[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]Conscientious readers may remember this post from over a year ago where I introduced Cellar Direct, an Alberta-based online national wine club featuring subscription-based access to a specially-curated selection of non-interventionist natural wines. Thirteen and a half months later, Cellar Direct is still doing its thing, but under a revamped and significantly more flexible business model. Now, instead of paying a fixed amount per month for semi-recurring shipments of pre-selected wines, you simply keep an eye out for regular wine offers (generally to be unveiled weekly on Saturdays) and then place an online order for as few or as many bottles as you want, which are shipped to you shortly afterward in temperature-controlled trucks to keep your wines in cellar-like comfort during transport. This simpler, less demanding offer-based approach is a boon to buyers in the tighter economic times in which we currently find ourselves in this province, and Cellar Direct’s streamlined e-commerce interface allows them to keep prices reasonable even while offering highly researched, quality-focused wines from traditional producers that truly pop and that you won’t see at your neighbourhood wine store. If any of that piques your interest, you can sign up for the club’s offer newsletters and find out more info at cellardirect.ca.
Cellar Direct’s first online offering under its new and improved structure was the excellent Senorio de P. Pecina Rioja Crianza that I have already gleefully tried. The next offer is due out this Saturday and tackles what is often considered (including by me) to be the biggest oxymoron in the world of wine: value Burgundy. Wines from Burgundy can make the toughest weep and turn the deepest skeptics into lifelong followers of the vine; unfortunately, they can also empty your wallet with shocking efficiency and leave you feeling underwhelmed and disappointed. It can be exceedingly difficult, especially at lower price points (which for Burgundy can mean anything under $50ish), to know what you’re going to get in any given bottle, and finding anything $30 or less that properly showcases the region can be a massive challenge, especially when you’re not sure where to look. Cellar Direct’s upcoming offer this week, as well as a further offer coming in mid-November, try to be your map and compass to this frustrating yet enchanting region of legend. Let’s see how they do, starting with a bottle due to hit your inbox in a few days… Read the rest of this entry »