Fresh off the Truck: 2018 Editorial Reserve Napa Cab

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A batch of Wine Access NDA Cabs arrived today. This Editorial Reserve was the one I was most looking forward to tasting. Let's get right into it...

Main clue:
The man who helped fashion a mega-hit Cab blend that won Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year Award (beating out landmark bottlings from Opus One and Robert Mondavi).
14.9% Alcohol
$37 (less in quantity)
Free shipping on $120+

First impression: High toned fruit and racy acidity. 80% opaque in an elegant ruby/magenta hue, it clings formidably to the glass.

Aromas of tart cherries and graphite give way to tightly wound but powerful fruit that triggers puckering when enjoyed without food.

Finishes pleasntly with fine, chewy tanins.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding

This wine is a departure from most of the Wine Access NDA wines that seem to favor round extraction over edgy acidity, which makes me think this wine in particular would benefit from aging.

Could the winemaker mentioned in the clue be Tod Mostero from this year's Wine Spectator Wine of the Year Dominus? Something about the style here paired with the way they say he helped fashion the Wine of the Year has me thinking in this direction even though it's perhaps too obvious with Dominus having won the honor so recently.

If you were targeted for the Wine Access $30 off $100 Amex Offer it's a good time to pair it with $50 off your first $150 order through referral.

If you can't decide what to get at the moment but want to lock in the Amex Offer, you can always buy Wine Access GCs. Throughout the month of Decmber 10% Of All Wine Access Gift Card Sales Donated to No Kid Hungry.


10% Off GCs

Monday, December 20, 2021 is offering 10% off gift cards 12/20-12/24//2021 with promo codes:

  • $10 off $100 w/LASTMIN10
  • $15 off $150 w/LASTMIN15
  • $20 off $200 w/LASTMIN20
Direct link to buy gift cards

Once you've bought the discounted gift card you can get $30 off your first $100 order through referral:


Targeted and Stackable: Zachys $30 off $150 + Free Shipping

Friday, December 17, 2021

There's been an Amex Offer for Zachys out there for a while.
It's $30 off $150+ and expires 1/16/2022.
I didn't think it was worth mentioning because Zachys because their shipping costs are so high.

But today only they've offering free shipping on $99+ orders with code: HOLIDAYFREESHIP

Zachys does participate in shopping portals if you're into that. They've got a couple different listings on Cashback Monitor and some are a fixed-price rather than a percentage, which could be a compelling addition.

What to Buy

I think the play here is to get more interesting wines than what you see at large retailers like or even Total Wine.

Like, how many Beaujolais does your local supermarket offer?

Here's a few ideas to get you started:


[DEAD] Targeted and Stackable: 8,400 AA Miles for Spending $100 at

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Update: AA Simply Miles has pulled the 5x portion of this deal, making it far less compelling. We'll see if they pay out on the 5x for orders submitted while this was live.

The American Airlines SimplyMiles card-linked program is offering two overlapping promotions at the moment.

The first is targeted, and you earn 1,400 AA miles for spending $100 at This ends 12/31/2021.
The second is available to everyone in the program: They're offering 5x (five times) the rewards that each promotion would earn. So a $100 purchase would earn 1,400 + (5 * 1,400) = 8,400 AA miles. This ends 12/27/2021.

I was skeptical when I first heard of this "5x" promotion thinking it would be 1,400 + just 500 for spending $100. But evidently they've run this promo in the past and this is indeed how it works. In fact, some people are using this as a way to buy AA miles for around 0.4 cents a piece by donating to a charity that's featured in the program.

Keeping it wine-focused here, this is a tremendous offer that should stack with other opportunities.

Here's how I'll play it...
Gift card purchases should work. I don't see them excluded and I can confirm they worked for the $30 back on $100 Citi offer. I'd do this to lock in the savings while avoiding overshoot when ordering.

It's unclear from the SimplyMiles T&Cs, but I'm hearing is single use. Other merchants explicity state how many times the offer can be triggered.

If you're not targeted, or you just want to maximize the opportunity, be sure to create SimplyMiles accounts for each member of your household. That way you can get the 8,400 per $100 multiple times.

Quite an opportunity when you stack it all together.


Fresh off the Truck: 2019 Stay Home Napa Cab

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Most of the Wine Access NDA Cabs go for $30-$40. Here's one that's half as much. 

The clues mention Chappellet, which immediately make me think Pritchard Hill. Beyond that I don't think there's enough info to pin it down. Once you've tasted enough of these NDA Cabs I think you start to realize it doesn't really matter. You just have to go off whether you like what's in the bottle.

Let's get right into it...

15.2% Alcohol
$18/btl 12+
Free shipping on $120+ or 6+ bottles

Bold, brawny and luscious this wine is visually thick. 95% opaque and it clings to the glass for dear life.

Ripe fruit leaps from the glass. There's nothing complicated about the aromatic profile: It's a fastball right down the middle. Pure unadulterated Cabernet absent of any menthol, cedar, herb, or woody notes.

Chewy ripe tannins dominate on the palate with grippy lingering finish.

Great value here.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding

Of all the Wine Access NDA Napa Cabs, this one is most similar to the well-regarded Yesterday bottlings with a touch of Moundsman. That's a favorable association, especially with the price of this Stay Home roughly half of those other wines.

