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.

Back to the Future: Wine Travels

 

Just because you have enjoyed a Sangiovese or Nebbiolo doesn’t mean you have explored the full range of Italian-inspired wines.

Ever tasted a Charbono, Dulcetto, Grignolino, or Vermentino? Well, if you are still nodding “yes “ to all four, how about a Sagrantino? That one caught my attention during a visit to the Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. 

Guglielmo is a family owned winery that has been making wines for close to a 100 years. It was founded in 1925, in the early stage of Prohibition, which tells you what one Italian-American family thought of that crazy experiment.

Sagrantino is a new addition to the family’s estate holdings and the vines border the imposing brick winery. This red wine grape is at home in Umbria, in Central Italy. It is the grape used for Montefalco wines. Janics Robinson mentions it in her definitive book, and one other California winery grows the grape.

But back to Guglielmo Winery, now run by the fourth generation.

That in itself is amazing for California wine but not that unusual in Italy.

The only other California wineries that have been in family hands longer are Wente and Concannon. The Mondavis bought Charles Krug in the 1940s and for those curious, Gallo started up in 1933.

Guglielmo is a great winery to visit, not only for its history but for its current wines. You feel like you are going back in time, seeing what wineries were like in Santa Clara County before trophy Napa wines and Silicon Valley.

Before Apple and Google, Santa Clara was a major wine region, with more history and vineyards than Napa Valley.

I love the fact that the winery and the 80 acre estate vineyards are surviving today as urban life moves into the neighborhood and Google buses are circling the area.

Tasting five wines will set you back $10. And all of $15 if you want to taste the Reserve line. My favorites are the Barbera, one of the very best, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Sangiovese, and the Sagrantino which was first produced in 2016. 

 It is richly flavored with ripe dark fruit…sort of like Zinfandel with more structure and balance. “Zinfandel without the flab” was my note.

And, Guiglielmo’s Grignolino Rose is a thing of beauty. Old-fashioned Rose in the good sense, meaning best with food.

The winery also makes Teroldego and Charbono which I plan to taste on my next visit. 

If you like history, enjoy trying new wines, and want to travel back in time, then, check out the winery and its wine club.

Guglielmo Winery:

 located at 1480 East Main Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA. The winery is less than 20 minutes south of San Jose, 1.5  hours south of San Francisco and 45 minutes north of Monterey.

A Two Part Wine Quiz for Millennials

 

Recently, one online retailer offered the 2015 Screaming Eagle

Napa Cabernet for $2,499.99 a bottle. That it was available was odd enough but then I asked myself, who would pay that for one bottle? And online?

Since millennials are the usual suspects for things we don’t understand, I created this fool-proof quiz to get some answers.

 

A. Which of the following would you buy for $2,499.99?

                  (hint, this can be pretend money or bitcoins)

  1. One Bottle of 2015 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. 36 bottles of 2015 Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon        
  3. 24 bottles of 2014 Dunn Vineyards Napa Cabernet
  4. 48 bottles of 2015 Jordan Cabernet Alexander Valley
  5. 200 bottles of Prosecco. Maybe as many as 300.   
  6. 10 bottles of 2004  “Dom” Rose Champagne

B. Would you Who Checked “A-1” Buy the Screaming Eagle Based on this Review?

98-100 pts – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate  

“Blended of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals a medium to deep garnet-purple color and nose of crushed blackberries, black cherries and wild blueberries with notions of fragrant earth, garrigue, lavender, Sichuan pepper and dried leaves. Medium-bodied with signature elegance and finesse, it’s the incredibly fine, oh-so-pixelated tannins that help to define the signature of this vineyard, beautifully supporting the elegant fruit, finishing with great poise. This is a very sensuous, pensive style and not for those seeking a full-on blockbuster but rather will greatly pleasure lovers of wines with quiet intensity and subtle depth. Note that this was a tank sample, due to be bottled within a week.”

TIME’S UP

Answer Sheet:

A.

  1. You must love eagles and didn’t know this was a wine. Or you have too much money, low self-esteem, and are bad at math. Congrats…you can be a wine collector.
  2. You know your wine history and vintages. Show off!
  3. So you are stocking or starting a wine cellar and want one to hold for several years. Good for you…planning ahead. Are you really a millennial?
  4. You are a lover of “quiet intensity and subtle depth” and are very good at math.
  5. Party On! You might also qualify for…

“I’ll Be There In A Prosecco” T-Shirt offered on Amazon.

6. You know Dom?  Feel free to invite me to the tasting.

B.

