Shopping the Best Wine Shipping Deals

 

Several online wine sellers are making a special pitch for buying a case of wine to be delivered to your door during the shelter in time.

Not every offer presented new or exciting wine deals, however. The only reason why I’d suggest buying wines by the case is when shipping is free and the wine is excellent and discounted at least 25%.

Better advice is to find those wine sellers offering free shipping on a few bottles. Besides, you dont need to stock up on one wine, unless you truly love it.

With that in mind, I studied the aptly named website, finalcase.com and found a few good case deals. However, the most appealing wine was the 2014 Miner named “The Oracle” which sells for $84.97. Buy 2 bottles and shipping is free.

The current hot website www.winespies.com is still coming up with great surprise deals. Now it is offering the 2015 Aiken Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast for $25. That’s $50 off! And there’s free shipping on 4 bottles.

Winespies also has a great Rose from Marlborough, the 2018 Spy Valley for $14.99, that would nicely fill out an order.

Sommselect.com just announced free shipping on any 6 bottles or more. This site is not a discounter, but focuses on finding super, high quality gems from around the world.

Listing several fine wines from Italy this week, www.wtso is holding firm to a free shipping on 4 bottles policy.

Saying it will ship free any order over $50, vivino caught my attention. While still over-hyping every new wine, www.vivino.com every now and then stumbles upon a great deal. Most recent is the 2015 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $39.99. 

For a super deal on an everyday wine, vivino has the 2013 Gregory Graham Crimson Ranch Syrah, Lake County for  $17.99.

Vivino’s $50 offer of free shipping is definitely a big deal!

But with wine by the case, it is more difficult to locate a comfort zone.  After studying numerous online sellers, I kept coming back to one site, www.napacabs.com which despite its name, sells wines from all major parts of the wine world.  Free case shipping, it turns out, applies to 939 wines. Happily, it was easy to skip over the many supermarket wines like Cupcake, Josh and Fat Bastard. These along with the Kendall Jackson and 19 Crimes silly wines are pretty ordinary for getting through tough times.

Here are the best by the case deals from napacabs.com:

 All prices are by the case with free case shipping to CA, WA, AZ, OR, NV

2016 Niner Red, Paso Robles $184.97

2017 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico $269.98

2017 Argyle Winery Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley $287.98

2015 Carpe Diem Pinot Noir Anderson Valley $304.98

Better yet, napacabs just added a great Cabernet deal: 

 2017Domaine Bousquet Gran Cabernet for $17.97 a bottle.

Happy shopping these great shipping offers

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.

Today’s Best Online Wines for Those Sheltered In

Wish this occasion didn’t exist, but happy to share my experience of following and rating online wine retailers who will ship directly to your home. 

As usual, my wine suggestions are based on high quality, generous discounts, and free or very attractive shipping.

And, no, I’m not an affiliate or sleazy influencer getting a commission…just happy to share what I’d be stocking up today.

www.wtso.com stood out in a big way today. 

Free shipping for 4 bottles

all at 35-65% below retail

The best wines offered by wtso:

2018 Pedroncelli, Dry Creek Chardonnay, no oak $13.99

2017 Bernardus Chardonnay, Monterey $19.99

2017 Michel-Schlumberger Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $16.99

2017 Double Canyon Ciel de Cheval, Red Mountain, Red $24.99

 

www.winespies.com

When it comes down to finding unusal West Coast wines, seldom offered elsewhere, this website is one to follow daily. Great site for Rhone wine lovers.

2016 Summerland Winery Paso Robles Syrah $19.99

Free shipping on 3 bottles

 

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.

Heads Up: Sales Alert

 

Vintage wine estate sale

With some wines offered 50% below retail, vintage wine estate is worth checking out this Tuesday.

It is a one-day sale, February 25, 2020

Many wineries/brands are in the company’s  portfolio. Here’s a partial list:

Vintage Wine Estates includes Clos Pegase, Cosentino Winery, Girard Winery, B.R. Cohn Winery, Swanson Vineyards, Viansa Sonoma, Windsor Vineyards, Cameron Hughes, Firesteed, Tamarack Cellars, Cartlidge & Browne, Sonoma Coast Vineyards…

I’ll be looking to see which wines, if any, will be from Qupe, Swanson, Clos Pegase, Sonoma Coast and Kunde.

The teaser mentioned the 2018 Kunde Chardonnay for $10.80 a bottle and

2014 Clayhouse Malbec from Paso Robles for $9.00

Added incentive: one cent shipping on case orders.

If interested,

Go to: www.vintagewineestates.com

3 Ways Costco Wine Beats the Competition

 

Every wine drinker should try the 2019 Kirkland Sauvignon Blanc, “Ti Point” from New Zealand.

Not any other vintage, the 2019 which I bought for $6.99.

The 2018 is quite different. Not bad, just different. 

