It's National Wine Day!
It's National Wine Day!

A taste for National Wine Day

Today is National Wine Day – though I admit I celebrate this event considerably more than once a year – and it seems like the perfect time to share some of the wines I’ve been tasting lately.

Like many of us, I’m a creature of habit, so tasting different wines is a must (get it, a must?) for me, so I don’t become too mired in a rut.

Artesa Estate Reserve Pinot Noir, 2013

Retailing at $40, this brightly acidic Carneros Pinot Noir is densely packed with ripe red fruit – strawberries, black cherries and raspberries – and has a pleasant vibrancy. There’s oak but not too much.

Artesa Estate Reserve Chardonnay, 2013

Flavors of honey, nuts and pears combine in this satisfying white that has an almost creamy, buttery mouthfeel. It’s fruity and refreshing and perfect for the patio this weekend. $40.

Antonelli Montefalco Rosso, 2011

Once you fire up the grill, you’ll want to uncork this blend of Sangiovese (70%), Sagrantino and Montepulciano (15% each). Each of the varietals is fermented separately and then blended before aging at least a year in oak, clarifying in cement vats for 6 months and spending another 6 months or more aging in the bottle. The result is a gorgeous ruby red wine that is dry and fruity and perfect for grilled meats and pasta. $21.

Castelbuono Ziggurat Montefalco Rosso, 2011

Get another look at the same blend from this certified organic producer for around the same price ($19). Bright and packed full of red fruit flavors, this – like the Antonelli – is balanced and elegant.

Domaine Bousquet Malbec, 2015

Head to the New World for 100% Malbec grown high above sea level in Argentina. This nearly black wine is spicy and peppery with black fruits like currants, dark cherries and blackberries, and a dash of chocolate. Smooth on the tongue, this will also perfectly complement those steaks or chops on the grill. $12.

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

This high-scoring champagne (40% Pinor Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pino…

Addio, cumpare.
Addio, cumpare. (Photo: Maurice Seymour)

Julius La Rosa dies ... in Crivitz?!

To you, Julius La Rosa was the guy who was famously fired on the air by Arthur Godfrey. To me, he's that guy singing "Eh, Cumpari" and "Mama Rosa" on 45s I inherited from my grandmother. La Rosa died last week at age 86 ... in Crivitz.

I'm no expert on the Italian-American singer, so I'll suggest you read the obituary in The New York Times. It also has the story of his humiliating firing.

La Rosa was born in Brooklyn and went to high school in Queens, and spent 42 years living in Westchester County, N.Y. But he died at home in Crivitz, which makes me think...

1. Julius La Rosa died in Crivitz?!


2. I've driven through Crivitz on a number of occasions. You mean I could've met Julius La Rosa?

Apparently not, because La Rosa moved there just recently, according to

"'He and his wife moved to Crivitz, a small town in northeastern Wisconsin, only last November,' said Smith, who added that her mother was originally from Wisconsin. She said the La Rosa family vacationed in Wisconsin every summer and spent every other Christmas with her mother's family. Smith also said her brother, Christopher, lives in Crivitz.

"'It's a different way of life but he was ready for that,' she said. 'He didn't need the hustle and the bustle at 86 years old. He loved Wisconsin'."

MPL's new video series shares "Stories from the Stacks."
MPL's new video series shares "Stories from the Stacks."

MPL launches Stories from the Stacks video series

Milwaukee Public Library has launched a new video series called "Stories from the Stacks," and the segments offer a mix of interesting stories about the library, including a powerful one about an author that wrote a book at the Central Library while she was homeless.

Others talk about teens who've been encouraged by MPL to design and lead their own library programs, and literacy outreach for kids. A pair of upcoming videos will look at Milwaukee genealogy research and a feature on the Villard Avenue branch.

Villard Avenue will also host a video screening party on Wednesday, May 18 at 6 p.m. Popcorn will, of course, be served.

As a big fan of the library's Krug Rare Books Room – which I wrote about here – I especially enjoyed this one:

You can see all the videos here.

There's been no movement at Garfield while the developer awaits potential housing credits.
There's been no movement at Garfield while the developer awaits potential housing credits.

UPDATE: Garfield School redevelopment gets WHEDA funding

UPDATE: Last week I wrote that this project was awaiting WHEDA funding approval so it could move forward. Yesterday, Ald. Milele Coggs, in whose district the property is located, shared news on social media that the credits were received.

(PHOTO: Milele Coggs Instagram)

Last year, the city approved a plan by Maures Development Group to redevelop a set of buildings, including the Henry Koch-designed former Garfield Avenue School, 2215 N. 4th St., into mixed-income housing, a new America's Black Holocaust Museum and more in Bronzeville.

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reported on a paring down of the plan in May, due to "unexpectedly high construction cost estimates."

Nothing appears to be happening on the site at the moment, beyond the further peeling of paint on the cream city brick facade.

"The developer is eagerly awaiting the announcement of Low Income Housing Tax Credits from WHEDA – that decision is expected in the coming weeks," says Milwaukee Department of City Development spokesman Jef Fleming.

"That is an key financing element for the current plans for the building."

The redevelopment project is based on a mix of conventional financing, along with historic tax credits and the WHEDA affordable housing credits to which Fleming referred.

The latest proposal, according to the NNS piece, calls for 30 apartments in the old school, which closed in 2005. Last year, it seemed the museum would be installed in the school's lower level. Plans for another 60 units in a new building along North Avenue have been changed and now the new four-story building will include 41 apartments and, in the ground floor commercial space, the museum.

"This is a normal part of the development process," Maures President Melissa N. Goins told NNS last year. "You go in with a certain set of assumptions and then once you do your due diligence you have to take the facts and use them. In development there’s always some fluidness to the process.

"There are times like this when…