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.

 Sip Great Wine While SIP(sheltered in place)

 

Today we are seeing winemakers and wineries rise to the challenge and offer special wines, special deals.

First up, the Napa Valley Vintners Association decided to focus on older vintages or library wines. Love it!

Here’s the announcement:

“In response to the doors of our wineries being closed, we’ve decided to open up our libraries online. Shop almost 200 NVV members as they #openthecellar and offer something rare for you. It’s a win-win-win as you support the employees and small family businesses in wine country, get a rare wine, and you don’t have to leave your couch!”   https://napavintners.com/wines/openthecellar.asp

Library wines are normally held for special occasions or for club members.

So this is pretty special. Not evey wine on the list is “rare” by my definition. But 2011 Cabernets from Vineyard 29 and Paul Hobbs To Kalon are definitely rare. So too is the 08 Phelps Insignia.

Others that made my fantasy list are the 07 Pine Ridge Fortis, 09 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, 2010 La Sirena Cabernet and 05 La Sirena Syrah. 

In addition to specific wines, a number of wineries offer multiple wines, including Corison, Hunnicutt, Paradigm, and Juslyn. All super wineries.

So if you have the bucks, check out the list and go crazy!!!

But act fast. The offer end tomorrow.

Also, kudos to wilsonartisan wines, owner of 11 wineries, for its special offer.

“our Social Distancing Sale! We just added several new wines to this sale, so take a look.

Save 40% on select wines*. (There is even one wine in there for 60% off, don’t miss it!) Complimentary shipping on $300+ orders. If you are local, we are offering no-contact pickup on Wednesday 4/2 & Thursday 4/3 in Downtown Healdsburg at Rockpile Vineyards. This option is available in our store.”

www. wilsonartisanwines.com

Free shipping on $300 or more

Look for great prices from my favorites: Jaxon Keys, Rockpile Vineyards, and Greenwood Ridge.

Not to be overlooked, Bonny Doon Vineyards came up with an enticing offer.

Le Cigare Volant Vertical, 2015, 2016, 2017

2 bottles each vintage

The 2017 is made in a different style, so these 3 vintages are exciting to taste.

6 bottle vertical for $216. 20% discount

Order 12 bottles, free shipping

Today’s Best Online Wine Deal

 

Wine Buy of the Day: Sheltered In, Day #2

offered by    http://www.garagistewine.com

2017 Matthews Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $19.94

Perfect example of high-quality Columbia Valley Cabernet and why this region is one of Washington’s best.  Winery bottle price is $34.

 

More About this Site

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 was way ahead of the competition by offering Wind Gap wines months before the others.

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

Here’s what he says about this  Matthews’s wine: ”This is a coddled, “handmade” wine that deserves to be tasted and enjoyed. It’s on the same level (easily) as $50-75+ Napa/Sonoma bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon with a drive, energy and intensity (plus a downright regal stature) reserved for upper-tier examples. In other words, this is not some $19+ plonk, this is serious wine.”

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 these 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 or Parker types

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.

And 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.”

Check out garagistewine.com for this Cabernet and look for Loire wines.

5 Ways Calera Wines Remain Exceptional

 

In August, 2017, after reading the daily wine news headline announcing that Calera, one my favorite wineries followed since day one, was bought by a big company, my gut feeling was, ‘“oh crap, another one bites the dust.” 

The all-too familiar and disturbing pattern is that invariably about a year after the acquisition of a small, quality-minded winery, production will be ramped up, key people depart, and what’s left is yet another brand. Only the name will be the same.

 It happened to St. Clement in Napa which is now home to Faust, and St.Clement is just another brand discounted at Trader Joe’s. Matanzas Creek, another favorite, is now stacked high with other Jackson Family brands at many Safeway Stores. I could list a dozen or more once proud family wineries than have been converted into big volume corporate brands. 

But to move on. There were two good reasons why Calera might not follow that pattern.

