Best Wine Shop Discovery this Year

As someone who has influenced the wine buying seen in the Twin Cities over the last 20 years I think I know what I am talking about when it comes to buying wine and recommending wine shops. Currently the Twin Cities has hit a wall in terms of anything innovative and exciting. I will still promote the following wine shops:

  1. Surdyk’s (3 Day Wine Review Wine Shop of the Year).
  2. WineStreet Spirits in North Oaks (Still have some amazing deals throughout the year).
  3. Morelli’s in St. Paul (Love their Monday Madness & good deals on everyday wine).
  4. Haskell’s (Price match local newspaper adds).

After those 4 no one else has much going on. Sure some shops carry some really good wines but their prices are terrible. I don’t need service as I can get much better deals out of state. Covid has made many shops lazy. Yes alcohol sales are up over the last 2 years but people remember who still delivered during these trying times.

Not too long ago I was searching for a wine the 2017 Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserva (Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja) when (@BottleKing) came up and had a better price than the recent Surdyk’s Sale at $22.99. With shipping it would probably cost more, then I looked closer at their website and found they ship a ton of wines with no cost shipping to MN. Here is a list of free shipping items. Always check shipping before you think you have a good deal as many places around the country rip you off!!!!! I just got a quote from Benchmark out of California today for shipping and it is $80 a case. Rip off!!!

The following wines are free shipping to MN and they have a lot of wines worth trying.

Here are some of those wines I have reviewed:

