Monte Oton: The Amazing $7 Value Red Wine

Friday, June 24, 2016

The other day I mentioned that while shopping at Total Wine I picked up a bottle of what I thought might be the best $7 value red on the planet: Monte Oton.

See: 10 Wines to buy now at Total Wine

When we're talking about sub-$10 wines the list of reliably delicious wines is pretty short. I've made the case for Bodegas Castano Monastrell being in this ballpark (though some reports of vintage variation have me spooked).

Columbia Crest Grand Estates comes to mind.

There's wines like Juan Gil Monastrell at around $11-$12, but that's a significant price jump (percentage wise) from $7 to $11.

I just can't think of any other wines that are this affordable and so reliably satisfying.

I cracked open the bottle of Monte Oton last night and it was absolutely on point. Full of gorgeous fruit, backed by a touch of sweet spice on the backend, and surprisingly elegant throughout. 90 points for me? Sure. Why not.

From the winery:

The vineyards for Monte Oton are situated high on the windswept slopes of the extinct volcano, Moncayo.

If you're into modern Spanish wines the name Moncayo immediately jumps out at you as being associated with the great Alto Moncayo of 100 point/$35 fame. And this winery - Bodegas Borsao - is indeed the winery behind Alto Moncayo (in association with importer Jorge Ordonez and Australian winemaker Chris Ringland).

Alto Moncayo comes in 3 levels (with release pricing from the 2013 vintage):
  • Alto Moncayo Aquilon $168
  • Alto Moncayo $50
  • Alto Moncayo Veraton  $35
Bodegas Borsao's lineup in the US includes:
  • Tres Picos $18
  • Borsao Garnacha $9
  • Monte Oton $8
I like all 3 of these wines, but I think the Monte Oton is the most underrated value play of the bunch. For me, you're getting 90% of the quality of a Tres Picos for almost half the price.

With Monte Oton you're getting a taste of the greatness possible from this region from a producer that delivers values across the board.

Monte Oton is produced by Bodegas Borsao
in Campo de Bojra in northeast Spain
Find it on Wine-Searcher

Question of the Day: What's the best sub-$10 red wine you can think of?


Total Wine now ships to MA [and why that might be useful even if you live near a Total Wine]

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The other day I mentioned how a lot of the limited production domestic Pinot Noirs I'd seen previously at Total Wine in Natick were vaporizing off the shelves or suffering from price increases.

One specific wine I noted being there previously, which was no longer, was the Roar Pinot Noir for $31.49. Looking at their inventory online now, I see that not only do they purportedly have Roar Pinot Noir for $31.49, but it's their most expensive Pisoni bottling that retails for $65!

But here's the catch: It's not available for in-store pickup and I didn't see it on the shelves. In fact, none of the Roar wines are available for in-store pickup.

Just because a wine isn't avialable for in-store pickup doesn't mean it's not available in-store. It just means you can't order it online and pick it up in store. Got it?
Just to be sure it wasn't a matter of a misunderstanding about which bottles are which, I consulted Wine Spectator's listings of 2013 Roar Pinot Noirs they rated.

It sure looks to me like the wine Total Wine is selling for $31.49 is the $65 Roar Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard - their most expensive bottling. Quite a steal. Perhaps a pricing mistake?
The 2013 Roar Pinot Noirs Wine Spectator Rated
The Pisoni bottling is their most expensive, and strange the cheapest at Total Wine
I seriously doubt the 88 point Spectator rating is causing them to price the 2013 Roar Pisoni Pinot Noir so low. And come to think of it, Total Wine isn't listing the vintage they're offering. So it could be anything.

But knowing Roar's pedigree and the track record of this specific bottling, I'd happily buy whatever recent vintage they were selling for $31.49.
Total Wine doesn't list vintage for Roar Pinot Noir
But the track record for this bottling is quite good
But what about shipping costs? Well, it's actually quite reasonable. Just $12.26 for 6 bottles. Or $13.81 for 12 bottles to my zip code.
$12.26 to ship 6 bottles - that's very affordable
Strangely, when shopping online not all wines are available for shipment. Some are only available for in-store pickup.
Not all wines are available for shipment
But that said, I think there are plenty of wines available shipment and I'd have no problem getting to 6 bottles for 10% off. Like this Washington State Cabernet that Wine Spectator just rated 92 points that sells for $20.69 (on a $22 release price).

