About a week ago, on Wednesday, August 8th, Wine Til Sold Out … yes, did it again. It was their “Super-Wednesday” sale, which usually takes place once in 3 month. That was one “no holds barred” event, I can tell you. And I don’t even mean the prices, which are usually unquestionable at WTSO, I’m primarily talking about the speed at which wines were disappearing…
90+ different wines were sold, in the total quantity of more than 72,000 (!) bottles. I managed to get only one of the wines, and three times I was … yes, late (the most upsetting one was when wine disappeared while I was entering my credit card info!).
Anyway, in case you missed the event, I got it all for you here – well, most of it, as some of the wines went too fast (hmmm, I think I already said that). As usual, here is the guide to ratings: WS – Wine Spectator, WA – Wine Advocate, WE – Wine Enthusiast, W&S – Wine & Spirits, ST – Steven Tanzer, JHN – Jonathan H. Newman, WRO – Wine Review Online, RP – Robert Parker, JS – James Suckling, JH – James Halliday.
It’s been a while since I talked about wine stores in this blog, so may be it is time to tell you about another one of my favorite wine stores (here you can read about other stores from that same “wine stores to love” list – Cost Less Wine and PJ Wine). Today I want to bring to your attention a store in New Jersey called Bottle King – well, actually it is a group of 14 wine stores, all located in New Jersey, plus the online store called The Wine Buyer, so even if New Jersey is far away for you, you can enjoy great values.
The store I usually shop at is located in the town of Glen Rock in northern New Jersey, so this is the store I’m writing about. Bottle King sells everything from beer to wine and to all kinds of liquors, plus stores have a section called The Vineyard Market, where cheeses and such are sold. Interestingly [sadly] enough, wine stores in Connecticut are prohibited from selling of any of the food items – one day I will write a big rant blog post about stupidity of the laws and regulations we have around alcohol… one day. Anyway, let’s go back to the Bottle King wine stores. For me the major feature of the store is wine – but liquors section shouldn’t be ignored, as while it is on the smaller side, the selection, variety and prices are quite good (not that you can really see it in the photo below, but I tried).
The whole store can be essentially described in one word – value. In any department, there are always lots of great values to be found. Also the concept of “value” is delivered on multiple levels.
First, Bottle King runs loyalty program called “BK Club”. The program is free and easy to sign up for. Once you have a BK Club membership, all you need to do is to look for the special prices advertised for BK Club customers:
In addition to BK Club deals, there are always many wines on sale, and certain items might be even on “super-sale” which in a lot of cases represents really great buying opportunity. Last but not least, every time you buy a case of wine, there is 20% discount applied to all non-sale and non-club items (but those count towards the case).
Wine is mostly organized by the country, and then by the grape (depending on the size of the country’s section). If you are looking for the value, the section you want to be heading to is Portugal – it is one of the closest to the entrance and it is the section where I usually start my walk around.
Here is a look at the shelf in that Portugal section:
Just to explain in more practical terms what I mean by value, here is an example of the wines you can find in that Portuguese section.
These two wines, made by Fado, cost $4.99 each. 2011 Fado White (13% ABV) has very nice nose with the hint of fresh-cut grass and fresh lemon – just a hint, it is not “in your face” wine. This continues on the palate, with light herbs and citrus notes, perfect acidity, round and balanced (Drinkability: 7+).
2010 Fado Red (13.5% ABV) has medium body, nice red fruit on the nose, more red fruit and again some herbaceous notes with some plums on the palate, soft tannins and good balancing acidity (Drinkability: 7+). Would either of these wines carry a label of France or California, you would gladly pay $20+ for them and still consider it to be a good value.
In addition to Portugal, the same shelf is shared by sparkling wines (not a bad selection, but mostly focused on mainstream France and Italy, lacking growers’ champagne, some of the artisan US sparklers, and also limited in Cava options). You can also find a few wines from South Africa and Greece, but literally only a few different bottles.
There is a decent choice of New Zealand and Australian wines. Spanish wines are underrepresented to my taste, but still have some good values from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat and so on.
California takes a very significant part of the store, sorted by variety, and of course having a lot of great values in every category.
France is really comes second after California in the amount of the shelf space it is occupying:
And there are plenty of values to be found in the French section:
France is focused on Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone, with addition of Languedoc and Loire – if you are looking for obscure Jura wine, this most likely will not be the place for you. Italy is closely trailing France in the amount of shelf space it is occupying, and has good representation of all main regions.
You will also have no problems finding wines from Chile and Argentina, as well as Port (lots of great selections, including super-discounted vintage port from time to time).
I can’t really comment on effectiveness of the service, as I had been offered help a few times, but always declined, as my strong preference is to browse the selection on my own terms, and I don’t really know sometimes what exactly I’m looking for (well, okay, I’m looking for the signs of super-sale and overall the amazingly priced wines, but please keep it a secret). I would love to see people at the cash register a bit more smiling and welcoming (send them for training to the Trader Joe’s, may be?), but hey, value can’t come without some expense, can it?
All in all, Bottle King stores are definitely worth a visit, even if you have to take a special trip – by the way, they are open tomorrow, July 4th, in case you got some time…
That’s all, folks. Cheers!
If you are reading this blog regularly, you probably have seen some of the previous posts about Wine Til Sold Out, one of the best online wine stores. Every once in a while Wine Til Sold Out (WTSO for short) hosts a special “marathon” events, where they offer lots of wines during 18 or 24 hours period – here is a link to one of my previous “follow” posts.
About a month ago WTSO run a new type of marathon – this time, all the wine offered for sale were listed in various Top 100 lists by Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and other wine publications. Marathon started at 10 AM on Tuesday, April 24th, and was continuing until midnight. On average, new wine was offered for sale one per hour – however, couple of wines (Bodegas Los Astrales and Orin Swift Saldo) were sold out within 5 minutes of being offered, so the other wines had to take its place. For most of the offers it was necessary to buy 4 bottles to receive free shipping, however for some of the wines it was only 3. All in all, lots of great values were offered – you can see for yourself in the table below. I also couldn’t resist but to include the last wine in the table, White Cottage “Risa” – it was not the part of the Super Tuesday, but it represented a great value.
As always, here is the guide to rating abbreviations typically used in the WTSO offers: WS – Wine Spectator, WA – Wine Advocate, ST – Steven Tanzer, WE – Wine Enthusiast, WRO - Wine Review Online, W&S – Wine and Spirits, MS – Mari Stull, JHN – Jonathan H. Newman, D – Decanter Magazine, rating goes in stars ( 5 stars is max).
