Like Meiomi? Five other Pinot Noirs to try...

Monday, November 23, 2020

Joe Wagner sold the Meiomi brand to Constellation Brands for $315 million in 2015. Some will say Meiomi doesn't drink like a Pinot Noir (too full-bodied) but its ripe, generous personality has drawn a loyal following.

I've enjoyed my share of Meiomi over the years for what it is. Sure, it's not a lithe terroir-driven wine that demands study but it is reliable and sometimes hits the spot.

A few friends are kind of "stuck" on Meiomi as a sort of no brainer when they need to bring a bottle of wine to a party.  It got me to thinking what other wines might be similar as a pathway to further exploration -or- if you're just tired on Meiomi and looking for something different yet similar.

Boen California Pinot Noir

If I had to pick a wine that's "the new Meiomi" or "what Meiomi used to be" it's Boen. Boen is part of Wagner's Copper Cane family of wines, so you're getting the Wagner style here without the new corporate overlords.

Like Meiomi it comes broadly from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara. These are arguably the best Pinot Noir counties in California, but the net is rather wide here. Boen absolutely drinks like Meiomi: Very aromatic, round and bold.

It retails for $24. I see it for $19.99 at most retailers.

Vennstone is similar to Boen, also made by Joe Wagner, also vaguely from three appellations.

You'll most commonly find it at Total Wine as a "Winery Direct" special. If you taste it and like it (it's just a step behind Boen for my taste) you can probably find a deal on it when Total runs a Winery Direct promo.

If you're looking for something a bit more restrained but still round and luscious, check out Elouan. It tastes like what it is: What Oregon Pinot Noir tastes like Joe Wagner style. The closest comparison point I can think of here is La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

If you like Meiomi and you're looking for "more" perhaps as a holiday splurge try the single vineyard Belle Glos wines. They're about as big as Pinot Noir can be, and when they're on they're amazing. Las Alturas is my favorite. Around $50 before discounts.

Here's the one wine on the list that's *not* a Wagner wine.

It comes from Jayson Woodbridge, winemaker at well-regarded Cabernet producer Hundred Acre. They also have single vineyard bottlings that go for around $50 retail, but the Three Counties is priced on par with Meiomi or less. The story sounds very similar to the Wagner Family of wines with Caymus as the Cabernet and Belle Glos as the Pinot Noir.

Cherry Pie Three Counties is a little more "tart" than Meiomi, and perhaps more varietally correct as a result. It's worth a try for a little variety and if you like it, check out their single vineyard bottlings like Stanly Ranch if you can find them around $35 after discounts.

Not a fan of the style?


Thoughts on "Pinot Rocks" by Michael Browne

I recently enjoyed listening to Michael Browne's Pinot Rocks: A Winding Journey through Intense Elegance on Audible. As someone who has closely followed (and appreciated) Michael Browne's wines from Kosta Browne to CIRQ and now CHEV I thought it was fascinating.

The book expands on the simplified tale of Michael and Dan Kosta pooling their tips and starting a winery while bussing tables at John Ash & Co, providing meaningful insight into "the Kosta Browne way". It captures well how much goes into not only producing fine wines, but marketing them and giving consumers a reason to buy your wines.

The book mostly focuses on Kosta Browne but also touches on newer projects under the Browne Family Wines banner: CIRQ and CHEV. I last visited as CIRQ (~$150/btl) was just launching and had a chance to taste in the Treehouse Vineyard itself. CIRQ is focused exclusively on estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I hear they're finishing up an estate winery that, knowing how they do things, would make for a very cool visit when possible.

More recently, Browne has introduced another brand called CHEV. The inaugural bottlings are Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but from the branding info on their site it sounds like they're reserving the right to work with grapes from other regions.

I was impressed with the CHEV Pinot Noir that recent arrived, both in terms of the quality of the wine but the attention to detail in the packaging. After hearing in the book how important every aspect of the wine experience is to Browne I appreciated it even more.

