Archive

Posts Tagged ‘value wines’

Spain’s Great Match – Rare Grapes, Delicious Wines, Great Values

October 13, 2017 6 comments
Spain's wine regions

Source: Wines from Spain USA

I discovered the real greatness of the Spanish wines about 10 years ago, thanks to the wonderful seminar at maybe the best source of the Spanish wines in New York – the PJ Wine store. I had an occasional Rioja here and there before, but tasting through the full line of best of the best in Rioja, starting from the legendary 1964 vintage, was a true eye opener, and ever since, Spanish wines hold a special place in my winelover’s heart. If I need an ultimate solace in the wine glass, yes, 9 out of 10, it will be a Rioja.

Spain has the biggest vineyard area plantings in the world, so no matter how great Rioja is, Spain is so much more than just the Rioja. As I became a big fan of the Spanish wines (search this blog under the “Spanish wine” category), it became truly fascinating to follow all the changes and see the appearance of the totally new regions and reincarnation of the ancient, authentic grapes – Spain is home to about 400 grape varieties, out of which only about 20 can be considered “mainstream”.

What is the better way to learn about new wines if not the [big] wine tasting? Thanks to the Wines from Spain USA, the 24th annual “Spain’s Great Match – Wine, Food, Design” event offered exactly that – a big wine tasting (more than 300 wines), educational wine seminars and authentic Spanish food.

I had a pleasure of attending these events for the last few years, including the special 30th Anniversary of Spanish wines in the USA, where the incredible tasting in the main seminar included once-in-a-lifetime wines such as 2005 Clos Erasmus from Priorat, a Robert Parker 100-points rated wine. Every year’s event offered unique and different educational opportunities as well as the tasting of the latest and greatest wine releases from all major Spanish regions.

The first seminar offered during this year’s event was focused on the Spain’s rare grapes. Ask a winelover to come up with the list of the commonly used Spanish grapes – I’m sure that going beyond Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache) and Albariño will be challenging. Some of the adventurous wine geeks might add Graciano, Viura, and Verdejo.  Meanwhile, remember – 400 varieties – versus 6 which we just mentioned. Spanish winemakers definitely got some options.

So the first seminar, led by Doug Frost, one of the only 4 people in the world who are both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine,  Gretchen Thomson, Wine Director for Barteca Restaurant Group, overseeing the largest in the country portfolio of Spanish wines, and Michael Schachner, Spanish and South American Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, addressed exactly this issue. We had an opportunity to taste and discuss 10 wines made from the little known Spanish grapes.

rare Grapes seminar led by Doug Frost MS/MW

Spain's Great Match

Spain's Great Match

Gretchen Thomas at the rare grapes seminar Spain's Great MatchAs some of you might know, I’m a grape geek myself. The little box in the upper section of the Talk-a-Vino web page shows a counter for the number of grapes I had an opportunity to taste, so from the 10 grapes we tasted, I found only one I didn’t have before. The wines were interesting, however, I would not necessarily agree with the choice of wines to showcase particular grapes – but I wouldn’t stand a chance against such a distinguished panel of experts, so you can dismiss this statement. 🙂

Anyway, for what it worth, below are my tasting notes. Don’t have any good pictures for you, as I had no opportunity to take pictures of these wines in between the different events. Here we go:

2016 Ameztoi Txakolina D.O. Getariako Txakolina (Grape – Hondarrabi Zuri)
Beautiful nose, fresh, lemon notes, herbs, inviting. Crisp, cut through acidity, touch of fizz, would perfectly match oysters, seafood, most reminiscent of Mucadet.

2014 Bodega Chacón Buelta D.O. Cangas (grape: Albarín Blanco, new grape for me)
Off-putting nose – strong gasoline, aggressive herbal notes. The palate is interesting – lychees, pear, appears almost oxidative/”orange”.