Yes, but who or what is a Robert Parker?

Is that an app, new designer running shoe or what?

And why so many, what are they…words?

No. How can you rate a wine before it is in the bottle? Tank sample?

Tank this!

And why does wine need an advocate, anyway?

Must be FAKE wine.  SAD.

 

In Dublin’s Fair City There’s A New Drink

Check Out the Latest from Dublin Before Clinking a Glass or Two of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.

I spent several days in Dublin in late February researching the drinks scene.

Actually, we were visited Irish friends celebrating a special occasion.

Here is what I learned:

The Irish drink a lot. By a lot, I mean way more than what most humans can drink.

So when visiting friends in Ireland, you are naturally involved in researching drinking trends.

First, Guinness still rules. Just heard a collective sigh of relief.

The mighty Guinness brewery occupies several city blocks in Dublin and

remains a major tourist attraction.

Btw, when the Irish donate blood in a blood drive, they are given a pint of Guinness to aid recovery. Or so I was told.

Also, the potato famine is definitely over; every main course in Dublin features a pile of mash.

A big pile.

But I digress.

Getting back to drinks, the Temple Bar is a real place with several bars in its interior  and every tourist paying too much for a pint of Guinness. Been there; done that.

Now for the blockbuster, the shocking news:

There’s a new, ultra-trendy drink in Dublin that has also made inroads in Scotland: Gin & Tonic.

You heard right: Gin & Tonic.

AKA: G&T

It is THE drink for the Dublin before-theater crowd and the after theater crowd.

Bars in Dublin have Gin lists. Extensive Gin lists are in every neighborhood bar and restaurant.

Dozens of different Gins are featured on these lists.

There are Gin shops scattered around Dublin. Even an Annual Gin Festival.

Get over it: We are way beyond Bombay and Beefeaters.

To review, Gin is primarily a distilled spirit with juniper as its primary taste. Then a combination of other botanicals are part of an infusion that makes one Gin different from another.

As I learned, Gin producers are playing the hand-crafted, artisan card and special water source that worked so well to promote artisan beers.

Specialty Gins are made by “master distillers.” They are following the playbook developed by winemakers, only they select the botanicals the way winemakers select  barrels, yeasts, and clones.

Trendy Gin is served over the rocks in a big, burgundy style glass, with a slice of lemon or lime or whatever. Cucumber Gin has a cucumber slice. Most others have a few juniper berries bobbing around in the glass. Well. I hope that’s what they were.

Then you add the tonic.

Not so fast. Rather, you pick from a list of tonics.

Really, there’s more than one tonic?

I was Schweppes away to hear there’s more than one tonic water.

Designer Tonics are in.

So you can pick the Mediterranean Tonic or the Sicilian Lemon Tonic.

Or any of the other dozen or more tonics listed.

So, come this March 17th, while you all claim to be part Irish and are drinking green beer, I’ll be considering either the Gunpowder Irish Gin, infused with slowly dried Gunpowder tea or another favorite from my research:

One Gin: “a premium hand-crafted Gin produced by”multi award-winning master distiller, Sarah Thompson.” It is doubly distilled and is an infusion of 9 botanicals, with a big dose of sage.”

Then again, I might want to go with “Ginny’s Gin,” made in Northern California and distilled from “grapes and grain.”

Or one of the three offered by a long-time favorite, St. George’s Spirits.

Whatever…

On this St.Patrick’s Day,

“A Big Dose of Sage” is highly recommended.

 

Merlot & Me

 

October has been declared Merlot month by some unknown entity.

I read this recently so it must be true:

“Beginning October 1, 2017 more than 100 Merlot-producing wineries from California, Oregon, Washington, and around the world, join together for #MerlotMe, a month-long, global movement celebrating the noble variety.”

Well, never one to bypass a celebration, I’ve been thinking about the greatest, the finest Merlot in my experience.

It is the 2002 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot tasted in 2015.

“Gorgeous, seamless, harmonious, rich with a fantastic finish, it was amazing and was obviously at its peak, but showed no signs of its age.”

It wasn’t just remarkable for its age, it was great.

Of course, normal people don’t cellar Merlot for a dozen years. But over the years I have set aside various wines to see how they age beyond the norm.  Just recently, I uncorked the 2000 Phelps “Insignia” which was another beauty: seamless and lovely, but without the drama of the 02  Duckhorn Merlot.

To be honest, very few of my long-aged wines turn out to be exciting. I’ve found most 1998 Cabernets, for example, to be disappointing after a decade or more.

