You might remember Ian Cauble from the film “SOMM.” He was the blond one who studied hard and passed the master sommelier exam, then went on to work for Krug Champagne. Now he’s just launched SOMMSelect, an online wine buying site that features the wines the 34-year-old sommelier likes to drink at home himself.
“People kept calling and asking me to buy wines for them, including my dad and his friends,” says Cauble. So he thought, why not turn this into a business? And along with partner Brandon Carneiro he created SOMMSelect, which sounds a lot more snooty than the site really is.
Here’s how it works: Sign up for free and you’ll receive an email with an offer he feels is best of its class. “It could be a $15 red wine from Piedmont or a $100 white Burgundy or a Napa Valley Cabernet,” Cauble explains. “Basically, the wine is what I feel is the very best of its appellation, and can vary in price point. Our least expensive is $12. Our most expensive is $200, but we try to keep most wines roughly in the $20 to $50 range.” Which is exactly what he likes to spend when he goes out to a wine shop.
Here’s the catch: each offering lasts for 24 hours. And then it’s gone. Each wine on offer has a story about the people behind it, the place, the soil, how it was made, what you should serve with it. Cauble says he wants people to be able to read the wine’s story in about two minutes. “I want it to be like a conversation I’d have with a friend about a wine, what I’d tell them about a new wine that I love.”
One of his recent picks was the Bouzeron from Aubert de Villaine, owner of Romanée Conti. But this is a wine made from old Aligoté vines in the Côte Chalonnaise. Cauble explains that Aligoté is very similar to Chardonnay in flavor. “This grape can make wines of incredible expression and aromatic complexity if planted in the right place. This village was first planted in the 12th century A.D. ... In a blind tasting, the wine has a very similar aromatic profile to the wines of Puligny Montrachet. Green apple, white peach, fresh acacia flowers and a hint of baking spice come together in a very fresh and approachable way. The palate has a clean and refreshing acidity, which makes this wine very drinkable and food friendly.” He suggests decanting the wine a half hour before and serving “one of the greatest values in all of Burgundy” from a Burgundy glass.
Other picks have included Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol, Maison LeRoy Bourgogne Blanc “Fleurs de Vignes,” Chanin Pinot Noir “La Rinconada” Santa Rita Hills, and Paolo Bea “Pipparello” Montefalco Rosso Riserva.
Prices for the wines are competitive with wine shop prices, and if you buy $100 of any given wine, ground shipping within the United States is free. Californians have an advantage. The business is based in Sonoma, and everything is shipped from a warehouse in Napa Valley. “Everyone ordering in California will typically get their orders within 24 hours, occasionally 48 hours.
“When it’s hot,” says Cauble, ”we won’t ship.”
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