Uncorked Ventures Blog

Matthew Krause
July 19, 2011 | Matthew Krause

Every day wine vs. Special occasion wine

There are many different ways to categorize wine. Is it a red or bottle of white? Was the wine produced in the USA or abroad? Should I cellar the wine for a few years or just go ahead and drink it soon?

While the list of categories can go on and on, the one categorization that I find most people making about a bottle of wine is whether the bottle of wine they are purchasing is for a special occasion or for what I call everyday consumption (aka “not a special occasion”). Quite often, this question is asked and answered prior to buying a bottle of wine as it may be the driving force for actually making the purchase. As an example, just the other week I celebrated my wedding anniversary. We were out of town on vacation and I forgot to bring a special bottle of wine with me to help us celebrate. Therefore, I tracked down a good wine store and went on the hunt for a special occasion wine. In this particular case, my definition of special occasion wine included the desire to purchase a bottle that I could not just pick up anywhere. I also focused on wines where the quality level was high and the likelihood of enjoyment would be equally high. I made a wonderful choice as I settled on a 2008 Walter Hansel Pinot Noir.

With regards to an everyday wine, I define this as a bottle of wine that you can open on a Tuesday night without feeling guilty. In essence, it is a bottle of wine that you do not need an excuse to open. Every day wine should still deliver on the quality and pleasure meter, but it doesn’t need to blow you away. What should one spend on an everyday wine or for that matter a special occasion wine? My answer is, it depends. If you are billionaire living in Malibu, than your everyday wine may run you $100 a bottle without causing you any level of headache. Likewise, if you are a college student, your budget for a special occasion wine maybe $20. It is all a matter of perspective and circumstances.

Fortunately, we at Uncorked Ventures feel that we can satisfy all levels of consumers except maybe those who only focus on price without much care or concern for quality. Our Wine Exploration Club serves up a bevy of good wines for $40 a shipment (+tax & shipping) that many consumers will find perfect for their Monday – Friday consumption needs. With each shipment containing a bottle of white and red, you will be prepared for most any night and you won’t be breaking the bank to enjoy yourself.

Our Special Selections Club focuses on top top-notch reds from the west coast. With these wines often being scored in the low to mid 90s, many may consider these wines to be special occasion wines or at minimum, weekend wines. At $95 a shipment (+tax & shipping), we feel confident that we are shipping the best wines at this price point. These wines are limited in production and difficult to track down, making them perfect special occasion wines. That being said, life is short and you should enjoy yourself. If you have your health and are doing well, we advocate cracking open one of our Special Selections offerings mid-week and turning a Wednesday night into something a bit more memorable.

With regards to our Reserve Selections offerings, it is hard to position these wines for everyday consumption. Typically, these wines improve if cellared with the right conditions. It’s not to say that you need to wait for your 25th or 50th wedding anniversary or for the call from Publishers Clearinghouse to open up one of these bottles. Rather, we suggest that you pick the right meal or occasion to truly enjoy one of these magnificent bottles.

Mark Aselstine
July 13, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

More About that Happy Hour

As you can tell by our Happy Hour post, it has been an enjoyable weekend. We celebrated the launch of the new and improved Uncorked Ventures Website, by opening a few bottles of our favorites from past shipments.

Sojourn Sangiocamo Pinot Noir: Sojoun’s winemaker Erich Bradley has been a favorite of ours since we first tasted his work at Audelssa. Auselssa features mountain fruit and we enjoyed seeing how he was taking intense fruit and applying Burgundian winemaking principles to it, in order to help it become more approachable. We also noted, that since Erich was a Burgundian winemaker that it would make sense to find a winery at which he made Pinot Noir. Sojourn Cellars is that winery and we have especially appreciated Erich and his business partner Craig Hansert for both the wines they make, but also the way they do business. Sourcing fruit from some of the best vineyards in California.

Priest Ranch Petite Sirah 2007: Petite Sirah has become something of a favorite varietal for Uncorked Ventures. Yes, the grape does create a “big” wine but it is also only grown and made into quality wine by a select few vintners across the state. We think this version from Priest Ranch is among the best. With the 07 scored at 95 points by Robert Parker, we’re not alone and our customers can appreciate their $40 price point which makes this Petite Sirah among the best values anywhere in Napa Valley.

