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November 16, 2020 Leave a comment

This just in: We will have a new president next year, which is good. I am profoundly glad to have been wrong. It will be nice to have a president who speaks, generally, in complete sentences, and more often than not, bases his words on verifiable facts, and isn’t a blatant sociopath. The absolute worst case scenario has been avoided, but a lot of people are dancing like this is the big victory at the end, as opposed to a slight door opening to the new work beginning. Also, there are two remaining Senate runoff races, which will determine whether or not Mitch McConnell remains in control of the Senate. If so, Dems will be able to pass no legislation, and nominate no judges. If this matters to you, do what you can to elect Reverend Warnock and Jon Ossoff in GA! I bought just about everything on both of their merch pages. Also, very curious to see who will be appointed to Kamala Harris’ seat in the Senate. Now, back to the e-mail I wrote the day before the election was called for Biden and Harris….

So, this 20-something jackass comes in at 1:45pm, on a weekday, very obviously wearing pajama bottoms. He goes right for the fridge (which as we all know has multiple signs on it, asking one not to do that), Derek explains the usual, and after some coaxing, for about a minute, he complies. After getting a cold bottle of grigio, he crouches down in front of the fridge, and flatly ignores questions and statements from both of us such as: “Is there anything else we can help you find?” and “If you’re looking for cans, they’re all visible with pricing over here, where the lights are on.” When he finally stands up and responds, pouty and sour-faced, all he wants to do is argue about why he should be able to block the font door and stare into a dark fridge, if that’s what he wants to do. It’s his birthday. Spoken like a true entitled idiot who has never worked a hard day in his life. I’ll bet you $1000 I can guess which building he lives in. Most of the worst people that come in here live in one of two new(ish) builds (in fairness, a handful of truly decent regulars live there as well, but they are in the notable minority). Aside from this, the number of phone calls being made in our shop, directly in front of one of the no cell phones signs is off the charts (and even a couple of facetime calls). Not sure how we’re going to make it through the end of this godforsaken year without major policy changes. I’m an inch away from making entering the building by appointment only, or just go the pick-up only route. … Sigh.

Anyway, the two largest booze distributors in our market account for about 85% of all alcoholic products (excluding beer) that are available to us retailers in New York, including just about every domestic and world whiskey that most people have heard of. Many of the larger conglomerates of producers switch between them (as they’re both impressively poorly run companies) because their size gives them near monopolistic control over the widest local distribution networks. Recently, Diageo (which owns Johnnie Walker, Ciroc, Captain Morgan’s, and other factory crap we’ll never carry) jumped from (the Evil) Empire to Southern, and all of a sudden, products that were supposedly long “sold out” at Empire popped back up on the Southern wholesale website. I Assumed this was due to Diageo’s published product list being handed over and copied, regardless of what was physically available, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try and order. Though it’s also possible that remaining stock in other markets was consolidated here to clear it off the books, as was the case with now very rare Orphan Barrel Barterhouse 20 year. While I was largely correct, a few of these long unavailable bottles actually showed up, most notably 3 of the limited edition Game of Thrones whiskeys by Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie, and Oban (the latter of which is my favorite of the set, in both palate and presentation).

Even more interesting is that the price of most good Scotch, most especially the legendary Lagavulin, has gone up in cost considerably in the last year and a half, such that we’ve just now paid slightly less for Lagavulin Lannister Edition 9 year as we’ve been paying for the regular release of Lagavulin 8 year (though in fairness to the proof sluts, it is 2% lower abv than said 8yr), and you know how much we love to pass a good deal on to you. So, guess what’s on flash sale this week?! Apologies to those who paid full collectible price last year, before the GoT finale, we were assured those were the only bottles we’d ever receive, and the demand at that time was rather high.

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Dalwhinnie Stark Winter’s Frost   SALE: $44     retail: $56       last year: $125

Lagavulin Lannister 9 year   SALE: $69            retail: $85            last year: $145

Oban Night’s Watch Bay Reserve  SALE: $75   retail: $89            last year: $165

** This week only, as supplies last! **
* No other discounts apply.*

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

P.S. Free Range E-mail Archive.

Losing Focus… + Ridge Geyserville ’18!

November 8, 2020 Leave a comment

Wow, Free Rangers, that Four Roses barrel went quickly; officially our fastest selling single barrel ever. Those hardcore Four Roses collectors do not mess around. Even with the bottle limit, our stock made it barely 4 days. I’m sorry to everybody that missed out, but next time I tell you that something is going to sell out quickly, you should probably click through directly. If you go back and check the history, I believe I’ve only said those words in one previous e-mail sale, maybe two. I know a lot of marketers like to pretend that whatever is being offered is flying off the shelf, but I’m not that guy, and don’t intend to be become him. So, full disclosure, the offer at the bottom of this one is of a wonderful product, at a great price, and we’ve got a lot of it! Ridge Geyserville ’18 should be available at the sale price for the duration of the week. Sellout risk = very low.