The CHEV Pinot carries its $80 release price and then some. It's not as big as Kosta Browne was in its biggest years, but drinks absolutely gorgeously. Pure California Pinot Noir and exactly what Browne is going for: Intense Elegance.
If you've enjoyed Kosta Browne wines over the years and are interested in hearing the story behind how they came to be I think you'd like the book. It's also great if you're interested in luxury brand development in any industry.

Buy on Amazon:

Read more... $20 off $50 w/APPWELCOME

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Get $20 off $50+ at with code APPWELCOME:


FoundersCard Wine Discounts

Saturday, November 21, 2020

FoundersCard is a membership club for business owners that offers a collection of travel/dining perks and retail discounts.

I'm currently a member (more on that in a moment) and have found a couple of their ongoing wine discounts useful.

Wine Access
  • $100 off first $200 order
  • 10% recurring discount
Wine Library
  • Free shipping
  • 25% off rotating assortment of wines each month
There are a few additional tie-ins with wine country lodging, wineries and such but these two have the most broad utility I think.

How it Works

Once you sign up and are approved for FoundersCard you have access to their benefits. Each entity works a little differently. With Wine Access there's a link on the FoundersCard that directs you to the Wine Access site and triggers the discount. With Wine Library you click a button and a discount code is sent to your email.

Thoughts on FoundersCard

I signed up 5 months ago as part of what I thought was going to be a $99 1-year membership. I started the process but didn't follow through. A couple days later they sent me a 6-month free trial.

When you're in a trial period you have access to most, though not all, of the benefits associated with FoundersCard. The wine discounts mentioned here do convey, though some of the more desirable benefits like an American Airlines status match and Caesar's Palace status are only available when you're on a paid membership.

The travel benefits haven't been highly useful to me, especially with the pandemic, but I have been happy with the wine discounts as well as an $800 business checking account welcome bonus and some apparel discounts. Overall, not bad for "free" (as part of the free trial) and I'd say worth it if you can find your way to a $99 for 1 year membership to check it out.

They've got a referral program but I'll skip sharing it here. It's rather unclear to me whether referrals result in free trials, $99 offers, of full fare $395 memberships.

That said, I did want to mention it here since the wine discounts can be useful if a bit involved and circuitous.

To learn more and to inquire about membership:


Breaking: Sea Smoke Pinot Noir on Wine Access

Friday, November 20, 2020


Direct Link to Offer

Wine Access is offering the 2018 Sea Smoke Ten and Southing Pinot Noirs for $99/btl. That's not too far out of line with retail pricing, but it's noteworthy in that:

  • You can get $50 off your first $150 order with referral
  • Or 20% off -or $50 off $200 for existing customers
  • Shipping is free on $120+ orders
The Ten bottling has historically been more heavily oaked, and more expensive. But the prices seem to have equalized on these two over the years.

Coincidentally I got an email from Sea Smoke today, literally years after last ordering from them, inviting me to reactivate my account. I stopped ordering from them mostly due to shipping costs and having enough on hand. But I was thinking, "Now there's a wine that's hard enough to get in MA that I just may have to buy direct."

The Southing is one of my favorite wines of all time (the 2004 Southing Pinot Noir was my wine of the year in 2009).

I've never seen Wine Access release a wine like this. The way it was emailed out, it was like the quantity was too small to even warrant putting it on their site.

Hopefully you can find availability in your region if you're interested. Thanks in advance for using my referral if you're new to Wine Access for $50 off $150:


Fresh off the Truck: Wine Access 2018 Commission Napa Cab [$650 for $35?]

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

4 bottles of the 2018 Commission Cab arrived today and I wasted no time cracking a bottle open. Does it drink more like the $650 grape source it came from -or- the $30-$35 price tag it carries?

2018 Wine Access Commission Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Direct Link [now sold out in many regions]
15.2% Alcohol

The markings of prior Wine Access NDA bottlings are here. A generic "2018" cork. The 15.2% alcohol level. Pleasant-but-reserved-at-this-point aromatics. Insanely high density [that's difficult to emulate at this price point] with mouth-filling tannins you can literally chew on. Yet the finish is just a bit hollow with a strangely/slightly bitter aftertaste not present in the Yesterday Cabs.

