As some of you might know, I can never pass on visiting the local Trader Joe’s when traveling – as long as it offers wine (which seems to be the case so far in the most places I visit). Last week I was in Santa Clara in California, so the trip to the nearby Trader Joe’s was unavoidable.
Deciding on what wine to buy at Trader Joe’s is difficult. I always take price into account, but then there are lots of wines in the same, super-reasonable prices range of $5 -$8. The next option is the label – yes, I’m a sucker for creative labels, and then, of course, the region comes to play.
As I slowly walked along the wine shelves, the label of Jebediah Drinkwell’s caught my eye – it was strangely attractive – plus I like Meritage wines, so it was an easy decision. I picked up Trellis Merlot because it was a Merlot (and October is a Merlot month) – and I was really curious to see what $4.99 can buy you from Sonoma. Cecilia Beretta was the third bottle I got – wanted to go outside of California, and “Partially dried grapes” always sounds like a music to me.
Looking at the wines later on, the idea of #MerlotMe dedication came along – would all these wines be Merlot based? To my delight, in addition to the 100% Merlot from Sonoma, two other wines also had substantial Merlot content, so here you go my friends, a Merlot run at Trader Joe’s.
Here are my notes:
NV Jebediah Drinkwell’s Meritage Red Wine Paso Robles ($5.99, 37% Petite Verdot, 31% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec)
C: dark Ruby
N: touch of smoke, roasted meat,
P: soft fruit, blackberries, tobacco, good acidity, medium-long finish
V: 7+/8-, quite enjoyable
2014 Trellis Merlot Sonoma County (14.5% ABV, $4.99)
N: restrained, distant hint of cassis, herbs
P: soft, round, cassis, good acidity
V: 7+, excellent QPR
2014 Cecilia Beretta Soraie Veneto IGT (14% ABV, $7.99, 40% Merlot, 30% Corvina, 20% Cabernet, 10% Croatina, grapes dried for a few weeks before pressing)
C: dark garnet
N: touch of blueberry pie, quite restrained
P: touch of blueberries, tobacco, hint of dried fruit, good power but round, soft tannins, medium finish
V: 7+, will work well with food – pasta with some hearty tomato sauce would be perfect
As you can tell, it is pretty amazing what $18 can buy you at Trader Joe’s. Also, it is my second experience with non-vintage wine at Trader Joe’s, and I’m definitely impressed with the quality of that wine.
Do you buy wines at Trader Joe’s? Any interesting finds you care to share? Cheers!
The Last Bottle, purveyor of the fine wines at a great value prices, is turning 5 (5 years old it is), and to celebrate this occasion, Last Bottle does it in their best possible style – by
giving away offering crazy amount of crazy wines at crazy prices in the format of their inimitable Marathon Madness.
For those of you who still might not know what Last Bottle Wine is: Last Bottle Wine is an online wine store specializing in so called “Flash” wine sales – they offer wines at a very substantial discounts (sometimes reaching 80%), also with free shipping if required minimum number of bottles is purchased, which is typically 3 to 6 bottles. Last Bottle Wines selection is outstanding, offering wines from well known producers, which are often also hard to find. You need to have an account to buy from Last Bottle Wines, so in case you don’t have one yet, I will be glad to be your “reference” and you can use this link to sign up. If you sign up using this link, you will get $5 credit on your first order. Yes, I will get $20 bonus for signing you up – but remember that it will be you who will get $20 next time around when you will sign up your friends – and believe me, your friends will be thanking you profusely. To see why your friends will be thanking you, read on.
The Marathon Madness was announced only on Wednesday, hence the title of this post. However, it is not all lost yet – Friday 04/29 will be the second day of the marathon, and if anything will be left to sell, it will continue over the weekend (however, I doubt that). The great thing about Marathon is that the minimum quantity requirement doesn’t apply – you can buy wines by single bottles and still get the same great discount.