I thought the "Stay Home" name might have something to do with the point where Covid lockdowns were in place and the notion of "Stay Home/Save Lives" was all the rage. 

Turns out the tagline is simply: "This wine is so good, you'll want to stay home."


Fresh Off the Truck: 2015 Varner Los Alamos Santa Barbara Pinot Noir

Thursday, December 2, 2021

I cracked another bottle from a recent Wine Access shipment. Let's get right into it..

The write-up:
Vinous founder Antonio Galloni to say their “deep, resonant Pinots remain some of the most compelling wines being made in California.”

Wine Advocate called Varner “one of the stars of the Central Coast,” and this is exactly why.
My thoughts:
2015 Varner Los Alamos Vineyard Pinot Noir
13.5% Alcohol
$19/btl before discounts

30% opaque visually, light-medium bodied on the palate.

Fruit on the nose is muted by "rubbery" off notes. Satisfying enough on entry, and on the palate, and while there is some mildly appealing aspects here the wine is haunted by a dour, tired aftertaste.

Disappointing given the prose.

79/100 WWP: Mediocre

They can't all be zingers...


Fresh Off the Truck: 2017 Etude Fiddlestix Pinot Noir

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A new batch of wines arrived from the recent Wine Access Black Friday sale. Many of these are still in stock so I'll likely taste through them and write a post about the good ones, and this is a good one.

After visiting Santa Barbara wine country this summer I was interested in exploring the area more.

I'll admit: I'm a sucker for a good vineyard name. Combined with Etude's elegant label I'm drawn to this bottling.

Add on recent news that the Fiddlestix Vineyard was very recently sold to Tyler winemaker Justin Willett and we've got quite the situation on our hands. Let's get right into it...

14.1% Alcohol
$50 Release Price
$36 at Wine Access before discounts

35% opaque with an attractive ruby/magenta hue.

Spot on aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and supporting brambly underbrush. Smooth, silky entry with satisfying palate-flooding presence. Silty tannins finish the experience. Not an off note in the glass.

Flavorful, racy, vibrant and luscious.
This is a really nice bottle of California Pinot Noir that more than carries its price.

93/100 WWP: Outstanding

The Wine Access Black Friday 20% off deal is over, but there's always another deal around the corner. And there are always promos you may have squirreled away in the past that might still work.

At minimum you can stack it with this $30 off $100 off that's executable three times for 30% off $300 worth of wine.

Read more... $10 off $100 eGiftCard

Thursday, November 25, 2021 is offering $10 off a $100 eGiftCard with code GIVETHANKS

If you're new to WTSO I'd recommend buying the gift card from a different email address than the account you intend to use long term. Because when you go to use the gift card you can get $30 off your first $100 order through referral.

It looks like this might be even more generous than intended at the moment so it may make sense to get some orders in soon:


Rakuten 12x on How to Stack It

First off, Happy Thanksgiving! Wherever this message finds you I wish for you good health, good cheer, and and some nice bottles of wine. 12x on Rakuten

The Rakuten shopping portal has bumped to 12x back today. I like Rakuten as a shopping portal because they reliably pay out, they're quick to credit when a purchase doesn't track, and you can elect to earn rewards as Membership Rewards, which can be worth more than 1 cent a piece.

The payout varies by day, and may go up or down this weekend, but I'd say 12x is pretty good (check rate history here).

AA Simply Miles

Link your Mastercard through Simply Miles to earn some AA miles while shopping online. Current offer is 450 miles for $50+ spend but it bounces around.

Citi Offers

Check your Citi credit cards for $30 back on $100 as described in this post. Buy $100 gift cards (the codes arrive a few minutes later) to lock in the savings and avoid overshoot.

Promo Codes

Check this thread on Wine Berserkers for the lastest promo codes, like PPST921 for $20 off $50.

None of this works very well if you have to pay for shipping. Get StewardShip so you can pay a flat price for a year of shipping while stacking promo codes.

What to Buy prices vary by state and the assortment can be wildly different depending on which warehouse they fulfill your orders from.

The challenges sometimes can be finding combinations that add up to enough to trigger the promo code without overshoot. For example a lot of great wines are $49.99 and don't trigger a $20 back on $50 offer.

Affiliate links below (don't use these links if you're going through a shopping portal):
Bottom Line gets dunked on for a lot of reasons. Mundane selection. High prices. Bad fulfillment.

But my experience lately, shipping mostly to Massachusetts but also Florida, has been good. Wines have been arriving the next day even when ordering after noon.

If you have the patience for stacking these discounts and they stock wines you're interested in, it's hard to imagine finding better pricing - especially without having to leave the house.


WTSO Referrals and Restock Notifications

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

I haven't written much about WTSO here because their deals come and go so quickly. By the time I'd write up a blog post they'd be on to the next offer by the time you'd read it.

Further compounding the difficulty in recommending a bottle is that by the time I taste a wine they're offering it would be long gone, never to return.

I got an email today and noticed two things:
  1. They notified me that a wine I had before is available for reorder (and it's not the wine currently offered on their main landing page)
  2. They've got a referral program

A wine I enjoyed that they restocked is the Villa dè Moreschi Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2018. I've got a soft spot in my heart for Valpolicella and the Ripasso makes this one drink like a poor man's Amarone. I thought it was an outstanding wine in a tall bottle with an attractive label. A "super useful" wine at a great price. Highly recommended.

