Fresh Off the Truck: 2018 Color & Sound Spring Mountain Cabernet [$160 for $35?]

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

14.9% Alcohol

Medium bodied visually and aromatically muted, with a tinge of off-putting notes signaling what's to come.

Dour and woodsy on the palate with an unappealing after taste.
Too much fruit to be considered corked, too many flaws to be considered good.

Tasted from two bottles with consistent notes.

79/100 WWP: Mediocre

For reference here's Wine Spectator scale that I try to adhere to when assigning numerical ratings to my reviews:
  • 95-100 Classic: a great wine
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 50-74 Not recommended
Bottom Line

A stunning swing and a miss among otherwise reliably oustanding Wine Access NDA wines.

This wine would easily be outperformed by a $10 bottle of Columbia Crest.

One might say this is the result of "bottle shock" and I should wait a few weeks before trying any wine after transit. I can see the merit in that assertion generally but I highly doubt this wine's shortcomings are the result of recent transport.

My advice in the past is to return wines that are obviously flawed but I can't confidently state that both of these bottles were corked. Wine Access customer service is well regarded so this could be a good chance to see how that goes.

It's a real bummer when you order 6+ bottles of a wine and the first two bottles are stinkers. I'll update this post if future bottles show more redeeming qualities.


Earn Up to 4,000 Grand Reserve Rewards for Posting Referral Links on Social Media

Monday, March 29, 2021

If you've got the Grand Reserve World Mastercard you can earn up to 4,000 points for posting your referral link and clicking the link:
  1. Post your referral link (and click)
  2. Watch the referral bonuses come in as your wine-loving friends are approved
Platforms included:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
Log in to your Grand Reserve account to get your unique referral link. 

It's nice to see a little kicker just for posting and clicking the link. And it's nice to see ways to earn rewards in addition to spending on the card.

The person taking the referral gets 50,000 + 10,000. The person giving the referral gets 10,000. Referral bonuses post shortly after the card activation.

I've been using the card for winery-direct purchases, especially for partner wineries like Scherrer and Ridge that earn 5x + an additional 2x for the winery or wine retailer you spend the most on each statement cycle.

Here's my referral link. Thanks in advance if you use it.

Related Content


Wine Access 2018 Concept Album Pinot Noir [$70 Savoy Vineyard for $22?]

Friday, March 26, 2021

14.2% Alcohol

Light in color, light in body, and...almost full of flavor.

These Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs tend to present themselves in a more reserved manner, and this one is no exception. The wine does drink cleanly and pleasantly, but it's targeted at those looking for a more "varietally correct" Pinot Noir. I say that as someone who prefers a brawnier Russian River Valley interpretation of the variety.

If tasted blind it would surely be identified as coming from Oregon -or- [more affordable] Burgundy.

It does deliver on its price point and perhaps a little more. But if paid $70 for it, I'd be disappointed.

89/100 WWP: Very Good

This really sounds like it's harkening towards this wine:
I'd never heard of FEL before, but evidently it's part of the Cliff Lede family of wines.

The only thing that doesn't line up is the alcohol level. 13.8% for the FEL vs 14.2% for the Concept Album. But that's within allowable ranges.

Bottom Line

I'm not sure how this one snuck by me. I wish Wine Access did more NDA Pinot Noirs, but they seem to be more focused on Cabernets. And the Pinot Noirs they've done tend to be a little lighter than I'd prefer.

You know what Pinot Noir blew me away recently on first taste? Scherrer. The wines they offered as part of their Wine Bersekers special was incredible (the 2016 Gunsalus in particular). Don't miss out on their 40% offer if you enjoy this category. And don't forget to use the Grand Reserve Mastercard if you have it. Scherrer is a partner winery and earns 5x, plus an additional 2x if it's the winery/wine shop you spent the most on that statement cycle.

Anway, back to Wine Access and this Concept Album Pinot Noir...

$50 off $150 through referral. Thanks in advance for using my link (that gives me a $50 credit to Wine Access which enables me to try more of their releases).


Wine Access $50 off $150 [working for existing customers?]