And here is the table:
|Time||Wine Name||Rating||Orig. Price||WTSO Price||% off|
|10:00 am||Bodegas Los Astrales Astrales Ribera Del Duero 2008 – #53 Top 100 WS||WS94|
|10:04 am||Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling 2009 #78 Top 100 WS 2011||WS93||$36.99||$24.99||32%|
|10:45 am||Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel Ribera del Duero Crianza 2005 #26 Top 100 WS 2010||WS94||$36.99||$23.99||35%|
|11:04 am||Domaine Louis Cheze Caroline Cuvee Prestige AOC Saint Joseph Syrah 2009 #98 Top 100 WS 2011||WS92||$65.00||$29.99||54%|
|12:00 pm||Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel 2008 – #69 Top 100 WS 2010||WS91||35%|
|12:05 pm||Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre IGT Veronese 2008 #60 Top 100 Wines WS 2011||WS90, WA89||$23.99||$16.99||29%|
|1:00 pm||Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco Seleccion de Familia Rioja Crianza 2008 #59 Top 100 WS 2011||WS90||$19.99||$13.99||30%|
|1:05 pm||Fattoria Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 #40 Top 100 WS 2010||WS93||$34.99||$21.99||37%|
|2:30 pm||Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port 2005 #96 Top 100 WE 2010||WE92||$26.00||$17.49||33%|
|3:30 pm||Cascina Adelaide Preda Barolo DOCG 2007 #37 Top 100 Wines WE Italy 2011||WE94, JS93||$86.99||$42.99||51%|
|4:30 pm||Super Tuscan 2007 Terrabianca Campaccio Toscana IGT #36 Top 100 WS 2011||WS93,WA92||$34.99||$22.99||34%|
|5:30 pm||Bodegas Ondarre Reserva Rioja 2004 #58 Top 100 WS 2010!||WS91||$22.99||$11.49||50%|
|6:30 pm||Rivetto Barolo Serralunga 2007 #59 Top 100 2011 Wine Enthusiast||WE94,WS94||$74.99||$37.49||50%|
|7:30 pm||2010 Albarino Rias Biaxas Bodegas Martin Codax #77 Top 100 WE Best Buys 2011||WE90||$17.99||$12.49||31%|
|8:30 pm||Domaine Louis Cheze Caroline Cuvee Prestige AOC Saint Joseph Syrah 2009 #98 WS Top 100||WS92||$65.00||$29.99||54%|
|9:15 pm||Michele Chiarlo Reyna Barbaresco 2006 #6 Top 100 WE 2009||WE93||$50.00||$29.99||40%|
|10:15 pm||Bodega Tikalo Kios Elite (Vina de la Tierra de Castilla) 2004 #77 Top 100 Wines WE||WE91||$34.99||$16.99||51%|
|10:50 pm||Bodegas Ondarre Reserva Rioja 2004 #58 Top 100 WS 2010!||WS91||$22.99||$11.49||50%|
|11:26 pm||Super Tuscan 2007 Terrabianca Campaccio Toscana IGT #36 Top 100 WS 2011||WS93,WA92||$34.99||$22.99||34%|
|12:00 am April-25||White Cottage Estate ‘Risa’ Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2009||$45.00||$19.99||56%|
If you are not following Wine Til Sold Out – you really should, WTSO means real savings. Enjoy! Cheers!
Once again, Wine Till Sold Out (a.k.a WTSO), one of my favorite online wine stores, had its “Super Wednesday” – an event which takes place about 4 times a year where the wines are sold online in rapid succession. Compared to some of the past “Super Wednesday” events (here is the post about the one from about a year ago) WTSO changed the model slightly. Previously, during Super Wednesday WTSO was offering wines at any price range, but as of lately, the wines are limited in price up to $18.99, and therefore all the wines have the same minimum quantity requirements of 4 bottles (minimum quantity is required to receive a free shipping, you can technically buy wine in any quantity). Considering that limited cost, these events are even called “Cheapskate Wednesday” now.
Quite honestly, I like the old model more – when it comes to the unknown wines, even at a lower cost, I usually buy one bottle just to try, and then more if I like the first one – as I don’t know majority of the wines offered in the events such as this one, paying $40 to $76 for 4 bottles of wine I might not like is not a great proposition – my preference is to look for the gems (and WTSO is The Place to find them), and to get one or two bottles of the wine which looks more interesting instead of four bottles of unknown wine.But if you know the wines, then of course there are lots of values to be had – but you have to act fast – and you have to use Twitter, as it is the only place where each new wine is advertized.
Anyway, I collected information about all the wines which were offered. I used different approach this year, so between improved Twitter and automated web site snapshots, I was able to collect a lot more information compare to the previous posts. Before I will present the full table to you, here are some of the comments and notes. The whole event took about 18 hours, from 6 AM Eastern until midnight on the same day, February 15th. About 100 wines had being offered, from $7.99 to $18.99. Some wines lasted only for a couple of minutes, and some lasted for 20 minutes or a bit longer ( very few). A lot of wines had being rated on the 100 points scale. Here is a quick guide to the rating abbreviations: WS – Wine Spectator, WA – Wine Advocate, ST – Steven Tanzer, WE – Wine Enthusiast, WRO - Wine Review Online, W&S – Wine and Spirits, MS – Mari Stull, JHN – Jonathan H. Newman, D – Decanter Magazine, rating goes in stars ( 5 stars is max). And here is the table:
|Time||Wine Name||Rating||Orig. Price||WTSO Price||% off|
|6:00a||Soda Rock Winery Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||JHN91||$35.00||$14.99||57%|
|6:08a||Bodegas Y Vinedos Pujanza Pujanza Rioja DOC 2007||WA91||$34.99||$16.99||51%|
|6:30a||Encantado (You Know The Winery!) Carneros Chardonnay 2010||$32.00||$13.99||56%|
|6:36a||I Greppi Greppicante Bolgheri, DOC 2008||WS90||$29.99||$15||50%|
|6:48a||Bodegas Silvano Garcia Vina Honda Crianza Jumilla, Spain 2006||WA91, ST90||$21.99||$12.99||41%|
|6:59a||St. Francis Winery & Vineyards Sonoma County Syrah 2006||$20.00||$12.99||35%|
|7:17a||Villa Andretti Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009||$28.00||$11.99||57%|
|7:24a||St. Francis Winery & Vineyards Claret Sonoma County Red Blend 2007||41%|
|7:28a||Toad Hall Cellars Carneros, Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2007||JHN91-92||$25.00||$14.99||40%|
|7:32a||Clos Du Bois North Coast Chardonnay 2010||50%|
|7:39a||Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Vineyard Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007||WRO89||$35.00||$18.99||46%|
|7:42a||Andre Farjon La Deveze Cotes du Rhone 2007 By Philippe Cabie||40%|
|7:47a||Thumbprint Cellars Three Some Winemaker’s Reserve Sonoma County 2008||$45.00||$17.99||60%|
|7:55a||Adobe Road Winery Alexander Valley Meritage 2005||62%|
|7:59a||Chateau Galand Bordeaux Superieur AOC 2005||$31.49||$12.99||59%|
|8:04a||David Bruce Winery Los Gatos Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2009||$24.99||$14.99||40%|
|8:19a||Turn 4 Bennett Lane Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008||$25.99||$15.99||38%|
|8:33a||Inman Faily Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2006||ST90||$45.00||$17.99||60%|