2016 Avancia Cuvée de O D.O. Valdeorras (grape: Godello)
Intense nose, white stone fruit, nicely restrained, peaches undertones with clean acidity on the palate with clean acidity – excellent

2014 Bodegas Maranones Picarana D.O. Viños de Madrid (grape: Albillo Blanco, high altitude vineyards, 2000–2500 feet, barrel fermented)
Open, intense, touch of gunflint, reminiscent of Chardonnay, apples, vanilla – excellent. Plump, Marsanne-like on the palate, touch of tannins, very nice overall

2016 Armas de Guerra Tinta D.O. Bierso (grape: Mencía)
Intense, freshly crushed berries on the nose. Outstanding on the palate, tannins, burst of pepper, crisp, dry, very little fruit, medium body. Very interesting and different expression of Mencía.

2011 Raúl Pérez Prieto Picudo V.T. Castilla y Léon (grape: Prieto Picudo)
Delicious nose, open berries, sweet oak, overall on the nose – classic California. Lots going on on the palate – touch of sweetness, blackberries, nice swing of tannins, medium+ body.

2015 Bermejo Listán Negro D.O. Lanzarote (grape: Listán Negro, 13% ABV)
Smelling a cement truck – just fresh cement, plus intense herbal notes. Chipotle, poblano peppers dominate noticeably dusty palate – unique and different. (Too unique?)

2015 Ànima Negra ÀN V.T. Mallorca (grape: Callet)
Fresh open nose, fresh blueberries, and strawberries. Funky undertones on the palate, aggressive tannins (French oak), limited fruit. Interesting food wine

2014 Mustiguillo Finca Terrerazo Pago El Terrerazo (grape: Bobal)
Closed nose. A tiny hint of fruit, more perceived than real. Tight palate, noticeable oak, touch of cherries, good balance of fruit and acidity. Needs time. Want to try again in 10–15 years.

2013 Torres Cos Perpetual D.O.Ca. Priorat (grape: Cariñena)
Nice nose, cherries, dark chocolate, fresh leaves undertones. Aggressive tannins, green notes (tree branches), initial sweet notes immediately followed by astringent profile.

Spain's Great Match

Spain's Great Match

Spain's Great Match

Spain's Great Match

Spain's Great Match

Our next seminar was dedicated to the wines and culture of the Castilla y León, an administrative region in the Northern part of Spain. Castilla y León includes a number of winemaking regions – some of the best, essentially – Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda among others. The seminar was led by charismatic Marnie Old – I have to honestly say that this was one of the very best wine seminars I ever attended – great delivery, lots of energy, excellent presentation.

We had an opportunity to taste 7 different wines and also try some of the Castilla y León authentic foods – a few kinds of cheese (Valdeon, a blue cheese, was my favorite), Jamon (Jamón Guijuelo, to be precise) and more. I really didn’t care for the Rosé, so below you will find the notes for the wines we tasted:

2016 Bodegas Vitulia Albillo Gran Selección Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León ($18, 12.5% ABV, 100% Albillo Mayor)
Simple, crisp, acidic, refreshing. Plus another new grape.

2016 Bodega Castelo de Medina Verdejo Rueda D.O. ($19.95, 13.5% ABV, 100% Verdejo)
White stone fruit, intense, fresh, floral fruit on the nose. Palate is dominated by the herbs, similar to Sancerre, lemon, medium body, very nice

2016 Bodega Javier Sanz V Malcorta Rueda D.O. (13% ABV, $26, 100% Verdejo Malcorta)
Javier Sanz’s effort is dedicated to restoring pre-phylloxera vineyards – this is where the fruit for this wine came from. The nose is a pure wow – intense, camphor oil, sandalwood, rosemary. Palate is delicious, perfectly balanced, candied lemon, nutmeg, medium+ body, clean acidity, an excellent wine. Yes, and another new grape.

2016 Vino Bigardo Tinto Experimental (100% Tinta de Toro) – an interesting wine. Made by a rebel winemaker, who doesn’t want to make the wine according to the appellation laws, so the wine is unclassified. 20–100 years old wine, 45 passes during the harvest, micro-fermentation. Nose has lots of young, bright fruit, freshly crushed berries, reminiscent of Monastrell, unusual. Young fruit on the palate, but with undertones of stewed fruit, hint of the roasted meat. This is experimental wine all right, but this is not a successful wine in my book.

