"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
March is OnMilwaukee’s annual bar month and we’ve got stories galore about cocktails, beer, bars and more, and now, once again, a column of rapid-fire wine and spirits reviews for a little different twist.
1. Because sometimes you want to splurge, I suggest the full-bodied, floral Fontanafredda Serralunga d’Alba Barolo, 2013 ($45), rich with notes of spice and vanilla and a velvety mouthfeel and a satisfyingly long finish. Elegant.
2. Artezin Zinfandel, 2016 ($18) may be at a price point a little closer to an everyday wine and it is also quite satisfying. A blend of zin (85%) and petite syrah (10%) and carignan (5%), this wine is dark ruby red (what Italians might call vino nero) and balances bright fruit on the nose, with pepper spice and warm oak on the palate.
3. Godelia Mencia, 2012 ($19) hails from Bierzo, Spain and is vinted from 100% mencia, which is a grape I’d never tasted before. There is a red berry aroma with a bit of earthiness that a really like, because it’s something unlike anything I’d had before. A little sweet, a little tart, a tad oaky, with a nice balance of tannins and acid. Check it out for yourself.
4. If you read my wine posts you know I’m a big fan of barbera’s bright acidity and that’s something that Viña San Pedro 1865 Carmenere, 2015 ($17) can also boast. Bright red berries and smoky tobacco combine to make a super-drinkable wine that will pair well with pretty much anything, but why not make some homemade pizza and pop the cork on this wine? You won’t regret it.
5. Don’t confuse Niro Pecorino Terre di Chieti, 2016 ($14) with cheese. Both this grape and the cheese are named for pecora, the Italian word for sheep. The grape got its name because the sheep love to eat them off the vines in the Abruzzo, where this straw colored gem is made. Dry, with a nice earthiness and a dash of floral aromas, this is a sturdy everyday wine that will pair perfectly with cheeses, fruit, fish and chicken.
6. I’ve written about some reds from Viansa Sonoma before, but recently I tried the Carneros Chardonnay, 2013 ($45), a medium-bodied gem with a nice complexity of flavors here with a hint of spice, crisp apple and ripe melon. Like the barolo above, this might price out a little high for a daily quaff, but it’s a delectable splurge.
7. Hailing from far northeast Italy’s Friuli region, Terlato Friuli Pinot Grigio, 2016 ($23) – 100% pinot grigio from hillside vineyards – is rich with bright flavor, from fruit (apricots, pears) to wildflowers to an earthy minerality to a bit of citrus bite. Rich mouthfeel and a nice finish.
8. The intensely pink Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava Rose ($15) is a great sparkling option when you’re looking for something striking, with a nice aroma, on a budget. Nice fruit – strawberry, cherry, raspberry, but with good acidity and nice body.
9. When I was in Tokyo last year, I was reminded that whisky has really gone global and Paul John Bold Single Malt Whiskey ($75), an excellent single malt from Goa, India, is more, ahem, proof. As the subtitle – Bold – suggests, this honey-ish whisky also has strong smoke and spice. It's unique in that it has notes of silky bourbon but also peaty scotch.
10. While I make no claim to being an expert in tequila, Blue Nectar's tequilas (ranging from $50 to $70) are quite pleasing to my palate, especially the Special Craft ($60) and the Founder's Blend ($70), which are complex and smooth with hints of vanilla and spice. The latter also has nice smoke and oak touches, too.
11. Everybody is finishing their quaff in some other quaff's barrels these days, which is pretty cool. The result is the mingling of interesting, subtle flavor combinations. Like the new Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish ($26), an Irish whiskey that comes of age in barrels that previously aged Demerara rum. The result is not just the vanilla and oak you'd expect from the cask, but also nibbles of sweet banana and a splash of spice, and a silky smooth body. Nice.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.