First, Josh Jensen who founded Calera in 1972 never went with the crowd, always took the road less travelled.  In 1972 he focused on Pinot Noir, not Cabernet, explored regions to the South, not Napa and Sonoma, and looked for vineyards with special soils, not cool climates.

Secondly, Calera’s new owners, TSG Consumer Partners, control the Duckhorn Wine Company and they quietly fine-tuned Goldeneye after taking it over. Today, as part of the Duckhorn portfolio, Goldeneye is a Pinot Noir superstar.

So in 2020, I’m happy to report Calera is another rare exception and appears to be in very good hands.

Tasting the 2007 Calera Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir alongside the 2016 Calera Ryan Vineyard made a strong case even stronger.

For more, check out the wine club membership at http://www.calerawine.com

Brief Background

In 1972 Josh Jensen who worked a few harvests in Burgundy returned to locate a vineyard site in California that first and foremost had soils rich in limestone and chalk that distinguish the best Burgundy vineyards.

This was a time when Pinot fanatics were rare and those few looked for cooler sites in Sonoma, Carneros, Monterey and Oregon.  Trust me, soil types were only of passing interests to other newcomers to the wine scene throughout the 70s.  

Yes, after phylloxera hit in the 80s, soil considerations became a hot topic. But Jensen and his soil emphasis were way ahead of the times.

The search eventually led Jensen to Hollister where he developed 85 acres on what’s now known as Mt. Harlan. Where is Hollister? Wow, that would be a great question on Sommelier tests. And I’d bet most candidates would flunk.

Hint: it is south of San Jose, east of Gilroy in San Benito County. Hollister is the road to nowhere in the Central Coast. From another direction, Mt Harlan is located in the Gavilan Mountains 25 miles east of Monterey Bay. 

Or in other words: remote and in the middle of nowhere. You approach the area on Cienega Valley Road, so poor the potholes have potholes and you suspect your GPS is messing with you.

The barren, remote mountain site had just what Jensen wanted: limestone soils and ideal climate. A nearby quarry sells dolomite or limestone to many North Coast wineries.  Calera means limekiln in Spanish, and the winery is built into the hillside.

At an average elevation of 2,200 feet it is among the highest and coolest vineyard sites in California.  Cooler than the Carneros region by 5-6 degrees.

Three vineyards were developed in 1975. Today, Calera consists of 6 separate vineyard blocks, each with unique growing conditions and each bottled as a vineyard designated Pinot.  

Chardonnay also grows here and there is a 6-acre block planted to Viognier. Looking back, it was Calera’s early vintages of Viognier that made me hold out great hope for Viognier in California. Oh well!

Back to Calera Pinot Noir Tasted in February 2020:

The 2007 Calera Jensen, made from vines planted in 1975, was showing beautiful maturity and grace, not old age. Smooth, silky, and harmonious with subtle strawberry, lavender, earthy notes. At a peak, but can still be cellared. 

Side notes: this was one of the first vineyards planted, and 07 was the first vintage for Mike Waller at Calera.

The 2016 Calera Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir gradually unfolds and changes in the glass. It begins with ripe fruit and spice, shows a little earthiness and leather, then round, fine grained tannins balanced by acidity, all leading to a long finish. Powerful, yet polished…hallmarks of classic Pinot. 

Sidenote: Ryan was planted in 1998 and enjoys the highest elevation at 2, 500 feet.

5 Reasons why Calera will remain a Rock

  1. The 6 Pinot vineyards are old, well established and cant be expanded.
  2. Mike Waller, who grew up in Hollister, is now the winemaker after serving as assistant winemaker with Josh Jensen.
  3. Mike’s brother, Cory is now the winemaker at Eden Rift, the up and coming Pinot Noir winery a mile away. The competition is healthy.
  4. The winery, a renovated rock crushing facility is built into the hillside and works by gravity flow.
  5. The vineyards and winery are very close to the San Andreas faultline. Yes, earthquakes. Nobody wants to shake things up there.