2009 Bodegas Matarredonda Libranza 28 Reserva Especial DO Toro ($45, 100% Tinta de Toro, ungrafted vines, on average 70 years old)
Spicy nose with a whiff of cinnamon, sweet oak, classic Cabernet nose overall. On the palate very tight, the real Toro, powerful, dark fruit, nice – but needs time. Pairs surprisingly outstanding with the local Valdeon Blue Cheese.

2014 Bodegas Balbás Crianza Ribera Del Duero D.O. ($27.99, 90% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 months in French oak barrels)
This wine comes from one of the founding estates in the region, established in 1777.
Dusty nose, muted fruit, distant hint of dried cherries. On the palate – cherries, cherry pit, roasted meat, coffee, great concentration, fresh, clean – very good wine overall.

I was registered for two more seminars, but then there were lots of wines to taste, so I decided to proceed with the tasting. Below are mentions of the wines I liked. I have separated the wines into my top choices (both white and red), and then separately sparkling (Cava), white and red wines I feel comfortably happy to recommend. For what it worth, here we go:

Top wines:
2016 Bodega Javier Sanz V Malcorta Rueda DO ($26) – see my notes above, definitely was the star
2014 CVNE Monopole Blanco Seco Rioja ($22) – Monopole is one of my favorite white Rioja in general, but this wine is taken to the next level by spending some time in oak – lots of increased complexity. Delicious.
2013 Bodegas Prineos Garnacha DO Somontano ($12.99) – round and delicious. Great value
2011 Bodegas Beronia III a.C. Beronia DOCa Rioja ($79.99) – 70 years old vines. Unique and beautiful, produced only in exceptional vintages. standout.
2015 Bodegas Garcia Carrión Mayoral Reservado DOP Jumilla ($12.99, Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot) – a standout. Perfectly balanced, great flavor profile and QPR which can’t be beat.
2014 El Coto Crianza DOCa Rioja ($13) – an incredible value, perfectly soft and round
2008 El Coto de Imaz Gran Reserva DOCa Rioja ($44) – perfectly drinkable, but can still age. Delicious and a great value.
2010 Gratavinum GV5 DOCa Priorat ($80) – excellent wine

Also very good:

Cava:
NV Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserva DO Cava ($14.99) – never disappoints. Great value.
NV Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé DO Cava ($14.99) – one of my perennial favorites.
2010 Parés Baltà Cava Blanca Cusiné DO Cava ($40) – very good quality, comparable to vintage Champagne.
NV Segura Viudos Reserva Heredad DO Cava ($25) – another one of my favorites. Delicious.
2010 Torelló 225 Brut Nature Gran Reserva DO Cava ($35) – very good

White:
2016 Bodegas Sommos Las Bas Gewürztraminer DO Somontano ($25.99) – Gewurtztraminer is a tough grape for making a round, balanced wine – and this one was exactly that.
2015 Baigorri Barrel Fermented White DOCa Rioja ($30) – very nice
2016 Bodegas Beronia Viura DOCa Rioja ($14.99) – clean, refreshing
2016 El Coto Blanco DOCa Rioja ($11) – outstanding and an excellent value
2013 Bodegas Enate “Chardonnay 234” Enate DO Somontano ($12.99) – classic, very good.

