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I Am the Charlie Brown of Wine Allocations

It’s September—you know what that means—if you’re Rod Stewart singing “Maggie May” then you must be going back to school, for most of us it means football and wine allocation season.

Sure, sure.  I’ve made my way onto a couple of lists ... but, I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football for the one list that I would like to get onto.  My foil, my Lucy, is Kosta Browne.

Yesterday, I didn’t make my way up the list for Kosta Browne.  I feel like the lovable loser of the wine world.  Nice enough, but just not quite good enough.  Gracious as they are, Kosta Browne sent me a note to let me know that there was no wine for me.

I beg of you Dan Kosta and Michael Browne, give a brother a chance at some of your pinot.



Posted in, Free Run: Field Notes From a Wine Life. Permalink | Comments (19) |


On 09/25, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I think KB wines are hugely overrated.

Personally, I like my Pinots to taste like varietal Pinots (which I don’t think should be blended like Cabs), not a quasi-Syrah.


On 09/25, larry schaffer wrote:

Thanks for the post. I am a fan of these wines - not a ‘fanatic’ but (1) I like the wines and (2) I like the people behind the wines.

The hype that has been thrown there was has been double edged sword - they have somehow become the ‘poster children’ for ‘big, extracted’ CA style pinots . . .

I don’t think anyone will confuse these wines for Burgundies at the present time, but they really are well made wines that still ‘speak’ of a sense of place and time.

Are they ‘overrated’? Depends on your own likes / dislikes. Are they overpriced? I stopped trying to figure that question out about wines long ago . . .


On 09/25, Tim Elliott wrote:

Don’t feel bad, Jeff, they didn’t let me in either. I guess all we can hope for are some blogger samples, huh?

Kosta Browne guys, you game?

On 09/25, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I got the same polite sorry but “your not worthy” note too :(

So, I got my Emeritus, RadioC, Arista and Auteur wine ordered and will be on to Brogan, William Selem and Freeman….

I’m too question if KB is really my style.

On 09/26, 1WineDude wrote:

Preposterous.  You’re NOT lovable, man.

Just kidding.


On 09/26, Larry Schaffer wrote:


I guess the question is whether or not you have tried these wines in the past. If you have not, I think you owe it to yourself to try at least one and experience it for yourself to make a better ‘judgement’ whether or not it is your style . . .

Just my $.02 . . . .


On 09/26, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I, too, had great expectations for the fall KB release, having been granted access to the RRV and Sonoma Coast bottlings this past spring.  Oh, well, like Denise, I’ve got the other lists to fall back on (hell, I’m out of money anyway).  Phil, I’m glad KB isn’t your style - one less person to knock off so I can access the KB vineyard releases.  JD’s rule:  “You don’t like that wine that I like?  Cool, more wine for me!”  And vice-versa.  There’s plenty for everybody to like.

On 09/26, Jeff wrote:

Thanks for all of the comments, everybody.

I, personally, really LOVED the Kosta Browne I’ve tasted.

Yes, it’s big.  Yes, it’s Californian.  Yes, it’s extracted.  But, all of that is underscored by an elegant balance and a ton of clean fruit.

I loved, I might even call it quixotic, and it’s not Burgundian.

Thanks for reading!


On 09/26, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Yep, I’ve tried them previously…when at tastings.  But like JD in Napa - after all my other fall allocations…my wallet is much lighter.

On another note - is it me or do you all think the price of Pinot Noir is reaching for Napa Cab status pricing?  If we are happy with $50/btls what’s next year look like - less grapes - higher costs (french barrels are over $1k/bbl and pinot prices are over $4k/ton).

On 09/26, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I hear you on pricing, Denise.  My W-S offerings started at $54 each (allocated 1 each of these), then up to $75+ for the “good stuff” (of course, allocated 2 each for most of these - go figure).  So I bailed on it.  PN over $50 just has to be so special, and not enough is to justify the cost, IMHO. I guess that’s what we get for loving a fussy grape. 

The kicker for me is that most of these “boutique” PN places won’t give interindustry discount (my wife’s with Diageo - yes, I know), but you can bet that all their employees flash their business cards for a discount when they are out tasting.  I note that Siduri and Loring have happily extended the discount to us, points for them.

Check out Martinborough PNs for an alternative to the high-priced Cal/Ore offerings.

