Italy is (a) wine country. So of course, surely, you’ve heard the names of these wines and the (grapes) from which they're made: Amarone (Corvino, Molinera, Rondinella), Barolo and Barbaresco (Nebbiolo), Barbero, Brunello (Sangiovese), Chianti (Sangiovese), Montepulciano, Negroamaro, and Primitivo (Zinfandel in California!). Less well-known but equally delectable white Italian wines include Arneis, Chardonnay, Cortese (Gavi) Greco, Moscato, Soave (Garganega) and Vermentino. So perhaps you've had one, more, or many, depending on the restaurants you frequented before Covid19 hit, and maybe once, years ago (or last fall) you had a very lousy cheap one at a college party where a brave soul put $7 on the line for a bottle of sweet, watery, insipid and essentially undrinkable Lambrusco. And yet,…

Read More

California Cabernets, especially from Napa, are well known for their power, richness, tannin, high alcohol...and too often, astronomical price. Those in the "cult" category such as Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate can fetch hundreds of dollars or more per bottle, and are difficult or impossible to get unless you're a "VIP" customer and on the allocation list. Don't get me wrong: there are some outstanding Napa (and Sonoma, for that matter) Cabs at "fairly reasonable" prices and they, too, have a devoted following, albeit among us normal folk. And given that I'm a #1 fan of Bordeaux, years ago I discovered "Meritage" wines, produced by a group of American vintners that formed The Meritage Alliance in 1998 to produce and…

Read More

I’ve seen a lot of ads on Facebook lately for the Firstleaf wine “club.” The ad takes you to a 13-question quiz, kinda like a junior high “pop quiz,” (because you can’t really prepare for it) to “scientifically” determine the wines you like in order that Firstleaf can then send you wines you’ll want to drink. Evidently, it’s based on a “proven” algorithm…’cause, well, impenetrable and opaque mathematical formulas are always the way you should select wine. Evidently. The first question was a linear “slider” that asks you to select white wines at one end, red at the other, and “a mix” in the middle. OK. But what about Rosé wines? Ports and dessert wines? Sherries and Madeiras? Champagne, Prosecco,…

Read More

When I received an invitation to the Slow Wine 2020 US Tour stop in New York City, I had to ask myself if I understood when “Slow” means with regard to wine. I didn’t. I still don’t. So I went to the show on February 24 and enjoyed a great seminar and tasting of Cerasuolo (“Cherry”) d’Abruzzo Rosé wines, ones I’d never tasted and had barely heard of. And then I went around the tables and sampled about another 10 or 12 supposedly “slow” wines. At least I did the tasting...slowly. When I got home to Jersey, I clicked on the link to the Slow Wine Tour website. And I still didn’t—and don’t—know what they’re trying to say. On the…

Read More

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…

Read More

On January 27 I spent a couple hours at NYC's Gotham Hall at Broadway and 36th for Benvenuto Brunello, a grand tasting of Brunello Di Montalcino wines. Put on by The Consortium of the Brunello of Montalcino Wine, established in  1967 on the day that the region gained DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status, the highest in Italy's wine regions, guests chose from and tasted wines from among 40 providers, each of which offered between two and six wines, mostly Brunellos and Rossos, their younger siblings. Brunellos are always 100% Sangiovese, as are Rossos, but other wines come from Montalcino (Mount Lucina),  though that name translates into different things depending on whom you ask.  Far as I know,…

Read More
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.

 

This is an old Wine-Flair.com post but it offers a lot of good advice for people looking to visit a winery this winter...which is a really fun thing to do since you probably aren't going to the beach (or as we say in Jersey, "down the shore. No matter where you live--in places as diverse as Ohio, Virginia or New Mexico--you'll probably have your own version of "wine country," often with some unique offerings, for sure some local flavor and color (in both the literal and figurative senses) and places to take family and friends for a fun outing that's much different from a ball game, a sports bar, or the movies. Soooo: Take a look and do some homework,…

Read More

I’ve just tried two very different but very delicious Paso Robles gems. Here they are: Folkway Revelator 2016: This Bordeaux-like blend sells for about $25 (or less) and is about half Cabernet Sauvignon, one quarter Cab Franc and one quarter Merlot. Deep red, very balanced with noticeable but polished tannins and flavors of black cherry, coffee and cocoa. Villa San Juliette Chorum Reserve Red 2014: A truly extraordinary and almost unheard-of blend of 32% Syrah, 16% Grenache, 14% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 12% Alicante Bouschet, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Sirah. Dark fruit with a lot of plum and black cherry, and a hint of mint. I think I enjoy this most of all because I’d love to…

Read More

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…

Read More