Over and Under Albarino

Wine Discovery of the Week

The 2019 Abacela Winery Albarino is an over-achiever in many ways. It offers the desirable aromas of ripe apricot and tangerine with some citrus. All very fresh and lively.

But the flavors are rich and complex with hints of honeysuckle and spice. Yet, and this is the added bonus, it finishes with the expected tang and zest you associate with Albarino.

Though it has been making first-class wines from Spanish varieties for 25 years, Abacela flies under the radar, mainly enjoying a hard-earned reputation among local wine lovers in Southern Oregon. It is in the Umpqua Valley which ironically led the way in the Oregon wine revival.

If you are tired of simple commercial Pinot Grigio or find most Sauvignon Blancs a little too grassy and thin, you might consider or re-consider Albarino.

And begin with this one from Abacela which sells it direct to consumers. It is priced around $20. I bought this one at Margo’s Wine Bar in Medford for $16.99.

A Personal Wine Shopper’s One Stop Shopping Plan


In this era of online shopping and home deliveries, we all tend to prefer one stop shopping. It is simply easier, less annoying and frustrating. And studying several websites and going over lists will only add a little more stress to daily living. We dont need that.

If you share these beliefs, then allow me to share where I would go online for one-stop wine shopping. Since my choice may surprise you, let me explain my reasoning. 

First, I prefer more than bargain wines, I want wines with some excitement and sizzle. Small production, distinctive wines, not wines or brands owned by giants like Gallo and Treasury which will always be available.

I also look for wines that before discounts, I would normally find way over my budget.

And right now, I am going all out to take advantage of the temporary market which has many restaurants unable to take showcase wines allocated to them. 

For instance today the Flowers 2016 Sonoma Coast, Seaview Ridge Pinot Noir is offered at $55, but it retails for $80 and is usually on wine lists for around $125.

As for timing, I’m looking for more lively, refreshing wines to drink over the summer, not blockbusters or age-worthy monsters.

So, here’s this weekend’s shopping list for one-stop wine shopping. Within a monthly wine budget of $250, I would buy 3 bottles each of the following:

2019 Private Property by Caraccioli, Rosé Santa Lucia Highlands, $14.00

2017 Le P’tit Paysan, Chardonnay Jack’s Hill Monterey, $14.00

2018 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine L’Abbe Dine, $15.00

2018 Brassfield Estate Malbec, Volcanic Ridge $18.00

2018 Tank Garage Winery Fast Machine Red Blend Sierra Foothills $20.00

So, there you have it.

And, yes I expect most have not heard about these wines. These are all limited production wines normally sold direct and/or destined for restaurant wine lists.

The lovely Rose is from a region famous for Pinot noir. The racey Chardonnay is a single vineyard version made by Ian Brand, noted sommelier. The Rhone is made by a famous winemaker. The pure, balanced Malbec is from Lake County which is known for red wines, and Tank Garage in Calistoga was on its way to becoming a hot wine destination for the in crowd. 

You can find these wines at  www.invino.com which is based in Napa County.

Any Disclaimers? 

None. I’m not an influencer auditioning for free samples. I’m not an affiliate working on a commission. I have no personal relationship with anyone at invino.com. 

Next week, new selections.

I drink wines and I know things.




4 Cult Wine Wannabes Now Available Online


Restaurant trophy wines are now surfacing in the online wine world. Wines like Dominus, Silver Oak, and Caymus Cabernet are being offered nationally at slightly discounted prices. You could always find these wines at a few select retail outlets if you looked hard enough.

But when I saw today’s offer from www.invino.com, lots of thoughts came together.

The wine is 2017 Domaine Santa Duc,  Habemus Papam, Châteauneuf du Pape, priced at $42. The announcement mentioned it had 15 cases available. 

This fabulous Santa Duc Chateauneuf, a personal favorite, is often a highlight on many upscale restaurant lists. My theory is that 5 restaurants had to decline the usual 3 case order. So a wholesaler turned to the invino folks.

