2012 Luna Beberide Art

92 points Medium violet with compelling aromas of slate, spiced blueberry, anise, and mint followed by a wisp of smoked jerky, adding allure. With svelte body, a density of flavor persists, followed by unflagging, gravelly tannins. A stimulating experience. Still wound tightly. Drink now—2022+. (MW, December 2016) Price $55 Varietal: Mencía Region: Bierzo, Spain Alcohol: 14%

2012 Avalon Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

88 points Dense purple with glass staining power. Plush plum declaratively takes center-stage, while a hint of raspberry and graphite linger in the background. Medium-plus in body with medium acidity, and firm, fine-grained tannins. Black cherry and barrel spice on the palate give way to a slightly misaligned finish, with alcohol overstaying its welcome. (MW, […]

The Sandbox

“He walked in, pulled out a roll of hundreds, and flipped me two,” gnarled the no-nonsense owner of a boutique wine shop. He had been paid by the largest distributor in the state for bringing in ten cases of wine. This is illegal. In his case, a customer requested the cases for a special event—he had no intention […]

In-smell

I have a bias. I’ve long held this inclination, but have recently worked to expand my awareness. New in . . . sight has affirmed my bias—no more shame. I care way more about the aromatics of a wine than any other factor. From the nose we can gauge nuance, complexity, layers, intrigue, depth, density, purity, specific […]

Tasting the Bella Vida

Three wines. Each providing a thumbprint and insight into a winemaker’s style. All under one roof. A tour of the Willamette Valley typically provides the curious connoisseur an experience with Pinot Noir, soils and AVA variations, winemaking style, and brand image. The preeminent role of site, however, leaves the taster wondering what effect the winemaker […]

How to Lose a Sale

Step one: Pull the cork on your winery’s award-winning Pinot Noir. Step two: Fail to test the wine for flaws prior to pouring or test the wine and fail to notice flaws. Step three: Pour two-thirds of the bottle to other tasting room guests (title shift, “How to Lose a Silly Number of Sales”). Step four: Pour award-winning wine, […]

Tar, Barnyard, White Pepper, Compost

What makes expensive wine so expensive? I get this question more than almost any other. And it is a great question. Many layers weave together to create a wine’s price tag (Wine Economics Part I, Part II, and Part III only scratch the surface). However, a remarkable reality persists—the large majority of wine drinkers don’t particularly enjoy drinking […]

Chapter Deux

Starting today, I put all my chips into this world of bottled history and culture. Wagon Wine began in 2014 while I continued my full-time career teaching literature and writing. The site served as a creative outlet, a challenge to deepen my understanding of wine while writing engagingly. After a year of working both in the classroom […]

A Romantic Ideal Must Tumble

I recently read an excellent article on “White Label wines” by Madeline Puckette and Co. over at Wine Folly. Except for one glaring bullet-point: “Some wineries with tasting rooms will make a few own-vineyard wines, but will use bulk wine sources to make their cheaper, lower-end affordable bottlings. We’d ask what’s the point of selling something […]

The Tiers Produce Tears: Tear it Down

I recently returned from a marketing trip with my employer, a small Willamette Valley producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As we explored the Minnesota market, meeting with local wine shops, three separate owners asked pointedly, “Will you be in Total Wine? If so, we won’t carry you.” Early in 2014, Total Wine & More entered Minnesota, […]

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