|8:44a||Wine Guerrilla Coffaro Vineyards Block 1 Old Vine Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2009||$40.00||$17.99||55%|
|8:52a||Bouchaine Vineyards Napa Valley Carneros Estate Pinot Noir 2006||92||53%|
|8:59a||Shadowood Alexander Valley Merlot Reserve 2008||JHN92||$31.99||$13.99||56%|
|9:03a||Chateau de Lyde Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux 2009||$17.99||$9.99||44%|
|9:15a||Mario Perelli-Minetti Winery Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007||93||64%|
|9:18a||Montes Limited Selection Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2010 #82 Top 100 2011 WE!|
|9:22a||Villa Petriolo Chianti DOCG 2008||$19.99||$9.99||50%|
|9:37a||Mathis Wines Sonoma Valley Grenache 2006||MS90||$39.99||$15.99||60%|
|9:53a||Starry Night Winery Lodi Zinfandel 2007||50%|
|9:59a||Bodegas Ondarre Reserva Rioja 2004 #58 Top 100 Wines 2010!||WS91, D****||$22.99||$11.49||50%|
|10:18a||Kingsford Manor Winery Napa Valley Rose Wine 2010||JHN88||$18.99||$8.99||53%|
|10:33a||Chateau Pavillon Bel-Air Lalande de Pomerol 2006||91||55%|
|10:38a||Sergio Mionetto Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Sergio Rose N/V||$14.99||$12.09||19%|
|10:55a||Oriel Wines Sygnet McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 93WE!||93||73%|
|10:58a||Chateau De Ribebon Bordeaux Superieur 2009 By Aelie Aubert||WS89||$18.99||$10.99||42%|
|11:15a||Spicerack Vineyards Punchdown Sonoma Coast Syrah 2008||ST88+||$29.99||$13.99||53%|
|11:30a||Soda Rock Winery Alexander Valley Chardonnay 2009||$28.00||$14.99||46%|
|11:45a||Bodegas Rejadorada Rosum Joven 2009||$12.99||$7.99||38%|
|12:00p||Pessagno Winery Idyll Times Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007||WE90, CG90||$40.00||$17.99||55%|
|12:05p||Brancott Estate Classic Range Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010||WRO91||$13.99||$8.49||39%|
|12:15p||Veraonte Winery Ritual Casablanca Valley, Chile Pinot Noir 2007||40%|
|12:22p||Grupo Bodegas Olarra Ondarre Cava Brut Millenium N/V||$21.99||$10.99||50%|
|12:43p||Rouvre Saint Leger Laudun Cotes du Rhone Villages Blanc 2009 by Philippe Cabie||$30.00||$17.99||40%|
|12:57p||Kunde Faily Estate Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007||WS87||$20.99||$9.99||52%|
|1:15p||Azienda Agricola Piancornello Rosso di Montalcino DOCG 2009||90||45%|
|1:21p||Terre Domini Solare Prosecco N/V||$12.99||$8.99||31%|
|1:38p||Infinity Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009||$24.99||$12.99||48%|
|1:53p||Thumbprint Cellars Winemakers Reserve Four Play Alexander Valley Red 2009||JHN91-92||$45.00||$17.99||60%|
|2:09p||Juslyn Vineyards Spring Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2008||WA87||$34.99||$14.99||57%|
|2:17p||Bodegas Poesia Clos Des Andes Malbec Reserva 2006 92 WA! 90-92 ST!||WA92, ST90-92||$36.99||$16.99||54%|
|2:33p||Nord Vineyards Estate Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004||90||68%|
|2:37p||Boisset Faily Estates Lyeth Sonoma County Meritage 2008||$19.99||$10.99||45%|
|2:52p||Petizos Mendoza Malbec 2007||$14.99||$9.99||33%|
|3:00p||Bodegas Beronia Rioja Rosado Tempranillo 2010||$21.99||$10.99||50%|
|3:15p||Mockingbird Hill Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay Reserve 2010 By Zach Long||JHN91+||$27.00||$12.99||52%|
|3:27p||Chateau Le Gardera Bordeaux Superieur Grand Vin De Bordeaux 2008||WS89||$15.99||$8.99||44%|
|3:36p||Sola Winery Napa Valley Zinfandel 2006||58%|
|3:41p||Clos des Miran Cuvee Speciale Cotes Du Rhone 2009||$15.99||$9.99||44%|
|3:51p||The Barrister Sonoma County Red Wine 2010||JHN92||$35.00||$14.99||57%|
|4:04p||Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel Pena Roble Ribera del Duero Joven 2007||90||56%|
|4:13p||Maxwell Creek Winery Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009||$22.99||$11.49||50%|
|4:18p||Chateau Tanesse Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux 2009||$20.99||$10.99||48%|
|4:33p||Doolittle Farms Moniz Vineyards St Helena, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008||JHN92||$40.00||$17.99||55%|
|4:38p||Noyes Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007||JHN91-92||$34.99||$18.99||46%|
|4:54p||Bodegas Poesia Pasodoble Mendoza Proprietary Blend 2007||WA89||$15.99||$9.99||38%|
|5:09p||Lincourt Vineyards Santa Rita Hills Unoaked Chardonnay 2010||JS90||$19.99||$12.09||40%|
|5:23p||Yokayo Wines Buteo Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007||50%|
|5:31p||Pope Valley Winery Eakle Ranch, Napa Valley Red 2007||JHN91||$30.00||$13.49||55%|
|5:38p||Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007|
|5:42p||Villa Rocca IGT Pinot Grigio 2011||$15.00||$9.99||33%|
|5:56p||Orentano Wines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2005||$36.00||$17.99||50%|
|6:14p||Fitch Mountain Cellars Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 by Mike Duffy||pp|
|6:18p||Cantina Pieve Vecchia Chorum Montecucco Sangiovese DOC 2007||WE88||$18.99||$9.99||47%|
|6:36p||Madonna Estate Carneros, Napa Valley Pinot Noir Reserve 2008||JHN92||$40.00||$17.99||55%|
|6:52p||Conti Serristori Chianti Classico DOCG 2007||$19.99||$10.99||45%|
|7:08p||Vina Almirante Albarino Vanidade Rias Baixas 2010||WA90||$23.99||$12.99||46%|
|7:19p||Mumm Napa Carneros Pinot Noir 2007||$32.99||$16.49||50%|
|7:26p||Bell Canyon Cellars Napa Valley Estate Vineyards Red Blend 2009||JHN91-92||$27.99||$12.99||54%|
|7:33p||Bodega LuzDivina Aigo Vinademoya Mencia 2006||WA90||$21.99||$9.99||55%|
|7:54p||Mazzocco Winery Mendocino County Hopland, California Sauvignon Blanc 2009||JHN88-89||$16.99||$9.99||41%|
|8:04p||Massimo Rivetti Serraboella Barbera d’Alba Red Wine 2005||91||65%|
|8:09p||Thumbprint Cellars Winemakers Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009|
|8:11p||Ottimino Ottimino Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2006||WE89||$32.99||$13.99||58%|
|8:27p||Abadia da Cova Ribeira Sacra Barrica Mencia 2008 93 W&S!||W&S93||$28.99||$13.99||52%|
|8:43p||Stonehedge Winery Terroir Select Pallini Ranch, Mendocino Zinfandel 2006||JHN90||$30.00||$13.99||53%|
|8:56p||Vinedos de Villaester Taurus Toro Tempranillo 2005||WA88, ST88||$14.99||$8.99||40%|
|9:15p||Maison Alain Paret Valvigneyre Cotes-Du-Rhone Viognier 2009||WS88||$22.00||$10.99||50%|
|9:27p||Abelis Carthago Lui Selection Castilla Leon Red 2005||WA90||$28.00||$14.49||50%|
|9:50p||Jermann Venezia Giulia IGT Sauvignon Blanc 2008||WA88||$35.00||$15.99||54%|
|10:06p||Oriel Wines Midnight Rabler Rutherford, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||WS88, WE87||$35.00||$16.99||51%|
|10:16p||Carles Andreu Cava Brut Nature Reserve N/V||WA87||$33.00||$13.29||60%|
|10:31p||Benessere Vineyards Napa Valley Rosato 2009||JHN88||$18.99||$8.99||53%|
|10:47p||Trinity Hill Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2007||89||58%|
|10:53p||Passalacqua Heritage EstateGia Domella Cabernet2006 by Nick Goldschmidt||WE90||$39.99||$14.99||63%|
