Fresh Off the Truck: 2020 Martin Ray Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Thursday, May 26, 2022

I still think it's harder to find a good $20 bottle of Pinot Noir than a satisfying $12 full-bodied Cabernet (Columbia Crest H3) or Monastrell (Juan Gil).

At around $20 I tend to see Meiomi and similar wines in the domestic Pinot Noir category, and a lot of those are a bit over the top for what some might consider varietally correct.

So I was interested in trying a wine that's gotten some attention recently that's less than $20. Let's get right into it...

2020 Martin Ray Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% Alcohol

30% opaque with a ruby/magenta hue. It appears light-bodied but like any good California Pinot Noir, it delivers satisfying aromas and flavor.

On the nose, I get fresh ripening fruit, strawberries, and a hint of white pepper.

On entry, it lands with satisfying weight. Low acidity with just a hint of fine silky tannins on the backend. This is a very drinkable wine, devoid of off-notes with broad appeal. Impressive at this price point.

89/100 WWP: Very Good

So here's an interesting puzzler on how to buy this wine...

Wine Access has it for $18. You could buy 7 bottles to get to $126 for free shipping, and that would trigger the $100 Amex Offer. You could also buy $100 eGCs to avoid overshoot. Or if it's your first order you could to $150 for $50 back on your first $150 order through referral. has it for $18.99 in Massachusetts. If you have Stewardship you could get 3 bottles of it for $56.97 and get $20 off $50 with code JOURNEY50 (HT Diego Santos on Wine Berserkers). That seems like a pretty great way to try just a few bottles, or mix it in with some other wines you like to get to $50.

Bottom Line

It's still surprisingly hard to find a solid bottle of Pinot Noir for $20, but this one delivers for less than $20 before discounts. Give it a whirl and see whether this might make it into your rotation?


[Targeted Amex Offer] $60 back on $200 at First Bottle

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

There's a new Amex Offer for $60 back on $200 from First Bottle.
Expires 7/5/2022.

First Bottle doesn't have an affiliate program, so they don't participate in shopping portals.
Free shipping on 6+ bottles.

See also:


Targeted Citi/AA Simply Miles Offers: 30+% Off

Monday, May 9, 2022

Tim at Frequent Miler spotted a couple of new stackable offers...

There seem to be at least a couple versions of these offers swirling around, from two separate but semi-related entities.

Citi Offers

I see one of these offers on each of my Citi cards:
  • $30 back on $100+
  • $10 back on $100+
The ones that have the better $30 offer seem to be cards that I didn't use the prior offer on. On cards I did use the prior offer, I was only targeted for $10 off $100.

Citi's IT is notoriously flaky. Although they recently expanded their Offers program to include all (most?) Citi cards I've had difficulty bringing them up on desktop. The Citi mobile app seems to be a more reliable way to activate these offers.

Gift card purchases have triggered the $30 back in the past.

When multiple cards are targeted each seems to be able to take advantage of the offer, which is superior to how Amex mostly limits us to one offer per SSN now.

This offer expires 6/30/2022.

AA Simply Miles

While not nearly as lucrative as a prior iteration of this offer in conjunction with a 5x multiplier, there are at least two active offers on stackable Mastercard-linked AA Simply Miles.
  • 1,400 miles for $100+
  • 450 miles for $100+
These should stack with the Citi Offers, and thankfully many of the cards Citi issues are Mastercards - which is the only card type that AA Simply Miles currently supports.


I have never found a shopping portal that pays out on the purchase of gift cards. Portals do pay out when paying with gift cards, but never when buying them. It doesn't mean it's not worth trying, but I've given up.

That said, card linked offers do seem to reliably pay out on the purchase of gift cards. This is true of Amex Offers and the more recently introduced Citi Offers.

Bottom Line

Solid deals. Stack 'em up, buy some gift cards to avoid overshoot, shop through a portal, take a referral, sign up for Stewardship, and pick wines that aren't too price-inflated and this should result in some tremendous savings.