89/100 WWP: Very Good

I've had a few bottles of both the Yesterday Cabs and I'd say they're a cut above this one. It's not a regretful buy at $35, but I'm probably not going to buy any more.

It's not highly advisable to open wines until a few weeks after they've shipped. That said, great wines tend to show well no matter what they've been put through.

Here's hoping the 2018 Commission settles down and becomes more integrated. The clipped/bitter finish is the most disconcerting for long-term greatness.

What Comes Next?


Last vintage, I ended up ordering this unknowingly from Garagiste as a "mystery wine" as well as Wine Access. It's wild how two completed different retail models can result in the same exact wine at my house at the end of it. The 2018 is outstanding and I'd be up for more.


Schrader is the only Napa Cab producer Wine Spectator has rated 100 points blind (Bryant Family, the suspected association for the Commission mentioned above got 99 points blind once for their 1996, but Spectator bumped it up to 100 in a subsequent non-blind tasting). Here's a chance to cut the line on their mailing list where it retails for $225 last I checked.

Bottom Line

With Wine Access, don't forget to stack the still-active Amex Offer with a $50 off $150 referral or $50 off $200 or 20% off if you're an existing customer.


Amex Offer: $50 off $250 at Wine Enthusiast

Monday, November 16, 2020

If you're in the market for wine accessories or perhaps a wine fridge, check your Amex Offers for $50 of $250 at Wine Enthusiast.

Shop through a portal (check rates here) and look for promo codes. Their markup can be a little high in some cases, but they do carry good products.

If I were going to use it, I'd it use this towards something that Wine Enthusiast sells that is difficult to find elsewhere.

I'd be tempted to find a way to stack this offer across multiple Amex cards towards a higher dollar item. That could be difficult though since they don't seem to sell gift cards (if they do it's through Cashstar which likely wouldn't trigger the Amex Offer) and they don't seem to accept multiple credit cards towards a single transaction online. I bet if you had a bunch of Amex cards with the offer on it, and you wanted to buy a high dollar item like a Eurocave, you could call them and have them charge you in $250 chunks.

If you're in the market for versatile high quality wine glasses, I'd probably just buy these Schott Zwiesel Tritan Forte stems off Amazon. Go for the 24.7 oz Claret Burgundy size. Should be about $60 for 6, $10 a stem.

Read more... $20 off $50 with code TURKEY20

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Get $20 off $50 from with code TURKEY20.

Expires 12/31/2020

HT Dan S on Milenomics Slack

I ordered a couple bottles of LaMarca Prosecco and a bottle of Boen California Pinot Noir to minimize overshoot, and shipped it to FL for Thanksgiving with StewardShip.

Read more... $50 off $200 with promo code STWDHOLIDAY

Friday, November 13, 2020

Get $50 off $200 at w/code STWDHOLIDAY.

The code seems intended for use with the purchase of a new StewardShip membership. But I already have StewardShip and was able to use the get for $50 off $200.
If you're unfamiliar with StewardShip see this post. You don't have to get StewardShip to use this code, but StewardShip can make sense if you plan on ordering from frequently.

Here's a roundup of active promo codes as of August 2020. Some are still working.


20% Off Wine Access [YMMV but working for existing accounts]

Thursday, November 12, 2020

I noticed a banner ad on the New York Times Evening Briefing newsletter for 20% off at Wine Access:

Direct Link

Step 1: Log in to an existing Wine Access account.

Step 2: Add wine(s) to your cart

Step 3: Click this link to activate the offer. You should see this banner at the top of the page:
Step 4: Proceed to checkout. You should see 20% off your order. Shipping is free on $120+ orders.

You may see $50 off $200 remaining in your account from this promo. This 20% offer does not stack with that offer unfortunately, so use the $50 off $200 first then apply this 20% offer later.