It was a tumultuous week here at the shop though business, in the traditional sense, remains good. Too much to detail, but these are the bullets: 3 semi-regulars have officially lost access to me, 2 have had all fridge privileges revoked, and one is going to have to order online and pick-up if he wants to continue buying from us (his version of in-store shopping comes with an unacceptable level of oblivious dismissal and condescension). 10 months into a global pandemic, some people still can’t see beyond their own faces, and we are no longer interested in being on the receiving end. As always, the vast majority of you are cool as hell to us, and thank dog for all of your furry friends that brighten our days. And holy cr@p, Arrow, the (Lab-ish) puppy is going to grow up to be a massive(ly sweet) doggie monster.

And now, for something somewhat familiar… That Ridge Lytton Springs sale we had a few weeks back was one of our most successful, and most requested for repeat. As the Ridge wines have always been darlings of better steak houses, and other eateries featuring hearty American fare, and restaurants that are surviving just aren’t buying these things up like they normally would. As such, Ridge’s legendary Geyserville zin-based blend also has that same crazy 10 case deal we grabbed on Lytton. There are very few wines I’ll buy without tasting first, but I’ve been following this wine as long as I’ve been buying wine, and I can count on one finger the number of Geyserville releases that haven’t impressed me in the last 20 years, so we ordered the 10 cases of 2018, sight un-tasted, and it just walked in the door. No surprise, it’s a beautiful, inky beast that has a long life ahead, but is pretty damn tasty right now, especially with some air. This one is a classic beef, lamb, (spicy) barbecue type pairing. I don’t want to repeat everything I said about Ridge Vineyards so recently, so for more swooning over Ridge, and a little more history, here’s a link to that e-mail, in suspended animation: Ridge Lytton Springs ’17.

Just as with the Lytton Springs, full retail price on the latest Geyserville release is officially over $50, but we’re offering the same discounts as before (see math below). And once again, if you want to go for a 6-pack, you’ll get the best possible price per bottle, along with a FREE wine tote, and a FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Ridge Geyserville 2018
sale: $39                        retail: $49

6-pack Ridge Geyserville 2018  + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $209 ($34.83/btl)            retail: $294

** This week only, as supplies last! *** No other discounts apply.*

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

OESF… ect?

October 31, 2020 Leave a comment

Hey Free Rangers,

Well, it’s just over a week before the most consequential election of our lifetimes, and I can confirm that the whiskey still works. Between the inequities of the Electoral College, rampant Gerrymandering, voter suppression at the state and federal levels, foreign meddling, and domestic meddling, I’ll be very surprised if this goes well at all. I hope that my instincts are incorrect, but does anybody remember the Brooks Brothers Riot of 2000, which forced the end of ballot tabulation that handed Bush the least convincing “victory” in the history of American politics? Khaki-clad political operatives stormed a south Florida election office (while professional dirty trickster Roger Stone observed from a parked car down the street), giving the Supreme Court the time to kill the re-count from above. Three lawyers involved in the legal battle to steal that election were John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and bible literalist, Amy Coney Barrett. They subverted American democracy, and Republicans rewarded them with lifetime appointments to the highest court in our land, where they can further infringe on your voting rights (as well as on your healthcare, and women’s reproductive freedom). Real news. If I could make this shit up, I’d be a better writer, and you’d be asking me to sign my new book, instead of what to drink with tonight’s shrimp scampi (Garnier Chablis, Rebholz Dry Riesling, or A&P Villaine Aligoté).

Speaking of amoral idiots, it really takes a special type to pick a fight- repeatedly- with shop clerks (even Derek!), claim that she was “yelled at twice before”, but still wanted to “give us another chance”. Really wish she hadn’t. Unfortunately, we’re the closest game to her front door, and even though she has no respect for us, our business, or our posted signage and pandemic guidelines, she can’t be bothered to walk further to a lesser shop, and ruin their day instead. This time, she walks in as before with a stroller, doesn’t address anyone, stops directly inside the front door, blocking both the entrance and the fridge. I know what’s going on, but I try to reason with her (again!), and explain that we’re happy to help with whatever she’s looking for, but to please come into the shop, and stop opening the fridge repeatedly. I am able to coax her away (by a foot or two), and I answer some oddly aggressive questions that she poses, each while waving a bottle in the air. And I get her a cold bottle of a chardonnay, upon which she settles (even though it’s 3:30pm and she already said that it’s for dinner). Her tone is sharp, and general kinesis is high. Derek and I genuinely can’t tell if she’s agitated, or if this is just who she is. On the way out, she says that she’s been yelled at here twice before, but decided to give us another chance. My initial response is to open up the vocal chords to 11 and unleash a stream of high decibel consciousness at her, but a guy my size actually yelling at somebody in my shop isn’t a great look, even if that person is delusional, obtrusive, and is already accusing me of that crime. But apologies to anybody else I may have been snippy with the rest of that day (Saturday?). Sometimes it’s hard being on the front lines of daily life for the better part of a year long pandemic (with no end in sight).

