White Wines    Chardonnay    Other Australia    Australia   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
James Oatley Tic Tok Chardonnay 2008
James Oatley Tic Tok Chardonnay 2008
(search item no. 109760)
screw cap wine

Australian Wine Companion rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $15.29

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2010 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points

Winemaker's Notes:

It's a terrific example of modern bright Australian Chardonnay where fruit and texture are present with a hint of oak. Aromas of lemon meringue pie, fig, and some pineapple with a touch of vanilla in the background. This blend is nicely framed and has a lingering finish. TIC TOK Chardonnay should be great on its own or matched with shellfish and most fish in general or chicken and lighter meats.
My Notes:

About James Oatley:

Bob Oatley’s heritage goes back to the early days of the convict settlement in Sydney. Bob is a fifth generation Australian – a direct descendant of James Oatley, who was born in Warwickshire, England in 1770, the same year that Captain Cook discovered the east coast of Australia. James Oatley grew up to become a clockmaker but along the way was a little errant in his ways - he was found guilty of stealing bed linen. Unfortunately for him at the time – but you could say, fortunately for Bob and the family – his punishment was a life sentence, which meant being transported to Australia. He arrived in Sydney in 1815 just 27 years after the first fleet had sailed into Sydney Harbour. James Oatley’s talents as a clockmaker were quickly recognised in the colony and he soon became its most highly regarded clock and watch maker. Officially pardoned in 1821 he was appointed Keeper of the Town Hall Clock by Governor Macquarie and commissioned to install the still functioning turret clock in the pediment of the Hyde Park Barracks on Macquarie Street. As part of his remuneration he received a number of land grants from Governor Brisbane, including a 300-acre lot that is now the southern Sydney suburb of Oatley. His lovely Long Case Clocks were purchased by prosperous and prominent colonial citizens, with fewer than two dozen still in existence. They trade on the antique market today for up to $500,000, but only rarely appear. Bob Oatley has crafted JAMES OATLEY TIC TOK as a tribute to his great great grandfather – five wines that reflect this proud Australian family’s passion for achieving the highest quality in the pursuit of excellence.


Red Wines    Cabernet Sauvignon    Argentina    South America   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
(search item no. 100258)
screw cap wine

The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $15.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2012 International Wine Cellar rating: 89 points
2011 International Wine Cellar rating: 89 points
2010 International Wine Cellar rating: 89 points
2010 The Wine Advocate rating: 87 points
2007 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2006 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2004 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
2004 International Wine Cellar rating: 88 points
2003 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
2003 Wine & Spirits rating: 86 points
2001 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points

Winemaker's Notes:

Intense, dark ruby color with enticing aromas of ripe, black plums and black currants. The richly textured plum and currant flavors are joined by accents of dark chocolate and some vanilla-scented oak. The ripe, vibrant tannins give the wine beautiful structure and an amazingly long finish. This is a big wine for just a little money. Drink it now or over the next few years to enjoy the fruit flavors at their best. It will pair well with traditional Cabernet-friendly foods like grilled or roasted meats.
My Notes:

Additional wines from Crios de Susana Balbo:

About Crios de Susana Balbo:

After 22 years of winemaking, Susana Balbo has a strong sense of what she wants from her wines. From every harvest, she creates the grandest possible wines under her Susana Balbo label. To achieve this, she makes a rigorous selection of the finest barrels prior to making her final blends, dividing them into the parents (reserve level wines) and offspring or "crios."

Wines under her Crios label display ripe fruit flavors, excellent balance and concentration, and are meant to be enjoyed in their vibrant youth. These wines are produced under Dominio del Plata's code of sustainable agriculture.

Like Susana's own crios (a boy and a girl), they are extremely lovable and fun to be around. The label features a series of three connected and overlapping hands, an image inspired by a Mayan artifact. The artifact illustrates the interconnectedness of every generation, and the irony that we will be both the parent and the offspring at different times in our lives.



Red Wines    Cabernet Sauvignon    South Africa    South Africa   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
(search item no. 108691)
screw cap wine

Wine Enthusiast rating: 88 points
International Wine Cellar rating: 87 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $10.29

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2008 Wine Enthusiast rating: 88 points
2002 Wine Spectator rating: 87 points
2002 The Wine Advocate rating: 87 points
2002 International Wine Cellar rating: 86 points

Winemaker's Notes:

85.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Shiraz.

