10 Wines to Buy from Wine.com in Texas with AMEXDEAL16

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

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Through 7/7/2016 you can use code AMEXDEAL16 for $30 off $100 at Wine.com (read more on how to maximize the deal).

The key to getting a great deal with this code is finding good wines at reasonable prices. Wine.com's assortment differs by state, and the markup varies by wine. It's a fun treasure hunt that can result in a terrific deal on wine shipped to your doorstep - if you can find the right wines.

Just to illustrate how this can be tricky, take for example Michael David 7 Deadly Zins. It's a terrific value at around $10 (and readily available at local discounters) but Wine.com lists it for $21.99 in Texas. That's a terrible price - even with $30 off $100.

So here are 10 wines I'd recommend for someone shopping in Texas. I'm thinking of these for someone that, like me, gravitates towards juicy fruit forward reds but is looking to branch out given the season.

1. Bisol Jeio Prosecco Brut Rose

It might seem strange to start off a list of mostly red wines with a sparkling wine, but this one is a great way to start the evening with any crowd. At $17.99 before discounts it delivers on its price and then some. Read more...


Had this one at a Capital Grille event back in the day and it's served me well since. Just $11.99 (before discount!) - it can work well on its own and is perfect for mimosas.


I had this the other nice with a spicy Sichuan dish. What a pairing! Appealing fruit for days balanced just the right amount of acidity that makes it a pleasure to drink on its own or with food. No matter the vintage it hits the mark at a very reasonable price point. I like it so much I gave it a lifetime QPR achievement award.


Meiomi has been an amazing phenomenon. A reliable friend to share with friends. No fuss - just fruit forward, delicous California Pinot Noir. Some say this drinks more like a Zinfandel, and yes it's full bodied for a Pinot Noir. But it makes it a Pinot Noir that people who usually prefer bigger reds. $19.99 isn't a great price (I saw it at my local Costco for $14.99 recently). But with 30% off and free shipping (plus portal cashback) I think this is about as low as you can find Meiomi.


Notice how I listed the vintage on this one? Because it's important on Oregon Pinot Noir. 2012 was a tremendous vintage, and this one is one of my favorites. This bottling is a perennial favorite of Wine Spectator's but surprisingly this vintage seems to have gotten lost in the positive accolades of that vintage. "Just" a 91 from them but I thought it was better than that.


Along with Meiomi this is one of two wines I recommend most frequently for its outstanding quality to price ratio. Discovered it at the Capital Grille - loved it. Visited them in Spain - loved it even more. It's what the locals there drink and you should too. It's BIG but balanced. Be sure to give it some air - it improves amazingly over a few days on the counter. Surprising given its modest price.


Honig makes the top 10 list twice! There's a reason they're the one wine club I'm a member of. No Napa Cab more reliably hits the mark for me. It's the flavor profile I find so appealing for it's perfect combination of fruit and savory notes. At $42.99 before discount you can get this down to around $30 if you land just north of $100 for your total order. And $30 for a bottle of Honig is a square deal in my mind.


The folks at Borsao deliver tremendous value across the board. And this one at $14.99 in Texas is a perfect example at a very good price. Along with their interest in Alto Moncayo (not available in Texas from Wine.com) I'd put them at the top of my list of wineries to visit in Spain some day.


I haven't written about Cherry Pie Pinot Noir here on the blog. But I should. Soon. I've had a couple bottles and I've been impressed. There are two levels: Single vineyard wines (labeled as Cherry Pie proper along with the vineyard name) and an appellation wine. I may have initially dismissed these wines for the overly fruit laden label but they're actually tremendous wines. Think of this Cherry Tart bottling as the Meiomi of Cherry Pie's lineup. In fact - the whole project is strikingly similar to Belle Glos/Meiomi. $18.99 before discount for a wine comprised mostly of fruit from Rodgers Creek Vineyard? Sign me up. Read more about them here.


