Serious Red Wines at Super Prices

On “International Chardonnay Day,” the trending story within online wine sales was….great deals in bigtime red wines.

Seeing many collectible reds quickly made me forget about Chardonnay.

Researching many, many special offerings during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, I discovered the time was ripe to buy serious red wines not to sip, but to savor and stash away.

The background that helps make sense is that the closure of so many restaurants and wine bars has famous reds not being re-ordered. Producers and importers have seen inventories stagnate. 

So the leading online wine sellers are being offered rare wines that normally would not be seen online at discounted prices.

It hit me when I saw Paradigm Cabernet offered way below normal at winespies.com. Paradigm, Heidi Barrett’s longtime client, normally sells for big bucks and mainly to mail list clients.

Today, another site offered the 2015 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for $109 a pop. 

Another featured a 2010 Chateau Lascombes, a coveted Margaux for $99.

Yes, culty wines usually snapped up by collectors and high-rollers are backing up in warehouses.

 So make room in your wine cellars and wait for the home deliveries to begin arriving.

Here are 10 great examples of serious red wines that caught my eye.

The web addresses are provided and represent the best sites for finding these or similar wines over the next few days:

2010 Château Lascombes, Margaux $99 at  www.wtso.com

2015 Beringer vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $109.00 at http://www.lastbottlewines.com

2015 Robert Craig Howell Mountain Merlot, $49.00 at www.winespies.com

2017 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $36.95 at www.finalcase.com

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $40.00 at www.sommselect.com

2015 Seghesio Family Vineyards, Old Vine Zinfandel $29.00 at www.wineaccess.com

2014 Saxon Brown Zinfandel Parmelee Hill, $26.99 at www.vivino.com

2015 Domaine Du Grand Montmirail  Gigondas, Cuvée Vieilles Vignes, $28.47at www. wineExpress.com

2016 Cos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $29.99 at www.vivino.com

2017 Vina Robles Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, $21.97 at www.napacabs.com

With wineries and restaurants beginning to open to some degree, the high-end red wines wont be offered at reduced prices for too long.

The window will soon be closing.

So act fast.

You can thank me later.

“Two buck Chuck,” the Party Wine of the 90s Is Back

With apologies to Prince: Party like it’s 1999!

“Two buck Chuck,” the party wine of the 90s is back.

Yes, the price was reduced this week at Trader Joe’s.

We are talking about $1.99 a bottle from the Charles Shaw brand.

Bring it on, baby: wood chips, acid adjustment, blending, secret sauce, eye of newt, or whatever it takes.

It certainly drives the point home: wine does not have to be expensive.

Because, fyi, I think cheap (make that inexpensive) Sauvignon Blanc is more challenging to make than Chard or Cab, I checked out the 2018 SB at TJ’s.

My notes:

Slightly greenish color with some spice on the nose. Neither grassy nor herbal and without a melon or gooseberry in sight. Make that without much of an identifiable fruit.  Maybe a hint of grape. Medium bodied with a hint of sweetness but finishes with slightly tart acidity. Totally acceptable.

BTW, I prefer to taste white wines not chilled. Chilling a wine can masks any defects and off things.

Somms will be challenged to find a mineral or a crushed rock, scorched earth component. Or whatever the latest show-off terms are.

And the rest of us will wonder how is it possible to offer any wine at this price.

But for $1.99 in a real bottle with a cork, this SB is a party wine…

Note to dinner guests: “dont even think about it.”

 

7 Top Websites for Wine Gifts

Where do Wine Shoppers Shop?

Wouldn’t we all like to know where Jeff Bezos shopped for holiday gifts and what he purchased?  Well, though the main thing I have in common with Jeff is lots of visible scalp, many of you are probably wondering where this self-proclaimed, indisputable leader of the online wine shopping world ended up buying wine gifts this year.

