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Wine Warms the Heart

Date: Tue, Jan 6, 2009 Winery Blogs


At the home's hearth, deep in the feelings of family and friends, lies satisfaction. Warm-hearted, fulfilling satisfaction - that feeling is drawn from many sources and they're all good. Be it mother's long-braised beef stews, a close encounter with someone special, or simply sharing a hearty bottle of red wine with those near and dear to you. Big, rich, lusty red wines set the tone so well, there is no substitute. Bordeaux, Super Tuscans, monster shiraz, spicy zinfandels, reserva malbecs - truth be told drinkin' wine never gets old. Happy New Year from PersonalWine & Wines.com!

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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Wine crazy for the Holidays

Date: Thu, Dec 18, 2008 Winery Blogs




What are you drinking right now? If it's wine, I bet that you're having a good time, enjoying yourself. During the Holiday Season, we in the Wine Game tend to drink even more than usual (as if that were possible!). Big, lavish reds and celebratory sparklers set the proper holiday tone. Some of our favorite big reds this year have been the Flora Springs Trilogy, D'arenberg's "Dead Arm" Shiraz, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Merlot and the Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot. Our favorite red of '08? The gorgeous 2004 Gagliole Rosso Super Tuscan. Blending cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese, this lush powerhouse truly defines how great wine can be. Spicy and meaty, with just the right amount of dark red berry fruit and well-stuctured tannins. Our favorite sparklers of 2008 were the Scharffenberger Brut (actually a Blanc de Noir, loaded as it is with pinot noir) from Anderson Valley. Check out my blog on this fantastic Cali sparkler dated 10/16/08. Our favorite French Champagne today is the Deutz Brut, a medium-bodied toasty classic, ripe with lemon & grapefruit notes. It would surely be the hit of any New Year's Eve celebration. It's been a wild ride getting Wines.com 2.0 off of the ground, and I must send out my warmest appreciation to the hard-rocking staff here at Wines.com for helping to make all of this work. More importantly, it's you, our loyal customers who make it all happen. Without your support, we couldn't exist. Look for big things from Wines.com in 2009, including an expansion of our Free Shipping program and many more specials. We will be making some major acquisitions in the coming months, so stay tuned. The best is yet to come!

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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Let's All Go Wine Clubbing

Date: Wed, Dec 3, 2008 Winery Blogs


Groucho Marx once said, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.". The joy of joining a Wine Club is that there are no meetings to dress up for, you never have to meet other members and your anonymity is retained. There seem to be a gazillion Wine Clubs out there; every winery and online wine retailer offers them. As we here at Wines.com were setting up our Wine Clubs, we were determined to provide subscribers with exciting, over-delivering wines. What on earth does "over-delivering" mean? Most of our Wine Clubs deliver wines priced to our members in the teens. If you were to find these wines in stores, they would cost you much more. At their price-points, the wines deliver more than what you would expect, based on what you paid. We have hand-selected, through extensive tastings, a collection that is guaranteed to please. Wines representing a wide range of varietals from a vast array of wine growing region from around the globe. It's tough to recommend any one particular Wines.com Wine Club, better that you check out our offerings on the website. Feel free to call us at (800)690-9463 x308 if you have any questions about the Wine Clubs or any of our wines. They make great gifts! Let's ALL Go Wine Clubbing!

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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As Good As Chardonnay Gets