What I did today is to try to capture information about some of the offered wines. During marathon, the wines are sold at an incredible speed, sometimes within literally half a second (think of it as a clicking competition), so it is very difficult to collect meaningful information about the wines been sold. I spent a bit of time refreshing the browser window and capturing the pictures, so below is what I was able to collect. Note the pedigree, the prices, and most importantly (for me), the vintages – lots of offered wines are of the older vintages – 1994, 1998, 2000, etc., which means that they are perfectly ready to drink – this is priceless in my opinion.
Without further ado, here is what you probably missed (a very small subset of it):
Today, I want to talk about wine and value. “Value” has an interesting meaning in the world of wine – may be as subjective as the concept of a “good wine” itself. To me, the value is not an absolute amount of money one paid for the bottle of wine – if you paid $3, but poured the bottle down the drain after half-finished first sip because it tasted terribly – was that still a “value”? Or was that a pure waste of money? By the same token, if the $20 bottle of wine gave you lots of pleasure in every tiniest drop (including the one you licked of the table), would that be a “good value”? Talking about the “value” of the wine, I prefer to use a proverbial term QPR, so happily adapted by the wine lovers – a Quality Price Ratio (this is what QPR stands for) conveys the “value” concept of wine a lot better than the sheer price itself.
One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to classify and analyze thousands and thousands of wines produced today in the world is by region, as wines from the same geographic area would typically have some similarities. Thinking about all the different wine producing regions in the world, which region do you think delivers the best QPR today? I’m really asking here to think about the region as a whole, rather then individual wines. Yes, you can find delicious Napa reds for $10, but this is rather an anomaly, as on average, you need to spend at least $25 – $30 for a good bottle, so we are definitely not talking about Napa here. Thus the question stands – what is your best QPR wine region in the world?
This question might be more difficult than it seems. Wine regions don’t stand still – they are constantly evolving. As the region becomes better known and more demanded, the price increase often accompanies this rise in popularity – which obviously affects the QPR. I used to consider Greek wines as a great QPR – but many Greek wines are now pushing the $30 boundary, while not consistent in quality – this immediately drives QPR down. I used to think of Israeli wines as a great value – but same thing is happening there, with lots of better wines moving north of $30, and wines under $20 been more of “hit and miss”. My next “go to” wines were Portuguese – but even here I now have a problem – wines under $20 are often only randomly tasty; wines at around $30 and up are consistently excellent, rivaling $100+ wines from the other regions, so in relative terms, they still offer a great value – but probably not the best QPR?
“Knowing what I know now”, the region which I think consistently delivers the best QPR at the moment (!) is Georgia – not the state down south in the US, of course, but an independent country. I always loved Georgian wines, but what prompted this broad statement about QPR was a recent Georgian Wine tasting I attended a week ago at Chelsea Market in New York. Wine after wine was delicious, and priced under $20 – that is a QPR I’m definitely happy about.
You don’t have to take my word for it – you should find a bottle of Georgian wine and try it for yourself. I really hope you did just that last Sunday, October 4th, as it was a #GeorgianWineDay in the social media – and if you actually had Georgian wine, I’m curious to know what it was. In any case, let me share the notes for the wines I tasted at the “Discover Georgia in New York” event at the colorful Chelsea Market. Below are the notes, using the “+” ratings. Pay attention to the prices and corresponding ratings – don’t know what you think, but I think the “QPR” is spelled very clearly across the full range of wines I tasted.