Thursday, March 25, 2021

YLee on Wine Berserkers shares a $50 off $150 Wine Access link that appears to be working for existing customers. 

I can successfully add it to my existing Wine Access account, but I'm not able to fully validate it works due to other promotions linked to my account. But I do think it will work.

This is a pretty great deal as that's the discount usually reserved for first time customers through referral.

Not quite as good percentage-wise as $100 off $250, but a lower hurdle and each code can only be used once, so they're both useful.

Great to see some fresh discount angles over at Wine Access...


Deal Stacking Showdown: vs. Wine Access on Shafer Relentless

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

I noticed today that Wine Access has the 2017 Shafer Relentless on offer.
It's been quite a while since we discussed this wine. It won Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 2012, for the 2008 vintage of the wine.

The QPR has fallen a bit:
  • 2008 96WS/$60 Release Price
  • 2017 94 WS/$95 Release Price
...but the wine has been tremendously consistent, and remarkably highly rated by Spectator:
Clearly, it's a solid wine.

I thought it would be a good chance to compare pricing between Wine Access and while comparing the best stackable discounts with a specific wine in mind.

Let's Start with Wine Access

The $88/btl price comes when buying 3+ bottles.

3 x $88 is $264 which works out pretty well with the $100 off $250 link I mentioned yesterday.

That would take it down to $164 for 3 bottles or $54.66/btl.

Shipping is included on $120+ orders.

You could shop through a portal if it's your first order, though I'd probably use a $50 off $150 referral code if it was your first order.

But let's call Wine Access $54.66/btl.

Let's see if we can do better with

2016 Shafer Relentless $99.99 [affiliate link]

Not quite the same vintage (though inventory varies by state, and this should click over to the 2017 soon), this 2016 was rated 92 points.

$50 off $150 is probably the best promo code we could use. Here are a few that should be acitve (HT Jin F on Wine Berserkers):
  • PIN50 $50 off $150
  • P50AM $50 off $150
  • YT50 $50 off $150
  • CQS50 $50 off $150
  • CQ50 $50 off $150
  • FBRT50 $50 off $150
We'd have to come up with some other wines that are right around $50 to get it right to 33% off, but if we did that would make the price $66.66/btl for the Shafer Relentless on

If we use a promo code on we can't use a free shipping code. So it would be key to get StewardShip. It's hard to determine a realistic amortized cost of StewardShip but if you order from once a month it would be around $5 per order.

But wait - there's more!

There are a couple of active Amex Offers you might be targeted for:
  • $30 back on $100
  • $10 back on $50
Let's call that 20% off. So that knocks it down to $53.32/btl. pays out on shopping portals for existing customers, and right now Rakuten is offering 12x back for orders through their app.

If you don't have a Rakuten account yet you can get $30 back after your first $30+ order through referral. If you have an Amex card that earns Membership Rewards, your Rakuten account can be linked to your Amex account 1:1. I value Membership Rewards at 1.25 cents each so that would be 15% back.

That would be $9.99 back on a $66.66 order.

So that would knock the price down to $43.32/btl.

But not everyone will have that Amex Offer, and even if you did it would be difficult to scale, so without an Amex Offer that's $56.67/btl for

Shafer Relentless: Final Score

Release Price: $95

Wine Access: $54.66/btl $56.67/btl

You might be able to do slightly better with either of these prices if it's your first order, you're targeted for an Amex Offer, a portal rate increase, etc. But either retailer does pretty well on pricing if you stack 

Bottom Line

If you look nationwide on Wine-Searcher it's hard to beat either of these prices.

My local Total Wine has the 2016 Shafer Relentless for $99.97/btl.

So that's it. That's why I play the stacking game. Because it results in deep discounts (around 55% off) on high quality wine delivered directly to my doorstep.


YMMV: Wine Access $100 off $250

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Via Wine Berserkers here's a $100 off $250 Wine Access link:

It's said to be for "your first purchase":
However, I do see it working for an existing account:

It's unclear how Wine Access prioritizes the use of existing credits tied to an account. For example I have the following discounts loaded:
For example...
If I add $200, the 15% coupon is triggered. I'd rather have $50 off $200.
But if I add $250 the $100 coupon is triggered.

