Winner Announced in Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival Giveaway

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thanks so much for the enthusiastic response to this giveaway of two tickets to the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival.

We received 20 entries via comments, and another 13 via email.

I assigned the entries received via comment the numbers 1-20 in the order they were received. Then I assigned the following numbers to email entries:

21. DD
22. MBr
23. MBot
24. MM
25. KQ
26. JS
27. MBod
28. ER
29. ML
30. NC
31. RS
32. RP
33. BW
34. LP

...then I generated a random number on random.org:

And the winner is...

Elizabeth R!

"My husband and I would love to have the opportunity to attend! We love food and wine!"

Congratulations Elizabeth! Please email me at wellesleywinepress@gmail.com to claim the prize.

For more information on the event, visit the Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival website.


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5 Outstanding Terroir Driven California Pinot Noir Producers

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In general, domestic Pinot Noir is lighter in body and color than Cabernet and Merlot. However, some producers produce it in such a ripe fruit-forward style it bears little resemblance to lighter Burgundy or even Oregon Pinot Noir.

But that's not the case across the board. A small but growing group of winemakers are committed to producing California Pinot Noir that lets the site speak for itself. I'll call these producers terroir-driven. And as such, their wines are leaner in style. The best succeed in producing balanced, compelling wines that speak to where they were produced and at the same time are an absolute pleasure to drink.

See also: 7 Reliably Outstanding Fruit Forward California Pinot Noir Producers

Here are 5 outstanding producers to check out:

1. Littorai

Ted Lemon seems to have found the perfect intersection of being committed to his craft in an authentic way, and producing wines that are truly pleasurable to drink. Crazy-committed to biodynamic and all that - it's a wonder the wines aren't more expensive. Their appellation wines list in the high $30s, and the single vineyards go for closer to $60.

Availability: I've seen these around at retail occasionally, but they disappear quickly. You wouldn't know it from Wine-Searcher.com but The Urban Grape is the place to buy them in Massachusetts.

Guidance: Absolutely seek out and try Pinot Noir from Littorai. Great Chardonnays too.

http://littorai.com

2. Rhys

Rhys Vineyards is the poster child for a leaner direction in California Pinot Noir production. That being the case, they can be polarizing. They're the opposite of Kosta Browne.

My experience with their wines has been mixed. I've enjoyed their sub-$40 Alesia Pinot Noirs, but stretching further into some of their ~$60 single vineyards hasn't necessarily paid off. Some say they need time, but I couldn't see the 2009 Family Farm, for example, turning into a swan. That said, I could see the quality in the 2009 Bearwallow. Not my style necessarily, but I can see why they're well regarded.

Availability: Almost entirely mailing list. If you see it at retail, the price is typically jacked up.

Guidance: Find a friend on the mailing list and try a bottle of their Alesia to get a window into their style. If you like what you see wait on their mailing list for a long time and let their single vineyard Pinots cellar for a while before opening.

http://rhysvineyards.com

3. Cobb

If there is a winemaker's winemaker, it's Ross Cobb. The last time I visited Sonoma, I asked winemakers whose wines they enjoyed and whose style they'd like to be favorably compared to. I was amazed how often Cobb's name came up. He also makes wines for Hirsch, Claypool (love Primus, haven't tried Les's wines yet though) and Banshee. No wonder we've all enjoyed Banshee so much!

They're pricier for sure with most of their wines selling in the mid-$60s. A tough price point, but it's all here.

Availability: Quite limited at retail, but I have seen it from time to time. I spotted a couple bottles at Lower Falls in Newton recently, and I even saw some appear on WTSO.com (by way of WineNabber.com) for a short time.

Guidance: Worth seeking out and tasting. A benchmark for high end California Pinot Noir.

http://cobbwines.com

4. Kutch

Here's a producer who, I'm told, started out making bolder wines but is now firmly committed to producing more restrained Pinot Noir. Perhaps similar to Rhys, I loved the more affordable 2010 Sonoma Coast ($39) but the 2009 Savoy ($50) was less impressive. All things considered the price points are quite reasonable if you can buy them without a markup.

Availability: Very hard to find at retail near release price.

Guidance: I'm looking forward to trying more of these. Hop on their mailing list and have patience.

http://kutchwines.com

5. Red Car

The most famous Red Car bottling is actually a bit of a head fake. Their 2007 Heaven & Earth La Boheme graced the cover of Wine Spectator with a massive 97 point score. But it's not representative of their house style at all. The rest of the wines in their portfolio are far more restrained and they are absolutely a lower alcohol producer committed to producing wines that deliver a compelling experience without being overly ripe.

Availability: You do see these around at retail, so have a look on Wine-Searcher.com.