I don't see this wine for sale elsewhere on WTSO so it's kind of cool they're offering it as a restock. And I think you can get it too, even if you haven't ordered it previously, by clicking through the link above.


The referral offers says:

"If you love wine as much as I do, sign up for WTSO and get access to their limited-time deals that are up to 70% off other retailers. Here's $30 off your first purchase of $100 or more. Cheers to that!"
I did some testing, and when you have $100 in your cart you should see a little check-box appear beneath the Promo Code field. It appears you really do need to hit $100 in a single order to get $30 off $100.

Here's my referral code if you're new to WTSO:

You get $30 credit for referring so if you've got friends or family you'd like to refer, go for it!

Putting It Together
  1. Open a new WTSO account through referral
  2. If desired, click the link for a restock wine a friend has recommended
  3. Get $30 off $100+ by checking the box to use the referral credit
Bottom Line

I like these additions from WTSO. Looks like they're branching out with more than one offer at a time and a more fully functioning online store.


Wine Access 20% Off Black Friday: What To Buy

Monday, November 22, 2021

Wine Access is offering 20% off select wines as part of a Black Friday sale. I was notified of early access to the sale via email, though I'm not sure which accounts are targeted. That said, the sale should be in effect for all later this week.

This is a great opportunity to stack with the recently released $30 off $100 (x3) Amex Offer if you were targeted:

"Shop Our Black Friday Sale With Early Access NOW! Save 20% On All In-Stock Wines. Excludes Limited Time Offers. Other Exclusions Apply. Shipping included on $120 or any 6 bottles."

Unfortunately, the 20% off doesn't stack with other promos you may have previously activated. Say for example you have a $50 off $150 promo code -and- 20% activated in your account: They'll apply whichever offer results in a higher discount but not both.
Still - either way - this can be a good option when combined with the Amex Offer.

Tip: Lock in the Amex Offers savings while avoiding overshoot by buying a gift card. eGCs arrive instantly and trigger the offer.

I had a look through the assortment of qualifying wines. Here are some recommendations priced low to high:

All prices before discounts, affiliate links below...

Reliable Favorites

NDA Wines
Bottom Line

A good opportunity to restock after Thanksgiving in preparation for the holidays.


So How Was that $1,000 Bottle of Wine?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The occassion finally arose to enjoy that bottle of '97 Harlan I mentioned a while back.

I'm pleased to report the wine was in good shape. More than anything I'd have been disappointed if we suspected cork taint, the cork dissolved as we were opening it, or it just plain wasn't showing well.

It was showing very well and it was a great experience tasting an aged benchmark Napa Cab like Harlan.

How Do You Go About Enjoying an Expensive Bottle Like This?

I thought about this a bit. I didn't want to just knock it back in some plastic cups outdoors, but at the same time I didn't want to make such a big deal out of it that it dominated the evening.

We enjoyed it with dear friends we haven't gathered with indoors with since the pandemic began. They're wine enthusiasts as well so we were all interested in experiencing how the wine showed relative to other bottles we've enjoyed.

1997 Harlan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet
14.5% Alcohol

100% opaque and clinging to the glass, this bottle showed very well 24 years post-vintage with lively aromas and flavors, supporting structure, and a luscious finish.

Aromas of ripe blackberries backed by subtle supporting oak influence. Hits the palate with a satisfying mid-weight presence and finishes with fine silty tannins.

It's a near flawless wine that's aged brilliantly into a well-balanced textbook Napa Cab.

97/100 WWP: Classic

Wine Advocate (RP): 100
Wine Spectator (JL): 97

Reading the tasting notes from the pros at the time of release (on KL Wines) it seems that it has mellowed nicely with time. Parker notes how it is "enormously-endowed, profoundly rich" and Tanzer cited "distinctly port-like notes."

I wouldn't describe it along those lines at all at this point in time. Although it was formidable visually it presented itself as a medium-full bodied wine with appealing aromatics, good mouthfeel, and a finish that indicates it's still got a ways to go. It was a delight to drink.
How Do The Wine Access NDA Wines Compare to Harlan?

A lot of these Wine Access NDA Napa Cabs make big claims about being associated with producers or vineyards like Harlan. Like this one.

The '97 Harlan drank more elegantly, less brawny than the Wine Access Yesterday Cab - which I consider among the better offerings among Wine Access NDA wines.

I cracked a bottle of 2018 Radio Silence tonight to compare doubt the Harlan is superior. Which isn't surprising given that Harlan has 2nd labels they'd surely route to before dishing things off to an NDA wine.

But if I squint enough and look for it I can see Radio Silence being part of the same family. And more ready to go on release for sure.

If You Paid $1,000 For It, Would You Have Enjoyed It More? Less?

I'd say it was nice that we got it "for free" with credit card rewards. It wasn't really free since we passed on selecting on an assortment of wines totaling $600 for this one bottle worth $1,000.

But it was nice that there wasn't this pressure to "find $1,000 worth of enjoyment out of the bottle" and instead just enjoy the experience for what it was.