|10:57p||St. Francis Winery Behler Vineyard Sonoma County Estate Merlot Blend 2005||JHN92+||$45.00||$18.99||58%|
|11:04p||Bodega Catena Zapata Catena Malbec Mendoza 2009 #58 Top 100 Wines 2011 WS!|
|11:10p||Croix de Basson Cotes de Provence Organic Red Wine 2007||$16.99||$9.99||41%|
|11:26p||Bodegas Vistalba Tomero Malbec Mendoza 2010||$19.99||$9.99||50%|
|11:33p||Valley Gate Vineyards Versada Vineyard, Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009||JHN93-94||$39.99||$15.99||60%|
|11:49p||Sonoma Acres Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2009||JHN92+||$29.99||$13.99||53%|
|11:55p||Fattoria Vignavecchia Chianti Classico Riserva 2007||91||53%|
Happy analysis! Enjoy! And don’t forget to grab a glass of your favorite wine while you will be at it. Cheers!
Looking at a big picture, your three big gift categories for the wine lovers are wine, wine accessories and wine education and experience.
Let’s start with wine. Don’t dread it – giving someone a bottle of wine she or he will enjoy is not as difficult as it seems. You should start with a good wine store – it can be neighborhood store or an online store (at the end of this post there is a listing of my favorite wine stores). Now, based on what you know about wine preferences for the gift recipient, there are few possible approaches for selecting the wine. If you only know the type of wine the other person likes (let’s say California Pinot Noir), the easiest bet is to get the wine at the actual “brick and mortar” wine store, where you can ask for the advice. If you know particular wines and/or wineries the other person likes (let’s say Catena Zapata Malbec or Peter Michael Chardonnay), it is equally simple to buy the wine in the store or online, as long as you can find it at the price you are willing to pay.
Now, in case you are unsure about the wine preferences, you can try a different approach. Do you know of any dates which are special in other person’s life? Birthday, anniversary, children birthdays, buying a first house – as long as you know the year of that special event, you can look for wine, port, scotch or champagne made in that specific year. Think it will be too expensive? Not necessarily – check Benchmark Wine Company’s selection of the older wines, and you might be pleasantly surprised. You can also ask your trusted wine retailer – many back vintages are still available, and often are quite affordable. Try it – I’m sure you will make someone very happy.
I’m not going to give you any particular wine recommendations (it really depends on the preferences as we discussed above and your price range), but I would like to suggest what not to get the wine lovers – stay away from the wine clubs. There are many wine clubs offered by various newspapers and “thingy of the month” establishments – the wines in such club selections usually don’t have a good value (you get a case of wine which looks inexpensive as a case – problem is that the person might enjoy only one or two bottles from the whole case, which immediately makes it a bad value). You can give a winery club as a present – if you know that the other person would enjoy the wines from that particular winery. However, if you still set on the wine club idea, the only clubs which I can wholeheartedly recommend are the ones run by D&M ( please see reference below) – their scotch, cognac and champagne clubs are amazing and represent a real value.
Let’s move on to the wine accessories. All wine lovers appreciate good accessories which make wine drinking more enjoyable. Everything goes – glasses, decanters, bottle openers, pourers, glass charms, bottle stopper, wine preservers, bottle holders – the list goes on and on. However, you need to keep in mind two things:
- it would help immensely to know what the other person might need/want, or at least doesn’t have already. Glasses and decanters take space, and nobody needs three estate wine openers.
- keep it simple. If the accessory is super fancy, like electronic bottle chiller, there is a good chance that it will be used only once or never. Wine accessory should be simple to use and “obviously” useful for the person to actually enjoy it. If someone is going to spend lots of time thinking “what am I going to do with this and where am I going to put it”, I wouldn’t call it a good gift.
The easiest way to buy wine accessories is through the catalogs (few recommendations are at bottom of the post), but don’t forget to check Home Goods stores – they offer a lot of different wine accessories at the great prices.
Last but not least category – wine education and experience. You don’t need to know anything about the wine in order to enjoy it – however, knowing something about the wine you are drinking greatly adds up to that enjoyment. When it comes to the wine education, there are many resources. First, there are books and magazines. Many wine books are truly enjoyable and educational at the same time – try the books by Matt Kramer, for instance. Some of the books contain tremendous wealth of information – for instance, the books by Jancis Robinson. Any of these books would make a great present for your wine loving friends (Important! Try to make sure they don’t yet have the book you intend to give!).
Another great educational resource is wine schools and classes. One of my favorite wine schools is Windows on the World Wine School (link below). During each class you learn about different wine regions and taste different wines – all hand selected by Kevin Zraly, who teaches the classes for more than 20 years. You don’t have to buy whole series – you can get gift certificates good for individual classes.
As far as wine experiences are concerned, the sky is the limit. Wine travel, wine cruises, wine master classes, wine appreciation dinners, winemaker dinners – there are endless possibilities for anyone who wants to know more about the art of wine. Okay, let me leave this topic for you to explore – if in doubt, start with Google, it always works for me.
I think this was the longest post in this blog ever (at least as far as the word count is concerned). I hope I was able to give you some ideas, and so I would like to wish you and yours Happy Holidays! Cheers!
Holiday wine gift giving Resource Guide:
Benchmark Wine Company – great source of old vintage, rare and unique wines from all over the world – all at very fair prices. Don’t forget to check their Clearance Bin!
Bottle King – Chain of discount wine and liquor stores in New Jersey. Offers excellent values and great selection, some of the wines being unique just for the chain. Selection of California, France, Italy and Portuguese wines worth specific mentioning. If you are in the area of any of the stores, make sure to stop by.
