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The Wine Bloggers Conference of 2009 is where I had the opportunity to sample the 2006 Oroppas and prior to this I had only read of and heard about their reputation for making outstanding wine, this effort was no different. St Clement was part of the Grand Tasting line up held at Quintessa Winery a beautiful property encompassing some 170 acres of vineyard on Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Ca. The line-up of Napa Valley Vintners read like some cork-dorks "Who's Who" list of top Napa Valley Wine makers. It's what I would call First Class event and I was so appreciative of this opportunity. Tables were set up along the many rows of fermentation tanks in what seemed like a Taj Mahal size building, truly impressive. You had to see it and experience it to appreciate the grandeur of this event. Now maybe a little wine blogger like myself is too easily impressed, but I did feel a bit like hey, "I've arrived"!
Okay so enough about that, the reason for this review and of the many still to come sitting in a some-what neat
pile on my desk is the 2006 Orappas
from St. Clement. I was surprised to see this wine at the tasting but they didn't call it "grand" for nothing. The Winemaker Danielle Cyrot from St. Clement Vineyard was there and pouring her amazing 2006 Orappas
and folks let me tell you something this wine to me represents part of what makes Napa Valley such an great place to grow vines and make wine. Now unfortunately for me I've not tasted any of
their other wines so I don't have a real comparison of their other offerings but I have a sneaking suspicion that this wine is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the caliber of their other wines. So I took my sample out the huge rolled gate entrance which spills out to the vineyards to take a closer look at my sample. I wanted to take my time evaluating this wine and write some quick notes about my impressions. Luckily for me their was a vine end post (which if treated, can make the difference between being labeled organic
or not when you're 99% organic) nearby to rest my glass upon while I scribbled away my excitement about this wonderful wine. Some folks may have tried to take it all in but I really wanted to focus in on a few wineries I only knew by reputation and that's what I did with St. Clement. So now on with the review.
First Swirl: This wine has nice viscosity, the color was vivid deep ruby colored core surrounded by a cardinal colored rim.
First Sniff: After putting my nose into the glass it was immediately enveloped by loads of ripe plum and blackberry fruits, while also picking up notes of cream and espresso, just wonderful.
First Sip: This where things really got interesting a rich yet supple mouth feel with a slight meaty edge to the plump dark berry, and cherry glowing delightfully upon my palate, while swirling around a generous core of blackberry and licorice flavors flowing effortlessly to the long polished finish.
Alcohol and Price: The wine weighed at 14.5% and pricing on this wine varies from $55.00 to purchase from the tasting room or website. It can also be found for about $40 -45 dollars at some retail shops around town and the same for buying it online, excluding auctions. A note about buying the 2006, it does seem that many retailers even the online variety have quite a bit of the 2005. I could not find any place to purchase the 2006, except the St. Clement website.
Vineyards and Composition: Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards on Diamond and Howell Mountain, as well as Mount Veeder, contributed to the blend along with valley floor fruit from Rutherford and St. Helena. Small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot were added to the blend to enhance the structure and mid-palate weight and each wine was aged separately in French Oak for nineteen months and blended together just before bottling.
My Recommendation: If you are a huge Cabernet Sauvignon fan like me then this is one winery I would recommend being part of their wine club as they have huge track record of producing wines which typically score 90 points or more from many of the major wine publications. The 10% club discount will help a little. Okay, this wine is not your everyday drinker, but it's definitely a wine you'll want to have for the weekend or for special occasions. Makes a great gift for your wine conissieur friends.
Other Voices: Wine Spectators, James Laube who sampled this wine blind on April 1, 2009 had this to say about the St. Clement 2006 Oroppas, it's ultra-rich and concentrated, delivering plush blackberry currant, black cherry and spicy anise that are pure, focused and full-bodied, with a long persistent finish that ends with a supple texture. He scored the wine 92 points and thinks it will drink best from 2011 through 2017.
ST. CLEMENT – Voted Best Boutique Winery Two Years In A Row By Napa and Sonoma Valleys magazine
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This review represents my 100th post somewhat of a milestone and I will be donating my 100th post to charity, I've not decided on a charity as of the moment but I have a few that I'm contemplating. A Facebook friend, Jennifer's Review has come up with this novel concept of donating every one hundredth post and so here I am after a little more than a year I've arrived at number one hundred. My blogging skills have come a long way since that first post entitled Willamette Wonderland Part 1 based on my adventures on the Oregon wine trail. My review style has changed quite a bit and I've gleaned so much from other writers and bloggers who I owe a big thanks. Speaking of big thanks, here is one going out to all my readers who stop by each month to catch up my latest review or my occasional rants and rave about a trend in the wine scene. I lift a glass to each one of you with a hearty, cheers!
It just so happens that
my wife and I will be leaving on a trip to Italy in just
a few weeks, we are going to be staying on a vineyard in the heart of Chianti, a stones throw from Castellina in Chianti
. Wow, we just can't wait to visit Tuscany and Siena and some of the over 90 wineries who produce Brunello di Montalcino. So much to see and do with only a week to take it all in.
I do love a good Chianti, it's one of my favorite table wines. I was invited to sample the La Tancia Chianti (2007)
and it arrives on my door step and does a bit of sun bathing before coming inside to be stored in my cellar. I'm thinking I will give this wine a couple of weeks before I give it go, to get over it's bad case of bottle shock and time in transit.
Well it has been two weeks since the arrival of this sample and I am seriously jonesing for a grilled pizza. Yep you heard me right a grilled pizza. The weather is seriously vexing and the temps inside are nearing the mid eighties. Since I want to make some pizza and the oven is a serious no-go, I opt for the grill. I whip out the pizza stone and a fresh dough acquired from Trader Joe's, and all the other fresh ingredients waiting to participate in this glorious feast. I then whip up a couple of "classic" Caesar salads and now it's time to evaluate this wonderfully inexpensive Chianti.
We all appreciate getting great juice at a great price and believe me I am no different. This wine was everything you expect in a classic stlye Chianti and more.
The Wine: 2007 La Tancia, DOCG Chianti. Does Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita D.O.C.G. have you wondering what does DOCG mean anyway? It's represented by the geographical name of a delimited production area with the strictest limitation of areas and yields per hectare and is awarded to wines of outstanding reputation with a D.O.C. of at least five years.
First Swirl: In the glass this wine features a light garnet colored core and red-brick colored rim.
First Sniff: The delicate aromas mingle nicely together, with characteristic notes of plum, cherry, and a hint of leather.
