Wine Talk

Snooth User: EMark

Musings from a Wine Buying Expedition

Posted by EMark, Dec 16, 2013.

I quite enjoy the Snooth Virtual Tastings.  It's been a while since I joined in the live event, because (I can't believe a retired person has this problem.) of schedule conflicts.  Even when I don't participate in the live event, I make time to view the archived recording.

So, I was pleased to see that I had no conflict for the next VT--La Crema PNs and Chardonnays on Dec. 17.  Now I have to procure the 2012 examples that they are going to taste.  That should be no problem.  I can find La Crema at the local supermarket.  However, I'm pretty sure they are not carrying any 2012 versions--2011 for sure or, maybe, 2010.  So, I head a few miles down the freeway to Total Wines--the wine supermarket.

Within minutes I found some La Cremas that will work for the VT--Monterey PN and Sonoma Coast Chardonnay--and, as I am accustomed at Total Wine, at a very reasonable tariff.  But wait.  At Total Wine, if you buy six or more bottles, they give you a 10% discount.  So, off I go on a search for some more wine so that I can spend more money, but get a 10% discount.

Does anybody else shop for wine using the same (lack of) rationale that I employ?

I boogie on over to the Zinfandel section.   It takes me just a few seconds to see that they have 2011 Ridge Lytton Springs.  Everybody here knows that I am a big fan, and it doesn't take much for me to want it.  However, I remembered GDP's article on Zinfandels a while back and he seemed quite impressed by the 2011.  Yes, I confess that I am swayed by recognized commentators.  Into the basket it goes.

I am also swayed by Snoothers here on the Forum.  I owe a lot of recent education to Outthere.  Just down the aisle from the Lytton Springs I spot a Cline Big Break Zin (2011).  Friend Foxall has been encouraging us to look at Cline.  Cline is not completely unknown to me, but I have to confess that I haven't had one in quite a few years.  Now I have this Big Break.  Does anybody know anything about it?  I see that Big Break is on the list of historic vineyards.  So, clearly, Outthere's influence is in on this decision, also.

Back in the Charonnay section, looking for some white wine that will ensure marital harmony in this household, I find a 2012 Heitz.  Jon Derry seems to have a good feel for Mr. and Mrs. Emark's preferences for Chardonnay.  I was very pleased with his recommendation a year ago for the 2011 Heitz.  If 2011 was good, why shouldn't 2012?  OK, that is a rhetorical question.  I guess my point is that I am very willing to try a new wine from a maker with whom I have had some success.  Obviously, my knee-jerk response to the Ridge Lytton Springs makes the same point.

It is almost impossible for me to go to a wine store without buying at least one Cabernet Sauvignon.  So, now guess which aisle I'm in.  I see a Turnbull 2010 and pick it up.  A good and very reasonably priced winery.  But I put it back.  There's the 2011 Chappellet Signature.  Again, another terrific winery and another one that GDP raved about recently.  But then I see a winery that I know nothing about--Veedercrest.  I have seen this winery on store shelves, but I know nothing about it.  I have never heard any mention of it here on Snooth or any of the other web sites, which I visit only very intermittently.  They had three different bottlings all from the 2006 vintage--Napa Valley, Rutherford, and St. Helena.  I put the St. Helena in my basket.  For the life of me, I don't know why.  It is not an inexpensive wine--$65 after the 10% discount.  I guess I'm hoping I discover that this is an unrecognized gem, and I can brag about it to my Snooth friends.  Go figure.

Well, wander around a bit more.  Oh here is a reasonably-priced Angeline Sauvignon Blanc.  Angeline is, I guess, the third label of the company that now owns Martin Ray.  My experience with Angeline has been very good.  Into the basket.  More husband points.

