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.


Last Bottle $30 back on $100 Amex Offer

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Last Bottle Wines is back with what seems to be a recurring Amex Offer:
  • $30 back on $100+
  • Expires 9/30/2021
Their model is to offer one wine at a time until it sells out. For example, they're currently offering a Rivetti Barbaresco for $25/btl with free shipping on 4+.

If you haven't shopped with Last Bottle before, get $10 off your first order through referral.


First Bottle Wines: 10% Back + $50 off $250 Amex Offer + $10 Through Referral + Free Shipping

Monday, July 5, 2021

First Bottle Wines is offering 10% back towards a future order today. This should be stackable with a number of other deals for some favorable pricing on good wines.

You may be more familiar with First Bottle's sister site Last Bottle. Whereas Last Bottle is a flash sale site with one bottle on offer at a time, First Bottle maintains a medium-sized selection of bottles available with mix-and-match free shipping on 6+ bottles every day.

Deals to Stack

1. Today Only (7/5/2021): Get 10% back towards future purchases.

2. Amex Offer: $50 back on $250 (expires 9/30/2021)

3. $10 off first order through referral

Here's my referral link. Thanks in advance for considering using it:

4. Free shipping on 6+ bottles

What to Buy

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Bottom Line

Nice to have another retailer in the mix for deals besides the usual suspects.

They can add ice packs to orders for a fee, or hold for delivery in the fall.



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