So I think this one is a little fragile, and it's a matter of trying and seeing what works...

What to Buy

40% off ($100 off $250) plus free shipping on $120+ is pretty great. 

All prices before discounts, affiliate links below.

I'm not sure how this wine, an NDA Pinot Noir, snuck by me. I'll order some now, ships quickly. The only other NDA Pinot Noir I've had was a little disappointing, but this Concept Album surely sounds like Savoy Vineyard.

New vintage of a perennial favorite.

Radio-Coteau's crowd pleasing second label Pinot Noir. Great value.

I love the source producer rumored to be behind this NDA Cab. After trying a few bottles I'm thinking of buying more.

Of all the 2018 NDA wines, this one is probably the most ready to go right now. Every bottle I've opened has been just terrific.

Probably the most puzzling NDA wine they've offered yet. Can't seem to pin it down, but no matter who the source is, it sounds good. I've got some of this on the way.

2018 Etude Pinot Noir Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros Sonoma County $30-$33

I had a bottle of the 2018 Etude Heirloom Pinot Noir the ohter night, which I think is a much more expensive bottling. It was good, if a little disappointing. But Etude is a solid producer and I'd be up for trying this one. Especially at 40% off.

I opened a bottle of this just last night. Great stuff. I've long been a fan of Coho Headwaters, and this is very similar to that. Full bodied, luscious, well-balanced.

Bottom Line

Wine Access typically doesn't allow stacking of promos, so I don't think you can stack $50 off $150 through referral with the $100 off $250 we're talking about here.

It could be one of those situations where it's best to do both, one at a time.


[Sold Out?] 2017 Keller Estate La Cruz Pinot Noir [$52 for $32 before discounts]

Sunday, March 21, 2021

$32/btl [$52 retail]
14.2% Alcohol

50% opaque, it's one of those wines that delivers so much depth of flavor given how translucent it is.

Absolutely intoxicating aromatically. Pitch-perfect florals, strawberries, and edgy briar patch. Silky mouthfeel with just a touch of tannic grip and enough acidity that it should play well with a lot of scenarios.

Really well-made wine. An absolute delight to drink.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding

Since this now shows sold out in Massachusetts I'm sorry I didn't buy more, but I'm glad I got a chance to enjoy it at a great price.

My positive reaction to Keller Estate and their La Cruz Vineyard harkens back to on-site visits and one of my early discoveries in wine. So I should have known better.

But as they say, there's always another great deal around the corner. Subscribe to hear about the next one...


New Wine Access Spring Mountain NDA Cab: $160 for $35?

Saturday, March 20, 2021

14.9% Alcohol

The Clues
  • "poured at the White House" (link)
  • "The estate’s 96-point, $160 Cabernets are canonical Spring Mountain District releases" (link)
It's pretty clear what this one is associated with. Hat tip to this post on Wine Berserkers for pointing us in the right direction.

Update: An equally compelling case could be made for another winery.

One thing that throws me is the alcohol level. 14.9% with the Color & Sound, and both of the suspects normally produce lower alcohol wines. The second suspect's 2018 is 14.5%. The first suspect hasn't released their 2018 yet but prior vintages are 14.2%.

Recommended Wine Access NDA Wines Still in Stock

I'll orders some and get a Fresh Off the Truck review out when it arrives...


Fresh Off The Truck: 2018 Kahler Cellars Pinot Noir Sonoma County [$85 for $30?]

2018 Kahler Cellars Pinot Noir Sonoma County $30 [affiliate link, compare at $85]
13.9% Alcohol

Just as linear and clean as you can imagine, with typical California Pinot Noir characteristics.

Well-mannered, though I prefer Sonoma Pinot Noir with a bit of an edge. A little bramble. A little grip. This comes off a bit one-dimensional.

It's a pure wine, no doubt. But I hoped for more depth.

89/100 WWP: Very Good

Bottom Line

I really wanted to like this wine, and as much as I prefer Pinot Noir to Cabernet a subsquent tasting of the 2018 Moundsman Rutherford Napa Cab just blew this wine away.