  • 2018 Château Marjosse – France, Bordeaux (1/11/2022)
    Day 1: Pop and pour. Tastes like a grocery store Bordeaux. I have been noticing more and more cheap Bordeaux and Italian wines getting 92 points from critics and then being very disappointed with some (not all). Fruit froward offering with cherry, plum and floral notes. Thin on the palate and finish. Lacks acidity. Not going to score this now and will see over 3 days if it improves (80 points currently).
    Day 1.25: Not surprised the wine did improve a few hours later. Roasted chestnuts, cherry, dust, spice and minerals. Certainly not in the 90s but for the price a serviceable weekday wine. Grainy (Agglomerate) Cork 88 points
    Day 2: Can’t stress this day 2/3 thing anymore and another stellar result. This is much better on day 2. Bright fruit featuring cherry and plum along with tobacco, minerals, spice and dust. Pretty amazing wine for under $20. 91 points
    Day 3: Small berries, good acidity, minerals, tobacco and dust. Excellent value and should age for a while. 91 points
    Recommendation: Decant 3 or 4 hours if you want to consume young. Will age for 5 to 8 years no problem. (91 points)
Great value at $13.99.
  • 2016 Tenuta di Capraia Chianti Classico Riserva – Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG (12/25/2021) $24.99
    Day 1: Certainly a low average on this wine. This is certainly is not modern style Chianti. Dried leaves, iron, minerals, earth, spice, clay and red fruits. Nice acidity and medium finish. Picks up some really nice black olive character on the finish. High tannins at the moment so cellaring this wine will benefit it. Guessing this wine was aged in newer oak barrels. Should improve over 3 days. 91-94.
    Day 1.5: As expected a nice improvement and more open for business. Dried flowers, iron, red fruits, clay, minerals, black licorice and mushroom. Very flavorful wine and should develop over the next few days. 91+ points
    Day 2: Similar to day 1.5. Dried flowers, clay, iron, red berries, sour cherries, mushrooms and black licorice. Nice acidity and food friendly wine. Think I will be going the 4 full days on this wine. 91 points
    Day 3: Sour cherry, dried flowers, iron, clay, bitter coffee and mushrooms. Rustic wine and good acidity. Certainly not a modern Chianti in nature. Not sure this will get to that 94 range I set but cellaring this is needed. 91 points
    Day 4: Dried flowers, some sweet fruits, mushrooms, dust, iron and clay. Cellar these!
    Recommendation: Currently 91 and needs a heavy decant to be enjoyed. I would recommend cellaring for 4 or 5 years. (91 points)
  • 2018 Shaw and Smith Shiraz – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide Hills (12/19/2021) $27.99
    Day 1: Under $30 and worth every penny. Very aromatic wine and flavorful but all in balance. Blackberries, black olives, blueberries, floral, black pepper and exotic spices. Medium plus finish and good acidity. This is a six pack coming soon! Actual agree with James Suckling who gave it 95 so not far off. 93 points
    Day 2: Beautiful wine with black olives, tar, blueberries, twigs, floral notes, black pepper and exotic spices. Medium plus finish and good concentration. Outstanding value. 93 points
    Day 3: More balanced across the board on day 3. Black olives, tar, blueberries, black pepper, exotic spices and floral notes. Medium to long finish and amazed how well this is drinking young. 93+ points
    Recommendation: Buy! For less than $30 an amazing QPR. (93 points)
  • 2016 Cafaggio Chianti Classico Villa Cafaggio Riserva – Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG (12/18/2021) $15.99
    Day 1: $15.99 and free shipping. Win! Mix between traditional and more modern. Some funk, dried cherries, herbs, twigs and dust. Will wait an hour or so to officially score but on the pop and pour promising.
    Day 1.25: Needed some air and is better. Iron, mild funk, dried cherries, twigs, dust and nice fruits. For sure a good value but not off the charts. 88 points
    Day 1.5: This is falling apart and another mediocre Chianti wine. Dust, tastes manufactured with candied red fruits. Not sure how this was rated so high. 84 points right now.
    Day 2: Much better on day 2 with more of a rustic edge to the wine which is what I love about Chianti wines. Iron, floral, dried cherries, coffee beans, earth and minerals. This needs a big decant if you are drinking on day 1. I would recommend cellar these for 2 to 3 years. 91 points
    Day 3: Really nice on day 3 with Christmas spice, beef, dried cherries, mild funk, dust, twigs and earth. Very rustic in nature which I like in good Chianti wines. Much better than day 1 and needs cellaring time. 91+ points
    Day 4: Now we are talking. Getting the acidity missed on previous days. Dried cherries, floral, earth, twigs, iron and Christmas spices. Beautiful and great value. 92 points
    Recommendation: Buy and hold until 2025 or 5 hour decant. (92 points)
  • 2021 Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough (12/17/2021) $13.99
    Day 1: Really solid effort for the money. Dust, minerals, grapefruit, flint and floral notes. Not the in your face of some NZ SB’s. 90 points
    Day 2: Mineral driven on day 2. Not the Grapefruit overload of too many New Zealand SB’s. Minerals, gunflint, mild grapefruit, tropical fruit and floral. Complex offering for under $15.00. One of the better of the year. 91 points
    Day 2.75: Nice and will be buying more of this wine. Certainly my style of NZ SB.
    Recommendation: If you don’t like manufactured SB you will enjoy this and under $15. (91 points)
  • 2012 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (1/20/2021)
    Day 1: Preparing for the La Rioja Alta tasting with Sunfish Cellars Thursday night. These are not pop and pour wines and need some cellaring. Very nice complexity with Christmas spice, raspberries, Bing Cherries, wood, minerals and dark chocolate. A hint of dill on the finish but adds not detracts. Medium to long finish. This might be my favorite Spanish wine for the money year in and year out. 92 plus.
    Day 2: More fragrant and complex on day 2. Opening up featuring mild oak, cherry, rose petals, raspberries, spices, minerals and bitter chocolate. Medium plus finish. Very well made wine and Ardanza is always a favorite. 92 plus.
    Day 3: A bit of a drop off. Lacks the intensity of the first 2 days. Rustic with sour raspberries, spices, subtle dill and minerals. Medium finish.
    Recommendation: I don’t see this as a long term ager Ardanza like the 09. Drink now to 2026. (92 points)
  • 2018 Bodega Catena Zapata Chardonnay Tupungato – Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Tupungato (1/3/2022)
    Day 1: This is really nice. Carmel, tropical fruit, spice, floral, apple and pear. Honestly tastes like a $75 Napa Chardonnay. Medium finish. 92 points
    Day 2: Excellent again. Tropical fruit, apple, pear, floral, spice and a touch of oak. Medium finish and another six pack please. 92 points (92 points)

Not worth buying.

  • 2019 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Phoenix – Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra (12/30/2021)
    Day 1: After the disappointment of the 16 I decided to try another one of these wines. Eucalyptus up front along with red berries, pepper, sour cherry and mint. This is not bad and certainly worth the price. Crowd pleaser wine that is drinkable. 88 points
    Day 2: Well this for sure is pop and pour. Has declined on the next glass yesterday and even worse today. Muted fruit, pepper and dark chocolate. Lacks acidity and shorter finish. The initial appeal is gone. 83 points
    Day 2.5: Getting more of the floral notes later in the day along with black pepper, blackberries, blueberries, spice and dust. I always enjoy revisiting these types of wines as never giving up on a wine is a big part of my philosophy. This is even better than the pop and pour. 89 points
    Day 3: Not doing it for me and similar to the beginning of day 2. This is a decant wine but nothing to run out and get.
    Recommendation: There are many other better wines under $20 and the WS 92 and WE 94 is a huge question mark for me. (89 points)