There are some interesting things going on at the retail level in the local marketplace here. Particularly if one looks at the end cap displays at finer independent retailers, there appears to be a flourish of closeout deals. It must be the pre-spring cleaning in anticipation of the new vintages arising. Regardless, there are some pretty terrific deals to be had if you know where to look - and what to look for. Conversely, there are also some real dogs on fire sale that, even while substantially discounted, are not worth your hard-earned money. Read on for a few notes on each. (Note the focus on Italy for great QPR, as predicted at the beginning of this year.)
2012 Tavaglini Nebbiolo Costa Della Sesia $14
Normally $20, this baby Barolo epitomizes the marvel of quality old world red. Light in density, but not at all shy in delivering a full spectrum of heady flavors, lipsmacking acidity, and accessible complexity. All of this for under $14! Worthy of a case buy.
2012 Il Castelucio Sangiovese Toscana $9
This is a straightforward sangiovese made without fanfare, but with a slight nod towards international palates. Lots of bright bing cherry provides the stuffing and classic Tuscan grip frames it all in. Good out of the gate, it improved markedly on day two. A sizzling bargain at $8.99.
2008 Rocca di Frasinello Maremma Rosso 'Poggio Alla Guardia' $10
Nearing its eighth birthday, I really hesitated to pick this one up as so few wines have the staying power to last this long. But at a sawbuck, it was an easy flyer to take. Sure am glad, too. Simple on opening, it unwinds nicely with a couple of hours in a decanter. Though perhaps slightly past its prime, this red offers lovely layers of flavor delivered in a supple, graceful manner. Big bang for the buck!
2010 Novelty Hill Royal Slope Red Columbia Valley $10
Having had some wonderful experiences with this winery's merlot, there was no hesitation reaching for this blend marked down from $25 to $10. Alas, there's a reason for that. Suffering under its own weight and a bludgeoning dose of raw oak, the years have not been kind to this wine (though it's hard to imagine that it was ever anything close to balanced.) If you like picking sawdust out from between your teeth while wincing at overextraction, this might be for you.
2013 Twenty Bench Chardonnay Napa Valley $10
Another big discount on a wine with a premium name. Regrettably, it's also another wine that was never worth it's discounted price let alone its original sticker. Just jointed, simple, and exhibiting low-quality fruit, this tastes as though something was fumbled in the cellar.