I say this drinks like the $30 it's priced at, which after discounts/a referral isn't a terrible deal.

Some other California Pinot Noirs to check out:


[Sold Out?] 2014 Immortal Estate Slope Cabernet Sauvignon

Friday, March 19, 2021

14.9% Alcohol

90% opaque, this wine clings thickly to the glass with impressive density.

A dazzling array of florals, cherries, milk chocolate and cloves builds consistently from the nose to the palate then on the finish. Absolutely brilliant.

So seriously great it made me stop and pay attention. So luscious it invites another sip. A tremendous combination.

Showing well with some age on it.

93/100 WWP: Outstanding

It's interesting how Wine Access tends to follow-up with higher end wines from a known producer shortly after releasing an NDA wine that's rumored to be sourced from that same winery. Hmm...

This shows sold out in Massachusetts but could be available in other regions.


New Wine Access 20% Off Link: What to Buy

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Get 20% off your next Wine Access order through 3/31/2021:

Direct Link [affiliate]
  • Click the link to add this offer to your Wine Access account
  • You should see the 20% off banner at the top of the page
  • You should also see it under My Accounts -> Credits and Promotions
  • This should work one order for existing customers
  • This should work for Limited Time Offers
  • Free shipping on $120+ worth of wine (calculated pre-discount which is nice)
New customers would probably want to use a referral link for $50 off $150.

Wine Access doesn't do promo codes per se, it's more of a "click a link and add it to your account" kind of operation. They tend to apply the best available discount associated with an account at check-out. If you have issues with that working as desired I'd recommending contacting their well-regarded customer support team.

What to Buy

2018 Etude Pinot Noir Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros Sonoma County $30-$33

I haven't had a chance to try this one yet but really like the metrics. I happen to have a bottle of the same wine on hand with an additional "Heirloom" descriptor on it. A little tricky figuring out their lineup...

I love the source producer rumored to be behind this NDA Cab. After trying a few bottles I'm thinking of buying more.

Of all the 2018 NDA wines, this one is probably the most ready to go right now. Every bottle I've opened has been just terrific.

2016 Black Kite Cellars Pinot Noir Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands $42

A great opportunity to try a single vineyard wine from a realibly outstanding fruit-forward California Pinot Noir producer. I've had it and enoyed it. Great stuff.

2016 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley $80

If you're leery of these NDA wines and/or want to have a big name wine on hand for a special occasion this is a solid option.

Bottom Line

It's great to see another healthy discount from Wine Access after a bit of a dry spell. Be sure to use the 20% off by the end of March if you're going to use it.


Scherrer Winery: "Continued Patience" Sale 40% Off Select Wines + Free Shipping on 12+

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I'm surprised I haven't seen more winery direct offers due to reduced on-premise demand. But here's a great opportunity to buy wine from a tremendous California producer that's hard to find at retail (in Massachusetts anyway).

From the winery:
As you would imagine, it has been extremely difficult for us to operate under these conditions. Fortunately, because of your support, we have been able to manage. So out of gratitude as well as necessity, we have once again selected several wines that had been held back for restaurants which are absolutely showing their potential for the 2021 “Continued Patience” Nepenthe.

Wines included at 40% off:
  • 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Big Brother Pinot Noir
  • 2015 Russian River Valley Syrah
10% on all other wines

Free Shipping on 12+ bottles

Michael Browne wrote in his book Pinot Rocks:
This guy named Fred Scherrer, he’s got Scherrer Winery. He is a wonderful guy and he grew up on a farm in Alexander Valley. He has been making wine forever. He worked for Tom Dellinger and he’s still making wine. I asked him one day, it was probably, I don’t know, 12 or 15 years ago. I said, “Fred, you’ve been doing this for a long time, making wine, and I am struggling here man.” I said, “When did you get it? When did you understand it?”

He says, “Michael, I’ve come to figure out it takes two consecutive adult lifetimes to figure it out.” I said, “Wow, nobody has that.” He said, “Exactly.”

I went for for 10 bottles of the RRV Pinot, 1 of the Platt and 1 of the Big Brother.