But back to Merlot and Me and My Musings

Other than Duckhorn, my favorite Merlots in recent vintages have been Pride Mountain, Pine Ridge, Whitehall Lane, Shafer and Pahlmeyer.

Historically, I wrote a feature article about California Merlot when fewer than ten wineries produced a varietal. And most people pronounced it “mere lot.”

I’ll never forget tasting Merlot from barrels with pioneering winemaker Ric Forman at Sterling Vineyards and spitting into the drains below.

Besides Forman, Warren Winiarski was a major advocate of Merlot and I have fond memories of his 1974 Merlot. Phil Baxter of Rutherford Hill also helped put Merlot on the wine map.

In the late 80s, Beringer made several super Merlots from the Bancroft Vineyard on Howell Mountain. The ‘86 and ‘89 were outstanding.

Sorry millennials for my meandering down memory lane and for the following reference to the movie “Sideways”:

“Screw you, Miles and your childish hissy fit. Merlot is here to stay. At least this month.”

 

Son of A Butcher Wine, Really?

Attention adventurous wine drinkers looking for a truly exciting, unusual California red.

And sorry, Menage a Trois cranked out in large volume is clearly not in mind.

We are talking about a wine that is cutting edge.

The wine recently discovered  at www.invino.com  is…

2014 Y. Rousseau ‘Son of a Butcher’ Red, $15.99

It is made from Tannat blended with Merlot and Cabernet. The grapes came from hillside vineyards in Napa and Sonoma.

Not long ago, I met Yves Rousseau, the winemaker, at a tasting, sampled his wines, and was blown away by the quality and authenticity.

He also produces a varietal Tannat.

Q. What is Tannat, you ask?

A. It is a full-flavored red that is the pride of Madiran in Southwestern France and of every ( or so it seems) winery in Uruguay.

It is the “national pride” of Uruguay. Good to know if you are a trivia buff.

Randall G. at Bonny Doon has explored this unsung variety. Pine Ridge made several red blends named Onyx, and the 2002, 2003 relied heavily on Tannat.

And btw, both these older vintages were wonderful when I pulled the corks last year.

Akin Estates, a small winery in Lodi makes a Tannat and here’s what winemaker David Akin has to say:

Tannat, we say?  Think of a black skinned grape that produces a red wine with the body and muscle of a Cabernet Sauvignon, but without the green herby, bell peppery qualities often associated with cabernets.  Or a red wine with the zippy blackberry/raspberry fruitiness of a good Zinfandel, but without the raisiny sweet tones often found in bigger zins.

 

Two New Candidates for The 2017 Edward Bulwer-Lytton Award for Wine Descriptions

 

1) An explosive yet reticent, manly wine. Does it speak to you? See full note below.

  2) A berry, berry wine with crushed (SAD)  red flowers. Read on.

Please vote for you favorite dark and stormy wine tasting note.

#1. 93+ Points. Vinous/Antonio Galloni

“Lavender, black cherries, cloves, menthol, orange peel and dark spices grace the explosive, powerful finish. Dark and enticing, but also quite reticent, the 2013 has a lot to say, but not just yet. The deep, inky finish gives the 2013 much of its virile personality.”

#2. Anonymous online review

“This Reserve is suave and rich on the nose with lots of fresh berries, plums, red flowers and raspberries. A nice sip of mixed berries including blackberries and dark raspberries, with root beer, forest floor, cinnamon spice, vanilla oak, and crushed red flowers. A long, and vibrant finish.”

 

These two finalists join the pithy or pith-poor description posted a few days ago.

 

 

News alert! 90+ is the new 85

 

 

Happy days are here again, but wait…we aren’t talking about people. And really, people before you pop the Champagne, 90 being the new 85 isn’t such a hot prospect.

However, for wine producers/importers, and sales reps, this is positive news.

For those on the other end, the wine consumer with the app and the credit card, well put the bubbly back in the fridge because the news is not so good.

A definite trend in the wine world is that the majority of wine critics, reviewers,somms, bloggers, or anyone else rating wines by a 100 point system are over-rating wines, relaxing their standards, or just being plain old whores.

(My apologies in advance to anyone offended by my use of the word “plain.”)

It may be a coincidence but when 17 out of 25 Sauvignon Blancs reviewed scored 90, I was mystified. Before me was the November 30th, 2016 issue of The Wine Spectator and it also reviewed 12 Syrahs and a remarkable 11 rated 90 points.

