Heads Up: Sales Alert

 

Vintage wine estate sale

With some wines offered 50% below retail, vintage wine estate is worth checking out this Tuesday.

It is a one-day sale, February 25, 2020

Many wineries/brands are in the company’s  portfolio. Here’s a partial list:

Vintage Wine Estates includes Clos Pegase, Cosentino Winery, Girard Winery, B.R. Cohn Winery, Swanson Vineyards, Viansa Sonoma, Windsor Vineyards, Cameron Hughes, Firesteed, Tamarack Cellars, Cartlidge & Browne, Sonoma Coast Vineyards…

I’ll be looking to see which wines, if any, will be from Qupe, Swanson, Clos Pegase, Sonoma Coast and Kunde.

The teaser mentioned the 2018 Kunde Chardonnay for $10.80 a bottle and

2014 Clayhouse Malbec from Paso Robles for $9.00

Added incentive: one cent shipping on case orders.

If interested,

Go to: www.vintagewineestates.com

5 Best Somm Sites & Free Wine Education

Somms have come a long way since my years as a wine teacher. The new breed study hard and pass rigorous exams. Whether full on MS scholars or those having attained certain WSET levels, they have soaked up tons of information about the many facets of wine.

Knowing a subject inside and out is essential as a starting point but it does not make one a good or excellent teacher.

 How to organize and convey information is what sets good teachers apart from the bad and the boring.  Motivating students to continue learning after the class is another key.

That holds true for everyone imparting information on every subject.

Somms and MWs are no exception. 

Focusing on free stuff on the internet is like returning to the Wine Library at UC Davis  Or for me, the Healdsburg Library where I spent many hours.

Oh well, enough nostalgia. I’ve recently been following Somms and a few MWs online. I’ve read numerous background articles, wine reviews, and have viewed too many videos and Podcasts featuring Somms. Yes, I’ve seen the movies as well. 

Regarding wine podcasts, I checked out many, including  “Drunk Bitches” and “Wine to Five.” Neither made my list.

As of now based on the latest, five websites backed by Somms lead the field in free online wine education. All 5 should be approached as team teachers, since each brings a special area of expertise and strength to the immense subject.

In other words, no one stands alone in my mind as “the” wine educator. There is no Kevin Zraly among today’s SOMMS.

But here are the 5, each bringing something powerful and rewarding to wine education:

www.winefolly.com 

Begin here: Best on how to taste and talk about wines.

Madeline Puckette, a certified Somm and member of the Guild of Sommeliers is the outfront personality. She and her partners stated Wine Folly in 2011. As she explains, “The goal of Wine Folly is to share wine knowledge in a way to encourage and inspire new drinkers. “

And she does that. She is not, thankfully, talking to wannabe sommeliers, and she focuses on making wine tasting enjoyable.

 Often relying on blind tasting wines side by side, she brings tremendous enthusiasm to the subject. She is basically teaching viewers how to taste and identify wines, and manages to make it lively, if not exactly entertaining. Other than having the credentials, she comes across, and this seems important to me, as a normal person, not a twit or nerd.

I liked her tasting of 3 under $20 Cabernets purchased at a supermarket. It immediately breaks the association of price and quality so common among new wine lovers. As the wines are evaluated, she tends to focus a lot on the appearance, not just color but the overall appearance. Love her use of the wine aroma wheel!

www.guildsomm.com

Second step: Know your grapes and wine regions.

GuildSomm is “a nonprofit international membership organization for sommeliers and wine professionals that promotes education, collaboration, and healthy debate while maintaining the key values of the sommelier profession: integrity, humility, and hospitality. We’re here to help you expand your knowledge of the wine world.”

MS Geoff Kruth launched the GuildSomm website in 2009, joining his career in wine with his early background in technology. He manages the organization, hosts the GuildSomm podcast, develops content, and leads masterclasses. Feature articles, podcasts, and videos are publicly available and cover varied topics on the world of wine. 

The only drawback with guildsomm is information overload. Some articles go too far in depth and and seem to be factoid upon factoid. We have all had teachers who don’t know how to pace a lecture and keep the student’s interest.  

So, for example,  when reading the article on Merlot which is crammed full of information, I suggest you step away from the screen every so often.

But, that aside, there a wealth of information available here and it is accurate and up to date.

www.sommselect.com

Best for Buying and Enjoying Wines

Although this is an e-commerce, wine club site, the head sommeliers, Ian Cauble and David Lynch share many fantastic, personal insights about wines, wine styles, regions, and the people behind the wines.  

For Italian wines, Lynch is the man. For Burgundy, Cauble is hard to beat. For Pinot Noir, he recently wrote: Let’s not forget that Germany has nearly the same deep history with the grape as Burgundy, and that Germany ranks third in the world (behind France and the US) in total Pinot Noir planting.

For a fresh perspective on lesser grapes, you hear this from him: “Be it Tuscan, Ligurian, Sardinian, or Corsican, Vermentino is a distinctively ‘Mediterranean’ grape we all need to get to know better.” 

www.napawineacademy.com

Best for reminding everyone that wine is about people. Real people.