First Sip: There's an appealing earthiness under the black cherry fruit in this wine. It grows more savory with air, gaining both freshness and length from the bright middle. Supple tannins and a well-balanced structure, it's a good match for many food types think Egg Plant Parmesan or perhaps a thin crusted wood fired pizza.
Composition: 100% Sangiovese aged (most likely twelve months) in French barriques and estate bottled at the La Tancia Estate in the Chianti.
Price and Alcohol: This wine can be purchased at a number of places on line and sells for somewhere between $7.00 and $9.99 depending on where you look. The alcohol percentage is a typical 12.5 %.
Other Voices: After an exhaustive search online it appears mine is the sole voice on reviewing this particular wine, so you'll just have to trust my palate alone on this review.
Sample Sent: Yes, this was a sample sent to me by the Margate WINE & SPIRIT Company in New York
Recommendation: This is a good wine to stock up on, especially if you are planning a party. It lends itself to easy food pairing and has a low alcohol content. It's is very inexpensive and will be easy on the wallet. It's is made to drink now but will benefit from a year of cellaring. If you are someone likes to buy easy quaffers like this one in bulk, I heartily recommend storing your wine correctly or you're just throwing your money out the window. Until next time cheers everyone!
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Another hot muggy day here in San Diego, what many call the "dog-daze" of summer, when all the parents out there can see relief is now in site, nearly time to get the kids back to school. But there is still nearly a month of hot warms days left here in San Diego and across the country.
So maybe you just want to hang out by the pool and relax, grill some shrimp and scallops, you don't want a big heavy, full-bodied red wine weighing your palate down. I have a great suggestion for you, it's a delightful white wine whose wonderful origins are from Northern Rhone region of France and in particular which is not as famous, but provide some fascinating light quaffing and aromatics Viogner in Condrieu.
The wine I will be reviewing for you today is made in Napa, California and the grapes sourced from the Simpson Vineyards, Madera, California.
Miner Family Vineyards is tucked away in the eastern hills of Napa's Oakville appellation, MINER FAMILY VINEYARDS
which was founded in 1998 by Dave and his wife Emily, who produce small lot, hand crafted wines using a combination of old world wine making techniques and modern technology. Much of the their focus is on high end, reserve style wines which reflect the unique terroir of the individual vineyards where those varietals grow best. But today we are going to stay focused on a wine from their list which is value oriented, but long in flavor and finesse.
The first time I had this wine was during a dinner at the Napa Rose Restaurant
at the Walt Disney Resort in Anaheim. This wine was part of a wine pairing extravaganza. I've had plenty of Viognier over the years, at many different price points, but for the price to quality ratio I believe this wines represents a great value, with a screw top to boot for easy access.
The Wine: 2008 Miner Viognier
First Swirl: In the glass this wine has medium straw colored core and pale yellow rim.
First Sniff: This wine is aromatically complex with citrus and honeysuckle notes on the nose.
First Sip: Immediately a plush feel on the palate and consistently displays a fine balance of natural acidity and intense concentration co-mingling nicely with some tropical and stone fruit characteristics.
Alcohol and Price: This wine can be found many places locally for about $16.00 and weighs in at 14% alc. Also since they produced many 1/2 size (375 ml) bottles you will probably find it on many restaurant menus and could be ideal for those not wanting be confined to drinking a whole bottle of wine or transporting a open container.
Other Voices: "This is a totally feminine wine with notes of honey and orange blossom. If you are looking to try a floral wine, this is it." Maureen C. Petrosky is author of The Wine Club: A Month-By-Month Guide to Learning About Wine With Friends.
Press Democrat, September 14, 2008"Has a plush feel, good concentration and good acidity. Floral, with a note of honeysuckle. Balanced."
4 STARS, RESTAURANT WINE ISSUE #128 "A round, medium rich Viognier that tastes of peach, honeysuckle, roasted nut, cherimoya, and toast. Full and well balanced. Excellent value."
Connoisseurs' Guide March 2009 92 POINTS, 2 PUFFS the Miner Family 2007 Viognier ranked 2nd in the March issue out of the 30 plus tasted, including Phelps, DuMol, Pride Viognier.
Vineyards and Composition: This wine is not a blend, it's 100% Viognier start to finish. The grapes are sourced from John Simpson's low-yielding vineyards in Madera, this wine was whole cluster pressed and stainless steel fermented to allow the vibrant purity of this fruit to shine through. Even though I am not a fan of this process in Chadonnay, in this grape variety it works beautifully! There is somewhere between four and five thousand cases of this wine available.
My Recommendation: This is a wine to stock up on and a sure crowd pleaser. It pairs well with many foods and is easy on the wallet. Drink now and drink often. I would buy a half case and since this wine is not really meant for long term aging, sitting in your pantry for storage poses no problem. Just put slip a few in the fridge and have some very enjoyable quaffing, until next time cheers everyone!
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Well the Second annual Wine Bloggers Conference has come and gone. This was my first one to attend and it certainly will not be my last. I am leading into my coverage of this event with a wine review. The reason I choose this wine for review is twofold, one it's is a great example of what a Chardonnay should taste like, balanced! It's no Chateau Two by Four, but it's also not a recent to adherent to the ABC movement and the their "no more oak" mantra. The second reason I am reviewing this is because of the fact that third annual Wine Blogger Conference will be held in wonderful, Walla Walla, WA and as the locals say (or so I heard) the town is so wonderful they named it twice.
Walla Walla, I'm going to warn you right now you'd better come out with Guns Blazin' ! Tired of the old saying about an "A" game, but I digress.
If your wondering why I am saying that, then obviously you were not there! If you you are nodding in agreement you were one of the participants lucky enough to be treated to a first class presentation about what makes Napa and Sonoma such a wonderful place to grow vines and make wine. Were there glitches, yes the WI-FI was not (so much for "live" blogging) working and we drank some very good wine from plastic (cheesy)wine glasses, but overall this event was first class all the way. There is only one way to describe this event, if you will pardon the expression a "wine orgy" pretty much sums it up. There is no other way to describe it! Wine, wine everywhere and every minute of the day, a tsunami of wine (not your garden variety bulk wine either) washed over my palate and took me out to a purple ocean of hedonistic pleasure.
Okay, okay I'm back from the little day dream about what this event was like but seriously I was impressed by many of the wines I tasted there and will be writing quite a few reviews from huge stack waiting impatiently for me type up. If you are a wine blogger and missed this event, I highly recommend going to the next one in Walla, Walla. You will not be disappointed!
