12 Great Wine Values for Gifting Available Now at Empire Wine

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I've been doing some holiday gift basket shopping online the past couple weeks. While I like the idea of a [hopefully] polished presentation there's undeniable uplift in the cost of most gift baskets and wine is no exception.

For one family in particular I just wanted to get them a tasty case of red wine. And especially since they live in New York, Empire Wine came to mind. Their inventory was fresh in my mind after stopping in for a visit to their Albany store front on the way back from Cooperstown with our boys last month.

I was thinking if there was a Wine Deal Hall of Fame, Empire Wine would be a first ballot shoe in. They just consistently carry great wines at great prices, ship quickly, and get it done.

I perused their site and put together what I think is a nice mixed case of reds. Here's what I bought...

What to Buy



This more affordable Veraton botting from Alto Moncayo has been an absolute breakthrough for me this past year. Whereas Alto Moncayo proper is a spectacular blockbuster of a wine, it can come off a bit boozy and just a bit too much on a weeknight. The Veraton is more moderate in every way. Lower alcohol, more affordable (around $25 vs. $40), and more balanced. A terrific guilt-free indulgence the closer you can find it to $20. Read more...


I was really impressed with this while tasting it at the winery in Tuscany, and it wasn't just a matter of being "under the ether"while on vacation. I bought a few bottles of them at a great price once we got back and cranked through them quickly. And I enjoyed it with family at Il Mulino at Walt Disney World while on vacation. What I like about it is its new world fruit while being undeniably an old world wine. Love the price point too, especially compared to Sette Ponti's flagship Oreno bottling. Read more...

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva 2010

Along with Rancia this was one of my two favoites while tasting at Fontalloro this summer. It's pure class but it needs time to show well. Lay this down for a while and enjoy it with a meal.  Read more...

Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

I don't think I've ever specifically highlighted this wine here on the blog but I do pick it up regularly when I find it under $20 and I'm looking for a rich yet affordable Napa Cab. I like the label and it's just a joy to drink. Empire tends to run the price pretty lean on this one in particular so I think it's a nice add.

Laetitia Pinot Noir 2012

They had this for $14.99 at Trader Joe's in Framingham last month. I mentioned it to a friend and he noticed they'd been cleared out of it. WWP effect? ;) They've still got the 2012 at Empire, with a slightly higher price, and they've reloaded at TJ's with the 2013. Haven't tried it yet. Read more...

Orin Swift Locations 'E-2' Spanish Red Blend 2012

A rich and juicy red that's a crowd-pleasing no brainer to pop open and enjoy. Read more...

Belle Glos 'Meiomi' Pinot Noir 2013

Winemaker Joe Wagner is reliably delivering vintage after vintage with this ubiquitous fruit-forward California Pinot Noir. The Wagner Family is behind Caymus and other well-regarded wine brands. Read more...

14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

I've never had this wine that I recall but a very good friend with a sharp palate has a theory about finding a certain kind of value wines: Attend high end functions at places like the Ritz and the Four Seasons and see what they're pouring. He says you'll see 14 Hands being poured a lot. They don't want to tarnish their brand by pouring junk and they want a nice looking label that pleases the well-heeled crowd. I like the approach. Give it a whirl!

Columbia Crest 'H3' Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

I've long been a fan of Columbia Crest, and their H3 lineup hits a real value sweet spot. With their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon raking in a 92 Spectator rating this seems to be a high point for the label. I've had it. I like it. I'm buying a lot of it. Makes a great gift for colleagues and friends. Super solid ~$10 Cab? We could use more of those. Read more...

Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Tres Picos 2012

I first tasted this at The Capital Grille and have since grown to love pretty much everything Borsao does. They're adjacently responsible for the Alto Moncayo wines and it's sometimes hard to immediately discern which wines they're responsible for. Besides Tres Picos another to check out is Monte Oton. Every one of these wines are reliable mind-bending values.

Ramsay Pinot Noir 2013

A reader asked earlier this year what I'd recommend for a sub-$10 Pinot Noir for a wedding pour. This wine doesn't quite hit that price point but it does delivery significantly more enjoyment than it costs. Read more...

Columbia Crest 'Grand Estates' Merlot 2012

This is an old favorite I've rarely gone wrong with. The 2003 bottling was one of the first wines I went out and bought a case of after reading a 90+ point review in Spectator and loving the first bottle I bought of it. If you're looking for a reliably delicous sub-$10 wine remember Columbia Crest Grand Estates.

Bonus Wine!

Juan Gil Silver Label 2012

Somehow I forgot to add this ever-reliable QPR king. I opened a bottle of this 4 nights ago, and enjoyed a pour from it over the course of several nights. I only sealed it with a simple $1.99 stopper and it got better and better each night. It's surprising that such an affordable wine behaves this way but it bodes well for its quality. Back up the truck at the prices Empire dishes this one out.


Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite wine shops for gifting? What are some of your favorite wines to give as gifts this holiday season?

I hope you have a terrific holiday season. Cheers!

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Deal Alert: 10% (or more?) Whole Foods Gift Card Promo

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Massachusetts-based Whole Foods Market has returned with a terrific promotion they ran last year:

Purchase $500 or more in Whole Foods Market Gift Cards and get 10% back in a gift card for yourself.

When I first saw this last year I thought for sure there was a catch. Like, for example, the additional 10% bonus gift card wasn't good until the next day. Or the 10% gift card expired in a few weeks (the way so many bonus restaurant gift cards this time of year do).

But there was no catch. I walked up to the customer service desk, bought a $500 gift card and I received $550 worth of gift cards.

In its simplest sense this is an opportunity to prepay your grocery bill for as long as you're comfortable floating it at roughly 10% off.

I say roughly because a true 10% off would be paying $450 for $500 worth of gift cards rather than paying $500 for $550 worth of gift cards.

