Thoughts on 2017 October Fires in Northern California – James Melendez

I have been very saddened by the loss of life, the many acres of forest and vineyards burnt, and the many structures lost.   As of this writing 35 died, 5,700 structures lost and 182,000 acres burned in Solano, Butte, Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Mendocino, Lake counties. And on the publish date of this article (14-October-2017) the fires are still happening.

Source: CAL Fire

I think most everyone including myself didn’t think of fire danger this year because of the record rainfall earlier this year.   But because of heavy rainfall brush, grass and other vegetation grew robustly and hence became problematic.  I was just in Sonoma three week ago–my visit was centred on Sonoma and stayed at a very nice AirBNB in Glen Ellen.  The last thing I was thinking of was any fire danger.  I, of course, observed the yellow hill sides which are common this time of year throughout Northern California wine countries but I only took it as an annual occurrence.

The aggressiveness and the scale of the fire in population-centred areas which made this an agonizing experience for those people in those areas as well as those who have family and friends in the affected areas.  These groups of fires seemed to be unusually aggressive and like all fires unpredictable.

It was exceptionally difficult to know the status of the fires and the people that I know in both Napa and Sonoma  If I was depending on social media to let me know how people I know were doing it was a very difficult tool to rely on solely.  When I didn’t hear from someone I started to wonder if thing were okay.  I have been trying not to ping someone who might be in throes of evacuation.

I plugged into the traditional media of both radio and broadcast news.  And comments I heard caller comments on KQED the following themes: 1) not having either information or specific/helpful information and 2) Why weren’t evacuation zones established earlier or larger.  The callers were expressing frustration with not knowing of specific actions that they should or should not take.  Given the death toll many people were, of course, on edge not knowing when or if to expect anything.

I hope that the Lessons Learned from this series of fires culminates in improvements so losses can be lessened in the future.  I think what was lacking was enough information on particularly vulnerable populations like the elderly.  Perhaps a partnership of private non-profit along with first responders can be better prepared to help the elderly.  The elderly were particularly vulnerable and the numbers of those that perished document that.

And I hope technology can help to minimize the losses experienced in these fires; perhaps better use of satellite imagery and official drones to monitor the affected areas can better inform and give needed status of fire areas.

I was glad to see that 75 horses from a refuge farm survived along with the Safari West animals.  I was deeply saddened by the reports of many animals who also perished.  A story that struck me was the Bernese breeder who lost her dogs and puppies: so heart breaking.

The stories of the Carmen Berrez dying in the arms of her husband Armando–they sought safety in houses swimming pool–was a truly sad and heartbreaking story.  Fourteen year old Kai Sheppard died trying to outrun fire in Redwood Valley fire another very heartbreaking story.

KQED radio was a centring source of information as well as grounding of information and perspectives.  While I have no doubt there will be a rebuild of many structures and the resiliency of Northern California will be there.  Many lives will be forever changed.  It is not just the will to rebuilt it is what will the environment be like to rebuild in.  Challenges will be a change in code, city-county approvals, cost of rebuilding and having adequate funds to rebuild amongst just a few considerations.

Things will no doubt be different especially in the short term but I think that will extend to the long term.  My hope for the long term is that future fires will be lessened and that losses are also lessened, better evacuation procedures and systems and processes for ensuing a maximum number of lives are saved.  I hope there is a great effort of private non-profit organizations, first responders and governments can create a durable plan for future needs as well as implementing technology for better awareness.

If you want to help here are some suggested non-profits:

Red Cross

Redwood Empire Food Bank

Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund

Humane Society of Sonoma County

Humane Society of Napa County

Yuba-Sutter SPCA

Latino Community Foundation Northern California Wildfires Relief Fund

United Way of the Wine Country

Jewish Community Foundation – North Bay Wildfire Emergency Fund

****************************************************************

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Mendocino County, Napa Valley, Sonoma County | 1 Comment

Many are Still Flummoxed by Chardonnay – James Melendez

Chardonnay is not like yesteryear’s Rosé.  In year’s past at either trade or consumer tasting Rosé was often passed up by fellow attendees.  Today I feel Chardonnay is in the same circumstance.   Chardonnay is the second most planted white wine next to Airén and, of course, Chardonnay is still being consumed.