Cost Less Wines and Liquors – if you live in the area of Stamford, CT or visiting the town, don’t forget to stop by Cost Less – there many great values in stock every day for any discriminating wine lover. Just worth mentioning that store was voted “Best in Stamford”. There are great wines from all over the world, but portfolio of wines from California, France, Israel, Italy and Spain worth specific mentioning, plus selection of Scotch is outstanding.
D&M – great wine store in San Francisco. The biggest selection of Scotch, Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, Champagne, Mezcal (you got the idea, right?) of any store that I know of. D&M also has a number of clubs for all the different spirits – well worth the money, as all the shipments are rare and unique.
PJ Wine – One of the best wine stores in New York. Selection of Spanish wines is truly amazing (may be best in the country), French and Italian wines are also well represented. Lots of unique wines, particularly biodynamic and organic. PJ Wine also provides great educational opportunities such as seminars, wine tastings and so on.
Pop’s Wine & Spirits – I never been to the store personally, however, some of my friends swear by it, and I have seen great values acquired there, therefore I believe the store is worth mentioning here. The store is located on Long Island, but you can also buy the wines online.
WTSO.com – I talked about Wine Till Sold Out many times in the past. Great source of value wines, very simple model (only one wine is offered at a time, free shipping if you buy recommended quantity, ranging from 1 to 4). Might be a challenge to get a specific wine for a specific occasion, but well deserves an e-mail subscription in any case.
IWA Wine – offers full range of wine accessories, from glasses to wine cellars and wine cellar piece parts to wine memorabilia and even wines.
Wine Enthusiast – same as above, offers full range of wine accessories for all needs and occasions.
Home Goods stores – on any given day, there is a great selection of various wine gadgets and accessories in the store – be sure to check it out, and keep in mind that inventories are changing daily.
Windows on the World Wins School – excellent source of wine education. Taught by Kevin Zraly for more than 20 years, the school offers a series of classes which are very informative, educational and enjoyable. I can’t recommend it high enough.
Wine Spectator Magazine – magazine contains lots of interesting articles, wine ratings, restaurant reviews and chef recipes. I’m subscribing it for the past ten years, and still very excited with each issue. There is also an online version, which requires its own subscription.
Once again Stew Leonard’s Wines brought up a excellent opportunity to experience wines (you can find some of the old posts about wine tasting at Stew Leonard’s Wines here). This time, the tasting included wines from Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, California.
Four different wines were presented in the tasting: 2009 Anderson’s Conn Valley Prologue Chardonnay, 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley Prologue Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley Right Bank and 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. There was also wine #5 there, 2006 Anderson’s Conn Valley Eloge, but only available for sale, not for tasting (in large, 3L bottle format, at $599 each).
2009 Anderson’s Conn Valley Prologue Chardonnay had a very nice nose of white fruit, very delicate and inviting. On the palate, it was also nice and light, but too sweet – the elegance was lost behind that unexpected sweetness. Don’t get me wrong – this was still a nice wine, and it was, of course, a dry wine – but it was asking for more acidity. And for my personal taste I like more tannins and butter. Drinkability: 7+
Next was 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley Prologue Cabernet Sauvignon. As winemaker Todd Anderson, who was present at the tasting, said, “this wine for made for the price point”. The price point ( in that particular store) was $23.99, which would make it a reasonably priced Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was oaky, with some fruit showing up in the background. It will probably improve over the next 4-5 years. Drinkability: 7
Next in the tasting was 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley Right Bank red, which is a Bordeaux style blend ( Merlot/Cabernet Franc). This wine actually was quite enjoyable, with good structure and good balance of fruit, acidity and tannins, nice, very delicate earthy notes of the good Bordeaux, and with medium finish. This wine was best in tasting. It will also improve with ageing, probably over the next 10 years or more. Drinkability: 8-
Lat wine in the tasting was 2008 Anderson’s Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grape. This wine had a great nose of black currant and blackberries, and very delicate balance on the palate. At the same time, it was lacking the body and was falling short on the finish. It is quite possible that this wine will improve with age, or may be even with the breathing time, but as it was presented in the tasting, it was lacking the “umph” factor. Drinkability: 7+
Overall, it was great to be able to try good California wines, and if you are not following Stew Leonard’s Wines on Facebook, click here to open their page and become fun – this way you will not miss any opportunities to try some good wines. Until the next time – Cheers!
Buying wine is one of the great pleasures for the wine lover. Of course it is very easy and convenient to buy wine online, as in a lot of cases it also means that you will be able to find good values. However, for the true wine lover ( and if you want to substitute the term with wine geek, be it), being able to unhurriedly browse through the wine store (needless to say – good wine store) is a source of great pleasure. Seeing familiar labels is almost like seeing the old friends – “oh yes, I know you, it is great to see you again”. When you see the wine you don’t know, it is moment of discovery – “hmmm, I wonder how that should taste like?”, “aha, I think it was a good vintage”, “oh, I wonder if this is a good price”. Then it goes to “now, I must try this!”, or “ahh, one day I will definitely have to try this”… There is a lot of anticipation associated with that slow walk along the shelves, and a lot of pleasant expectations.
I already wrote about my favorite wine stores, both “brick and mortar” and online (you can find this post here), and I wrote a post about my most favorite local “go to” store Cost Less Wine and Liquors in Stamford, CT (the post is here). Now, I want to talk about another wine store which I really like – PJ Wine in New York. The store has both great physical location on upper Broadway, as well as very extensive web site at www.pjwine.com.
What do I like so much about PJ Wine? First of all, the store doing a lot to educate people about the wines. PJ Wine hosts great seminars (most of them are free), where people learn and get to try excellent wines, expanding their wine knowledge and taste. In addition to the seminars you can also subscribe to the mailing lists, and receive very extensive wine notes, with a lot of information about wines which is hard to find anywhere else, including winery websites. And then in addition to all the education and information – surprise – the wine store has great selection of … wines! (don’t know what you expected to see here).
First and foremost, PJ Wine is a place for Spanish wines, and Rioja in particular:
When it comes to Rioja, anything you are looking for – PJ Wine got it, and they got it right there, on the shelf where you can see and touch. Where else can you find 1964 Rioja simply waiting for you?
Don’t worry, it is not only Rioja – there are plenty of great wines on the shelves from all over world – hard to find wines from France, incredible selection of Jerez and Madeira, unique Italian wine and many many others.
Last but not least – you can always get good advice, and all the staff actually knows all their wines – not theoretically, but actually tried them and will be able to describe the wines to you in great detail. I’m sure many of you can attest to the fact that you missed such service more than once in your wine shopping adventures.
If you like wine and plan to be in New York – PJ Wine is definitely a worthy destination, you will be pleased with what you can find (of course you can get the wines from their web site – but it is a different experience). PJ Wine delivers unique experiences, from wines themselves to the great learning opportunities, and this is experience is yours to take. Happy wine shopping experience!