Date: Wed, Nov 26, 2008 Winery Blogs


Located at the foot of Sonoma County, the Russian River Valley (RRV) has become the source of some of Cali's finest chardonnay. While the chards coming from Monterey Cty. and the Central Coast seem to be tasting more on the tropical side, the RRV wines tend to exhibit more traditional fall and stone fruit flavors. The over-riding theme here is lean, Burgundian restraint. This is in part a result of the blanketing, cooling fog drawn inland from the Pacific. Two really stunning StealDeal RRV chards that we have recently aquired here at Wines.com hail from Rutz Cellars. The 2004 Maison Grand Cru is fat and rich, showing honeyed vanilla notes. This wine went through complete malolactic fermentation and over six months maturation resting on lees. For the layperson, the ultimate effect of all of this is a big, lovely, lush chardonnay. Toasty oak notes weave through the spicy pear, honey, apricot & nectarine flavors. This full-bodied wine is nonetheless perfect with elegant poultry dishes, say, roast turkey. It's half priced at $15 per bottle. The 2005 Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay comes from Wente clone vines planted in the fog belt of the RRV. These low-yielding vines produce fruit of great intensity and focused minerality. The fresh, crisp acidity of this wine surrounds a midpalate rich with vanilla and peach. The understated oak component serves as a delightful, enhancing counterpoint to its natural, refreshing, lengthy finish. This vintage truly is one of Cali's best efforts. This is how good chardonnay CAN be. While this wine is usually priced in the $60-$70 range, we have a nice chunk of it at $29 per bottle. Call us for Case Price Specials & FREE SHIPPING on this wine.


Cheers,Buckley Wineholt
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Shop to Buy Wine Online

Date: Wed, Nov 19, 2008 Winery Blogs




Among the myriad of avenues upon which America shops for wine, what often gets lost is actually what the customer wants to buy. Sure, Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, Beringer White Zinfandel and Yellow Swill Shiraz sell millions of cases, but what do wine buyers with discriminating palates want to buy. Those real, actual good bottle of wine seeking wine buyers. What are they shopping for? What influences their shopping patterns? Labels/brands and perceived prestige/cachet. It's pretty hard to sell someone shopping for wine online a flavor, at least at this level of the computer's development. The wines that people want to buy are not perceived values because of their pricepoints (i.e.,"values"). They shop for wines that are a perceived lifestyle enhancement value. Shopping for prestige, or cachet, goes on even in a down economy. Wine shoppers want to buy wine that, even at modest pricepoints, delivers prestigious lifestyle enhancement. Shop for wine specials, develop a bond of trust with your wine seller and buy more wine. Somewhere, a fine wine at your price is waiting.

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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America's Greenest Winery

Date: Tue, Nov 18, 2008 Winery Blogs


Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Mendocino County you'll find a true family success story, in the form of the Parducci Winery. Located in Ukiah, Parducci has certainly seen its ups and downs. But it's certainly riding the crest of a big "up" right now. My friend Tim Thornhill, a partner in the current operation, was determined to "reunite our extended family on several hundred acres of land where we could grow something". That was 2002. In a few short years the family turned around a winery that needed turning around, and today the Mendocino Wine Group, based at Parducci, produces nearly a quarter of a million cases of wine. Parducci purchases grapes from local family farms, who pride themselves on protecting the environment through certified farming practices; exercizing carbon neutrality (America's first) and extensively utilizing solar power, renewable energy, placing emphasis on re-use and recycling, using earth-friendly packaging- these are but a few of the reasons why Parducci was chosen by the team here at Wines.com to lead off our National Wildlife Federation Organic Wine Club. Plus, we love their wines & think that they are a steal at their modest price-points. Their Pinot Noir offers distinct Mendocino spicy mintiness, with ripe berry and chocolate undertones. The refreshing Sauvignon Blanc provides aromas of lemon and tropical fruits with zesty citrus and melon flavors. Bright flavors of juicy pear and ripe apple define their Chardonnay, wrapped lightly by a creamy oak accent. Tim views Mendocino County as a great, undiscovered land where history, agriculture, fresh air, natural beauty and warm-spirited people create a comfortable lifestyle. "I see Parducci as a way for our family to work together to benefit the community while improving things environmentally". Having recently been the guests of the winery, seeing and tasting the fruits of their efforts, I wholeheartedly agree. We here at Wines.com support their efforts, and invite you to do so by subscribing to Wines.com's National Wildlfe Federation Organic Wine Club, with some of the proceeds from each subscription going to support the NWF.