It is getting a little warm for shipment here lately. But I'm more comfortable with ground shipping during warmer times in-state than cross-country, within reason. 

If you're concerned about speed of delivery and/or ordering more expensive wines it may make sense to splurge for overnight shipping. They offer that for just $27.66 which is insanely good compared to what most wineries charge. But I think I'll take my chances with Ground - it could very well be overnight as well if they're efficient about things.

I see a "Promo Code" box while checking out, but I haven't been able to find any working codes. They're probably illegal in Massachusetts anyway. But it would be great if we could find some codes that worked, for discounts OR free shipping. It would be cool if their Total Discovery rewards program kicked off some codes for those who shop their a lot, but again - that's probably illegal in Massachusetts.

I checked whehter they participate in online shopping portals and don't see any that they participate in. So it looks like the best you can do is use a credit card that offers 5% cashback on grocery since both Visa and AmEx code Total Wine as grocery. We'll see if that holds true for online orders.

I also don't see them participating in any affiliate marketing schemes. And in case you're wondering (like one local retailer emailed me to ask) I'm not affiliated with Total Wine.

Of course there's always a chance Total Wine might not fulfill an order, saying they're out of stock of a the wine or whatever. But we'll see. For particularly compelling deals I'd say it's worth a shot.

Update: A couple hours after ordering 2 bottles of the Roar along with 4 other "filler" wines, I got an email update saying they couldn't fulfill the 2 bottles of Roar. I called and was told that when the store went to package the order they couldn't find the Roar (similar to what I experienced in store the other day basically). The rep said online does see real time inventory but in this case there was a discrepency between the inventory the system showed for this wine vs reality. So I cancelled the entire order. :(

Bottom Line

Total Wine now ships to Massachusetts addresses. Thanks to their low prices and reasonable shipping costs this is a great option for thos who don't live near a Total Wine. And even if you do live near a Total Wine the convenience of being able to shop from home and potentially have access to some wines they don't sell in store could enable some big deals.


10 Wines to Buy Now at Total Wine

Saturday, June 18, 2016

An amazing wine at an amazing price
(compare at $65 retail)
I stopped in at the Natick Total Wine yesterday to check in on how things have progressed since opening six months ago.

Their entry into the Massachusetts market was notable, to me, for the impressive assortment of domestic Pinot Noirs they had featuring wines normally reserved for mailing lists and restaurants. Fo example: Wines like Kutch, Roar, Radio Coteau, and Elk Cove La Boheme. They even had single vineyard bottlings, and they were offering them at tremendous prices.

I was wondering whether this could last.

The reason for my skepticism was that the assortment in Natick was unlike other Total Wine locations I've been to. Sure, they usually have good deals on high production national brands. But other locations hardly ever carry wines like the ones I was seeing in Natick the first few months they opened.

So how did things look yetserday?

To cut to the chase: The deals are drying up.

They still had Kutch but they've jacked the prices up to the point they're not a good deal anymore (probably due to pressure from the winery). That's a story in itself, and makes me hesitant to mention the best deals by name for fear of other wineries getting wind of it and putting pressure on the distributor to "encourage" Total Wine to increase prices on certain wines.

They still had Radio Coteau at a good price. They didn't have Elk Cove La Boheme any more. I didn't see the Roar bottling they had previously for $31.49. And I didn't see a lot of interesting new additions to the Pinot Noir section.

Their wheelhouse remains high production national brands

I find Total Wine to be terrific for picking up daily drinkers. They're strongest domestically, but when they have a higher production import that you like, they usually have it at competitive prices.

Here are 10 wines I've enjoyed in the past and  restocked on yesterday...

There's only so much Meiomi you can drink, so try this. Just $13.94 if you buy 6 or more mixed bottles.

I never seem to be able to keep enough Alto Moncayo on hand, and it's great to be able to pick up each of these bottles at very good prices any day of the week.

This has to be the best $7 bottle of wine on the planet. Haven't had it in a while, but I'll pop it soon.