As you could’ve noticed, I’m a big fun of Wine Till Sold Out (WTSO). For the majority of the cases, WTSO is offering good wines at very good prices, which for me is one of the most important things when buying the wine – I like value, a good QPR. As a quick reminder, WTSO offers one wine for sale at a deep discount at any given moment – and if you want to know more about how this service works, you can read about it here.
What prompted me to write yet another blog post was the WTSO 24-hours marathon, which took place on Tuesday, April 26th. During such Marathon (it happens periodically), , which lasts for 24 hours the new wine is offered for sale every 15 minutes, or even sooner. It is somewhat challenging to collect all the information about wines offered during the marathon, as the new wines are announced only through the SMS or on Twitter and not via e-mail. Those messages are short, and typically only provide wine name, ratings (if any) and the discount percentage. As you will see below, I was able to capture some additional information, but this was a very tasking manual process (time to write a special app ). Also it was very difficult to capture the exact timing of the new wines coming in, so again I did what I can.
In the table below you will easily see some amazing deals, like Chateau Petrus 2004 at $479 (it is not even the price at 54% off, it is just sheer availability – and it lasted online for only 4 minutes), or Chateau Lascombes 2005 at $49.99. One last note before you can devour the information – here is explanation for wine rating abbreviation: WS – Wine Spectator, WA – Wine Advocate, RP – Robert Parker (equivalent to Wine Advocate for most cases), WE – Wine Enthusiast, W&S – Wine & Spirits magazine, WRO – Wine Review Online, ST – Steven Tanzer, IWC – International Wine Cellars (associated with Steven Tanzer), JN – Jonathan H. Newman (wine importer), BH – Bourghound (great source for Burgundy wine ratings).
Now, here it is – enjoy!
|Time||Wine Name||Rating(s)||Original Price||WTSO Price||Min # of Btls||% off|
|12:00a||Burgess 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon||68|
|6:00a||Antiyal Antiyal Maipo Valley 2006||92||57|
|Sturino Trotta Cellars Special Select Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||$120||$39.99||2||67|
|Tenimenti Angelini Val Di Suga Brunello di Montalcino 2003||91WS||$67.99||$33.99||3||50|
|Chateau Langoa Barton St. Julien Bordeaux 2005||92||50|
|Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut Vintage 2000||93 C.G, 92WA||$75||$43.99||2||41|
|Tom Eddy Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005||94||56|
|7:00a||Schubert Estate Goose Yard Block Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006||JN96, 95||50|
|Terra Valentine Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.||90||45|
|Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Winery Rio Vista Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2006|
|Pine Ridge Vineyards Carneros Napa ValleyDijon Clones Chardonnay 2007||90||41|
|Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port 1999||92 W&S, 92||49|
|8:00a||Chateau Petrus Pomerol 2006, Free 2nd Day Air||93||49|
|Brookdale Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||92WE||$49.99||$24.99||2||50|
|Podere La Vigna Brunello di Montalcino 2004||95WS||$69.99||$48.99||2||30|
|Solaria Brunello di Montalcino 123 Sangiovese Grosso 2004||93 WE, 90||$99.99||$59.99||1||40|
|Chateau Lascombes Grand Cru Classe Margaux, Bordeaux 2005||95WA||$129.99||$49.99||2||62|
|Amethyst Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002||91||56|
|9:00a||Chateau Leoville Barton Saint Julien Bordeaux Blend 2006 #64 Top 100 WS||94|
|Giovanni Rosso Barolo Storico Nebbiolo 2004||89||$65.99||$28.99||2||56|
|Rudd Estate Crossroads Estate Grown Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||$74.99||$35.99||2||52|
|Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino 2003||90||$110.00||$45.99||2||58|
|Roquette E Cazes Xisto Douro 2004||90||67|
|Vignamaggio Wine Obsession Toscana IGT 2004||91WS, 90WA||$70.00||$39.99||1||43|
|Pillar Rock Vineyard Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||$125.00||$39.99||2||68|
|10:00a||Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico Irpinia Rosso IGT 2003||92WA, 92WRO||$85.00||$37.99||2||55|
|St. Francis Winery Behler Vineyard Sonoma County Estate Merlot Blend 2005||92||$45.00||$21.99||4||51|
|Chateau Angelus Premier Grand Cru Classe St. Emilion Bordeaux 2006||95WA, 95WE||$250.00||$144.99||1|
|Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino 2004||91WS||$69.99||$39.99||1||43|
|Domaine Louis Latour Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvee Heritiers Latour 2007||93WS, 91BH||$250.00||$110.99||1||52|
|11.00a||Bodegas Los Astrales Astrales Ribera Del Duero 2007||94WE, 92||47|
|Broadbent Vintage Port 2003||90||59|
|Illumination Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2008||95WE, 95||44|
|Round Pond Estate Rutherford, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003||92JN||$70.00||$24.99||4||64|
|Domaine Du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Exceptionnelle Red 2005||94WA||$54.99||$38.79||2||29|
|Juslyn Vineyards Vineyard Select Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003||91WA||$84.99||$44.99||2||47|
|Quixote Winery Panza Stag’s Leap Ranch, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005||93JN||$49.99||$24.99||3||50|
|12:00p||Mitolo Wines Savitar McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007||93WA||$75.00||$37.49||3||50|
|Domaine du Galet des Papes Chateaneuf-du-Papes Vieilles Vignes 2007||91WS||$49.99||$29.99||3||40|
|Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||95WRO, 92WE||$84.99||$54.99||2||35|
|Domaine Louis Latour Romanee Saint Vivant Grand Cru Les Quatre Journaux 2003||91||48|
|Tenuta San Giorgio Ugolforte Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2003||91RP||$71.99||$34.99||2||51|
|Enkidu Wines Kick Ranch Sonoma County Syrah 2006||94||35|
|1:00p||Round Pond Estate Rutherford, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||92WE||$64.99||$25.99||4||60|
|Champagne Charles Ellner Cuvee De Reserve Brut NV||92WS, 90WA||$49.99||$24.99||4||50|
|Two Hands Wines Charlie’s Patch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||92ST, 90+WA||$124.99||39.99||2||69|
|Barone Ricasoli Casalferro Toscana IGT 2004||92||48|
|Xtant Wines Xtant Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003||92||60|
|Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame Brut 1998||92||45|
|Azienda Agricola Cavalier Bartolomeo Barolo Solanotto Altenasso DOCG 2005||89||60|
|Benessere Vineyards Napa Valley Phenomenon 2004||92||43|
|Rodney Strong Vineyards Symmetry Alexander Valley Meritage Red Wine 2007||94WE|
|2:19p||Solena Estate Domaine Danielle Laurent Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007||91ST, 90WE||$47.99||$27.99||3||42|
|Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007||92||29|
|2:33P||Champagne de Venoge Brut Champagne Rose NV||90WS||79.99||39.99||2||50|
|Celler Laurona Laurona Falset 2005||91WA, 90||53|
|Page Wine Cellars Revolver Wine Company The Fury Cabernet Franc 2006||39|
|Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve 2005||89||33|
|2:51p||Chateau Petrus Pomerol 2004||95W&S, 93WS/WA||$1299.99||$479.99||1||54|