But as soon as I bought the gift cards I looked around the store and noticed that most everyone had at least $200 worth of stuff in their shopping carts. I wondered why everyone wasn't taking advantage of this offer. Why wouldn't they just buy a $500 gift card use it right away to pay for their purchase that day and use the remainder on their next visit?

I still don't know. I think most people just don't think about gift cards that way.

Anyway, here are some thoughts on why you should considering taking Whole Foods up on this deal...

First, I'm mentioning this here on this wine blog because Whole Foods sells wine. And wine is sold at rather tight margins. What I like about this promotion is that it gives you a way to get 10% off the best deals you can get on wine at Whole Foods. By that I mean that it enables you to get 10% off on "net" items that otherwise aren't eligible for mixed case discounts. And it enables you to get 10% off on top of mixed case discounts. That's stacking and you know I love stacking.

Speaking of stacking, grocery stores are a commonly bonused credit card category. For example, AmEx has Blue Cash credit cards that pay 5% or 6% back on grocery purchases. So this is generally one advantage of buying wine at retailers that code as grocery stores.

But wait - it gets better! Through February 15th, 2015 if you register your AmEx Blue Cash card you get an additional 2% cashback. So a total of 7-8% cashback depending on the particular Blue Cash card you have.

So, buy $500 worth of Whole Foods gift cards, get a $50 bonus gift card then do your [wine] shopping right there and spend the remainder next time you shop. It's a great deal.

Now, you might say "well, Whole Foods prices are sky high so this really isn't that great of a deal". I wouldn't be so sure about that. When I've price shopped wine at their Dedham, MA location they seem to be price matching Costco and other discount retailers on high profile brands. So their prices are competitive in my experience.

Taking this a bit further, even if you can't make use of all the balance of the gift card you could probably resell the gift cards at around break-even prices. Which presents an opportunity to rack up points/miles/cashback on your favorite credit cards that heavily bonus grocery spend.

All in all this is a really good deal I'd encourage you to consider.
Deal runs the month of December 2014.
So far I've confirmed it is available in Massachusetts and in other Whole Foods in the region.

Update: The Deal Mommy shares this cool way to get even more off your Whole Foods purchases by buying gift cards online. Be aware that online GC purchases may not code as grocery stores on your credit card. I'd recommend doing some trial purchases on your card(s). But $5 back on $20 is 20% off ($20 for $25 worth of value) and that is huge.

Subscribe for future wine deal updates.

Question of the Day: Have you seen this offer in your area?

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2012 Sea Smoke Southing for $55.99

Monday, December 1, 2014

Illinois-based wine retailer Grand Cru Wine Merchants is offering the hard-to-find-at-retail Sea Smoke Southing for $55.99. The Wine-Searcher average for this wine is $87.

Long-time readers may recall that the 2004 Sea Smoke Southing was my wine of the year in 2009.
Only 30 bottles are available and the deal ends today (December 1st, 2014).

They've also got the 94-point (RP) 2012 Castano Solenara for just $10.99.
Definitely a great value and one of the best wineries to visit near Jumilla, Spain.

Another zinger: 2008 Robert Foley Claret for $69.99
Most listings on Wine-Searcher for this are $99+

Shipping for 6 bottles is around $28.

Good luck!

Read more...

Sette Ponti Oreno for $39.99 w/Free Shipping on 12+

New Jersey retailer Wine Library is offering the 2011 Sette Ponti Oreno for the amazingly low price of $39.99. They're also offering free shipping on 12 bottles.

Oreno is the Sette Ponti's flagship label. According to Wine Spectator, the 2011 carries a $107 release price. New York and New Jersey retailers in particular seem to regularly offer this wine in the $50-$60 range. But this is the lowest price I've ever seen it.

I first tasted Oreno at a Wine Spectator Grand Tour event in Boston.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Sette Ponti this summer.

Like all out of state retailers they can't ship to MA.
But with prices like these it's worth finagling shipping to a nearby state.

Hat tip to jtinto.

Read more...

Deal Alert: 5% off Gift Cards at Table & Vine

Thursday, November 27, 2014

West Springfield, MA retailer Table & Vine is back with an offer they run each year around this time: 5% off Gift Cards with code GIFTCARD

5% may not seem like a ton (and in reality it isn't enough to go out of your way for). But here's why I might consider this and how I'd maximize its value...

First, the gift cards don't expire now so you can order them now (for yourself of course!) then use them later when you see they have a deal on a wine you're looking for.

Second, since they're gift cards you can stack the 5% with other savings like 10% off a straight case. Table & Vine's pricing model doesn't employ case discounts as significantly as other retailers because they don't mark up base prices as much as other retailers.

Third, since Table & Vine is owned by Big Y (a grocery store) purchases at Table & Vine code as grocery which can get you 5% or more if you've got a credit card that bonuses grocery spending. You can use this nifty utility to see which category specific retailers code as for Visa. I see Table & Vine coding as a grocery store. Nice!

Here's an example if you roll this all together...

Take the 2011 Clio they have in stock for $39.99/btl.

First, buy enough gift cards to cover the majority of your purchase. This saves you 5% on the gift card purchase and another 5% if you've got a credit card that bonuses grocery spend.

To be fair the 5% advantage depends on your current credit card profile and should be compared to the best card you could use at a wine shop. So it's not a full 5% better than your next-best card. But it is beneficial to generally consider the advantage of buying wine from retailers that code as grocery I think.

Later, once the gift card has arrived, buy a straight case of a wine you want they've got at a good price and cover the overshoot with the same credit card that bonuses grocery spend.

This brings the per-bottle price down to $32.48/btl - theoretically cheaper than the amazingly-low $33.33/btl price I mentioned a couple days ago.

Then, pick up the wine in-store next time you're passing through Springfield. Like on your way to Cooperstown or while visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame. They do ship in-state at not-so-terrible prices but that diminishes the savings and Table & Vine is a fun place to visit (trip report) anyway.