And because a list is now the primary form of communication, here is a list of my 7 Top  E-commerce wine sites:

But before I do, here are the 3 Basic Reasons why lists are becoming so popular:

  1. Little or no thinking required, especially for original ideas, so much beloved by influencers.
  2. No need for writing complete sentences, whatever they are or, ugh, paragraphs
  3. Easy as sin because you can borrow from other lists or re-work you old ones, and since words are not that necessary you can attached favorite pics of your awesome canine or self.

Ok, enough toying with you, listen up.

Here’s my “list-icle” of 7 Best Wine Websites fror wine gifts going into 2020:

  1. http://www.wine.com
  2. www.sommselect.com
  3. www.invino.com
  4. www.wineaccess.com
  5. www.garagistewine.com

    6. www.lastbottlewines.com

  1. www.wtso.com

For detailed reviews of these 7 Top websites see www.robywine.com

Classic Wines for Winter Solstice Celebrations

 

Coincidence maybe but three e-commerce wine sites I follow are offering classic wines. 

Good reason to celebrate changes and longer days.

By classic, I mean wines true to the type and region, and with some history. Not the over-blown bombastic style often referred to as “hedonistic” made by an unproven twit.

Classics, not wannabe cults.

Real wines, folks.

Like the www.sommselect.com offer of this one:

2017 School House Vineyards Syrah Blend, Spring Mountain, Napa $29.00

Now this is a coup! 

From one of Napa’s truly legendary vineyards. Owned by John Ganter. Google him.Read the story. It was made at Pride Mountain which knows how to make Syrah. 

I can’t believe this is offered anywhere, let alone online.

Next, www.napacabs.com scored big with two quite different classics:

2017 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classsico $15.97

2017 Catena Malbec, Mendoza High Mountain Vineyards, $15.97

Hard to find a better example of classic, classico Chianti. Drink now or hold. Volpaia has been at it for 100 years or so.

Catena is “the” name in Argentinian Malbec, but in my humble opinion, Malbec has its limitations. It can be pushed into a hedonistic cookie cutter style, but then it doesn’t taste like Malbec.  

There is a reason why Malbec is the 4th variety in Bordeaux: the other three are more essential and capable of more complexity.

But Malbec can be a perfect, widely appealing, easy drinking red.

This Catena is a pure expression of Malbec. 

And not to be left out:

The fun guys at http://www.lastbottlewines.com found this gem:

2016 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, $49.00

Bien Nacido was at the forefront of the Pinot revolution thanks to Sideways. And it remains one of the standards of Santa Maria/Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.

A classic!!

Super Pre-Christmas Wine Sale

Going into the weekend before Christmas,  we checked out the deals from  all major websites and came up with a clear winner: http://www.wineExpress.com

Billing the sale as “Red Friday,” http://www.wineexpress.com offered  5 deeply discounted red wines.

And came up with these 4 winners:

  • 2014 HW Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi $12.47
  • 2017 Syrah Cowan Cellers, Bennett Valley $12.47
  • 2016 Chateau Violette, Moulis en Medoc, $19.47
  • 2015 Belle Fiore Red Blend (Cabernet, Malbec, Merlot), Rogue Valley, $12.47

Shipping is free on orders over $149.00

These four first-rate wines are offered at 40-50% off.

We know them well.

The only odd thing is the recurring “47” cents in all prices.

Read the detailed review ofwineexpress at http://www.robywine.com

 

 

Two Day Holiday Mega Marathon starts December 12

 

at www. lastbottlewines.com

This two-day marathon promises to be excellent for bargain hunters.  These folks usually offer wines 50% below full price, but sometimes are closer to 70%.

lastbottlewines.com is a highly-rated, reliable site rated in my top 5 online wine sites.

This is a flash-sale. Starts at 9:00 West Coast time. NSFW.

To hear more about flash sales and to mentally prepare yourself for this marathon, see my detailed review at www.robywine.com.

Remember I’m not an affiliate out for easy, sleazy commissions. Or any kick-back deal.

And I’ll be following it for sure, looking for Rhone and Bordeaux wines along with Napa Cabs and Pinots from CA. Also, Zinfandels from Sonoma.

But there is one important point that you should be aware of:  the wines wont be delivered until after the New Year.