A few minutes later, the winespies.com daily offer came in with another Heidi Barrett wine. This time it was from Amuse Bouche which has a cult-like, well-deserved reputation built over 20 vintages. The winery’s other label is Vin Perdu. It too is a wine list super-star conveying special status on the restaurant or sommelier.

Both wines are from 2017, meaning current release, not old stock.

Not to be outgunned, lastbottlewines.com is selling a 2017 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Stewart Cellars. Yes, 2017 is the current vintage. And yes, Stewart is on many Napa wine lists and also sells from its cozy tasting room in tourist-oriented Yountville. At $30 a bottle, half off, this is another stellar deal. 

Stewart is relatively new, but with Paul Hobbs as a consultant it was on a course to join the cult Cab circle until recent events.

And the clincher, vivino.com struck a deal to sell another near cult wine:

Erikson & Caradin 2018 Ivy & Thistle Cabernet Sauvignon, Atlas Peak.

In only its third vintage, this wine was selling for about $125. But vivino has it for $39.99.

Think of me as your personal wine shopper.

Now go shop!

Two Correctly Curated Pinot Noirs

Two online wine sellers recently reappeared on my radar and today they did not disappoint.

Funny thing is that both have uncovered an excellent Pinot Noir for the identical discounted price of $29.00. 

The primary difference is the vineyard location: cool North Coast versus cool South Coast.

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

www.invino.com came up with the 2015 Ryan Cochrane Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard,  $29.00

The choice is between Anderson Valley and the Sta Rita Hills. Not a bad choice at all.

And both Pinots were rated 93 points by The Wine Enthusiast.

These days both sites may lack the sizzle and bombast of the flash sale, deal of the day guys.

But in my recent research, each one offers a wide selection of first-rate wines at good prices.

My detailed review of these two sellers and buying suggestions will soon follow.

But for now, better to suggest you act fast if you are looking for super Pinot Noir.

You can thank me later

3 Cult Wines to Buy Today

2016 Booker Vineyard Red, “My Favorite Neighbor,” Paso Robles, $59.95


This is Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% Syrah and a splash of Petit Verdot.

Booker is indeed somewhat of a cult winery, usually grouped with Saxum and others in the Paso Robles region. Normally, it retails in the $70-$80 range with winery price at $80.

2017 Three Sticks Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Durell Vineyard  $41.95


Once again, Three Sticks normally sells every bottle from the tasting room.

Try this if you want to experience classic, complex Chardonnay.


2014 Sullivan Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, $49.00


Simply put: this is great wine at a stunning price!!

Normally, priced way over $100.

But nothing is normal, right?


5 Great Deals for Restocking Your Wine Cellar

When anyone can buy Heitz Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon online with free shipping,  there seems to be no  end in sight for online wine deals.

All you need to buy one bottle of the Martha’s is $299.

The following personal picks are for normal people on a normal wine budget:


2016 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Estate $54.99

Normally selling for $70, Grgich’s Cabs age long and well. This is the Estate, not the pricier Yountville bottling. Vivino is not always clear on such details. At wine.com, this wine is listed for $69.99.


2018 Edict Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley $19.00

This is not Goldeneye Pinot in terms of depth, complexity and pedigree, but it is simply delicious Pinot from the Anderson Valley


2018 Joyce Tondré Grapefield Syrah Santa Lucia Highland, $30.00

From one of the rising stars in the Central Coast, this is intense Syrah from a prized vineyard.


2016 Château de Macard Réserve Bordeaux Supérieur $13.99

A well-known, reliable chateau, this is a terrific deal for a wine to enjoy over the next few years.

More Cab Franc than typical, giving it more character.


2016 Wrath Fermenta Chardonnay. $19.99.

Wrath had been developing quite a following and selling from its Carmel Valley tasting room. This is part of the winemaker’s series exploring different techniques. For you geeks, fermenta refers to partial malo-lactic.