On 09/27, larry schaffer wrote:


Good points about pricing. Yep, grape prices continue to go up, and with 07 and 08 crop sizes down, producers will be pushed to raise prices . . . but I believe many will choose not to. At least I hope not. From a marketing standpoint, I would hope most of these producers would realized that there is less disposable income to be had and there is too many wine choices to make. I already see push back from consumers on purchasing of brands that are heavily allocated - this will continue to occur at a faster rate if prices go up.

That said, I still think there are plenty of very good pinots south of $40, and many south of $30 as well. You may just have to go off the beaten track to find them (-:


On 10/07, el jefe wrote:

I do know of another extremely allocated wine that you might have a chance at. Might make you feel better. Drop me a note and I’ll make something happen. wink

On 10/07, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I have always been perplexed as to why so many go nuts over these wines. Seriously. There ar plenty of richer, extracted Pinot’s that are plenty easier to get, and frankly better. Papapietro Perry comes to mind. Let see, Hartford, Brewer-Clifton. I bought a Kosta Browne rose last summer and had to pour it down the drain. I know many CA producers just use it as a way to pay the electric bill nowadays, but for god’s sake, if you can’t make decent rose, then why should I buy your over priced Pinot?

All the $$ for KB, why not go buy a real Pinot and make the investment in Burgundy?

KB=Rosenblum of Pinot’s.

On 10/07, larry schaffer wrote:

I think many people ‘go nuts’ over these wines because they truly enjoy drinking them. Yes, there are some that are caught up in the ‘scores’ and in the ‘pomp and circumstance’, but I for one have enjoyed the wines from KB that I’ve had in the past - period.

You mention some other very good producers, and I suggest others search these out as well.

But as with everything wine, ‘beauty’ or in this case ‘enjoyment’ is in the eyes of the beholder . . . and it’s pretty clear where you stand . . .

On 10/07, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Yea, but why do they “truly enjoy drinking them,” is the question. Maybe bcuz it’s allocated, hard to get wine? If Papapietro Perry or Hartford was any less available, or to the same point as KB or got the same rediculous scores from Laube, people would be clamoring for them as well. How in the world can anyone say these wines have a sense of place? Do they taste like Napa, Sonoma, or more specific yet, Russian River? They taste like CA, sure. But that’s pretty broad no?

You can say “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and that to me is such a crutch. yes, it’s true. If you like it, drink it. Good for you.  But why do you like it? Because it’s Kosta Browne and it’s a trophy maybe. That may not be true for everyone, but I’m sure it’s true for the majority.

There is ZERO terroir to these wines. You cannot taste terroir when the wine is rediculously pumped over and over extracted, super ripe.

If you want quality Pinot w/ a sense of place from CA then hunt down some Walter Hansel.

I find it funny. I truly believe that if KB was more readily available people wouldn’t be clamoring for it nearly as much, and wouldn’t be so excited about securing some.

If people liked their CA PN’s in a lighter, more delicate style, KB would be making them that way. So what does that say about them?

On 10/07, larry schaffer wrote:

Interesting points . . .

But the fact is that the wine is more readily available now than ever before - not at the corner shop, but there is more out there on Winebid and other auction sites at ‘reasonable’ prices than ever before . . .

I cannot speak for anyone but myself - I have tried and enjoyed their wines for the past three years. I disagree with your stance that they do not speak of a sense of place - each of their wines, to me, is quite different and I think their RRV and Sonoma Coast wines certainly speak of where the wine is from as does most of their single vineyard wines.

Have you tried the wines yourself (other than the rose which you did not like)? More importantly, have you tried them in blind tastings with other CA Pinots? I’ll be curious to hear . . .

I also disagree with your last statement - I tthink that Michael and Dan make the wines in a style that they prefer - NOT what the critics are looking for . . . They were making wine for a few years before they were ‘discovered’ by Laube, but they had already been discovered by many many pinot lovers - not just point chasers . . .


On 01/29, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Hey did anyone receive a note from Kosta Browne sharing you will receive an allocation and then the next day a note to say sorry…you don’t?  Seems like a “system” gliche happen.  Just curious to see if you got on the list or are you still a Charlie Brown?

On 05/18, TN Pas Cher wrote:

ive a note from Kosta Browne sharing you will receive an allocation and then the next day a n

On 09/12, islamic finance writing wrote:

You have tried these wines in the past. If you have not, I think you owe it to yourself to try at least one and experience it for yourself to make a better ‘judgement’ whether or not it is your style.


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