Rioja:
2013 Bodegas Muga Reserva DOCa Rioja ($28) – one of the iconic producers, very good wine.
2011 Marqués de Riscal Reserva DOCa Rioja ($18) – excellent value
2005 Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva DOCa Rioja ($48) – very good
2010 Marqués de Riscal Baron de Chirel Reserva DOCa Rioja ($79) – very good
2011 Bodegas Faustino V Rioja Reserva DOCa Rioja ($15) – very good value
2005 Bodegas Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva DOCa Rioja ($35) – another very good QPR example
2012 Bodegas Beronia Reserva DOCa Rioja ($19.99) – excellent
2008 Bodegas Beronia Gran Reserva DOCa Rioja ($31.99) – excellent, and great value
2012 El Coto de Imaz Reserva DOCa Rioja ($24)
2008 Viñedos y Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Finca El Bosque DOCa Rioha ($95) – probably the most expensive wine in the tasting, and it is not ready to drink. Needs time, lots of time.
2007 Señorio de San Vicente San Vicente DOCa Rioja ($52, new grape – Tempranillo peluda)

Other red:
2016 Bodegas Sommos Merlot DO Somontano ($25.99)
2012 Bodegas Viñas Del Vero Secastilla DO Somontano ($44.95)
2009 Bodegas Paniza Artigazo Edición Limitada DOP Cariñena ($24..99)
2010 Bodegas Corral Don Jacobo Rioja Reserva DOCa Rioja ($22) – delicious and a great value
2014 Bodegas Volver DO LaMancha ($16) – one of my perennial favorites, big and powerful
2012 Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero DO ($35) – this wine never disappoints – perfect example of what Ribera del Duero is capable of
2013 Bodegas Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero DO ($40) – delicious
2015 Bodegas Garcia Carrión Mayoral Chester DOP Jumilla ($12.99, Monastrell/Petite Verdot)
2014 Bodegas Garcia Carrión Pata Negra Apasionado ($12.99, Monastrell/Petit Verdot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah)
2014 Torres Salmos DOCa Priorat ($35) – very good
2015 Teso La Monja Almirez DO Toro ($52) – still needs time
2007 Teso La Monja DO Toro ($25) – nice, but definitely needs time

And then, of course, there was food. Cheese and olives were a staple, and many other dishes were carried out all the time. I also discovered my new favorite sparkling mineral water – Vichy Catalan.  It is sold at some of the stores, such as Fairway Market, so if you like sparkling water, you might want to give it a try.

That’s all I have for you, my friends. Spain’s Great Match is an annual event, so even if you missed this year, you should definitely plan to attend the next – you can see a full schedule here. Also, if you live in or will visit Chicago, you can still attend it on November 2nd. Either way – drink more Spanish wines, my friends! Cheers!

New Ways To Buy Wine From Wines ‘Til Sold Out

August 19, 2017 4 comments

Wine is an expensive passion, we all know that. Of course, passions and hobbies are generally expensive, and if someone’s passion is Swiss watches or sports cars, that is a totally different level of expense. Nevertheless, if you like to have a good glass of wine every day, your wine budget allocation will quickly add up to some scary amounts.

I don’t remember when I discovered Wines ‘Til Sold Out, commonly referred to as WTSO – at least 8 years ago, or possibly even longer – but it was really an eye-opening experience. When I saw the wines offered at 30%, 50% or even 70% off, with free shipping, my first thought was “is that even real”? First, second, tens orders proved that all is for real – the wines, the prices, the shipping, the service  – all were there, and the space in my cellar started to diminish at a rapid pace – but this is not a subject of today’s post.

Wines ‘Til Sold Out is a fine specimen of what is called a “flash-sale” website – the product (in this case, wine) is offered for sale at a greatly reduced price, until it will be sold out (sometimes in minutes), with a free shipping if you meet minimum required purchase quantities. In case of Wines ‘Til Sold Out, such sales are typically announced through an email, a tweet or an app on the smartphones, and you typically need to react quickly if you want to get it – sometimes you don’t even have time to research the wine online, as by the time you are done, there will be nothing left to buy. And what I really appreciate about Wines ‘Til Sold Out is that their typical offering will keep you under $100 for the total order – I’ve seen a few exceptions, but those are very, very rare.

In addition to having wines offered for the “flash sale”, Wines ‘Til Sold Out also runs a series of so-called Marathons. I’ve seen WTSO experiment a bit with the format of those, but a Marathon is typically a whole day event (starting at 9 AM Eastern and lasting until midnight), where the new wines are offered every 15 minutes or faster (if current offer sells out), all wines at a very good price and sometimes even without minimum quantities to buy (you can read more about WTSO marathons here).

