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Posts Tagged ‘wine retail’

Following Wines Til Sold Out – Wow, That Was One Marathon!

August 16, 2012 8 comments

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.

Enjoy!

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Wine Retail: Bottle King – Values All Around

July 3, 2012 5 comments

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!

Wine Retail: PJ Wine

May 12, 2011 9 comments

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!

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