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

Online Wine Shops: The Final Four

Final Four NCAA basketball, Spring Break, and Baseball is Back.

Add Easter weekend, Passover, and we have all kinds of reasons for special sales offers and deals.

We began the season at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com  by following 36 candidates, each claiming to have the best deals for members, exclusive offerings of super-duper values, rare wines and great vintages and, of course, the next cult wine.

But we are now down to the 4 teams that have been working the hardest to offer exceptional wines and/or exceptional deals.

www.invino.com

has played extremely well over the last two weeks.

It continues to find new ways to score, locating unusual wines such as the

Vaughn Duffy Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc.

Current exciting offers:

2013 d’Arenberg d’Arry’s Original

Grenache, Shiraz | Australia, $14.99

2017 Sancerre, Laporte, $27.00\

www.sommselect.com

Showing great depth with recent selections of a Hermitage, a Tollot-Beaut Savigny, and a Ribeiro Blanco from Galicia, a ballsy play. Also outstanding  Gigondas but the Bouzy Rouge was odd. Here are examples of an unusual find and a rare culty wine:

2017 Ribeiro Blanco, Galicia $22.00

2016 Coche-Dury’s Meursault “Les Chevalières, $75.00

www.napacabs.com

These folks have truly upped their game recently. A longshot a few months ago, this week it turned heads with several exciting wines. I liked the way it balanced big names and excellent discounts:

2015 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Cabernet, Napa Valley for $89.99 (regularly $149)

2010 La Colombina Brunello di Montalcino, $29.97

2013 Geyser Peak, Alexander Valley Reserve, $19.97 (60% off)

www.gargistewine.com

Made it into the final four for being so unpredictable but always managing to come up with a surprise play. An excellent Muscadet for under $10 or the 2016 Cos d’Estournel for under $200 may seem unlikely, but this site has them both. I am wildly impressed by the depth of the offerings from the Loire Valley.

Two versatile players:

2018 Bourgueil, Domaine Cotellergie, $16.76

2016 Scott Paul Pinot Noir, Chehelam Mts, $19.71

What about the pre-season favorites and especially www.vivino.com with its 35 millions fans?

That’s a story for another time. 

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.

Mind the Gap: Wine Marketing 101

Selling Wines Online: Two Different Approaches

Wines under the Wind Gap label are being unloaded. Garigiste.com offered several a few weeks ago, and today, two websites offered a Wind Gap wine at $15 a bottle.

As we start the New Year, which would you buy based on the website’s offer?

Here are your choices:

  1. Buy a wine associated with a guy in prison for fraud who claimed to be rich, spent lots of money, not always his own and also made by an excellent winemaker. And it was “millions” of dollars. And you are led to believe he, the guy in prison, spent tons of money on the wine.
  2. Buy a wine described in bright, uplifting terms made by an excellent winemaker.

#1 A Wind Gap Pinot Noir as offered by www.vivino.com

“What you are about to read may be the most significant cloak and dagger event in the wine industry ever!

June 27th, 2017 Wine Industry Tycoon Charles Banks was sentenced to 4 years in prison for fraud after excessively overspending to craft the best wines in the world.

The Players:

Charles Banks – His Resume:

✔️Screaming Eagle / Jonata: former co-owner / co-founder

✔️Managing Partner: Terroir Capital – $200 million in winery assets (including Wind Gap)

✔️Defrauds two NBA stars out of millions: (somewhere around $22 million)

Pax Mahle – The Winemaker:

✔️100 point superstar – founder of Pax Cellars and Wind Gap

✔️Possibly more 94-100 point scores than Heidi Barrett and Philippe Melka combined”

 

#2 A Wind Gap Syrah offered by  www.lastbottlewine.com

“BIG, bold, in your face Syrah from none other than Pax Mahle (yes, the guy who just scored 100 points for his $50 Sonoma Hillside bottling under the Pax label) that is made in a drink-me-now-with-gusto style. Bright, perfumey and juicy, this isn’t real heavy or meaty at all, just a warm, friendly, lovely, MIND-BLOWING DEAL if we have EVER seen one. Pax and his wines are all the buzz these days, so it’s particularly thrilling for us to have a little (little!) parcel to sell. PLEASE don’t miss! WILL sell out in the blink of an eye!