SIP Wines at Home: Sonoma Wineries Have You Covered


Sonoma County wineries have recently come up with two remarkable wine offers designed for home delivery. The special offers originate from two associations: Sonoma County Vintners Association and the Wineries of Sonoma Valley.

Each organization came up with lengthy lists filled with many hard to find, high quality wines as well as just downright delicious, priced-right wines to buy by the case.

What’s also noteworthy is that quite a few wines are from small wineries selling, until recently, exclusively via club membership. So you can test drive, say, a wine from “Three Sticks” or Kamen to see if the reputation is deserved.

Here’s the first website to browse, followed by the premise:


“In this unprecedented time, The Sonoma Valley Wine Collective offers access to wines typically only offered at the wineries with limited availability or production. Your purchase not only enhances your wine library, it supports the many family owned Sonoma Valley wineries and their employees who look forward to welcoming you back when we are able.

A percentage of sales generated from The Sonoma Valley Wine Collective will be donated to the La Luz Crisis Fund to meet the unmet and urgent needs of our community.”

Being able to sort by varietal and by region makes this site so easy to browse.

And of course, that’s what I’ve been doing all day. 

Here is my handy tipsheet and quick guide by wine type.

The Best Picks:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Kamen, Tin Barn Vineyards, and Laurel Glen Vineyards
  • Pinot Noir: Auteur, Donum Estate, Robledo, Walt, and Schug
  • Zinfandel: Jeff Cohn Cellars
  • Syrah: Kamen
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Beltane Ranch, Tin Barn Vineyards
  • Chardonnay: Bonneau Wines, Schug Cellars

The second awesome list is from the Sonoma County Vintners who opened with this background:

“Sonoma County Wineries have created a variety of special offers to alleviate the cost to ship wine directly to your doorstep. You can still purchase wines from hundreds of Sonoma County wineries that will deliver to you. Below is a list of shipping offers to consider during this difficult time. Consider a virtual wine happy hour with your friends and family to stay connected.”

check this one out at  https://sonomawine.com/sip-from-home/

Many many wineries are participating. A few are on both lists.

But the offers on this one focus more on shipping, pick up, and various delivery options. 

So you have to find a winery that interests you, and go from there.

Free shipping on Silver Oak Cellars and Sojourn Cellars are eye catching examples.

 Carol Shelton offers $5 case shipping but great discounts, such as:

2018 Rendezvous Rose, regularly $17 for 50% off, just $8.50/bottle

2018 Wild Thing Chardonnay, regularly $19 for 30% off, just $13.30/bottle

2013 King Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, $40 regularly for 50% off, now $20/bottle (Only 6 cases left)

Several offer virtual tastings only.

Because there are so many variables, I’m listing my favorite wineries on this list that deserve your attention. Otherwise, good luck finding what you prefer.

Top 10 Wineries that stand out on this list:

  • Acorn
  • Alexander Valley Vineyards
  • Benovia
  • Carol Shelton
  • Collier Falls
  • Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs
  • Donelan Family Wines
  • Lynmar Estate
  • Freeman
  • Trentadue Vineyards

Franky, these are all so solid, it is hard to pick a favorite.

But if I had something like a birthday coming up, I would go with Donelan, so hard to find in normal times.

But have fun going over these choices.

Remember, I do this for fun.

You can thank me later.

Real Winemakers & Great Wines for SIP Home Deliveries


Silver lining? Purple Lining?

The longer we are sheltered in, we are seeing better and better offers coming our way from some of California’s super winemakers.  I don’t mean ego-driven winemakers hyped by the likes of parker wannabes. I mean real winemakers who know how to prune and drive a tractor. And make fabulous wine!

First up Jeff Runquist. Based in Amador, Jeff is best known for Zinfandel and Barbera, but he has the touch with all wines. Best Barbera from anywhere!  He also makes super Grenache from Paso and Viognier. A real sleeper is the Runquist Dolcetto.

