Vin Connections Widely Available Wines (August 2003)


Widely Available Wines
It’s frustrating to find a great wine, only to find you can’t get it. No more! In this issue, we cover a bevy of widely available wines.

So you’re excited about a fabulously reviewed, highly-rated $16 Shiraz, and you leap into the car to buy a case for your cellar. Five hours later you return home empty handed; it seems no one in town has access to this little gem.

Most of us have encountered the frustration that Cyndi voices in this month’s reader question. Wineries and distributors send wine reviewers cases of wine each month to taste, and the critics happily oblige. Whether a wine can be found outside of private member lists, wine clubs or auctions is not their concern. And with thousands of small wineries producing luscious wines around the world, it’s not possible to expect everyone to crank out 50,000 cases so that we can find it in Akron, Walla Walla, and everywhere in between.

But at the Wine PocketList, we do our best to alleviate dead ends. Our rule of thumb is to only include wines with a minimum case production of 1,000 (though it’s not always possible to document), and we have a special designation for wines with a 20,000 or higher case production. These “Widely Available Wines” aren’t guaranteed to be in stock in your neighborhood, but they’re certainly easier to find than the thousands of small lot wines released every year.

This month we have a stellar lineup of highly rated, widely available whites and reds. Shiraz and Bordeaux for you red wine lovers, and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc for the white wine drinkers toasting the end of summer.

While we can’t guarantee they’re everywhere, with a case production and/or import quantity of 20,000 to 100,000 cases, lots this big typically mean a wine will have national distribution and be available in most metro areas. And because so many are imports there’s no west coast bias; we all have an equal shot at finding them. So here’s to one case where bigger really IS better!


  • This Month’s Reader Question:
    “I subscribe to two wine magazines, and never seem to find the reviewed wines at the store… help!”
  • This Month’s Wine Pick:
  • This Month’s Quote:
    Maurice des Ombiaux


Q. “I subscribe to two wine magazines, and never seem to find the reviewed wines at the store. I’ve even called the wineries direct, only to discover they’re sold out. What’s going on? Help!”
— Cyndi Forsberg, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A. While there are thousands of wineries producing thousands of wines every year, many are small operations producing only a couple hundred cases at a time. And while we applaud the intrepid spirit of winemakers the world over, it IS annoying to hear about a great wine that one hasn’t got a snowball’s chance of finding. In a recent perusal of Wine and Spirits, I counted 57 new Chardonnays reviewed. Of those, it looked like only 17 were over 1000 cases, and many were in case lots of only 100 to 400. With a ratio like this, it’s not surprising these wines aren’t distributed nationwide.

But you already know it’s a problem… what you want to know is what to do about it! In addition to using the Wine PocketList, which does its best to only include wines with 1,000 cases or more produced or imported, you can get on the mailing lists of your favorite wineries. Most wineries will send out notices to members telling them of new releases, limited releases, and specials. And many of the best small wineries only have enough to sell to members. So don’t be shy, join their ranks. Membership is typically free, and you can sign up online or at the winery.

You can also search for wines online. In addition to the big sites such as, there are sites that specialize in finding wines. One such site that I use regularly is, with over 12,000 retailers worldwide and over 800,000 listings. From a rare case of 1990 Opus One, to a modest bottle of Big House Red in Hoboken, NJ, if the wine you’re looking for is available, you’ll find out where by searching here. They have a free search mechanism that we’ve found to be helpful, as well as a subscription service with full search capabilities.

For now though, take a look at our widely available wines and hopefully you can spend your time sipping and enjoying them rather than driving around town looking for them.



2000 Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, Wolf Blass, Red Label
South Australia
IE: B, B+$12, Grade B+
2000 Shiraz-Mourvedre, Penfolds, Bin 2
South Eastern Australia
IE: B+, A-$11, Grade B+
1999 Shiraz, Lindemans, Reserve, Padthaway
South Australia
IE: B+, A-$15, Grade A-
2001 Shiraz, Paringa, Individual Vineyard
South Australia
IE: B+, A-$10, Grade B+
2000 Shiraz, Leasingham, Bin 61 Clare Valley
South Australia
IE: A-$21, Grade A-


2000 Fume Blanc, Grgich Hills, Napa Valley
IE: A-$18, Grade A-
2002 Sauvignon/Fume Blanc, Omaka Springs
Marlborough, New Zealand
IE: A-$17, Grade A-
2001 Sauvignon/Fume Blanc, St. Supery, Napa Valley
IE: B+, A-, A$15, Grade A-
2002 Sauvignon/Fume Blanc, Babich
Marlborough, New Zealand
IE: B+$12, Grade B+
2002 Sauvignon/Fume Blanc, Allan Scott
Marlborough, New Zealand
IE: B+$11, Grade B+


2000 Bordeaux, Ch. Beau-Site, St.-Estephe
Bordeaux, France
IE: A-$20, Grade A-
2000 Bordeaux, Ch. Beaumont, Haut-Medoc
Bordeaux, France
IE: A-$15, Grade A-
2000 Bordeaux, Ch. Camensac, Haut-Medoc
Bordeaux, France
IE: A-$20, Grade A-
2000 Bordeaux, Ch. La Cardonne, Medoc
Bordeaux, France
IE: A-$15, Grade A-
2000 Bordeaux, Ch. Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac
Bordeaux, France
IE: A$25, Grade A


2001 Chardonnay, Cathedral
Western Cape, South Africa

IE: A-
$12, Grade A-
2000 Chardonnay, Cellars of Canterbury, Momona
Marlborough, New Zealand
IE: A-$13, Grade A-
2000 Chardonnay, Beaulieu (BV), Sonoma County
IE: A$15, Grade A
2000 Chardonnay, Kendall-Jackson, Estate Series,
Camelot Bench, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara Co.
IE: A-$17, Grade A-
2001 Chardonnay, Chateau Souverain, Sonoma County
IE: B+$14, Grade B+

Wine Quote

Maurice des Ombiaux

“Is not wine the very essence of laughter?”
Maurice des Ombiaux, Le Gotha des vins de France, 1925


Understanding our System

Grade: [A-]
Our grades represent a composite score developed using our proprietary system to blend wine quality and scoring information.

Vintage: 1999
This describes both the year of the actual grape harvest as well as the year the wine was made.

Price: $12
The prices quoted in the WPL are the “suggested retail prices” quoted by the wineries and the distributors. Though these are close to what you’d pay at the winery, you’ll often find discounts of 20% and more off these prices at retail.

Individual Evaluations: IE: A, A-, B+
This represents the number of individual reviews and ratings on which the composite grade is based, primarily representing individual reviews in top wine periodicals converted to our scale, and ratings by our tasting panel.

Wine PocketList Exclusive Categories: WPL: BBC, W, S, B
These are four exclusive WPL categories, and many wines rated by the PocketList will fall into one of these special designations.

[W] Widely Available:
These wines typically have bottling of 20,000 cases or more, making them widely available in most regions of the U.S.

[BBC] Top Buy-by-the-Case:
Based on multiple, outstanding reviews and a solid history, these are wines you can purchase by the case to grow your cellar with confidence today, and into the future!

[B] Bargain Wines:
Top-rated wines for $10 or less. Most of these can go head to head with a typical $30 bottle sporting a fancy label . . . and beat it hands down.

[S] Splurge Wines:
For most of us, spending more than $20 on a bottle of wine isn’t something we do lightly. These are wines that, while more expensive, are well worth the price.

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