2012 Sandler Bien Nacido Pinot Noir

ImageThis was a special Berserker Day purchase, and at $25 represents a fine bargain.

Transparent ruby, tastes of strawberries and probably what nerds would call sandalwood. Verrrrry fun to drink. A fine wine, indeed.

This was my first Sandler, but won’t be my last.



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2010 Maroon Barrel Select Cabernet

maroonI often spend/waste money on deeply discounted wines on the chance that the slashed price frog turns out to be a prince.

I picked up this 2010 Maroon Barrel Select Cabernet at Cost Plus World Market for $17, or about a third of the release price of $50. $17 would be a fantastic price for a decent Napa cab, obviously.

Unfortunately, this wine doesn’t justify even the modest price tag. It’s too sweet, candied fruit with a short finish. A meh in most all respects.Tastes like bulk cab.

Lesson learned.

C for what’s in the bottle. F for value.


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2009 Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica

donaThere’s a ton of perfectly fine sub $10 bottles of red Spanish wine in the world right now, much of it with the kind of high professional scores that help sell bottles.

This is one of the better ones.

Relatively light, with pure tasting fruit. It’s not overshadowed by oak or overextraction. Lots of rasberries. One of the great buys in wine right now. Rubber stopper, though. My least favorite closure.


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Vino Z Czech Pinot Blanc Vyskocil 2009

File this under wine from weird places. In this case, the Czech Republic.

Maybe not so weird, though. Turns out the area has a storied history of grape growing and wine making, and it shows in this wine, which is quite good. I brought it to Christmas dinner because I thought my Czech relatives would get a kick out of it, but we were all pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was.

Tastes strongly of lemon with lots of minerality. Not sure if the fact that this was a 2009 meant the acidity had faded a bit or if that’s the nature of this wine, but it’s a soft, clean and very easy drinking wine. Solid.

This importer is actually bringing a variety of Czech wines into the U.S., and now I hope to get around to tasting all of them. As a bonus, all of the labels look really pretty.


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Buying Wine Online: Three Good Sources

I buy almost all of my wine from my favorite local wine shop. Getting to know the clerks at a good local store is one of the most important steps for people looking to learn more about wine.

That said, there can be advantages to buying wine online, chiefly greater selection and competitive pricing.

Here what I view as three of the best online wineshops

  • Winelibrary.com- Great selection of popular and hard-to-find wines. Frequent free shipping offers and helpful customer service.
  • Lastbottlewines.com- Maybe the best of the “flash” sites, with a heavy emphasis on California. Free shipping with a minimum number of bottles. Get $5 in free lastbottle credits.
  • Winebid.com- The easiest and most casual of the auction sites. Plenty of bottles starting at $10. Easy to navigate.

That’s obviously only scratching the surface of a booming sector, but these three have all sent me a lot of good wine with zero hassle.

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2010 T-Vine Stonebridge Zinfandel

2010stonebridgezinfandelI made my first purchases from the flash site lastbottlewines.com a few weeks ago, picking up a few T-Vine stonebridge zinfandels and the 2009 T-Vine Paras Vineyard Grenache.

Each were heavily discounted down to $20 a bottle, and I bought into the story and took a leap. Both are pleasant, if not sensational. The grenache tastes a bit sweet and simple right now, but we’ll give it some time and see what happens.

I’m a fan of the zinfandel at the $20 price, as it somehow manages to not be overly oaky despite being aged largely in new american oak. It’s relatively light despite its 15% alcohol, and tastes like it could age for awhile. Always happy to have a few more bottles of quality Zin and I like this raspberry dominant one a lot.

Zin B+
Grenache B

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JAQK Cellars Soldier of Fortune Syrah

Went for a nice long hibernation for a few weeks, drank a lot of wines that I should have said something about. The best was probably a 100% grenache from Maison Bleue in Washington State. Stuff was nuts. Oh, well.

syrahYesterday I had a weird one. A Napa Valley syrah that I bought on deeeeep discount. JAQK Cellars Soldier of Fortune Syrah. The winery lists it at $48. A local discounter was blowing it out at about $14 and I bit due to the discount alone.

It was very good! Very smooth and polished and expensive tasting (ie, new oak). No rough edges at all. Second bottle of the night so I don’t have a detailed recollection. I would have guessed Australia. No complaints at $14 for a change of pace kind of wine.

I’d buy again at that price. Paying twice or nearly three times that would have been made me feel dumb.


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