The deal:  Jeff Runquist Wines is offering FREE SHIPPING on online orders of 6+ bottles, and half price shipping on orders of 1-5 bottles. This offer is valid for ground shipping to the 48 contiguous United States. Simply order online and they will adjust the shipping charges when the order is received. https://www.jeffrunquistwines.com

Scherrer Winery: Fred Scherrer, one of the best winemakers in Sonoma and anywhere for that matter, has put together a special Nepenthe 2020 collection at 50% below retail.

He explains:

“These wines offer different uses and  no need to cellar them in order to realize their potential, yet they will be in prime shape for years to come.  Just enjoy these in the weeks and possibly months to come and let some of the younger additions to your cellar creep into their adulthood. 

  • 2018 Dry Rosé  We sat down and tasted a vertical of 2017-2019 Dry rosé and were blown away by how lovely they all are.  While different kinds of good, we think the 2018 is perfect for drinking right now and during the next 20-30 months.  
  • 2012 Russian River Syrah  The 2012 Russian River Valley Syrah will have a very long life, being Syrah of course.  Yet this has opened up to a beautiful spot just like the Pinot Noir and will satisfy needs for richer red wines.
  • 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir The 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has emerged from its cocoon just over the past months.  I cannot think of a more gratifying glass to pop and pour before, during and after dinner.  It is our main Pinot Noir and prioritized production-wise as if it was our estate wine.

So here it is: Fred’s Nepenthe of 2020.  50% off regular price with free ground shipping* on 12 or more bottles.  You can always fill out the case or two or three with our other wines normally available.  While those additional wines won’t discount more than the usual rate of 10%, they will ship free with an order of 12 or more bottles.”

My assessment: a rare opportunity to enjoy wines absolutely impossible to get in normal times. Cant  make up your mind? Go with 4 of each.

Papapietro Perry Winery began in 1990 and has carved out a stunning reputation for small batch Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.  The 777 Clone Pinot Noir is on every collector’s radar. The winery is offering $5 shipping for 1 to 12 bottles AND they are donating $2 per bottle to Redwood Empire Food Bank.

 Alexander Valley Vineyards has been a personal favorite for, well, many, many years. The Wetzel family has always been all about quality starting in the vineyard. Highlights here are the estate wines, the Cabernets and the surprisingly terrific Cabernet Franc. For spring sipping, the Sangiovese Rose is hard to beat. Several lovely older Cabernet vintages are offered.

The deal: Order 2+ bottles and ship to your home for $1 per bottle + $1 order processing fee. Plus, there are numerous case special on their top wines: https://shop.avvwine.com

ACORN Winery

This unusual winery is offering  10% off 4-11 btls, with $10 shipping, and 15% case discounts, with $5 shipping. Continental US, ground only.

Looking for something different, while here’s your chance to see what Acorn Winery is all about.Owners Bill and Betsy Nachbaur have been farming their famous Alegria Vineyard since 1990. Winemaking is handled by Bill Nachbaur & Clay Mauritson.

In their words: “Our production remains small, at about 3,000 cases each year. All our wines are made from grapes we grow ourselves at Alegría. Every wine is a field blend, following the ancient tradition represented in the mixed planting that is our original 129-year old vineyard. Every wine is made by co-fermenting multiple varieties. We like to say that our wines are blended from the day they are picked. This is what sets ACORN wines apart.”

Look for the Super Tuscan, ‘Acorn Hill.”

There you have it.

Act fast.

You can thank me later.


SIP Wine: More Steals & Deals


“Free shipping anywhere in the US and 35% off retail.

Now that’s a headline that caught my attention. We all need to have something to look forward to during these sheltered in place weeks.

And to know we are helping small, independent wineries (the only ones I

focus on) stay in business during the closure adds to the enjoyment.