(oh, and Happy New Year, also, please hurry on this as Pax Mahle’s Wind Gap is more popular than a roomful of newborn kitty cats and we don’t have very much)”

 

So please cast a vote.

Shameless or frivolous?

 

2018 Wine Website Annual Awards

 

Now that the post-Christmas sales are over and we can wrap up this absolutely crazy year for online wine sales, the results are in for the year’s winners and, yes, losers.

So, without further ado and other clichés, here we go:

BEST FOR ONLINE DISCOUNTS

One site kept improving its offering throughout the year while maintaining healthy discounts usually over 50%, sometimes approaching 70%.

The same site actually apologizes when the discount on a special wine falls below 30%. Others brag when they can offer something at 25-30% below average retail.

And the winner for best discounts in 2018: www.wtso.com

As a footnote, this site was sued 2 years ago for mis-representing average retail prices. So it has really cleaned up its act to become a role model.

We can only hope that other sites relying on false and misleading prices, scores, and narratives take note.

BEST ONLINE WINE DISCOVERIES

This category looks for wines that are not available either in traditional wine shops or on most websites. The focus is on discoveries of unusual, limited production wines that are true to their type. But NOT EXPENSIVE.

Every wine lover is on the lookout for something different, a wine not in the mainstream.

Such as outstanding wine from Greece or Slovenia as well as wines from Germany, Spain, Italy and France. A wine that is highly enjoyable and comes with a rich and exciting history.

And the 2018 winner for presenting the best wine discoveries is: www.sommselect.com

BEST WEBSITE FOR CULT-LIKE WINES

We know there’s a market for 95+ point rated wines priced on the high end. This wine buyer is interested in not only California cults (Cade, Pahlmeyer, Insignia, Shafer, Harlan) but also in the top rated Bordeaux and Brunello, as well as the Super Tuscans like Sassicaia.

Not limited to the current favorites but also interested in the next great cult wine.

This is a hotly contested category.

Over the year one site has proven itself to be the one-stop shopping for the cult and cult-wannabe wines of the world.

The 10-20% discount and free shipping on orders of $149 or more cemented its place on the top.

The proven track record for reliability doesn’t hurt either.

And that site is: www.wineexpress.com

 

BEST WEBSITE  FOR INFORMATION, KNOWLEDGE SHARING

This category may surprise those of you all too familiar with the non-stop hype that highlights fake scores, 100 point winemakers, “greatest vintage ever” nonsense so common on wine websites. 

You may be surprised that the category even exists.

But it does. And we reviewed many websites for their content and found that…

One site offers helpful background information about regions and vintages as well as insights about the wine producer.

One site knows the prime regions of France and offers insider insider information about recent vintages.

One site finds the best values available in Washington and Oregon, both fast-changing wine regions, as well as the occasional gem from California.

The winner is this category also seeks out wines that are organic and NOT MASS produced.

The winning website which is also a good read is www.garagistewine.com

BEST ALL PURPOSE SITE FOR WINE SHOPPING

Think of amazon prime but only for wines. And, no, sorry but amazon does not yet have a good, all purpose wine department.

Check out my review at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

So for now finding an all-purpose wine website offering  wines from all regions, in all price ranges, including top sellers and cult-like wines is of extreme importance.

It can’t possibly have everything, but we looked for the one site that offers close to everything.

And the winner in 2018 is:

(We interrupt this awards program because it is New Year’s Eve and the Head Judge

just heard the sound of a Champagne cork…)

To be continued next year.