ABCAnything But Chardonnay was something you might have heard several years back and perhaps it is still said today.   This movement or phraseology was, I believe, against the Oaky-Buttery Chardonnay.  All Chardonnay, unfortunately, became associated with the Oaky-Buttery style instead there has always been a variance of styles produced uninterruptedly.  Perhaps there were large producers that had a mono style and those still exist today–just visit a mass or warehouse retailer.

The more sophisticated consumer and drinker has been seeking leaner and lesser intervened wines.  I do think over a time leanness will be king and getting back to centre.

Chardonnay is accused of a lot of things….

  • It’s Heavy
  • Too heavy
  • Too manipulated
  • Inert
  • Too showy
  • Overly influenced
  • Not very interesting
  • Too flabby
  • Not interesting
  • Singular
  • Not complex

And you get the idea.  Chardonnay through the most sold white wine variety struggles today to have the foot hold of desire.

Chardonnay is a workhorse and cornerstone for many wine regions and styles.

Think Champagne… Chardonnay is one of the official wine grapes:

1) Chardonnay

2) Pinot Noir

3) Pinot Meunier

4) Arbane

5) Petit Meslier

6) Pinot Blanc

7) Pinot Gris

Clearly the triad grapes are overwhelming the dominant varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay; Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are rarely used.  Chardonnay accounts for 30% of plantings in Champagne.  And one of the prize wines is the Blanc de Blancs which is synonymous with Chardonnay.

Chablis is the only appellation that is a 100% Chardonnay–there is a dominance of Chardonnay in Burgundy for white wines.  And across the planet Chardonnay is well planted and regarding in many location for prized wines from Argentina to Oregon to Australia, New Zealand and California to name a few places.

Chardonnay is a cross of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc (which is quite obscure) originates from Croatia.  What an unlikely combination of this red and white grape to create this leading white wine variety that is known as Chardonnay.  There are over 100 synonyms for Chardonnay.  I remember one of the first wine books I purchased stated the real name of Chardonnay is Pinot Chardonnay but this is a synonym.  The word “pinot” was to describe the shape as pine cone–this is long before the DNA fingerprinting at Davis that uncovered the true parentage of this grape.

I will include several of my Chardonnay video reviews from both the expected to the unexpected regions on the planet.  I have been tasting and will no doubt taste sterling Chardonnays again and again in the future.  I love so many things about Chardonnay and a well produced Chardonnay speaks volumes about the virtues of the variety.

This variety still offers me–an exhilarating wine with gorgeous weight and texture–an ability to express an expansive amount of characteristics.  And a well crafted Chardonnay always makes me think of the word “elegant.”

If you have gone away from Chardonnay–it is time to come back.  There are many dazzling Chardonnay on many a wine list and your wine merchant’s shelf.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Chablis, Champagne, Chardonnay | Leave a comment

A Recent Tasting of Mondavi Wines – Summer 2017 – James Melendez

Surprisingly, I have not tasted Robert Mondavi wines in quite a while.  I had an opportunity to attend a pairing of Mondavi wines with food prepared by New York chef Theo Friedman.  The event which was at a private residence in the Mission District of San Francisco with a tremendously beautiful view of a cloud covered Twin Peaks.

 

Summer Melon Pops

The summer melon pops with a hint of crème fraîche and black lime were nicely refreshing and to lean on a Lady Gaga lyric “fantastical.”  They look different then they taste–light and delightfully refreshing.  I love the sticks: a beautiful presentation.

Steak tartare, rye crisp and flowers

This is not how I usually eat steak tartare but I love this presentation.  I like this classic dish to be served on small bite size selections.  I like to enjoy small portions and with the flowers made it clean and very fresh.

And lastly for the reception food was chicken fried Maitake mushroom which I had to refuse after my third serving but  I could have eaten many more.  The Maitake was superbly earthy and meaty and I kept thinking I was eating a bit of fried chicken.  This would make for a delightful sandwich.