Tip: Scherrer is a Grand Reserve World Mastercard and as such earns 5x on that card. It will probably be the top winery I spend at this month so I'll get an additional 2x for a total of 7x in rewards. I normally put unbonused wine spend on credit cards I'm working towards a welcome bonus on but 7x is enough to sway me to use the Grand Reserve Card.

Visit the Scherrer Winery site for more info and to place an order.


Grand Reserve World Mastercard Review: How a credit card welcome bonus turned into a $1,000 bottle of Harlan Napa Cab

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

I wanted to circle back on something I've mentioned in passing and that's a new credit card focused on earning wine rewards rather than travel or cash back.

Grand Reserve World Mastercard
What are Points Worth?

About 0.6 cents a piece towards wine and wine accessories. So 60,000 points would be worth about $360.

There is another redemption they recently introduced called The Vault. Points are worth 1 cent a piece for a limited assortment which this month included Cristal, a bottle of 1990 Chateau Margaux, or a 1997 Harlan Napa Cab.

Earning Points

The card's earning structure is:
  • 5x at partner wineries
  • 3x at any other winery, wine store, wine club, wine storage, liquor store, restaurant, or bar (take-out & delivery included)
  • 2x additional points on your top wine merchant of the month (where you spent the most that month) for up to 7x points on wine purchases (7x from partners or 5x from non-partners)
  • 2x everywhere else
You can also earn points through promotions at their partner wineries and referrals.

How Did I Wind Up with 100,000 Points for a Bottle of Harlan?

Between the welcome bonus, meeting the min spend at partner wineries, and bumbling into a couple of limited time promotions I found myself with 110,000 points.

I debated whether I'd rather have $600 to spend on wine and wine accessories -or- one $1,000 gonzo bottle of Napa Cab. All good rewards programs have an aspirational redemption and psychologically through this example I can see why.

The opportunity cost of splurging on the $1,000 bottle of Harlan is worth $600 of some really good wines. If I spread that out over time that would surely deliver a lot of enjoyment.

But when would I splurge on a $1,000 bottle of wine? Never.

And what an experience it will be to enjoy an actual glass of Harlan after tasting all these NDA wines?

It's always good to have a relatable frame of reference for the great wines of the world. 

Plus, I'd really like an opportunity to celebrate with friends after being vaccinated, with an eye towards a return to normal.


I've interacted with a lot of credit cards. I probably control 50 active cards right now.

While interacting with these cards I've seen a wide range of quality in terms of the overall user experience. Although Grand Reserve has partnered with a small bank to issue this card, it's been a joy.
  • Transactions post quickly
  • Categorical characterization (partner winery vs. winery vs. other) is very clear
  • Bonuses post and are available for redemption quickly
Bottom Line

Signing up for this card was even more lucrative than I imagined. I figured it would be a straight-forward $450 worth of wine for the signup at 0.6 cents a piece. But thanks to the 1 cent per point redemption for select high end wines, it turned out even better.

Read more... Amex Offer: 10 Buy Recommendations

Sunday, March 7, 2021

This is a follow-up post to the one I wrote last week about a couple active Amex Offers:
  • $10 off $50
  • $30 off $100
I've got 10 specific recommendations for wines to buy in this post, but first I'd like to ballpark the discounts available to get a sense for the net price after stacking.

Estimating the Discounts

> 50% off. That's what I'm here for.

Obviously, it's important to find wines you actually want to drink at non-inflated prices. That's been challenging with inventory challenges, but that situation seems to be improving of late. At least in Massachusetts.

Here's how I look at it...

Say you buy $150 worth of wine.
You've got StewardShip.
And use a $50 off $150 promo code.
Then use the Amex Offer for 20% off (or 30% depending on what you're targeted for).
Then shop through a portal for 10%.

Your order comes to $100.
You paid for it with gift cards you bought for 80% of face. So that's $80 out of pocket.
Then you get 10% back back from a portal. But that's based on the $100 amount. So that's $10 back.

So you're at $70 for $150 worth of wine. More than half off.
That's pretty great.

