Perfect Wine Deal & Gift Idea

Yesterday I was checking the deal site apps on my phone and immediately noticed an amazing wine deal on Living Social: $40 for $80 to spend on wine & gifts at!  I nabbed that deal right away and it takes about 24 hours for it to become available.  I wanted to combine it with a free shipping order but you can only use one promotion at a time, and half price is pretty good anyway. 

I started shopping right away and found four bottles that'll either make good gifts or home cellar additions: Stoller JV Pinot Noir, L'Ecole 41 Semillon, Ch. Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon and Argiano Non Confunditur (SuperTuscan blend).  The best thing was I only had to kick in an extra $4 for shipping/tax- that's 4 great bottles for $44!

Check it out and see what combo you can come up with- happy hunting!

Windy City Wine Guy Offer on Gilt City

Wine tasting is fun and when you accompany it with knowledge, that's powerful.  For a limited time, I have an offer up on Gilt City Chicago where you'll have two options:

1. Attend one of three Wine & Cheese Tasting Tours I will be conducting at the Tasting Room on Randolph.  The tours are scheduled on three Thursdays next month- June 9, 16 or 23- your choice!  We'll be going through four different wines paired with four different cheeses from 7-9pm.  After that, you're welcome to stay at the Tasting Room and enjoy 50% off all glasspours!  Quite a deal at $35/person.

2. Purchase an In-Home Wine Tasting conducted by the Windy City Wine Guy.  I will be suggesting which wine to have at the event along with any food pairing recommendations for you to purchase.  Then you'll get wine knowledge for yourself and up to 13 additional guests- all in the comfort of your own home!  This is a 40% savings priced at $240.

Jump on this great opportunity- quantities limited!

Valentine's Wine Give Away from Lynfred Winery & WCWG

Happy Valentine's Day!  In honor of the holiday we're teaming with Lynfred Winery to give away two bottles of wine!  Their 30th Anniversary Red (Cabernet Sauvignon blend) and White (Chardonnay) Cuvees will be in the hands of two lucky readers- they're great wines and retail at $30 each.  Here's how to win: leave a comment about what you'll be doing for the holiday and what you'll be drinking.  We'll select two winners on Friday, February 18, 2011.  Also, don't forget to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win!  Good Luck!

Barclay's Wine on Groupon

I woke up this morning to find a great wine deal on Groupon: spend $25 and receive $75 credit to use on Barclay's Wine Shop Online. You can buy at most three (2 as gifts), must be 21 or over and a first time Barclay's Groupon user, and you can apply it toward wine packages or membership. Unfortunately, shipping is not included, but it's still a good deal.

Now I was trying to figure out the best way to use my Groupon. Here's what I came up with:

1. Purchase 1 expensive bottle. I like this option for collectors, but only recommend the '06 Yalumba Vinnovations Shiraz ($75 + $11.95 shipping). It's the only wine that isn't overpriced- most of the wines can be had for almost 50% less. For example, their '03 Bugay Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($62.50) can be found on Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library for $33.33!
2. Purchase multiple bottles. In their $15-30 range, alot of the wines can be had for $5-10 less with some online shopping, but good buys for the Groupon are Bagrationi Brut (from Georgia?!), Vinum Cabernet Sauvignon & Gagliosso Barbera d'Alba. In the $15 or less, Corbieres Cuvee Vignerons and the Washington Hills wines look to be good deals.
3. Packages. All packages are priced at $129.95 (add $16 for shipping) and are a mixed bag of the good, bad & ugly of wines, but with the Groupon, not a bad deal for a case.

I recommend the deal any way you choose to go, but do your research and take my advice, and you should end up with a great wine deal!

50% Off Private Wine Tasting Hosted by Windy City Wine Guy!

Check out this amazing deal on Foxling: A Private wine tasting hosted by yours truly, a certified sommelier, for 50% off!  You choose the venue and I'll help you select great wines and food pairings for you and your friends/family.  Everyone will learn about wine, sample food and wine and have alot of fun.  This limited time offer is good for less than 12 more hours, so jump on it fast!

Even if you miss out, you can still call for Windy City Wine Guy Consulting services anytime: 708.205.9493.