This is the Pitt-Jolie wine, and it's actually quite good. A nice crisp and elegant wine for enjoying on a warm afternoon. Read more...

Question of the Day: What Wine.com values in your state are you finding that work well with $30 off $100?

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My Rough Weekend with Italian Wine

Sunday, April 10, 2016

First bottle of 2012 Passopisciaro: Totally corked
Is it just me, or is Italian wine more prone to TCA taint than other regions?

Or, is there something fundamentally "funky" about a lot of Italian reds that make them veer dangerously close to the hallmark notes of a corked wine (musty wet cardboard) even when they're solid?

I opened a bunch of relatively expensive Italian red wines this weekend that I've had and enjoyed in the past, only to find them either undeniably flawed -or- in that grey area where you're not sure but you're sure it's not good. And it's got me spooked.

2012 Passopisciaro


I first tried this wine in the 2007 vintage and though it was fabulous. I rated it 93 points and made a mental note to stock up on it in the future. I bought 6 bottles of it recently and Friday night pizza night seemed like a great time to crack one open.

One sniff was all it took to inform me that this wine was absolutely, undeniably, 100% corked. This is especially disconcerting when it happens to the first bottle of a multi-bottle purchase. I'm inclined not to crack another open straight away when this happens. Why? I'm not sure but I usually scurry to safety instead. I went with a recently arrived 2012 Coho Headwaters that absolutely spot on/what I was looking for.

If I'm ever on the fence whether a wine is flawed, opened a sound wine and comparing it side by side usually seals the deal. But this 2012 Passopisciaro wasn't even close. I re-visited it again last night just to check and it was the same as it was the first night. So sad.

Crognolo: Thought it was corked but settled down

2013 Crognolo


Saturday night we had friends over and wanted to do a full-on Italian dinner. Although I would have been more inclined to mix in some California Pinot Noir for broad appeal, I decided to keep it all from Italy. The Prosecco we started off with went well thankfully (a play I learned at Il Preludio in Cortona). But after that we moved onto the Crognolo from Tenuta Sette Ponti, retracing our path from one terrific afternoon in Italy.

As soon as I opened the Crognolo - and I mean literally the second I pulled the cork - I suspected this one was off. The act of removing the cork released musty aromas.

Thankfully in this case, the wine settled down within a few minutes. Although it never soared near the heights of prior vintages (especially those tasted at the winery) it was at least drinkable. But by this point I had hair trigger reflexes for the slightest "off" note and was on high alert.

2008 Tenuta Nuova: Mildly/probably corked

2008 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova


Since the Crognolo was trending towards "lackluster" I went to guns with a bottle of Tenuta Nuova. The 2006 vintage of this wine was one of the best bottles of wine I've ever had, and although I didn't have delusions the 2008 would rise to that level I did think it would be at least really good.

No such luck. This one fell into the unfortunate chasm of "probably/mildly corked". The worst kind of corked. Gah! I'm sniffing a remnant taste of this wine as I'm writing this and I'm still not sure whether it's flawed or just not to my liking.

I will say this though: I never would have called the 2006 one of my favorite bottles of wine ever if it had anything resembling a musty aroma. So, I think this 2008 will just go in the books as an expensive, disappointing bottle of wine.

Bottom Line


Depending on which study you consult, I've read that 5-10% of wines with natural cork enclosures suffer from TCA taint.

When it's obviously/undeniably corked (or flawed in some other way) I always return it if logistically possible. Here's more on that part of the equation.

When trends like these build up it really dampens my enthusiasm for a category - even if it's a total coincidence. That affects the buy side of the equation, but I'll curiously follow up with other bottles I have on hand to see if it's a trend isolated to batches of newly arrived wines.

I'm convinced that if one bottle in a case is corked, the chances of subequent bottles in that same lot being corked goes up dramatically. If the TCA is transmitted from the cork, then the likelihood of another cork in that batch being similarly "bad" seems higher. And if the TCA is transmitted through the cork (either condition is possible) then it would seem that problems in the winemaking process and/or cellar would definitely tend to occur in clusters.

