The Price of Top Bordeaux

2015 Chateau Margaux 750ml (Bordeaux) – $1,268.70

Rated 100 points: (WA98-100)  (JS100)

(JD100)

Offered by     wwwgaragistewine.com

“STRICT LIMIT 1/person until we run out (in the spirit of the community and to allow as many of you as possible to acquire it at this $, please do not be upset with the one bottle limit.

(to be clear, this is $1268+ per bottle)

$1268+ is a Top Deal?”

Could well be. Time will tell.

 

Best Deal on a 2015 St. Emilion

Based upon today’s prices, St. Emilion appears to be the hot region for 2015 Bordeaux. The so-called second tier wines being offered on a pre arrival basis are well over $50, averaging closer to $70.

So, here is today’s recommendation for a steal of a deal:

2015 Chateau Haut Brisson St. Emilion Grand Cru, $28.99 offered by

www.winelibrary.com

Brisson, a real chateau with a long but uneven history, is making a strong comeback under its present owner.

The reviewers are talking this one up and throwing high scores around, so better act fast.

Looking for a talking point, I enjoyed this odd comment from a report published by James Suckling:

“The sign of a great vintage in Bordeaux is when even bad producers make excellent wines,” quips Alain Vautier, the owner of St.-Emilion’s great Château Ausone.”

Suckling adds, “But it’s no joke. They are so many excellent wines in 2015, from the top classified growths to simple bottlings.”

 

 

Today’s Best Value Bordeaux

 

2015 Chateau Poitevin Cru Bourgeois Medoc

$14.99, with free case shipping at

www.cinderellawine.com

First of all, this is a good price, but I wouldn’t pay much more. You may see it for slightly less over the next few weeks. Buy now or wait: Your decision.

Second, a real OMG moment for me when I read something intelligent and on point from one of the Wine Advocate folks. On 2015 Cru Bourgeois Medoc wines:

“They are not for label hunters. They are not investor catnip. They are straightforward, no frills, delicious expressions of Cabernet and Merlot cultivated in the region that does it best, frequently bursting with freshness and vitality, structured and complex.”

Wow!  Nicely said.

Today’s Insider Tips:

In St. Emilion, the “Grand Cru Classe” designation means very little these days. However, if  you are a big fan of  St. Emilion, check out wines from the Montagne St. Emilion appellation, always less expensive and often of surprising quality. Also consider wines from the Castillon region, Cote de Castillon.

If you prefer the Medoc, style with more Cabernet in the blend, consider wines from the Graves District of Pessac-Leognan or those simply labeled Bordeaux.

But if you are a real maverick always thinking outside the box, venture a little east of Bordeaux and explore the reds from Bergerac. About 28,000 acres are planted in Bergerac and its two top appellations, Pecharmant and Montraval. Here you’ll find wines from the same varieties grown in the same climate with one main difference: they can be incredibly delicious for the price.

Domaine Haut-Pécharmant and Château Tiregand are great examples I was fortunate to discover when living nearby.

 

 

 Super Deals on Bordeaux to Bowl You Over

 

2015 Chateau Larroque, Bordeaux Superieur, $18.00 with free shipping 

A lovely, solid, beautifully balanced authentic Bordeaux. This is a direct import from:

www.wineaccess.com

Here is another personal favorite known to deliver real value in outstanding vintages:

2015 Chateau Lanessan, Haut-Medoc

Savvy shoppers will snap it up in the $15-22 price range.

This 2015 does not disappoint, delivering refined black fruit

in a supple package. The 2010, as a reference point, is wonderful right now.

Shop the 2015 online at these sites:

www.garagistewine.com has it for $15.97  a bottle and it is ready to be shipped.

The following will ship it in a few months:

www.wine.com has it for $16.97

www.finewinesinternational.com has it for $18. With free shipping on 6

www.lawineco.com for $17.95

Tip of the Day

Who can you trust for Bordeaux ratings and scores?

Decanter Magazine, especially the magazine. Not so much the medals awarded at the annual judging. A positive review from Decanter is well-earned.

The Wine Enthusiast, if the wine is rated by RV, Roger Voss.

James Suckling–more reliable than Parker’s Wine Advocate which has lost its focus.

Writer Jane Anson for on the scene, accurate information and assessments.

February is Best Buy Bordeaux Month

merlotgrapes
Merlot in St. Emilion, 2015

The floodgates are beginning to open for terrific deals, even genuine bargains for 2015 red Bordeaux and a few remaining 2014s.

And we at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com will be alerting you to those unbeatable deals throughout the month. And providing insider buying tips.

So you can be amused by those stories about $500-$1,000 bottles of Bordeaux. And you can pass on the chance to buy “Futures” of 2015 and take delivery (if you are lucky) several months from now.

Time for a reality check and be prepared to ignore online retailers hyping offers of big named châteaux. Unless you want to pay $500 or more for a bottle of Cheval Blanc, or Margaux, or Lafite.

If you are not truly a compulsive collector which we respect or a totally insecure name-dropper, there is no reason to shell out big bucks for 2015 Bordeaux.

To us, “Bargain” does not mean cheap or lower quality. Or lowering your standards. It means high quality wines at honest, down to earth prices.