2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Rkatsiteli Kakheti, Georgia ($10.99) – +++, very acidic, requires food
2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Mtsvane-Kisi Kondoli Vineyards Kakheti, Georgia ($14.99) – +++, excellent, clean, lemon notes, touch of food
2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Saperavi Kakheti, Georgia ($11.99) – +++, excellent, simple, an everyday wine, red fruit, crushed berries
2009 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Red Kvareli Special Vicultural area, Kakheti, Georgia ($15.99) – ++++, beautiful, clean, great depth
2012 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Saperavi Kondoli Vineyards Kakheti, Georgia ($18.99, 18 months in oak, starting from fermentation) – ++++, stunning! round and delicious
2007 Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Reserve SAPERAVI block Kondoli vineyards, Kakheti, Georgia ($70) – ++++1/2, off the charts, produced only in the best years, complex, round, delicious. Yes, it is $70, and it might be to expensive for an amazing QPR, but you should taste this wine first…
2006 Wineman Cabernet Sauvignon Kakheti, Georgia ($10.99) – ++++, wow!, pick of maturity, dark notes, concentrated – another wow!
2010 Wineman Ikhalto Red Kakheti, Georgia ($12.99, 50% Saperavi, 50% Cabernet Franc) – ++++, wow!, acidity, beautiful wine
2013 Wineman Kindzmarauli Special Viticultural Area Red Semi-Sweet Kakheti, Georgia (12% ABV, $15.99, 100% Saperavi) – ++++, beautiful, perfectly balanced sweetness
2011 Shalvino Kardenakhi Special Viticultural Area Kakheti, Georgia (18% ABV, $18.99, Blend of Rkatsiteli, Khikhvi, Goruli and Mtsvane) – ++++, made using Solera method, delicious, Pedro Ximenez like with a delicate balance
2013 Telavi Wine Cellar Satrapezo Rkatsiteli Ice Wine Kakheti, Georgia (10% ABV, $29.99 500ml) – +++1/2, beautiful, perfect balance, not overly sweet
2013 Teliani Valley Tsinandali White Kakheti, Georgia ($12.99) – +++, great acidity
2012 Teliani Valley Special Vicultural area Kakheti, Georgia ($17.99) – +++, great acidity, perfect, food friendly
2013 Schuchmann Rkatsiteli White Kakheti, Georgia ($15.99) – +++, touch of sweetness, nice balance
2013 Schuchmann Saperavi Red Kakheti, Georgia ($15.99) – +++, perfect, clean, great balance
2012 Vinoterra Kisi Kakheti, Georgia (13% ABV, $NA, Qvevri fermentation, Oak maturation) – +++, complex, very intense, unusual, thought provoking
What do you think? I understand that QPR is subjective and relative term – first, you have to like the wine, and then everyone’s idea of “value” is different – but I was (once again) blown away by the quality and consistency of what I tasted – I didn’t skip a single wine, those are all the wines which were presented in the tasting. This would make it 16 wines out of 16, which I would gladly drink again. I hope it gives you good frame of reference for my experience.
Thinking about the wines of the world, what would be your top region for the best QPR? And if you tasted any of the Georgian wines, what is your opinion about them? Cheers!
It was a while since I posted one of these, but when I saw the announcement for the Wine Til Sold Out “Anything Goes” marathon, somehow I felt inclined to collect the data and create this post. As nobody has time to constantly watch all the wines been offered, the table below presents all (I hope) wines which were included in the marathon, so you can ponder at your own leisure – sorry, that might lead to some regrets too, but I can’t help you with that.
The fact that I didn’t do this in a while shows in the quality of data below, unfortunately – quite a bit of information is missing. I had to recreate the script, and the computer went to sleep right in a middle of a data collection and I lost it all on the wake up. But I hope you will still find it useful as limited as it is. You can see below the prices, the ratings and at what time the wines were offered and for how long they lasted.
Without further ado, here is the table with all the wines offered during marathon (including super-beauty double Barolo package offered right after). If you took part in the marathon, I’m curious to know what you got. And if you missed some wines – well, you can rant in that comments space below. Happy Wine Wednesday and cheers!