GrubHub and WCWG Team-Up for Valentine's Day Food/Wine Pairings

Here's an opportunity to take advantage of the cold weather, recent snow and a loving holiday: I've teamed up with GrubHub to bring you some excellent delivery food for two people, wine pairing recommendations, with each choice priced around $100 or less!  You can avoid the drive, parking or valet, and tipping by staying in the comfort of your own home with your significant other.  Just choose one of the meals, run out to your local wine shop or order the recommendation online, light the fireplace and enjoy!  Three cities: Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C. are involved.  If you come from one of these three cities, click on your city and you're set.  If not, use some of the wines I've recommended with the different cuisines and you'll be set as well.  Happy Valentine's Day and enjoy the food and drink!

Winter Preparation: Saving on Favorite Wines, Beers & Spirits

Winter is definitely upon us here in the Windy City and if you aren't ready, then it's time to strap on the snowshoes and head to the store.  This is the time of year when nobody likes to venture into the cold and stock up their house so you must be prepared.  Fortunately, I went on a South Loop spree last week and was ready for this snow session.  Here's a bit on my preparation:

In our neighborhood, we're lucky to have a bounty of large stores: Jewel/Osco, Dominick's, Whole Foods, Binny's, Target, Home Depot and Best Buy.  This makes shopping close, but a bit complicated- you have to check prices/sales against others.  First, we take a small inventory of what we need and what we want to prepare for meals in the upcoming week.  I wanted to have a diverse selection of animal protein main courses (easily substituted for vegetarians or vegans), so I wrote down pork loin chops, ground sirloin, beef for stew, chicken breasts, lamb loin chops, and wild salmon.  We also included our side dishes: beans & rice, cous cous, fresh vegetables and salad, and pasta.  Secondly, it's time to compare prices and sales.  Don't you just hate when you go to one store, buy cage-free eggs (for example) for $3.49, and then you see them for $2.50 at another?  Now that's only 99 cents, but when you fail to save money all the way down your list, this could mean you overspent by $20 or more! 

Next, I checked my stash of alcoholic beverages.  I still have some amaretto, vodka, gin, aged rum, and cognac.  I could use some tequila, but it's not necessary unless I see a bargain.  My wine cellar was stocked full of aging and special wines, but I was running low on sparkling, white and red RTD wines.  I was also in need of beer.  For this, I drove to Binny's South Loop to see what was on sale.  The beer was an easy choice- I really like both Sam Adams and Goose Island seasonal brews, and I found Goose Island Mild Winter 12 pack on sale for $12.99.  At just over $1/bottle, this is a steal for an ale that brings hearty, caramelly flavor and winter spice.  Next, I was on to wine.  I noticed Domaine Chandon selections were $15.99, but were on sale at Dominick's for $12.99, so I would wait on that and save $3.  I also decided to wait on my red wine until I got to Whole Foods because Maipe Malbec was on sale for $8.99- quite a deal for an old vine, critically acclaimed, very fruity red.  I decided to get only one bottle of white, and since I didn't see any specials, I picked up Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina for $14.99.  A personal favorite from the Campania region in Italy which I like to keep stocked, this wine brings loads of tropical fruit along with medium body and minerality.   All in all, with so many great value choices, there's not many reasons for one to spend more than $15 for a good bottle of wine.

We do have some small entrepreneurial shops, but I would like to see more.  South Loop Wine Cellar, Warehouse Liquors and Printers Row Wine Shop are great wine shops with boutique selections and fun wine people.  Even if you have to pay an extra dollar here or there, try to support your neighborhood's small shops.  It helps build community and keeps the little guy in business- the American way!

Windy City Wine Guy/Kerasotes Free Ticket Giveaway

For all of you who love a good giveaway, I'm sure you're gonna love this: I will be teaming up with Kerasotes Theatres to give away movie passes to some of my lucky Twitter followers!  This afternoon, at around 2pm CST, @WCWineGuy will be tweeting out a giveaway message.  The first 30 people to retweet it will be given a pass for two people, good for a free movie, popcorn, and soda pop this Thursday evening at the grand opening of the Kerasotes 16 Theatre at the Roosevelt Collection.  If you don't follow me, hop to it.  If you already do, stay tuned for the tweet- more details to follow for the winners!

Check out this St. Supéry Deal!

2003 St. Supery MerlotFrom now through Monday, October 5, 2009, St. Supéry is offering their 2003 Merlot for $150 per case.  That is a $28 wine you can have for $12.50 per bottle!

The wine is medium-full bodied, has loads of fruits, and hints of herbs and mocha.

Just go to the St. Supéry shop and use the discount code MERLOT150 when you check out.  Life is too short to drink cheap wine, and is even better when you get good wine at a discount!

