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How We Select Wine
A Policy Statement
Before I got into the wine business, I spent many years as a confused wine shopper. While I subscribed to all the major wine publications, I still found myself at a loss most of the time while trying to actually choose from the jumbled selection most wine stores presented. “Let's see, which Rosenblum single vineyard Zinfandel did Wine Spectator score a 90 and which one got the 83?” Invariably I came home with the 83! The Grapevine Cottage is the kind of wine store I always wanted to shop in, but could never find.
Our Wine Selection Criteria
We primarily select our wines based upon reviews from the country's top wine publications: Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Those publications rate wines based upon a 50 to 100 scale that is generally defined as:
95 - 100 Extraordinary – classic
90 - 94 Outstanding – wine of superior character
85 - 89 Very Good – wine with special qualities
80 - 84 Good – well-made wine
70 - 79 Average – drinkable but flawed wine
60 - 69 Below Average – drinkable but not recommended
50 - 59 Poor – undrinkable
You may also see a few scores from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. Tanzer, like Robert Parker, does not accept advertising and has a palate more attuned to "Old World" styles. Another new addition is the British wine magazine Decanter who proclaim themselves to be "The World's Greatest Wine Magazine" on every months cover. Who, after 20 years of ridiculing the 100 point system, last year adopted it, I believe in response to the importance given to scores in the emerging Asian markets.
We only select wines that have been scored 85 points or higher and generally want those priced over $20 to be rated 90 or higher. Every wine is accompanied by cellar cards that carry a reprint of the magazine review and are available for you to take. Occasionally you will find a wine that has not been reviewed that we think is something special. Those wines will be identified as The Wine Guy Selections and the cellar card will contain our review.
The Wine Guy has a theory about wine. Regardless of what Kendall-Jackson would like us to believe, winemaking is not an exact science. The same wine varietals vary wildly between regions, winemaking styles and vintages. The same variability that makes wine difficult to select is the very characteristic that gives wine its charm. Why else would there be an entire magazine industry devoted to the reviewing and rating of wines? My theory is that about 1/3 of all the wine produced is just plain bad, another 1/3 is mediocre and about 1/3 is pretty good to exceptional. My goal is to only choose from the top 1/3 when I select wines for the store.
Best Value Wines
When you walk in the store you are bound to notice lots of featured wines with a $.99 price ending stacked around the store. Don't think that these are the wines we are trying to close out - they are the wines we have selected as great values and purchased in quantities large enough to receive the maximum discount. The discounted prices on those wines usually reflect a 10% to 15% discount from the suggested retail price, or more if the wine is a vintage close out. These are the kind of wines you will find stacked:
We Bought a Bunch Price — These are the wines we believe in! They are usually an exceptional wine that represents an exceptional value, like the Rosenblum Petite Sirah 2004 that we are featuring at $17.99 (Wine Advocate 92, Wine Spectator 90 points - suggested retail $20). These are usually very highly rated wines that I buy in whatever quantity it takes to get the lowest possible price and stockpile before the rating causes it to sell out.
Wine Guy Selections — You will sometimes see wines that are labeled Wine Guy Selections. These are typically wines that have not been rated that are small production, specialty wines like those from Peter Rosback at Sineann or Joe Barton at Grey Wolf that I think are just plain exceptional. The tasting notes you see on these wines will be ours.
Vintage Closeout — a good quality wine with a magazine score of 85 or higher that we have been able to purchase at a reduced price because the winery or distributor is trying to move through to a new vintage. We very cautious about closeouts, always tasting before we buy.
The Wine Guy offers a 7% discount on the purchase of any mixed case of wine and a 10% discount on full cases of the same wine. Wines with prices ending in .99 are pre-discounted and not subject to additional discounts. Sale wines do, however, count as part of a case to earn a case discount on the non-sale bottles.
Wine Guy Guarantee
If you by a case of wine or even a couple of bottles and don’t like it, just return the remaining unopened bottles for an exchange or refund. We also know that wine is subject to damage from dry or leaking corks, known as oxidation or TCA contamination, when a bottle is referred to as corked. If you suspect you have a bad bottle, please return it to us for replacement.
February 27, 2013