Oh gosh.  Somehow we're back in the Zinfandel aisle.  What is this?  DiArie 2009 Estate Grown Block #4 Primitivo.  Okay, Primitivo is DNA-identical to Zinfandel.  I have had one Primitivo in my life--from Puglia.  My recollection is that you could compare it with Zinfandel, but, in all honesty, it had more "Italian" characteristics than "Zinfandel" characteristics

  • It was a medium-bodied wine--which would not surprise me for a mid-priced Italian wine.
  • It was fairly fruity--which would not surprise me for a mid-priced Italian wine.
  • It was a pretty acidic--which would not surprise me for a mid-priced Italian wine.
  • It was a darned good food wine--which would not surprise me for a mid-priced Italian wine.

I currently have two California wines labeled Primitivo in my home stash--one from Renard and one from Imagery.  If these grapes are DNA-identical why aren't they labeled "Zinfandel?"

A clue from the back label of the DiArie (which, as you might guess is now sitting right in front of me):  "Primitivo has looser clusters and smaller berries with the potential of creating more intensely flavored wines."

Well, that's pretty interesting.  

Whoa.  Look at what is on the shelf right next to the DiArie Primitivo--DiArie 2009 Break Away Zinfandel.  Cool--same maker, same vintage.  I suppose the next best thing would be if they were from the same vineyard, but we take what we get.  So, some day we'll have a fun test here in Diamond Bar comparing and contrasting the Sierra Foothills Zinfandel with the Shenendoah Valley Primitivo.

Does anybody else have my lack of rationale when buying wine?


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Reply by napagirl68, Dec 16, 2013.

Hi Emark,

Glad you got your La Crema... mine is still driving around on a fedex truck somewhere, and has been since Saturday... ugh.   I hope i will have it by tomorrow eve.

I assume the Primitivo is CG DiArie out of plymouth, ca.  We've been there.  The winemaker/owner used to be a flavor scientist... developed Captain Crunch, amongst other things. 

As for your comment, Primitivo IS Zinfandel.  It is also exactly the same grape as a couple of Croatian grapes.  I consider it a nomenclature thing- kinda like Syrah/Shiraz.  Many of the wineries in Lodi and Amador Cty (plymouth, ca), who make other italian varietals, like to call their Zins Primitivo... just noticed that over the years.  Back when I drank lots of zin, I encountered many Primitivos.  I just consider it some kind of marketing move or attempt at distinction.

Yes, I use that lack of rationale to buy wine at times.  There is not a Total Wine near me, but we have its evil twin, BevMo.   I have gotten sucked into that 5cent wine sale before, with not so good outcomes.  I try to just stay away.....

ETA- Emark- your Primitivo from Puglia had more "italian" characteristics because it was grown/made in Italy..  a terroir thing:-)  It's still what we call a Zin, although various laws in various countries allow certain %'s for the grape on the label.


Reply by outthere, Dec 16, 2013.

Nice story EMark! My La Crema arrived Saturday afternoon and is waiting patiently in the cellar. I have the opposite of you. Monterey Chard and Sonoma Coast PN.


Reply by JonDerry, Dec 17, 2013.

Adventures at the wine shop, gotta love this lost art.

Reply by napagirl68, Dec 17, 2013.

MIne just arrived!  I have the Monterey Pinot and Sonoma coast chard...

Reply by Tbandcwfjourney, Dec 17, 2013.

We'll I wish I had your problem Emark.  My adventures are usually more like they don't have anything close to anything I am looking for so I end up with something obscure and often disappointed.  Not that I know what I am talking about but it seems like the CO stores have a demographic of low complexity, drink right now clientele they must cater to.  It is a rare occasion that I find any wine that is being discussed in the forum.  Still on the hunt for a good store.  And even more sadness, can't do the VT because of night shift, dang it.

Reply by jtryka, Dec 17, 2013.

I feel your pain, I am the same way!  Last time I went to the local wine store, I went into the back room where it's temperature controlled and they have the more expensive wines, and I found 3 bottles of 2010 Seven Hills Ciel du Cheval for $33.99 which is less than I would pay as a wine club member!  So I figured I should find a case to get the 15% discount and proceeded to buy a bottle of 2008 Modus Ruffino, a 2008 Tenuta Sant' Antonio Monti Garbi Valpolicella Ripasso, a couple bottles of 2010 Notarius Heart Arrow Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2010 Notraius Petite Sirah, two bottles  Willamette Vallet Pinot Noir, another Cabernet that was last month's wine club special, and a bottle of 2000 vintage Brunello that was on close out!