About the wine in question, as you can see it's from the Columbia Valley in Washington State, where they are making some truly wonderful wines. Where exactly I will let Paul Gregutt of the Seattle Times explain, "Tucked away on a quiet corner a few blocks from bustling downtown Walla Walla is Forgeron Cellars".
Now about the reason this wine is much more Burgundian than your typical New World Chardonnay it's because winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla is one of the growing number of French-born and trained winemakers who have made Washington state their home. With little fanfare, she has been developing vineyard sources, fine-tuning her wine making and making excellent Euro-styled wines." according the Seattle Times writer Paula Gregutt.
First Swirl: In the glass the wine a straw colored core leading to a pale yellow rim. The legs reveal good structure and viscosity.
First Sniff: From what I recall in my notes this wine had some enticing aromas of freshly sliced pears and other citrus notes effortlessly wafting up from the glass.
First Sip: I really enjoyed the notes of spicy apple and tropical notes co-mingling with a tangy fresh acidity and a nice finish of fruit and a lingering minerality.
Alcohol and Price: The wine weighed in at 14% and is priced well @ about $17.00 to $19.00 at a few online purveyors and a little over priced in the tasting room at $25.00 and a case production of a little over700 hundred cases.
Vineyards and Composition: Because they source fruit from many terroirs, some cool and some warmer sites, thus they are able to consistently produce a consistent style of Chardonnay and I believe the composition is 98% Chardonnay and 2% Lonesome Springs Orange Muscat with a barrel treatment of 100% french oak.
"You could spend a whole day touring any one of Walla Walla's wine areas. But the one that intrigued me was right in downtown Walla Walla itself...Then up another block to Forgeron Cellars, one of the strongest of the new wineries, and where chardonnay is the star attraction.
I was even more impressed however with a striking roussanne..." Robert Mayfield, Statesman Journal Newspaper, August 2007 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend 2008 The Wine Knows
and Wine Enthusiast scored the 2006 a healthy 91point and think the 2007 is right on track to be as or even better than the 2007.
My Recommendation: Drink now and often! A very good wine and at a moderate price point. Pairs wonderfully and easily with many food items, but it especially cries out for seafood pairing of sauteed scallops and clams or with a big hearty bowl of chowder and a piece of sourdough bread.
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Hey wine fans if you love a great Malbec at an amazing price you’re going to enjoy this review and when you see the price point you’ll be even happier. The wine for this review is the 2006 Naiara Reserve Malbec from Argentina and distributed by ARGCA IMPORTS - NAIARA WINES. Pablo Lastorta, President/Owner enjoyed a previous review of a different label from Argentina so much he asked me to review the 2006 Naiara Reserve Malbec. Naiara wines offers two approaches to the traditional varietal of Malbec. The Malbec Traditional (Gold Cap) and the Malbec Reserva (Silver Cap) demonstrate the true ability of producing quality wines from Argentina. While we evaluated both wines, collectively as a group the Silver Cap took top honors. I think the 2007 may have needed a little more bottle aging before it will be ready for review again.
That said, so I and @EveSiminskie and @RobertaMurphy(their Twitter handle) enjoyed evaluating this wonderful wine while dining at Barolo in La Jolla, who has a standard $18 corkage fee (which I think is outrageous) but after some conversation with the owner he reduced the fee to just $4 per bottle as we brought the 2007 Shenandoah Valley Rezerve Zinfandel and another Malbec for review.
Mean while back at the restaurant which was experiencing AC failure that (which was a very humid) evening, while me and the other reviewers suffered through the swelter during dinner as the owner had no other contingency plan, we later moved to the patio for some relief after dinner. Let’s just say we were all less than pleased with our collective dining experience.
I really wanted to write and get this review posted last week, but between work and getting ready for the 2nd annual Wine Blogger Conference and having no Internet connection while we were at the Flamingo this review is at the top of my to-do list for today. So now it's Tuesday morning and it's is time to get some reviews completed. Yep reviews plural because I have a stack of reviews to write, after a tsunami of wine washed over our palate this past week. First Swirl:
A medium to dark ruby red core, surrounded by a cerise colored rim and medium body and viscosity.First Sniff:
Putting my Irish American nose deep in the glass, aromas of dark cherry, vanilla and sumptuous spice box envelope my senses, which was coaxed out after an hour of decanting.
First Sip: Generous flavors of raspberries and blueberry match this wine’s sweet spice, which co-mingle nicely upon the palate. French oak ageing brings hints of vanilla and smoke as the wine develops with excellent balance and persistence. The tannins are soft and round, with delicate roasted notes of coffee and its supple richness continues on the lithe chocolate finish.
Pricing and Alcohol percentage: This wine weighed in at a meager 13.4%, which means they extracted a lot of fruit character without having to make what some would call a "cocktail" wine all the while keeping this wine at an extremely value oriented price point. This wine is sold in San Diego Costco stores for $8.99 each.
Vineyards and aging: The wine matured in 9 months in French barrels and the fruit was sourced from 60 to 70 year old vines located in Medrano and Pedriel in Mendoza, Argentina. Imagine if this wine was allowed to age 12 months how much better it would have been.
Other Voices: Rated by Parker & Wine & Spirits Magazine as Argentina's Best Buy for Malbec and the other reviewers with me were so impressed they all sought this wine out and grabbed a few for themselves!
My Recommendation: This wine is what I would call an everyday drinker, worthy of a case purchase. This wine will compliment many types of food, as we ordered pizza and other Italian dishes which paired nicely, this wine is smart and sophisticated for a small price point!
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For the many folks who live in or around La Costa one things comes to mind, like golf. According to Ravi Patel, "Playing from behind and winning, or being in the lead and finishing first in golf requires unique strategies by pro golfers. It is fascinating to watch these plans unfold as someone like Tiger is playing on the final day." He says further, "Similarly in business, Entrepreneurs need to develop unique strategies for either playing from behind in the competitive marketplace or constantly maintaining the lead." It appears golf and business have lots in common!
After with speaking with Chris Garrett the owner I can see there's now another equally important strategy changing the La Costa wine scene and what is that you may be asking, well one to keep in mind is the La Costa Wine Company, formerly known as Wine Street
(and the old sign is still there in the parking lot) which can be found in San Diego’s North County. The LCWC is what I would call a full-service wine shop, which caters to many different levels and types of palates and offers a broad spectrum of wines from around the world. I asked Kris how he would characterize the wine inventory carried at LCWC and he said, “We offer everything from the biggest names in
Napa to the up-and-coming producers from Spain, Italy and beyond”. There were quite a few labels which caught my eye, like Marcassin Wine, Sine Qua Non Ventriloquist 2001 and some labels from Scarecrow Wines. LCWC does have a Reserve Room
which you see pictured here where they keep most of their top labels. I think this is a good practice, as you can pay over $500.00 for some labels. I don't think you want it just laying around a semi-cool store, where it could be damaged. But hey that's just me.