Both regular format and marathons are a great way to get good wines at amazing prices. But everything in this world has two sides, isn’t it? So what is the issue, you ask? Simple. Quite often, the wines are moving simply too fast. I had been in the situations where by the time I decide to buy the wine, it is all gone. Marathons are the worst – I had been clicking like a mad man to get to the “confirm order” button, and by the time I press this button, the sad message would appear to inform me that the wine is no longer available.

If you ever been in a similar situation, I have a good news for you. Wines ‘Til Sold Out recently introduced the new way to buy the wine – Bonus Offers. Once you would come to the Wines ‘Til Sold Out web site, look for the “Bonus Offers” in the top menu – when you will click it, you will be presented with the offering of up to 9 different wines – you can buy any or all, no minimums to get free shipping. The wines will be always grouped by a certain theme – one time it can be wines from Napa Valley, another time it can be Cabernet Sauvignon around the world – there is always an opportunity to be pleasantly surprised.

The new set of Bonus Offers wines will be typically announced via email, and it will last until the wines will be sold out or there will be a time to offer new selection. It is entirely possible that new wines will be added to the current Bonus Offer to replace sold out ones, but this will not be communicated via email, so you pretty much have no choice but to visit the web site and check the Bonus Offers page from time to time. Yesterday, the Bonus Offers page looked like this:

and today Bonus Offer already looks differently – but what else do you expect when the wines are simply getting sold out?

There you have it, my friends. Same great wines at great prices, now with the opportunity to sweat less and simply get what you wnat when you want it. In the world of wine, I’m always happy to drink to that. Cheers!

 

Pleasures of Drinking Local

May 8, 2017 2 comments

I love travel -seeing the world, different cultures, different people, different traditions, and, of course, different food and drinks. Food is given, as we all have to eat, so one way or the other we get to experience local cuisine. But then what I drink is also very important to me, with the same spirit of exploration.

I love drinking local. And, of course, when I say “drinking”, I primarily mean wine. When travel, I always make an effort to find and try local wines. Unknown and obscure? Perfect – the less I know about the wine, the more pleasure it brings. Drinking local wines doesn’t mean I have to visit the wineries. More often than not, my trips don’t include any spare time and any facilities to reach the wineries. But – in many places, and I would even say, in increasingly more places, you can still find local wine at local shops, as long as you willing to look for it.

Templarsky Sklepy St Laurent

It is, of course, the best when you are visiting places where the wine is part of the culture, like most countries in Europe (sorry, never been to Latin America or Australia, but somehow I think I would do fine there as well). If the wine is a part of the culture and tradition, it almost guarantees you authentic wine experiences – and what is very important – without breaking the bank. In the USA, for instance, the wine is still a part of the fashion and not part of the tradition, thus in USA, finding reasonably priced wines is extremely difficult, and finding locally produced and reasonably priced wines is simply a mission impossible. Wait, I didn’t mean for this post to be a rant, so let me get back on track.

This time around, my travel took me to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. I’m sure for many (most?) of people, as soon as they will hear “Czech Republic”, the very next image of the local drink is  – of course – a beer. This makes perfect sense, as Czechs are internationally known for their beer, same as Germany or Belgium, and rightfully so. But – what most of the people don’t know is that Czechs also had been making wines almost forever – okay, starting from approximately the 2nd century – long enough? Czech wine never made it to the levels of fame of French or Italian wines – but that doesn’t decrease the pleasure of drinking Czech wines in any way.

I discovered Czech wines for myself last year, when I had delicious Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris ( you can read about it here). Thus I had no doubts that Czech wine is something I’m going to look for upon arrival.

The hotel I’m staying at is adjacent to the shopping mall, which includes a supermarket, a wine store and some other food stores, all of them selling wines. And mind you – at the prices which make you smile from ear to ear. So far I got the wines from the supermarket, and you will see the prices I paid in the descriptions of the wines, as usual.