Here is the guide to the rating abbreviations (this list is ever inclusive – not all of them are used below): WS – Wine Spectator, WA – Wine Advocate, ST – Steven Tanzer, WE – Wine Enthusiast, WRO – Wine Review Online, W&S – Wine and Spirits, JS – James Suckling, RP – Robert Parker, JHN – Jonathan H. Newman, D – Decanter Magazine, rating goes in stars ( 5 stars is max), JH – James Halliday, TRR – The Rhone Report, BH – Burghound, IWR – International Wine Report, TLC – The Library Collection, PR – Pinot Report, TWN – The Wine News, LM – Luca Maroni, Sn – Snooth.com.
|12:00a||Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano 2005/2007 2-Pack||WA95, ST95||$520.00||$199.99||62%|
|11:45p||Sullivan Vineyards Rutherford Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon||JHN93||$70.00||$29.99||57%|
|11:29p||Podere la Regola ‘La Regola’ Super Tuscan IGT Red Blend 2008||WA93||$46.00||$22.99||50%|
|11:13p||Achaval-Ferrer ‘Finca Mirador’ Mendoza Malbec 2008||WA96, 93WS||$150.00||$59.99||60%|
|11:00p||Col d’Orcia ‘Il Veltro’ Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2008||$50.00||$23.99||52%|
|10:44p||Clarendon Hills ‘Liandra Vineyard’ Clarendon Syrah 2007||JH95||$85.00||$33.99||60%|
|10:35p||Casalvento ‘Janus’ Toscana 2011 Half Bottle (375.00ml)||JS93||$60.00||$19.99||67%|
|10:20p||Giacomo Borgogno et Figli Barolo Riserva DOCG 2004 Special Edition||JS93||$110.00||$39.99||64%|
|10:06p||Chateau Luchey-Halde Pessac-Leognan Red Blend 2009||IWR92+||$95.00||$29.99||68%|
|9:50p||Philippe LeClerc Gevrey-Chambertin Les Champeaux 1er Cru 2011||JHN92||$120.00||$49.99||58%|
|9:36p||Champagne Tendil & Lombardi Cuvee Rose NV||WS90||$69.00||$29.99||57%|
|9:30p||Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape Boisrenard 2011||WS93||$75.00||$39.99||47%|
|9:15p||Eagles Trace Winery Estate Grown Napa Valley Merlot 2007||$45.00||$22.99||49%|
|9:00p||Barolo 2009 Single Vineyard Cru Ciabot Berton Roggeri||WRO94, JS93||$90.00||$32.99||63%|
|8:45p||Marques del Puerto Bentus Reserva 2005||WE92||$60.00||$19.99||67%|
|8:36p||Rancho Zabaco Monte ‘Toreador’ 2010 Rosso Vineyard Sonoma Valley Zinfandel||WA93||$60.00||$26.99||55%|
|8:23p||La Esquina Torrontes 2014||$22.00||$9.99||55%|
|8:09p||Corte Campagnola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Gli Archi 2004||WE92||$54.99||$29.99||45%|
|8:00p||Krutz Family Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2011||$74.00||$39.99||47%|
|7:49p||Lisini 2009 Brunello di Montalcino 93 rating and 53%||IWR93, WS91||$78.00||$36.99||53%|
|7:34p||Sancerre 2013 ‘Les 7 Hommes ‘ 100% Sauvignon Blanc By Cherrier Pere & Fils||IWR90+||$39.00||$17.99||54%|
|7:26p||Quinta Seara d’Ordens Vintage Port 2011||WE92||$90.00||$37.99||58%|
|7:16p||Colle Lungo Campo Cerchi Chianti Classico Riserva 2006||$50.00||$24.99||50%|
|7:04p||Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf du Pape 2012||WS91, WA91||$60.00||$26.99||55%|
|6:52p||Robert Young Estate Winery ‘Red Winery Road’ Chardonnay 2013||$35.00||$17.99||49%|
|6:41p||Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut Rose Sauvage NV||WRO93, WS92||$69.99||$39.99||43%|
|6:31p||Tempranillo ‘Valnuevo’ Toro 2006 Bodegas y Vinedos Tardencuba||WA93+||$70.00||$39.99||43%|
|6:23p||Eagles Trace Wines ‘Latitude 38’ Estate Grown Napa Valley Red Blend 2011||$85.00||$34.99||59%|
|6:12p||Gaston and Pierre Ravaut Aloxe-Corton Vieilles Vignes 2009 Cote de Beaune||WS90||$70.00||$35.99||49%|
