Memorial Day Weekend Wine Values

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's Memorial Day weekend- a holiday that always seems to sneak up on us.  Smart people are sipping Cape Cods on Cape Cod- we're enjoying a quiet weekend at home.  With temperatures getting warmer thoughts drift towards rosés, whites and juicy reds.  But the value hunter is always looking for wines of value regardless of season.

Here are a couple of values I'm tracking down this weekend: 

2008 Elk Cove Mount Richmond Pinot Noir

I attended an Oregon wine dinner at Blue Ginger recently that included a lot of Pinot Noirs from the highly-anticipated 2008 vintage.  I've been a big fan of Elk Cove's entry level Willamette Valley-designated wine for a while (the 2008 Willamette Valley hasn't been released yet) but their single-vineyard wines really impressed me.  This Mount Richmond just received 94 points from Wine Spectator and carries a release price of $48.  A bargain at $36.99.  Limited availability- ping @WineCellarsMA on Twitter to check stock. 

CellarTracker: 90 median
Look for this wine on
Where: Wine Cellar of Stoneham inside the BJs Warehouse, Stoneham, MA.  No membership required to buy alcohol.

2006 Righetti Amarone Capitel de Roari

I spotted this one in a recent Wine Spectator Insider (subscription required).  They released ratings between 90-94 points on a bunch of Amarones ranging in price from $31 to $340.  I'll take the $31/90 point one- thanks.  I did a search but didn't find this wine in MA, but it's just arrived at VinoDivino at $35.

I'm just getting into Amarone but I thought this one I tried from Bin Ends Wine was fantastic. $35 for a 90 point red wine might not seem like a big deal, but Amarone is a pricey category.

The wine is eligible for their usual case discount policy which is 15% off a straight case.  Interested in going in on some with me?  If so drop me an E-mail:

CellarTracker: 90 median
Look for this wine on
vinodivino, Newton, MA.
Further Reading: A review I wrote of vinodivino

    Reminder: Massachusetts laws prohibit liquor stores from being open on Memorial Day and some shops are closed on Sundays so stock up today.
      Question of the Day: Any good deals you're chasing this weekend? Share the wealth in the comments section!


      Value Alert: 2008 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir

      Thursday, May 27, 2010

      Ah, the ongoing quest to find great $20 Pinot Noir.  You know what?  I think it's gotten a little easier lately. When I first tried the 2008 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir (pronounced BELL GLOSS MAY-OH-MEE) at The Capital Grille Burlington by the glass I liked it.  When I cracked this open for pizza night recently I loved it.

      The wine is a blend of Pinot Noir grapes from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties.  What I liked about it was that it was so rich and satisfying while offering layers of complexity.  Even a little bit of earth which I find is rare in California Pinot Noir.  Quite an accomplishment at this price point (available for right around $20 if you look around).

      The Belle Glos brand is part of the Caymus family that includes their flagship/excellent/consistent Cabernet Sauvignon, delicious Conundrum white blend, and Mer Soleil Chardonnay.  It's an interesting approach fragmenting their line-up into distinct brands but you can't argue with the results.  The Wagner family has quite a stable of excellent brands at this point.  Here's an excellent summary of the Wagner family and their brands from

      Here are my notes:

      2008 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir
      13.9% Alcohol

      For what this wine is, and by that I mean a luscious fruit-forward full-bodied CA Pinot Noir that will absolutely please a crowd, it is near-perfection. Brings enough layers of complexity to be taken seriously yet is enjoyable and focused without thinking too much about it. A great value at around $20. Buying more as I type this.

      92 WWP/Outstanding

      Recommendation: Crack this one open with friends who are looking to enjoy a flavorful delicious wine.  I think this label is poised for consistent success in the Pinot Noir category going forward.  Definitely one to watch.

      Find this wine on
      See other user reviews on
      Follow the winery on Twitter: @BelleGlosMeiomi

      Further Reading: In 2008 Belle Glos made three vineyard designated Pinot Noirs.  Here's a write-up I did comparing their Las Alturas Pinot Noir to an outstanding Pinot Noir from Oregon. 

      Buy this from
      Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite sub-$20 Pinot Noir producers?


      Top 17 Bobby Parkerchuk tweets: Who's behind the account?