I had an easy criterion for selecting the wines. Price – of course, but there was another important requirement  – new grapes. As you can see the grape count in the right column of my blog page, I continue my grape journey, so I’m always on the lookout for the additions to the list. Of course, it is usually not that easy – the name of the grape in the local language might sound new and unique – but once you do the research, you can easily find out that there is nothing new about that grape. For instance, take a look at Rulandské modré – sounds unique, right? Meanwhile, it is only a local name for Pinot Noir. Or Rulandské šedé – must be something indigenous, right? Nope, it is simply the Pinot Gris.

Obviously, that didn’t stop me. I found two new white grapes, and for the red, the name looked so cool (Svatovavřinecké) that  I had to get it, despite the fact that this was the local name for the St. Laurent grape – well, how often do you drink St. Laurent wines anyway?

I started with the red wine, as whites needed some chilling – and 2015 Templářské Sklepy Svatovavřinecké Morava Czech Republic (11.5% ABV, 119 Kč ~ $5, 100% St. Laurent) didn’t disappoint – light garnet color. Pleasant nose with touch of spices, sage, lavender, tobacco, hint of blueberries. Fresh fruit on the palate, tobacco, pepper, medium body, mouth-watering acidity, light, pleasant. Drinkability: 8-/8, a proof that delicious wine doesn’t have to be a fruit or tannin bomb.

Czech White wines

The whites where new, unique and different. One was made out of the grape called Muškat moravsky, which is a cross between Muscat Ottonel and Prachtraube. The other grape was called Pálava, and it was a cross between Müller Thurgau and Gewürztraminer, first selected in 1953. I’m always a bit concerned with the new white wines (many things can go wrong), but this two were simply a stand out. I guess I was simply lucky. Or may be my palate is cursed. Of well. Here are the notes for the white wines:

2015 Chateau Bzenec Muškat moravsky Morava Czech Republic (11.5% ABV, 119 Kč ~ $5)
Straw pale color. Perfumy nose, reminiscent of Gewurtztraminer but of a lesser intensity, white peaches, lemon undertones, touch of minerality. Delicious on the palate – succulent fresh whitestone fruit with practically no sweetness, ripe green apple and touch of lemon. Clean, balanced, fresh, excellent acidity. Medium-short finish, pleasure to drink. Very impressive. Drinkability: 8/8+

2015 Vinium Velké Pavlovice Pálava Pozdní Sber Morava Czech Republic (12% ABV, 239 Kč ~ $10)
Light golden color. Very pleasant nose, perfumy, touch of honey, tropical fruit (guava, pineapple), medium intensity. Delicious lip smacking palate – crisp acidity, medium to full body, wine is nicely present, mouth coating, acidity keeps lingering with tart apples underpinning, then some ripe apples showing with addition of white plums. Another excellent wine. Unique and different, perfectly enjoyable on its own, but will play very nicely with the food. Drinkability: 8/8+, outstanding.

That’s all I have for you, my friends. When travel, take risk, drink local – your reward will be new experience and lots and lots of pleasure. And if you will not like it – the experience will still be with you. Cheers!

Daily Glass: Portugal Still A Value Champion

April 4, 2017 1 comment

If you drink wines every day, I’m sure you can appreciate a great value. Heck, I’m sure you hunt down value as much as you can, not only appreciate it. Even at a modest $20 per bottle, the cost of this hobby/passion quickly adds up.

All of us, wine lovers, greatly appreciate good value. But – it is equally important to note – not at the expense of the taste. It is great if the bottle is reasonably priced, however, the content still has to deliver the pleasure – as this is why we really drink the wine in the first place.

So let me ask you – what is your “go to” value region? I personally have many. In the $10 – $12 range, you can often look at Georgia and Spain (even though Spain is slowly edging itself out of that category); sometimes Italy and France can surprise you too – more as an exception, though. Add a few dollars – move to the $12-$15 range, and you got Spain very reliably there, with more of French and Italian options, and even some wines from the US; South Africa might play a supporting role there as well.

