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

Best Deal Ever on Fabulous Pinot Noir

Today’s Top Deal

2013 Marimar Estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast,  Mas Cavalls, Dona Margarita Vyd. $23.99

Why We Love This Deal

Lovely, classy Pinot Noir from a time-tested winery offered at $23.99,

50% off the real retail price.

This is an outstanding single-vineyard Pinot that can be enjoyed now or cellared 3-4 more years.

Almost too good of a deal to be true!

Free shipping on 6 or more bottles

But there it is at http://www.vivino.com

Read more about vivino at  http://www.bestonlinewineshopping.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.

The Top 10 Online Wine Clubs of 2018: The Countdown Begins

Well, this past weekend we eliminated a few more teams competing for the Super Bowl of online wine clubs.

2017 was a crazy year for many reasons.

However, we at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com stayed the course and have been faithfully following 36 candidates, each claiming to have the best hand curated deals for members, exclusive offerings of super values, rare wines and great vintages and the next cult wine.

Or all of the above. Along with free corkscrews, aprons, and super-duper introductory offers.

As the suspense builds toward our final field of 10, let’s begin the year with some necessary house cleaning. Time to remove web retailers who played like the Cleveland Browns this year.

So, to mix metaphors, let’s begin by throwing the following wine clubs off the island:

www.wineinsiders.com  A no-brainer here because the prices are simply ludicrous, unless you think $29.99 for a Gascogne white or $39.99 for a common Bordeaux Superieur are awesome deals. Neither coupons or Groupon offers with a 15 bottle introductory cases can save this one.

www.marthastewartwine.com   Yes, we are throwing Martha, our much-beloved entertainment expert, to the sideline. To be frank, there is no evidence her good taste is invoked here. The wines selected are common and appear on several other sites. And there are a number of over-priced private label wines  with cute names. This is a sad case of a celebrity branding a wine club and then allowing others to take over and opt for ordinary, over-priced wine.  No way Martha could have chosen or hand curated such mediocre wines. Sad, but a fail.

www.vinesse.com.  Has been around for 20 years, but has failed to keep pace. No discounts on the few, real wines offered. Sad CA selection (3 Zins, 0 Sauvignon Blanc) and no wines rated over 90 by anybody. Something named Plank Walker is your top Napa Cab? Really? Prices start at $19.99 a bottle. Gone!

While we are at it:

Almost all airline wine clubs. The United Airlines wine club uses vinesse for its member wine deals. So does Alaskan Airlines. Unless you are totally desperate for miles and mediocre wines, forget these clubs.

http://www.virginwines.com  is not as bad as the others, but still doesn’t soar high enough to make our final cut.

www.wsjwines.com  This site once offered members well-chosen wines. But now the Wall Street Journal seems to have outsourced the wine selection process to another website and the wines are quite unexciting. Best advice is to sign up for the 15 bottle introductory offer for $69.59. Then cancel the minute the box arrives.

And before we close, we have also dismissed as losers the wine clubs from wine of the month club, national geographic, AARP, Walmart, Hound & Hare, and my local pet store.

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.

Awesome Wines Under $15

The Wine Enthusiast magazine just released its Top 100 Wines under $15, and I found the list absolutely fascinating.

To its credit, the web page identifies those wines listed that are also sponsors, as in paid advertisers. So all is above board.

But can you trust the people behind the reviews?  

Well, I happen to know several of them quite well. Two in particular are excellent tasters who cannot be compromised: Roger Voss and Jim Gordon.

The wines from Oregon and Washington State mentioned in this list are also chosen by another highly regarded critic.

Voss is the magazine’s expert reviewer of French wines from Bordeaux, Loire Valley, the Southwest as well as the best reviewer of wines from Portugal.

Gordon is the West Coast reviewer who can be trusted for his ratings of wines from Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa.

Back to the Top 100

The #1 wine was made by Columbia Crest.  No big surprise there.

Its Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay make most top values lists.

But the top ranked wine turned out to be the winery’s 2015 Grand Estate Syrah at $12 which is also one of my discoveries.

Sad. Now, everyone will know and it will disappear quickly.

Bargain hunters can check out the entire list at

http://e.winemag.com/219S-154XX-706QMTTT8B/cr.aspx

To me, the following wines are the Other Awesome Deals under $15:

2014 Bogle “Essential Red,” Old Vine, Clarksburg (often sold under $10)

2016 Gnarly Head  Zinfandel, Lodi

2016 San Pedro Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Chile

2015 Mas des Bressades  Cuvée Tradition Syrah-Grenache (Costières de Nîmes)

2016 Cline Cellars Viognier, North Coast

2015 Château le Payral, Bergerac Rouge

2016 Foris Dry Gewürztraminer Rogue Valley

2014 Hogue Red Columbia Valley

2015 Wines & Winemakers Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas Red Douro

2016 Dry Creek Vineyards, Dry Chenin Blanc (Clarksburg)

2016 Domaine des Carteresses, Tavel (a Rose)

Class Acts in the Wine World

I just discovered this super online offer:

October is Adopt a Dog Month, and we are celebrating with MIXED BREED, a delicious red blend handcrafted specifically to help shelter dogs and cats.  With every sip of this rich Sierra Foothills red from C.G. Di Arie Winery, you can take pride knowing that $6 of your MIXED BREED purchase price will be donated to help fund a shelter for homeless, lost or abused pets, low-cost spay/neuter services, humane investigations and increased public awareness.