Guidance: Try the Heaven & Earth if you like a more fruit forward style, and compare them to other bottlings.

http://redcarwine.com

Further Reading

Question of the Day: Who are some of your favorite terroir-driven California Pinot Noir producers?

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Giveaway! Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The 7th Annual Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival is coming the weekend of September 21 - 23, 2012. Set in the spectacular Newport Mansions on the Atlantic Ocean, this is an event to check out.

One of the highlights of the weekend is the Grand Tasting on the lawn of Marble House. Great wines, fabulous food from more than two dozen restaurants and food exhibitors, free cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse, and ocean views are included in your ticket price.

The event organizers have given me 2 tickets for the Sunday Grand Tasting to give away here on this blog. At a face value of $110 per ticket -- $220 total -- this is a nice opportunity.

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post (http://www.wellesleywinepress.com/2012/08/giveaway-newport-mansions-food-wine.html if you're reading this in a feed reader or via email). If you'd rather keep your entry on the down low, or you're having trouble with the commenting system, drop me an email with your entry: wellesleywinepress@gmail.com Winner will be picked by random drawing on Friday, August 31st 2012.

We received 34 entries for the 2012 Boston Wine Expo giveaway. Let's see if we can top that.

For a complete listing of events, and to purchase tickets visit the Newport Mansions website. And follow @NMWineFood on Twitter for more information.

Good luck!

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No Go on Massachusetts Direct Wine Shipment in 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An unfortunate but expected update from Free the Grapes: Massachusetts House Bill 1029 won't be passed this legislative session. First introduced in 2011, the bill provided a framework for the direct shipment of wine from out of state wineries direct to Massachusetts residents.

A 2010 federal court ruling determined the state's current laws were unconstitutional because they discriminated against large wineries. HB 1029 would have lifted this large winery restriction, established mechanisms for licensing out of state wineries, provided a means for excise tax collection, and perhaps most importantly, defined a reasonable fee structure for FedEx and UPS to ship wine within the state.

What Happens Now? 

 

It's back to the drawing board. Expect a new bill to be introduced in 2013. The legislative session in Massachusetts runs for two years so let's hope a new bill can be introduced that provides not only for winery direct shipments but for retailer shipments as well.

What Can I Do To Help?

 

In talking with my state representative about this issue, I learned that they're not hearing from a lot of consumers about their support of direct shipment of wine. Send your representative a sincere email asking where they stand on the issue and ask them to help push the issue along at every opportunity. Don't know who your representative is? A list can be found here.

Also consider dropping Representative Theodore Speliotis an email expressing your displeasure with the fact that committee he chairs failed to act on this bill for two years. Ironically, the committee is named the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. As a consumer I hardly feel protected by the lack of passage of this bill. In fact I feel like my rights as a consumer are being trampled upon in favor of a few who want to keep Massachusetts in the dark ages of commerce.

Further Reading

 

Why every Massachusetts resident should be in favor of the direct shipment of wine

Subscribe to the Wellesley Wine Press for updates on this issue

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Half off 1 Year of Unlimited Shipping from Wine.com

This offer has expired but if you're looking to save money at Wine.com try using the Double Dip Trick.

Wine.com is offering half off their Steward-Ship program through Sunday August 26th with code "SSAFF".

Steward-Ship is kind of like Amazon Prime. For a flat rate of $49 ($24.50 with this offer) Wine.com will ship wine to you for a year. Steward-Ship can also be used to ship wine and gift baskets to other addresses since it's tied to your account rather than a single receiving address.

I've had Steward-Ship for a couple years now and, especially when you can get it for half off, it's a good deal. What I like about it is how it enables quick shipment of just a bottle or two without having to fret about building towards a mixed case to reduce the per-bottle shipping costs. Like last week when I wanted to get a bottle of 2010 Cosme Gigondas shipped out here. Other retailers had it for a few dollars less. But none would ship a single bottle out for free. So Steward-Ship worked nicely.

Yes, Wine.com's prices are a little high compared to other retailers. But if you keep your eye out for coupons and especially half off vouchers they've run the past couple years, a year's worth of wine shipments for $24.50 is a nice deal.

You can buy Steward-Ship now without place a wine order. Just add Steward-Ship iconto your cart, enter "SSAFF" in the Promotional Code box, click "Update Cart" and you should see the price reduce to half off. Check out without adding any wine and your account should have Steward-Ship applied for the next year.

If you already have Steward Ship active on your account, you can extend the duration of your subscription with this offer. To check when your current subscription expires, go to the Wine.com home page and Log In. Click on "'s Account->My Account" then off to the left it should say when Steward-Ship renews. If you buy Steward Ship now before your current subscription renews, your account will show that Steward-Ship renews a year from today so you'll have to call them to get it corrected. I did that. It took just a few minutes - no problem. If you intend to keep Steward-Ship going forward now is the time to buy.