This delicious, crowd pleasing Cabernet- consistently named a Wine Enthusiast "Best Buy"- delivers serious bang for the buck! It's packed with lip smacking flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, and plum, with subtle hints of dark chocolate and spice.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Excelsior:

About Excelsior:

The picturesque Robertson Valley is nestled between two rugged mountain ranges near the Breede ("Broad") River. It was here that the De Wet family purchased a large tract of land in 1859, subsequently channeling the river and planting the region’s first vineyards. Today the estate is owned by Freddie and Peter De Wet, the fourth and fifth generation of De Wets to farm the property.

Robertson’s limestone-rich clay soils are ideal for quality wine production, and Excelsior boasts over 200 hectares planted to noble grape varietals, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz. The wines consistently receive "Best Buy"/ "Best Value" accolades, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate recently noted that Excelsior "represents another of those South African instances where one wonders how the wines can possibly be well-made, distinctively-packaged, exported to the States, and still sell for a mere ten dollars."

The De Wets have always embraced innovation, and in 1969, Excelsior became the first wine estate in South Africa to install drip irrigation. In 1981, a modern, state-of-the-art winery was constructed with capacity to allow for future expansion. In addition to producing a series of delicious and approachable value wines, Excelsior also has a long history of horse breeding. The estate’s longstanding horse breeding tradition is reflected in the equine theme on the Excelsior labels.



White Wines    Chardonnay    Chile    South America   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Veramonte Chardonnay Reserva 2008
Veramonte Chardonnay Reserva 2008
(search item no. 104586)
screw cap wine
green wine

Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $8.97

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2010 Wine Enthusiast rating: 87 points
2009 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
2009 International Wine Cellar rating: 87 points

Winemaker's Notes:

Pineapple, nectarine, melon and banana resonate in this elegant Chardonnay with freshness and a clean, bright finish.
My Notes:

Additional wines from Veramonte:

About Veramonte:

Veramonte represents a return to Agustin Huneeus' Chilean roots. When he spearheaded development of the Veramonte Estate in 1990, there were less than 100 acres of grapevines planted in the Casablanca Valley.

The coastal mountain ranges surrounding the Casablanca estate create a unique terroir with a diversity of microclimates. The valley floor's cool climate is reminiscent of Carneros and ideal for growing premium Chardonnay. The foothills are warmer, akin to the more Northern reaches of the Napa Valley. Here, the climate is more suited to varieties like Carmenëre, the lost Bordeaux grape that has become Chile's citizen and the basis of Primus, our racy, exotic Chilean blend.

Using the latest viticultural technology developed in California, rootstock has been matched to each vineyard block and clone. Vertical trellising and dense vine spacing balance growth and fruit production. Veramonte's Casablanca vineyard produces significantly lower yields than other grape growing regions in Chile, resulting in grapes with more intensity and concentration.

Recognizing that the region also had potential as a tourist destination for its proximity to Santiago, Huneeus began to plant the estate and in 1995, constructed the first Napa Valley style hospitality center in Chile. The first wines were released in 1996.



White Wines    Chardonnay    Central Coast    California   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay 2009
Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay 2009
(search item no. 105964)
screw cap wine

Wine Spectator rating: 87 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $15.99

Winemaker's Notes:

The Virgin Chardonnay is so named because it never comes in contact with any oak. Our fellow wine lovers have expressed our shared interest in getting back to what Chardonnay used to be: Clean, crisp, layered, refreshing fruit, a hint of summer, with none of the overbearing heaviness of oak. If the taste of buttered popcorn is what you crave, you'd do better finding it at the movies than in a bottle of wine.
My Notes:

Additional wines from Layer Cake:

About Layer Cake:

Layer Cake is a wine that was inspired by my Grandfather and Grandmother. Every Sunday, my Grandmother would bake a huge layer cake for dessert. My Grandfather would pour me a little glass of wine and place it at the table for me. He explained wine in terms of that cake. 'The vines,' he would say, 'live in layers of soil just like the layers in Grandma’s cake; each layer bringing a different flavor.' My grandfather taught me that everything in life is about layers and complexity. I loved those words and when I was a cake-focused boy, it made perfect sense… in fact, it still does.