There has been a wine shop in this location for some 16 years, but in 2008 the store changed hands and hearts. The business took on a new energy, a renewed vibe if you will. I asked Chris about where the name came from and why he
decided to re-name the store to La Costa Wine Company. He said, “To give it a sense of place”, to reflect the community of which the store would become and to let everyone know that there have been big changes.” Kris further stated, “As part of our "new direction"
we decided to completely remodel the back of the store to include a full wine bar where you can purchase wines by the glass as well or for hosting special tasting events.” LCWC offers wine tasting each weekend, where you can taste through 6 different wines for $15.00. Speaking of wines by the glass their bar has a Enomatic like wine beverage system. The machine can be programmed to dispense 1 ounce up to 5 ½ ounce pours, where the price ranges anywhere from .50 to $5.00 depending on the pour size and the caliber of the wine, where they do not have self serve/credit card option, but you can buy a debit type card and drop some money on it and your hostess will serve the wine you request. Not to worry that if you don't use the entire balance it will be kept on your card until you return next time.
As part of the new direction for LCWC, Chris also had a full service Cheese Shop built, complete with pairing suggestions, where cheeses from around the world are available to sample or try before you buy. For those of you who love to have a nice cigar to go with that Tawny Port LCWC still has a walk in Cigar humidor, with a nice selection of cigars available.
What I liked:
Not too far off the freeway if your coming down from Carlsbad or driving up from Del Mar and their store was not to difficult to spot from the road (The GPS will have you turn to early). They will ship out to their customers if requested. There is a 10% case discount on all wines (except highly allocated or hard to find wines). LCWC is competitively priced, as an example Chris pointed out the Pahlmeyer 2005 Napa Valley Red Wine Jayson
which he's selling for $39.99 a full ten bucks cheaper than the online stores. They have a website presence and you can sign up for their email newsletter, thus saving a tree or two. The store is typically kept at an appropriate temperature (but the day I was there, the doors were open and it was a little warm). If Chris tastes a wine he doesn't like he won't bring it into the store, why try to convince folks to buy something he can't stand behind. He if doesn't have the wine you are looking for, he will order it for you (providing you want 6 bottles or more).
What didn't work for me: There was not too much parking and the front curbs were painted with those, "you have 20 minutes or else" warnings. I typically will take more than 20 minutes to choose my wine, as I like to do a little browsing. It was somewhat dark in the store and a little disorganized, didn't really seem to have a flow. There were no shopping carts. I can usually juggle about 5 bottles, but that's my limit. Only three of the five folks who for the LCWC have a good wine knowledge and to me that is not good, when I go to a "wine-shop" I expect everyone there to be a cork-dork like myself when compared to shopping at my local grocery store.
Overall Recommendation: A great place to shop for wine. You will be able to find many wines you can't else where because the owner is on many allocation lists, which often takes years to get an allotment. They are competively priced and you can try some before you buy. They have a very comfortable wine bar area and gracious hosts. Remember when you stop by, please tell that the San Diego Wine Shopping Examiner set you.
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Are you looking for value oriented wines in our current economic downturn? While many folks are seeking value-oriented labels from Argentina, Chile, Italy and Australia many can find what they are looking for right here in California. Paso Robles is one areas of California which
yields quality wine at an affordable price. According to Jennifer Waters who reports for WSJ, "First, you have to find it." She means find Paso Robles which seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis.
Paso does indeed suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. Everyone knows about many of the major California wine hot spots like Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbra. But Paso is a vibrant and happening wine scene worthy of your time, attention and a vote with your wallet. Because they don't have the visibility of other wine hot spots, many wineries have taken to the strategy of appropriate pricing and smart tasting room policies. The city leaders of Paso also recognize that if they want a piece of the revenue pie from the thriving (even in this economy) wine industry then they need to also be business friendly, meaning get out of the wineries way (read that reduce regulation). If everyone is rowing in the same direction than everyone has a much better opportunity to move ahead.
Please check out this video on the Paso Wine Scene. The reporter Ms. Waters keeps on saying Peso, Peso, "that's how the locals pronounce it!" But check her interviewee's from Eberle and Four Vines who contradict what she is saying and they the "natives" call it Paso, too funny! But the main focus of the video is right on point, good quality wines, low prices and very consistent quality! But it's not about the just land prices, it's also about "perceived value"! Perception is in the eye of the beholder!
Ever since my week long odyssey in Paso Robles I can now say, "Man I love Paso and my experience there could have not been better." The people, the wine and the scenery are all equally wonderful. Now of course before I sound like too much of a cheerleader here, there are in my opinion some wineries in the Paso area who are long on history or creating a great enviornment, but have lost their main focus, which is of course making great wines. Folks due your self a favor and do a weekend escape to Paso, you'll not be disappointed.
Other voices: Steve Heimoff the West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, "But the direction of my reviews, for years, has been heading away from a blind devotion to cult wines and a growing receptivity to newer producers, from newer regions. (Paso Robles comes foremost to mind.)"
If you have not read my four part series on the Paso Wine Scene I invite you to check it out! Paso Robles, a tale of two cities! Part 4 "Rhone Rangers" . The Paso wine scene is yielding some amazing deals on high caliber wines. The quality is going up but the prices are not rising in equal porportion, what does that mean to you the average wine shopper? It means some smoking hot deals (the QPR) on premium wines, that if made else where like Napa or Sonoma would cost you far more!
So you say well give me some examples of what you are talking about, okay sure here you go. The J. Lohr Old Vines Zinfandel is always a good buy selling under $14.99 in many places, this wine is consistently well made and delivers on all aspects the aspects of QPR (quality price ratio).
How about another example, Silver Stone 2004 Syrah at $20.00 brings quality and price to a wine glass near you in amazing fashion, big bold and brawny with full extraction and flavor. Another QPR label I am reminded of comes from Four Vines, their Old Vine Cuvee Zinfandel selling many places for under $15.00 is a great "everyday drinker" and the majority of their other labels can be acquired for under $40.00. A few other places I really like and who have very good QPR are, Justin, RN Estate, L'Adventure, Tablas Creek and Tolo!