All in all, it's a bit complicated and involves buying a straight case (and visiting in-store) to maximize. But hey - if you're in the area and have your eye on a straight case of wine they stock at a reasonable price I say go for it.

Go here to take advantage of the deal

Offer ends December 1st, 2014

Subscribe to the WWP for future deal alerts!

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25% Off and Free Shipping from Dion's with code GIVETHANKS [MA Only]

Waltham, MA based Dion's (formerly D&L Liquors evidently) is offering 25% off mixed 12 bottle cases with code GIVETHANKS. Offer expires 12/4/2014.

They also offer free shipping to MA addresses on $100+ orders. With no tax on wine in MA these offers can be stacked for some compelling deals.

"Net" items are excluded but do count towards the 12 bottle minimum.

Of  note:
2012 Alto Moncayo $49.99 before discount (drops to $37.49 fully loaded)
2012 Elk Cove Mount Richmond Pinot Noir $54.99 (drops to $41.24, 94WS)
2012 El Nido Clio $49.99 (drops to $37.49, but it's cheaper here)

They've also got a good assortment of "net" priced items like Caymus for $54.99 and Belle Glos Pinot Noir for $39.99 that might be worth considering.

And check out their sub-$10 Spanish reds like this one and others for filler wines to get to 12 bottles.

These are some nice buys that can be had without venturing out in the snow/holiday shopping traffic. With a solid discount on great wines, free shipping, and no tax, this is one to consider.

Like wine deals?
Check out WWP advertiser Wine-Nabber who efficiently sends you tailored wine deals to your inbox

Happy Thanksgiving!

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2012 El Nido Clio for $33.33/btl fully loaded [MA only]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Newton-MA based Marty's Fine Wines is offering the newly released 2012 El Nido Clio for $200 for a 6-pack. In-store pickup and local delivery are free and they can ship to other MA addresses for a fee.


With no tax and potentially free shipping this is a tremendous buy on a tremendous wine year in and year out. Read more on why this is one of my favorites. If you like bold fruit-forward Napa Cab, but you haven't tried Clio you owe it to yourself to seek some out and try it.

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Wineries: Get your MA direct shipping applications in now!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Here's some great news for Massachusetts wine enthusiasts and out-of-state wineries alike. Ship Compliant reports that wineries can now apply for a Massachusetts direct shipping license.


Go here for the full story

They also offer this interesting tidbit about the remaining sticking point of FedEx/UPS fleet licensing:
An early concern over the new Massachusetts wine shipping law was that it did not address the issue of common carriers having to license each and every truck that delivers wine. However, a bill to allow common carriers to obtain a fleet license for the delivery of alcohol is pending in the Massachusetts legislature. It seems somewhat unlikely that the fleet license bill will move this session. But, we believe that at least one of the common carriers will begin to license each of their trucks and therefore will be able to deliver wine to Massachusetts addresses as early as the beginning of February.
Can you believe it? Will 2015 be the year we can actually receive direct shipments from wineries?

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No 8 on Wine Spectator's Top 100: 2012 Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Wine Spectator revealed the 2012 Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir as their Number 8 wine of 2014 I jumped right on Wine-Searcher and tracked down a half case.

The category and metrics are right up my alley: A California Pinot Noir with a proven track record. 94 WS/$40/1,226 Cases Produced.

All of Spectator's Top 100 wines are worth considering, but the Top 10 in particular are very thoughtfully selected. They always seem to have that elusive confluence of quality and broad appreciation given the vetting process Spectator employs.

And given that the winemakers behind each of the Top 10 wines is invited to New York each fall for the Spectator Wine Experience they seem to think about whether they'd, y'know, like to have the folks behind the wine "over to their house" so to speak.

Spectator's landing page for this wine captures its essence very nicely. Check out the video where James Laube describes why they selected it.

Greg Brewer is the winemaker. He's also winemaker at Melville so you may already be familiar with his style even if you haven't yet tasted Brewer-Clifton. Wines under both labels showed very well for me at this blind tasting of 2009 Pinot Noirs.

Here are my notes:

2012 Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir
$40
14.5% Alcohol
1,226 Cases Produced

This wine leaps from the glass with gorgeous, pure aromatics. At first they're fresh and primary. With time, ripe stem inclusion becomes evident and adds complexity. Translucent vibrant ruby color. Sweet cherries and pipe tobacco on the palate. The mouth feel reveals medium-full viscosity. Really quite spectacular and worthy of inclusion in the WS Top 10.

94/100 WWP: Oustanding

QPR-wise (though not necessarily stylistically) this wine reminds me of the 2008 Paul Hobbs RRV Pinot Noir. Great price point given the quality, and a wine that would be hard to over-purchase.

I'd highly recommend tracking some down while you still can (the Top 10 wines seem to disappear rapidly). I'm also inclined to check out other 2012 bottlings from Brewer-Clifton and Melville as well. Although 2012 was a tough vintage for California Pinot Noir overall quality winemakers like Brewer were able to produce tremendous wines.

Wine.com has the 2011 and 2012 Melville Pinot Noirs in stock in MA for $29.99 and $39.99 (affiliate links):

Massachusetts friends: I see this retailer has it for $44.99 and eligible for 20% as part of a mixed case purchase (add some affordable filler wines) and free shipping on $100+ orders.

Find it on Wine-Searcher
Learn more at http://brewerclifton.com
Follow @BrewerClifton on Twitter

Question of the Day: Have you had any of the Brewer-Clifton or Melville 2012s? If so what did you think?

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No 26 on WS's Top 100: 2011 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Landing at Number 26 on Wine Spectator's recently released Top 100 list is the 2011 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir.

The wine immediately jumped out at me not only for its favorable metrics (93 WS/$42/11,100 cases produced) but for the Hallberg Vineyard fruit source.

The first time I tasted a wine with the Hallberg name on the label was at this Gary Farrell wine dinner at Blue Ginger in Wellesley. I tasted a bunch of great wines that night but the Gary Farrell Hallberg Pinot blew me away.