Would You Rather Have Ten $100 Bottles or One $1,000 Bottle?

Ten $100 bottles, no doubt. The cost per ounce on a $1,000 bottle of wine is just indefensible. This became strikingly evident since there was quite a bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottle and I'm thinking, "That's $75 worth of wine down there." It's pretty ridiculous.

We followed up the bottle of Harlan with a $60 bottle of Quilceda Creek CVR (a $60 wine). You know what? That was pretty great too.

Does This Experience Make You More or Less Likely to Splurge on High End Bottles?

I still can't justify spending much more than $100/btl on wine. Maybe like $150 for a special occasion wine or a birthyear wine.

Like art or collectibles, you pay a lot more to be in that top 10% and it's almost impossible to consider the splurge a value play.

Can This Deal Be Replicated?

Not fully, because two things changed.

First, the welcome bonus on the credit card isn't as high as it was when I signed up (was 75,000 is now 50,000). And the per-point value for wines in "The Vault" are no longer any better than other wines (was 1 cpp is now 0.6 cpp).

Bottom Line

This was a fun opportunity to experience a high end bottle of wine with friends. It was a finishing touch on a great day with a good round of golf in the afternoon, conversation around a fire on a crisp autumn evening, and an amazing dinner.

I'd love it if I could sign up for more credit cards that kick off $1,000 bottles of wine, but alas opportunities like this don't come around very often.

As a guy who hasn't invested a lot of effort into aging wines, it gives me a datapoint for what Napa Cab can become. It makes me think I should lay a few more good bottles down like Ridge Monte Bello and the strong-showing Wine Access Yesterday NDA wines as well. But I don't think I'll be joining the Harlan mailing list any time soon.


Mark it Up to Mark it Down: StewardShip for $49/yr + $50 off $200 w/SHIPCHEER

Saturday, November 20, 2021 has increased the price of StewardShip from $49/yr to $59/yr.

But with promo code SHIPCHEER they're bumping the price back down to $49 plus $50 off $200 worth of wine.

StewardShip is's version of Amazon Prime. It provides free shipping of one or more bottles to multiple addresses for a year for a flat rate. Perhaps most importantly it allows you to stack a promo code on orders without having to pay for shipping which makes for some very low fully loaded pricing.

If you're already a StewardShip member it seems that SHIPCHEER works for $50 off $200 as well, without having to re-up for Steward Ship.

Offer expires 11/23/2021


Bitmo: $20 in Perk Points for buying a $100 Total Wine eGiftCard

This one is a bit complicated, but we've probably been through worse for a 20% wine discount.

Through discount app Bitmo get $20 back in points for buying a $100 Total Wine eGC.
  1. Sign up for Bitmo on your phone and opt into BitmoPerks (here's a referral if you're new to Bitmo)
  2. Once signed up, look for a Total Wine promo banner touting $20 back on $100
  3. If you see that, search for "Total Wine" then tap on the promotion
  4. You should see that you'll be credit with 20,000 "Perk Points" which can be used towards future eGC purchases for other merchants
  5. Perk Points are worth roughly $0.001 each
  6. The Total wine eGC can only be used in-store, not online
I'm no expert on Bitmo, and GCs can be a pain to use. But if you're a regular Total Wine shopper and get the hang of Bitmo it's a pretty solid discount.


Stack AA Simply Miles w/ Purchases

Friday, November 19, 2021

Here's a new-to-me way to earn airline miles for (and other retailer) purchases: AA Simply Miles.

Quick Overview
  • This is a credit card-linked program
  • Offers need to be activated prior to use
  • Currently only Mastercard credit cards are supported (no Visa, no Amex, no Discover)
  • This is separate to AA's shopping portal
  • You should be able to use promo codes in conjunction with AA Simply Miles
  • You should be able to stack these offers on top of whatever shopping portal might have the best rate for at the moment
  • You should also be able to stack this with the $30 back on $100+ Citi offer
Merchant offers vary over time, and you may/may not be targeted. The current offer is 450 AA miles for a purchase of $50+.

I haven't tried purchasing gift cards to trigger the offer, but I suspect they'd work.


In practice, I'd probably buy a $100 gift card linked to the Citi Offer for $30 back on $100 plus 450 AA miles. Most Citi cards are Mastercards so it's a fortunate fit.

The reason I'd go for gift cards rather than a head-on purchase is to avoid overshoot and assemble a pool of discounted currency to use towards future orders.

Then you could use one of the many $20 off $50 or $50 off $200 promo codes that have been popping up lately, gradually eradicating your discounted gift card purchases along with whatever shopping portal might have the highest rate at the time.

Rakuten is offering $40 back on your first $40 purchase if you're new with them through referral, and you can elect to take those rewards at Amex Membership Rewards.

Bottom Line

AA Simply Miles is a nice little way to earn airline miles on top of shopping portals and promo codes.

Yes,'s prices can be a little inflated. But when you find a bottle that's priced at or near the best street price it can be some of the best pricing imaginable.


[Targeted] Citi Offer: $30 back on $100 at

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Here's a new one...

Check your Citi credit cards for $30 back on a $100+ purchase at

Citi Offers Q&A

Q: Which Citi products are eligible to receive these offers?
A: They are found on Citi credit cards.

