As you know, from time to time I get products to review. As you also know, I am a wine enthusiast. So you can just imagine how thrilled I was when I was asked to receive a sample shipment from the Gold Medal wine of the month club. The Gold Medal Wine Club features wines from small-production vineyards – no mass-market stuff. Immediately my interest was piqued. When I received my shipment via FedEx, I immediately noticed how well-packaged the wines were. They were snugly placed in protective Styrofoam wine shippers. There was no way the bottles were going to clang around, even during a bumpy ride. The Styrofoam shipper was then placed in a tight-fitting box. Having worked in the wine and liquor biz, and having received other wine samples for writing assignments, I’ve seen packaging from good to bad to ugly, and I was very happy with the quality and care placed into getting these wines from California to New York. The bottles themselves were wrapped with tissue paper and a bow. Also included in the shipment was a gift card and a newsletter. The newsletter contained tasting notes and details on the wines in this shipment. Since I usually end up checking out the vineyard’s Web site any time I try a bottle, I was happy to get the information at a glance without even having to boot up my laptop. Nice presentation, all around.
But now on to the important stuff, right? The wines. In my shipment I received a bottle of Bradford Mountain Grist Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2004 and a bottle of Belvedere Russian River Valley Chardonnay Sonoma County 2005. Both of these bottles are higher-end offerings from both vineyards. The Bradford Zin retails for around $35 and the Belvedere Chard retails for around $20. Both of these wines are classic California — full flavor, big oak. My husband and I were pleased with both of them. The nose on the Chard is delicious, toasty almond. After a few swirls the fruit starts to come up, but the oak doesn’t retreat. There’s a bit of honeysuckle there too, but it’s subtle. On the palate, this Chard is all wood with a bit of spice and butter at the end. It had a nice mouthfeel and a medium finish. Don’t get the impression that this is over-oaked — not at all. The oak is gentle and well-integrated.
The Bradford Mountain Grist Vineyard Zin also would be considered “big oak,” but really it’s a classic example of a great Zinfandel. Cedar and dark fruit on the nose with the tiniest bit of anise showing up to the party. Right out of the bottle, the wine is totally wood-dominated, but after about 20 minutes, the fruit started to come through. I think that if I had decanted the bottle it would have helped. The wine needed some time to open up but when it did – wow! It also was a star with the filet mignon we ate with it. The wine could benefit from a little time in the bottle — it’s a little young, I think so I’m interested in getting another bottle and holding off for a few years. But it shows a lot of promise and with time I think the fruit will come out a bit more.
The sample subscription I got was from the Gold Tier, which costs between $39-$43 per shipment. Considering the retail value of the wines I received, I think it’s a great deal and I’m actually considering joining. This is definitely a club for true wine lovers — the wines have a lot of character and aren’t the typical mass-market bottles you’re going to find at every Liquorama-type box store. A subscription would be a great gift idea for someone who isn’t afraid of trying different wines and prefers to drink “boutique” wines (like me!). The choices were great, the packaging was top-notch, and the newsletter was informative and interesting. All in all, I was really impressed with everything about the Gold Medal Wine Club.