Tangley Oaks Wines

home11I have been a fan of Anthony Terlato and his company, Terlato Wines International (TWI), for my entire wine career.  I have respected him as a member of the Italian American community, a wine enthusiast, his business savvy, and am currently reading his memoir entitled "Taste".  It is also great to see one of Chicago's own on the international wine scene.  I recently contacted TWI, hoping for an interview with Mr. Terlato, and I was informed he is staying at his estate in Napa Valley, but will be available in the spring (stay tuned for the interview!).  In the meantime, they wanted the Windy City Wine Guy to review their Tangley Oaks wines.The Tangley Oaks wines were created to give wine newcomers a "luxury" line of wines from select vineyards in Napa Valley and Santa Barbara County at an affordable price ($15-20).  They are name after Mr. Terlato's Tangley Oaks Estate  in Lake Bluff, IL., and meant to offer value and reflect the terroir of their respective regions.  TWI offers three different varietals, and here is how they rate:

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Chardonnay Lot #3.  A light golden color gives way to smells of honey cream and golden apple.  Flavors of ripe pears and apples, slightly charred oak, cinnamon and vanilla spices.  A full body and a medium length.  This is a very nice chardonnay for the price, without all the typical California oak.  88 pts. WG

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Merlot Lot #7.  Very light ruby color with a very cherry bouquet: cherrywood, cherry pie, cherry cough syrup, cherries!  The tannins are very light, making an extremely easy drinking wine.  The texture is smooth with a flavor profile consistent with the bouquet, but with a touch of cocoa.  I like a bit more from my Merlots, and the length was lacking.  82 pts. WG

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Lot #9.  The color was a bit more intense on this red, with purple on the meniscus.  Smells of sugar plums, cedar, and potpourri were clearly evident.  Medium tannic grip on the gums gave way to juicy plum and cherry flesh, along with some tobacco on its medium finish.  Another easy drinking wine, but with a bit more structure and body.  85 pts. WG

These wines offer some definite value, as it can be hard to find vineyard specific Napa Valley reds in this price range.  The chardonnay was my favorite, and can see myself having it with some lemon marinated grilled bass.  Overall, a pleasing experience.  A hint from the WCWG in regard to Terlato wines: you have to try Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz- Viognier.  The winery itself is a joint effort by the Chapoutier (of French Rhône fame) and Terlato families in Australia.  The grapes for the Shiraz (95%) Viognier (5%) come from central Victoria, and the wine exhibits excellent dark fruit flavor, spice, and body to go with its rich, dark color.  It retails for around $19, making it a great buy.  

Try one of these wines, or some of the many in TWIs portfolio- over 13% of all wines priced over $14 in the US are marketed by Terlato!

New Year's Celebration: Champagne Splurge

531192447_e03d6afda81This is the time of year for celebration with all of the holidays and New Year's Eve upon us.  There are festivities and parties, and nothing says splurge like Champagne.  It is a beverage that was originally sought over 150 years ago by royalty in every nation, and today means celebration for all classes.  While people love Champagne and it is the undisputed king of sparkling wine, the costs have risen sharply over the last decade.  New wealth in countries like Russia and China have raised demand, with only a marginal increase in production.  Other areas and countries have gotten into sparkling wine production, with good value and success, but Champagne remains on top.

If you are looking for some value with your Champagne splurge for the New Year, the Windy City Wine Guy has some picks for you.

Here are five great valued Champagne choices:

  • Piper Heidsieck Brut NV ($25).  I like the minerality, lemon citrus, and light ginger spice on this sparkler.  It finishes long but a bit tart.  Also widely available with over 60,000 cases imported to the US.

  • Comte Audoin de Dampierre Grand Cuvée NV ($39).  A medium weight dry champagne with rich citrus, brioche, creamy character.

  • Philipponat Royal Reserve Brut NV ($40).  Extremely complex with bread, yeast, and ripe red fruit on the nose, and lime and black currant on the palate.  Loaded with flavor and crisp acidity.

  • Henri Mandois Origine Brut NV ($40).  Ripe pear, baked lemon, and toasty vanilla highlight this crisp champagne selection.

Now for those who feel like throwing down, I have three great choices:

  • 1999 Dom Perignon ($120).  My wife and I chose this as our anniversary celebration wine.  The aromas and flavors exuded are a life experience.  So complex with smells of flowers, pineapple, cinnamon, and hints of cocoa.  The taste of meyer lemon, anise, and smokey oak combine well with crisp earth tones and an alarming long flavor.

  • 1996 Salon Blanc de Blancs ($270).  This wine is only produced in extremely good years.  Flinty minerality and loads of lemon/lime citrus accompany yeast and bready goodness.  The rich creaminess and acidity keep this wine fresh and lively for years to come.

  • Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV ($160).  Krug is the king of Champagne houses, turning out the most quality (and pricey!) wines available.  Their Non-Vintage explodes with coconut, coffee bean, toast, and sugared citrus.  Deep and complex.

Just a couple of hints when you are picking your Champagne.  Vintage Champagne is created in only special years, those where the grapes are allowing to grow and ripen to full potential.  These wines will exude the best that year has to offer.  Non-Vintage (NV) Champagnes are made to be consistent in accordance to the Champagne house's specified recipe.  Each release should taste the same as the next, as they blend different varietals and vintages, offering a delicious and reliable product. 

If you would like to try a variable sweetness level, remember that Brut Natural is the driest.  It then goes up to Extra Brut, and Brut.  You will start to taste more sweetness with Extra Dry, then Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux being the sweetest.  Also remember that Rosé wines are pink and fruity, but can be just as dry the clear sparkling wines, depending upon their rating.

Enjoy the Champagne and enjoy New Year!

(Image courtesy of flickr)

Local Buyers and Experts Give Consumer Value

The Windy City Wine Guy has dedicated multiple portions of this sight to find value for readers and consumers.  Now I decided to go out into my neighborhood, the South Loop, and speak with shop owners, experts, and GMs about the best value white and red wines they have to offer.

South Loop Wine Cellar: Amy Garman, owner, offers both a white and red from Nine North Wines.  Their 2006 10 Mile Proprietary White "Lost Horizons" is a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc.  Tropical fruit and floral notes accompany crisp acidity.  The 2004 10 Mile California Red "The Broken Road" is mainly made up of Petit Sirah with some Malbec, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Carignane.  A medium+ bodied wine with flavors of black fruits and pepper.  Each of these wines are offered for $10.99.

Binny'sThe South Loop location is on Jefferson, just north of Roosevelt.  Manager Juan Torres recommends two old world selections.  His red is 2005 Venta Mazzaron, 100% Tinto de Toro, which is the name of the Tempranillo varietal from Zamora, Spain.  Only $12.99.  A rich red with smoke, black fruit, and a touch of sweetness.  His favorite white is 2006 Le Prieuré St. Sever In Optimis Chardonnay.  Stainless steel fermented varietal $9.99 with a clean style for the "unoaked crowd".  Get it for $9.99.

Sam'sI met with Shadla Cycholl, Wine Consultant, who specializes in Italian wines.  Her white pick was Italian, 2007 Domenico Armani "Io" Sauvignon Blanc, which has lush fruit and minerality for $12.99.  For red, go to Chile for Chono Carmenere 2006.  A soft, silky medium bodied autumn wine for $11.99.

Whole FoodsI spoke with Kristen who steered me over to 2007 Domaine de Regusse Pinot Noir.  This red from Provence has an oaky, herbal quality with ripe red fruits- $10.99.  A white bargain is the 2008 Crios Torrontes- fruity and dry for $12.99.  Kristen also suggested the Optimis Chardonnay.  Must be a bargain!

Dominick'sHerbie Reyes, General Merchandise Manager, brought me to a white he likes to share with his wife, 2006 Bella Sera Pinot Grigio.  A crisp, clean choice for $7.48.  His favorite red is 2007 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir for $10.98.

Jewel, on Roosevelt and Wabash, was noncommittal in regard to favorites, but does have a few of the Windy City Wine Guy's Best Buys onhand.  I am also awaiting word from Warehouse Liquors on Wabash between Balbo and Harrison.  They do have a number of fine wines onhand and helpful staff.

 (Image courtesy of Flickr)

Tumbling Global Economy and Wine

Our entire world is feeling the pains of a couple decades of unregulated borrowing and spending.  This is affecting everyone in every city, culture, and country.  Now is the time to deal with the consequences.  This will have an effect in every sector, and on every product.  Many beverages, including wine, are considered luxuries and will definitely feel economic shockwaves.  There are things to expect and ways to get through these crises. 

The bar and restaurant industry was hit hard after 9/11 and fully expects the same during this economic period.  Spending is already down, but people are still going out.  All indications point to a continuation of this, with guests spending less per person.  Instead of buying that $200-300 bottle, your bigger spenders will opt for the $100 options.  In the wine and liquor shops, consumers will also cut down.  Expect guests to search for better values and purchase many wines for $15 or under. 

Now how does one go about enjoying tasty beverages while still curbing expenditures? 