      Tuesday, May 25, 2010

      I've been enjoying the tweets from Bobby Parkerchuk (@bparkerchuk) since they debuted on Twitter a few months ago.  They brilliantly weave the personality of wine industry stalwarts Gary Vaynerchuk and Robert Parker (themselves each on Twitter as @garyvee and @RobertMParkerJr).

      The mash-up itself riffs off @RuthBourdain but the brilliant thing about each speaks to the brilliance of Twitter.  That is, to connect with folks who have the same hyper-specific interests you do.  In this case it's an awareness of wine, social media, wine retailing, and specific personalities that come together to create hilarious stuff appreciated only by those who know the characters.

      To get in the spirit I cracked a #CdP06 from Cindy (off vintage closeout don't you know?) and browsed through all 470 Bobby Parkerchuk tweets.  Here are my Top 17:
      1. "..just had a bourgogne rouge..delicious for the region...84* points...perfect for deglazing pans...3 pak on cindy l8r!"
        Funny because: of the derision shown for entry-level Burgundy.
      2. "back atcha bro! mag of Barroche Pure 07 4 u! RT @JamesSuckling: @bparkerchuk Nothing better than wine and humor. You are 100 points my man!"
        Funny because: Parkerchuk specifically identifies a wine Suckling rated 96 points while interacting with perhaps the 2nd most powerful Bordeaux taster.
      3. "Decoder...when I say I luv something, it's not always true...I can't believe my effing agent booked me in Omaha...hard 2 find #CdP07 there.."
        Funny because: it riffs off excessively false positivity from @garyvee while painting a picture of a tortured Parker in Omaha who can't find his beloved CdP.
      4. "...u want to talk to chuk? PAR*KER*CHUK... @bparkerchuk me...i never check DM's...i luv u all!"
        Funny because: it takes the time to notice the mantra on @garyvee's Twitter page mentioning, strangely, that he never checks DMs (direct messages).  This is strange because Twitter only allows you to direct message people you choose to follow and if you don't want to receive direct messages from people why are you following them?
      5. "Stumentous car..full-throttle, completely hedonistic..96+... @ajv wanted to drive but was 2 busy these days..pleasure haters"
        Funny because: @ajv is @garyvee's brother and the tweet weaves in Parker's grumpy-old-man distaste for youngsters with familial awareness.
      6. "Outstanding night last night...woke up on couch next to DrBigJ..he was saying "those aren't pillows!"...#CdP07 #magnum #thunder"
        Funny because: it paints a pictures of frat-house-like debauchery at Wine Advocate headquarters (while staying in character and mentioning #thunder).
      7. "@Kisthart u know it bro! i'll have to send DrBigJ to yer place next time he's in tampa instead of Bern's! how R u for #CdP07 & large format?"
        Funny because: it riffs off Jay Miller's hedonistic jaunts to the legendary steakhouse with those in the wine trade that landed him and the Wine Advocate in hot water because it conflicted with the Wine Advocate's standards of distancing themselves from the trade.
      8. "If u watch Lost or Dancing w the effing stars, u are a loser...53 pts...but tune in 4 the newest Winery Advocate TV on iTunes & Spirit Air!"
        Funny because: it brilliantly plays off the contradiction of discouraging people to hustle and stop watching garbage TV but encouraging them to take time to watch Wine Library TV and pay attention to promos related to Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Gary's recent alliance therein.
      9. "the wine critic must always pay his own way...but the bid-nessman who luvs the hustle gets others to pay...#BDX09 #JETS"
        Funny because: It pinpoints the contradiction both between Vaynerchuk and Parker as well as the tightrope Gary walks as a wine-rating retailer.
      10. "..only buy "futures" from established merchants w a history of buying and delivering wine Winery Advocate Library! Buy! Buy!"
        Funny because: More of the same as in the previous tweet.
      11. "loving the korean peninsula...that guy to the north really knows how to run a country like a good web forum! Go JETS!"
        Funny because: it shows timely awareness of the shutting down of the forums except for subscribers.
      12. "Was invited to do keynote at #140 conference next year...will only do it if crowd has tweets locked for subcribers only..luv u all!"
        Funny because: Similar to prior showing the contrast between Parker and Vaynerchuk in terms of forward thinking web savvy.
      13. "good morning Worcester MA! luv u all! 95 pts...but since we can't ship to u, we luvs u not so much... #notcrushingit #missingCdP07"
        Hilarious because (as a Massachusetts guy): it shows an awareness of MA wine shipping laws.
      14. "I assiduously avoid being wined and dined by chateaux in Bordeaux..unlike every other journalist and trader..just ask DrBigJ..luv u bro"
        Funny because: it plays of Jay Miller's/Wine Advocate's controversies related to getting cozy with the trade when they're supposedly independent and therefore impartial.
      15. "Everyone's hanging it up...sad that hosemaster did...always ripped those blobbers a new one.. keep on crushing it bro!"
        Funny because: it gives us a first hint at the real identify behind @bparkerchuk.  The Hosemaster hinted at hanging it up but has come back strong.
      16. "Bordeaux 2009s are towering, monumental, hedonistic...Drink between 2060-2090...If you disagree, your opinion is false..Trust ur own palate!"
        Funny because: it plays off the opinion-stated-as-fact of Parker vs. the trust-your-own-palate of Vaynerchuk.
      17. "I just became the mayor of Chateauneuf du Pape on @foursquare! #CdP07"
        The best tweet ever because: it blends the @garyvee love of social media (we know he prefers Gowalla to Four Square but anyway) with Parker's love of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
      So who is behind these tweets?  I have a hunch.

