The “New” Ice Bucket Challenge?

I’ve watched with great interest the viral success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Congrats to ALS for this most deserved windfall.

And now, I wonder “what’s next”?  Every non-profit in the country is studying this case to find ways to replicate it.  Well, I think can speak for all the Managers at all the Tasting Rooms for every winery when I say “I hope  the next big trend is NOT the Spit Bucket Challenge”.  So messy.

Is the "Spit Bucket Challenge" Next?

P.S.  October of 2014 marks the 10-yr anniversary of this movie.  You’d be amazed how many of my Millenial customers have no idea what it was.  It’s worth the $4-$5 you’ll spend on the DVD!

Upside to the Downside – Wine Discounts!

depression_charts1The stock market may be killing your 401-K, and you maybe you’ll be working five years longer than you ever thought.  But today’s dismal market has an upside – there are a LOT of good wine bargains to be had! Both online and land-based wine merchants are slashing prices on wines that aren’t moving – opting for cash flow over near-term profitability.

And what wines aren’t moving today?  The higher priced wines, for the most part!  Keep an eye out for wines from Bordeaux, second-tier California cult wines, and other wines slightly out of favor at the moment (domestic Syrah for example, which managed to go the way of Merlot in rather short order!)

My advice?  Seek value in the higher price range.  This is perhaps (and hopefully!) a once in a lifetime chance to gobble up some great Bordeaux and Burgundy and second tier California cult wines at prices I hope we’ll never see again (not that I’m opposed to low prices on great wine, just not fond of the economic conditions that create them).

As for sale wines priced below $20, my advice is the same as always – there is a lot of bad wine that has found its way into this price category!  But there is also some very good wine, wine you’d love to drink on a daily basis.  To sort these gems from the sludge, I recommend avoiding discounted wine unless its offered by a merchant whose palate you trust.

wine-sale My Online Specials: Save 10$ – 33%
My business is not immune from the foibles of supply and demand.  I have wines taking up valuable storage space, and I’m now offering them at tremendous discount.  See the Online Specials section of my store for today’s latest bargains, and save 10% – 33% on slow-moving wines.  Take a look at these examples:

You’ll find many more great wines at discounted prices at my clearance sale.

DSCN0419Enjoy!

Dave the Wine Merchant

Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com

Wine of the Week – Bonneau Wines, 2005 Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley ($22)

06Zin-bottleWine of the Week!

Bonneau Wines, 2005 Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley
$22/Bottle or $238/case (10% case discount)
Member Price = $19.80/bottle or $225/case (15% discount)

This wine was included in our June shipment to members of our sampling program “Maya’s Collectible Selections”.

It hails from the warm reaches of the Shenandoah Valley (between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite) in hot Amador County. This region is home to lots of big, fruity, “Monster” Zins, whose alcohol can exceed 16%.

This wine runs counter to that stereotype. It swims upstream. Marches to a different drummer, and a number of other hackneyed expressions that don’t come immediately to my fingertips at the moment. It enjoys an elegant body and a moderate 14.1% alcohol level with hints of fresh cracked black pepper that make this versatile wine – equally pleasing at the cocktail hour or the dinner hour.

A Classic Zinfandel With Pleasant Surprises!
For one, winemaker John Bambury has crafted that rare California Zinfandel that works well with food (recipe suggestion). The wine shows a beautiful dark fruit profile topped by a filigree of red raspberries and the tell-tale Zinfandel markers – mouth-watering wafts of dark licorice and fresh ground pepper.

From an old historic Sonoma family, this wine reminds me of the Zins I fell in love with in the 80’s. Pop the cork and drink a piece of history!

Just 420 cases produced.

Bonneau Wines, 2005 Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley
$22/Bottle or $238/case (10% case discount)
Member Price = $19.80/bottle or $225/case (15% discount)

Happy MerchantCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com

Quote of the Day
“To the sun that warmed the vineyards.
To the juice that turned to wine.
To the host who cracked the bottle,
and made it yours and mine!”

~ Unknown

Two great wines. They just happen to be kosher!

cabernet-label1Two weeks from today, on the 8th of April, many families around the world will celebrate the Jewish Passover. I have only attended one Seder dinner in my life, memorable for many reasons, not the least of which was the Kosher wine. It was an otherwise interesting and enjoyable meal.

But the wine was horrid, and I remember it well. As much as I tried to avoid drinking it, as much as I tried hiding my glass (“Dave, I found your glass in the bathroom – you must have left it there by accident!”), the parents of my friend (who was, and I know this will surprise you, a doctor) kept enthusiastically finding and refilling my glass in the spirit of kindness and generosity. Oy, the headache the next day!