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt

Posted by Buckley Wineholt
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Second Guessing

Date: Wed, Nov 12, 2008 Winery Blogs




We here at Wines.com are always seeking ways to please our customers, and well chosen second labels often prove to be successful. The Stag's Leap Wine Cellars second label, Hawk Crest, is a great case in point. We've come across a nice quantity of Hawk Crest 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, and it's yours for a sweet, crazy-low price. This wine hails from Cali's Red Hills AVA(pictured) adjacent to Napa Valley and is made by the great winemaking team at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. This 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon has moderate grip and approachable tannic structure, featuring red cherry, currants and smoky blackberry notes on the fruit palate. This is a "house wine" and then some. Whenever we find a deal as good as this, we're happy. No second guessing this second label vino. It's just an unbelievable deal for unbelievable times. How unbelievable, you second-guessers ask? This wine can be found variably 'round the web in the high teens, and it's well-priced there. Wines.com can ship you a twelve bottle case of Hawk Crest 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon for $109/case(+ tax). And we'll ship it to you FOR FREE. Unbelievable. Call us @(800)690-9463 x308, and we'll make a believer out of you.

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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The Power of Diversity

Date: Mon, Nov 3, 2008 Winery Blogs


There are few wineries that consistently produce a wide variety of great wines at great prices year in and year out. One of our perennial favorites is the Peter Lehmann Winery. Making wonderful wines in Australia's Barossa Valley, few wineries can offer as many acclaimed wines at such reasonable prices. Given my affinity for red blends, it's no surprise that I've been a huge fan of Lehmann's Clancy's for many years. A bold, robust mix of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot, Clancy's really over-delivers at it's modest price-point. With the 2004 vintage scoring 90 Wine Spectator points, and the 2005 coming in a great vintage year in Australia, this is a wine not to miss. Lehmann's '05 Shiraz garnered a 91 pt. WS score, and the shiraz component of the '05 Clancy's is clearly the headliner of this star-studded show. A variety of dark fruits is proffered, with black cherry and plum predominating. The spice palate is shot through with everything from allspice to white pepper. Aussies are well-known for blending the distinctly diverse flavors of cab and shiraz, and Lehmann does so to great effect. The merlot component softens the package, providing finesse with it's rounding qualities. This wine can cost you upwards of $20/bottle, but we're offering a $13.99/bottle "Diversity Special". Call us here at 800-690-WINE (9463) x308, mention the "Diversity Special" and we'll even provide free standard shipping on a 12 bottle case of THIS WINE ONLY at $13.99/bottle + tax, while supplies last. What's great about America is our freedom to make smart, informed choices. Don't forget to make the smart choice.

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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Al Lageder Rocks

Date: Mon, Oct 27, 2008 Winery Blogs




Had the great pleasure of meeting one of my "Wine Heroes" last week. Not just meeting Alois Lageder, famed Italian winemaker, but participating in a mentored tasting of a number of his single-vineyard biodynamically produced wines from Alto Adige. He makes over 20 different wines in the highlands of the Dolomites. He carefully chooses which grape will be planted at which particular site, reaching such decisions by considering the whole terroir, the complex and total array of all of the natural factors that determine the uniqueness of any given locale. He has been at the forefront of biodynamic agriculture for many years, with the long-term goal being to strengthen the vineyards' biological equilibrium. By increasing the vitality of the vines, their resistance to parasites and disease is enhanced. Allowing full ripening of the grapes, and utilizing gentle vinification processes (such as relying upon gravity vs. the use of pumps), Lageder is able to produce wines of singular typicity. These elegant wines truly taste of their origin. Two of my favorites from the tasting were the 2007 "Benefizium Porer" Pinot Grigio & the 2007 "Haberle"Pinot Bianco. The PG was a shining example of the often-flat varietal. Super-clean, stunning minerality, just enough acidity and some creaminess for balance. Just a hint of lime for the minimal fruit component. The Pinot Bianco, on the other hand, could not have packed more fruit onto the palate. This dry, fresh, vibrant fruit-bomb washed starfruit, green melon, grapefruit, and tart green apple over my beaming tastebuds. Chockfull of fruit flavors and fully supported by crisp minerality. This is the best Pinot Bianco I've ever tasted. This man is a genius, and I hope that he is able to create wines this good for many years to come. While the PG would be great with anything with flippers from the sea, the PB is a super "stand-alone" wine, simply calling for the good times to roll. We are very proud to be able to offer Alois Lageder's wines here at Wines.com, and we wish he and his family continued Great Success.


Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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Whatta Whole Lotta Bubbles

Date: Thu, Oct 16, 2008 Winery Blogs


Capital gains? Capital pains! There are big-time, big-money French Champagnes to lubricate the rich (you two still out there?) and there are scads of plucky sparklers made 'round the world for the other 99.99% of us workin' stiffs. I'm a big fan of Prosecco and I've even had a Spanish Cava or two that I dug. Honestly, I've never been wowed by the Cali bubblies that I've tried. Tasted scores, never wowed. Until August. On a day laden with waaay too many pinot noirs and gewurt's in Anderson Valley/Mendocino, I stumbled across a Reveletory Sparkler. Scharffenberger Cellars first began making wines in 1981, with varying levels of success. Fast forward to 2008, they're currently owned by famed French Champagne house Louis Roederer, and are making what I belive to be Cali's best sparkling wine. And It's not French at all. It's composed of 65% pinot noir & 35% chardonnay, and while the pinot is clearly driving the bus here, the chard shows it's elegant face shiningly. Fruit forward, with the AV pinot bringing creamy strawberry/raspberry, cherry and brambly plum in. The chardonnay component undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation, enhancing the vanilla creaminess. Twenty-first century Cali tropicality brings exotic mango, lychee and pineapple fluff notes. Two years rested on lees, the chard brings a yeasty toastiness, dense with pastry shop butterscotch brioche and lemon chiffon flavors. Sweet this is not, true brut dry-finishing with a crunchy mineral backbone. All for under sixteen smakers, price-specialized for your drinking pleasure. Being from Mendocino, serve Scharffenberger Brut with whatever you eat when you get the munchies.


Cheers, Buckley Wineholt
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Enjoyin' the Ride

Date: Wed, Oct 15, 2008 Winery Blogs


Never drink Champagne on a roller coaster. The bubbles will wreak havoc on your sinuses. Never drink red wine on a roller coaster. You'll never get the stains out, and the passengers behind you will fear that you are bleeding out. Never drink heavy, oaky white wines on a roller coaster. They're just not applicable to the wild ride. Never drink sweet wines on a roller coaster. What with all of the cotton candy and all, you've had enough sweets. While riding a roller coaster, be sure to drink a light, crisp white wine. Something Italian. The Italian winemaking regions known for their great whites range from Trentino-Alto Adige (producing the world's best pinot grigios) and the Veneto in the northeast, through Umbria (and it's Orvietos) down to Campania (Greco di Tufo & Fiona di Avellino - these are arguably Italy's best whites). A Sicilian Vernaccia would ride very well in a roller coaster. While you're having a wild ride, it's important not to splash these wonderful whites on your fellow passengers. Although it's true that there's enough soaking to go around these days, you don't want to add to it. Savor your wine while you ride the roller.