      I think it's Ron Washam from HoseMaster of Wine.  Why?  I have no idea who the guys is, but his satirical approach to skewering wine bloggers is so successful because he's clearly aware of the nuances of the wine trade, and he's not afraid to ruffle some feathers.  Oh, and he's smart too.  Bring this all together with his background in the restaurant business (which indicates a potential familiarity with @RuthBordain) and @bparkerchuk is the perfect comic destination for his presence on Twitter. 

      It appears we'll find out soon enough:

      If Parkerchuk stays in character for the episode it has the potential to be hilarious.  I know I'll be watching.

      So here's the office pool: Who do you think is behind the @bparkerchuk tweets?  Leave a comment below and we'll see if we have a winner.


      Bin Ends Fine Wine Flea Market: Sunday May 23rd

      Saturday, May 22, 2010

      On Sunday May 23rd, 2010 from 1-5p Bin Ends Wine is having a fine wine flea market. This is a free event where you get to taste dozens of wines available for purchase.

      Insider Tip: I hear they'll have a nice Stag's Leap Cellars Merlot at a great price.

      Additionally, expect a healthy dose of summer-friendly wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Rosé.

      Check 'em out:
      Bin Ends Wine
      236 Wood Road, Braintree, MA


      Value Alert: 2007 Zero One Vintners Wild Sky Cab

      Friday, May 21, 2010

      Each summer when I was growing up, we'd travel back to visit family in the Chicago area.  One of my favorite stops was visiting my cousin Tom because, in addition to being part of a really fun family, he always had such an interesting collection of sports memorabilia and apparel.  These treasures were sourced from print catalogs from far-off places.  Things like old caps from our beloved White Sox, Blackhawks jerseys, and minor league caps from teams like the Carolina Mudcats- really obscure stuff. 

      These catalogs were great.  I mean, where else could you get an Auburn Tigers baseball cap for no reason in particular other than liking the colors?  This was before e-commerce was a viable channel, so there was something especially fun about the treasure hunt of it all.  A small set of hyper-focused retailers meeting market demand from consumers with hyper-specific interests.

      The wine world can be so similar.

      The Internet has made it much easier to find specialty items, but wine hunting is now one of my favorite hobbies.  Small production wineries producing vintage bottles, obscure retailers, and an interest on my part in finding certain wines.  Add in the complexities of interstate shipping laws and it's even more challenging.

      I recently went on a treasure hunt for a highly-rated smallish-production Cabernet from Washington State.  I had a chance to try it and I think it was worth the work tracking it down.  Head on over to Corkd and read more about it...

      I think I might just pick up a new Auburn cap while I'm at it.  The one pictured at the top of this piece looks pretty nice.


      Value Alert: 2008 Layer Cake Malbec

      Tuesday, May 18, 2010

      Whem Robert Parker dropped a 91 point rating on the $15 2008 Layer Cake Malbec I was surprised.  Not because it's hard for such an affordable wine to get a 90+ point rating, but because I thought the most recent Layer Cake wine I had was lousy.  The other was the 2007 Layer Cake Shiraz and I nearly swore off the brand after noting that the "Stew-like aromas and flavors suppress the fruit as if gorillas have overturned an army camp and are holding those normally in charge hostage."

