This is a brand new wine club where every wine they ship is rated 89 points or better by one of four trusted critics (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media and Burghound). They aim to please, so don't be afraid to call 'em up for more information or customizations.
Their "Best Price" program ensures they've priced their wines at the best price on the Internet by using Wine-Searcher.com Pro to check all available prices (they check when they add the wine to their site).
They're new and this is somewhere in the pipeline, but we'd like to see pre-paid gift subscriptions as well as options for bi-monthly and quarterly deliveries, too.
Winecrasher is a new company with deep roots in fine wine and concierge-style service. Their goal is to help you find wine you love and they achieve this by calling each customer once an order is placed and interviewing the customer about his or her—or their—preferences. We love this type of wine club because it’s a great way to get that “local wine store” relationship with someone who actually wants to get to know your palate!
Their monthly wine club comes in three flavors: 3 Bottles of Red Wine, 3 Bottles of White Wine, or 6 Bottles of Mixed Red and White Wine (Six Mix for those of you who like rhymes). We picked up a shipment of the Six Mix and were delighted with all of the selections.
What We Received (after being interviewed for our preferences and goals):
Wine: Niepoort Redoma Branco 2014 ($20 or more)
Critic Rating: Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 92 points
Critic Tasting Note: Sourced from the Douro's right bank at 500 to 600 meters in altitude, it was aged for eight months in French oak, only 20% new. It seems rather full in the mouth in its youth, coating the palate nicely. With fine acidity supporting and lifting the fruit, this is beautifully balanced and expressive. It is, actually, glorious at the moment. It resolves into a more elegant wine with air, the acidity always making it refreshing. Coming in at just 12.5% alcohol, it is very impressive and an overachiever. In this crisp vintage, it should age well and perhaps better than I think.
Wine: Staete Landt Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($22 SRP)
Critic Rating: Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 89 points
Critic Tasting Note: The Sauvignon Blanc has invigorating grapefruit, mandarin peel and lemon zest scents with a hint of wild thyme. Medium-bodied, it bursts in the mouth with zingy, citrus flavors and gives plenty of thirst-satisfying length.
Wine: Domaine du la Colombier Vacqueyras 2011 ($25 or more)
Critic Rating: Wine Spectator 90 points
Critic Note: Plump at the core, with green fig, pear and yellow apple notes, but brisk along the edges, with a blanched almond and melon rind frame that keep this honest. Drink now. 400 cases made.
Wine: Maison L’Envoy ‘The Attache’ Pinot Noir 2013 ($36 or more)
Critic Rating: Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media 91 points
Critic Note: Bright red. Perfumed aromas of fresh red berries, star anise and musky underbrush, plus notes of incense and candied rose. Palate-staining red fruit flavors turn sweeter with air. This energetic, precise Pinot finishes with strong thrust and gentle tannic persistence.
Wine: Principe Pallavicini Lazio IGT ($15 or more)
Critic Rating: Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 90 points
Critic Note: The 2013 Syrah comes as a great surprise with variety pureness that is presented in a clean and well-delivered manner. This is one of a handful of Syrahs made in Lazio that are really showing the potential of this grape. The bouquet reveals dark cherry fruit with blackberry, spice, leather and tobacco. The tannins are soft and yielding. There's a point of bright acidity on the close.
Wine: Domaine Bousquet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($12 or more)
Critic Rating: Wine Spectator 90 points
Critic Note: Taut and minerally, with muscular flavors of dried blackberry, roasted plum and dark cherry that linger with notes of black licorice and mocha. Baker's chocolate details show on the finish. Drink now through 2019.
The highlights were the whites. The Sauvignon blanc was exceptional, the Rhone was delightful, and the Douro by comparison was merely very good. The Cabernet Sauvignon was interesting and they even managed to find a Willamette Pinot Noir I liked. We didn't receive the Syrah that was listed in the email with the descriptions... we received a Concha y Toro Pinot Noir—we were told to keep the Pinot Noir and a bottle of the Syrah will be in our next shipment to make up for it.