But – to sneak under $10, or even get as close as possible to $5? With the wines people will drink and enjoy? Reliably? I know of only one country which delivers here – Portugal.

I visited Portugal for the first time back in 2013, and when I saw the $3 – $4 wines at the supermarket, my thought was – this is most likely not drinkable at all. And I was dead wrong – here is one example. And I was proven wrong lots and lots more times, both in Portugal and in the US (I’m talking about place of buying the wine).

What prompted this post was a quick stop at one of my favorite wine stores – Bottle King in New Jersey. I didn’t have much time, just enough to grab a few bottles. One of them was 2014 Quinta do Vale Sub-Região Serra da Estrela Dão DOP (13% ABV, $5.98, 40% Tinta Roriz, 35% Alfrocheiro, 25% Jaen) – yes, at a whopping $5.98. To be entirely honest, I opened the bottle, poured and glass and proceeded to sip directly, without paying much attention to the appearance or the nose. The very first sip delivered the “wow” reaction. The aromas jumped from the glass – fresh, supple, juicy, with crunchy young fruit, lots of aromatic herbs (sage, tarragon), clean, smooth, medium body, touch of earthiness, fresh acidity and excellent balance. There was nothing extra in that glass – just a pure indulgence.

After that first sip (and then second, third and so on), it was evident that Portugal over-delivered again – an outstanding QPR, excellent wine at more than excellent price – clearly worthy of a “case buy” recommendation.

There you have it, my friends. What was your recent “best value” experience? What is your “go to” value wines region or a country? Cheers!

Holiday Madness! Holiday Madness! Last Bottle Holiday Marathon Madness, December 15th

December 14, 2016 2 comments

LastBottle Marathon LogoIt is time to flex your fingers and make sure they are in the perfect shape, as tomorrow you will have to do a lot of clicking. Last Bottle, the purveyors of the fine wines at value prices, in its traditional just-in-time, ready-or-not-here-I-come fashion, announced its widely anticipated Holiday Marathon Madness.

Tomorrow, December 15th, starting at 9 AM Pacific/12 PM Eastern, Last Bottle website will be featuring amazing wines at amazing prices, disappearing faster than you can say “wine”, never mind  clicking the “buy”  button – this is where you will need that index finger strength and agility, if you want to acquire any of those treasures, instead of just watching them pass by.

No announcements of any kind, no emails, no tweets – just keep clicking that “refresh” browser button to see the new offers. No minimums to buy (single bottles are perfectly fine) to get free shipping. All orders will be combined together and shipped at once in January. That’s it – no more special rules.

Just a little advice – be sure to be logged in into your account before you start great deal hunting – split seconds will separate success and failure of your order. Don’t believe me? Prepare to be disappointed then – I’ve been in that boat way too many times.

Before we part: when I mention Last Bottle, in case you don’t have an account with them already (and you need one if you want to buy the wines), I always offer an opportunity to sign up – if you will sign up using this link, you will get $10 off your first purchase, and yes, I will get $30 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 $30 after they will buy the wine from the Last Bottle – plus, all of a sudden, you fill find yourself all so much more popular!

Okay, enough reading – go back to that finger exercise, you should be in a perfect shape for tomorrow.

Happy [great value wine] Hunting!

Trader Joe’s Merlot Run

October 31, 2016 13 comments

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.

trader joe wines californiaDeciding 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)
C: garnet
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!

Last Bottle Wine Harvest Marathon Madness 2016 – August 25-26

August 24, 2016 Leave a comment

LastBottleWinesMarathonHarvest 2016 is under way in many wine regions in the Northern hemisphere, causing lots of people to lose their sleep until every last grape will make it onto the processing belt. Not to be outdone, in their typical fashion of the last second (seriously) announcements, the Last Bottle, a purveyor of fine wines at a great value, just announced their Harvest Marathon Madness 2016.