|2.55p||D’Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 200||93WA||$69.99||$49.69||2||35|
|Villa Girardi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2004||46|
|Cloud View Vineyards Prichard Hill Napa Valley Red Wine 2006||94||53|
|3:11p||Cabreo Il Borgo Toscana IGT 2007||94WS||$60.00||$41.99||2||30|
|Hewitt Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||92||45|
|Two Hands Wines Lily’s Garden McLaren Vale Shiraz 2006||92||45|
|Saintsbury Vineyard Stanly Ranch Pinot Noir 2007||92WS, 90||40|
|Chateau Guillot Pomerol 2001 Library Release||93JN||$50.00||$25,99||3||48|
|3:38p||I Giusti e Zanza Dulcamara Toscana Rosso 2005||93WE||$54.99||$22.99||4||58|
|3:42p||Enzo Wines Magic Hill Oakville, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||98||$85.00||$26.99||3||68|
|Domaine Louis Latour Meursault Blagny 1er Cru Chateau De Blagny 2007||88||40|
|4:08p||The Colonial Estate Emigre Barossa Valley Proprietary Red 2006||93ST, 92WA||$85.00||$42.99||2||49|
|4:10p||Chateau Le Prieure Grand Cru Classe St. Emilion 1999 Library Release||92JN||$50.00||$24.99||3||50|
|4:15p||Eredi Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2005||93WA, WS||$79.99||$39.99||2||50|
|4:25p||Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Pvt. Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||95WE||$119.99||$64.99||2|
|Michele Chiarlo Tortoniano Barolo 2005||90||52|
|4:43p||Azienda Agricola Montevetrano Montevetrano Colli di Salerno IGT 2006||94RP||$112.00||$47.99||1||57|
|Vilafonte Series C Paarl 2004||91||57|
|Encantado (by The Famous Unnamed Napa Valley winery) Red Blend 2007||59|
|4:59p||Domaine Louis Latour Corton Clos de la Vigne Au Saint 2003||91BH||$89.99||$49.99||2||44|
|5:00p||David Bruce Winery Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2005||88||60|
|Tenuta di Biserno Bibbona Insoglio del Cinghiale IGT 2006||94||50|
|5:32p||Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir Reserve 2007||92WE||$49.99||$29.99||1||40|
|5:41p||Watkins Family Winery Monte Rosso Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005||92JN||$45.00||$24.99||2||44|
|4:49p||Grimaldi Luigino Grimaldi Vigna San Biagio Barolo Nebbiolo 2006||91||53|
|5:53p||Opus One Napa Valley Proprietary Blend 2007||94||18|
|5:56p||Brookdale Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007||$45.00||$24.79||3||45|
|6:00p||Bacio Divino Cellars Janzen Estate Cloudys Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||90||60|
|Burgess Cellars Library Release Vintage Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997|
|Poderi Aldo Conterno Gran Bussia Barolo Riserva 2001||95ST, 95||50|
|Prince Florent de Merode Corton Les Bressandes Grand Cru 2008||50|
|Seavey Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||92||35|
|7:00p||Costers del Siurana Miserere Priorat 2003||90||50|
|E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Cannubi 2005||94WE, 91||41|
|Burgess Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Vintage Selection||68|
|Podere La Vigna Brunello di Montalcino 2005||91||42|
|8:00p||Domaine Louis Latour Batard Montrachet Grand Cru 2006||95WE, 90||52|
|Encantado (You Know The Winery!) Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009||59|
|Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana 2003||90||51|
|Chateau Lafon La Tuilerie St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe 2006||60|
|Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi Piano di Montevergine Riserva 2001||94WA, 93||40|
|Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Wrattongbully, Australia Cabernet Shiraz 2005||92||57|
|9:00p||Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 2005||91||51|
|St. Supery Vineyards & Winery Elu Napa Valley Red Wine 2005 6 Liter Imperial|
|Chateau Le Gay Pomerol 2006||93WA, 93||46|
|Burgess Cellars Ilona Howell Mountain Red Blend 2004||92||59|
|Chateau Dauzac MargauxGrand Cru Classe Bordeaux 2007||87||60|
|Azienda Agricola Piancornello Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004 #64 Top 100 2010 WE!!|
|Domaine Henri Darnat Meursault Clos Du Domaine 2008. 17 rating and 50% off||17||50|
|10:00p||Bacio Divino Cellars Janzen Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||89||63|
|Maple Lane Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006||52|
|Mer Soleil Vineyard (by Caymus) Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2007||42|
|Azienda Agricola Piancornello Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2003 [1.5 Liter] Magnum|
|Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape Alexis Establet 2007||94WA, 92||40|
|Thumbprint Cellars Four Play Winemakers Reserve Sonoma County 2008||56|
|11:07p||Caterina Zardini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOC 2006||93||44|
|11:22p||Piper Heidsieck Champagne Cuvee Rare Brut 1998 *1.5L Magnum||92||58|
|11:25p||Domus Vitae Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva 2004||90||60|
|11:38p||Tenuta dei Sette Cieli Indaco Super-Tuscan 2006||90||60|
|11:48p||Chateau Le Dome St. Emilion Grand Cru 2004||90||60|
What I really like about Vino Volo is the fact that wine selection is always changing. Different locations offer different wine selections, which are changing throughout a year – what can be better for the wine experiences seeker?
In addition to being able to try a number of different wines at a reasonable price (I’m specifically referring to the price of wine flights – most of the individual bottles are overpriced, unfortunately), there are other positive elements of overall experience at Vino Volo. One of them is a very good service. Beyond just being nice and pleasant, Vino Volo’s staff knows quite a bit about the wines they are serving, and they also can handle challenges quite well. One of the wines in the Northwest Stars flight we had at San Antonio airport was spoiled – it was borderline corked and lacked all the fruit. When I mentioned that that to our waitress, the wine was replaced, no questions asked. This doesn’t always work that good, based on my own and fellow bloggers experience.
Another thing which I like is that fact that Vino Volo is always trying to go local when possible. When you are in Portland, Oregon airport, you should expect to find few tasting flights dedicated to Pacific Northwest wines. When in Virginia, I was very glad to find a flight of Virginia wines – all of this definitely adds up to unique experience.
Let me tell you about the wines I tried during my last two visits to Vino Volo in San Antonio, Texas and Dulles airport in Virgina.
We tried two flights at the San Antonio airport. First was Northwest Stars, which included three reds. 2009 Cummins Road Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton district, Oregon ($39 at Vino Volo, $19.95 on internet) had too much fruit for me. 2008 Mibrandt Vineyards Traditions Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington ($25 at Vino Volo, $14.99 at the winery) was very nice, with good balance, but needed a bit more body to be appreciated fully (might be young, though). Last in the flight was 2006 Powers Parellel 46 Meritage, Columbia Valley, Washington ($43 at Vino Volo, not easy to find but about $27 on Internet). This was the wine which was spoiled and replaced. It is a classic Bordeaux wine, with characteristic green notes – definitely needs more time, but this was a very good wine.