Q: Where do I find these offers?
A: The best way I've found is on the Citi Mobile app. Log in then at the bottom of the app tap "Services "then "Products & Offers". If the app is behaving (it doesn't always behave) you should see "Merchant Offers" beneath Explore Products.

Tap "See All" then "Shopping" to see which offers you're targeted for:

Citi's IT is notoriously janky. They should be discoverable when you log in to on desktop Rewards & Offers -> Offers for You. But for me that route always says "Error: We are having trouble loading your offers. Please try again later."

Q: Do I have to activate each offer prior to making a purchase?
A: Yes. For each offer you have to tap it and "Add Offer" prior to making a purchase.

Q: Do I need to wait some time after activating the offer before making a purchase?
A: Good question, since when you accept a credit card retention offer you have to wait a business day for the offer to attach. In my experience with these offers though you should be able to make a purchase straight away after activating the offer. I don't think it would work to activate the offer after making the purchase, but you never know with Citi - it could work.

Q: How long does it take the credit to post?
A: In my experience 4-7 days. You should see a line item statement credit saying "Merchant Offers Credit NY" of -$30 after spending $100 for this offer. The timing of the statement credits is not related to statement close in my experience.

Q: Which cards are targeted?
A: I can't discern a pattern. I've seen this particular offer on Citi DoubleCash, Citi Dividend, and Citi Prestige cards. Some credit cards I have aren't targeted with any offers at all. Others are targeted for some offers, but not this offer.

Q: Can I use the offer more than once?
A: You can use this offer once per targeted Citi credit card.

Q: Do gift card purchases trigger the offer?
A: Yes. Gift card purchases are not mentioned as an exclusion and I can confirm they trigger the offer.

Q: Why buy gift cards?
A: To avoid overshoot and lock in the savings for future purchases.

Q: Do gift card purchases track through shopping portals?
A: In my experience, no. I've never found a shopping portal that tracks GC purchases.

Q: Is there anything else I can stack with this offer?
A: Yes, wine.come promo codes, Steward Ship, and AA Simply Miles (more on that in a separate post to come).

Q: Where can I find the latest/greatest promo codes?
A: This thread on Wine Berserkers.

Q: Are there any other good Citi offers to look for?
A: $100 back on $60 at AT&T Wireless is great. 1.5% at can also be useful.

Bottom Line

Citi sure doesn't make it easy to find these offers but it's nice to have another option for discounts in addition to the revolving Amex Offers they've run for years now.


Targeted Amex Offer: $30 back on $100 at Wine Access

Friday, November 12, 2021

Check your Amex Offers for a new one from Wine Access:
  • $30 back on $100+
  • Can be used 3 times
  • Expires 3/31/2022
I can confirm that eGiftCard purchases trigger the offer. I like that approach because I can lock in the value of the Amex Offer towards future purchases without "overshoot" on individual orders. It's a little tricky, but multiple gift cards can be applied to a single order.

Wine Access has been continually revamping their site this year. It looks like the checkout now selects the most lucrative promo attached to an account depending on the value in your cart which is a nice improvement.

What to Buy

A couple of wines I've written about are available (affiliate links below):
I'll refer back to this post as I try more recent offers from Wine Access.

HT: Garth on Milenomics Slack


Fresh off the Truck: Albert Bichot Morey-Saint-Denis Les Sorbets Premier Cru

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

That "premium cabin" red Burgundy I wrote about last week arrived and I cracked open a bottle. Let's get right into it...

2014 Albert Bichot Morey-Saint-Denis Les Sorbets Premier Cru
13% Alcohol
Release Price: $90
Purchased Price: $54.95

At about 30% opaque this wine does what Pinot Noir can do so well: It delivers a compelling experience full of depth and flavor without being overly full bodied.

Leaps from the glass immediately upon opening with a perfect combination of ripe fruit and florals with supporting earthy notes.

Mouthfeel is elegant yet satisfying with silty tannic grip. Refreshing and luscious.

94/100 WWP: Outstanding

They say "if you think you found a good cheap Burgundy" you've actually only found a "cheap Burgundy." This is by no means cheap at $54.95 but it is on the affordable side of quality red Burgundy.

This would be a terrific wine to pour for Thanksgiving and in general a great one to take a chance on if you -like me- generally prefer bolder California Pinot Noirs but are interested in exploring OG Pinot Noir.

Deals to Stack

Get $10 off your first order from First Bottle through referral.

Mix and match 6 bottles for free shipping -or- $10 flat ground.

They included a promo code for 10% off a future order in the delivery. It's unclear whether that could be used on a first order w/referral code. Probably?


Retail Deal on Burgundy Frequently Poured in International Premium Cabins

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

First Bottle is offering Albert Bichot Morey-Saint-Denis Les Sorbets Premier Cru 2014 for $54.95/btl. Compared to a retail price of $90/btl this could be a deal work considering.

Get $10 off your first order through referral

Free shipping on any 6 bottles -or- flat rate ground for $10.


I'm not much of Burgundy expert. In fact, I cracked a bottle open last night and swore off the category once again. Too often I pay too much for a bottle that's just not aligned with what I'm looking for. So many have such a dour personality I suspect that they suffer from TCA taint.

