Fresh Off the Truck Review: 2018 Moundsman *St. Helena* Napa Cab [as low as $30/btl, compare at $145]

Friday, April 30, 2021

I almost missed this one since Wine Access already offered a 2018 Moundsman. I mistakenly thought it was a re-release.

The difference here vs the prior offer is that the prior wine was a Moundsman Rutherford (suspected to be from the Beckstoffer Georges III Vinyeard) whereas this one is a Moundsman St. Helena Cab.


  • "wines that have been called 'over-delivering' and 'world-class' by Robert Parker" (sounds like Lewelling)
  • "one of the oldest continuously-owned family vineyards in Napa, dating back to the 1860s" (from the Lewelling site "Our family is proud to present this wine that celebrates over 150 years as one of the oldest continuously owned and farmed vineyards in the Napa Valley. Established 1864.")
  • "Smack at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains" (I remember visiting there and the Lewelling vineyards were right at the base of the mountains)

One thing that doesn't quite make sense is the $145 comparison price point for some wine made from grapes from this vineyard. Lewelling's own wines don't sell for that much so the reference is for some other winery producing grapes from Lewelling fruit.

XTANT made a $175 Lewelling Cab back in 2010. Not sure what it goes for now. But I'd think Wine Access would have picked the highest comparable price point possible. Hmm...

This may be what the offer is referring to: Charles Hendricks Wines made a 2014 Lewelling Cab for $145/btl.

$33/btl on 6+
$30/btl on 12+
14.9% Alcohol
Free Shipping on $120+

Plum and graphite on the nose.
Powerful and the palate with good supporting acidity and a classic "serious" Napa Cab flavor profile.
Soft, chewy tannins here in its youth with a long finish.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding

Deals to Stack

I didn't like this one quite as much as the Moundsman Rutherford. But the Rutherford sold out a while back and this is a solid follow-up offer. It's shipping quickly (mine arrived in a couple days) so you could order a few assorted bottles to try and see what you'd like to buy more of before it sells out.

At $30/btl before discounts this is a solid value.


Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir at First Bottle

Sunday, April 25, 2021

First Bottle is offering the 2014 Radio-Coteau Alberigi Pinot Noir for $64.95/btl.

Radio-Coteau has long been one of my favorite California Pinot Noir producers so this deal caught my eye.

Deals to Stack
Free shipping on 6 bottles, but quite nicely they offer $10 flat rate ground shipping on 1-5 bottles.

It's a 2014 so it's got some age on it, but from what I've tasted from Radio-Coteau in the past I bet this is drinking beautifully.


Michael Browne Pinot Noirs (CIRQ and Chev) on Wine Access

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Wine Access has the latest Pinot Noirs from Michael Browne available (affiliate links below):

Deal or Not a Deal?

Wine Access says:
The barrier to the world's best wine isn't price. It's access.
It's great to see an opportunity to buy these wines, most commonly sold consumer direct, from an online retailer like Wine Access.

I say that because it provides an opportunity to buy just a couple bottles without competing for a slot on a mailing list, and just as importantly: Avoiding high shipping costs while trying just a couple bottles.

Let's look at the Chev at $105/btl. Winery direct pricing is $80. I bought 3 bottles and paid $25 for shipping. That's $88/btl after shipping.

With Wine Access we can potentially stack a couple deals:
  • 2 x $105 = $210
  • Less $50 through referral = $160
  • Less $50 for the Amex offer = $110
  • Free shipping on $120+ (calculated on pre-discount pricing) = $55/btl
That's a pretty great deal on a tremendous Pinot Noir.

Do I regret buying it for $88/btl winery direct? Not at all. This is a great opportunity to justify cracking one of those bottles open and replenishing my stock through Wine Access.

Can I justify splurging on a $225 bottle of CIRQ with discounts? Sheesh - that's a tough call. I have a hard time justifying wine north of $100/btl in my mind. $225 for a domestic Pinot Noir is a new high water mark. I need some crazy deal (like this one) to justify that in my mind.


Fresh Off the Truck: Angeline Reserve Cabernet [$15 from Wine Access before discounts]

Saturday, April 3, 2021

14.2% Alcohol

65% opaque, with ripe plums and California Cabernet notes typical of this price range.
Gets better on the palate with satisfying density and flavors that conflate ripe fruit with milk chocolate.
The finish knocks it down a peg where an otherwise pleasant experience is just a bit disjoint.

88/100 WWP: Very Good

I know a lot of people are looking for value recommendations from Wine Access to utilize the latest targeted Amex Offer with a $50 off $150 referral for new customers -or- other discount links like $50 off $150 or $100 off $250 for existing customers.

Hopefully this one hits the mark.


Value Alert: 92 WS $12 California Sauvignon Blanc

Friday, April 2, 2021

I was reading a paper copy of Wine Spectator recently and came across an outlier I should have noticed before.