So it was with great interest that I discovered two new Kosher wines from Covenant Wines. These are great wines, that just happen to be Kosher. Both are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.  And both are coaxed into being by the talented winemaking team of Leslie Rudd (of Rudd vineyards) and Jeff Morgan (of SoloRosa). These two highly regarded winemakers came together for this project out of common interest, and apparently, one too many Kosher wine headaches after one too many Seders.

So here they are, in what I call…

“I can’t believe this is Kosher!”

Pull the cork.  Pour into 2 glasses.  You've divided the Red C.    

Pull the cork. Pour into 2 glasses. You’ve divided the Red C.

Covenant Wines, 2006 “Red C” Cabernet, $39.95 – the juicier of the two, this wine is ready for immediate enjoyment now and over the next 3 – 5 years.  

Winemaker’s Notes: Our second label, “RED C”, is made predominantly from grapes grown at the Young Family Vineyard, just south of St. Helena.  Like Covenant, RED C is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The blend includes some of the barrels from Covenant that don’t make it into our premier bottling, but that still show excellent character and finesse. Because RED C includes a bit of press wine, it remains in barrels for an extended period and is released some 6 months later than Covenant.  RED C also carries the same kosher certification as Covenant.  Click Here to Order “Red C”

bottle-shotCovenant Wines, 2006 “Covenanat” Cabernet Sauvignon, $79.95 – As one expects of a luxury-class Cab from Napa, this wine is big and packed with dark fruit flavors such as plum, currants and cassis. You’ll find hints of anise, cocoa/chocolate, warm leather and cedar notes. Firm but pleasant tannins provide elegance with a structure that drinks nicely now, but will help this baby age for a decade without breaking sweat.  Classic Napa Valley!  Click Here to Order “Covenant”

Note: Covenant and RED C wines are certified kosher by the OU and Kehilla Kosher. They are not mevushal.

happy-merchant1Cheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com 

 P.S. Click Here for the Osso Bucco of Lamb Shank recipe recommended as a pairing for this wine. A great meal, for Seder or just an average Wednesday. 

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Marvelous Malbec – Going the way of Merlot?

FS_Reserve_-_Malbec_2006_-_FrenteWednesday, January 28, 2009
This weekend's Wall Street Journal "Tastings" article featured the results of a Malbec tasting.  It could not have been more timely.  As it was being inked I was writing up a Malbec from Argentina for Monday's club shipment – the Finca Sophenia 2007 Reserver Malbec ($19).

This wine was selected for my club members for much the same reasons Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher describe in their article – it provides an interesting change of pace at an affordable price.

Read their full article here -http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123274529050711187.html?mod=dist_smartbrief 

I think the most interesting aspect of their article is that, while the varietal is enjoying a rapid ascent in popularity, they found many samples to be quite unpleasant.  This is exactly what earned Merlot such vehement opposition from wine geek Miles Raymond in the movie Sideways – every grower and winemaker wanted in on the action and began planting Merlot vines in inappropriate places, and/or over-cropped the hell out of the vines, resulting in large quantities of uninteresting wines. 

Great winegrowers will tell you – over and over again, if you let them – that great wine begins in the vineyard, and that the producer can mess up great grapes, but can not fix bad grapes.  They view their role as a caretaker, and seek to make wine only from the best fruit possible.  In the case of Malbec, or at least the poor quality ones, it seems the wine is being overly manipulated to cover up bad fruit.  Acid may be added.  Oak barrels (or more likely staves, or chips or tea bags of oak shavings) are being relied upon to lend flavors to otherwise bland grapes.

This is a slippery slope.  But you can help!  By purchasing and sharing only Malbecs known to be of good quality, you make the most important vote you can make.  Hopefully, your message to the producers in Argentina will be loud and clear.

I can stand behind the Finca Sophenia.  For additional options, refer to the wines reviewed in the WSJ article here – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123274529050711187.html?mod=dist_smartbrief 

Dtwm_color_web_optimizedCheers!
Dave the Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com 

Today’s Quote:
"First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don't.  Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done.  And then come the idiots, whose avarice undoes the very innovations they are trying to use to get rich."

~ Warren Buffett (1930 – ?)


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Hope & Anticipation

It’s early morning and I’ve just bid farewell to a long day at the end of a long week.  One of those weeks when I wonder why I stay in this crazy but wonderful but frustrating business.

Much of my work is exactly what you’d think – lots of driving to visit hot, dusty vineyards, cool, sweet-smelling wineries, or jam-packed wine and food tastings.  Of course, its fun to discover great new wines.  But the road to each discovery is littered with dozens of nearly-full bottles of average wines, from which even a sip was too much, each accompanied by a Winemaker’s pride and perhaps his or her life savings and hopes for the future.