Turns out the headline was for the 2018 Greenwood Ridge Syrah, Mendocino. Heck of a deal on a case.

A longtime follower of Mendocino wines, I was thrilled to discover dozens of other Mendocino wineries had stepped up their game, suggesting while you stay at home they are offering “more steals and deals.”

Here is the website to explore….https://mendowine.com/taste-mendo-at-home

Many excellent offers but each is a little different. Some highlight low or no shipping; others push discounts. A few toss in an herb or plant. Pennyroyal offers a lovely Farm Box. Cakebread pitches a new Rose.

As an added bonus, the website’s photos are gorgeous. 

In Mendocino, because it is such a large county with so many micro-climates, you can find many, many super wines. Add in the fact that the winemakers tend to be rugged individualists “doing their thing,”  and you have lots of different wines in different styles.

For those seeking a little inside information, here’s my tip sheet:

Barra Family: one of the oldest and most highly regarded family vineyards. The Barra Petite Sirah is one of the best made anywhere.

Husch Vineyard: all about value, value, value. The Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc are of superior quality at everyday prices. The Pinot is a real steal.

Fathers & Daughters: Never heard of them? Well, the family’s vineyard is coveted by Williams Selyem and many others. So go with the Pinots but this vineyard makes super Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewurztraminer.

Graziano Family: Look for Monte Volpe and Enotria labels. An amazing roster of Italian wines from Greg Graziano who if he lived in Napa would be an icon. Dolcetto is my fav. But the whites are top notch as well.

Saracina: John Fetzer’s beautiful winery makes one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs. The Malbec is a pleasant surprise.

Maggy Hawk: A relative newcomer to the Anderson Valley Pinot scene. One gorgeous Pinot is labeled “Unforgettable.” It is that and is included in the attractive 3-pack offering.

Scharffenberger: Still so underrated for its bubbly. Excellent value. Go with the Brut or Rose.  A case ships for $1.

Waits Mast Family Cellars: This Pinot specialist is my current exciting discovery. Now you too can explore this cult wine candidate with a 6 bottle pack or a 4-bottle vertical. Painless with a $5 shipping rate. 

Navarro Vineyard:  This is the family winery that pioneered direct shipping to consumers. It also makes terrific wines. It is offering Spring Samplers with savings up to 23% as well as One-Cent Ground Freight on all 12 bottle orders of wine or juice until May 31st. Pick any one sampler and you will be thrilled.

Goldeneye: Needs no introduction.  Just look at what is currently offered and go for it.

With such tiny, limited production wineries like Fathers & Daughters, Waits Mast and Maggy Hawk, this might be the time to join a club or two.

And yes, neither Goldeneye nor Scharffenberger are family owned. But they

are key players within the Anderson Valley family.

Two Day Marathon Wine Sale

wine lovers looking for some distraction should tune in to the 2 day marathon at http://www.lastbottlewines.com

Just keep refreshing the page to keep up.

They call it “Marathon Madness.”

I call it exciting and entertaining, especially if you are sheltered in place.

The two-day marathon got off to a great early morning start with a fantastic 2017 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. At half price!

Watch for your favorite wine but dont hesitate.

This is a flash sale.

Items move fast.

But there’s an excellent chance to find real bargans. These guys really come up with deep discounts.

I’ve bought from them and can verify they do deliver.

Also, this time around, they too are going the extra yard.

Here’s some background on the occasion:

“we have gone hyper-uber-over-the-top this time. We all need wildly well-priced wine now more than ever and we have risen to the challenge. WE. GOT. YOU.

We’re donating $1 per order over the next 2 days (last year was 29,000 orders for context) to the Napa Food Bank and the Napa Valley Community Foundation, two organizations helping those in need, frontline health-care response teams and supporting Emergency Financial Assistance. Thank you for all you do.”

Happy marathon shopping!

I do this for fun.

You can thank me later.