days. Though I was soon de-winged, over the next few weeks I somehow managed to purchase a case for $60 bucks. It was part of a holiday introductory deal.

So along with 6 other wines I obtained earlier, my experience with nakedwines is 18 different wines. I tasted wines from South Africa, Australia, France, Spain, Chile, Argentina and California.

My Assessment:

First of all, I paid for the wines unlike most reviewers who get free samples. Then most of the published reviews are by “affiliates,” reviewers who may be paid a commission on sales. 

All wines were sound, without defects, and most offer adequate varietal and/or regional character. This is not a snobby comment because, as you’ll read later, the imported wines travel long distances before being bottled.  

The red wines emphasize fruitiness and show little or no oak influence. They lack complexity and should be consumed young. Only the Chilean Cabernet displayed youthful tannic edges. The rest lacked depth and flavor interest.

The 2 CA Chardonnays tended to be buttery with oak notes. Ordinary at best.

Wines I’d like to try again include the Spanish Tempranillo, South African Sauvignon Blanc (Carmen Stevens), Minervois (Darnault),  and the Torrontes from Argentina.

Wines that I’d like to try from their stocks: Le Lastau St. Emilion, the Michaud Merlot from Columbia Valley, and Ken Deis Napa Cabernet.

Though two winemakers have lots of experience with sparkling wine, the so-called

“Champagne” from nakedwines is made by the easy and quick Charmat process, not the traditional Champagne method.

Other Things to Know

Nakedwines positions itself as a company that supports artisan winemakers. Big plus there. Not sure how it works. When do winemakers get paid, I wonder.

Nakedwines says it offers members the lowest possible prices by eliminating the middleman. But since 99% of its wines are sold to members, sorry to angels, the non-member”market price” is  arbitrary and meaningless.

Nakedwines encourages interaction between angels and the winemakers. There is lots of activity on the website to verify this. No way to verify if the responses from winemakers are actually written by them or by another hired angel.

Members’ prices range from $9.99 to $29.99 a bottle.

There are about 200 wines available at any one time.

Members, angels, rate the wines they have bought, and group scores are posted.

Nakedwines has the option of substituting wines ordered with similar wines.

Nakedwines gives a free bottle for every case ordered.

Delivery is included in orders over $100. $9.99 for others.

Delivery was on time and the wines were shipped in a holiday themed box.

Nakedwines regularly offers $100 vouchers and coupons for the introductory case offer.

But here’s something BIG you need to know.

Nakedwines in the USA bottles its imported wines at several facilities in California. Yes, wines from Chile, South Africa, France and elsewhere are literally shipped to CA in containers. Then they are trucked to and bottled in places like Healdsburg and Kenwood in Sonoma and Acampo, Lodi’s neighbor.

This is one way to “keep prices down by saving on shipping,” explained a rep. 

But really, a wine made in the hills of Argentina is somehow transported to Northern California for bottling? How long is the journey and in what size containers are questions coming to mind.

But it is not unique. Gallo imports New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and bottles the wine in Sonoma County. Smoking Loon bottles a Chilean Cabernet in Lodi. 

Nakedwines has many wines coming from Germany, Chile, New Zealand and other regions which makes you hope it has good tracking as well as trucking systems.

However, it does raise all kinds of flags relating to quality control, authenticity, and methods used to protect the wines during shipping and trucking.

 Finally Should You Go Naked?

Ultimately, it comes down to value. Since most wines are in the $9.99-$29.99 range, are they better values offered than what is widely available elsewhere?

Of the 18 I tasted,  only 2 wines appealed to me as reasonably good deals: the Tempranillo and the Eponina Brut.

But there are others I am curious about.

Just not enough to join the club.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New High in the Wine World

With great sadness, today I bid farewell to a longtime faithful companion. One that was always there for me.

I’ll always remember its adoring puppy-like features: weedy, grassy, flinty, herbal, flowery, spicy, smoky, earthy, grassy, stony, smooth.

Did I mention weedy?

Its passing was announced earlier this week with these touching words:

“Rebel Coast Winery have introduced THC-infused sauvignon blanc, which will go on sale in January 2018 to California residents.

Each bottle, costing $60, contains 16 milligrams of THC, adding up to around four milligrams per serving.”

Its alcohol was removed by reverse osmosis. SAD!

Farewell SB! You will always be just Sauvignon to me.

But wait. Maybe I can get product samples and feel happy again.