This online site focuses on classes for students of various interests and levels. You can enroll in these classes and attend at several locations in addition to Napa. Or you can enroll online.

The catch is that these classes are offered on a fee basis, meaning you pay. Yes, this is serious and the major part of the program consists of classes for different WSET levels.

The Wine 101 Foundation course is widely appealing and the fee is $125. That’s a bargain for the price.

But why I include these folks here is that there are free podcasts, audio only. But they are wonderful interviews with wine people, winemakers, winery owners, 

and marketing types. About an hour long, the Cathy Corison audio is wonderful and typical of the others offered.  You can also read the blogs, basically well-researched timely articles on grape varieties, regions, and events.

www.vinosity.com

This site wraps it all up nicely.

The wine world is immense, but wine is all about people and places as well as wine. At vinosity, over two dozen writers report from regions around the world.

The trick here is to be alert and sign up for a two week free trial. Then immerse yourself in articles from writers around the world. Several authors are MWs.

This is Steven Spurrier’s new pet project to revive wine journalism. He has two articles online that are brilliant, one on Okanagan wines and the other on the most recent San Francisco International wine competition.

South Africa’s leading expert, Michael Fridjhon, contributed a lively, insightful view of Stellenbosh. Don’t miss the conversation about Wachau, one of Austria’s amazing wine regions.

And, of course, the update on California Rhone wines goes off the charts.

So, to sum up:

Use these 5 websites offering free stuff to learn as much as you want to about wine. 

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.

 

 

 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

The New #1 Wine Website

Wines Til Sold Out or wtso.com was one of the first and has made so many recent improvements that it has broken away from the pack and has emerged as a leader in this fast-paced, competitive world of online wine selling.

Over its 13 year history, Wtso.com has experienced a few ups and downs, and I have been critical at times.

But as one of the oldest wine websites, it just may be the #1 place to buy wines online today.

It has matured and is now more than a flash sale.

Here are 3 top deals featured this week that won me over:

2016 Torii Mor Pinot Noir Reserve Selection, Willamette Valley, $14.99

with free shipping on 4.

2016 La Croix Saint-Christophe, St. Emilion, $19.99

2016 Faite Pinot Noir Paraiso Springs, Santa Lucia Highlands $14.99

These two Pinots are excellent values from super producers and vintages.

Tasted side by side, they display the best features of each appellation.

But the Torii Mor Pinot is an absolute killer deal!

The Grand Cru St. Emilion which is Merlot and Cabernet Franc is one of my favs in an extra-special vintage. Oh yeah, famed consultant Michell Rolland also blessed it. Did I mention the price is 70% below retail?

Also, fyi–the 2016 Encantado Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville offered by wtso.com at $24.99 is made by Pine Ridge which sells an Oakville Cab for $100 a pop.

Learn more at http://www.robywine.com

 

 

 

First Great Memorial Weekend Wine Deal

 

The first of many we hope, is a super white wine and a total no-brainer:

2014 Acacia Winery Lake Chardonnay, Carneros  $9.96

Offered by www.garagistewine.com

Acacia’s Winery Lake Chardonnay has been a longtime favorite of those preferring real Chardonnay over the over-oak, manufactured style.  

The story here is that Treasury Wine Estates bought Acacia along with others in 2016. It sold the winery, and now operates Acacia as a brand.

I’m guessing the marketing guys assume this 2014 is getting old and they want to get rid of the inventory.

I’m also guessing they are totally wrong.

This Chardonnay was originally offered in the $30-$35 price range.

It is sad to see a once great name like Acacia heading off into the corporate world.

But, hey, why not take advantage of the corporate thinking and experience what made Acacia famous.

You cant beat the price.

Garagiste.com has been checked out and it is upfront and delivers. It was the first to offer Wind Gap wines at deep discounts.

The Best Online Wine Shop?

So, I have to confess my picks for the Sweet 16 college teams did not fare well. Each one has, alas, gone home.

My game is online wine shopping, and here is my choice for one of the Final Four

http://www.garagistewine.com

garagistewine.com is the most peculiar online retailer I follow. One reason is that its founder Jon Rimmerman who has been offering wines for over 20 years often presents his daily offers late at night.  He is based in Washington State which may explain some things.

He sometimes seems a bit chatty and becomes so excited and enthusiastic that he might belabor a point about a particular wine or region.

He is also insistent about when he will ship your wines and specifies the required temperature and humidity for proper shipping.

But these minor quirks are greatly offset by the pluses.

  • He seeks out wines that are organic, biodynamic and farmed sustainably  
  • He favors small artisan producers and family owned wineries
  • He obtains many wines direct so truly cuts out the middleman
  • He doesn’t use inflated scores from Somms
  • His wines are attractively priced
  • And he is unpredictable, sometimes offering olive oil, nutella, or food items. All high quality.

