Value Alert: 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet 92 WS/$15

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Something I tend to lose sight of as I'm thinking about wines in the $15-$30 price range that deliver a good amount of enjoyment and excitement is how universally interesting an outstanding $10 bottle of Cabernet is.

Some time back a reader sent me a link to a retirement speech from NASA Astronaut Michael Collins. At the end of the speech he says that these days he spends his spare time "worrying about the stock market" and "searching for a really good bottle of cabernet under ten dollars."

A lot of people will tell you it's impossible to find a compelling bottle of wine for $10. Don't even waste your time. And a lot of people would say the same after tasting the 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon. It's overly oaked. Too rich. Manipulated. Whatever.

I've enjoyed wines from Columbia Crest over the years a great deal. I remember the first time I went out and bought a case of wine based on a Wine Spectator rating. It was for a Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot Harvey Steiman rated 90 points. You could find it for like $7. I bought a bottle and loved it. I then went back to Marty's in Newton and bought a case. I felt like such a mega deal hound!

More recently Columbia Crest has introduced this H3 tier of wines above their Grand Estates offering. It's been a reliably nice buy for me as well - consistently in the 87-90 point range. The H3 bottling has a release price of $15 but you can find it for as little as $9.99.

Today, Wine Spectator released (subscription required) a 92-point rating for the 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon. That's an insane QPR for a very popular category.

A really good bottle of Cabernet for under $10? Could be.

If you're sleuthing around for this wine online be aware that a lot of retailers will list this without a vintage due to its massive 160,000 case production.

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Question of the Day: Have you tried this wine or prior vintages of Columbia Crest H3? What did you think?


20% Off Yellow Dot Sale at Yankee Spirits [MA Only]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Massachusetts wine retailer Yankee Spirits is running a 20% off sale on "Yellow Dot" bottles of wine.  With locations in Attleboro, Swansea, and Sturbridge they're a retailer I've heard good things about but have never personally visited.

I noticed the Yellow Dot sale on their e-commerce site while poking around Wine-Searcher looking for a great price on Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova. After being blown away by the 2006 Tenuta Nuova and then visiting them this past summer I was interested in picking up some more of that specific bottling. But I didn't want to the ~$80 release price the wine comes with.

So I was thrilled to see the 2008 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova for just $49.98 (with no tax in Massachusetts).

As is often the case - procuring this wine becomes a tricky proposition. If you buy just one bottle the per-bottle shipping costs will wreck the QPR. If you buy too many bottles of the same wine you might not find enough occasions in the next few years to justify the financial outlay. And if you buy too many other "filler" bottles to round out the order you might end up buying more wine than you really wanted.

If you're like me you've got more wine on hand than you really need or want. Yet you find yourself lacking compelling wines at guilt-free price points you can open and enjoy and enjoy any time. So my strategy here would be to secure a bottle or two of the target bottle (for me the Tenuta Nuova) while replenishing my stock of reliable favorites and exploring a bit in a new area of interest.

The way this Yellow Dot sale works is you get 20% off qualifying bottles so long as you buy a total of 12 or more assorted bottles. Their regular 12 bottle case discount is 10%. And some items (like the Tenuta Nuova) are not eligible for further discounts. Given these parameters I'd recommend searching their website in categories of interest and putting together a mixed case based on your areas of interest.

For me at the moment that's new world Pinot Noir, California Sauvignon Blanc, and some favorites and continued exploration from recent travels to Spain and Italy. With that in mind here are 12 picks from their store to get you started...

2008 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova $49.98 (no further discounts on this one)

This is the best price currently available for any vintage of Tenuta Nuova anywhere in the US on Wine-Searcher. 94 points Wine Spectator. Great stuff, great buy.

Losada ($14.99 - $19.99)

I've been on the prowl for these Spanish reds since tasting them on our flight back from Europe. The $19.99 is only eligible for 10% off but it's the one I liked. The $14.99 one is eligible for 20% off. I'd be willing to try some of both.

Honig ($14.99 - $89.99)

Honig's bread & butter is their reliably delicious and affordable Sauvignon Blanc and their terrific Napa Cab. They've got these at favorable prices as well as some more rare bottlings.

2010 Domaine Serene Evenstad $59.98 (no further discounts available)

This is the best Oregon Pinot Noir I've ever had and after it landed in Wine Spectator's Top 10 last year it's been hard to find it around.

2012 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir $24.99 (eligible for 20% off)

Contrary to my preference for California Pinot Noir over Oregon Pinot Noir, I've been having better luck with 2012s from Oregon. This one got 91 points for Spectator. I've enjoyed prior vintages. Good QPR here.