For the next two days, Last Bottle will be offering lots of value-priced fine wines at their web site, changing in the rapid succession (some deals might be there only for a few seconds). The event will start at 9 AM Pacific time, and will continue for two days or until they will run out of wines. There are no minimums to buy to get the free shipping (that is what I like the most – you can try lots of wines). All orders will ship few weeks later.

I can’t resist the urge to quote the description from the Last Bottle Wines web site:

This REALLY is our biggest, best, craziest and most absurd Marathon ever. We know: “you say that every time!” but it really is true. Why? Because every month, every year, we keep getting bigger (literally and figuratively, ha ha). That means more selection, more opportunities for us to score killer deals, and WAY more small batches of things we’ve been saving for just this event!!! *** And yes, back by popular demand from the hardcore collectors, we WILL be having an EXTRA-SPECIALHour of Power” from 1-2pm PST!! ***

Starting tomorrow at 9AM sharp (Napa time), we are embracing the madness of harvest and HAVING OUR BIGGEST BLOWOUT EVER — HUNDREDS, POSSIBLY THOUSANDS, of unbelievable bargains from every corner of Planet Earth. Seriously – more BURGUNDY, cult Cabs, and Bordeaux than ever, not to mention large formats, older vintages, and hot-off-the-press goodies…all at market-crushing prices. Plus, FREE GROUND SHIPPING on ALL ORDERS (contiguous states)! TRUE Madness.

You should have an account to buy wine at the Last Bottle. If you don’t have one yet, make sure to sign up before the event will start. Better yet, I will be glad to be your reference – you will get $5 credit during your first purchase, and yes, I will make money on you – I will get $20. Once you are signed up though, you will be able to earn money the same way, by signing up your friends.

Here is the link you can use to sign up with the $5 bonus:

http://www.lastbottlewines.com/invite/4618917ef4f90628fb70367611992bc630d41515.html

Have fun and happy [great wine great value] hunting! Cheers!

Star Wars Last Bottle Wines Marathon – Starting Thursday, December 17

December 15, 2015 6 comments

Finding great wine at even greater price is one of my favorite pet peeves, so I have to share this with you: Chrismukkapalooza (after publishing the post I learned that it was actually a Star Wars themed marathon, which coincides with the release of Star Wars flick #7) Last Bottle Wine Marathon is starting this Thursday, December 17th!

LastBottleWinesMarathon

Yes, you heard me right – free up the room in your cellars, people. Last Bottle Wines is one of the very best purveyors of the fine wines at value wine prices, so their marathon events are not to be missed.

Starting at 12 pm US Eastern tine, the new wines will be offered at neck-breaking – sorry, rather finger-and-wallet-breaking – speed. You will have only split seconds to buy the wines, or they will be gone. There are no notifications of any kind during marathon, so all you can do is to hit refresh in your browser over and over again to see the new deals. Make sure you will be logged into your account during the process, because this will make a difference between “yes!” and “damn it!” (been there, done that many times). There are no minimums to get free shipping – all your orders will be accumulated and shipped at once a few days after marathon is over. The marathon will last for 2 days, but it can be shorter or longer, depending on how quickly all the wines will be sold out – and we are talking about 500 wines and 50,000 bottles. You will be also earning 2% back on every purchase, as usual, but not the $25 on the very last bottle.

Now, I’m sure many of you are already aware of Last Bottle wines and already have accounts with them. But for those of you who don’t have an account (and you need one to be able to buy the wines), you can use the link below to sign up:

http://www.lastbottlewines.com/invite/4618917ef4f90628fb70367611992bc630d41515.html

If you sign up using this link, you will get $5 credit on your first order. Yes, I will also 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.

Happy Fine Wine hunting! Cheers!

 

 

Following Wines Til Sold Out – Anything Goes Marathon, September 2015

September 23, 2015 3 comments

WTSO logo 2012It 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.

Time Wine Rating MSRP Price %off
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%

 

Just When You Least Expect It – Last Bottle Festivus Marathon Madness, December 18th!

December 17, 2014 4 comments

LastBottle Marathon LogoIn 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!