How to stock your Wine Cellar – Casemates

Ladies and Gentlemen. Today I’d like to present to you, Casemates.com. I often get comments about how my wine enthusiasm must be expensive to maintain. Well the truth is, it really isn’t that expensive. One of the main reasons for starting this blog is to show you and any aspiring winesnob that your love for wine does not necessarily have to be an expensive one. You do not have to spend a lot of money to enjoy good, great and sometimes exceptional wines.

Enter Casemates. They play no small part in my overall cellar strategy. This group dates back to mid 2000s. I discovered them when they ran Wine Woot and very quickly came to rely on them for great wines at great prices and sometimes ridiculous bargains. They now play a key role in stocking my cellar with great EDC (Every Day Consuption) wines. While the wine deals they feature are often inexpensive, this is no indication of their quality. It is not uncommon to find deals ranging between $80-$180 per case. Some of these wines have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with wines in my reserve that are 3-5 times the price. There are few things sweeter to a winesnob than opening a bottle with friends and watch their surprise when hear how little it cost. We are truly living at a great time when great wines are well within reach and Casemates is playing a key role in that respect.

Moving forward I will try to highlight deals on wines I am familiar with. If you have any questions or would like my feedback on any of their offerings, please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@winesnob.blog). You can also follow Casemates on Instagram (@casemateswine).

This post is not sponsored in any way by Casemates. As with all my content, it is a pure reflection of my personal experience, opinion and my desire to support those who’s work I appreciate.

EDC: 2014 Pinot Noir by Apriori Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir by Apriori Cellars, Sonoma Coast.

Oh this wine! Where do I start? It is a highly understated and I would dare say underrated Pinot. In contrast to most of the Pinot I review which are big bold Pinot that need to take long naps to arrive at their fullest expression, this one is made in the more traditional Burgundian style. It’s refreshing to see a delicate, light easy Pinot.

There are no overpowering notes anywhere in this wine. At 12.5% ABV it is extremely approachable. You can enjoy this wine all day and not experience any palate fatigue. You can pair it with a delicious steak or enjoy it straight. The nose is very subtle with a hint of oak, rose and berry. Of course it has that unmistakable Sonoma earth. The body is buttery and smooth with a feathery finish that almost vanishes instantly. Thank you Casemates Wine for bringing us another winner! I’m perplexed as to why I have not yet visited this winemaker in person. 🤔 I surely need to fix that soon! Great job guys!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Apriori Cellar wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Apriori Cellar wines on Wine.com

Reserve: 2008 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir by Hitching Post

Tonight’s occasion: 2008 Hitching Post, Bien Nacido, Pinot Noir.

Yes folks. I had to stop by the Hitching Post while exploring Santa Barbara wine country last year. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to really sit down and do this place justice. I ended up literally rushing through on my way out at the end of my visit. If you’ve never been to the Hitching Post, they have a mouth-watering assortment of Pinot Noir. Staggering. You would need an all-day visit to do it justice.

The Bien Nacido came highly recommended. This 2008 does not disappoint. Great earthy nose, smooth, buttery, well balanced body (especially for a Pinot of 14.5% ABV), a testament to the winemakers skill. It’s obvious this wine started off big and bold for a Pinot but has had time to balance out. It’s deep dark blood red color is the first indicator. I think a lot of folks such as myself take this place for granted until you open up your first bottle. This is my second and it is simply exquisite. Great job guys!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Hitching Post wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Hitching Post wines on Wine.com

Reserve: 2015 Resolute by Iron Hub

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Resolute by Iron Hub, Amador County, California. This wine inched ever so slightly ahead of their Esola Zinfandel. Both capping a respectable lineup of well built wines. It has a restrained nose with a suggestion of oak. If you don’t like big earthy noses, but like a big wine, you will like this one. It is somewhat fruit forward but not as much as one might expect from the region.

The body has a really good balance of acid, spice and fruit, quite impressive when you consider it has a 14.7% ABV. A testament to the winemaker’s craft. The finish is smooth with a healthy amount of tannic grip. It’s a great sipper, a high quality conversation wine. Several days ago I explored the obscure Italian varietal Aglianico. Little did I know I would encounter it this weekend. This is a refreshing, surprisingly approachable take on that grape. Well done guys!

Reserve: 1999 Syrah by Terre Rouge

Tonight’s occasion: 1999 Syrah by Terre Rouge of Shenandoah Valley, California.

It has an elusive nose with a hint of oaky chocolate, maybe a little plum.

Once opened it almost vanishes. Body has a mature late stage balance with a hint of acidity that gently and patiently segues into the finish which is introduced by a very brief bite of spice before riding into the sunset with a final gentle wave of mild tannic grip. This wine is ripe and has been ripe for a while.