I enjoy reading his detailed notes because he truly knows his stuff. His background insights about vintages and regions are extremely useful. He is particularly on top of the vintage variations in France’s Burgundy and the Rhone.

He provided a detailed report on 2016 and 2017 based on travels and tastings throughout France and it is spot on. His remarks about 2015 and 2016 Bordeaux are the most reliable in the wine trade.

His analysis of 2016 in Burgundy and of the 2017 Northern Rhone are some of the best I’ve read.

And to this fellow Loire Valley lover, he has the inside track on Loire Valley wines:

“2018 is one of those “pinch me, this can’t possibly be true?” red wine vintages in the Loire. I can’t really compare it to anything else – it has the ripeness of a vintage like 1989 but the freshness of 1996 (another classic year.”

He also looks closely for super wines from Washington, of course but also Oregon. A recent Washington Tempranillo was remarkable.

He often locates super wines under $15 a bottle.

Here are examples of recent offerings:

  • 2018 Bourgueil, Domaine Cotellergie, $16.76
  • 2016 Scott Paul Pinot Noir, Chehelam Mts, $19.71
  • 2014 Rioja Riserva, Burgo Viejo, $13.98
  • 2017 Sancerre, Dezat $19.99
  • 2016 Renvoise “Jasmieres,” dry Loire Valley Chenin Blanc $16.70
  • 2015 Domaine de Cambes, Bordeaux $33.71
  • 2016 Ribbonwood Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough $7.99

He recently offered a lovely Provence Rose for sale at $9.99.

He found “the best Bordeaux you’ve never heard of” from 2011.

He comes across as frank, as in these recent notes:

“This is fastidiously produced Chardonnay without a smidge of pretense but the stuffing and expression to, well, pummel just about any other example from outside the Burgundian reach under $30. In addition, the impact is from fruit, stone and clarity, not from alcohol, wood or from winemaker strategic manipulation/enhancement.”

Or

“If you think “bargain” wine is devoid of potential pleasure or cannot be in the league of top-drawer entrants, guess again. This wine can easily compete with Sauvignon Blanc at 2-3 times the $ and many of its competitors are not as delicious to drink.”

Sometimes to keep prices low, he suggests buying 6 or 12 bottles or more which may seem like hype and hustle, but I think he is sincere and honest in his emphasis on offering value.

A maximum number of bottles a person may purchase is always listed, ranging from 6 to 60.

Pros:

Wildly eclectic selection not found elsewhere.

Excellent prices

Seeks out biodynamic and other green products.

Cons:

Complicated shipping procedures and delivery dates but only to assure wines arrive in fine condition.

Secret Stuff in A Perfect, 100 point Wine

Revealing the Hidden Pleasures Experts Find in 100 Point Wines

My friends at winetoday.com list 32 different wines that earned 100 points, a perfect score from wine experts.

Needing to take a break from various fact checking articles and today’s tweet storms, I decided to study the reviews and try to pinpoint what is in a wine that makes critics declare they have found perfection, Nirvana in a glass.

This seemed like a useful study to share since most normal wine loving people wouldn’t cough up the big bucks needed to buy most of those listed. The prices of these 32 perfect wines ranged from $115 to $1,249.99 a bottle. The cheapest was from Chile. The most expensive was actually on sale.

Most are red wines, so they like most good reds were loaded with blackberry, cherry, and plum fruit, with lots of violets and rose aromas, and had notes of various spices up the wazoo.

And off course the 100 pointers were ultra-ripe, plush, seamless, hedonistic, and smoother than a baby’s bottom. Some jump out of the glass which is a bit frightening. Another was built “like a brick house” which is good, I think.

But what else makes the 100 pointers different from the other red wines are three key ingredients:

  1. Dirt and Dust

 

Yes, dusty and dried things are frequently cited, so hold your breath.

The following are part of expert descriptions capturing the joys and pleasure to be found in 100 point wines:

 

…”hints of iron ore and dusty earth.”

…”raspberries and wet rocks.”

…“wet pebbles”

…”scorched earth”

…”dusty earth”

…”singed iron and chalky minerality”

  1. Smoke

No, this component was unrelated to recent wine country fires. But maybe critics should have had those masks handy because many perfect wines have these notes:

..”a.hint of barbecue smoke”

…”cedar and charcoal”

..”.a well-roasted frame of alder and juniper”

…”with wafts of dried roses, unsmoked cigars and tilled soil”

…”smoldering tobacco, charcoal and licorice”

 

  1. Truly strange stuff

“notes of creosote”

“beef drippings and cloves plus a hint of underbrush”

“Fenugreek”

There you have it!

If you weren’t so frugal, you could be savoring a 100 point wine and enjoying every nuance of its dusty, dried, scorched earth aromas with enticing smoky barbecue and charcoal flavors culminating in creosote and beef drippings.

Then again, think of all the money you are saving.

True confession: I had to google “fenugreek,” and so will you, if curious.

Cheers,