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.

Clueless No Longer

 

Wine Sleuthing 2.0

2020 has quickly provided a great, unexpected surprise. No, I’m not going political on you. This discovery relates to the online wine world.

The clues were there but I just kept getting sidetracked by the silly name and seemingly casual attitude. 

 Then this week with the offer of a fabulous Châteauneuf-du-Pape and special Zinfandel,  it was impossible yto ignore the clues.

Winespies, a wine merchant that I’ve been hesitant to write about,  has totally won me over with its exciting daily specials throughout January.

It meets and often now exceeds my 5 basic criteria:  

  1. Sourcing under the radar, first rate wines from non-corporate wineries

    2. Discounting in the 25-50% range, closer to 50%

   3. Providing informative background material about the wine and people

   4. Avoiding over-hyped, point scores and fake reviews

   5. Offering good free shipping options with temperature control

The standout wines in January that helped make me a new fan are an Oakville Cabernet, Napa Valley Merlot, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Brut Premier Cru Champagne and a knockout Zinfandel blend from the Sierra Foothills.

For more detail about http://www.winespies.com go to: www.robywine.com

 

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.

Best Sunday Sales: Red Wines on Fire

Quite a few online wine sellers came up with sales items on Sunday, probably as part of end of the month sales.

But the best sale of all is also the biggest as www.wine.com focused its sale on wines under $20 that were rated 90+

Of the 1,032 wines listed, quite a few are deeply discounted, but most are no big deal.

But we found five red wines that should be snapped up by bargain hunters before the sale ends.

  • 2011 Montecillo Rioja Reserva ($12.99)
  • 2013 Merlot H3Columbia Crest, (9.98)
  • 2013 Petite Sirah, Shannon Ridge High Elevation, ($13.99)
  • 2015 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva ($19.99)
  • 2015 Pinot Noir, Scott Family, Arroyo Seco ($19.99)

The Pinot is offered at 50% below retail. The others are also super values.

For an analysis of the fallacies of the 90+ scoring system,  see the discussion at

http://www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

 

 

Making Wine Tasting Great Again

 

Sensible and Informative

Just when I was about to give up the search for an online wine site that not only offers good wines at good prices but also serves as a vehicle for educating and teaching about wine, I found one.

The Weekly Tasting, a relatively new site related to WTSO.com,  is refreshingly sensible and informative. No membership requirements or hard sales tactics involved. No superficial program or pretend algorithm to create your tasting profile. Just two sommeliers working hard to select wines and to help you learn more about wine.

Such a change from the many sites that use sommeliers to shill for some overpriced wine by their rambling wine descriptions, overflowing with buzz words and baloney, to lead up to a rating of 95-100 points.

Each week, The Weekly Tasting usually offers 4 wines organized around a theme, and the packages are selected by two sommeliers, Elizabeth Schneider and Laura Maniec. Both are the real deal.

The themes are usually on a region or a varietal. As someone who has taught wine classes for many years, I can say It is not as easy as people think and so much comes down to selecting the best wines to illustrate the point or points you are trying to get across.

So, to get to my point, I find the wines selected for the different weekly tasting themes to be first-rate and reasonably priced. The package includes a video, tasting notes, wine pairing suggestions, all arranged in the box containing the bottles.

Let me cite a few examples to demonstrate why this is a vast improvement over the other so-called “curated” packages found elsewhere. The current weekly package focuses on Cru Beaujolais, a type that is probably not known to many, is not sexy or trendy, but might just appeal to red wine lovers looking for something different and delicious.

The current package is brilliant and performs a real service to those who truly want to learn about wine.  Here is it:

“Cru Beaujolais. Do not confuse the Cru of Beaujolais with Beaujolais Nouveau or even regular Beaujolais – these are serious wines. In fact, the region of Beaujolais has officially designated these villages as the best of the best. Many people compare Gamay, the grape in Beaujolais, to Pinot Noir in Burgundy. They have similar textures, but Gamay has softer acidity and is more plush on the palate. At this price point, I’d go so far as to say these four wines have more finesse and elegance than any Pinot Noir.” -Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW

The price is $69.99 but with free shipping.

Then, I suspect many new wine drinkers buying Malbec by the boatload are curious about the difference between Malbecs from Argentina and France. So, here’s what is selected in another package:

What Elizabeth Schneider Has Picked For This Tasting

  • Domaine Des Bateliers Cahors 2009
  • Château Vieux Poirier Bordeaux 2014
  • Pascual Toso Reserva Malbec 2014
  • Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2014

The price for this is $59.99, with free shipping.

Though everyone reading this is a wine expert, if you happen to know someone who would like a solid introduction to different wine varietals, consider this 6 bottle package:

See What Laura Maniec Has Picked For This Tasting

  • Seven Hills Oregon Pinot Gris 2015
  • Bernardus Monterey County Griva Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  • Domaine Les Chenevieres Mâcon Villages Blanc Chardonnay 2015
  • Windmill Valley Vineyards Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
  • Metz Road Pinot Noir Mesa del Rio Monterey 2013
  • Château Tour du Moulin Les Terres Rouges Fronsac 2014

While unfamiliar with Windmill, I can understand how the other 5 are typical examples of the respective varietal.

Now don’t get me wrong; this is not master sommelier classwork. But the site and its packages are excellent starting points to wine education. The list of terms is solid as in the breakdown of the major wine varieties.

And yes, the point is to sell more wine.  Learning about the wine before you buy it is not a bad thing.

Thinking About Buying 2015 Bordeaux: Start Here

 

Yes, 2015 is an excellent vintage for most of Bordeaux. I was there during the early harvesting.

The vine in the close-up photo is Merlot at Chateau Monbousquet a few days before the harvest. The best winemakers have sorting devices (often people) that remove the raisined grapes prior to fermentation, in case you were curious.

And yes, 90+ scores are so plentiful as reviewers went crazy when the wines were sampled early on. So there’s little meaningful guidance if you go by the scores.

My buying strategy is to prefer the 2015s from St. Emilion by a slight margin. The growing season favored Merlot which made St. Emilion and, of course, Pomerol, the hit of the year.

www.wine.com just announced its first big offering of the 2015s. No discounts but plenty of choices and shipping options. This is a major, well-established, and reliable seller. See my detailed review at http://www.bestonlinewineshopping.com

My focus, as always, is on wines that are authentic, true to their region, can be enjoyed over the next few years and represent excellent value.

My top 5 picks of 2015 Bordeaux under $35.00 at http://www.wine.com:

Chateau de France, Pessac $24.99

Château Haut Brisson, St. Emilion $31.99

Tour Saint Christophe, St. Emilion $34.99

Château Cantemerle, Haut Medoc $34.99

Château Fombrouge, St. Emilion $34.99