This is Season 2 of Dan The Wine Man, a feature written for The Napa Valley Register and other media outlets. My angles are 1) Anyone can drink unique, delicious wines and I’ll show you how, and 2) I include guidance on how to find the wines I recommend. It’s 4-6 wines each time. Hope you like it and buy my picks! Here is the article on NapaValleyRegister.com.
If you’re like me you’ve moved from shock, denial and hoarding to accepting the current normal of The Great Hunkerdown (TGH). With chicken in the freezer and toilet paper in the closet, you can divert yourself again to daily pleasures. Like wine. If you wiped out that case or two you bought in March and wondering where to go next on your TGH wine journey, may I suggest.
Last time I graced these pages I recommended five retail wine shops offering free delivery and curbside pickup. Today it’s the wineries’ turn. Have you noticed all the wineries offering free shipping since the beginning of TGH? It’s hard to keep up. I see it like a fine restaurant’s 10-page wine list – where do you start, and where’s the somm to help guide you?
At your service, with five of my recommended wineries that offer free Napa Valley delivery. Wines with character, local support and $25 or under are my criteria. It gets tricky hitting the price these days, even Sauvignon Blanc. Look for beyond-Napa wines from local wineries for better values. Which I did. Choosing wines with character is not a problem for me. It’s what I do.
Free delivery from my recommended wineries requires either a 6 or 12 bottle purchase. In some cases the wine will be shipped. In others the winery will deliver. Social distance delivery guaranteed, and someone over 21 must be home to receive – right, not a problem. Here are my five winery recommendations. I hope you’ll give some of them a try. If you do, let me know how it goes.
Azur Dry Rosé “Rosé d’Or” and Sauvignon Blanc, both 2018s. Here’s a chance to buy one of Napa’s best Rosé wines for a great price. Azur boldly launched as the premium Napa Rosé in 2008. 12 years later, it’s still the best. (Note it is now Napa Valley and Sierra Foothills grapes, so sporting the California AVA.) A Provence, Southern French style. The lightest peach skin color. Citrus, strawberry, melon, jasmine and peppercorns. Really dry, bright as a clear spring day. This is the type of Rosé most people I know like to drink. Also available for a great price: Azur Sauvignon Blanc 2018 – very fruity, perky acidity, texture. I like it with New England style clam chowder and green salad.
Pricing and how to order. Visit AzurWines.com and you’ll find the Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc for $36/bottle. Owner Élan Fayard offers it to Napa Valley residents for $300/case – 30% off – and free delivery. Must purchase a full case and you can combine the two wines, so try some of each. And if you want to get serious, do what I did and buy a five-gallon keg of the Rosé for $400. Five gallons = 25 750 ML bottles: $16/bottle. We figure a keg a month will get us through TGH. Élan’s contact info is at AzurWines.com. Call or email her to order and arrange delivery.
I’m a huge fan of Navarro Winery of Anderson Valley. Their specialties are cool-climate Pinot Noir and dry Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. They make a lot of wines, all very good and well-priced. Try a variety or one of their suggested mixed cases. With Navarro’s 1 cent/case shipping special, you can have a case delivered to your front door for under $250 easy. Or mix in a couple bottles of the Navarro “Deep End” Pinot Noir 2016 ($55), one of California’s best. You can still keep the price in the low $300s. Order at NavarroWine.com.
Try these delicious wines from Josh Phelps, a Napa Valley native and leader in the changing Napa Valley wine landscape. The Grounded “Steady State” 2016 Napa Cabernet is great for $50, and for a great value try the Collusion Red Blend 2017 from Washington for $22. Mix it up: go to GroundedWineCo.com and you’ll see a Paso Robles Red, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and a Grenache Rosé – each $25/bottle or less. 1 cent/case shipping offered, and Josh tells me that 10% of wine sales are donated to Sonoma’s Redwood Empire Food Bank. You can have a great mixed case of wine delivered for under $300, support local and help feed folks who really need it.
This Saint Helena Winery makes delicious Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Red Blend and Rosé from a handful of Lake County vineyards. (Napa winery – fruit from elsewhere. Notice a trend?) Starting with their inaugural 2014 vintage, Dancing Crow has established themselves as a great quality, super-value winery. Try them all – especially the Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
Go to DancingCrow.com to learn about them. You’ll find my reviews there too. The website isn’t set up to offer free local delivery, so contact the winery through their website. You will likely reach owner Tony Cartlidge, whose name may sound familiar from his winery Cartlidge and Browne, since sold. Mention my name and this article. 6 bottle purchase, please, for free delivery. You can also find the Dancing Crow Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon at Whole Foods Napa.
As my five gallon keg purchase suggests, wine consumption is up in the Dawson household. In these surreal times it’s easy to pour yourself a little more. And a little more. So how do we wake up the next day with a clear head? Exercise and drink lots of water of course. One of my tricks is to drink wines with 13.5% or lower alcohol levels. Generally, the wines with lower alcohols are sparkling wines, rosé, lighter whites & reds. Cooler climate wine regions along the coast, Oregon and European wines generally run at lower alcohols than Napa Valley wines. If you are drinking that killer Napa Cabernet and see it’s, say, 14.9% alcohol, make it a two-night wine. Stretch it out.
Look at the bottom or the side of the wine label for the wine’s alcohol level. Wineries are allowed some wiggle room on stated vs actual alcohol, but wineries I recommend are pretty honest. The alcohol is usually written in very small print on the bottom or side of the front label, so keep looking if you’re not seeing it. It’s astounding how a 1% rise affects the body.
I’m Dan Dawson, a Napa Valley wine writer, wine consumer advocate and former wine merchant and fancy-pants sommelier. Check out my reviews and wine tasting events at DawsonWineAdvisor.com. When you visit, please check out my membership program. Contact me through my website with questions and comments.