A few months later while on vacation in Michigan my cousin brought along a bottle to share at our family cottage. Wouldn't you know it was again a Gary Farrell Hallberg Pinot and it was once again absolutely spectacular.

Then earlier this year I was tasting at Radio-Coteau. I first discovered the greatness of Radio-Coteau's Pinot Noirs in the form of the 2006 Radio-Coteau La Neblina Pinot Noir. That wine was so amazingly pure and clear of any off notes I was astounded. I've enjoyed many subsequent vintages of RC La Neblina since but it wasn't until talking with winemaker Eric Sussman that I discovered the fruit source for the wine: Hallberg Ranch.

So when I spotted the 2011 Emeritus Hallberg Pinot on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list I did some searching and found this awesome vintage Wine Library TV appearance from Emeritus founder Brice Jones where we come to find out he was behind Sonoma-Cutrer before launching Emeritus.

I found the 2011 Emeritus Hallberg Pinot at a local retailer via Wine-Searcher and placed an order, picked it up today, and cracked it open tonight.

2011 Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir
11,100 Cases Produce
13.8% Alcohol

Textbook California Pinot Noir with layers of classic aromatics and complexity. Baked cranberries, strawberries, orange oil, and brambly fruit. Silky complexion. Wonderfully pure.

92/100 WWP: Oustanding

I'd highly recommend tracking some of this down if you an find it and I'd have little hesitation accepting vintage substitution. I've got a feeling these guys know what they're doing.

I'm adding Emeritus to my list of producers to visit. Brice seems like an amazing personality and the wines speak volumes for themselves.

Find it on Wine-Searcher
Follow @EmeritusWines on Twitter

Question of the Day: Have you had Emeritus Pinot Noir before/ If so, what did you think? If not, how about wines sources from Hallberg Ranch?

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Heads Up: Billecart-Salmon Tasting at The Urban Grape

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


The Urban Grape is having a free Billecart-Salmon tasting at their locations in the South End (Wednesday November 19th) and Chestnut Hill (Thursday November 20th).

I went to a tasting they offered in Chestnut Hill over the weekend and was reminded why they're one of my favorite retailers. I discovered some really delicious wines from Slovenia. We got to try Vallin wines for the first time.

Remember, in 2010 I said the 2005 Cigliuti Serraboella Barbaresco was my wine of the year? Well the 2010 is out now, and they had it at an amazingly good price. Seriously - I bought everything they had in Chestnut Hill. Definitely check on the shelves in the South End if they have it (and let me know if they do!).

As I was perusing the shelves I found tons of wines that are among my absolute favorites. Kosta Browne Chardonnay. El Nido. Radio-Coteau. Littorai. More than anything, since they opened their doors in 2010 (first look) I find I leave the store with a tremendous mixed case of wine that's both reliably delicious and interesting.

Anyway - Billecart-Salmon is seriously amazing stuff and this is a tremendous opportunity to taste it. I remember when I was interviewing local wine experts for this piece on Celebratory Holiday Wines - Billecart-Salmon (specifically the brut rosé) was a name that came up again and again.

I served Billecart-Salmon to guests as part of a blind tasting comparing it to a much more affordable domestic sparkling brut rosé. Guests with familiarity with sparkling wines could definitely tell which was the more expensive wine. Hint: Look for the fine bubbles, silky mouthfeel and overall elegance.

So head on over to The Urban Grape tonight or tomorrow if you're in the area. Keep tabs on their events page for upcoming tastings.

And follow @UrbanGrape on Twitter for more information.

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Ways for Wine Consumers and Retailers to Maximize AmEx Small Business Saturday

Sunday, November 16, 2014

American Express Small Business Saturday is coming November 29th, 2014.

Here's how it works:

First, you have to register each American Express card you have in order to take advantage of the offer. Do this now because registration will fill up before the 29th.

Once registered, each American Express card can receive a $10 statement credit for up to 3 in-store transactions of $10 or more at qualified small businesses on November 29th. That's a total of $30 per card.

Keep in mind that each American Express card can and needs to be registered. This is where this can potentially be quite a bonanza. Authorized user cards qualify. And certain prepaid cards (like Serve and Bluebird) qualify. I just registered 10 cards so I'm positioned to spend (and receive statement credits for) $300.

Once you've got your cards registered, search for qualified retailers near you.
Make sure you confirm retailer participation
Not all wine retailers are small businesses!

Wine retailers: This is where you come in!


The way this offer is set it up conjures up images of families strolling down main street visiting one little shop after another, spending $50-$100 or more at each with their precious American Express card. And earning $10 statement credits for each of these larger purchases.

But that's not the best way to play it. What I'd like to do is spend all of the money at a single retailer that I really like rather than driving all over town. To do that I need retailers to make it easy.

First, be willing to split a transactions across multiple cards. For example, if I bought $32.40 worth of wine I'd like to split it up into 2 $10 transactions and one $12.40 transaction, effectively paying just $2.40 for $32.40 worth of wine after statement credits.

But even better than allowing split transactions is if a retailer sells $10 gift cards that can be combined on future orders. Set up a cash register or two just to process gift card sales. If a retailer I like is willing to do that (many are!) I'd drive straight there and swipe my 10 cards 3 times each for $300 worth of gift cards I could use on future transactions.

And wouldn't it be nice if retailers offered some sales to coincide with this deal? Like for example having a bunch of wine for sale at exactly $10? With no tax in Massachusetts this could be a terrific way to optimize the deal.

Here are the terms:
https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/small-business/pdf/shop-small/offerterms.pdf

Note that the terms say the purchases need to be in-store (not online).

Two Questions of the Day...

Consumers: Where/how are you shopping on the 29th?
Retailers: What are you doing to make it easy for consumers to shop with you this Small Business Saturday?