I am sure there are many others who could be added to this list so please feel free to comment so your favorite can be added to the conversation here. Until next time Cheers everyone and remember a day without wine is just another day!
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Ahh yes Port, a great after-dinner accompaniment with dessert or as dessert. Whether it's a Ruby or a Tawny no matter, it has a way of making me yearn for a roaring fire during a cold winters night, sharing a bowl of toasted walnuts with some friends to raise a glass to the great tradition of Port.
Most wine drinkers have come across a Port or two, well the one I am very happy to introduce you to is produced right here in San Diego. Yep, that it's right out in the Ramona AVA. This wine has recently received some recognition from the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, for which Eagles Nest Winery won a Silver Medal, which is no small feat according to Dennis Grimes the winemaker he say's "our Ruby Port was competing in a field of over 2,700 entries from over 500 Wineries with fifty different judges who hailed from all over the country and the world."
Speaking of the winemakers/owners with a quick note from their websiteIn speaking with Dennis, I asked him if he could comment on the focus of his wine-making approach and philosophy he said, "As a Boutique Winery we take great personal pride in our intimate hands-on style of wine-making and our focus is making only quality wine. Our estate vineyards, quality sourcing, and hands-on wine-making give us complete control over the quality of the grapes going into our wines." About his philosophy he stated "Quality wines begin with quality wine-grapes." I couldn't agree more.
, Eagles Nest Winery & Cottage is family owned and operated by Dennis and Julie Grimes. The winery and a portion of their vineyards are located on their gated country estate over looking the west Ramona Valley in San Diego and all wines are artisanally produced in small lots, showcasing different varietals that express the diverse character and personalities.
They also have a beautiful vacation cottage which over looks the vineyards and in the distance you can see the lights from the Ramona Airport. It is wonderfully appointed and quite cozy. The view from the veranda is marvelous! Everywhere you look there is something growing, just a great place for a quick get away to unwind, enjoy some wine, speak with the winemaker and take a tour of the property, where you may bump into the weed patrol otherwise known as the baby doll sheep which roam the property bolstering their commitment to the environment.
First Swirl: The wine has an opaque ruby colored core, surrounded by a crimson rim.
First Sniff: Aromas lofting effortlessly from my glass were notes of bittersweet chocolate which accentuates the jammy fruit aromas of raspberry, sweet dark cherry and plum.
First Sip: The wine is lush and sumptuous on the palate with chocolate, cherry and rich plum flavors, but I also find suggestions of light herbs, subtle spice and a toasty notes from the oak barrels. It has flavors of blackberries at the peak of ripeness are in the forefront,The finish is long and persistent.
Alcohol Percentage: weighing in at 21.2% obtained by adding Brandy Spirits.
Composition: 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon estate grown fruit from the Ramona AVA
Price: The Starboard Dessert Wine (aka. Ruby Port) is selling for $40.00
Other Varietals Produced: Eagles Nest Winery produces many varieties of wine including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier and Zinfandel.
My Recommendations: Again this wine is lush and sumptuous on the palate with chocolate, cherry and rich plum flavors and can be drunk now but will further evolve over the next 5 to 7 years. A bit of chocolate will only enhance the experience. (Just as a side note if you do wait that long drink this wine remember a bottle cellared over 5 years should always be decanted) This wine is priced to sell, so get your hands on a few bottles before they sell out! Until next time cheers everyone!
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Looking for another great place to shop for wine? I've been up to Vintage Wines Limited on Miramar Road in San Diego. The owner John Lindsay and his daughter Nicole were gracious enough to meet with me and talk about what makes Vintage Wines Limited different. What I found out, this is not your typical grocery store wine isle or the run of the mill chain wine store, nope this far from that concept.
This is a place where you can try before you buy, or sit down and unwind after work and have of a glass of wine and chat with the owner or other staff members about all things vino. If you find a wine you like, John or his staff will be all too glad to point out some wines which fit your individual palate.
One of the main reasons I wanted to bring this store to your attention centers around my very first experience with Vintage Wines. I had been looking for this wonderful Jade Mountain Mourvedre 2005 I had during a tasting at Disney's California Adventure. So when I got home I called around for a place to order the wine, I must have called at least 6-7 places before I called Vintage Wines. Everyone told be that they did not carry the wine and when queried about whether they could order said wine, they all told be no, sorry. When I called Vintage Wines they said in one breath, we don't carry it but we would be glad to order it for you. After I hung up the phone, I thought to myself now that is customer service at it's best! These folks didn't know me from Adam, but yet they went out of their way to find the wine I was interested in.
Vintage Wines Limited has been in business for some twenty two years here in San Diego. John considers himself one of the "dinosaurs' of the wine retail world. New technology is not his thing, that's why you will find his daughter Nicole helping out in the store and bolstering their online image. The staff is very friendly, knowledgeable and everyone is willing help you find the perfect wine for your event or your everyday drinking needs.
Whether you are a newbie to wine or a seasoned oenophile, they either have what you are looking for or will order it for you. Some wines are excluded from this mantra of course because they are so highly allocated. For example Kosta-Browne has been cutting allocations to wine (Vintage Wines included)stores to because of the demand.
They get the name vintage wines from the fact that they carry many "Vintage" wines which you will not find elsewhere. The temptation which John described to me as "fanatical" was the need or want to trophy hunt wines, like many of the collectors he knows who will sell their treasures to John once they realize like John, "you can't take it with you and you will never be able to drink through that kind of inventory." Like John told me, "wine is for enjoyment, not a trophy to be collected." Because the relationship oriented business style which VWL employs, they are able to obtain some very rare finds. For example, the 2006 Richebourg, Grand Cru, Domaine Jean Grivot for $479.99 selling elsewhere online for $529.99 or the highly sought after Australian Astralis vintages 1996-1998 and even Grange Verticals. (All these wines of course are kept in the Reserve Wine Cellar) While VWL makes it a practice to purchase wine from personal collectors, you just can't walk in off the street with some expensive bottle and expect him to purchase your wine, like it was explained to me this is a business built upon relationships.
For the casual everyday drinker who cares nothing about labels, where it came from or even what the owners name is, and you only want to drink a very good wine for very little money, than VWL is the ticket. With about 50% of the wines in the store with the "value" moniker and having scored over 90 points from some major publication you are sure to get a winner to take to that next party or celebration. As you can see in the pix above labeled "red value" VWL has many different wines to accommodate all budgets and tastes and have a seal of approval from a major wine publication.