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir $49.99 (eligible for 20% off)

The vintage isn't mentioned here but you know what? Doesn't matter. This is a solid bottle of wine year in and year out and I can never seem to keep it on hand.

2009 Brewer-Clifton Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir $29.99 (eligible for 20% off)

Now this is what I'm talking about. I've been really enjoying Melville and Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noirs lately and this one goes back to the 2009 vintage which was so reliably delicous. 92 Wine Advocate for this one. At 20% off that drops it down to $24/btl + ~$3 for shipping which lands it at an attractive price point for the quality.

Banshee Pinot Noir $19.99 (eligible for 20% off)

Banshee wines have been a reliable friend over the years. At $16 plus shipping this is sure to go quickly through the rotation.

Felsina Rancia $44.99 (eligible for 20% off)

I went into our visit to Fattoria di Felsina looking to see what else they had besides Fontalloro and discovered I like Rancia as much or more. And it's a bit cheaper.

Juan Gil Monastrell $13.99 (eligible for 20% off)

Since discovering this one at The Capital Grille a couple years ago then going absolutely crazy for it while visiting in person I still can't seem to keep this wine on hand. The best I've seen this for is around $12/btl. So as a filler to get to $13.99 before discounts - without having to leave the house - this is a solid addition to a mixed case.

2012 Castano Solanera $12.99 (eligible for 20% off)

94 points Wine Advocate? For $12.99? Don't be afraid to search under $15 when you're looking at Spanish wines. The QPR sets the standard for the world. The Castano family is the real deal. I love their $6.99 bottling. Although I tasted this on their property I was probably distracted by how good their entry level bottling was. I've got to go back and taste this one on my home turf.

2010 Tridente Mencia $10.99 (eligible for 20% off)

Another Spanish red from Gil Family Estates I've wanted to try. Love the QPR of these Spanish wines.

Shipping costs about $36 for a case to MA addresses (and like all MA retailers they can't ship out of state) so be sure to add $3 to each price in your head to see if it's a good deal. More affordable wines might be better to buy at a store you can drive to.

This Yankee Spirits Yellow Dot offer valid in October 2014.

If you like hearing about wine deals but don't want to spend time wading through junk check out new WWP advertiser Wine Nabber (read more). I wrote about them last year and I'm pleased to now have them as a site sponsor.

Retailers: If you're running a sale and would like me to peruse it to surface up some great deals drop me an email and I'll have a look.

Question of the Day: What are some of the best deals you see at Yankee Spirits right now?


Shake Shack Coming to Legacy Place

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Exciting news Boston burger fans! Shake Shack will be opening another location in Massachusetts - this time at Legacy Place in Dedham.

We visited the location at Chestnut Hill when it first opened (review) and several times since. It's still pretty crowded and a bit hectic when you go but the product is good and the wine & beer options are a cut above.

I'll look forward to this new addition to the already-good Legacy Place.

From the press release:

Shake Shack will join the eclectic blend of fine dining, high fashion and state of the art entertainment at Legacy Place in Spring 2015.

Known for its New York style burgers, Chicago style hot dogs and unforgettable frozen custard concretes, spun fresh daily; Shake Shack will bring a whole new flavor to Legacy Place. Its combination of premium ingredients from local gourmet chefs around the country, laid back atmosphere and rich décor made of sustainable materials, provides for a culinary adventure.

"Shake Shack offers a high quality, fast food option to tempt our shoppers’ taste buds with a fun and entertaining experience. We are pleased to bring this New York phenomenon to Dedham," said Mark Roberts, SVP Leasing, WS Development. "This fresh new concept adds yet another dimension to the sophisticated street style shopping and dining offered here at Legacy Place giving a whole new meaning to the word ‘Fashion Plate.’”

Shake Shack will be located next Uniqlo, opening on October 24, 2014 near the parking garage.


10% Off at Liquid Discount with code "columbus10wwp"

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Liquid Discount is running a sale this weekend for WWP readers.

Get 10% off site-wide with code: columbus10wwp

Considering using this as an opportunity to stock up on cellar defending daily drinkers -or- an early opportunity to pick up some special wines for the holidays.

I've been wanting to try the 2012 Elk Cove Pinot Noir for some time. It's always been one of my favorite Oregon Pinot Noirs and 2012 is a great vintage.

The 2012 Domaine St.-Prefert August Favier Chateauneuf du Pape is a nice play as well. At 94WS and a great track record from a fine vintage this is a winner.

Or the 2012 Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel. People go crazy for this wine. Give it a whirl and see if you agree.

Offer expire at midnight on Columbus Day.

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