|5:58p||Citille di Sopra ‘Poggio Ronconi’ Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2010||JS97||$95.00||$46.99||51%|
|5:50p||Encantado Rutherford 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon||$50.00||$22.99||54%|
|5:38p||Ernest Meurgey-Perron Meursault Premier Cru White Burgundy 2013||JHN92||$100.00||$39.99||60%|
|5:24p||Champagne Philippe Prie Cuvee Archange NV||WS92||$95.00||$34.99||63%|
|5:15p||Mendoza Vineyards Gran Reserva Malbec 2011||WA92||$60.00||$19.99||67%|
|4:58p||Fontanafredda ‘Varej’ Barbera Piedmont DOC 2013||$17.99||$9.99||44%|
|4:48p||Champagne Henri Abele Rose NV||WS91||$55.00||$27.99||49%|
|4:42p||Long Meadow Ranch Rutherford 2013 Reserve Red Blend||JHN93||$100.00||$29.99||70%|
|4:36p||Antolini ‘Moropio’ Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010||WE93||$79.00||$27.99||65%|
|4:22p||Domaine Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Prestige 2011||WS93, WA93||$80.00||$39.99||50%|
|4:16p||Sojourn Cellars ‘Campbell Ranch Vineyard’ Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012||PR94||$45.00||$39.99||11%|
|4:08p||Fattoria Scopone Brunello di Montalcino ‘Olivare’ DOCG 2010||JS95||$80.00||$36.99||54%|
|3:56p||Super Tuscan ‘Marchesale’ Terre del Marchesato Toscana IGT 2007||WE94||$80.00||$33.99||58%|
|3:44p||Ribera del Duero 2009 ‘Antonio Izquierdo’ Vendimia Seleccionada Bodegas Izquiredo||WA93||$120.00||$45.99||62%|
|3:28p||Keating Wines ‘Buchignani Vineyard’ Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2012||WE91||$35.00||$19.99||43%|
|3:14p||Burgess Cellars ‘Library Release’ Napa Valley 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon||$150.00||$89.99||40%|
|3:11p||Antonin Rodet Macon-Ige ‘Le Chaillou’ Chardonnay 2011||JHN91||$35.00||$14.99||57%|
|2:55p||Domaine Louis Cheze Cuvee ‘Anges’ Saint-Joseph AOC Syrah 2007||WS93||$75.00||$29.99||60%|
|2:42p||Sullivan Vineyards Rutherford Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon||JHN93||$70.00||$29.99||57%|
|2:29p||Bodegas Bioenos Gorys Crespiello 2010 91 rating and 72%||WA91||$100.00||$27.99||72%|
|2:18p||Fontanafredda ‘Lazzarito’ Vigna La Delizia Barolo DOCG 1999||WA92||$170.00||$49.99||71%|
|2:08p||Guillaume Baptiste ‘L’Evidence’ 2014 Pouilly-Fume||JHN91+||$35.00||$15.99||54%|
|1:58p||Pannier Egerie Champagne 2002||WE92||$100.00||$39.99||60%|
|1:52p||Casalvento Vineyards and Winery Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2010||94||47%|
|1:46p||C. Donatiello Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2012||92||56%|
|1:34p||Eagles Trace ‘Latitude 38’ Estate Grown Napa Valley Red Blend 2009||51%|
|1:26p||Chateau Moulin de la Rose Saint-Julien 2008||WE92||59%|
|1:16p||Clarendon Hills ‘Blewitt Springs’ Clarendon Grenache 2007||93||46%|
|1:08p||Valentina Cubi ‘Morar’ 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella||93||59%|
|1:01p||Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 2012||94||43%|
|12:50p||Tenimenti Soprani Barolo DOCG 2010||56%|
|12:37p||Jamieson Ranch Vineyards ‘Reata’ 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir||92||56%|
|12:24p||Buoncristiani Family Winery ‘O.P.C.’ Napa Valley 2010 Proprietary Red Blend||92||40%|
|12:16p||Loacker Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2008||93||59%|
|12:09p||H. Blin Champagne Brut NV||91||59%|