When it comes to wine from the heralded Burgundy region of France, they have what VWL calls an extensive collection for a San Diego based wine store. Yep, as you may have guessed it when you move further up the coast toward California's wine "Mecca" (read that SF) you will find a vigorous depth of rare or hard to find premium wine. But if you are like me and love to browse new wine shops searching for something new or elusive here in San Diego and don't want to commute to LA of SF just to get a trophy label wine than VWL is your place to shop hands down. But they also carry wines from every major region on the globe and even a few labels which I've never heard of from Lebanon of all places, who knew.
Why I recommend VWL:
Great Buys: I am a huge fan of QPR (quality price ratio) and here are a couple examples of great buys in Johns opinion, which are the Twenty Rows for $17.99 and the Bryan Page, 3 Doves for $15.99 for a 750ml bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, both selling less than the lowest Internet price I was able to find. The fact they have good quality wine to fit every budget and occasion. Great customer service: As explained previously above. Try before you buy: The wine tastings every Saturday for a modest Abe Lincoln, you can taste up to six different wines and on occasion if a distributor is looking to get a new wine some attention a seventh wine could be thrown into the mix. Seasonal wine tastings: for example the Champagne tasting held in the fall where up to twenty different labels are available for tasting. Futures Program: If you like like to buy Bordeaux for example at futures prices, they have a program available for those who are interested.
What are some draw backs:
Driving: if you've been on Miramar Road it can be daunting at times. Tempature: I thought the store was a little on the warm side, definitely cooler than being outside but none the less it was no where near 57 degrees which I keep my wine in my cellar. Location: a little difficult to find if your not familiar with the area, it's in a small strip mall which is easy to pass by as your GPS device tells you have arrived.
Overall Recommendation: This is a great place to buy wine, the selection is first rate. The advice is solid and everyone can feel comfortable as there are no snobs looking over your shoulders, shaking their heads at what they may perceive as your pedestrian palate. Get on their mailing list to stay abreast of lastest great wine deals. Please check it out for yourself and tell them Bill, your San Diego Wine Shopping Examiner sent you! Until next time cheers everyone!
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Hello North Park time to get your wine on with one of the newest concepts in wine bars, it's called Splash and is making a quite a splash in the North Park wine scene. Just a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a Splash a swirl, when meeting up with some old friends.
I really like the concept of Splash, which is unique and novel. I like the fact they call themselves a wine bar and I believe they fit the bill. The term "wine bar" has become cliché and is something that many restaurants use far too loosely. The presence of a wine menu does not make you a wine bar and viceversa. This place is real wine bar and what some folks would call a wine lounge. In my mind the only thing keeping from being a full fledged wine lounge is the absence of a jazz musician, but I digress.
The Splash Wine Lounge is all about the wine, but if you're feeling a bit hungry they have a small but growing menu to accompany your tastings. According to Splash owner Traci Smith, "it's technology which allows Splash customers to taste on average over 72 different wines from around the world, (not just California wines) including bottles of wine that may otherwise be priced out of the budget (like Chassagne-Montrachet). She also says's, "Splash will also offer educational information and monthly tasting and pairing events. The basic concept is that it's so nice to be able to swirl, sniff and sip through a few types of wine before choosing a bottle to sit down with for which the bottle pricing is pretty reasonable. For example Splash offers the 2007 Mt Rosa Pinot Noir Central Otago New Zealand for $30.00 each, which still may be somewhat young to be drinking, but the point is their pricing is competitive.
According the their website, "Splash is using the latest Italian technology and they offer on average over 72 different labels in the form of a one ounce pour (splash), a glass or a bottle. The one once pours tend to range from 95 cents to 10 dollars. The enomatic wine machines beautifully display the wines which are available for the consumer to "self-serve" a one ounce splash of wine with a pre-paid plastic card. It is very similar to a Dave and Busters type experience. It allows the wine lover and novices alike to try many different wines before selecting a glass or bottle for which to sit and sip or to take home.
You have an opportunity to taste many types of wine, from sweet to sophisticated. If you want you can serve yourself or just sit bar-side and have wine served by the glass (4-5 oz). So if you're the kind of person who loves self discovery and you don't mind bumping into other patrons, then Splash is for you. If you do need assistance with recommendations the owner and staff are more than willing to accommodate your request. It definitely has a chill factor which is appealing, plop down onto the comfy sofas with some wine and chat with friends. Splash offers the opportunity to try some wines which are not always in everyone's price range and or are of very limited production. Two other things which are outstanding values is, Two-Splash Tuesdays (basically doubles your money) and No Corkage Wednesdays.Bad :
The price per ounce can be somewhat steep, while it may seem like a deal that you're only paying a few dollars for 1 oz. of wine, it can really add up quickly. By the time you've come across your favorite for a bottle purchase you've spent a nice piece on change on a few tastings. The other issue is Splash is a small location and can become very crowded and quickly. Going to splash with a large group can be a little tricky as the lounge chairs, couches and the bar seats are few in number. The card you purchase tasting with must be used the same evening. No refunds are available.Recommendations:
Splash is wonderful opportunity for the uninitiated. There are no wine snobs looking over your shoulder telling you what you should be tasting. If you're one of those folks who is unsure whether you are Red or White wine fan, then here is a perfect place to take your palate out on a test drive. On the other hand if you are looking for more "bar-type" experience than you may want to save your money and try a different venue. Visiting mid week is great way to avoid the crowds and have unhurried experience.
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If you live in San Diego and you love wine, undoubtedly you may have heard or know of the San Diego Wine Company. I like to think of their location as somewhat central in San Diego. It's located between the I805 and the I15 on Miramar Road across from what use to be known as "Fighter Town" USA and now is the home of the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.
The SDWC is the home of what I call QPR wines! What is quality price ratio you may ask? It’s simple, it means to me getting the best quality wine for the lowest possible price and most of the time they succeed marvelously in this mantra.
However there are a few times I find glitches in the formula, which will ultimately disappoint. Two recent examples of that was my purchase of Port and a Maderia. Both of which meet the low price part of the equation, but failed miserably on the quality portion. In drinking these wines with some friends after dinner, I commented that these wines were more like the "diet" version of your favorite soda. Noting that I did pay a small price for these wines comparatively but this was no solace for the one word review of these two wines, posers!What do I like about SDWC, is that this a no non-sense type of wine store. No clever marketing campaign, no slick ads covering the walls, no fancy wine racks, no granite covered anything, just stacks of wine in the case boxes they arrived in with hand written signs and posters proclaiming the screaming deals that await the savvy wine shopper.
