Tag Archives: Total Wine

Mini-reviews 133: Even more rose reviews 2020

rose reviews 2020Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month, five rose reviews 2020 in honor of the blog’s 13th annual rose fest.

• The 13th annual Memorial Day and rose 2020 post

Casillero del Diablo Rose 2019 ($10, sample, 12.5%): Much improved over last year. Heavier than European rose, but not heavy like roses made to taste like red wine. Look for dark red fruit and almost spicy, and a fine supermarket purchase. Imported by Eagle Peak Estates

Yalumba Y Series Rose 2019 ($12, purchased, 11.5%): Not off-dry, but very fruity (cherry) with a hint of residual sugar. Not unpleasant, but not the tart cherry and minerality of past vintages. In fact, there seems to be extra acidity at the back to offset the sweetness. Imported by Winebow

Tiamo Rose NV ($5/375 ml can, sample, 12%): Consistent canned pink from Italy that equivalent to half a bottle. Look for fresh berry aromas, some not too ripe strawberry fruit, and a long finish. Shows that canned wine can offer quality and value when someone cares. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2018 ($10, sample, 13,5%): This New Zealnd rose, made by Treasury, may be one of the best Big Wine products in the world – bright, fresh, crisp and almost lemony. No word on when the 2019 will be available. Imported by TWE Imports

Château de Nages Rosé ButiNages 2019 ($11, purchased, 13.5%): This Total Wine private label was much better than I expected – lighter, crisper, and zippier than most Rhone roses with tart strawberry fruit. Imported by Saranty Imports

Winebits 623: Baby Boomers and wine, three-tier, hard seltzer

baby boomers

“Maybe I should buy some White Claw instead?”

This week’s wine news: A warning for those depending on the Baby Boomers to rescue the wine business, plus Total Wine appeals to the Supreme Court, and hard seltzer outsells vodka

Pointed language: How is this for telling the wine business what’s what? “So if your wine clubs are full of people between the ages of 55 and 75, and you’re just trying to grind those guys to death in the last few years, be thinking about that transition.” That’s the blunt warning from a top wine analyst, speaking at a recent wine trade show. Robert Eyler told his audience that the wine business has not been able to convince Millennials to drink wine. Hence, given the aging of the Baby Boomers, who still support the market, the wine business could be in big trouble.

Bring on the Supremes: Retailer Total Wine, struck down in Connecticut for challenging the state’s minimum pricing law, will appeal to the Supreme Court. This case, if accepted by the court, has the potential to further upset three-tier following this summer’s Tennessee retailer decision. Total is arguing that Connecticut’s pricing laws are no different from an illegal price-fixing conspiracy, since everyone knows the prices ahead of time and no one can deviate them from them.

Still growing: Hard seltzer, those cheap, easy to drink, low alcohol products like Truly and White Claw, account for some 2.6 percent of the U.S. booze market – more than vodka, the best-selling spirit. That’s triple the share from a year ago, according to a recent report. That works out to about 82 million cases – almost 10 times the amount of Barefoot sold in 2018, which is the top selling U.S. wine brand.

Winebits 604: Three-tier lawsuit, organic wine, printer ink

three-tier lawsuitThis week’s wine news: Three-tier lawsuit over pricing reminds us that booze regulation isn’t gong away quickly. Plus, is organic the future of wine, and why does printer ink cost more than vintage Champagne?

No discounting: Total Wine, the national liquor store chain, can’t discount wine lower than the state of Massachusetts says it can, ruled the state’s highest court. The decision overturned a lower court judgment in favor of Total, which said the chain could charge lower prices, and that they didn’t violate state law. There’s almost no way to summarize the judgment for anyone who doesn’t have a law degree and is familiar with alcohol wholesalers; it’s enough to know that the ruling (the pricing laws are “not arbitrary and capricious or otherwise unreasonable”) reminds us that three-tier isn’t going away quickly, despite what many people think.

Organic wine: An Italian high-end producer says the future of quality wine is organic. “I think it’s important to go organic, because today, we need to be careful about what we eat and drink,” says Salvatore Ferragamo, whose family owns Tuscany’s Il Borro. Since the vines absorb what is found in the soil, and since that is transferred in varying amounts to the fruit and into the wine, organic makes the most sense.

Very pricey: Those of us who have always wondered why printer ink was so expensive will not be surprised to learn that it’s 10 times more expensive than vintage Champagne, widely regarded as some of the best wine in the word. A British consumer advocacy group says printer ink costs around £1,890 per litre (about US$2,400), compared to £1,417.50 per liter (about US$1,756) for vintage Champagne from luxury producer Dom Perignon. The consumer group also reported that printer was more expensive than crude oil.

Photo: “Antinori Wines at Berkmann Grand Cafe Wine Tasting” by Dominic Lockyer is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Mini-reviews 177: Total Wine and Aldi private label, plus a gruner veltliner

Total WineReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.

Palma Real Verdejo 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Spanish white blend is a Total Wine private label that tastes like it’s supposed to — tart and lemony, simple but not stupid. It looks to be some sort of knockoff of the Marques de Cacera verdejo, but is better made and more enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Provinco Bianco Grande Alberone 2017 ($9, purchased, 13%): This Italian white blend, which includes chardonnay, is more Aldi private label plonk. There is little varietal character, save for some chardonnay mouthfeel. Otherwise, it’s thin and bitter.

Weingut Berger Grüner Veltliner 2017 ($12/1 liter, purchased, 12%): Yet another Wine Curmudgeon attempt to understand why so many wine hipsters recommend gruner veltliner, an Austrian white. As my pal Jim Serroka said, and he doesn’t pay much attention to wine, “it’s thin and watery.” Look for a little citrus fruit and not much else.

