WINESLACKER..the lazy drinker's guide. Another 'slacker yammering on about drinking.

August 29, 2011

NAKED WINES! Now that I have your attention…

Filed under: Buy o' the Month,Cheep wine,wine blogs — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:43 am

The Wineslacker and Patient Companion enjoyed an afternoon of unusual wines and gracious gab with wine critic and activist Alice Feiring today, at the small but elegant wine shop, Domaine LA, in Hollyweird, CA. Ms. Feiring was in sunny L.A., instead of storm-lashed New York, talking about her newest book, the just released Naked Wine, Letting Grapes do What Comes Naturally. Her book describes her recent venture into the wine making world in the spirit of wine made the old fashioned way; without chemicals, flavors, designer yeasts…just grapes and the yeast that came in on them.

The shop had eight of the wines mentioned in the book and soon, very soon patient readers, the Wineslacker will divulge his notes and descriptions of each (who knew there was a wine that actually tastes like salt and pepper!). He would add that these wines were hand crafted, all out of the norm…not available in large supermarkets or Big Lots; yet none were more than $38, and there was only one of them. Several were $20 or less. Therefore the Wineslacker adds to this post the tag, Cheep Wine. 

June 17, 2011

Total Wine, now in Torrance, CA

Hopefully, you ‘slackers and ‘slackettes will be more encouraged to contribute comments now that the Wineslacker has ponied up for some outside gunslingers to waylay them pesky Robo-spammers.

The ol’ Wineslacker visited the new mega-store in town this past weekend and reports that Total Wine does, indeed, have a bunch a wine. He was encouraged that you need not sign away any privacy to get a discount card. Their prices are what they are. Whataconcept. They also provide a soft-bound catalog of what they have in stock and that is free and you can take that home for more leisurely perusing. He likes that. He also appreciates that the high priced vino is afforded a temperature controlled rack. Makes ya more comfortable about buying that $100 bottle, a little more confident that it has not been sitting upright in a hot warehouse shelf in the back of the store.

They have on-going tastings in the middle of the store; which means that you’re gonna be standing around in the midst of staring shoppers, slurping down your freebee, as the shopping carts go clattering by. OK. They seem to have a lot of help that are at least somewhat educated and actually may have tasted the wine they’re talking about at some point.

They make a point of putting their faces on recommendations of wine that you may never have heard of….and they seem to have a lot of that. Which may not be a bad thing, but will take time and experience (and cash) to judge.

The Wineslacker picked up the Rose de Provence they were recommending, Domaine Fontanyl, 2009, their recommended $10 Pinot Noir, Montoya Monterey County, 2009, a very well priced bottle of Silver Oak, 2006 Alexander Valley Cab ($54.99) and a big, friendly bottle of Bombay Sapphire, 1.75 liters, for the best price he’s seen in a long while, $27.99.

He can report that the Rose did live up to their description as “lively” very; and fragrant…the strawberry literally floats out of the bottle when the cork is pulled. The flavors move through several levels and leave with a dry, dry minerality that some might find takes getting used to. Quite a wine for $12.99. Likewise, the Montoya Pinot is one of the best $10 Pinots around and tests out at the level of a much more expensive wine. Montoya has had a good name as a value wine for a while, and this is a slightly smoky, medium weight, fruity Pinot of the cool climate variety. The Silver Oak, will go into storage for a while, as being only 5 years old, it’s got some growing up to do, but could not resist the price and the 92 rating.

They also carry an excellent selection of Ridge Zins, the royalty of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Lytton Springs (see the ‘slacker’s post on Ridge from last year).

So. If you’ve got one close by, drop in and see what you think. The Wineslacker is generally not in favor of giant stores for anything and he would not be happy to see Total Wine drop a store in the neighborhood of a small, established place like Hi Time or Wine Country or your local stop and chat wine merchant. But.. that’s a fight that will go on, and ‘slackers everywhere will have to choose between price and home town service. For the stalkers of the perfect wine buy, well, we hope for both.

May 9, 2011

Remember $10 Wines? They’re Back…

Filed under: $10 wines,Buy o' the Month,Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Justin Winery — Dex Wineslacker @ 2:07 am

OK, let’s see if the Wineslacker remembers how to do this now. Oh, yeah. Got it.  Spring is sprug…or sprung. Ah, faithful reader, there lay many, only slightly hidden treasures in the wine sections of the retail world to be had. Yes, there are still $10 wines worth buying out there. The greatest deal the ‘slacker has found in the neighborhood is Beringer (yes, what, the oldest winery in California, or close, 1876, they claim.). For whatever reason, probably a huge over stock, Trader Joes has pulled off one of their majorly slick deals and landed Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium, 2007, which they are turning over for a spectacular $9.99. And friends, it’s worth it. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot; very Bordeaux-like, with real structure, something often processed out of California Reds.  OK, there are better Bordeaux blends out there, if you must spend $35 or $40 bucks, but BABY, $10! Stock up while they got it.

And while you’re there, try some Hogue Genesis Meritage, 2007 (again. That magic year!). A lot of T.J.s have it for an absurd $7.99. Despite the grandiose name, this is garage sale gold. Its another red blend, all Washington State Columbia Valley fruit; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and just a touch of Cabernet Franc. Now, this wine is great right out of the bottle, but don’t plan on sipping it over the next week, ’cause by tomorrow, this baby is flab city. Forgetsville. But remember, you just paid $8 for it. Don’t be greedy.