The reception food was served with the Robert Mondavi Reserve Carneros Chardonnay 2014 and Robert Mondavi Spotlight Napa Rosé 2016.  I started solo with no food enjoying the Spotlight Napa Rosé 2016 and a stunning fog covered Twin Peaks.

Robert Mondavi Spotlight Napa Valley Rosé 2016 is a composition of 45% Malbec, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot.

Eloquent and refined with notation of Mountain strawberry, slight hint of cherry, graphite and just picked flowers on the nose.  Flavour characteristics of plumb strawberry, early season cherry, red tea and flowers.

****

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay 2014

This Chardonnay is 13.5% ABV, 67% new French oak.  SRP: $55.00.  I love Chardonnay and love the two well known Burgundian varieties in Carneros. Carneros is, of course, well known and the quality of the fruit produces dazzling wines; in my opinion,  they don’t get enough recognition.  This wine has a delightful texture and lyrical finish.   Scent characterization of Comice Pear, Heirloom apple, hint of green citrus and mild baking spice.  Flavour characterization of richness but not opulent and giving a notation a Quince, green apple, hint of graphite, and sweet spices.

A Place at the Table

****

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley “I” Block To Kalon Napa Valley Fumé Blanc 2014

This wine is 14.5% ABV; fermented in 25% new French oak. SRP: $90.

In my imagination Fumé Blanc is a bonafide wine grape variety–but it is okay that it is not–this Sauvignon Blanc is luminous coming from the ever famous site called To Kalon.

This wine gives balance of aromatic freshness and a delightful rich acid centre.  A scent character of Meyer lemon, Comice pear, fig and white flowers.  Flavour characteristics of fleshy pear, mix of gold and green citrus zest, flowers and oyster shell.

Summer Squash, Ricotta, Green Olives and Pine Nuts

This first dish was in complete harmony with the Fumé Blanc – the dash of Ricotta and the saltiness of the green olives presented a nice balance between the wine and freshness of the squash.

****

Robert Mondavi PNX Carneros Pinot Noir 2014

The Pinot Noir is 14.5% ABV; 69% new French Oak and is an SRP $50.  A wine fully expressing Carneros: lean and polished fruit; nose of red cherry, crushed red candy, violets and delicate mineral notes.  Flavour characteristics: Bright dark cherry notes, rose petal, pepper, hint of dried herbs and mineral finish.

Arctic Char

This Pinot Noir from Carneros was paired with the Arctic Char–a glorious pairing–the Arctic Char is superbly fresh and the treatment of fresh herbs and succotash extend and harmonize the flavour of the fish.

****

Robert Mondavi To Kalon Vineyard Oakville The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

This exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon is a composition of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.  An ABV of 14.5% and 19 months of barrel aging in 100% new French oak.  SRP: $172.50.

Nose of Blackberry, cassis, hint of moist forest floor, underbrush, red rose garden and freshly fallen Bay leafs.  Flavour characterization of Loch Ness Blackberry, black cherry, dried herbs, pepper and freshly ground spices.

Porchetta and Yellow Stone Fruit

This wine was paired with Porchetta, stone fruit, Tardivo, and pickled mustard seeds.  This dish was perfectly prepared and served.  Often I get Porchetta where the outside is too dark and crispy.  This Porchetta was superbly juicy and perfectly cooked.  This was a convincing pair of Cabernet Sauvignon with pork and best of all not just any Cabernet but a Cabernet from To Kalon Vineyard.

****

Robert Mondavi Moscato d’Oro 2015

This wine is 8% ABV; residual sugar of 111 g/L; 98% of the fruit is sourced from Wappo Hill Vineyard.  SRP: $25.00 (375 ml).  This wine has a nose of Comice pear, candied Meyer lemon peel and orange blossoms; flavour characterization of seared pears, beeswax, hint of mineral and white flowers.

The dessert was a Meyer lemon yogurt, olive oil, sea salt, Passion fruit, basil meringue and flowers.  This dish is something I could eat everyday.  Hint of tartness from Meyer lemon and yogurt, the savory-sweet and fresh quality of the olive oil, and uptick from the basil, and sweet earthiness of the passion fruit was an absolute delight.  This dessert was an outstanding pairing with the Mondavi Moscato d’Oro.

