R Wines “3 Rings” Shiraz Reserve 2006 ~ Chris Ringland’s Wine for the Everyday

Christopher’s Wine Country Connection

Your Direct Source to Exclusive Offers from Wine Country

~ “R Wines” is a relatively new company founded in 2005 by importer and marketing guru, Dan Philips, along with co-owner, the world renowned winemaker, Chris Ringland.three rings

~ Ringland’s vinous accomplishments prior to partnering in “R Wines” include his work at Rockford, where he mentored Dave Powell, who would establish the model for Torbreck based on Ringland’s tutelage.

~ But it would be his accomplishments at his eponymous estate, Chris Ringland – where he would garner FOUR perfect 100 point scores from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for his ethereal Shiraz bottlings – that would forever place Ringland’s name among the greats.

~ Lucky for us, “R Wines” was developed for “the rest of us”. Made by “The Man”, but priced for the every day, “R Wines” allows a glimpse at semi-perfection without the price tags such perfection requires.

3 Rings

Shiraz Barossa Valley Reserve 2006

“This ripe, rich red is nicely balanced to lift the flavors of plum and currant with freshness and vitality, lingering against hints of pear and spice as the finish sails on and on. Has depth and expression.

Drink now through 2018. 400 cases made.” – HS

93 points Wine Spectator

(Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style)


MSRP:  $42

YOUR Price: $24.99

Extremely Limited! We were allocated less than 20 cases.

If your account is set up, reply to this post to order.

Or call us toll free to set up an account and place an order…

All the best in wine & life,


Wine Country Connection


A Biodynamic Roundup


Blog Update #73, 2009: A Biodynamic Roundup

I’ve chronicled our steps towards the building of a new and vastly improved family business through these blog updates, sharing daily discoveries over at my social network page where I’m known by the “handle” of Chambertin.   As we dig down deep this morning to hopefully complete the final chapter of what promises to be one of the most concise and well researched business plans yet penned on the wine business (by us at least), I thought I’d take just a few minutes to compose a brief roundup of my findings.   If you’re new to the world of biodynamic wines, or even if you’re a seasoned veteran, this compilation may come as a surprise.

The world of biodynamic wines is home to a great deal more inhabitants than I ever thought possible, spanning more continents than I once realized.  Having spent 25 years in the wine business, and after working the vineyards in Burgundy for 2 harvests towards the earning of my Sommelier certification, I am keenly aware of the importance of biodynamic wines to the French.  In Italy, too, there are a number of wine-makers practicing the art, offering the consumer some of the world’s most unique and individualistic vinous specimens. 

But what has come as most surprising to me, perhaps due in large part to my prior admitted bias, are the number of certified “biodynamic” producers from regions once considered far too “modern” for the incorporation of these idealistic measures.  Without getting too far into the whole philosophy, for this brief essay is certainly not intended as a text book on the intricacies of the how’s and why’s of Bio-D, let’s just say that to many in the world of “modern” wine making, the theories of applying various teas to the compost and vines, preceded by burying cow horns full of manure in ones vineyard are viewed as, well, unnecessary (to put it mildly).  But try convincing Madame Leroy that Bio-D is unnecessary.  Or, for that matter, attempt a conversation on the benefits of “modern” versus biodynamic with the likes of Chapoutier or the masterful Zind Humbrecht.  These three masters of their universes would verbally run a “modern” wine-maker, with their pesticides and chemical treatments, right out of the room.

So, as mentioned, it has come as most surprising to me to now find numerous once-modern-dominated wine regions becoming ever increasingly sprinkled with biodynamic wineries.  Places such as California’s Napa Valley now offer we lovers of the biodynamic juice a handful of experimental-minded spirits.  Folks dancing with the moon and burying the horns while still living among neighbors who preach the need for fungicides and tractors include such visionaries as Grgich Hills (who began converting more than a decade ago and now fully practices biodynamic principles) and Robert Sinskey.  Granted that’s not a lot of folks considering the thousands of vineyards in the land of plenty, but hey, until a few days ago, I thought NO ONE was Bio-D way out west.

