Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Wine Shopping--Thinking Ahead

Today's wine shopping theme was: thinking ahead. I was prompted by the prospect of dinners with friends over the next few weeks (need wine to take to my generous hosts and hostesses, as well as wine in multiple bottles to serve at a Keralan fall feast I'm cooking on Thursday), the impending Turkey Day holiday, and by the challenge of the next Wine Blogging Wednesday to get out there and do some pre-planning that didn't involve simply thinking of what to drink with tonight's dinner. Kitchen Chick is hosting the WBW in early November, and the topic is ice wines--kind of a challenge for the under $20 bracket I focus on. I love dessert wines, though, and have never had an ice wine because they are usually way out of my wallet's comfort zone. But I did some online research and discovered that my local Beverages & More had a bottle that wouldn't break the bank, as well as a nice special on Domaine Chandon Brut Reserve. So I got in the car and headed over to the Pasadena branch of the store.

People can get quite sniffy about Beverages & More, which is (let's face it) a supermarket for wine. They even have a bar-coded loyalty card, just like the supermarkets. They seem to be everywhere in So Cal and like most chains, they can vary enormously in quality from branch to branch. The Pasadena branch is neither the worst nor the best I've shopped in, and I usually just go 2-3 times a year to buy sparkling wine and the odd French and Italian good buys you can find there. In general, their selection is more varied and more interesting than what you find at Ralph's or Albertson's, and their prices are competitive with the supermarkets. Though, if you hit a Pavilions with a good sale on, nothing beats their prices if they have the wines you want. But don't go to BevMo looking for advice. Sometimes you luck out and get a great clerk, but most often they know less than a serious wine drinker does about the options. They can help you find the sauternes, though! They are also quite good about posting shelf-talkers with magazine scores on them, which can be a help when wading through aisle after aisle of California Cabernets. Yes, yes, scores are no substitute for knowledge but who among us pays no attention to those insidious little 90 point proclamations??

Today's outing yielded a few finds: 2003 Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes ($23.99/375ml and $44.99/750ml) which received huge ratings (97!) from all those wine magazines most of us read. Based on Cellar Tracker, folks are already drinking this wine which probably won't really even begin to live up to its potential until 2010. I bought a couple of bottles to put away for Christmas in 2010-2013. At $23.99 this really did qualify as a genuine bargain. I snapped up the last bottle of 2004 Jackson-Triggs Proprietor's Reserve Vidal Ice Wine for WBW ($21.99). And I bought three bottles of bubbly, all non-vintage: Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico ($16.99), Domaine Chandon Extra-Dry Riche ($13.99), and the Domaine Chandon Brut Reserve ($17.99 on sale). The sparklers will start flying off the shelves soon in anticipation of the holidays, so I wanted to start drinking around in my price range for some good options to buy and have on hand.

Indian food demands Gewurztraminer in my opinion, and I found their selection less than inspired so headed back to Chronicle Wines to get all the remaining 2003 Hamel Pinot Noir I could get my hands on and see what they had in the gewurz department. I left with two bottles of 2003 Chateau d'Orschwihr Gewurztraminer from Alsace ($14.95) and will let you know how that goes down later this week.


Brooklynguy said...

holy cow - great deal on the sauternes. nice shopping in general, man. i gotta get on it like you - holidays wine, to me, is about good wine, but also about opening plenty for everyone, and therefore it can't be too pricey. seems like you're doing great do far.

Dr. Debs said...

Yes, this is the dilemma, isn't it? Quality at a price that enables you to open a lot and keep pouring while everyone turns into slugs in front of the sofa--my kind of holiday! All the food mags are coming in with their suggestions, although I have to say those that keep recommending zinfandel amaze me. We tried that once--I was practically run out of town.

Credit Report said...

Wow, that sounds like a really great deal! Wish I knew it earlier :(