If that’s okay with you,

Here’s the lastbottlewines.com pitch:

 “In addition to hoarding small batches of killer wines for the past 6 months, we just received a container from Europe with a mind-bending amount of great bottles. The madness truly does get bigger and better every year — we promise. Oh, and Happy Holidays.”

“PLUS — FREE GROUND SHIPPING on ALL

And this: “We will require several weeks to stage and coordinate all the shipping (begins January 6th)”

But hey, after the holidays, who among us will not need to replenish our wine cellar?

 

Go Big on Cyber Mega Magnum Monday

 

http://www.WTSO.com is one of the very few e-commerce sites offering magnums for sale every so often.

And tomorrow, it goes all out with nothing but magnums. And a few double magnums.

Big bottles for big occasions!

Wines to look for are 2016 and 2016 Bordeaux ( St. Emilion, Côtes de Bordeaux, and Medoc) and wines from the Southern Rhone.

Also some killer Spanish reds.

Maybe a Champagne or two will be offered.

If so, Champagne, the real bubbly made in Champagne, develops more complex flavors and richer texture when fermented in a magnum or bigger bottle. Honest!

WTSO has been coming up with top notch California wines lately.  Keep an eye out for Caymus Cabernet and wines from Cuvaison, Cornerstone, Maroon, Saintsbury, Blackbird, and Encantado.

For a detailed review of WTSO, go to http://www.robywine.com/wtso

The Essential Facts:

Date & Time: Monday, December 2, 2019 8am-8pm EST (12 hours)

Bottles: A variety of red, white, and sparkling large-format bottles between 1.5L and 3L

Deal: 10-15 new bottles every hour for 12 hours — all bottles available on the home page. No other shopping options will be available on Marathon day.

Shipping Details: FREE shipping with all orders, no minimum required. Orders placed at different points in the day are able to be combined and shipped together. All orders ship Monday, Dec. 9

Free shipping on magnums is a big deal!

And, yes, wines age slower in magnums.

And, as mentioned, Champagne taste better…if you believe in science.

 

 

Stunning Wine Deal

Byington’s Thanksgiving to CYBER MONDAY Sale

From Byington, a proven, high-quality family winery in the Santa Cruz Mounain appellation.

 

Best known for its Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

But lately on a roll with all wines.

Byington’s well-established Estate vineyards are real mountain, high elevation sites.

And the winery is 100% solar!!

The deal is 40% off all wines, minimum purchase of $72 and FREE shipping within California.

I have long been a big fan of the Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bates Ranch, full price of $47 but around $30 a bottle during this Cyber sale. Go with the 2014 vintage.

After the discount, the 2015 Chardonnay is a steal.

I recently tasted Byington wines at the Wine Bar within the San Jose airport. Great bar and excellent way to relax during a flight delay!

Other Byington Wines that top our highly recommended list:

2015 Chardonnay Tin Cross Vineyard

2016 Pinot Noir Estate

2014 Pinot Noir Block 4

2014 Syrah Pigoni Ranch

Here’s the Deal:

  • What: 40% OFF ALL WINE – $72 minimum purchase – at byington.wine
  • When: Thanksgiving Thursday-Monday (November 28, 29, 30, December 1)
  • Extra Perk: Free shipping within California (standard UPS delivery; not next day)

Byington Vineyard & Winery
21850 Bear Creek Road
Los Gatos, CA 95033
Santa Cruz County

 

What are you waiting for?

Full disclosure: happy to say this blog is cleaner than Snow White!

 Black Friday & Wine Affiliates 

Be an affiliate: No experience or expertise required. 

My last post introduced you to affiliates, behind the scenes bloggers/influencers making money.

These affiliate wine programs are not limited to a few small-time bloggers making a few bucks. The popular Wine of the Month Club has numerous, and, of course, everyone wants to have a link that leads to a commission from Amazon.