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt

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Worth the Wait

Date: Tue, Oct 14, 2008 Winery Blogs


On the other side of the pond, blended wines are the norm. Back when we Americans regularly slaked our thirst with locally brewed ales, the French, Italians and Spanish were imbibing rich, well-developed blends of cultivated grapes grown to complement each other in finely crafted wines. Today's vino babble focuses on one such wine from Bordeaux's Medoc. One of the wines that I had the pleasure of drinking this past weekend was the 2000 Chateau La Bessane from the Margaux A.O.C. in the southern Medoc. Side note - Wine Spectator gave the 2000 Left-Bank Bordeaux vintage 99/100 points, "Postmodern classic, Benchmark Bordeaux". It gave this particular wine 90 points. The wines from Margaux have been described as being "like an iron fist in a velvet glove". This wine is no exception. It is a very unique composite of 60% petit verdot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 20% merlot. Petit verdot (petit because of the small berry size) is a very late-ripening grape, and wines made from it take years to reach maturity/drinkability. The 2000 vintage in Margaux was a very long one, allowing for the petit verdot's full development. This 2000 drank beautifully, and would have been great with a big, juicy Ribeye. The 2000 Chateau La Bessane Margaux is fully developed, and still richly tannic. Lush and silky with deep, dark red fruits finishing with spicy oak. I happen to know where to get some of this for under $20 a bottle. As they say, the best things in life are worth waiting for.
Cheers, Buckley Wineholt

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A trilogy of Blended Pleasures

Date: Fri, Oct 10, 2008 Winery Blogs

Why are Americans so afraid of blends? Our nation serves as a shining example of the power of the melting pot, gaining strength from our diversity. You'd think that we would be crazy for wines that expertly blend a number of varietals. We're not. Certainly in the cheap wine stratum, people accept that they'll be getting blended plonk for their pennies. At the other end of the spectrum, giant proprietary blends, especially from Italy and Australia (and Cali) are the most sought after reds. It's in the middle, where real, everyday wine drinkers purchase wines that blends are anathema. In my decade-plus experience selling wine, I've found general reluctance on the part of wine buyers when it comes to blends. White blends can tend towards the loony/loopy (see"Battle of the 'Poor Man's Conundrum'"10/08/08) putting too much in your mouth. Red blends, at least the well-made, well-balanced ones, tend to be synergistic affairs, with the wine's strength equalling more than a sum of its parts. All Bordeaux wines are blends, most Super Tuscans. In reality, Cali "single varietal" wines usually don't contain more than 75% of the stated varietal. One that recently hit my Tastemaker Radarscreen is the 2005 Flora Springs Trilogy, composed of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, in true meritage style. This edition of this world-class master-blaster of power and grace marks Flora Springs 30th anniversary of fine winemaking. Exhibiting cassis and dark cherry on the nose, the palate is pleasured with black cherry, cocoa, coffee & toffee. A stunning red to be cellared and enjoyed over the coming decade. This Rutherford/Napa gem is a blend that Americans can proudly consume, proud of the diversity that abounds here in the Good Old U.S. of A. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate agrees, giving this vintage 93 points. Also, a little bird (parakeet, actually) just informed me that the 2005 Trilogy can be found hereabouts at a deep discount. Look upon it as a safe investment, if you will. Serve this wine with cuts from the recently slaughtered Bull Market.
Cheers, Buckley Wineholt

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Sustainability

Date: Thu, Oct 9, 2008 Winery Blogs

I'm no farmer. Most wine drinkers aren't. Most of us don't know much about the various agricultural practices employed by wineries. Increasingly, many of us are rightfully concerned about the actual impact of how what we consume is produced. We are increasingly concerned about the deleterious affects that corporate agricultural practices have had on the land in the past 50 years. I don't presume to know much about the "healthiest" agricultural practices that a winery can employ, but I'm learning. As we concerned wine consumers are all learning about the correct, intelligent, healthy ways that grapes can be grown and wine can be made. You'll be reading a great deal here, and elsewhere, about organic, sustainable and biodynamic growing practices that wineries chose to employ. To me, the over-arching concern must be sustainability, in a larger sense. It is important to consider both the environmental and the economic sustainability quotients. If the land is farmed using the smartest, healthiest methods, and good (or great) wine is produced as a result of this, and the wine is marketed effectively, then economic sustainability should follow. Sure, there's weather, labor issues and a million other " Murphy's Law" factors to consider. I'm no farmer, nor am I an economist. I'm just another wino with righteous concerns. The wineries that address these concerns have a better chance of surviving than those that don't. They're unsustainable.

Cheers, Buckley Wineholt

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