A 92 point Sauvignon Blanc that retails for $12, the 2019 Joel Gott California Sauvignon Blanc:

I had a look at all the California Sauvignon Blancs Wine Spectator has rated for the 2019 and 2020 vintage. There were 118 of them.

The highest scoring wines received 93 points (there were 4 of them). 
The most expensive (Kenzo) is $80.
The most inexpensive (Chateau Souverain) is $10.

And here's Joel Gott at 92 points for $12. It was literally the 2nd most affordable wine they rated. That's pretty amazing.
What This Wine Reminds Me Of

Remember the 2007 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc? It's a consistently beautiful wine in a unique package.

It still stands today as an outlier among California Sauvignon Blancs with a 96 point rating, two full points higher than the next best wines.

There are a couple of things the Joel Gott has in common with the Merry Edwards, in addition to their category:
  • The taster for both wines was MaryAnn Worobiec
  • They both contain the following phrase:
Tasted twice, with consistent notes.
It's as if she's saying. "I couldn't believe it either. So I tasted it again. And yes, it's that good."

A Quick Story About Wine Spectator Blind Tasting

A story I've been meaning to tell that I don't think I've made more than a passing mention of was a visit to Wine Spectator's tasting offices in Napa. This was back in the day, not so long after I started this blog in 2008.

I met with James Laube and, I'm pretty sure MaryAnn Worobiec was there too as tasting coordinator at the time. She gave me a quick tour of how they set up their blind tasting protocols.

It was pretty much exactly as described in this video

Note the interesting bit about inclusion of a "ringer" wine: A wine the reviewer has previously rated before that if they score it significantly differently when retasting it blind they know their palate is off and they redo the flight.

I really do think that Spectator adheres to the blind tasting protocols they describe. One thing that's unclear though is how "clustered" the wines in a given flight are?

For example, does the tasting coordinator say: "Okay, you'll be tasting top end Napa Cabs today." Or is a free for all of wines from $10-$300? I think it would be fun if it were a free for all, but I wouldn't be surprised if wines were grouped together in similar price buckets - but I also wouldn't be surprised if low or high priced wines were worked into the mix just to see if they surprise the taster, one way or the other.

If so, that's what I'm thinking this Joel Gott could be. A wine that got snuck into a more expensive flight and held its own and then some.

13.9% Alcohol

I too tasted the wine twice: Once chilled and once at room temperature.

Tasted fresh out of the house refrigerator and allowed to gradually come up to room temperature, the merits of this wine are definitely obscured. But it does present itself in a round, plush, and voluptuous manner. Poached pears, ripe white flesh peaches, and a hint of fresh cut grass.

Tasted at room temperature it's more compelling and more importantly, devoid of off notes. Aromatically delightful with a surprisngly long finish.

Finishes clean but could use more acidity. Still, a delight to drink. Recommended.

90/100 WWP: Oustanding

Bottom Line

With 90,000 cases produced, it should be easy to find this wine. Give it a whirl and see if it becomes your summer crowd pleasing go-to wine.


[Targeted Amex Offer] Wine Access $50 off $150 or $50 off $250

Wine Access is back with another Amex Offer. I'm hearing of two variants:
  • $50 off $150
  • $50 off $250
Offer Terms
  • Each offer can be repeated 3x (quite nice)
  • You can reach the spend target through one or more transactions (also nice)
  • Expires 9/30/2021
How to Maximize It

This stacks well with a $50 off $150 referral for new customers.

If you're an existing customer check out this $50 off $150 offer. If you've used that one already, try this $100 off $250.

Shipping is free on $120+ orders.

What to Buy

Last time around I bought gift cards and can confirm they triggered the offer. That can be useful for locking in the savings and avoiding overshoot when ordering.

If you're unsure of which wines to buy and would rather they choose for you, their wine club quarterly subscriptions are conveniently priced at $150 per shipment.

Otherwise, here are a few suggestions at low, medium and high price points:
Bottom Line

I get the sense this one is relatively narrowly targeted, perhaps at those who haven't transacted with Wine Access on their Amex cards. I'm hearing it's showing up on personal Amex cards more than business.


10% Off $100 Total Wine eGCs from Newegg

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Newegg has Total Wine $100 electronic gift cards on sale for $90.
  • Direct Link
  • Limit 3
  • Offer active 4/1/2021 or until they run out
Buy with a credit card that highly rewards computer (Amex Business Gold) or online spend (BofA Personal Cash Rewards, the quarter just reset).

HT GiftCardReport via pillow25 on Milenomics Slack


2017 Wolfe Grade Cabernet Back in Stock at Wine Access

Just a quick note to mention the 2017 Wolfe Grade Cab is back in stock at Wine Access.

I really like this one at $32-$38 before discounts (93 points for me) and the more expensive wine it's rumored to be associated with just as much.

They pitch this as $300 for $38 but I think a more reasonable comparison is to the Immortal at around $70. All in all a good deal with all the promos they've been running lately.

$50 off $150 through referral and free shipping on $120+ orders.



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