[Targeted Amex Offer] $30 off $100 at Last Bottle

There's a new Amex Offer for $30 off $100 from wine retailer Last Bottle. 
Expires 7/5/2022.

New customers can get $10 off $30 through referral.

As far as I know, Last Bottle doesn't have an affiliate program so they don't participate in shopping portals. So I think the best you can do is load the offer, take a referral, and wait for an appealing offer to present itself. The hurdle is usually low for free shipping.


[Targeted] Amex Offer: $30 Back on $100 (x3) at Wine Access

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Wine Access is back with a new iteration of a popular offer:
$30 back on $100+ which can be repeated three times.
Expires 10/29/2022.

I saw this on one of my wife's Personal Platinum cards, but not on my cards.
She hasn't gotten this offer before and I had, which makes me think this is perhaps targeted to accounts that haven't had the offer before. But who knows.

How to Maximize

1. Buy eGiftCards

To lock in the savings and avoid overshoot, buy $100 eGCs (affiliate link):

The eGCs arrive instantly and can be combined for future orders.

2. Use a referral for new accounts

This is my referral link. Thanks in advance of using it.

3. Try stacking with a coupon

Wine Access does promo codes a little differently than other retailers. Rather than having promo codes that float around, they tend to send targeted emails out on your birthday and such. When you click on the link in the email, the offer is attached to your account. So sign up for an account and hope for the best.

What to Buy

I haven't bought from Wine Access lately, but I've got an order in for some new arrivals. I'll look to get back to some "Fresh Off the Truck" reviews when those arrive. 

One notable recent winner is the 2017 Keller Estate La Cruz Pinot Noir. Familiarity with this one goes way back for me. Long-time readers (really long time) will recall my fondness for Zepaltas Pinot Noir. Ryan Zepaltas burst onto the winemaking scene with a 95 point Wine Spectator rating for his 2005 Zepaltas La Cruz Pinot Noir.

Besides tracking down Zepaltas Pinot Noirs, meeting Ryan, and interviewing here on the site I also visited and tasted at Keller. Their Pinot Noirs are fantastic, and the 2017 Keller La Cruz Pinot Noir shows very well. At $30/btl with these stackable discounts, it's one to try. Compare at $52 at the winery.


May 2022 Stackable Savings at Total Wine

Sunday, May 1, 2022

A new month brings new deals, and it looks like Total Wine is making a push with three deals that are potentially stackable depending on where you live and what's enforced:

  • Online shopping portals (online, certain states only)
  • Citi Offers (targeted, activation required)
  • AA Simply Miles (targeted, card-linked program for Mastercards)
Online Shopping Portals

There are two listings for Total Wine on Cashback Monitor:
It never much occurred to me to check shopping portals for Total Wine since I think of it mostly as a brick & mortar store. 

But looking at their offerings with fresh eyes it looks like they also offer:
  • Delivery (to some addresses, presumably near stores, from $5.99)
  • Shipping (presumably to states where they operates stores but when you're far from a location)
  • In-store pickup (not all products are available to order for in-store pickup)
All of these should qualify for portal cashback, though I haven't tried personally.
Check the fine print on the shopping portal of choice.

Looks like Top Cashback is 10% at the moment.

Citi Offers

Some Citi credit cards are targeted for $20 back on $100 or more. This offer should work online or in-store. If you don't see it on desktop, check in the Citi mobile app.

Activation required.

It's said to be available only in these states (unclear whether it's enforced):
AZ, CA, FL, MD, MN, MO, NV, NM, NC, SC, and VA

Offer ends 5/22/2022.

AA Simply Miles

American Airlines Simply Miles is a card-linked program that's separate from the AA shopping portal. It works by linking any Mastercard credit card to your AA Simply Miles account, which in turn is linked to your AAdvantage account. Purchases should then automatically earn AA miles.

This should work online or in-store.

Since it's card-linked it should be stackable with the offers above.
The current offer I see is 930 miles for a purchase of $100 or more.

It's said to be available only in these states (same states as the Citi Offer):
AZ, CA, FL, MD, MN, MO, NV, NM, NC, SC, and VA

Offer ends 5/22/2022.



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