      Against that backdrop, I was on the fence whether to buy a bottle of Layer Cake Malbec when I saw it recently.  I find Malbec to be a tricky category in a unique way in terms of finding value.  It's relatively easy to find really good Malbec for under $15 from Argentina.  But that doesn't mean you can walk into a wine shop and every $10 Malbec is going to be taste good.  Brands like Altos Las Hormigas, Pascual Toso and Luigi Bosca come to mind as ones frequently mentioned to seek out for value.

      When I think of Argentine Malbec, I think of a luscious, full bodied, flavorful red with softer tannins than Napa Cab.  Given that favorable profile for the American market, it's a fast-growing category for value.  I'm glad I gave the Layer Cake Malbec a try- I thought it was quite enjoyable.  Here are my notes:

      2008 Layer Cake Malbec

      On the nose, this Malbec offers just a hint of what's to come on the palate.  Aromatically, I picked up on just a hint of iron, beef jerky, and dark brambly berries.  However, the attack on the palate is where this wine really excels.  A dazzling array of ultra-vibrant, clean, delicious fruit is immediately present, accompanied by a respectable dose of acidity.  Tannins are silky and non-grating.  A long pleasant finish.  A thoroughly enjoyable full-bodied wine.

      WWP 89: Very Good

      See other opinions of this wine on Cellar Tracker
      Find this wine for sale on

      (Note: Label image above taken from prior 2007 vintage.)

      Question the Day: Who are some of your favorite Malbec producers?


      Checking in with 2000 Bordeaux before going large on 2009

      Wednesday, May 12, 2010

      Offers to buy 2009 red Bordeaux on futures are arriving in my inbox on a daily basis.  Although I'm skeptical of the hype surrounding this yet-to-be-released vintage, the quality-to-price ratio of these wines is impressive.  Assessed simply by the Wine Spectator/Wine Advocate range derived from barrel tasting relative to the prices the wines are being offered, it appears there are some values that eclipse even the vaunted 2005 vintage.

      I don't claim to be an expert on buying Bordeaux.  Far from it.  It's a highly confusing category on a number of levels and these 2009s will likely be only the second vintage I buy more than a few bottles of.  I haven't bought any Bordeaux since 2005.

      I guess I'm fundamentally adverse to buying futures in general.  Shelling out money now for wine that's not going to arrive for a couple of years seems risky to me.  The retailer could go out of business.  Further, it feels like buying into a timeshare: Although I'm pretty sure I'll be up for a vacation or some nice Bordeaux in a couple years I like to keep my options open.

      But more than anything, it's nice to get a feel for what you're buying before you commit to it.  With Bordeaux, however, this can be tricky because the wines are long-lived and therefore are just entering their optimal drinking window somewhere around 10 years after the grapes are harvested.  That means, roughly speaking, that the 2000s are just now becoming ready to drink.

      Depending on which part of Bordeaux we're talking about, the 2000 vintage was even more highly rated by the pros than 2005.  Keep that in mind next time someone tells you that 2009 is the vintage of the century of even the decade.  There may be better buying opportunities in back vintages that are ready to drink.  We're on at least our 4th "Vintage of the Century! TM" and we're only 10 years into it.

      With that in mind, it was with great interest that I attended a tasting of some choice 2000 Bordeaux at a friend's home recently.  One of the wines in particular was so good I had a hard time concentrating on the other 6 in the line-up, which is quite a feat given that all of the wines were outstanding in their own right.

      Head on over to Corkd to hear more about the tasting and see which wine in particular I was so impressed with.

      I'd love to hear your thoughts on the current Bordeaux market.  Are you buying futures?  Playing wait and see?  Not interested in the category at all?


      Join The Wine Cellar in Supporting the North Shore Cancer Walk Thursday May 20th in Wakefield, MA

      Sunday, May 9, 2010

      Every once in a while an event comes along that combines 2 or more things I'm passionate about.  This event is one such occasion.  Please join The Wine Cellar in supporting Team Cruzin' for Susan in the North Shore Cancer Walk for an evening of wine tasting.  For a donation of $20 or more you'll get to taste more than 50 wines from around the world.

