When I received an invitation to the Slow Wine 2020 US Tour stop in New York City, I asked myself if I understood when “Slow” means with regard to wine. I didn’t. I still don’t. But 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 had 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 page that’s…

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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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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,…

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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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It's always great fun to meet with a winemaker.  And it's especially fun when the winemaker is a woman—in a somewhat-still male dominated field—and when she's also an owner of an estate that goes back well more than a thousand years.  And she's a Contessa! So I was very much looking forward to a wine-soaked lunch earlier this week with Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini, whose family and estate have been around since the 1200s!  I spent three hours with her at Manhattan's Quartino Bottega Organica, an especially fitting place because Ginevra transformed this ancient business into an organic and biodynamic farm and winery more than ten years ago. The winery uses no herbicides, chemical fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, and uses naturally-occurring indigenous yeasts for fermentation. Even the corks are…

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