JR Wines Cabernet Sauvignon: While prices for top flight Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon have seemingly started to get out of control, we find one which delivers incredible value. JR Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, scored in the mid 90 point range by Robert Parker delivers the type of classic Napa Valley Cab which has made the region famous. A great wine to experience the best of Napa Valley, without the $100+ price point.

Robert Keenan Napa Valley Merlot: Keenan is one of the larger wineries we have featured in any of our wine clubs, with a total production of around 15,000 cases of wine per year. We thought that their Napa Valley Merlot was simply too good of a value to pass up for our Wine Exploration club. In a wine club which averages $20 per bottle, it is typically difficult to find quality wines from Napa Valley. Keenan is a mountain vineyard located on Spring Mountain. 

Mark Aselstine
July 12, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Time Flies By + Price Inflation

How time seems to fly by and price inflation.

As we continue to transition to the new UncorkedVentures.com both on the front end (the portion you see on the website) as well as on the back end (customer data etc) we’re also making plans for upcoming shipments.

The summer is a fun time for us for a number of reasons. Matt and I both try and catch a week or two away, sometimes more successfully than others while the summer also offers a good buying season for upcoming wine club shipments.

What we’re finding? Pinot Noir seems to continue to be an especially good deal, with quite a few world class Pinot Noir’s priced in the mid to upper $40 range.

We’re also continuing to explore Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ve heard from a few people in the industry that $65 per bottle for Cab is the new $55 (which I might mention was the new $45 only a few years ago) which can create its own set of challenges both for independent wine clubs such as ours as well as the wineries themselves.

As the weather continues to be warm, we’ll continue looking. There is a lot of great wine out there and we appreciate the opportunity to work to find it on your behalf.

Matthew Krause
July 9, 2011 | Matthew Krause

Happy Hour

Both Mark and I had a busy week putting the final touches on the new Uncorked Ventures website.  The new site is the culmination of many hours of designing, programming, testing, and hair pulling.  In the end, we are happy with the website's new look and feel and hope our customers will agree.

With the new website we are happy to be launching our wine gift basket offerings. Like the wines we ship to our club members, our gift baskets offer great quality as we have partnered with top producers in wine country and a bit beyond to create these offerings.  Whether a person is looking for a get well gift basket to a unique gift for a wedding present, our gift baskets  have a little of of something for everyone especially if you like high quality wines.

All and all, it has been a good week, as evidenced by the happy hour we had earlier this week when the new website went up.



Mark Aselstine
July 7, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

How Robert Parker became Robert Parker

After our short entry yesterday about wine reviews, it made me realize that not all of our readers would be completely familiar with the most influential reviewers and perhaps more importantly, how they were able to obtain that level of influence.

Robert Parker and his Wine Advocate Magazine:

Parker’s personal story is an interesting one and I’m surely not the first person to ask how someone from Baltimore (hardly the wine center of the world) who is a practicing lawyer ends up as the most influential wine critic in the world, especially when it comes to California and Bordeaux vintages.

Part of Parker’s rise to fame was his insistence, correctly stated at the time, that most reviewers in the 1970’s had some vested interest in the wine industry. That’s hardly seen today outside of a few examples (Wine Enthusiast both rates wine as well as sells it) in large part because of Parker and some of the changes he helped to create. Parker is also largely credited with inventing (or popularizing) the 100 point scale which has helped consumers make some independent assessment about the value of a wine (we all love 90 point wine, but not if it’s priced at $200), without having ever purchased a bottle themselves. Parker’s 100 point system is often misunderstood, but the idea is to score wines based on the amount of pleasure one derives from them.  For the average consumer, this is a powerful statement.  While so many within the industry preach that you should know what a classic Right Bank Bordeaux is suppose to taste like, that's not important.  The only real question is how much did you enjoy the wine?

So why is Parker the foremost wine critic of our time? Personally, I think his combination of unbiased reviews, easy to understand language, standardized evaluation criteria and attempting to keep industry influences at bay as much as possible. He was the first wine critic able to successfully build a career as a consumer centric critic, instead of an industry mouthpiece.

There are, of course, plenty of criticisms of Robert Parker and his affect on the wine industry-we’ll follow up with some of those tomorrow. Some of these are valid, or somewhat valid and others are more fantasy than reality. At the end of the day, at Uncorked Ventures we recognize Parker’s work for what it is: some of the most valuable wine reviews available anywhere.