When I see a $50 wine on I see it as a costing a little less than $25 after discounts.

What to Buy

I live in Massachusetts so this is where I'll shop today. The assortment isn't as broad here as other states (especially California) but hey - there's no sales tax charged on wine in Massachusetts which is nice.

It's important to land on square numbers to avoid overshoot, so I'll offer up some wines I think are:
  1. Good
  2. In the categories I'm interesting in enjoying
  3. Available at non-inflated prices
Let's get into it. Affiliate links below...

As much as I enjoyed the big reds in Spain the rosés impressed me as well. Specifically this Liquid Geography wine. So good.

I remember having a glass of this at Fleming's back in the day. It's not often I recommend a white wine (it's just not in my wheelhouse) but with warmer weather on the horizon I'd like to revisit this one.

3. Boen California Pinot Noir 2019 $19.99

This has been a reliable new friend at a great price before discounts.

See also: Like Meiomi? Five other Pinot Noirs to try...

We're not out of the woods on cold weather yet, and a nice taste of 10 year Tawny Port at the end of the evening hits the spot. This has been my favorite point to land at, narrowly besting Dow's similarly priced 10 year.

I usually see this for $49.99 at Total Wine. Here's it's less to begin with and that's before discounts. Tremendous QPR potential.

92+ from Wine Spectator for four vintages in a row is impressive, especially in a region with substantial vintage variation.

This is consistently one of my favorite California Pinot Noirs in the market. The price has crept up a bit over the years, but it's on par with the price at Total Wine in MA. There may be better pricing in other parts of the country but this delivers at this price point and more.

Same price as Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose. Similarly gorgeous. It's good to have options.

For some reason the 2018 ($85) is less than the 2017 (at $94.99). If we can stack to a 56% discount that makes this wine just over $39/btl. Any time I can get Cakebread for less than $50/btl I consider it.

There's a little overshoot on a $50 off $150 coupon, but I fondly recall "tasting" the 2010 Caymus Special Selection, repeatedly, at the Wine Spectator Grand Tour in Chicago. It would be nice to check in on this bottling.

Bottom Line

There's definitely nostalgia baked into these recommendations. Living in the time of Covid has made me wistful for past good experiences with wines. Especially travel and in-person events.

Here's hoping we can get back to that soon...


[CA Only, Costco] Ritz Reserve Champagne Half Bottle Case Deal

Barons de Rothschild ‘Ritz Reserve’ Champagne Brut 375 ml 12-pack
Direct Link

$249.99 ($20.83/btl)
Shipping included
You don't need a Costco membership to buy alchol in CA (and other states according to The Krazy Coupon Lady) though I'm unsure whether this applies to online orders.


Interesting to see Costco with a shipped wine deal. Would be nice to see this available in more states.

These are half bottles. The price per ounce is eerily similar to this Ritz Reserve Rose deal from First Bottle last year. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of those bottles and really wish I'd bought more. The stuff is fantastic.

I'm unsure how I feel about the half bottle format. I tend to open bubbles with company and go through a couple 750mL bottles. Sure, I could simply open more half bottles, but the size seems a bit odd for celebrating good times.

This is Costco the description lacks the storyline that occupancy levels have been off at Ritz hotels worldwide due to Covid. But I have to believe there's some truth to that. Cheers to a good deal and getting back to travel this year...

HT to my friend CP


Domaine Romanée Conti meets Sonoma Coast: 2018 Vivier Pinot Noir [$37]

Friday, March 5, 2021


The pinnacle of Pinot Noir is Burgundy. The pinnacle of Burgundy is Domaine Romanée Conti ("DRC") where prices easily reach $1,000+ per bottle and far beyond. 

Aubert de Villaine of DRC starts up Hyde de Villaine in Sonoma and taps Stéphane Vivier as winemaker. Stéphane Vivier starts up his own label, Vivier Wines, and here we go...

12.8% Alcohol

Looks a little unfiltered at first, but once it settles down presents itself as an elegant medium-light bodied Pinot Noir.

