Conventional wisdom among wine consumers: as you mature in your wine buying habit, you gravitate from new world wines (and thus mailing lists) to the subtleties of fine Burgundy. While I do love a great Burgundy… I still get excited when a mailer arrives in my inbox. I’ve been at this for about 20 years now, and buy from more mailers than ever.
For me, mailers present the opportunity to buy exceptional, hard-to-find wines at affordable prices. I never buy more wines than I want and I never buy hostage wines (You must buy wines A & B in order to get wine C).
Some of my regular mailing list purchases include:
- Black Sears
- Dalla Valle
- Kosta Browne
- Rivers Marie
- Switchback Ridge
- Williams Selyem
I am sure I’m forgetting some but you get the point.
With the soft economy, getting on mailing lists has never been easier. Even if you’re new to the hobby I suspect you won’t have to wait long to obtain your favorite wines.
What are your favorite mailing lists and why?
6 thoughts on “Confessions of a Mailing List Addict”
Ah yes, the lists are addicting and can tell you have them pretty well vetted. Unfortunately, in many instances landing a spot on a list (or knowing the right people) is the only way to acquire “cult” level wines without paying ridiculous markups in the secondary market, which is fine. I realize many mailing-list-only wines are small-production wines and frankly the hunt to get on some of the lists makes for a cheap thrill. I agree the “hostage wine” scenario is annoying, as is the 6-bottle minimums some producers impose. Personally I find it tough to rally enough participants to go in on a $600+ half-case! Like you said, many are still feeling the soft economy… For those with robust wine budgets (or NO budgets for that matter), who can drop that kind of coin every month or so, more power to them!
Lastly, as a relatively new “mailing list addict” myself, my biggest dilemma revolves around committing to wine allocations that are proclaimed to be good/great/exceptional by others. I’m a big “try before buy” guy and have learned that one should be weary of accepting the big reviewer’s words as gospel. I may end up missing some good opportunities with this approach, but will have confidence that when I throw down three figures on a bottle, it will provide the level enjoyment and nuances my palate and I enjoy.
I have thoroughly enjoyed Betz, Quilceda Creek, Cayuse, No Girls and look forward to a steady supply of Reynvaan in the future.
Kyle…I am a big proponent of trying before buying. Sometimes though you have to go on blind faith based on the winemaker or reviews. No Girls is a perfect example. Don’t know how I missed that list by the way as I responded within minutes.
I may claim I never buy more than I want, but I confess that it’s almost impossible to resist buying something when a mailer arrives and I’m certain I buy more from wineries from which I receive mailers because I’ve received the enticing mailer than I otherwise would. It’s a great sales strategy for wineries for this reason. I increasingly make a larger and larger share of my wine purchases via mailing lists.
Although I try to limit it, in some cases I think wine clubs in which you agree to a set amount of annual purchases from the winery also deliver great value. Corison is an example of this for me. These wines really hit the spot for me so I am thrilled to get what I am committed to buy. Plus by being in the club I get a nice discount on all purchases from the winery.
Other lists that come to mind that I like are: A. Rafanelli and Siduri. A. Rafanelli because it’s a great family run winery that makes delicious wines that represent a good value for the quality. They’re also pretty much available only through the list. Siduri because the wines are great and they communicate regularly and well with their list and often offer deals that are to good to be refused.
Mike, Rafanelli is on my short list of favorite Zins and I have been buying off their mailing list for 6-7 years. I knew I forgot a few….
Indeed, one beautiful aspect of wine mailers is that they present the opportunity to buy exceptional, hard-to-find wines at prices lower than you’ll find at many wine shops. Additionally, mailers enable one to obtain these wines easily without search which is both time consuming and expensive.
These aspects of mailers are of course positive attributes. But, like the flip-side of a coin, they are also negative. I say “negative” because mailers have the uncanny power to seduce the wine lover into buying more wine than he/she can reasonably drink before the wines go over-the-hill.
My personal approach to wine buying is to take advantage of mailers for wines high on my “Want List” in order to ensure that I obtain a few bottles at affordable prices. But, I do so with caution keeping in mind how much wine I can realistically drink over time, not to mention how much I can realistically afford.
Really good points Peter. Most my purchases from the mailers above are in the 3-6 bottle range. One can’t live on just mailing list wines.