Still looking forward to the VT tonight, I will be doing it from the office since my internet at my new house still isn't installed!

Reply by EMark, Dec 17, 2013.

Yup, JT, you sound like my twin from another mother.

TB&CWF, hang in there.  I'm confident that you will find a source.  Also, don't sweat the VT, too much.  Snooth archives them and you can catch it at your convenience.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Dec 18, 2013.

Nice JT - Seven Hills makes some real nice wines.  It sounds like you already know that!  Ciel du Cheval is on my list of favorite vineyards up here in Washington. 

I have the same problem.  It is next to impossible to walk out of a shop that gives a discount on 6+ bottles with less than the number of bottles it takes to get "a deal."

Reply by nddave01, Dec 18, 2013.

I get that virtual experience. No wine specialty store here in ND but Lot18 has my number. Every week or so they express their appreciation of my existence on their mailing list with a $15-25 credit. Then approximately 2-3 days later I get a notice that my credit will expire in 48 hours. Now the panic sets in. I can't let that money go to waste. So I search through their wine offerings to find something I would like to try especially since the credit pretty much covers the shipping. I'm waiting for delivery tonight of 2 bottles of 2007 Goats do Roam Goat Rotie South Africa Red Blend, with my credit they cost me less than $9 each.

The sad thing is I know what they are doing and it still motivates me to purchase. Now if they had a two day only sale with free shipping I probably wouldn't pull the trigger and buy something. But if you give me something and then tell me I'm about to lose it - well that just isn't going to happen. Which reminds me I have a $15 credit that expires tomorrow so I better see what's available. (It also gives me an edge in explaining why I'm buying more wine when my wine cabinet is full.)

Reply by EMark, Dec 18, 2013.

Every week or so they express their appreciation of my existence on their mailing list with a $15-25 credit. Then approximately 2-3 days later I get a notice that my credit will expire in 48 hours.

Well that's pretty mean.

Reply by Tbandcwfjourney, Dec 19, 2013.

I'm going to call my musings "shopping creep".

i posted "which way do I go" to which EMark replied "get both".  Now I you said more than just that, but you said that first so now I'm well why not.  I could buy the two bottles from the somewhat local store as the gift cuz they are 1/2 the price of the online store in Chicago.  Then order that bottle and let them ship it weather permitting, after all there are more gift giving opportunities coming.  We have been planning on purchasing two bottles at a time, drinking one and "cellaring" the second.  But wait, we only a 16 bottle wine fridge.  Never thought that would fill up but it is so now we need a bigger one.  How big do we need, do we need a dual zone, how much do we spend, oh dear stop analyzing.  Hey the La Crema VT was just the other day, video not up yet but I'll peak at the chat.  Someone mentions they Soireed their wine.  EMark thanks for asking "what's that", I was thinking the same same thing.  Answer, it's an aerator, best ever bottle top.  Off to Amazon I go, because we've been thinking of getting one.  Lot's of articles on the benefits of these little devices.  Given that we don't have a real cellar to open the bottle and let it breath for hours in we need one of these...

Reply by EMark, Dec 19, 2013.

It took me a while, TB&CWF, to recall the context of may "get both" response. One thing I learned many years ago that it is easy to spend other peoples' money.  Since I have not asked you to spend it on me, I don't have any guilt about that.

we only a 16 bottle wine fridge.  Never thought that would fill up but it is so now we need a bigger one

I don't know of a single wine aficionado who has enough storage space.  If they ever do a "Wine Hoarders" reality TV show, you would see a lot of us on it.

How big do we need

Bigger than you would expect.  Sorry.  There is no known cure for the Wine Accumulation Syndrome.  I have been on a buying streak, lately, and I have wine stashed all over the place.

do we need a dual zone

I have personally never understood the need for this.  One more time this looks like the perfect solution for which there is no problem.  On the other hand, if you want it, and the family is being fed, and the rent is paid, then go ahead.