The strength here is on the nose, where it's undeniably beautiful in a very special way. Perfume, rose petals, fresh strawberries, and an impressive clean stretch of the freshest produce.

Finishes clean and pure. Tremendously satisfying at this low alcohol level.

91/100 WWP: Oustanding

Deals to Stack

If you don't have a Wine Access account:
If you do have a Wine Access account get 20% off with this offer.
If you've already used those, try this link for 15% off your next 3 orders.
And if you've used that 15% try this one.

Bottom Line

Here's an example that Wine Access does more than full-throttled NDA Napa Cabs.

I'm a sucker for a good mashup, and here's one of classic winemaking overlayed upon new world sensibilities. It's all here. Give this one a look if you're looking for a full-flavor, low-alcohol look into Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.


Fresh Off the Truck: 2017 Wolfe Grade Sonoma Cabernet [$300+ for $32]

Free shipping on $120+
14.9% Alcohol

Dense and brooding, almost completely opaque, this clings to the glass with authority.

Starts off a bit reticent on the nose (fresh off the truck mind you) but picks up steam with time. An appealing combination of brambly dark berry fruit preserves with supporting chocolate notes reminiscent of Phelps Insignia. The strength here is really on the palate where it's plush velvet for days with a long finish devoid of off notes.

Despite its impressive density this is still delightfully easy to drink, inviting another sip.

93/100 WWP: Outstanding

Clues and Discussion

Wine Access is pretty forthcoming with the hints on this one, but the rabbit hole the research leads us down is as interesting as the wine. 
  • Robert Parker: "a quintessential example of what perfection is in my business"
  • Jeb Dunnuck: "The Cabernet from this estate earned 100 points in 2016, with critic Jeb Dunnuck urging his readers, “if you want to taste pure perfection from Sonoma, try this wine!"

Throw in a brand name change and a high profile celebrity investment and things get interesting.

The Parker quote was for a 2013 vintage wine. Hidden Ridge changed its name to Immortal Estate around 2016.

I had a little trouble finding the Dunnuck quote, but the 100 point rating for a 2016 vintage Immortal Estate did turn up on a Facebook page.

In 2019 Kate Upton and Justin Verlander became co-owners of Immortal Estate. I'm not sure why the Wine Access write-up didn't include this tidbit. Too obvious? Or too complicated?

But regardless, throw all this together (here's a good summary on Wine-Searcher) and it's not hard to imagine some bottles needing to find a home under this Wolfe Grade label.


The "high quality wine gets lost in a branding shuffle" seems to be a common Wine Access storyline. It's not hard to figure out the vineyard, estate, or winemaker - but it is difficult to discern the exact relationship the bottle being offered has to its association.

Today Immortal Estate offers two wines:
  • Impassable Mountain Reserve $303/btl
  • Slope $75/btl
What we're getting here for $32-38/btl is anyone's guess. But it's a delight to drink and, I think, an outstanding wine.

Deals to Stack

If you don't have a Wine Access account:
If you do have a Wine Access account get 20% off with this offer.
If you've already used those, try this link for 15% off your next 3 orders.
And if you've used that 15% try this one.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately I show this 2017 Wolfe Grade Cabernet as sold out at the moment. These NDA wines sometimes come back in stock, and they may have some inventory available in your area.

The 2015 Editorial I wrote about yesterday is still available, and I think makes a more direct connection with its suspected and beloved producer.

And each bottle of the 2018 Moundsman I've tried has been terrific as well.

You really can't get wrong with any of these. All solidly 93-94 points in my book in the $35 range before discounts.


Fresh Off the Truck: 2015 Editorial Napa Cab [$121 for $35]

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

$30-$35/btl (before discounts)
14.9% Alcohol

90% opaque with seductive ruby hues around the edges.

With a chance to breathe it leaps from the glass aromatically with baking spices, ripe black cherries, leather, and pipe tobacco. Weighty but vibrant and luscious on the palate.

Tannins are beginning to integrate but for now support the entire package brilliantly.

A spectacular offering.

94/100 WWP: Oustanding

Commentary and Clues

I hadn't given this one a serious look because I'm a bit overloaded with NDA Napa Cabs from Wine Access at the moment. They've mostly delivered but I was confused on whether this 2015 Editorial was from the same as the 2018 Editorial I'd purchased previously?

