The Barolo region of Itlay's Piedmont is home to one of the world's most distinctive wines...and often one of its more expensive. There are 59 wine regions in Piedmont (Pee-ah-mon-tay) and it's home to a lot more great red wines: Barbera, Brachetto, Dolcetto, Friesa, and Grignolia, but for my money, Barolos are what you want. White wines from there include Asti, Gavi, and Arneis. The berries (grapes) of Barolo wines are small, very tannic, rather high in acid, and there's only one variety: Nebbiolo.  Barolos must be at least 13% alcohol and be aged for at least two years in oak and one year in bottle, and those labeled Riserva must be aged at least five years before release, with…

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Six lovelies from Last Bottle Wines

I’ve been a customer of Last Bottle Wines for years, and it’s been mostly a Love-Like relationship. It’s certainly been all Love lately, and I’ve gotten some really great stuff in the last few weeks alone including two Champagnes (+ my favorite Philippe Gonet), an almost-cult Napa Cabernet, three very diverse gems from Paso Robles, and a lovely Bordeaux that I gave as Christmas gifts (after saving only one for myself, sadly).

I have had a bit of an issue with their descriptions, and while my mantra is that wine should just be fun, some of their over-the-top narratives consume 40 exclamation points and they’re silly.  My real issue is that saying it’s “just fabulously awesome!!” and “a SCREAMINGLY yummy bottle!” simply doesn’t help the customer understand what they may be buying. Nonetheless, I’ve really enjoyed almost all the wines I’ve bought, with the exception, strangely, of Italian wines. And I do know and drink many Italian reds including Amarone, Brunello di Montalcino, Primitivo, and Nero d’Avola.  For some reason, I’ve had no luck buying them from Last Bottle.

As for prices, they range from pretty good to great. Occasionally—after I check them out on Wine-Searcher.com—I’ll find that their offerings are not quite as rare as advertised, nor quite as inexpensive. But most of the time they are real bargains, and wines that are rarely or not available elsewhere. And the variety of offerings is outstanding.

Shipping is great, fast, and secure. The containers are typically strong cardboard boxes with custom inserts made of a kind of fabric-y recycled cardboard that hold the bottles securely in place. I’ve gotten a few shipments over the years that use styrofoam, which I’m not fond of for environmental reasons, but these have been almost exclusively for Champagnes, or for orders made in summer months. And in the warm months, the bottles automatically come with a cooling insert that works pretty well. Deliveries do require an adult signature, so it’s wise to send them to your office (unless your employer frowns on that), or if you’re in an apartment, alert your super to sign for you.

And ordering is remarkably easy once you have an account. You’ll typically get at least one email a day with the offer, description, and price—typically showing the discount you’re getting. If you’ve got an account set up, all you have to do is select the number of bottles, and in three mouse clicks, or three screen touches on your iPhone, your order is on its way. Generally, if you order six or more bottles, shipping is free, and for fewer, it’s just a few bucks. You cannot beat the convenience. And they have a warehouse on each coast.

The bottom line for me is that this is a “tremendous!!!!” service with great convenience and value.

 

Here are some great sparkling wines from France, Italy, USA, Argentina, and South Africa. I drink them all (not at the same time)...and so should you! Philippe Gonet Extra-Brut 3210: Bone-dry on purpose. The label “3210″ means 3 years of aging, 2 terroirs, 1 grape variety, and 0 dosage. About $70 if you can find it. Try! (My favorite Champagne in the world.) Pere Ventura Tresor (Treasure) Cava Brut Rosé: A subtle wine that doesn’t bowl you over with strawberries, nicely dry, made with 100% Trepat grapes. $14-17. Mionetto Prosecco Brut DOC: Dry, crisp and light-bodied. A bargain at $12-15. Champagne Palmer & Co. Brut Reserve: Much more widely available this year than before. $40. Marc Hebrart Selection Champagne Brut…

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I've recently written about wines from Bolivia, but in looking for them recently I came upon some spectacular ones from Uruguay--Tannat, yes, but also Marselan, also the name of the variety and the varietal, and both from Bodega Garzón. The massive winery has a capacity of 2.2 million liters (581,000 gallons or agout 2.9 million bottles, and is the first sustainable, LEED certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) winery outside North America, following the strict requirements set by the United States Green Building Council.  And in November 2019, Bodega Garzón reached milestone, obtaining the National Energy Efficiency Award in the Tourism category. But this isn't about the awards, or the building. It's about the wines. Fabulous they are. I…

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Liberté, égalité, fraternité: Vive la France!

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South Africa is one of those wine regions that a lot of people have heard about, but few people–too few, anyway—have taken the time to discover and explore its wines.  I’m a little bit in that category; I’ve tasted some of its stuff from time to time, particularly Chenin Blanc, which they sometimes call “Steen” locally, and of course Pinotage, a cross of Cinsault and Pinot Noir that was literally invented in South Africa in 1925.  But I've never really spent much time thinking about South Africa except at an occasional tasting.  And for a lot of people, SA is really just off their wine map, and that's unfortunate. Wine has been produced in South Africa probably since the mid-1600s,…

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Sparkling wine is viewed all too often as a luxury, a “wedding wine,” or something to be saved for a special occasion.  What’s wrong with Friday night?  Or after work on Tuesday?  After all, sparkling wine, including Champagne, is just "still" wine, (literally) that has just been fermented twice. And while my friends in the wine business tell me that New Yorkers have really jumped into sparkling wines and Champagnes and drink them all the time these days, even if that's true I don't think it's the case for the rest of the country.  There's a mystique about these wines that's both good and bad for the people who work hard to produce them from around the world—Champagne and Crémant…

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There's a chill in the air and it's probably time for many if not most people to break out some reds. But maybe one last bottle of Rose will go down nicely, sitting on the deck after a football game this weekend.  Just got a bottle of Banfi's Centine (Chen-teen-eh) Rose 2012 and snapped open the (yes) screwcap last night. This pale salmon-colored wine delivers strawberry and melon flavors, a nice balance and a long finish, and I don't really find that real hint of sweetness that others do, which suits me just fine. Maybe there's a skosh. A great fall wine with appetizers and wings before the game, too. For some food and Rose wine pairing ideas, go here…

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At a lunch last week hosted by Cooking by the Book , I was reminded why I like Chilean wine so much.  Or at least I was reminded that I like Chilean wine so much.  And I was also reminded that wine and food "matching"  (as wine writer Randy Caparoso likes to say instead of "pairing") really can make a fun meal even more fun, interesting and delicious with just a little thought and effort. Our host at at "Cooking's" loft space in Lower Manhattan was  Ruth Van Waerebeek, born in the medieval city of Ghent and originally known for her cookbook "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium."  Maybe, but Ruth has made her reputation with wine people in another place, 73oo miles to the…

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