I see that this discount works once per account.

There are still active Amex Offers for Wine Access which stack with this.

If you've never ordered from Wine Access before you'd be better off starting with a referral link for $50 off $150. Thanks in advance if you use mine:

Bottom Line

The hits keep coming with these guys, and this is another nice offer. Especially when it can be stacked with other discounts.

Check out this post for some ideas on which wines to buy.


Fresh Off The Truck Review: Wine Access 2018 Yesterday Howell Mountain Cabernet

Friday, November 6, 2020

The 2018 Wine Access Yesterday Howell Mountain Cabernet arrived today, and I wasted no time cracking a bottle open. I initially bought 4 bottles but followed up with a 12 bottle case order since I regretted no buying more of the first Yesterday Napa Cab they offered.

It's a little nerve wracking opening the first bottle when you've ordered a case. It's rare for me to buy more than a few of any single bottle of wine. But in this case I did. And I'm glad I did...

2018 Wine Access Yesterday Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
$35-$40/btl (depending on quantity purchased)
15.2% Alcohol

This wine is *impressive*. Subtle but appealing aromatically. Most notable: The tannins that land with authority. Holy smokes. The density is off the charts. This is a HUGE wine. Monstrous - in a good way. Somehow, despite all this, it invites another sip.

This wine is now sold out but if there's one thing I've learned in the wine game it's this: There's always another deal around the corner.

And here they are...

Another Wine Access exclusive touted as a $650/btl juice they're offering at $30-$35/btl.

Vinous critic Antonio Galloni seconded, “I don’t see any reason why the Cabernets that emerge from this property shouldn’t be among the top five to ten wines in the valley each and every year.”
That vineyard can only be Bryant Family which really does sell for $500+.

If I liked a $300 wine for $35 I should love a $650 wine for $30, right?

Don't like playing chances with "mystery wines"? Here's a sure thing. O'Shaughnessy is an absolutely gorgeous, reliably outstanding Napa Cab and they're offering at a very reasonable $70/btl price (before discounts, compare street pricing here).

Bottle Line

Free shipping on $120+ orders.

Stack it with the current Amex Offer, and thanks in advance for using my referral link for $50 off your first $150+ order:


Recommended: Wine Access NDA 2018 Yesterday Napa Cab [$300 wine for $35?]

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Deal
  • Winemaker described as “Napa’s top gun” in Wine Spectator (I'd say this has to be Thomas Rivers Brown)
  • At the top of Howell Mountain, bordered by stands of trees, the 35-acre site is bowl-shaped and studded with hills...perched 1,800 feet above sea level on Howell Mountain (I'm thinking this is Hershey Vineyard)
  • We dare say it’s worth the $300 the market would usually demand for it. Which means that at just $40, you might want to buy as much as your wallet will allow. (based on a search of Wine Spectator's ratings database, the producer that most closely matches this is Dana Estates whose Hershey Vineyard bottling retails in that range. Actually quite a bit more. Their sister winery Vaso also makes a Hershey Vineyard Cab, retail $85/btl for the 2016 vintage.)
Bottom Line

Is this $300 wine for $35? Not really. They're just saying the vineyard, grapes, and winemaker typically produce wines in that price range. But it is a tremendous bottle of wine for as little as $35/btl before discounts.

The way Wine Access rotates inventory frequently it can be hard to buy, try, and make a recommendation. I really enjoyed the Yesterday bottling they offered earlier this year. 

A prior offering touted a $500 wine for $40. This new offer is from Howell Mountain whereas the prior was just from "Napa Valley." It's fun to say "Hey, who wants more of the $500 wine?" but once you get past that it's just a really great glass of Cabernet. It reminded me of Phelps Insignia with chocolate notes for days. CellarTracker reviews on that one were solid as well.

So here we have an opportunity to buy another wine with the same pedigree as an earlier offer. I went for 4 bottles that are scheduled to arrive later this week. I'll look forward to comparing notes.

Thanks in advance for using my referral link for $50 off your first $150+ order:



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