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Quick Deal: $50 Zachys Gift Card for $250 Purchase

Monday, November 10, 2014

New York wine retailer Zachys is offering a $50 gift card towards a future purchase when spending $250 with code ZACHYSBUCKS.

I think the best way to play this would be to find well-priced wines like the 2012 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir to get to $250. Then use the $50 gift card at some point in the future when they're running a free shipping promo.

They've also got some of the Wine Spectator Top 10/100 wines that are being revealed this week at fair prices.

Offer runs November 10-13 2014.

Like wine deals? Check out WWP advertiser WineNabber that makes it easy to find the kind of wine deals you're interested without flooding your inbox.

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Quick Deal: 20+% Off at The Capital Grille and Seasons 52

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Via Fat Wallet Rite Aid is offering a coupon to buy Olive Garden & Longhorn Gift Cards for $5 off on their Facebook page. I'm pretty sure these gift cards can be used at any Darden restaurant which includes The Capital Grille (review) and Seasons 52 (review), though I've never tried this personally. You can always print out the coupon before redeeming it if you indeed want to confirm you can use the gift cards at other Darden restaurants.

This offer is only valid in-store so you have to have a Rite Aid near you. But if you do you can buy the gift cards with a credit card. And there are a lot of credit cards that bonus drugstore purchases at 5% cashback. So this is a terrific opportunity to save up to 25% at these restaurants.

The coupon must be redeemed by 11/10/2014.

Note that the offer requires providing an email is limited to "one coupon per computer" - even if you use different email addresses. Try using your web browser's incognito feature.

The coupons are limited to the first 10,000 uses so I'd expect this to sell out quickly. I'll update this post when I hear the deal has expired.

Once you've run the gauntlet of these restrictions you'll just have to face the shame of plopping down a pile of Olive Garden Gift Cards at the end of your meal. But by then you'll hopefully have enjoyed a great meal. And everyone loves a bargain so I'm sure your server will be happy to accept them along with a tip commensurate with service quality.

Subscribe to the WWP for future complicated deals like this one. ;)

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Trader Joe's Dishes up Amazing $14.99 California Pinot Noir Value

Sunday, November 2, 2014

When we were down in Orlando visiting Disney World last month we had dinner one night at Il Mulino in the Swan hotel. A group of six of us started off the night with a sparkling brut rosé, then enjoyed a bottle of Crognolo. We were right on the edge of whether we should order a third bottle.

We were on vacation, the kids were at Camp Dolphin [great deal - 2 hours of childcare for 2 entrees!] and nobody was driving so I felt confident we could collectively polish off a third bottle. I had a look a the list and, wanting to go with something that would readily enjoyable by all I ordered a 2012 Laetetia Estate Pinot Noir.

See also: Four Seasons Orlando Review

Especially since the wine was featured as part of a resort-wide Food & Wine Festival selection I was fairly certain it would be a solid play. However, unfortunately, the wine took forever to show up. Evidently they didn't have any in-house and they needed to fetch it from another restaurant.

By the time it arrived at the table we were almost entirely done with our meal. In restaurant wine service gaffes this ranks pretty high on the list of no-nos. No wine with the entire entree course? For shame!

Oh well. When the bottle arrived I declined it since we were done eating and avoided the typical resort restaurant mark-up on the bottle. I think they offer it for around $75.

I'd mostly forgotten about the wine (heck I can't even pronounce the producer) until I saw it today at Trader Joe's in Framingham for $14.99. $15 vs. $75 in-restaurant certainly seemed like favorable terms. And I figured if the sommeliers at the Dolphin/Swan felt it good enough to feature it would be a solid bottle of wine. And it is.

Here are my thoughts...

2012 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande
$25 Release Price
$14.99 at Trader Joe's
13.9% Alcohol

Brilliant translucent ruby red. Medium bodied. Nose of sweet cherries and an appealing hint of dusty briar patch. Satisfying plush fruit flavors on the palate with a round disposition and silky tannic structure. Totally legit California Pinot Noir. Very very good.

89/100 WWP: Very Good

CellarTracker
Find it on Wine-Searcher

We can all use some enjoyable daily drinkers at a more affordable price point. And this one, for me, fits the bill. Compared to nationwide averages this one is being offered at a terrific price point at Massachusetts Trader Joe's. Consider tossing a couple of these [at least!] in your cart next time you're at TJ's.

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Quick Deal: 92 Point WS Washington Cab for ~$12 fully loaded

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wine.com has the 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon I mentioned last week for $11.99-$12.99 (depending on the state you ship to). Stack this with code "TREATS" for 1 cent shipping on $99+ orders. The TREATS code expires 10/30/2014.
Buy it on Wine.comicon
iconicon

If you don't want to get $99 worth of this wine before you know whether you like it, a couple others to consider are the 2013 Ritual Pinot Noir that James Suckling rated 94 points.

Another to consider that's really blown me away both times I've tried it is the 2012 MacPhail Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - absolutely outstanding.

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I'll get a commission from Wine.com. Thanks!

I'd love it if you subscribed for future updates.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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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Bingo! Play the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience Game

Can you believe it's almost time to fire up the Scoop the Spectator 2014 contest? If you're not familiar with the format here's how last year's game went.

While we're waiting for that exercise I thought it would be fun to have a warm-up game. More of a puzzle really, that's targeted at identifying the best wines to taste at this year's Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience Critics' Choice Grand Tasting.

This tasting is similar to the Wine Spectator Grand Tour that occurs at about 3 venues across the country each April. See event reports for Boston, Las Vegas, and Chicago.

But the New York Wine Experience includes several days of programming including sit-down moderated tastings that cost a couple thousand dollars to attend. But within the New York Wine Experience you can attend just the Grand Tastings which are Thursday and Friday night October 16 and 17, 2014. The cost of just the Grand Tasting is $275.

Now, $275 might seem like a lot of money for a wine tasting. And it is. But from past experience at Grand Tour events I can say that these tastings are the best I've found anywhere for enjoyably establishing a relatable frame of reference for the world's greatest wines.