|11:50a||Maroon Winery Spring Mountain District Reserve 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon||50%|
|11:39a||Prosecco Bosco dei Cirmioli Veneto NV||50%|
|11:24a||Lisini 2009 Brunello di Montalcino||93||53%|
|11:16a||Vintage Port Wine and Soul ‘Pintas’ 2011||96||38%|
|11:07a||Gran Reserva Rioja 2001 Bodegas Lar de Paula Gran Baroja||90||47%|
|11:02a||Encantado 2012 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon||62%|
|10:55a||Joseph Mellot Vigne de la Demoiselle Sancerre Rose 2014||44%|
|10:47a||Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco DOCG 2005||50%|
|10:41a||Pinot Noir Premier Cru Beaune Perrieres 2007 Maison Louis Latour||90||57%|
|10:26a||Champagne Veuve Doussot Brut Rose NV 100% Pinot Noir||90||63%|
|10:17a||Robert Stemmler Winery Estate Grown Carneros Pinot Noir 2011||91||55%|
|10:08a||Groth Vineyards and Winery Reserve 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon||94||36%|
|9:53a||Barolo DOCG Cascina Adelaide ‘Fossati’ 2008||WS93||$125.00||$39.99||68%|
|9:44a||Domaine Roger Sabon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Prestige 2008||93||63%|
|9:34a||Sancerre 100% Sauvignon Blanc Vieilles Vignes 2012 Domaine Raimbault||91||62%|
|9:29a||Cru du Rhone Gigondas Vieilles Vignes 2011 Domaine du Grand Montmirail||91||64%|
|9:22a||Casa Brancaia ‘Ilatraia’ 2009 Maremma Toscana IGT||94||56%|
|9:15a||Beaulieu Vineyard ‘Tapestry’ Napa Valley Reserve Red Blend 2011||54%|
|9:00a||Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Brut 2006||92||33%|
In its typical style, when you least expect it (meaning – the day before the event), Last Bottle, a purveyor of the fine wines at the value prices, announced yet another “Madness Marathon”. The promise is to make it the most over the top ever, and considering that at 1 PM Pacific time Last Bottle plans to offer Domaine de la Romanee Conti (yep, the sacred DRC!), that might not be an empty threat.
Here is all you need to know:
The event takes place on Thursday, December 18th, starting at 9 AM Pacific time (Noon Eastern), the wines will be offered at a neck-breaking (hmmm, may be, finger-breaking? ) speed at the Last Bottle web site. No notifications of any sort, not even on twitter – you have to click “refresh” all the time. No minimums, all the wines you will buy will ship free, shortly after the event will be over. The event will last for two days or until all the wine will be sold out.
You will need to have an account with Last Bottle, and I also highly recommend to be logged into your account all the time during the event, with your payment information filled it – if you are not fast enough, you are not getting that amazing wine at an amazing price – there is always someone who clicks faster than you.
As usual, when I mention Last Bottle, in case you don’t have an account with them already, I always offer an opportunity to sign up – if you will sign up using this link, you will get $5 off your first purchase, and yes, I will get $20 after your first purchase. The beauty is that moving forward, you can sign up your friends, and now you will be the one to get $20 after they will buy the wine from the Last Bottle.
Okay, enough reading – go make some room in your cellar – you will need it. And if you will be the one to buy the DRC, can you please at least leave a comment here, so I will be able to envy you?
Happy [great value wine] Hunting!