But I thought I recognized this label and thanks to the magic of Google Photos I found it was poured, much to my delight, on JAL in First Class.

I enjoyed a few glasses of this over more expensive options because, like Wine Enthusiast describes it in their 93 point review, it is "rich, ripe and fruity."

Wine in motion due to turbulence

This kind of reminds me of the Ritz-Carlton Champagne deal. It's nice to relive a fond travel memory through a bottle of wine especially while international travel is still challenging.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately, I don't see an Amex Offer to stack on top of this at the moment. Frequent Miler tracks current and expired Amex Offers and it looks like Last Bottle has run two offers this year and the last one expired 9/30/2021.

I'll probably go for two or three bottles of this one because I do like to have good Burgundy on hand and it's hard to find at this price point.

By the way, thanks to those who reached out to see if I was well since I hadn't posted in a while. Truth is I wasn't buying much wine over the summer and many of the wines I was drinking while depleting my stash were rather boring and purchased some time ago.

Another interest that's had my attention from a content creation perspective is points & miles. Over on Milenomics we've got a podcast and thriving Slack community that's been very rewarding for me and other members. Here's a recent podcast episode if you're interested in checking it out:


Deal: 15% Off + 20% Off Vaughn Duffy

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Sonoma producer Vaughn Duffy is offering 15% off through November 14th, 2021 plus an additional 20% off for wine club members including newcomers.

Their appelation Pinot Noirs sell for around $40 so we're looking at:
  • $40 x 15% off = $34/btl
  • $34 x 20% off = $27.20/btl
Shipping varies on distance but at around $3/btl by the case that's $30/btl for some absolutely outstanding Pinot Noir.

I like the way they've structured this deal. Their wines go quickly around here so I can justify joining their wine club for the stackable discount here.

They do produce others varietals and this sale provides a nice way to experiment with those. Read on for more on why Vaughn Duffy is a favorite:


2018 Foillard Cote du Py at First Bottle

Friday, August 20, 2021

First Bottle is offering the 2018 Jean Foillard Cote du Py for $39.95/btl:

Compare prices on Wine Searcher

Deals to Stack

1. Buy any 6 bottles and get free ground shipping
2. There's still an Amex Offer for $50 back on $250
Why I'm Recommending It

Next time you're in Paris check out restaurant d'chez eux.

In looking back at pictures of the wine I've chosen the two times I've been there - it was a bottle of Foillard Beaujolais both times. And it was fanstastic.

Defininitely highly recommend - both the wine and the restaurant.


Visiting Dragonette Cellars

Saturday, August 7, 2021

2019 Dragonette Cellars Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir
We're just back from a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping in Big Sur and Santa Barbara along the way. Although I've had the pleasure of visiting Napa and Sonoma quite a bit, this was my first opportunity to taste Santa Barbara Country Pinot Noir on-site and in person.

The one tasting appointment I made was at Dragonette Cellars.

I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to discover Dragonette. Wine Spectator has been consistently scoring their wines 90+ for some time.

Tasting in Santa Barbara County
The wine tasting scene in Santa Barbara County is a bit different than what I'm familiar with in Napa and Sonoma. Some of the best producers, Dragonette included, have tasting rooms co-located in one area (the charming town of Los Olivos) rather than spread about at their respective estate vineyards.

This is undeniably Sideways (2004) country, but I get a sense the region is trying to move on from the notoriety attained by association with the greatest wine movie of all time. Still, I couldn't help but drive past the Hitching Post, The Windmill (now the Sideways Inn), Solvang, and the Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant - sites that were notable in the movie.

A follow-up viewing of the movie is rewarded shortly before or after a visit for sure.

But to get to know Dragonette better, we visited their production facility in Buellton. Located in an industrial area with auto repair shops (their resources are focused on the wine rather than a lavish estate) we met with Director of Hospitality Stephen Graham and Co-Proprietor and Winemaker Brandon Sparks-Gillis.
Dragonette Director of Hospitality Stephen Graham

About Dragonette Cellars
The Dragonette logo hints at the letters DC (Dragonette Cellars) with a nod to alchemy.
Dragonette Cellars was founded in 2005 by brothers John and Steve Dragonette along with Master of Wine candidate Brandon Sparks-Gillis.

John Dragonette practiced law before meeting Brandon while working at well-regarded wine retailer Wally's in LA. Brandon brings his background in geology to bear on the winemaking process. John's brother Steve Dragonette, with a computer/tech background, joined them as they collectively explored their passion for Santa Barbara County wine. All three work at Dragonette full time along with seven other full-time employees.

Since their founding, they've remained true to their vision of enabling the grapes to represent their authentic terroir with minimal intervention.

All of their grapes come through long-term contracts tied to specific blocks of specific vineyards in Santa Barbara County.

I became familiar with Dragonette through Wine Access. Regular Wine Access customers will recognize Vanessa Conlin (MW) so it was great to hear from Brandon how real that connection is: It's not some random puffery they make up about a connections to the wines they sell.

Dragonette now produces around 6,000 cases a year selling around 80% direct to consumer with the remainder split between retail and restaurant. It's very hard to find Dragonette in the wild, especially on the east coast, so definitely buy a bottle if you spot one.

