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.

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  www.invino.com 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 invino.com. 

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 www.invino.com, 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 winespies.com 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, lastbottlewines.com 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, vivino.com 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.

www.wineaccess.com  offered the 2016 Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir Anderson Valley, $29.00

www.invino.com 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

http://www.wineexpress.com

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

www.finalcasewine.com

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

www.winespies.com

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:

www.vivino.com

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 wine.com, this wine is listed for $69.99.

www.lastbottlewines.com

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

www.wineaccess.com

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.

www.wtso.com

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.

http://www.cinderellawine.com

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:

 www.wineexpress.com   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.

www.winespies.com  These guys just offered Heidi Barrett’s 2015 La Sirena Pirate Red.

www.sommselect.com  teased up all this week with a 1998 Puligny Montrachet ($120). And also a terrific 2017 Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling.

www.finalcase.com  is the first to offer the 2016 Whitehall Lane Napa Cabernet for $33.95

www.wineaccess.com  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.


www.lastbottlewines.com  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:

www.wineexpress.com Heitz Cabs, Silver Oak, Caymus Cab, Flowers Pinot, 2015 Bordeaux

www.vivino.com Sullivan Vineyards, Rams Gate, Chateau St. Michelle Ethos Reserve

www.winespies.com  Dash Cellars, Robert Craig, Spy Valley from New Zealand, Morgado Cellars

www.wineaccess.com 2015 Burgo Viejo Palacio de Primavera Rioja Reserva, and Cabs from Rudius, Anderson Conn Valley, Larkmead, Coho Headwater

www.wiredforwine.com 2019 Domaine Ott Rose, Booker, and Pinots from Big Basin, Anthill Farms and Cakebread.

www.firstbottlewines.com   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.

More Red Wine Weekend Specials

These are unbeatable deals!

2017 DAOU Vineyards Pessimist Paso Robles Red Blend , $17.97 at www.napacabs.com

An exciting Rhone blend, normally selling for $27.99.

2017 Blue Farm Anne Katherina Vineyard Pinot Noir, $39.99 at www.vivino.com

This cult Pinot usually sells for $65.

Let the deals continue….

 

 

 

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.