But it is not just a wine for a great cause, it is great wine!  The C.G. Di Arie 2014 “Mixed Breed” is a blend of 45% Zinfandel, 31.5% Syrah, 13.5% Petite Sirah and 10% Cabernet Franc. Every component has been individually crafted and aged in French oak barrels for 2 years. The wine has a ruby color with strong blackberry aromas which carry to the palate adding hints of chocolate and spice. The finish is long with a firm but delightful grip of tannins. We are offering it for $19. See the wine. 

C.G. Di Arie Winery works to support regional animal welfare organizations in the area this wine is sold. The winery will be donating $3 for every bottle of Mixed Breed sold through The California Wine Club to the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC). Sparc’s mission, in addition to helping critters, is to develop a template for “No Kill” animal shelters that can be used in any municipality.

The California Wine Club will be matching their donation with our own $3 per bottle sold donation, for a total of $6 per bottle going to this worthy rescue center.

“Enjoying a world class wine while helping animals in need,” says Proprietor/Winemaker Chaim Gur-Arieh “is a win-win!”

Hangin’ in Monterey Bay

 

Monterey Bay in late September!

Majestic yet small enough to walk around.

Touristy, but still relaxing because the feel is old California.

The restaurant scene is lively ranging from typical seafood menus to innovative bistros and friendly brew pubs.

You can start your day with excellent espresso or whatever at Cafe Trieste and the Paris Bakery.

Now for the real good news: wine lovers looking to enjoy fine wines and discover hidden gems will not go away disappointed.

We certainly were not.

You know you are in for a good wine experience when the top-ranked restaurant you booked, “Montrio,” is featuring a half-off bottle price that night. Excellent wine list.

Discovered a classy wine bar, “Sovino” near the wharf but away from the tee-shirt and chowder shops.

Great selection of wine by the glass, all at-half-price during Happy Hour. Also offers small plates ideal for tasting wines.

Enjoyed a glass, actually a seriously generous pour, of  ‘14 Flora Springs Napa Cabernet and also a big Napa Cab from newcomer Rama.  Both at $8 a glass.  

Sovino earns our highest rating:

Excellent selection from Monterey and other regions

Relaxed, cozy atmosphere

Knowledgeable owners who have fun, We were there on Trivia Night.

Sovino also offers sip and paint classes taught by local artists.

Next day on to another wine bar and bistro, “A Taste of Monterey.”

Close to the Aquarium, but a little hard to find.

But once you get there, what great views!

It features wines from 80 wineries, all from Monterey County. Most are small and many are new to the scene.  

So good place to discover new names as you taste flights of 5 wines by the glass.

But the great names of Monterey like Morgan, Bernardus, and Scheid are well-represented.

Marin’s Vineyard topped our list of discoveries with a delightful ‘14 Malbec and a serious, big-league Petit Verdot.

Travieso could become a name to watch for serious Syrah and

Boete for Cabernet from the Carmel Valley also impressive at $40 a bottle. Offered at $30 to wine club members.

Both Sovino and A Taste of Monterey, happy to note, are wine clubs as well as wine bars.

Check them out:

www.TasteMonterey.com

www.sovinowinebar,com

Wine Dancing Coyotes

Forget “Dances with Wolves” and “Dancing with the Stars,” wine lovers will be more impressed by a small winery I’ve recently discovered named Dancing Coyote.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. It is a real family winery focusing on great value, not on getting big scores for over-ripe, over-worked, and over-priced wines.
  2.  This winery is exploring non-mainstream wines such as Albarino, Gruner Veltliner, Verdelho, and one I bet nobody has ever heard of, Loureiro, It also makes a fabulous Tempranillo and Rose of Pinot Noir.
  3. And the quality is high with all wines showcasing the variety in a balanced, polished style. Even the Petite Sirah shows great restraint.

Dancing Coyote makes my new go-to summer white, the Albarino, from vineyards in the Delta region and its winery is based in Lodi.

Yes, you heard right.  Lodi, best known for full-throttle old vine Zins and massive Cabs and Petite Sirahs.

Albarino, the pride of Spain that does not get nearly as much attention in California as it deserves. Does anyone else make a Gruner Veltliner, the main white of Austria?

Dancing Coyote, the winery that dares to be different, is actually located in Acampo with its tasting room in nearby Lodi. It produces most of its wines from the McCormack family farmed vineyards In the Clarksburg-Delta wine region.

It also reaches out to locate Tempranillo grapes from Lodi. And the Dancing Coyote Tempranillo will have you dancing in the streets it is so right on the mark for varietal character. With no sign of oak barrels or oak chips to blur its focus.

The winery facility is known as McCormack Williamson Cellars and they do have a wine club for online sales.

And, did I mention the family produces wines in cans?

As for prices, all of these wines retail for less than $15. I’ve found the whites for as low as $7.99. But I refuse to identify that source because the summer has several more weeks to go.

But here’s the good news for those with no plans to visit Lodi soon: the winery has a wine club: www.dancingcoyotewines.com

I suggest the 4-bottle sample package for $45 for starters.

The back label explains the dancing coyote name.

Also, the wines are available at the independent online site:

www.cawineclub.com  So you can include a bottle or two in your cart if you shop there.