Next one was a flight of whites (I know, going in reverse) called Bright Whites. 2009 Colome Valle Calchaqui Torrontes, Argentina, was very nice, blight and flavorful. 2007 Efeste Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, Washington ($29 at Vino Volo, about $16 on wine-searcher) was the most unusual wine in the tasting – it had a very pronounced “rubber” on the nose, and lemongrass on the palate, and it was very nice overall (once you overcome the initial rubber sensation). Lastly, 2009 Racines de la Terre Chardonnay Pays d’Oc, France was very nice, with good balance of fruit and acidity, very approachable. I would say that the last two are worth seeking.
Now let me tell you about two tasting flights in Washington Dulles Airport.
First was the flight of Rose wines (very appropriate – summer is coming!). All three were very interesting, with #2 being my favorite. First was 2009 Vidal-Fleury Cote-du-Rhone, France – blend of Carignan and Syrah. This wine was a too fruity with limited body expression. Next one was Conde de Subritas Brut Rose NV, Spain – most unusual wine in the tasting (and the best). This sparkling wine had a lot of vegetable and pungent flavors – I definitely would like to try it with the salad. Last one was 2009 Avondale Estate Rose from South Africa, which tasted practically like a red wine ( it is made out of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes). I have a suspicion that if I would have this wine in a blind tasting, I would fail miserably to identify it as a rose – may be I should try it one day, just for fun.
Last one was a flight of local Virginia wines, which I was glad to find on the list and was looking forward to trying. First wine was 2008 Annefield Vineyards Arrowhead Viognier – this wine was lacking fruit and had oak which was not integrated. After tasting Viognier at Chrysalis Vineyards last year (you can read the story here), which was outstanding, I was really looking forward to trying this wine, but apparently it didn’t work out. The next wine was 2009 Old House Vineyards Estate Vidal Blanc, which was simply too sweet for my taste. And last one, 2008 Pearmund Cellars Ameritage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, was simply classic Bordeaux, with all the necessary traits – acidity, fruit, tannins. I put drinkability of this wine at 8-, but at $29/bottle I would expect more from the wine.
This concludes the story of airport wine tastings. Yes, the airports are still a hassle – but Vino Volo makes traveling experience a lot more palatable and even something to look forward to. If you are at the airport, remember – you can have fun on the go!
I had being contemplating this post for a while, and [finally] here it is. I’m not getting the wines for free, and they are not growing in my backyard. Same as most everybody else, I’m buying my wines. So what’s a big deal about it? Why does buying the wine worth a blog post?
Buying wine is somewhat of an art. Huh=, you say, what kind of nonsense is that? But the challenge is that on one side, there is an oversupply of wine, so trick is to find place with the right service and right prices (!). At the same time, there are way too many wines which are often referred to as “cult”, which are literally impossible to find – and may be information in this blog post might be able to help you.
As you know by now, I’m obsessed with wine – and it translates into finding good wines at good prices (this is often referred to as QPR – Quality Price Ratio). Here are the ways I found so far to satisfy that QPR requirement.
Wine Searcher – When I’m looking for specific wine ( or any type of alcohol for that matter), I always start from Wine -searcher. I always get full information on the price range and availability of options to acquire that specific wine.
Cost Less Wines and Liquors – local store in Stamford, CT. In the interest of full disclosure, store owner, Zak, is my friend. But this is not the reason for me to mention the store. There is an amazing wine selection in the store (I would think that in terms of using the space, this is the best store I even saw in ability to utilize every square inch of the store space. There is great representation of all wine making regions, and his selection of Kosher wines and Champagnes is literally best in Stamford. Plus, Zak has a talent to find the close-outs and makes very quick decisions when he can seize a good value. Also, if you are looking for a specific wine, Zak will get it for you (as long as it is available in Connecticut). All in all, this store is my primary wine shopping destination.
Bottle King – chain of the wine stores in New Jersey. Each store might have slightly different inventory, so I can’t speak for all of them. I’m personally using the one in Glen Rock, NJ. Overall, wine prices are very good. This store has excellent selection of Portuguese wines (great QPR!), plus good selection of French, Italian and Californian wines. Australia, Chile and Argentina have limited representation. Bottle King has loyalty card, which gives discount on many wines, plus periodically they run very good special sales – Red Tag Sale is in effect now (until April 4th, 2011), and some of the values are simply incredible. Need an example? 2000 Vintage Port for $27.70? Wow! Bottle King also have a division which sells wine online, called The Wine Buyer @Bottle King – I get their newsletter, however, never ordered anything.
PJ Wine – excellent store in New York. If you are looking for a Spanish wine – this is the right store. Probably the best selection of current and old releases of Rioja and Ribera Del Duero in the tri-state area. Also very good selection of rare and hard to find European wines from France, Italy and Austria. Very good service. Full store inventory is available online. Plus, there are excellent [free] educational seminars in the store ( hard to get in as seating is limited).
WTSO.com (Wine Till Sold Out) – great place to look for the bargains. I already wrote about WTSO in one of the previous posts. It works in a very simple way. You get on the mailing list. Then you get e-mail once the new wine is available for sale, at an incredible price – often, not always, of course. You can always check if offer makes sense by going to the Wine-Searcher and then also consulting Wine Spectator or another ratings database. Please be aware of the fact that while you are trying to figure out if particular offer makes sense, the wine might be gone by the time you reach the conclusion. Definitely great place to buy wines at a great price. Just sign up for the mailing list and see for yourself.
Benchmark Wine Company – to give you a short description – amazing. Outstanding customer service (really – try it). Wine selection? Incredible. Yes, this is not for everyday shopping, but if you look for a particular wine, especially from the older vintages – this is the place. Give it a try and you will not regret.
Wades Wines - might be one of the best secrets in the wine shopping. US regions have great representation, with lots of cult wines being available (at least on the list – but sold out in reality). I have to admit that I hadn’t bought anything yet from this company, but all the e-mails look very tempting.
D&M – another incredible store. Specialty? Scotch, cognac, champagne. The store is located in San Francisco, and it is literally hole in the wall. But once you look around in the store to see the selections surrounding you on all four walls, you get absolutely amazed. Incredible selection of scotch and cognac. Plus, there is a number of clubs offered, and actually these clubs make sense (compare to most of the wine clubs, which don’t worth a penny). If you are in San Francisco, and you like scotch or cognac, definitely find time to visit the store.
Of course there are many other places to buy wine – I had great experience with Yankee Spirits store in Sturbridge, MA, Beltramo’s in Menlo Park, California (outstanding service), K&L Wines (good selection, service – so so) in multiple locations in California. I had an interesting experience with Drink the grapes (online only).
This post happened to be much longer than I thought it should be. Nevertheless, I did my best to share the ways I go around to find the wine I want. If you got your favorite store or a web site to buy the wine – let me know, as I will be glad to learn about it. And until the next time – happy shopping!