Left: Chef Theo Friedman and Right: Megan Schofield

This expertly prepared meal by Chef Theo Friedman did exactly what I hoped for–to highlight fresh seasonal ingredients that are solidly paired with this line up from Robert Mondavi Winery.  Robert Mondavi wines are as relevant today as ever.  This reminder to me was that I need to taste Mondavi wines more often.  The craft of winemaker Megan Schofield is showing exemplary use of outstanding fruit for handsome wines.  The excellence is that each wine could have been poured on it’s own without food and would have been a good experience but food was the key to make this a memorable time.

Someone once said to me as if to “simplify” Napa Valley; the mountain tops have settled into the Valley over time.  But I think it is a much more complex than that.  Climate, microclimates dictate how each wine will express and even how it will age and taste in the future.  To Kalon lives on in my imagination not as a mythical vineyard but one that is experiential, accessible and to always be anticipated.

I love Carneros and I have said for a while it is a sub-AVA that is under appreciated and the wines I taste in particular the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are outstanding.

My advocacy is when you get a chance try the wines listed here and when in Napa Valley visit Robert Mondavi to taste these and of course additional wines.  And when in New York to seek the cuisine of Theo Friedman.

More information:

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat, Napa Valley | 1 Comment

White Pinot Noir – A Rare Style – James Melendez

I love White Pinot Noir or Pinot Noir Blanc.  I am fascinating with this wine style… no I am obsessed with any of these wines that I can find.  There are so few examples in the world today.

In my review of Torti Pinot Nero Bianco, I stated that “…in my universe it would be every single Pinot Noir producer would set a little bit (Pinot Noir) aside for a vinification in white…”  I wish that would happen or that more producers would consider doing this.  The reason is simple–Pinot Noir fruit is expensive and consumers might not be willing to pay a higher price point for this special white wine.  And well to a certain extent this is potentially correct.  You can look at Domaine Carneros has their White Pinot Noir called Pinot Clair at $58.00 a bottle which is higher than some of their red Pinot Noir wines.

There is a reason to produce and equally important to taste White Pinot Noirs. They are a distinct snapshot of Pinot Noir sans skin contact.  I am not the only person to find admiration and fascination with Pinot Noir–haunting, compelling, distinct and cannot be mistaken for any other variety.  Even a wine drinker without a lot of tasting experience could pick it out easily.

Now fascination of Pinot Noir is not just the experience from each bottle but also its unstable genetics.  The instability is noticeable–the many clones that exist–no other Vitis vinifera grape has more and eventually more to come.  No other Vitis vinifera has more synonyms with 291 names.

Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris are not Pinot Noir but a genetic mutation. And that Pinot Meunier is a chimeric mutation.  And well Pinot Noir has been parent to many other varieties as well.  Mutation from Pinot Noir don’t necessarily taste like Pinot Noir…. they are distinct and each beloved.  Pinot Blanc does not taste like a White Pinot Noir and vice versa.  The only thing that is the same is the genetic material are very close but the colour is what they absolutely have in common.  The flavour and nose of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc don’t have the same characterization of Pinot Noir.  The reason is simple–each is a distinct Vitis vinifera grape.

White Pinot Noir on the senses level does have a distinct characterization.  The casual taster might not realise on a blind tasting if the wine is White Pinot Noir.  The experienced taster will pick this out as a White Pinot Noir.  It is reminiscent to it’s red wine brethren but chilled and no maceration.  The weight and mouthfeel are heavier–almost like a Chardonnay in it’s richness.  But Chardonnay would never be mistake as White Pinot Noir.  And White Pinot Noir for any other white wine variety.

A lovely wine style and if you haven’t tasted this wine seek it out.  A nice way to treat yourself to the richness of our modern wine world.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Wines courtesy of producer.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, map of Sicilia/Sicily, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Nero, Pinot Noir, White Pinot Noir | Leave a comment

Review: A Perfect Score – Craig & Kathryn Hall & Hall Craig’s Red Wine 2014 – James Melendez

I love books.  I love the physical books and I don’t tire of them.  I do have a vast collection of books in the cloud and I appreciate the non-virtual kinds very much in my library.   I am even more thrilled when I have a signed copy such as this book.  This was a gift by one of my favourite people on the planet Robert Hernandez in Dallas, Texas.