Wine Spectator Senior Editor James Molesworth shared this blog post about strategies for getting the most out of the event.

At first glance I thought the vendors were set up in random fashion as opposed to by region. But thanks to James' article they're set up progressively by weight. So you could sweep across the room going from Pinot to Port as you'd normally do in any tasting. Clever! Maybe Urban Grape's progressive retailing layout is catching on.

But here's the puzzle. Identify the grouping of the most amazing wineries you can find in the floorplan. For example look at this blockbuster grouping. Kosta Browne, Schrader, Flowers, and Black Kite. Talk about a crash course in the great wines of California.


Here's another favorite. Harlan, El Nido, and Gaja. What an amazing combination of Italy, California and Spain. Brilliant! And I didn't even mention Lafite Rothschild, BOND, Outpost and CADE.

What's amazing about looking at a floorplan like this is that everyone's eyes will gravitate to their categories of familiarity and preference. Is the sparkling assortment amazing here too? Probably but I don't drink much of it so my eyes just pass over them.

And that's where you come in. Have a look at the floorplan below and tell me which little row or cluster has the most amazing wineries pouring.

Here's a link to a pdf or click the images below to enlarge:
5th Floor (click to enlarge)
6th Floor (click to enlarge)
Leave a comment below with your picks for the best row or cluster of wineries to visit - I'd love to hear your thoughts. No prizes. Just sharing experience so others who may be attending can benefit. And for those who aren't in a position to attend can live vicariously through the list.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit the New York Wine Experience website.

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Raise Your Glass for the Jimmy Fund at the Fairmont Battery Wharf

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The fifth annual Raise Your Glass for Jimmy presented by the Jimmy Fund Council of Greater Boston will take place at the Fairmont Battery Wharf in Boston on Thursday, Oct. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Admission to the event includes a wide variety of wines to taste, hors d'oeuvres, live music, a silent auction, and a wine bottle drawing. Participating wine vendors include Ansonia Wines, Boston Bottle, Gordon's Fine Wines and Liquors, Lattanzio Wines, M.S. Walker, and Plymouth Bay Winery. All proceeds support adult and pediatric cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Among the silent auction items will be a two-night stay for four at Benziger Winery in Sonoma Valley, Calif., with American Airlines tickets, two tickets to the Nov. 23 New England Patriots game against the Detroit Lions, a one-night stay plus breakfast at the Fairmont Battery Wharf, one cooking class and dinner for six at the Fairmont Battery Wharf, and a four-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings for four from Strega.

For $25, patrons can participate in the wine bottle drawing. Participants are guaranteed that the bottle they will win is equal to or greater than the $25 they contributed.

Tickets are $50 per person and the first 150 participants at the door will receive a $25 gift certificate from Tresca. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.jimmyfund.org/raise-your-glass. Please note all tickets will be held at the door on the night of the event.

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Radio-Coteau: Old World Techniques with New World Fruit

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Radio-Coteau: "Broadcast off the hills"
From the moment I tasted Radio-Coteau's 2006 La Neblina Pinot Noir they've been one of my favorite producers. That wine was so pure, so completely free of off notes - it was amazing. But in tasting more bottles of their wines since then I've come to learn that bottle wasn't anything out of the ordinary for Radio-Coteau. That's just what they do. They're absolutely one of the most reliably outstanding California Pinot Noir producers I've found.


But the really special thing about them is that they're freakishly both terroir-driven and fruit-forward. Kind of like a guy who can hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases. Terroir-driven in philosophy, fruit-driven naturally by virtue of being a California producer who allows the fruit to speak for itself. As proprietor Eric Sussman describes it: Old world technique with new world fruit.


I met with Eric at the Radio-Coteau winery in Sebastapol recently. The facility, like its owner, is no-nonsense and focused on producing the absolute best wines possible. There's no public tasting room. No tasting room at all really. Just a small office, wine production facility, tanks, a cellar room and a bottling line. 

Everything has a purpose. There are no frivolous expenditures. Even the bottling line - unusual for a winery with just 4,000 bottles of annual production - needs justification (it allows them to bottle at just the right time rather than when they happen to have rented the equipment).

They say starting a winery is a great way to turn a lot of money into a little money. I get the sense that Sussman is fully aware of the pitfalls of excess and is focused on guiding Radio-Coteau in a profitable direction. I also feel he could sell his wines for a lot more than he does - his Pinots go for $45-$60 - if he priced his wines in line with their quality. Radio-Coteau's wines aren't cheap but in my view they are a tremendous value.
Radio-Coteau proprietor Eric Sussman (left), me (Robert Dwyer) right
While I was getting a tour around the winery I was peppering Sussman with questions. "What's the primary fruit source for La Neblina?", "How do you get such purity of fruit in your wines?" My goal is always to establish connections between what I've found that I like and discover the common elements between them.

Sussman described his philosophy as being "no intervention". No fining or filtration. That sounds great in theory but there's a million different things that can go wrong between the vineyard and the bottle. It was amazing to learn this especially since I've always found their wines to be, first and foremost, incredibly pure, brilliant, and clean. It takes great fruit and clean winemaking practices to deliver on the no intervention mantra and Radio-Coteau does it brilliantly.
"Barrel" tasting
Broadly speaking the wines are produced from free-run juice and see 30-40% new French Oak in barrels with no toast. The Pinot for examples sees 15-16 months in oak with no racking. The Syrah is aged in 500L barrels, the Pinot in 225L.

2013 County Line Rosé
Like many wineries Radio-Coteau also produces wines under a more affordable label. Theirs is called County Line.

We started off with the 2013 County Line Rosé which was recently named the Number One California Rosé by The New York Times. The wine is copper/salmon in color and checks in at just 12% alcohol. It's not produced in the saignee method, but rather more like a still brut rosé would be produced if that makes sense. The wine is delicious and refreshing with crisp fruit and firm acidity. At about 1,300 cases produced snatch some up if you can find it in the $20 range.