Another region I never considered potentially biodynamic-ready or willing was Australia.  Sure, I’d heard that several estates were “experimenting”, or that they were singling out “portions of their vineyards” for converting.  Hey, I’m experimenting with Bio-D, too.  Every time we brew a batch of home-made tea, we save the leaves and sprinkle them in the garden.  But that certainly doesn’t qualify me as a “biodynamic winery”, let’s be serious, OK?  But just as I was stunned to discover the folks in California, so too was my surprise as I came across a handful of truly Bio-D purists from the land down under.  In particular, again, way out west, my research uncovered one winery specifically that I’m most eager to try: Cullen, from the Margaret River region.  Having been certified biodynamic since 2004, this sounds like precisely the type of estate whose wines I’d like the chance to review.

I suppose the point of this research roundup is as much a reminder as it is a compilation.  A reminder to continue watching the horizon for upcoming releases in the ever expanding world of biodynamic wines.  And a brief compilation of what folks can expect from our new family business as we move forward with our plans of a gourmet wine shop in Richmond Virginia:

(Below is a very, very, very short list of some of the producers you will find in our new venture.  Some we have already engaged in conversation, others we will begin discussions with soon.  This is the first of MANY lists to come…)

  • Domaine Rossignol Trapet (Burgundy)
  • Coulee de Serrant (Nicolas Joly) (Loire Valley)
  • Montirius (Rhone Valley)
  • Lopez de Heredia (Rioja)
  • Terras Gauda (Rias Baixas)
  • Cotturi Winery & La Cruz de Comal (Toni Cotturi) (CA, TX)
  • Paul Dolan (CA, Mendocino)
  • Shinn Estate Vineyards (NY, Long Island)
  • Cullen (Margaret River, AU)
  • Nikolaihof (Austria)
  • Domaine Jean Bourdy (Jura)
  • Clos Saron (CA, Sierra Foothills)
  • Antiyal (Maipo)
  • Movia (Slovenia)
  • Lark Hill Winery (Canberra, AU)
  • Seresin Estate (NZ)
  • Millton (NZ)

I trust you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we’ve enjoyed this initial building process.  Bringing the world of biodynamic producers to the eager and curious wine lovers of America will be our passion as much as it is our dream and our job.  Stay tuned, we’ve only just begun!

All the best in wine and life,

Christopher Massie
Diplome D’Honneur de Sommelier

95 Point Vintage Yields Part II in The Series: Your Voice is Heard

Hello again folks,

Part II of this week’s series, a series dedicated to “Listening to The People”, now takes direct aim at satisfying the palates of the Cabernet and “Cabernet Blends” lovers.  This particular category registered second place by only the narrowest of margins in our survey of a couple weeks ago, so addressing your desires for value Cabernets / Blends became my focus while meeting with suppliers these past several days.  Interestingly, finding THESE types of wines in that magic price point so many folks are searching for today was easier, but the selections came with caveats in the vast majority of cases.

I’ll explain.  Cabernet Sauvignon, in all its glory and all its various forms and blends – be it labelled on its own, dubbed a Meritage from the West Coast in homage to the wines of Medoc, hailing from any of the many appellations of Bordeaux, or from any of dozens of countries from Australia to Chile to Africa and back again – has been the most powerful and successful wine category for as long as I’ve been in the wine business (indeed for as long as wine as been marketed).  Carving out market share in this dastardly competitive sector requires serious savvy – and decent wine-making doesn’t hurt either. 

Let’s address that first point, one of savvy when marketing your Cabernet / Blend.  The major suppliers, distributors, wineries, importers and such that I am forced to play ball with in my antiquated, monopoly driven 3-tiered market state are some of the most powerful companies on the Planet.  Through consolidation and the building of literally thousands of multi-thousand square foot liquor stores in the state, the place where I attempt to discover hand crafted and terroir driven wines feels like a vinous waste-land on most days. 