I collect books because I love the specialness of a book.  I look at them as devices of the past but of the future or of the possible.  Books mean so many things to me.  I love my cookbooks–obscure, unusual and important to preserve cookeries of the past that are needed to inform today’s many cookeries.  My wine books inform me of new thoughts and perspectives.  I also have books on so many categories but not limited to the arts, history, design, travel, fiction, photography, science, mathematics and so fourth.

A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery by husband and wife Craig and Kathryn Hall is a nice look behind the curtain of Hall Napa Valley.  I have been fortunate to taste and visit Hall in Napa Valley but haven’t been to the new tasting room.

I like the book for it’s honesty and the Hall’s disappointments, difficulties and of course successes.  Napa Valley does have a long lineage in the new world for wine making even when crossing paths with prohibition.  But I am reminded on my earliest visits to Napa Valley how the valley is still the same and changed considerably as well.  Napa Valley has to balance great wine making tradition and continuing the excellence of great food and hospitality.  So many places around the world want to be Napa Valley.  But I always say if I have an opportunity “you need to be who you are.”

Napa Valley does get better vintage-over-vintage.  Some people I hear try to pin Napa against Sonoma and vice versa.  They are two very different wine worlds and ultimately they cannot quite compete on the same footing.  The variety sets might intersect sometimes but the excellences is say Bordeaux with a small amount of Rhone, Iberian and Italian, and Burgundy varieties in Napa.  Sonoma has a generous amount of Burgundy varieties in it’s AVA and there is a smaller acreage of the Bordeaux, Rhone, Iberian and Italian varieties.

I cannot say I prefer one AVA over the other because they offer different wines and different experiences.  Napa Valley has had the touch of Robert Mondavi’s vision that make’s the Valley what it is today.  Mondavi wanted world class food and art and well that is what we have today.

The Halls have an outstanding view of art and a great collection to share with their visitors.  Their passion is evident and assuring.  It is what I like to see and what I appreciate.  Bunny Foo Foo (the great and large silver rabbit) is a what the Valley needs – art that is playful and fun and is not shy and demure.  Napa Valley has had so many critiques who each want the Valley to be in a certain way and I am glad that there is no one way and the Hall’s have their own vision.  The book exemplifies the passion and drive is not a one time effort but a way of being for the Halls… it is an ever day, every hour and ever minute way of being.

The engagement of Frank Gehry’s design is highlighted in this book and I have seen the design.  The design would have been a great thing to have been realized but the wooden structure based on testing was very impractical.  The book highlights the “Not in My Backyard” syndrome that many people were protesting against.  Signum Architecture became the architect of record and is responsible for today’s modern adn world class facility.

The book highlights all aspects of their stewardship of this site as well as their vineyard site.  The book delves into the business side, the political side of Napa and also the magical happenings that occur:  the philanthropy and the people.

I do like perspectives of the Halls–completely real people who happen to own a preeminent winery and vineyard.  I have not had the privilege of meeting the Halls and I hope some day I will.  I like that this was not a ‘how great we are’ book but more depth, honest and very approachable experience of their lives.  Caring for the legacy of what the Hall Family are doing but also the employees and the Valley via philanthropy are highlighted in the book.

I appreciate the fine wines that Hall is producing and the work to refine each vintage.  I view wine as art.  I don’t think people view wine as art… I was in Alicante, Spain a few years ago and I was talking with a producer and talked about wines that are mass produced and those that are thoughtful produced as in art.  He thought it interesting in using the word art as wine and wine as art unto itself.

Art and wine is important on many levels.  Some people say wine is made in the vineyard–which is a pastoral concept –the reality is that yes great quality fruit is imperative.  There are so many ways to produce a wine–it is not just if it is sparkling or still or sweet but what is the toasting profile of the barrels, what was Brix at picking, you get the idea.

I appreciate this book as it helps me to encapsulate my thoughts on my first visit to Napa Valley and it helps to reinforce the magic of Napa.