Next up was a unique wine in the RC portfolio - the 2013 Radio-Coteau Platt Vineyard Riesling. 12.6% alcohol with nice bracing acidity balanced with round golden mouthfeel. Compared to German Riesling this would probably be called halbtrocken (half-dry). Very nice stuff. Around $30.

The 2012 Radio-Coteau Savoy Vineyard Chardonnay is golden with a tinge of green in the background visually. Aromas of white peach and white flowers pair with a round mouthfeel to provide an appealing experience.

After tasting the whites we transitioned to reds and back to the County Line label with the 2013 County Line Pinot Noir. Although prior vintages of this wine haven't blown me away this one was solid and has me excited about 2013 California Pinot Noir. Totally legit all around.
Next up was the 2012 Radio-Coteau Pinot Noirs. I mentioned to Eric that I've been, on average, disappointed with the 2012 California Pinot Noirs I've tasted. They lack the brilliant fruit I've adored in prior vintages like 2009. He indicated there is resistance throughout the wine production chain to dropping fruit (which, if done appropriately, maintains fruit concentration but reduces yields). This resistance persists even with per-acre contracts. With 2013 being another high-yield affair right on the heels of 2012, it was easier to come to terms with the need to thin crops.

See: 2012 California Pinot Noir Falls Short of Expectations

The first Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir we tried was the 2012 Radio-Coteau La Neblina ($45). The La Neblina ("the fog") bottling is the closest thing there is to an appellation Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir, though the grapes are almost entirely from the Hallberg vineyard of late. That in itself was fascinating to me since Gary Farrell's Hallberg Pinot Noir is also an amazing wine. Scherrer also produces a Hallberg Pinot Noir I'm told - I'll have to check that out. The 2012 La Neblina is outstanding (I'd rate it 90-91 points) but for me it doesn't yet rise to the level of prior vintages like 2010 and 2011 that I've rated 93-95 points.

Next up was the 2012 Radio-Coteau Alberigi Pinot Noir ($60). I've found a distinct orange peel quality to this bottling in past vintages, which is rather common in California Pinot Noir, and it's here again in this 2012 Alberigi. It comes off as just one component in a greater wine her and is quite successful. 92 points for me.

The 2012 Radio-Coteau Savoy Pinot Noir ($60) is a very successful bottling. Powerful acidity and flavor with bright appealing fruit. 91 points.

I found it interesting that Sussman previously spent time at Dehlinger. Definitely check them out too if you like this style of wine. Another terrific producer.

From there we tasted a couple Syrahs:the 2012 Radio-Coteau Las Colinas Syrah ($40 - fresh with great purity of fruit) and the 2012 Radio-Coteau Timbervine Syrah ($50 - very Rhone-like with smoky/gamey notes, savage on the nose with peppery garrigue notes).

Oh - one more wine. Earlier this year I posted a tasting note on CellarTracker for a quirky wine: The 2011 Radio-Coteau Robert's Block Zinfandel. I was really looking forward to trying a Zinfandel from Radio-Coteau after enjoying so many of their Pinot Noirs, especially since I consider Zinfandel to be a variety that's hard not to like when made well. However, the 2011 Robert's Block was rough affair.

A couple months later I got a call at home from Sussman to talk about the wine. He explained that Robert's Block is a cool climate take on a grape variety that's usually produced in warmer areas. He said I wasn't alone in raising an eyebrow about that particular bottling but others enjoyed it. I have a hard time getting behind that wine's dusty vegetal notes so it was with great trepidation that I tasted the 2012 with Sussman but no fear - the 2012 Radio-Coteau Robert's Block is a delicious comeback. Much riper than the 2011 and very enjoyable.

Conclusion and Recommendations


Radio-Coteau's Pinot Noirs have been some of the most reliably outstanding I've discovered. If you were to come over to my house and ask me to share an example of my absolute favorite style of wine there's a good chance I'd reach for a bottle of Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir.

They just shared their fall release with those on their mailing list. If you're not on it, I'd highly recommend signing up. I usually go for a few bottles of La Neblina and mix in a few other bottlings. This time I'll probably go for a bottle of their Riesling and one or two other single vineyard Pinots.

Photo credits: John Corcoran

Question of the Day: Have you tried Radio-Coteau's wines? If so what are some of your favorites?

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Coming Soon: Cliff Lede Wine Dinner at Del Frisco's Boston

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House in Boston is offering a paired wine dinner featuring the wines of Cliff Lede Vineyards.

Related Reading:
Cliff Lede Vineyards’ finest wines perfectly paired with delicious seasonal dishes in five course dinner

WHAT: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, one of Boston’s premiere steakhouse destinations know for it’s juicy, prime steaks, exquisite wines and exceptional service, invites guest to explore the bold and flavorful wines of Napa Valley winery, Cliff Lede Vineyards. Cliff Lede General Manager, Lee Abraham will be onsite to meet with guests.

Guests will enjoy a five-course seasonal dinner perfectly paired with a selection of the vineyard’s finest wines.

To make a reservation, please call (617) 951-1368. For more information, please
visit www.delfriscos.com.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 17th - 6:30 p.m.

COST: $195 per person + tax and gratuity

WHERE: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, 250 Northern Avenue, Boston

2014 Cliff Lede Wine Dinner 

Passed Appetizers

2013 FEL Pinot Gris

Beer Battered Alaskan King Crab Bites
Sam Adam Noble Pils Beer Batter, Blood Orange Remoulade
Oysters on The Half Shell
Melon Gastrique

Second Course

Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc
Cirtus Poached Sea Bass
Sea Bass poached in a citrus broth, White Peach Salsa

Third Course

Cliff Lede Pinot Noir
Three Season Lamb Lollipops
Black Cherry Compote, Wild Mushroom and Thyme Demi, Pomegranate Cola Syrup 

Dinner Course

Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon
Bone-in Filet
Bone Marrow and Foie Gras Reduction, Smashed Potatoes, Glazed Baby Brussel Sprouts

Finale

Moondance Dream Cabernet Sauvignon
Chocolate Tasting
Truffles, mousse, mini chocolate pastries

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10% off at Liquid Discount: Top 5 90+ Rated Values

Saturday, August 30, 2014

WWP sponsor Liquid Discount is having an inventory reduction sale and offering 10% off $199+ orders with code "wwplaborday10".