These giants of the liquor industry own the rights to most major as well as “individualistic” Cabernets.  So to even have an opportunity to sample one, I as an independent merchant will be forced to accept one of the mass-marketed / plonk brands represented by these same suppliers.  To paraphrase, if I wish to offer my ever-dwindling base of clients a wine such as Harlan, and I use that one strictly as an example, a stack of somebody’s “Coastal Cabernet” will be demanded in a prominent corner of my wine shop.  That’s the wine business in my town, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  They call themselves “savvy marketers”.

But once in awhile, once in blue moon as I say, my Dorothy takes care of me.  Dorothy is my pet name for one of my suppliers – and she works for THE big boys.  She really takes my interests to heart and she absolutely reminds me of a scene right out of The Wizard of Oz.  You can imagine the red slippers every time she walks in.  She sells me Dunn “on the sly”, brought me an allocation of Loring for literally half the cost of what the mega-mall of liquor was buying it for; in short, she protects us.  And with today’s offer, a Blend that takes my palate and mind through a tunnel of Mediterranean as well as New World sensations, she has once again brought us a wine that not only rocks my charts, but is priced like never before, too.

This is McLaren Vale, a Valley town roughly 30 miles south of Adelaide, on the Gulf of St. Vincent.  Nearly 50 boutique, family-owned and operated wineries call this beautiful region their home and they describe their climate as almost “Mediterranean” in style.  The great Cabernet does very well here, as do the Shiraz, Merlot and a host of other grape types, offering the interested explorer wine types ranging from dry whites to “port-like” wines of the fortified nature.  Today’s blend, from the very famous folks at Scarpantoni, brings together Cabernet with Shiraz and Merlot from one of the greatest vintages Southern Australia has recorded in decades, 2002.  The good folks here suggested, upon release, this wine age for “up to 8 years” before consumption, to allow for integration.  Now that I’ve tasted it with just nearly that suggested bottle age, folks, look out – this is one delicious bottle of wine!

Thanks “Dorothy”, you’ve done it again!

2002 Scarpantoni “School Block”
Scarpantoni Estate Wines
60% Shiraz, 30% Cabernet, 10% Merlot Dry Red Table Wine
McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

Review by Cepage Noir
E*Newsletter Winter 2009
Rating: 89 points
Excellent wine with all the qualities expected of a near-outstanding rated wine.”
Drink: 2009 – 2012

        “A deep, opaque color, bricking at the rim, indicating a wine reaching its window of drinkability.  A big, brooding nose, soaring from the glass and offering buckets of decadent black fruits, molasses, black and white pepper, jam and even some wild marmalade nuances, all allied to an almost chicory-like oak frame that is just fabulous to smell.  The palate has lost its baby fat and now offers the sweetest, most subtle red berry fruits that are captivating with 30 minutes of air.  We have jam, berries and vanilla, with the youthful oak now integrated to offer a decadent yet harmonious and cocoa infused flavor profile.  Once a tannic and oaky wine, this is now integrated, polished and quite the drinker.  Just delicious.  Think lamb, think duck.”
                — Cepage Noir

Cabernet fans, fans of full-bodied Blends, Aussie drinkers: this is for you!

Normally about a $25 bottle of wine…

But coming out this week at only $18 per btl!

Think you might want a case?  How about $15 per btl on orders of 12 bottles or more?!