****

Review of Hall Craig’s Napa Valley Red Wine 2014 93 Points

This wine is composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 35% Merlot and spends 22 months in 60% new French oak.

Scent profile: blackberry, Acai, cedar, moist forest floor, suede, ground clove and violets

Flavour notes: Loch Ness blackberry, black cherry, pepper, red rose petal, ground cinnamon and clove.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Wines courtesy of producer.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, map of Sicilia/Sicily, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nine Hats Columbia Valley Wines – James Melendez

****

Nine Hats Columbia Valley Red Wine 2015

This wine is a blend of:

  • 50% Syrah
  • 41% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 7% Merlot
  • 2% Malbec

Scent characteristics: red cherry, blackberry, baking spices, violets and bay leaf

Flavour notes: Loch Ness Blackberry, cassis, pepper, tarragon and rose petal

And the ABV on this wine is 14.9%

***

Both wines are courtesy of producer.

Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Wines courtesy of producer.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, map of Sicilia/Sicily, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Columbia Valley, Red Blend, Riesling | Leave a comment

Amazon Prime Needs to Earn It’s Keep – James Melendez

There is an assumption that Amazon will own the world of retailing and entertainment and perhaps other business categories as well.  The endless articles about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods caught many people off guard but makes strategic sense for food.  Then food delivery, clothing and other sectors started to freak out.  But there are limitations even for Amazon.  I was glad to hear there would be a discount on food prices at their Whole Foods division.  I keep saying to myself — ‘my Prime needs to earn it’s keep’.  I had no interest in paying for the Amazon Fresh membership at an incredible $299.  The product offering was less than compelling and wasn’t missing anything by not belonging.  Daily goods is key but if it is more expensive than picking up in person – the equation becomes fuzzy.

And this year Amazon Prime is not earning it’s keep.  At $99 it is expensive for what I am getting.  I started to notice this in January when I assumed I would purchase a television from the online retailer.  And cost comparing I was attracted by Best Buy.  I never thought I would buy a television by any other retailer than Amazon.  But as it turned out Best Buy had a slightly lower price, better delivery options, I could talk with someone on the phone and all of my confirmations and requirements met.  While I have not always been a Best Buy shopper I got airline miles and points in their loyalty programme.  I also bought a computer from Best Buy and had a great experience.  I could have gone to the company store for the computer but Best Buy had incentivised me to think and act differently.  I also harkened back to a previous Amazon television purchase that was less-than-satisfactory as my television was delivered when I wasn’t home and left at my front door (in San Francisco that is a good as gone proposition).

When I need a product I don’t automatically think of Amazon now  It was my television buy experience informed me on another way to buy what I needed.  Just because Amazon has gotten into the clothing business doesn’t mean I am going to jump ship of the many brands and retailers I like and continue to seek out.

I looked at how I was viewing Amazon Prime for movies, documentaries and television shows but overwhelmingly I have been using Netflix at the fraction of the cost of Amazon.  I have found that I don’t always need a product within two days and that waiting 5 businesses day free no rush shipping is often incentivised with $1 credit for electronic media–books, movies, music and is not incentive enough.  More incentive and more compelling is say frequent flyer miles I might get with using a retailer like Crate & Barrel, Neiman’s, Bloomingdales, etc.  All of my airline frequent flyer programmes all have a way to earn miles with retailers.  I have found free shipping on almost all retailers–either because it is generally free or there is a small threshold to reach.  And almost all retailers have a loyalty program and I have had some benefit from belonging.

The prices I have found competitive with Amazon.  So right now – September 2017 – I am fading in terms of my love for Prime as it is less than Prime but more secondary.  Right now if I gave a score it would be Amazon 1; traditional and non-Amazon online retailers 3.

I have to see if there is a savings at Whole Foods because right now Amazon Prime is in the balance and may not make my cut. I need my Prime membership to earn it’s keep–there are always things I can buy and need with $99 that I spend annually with Amazon for just for a membership.  And the Amazon name is not magic for me to just keep paying for something and not realise more benefit.

Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2017 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

I do not own or claim any copyright on Amazon Prime logo, image or anything else as it relates to Amazon.

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Posted in Amazon, Amazon Prime, Online Retailers | 2 Comments