  1. Experts.  Seek them out in magazines, websites, and local wine shoppes- they will be most accessible and apt at steering you in the right direction. 

  2. Drive or walk.  Eliminate shipping costs and club memberships.  These extra costs could be taking a few bottles out of your inventory!

  3. Alternatives.  You like Champagne?  Buy sparkling wines.  Like microbrews?  Spend less on larger production beers.  Try wines from less expensive areas like South America, Italy, and Spain.  Also remember every country (even France) produces inexpensive quality wines.  My wife and I enjoyed E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge for $10.99 tonight- Yum.

  4. Sales.  Many shoppes and wine outlets always have sales.  Try to catch them on the days they offer the best bang for your buck.  My entire reserve cellar is comprised of "finds" from these sales.  In most cases I was purchasing wines from 40-50% off!

  5. Research.  Make use of your technical resources and see what others are saying about certain wines.  I see it all the time- wines from the same regions over and underpriced.  Many inexpensive good wines can be rated the same and cost half as much as better known/marketed ones. 

Just remember that economic problems are cyclical and hope for the best.  As long as we are able to adapt and adjust we can still enjoy most from the life we have grown accustomed to.  So crack open a beer or pop a cork, and toast to the future!

(Image courtesy of flickr)

Boxed Wine Craze - A Ready to Drink Option

As the Windy City Wine Guy, hearing the words "box" and "wine" in the same sentence is like hearing "steak" and "well-done" (gotta have some blood in that meat!).  But, with a little bit of research and tasting, seeing those two words together may be a taste of the future.

Whether most want to admit it or not, this is a part of our past, present, and future.  Most families used to, and do today, use larger receptacles to hold wine.  WIth the awareness of our world's energy problems, growers and producers have been stepping up and going green.  With all of the biodynamics and organics, it only makes sense that ready to drink wines (RTDs) will be boxed.

Many wines are made RTD- especially affordable ones.  These wines do not need the slow process of bottle aging to soften them and bring around their full potential.  But when these wines are placed in 750ml bottles and transported around the globe, that uses energy.  The glass is recyclable, but many do not recycle.  The new boxes are 3L (equal to 4 bottles) and recyclable- do it!

I bought the 2006 Killer Juice California Central Coast Cabernet today for $14.99 from Sam's Wine in the South Loop.  The spout pops out of the box and pours easily.  It seals the wine in and is usable for up to six weeks.  The wine is a lighter style of Cab with dusty dark fruit on the nose and palate along with some oak and licorice.  The finish lasts a good five seconds.  This wine is good with light meats and tomato sauces.  79 pts. WG

New technology is available with the Tetra Pak and Tetra Prisma.  French, American, and the eagerly awaited Yellow+Blue Argentine Malbec are on the way- I cannot wait until they are available in the Windy City.  These containers are amazing!  And the Windy City Wine Guy will be there to drink and review.

Whole Foods offers Whole Wines

While doing some weekly shopping with my wife at Whole Foods in the south loop I could not resist checking the wine section (like I always do).  I noticed that it had grown to an enormous size since they first opened.  Not only was the section quite large, but there was wine everywhere- in the aisles, by the vegetables, the meats, etc.  Since I perceive Whole Foods not only to offer a superior product than other supermarkets, but also the finer things in life, it makes me happy to see good wines marketed with great foods.

There are also a few things which make the experience even better while shopping: 

  1. Purchase a Vin-O-Pass.  You can load money onto the card then try sample some wines.  The pours (30ml) come out of a dispenser straight from the bottle into a provided glass.  They range in price from $.50-4.00 and there are over ten wines available.  You can put on your own tasting!

  2. Not only is the inventory huge but some of the selections are from organic or sustainable practicing producers and around $10.  Some of my picks are Boomtown Chardonnay ($10.97) and Syrah ($12.97) both from Dusted Valley Vintners, Washington state.  Also for $10.99 each- Quinta Dos Grilos Portuguese red, El Quintanal Ribera del Duero, Gascon Malbec, and a great white for those who have been to San Gimignano in Tuscany, Teruzzi E Puthod Vernaccia.  Plus if you buy 6 or more bottles you get 10% off- Enjoy!

  3. There is a great beer selection offering organic and local product like Two Brothers, Three Floyds, and Lamar Street organic from Goose Island.