50% off Wine.com Steward-Ship membership. Enjoy free shipping on wine and gifts all year. Join Steward-Ship and enter code SSAFF in cart. Offer ends 8/26/2012

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Tasting Report: 2010 Saint Cosme Gigondas

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Last week I promised to track down and taste a bottle of the 95 point rated (Wine Spectator) $41 (release price) 2010 Château de Saint-Cosme Gigondas. As promised I ordered a bottle of from Wine.com, it arrived, and I cracked it open.

Side note: It was a full-on 90F degrees the day I had it shipped. I missed the shipment and it was redelivered the next day. I popped the wine open the day after that and you know what? It was totally fine. Maybe we're getting excessively cranked up about shipping wine when it's slightly warm? I mean - this is Massachusetts, not Arizona.

Another thing - people sometimes ask how Wine.com can ship to Massachusetts with all of the shipping restrictions in place here. Wine.com is the only national wine retailer I'm aware of that's taken the time to obtain a Massachusetts retailer license and buys all of their wine they ship to Massachusetts residents from Massachusetts wholesalers. I hope that also helps explain why Wine.com inventory and pricing varies from state to state.

Here are my thoughts on the wine:

2010 Château de Saint-Cosme Gigondas
$41
3,330 Cases Produced

Pretty magenta/ruby in the glass. About 70% opaque. Aromatically, I get ripe raspberry, rose petals, black pepper, and other typical Rhone notes. Really pretty. Shines on the palate with a silky mouth feel up front followed by a nice tannic bite at this stage in its youth. Good dose of acidity too. So elegant and powerful at the same time. Beautifully balanced. Very nice stuff. Tremendous value. Molesworth nailed this one.

93/100 WWP: Outstanding

Further Reading:

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A 95 Point Rhone Red You Can Actually Buy

Monday, August 13, 2012

One of the more common complaints I hear from friends about Wine Spectator is that it's difficult to find highly rated wines the publication recommends. It can be tedious keeping up with for sure so we've got to help each other out. Here's one you can act on right now.


When you have a Wine Spectator online subscription, you also gain early access to their ratings through their Insider and Advance newsletters. These can give you a little bit of a head start in some situations.

Last week's Insider featured a sneak peak of ratings from the highly anticipated 2010 Rhones. My eyes were drawn to the big numbers for St. Prefert CdPs. But my pal @EvanDawson spotted an incredible QPR hiding behind the Chateauneufs: The 2010 Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas.

With a score of 95 points, a release price of $41, and ample 3,300 case production - this is a fantastic quality-price ratio wine you can find at retail.

Click here to buy it now on Wine.com. If you're not a Steward Ship member and haven't ordered from Wine.com before use "1CENTWELCOME" for $0.01 shipping on orders of $75 or more.

In the Boston area Blanchard's has it for $34.99 and eligible for discounts. Other MA retailers have it for a little more - check Wine-Searcher.com. Or search nationally.

Thanks for the heads up Evan! I ordered a bottle and will let you know how it goes when I taste it.

Update: A tasting report for this wine

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Trip Report: Interesting Times at Kosta Browne

Monday, August 6, 2012


The other day, I was listening to ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd when he shared that he'd be doing a guest appearance on Mike & Mike with Mike Golic. I thought this was an interesting way of cross-pollinating audiences so it served as a reminder that I should be doing more guest blogging for other wine blogs.

As I got to thinking about a good venue for a post about a visit to Kosta Browne, David White's Terroirist was the first that came to mind. David has been doing a tremendous job since launching Terroirist a couple years ago and I've particularly enjoyed his winery trip reports.

Here's a snippet. Head on over to Terroirist to read the full article:

These are interesting times at Kosta Browne. In 2009, the winery was acquired by Vincraft for almost $40 million. In 2011, one of its wines was named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year. And in 2012, one of its winemakers left the firm. But through it all, Kosta Browne’s Pinot Noirs remain the standard for bold domestic Pinot Noir. Read more...

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7 Reliably Outstanding Fruit-Forward California Pinot Noir Producers

It's no secret California Pinot Noir consumption has taken center stage here at The Wellesley Wine Press lately. But all of this research has to lead to something, right?

I thought it would be interesting to share a list of producers, mostly ones I'd consider to be at least somewhat fruit-forward stylistically, who when I open a bottle of their wines I have full confidence the wine is going to be outstanding.