Tasting Dragonette
2018 Sauvignon Blanc $50

It's quite unusual to see a California Sauvignon Blanc release 3 years post-vintage. They're aiming for a White Bordeaux style here, far more than a daily drinker and the price point shows how earnestly they persue this varietal.

The Vogelzang is seriously powerful with intense depth of flavor. Spun gold in color, it sees 89% French Oak, 35% of it new, 18 months (!) in barrel. Mango and pineapple aromas, minerality on the backend. The Grimm's Bluff Sauvignon Blanc takes things in a paler, lighter direction.

I always associate Sauvignon Blanc with wine tasting, and this was a very good start.

2018 Chardonnay Duvarita $65

Behind the Pinots, this was my favorite wine of the tasting. Lemon curd and gorgeous florals on the nose. This reminded me a bit of Kosta Browne's outstanding One Sixteen Chardonnay in a very good way. 100% French Oak, 33% new. Outstanding.

2019 Pinot Noir Radian $75

The 2018 version of this is what turned me on to them, and the moment I tasted this 2019 I was immediately reminded what I like so much about their Pinots. Absolutely stunning on the nose and lusciously satisfying on the palate. To me it's like, "This is what wine should be." Absolutely gorgeous.

2019 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills $50

Having only tasted a single vineyard Pinot of theirs (Radian) previously, I was looking forward to seeing what they do with an appellation wine. Starts off with a gregarious sweet perfume nose, then silky and delicious on the palate. This is a fantastic California Pinot Noir.

2018 Pinot Noir Black Label $95

Aromatically gorgeous with a kiss of oak that balances beautifully with the intensity of the fruit, backed by ample acidity. Comprised of grapes from Radian (62%), Fiddlestix (20%) and Bentrock (18%). 66% new French Oak, 19 months in barrel. This is a special wine: Enjoy on a special occassion with a good meal.

I budgeted space for two bottles in my luggage and opted to take home a Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and a Black Label Pinot Noir. I would have gone for a Radian Pinot Noir, but I have a couple of those back home from Wine Access already.
Dragonette production facility in Buellton
Tasting Room Options

If you're headed to Santa Barbara County wine country, there are three Dragonette Cellars tasting experiences to consider:
  • Tasting Room in Los Olivos
  • Sit Down Tasting at The Study in Los Olivos
  • Private Winery Tour/Tasting in Buellton (what we did)
Dragonette tasting room in Los Olivos

Los Olivos is a charming little town with tasting rooms from:
  • Brewer-Clifton
  • Liquid Farm
  • Tensley
  • Stolpman
  • ...and more
See also the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe where Miles told Jack he wasn't going to be drinking any Merlot. We had lunch there. It's pretty good, but the interior looks nothing like it did in the movie. Check out Panino if you're just looking for a [very good] sandwich or salad.

Bottom Line

Visiting Dragonette Cellars at their production facility in Buellton was a great experience anyone can do. Highly recommended if you're in the area.

Consider joining their wine club if you can't make it out there.

Wine Access still has the 2018 Dragonette Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir [affiliate link] for sale.
Get free shipping on $120+ and $50 off your first $150 order through referral.


Fresh off the Truck: 2018 Wolfe Grade Napa Cab [$350 for $40?]

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Wine Access has been releasing a lot of NDA Napa Cabs lately. I initially thought this was a re-release of a wine they offered earlier (that I really enjoyed) but this new wine is a 2018 whereas previously it was a 2017.

It's important to note that this is more than just a vintage change. With these Wine Access NDA wines one Wolfe Grade vintage might have nothing to do with another. Indeed, the rumored vineyard source of the 2017 is completely different from the 2018.

So if you liked the 2017 Wolfe Grade, will you like the 2018 Wolfe Grade? Possibly, but not necessarily because of the vineyard source.


Sometimes all it takes is one:
From the same 100-point source that Spectator described as “one of the most exciting new Cabernet projects in Napa,” this $40 powerhouse has all the terroir complexity of its perfect-scoring $350 big brother.
From this Wine Spectator article this Wolfe Grade wine appears to be associated with Kinsman Eades whose 2018s have gotten high marks:

I'm not sure where the $350 comparison point comes from exactly, but with these Wine Access NDA wines you've got to be okay with the notion of wines being loosely associated with a high end producer at a much lower price point. 

2018 Wolfe Grade Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain Napa Valley [affiliate link]
75% opaque in an elegant ruby/garnet hue, this one starts off innocently enough with typical Napa Cab aromas. Perhaps a few Leuden's cherry cough drop notes in the background if you search for them.

I really like this wine with its round, satisfying weight on the palate and luscious tendencies.

The core of its appeal is on the finish, where velvet mouthfeel transitions to dazzling silty tannins reminiscent of flourless chocolate espresso cake.

92/100 WWP: Ouststanding

Bottom Line

Another winning Wine Access NDA Cab, this 2018 is pushes the price envelope at $40. You can get some pretty good known-brand wines for around $40 (thinking of maybe a Honig Napa Cab for just a little more).

But I'd say this Wolfe Grade carries its weight and then some, especially if you can use a referral or stack some discounts.


Fresh Off the Truck: Wine Access 2019 Yesterday Napa Cab [$350 for $37?]