Why try the 2019? Well, primarily because the 2019 is an excellent example of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. It would be a “perfect” example, but that word is over-used.

The 2019 displays both the good and typical aromas and flavors fans like me look for and it also has the attributes others may find sharp, thin and off-putting.

Another good, even better, reason: it is made by a real winemaker at a real winery.

Tracy Haslam, is a 3rd generation winemaker. Google her. 

And, finally, unlike several popular brands of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc lining shelves everywhere,  it is made and bottled there.

Yes, several big volume Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs are literally shipped to California in giant containers to be unloaded and trucked off to Napa, Acampo, Lodi or Sonoma, and then pumped from the truck to the facility and, finally, bottled. 

Hardly a romantic journey or conversation topic over a glass of wine.

Not saying that the wines shipped and trucked are bad. 

Just saying read the back label.

 

Great Wine Club Discovery

 A Winemaker Rising Above the Radar

Just discovered a winery/wine club that makes high quality wines and, as a bonus, is a two-for-one operation. Located in Paso Robles, winemaker Tyler Russell had created two brands: Nelle and Cordant. As he explains, “Two brands. One mindset.”

Cordant focuses on Pinot Noir and Nelle offers wines from Rhone varietals.

Long story short: the Nelle Syrahs stole the show in my most recent update and tasting.

The mindset seems to be to locate the best vineyards in the Central Coast and then listen to the vineyard. In a Shaksperian aside, the vineyard will say: “to vineyard designate or blend. That is the question.”

In 2017, considered to be an outstanding year, Russell made three Syrahs that should help us understand this mindset.

One is the 2017 Nelle Syrah, “Coastview Vineyard” which occupies one of the high elevation sites in Monterey County. This highly regarded vineyard is part of the Gabilan Mountain Range. 

This Syrah is a deep, dark wine, rich, multi-layered with ripe dark plum

 fruit, that displays the thyme, lavender notes associated with great Syrah. It needs to be decanted/aerated, but keeps on unfolding over time.

115 cases were produced, and the price is $52. My score: 94

Second up is the 2017 Nelle Syrah, Reserve, “The Terraces,” a barrel selection of 50 cases. Well, simply put: this Syrah is amazing. Up there with the best I’ve ever tasted. Reminded me of some great Cornas when I tasted new vintages in the Auguste Clape cellars.  Dense, spicy, leathery, peppery and loaded with flavors but structured and balanced, not over the top, hedonistic style. 

It takes us back to that mindset. As Russell explains:

“The 2017 Reserve Syrah, which we call “The Terraces” happened by chance. We had small few rows at Coastview in a section they call the casita terraces. That we just let hang for a while. The stems developed perfectly with fruit. So we fermented whole cluster. Fermented slowly in the cold room. Put the wine in some nice barrels. I really think this wine is a testament to the vintage. At least for us. My intention was not to make a reserve wine… it just turned out really good so went ahead and did it.” 

115 cases produced. $72. My score: 98

Third, the 2017 Nelle Central Coast Syrah is a blend of fruit from 6 vineyards. Working with grapes from cool climate and warm climate sites, it comes across with only a hint of Paso Robles ripeness and chocolate tones nicely complemented by bright fruit and spice from cooler sites. Make no mistake, this is serious stuff that can be cellared. But, as the French say, “It drinks well.” Sorry, they say this: “Ca boire bien.”

500 cases produced. $40. Score: 93

Contact:

Nelle/Cordant Winery

3310 RAMADA DRIVE SUITE A

PASO ROBLES

(805) 369 – 2313

INFO@CORDANTWINERY.COM

“Two buck Chuck,” the Party Wine of the 90s Is Back

With apologies to Prince: Party like it’s 1999!

“Two buck Chuck,” the party wine of the 90s is back.

Yes, the price was reduced this week at Trader Joe’s.

We are talking about $1.99 a bottle from the Charles Shaw brand.

Bring it on, baby: wood chips, acid adjustment, blending, secret sauce, eye of newt, or whatever it takes.

It certainly drives the point home: wine does not have to be expensive.

Because, fyi, I think cheap (make that inexpensive) Sauvignon Blanc is more challenging to make than Chard or Cab, I checked out the 2018 SB at TJ’s.

My notes:

Slightly greenish color with some spice on the nose. Neither grassy nor herbal and without a melon or gooseberry in sight. Make that without much of an identifiable fruit.  Maybe a hint of grape. Medium bodied with a hint of sweetness but finishes with slightly tart acidity. Totally acceptable.

BTW, I prefer to taste white wines not chilled. Chilling a wine can masks any defects and off things.

Somms will be challenged to find a mineral or a crushed rock, scorched earth component. Or whatever the latest show-off terms are.

And the rest of us will wonder how is it possible to offer any wine at this price.

But for $1.99 in a real bottle with a cork, this SB is a party wine…

Note to dinner guests: “dont even think about it.”

 

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