I poked around their site to cherry pick a few key value wines.
All prices are before discount.

PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO BARBARESCO 2009 - 93 WS $29.95
If you've never tried Barbaresco before but would like to get a feel for exactly what it's supposed to taste like look no further. If you've had  this before you'll know you always want to keep some on hand. Fall is coming and Barbaresco goes great with mushroom dishes on a cool autumn evening.

PURPLE HANDS PINOT NOIR DUNDEE HILLS STOLLER VINEYARD 2012 - 93 WS $29.95
2012 was supposed to be California's year but it's Oregon who is shining. Great QPR here.

MONSANTO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2008 - 92 WA $19.95
A friend with a really sharp palate and deep experience in the region always touts this one as a reliably outstanding reference wine.

PALI WINE CO PINOT NOIR SANTA BARBARA COUNTY HUNTINGTON 2012 - 90 WS $19.95
90 points from Spectator for less than $20 is hard to come by. I'm always up for trying!

CELLER DE CAPCANES MAS DONIS BARRICA 2012 - 94 WA $13.95
I've never tried this but I've seen a ton of offers for it lately. Another great value from Spain?

Code expires Monday, September 1st 2014 at 11:59 pm Eastern. Orders will ship immediately after Labor Day.

Head on over to LiquidDiscount.com to shop their selection. Ground shipping is fast and very reasonable (especially on the east coast).

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Tenuta Sette Ponti Wine Dinner at Tresca North End Boston

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kobrand is offering a winemaker dinner featuring Tenuta Sette Ponti and Agricola Punica at Tresca in Boston's North End.

This event provides an opportunity to taste a few wines from each producer's portfolio, including the famous Sette Ponti Oreno.

See also: Visiting Tenuta Sette Ponti

September 9, 2014 7:00 pm
Tresca
233 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113
$85 plus tax and gratuity

Guest Speakers:
Giovanna Moretti (Tenuta Sette Ponti)
Sebastiano Rosa (Agricola Punica)

Menu

Antipasti

Tuna Tartar – costini, micro greens, basil oil
Pizza – sunchoke purée, fontina, olives, baby arugula
Wine: Orvieto Classico Superiore, Tenuta di Salviano

First Course

Grilled Octopus Salad – new potatoes, saia vinaigrette, pickled fresno peppers, micro arugula
Wine: Nero d’Avola, Saia, Feudo Maccari

Second Course

Wild Boar Ragu – pappardelle, shitake mushrooms, taleggio crema
Wine: Montessu, Isola dei Nuraghi, Agricola Punica

Third Course

Lamb Strip – seared goat cheese gnocchi, tomato purée, verbena oil, rosemary lardo
Wine: Cabernet/Merlot, Solideo, Lago di Corabara, Tenuta di Silviano

Fourth Course

Cheese Plate – with accompaniments
Wine: Oreno, Tenuta Sette Ponti & Barrua, Isola dei Nuraghi, Agricola Punica

For Reservations Call:
617-742-8240

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Decoding Orin Swift Winemaker Dave Phinney's "E" Spanish Red

Saturday, August 23, 2014

icon
I keep seeing email offers for this "E" wine and seeing it on retailer shelves so I decided to buy a bottle of it. I vaguely knew that it was part of Orin Swift (the Prisoner being probably their most famous wine) winemaker's foray into international wines.

Reading a bit more about it, it sounds like these are old world grapes made in a new world style. This particular bottling, E-2 (the E is for Esapana, and this is their second non-vintage bottling from Spain), is comprised of red grapes from some of Spain's most desirable regions: Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero.

For me, Spain is the next best place to look if you've gotten into wine through California and you're looking to branch out. The wines have a similar flavor profile and are more wallet-friendly. You can't just throw darts but it doesn't take much sleuthing to find tremendous value wines from Spain.

So this wine sounds right in my wheelhouse. And tasting it - it is. Rich, juicy fruit - it presents itself with more "sweetness" (a term I hesitate to use as it implies residual sugar, but I don't know how else to say it) than Alto Moncayo Veraton for example. Where Alto Moncayo (Veraton and proper) differentiate themselves compared to this E bottling is that Alto Moncayo brings more savory notes, which I find tremendously appealing when combined with rich fruit and vibrant acidity.

I'd rate the E-2 in the 88-89 point range.

According to Wine.com Robert Parker went nuts for these wines:
If you judge wines on how they taste and the degree of pleasure they offer, they are all incredible efforts. The three new cuvees I tasted are among the finest wine values one could hope to find. Moreover, there are 50,000 cases of each, no easy feat given the grapes Phinney has accessed and the quality he has turned out. As of now, Dave Phinney might be my “value winemaker of the year” candidate. P.S. It’s too expensive for this report, but I am including it as an hommage to what Dave Phinney has achieved. If there are better wines for under $20 a bottle in the world today, please share that information with The Wine Advocate.
93 Points The Wine Advocate
You can buy this at Wine.com using code AMEX30 to get $30 off $100. Use it to round out a purchase at just over $100. At $17.99 in Massachusetts with 30% off, free shipping and no tax that would bring the price down to ~$12.59 a bottle. More info on how to maximize the Wine.com deal here.

Click here to shop for this on Wine.com (affiliate link):
Locations by Dave Phinney E on Wine.com

Question of the Day: Have you had any of these Locations wines from Dave Phinney? If so, what did you think?

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