Familia Bastida Tempranillo 2016 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): Another top-quality Total Wine private label – a Spanish tempranillo that is varietally correct with soft cherry fruit, a hint of spice, not too much oak, and all surprisingly integrated.

Winebits 566: Wine delivery, IHOP wine, wine taxes

wine deliveryThis week’s wine news: Total Wine takes on wine delivery, plus an IHOP that sells wine and the British government sticks it to wine drinkers

Home delivery: Total Wine, the chain that wants to become the first national wine retailer, will offer same-day and scheduled delivery in select markets. Currently, the chain only does this kind of delivery in 13 cities in Virginia. The news release, written mostly in tech-speak, is difficult to understand, but the implication is that Total will roll out delivery where it’s legal as soon as it can. What makes this different from the recent rush of retailers announcing delivery? That Total isn’t doing delivery through a third-party service like Drizly or Instacart, but will apparently provide the service itself. That’s a tremendous undertaking in this era of outsourcing, but also speaks to Total’s close to the vest approach toward retailing.

Wine with your Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity? A Phoenix IHOP has added a full-service bar, serving beer, wine, and cocktails. So yes, IHOP mimosas with your pancakes. The chain normally doesn’t let its franchisees do this sort of thing, but the IHOP is in a former Lone Star Steakhouse, and the bar was already in the restaurant. So why not take advantage of the situation?

Raising wine taxes: The British government, trying to balance the budget while it leaves the European Union, has found one solution: Raise the import duty on wine. The Financial Times reports that the new rate will increase the cost of a bottle of wine by 7 pence (about a dime in U.S. dollars). What makes this story so odd is that the government isn’t raising the duty on beer or spirits, even though wine is now the most popular alcoholic beverage in the United Kingdom and it’s the sixth biggest wine market in the world.

Winebits 502: Wine prices edition

Wine pricesThis week’s wine news: Lidl unleashes its cheap wine collection, plus Total Wine wins court victory and cheaper orchestra wine

Score one for Lidl: Lidl’s $6 Fleur Saint-Antoine red Bordeaux, a blend of merlot and cabernet franc, is a winner, writes Bernard Showman on the South Carolina Wine Joe blog. Showman lives in South Carolina, where the discount grocer that has promised great cheap wine, has opened its first stores. I’m impressed; I know I haven’t seen anything like that from France at my local Aldi, which is Lidl’s arch-rival. That may explain why two distributors were in my Aldi the other day, trying to figure out how to get better quality wine on the shelf. And, yes, I was eavesdropping.

Score one for Total Wine: The almost national liquor store chain has won a court victory in Massachusetts which will allow it to sell wine, spirits, and beer at deep discounts. A state court judge said that a Massachusetts law didn’t forbid Total from discounting if it met certain criteria. The ruling is fairly dense, involving how to determine the actual wholesale price of the products that Total sells. The result, though, is another victory in the battle to eliminate minimum pricing in Massachusetts, where state law regulates what retailers can charge.

Score one for the San Diego Symphony: Regular visitor warbu forwards the wine list from the San Diego Symphony’s summer concert series, and it’s amazing – quality wine at fair prices. A glass of more than drinkable French rose for $9? Or a bottle of decent Spanish albarino for $29? This raises the question of how an orchestra can do what so many restaurants can’t or won’t. Case in point: I ate a high-end Dallas chain last week, where a bottle of vinho verde was listed at $30, or a six to one markup. Can’t get much more greedy than that, can you?

Winebits 483: Chenin blanc, Two-buck Chuck, three-tier

chenin blancThis week’s wine news: Dry Creek releases its 45th consecutive vintage of chenin blanc, plus the history of Two-buck Chuck and a loss for three-tier

Keep it coming: Dry Creek Vineyard has released its 45th consecutive vintage of dry chenin blanc, which the winery says is a record for California. Given how little respect chenin blanc gets, and especially in California, that’s probably true. In fact, the Dry Creek chenin is a marvelous wine, a regular part of the $10 Hall of Fame, and an example to the rest of the wine world that you don’t have to make chardonnay, chardonnay, and more chardonnay. But what else would you expect from a winery that ends the news release about the chenin with this quote? “Instead of getting sucked into the increasing corporatization of the industry, we are bucking the trends and are an increasingly rare breed.” No wonder I like the wine so much.

Cheap wine: The Thrillist website recounts the history of Trader Joe’s Two-buck Chuck, the first ultra-cheap “premium” wine. The piece is mostly well done, and includes quotes from Chuck Shaw, who started the winery whose name – sold for $27,000 to Bronco Wine – was eventually used on the first $1.99 offering from Trader Joe’s. And, for the most part, the story confirms my most recent assessment of Two-buck Chuck: Where’s the antidote?

Three-tier takes a hit: The state’s supreme court has struck down a South Carolina law that said no one could own more than three liquor stores. The court ruled that the three-license law “limits are arbitrary and do not promote the health, safety or morals of the state, but merely provide economic protection for existing retail liquor store owners.” This matters not just for South Carolina, but in every state that limits the number of stores one person can own, which includes Texas. It’s not legally binding outside of South Carolina, but it does offer a precedent for judges to to use elsewhere. Also worth noting is that the suit was brought by the Total Wine chain, which has sued other states to overturn three-tier laws. Finally, if I may pat myself on the back, this appears to be part of a trend I wrote about last month, noting that a new generation of judges and regulators sees liquor law differently than their parents and grandparents did.