It sounds like: No. From the Wine Access write-up, it sounds like their "Editorial" series are wines their friend at the newspaper turned them on to. They're not necessarily from the same producer.

This is also the case with their Yesterday Reserve Napa Valley and Yesterday Howell Mountain: Different sites and different producers.

It was when I read this comment on Wine Berserkers that I sat upright and paid attention: The suspected producer here is Honig and the $121 "compare at" price is perfectly aligned with the retail price of Honig's single vineyard Cabs.

I adore Honig's Cabernets. Just like Sojourn is my favorite reliably outstanding California Pinot Noir producer, Honig is my favorite Napa Cab in the $40 range. But that's the price of their appellation wine. Here we're talking about the asking price of their single vineyard wines.

Deals to Stack

If you don't have a Wine Access account:
If you do have a Wine Access account get 20% off with this offer.
If you've already used those, try this link for 15% off your next 3 orders.
And if you've used that 15% try this one.

Bottom Line

This really does present itself like a $121 wine for as little as $30 before discounts.

I'd put this in the top strata of Wine Access NDA wines, on par with their Yesterday wines.

This really does taste like Honig Cabernet, and at this price for a single vineyard wine it's less than I can find the Honig's Napa Valley bottling.

I bought six and could see my way to another six if not a case.


[Targeted] Amex Offers $30 off $100 -or- $10 off $50

Monday, March 1, 2021

New Amex Offers arrived today. As with previous promos there are (at least) two iterations to look for:
  • $30 back on $100
  • $10 back on $50
Offer expires 6/30/2021.

How to Maxmize

1. Add the Amex Offers to your card(s)

Amex Offers are limited to one per SSN. I was able to add the $30 back on $100 to one of my Amex cards (a Hilton No AF card) and $10 back on $50 to another (a Personal Gold).

If you have authorized users and they have their own Amex profile and are targeted they too can add and redeem offers.

Some Amex Offers are publicly available, this one is targeted on a per-card basis. 

2. Buy gift cards

Direct Link [affiliate]

The T&Cs don't exclude gift card purchases, and historically they have triggered Amex Offers. The reason I like buying gift cards rather than wine head-on is because it minimizes overshoot, and locks in the value of the Amex Offer.'s gift cards are delivered via email shortly after ordering, and redundant plastic versions of the same codes are subsequently delivered in the mail.'s interface for the redemption of gift cards has changed a bit over the years. Once loaded to a account they stay associated with that account as a payment method. Their system allows use of 2 gift cards per transaction.

3. Get StewardShip

StewardShip covers shipping for $49/yr. If you shop with frequntly it's a good deal, but the key thing it enables is applying a promo code to an order while not having to pay for shipping.

You can only apply one promo code to an order, so without StewardShip you have to decide whether you want to use a promo code that discounts shipping -or- discounts the price.

4. Shop through a portal

I like to compare portal rates through Cashback Monitor.

Another site to consider is RetailMeNot (which isn't listed in Cashback Monitor) where rates tend to fluctuate between 10-20%.

Another is ShopSmarter where all merchants get 10% back everyday, but there's a $9.97 monthly fee. Paying for a membership for a shopping portal sounds crazy, but can make sense for people who do a lot of online shopping.

5. Use a promo code

Keep eye on this thread on WineBerserkers for new codes. There are a bunch of $20 off $50 and $50 off $150 codes that work well with this promo.

It's useful to have multiple variants of the same discount because a given promo code can only be used once per account.

Bottom Line

Yes,'s prices can be a bit inflated. But when you can stack all these discounts together the prices can be unbeatably low.

Yes,'s assortment can be mundane. And some states in particular have suffered from depleted inventory. But you just need to find enough wines you're enthusiastic about and the assortment seems to be improving of late.

This is one of the best reliably recurring deals out there. Between these offers and Wine Access deals, my wine refrigerator remains at or beyond capacity.

I'll follow-up later this week with some ideas for specific wines to buy.



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