Great deals on great wine, that is the best of the best. When we find them it makes us very happy. In today’s wine world, with the countless retail shops and producers who are online and ship wine relatively inexpensively, the sources for potential great deals are endless. There is one key element which helps tremendously, however, and that is the ability to taste the wine before buying it, or being familiar with it already. No doubt you can buy some names and know they will be good. You can take a 90+ score from a major wine rating source and almost always be sure they will be good. Still, styles differ, and some critics’ tastes will not match yours. Whether you like the wine or not is always the most important factor in determining value.
Here in the Providence, RI area we have many good wine shops. One of my favorites is Town Wine & Spirits in Rumford, RI. They have a great wine selection, an equally great single malt and bourbon selection, competitive prices and very knowledgeable staff. It’s a great place to browse wine, talk wine and buy wine. Once a year it gets even better, and that is in mid January when they start their End of Bin sales, which dramatically discount a large number of wines from low priced everyday juice to pretty serious bottles. Generally held over the course of five weeks, they release a new batch of wines in each weekly round. Even better they hold a number of tastings which feature these wines, so you can try them before you buy. The tasting is just up the street from the store, and on my last visit I made the two block drive after the tasting to pick up a few select bottles, joining many of the other tasters. This is worth my time every year. Last year I picked up two vintages of Petrolo Galatrona for almost half price. Let’s see a bit of what this year offered.
There were a lot of lesser know wines, such as the 2013 Tikves Rkaciteli from Macedonia. This white was crisp and clean with great fruit. It was also under $10 during the event. Good value and not something you see everyday.
The 2014 Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa was also outstanding, with some structure and great balance. Also under $10 at the event.
Maybe the best value of the day was the 2011 Chateau de Pitray, an entry level Bordeaux from Cotes de Castillon on the Right Bank. This had medium+ body, very nice, up front fruit and a smooth finish. A satisfying bit of Bordeaux at very little money, this checked in at $12.99 during the End of Bin sale. People were buying this by the case.
From Provence, the Castell Reynoard Bandol Rouge was a rich red with lots of spice. Tannins were brisk here, and this wine will last. Just under $20 at the sale, and a wine any Bandol lover would be happy with. This also received 92 points from the Wine Enthusiast.
One of my personal favorites was the Marziano Abbona Rinaldi Barbera d’Alba from the 2013 vintage. This brought medium+ body, vibrant fruit, complexity and length in a beautifully integrated profile. Marked down to $16.99 and great value there.
Most people who like Chianti know about Castello di Ama, on of the greatest producers in the region. Their 2011 San Lorenzo Chianti Classico, a 96 point wine according to James Suckling, was marked down to $35. That is a great price.
Something a bit more unusual was the 2012 Suertes del Marques El Ciruelo, pictured at the beginning of the article, and a wine which garnered multiple 92 point scores. This is made from the Listan Negro grape, primarily grown in the Canary Islands and, more specifically, on the island of Tenerife. This wine is indeed from Tenerife. There is red fruit, spice and an acid edge that keeps it lively. Sort of like a southern Rhone but not quite. Different and fun. This was $29.99. The Listan Negro grape is actually genetically identical to the Mission Grape which was planted by Spanish settlers throughout the western areas of South America and California. There it makes low quality wines or bulk wine for the most part. This, on the contrary, is a first class wine.
We’ll end with a Shiraz from down under. The 2013 Elderton Estate Shiraz is from the Barossa Valley, and boasts a rich palate of black fruit. This is mouth coating and voluptuous, with a long finish. While big it is not overly jammy or one note, and has some complexity and balance as well. Really good juice at $16.99.
There were many others, some good, some less so. And keep in mind this was just one round of five that they released during the several weeks of the event. At the very end they put out the final list of wines still available, and mark them down even more. You could grab a bottle of the truly outstanding 2012 Kathryn Hall Cabernet for $110. I did not, although it is a great price.
In the end, I did buy some of the Elderton Shiraz, the Marziano Barbera, the very fun El Ciruelo and a bottle of the Castello di Ama, which was just too good to pass up. I love end of bin sales. If you like great wine at great prices, dive in the next time a shop near you does something similar. See what you can dig up.
If you’d like to see more about Town Wine & Spirits visit their webpage at: http://www.townwineandspirits.com/.
A votre santé!