What keeps me going is subtle but resonant.  Like the steady thrum of a bass drum, it is felt more than heard.  It is the hope of the entrepreneur, the eternal belief that tomorrow will be just a little better than today.  I have come to hope that, when I get to my next dusty vineyard or small garage winery, or even my next rest stop, something wonderful and unexpected might occur, even if the wine isn’t my next favorite.

Like the time I discovered Arcadian’s production team listening to Miles Davis during crush.  Or when I was invited to Friday dinner with a haphazard collection of wine industry employees, only to chance upon the sharing of a rare bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape.  Or the field education I received in the Abbey-Harris Vineyard the day my wife drove by and volunteered my free labor in exchange for their knowledge.  Or the primer in ancient head-trained vine techniques passed on from Doug Timewell.

Of course, even these serendipities don’t always happen.  If they did it would be no fun at all – who would want Christmas EVERY day?  It’s the anticipation of an event that keeps it interesting, even if you don’t know, exactly, what the event might be.

In this dim but steady light of constant anticipation, even small things become rewarding – the pleasant wait staff at a bar where I’m not known.  A great new employee at the wine bar.  Free wireless internet access in a good coffee shop.  The cheerful lilting sounds of "Hello, how are YOU?!" from my irrepressible business partner.  Or the squeal of my young daughter, fresh from her bath, as she runs to greet me, too excited for her skin to contain all her glee.

What could be better, more rewarding, more absolutely life-giving?  Nothing. Not a damn thing.


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Rating Il Podore's 2002 Teroldego

Teroldego200_2This wine was selected for our June, 2007 shipment, sent to subscribers of our wine sampling program known as "Jack’s Selections".  Each member or previous buyer has been invited to share their opinions for the benefit of other members, prospective members and prospective buyers. 

(A Note from Dave Chambers)  My apologies!  My first attempt at inserting these polls directly into this blog posting were a bust!  But I’ve worked with the folks at Vizu.com and come up with a way for past buyers to rate the wines (the default tab) and for non-buyers to see the results without rating it (Click the "Poll Results" tab).  PASSWORD = SIDEWAYS

CLICK HERE TO SEE REVIEWS ON THIS WINE!

Swclogogs3x3_10_2 Cheers!
Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com

Rating Pietra Santa's 2005 Pinot Grigio

Ps_pgrigio_lrg This wine was selected for our June, 2007 shipment that was sent to subscribers of our "Maya’s Selections" wine sampling program.  Each member has been invited to share their opinions for the benefit of other members, prospective members and prospective buyers.

(A Note from Dave Chambers)  My apologies!  My first attempt at inserting these polls directly into this blog posting were a bust!  But I’ve worked with the folks at Vizu.com and come up with a way for past buyers to rate the wines (the default tab) and for non-buyers to see the results without rating it (Click the "Poll Results" tab).  PASSWORD = SIDEWAYS

CLICK HERE TO SEE REVIEWS ON THIS WINE!

Swclogogs3x3_10_2 Cheers!
Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com

Rating Clautiere Vineyard's 2005 Estate Viognier

Clautiere_2 This wine was selected for our June, 2007 shipment that was sent to subscribers of our "Jack’s Selections" wine sampling program.  Each member has been invited to share their opinions for the benefit of other members, prospective members and prospective buyers.

(A Note from Dave Chambers)  My apologies!  My first attempt at inserting these polls directly into this blog posting were a bust!  But I’ve worked with the folks at Vizu.com and come up with a way for past buyers to rate the wines (the default tab) and for non-buyers to see the results without rating it (Click the "Poll Results" tab).  PASSWORD = SIDEWAYS

CLICK HERE TO SEE REVIEWS ON THIS WINE!

Swclogogs3x3_10_2 Cheers!
Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com

Rating Cass Winery's 2004 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine was selected for our June, 2007 shipment that was sent to subscribers of our "Maya’s Selections" wine sampling program.  Each member has been invited to share their opinions for the benefit of other members, prospective members and prospective buyers.

(A Note from Dave Chambers)  My apologies!  My first attempt at inserting these polls directly into this blog posting were a bust!  But I’ve worked with the folks at Vizu.com and come up with a way for past buyers to rate the wines (the default tab) and for non-buyers to see the results without rating it (Click the "Poll Results" tab).  PASSWORD = SIDEWAYS

CLICK HERE TO SEE REVIEWS ON THIS WINE!

Swclogogs3x3_10_2 Cheers!
Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
Dave@SidewaysWineClub.com