 

The Top 10 Online Wine Clubs of 2020

USA Today with its popular Top 10 Lists of this and that included wine clubs last year.

One category that got my attention was the best wine subscription clubs. Why the focus on subscription boxes at the exclusion of online retailers with wine clubs is anyone’s guess. My guess is ad revenue.

Dont know who is responsible but the candidates, the choices made by USA Today, are pretty lame.  The shows an East Coast bias and apparently nobody ever checked out the clubs and looked at what each offers. Like the wines for example. And the prices.

However, the crack team involved in this blog has been faithfully following 36 candidates, each claiming to have the best hand curated deals for members, exclusive offerings of super values, rare wines and great vintages and the next cult wine.

Or all of the above. Along with free corkscrews, aprons, and super-duper introductory offers. Coupons and vouchers are readily available.

Looking over the feeble lineup of candidates from USA Today, my vote goes to wineaccess.com.   It was a tough decision. I have mixed feelings about this site.

But most of the time, the wines offered are real, not custom made, and the prices are good.  But, yes, the hype can get thick and, yes, they over-rate wines.  And the sales pitch runs on and on.

Too bad the other candidates were mostly from the subscription box world, only a part of the online wine selling world. You are missing out on many great wines and super deals when you subscribe and get locked in.

I’ll go into a little more detail below to explain why I’m suspicious of many of these wine box subscription programs. Those that ask a few questions about your taste preference and claim to be able to”curate” wines especially for you are blowing smoke.

You can do better looking elsewhere.

But spoiler alert: here are the best, most exciting sites to Explore in 2020, especially during the stay at home time.

http://www.winespies.com

http://www.wtso.com

http://www.lastbottlewines.com

http://www.cawineclub.com

http://www.garagistewine.com

http://www.sommselect.com

http://www.wineExpress.com

http://www.laithwaits.com

http://www.wine.com

www. wineaccess.com

 

My top 10 wine club sites offer real wines.

Wines from most subscription box clubs, like nakedwines.com are special, custom made wines.  Not available elsewhere. So the market price is meaningless.

Looking over the other USA candidates, it is time to remove web retailers with subscription boxes who have nothing much to offer. Martha Stewart?  Yes, she has to go. 

So, to mix metaphors, let’s begin by throwing the following wine clubs off the island:

http://www.somMailer.com  This one is relatively new and has no track record. I dont think much of the wines selected. They are ok and he provides good background. But USA Today must believe because the guy is French, he must know wines inside and out.

www.wineinsiders.com  A no-brainer here because the prices are simply ludicrous, unless you think $29.99 for a Gascogne white or $39.99 for a common Bordeaux Superieur are awesome deals.  My favorite 2019 Gascogne white from Jean Paul retails for $7.99. Neither coupons or Groupon offers with a 15 bottle introductory cases can save this one.

www.marthastewartwine.com   Yes, we are throwing Martha, our much-beloved entertainment expert, to the sideline. To be frank, there is no evidence her good taste is invoked here. since she sold the brand. The wines selected are common and appear on several other sites. And there are a number of over-priced private label wines  with cute names. This is a sad case of a celebrity branding a wine club and then allowing others to take over and opt for ordinary, over-priced wine.  

No way Martha could have chosen or hand curated such mediocre wines. Sad, but a fail.

www.vinesse.com.  Has been around for 20 years, but has failed to keep pace. Recent offering of 6 “World Class Wines” for $29.99 plus 2 Pinot Noirs as a bonus suggests it is waking up.  No discounts on the few, real wines offered. Sad CA selection (3 Zins, 0 Sauvignon Blanc) and no wines rated over 90 by anybody. Something named Plank Walker is your top Napa Cab? Really? Prices start at $19.99 a bottle. Gone!

While we are at it:

Before air travel came to a standstill, almost all airline wine clubs like the United Airlines wine club uses vinesse for its member wine deals. So does Alaskan Airlines. Unless you are totally desperate for miles and mediocre wines, forget these clubs.

www.wsjwines.com  This site once offered members well-chosen wines. But now the Wall Street Journal seems to have outsourced the wine selection process to another website and the wines are quite unexciting. Best advice is to sign up for the 15 bottle introductory offer for $69.59. Then cancel the minute the box arrives.

And before we close, we have also dismissed as losers the wine clubs from  national geographic, AARP, Walmart, Hound & Hare, and my local pet store.

Oh, and the NRA, can you believe it, also has a wine club.  This is no cheap shot: the wines offered are way off target.