In the category of “Other California Reds,” 19 wines were reviewed and 13 were rated 90 points. Not one was an 89.

A few days later, I tasted under $15 red wines and three of them, when unveiled, came with scores of 90 points on the market materials.Wow! And I had all three at 85-86.

The Tilia Malbec has a neck label with 90 points in bold letters from Robert Parker, and the 2010 Vina Cumbrero Rioja wore a Wine Spectator neck label with 90 points in red. Finally, the 2014 Garnacha de Fuego had a gold sticker saying Josh Raynolds scored it 90 points in Vinous.

Examining the label details, I saw that Raynolds actually rated the 2015, not the 2014, and the Tilia label explained that the 90 points were somehow associated with the “last 4 vintages.”

If nothing else these discrepancies confirmed that the 90+ point score is important enough for reinterpreting the truth.

Here’s my main point: as a cop-out, compromise, many reviewers are awarding average to very good quality wine a 90 point score because that is a safe score that will appease the wine trade.The 90+ is something that can be used for promotions. And obviously, will get the reviewer’s names in print.

A score of 89 or lower is unacceptable and unpromotable. Why this is true is anyone’s guess. This is the age of hype, over-achievers, and personal bests. You are either an A student or not. Winners or losers.

And the online retailers I track daily are the most blatant examples of this fixation on 90+ points. Many have a sort by 90+ points as a category.

For example, Wine.com lists 1,575 “90+ wines under $50.”

But, why is any of this important to wine consumers/shoppers?

Let’s begin with the 100 point system. When the Wine Spectator’s editors break down their ratings, a wine rated 85 to 89 is considered to be a “Very Good Wine with special qualities.” To this former English teacher, that should identify highly attractive wines. Wines that buyers should be checking out.

The 100 point system, which was never perfect, is now falling apart and failing. It is failing as a consumer guideline.

Wines in the 90-94 point range, explains the Spectator, are “Outstanding, of superior character and style.” The 3 reds from my tasting did not fit that description at all. The 2010 Vina Cumbrero was a great value which to its credit,The Wine Spectator noted.

Consumers are getting misleading and unreliable information. Some 90 or 91 point wines are way over-rated, pushed into that bracket. Conversely, some very good low-priced, great value wines are being ignored because they are rated below 90.

Either way, critics/reviewers are not doing their job.

The online wine merchants are totally obsessed with point scores. If there’s no 90 or higher score for a particular wine from the dozen or more reviewers, they will often talk about the vintage if it has a 90 rating.

So every CA Cab from 2013 and 2014 or Oregon Pinot from 2014 will be hyped, if possible. Already, the hype is on for every 2015 Bordeaux!

As things now stand, I dont think Robert Parker who elevated the 100 point rating system and promoted himself through it would argue that the system is failing. Failing from abuse, overuse, or simply because it was flawed from the beginning and survived on the basis of his sheer bravado.

Would he personally agree these two wines rated by his new team are “outstanding, and superior?

90 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The grapes of the 2014 (Tilia) Malbec were harvested very early and 70% of them fermented using carbonic maceration. The freshness is so impressive that I had to look at the alcohol level, which is half a degree lower than in the fresher 2013 vintage! There are some herbal aromas (think raspberry leaf), bright cherries and flowers, even lilies. The palate is very tasty, with some subtle bitter flavors, fine tannins and very good acidity. This is a triumph over the vintage. Bravo! This should be readily available, as they produced 500,000 bottles of it. And it’s one of the best values in Argentina too! (LG) (8/2015)

90 Points Wine Advocate:

“The forward, fruity and straight-up delicious 2015 Crozes Hermitage Equinoxe offers a forward, medium+ bodied style, as well as sweet, light tannin, lots of plum and strawberry fruits, solid mid-palate depth and no hard edges.”

Really, raspberry leaf and lilies in one; forward and fruity in the other.

Neither sounds outstanding to me.

At best, an 85.

 

Hidden Marketing Messages Appealing to Your Inner Wine Snob

 

Wine marketing language and real estate descriptions have one thing in common: code words. Home hunters know how to interpret  a “charming, quaint and well-maintained” home as out of date, tiny, with original appliances in real estate language.

But when it comes to wine, subtle code words and phrases are less well-known and ever-changing. Our study at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com of recent press releases and announcements from major wineries working on brand building or re-branding turned up 6 key points. And these 6 appeal to the hidden snob in all of us.