For example, Vinepair which I like and regularly follow tries to downplay it this way: 

  • “From time to time we work with various partners to highlight wine, beer, spirits and other products that we believe you, our readers, will be interested in learning about. When we link to Amazon and other 3rd parties with affiliate programs (and remember to tag those links) we earn a small commission.”

FYI: Amazon is said to pay a commission in the 1%-10% range, depending on the product. And should you check my review of Amazon’s wine selection at www.robywine.com, you’ll see the selection is vast.

 I recently clicked on a review of wine clubs published by CNET. Now we have definitely left the small world of wine bloggers, and CNET lays out an interesting background for why it, of all websites, is reviewing wine clubs:

“So which is the best wine of the month club or subscription for you, your budget and habits in 2019? If all of these choices seem overwhelming, we get it. It’s like being in wine country. That’s why we canvassed the wine club landscape to uncork the best memberships for you.” 

Setting aside the bizarre use of the word “canvassed,” if you read the fine print you are told: “CNET editors pick the products & services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.”

The assumption is that wine and wine clubs are just another product worthy of review and compensation when reviewed favorably. One day you review fitness watches and hotspots, the next wines or wine clubs.

BUT NO. Not so fast. 

As CNET noted, 

“Wine can be “overwhelming.” 

Well, for most people, except for the editors of CNET who can canvass the landscape, wine is complicated and both knowledge of and personal experience with the subject are essential before passing judgment.

But this brings me to the main point: wine continues to intimidate people, unlike shoes, fitbits, appliances, and most other products and personalized services. 

Can’t recall how many people once hearing what I did as a profession would then apologise for some reason for not knowing much about wine.

When buying wine, people still need good, reliable, and unbiased advice. 

It is pretty obvious that most publications mentioned with affiliates are targeting the millennial audience.

Millennials are targeted because, among many reasons, they might subscribe to a wine club. 

One website focuses on financial advice for millennials also explored wine clubs and ended this way:

“You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article.”

“Trust, “integrity,“”independent” and then maybe”compensation “?  

Wine to today’s bloggers and their colleagues is more lucrative than say shoes  and fitbits because it is meant to be consumed and replaced fairly often.

Wine can also be an expensive product, so affiliates can earn much more money through commissions.

And of all possible revenue sources, wine club subscriptions are the most attractive for obvious reasons, the main one being regular repeat sales. 

A commission is paid for the duration of the membership that originated in the blogger/affiliates review.

It is all about the money.

You can google “wine affiliates programs” and, yes. there are lists of the best ones for commissions and financial gain. 

You’ll also read that wine club subscriptions offer a great opportunity to make serious money.

Be an affiliate: No experience or expertise required. 

Looking for honest, non-affiliated reviews? Go to www.robywine.com

Sip & Swirl: Wine Influencers on Steroids

 

With holiday buying kicking off with Black Friday and continuing through Cyber Monday, if wine or anything related to wine is on your shopping list, you need to know about influencers and affiliates.

In the new world controlled by social media, bloggers need no credentials and can write whatever they want to. But thanks to this bullshit notion of influencers, the outer limits of truth and objectivity are being explored.

For centuries, wine lovers have cited the phrase, “in vino, veritas.” That means that after a little wine, the truth comes out. 

But now with a little wine in them, wine influencers are only out to obtain self- glorification, perks, and freebies. And the chance to make a few bucks.

So truth and objectivity are slipping away from the wine world. Posting a bottle photo on Instagram and exclaiming how great the wine is to one’s pod of followers is  only a minor infraction. But if you have hundreds of followers, it might keep the free samples coming your way.

I recently met a “wine influencer.” It (neutral pronoun) did the hand quotation marks when introducing itself. The occasion was a weekend wine event and the “influencer” was invited to enjoy free meals, wine tastings, and at least two nights accommodations.

The meeting confirmed my suspicion a self-proclaimed wine influencer is a sleazy, talentless, free-loader who should be exiled to the next Fyre Festival. (Transportation not included).

But the situation becomes serious as influencers morph into something known as “affiliates” and these people are now taking wine writing and reviewing one major step down the slippery slope. 

Much like influencer, the word “affiliate” is taking on a new definition.