As you might expect, I'm also not big on aerators.  Some people feel that they help low-dollar or mid-priced wines.  The one time I tried something close to a side-by-side test, I could not tell the difference between the wine poured through the aerator and the one that wasn't.

It frustrates a lot of people that I am not a gadget freak.

I do agree that a good corkscrew is a must.  As you might imagine, I have a collection--some very good and some not so good.  



Reply by GregT, Dec 19, 2013.

What Emark said.  At between two and three thousand bottles, I'm out of space. You don't need a dual zone - that's just marketing and it makes no sense at all. So figure what you may drink, double that, and then triple that.

Think about it. If you just want to hold something for a little while till you drink it, you don't need a wine fridge at all and if your home gets to hot, put the wine in the regular fridge. But if you're going to keep your wine for a while, do you want to keep 12 bottles for 15 years, drink them, and start again?

Nope.So get something that will hold your wine for ten or twenty years. That's when you start seeing changes in the wine. Tonight I had a few wines from the 80s and the 60s. Wish I had been smart enough to start buying those back in the day.


Reply by Tbandcwfjourney, Dec 20, 2013.

So a drywall screw, a cordless drill and pliers wouldn't qualify as a good corkscrew :-)

Reply by EMark, Dec 20, 2013.

So a drywall screw, a cordless drill and pliers wouldn't qualify as a good corkscrew

I've never tried any of them, but if you have done the research, I will accept your conclusion.

Reply by nddave01, Dec 20, 2013.

Today was my day off and I had a couple of gift cards for Target, among other things they carry they have some Riedel glassware. Since I was out in the slightly warmer weather (for ND) of -8 I decided to wander through the glassware section. The Riedel Vivant Pinot Noir glasses were on sale for $19.99 for 4. Too good to pass up, at register they rang up at full price -$39.99- but when I pointed the price on the shelf they adjusted the price. I'm not sure if they were on sale and the register just wasn't updated or if they were  marked wrong on the shelf, but either way I was happy with the bargain. 

How happy? On the way home I stopped at one the wine/liquor stores and picked up a bottle of eiswine to taste and a bottle of Beringer's Pink Muscato for my wife. So I saved $20 on the glasses which motivated spending $30 on the eiswine. Since the eiswine comes in a 375 ml bottle did I just buy my first $60 bottle of wine? This group maybe a bad influence on me. =8-)

Reply by lingprof, Dec 20, 2013.

I enjoyed your joyful  account of wine shopping, Emark.  If mrs. E isn't available and you want company, just let me and mr prof know when you're going.  Or the four of us could do some real damage!  One thing I do, because TWM is so big, is to look up stuff online before I go and print a shopping list.  It doesn't stop me from impulse buying, but there's never any worry about getting my 10%.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 20, 2013.

"WineHoarders" is the perfect reality show for a bunch of us, isn't it?  I'm nowhere near GregT or GdP, but I am completely running out of space.  My wife knows this, also knows that we have something drinkable from everyplace in Europe and the West Coast, at least 30 different varietals. I mean, other than making time pass faster so it's older, what do I need more wine for?  So what does she do the other night when we are about to meet for dinner in SF?  She texts me and says, "I'm in front of K&L.  Need anything?"

Sadly, I left my wish list on my desk, but I knew at that moment that I married the perfect woman for me.

Reply by JonDerry, Dec 20, 2013.

Yes Fox, that'd be a great show indeed...looking at my cellar I regret so many purchases. What gets lost in the shuffle is that buying wine is so damned fun and even intoxicating in its own way.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 20, 2013.

BTW, vis a vis Primitivo:  Clay Mauritson has a little in Rockpile.  He says the bunch structure and flavor profile are not exactly the same as other Zins--unique to itself.  The smaller berries mean higher tannins.  But the Ag folks and the BAT say it's just a clonal variation.  He's planting some more to use to have tannins to play with in blending.  He probably won't call it out separately anywhere, but he's not the only one who thinks it's pushing the envelope of being the same variety.

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