See also: 5 Terroir-Driven California Pinot Noir Producers

Here are 7 reliably outstanding California Pinot Noir producers I've discovered:

Kosta Browne

A benchmark, bold, fruit-forward producer. Their appellation wines (Russian River, Sonoma Coast and recently added Santa Lucia Highlands) go for $58 and their single vineyard wines fetch $78. After a string of favorable ratings, their 2009 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was named Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year. Rarely seen at retail, this one is mostly mailing list only with some availability in restaurants. A tough mailing list to crack but get on it and have patience. It's worth it. Sign up at http://kostabrowne.com

Sojourn

Some of their wines are rightfully described as "a Cab drinker's Pinot Noir" (Ridgetop, Gap's Crown) but others let the site speak beautifully for itself (Rodgers, Alder Springs). Their appellation wines sell for $39-$42 and they're fantastic. Their single vineyards go for $48-$59. One of the most favorable mailing lists on the planet. Sign up now at http://sojourncellars.com

Radio-Coteau

Gorgeous stuff that shows diversity from vineyard to vineyard. La Neblina and the newly-introduced Laguna are my favorites, Alberigi is leaner in style. You'll see some availability retail but rarely at a price better than what's available winery direct. That these spectacular wines are available in the high $40s is an example of why California Pinot Noir is one of the most exciting categories in wine today.

Dehlinger

Three years ago I'd never heard of Dehlinger. But after a friend introduced me to their wines and I've had a chance to try a number of their bottles and I've been blown away. An old school Pinot Noir producer, they show strength across a number of varieties. Prices are extremely reasonably considering the quality. Their Pinots sell for between $45 and $60. http://dehlingerwinery.com

Sea Smoke

They ruffled some feathers when they labeled their 2009s "Grand Cru", but they're undeniably one of the finest California Pinot Noir producers. There's quite a price gap between their Southing bottling (around $50) and the $100+ "Ten". I say go for the Southing. It ages nicely and can exhibit gorgeous earthy characteristics with just a bit of age. Their 2004 Southing was my wine of the year. Sea Smoke is always a nice bottle to break out for a special occasion. http://seasmoke.com

Belle Glos

Their appelation "Meiomi" bottling ($22 release and available for less at retail if you look around) provides a beautiful window into what they do with their single vineyard bottlings. Las Alturas and Taylor Lane are my favorites for their cherry pipe tobacco notes and polished, effortless richness. Beautifully packaged in wax dipped bottles with scripted lettering, these wines are a great value at $44. And even better when you find them for less at select retailers. So reliably delicious. Search for these at retail on Wine-Searcher.com

Black Kite

A relatively new producer from the Anderson Valley, Black Kite's Kite's Rest bottling has impressed me across a number of vintages. I tasted the 2008 blind against alongside a couple of nice Burgundies and thought to myself: "Now this is what Pinot Noir should taste like". What can I say - I love California Pinot Noir. I usually try to catch this one at specialty retailers due to tough shipping terms winery direct to the Northeast.

Question of the Day: Who did I miss? Who are the California Pinot Noir producers who, when you open a bottle, you're fairly certain it's going to be an outstanding, fruit-forward, enjoyable bottle?

I'd love it if you subscribed to The Wellesley Wine Press to get new posts sent to your inbox.

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Really Nice Wine Glasses for $2.35 a Stem?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Don't know how long this will last, but Amazon Warehouse Deals has a used (?) 6-pack of Schott Zwiesel stems for $14.10 - just $2.35 a stem. These are a great buy at $59.99, so $14 is a ridiculously good deal. The primary concern here would be what used stemware is like. I have to imagine it was something that was returned to Amazon that was in otherwise perfect condition. I've had nothing but good experiences returning stuff from Amazon that wasn't what I was looking for but I've never ordered from their Warehouse Deals.
 
I mentioned why these glasses are a nice option in this post.
 
Check 'em out here
Question of the Day: Any experience with Amazon Warehouse Deals?
 
I'll update this post if I notice these glasses are gone so as to not waste your time.
 
Like hearing about wine deals? I do too. I'd love it if you subscribed to The Wellesley Wine Press for future updates.
 
Update: Looks like someone bought them. Follow me on Twitter (@RobertDwyer) for real-time deal updates.

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WineTasting.com Friends and Family Sale

WineTasting.com is offering a friends and family sale with savings "up to 70% off". To see the wines offered and pricing you'll need to register on their site. I'll respect their terms and not list specific prices and comparisons to nationwide bests here, but I'll say I spotted some nice deals from producers like Davis Family, Nickel & Nickel, Whitehall Lane, Twomey, Delectus, and more.
 
Shipping terms are quite favorable so all in all a nice sale.
 
To visit their site and register to see the deals: http://www.winetastingsale.com
 
Question of the Day: See any nice deals there I may have missed?
 

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