T.J.s still has a great selection of inexpensive Pinot Noirs. Been hankering for that La Crema Pinot? Less than $20 at the Traders. While the ‘slacker hasn’t tasted Picket Fence Pinot, other wine bloggers have and give it high marks.

Wineslacker’s been back to BevMo, lately. They had the good sense to build one much closer to the ‘slacker’s H.Q. He picked up a a little red just for the nostalgia of the name; Ventana (window) Rubystone, a Grenache/Syrah blend from Arroyo Seco, 2007 (are ya getting the hint?).  It too was a paltry $9.99.  This needs a bit o’ air, but once opened up it springs right atcha with spice and a complex little trunk of flavors.  We like it and this one has been hanging around the crowded Wineslacker kitchen for several days while a number of other wines were tested. After all that time, it stays surprisingly drinkable. “Kitchen Survivors” is what Andrea Robinson calls ’em.

Don’t forget to check Von’s wine sections. They are just coming off one of their big wine sales and the ‘slacker spied Justin (Paso Robles) Cab, usually $27-28 bucks for the 2008, at an affordable $20 with the magic Von’s plastic card. Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular Cabs served in California restaurants and deservedly so. Take an occasional peek, especially in their upgraded stores, for their 30% off premium label wines sales. There’s a deeper discount for case buys as well. Vons also carries a good selection of solid wine at the $10 level. Ya gotta have their discount card, though.

There. Drink some wine. More later…

November 30, 2009

Update: Von’s Sale

Filed under: Buy o' the Month,Justin Winery,Paso Robles — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:45 am
California Essentials

California Essentials

Drop by your local Von’s and check out their wine dept. this week. The Wineslacker’s local Von’s was running a fab sale on almost all their quality wines. The ‘slacker picked up Justin 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon for $20, DeLoach Russian River Valley Zinfandel for about $10 and 2007 Guenoc Petite Sirah, which they have always done very well, for about $9 (ok, we’re a little sloppy on the prices, I SWORE I was going to keep track of the receipt, went and cleaned off the dining table and it was gone). Von’s has one of the nicest wine departments of the big chains. Oh, yeah, ya gotta get their plastic coupon card to get those prices, but what the hell, it’s only your privacy and a little more junk mail. If ya have to choose between wine and privacy; well, we think we know on which side of that line the Wineslacker falls.

October 27, 2009

More Great Cheap Wine…

Filed under: Buy o' the Month,Cheep wine,Uncategorized — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:50 am
Katharines Grapes 2 06

Katharine's Summer Grapes

Quickly now, two great, cheap wines…

1.  5Mile Bridge Serpent’s Path, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, available at Whole Foods.  $11.  Wow. Beautiful, medium body, warm climate Pinot.  Black cherry, hint of cedar, tiny bitta mushroomy, long finish.  We went on about the other 5Mile Bridge wines, this one’s maybe the best. 2006.

2.  Guenoc, Victorian Claret, North Coast, 2006.  Can’t, can’t, can’t go wrong with these little Guenoc wines.  This is slightly dramatic, dry, not over-fruited blend.  It doesn’t say, but I’d bet Cab, Cabernet Franc, petite verdot… guessing!!! This is a loss leader at BevMo.   $7 (yah, $7)

January 30, 2007

Filed under: Buy o' the Month,Cameron Hughes,Meritage — Dex Wineslacker @ 11:57 pm

Cameron Hughes rolls up his sleeves and scares up another winner. Taking advantage of the surplus of good wine in California, and in the rest of the wine producing world, Mr. Hughes buys up premium wines that otherwise would be clogging the storm drains of Northern California. This is wine sitting in storage because there’s just more of it than can be bought up by ‘slackers and ‘slackettes. The wine makers don’t want to lower their prices, ’cause they feel they’ll lose the cachet they’ve spent years building up. They want to maintain the market for their labels. So, instead of spending precious resources (money) storing wine and insuring it, they sell it to Mr. Hughes at a much reduced price. He puts his label on it and sells it for the price it should go for, given the law of supply and demand. The wineries get rid of it and the attendant costs, Mr. Hughes gets nicely rewarded, and we, wine loving ‘slackers that we are, get some bloody good wine at bargain prices. See the Wineslacker’s previous posts on Cameron Hughes’ Lot 15,16, and 17.

Now comes Lot 23, 2002 Meritage. And the Wineslacker is here to sing it’s praise. Meritage is a made up term to describe a Bordeaux-style blend of reds. This wine is 75% Merlot, 14% Cabernet, a little Petite Verdot, a touch Malbec, a kiss of Cabernet Franc. And man, is it good. Who ever made this wine got it right. The bouquet is beautiful. Dried roses, spice and cedar. In the mouth it’s intense dried fruit, spice and firm, but not overwhelming tannins. The finish is a long, pleasant, dry cigar box flavor. There is great balance in this wine. The fruit is intense, but without a touch of sugar. There is structure and balance from the very start. It’s a pleasure just by itself. With its structure, it’ll be interesting to see what a couple of more years might bring. But who’s kidding who. The Wineslacker won’t have any left to try.
Here’s the best part. You can pick this little biscuit up at your local neighborhood Costco for just about $10. Oh, impossible, you think. Not. If you don’t have a local neighborhood Costco, get it directly from the Hughes man himself, from his website. Just get some, before it be gone.

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