For Example I purchased the Chateau Soudars Haut Medoc 2005 from SDWC for $19.95 and can be found else where on the web anywhere from $25.00 to 21.00 with shipping, which in my mind $19.95 is a good deal! This wine is definitely a QPR champ, with WS giving this wine a score of 89 points! I believe they still may have some this hanging around which will improve with some bottle aging.
Another example, the Sebastiani 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley I purchased from them a year ago was $23.95 and with a quick check around the web the current price for this wine ranges from $34.99 to the lowest price of $24.95 with shipping not included. This wine exemplifies the SDWC passion for finding wine with high QPR! WS gave this wine a mere 88 points, but if you throw price and availability (which WS does not) into the equation you are easily getting a 92 point wine for about $24.00, that folks is what you call an everyday drinker! A wine to fill up the cellar with for value conscious everyday imbibing and represents many of the screaming deals they have waiting for you at the SDWC.
Other great benefits of the SDWC, is that the owner Matt Francke who labored for seven years as the Assistant Manager before seizing his opportunity to purchase the store from the previous owner is that you will never meet a nicer guy in the wine biz, personable and knowledgeable about all things vino. Hit him up for a recommendation and he will probably have 4 or 5. They also have great flyer or newsletter they send out each month and if you're green conscious, so are they and recommend having the flyer sent to your email inbox, where the newest deals come packed in a neat PDF file.They also keep their store air conditioned, even during the peak days of heat here San Diego protecting the precious cargo inside.
One of the better benefits is that SDWC also has tastings every Saturday so you will have an opportunity to "try before you buy" for a very modest fee, (normally around $10.00) considering how many wines you are able to taste in a single tasting. Last but not least, ladies if you struggle to muscle out a couple cases of wine to your waiting vehicle the gentlemen there will be glad to assist you with a carry out service.
Some of what you could call the downside is that SDWC does not take the AX card, while it helps keep costs low; some customers wanting to pay with this method are disenchanted by this fact. The tasting room experience is nowhere to be found, you really are on a self guided discovery, for which the uninitiated may seem somewhat daunting for discovery. While the SDWC, proclaims they taste through every wine before it gets in the back door and onto the floor I believe as I mentioned earlier a few slip into the inventory that in my opinion don't deserve floor space. It's is possible that in order to buy some desirous lots of wine from a distributor at a certain price point they may be coerced into accepting wine that does not meet the perquisite criteria stated above.
Over all my recommendation the SDWC is a great place to purchase wine. A shop which I frequent as often as I can afford, as it's difficult to get out of the store without a case purchase or two. I highly recommend it to all my friends and acquaintances, from who I only hear good things about their individual experiences. Many folks who are just starting out in getting to know wine, who tend toward the sweeter varietals will like the many options to choose from and the great price points. Until next time (and to borrow a phrase) stay thirsty my friends, cheers!
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This weekend was a busy but very fun weekend packed with weddings, bottling wine, wine makers dinners and hanging out with friends at a great North County wine bar, The Barrel Room, Vintage Wine Bar And Bistro - Rancho Bernardo, CA . As my friends and I are sitting around the tables at the reception and as the evening was winding down, one of us Googled from their phones for wine bars in Ranch Bernardo, first hit was the Barrel Room. I gave it a Yahoo search on my phone and the reviews revealed four and a half stars and I thought it sounds good and with the majority of group identifying themselves as oenophiles and foodies or both we departed from the reception and headed over to the Barrel Room.
The barrel Room as I mentioned is in what I would call "North County"! For me (living in Chula as I do) anything north of the 52 freeway is the North County of San Diego. The Barrel Room is tucked away inside a large strip mall, anchored by a large grocery store. It's easy to miss driving up or down Bernardo Center Drive. As my wife and I arrive and make our way inside the first thing we notice is that the place is packed, quickly I grab some newly vacated leather bound arm chairs and just a few minutes later we are greeted warmly by a hostess asking us if we need a table and we reply we need a table for ten in a packed out wine bar. She grimaces only for a second, recovers and suggest a large party would be vacating soon and she would be able to accommodate our request. Mean while as our other friends are arriving, the hostess brings us menus and the "wine-list" and another suggestion that if we like the comfy of the arm chairs and leather bound couches that we could remain there, either way the choice is ours!
I knew almost immediately I would be writing up this wonderful establishment for the Examiner and confirming my intentions was the fact that most of the wine on the menu was at or very near retail prices, impressive and surprising. This was my very first experience at the Barrel Room and it was a most delightful to say the least. We had to turn away a bottle of wine we ordered which had a odd fault making the wine unpalatable and was graciously taken back without even the slightest qualm, truly remarkable customer service. Six of us drank through two bottles of wine and noshed on artisan cheeses and olives for $34.00 each. The wine was from Four Vines, the Anarchy 2007 and the 2005 Hess Collection "Allomi" Cabernet Sauvignon.
So you may be asking what is the 411 on The Barrel Room ? Well I am so glad you asked and I have already hinted at a few of the reasons that makes the BR a great place to hang out with friends or business acquaintances sip some well made wines and nosh on artfully selected appetizers. They also offer a dinner menu with what appears to be very reasonable prices, with pairing suggestions below the food descriptions.
What I liked about the Barrel Room: Good service, fair full bottle prices, ample parking, a great wine list (awards garnered) and near the freeway.
What I didn't like about the Barrel Room: Limited seating area (they can pack out quickly), difficult access to retail wine (for perusal purposes), by the glass price somewhat steep, the small or non-existent lobby, and the difficulty in spotting the location from the street.
Recommendations: A wonderful place to sit back and enjoy wine at the bar, table or on the cozy couches and armchairs. The mark up on the wine is minimal compared to their counter parts in the restaurant industry and thus deserves your patronage. The service is genuine and sincere, even when it's crazy busy, so go on in relax the wait times is minimal even when the appearances may look other wise. Go early (to get a seat) and budget to take a bottle of your favorite home if so inclined for five dollars less than the posted menu price. If you want to drink by the glass, feel free to ask for a sip (their policy) first to make sure it's something you will like, before committing to a full glass. Until next time cheers everyone!
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Anarchism . . . stands for direct action, the open defiance of, and resistance to, all laws and restrictions, economic, social, and moral. Emma Goldman (1869 - 1940).
But in the case of the Four Vines 2006 Paso Robles Red Blend Anarchy you find the wisdom of not always following the rules or coloring inside the lines. This is one of the wines known for being "unconventional" Rhone style blend, that my wife and I picked up on our Paso Road trip in 2008.