While researching an article on wines for the holidays, I  encountered a list of 32 wines recommended for Thanksgiving on the Oprah website. 

That Oprah, the one person almost everyone still trusts for advice. 

I did think the number 32 was odd, but then digging deeper, things really got my attention. When clicking on more information for specific wines, I was connected to something called “Drizly,” an app set up for selling and delivering many of the wines recommended.

Drizly which operates in all major cities, sent me to e-commerce sites like www.wine.com and wineaccess.com or to the wine producer’s website when I clicked on a specific wine.

And then I read this in the fine print on the footer page:

“Do you and your readers enjoy sippin’ on an adult beverage from time to time? If so, we’ve got good news: The Drizly Affiliate Program makes it easy to earn some extra cash through your website, blog or e-newsletter. Cash that could be used for, well, more of those adult beverages we all love. (You could also use it for other things…we guess.)

The nitty-gritty: You can earn up to 8% commission on all sales that are referred to Drizly from a tracked link placed on your site. You’re paid the first time a customer visits to make a purchase, PLUS any subsequent tracked purchases that customer makes for up to 30 days. Average orders are over $70, so those commissions can add up quick. Which means you’ll be ordering the fancy drinks for next weekend.”

As a consumer, Drizly sounds kind of cool to me. Sort of the Doordash for booze.

 But Affiliates? Commissions? Money? 

Then when reviewing www.winc.com for another post published last week, I ran into this on its home page:

 Are you an affiliate looking to run the Winc Affiliate Program? Join now!

This also got my attention and eventually helped me understand why winc is so highly rated in reviews of subscription type wine clubs.

 A reviewer, aka an affiliate, any writer or influencer can enjoy the following perks: 

  • Earn up to $18 commission for every new subscription
  • 10% revenue share on gift card, gift box, and shop purchases
  • Variety of updated creative

Special coupons and seasonal promotional opportunities

  • Performance and bonus incentives for our partners
  • Opportunity to try Winc on the house!

Well, it seems this is the norm today, linking what appears to be advice to a seller like Drizly or winc for commissions. This goes way beyond the “refer a friend and get $20 off your next order.”

But just to be sure, I checked out other subscription wine clubs only to find some like the Cellars wine club that make even more lucrative proposals for affiliates:

  • 15% commission, no joining cost.
  • High average order of $192: That’s an average $28.80 commission on every order!
  • Lengthy 120-day cookie: As long as one customer signs up for one of our clubs within 120 days of their first click-through, you earn a commission.
  • Commission paid daily.
  • Use our high-quality images and easy to share information to assist your promotion.
  • Our staff is available to assist with individualized campaign strategies.
  • Access to special promotions and incentive programs.

Yes, we are talking real bucks $$$ and, yes, it is widespread.

A few reviewers, sorry, affiliates, will fess up in the beginning, as did this one:

“This article includes affiliate links. That means we will be compensated if this Winc review convinces you it is the right wine club for you.”

Sometimes on other sites a disclaimer appears in tiny print as a link at the bottom of a website. Such as this one which touts winc:

“Just so you know, this post may contain affiliate links. Meaning I receive commissions for purchases made through those links, at no cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.”

Or this one:

“The wine club offers that appear on our website are from wine club companies from which http://www.thewineclubreviews.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all wine club companies, or all available wine club offers.”

Somehow it is worth noting the author who rated winc tops describes himself this way:

“The author of this site is not a professional wine taster but simply loves to cook as a hobby and is extremely passionate about it.”

How about those credentials? Well, hard to say if he’s passionate about wine or cooking. Or commissions.

But who cares. At least he didn’t describe himself as a “ wine influencer.”

Now some will say, “so what?” Websites can be so easily equipped with links and cookies that this is normal and no one is being harmed. 

That reminds me of those famous words recently uttered, “Get over it.”

But I can’t get over it because, as you’ll see in my next post, wine is not just another consumer product and marketing through affiliates is becoming big business.

Just google “top wine affiliates program” and see what I mean.