Offer available through Monday, 3/13/2023, or as inventory lasts.
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Hi everyone –
There are two parts to this week’s Exclusive Offer.
The first part are the single vintages of the Uber-rare Rioja we offered last week. The one where only 30 bottles came to the United States, all of them landing at Solo Vino. Last week we offered the wine as a vertical set, all five vintages, in one shot and we promised to sell the individual bottles if anything was left over.
We had robust sales (thank you all, and congrats to those that jumped on the offer), and we have just a handful of bottles of each vintage left. We’ve broken apart the verticals, and the individual wines are now available.
The joy of the half bottles
The second part of this week’s offer is a little opportunity to grab some truly excellent half bottles (375ml) of exceptional juice.
I love half bottles. Who doesn’t? To be able to crack open two perfect and complete glasses of wine makes a fine way to spend a Tuesday night when you know you have to wake up for a meeting the next day. It’s also a great way to experience a wine you may not otherwise try.
A number of retailers and restaurants have tried to become the half bottle destination over the years, but no one has really cornered the market. Why? Read on…
The economic and inventory problem of half bottles
I was in the wholesale and import side of the business for nearly twenty years. The promise of “this is the year for half bottles” came and went with regularity, through good times and bad, and always ended the same: no one store or restaurant ever cracked the code.
The problem is both economic and tied to inventory.
The economic problem is that rarely is a half bottle simply half the cost of a regular sized bottle. The bottles themselves are a speciality item, so empty half bottles are only about 25% cheaper than 750ml containers. New labels have to be printed. A whole new bottling line (usually $500K) needs to be used. Different boxes have to be ordered and printed. So while in an ideal world a half bottle would be half the cost of a regular bottle, that is rarely achieved.
Then there’s an inventory problem. It’s super hard (and rare) to have the same vintage of both the 750ml and the 375ml in stock at the same time. I know that sounds strange … how hard could it be? But in the world of wine distribution, more product is rarely brought in until the previous vintage sells out. If the 375’s are stuck, the vintage falls behind, and when the vintage falls behind the sales reps rarely take it out. A vicious cycle develops, and everyone decides half bottles just aren’t worth it.
So what do we have here?
I did a private wine webinar for a local insurance company this week. They ordered a fun three pack of half bottles, Solo Vino packed them up and shipped to the customers, and we all got on a zoom call during yesterday’s snowstorm to taste through wines and learn. It was a blast.
These two wines were the best, and the pricing is awesome.
Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner “Terrassen,” Kamptal, Austria 2021, 375ml
This wine is off the hook good.
I’m a sucker for a great Grüner. There is nothing quite like the apple-pear-white pepper-herbaceous style that only it brings to the table. It’s one of the only wines that can handle folic acid (green veggies) and it’s simply one of the most food-versatile wines in the world.
The importer describes this wine with precision:
Lightning clean, hay flowers and fine spice, echo of green nuts, zest and apple peel; completely dry, but still juicy on the palate, firmly built, medium-bodied, good definition, light, subtle fruit aroma, with miner- al notes in the gentle aftertaste.https://www.skurnik.com/pdfs/tech_sheets/BRUNDLMAYER_KamptalerTerrassenGrunerVeltliner_2020_TECHSHEET.pdf
Bründlmayer is one of the top producers, hailing from the microscopic region of Kamptal, west of Vienna. Their wines are world renowned for clarity and intensity of flavor, which is what I look for in Grüner. Learn more about the family and their amazing vineyards at their website.
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2019, Contra Costa County, 375ml
I’ve written about this wine before, when the new packaging of the 2021 hit the market last summer as I was smoking some ribs. That new packaging on the 750ml is so cool (screen printed). As a result, the 2021 (newest vintage) is FLYING off the shelf around town. But the wholesaler still has a pile of the 2019, with the old label. So it’s a bit of a marketing problem, for the little bottles look nothing like the big bottles. Yet again, another problem when it comes to the 375ml size.
But the juice in the bottle is what really matters here, and the Cline AV Zin is consistently one of the top buys in the world of wine year in and year out. And this particular one, with a touch more age than the current-release 2021, is now at a perfect moment for enjoyment.
Made from grapes grown on an ancient seashore (100% sand, no phylloxera, vines over 100 years old) less than an hour east of San Francisco, it’s PAKCED with all the black raspberry, clove, and pepper spice notes that we all know, love, and crave from Zinfandel.
But it’s not heavy. In fact, it’s under 15% ABV, which is downright low for many zins. As a result it’s balanced and beautiful with food. Fast-cooked strip steak is a current favorite, along with manchego cheese.
Regarding the Riojas: this is probably the last chance at these wines. In terms of bang-for-the-buck it’s one of the top deals we’ve ever offered.
Regarding the half bottles: Every wine collection should have a handful of 375’s included. They are so cute, so fun, and so great with food. Also consider buying a little pile of them for random gifts to people. The Cline is particular is a great cheap gift for the neighbor who helped push you out of a snowbank this year. The Grüner is a personal favorite to feel fancy during a weeknight meal.
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
Offer is open Friday at 3:00pm central until Monday at 6:00pm central, or as inventory lasts.