Though it is just beginning, we have already seen excellent deals of quality Bordeaux under $25 a bottle. And super, age-worthy wines below $50.

Not just attractively priced ordinary stuff, but 2015s that are authentic and capture that special quality that defines Bordeaux.

The following websites are the early pace-setters:

www.cinderellawine.com

www.wineaccess.com

www.garigistewine.com

www.invino.com

www.wtso.com

www.wineexpress.com

www.wine.com

www.vivino.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 130 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 firms 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.

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

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.

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, after 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

Winging It

But, I was only an angel for a few days. Though I was 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:

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

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

Wines that I’d like to try from their stocks: 2014 Le Lastau St. Emilion, the 2015 Michaud Merlot from Columbia Valley, and Ken Deis Napa Cabernet.

Other Things to Know

Nakedwines positions itself as a company that supports artisan winemakers. Big plus there. Not sure how it works.

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 prices are arbitrary.

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 150 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.

And 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.

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 many others I am curious about,

Just not enough to join the club.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Wine Sites On Cyber Monday

As the dust settles on Cyber Monday, only 4 wine websites showed any real effort to compete for our attention. The others seem to sleepwalk through the 4-day weekend, offering a super deal or unusual wine among a long list of the usual suspects sold online year-round.

There was one clear-cut winner offering 10 exciting values: www.wineaccess.com, while the three other active sites hung in there with solid efforts.

See my picks and more details at http://www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

Top Ten Values from wineaccess.com:

2014 Three Wine Company, Zinfandel, Contra Costa $23

2013 Bouchaine Pinot Noir Carneros $20

2015 M. Sarrazin Bourgogne Rouge, Vieilles Vignes $24

2015 Akarua Rua Pinot Noir, Central Otago $21.99

2015 Domaine de la Colline, Vacqueyras, $24.99

2015 Albert Bichot Vire Clesse $19.00-30

2016 Lioco Chardonnay, Sonoma County $22

2015 Domaine Roger Sancerre, $20

2015 Richmond Plains Sauvignon Blanc, Nelson, NZ $17

2015 Silkman Semillon Hunter Valley $22

Discounts were as high as 60% on several wines with free shipping. There were other added incentives for bigger orders.

This site is now well-balanced and includes many of the big names for the big spenders such as: Caymus, Amuse Bouche, Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne, Laurent Perrier Rose, Lagier Meredith Syrah, Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot, Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet

www.wine.com was active all weekend and wrapped it up with 1 cent shipping on orders of $29 or more on Monday.

www.invino.com continues to impress as it picks up new wines from around the wine world. I liked the rarely seen Meyer Family Anderson Valley Chardonnay at $19.99, and all Foppiano wines, especially the 2014 Estate Zinfandel at $15.99.

www.cinderellawine.com kept coming up with intriguing deals over the weekend.The most amazing was the 2015 Chateau Saint Roch Chimeres, Cotes du Roussillon, $13.99 and free shipping on 6 bottles. In the Roussillon, Minervois regions, 2015 is an excellent vintage and this is one major league deal!

The other sites I monitor kept a low profile and seemed to have decided to lay low and let Amazon enjoy the spotlight.

Power to the (Wine) People!

 

Or, what Happens when 26 Million People Vote for Best Wines

Vivino just published its 2018 Wine Style Awards which it describes as  “the only awards within the industry wholly decided by the public.”

Here is how it works: “Over 26 million wine lovers from around the world have chosen the 1,490 winning wines, that span 149 wine style categories, by rating them on Vivino over the past 12 months.”

The full winners can be viewed at  www.vivino.com/awards.

Vivino founder and CEO, Heini Zachariassen, commented:

“The Vivino Wine Style Awards showcase the democratization of the wine world, by putting the power into the people’s hands.”

“Through our 26-million strong community, we’re not only able to deduce which are the best wines in the world, but also a host of other interesting wine trends…”

If you don’t know  much about vivino, see my review at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com   which is generally favorable.

Vivino is certainly one of the most dynamic online wine sites. 

A few business articles have suggested it is trying to become the Amazon of the wine world. No harm in trying.

But let’s try to figure out what this list is and whether it has any real value to consumers or the wine trade. Is this a list of “the best wines in the world” or simply the “most popular” to vivino’s subscribers? Or are they one and the same?

Having read through all 1,490 wines listed, I came away thinking it is primarily a re-listing of the most famous, most expensive wines in the world.

With few exceptions. This is especially true of all French and most Italian and Spanish categories. But also of California. And Argentina led by high-end wineries such as Via Cobos and Catena.

I was hoping for some exciting trends to emerge, breakaway producers, dozens of new wineries pushing the old guard aside. But this was not the case. Instead you get all the oldies from Antinori to Petrus to Chateau d’ YQuem with only minor shuffling within categories.

I’m not opposed to ratings from the wine community, consisting of people with widely different levels of expertise. I’m supportive of anything that might be more useful than the 100 point system.

Posting notes and comments empowers some people and makes wine tasting fun. It also forces them to focus on the wine and to develop a vocabulary to support their opinions.