  1. A “luxury brand” with a suggested retail price over $300.
  2. Limited production of only 2,400 cases makes it “out of reach for most consumers.”
  3. The parent company has been growing its “high-end segment.”
  4. Customers are “trading up.”
  5. The “tiny production is at the discretion of the winemaker,” and add the winemaker’s name.
  6. Sales of “fine wines” are increasing.

So if you fall for high-priced, limited production wines from high-end, luxury brands that others cannot find or afford, and you know the winemaker’s name, then enjoy your “fine wine” because you are a…five-star wine snob.

Make that 6-star.

p.s.Dont forget to say “fine wines” with your best British accent.

November News and Noise in the Online Wine World

1.e-Bay Wine added 38 new wines this week. Included were wines from several Jackson Family properties: Cambria, Freemark Abbey, La Crema, Kendall-Jackson and Champs du Reves. All except for Champ de Reves Anderson Valley Pinot Noir are widely available.

e-Bay also offered five new 6 or 12 bottle packages with a Thanksgiving theme. Grgich Hills  outstanding Chardonnay was in most packs. Free shipping on all with discounts averaging 30%.

The case billed as “The Ultimate Thanksgiving” package featuring 6 varietals is high quality and a good value.

The most notable new wine offered by e-Bay is the 2014 Siduri Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, for $162.00 a case. This is a super deal for a delicious Pinot.

2. National Geographic Magazine introduced its “Wines of the World” sale through Travelzoo. The offering–an assorted case of either red or white wines, with 3 “free” Malbec bottles thrown in. This 15 bottle offer was priced at $89 with 6 free gift bags and shipping included.

The deal is that “Every three months, you will be notified about a new National Geographic Wines of the World club selection and will automatically receive your next case unless you request otherwise. There are no obligations, and you’re free to skip as many cases as you like or cancel your membership anytime at no cost.”

Deal or no Deal? Well, honestly, there was nothing in the wines listed that elevated this Wine Club over others.  Still, $6 a bottle is a decent price for ordinary, everyday wines.

The Wall Street Journal wine club still offers the most exciting wine selection.

3. Biggest WOW!

went to www.napacabs.com

Despite the name this online store is based in southern CA where the owners also run a retail store, tasting room and restaurant.

It turned heads, not by its location but by offering two wines from Heidi Barrett’s own brand.

2013 La Sirena ‘Pirate TreasuRed’ $59.95

2013 La Sirena Grenache $39.95

The first is her super blend of 7 varieties, and like the limited production Grenache, plays to rave reviews. Both Napa wines from this exceptional winemaker are rarely available beyond the mailing list.  Free shipping for a case, and you can mix and match.

4. Good to Know

“Americans are buying more wine than ever without going to a wine store. Direct-to-consumer sales increased 66 percent from 2010 to 2015, with 4.3 million cases valued at nearly $2 billion shipped directly from wineries to consumers last year.”

With Massachusetts, the nation’s seventh largest market for wine, open for direct shipping, 90% of the American population located in 42 states can with some limitations receive direct shipments of wine from bonded wineries.

ShipCompliant estimates that outside wineries will ship $73 million in wine to The Bay State by 2018, rising to nearly $105 million by 2023.

5. Silliest Wine Description Spotted this Week

As seen on www.wineaccess.com

“The Puig-Parahy 2011 Cotes du Roussillon Georges – a bit more Syrah than usual blended into its Carignan and Grenache – is intriguingly and delightfully scented with Ceylon tea, ripe elderberry and blueberry, accompanied by striking intimations of shrimp shell reduction in its combination of sweet-saline savor and tincture of iodine. A nutty, piquant, and positively vegetal note of Swiss chard adds to the stimulation of a juicy, vivacious, mouthwatering, and remarkably mineral palate presence and finish. Look for this extraordinary value to perform superbly at table through at least 2016. (The 2010 “Georges,” incidentally, had taken on a slightly reductive and animal aura when I tasted it form bottle but still exhibited the dynamic on which I commented in issue 195 and all-in-all performed at the lower end of the projection I published there.)” – David Schildknecht, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

6. From an interview with Michael Mondavi:

“The United States is the number one wine consumer in the world,” Mondavi says. “We have about three-hundred and fifteen million cases of wine a year that are consumed in the United States, and it’s growing nicely. It’s interesting, the lower priced wines – below $5 a bottle – are shrinking by about two to three percent a year. The wines from $5 to $10 dollars are growing slightly. But then, from $10 to $20, are growing just under double digits, they’re growing beautifully. So, people are trading up to better quality wines. And you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a delicious bottle of wine today.”