Since those early days I have been all over the wine world time and again. I have tasted thousands of different wines and there are only a few places that haunt me, always come back to mind, occupy my dreams and have drawn me back again to taste some more.

I started Layer Cake because I wanted to make a wine at a price that could be enjoyed everyday with abandon, yet made by hand (not in a giant factory) and made in some special places in the world that I have always loved. The mission was simply to shock people about how good wine could be at a very affordable price.

While the Layer Cake wines were not intended to be compared with Hundred Acre, they are rich and taste like they should simply cost a lot more. This is due to our rigorous fruit selection and small winemaking style. The same team of winemakers that work with me at Hundred Acre, work with me all over the world to craft a rich Shiraz in South Australia, fabulous Malbec in Argentina, spicy old vine Primitivo, aka Zinfandel, in Puglia, Italy, sleek Syrah in the Cote du Rhone, France and of course, some Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Each is very special in its own way and a phenomenal value.

With the making of each Layer Cake wine my Grandfather’s words and my Grandmother’s cakes come back to me. Layer Cake is a simple black and white label with, of course, my Grandmother’s giant layer cake on the front and my Grandfather’s words on the back…ENJOY!!



Red Wines    Malbec    Argentina    South America   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Achaval-Ferrer Mendoza Malbec 2009
Achaval-Ferrer Mendoza Malbec 2009
(search item no. 105141)
The Wine Advocate rating: 92 points
Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $16.97

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2012 International Wine Cellar rating: 89 points
2011 Wine Spectator rating: 92 points
2010 The Wine Advocate rating: 91 points
2008 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2008 The Wine Advocate rating: 91 points
2007 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2007 The Wine Advocate rating: 91 points
2006 The Wine Advocate rating: 92 points
2006 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points

Winemaker's Notes:

#68 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2010

Intense, pure, full colors and young aromas. This wine completes our vision of Malbec. We wish to honour the insignia variety of Mendoza. We want to emphasize all the characteristics of this unique cepage. Our work in the vineyards reinforces leaf system over root system, and emphasizes the soul of the fruit.

Our objective is to preserve the vertebral column of variety as the first step of a trilogy that continues in ascending stairs with Quimera – a design wine - and Finca Altamira, Finca Bella Vista and Finca Mirador, through which we showcase the expression of terroir.

The wine was aged during 9 months in French Oak barrels. We took special care to preserve the necessary balance between wood and fruit without losing its spontaneity.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Achával-Ferrer :

About Achával-Ferrer :

Founded in 1998, Achaval-Ferrer is a team of friends who dream about great wines. Achaval-Ferrer is also a collection of old vineyards in beautiful places. They are committed to the production of wines that are expressive of their terroir. They are a small winery because this is the key to top quality. Low yields allow the vineyards to express their personality in the grapes. Low intervention winemaking allows the grapes to fully express their vineyard in the bottle. Each of their wines is a different expresson of Malbec: The Mendoza Malbec is about varietal tipicity. Their Quimera blend is about Malbec as the key to complexity and balance. And their Fincas (Single Vineyards) are about how Malbec expresses different soils and microclimates.


Red Wines    Other Red Blends    Chile    South America   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Primus The Blend 2008
Primus The Blend 2008
(search item no. 110039)
has fluid
has fluid 360

Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $18.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2012 James Suckling rating: 93 points
2010 Wine Enthusiast rating: 91 points
2009 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
2009 Wine Enthusiast rating: 90 points
2007 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2006 Wine Enthusiast rating: 90 points
2005 Wine & Spirits rating: 92 points
2005 The Wine News rating: 91 points
2004 Wine & Spirits rating: 90 points
2003 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points
2002 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points
2001 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points
2001 Wine Enthusiast rating: 89 points
2000 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
1999 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points
1998 Wine & Spirits rating: 91 points

Winemaker's Notes:

The 2008 growing season was warm which provided good ripening and excellent red, ripe fruit flavors. Care was taken to avoid over-exposure from the direct afternoon sunlight. Rainfall was lower than average, which combined with the warm temperatures provided healthy grapes, intense fruit flavors and robust tannins.