After 20 years of patiently waiting, it came right out of the bottle ready with the posture of an old sage. It needs no decanting. It is absolutely beautiful. I cannot say enough about a winemaker whose craft shows so well after so long. A bottle like this is a distinct honor, privilege and true occasion. Where were you in 1999? Now imagine where this winemaker was at the same time.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Terre Rouge wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Terre Rouge wines on Wine.com

Reserve: 2012 Aglianico del Vulture by Tenuta Del Portale

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Aglianico del Vulture by Tenuta Del Portale. Prior to just a few days ago I had no idea this varietal existed. This came as a suggestion from my newest winesnob som friend Nikki. According to Wikipedia, Aglianico is a black grape grown in the southern regions of Italy, mostly Basilicata and Campania. The vine originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers. The name may be a corruption of vitis hellenica, Latin for “Greek vine”.

This one comes with a rich nose full of terrior minerality, leather, dirt and tobacco. It may be a bit much for some but once it opens up (for about an hour) it becomes a good conversation piece with a hint of fruit, balanced body and long lasting finish. I like wines that draw my palate off the beaten

path and prompt me to rethink my perception of what an honest wine truly is. This experience comes as no surprise from an Italian wine. Salute!

Reserve: 2012 Touriga – Nacional by Quinta Dos Carvalhais

Tonight’s occasion is a 2012 Touriga – Nacional by Quinta Dos Carvalhais. Touriga has been a mystery varietal for me for a while now. It is an obscure grape from Portugal. The closest varietal out here (common in California) I can think of is Cabernet Franc. Most Touriga read very similar. Like Cab Franc, they aren’t overly complex but what they do, the do exceedingly well. This one came out swinging and needed to open up. The nose is surprisingly subtle with 2 or 3 hidden floral notes I cannot pinpoint. Licorice, vanilla, and jasmine come to mind. Once opened up, the body becomes elusive and finish completely dominates. My kind of wine. This wine is still young with a hint of green. Get this and forget about it for another 5-10 years.

We did a side-by-side with a Touriga based Red blend by the same winemaker. It’s a bit more of a bargain, definitely more of a pleaser too. A fantastic second bottle with lots of fruity oak/vanilla, jasmine, fuller body and much more subdued tannins. Makes perfect sense for this 57% Touriga Nacional. The only way you’d be able to stomach a 2017 Touriga Nacional is if you blend it down. Nonetheless both fantastic wines in their own right. However my heart is with the 2012 Touriga. It is so much more mature and an hour after opening, it really dominated our tasting.

Reserve: 2014 Syrah by Dierberg

Tonight’s occasion is a 2014 Syrah by Dierberg Star Lane Vinyard.

I posted a while back about my visit last year here. I wanted to try something special tonight so I reached for the Santa Barbara region in my cellar. Any mildly savvy palate should be able to identify the terrior in the nose alone. Very nice and rich. It prompted visuals of the vigneron (the one who tends to the vines) and contemplated all he/she put into those vines for the terrior to be so pronounced in the nose alone. A great, buttery, well balanced body (especially for a 14.2% ABV wine) a testament to the winemaker’s skill and craft. The finish is not as massive as your average California Syrah, but still has that signature tannic grip albeit restrained for a Syrah.

This region is most known for it’s amazing Pinot Noir, so it’s always a treat to see what Syrah – a typically big bold wine – would taste like. I like what they’ve done with this Syrah. Great job!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Dierberg Star Lane wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Dierberg Star Lane wines on Wine.com

Reserve: 2007 Syrah by Rusack

Tonight’s occasion is a 2007 Syrah by Rusack from Santa Barbara County.

I posted a while back about my visit here. You know whenever I feel like tasting something truly special, this region never fails and Rusack is a must. This region is most known for its rich exquisite Pinot Noir, which is precisely why I picked up their Syrah. This 12 year old vintage is drinking perfect right now. Full of gentle subtle aromas, a wide body devoid of any overbearing character and a finish that’ll make you do a double-take as it starts fading and then quickly gets overwhelmed with a long gentle, enduring tannic grip. This is my kind of wine! Great work Rusack!

This wine is a great candidate for your term reserve. You can pick up their current vintages and lay them down for another 5 years or more. I have some 2014 I picked up on this trip as well and I very much look forward to opening them 7 years from now. The good news is they have an extensive list of well priced library wines you can pick from. These will give you an idea of how they will age.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Rusack wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Rusack wines on Wine.com

Reserve: 2005 Barbaresco, Roncaglie, Poderi Colla

Tonight’s occasion is a 2005 Barbaresco, Roncaglie, Poderi Colla. WOW!!! This 14 year old vintage still packs a heavy punch. It comes right out of the bottle swinging with a big nose full of dirt, terroir and aromas that instantly dominate the immediate space. A thick chewy body followed by a massive tannic finish that feels like it has no intention of fading or backing down without a fight.

I absolutely love the wine and the boat loads of attitude it has. Very unusual for a Barbaresco which tends to be on the mild side of the Nebbiolo variety. If you’re wondering what a big bold wine tastes like, then you really have to try this. The good news is you might be able to find it at your local Total Wine and every now and then you will find an older vintage like this or close. Worth every penny.