      For more information click here to download a flyer for the event

      Especially with Mother's Day fresh in our minds over this past weekend, we're unfortunately reminded that cancer is a disease that's affected far too many friends and loved ones.  This event provides us with a great opportunity to support the North Shore Medical Center's Cancer programs.
      It's great to see The Wine Cellar supporting the community this way.  If you visit The Wine Cellar at their Massachusetts locations within the BJ's Warehouse locations in Stoneham and Danvers you might not recognize they're a separate entity from the warehouse club.  Sure they've got great prices on wine and a limited-SKU model but that's where the similarities between their business model and Costco end.  The Wine Cellar is as good a friend to the local wine community as any retailer in the area.  Let's do our best to join them in supporting this excellent cause.

      What: A wine tasting to benefit the North Shore Center's Cancer Walk

      When: Thursday May 20th, 2010 6:30p-8:30p

      Where:  Sheraton Wakefield Ballroom
      1 Audobon Road,
      Wakefield, MA 01880

      Questions? Follow @WineCellarsMA on Twitter and hit 'em up.

      I hope to see you there.


      Costco, Wine ConneXtion, Bin Ends: Boston-area Weekend Wine Deals

      Saturday, May 8, 2010

      Some deals and events for your weekend shopping consideration:

      Costco Waltham, MA

      A value-hunting friend graciously shares these finds at our local Costco:

      • 2005 Vietti Barolo (WS92, WA92, CT91) $30.99
      • 2006 Anderson's Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve (WA94, CT91) $46.99
      • 2007 Chalone Vinyard Chardonnay Estate Grown (WS92, CT91)  $22.99 
      • 2007 Two Hands Bella's Garden (WS94, CT93) for $37.99
      • 2005 Autard Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee La Cote Ronde (WS93, WA94, CT93) $37.99 
      Wine ConneXtion North Andover, MA

      As I mentioned earlier this week, Wine ConneXtion is having a Spring Grand Tasting Saturday.  Read more here.

      Bin Ends Wine Braintree, MA

      Bin Ends is celebrating their 2nd anniversary with 5% off any purchase of six or more bottles.

      Where are you shopping for wine this weekend?


      Is Viognier the David Paymer of the Wine World?

      Friday, May 7, 2010

      Last weekend I attended a great tasting at my friend and fellow Boston-area wine blogger Adam Japko's home.  The tasting started off with a flight of 6 Viogniers (pronounced vee-ohn-yay) from around the world which gave us all a great chance to see what this grape has to offer.

      The wines weren't my favorite.  Although there was a decent amount of variety in the wines we tasted, there was something in the flavor profile of most that I just didn't like.  They were kind of sticky with florally aromas that in some cases reminded me of dishwashing detergent.

      As I went to write-up my thoughts on the tasting, I thought about how some of my favorite wines use Viognier in a supporting role.  The ever-reliable Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier has been one of my favorite summer whites the past few vintages and the 90+ Cellars Shiraz-Viognier was the crowd favorite at the recent Wine Riot.

      So I started thinking about consummate support actors and I thought of an actor from the movie The American President.  I could see his face as clear as day but when I consulted the IMDb page for the movie I realized Martin Sheen played the president's right hand man.  I thought I must be thinking of some other presidential movie so I started wandering around the web looking for consummate support actors.  It took me 2 days before I realized who I was thinking of!

      Head on over to Corkd to read more on my thoughts on these Viogniers and be sure to check out the link to David Paymer's bio at the bottom of the page.  I hope you'll agree that you've seen him in tons of movies over the years, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether Viognier is ready to play a leading role.

      Oh- I don't want you to think Adam served up lousy wines to us that night.  These were just a warm-up to some of the most incredible wines I've ever had the privilege of tasting.  Check back next week to hear more about the second flight.


      Saturday May 8th: Grand Tasting at Wine ConneXtion North Andover, MA

      Tuesday, May 4, 2010

      From 2-6PM this coming Saturday, May 8th Wine ConneXtion is hosting a Grand Tasting:

      "Our last Grand Tasting till the fall. And Yes, Tom Grella (from the Food Network's The Next Food Network Star) is already dreaming up his food dishes to serve at this fun filled event. Mark your calendars because this tasting (with over 50 wines to be poured) is just going to be a good time for all."

      Visit their Events page for more information.

      Further Reading: My review of their Grand Opening

      Check 'em out:
      Wine ConneXtion
      117 Main Street
      North Andover, MA 01845
      Follow @WineConneXtion on Twitter



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