I've been digging the Michael David wines lately (rich and juicy) and Total Wine has them at great prices across the board.

I see this served in a lot of lounges (Ritz Carlton Boston, Air France lounge for example) and it's pretty good. For $9.97 I'll either enjoy it on its own or as part of an Aperol Spritz.

They've got it for $12.14, so you could technically get it for a bit less with the deal but I don't have any on hand at the moment and that just isn't acceptable.

Okay, this one I've never had but I liked the label, saw it was a Dave Phinney wine from France, and it had a 92 Wine Advocate rating. It could have been a shady shelf talker but for $17.99 I'll take my chances.

2013 EnRoute Pinot Noir

I cracked this open last night. AMAZING. 94 points for me. Textbook Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. If I had to guess which wine Total Wine has right now that is at risk of a price hike it's this one. With a $65 release price and a $35.99 shelf price I'm loving this buy.

Bottom Line

The small production deals are drying up at Total Wine Natick. But they've still got great pricing on a ton of terrific daily drinkers. If you like a wide assortment of higher production domestic national brands this is probably the best place to buy it.

Question of the Day: Does your local Total Wine have many small production/mailing list/restaurant only wines?


[MA Only] Free Shipping from Table & Vine

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Massachusetts wine retailer Table & Vine is offering free shipping through Monday June 13, 2016 with code DAD.

They can only ship to MA addresses. They usually charge $15 for a one bottle shipment and $24 for a 12 bottle case. The nice thing about this offer is that there is no minimum order size.

It would probably behoove you to buy at least 6 bottles though, since a mix of 6 bottles triggers a 10% discount so long as the prices of he wines end in "9" (non-sale items).

They're supposed to be having a 15% off 12 bottles of North American Cabernet Sauvignon sale but for some reason I don't see that pricing out correctly. I only see it triggering the 10% discount. I mention it because if you bought 12 bottles of Cakebread Cabernet at $69.99 retail it should come to $59.49/btl which is a tremendous deal considering free shipping and no sales tax on wine in Massachusetts.
And you wouldn't necessarily have to buy 12 bottles of Cakebread. You buy 10 "filler" bottles of North American Cab and a couple bottles of more expensive Cabs. I bet they can make an adjustment to an existing order, or call them first if you want to be certain.

Pro Tip: If you see a message saying "You do not currently qualify for the Free Shipping promotion:
Your cart contains no qualifying items" try adding your zip code and selecting shipment (rather than in-store pickup) as your Shipping and Pickup option.

I'd probably inventory and price check them versus your favorite discount retailers. Saving the time and gas of driving around to pick up wine is huge.

Question of the Day: What good deals do you see at Table & Vine right now?


Welcoming Yankee Spirits as a WWP Sponsor

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's my pleasure to announce Massachusetts wine retailer Yankee Spirits as sponsor of the Wellesley Wine Press.

With locations in Attleboro, Sturbridge, and Swansea they're a little out of the way for those in the Boston area, but they can ship to Massachusetts addresses and they offer free delivery to Suffolk, Norfolk and Middlesex counties on $350+ orders.

A number of friends I've made through the blog here have emailed me over the years about seminars they've enjoyed at Yankee Spirits, and good deals they've had on wines.

An example of an uncoming seminar is this one featuring Spanish wines from Jorge Ordonez portfolio. Long time readers will recall I'm a fan of Triga, Alto Moncayo Veraton and Tres Picos - and they're all scheduled to be poured at the seminar along with other new discoveries I'm sure.

I was poking around their website checking out inventory and prices recently. I recently had the 2013 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and loved it. 93 points for me and I think Galloni said 92. Terrific wine for around $35 (plus Yankee offers a 10% discount on mixed cases).

And here's a TOP SECRET tip on a wine I just recently heard about but haven't yet tried. Members of the Juan Gil Fan Club will want to take note of this special bottling: 2013 Juan Gil 100th Anniversary red. It goes for $19.99 and is a blend of Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, which makes it unlike Juan Gil proper, unlike Clio, and unlike El Nido proper. What it is similar to is Corteo which is a very similar blend that goes for ~$100. Needless to say I'm looking very forward to trying this wine.

I'd recommend hopping on their mailing list if you're not already, both for deals and seminar announcements.



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