This was one winery on our list which we had to stop by for a tasting and we are glad we did. When we arrived it was early mid-week and the open sign still read closed! Undaunted we pulled around the small building, which they share with another winery and preceded inside. A small tasting room, but well appointed, with some of the vineyard soil samples of the various vineyards on display. They sell some shirts which reflect their mantra of unconventionality and the tasting glasses feature the Reidel "O" glass for a $10.00 fee. Btw, these glasses sell retail for that price and don't include the wine. So a pretty good deal in my estimation.
Four Vines got started in 1996, it's a partnership headed by winemaker Christian Tietje, and are mainly known for there specialization in Zinfandel . The Zin fruit is sourced from a number of regions – Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lodi, Amador, and of course the westside of Paso Robles. They also make several other wines including Chardonnay, Syrah, and a number of blends, both traditional and the unconventional, which they call their "Freakshow" wines of which the the 2006 Four Vines Anarchy falls into. Their Four Vines '04 Petite Sirah, "The Heretic", made the 2007 Wine Spectator Top 100. The "Naked" Chardonnay (which I not a huge fan of) and Old Vine Zinfandel Cuvée make up most of the 45,000 case annual production, while most of their other wines are made on a much smaller production scale, thus attributing a more boutique quality and as a result are difficult, but not impossible to acquire, which happens they are the wines I seem to like the best.
First Swirl: In the glass the wine has ruby core and lightly colored cerise colored rim. Not as fully extracted as I expected it would be, but none-the-less a brilliant crisp appearance.
First Sniff: I was amazed at the complex but lightly perfumed nose, vibrant, highly nuanced aromas of raspberry, dark cherry, tobacco, minerals, and black pepper.
First Sip: Immediately my palate felt the attack of rich, supple, silky-sweet and lively ripeness of brisk bramble berry flavors, with a slight chocolaty under pinning . This is what I would call a sharply delineated and well structured. The finish is persistent but firm, rounding out with a youthful edge of acidity contributing true grip.
Vineyards: The blend is based on Old Vine Zin, Syrah and Mourvedre all sourced from Paso Robles according to Winemaker Christian Tietje and self admitted Zin Bitch. Which exact blocks and vineyards are unknown.
Composition: The 2006 Anarchy blend makeup features 32% Syrah, 36% Mourvedre and replacing the "traditional" Grenache is some Old Vine Zin making up 32% of the blend.
Alcohol: The 2006 weighed in at a respectable 15%, with no noticeable hotness.
Pricing Considerations: In the tasting room without a club discount this wine retails for about $40.00 each and else where on the web it can be found anywhere from $32.00 to $38.00 each. What I would call a fair price based on availability, case production and overall quality.
Recommendation: A well made medium priced wine. If you like Rhone style wines and would like to try something unconventional with a slight hedonistic edge than this wine is for you. The price point puts it just a bit outside the everyday drinker category, but definitely a wine to have a few hanging around for weekend occasions. If you are in the area stop by and see them, it's worth the experience. Until next time Cheers everyone!
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Everyone living in San Diego is very familiar with Costco and I've long been intending to share my thoughts about the bountiful bargains to be found at your local Costco wine section. This being only my second post in what I hope will become familiar advice to the many old and new oenophiles alike about the best place in our wonderful city to purchase wine.
There you are considering purchasing wine at Costco, where it does seem a bit out of place with multi-packs of toilet paper and piles of discount clothing, you may be thinking is this really a good place to purchase a bottle vino? But folks I am telling you that my local Costco does have some of the best deals around and most likely the Costco near you does as well. I know some of you are saying what you're a Costco wine shopper? Yes, in this economy you need save every dollar you can and they have some very good wines for little prices.
So do you love a great Washington State Cabernet? Well here's an example of one of my finds. I found this gem at Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 which comes unfiltered! ( I would recommend decanting) It is very good and has a very soft mouth feel which comes from the Merlot blended in at 9% and the 27 months in the barrel. I purchased this little number from Costco the other day for $19.99 and I thought it was a fair price for the caliber of wine in the bottle and of course taking a look around the web I saved $10 -$12 per bottle. BTW, at this price it's a QPR (quality price ratio) winner! For you folks who love to BYOB, this wine is very versatile and in my opinion very food friendly, which makes pairing very easy and affordable.
If you love a good Malbec you are undoubtedly aware of the huge value coming out Argentina, here is another example of a Malbec brought to via Costco Wine. The Bodega Norton Malbec Reserve 2006 this wine demonstrates everything which is wonderful about the Argentinian Malbec, the ability to offer a wine with so much finesse for so few dollars! I know once WS and RP get a hold of this wine their reviews could mirror my own closely. I would guess they would give it a 91 and I would say I must agree, because the QPR is through the roof! Folks seriously I picked this up at Costco for a mere $12.89 each. Again huge savings compared to other competitors.
Benefits: One of the benefits is that if you didn't like the wine cork it and take it back and they will give you a full refund no questions asked. Try that at your local wine store and see what kind of response you may get. I'm not saying they are the only retailer offering that kind of customer service, but they certainly have a perspective on the return process.
Another benefit is that the signage is very easy to read. Prices are clearly visible and some wines have tasting notes and major wine review publishers scores attached to the tasting notes for the current or sometimes past vintages.
One of my favorite aspects about the Costco wine scene is that imports play a large role in the Costco wine department. Because of the importance placed on offering a balance of domestic and imported wines. There are tremendous values, along with traditional well known appellations which are very appealing. Costco also offers a number of good deals on line as well.
Drawbacks: For me one of the big draw backs of shopping for wine there during the summer months is a heated warehouse, which is no friend to wine. During the summer months I tend to not purchase wine from Costco, because of that factor. Of course they are not my only source for finding great deals on vino.
One of the hassles of shopping there is of course the parking on weekends is very difficult and shopping in the store during this time frame can be a bit daunting and if you want to get these great deals on wine, you're going to have to pony-up a membership fee.
Costco also tends to have a pretty limited selection, and each store has it's own variety of vino, meaning you may find a particular wine in one location and none in the other. An issue that I have noticed is about inventory, either Costco has a very large inventory of the wine they do stock or just don't turn over their inventory too often, because I tend to see the very same labels every month.
Conclusions: Costco has some very good juice at great prices, which often will beat the market average. Buy a membership if you don't already have one and shop during off peak times and during the cooler months to avoid having your wine spoiled by the high heat. Remember Costco has an unwritten rule, he who hesitates goes home empty handed. Meaning if you see a wine which you know or suspect is a a screaming deal, buy all you can afford or go without. Until next time cheers everyone!
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