Monday, July 26, 2021


"Normally $350, just $37 per bottle today from an estate that many know by a simple two-letter abbreviation. Famous for a “cult classic” beloved by the Hollywood A-list, this is Napa Cabernet at its finest."

The thought is this is associated with ZD and this article supports that.

The $350 comparison price point is puzzling to me though. Most of ZD's Cabs sell for less than $350. And their Abacus bottling (that A-Listers supposedly chase after) sells for $750/btl. You'd think they'd have cited a $750/btl comparison price point if possible.

Oh well. Let's crack it open and see how it tastes...

2019 Yesterday Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley [affiliate link]
Weighty visually, this one clings to the glass. About 60% opaque.
Oak dominates supporting bright fruit on the nose. A bit of distracting woodsy, herbal off-note in the background.
Grippy little tannins.

Very much a study in constituent parts at this point. 
But will it come together?

88/100 WWP: Very Good

This was the most unimpressive Yestserday bottling I've tasted.

Sure, it's just two years old and "fresh off the truck." But others seemed to have more presence, more stuffing, more potential, and - most importantly - were just more enjoyable to drink.

Oh well. On to the next one. 

Coming soon:


Fresh Off the Truck: Wine Access 2019 The Ringer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley [$250 for $35?]

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Wine Access has released a flurry of NDA wines lately. One arrived today and it's a winner. Not necessarily textbook Napa Cab but a beautiful unique wine in its own right...

  • "Think of some of the greatest Napa Cabernets of the 2010s—a decade of monumental releases from Screaming Eagle, Lail, Chappellet, and the like. Take away the marketing, the scores, the labels (and the three-digit prices), and you’re left with first-class Napa juice in a bottle—an unadorned expression of world-class terroir."

    We're looking for a less than famous producer...
  • "Today’s deal was triggered by a call from a fourth-generation winemaker whose Irish ancestors were among the original pioneers to uncover the greatness of Howell Mountain’s rich, red soils."

    The second I heard this I thought: O'Shaughnessy.
    But I don't think that's it.

    My next thought was "Who was that guy pouring high end Napa Cab at the Boston Wine Expo back in 2011? Was it William Cole?" Amazingly, I think that's it.
  • "Last year, he and his son started a new, luxury-level label dedicated to Cabernet grapes grown on a single seven-acre mountainside vineyard. Total production is less than 300 cases, and mostly allocated to a cadre of Napa power players.."

    This really sounds like Predecessor Estate.
This doesn't drink like a typical Wine Access NDA Napa Cab, but depending on your preferences that may be a good thing.

Most of their NDA Cabs are dark and brooding with a formidable wall of round tannins that are enjoyable now but suggest some aging. 

This wine is lighter than I'd expect for the category - about 40% opaque. It's ready to go aromatically - but with ripe strawberries over dusty briar patch and a hint of cinnamon stick rather than the brawnier notes you'd typically find in Cabernet. It's satisfyingly full bodied on the palate and finishes clean and luscious inviting another sip.

It drinks more like a high end new world Grenache than a Napa Cab. You know what it reminds me of? The 2007 Betts & Scholl Grenache "The OG".

Pretty wild. The kind of wine that's fun comparing notes with friends while tasting, and infinitely enjoyable.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding

Next up: A bottle of 2019 Yesterday Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. Check back soon for thoughts on that.


Deal: Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Friday, July 16, 2021 has 2018 Goldeneye Pinot Noir for as little as $27.99/btl before discounts. pricing and inventory varies by state.

MA: $27.99/btl, 30 bottles in stock
CA:  $34.99, 120 bottles in stock

The release price for the wine is $58/btl.

Stack this with StewardShip (is it a good deal?) for flat-rate shipping.

Some other Pinot Noirs to consider:


Fresh Off the Truck: 2019 Typicité Pinot Noir Big Pig Vineyard Russian River Valley

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A recent Wine Access Limited Time Offer arrived. Let's get right into it...

The Promise

"This is for fans of Kosta Browne, Williams Selyem, Far Niente’s EnRoute, and other lush Russian River Pinots."

I'm a big fan of this category. Kosta Browne is a common aspirational comparison point for fruit-forward California Pinot Noir, but the EnRoute mention in particular appealed to me.

I think including Williams Selyem in this group was a little disjoint. I've uniformly found their wines to be thin and terroir-driven at best.

This is not an NDA wine. Typicité appears to be a young winery just starting out.

2019 Typicité Pinot Noir Big Pig Vineyard Russian River Valley [affiliate link]
14.2% Alcohol
Free Shipping on $120+

Medium-full bodied, 60% opaque and varietally correct for RRV Pinot in an appealing ruby-magenta hue.

Gorgeous and brilliant on the nose, the wine leaps from the glass with ripe strawberries, dark cherries, and supporting briar patch notes.

Impressive on the palate with silky texture, confident depth, and a bit of grip.

Not an off note in the bottle.

93/100 WWP: Outstanding

Bottom Line

I really like this wine and would put it just behind this Santa Barbara Pinot Noir in terms of high quality non-NDA Wine Access discoveries.

It carries its $48/btl price tag, and perhaps a little more. A good deal if you can stack some discounts on it along with free shipping.

Get $50 off your first $150 order through referral.



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