Question of the Day

What do you think? If the first bottle in a case is corked, do you find it more likely that subsequent bottles from that same case are flawed?

Read more...

It's back! $30 off $100 at Wine.com with code AMEXDEAL16

Monday, March 7, 2016

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One of the best recurring deals in wine is back. Now through 7/7/2016 you can get $30 off $100 at Wine.com with code AMEXDEAL16.

Step 1: Go through a portal (optional)

Start your shopping by checking http://www.cashbackmonitor.com/Cashback-Store/Wine.com to get some extra cashback on your purchase. You can get around 5% off your order as cashback through a portal this way.

Step 2: Select your wines

The idea is to hit $100 without too much overshoot. For example, add 2 bottles of the 2013 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Antonio Galloni rated 95 points at $29.99. I've had the wine. It's pretty good. Then 2 bottles of 2013 Hahn SLH Pinot Noir Wine Spectator rated 92 points at $22.99. Your total would then come to $105.96 thus qualifying for $30 off.  Inventory varies by state. Ping me if you'd like some help finding good deals in your state.

Step 3: Sign up for a Stewardship free trial

Stewardship is Wine.com's equivalent to Amazon Prime. You get free shipping for a year, but you can also get a free trial for a month. If you've ordered from Wine.com in the past, try signing up with a new email address to get a new free trial.

Step 4: Place your order

The deal can be used once per email address. This might also be a good opportunity to use up any Wine.com gift cards you may have purchased at a discount in the past. Or, if you have a Chase Ink credit card you could earn 5x Ultimate Rewards by buying Wine.com gift cards from PayPal Digital Gifts.

Step 5: Cancel Stewardship

To make sure you're not billed for a year of Stewardship, cancel your trial after placing your order.

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Just When I Was About to Write Off Affordable Bordeaux

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If there's one category that's consistently failed to provide a good match for my taste in wine at affordable price points it's been Bordeaux.

Sure there have been a few bottles I've enjoyed here and there. But on average the wines I've tried rated 90+ by Spectator costing $30 or less have been bitter, savegely tannic disappointments that have clogged up the works of my wine stash.

2005 was the first vintage of the century I've been aware of in my time as a wine enthusiast. Now with 10 years of age, these wines have done little to endear themselves to me. Maybe in another decade their fruit will finally mercifully come forward, but my experience has been sufficiently negative as to make it unlikely I'll buy many more.

With 2009 and 2010 garnering praise on par with 2005 I started to grow weary of the hype. I bought a few well regarded wines with the hopes that Spectator's "round and friendly" descriptors of the 2009s from St Emilion might make these wines more relatable to my new world-leaning palate. To be honest I didn't have high hopes given that Bordeaux are often described with delicious sounding adjectives ("powerful!", "rich!", "mocha") that end up tasting stern and rough with drying tannins.

So it was with muted expectation that I opened a bottle of 2009 Chateau Pipeau last night. Here's how Wine Spectator's James Molesworth described it:

This rich red is nicely coated with espresso and dark fig over a core of plum and blackberry fruit. Stays velvety through the toasty but well-integrated finish. Best from 2013 through 2023. 91 points.

A rich red, coated with espresso? Sign me up!

I took a sniff and a sip just to make sure it wasn't corked before serving it to our guests and I was blown away.

This wine is something special.

My notes...

2009 Chateau Pipeau
13.5% Alcohol
11,665 Cases Produced
$30 Release Price

Nearly opaque visually, this wine opens with dark chocolate, bold fruit, and vanilla tinged oak influence. Ample mouthfeel and presence, more substantial than its 13.5% alcohol would otherwise indicate. Yet still elegant. Nice tannic grip, but luscious and invites another sip. Impressive.

93/100 WWP: Oustanding

Read more...
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