If your account is current, you may order via email, or by calling 713-524-9144…

Your Voice Is Heard – Part I

Good afternoon friends,

It has been more than three years since our last survey and considering the environment we all face today, I felt it an important time to turn to our readers for advice.  The recent survey offered for your consideration was answered by literally hundreds of our readers, for that we are thankful and humbled.  The questions were simple and intentionally held to just 5 concise and straightforward points, aimed at discovering what people want from their daily wine merchant.  This week’s offers aim to directly pin-point wines that fit the bill for the overwhelming requests that YOU, our readers, came to US, your wine merchant, searching for…

As I read each and every response that flowed into our in-box, it became instantly clear that one wine grape in particular, for our customers at least, is a clear and evident winner: The Great Pinot Noir!  Now before you folks who DID NOT VOTE FOR PINOT NOIR delete this letter in a pronounced “huff”, do realize that a full 15 grapes types made an appearance in our survey; this was a write-in type of survey; no pre-determined bullets were selected by the judges.  Be certain that Cabernet and many others WILL be targeted later in the week as I make my way through these offers.

But for today, seeing as The People spoke, my first responsibility as your host this week is to answer the call for not only a great Pinot Noir, as a great majority demanded, but a Pinot in a very specific price point.  That price point has, quite frankly, proven to be the most daunting task of my last several tastings.  From the moment of realization, coming at the 2/3s point of reading through your surveys, when I discovered that The People are demanding a price point of LESS THAN $20, my demands on your behalf began to go out to my long and trusted list of wine folk.

Call it the “Sideways” effect, call it the realities of market, call it the truth in costs, call it what you will; under $20 Pinot Noir that YOURS TRULY will put his name behind is a rare breed!  I have in the last week tasted so many vapid, flaccid and down right un-ingestible sub-$20 Pinots that I would not have allowed my 3 year old daughter to be present at the tastings for fear of her picking up far too many 4-letter words as part of her permanent vocabulary.  How so-called wine-makers can live with themselves after bottling some of what I’ve tasted is revolting.  The results of these experiences of mine remind me of the days when Merlot was the bastard of the wine world; only becoming that way at the hands of the greedy and loathsome.

Now for the good news.  First, I’ll tell you that I promise to continue this vinous search for the Holy Grail of value Pinots for as long as my shop prevails; I WILL find one from each of the best known viticultural regions on the Planet.  So far, however, it is Australia that is consistently satisfying my palate in this price point – and she has come through once again!  Hailing this time from the Yarra Valley appellation in the deep corner of Victoria, I have for you today the fine folks of Little Rebel

Quoting Mark Twain on the label, these folks remind us that life is too short to just sit here, and their precocious Pinot is absolutely ready to make the move from bottle to dinner companion.  With pure red fruits and a sense of earthy pleasure backing up the fun, this held my interest more than many of my recently tasted West Coast experiences costing double.  Respecting the fact that Pinot is a naturally thin-skinned creature, this pure specimen from Little Rebel shows correct color, too; no behind the scene tampering with color-enhancing Syrah is going on here folks. 

Discovering this wine, working my way to it at the request of you survey respondents, is worth the journey…

And at this price, you’ll be happy you filled out that survey!

2005 Little Rebel Pinot Noir
Little Rebel
Pinot Noir Dry Red Table Wine
Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Review by Cepage Noir
E*Newsletter Winter 2009
Rating: 87
“A Very Good wine of excellent character that often belies its price point.”
Drink: 2009 – 2011
Estimated cost: up to $20

        “Medium garnet color, clear rim, ready to drink color.  Possesses mature and savory nuances of strawberry jam and a sense of rhubarb along with an intriguing nuance of soil / terroir notes.  The slight touch of minerals would lead one to guess an old world wine if tasted blind.  The palate possesses ripe but mature flavors of strawberry, fresh and lively acidity and that mineral touch from the nose.  Certainly not what one expects from a New World wine in this price point.  Delicious, drinking well right now and even savoury, this will match well with light meat dishes and mellow cheeses.  Delicious.”
                — Cepage Noir

at $20 this would be wonderful…

but we’re coming to our respondents at a very special offer of only: $17.50 the bottle…

not much to go ’round, please get your orders in soon!