Best of all, it frees wine lovers from relying on ratings from any and all professional critics.

So why didn’t this concept of “putting the power into the people’s hands” yield some amazing newsworthy or at least some totally new stuff?

Too many categories? Too many reviewers? Something clearly did not click when the top White Rioja is one from 1986 priced at $899.99 and when the best Amarone will cost you $546 a pop.  

And for one more example: the best northern Italian white is the 2011 Gaja Chardonnay at $241 a bottle!

Maybe the answer lies buried in the French Burgundy categories. One has to wonder did 194 Vivino members taste and review the 2006 DRC “La Tache?

And did 127 taste the 2012 La Romanee which retails for $14,962?
So how does any of this high priced stuff, to quote from the press release “help producers better understand consumer behavior and demand”? 

The news release mentions the inclusion of Tannat from Uruguay and the growing interest in Cremant as a sparkling choice. Both wines consumers should know better.

The ten best New Zealand Pinot Noir list is excellent with several newcomers to join oldtimerFelton Road. Also found some excitement in the Chilean Malbec list and in the Spanish Syrah list.

In the various California categories, it was newsworthy to see such solid names as Frank Family, Rombauer, and Cakebread continue to be recognized.

And, yes there were a few new names such as Garguilo for its Cabernets, Robert Lloyd for Chardonnay and Arkenstone for Sauvignon Blanc. They google very well.

So what is the takeaway after studying this list of “The Year’s Best wines chosen by 26 million people?

One idea that keeps coming back is that since one assumes these amateurs actually bought the wines with their own money, 

It is normal to want to love the most expensive wine. Especially if you bought it.

Who wants to  shell to out $795 for the Harlan Estate or $1,4962 for the DRC only to admit to friends and family that the wine really wasn’t that great?  And then rate them both 3 out of 5.

Not gonna happen!

Nor am I going to slip in a comment about the occasional failure of the democratic process to come up with the best.

It is an imperfect system.

Finding the Right Wine Club

If Quality, Variety and A Proven Track Record are Your Thing…

Navarro Vineyard’s “Pre Release Tasting Program” is highly recommended.

Overall Rating 4.75 stars.

Rated 5 out of 5 in 4 of 5 main categories

Background

Navarro could well be the granddaddy of all wine clubs. Still family owned and operated by Deborah Cahn and Ted Bennett, Navarro has been selling direct through its mailing list since 1974.

Over such a long run, the winery fine tuned the wine club program and in many ways wrote the book on how to make it work.

And, most important, these guys how to keep members’ loyalty over the years.

Almost all wines are sold direct from the winery, and with rare exception, they are not sold in wine stores. So the exclusive angle is strong.

Quick View:

First, the staff, many of whom have been there for many years, is extremely knowledgeable and attentive. They have first hand information about the winemaking and get involved in the evaluation and marketing of all wines.

Members are offered all wines before non members can buy them. This is a big plus.

Normally wines are pre-released in the Spring and in the Fall. Members are notified about new wines by mail or email, and either way, the information is cleverly presented in a personal, no baloney prose style.

Memberships remain active by purchasing a case a year. The choice is yours, but the winery also offers special case samplers around a theme like “Springtime Whites” or “Hearty Reds.” Typically, six different case samplers are offered.

The Wines

Without question, the wines are of high quality as evidenced by the inordinate numbers of medals won each year. I’ve judged their wines on several occasions and they almost always steal the show.

The flagship wine is the high end Pinot Noir, “Methode a l’Ancienne.” closely followed by the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay.

But if you have never liked a Gewurztraminer or a dry Riesling, you owe it to yourself to try Navarro’s, each  the best of the breed. My favorite is the Sauvignon Blanc.

But there are wide choices for members as the winery normally bottles 20 or so wines per year. There are 3 different Chardonnays and 3 Pinot Noirs as a rule.

And there is always something new going on…a new varietal to the roster, a new vineyard source, or a new technique.

Some wines are offered in half bottles and a few magnums are available.

Prices: range from $16 to $50 a bottle. There normally are 3 or 4 wines priced below $20 a bottle.

Discounts range from 20% to 25% for members

Twice a year timed with the Pre-Release events, the winery offers 1 cent shipping on each full case.

Special Events and Member Perks

Located in the remote town of Philo, the winery makes its facility open to members. Two Pre-Release events are held each year.

The picnic area is tranquil and lovely.  Non alcoholic grape juice is available for kids to sample.

The family also owns the successful Pennyroyal cheese company, so often a selection of cheeses is available.

Insider Tips

Best deal:

Pinot Blanc, new to the roster and far better than any Chardonnay below $20. A super everyday white!

The Anderson Valley Pinot Noir at $22 a bottle is a fantastic red wine deal.

When to buy. Wait for the window of one cent shipping and stock up.

When not to visit. Late afternoon on any Friday when tourists heading to the Mendocino Coast clog the tasting room and slam down the samples.

The Basics:

The Happy Family Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn

Aaron and Sarah Cahn Bennett

Address: 5601 CA-128, Philo, CA 95466, USA

Hours: · 8AM–6PM

www.NavarroWine.com

Phone: +1 800-537-9463