  4. It is located right next to the cheese and olives- great for pairing with help from their expert staff.

Another Find- @South Loop Wine Cellars

While running errands, the WCWG had time to stop at one of his favorite neighborhood establishments, the South Loop Wine Cellar at 1442 S. Michigan Ave.  I just bought two thick yellowfin tuna steaks I was meaning to blacken on our new Coleman grill, and needed a fuller red for the evening.  The owner of SLWC, Amy Garman, is always ready to help with her select ensemble of wines. 

I found a bottle of Seven Sinners Syrah 2004 (a label under Jim Regusci of California Cabernet fame) and wanted to know more about the taste profile and level of quality.  Amy told me it had good body and spice, plus it was a low case production, which instantly gives the feel of great quality.  I splurged a tiny bit and spent $22 for a wine I knew would become a part of a delicious dinner with my wife. 

I took the bottle home and checked it out online, as I do with all of my bottles, and found it to have 5% Petite Sirah as well which will give added depth and structure.  My wife and I grilled the blackened tuna and enjoyed what proved to be a memorable bottle of wine- thanks again Amy!

By the way- Amy holds wine tastings every Friday.  It attracts quite a crowd as you get to try at least five different wines for $5 (free for SLWC club members).  Check it out this week and you will get to try some of California's greats.  Sounds like to place to be in the south loop!

Killer Close Outs

I have many wines which I enjoy for under $20, even under $10, but I am a big fan of Binny's End of Bin deals.  These are wines they have held onto a bit too long, wines which aren't selling, or wines they need replaced for added shelf space.  Most are fantastic deals and others may be just worth the sale price.  Just remember to visit the stores often if you want to catch them because they disappear fast!  I bought eight really good plus quality wines for $115 with tax- less than $15 average price per.

L'Aventure Cote a Cote 2005- $29.99 my price/$81.65 online price.  A classic from Paso Robles, California, made from equal parts Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre (all French Rhone Valley grapes) created by Stephan Asseo.  This wine will age well and exude smoke, dark fruits, and minerality.  Given a 91/100 by US lead wine critic Robert Parker (WCWG does not advocate using "expert" scores or descriptions strictly, but only as a minor reference point).  Any wine you can get for half or less than it's value is a great deal!

Cline Big Break Zinfandel 2005- $9.99/$30  Loads of strawberry, dark dusty berries, vanilla, mint, and spice pack flow out of the bottle.  This Zin is made for power.  I normally buy Cline Zins and bought two of these.

Batasiolo Barbaresco 2003- $16.99/$27.99  Good vintage and a steal for this quality NW Italian great.

Kunin Viognier 2005- $12.99/$27  Great body, exotic citrus, spice, and score (90) for this Rhone white.

Mueller Chardonnay 2005- $14.99/$29.99  Full body, toasy and buttery, butterscotch, and lotsa fruit.

Big Fire Pinot Gris 2006- $6.99/$14.99  I cannot wait to try this Oregon bargain.  Bought it after reading Brian's blog, Hustle's Wine on Trial.  Sounds irresistable. 

Mazzi Poiega Valpolicella Superiore 2000- $4.99/$16.99  Ripe black fruit and cherries, nuts, and old world flavors.  You can taste the dried fruit and long finish.

This goes to show the great tastes and bargains you can get with just a bit of timely searching and stocking.  So before you go reaching for that Two Buck Chuck, Yellow Tail, or box of wine try one of these or a similiar bargain- you will be rewarded and your wine collection will become instant money.

NHL Blackhawk Greats

While doing one of my weekly walkthroughs at Binny's South Loop I discovered the NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series on sale.  Two Chicago Blackhawk greats, Tony Esposito and Bobby Hull, are being featured on these charity label wines created by Ironstone Vineyards.  Ironstone is known for making decent well priced wines in the Sierra Foothills.  The NHL wines are normally going for about $15/bottle and Binny's has a price drop to $5.99/bottle!  These wines, the Esposito Cabernet and Hull Chardonnay, are great bottles for an everyday wine- any meal, simple sipping, or for company.  Stock up and enjoy!

(Images courtesy of Ironstone Vineyards)

Tasting notes for Tony Esposito Cab: This bright red is a bit lighter than most Cabs.  It has toasty aromas and the darker fruits and oak come through on the taste.  The tannins have a light grip and the finish is short, but it is a decent wine- especially for the price- WG 81.  Just had some with a pasta bake my wife made.  Yum.

Tasting notes for Bobby Hull Chard: A light golden hue along with oak and apple scents are appealing.  It is a bit creamy on the palate and gives tastes of pears, citrus, and mineral- WG 82.  The crisp acidity made this a great pairing with the avocado salad I made with lunch.