Blend: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Syrah, 19% Carmenere, 15% Merlot

The Winemaking Team
Primus wines are crafted by a team of expert viticulturists and winemakers led by winemaker, Cristian Aliaga, who has over 10 years' experience at Veramonte. Alvaro Espinoza, one of the world's most respected winemakers, widely known as an innovator and champion of some of Chile's best red wines, joined the team to craft the Primus wines. Alvaro works closely with the team to continually refine vineyard and winery practices that deliver rich ripe fruit with complexity, intensity and distinctiveness.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Primus:

About Primus:

Primus wines are produced by the Veramonte winery. Veramonte represents a return to Agustin Huneeus' Chilean roots. When he spearheaded development of the Veramonte Estate in 1990, there were less than 100 acres of grapevines planted in the Casablanca Valley.

The coastal mountain ranges surrounding the Casablanca estate create a unique terroir with a diversity of microclimates. The valley floor's cool climate is reminiscent of Carneros and ideal for growing premium Chardonnay. The foothills are warmer, akin to the more Northern reaches of the Napa Valley. Here, the climate is more suited to varieties like Carmenëre, the lost Bordeaux grape that has become Chile's citizen and the basis of Primus, our racy, exotic Chilean blend.

Using the latest viticultural technology developed in California, rootstock has been matched to each vineyard block and clone. Vertical trellising and dense vine spacing balance growth and fruit production. Veramonte's Casablanca vineyard produces significantly lower yields than other grape growing regions in Chile, resulting in grapes with more intensity and concentration.

Recognizing that the region also had potential as a tourist destination for its proximity to Santiago, Huneeus began to plant the estate and in 1995, constructed the first Napa Valley style hospitality center in Chile. The first wines were released in 1996.



Red Wines    Malbec    Argentina    South America   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Bodega Norton Malbec 2009
Bodega Norton Malbec 2009
(search item no. 102085)

PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $9.29

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2011 Wine Enthusiast rating: 87 points
2008 Wine & Spirits rating: 88 points
2006 The Wine News rating: 89 points
2002 Wine Spectator rating: 89 points
2000 Wine Spectator rating: 87 points

Winemaker's Notes:

Deep red color, violet hints. Sweet and spicy aromas of black pepper. Ripe red fruit on the palate, with smooth, harmonious tannins.
My Notes:

Additional wines from Bodega Norton:

About Bodega Norton:

Astonished at the features of the place, and pushed by his visionary spirit, in 1895, an English Engineer, Mr. Edmund J. P. Norton planted the first vines importing them from France, thereby giving origin to what was the first winery in the area.

Almost 100 years later, Austrian businessman, Mr. Gernot Langes–Swarovski, travelled to Mendoza and experienced the same fascination for the region beauty, the warmth of its people, and the excellent conditions for vine growing. Supporting his decision in his intuition and in the fact that he was convinced of the high potential the vitiniculture represented in Argentina, in 1989, he acquired the Winery with the following firm aim: to make wines recognized worldwide for their quality. While executing this project, he appointed his son Michael as the person responsible for the management of the company, who, jointly with a team of local professionals started a new phase of investment, revamping and growth.

In that way, the incorporation of top-notch technology together with the knowledge and passion of people, have caused Norton to be the leading brand in exports and one of the country´s most important Wineries.

Our 5 farms have over 1200 ha fit for growing vine, 680 ha out of which are currently cultivated. Over 150 families of vineyard workers live and work there, sharing secrets and experiences from generation to generation. This knowledge and passion for the work, combined with the professionalism of our team of agricultural engineers result in products with excellence.



White Wines    Sauvignon Blanc    Chile    South America   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Montes Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Montes Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2010
(search item no. 107044)
screw cap wine

Wine & Spirits rating: 91 points
Wine Enthusiast rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $16.29

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2011 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
2011 Wine Enthusiast rating: 88 points
2009 Wine Enthusiast rating: 90 points
2008 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
2008 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2008 Wine & Spirits rating: 90 points
2007 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2006 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points

Winemaker's Notes:

This wine is clear, crispy and fruity with light yellow-green, bright and transparent color.

100% Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda valley. There is no oak ageing in this wine in order to maintain the freshness and crispiness of the Sauvignon Blanc from this area.

Peaches, pineapples and other tropical fruits with citric hints blend together with a nice minerality, making this wine fresh and appealing.

The aroma shows its power and super Sauvignon Blanc character, also showing the full potential of its cold zone origin, with morning fogs, low temperatures and long hanging period. At the palate is quite persistent, very fresh and crispy with a nice structure at mid palate.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Montes:

About Montes:

With the release of the first Montes Alpha wine back in 1988, Montes became one of the first premium wineries of Chile. Their premise, a clear belief that Chile had an untapped potential as a producer of quality wines, made them a benchmark for other wineries to follow. Its original four partners' total involvement and the continuous help of the angels that decorate their labels was key to their success. Two decades later, Montes is the fifth most important winery of Chile where Aurelio Montes continues leading the winemaking area with the same passion as the first day. Hard work and total focus on quality has led Montes to be one of the most successful and respected quality-driven wineries in Chile as they continue pioneering and breaking new grounds in wine.


Red Wines    Syrah/Shiraz    Coonawarra    Australia   
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Date Printed: 10/22/2014
Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2008
Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2008
(search item no. 108936)
screw cap wine

Australian Wine Companion rating: 93 points
The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
PRICE ON 10/22/2014: $19.99

ratings pedigree (past vintages):
2012 James Suckling rating: 93 points
2011 Wine & Spirits rating: 92 points
2010 International Wine Cellar rating: 90 points
2010 Wine & Spirits rating: 90 points
2009 Australian Wine Companion rating: 94 points
2009 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2007 Australian Wine Companion rating: 93 points
2006 Australian Wine Companion rating: 94 points
2006 Wine Spectator rating: 91 points
2006 The Wine Advocate rating: 90 points
2006 International Wine Cellar rating: 90 points
2004 Australian Wine Companion rating: 91 points
2003 Wine & Spirits rating: 90 points
2003 The Wine News rating: 90 points
2002 The Wine Advocate rating: 87 points
2001 Wine Enthusiast rating: 87 points
1999 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
1998 Wine Spectator rating: 90 points
1998 The Wine Advocate rating: 89 points
1998 International Wine Cellar rating: 87 points
1996 Wine Enthusiast rating: 89 points
1996 Wine Spectator rating: 88 points
1995 International Wine Cellar rating: 87 points
1994 Australian Wine Companion rating: 90 points

Winemaker's Notes:

The color is a deep dark purple. On the nose, the wine displays an initial rush of green tobacco, parsley & bouquet garni with a waft of red licorice. Fresh fruits abound - mulberry, the most obvious. Upon a swirl, cedar, spice and a flirt of toasted marshmallow. With air, the generosity and sweetness of fruit is shyly revealed. On the palate, notes of rhubarb and berried fruits to the fore and at the other end - a kick off the back-palate of crushed black pepper. Not forgetting the mid-palate - wonderfully integrated oak & spice and a 360-degree propulsion of graphite-like tannins. Cola and black olive flavors descend with an exuberant swirl - reflective of this wine's youth...

Pair with lamb seasoned with Moroccan herbs and spices.

My Notes:

Additional wines from Penfolds Wines:

About Penfolds Wines:

Founded by a young, English doctor in 1844, Penfolds has been producing remarkable wines that have changed the landscape of Australian winemaking. Over the past century, Penfolds has indisputably led the development of Australian fine wine in the modern era. The introduction of Penfolds Grange in 1951 forever changed the landscape of Australian fine wine. Since then, a series of standout wines, both white and red, have been released under the Penfolds masthead. Under the direction of master winemaker, Peter Gago, Penfolds is now found in every major wine market in the country. Extraordinary wines such as Block 42 and Bin 60A have also been released during his tenure. Penfolds wines are now widely celebrated for their diversity and quality across many price-points. The strength of Penfolds is that the wine comes first. Penfolds' range of table wines is utterly Australian, evoking a generosity of spirit and the beauty of the Australian landscape.