Also worth noting, the per bottle price is $18.33 with free shipping in California or $20 per bottle anywhere they ship (44 states). Whereas the retail value of this shipment (or the prices we found online) was $21.83 per bottle. Interestingly, when we were price-checking the wines, we found these wines at beloved wine stores like Wally’s in Los Angeles, K&L Wines throughout California, and Saratoga Wine Exchange in New York—often wine club wines are not sold at fine wine stores.
In addition to being a go-to wine club, it’s a neat place to buy wine by the case. They’re using a model like Hotwire.com, where you know the critic’s rating, a great description of what you’re buying, and the price, but you don’t find out what the wine is until AFTER you make your purchase. This lets wineries protect their brand from price erosion while still offering deep discounts on fully-vetted wines.
At WineClubReviews.net we take an objective approach to our star ratings system. Our written reviews are very much subjective, based on our 5+ years of wine club review experience and our own ideas about what good wine and good value mean. The star ratings are based on 11 attributes that we feel define what a wine club should be. Here is how Winecrasher Monthly Wine Club stacks up on these traits.
Winecrasher is guaranteeing quality by only offering wines that have been well-rated by just a few trusted critics (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Antonio Galloni's Vinous Media and Burghound). These aren’t 95+ wines, but you’re getting 89-91 point wines (sometimes more) from sources that don’t hand out high ratings in exchange for payola (like some publications do).
We feel the prices for the Winecrasher Monthly Club are very fair. It’s hard to say with certainty if the the retail price was correct to begin with (this is determined by the winery), but Winecrasher sets their prices based on the lowest prices found at Wine-Searcher.com when they list the wine on their site. Cheap or free (if you live in California) shipping really makes the price quite affordable. Their prices do not include sales tax.
The Winecrasher Monthly Club offers limited personalization in terms of how normal clubs might offer it and incredible personalization as they interview you for your preferences! It’s worth noting that you can’t opt for bi-monthly or quarterly delivery.
The Winecrasher Monthly Club is not especially unique in terms of the way the club is structured, but it is unusual to find a wine club that is so transparent in their pricing and selection model, and so willing to customize shipments.
It’s unusual for wine clubs to tell us how they pick their wines (though some brag about it), but with Winecrasher we have a pretty good idea! They find wines that are rated by their trusted critics, find the distributors who sell them wholesale, and buy what’s available at a price they like. Works for us!
Note: This rating is our objective analysis of Winecrasher's satisfaction guarantee—not our assessment of whether or not you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with their wines.
Winecrasher offers a vague (and buried) satisfaction guarantee that isn’t optimal. “If there is a problem with the wine we'll make it right (some industry customary restrictions may apply)!” Customary industry responses to corked wine is to replace it, but if you don’t like it you’re out of luck. On the flip side, they ask you what you like before they ship your wine, so you really should only want to return “bad bottles.”
We look at three areas when evaluating the discount opportunities offered by a wine club. Is there an introductory offer to sweeten the deal? Are there discounts available for buying more of wines you loved in your shipments? Are there special discounts only available to members?
One of the expectations we have of wine of the month clubs is that they are rewarding your loyalty to their service with exceptional pricing. In the case of Winecrasher, they fall short. Except it’s sort of unfair to penalize them for this since they’ve already priced their wines as low as they can and they’re offering free shipping.
Winecrasher is brand new so customer complaints aren’t rolling in. Given the small team and the personal pride in their start-up, I’d be surprised if you have a bad customer service experience with Winecrasher.
The educational materials are delivered plain text via email. It’s not exciting, but we don’t penalize wine clubs much for not having expensive glossy brochures in the box—they’re saving the planet!
Winecrasher offers little in the way of self-serve account management, however you’re always reminded to call for any reason or just send them an email (if you don’t want to call or it’s not business hours when you’re addressing your needs). We find it hard to believe that any reasonable request would be denied as the team at Winecrasher has been very responsive with our requests.
At this time, Winecrasher is not a good wine club gift. Check back later as they grow!