A Visit to Last Bottle

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BPW gets top billing, but Last Bottle is the real driver now.

When I was out in California last month, I spent a bit of time in Napa (which is rare for me–I usually spend almost all of my time in Sonoma these days, but no need to go into that here). In addition to visiting a few wineries, I also decided to stop by the offices of Last Bottle.

Last Bottle is what is commonly referred to as a “flash site” where they offer one wine at a time, usually at a rather nice discount (often at 50-60% of retail). Additionally, if you meet a certain minimum of bottles (usually somewhere between 3-6 bottles), shipping is free. They are not the only ones out there with this business model–in fact there are at least a dozen or so sites that sell wine with more or less approach.

[Halfway through writing this article, I realized that I had already covered flash sites in detail: A little over a year ago, I wrote an article (Top Five Online Wine “Flash” Sellers) that explains the idea behind the wine flash site, which, coincidentally, is one of my most visited posts. So click on the link for a little more information about the concept.]

Last Bottle was born, in effect, from the BPW Wine Merchants, an online store for higher end wines, which had been in business for several years before taking on the Last Bottle concept five years ago.

I started buying wine from Last Bottle in January, 2012, and while I have bought wine from all of the flash sites, I have to say that I have had the most consistent luck with Last Bottle in terms of the quality of the wine and the level of customer service.

I had originally planned this post to appear a bit later, but today Last Bottle is having another one of their Marathons where they will be going through “hundreds and hundreds” of wines over the next two days (starting at noon, eastern). I did not receive any compensation for this article, but if you have not purchased from Last Bottle yet (and you should) and you click on any of the Last Bottle links in this article to get you to the website, I get $20 credit with them. Yes, that is an enabling manuever, but what can I say? They do a nice job.

My visit to the warehouse was a ton of fun and instead of trying to describe it with a bunch of boring prose, I thought I would use my camera to tell the story.

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Before going into the office, I really had to pee. In the bathroom, an empty Cristal champagne box serves as the hand towel dispenser. I knew I was among my kind of people.

The warehouse is huge (and climate-controlled, naturally).

The warehouse is huge (and climate-controlled, naturally).

In the middle of the warehouse is this tasting table. All of these bottles have been sampled by using a Coravin.

In the middle of the warehouse is this tasting table. All of these bottles have been sampled by using a Coravin.

I should pause here for a second to point a few things out. First, not all of these wines made it on to the site. My host for the visit, Mike, pointed out that people bring wine by daily, looking to sell it to Last Bottle. According to Mike, though, Last Bottle is rather discerning as they buy only about 10% of the wine that is brought in. Second, it must be a great place to work as all of the employees are encouraged to try the wines and voice their opinions–which means they should never hire me as I drink far too much wine already and have waaaaay too many opinions.

We tasted through a number of wines. This '03 Brane-Cantenac was fantastic.

We tasted through a number of wines. This ’03 Brane-Cantenac was fantastic.

No, there was no DRC available for tasting (I did ask, though).

No, there was no DRC or Cristal available for tasting (I did ask, though).

These guys are packing up the orders. They do it pretty much all day long.

These guys are packing up the orders. They do it pretty much all day long. One of my complaints with Last Bottle is that they still use styrofoam….

I was drooling as we went through the BPW portion of the warehouse. I was hoping that Mike would leave me in there with the Coravin for a few minutes, but no such luck.

I was drooling as we went through the BPW portion of the warehouse. I was hoping that Mike would leave me in there with the Coravin for a few minutes, but Mike is no dummy.

For those of you that know Last Bottle, you know what this is--it is where all the pictures that appear on the site are taken...

For those of you that know Last Bottle, you know what this is–it is where all the pictures that appear on the site are taken…

Thanks to Mike for taking some time out of his day to show me around and pour me some tasty wine.

 

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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20 Responses to A Visit to Last Bottle

  1. talkavino says:

    Very nice, Jeff. I would love to visit them too. And their Marathons are unbeatable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SAHMmelier says:

    I’ve only ordered once and 2/3 of bottles were undrinkable. Cornerstone too which I love. Har to guarantee quality, I understand, but hard to take a risk again. I may have to.

    Like

  3. Bluedogwine says:

    Jeff, thanks for the awesome write up! I was stoked that you came by to hang out and chat. Sorry we couldn’t tap into some Grand Cru Burgundy. Maybe next time eh? Hope to see you again soon. Best of luck with the upcoming move.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds wonderful, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of wine, which you can actually buy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! This and WTSO have been regular visits from me. I always find a gem and try to avoid buying discounted bottles for the sake of it. That and dollar days have been disastrous for me in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oakywines says:

    Hi DC,
    Always have fun reading your blog. I keep on telling my teen daughter about how much I want to go to Napa. She replied citing a movie “The Hangover” where one of the guys uses Napa as a lie to his wife. So my daughter thinks that Napa is full of pensioners walking around with shorts and confortable footwear. As if!!! Teens this days

    Liked by 1 person

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