But back to the whiskey. One of the greatest scores we’ve yet achieved in our single barrel whiskey program, was last year’s Four Roses Private Select OESF 10 Year Bourbon. Every time we’ve tasted a set of barrel samples from any source, there’s always been at least one or two that are simply not worthy of our shelf. The only counterexample I have, is from my visit with the legendary (and sadly passed) Al Young at Four Roses. I learned an amazing amount from that fine gentleman in one delightful summer afternoon. 

He had pre-selected 8 barrels to taste for my selection, and every last one was a true rockstar we would have been proud to put our name on. The one we selected, which was our fastest selling barrel of all-time, I genuinely believe was one of the every best American Whiskeys released that year, by anyone. So when the Plague hit, and we were informed by all but Heaven Hill (Elijah Craig) that we would not be able to taste the samples, the only option became taking a full barrel of whiskey that somebody selected for us, or not get any at all, we told all but Four Roses, “No thanks.” Since OESF is consistently my favorite of their 10 recipes (based on mash bill and yeast), we said we’d take a Private Select barrel of their choosing, as long as it is OESF and at least 10 years old. So, our Four Roses Free Range OESF 12yr Bourbon just walked through the door, and it’s another classic, this one clocking in at 122.4 proof! Our barrel yielded 102 bottles, and you better believe I’m keeping a couple cases for myself, which doesn’t leave a whole lot left for the rest of the world (or at least the New York world, as we can’t ship liquor out of the state). These will go quickly, but I wanted to give you all first crack, at the lowest price we’ll offer on this one.
Who’s in?!

Four Roses Free Range OESF 12yr
sale: SOLD OUT!                                    retail: $119

*** Limit 3 bottles per customer ***
** This week only, as supplies last! *** No other discounts apply.*

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

Back together again, for the first time…

October 25, 2020 Leave a comment

Howdy Free Rangers,

Since the onset of the zombie apocalypse, when in-store tastings instantly became a thing of the past, we’ve been pondering other kinds of events, and promotions; hence the weekly e-mail sales. But I don’t Zoom well. I’m not even good on the phone. And setting aside an hour during prime sales floor time, toward such an endeavor, seems like a recipe for disaster. And since it remains illegal for retailers to pour anything outside the physical confines of their licensed addresses, we really haven’t come up with much else. It’s all we can do to maintain proper order when more than 4 people are trying to get into the shop at once. Speaking of which, we know that waiting outside the shop to get in is no fun, and we do our best to hurry through the “just looking” folks who ignore the sign on the front door, specifically asking them not to do this. As always, your patience and support is greatly appreciated. But if you come across a gaggle of tourists in here, taking up as much space as possible, and clearly not buying anything, please feel free to yell at them, if you get to them before I do. It takes a village to shame its idiot(s).

We now take you back to the last of the golden age of Manhattan’s East Village. Tonic was the best little music venue in New York, and just a skip down Rivington was a fabulous little Italian joint with a small number of tables, a long line outside, and a deep selection of properly aged Italian wine. ‘inoteca be thy name, and I loved that little spot. Many nights when the wait for a table was over an hour, a solo flier could still sneak into one of the tall stools at the back bar, where you’d sit in nose-shot of the day’s cheese selections. It was a wonderful little corner of calm amongst the chaotic throb of that rhythmic neighborhood, to enjoy some bruschetta and a seventeen year old Valpolicella. While ‘inoteca has been gone from Rivington for some time, there is now a Brooklyn-based ‘inoteca pop-up offering family style multi course Italian meals for pick-up or delivery in two sizes, on Wednesdays, at the moment (à la carte items are also available). Check out the details here: ‘inoteca pop-up. We’ve also put together a page of wine pairings, if you’d like to have them delivered with your dinner: Free Range ‘inoteca wine pairings.

Now, for your weekly flash sale… It seems not terribly long ago that we offered a sale on Suntory Yamazaki 12yr– the most classic of all Japanese Whisky- but it was one of our most popular, and more cases than we’ve seen in years just walked through the door (and I had already hoarded up a good bit). So, we’ve got 3 cases of Yamazaki 12 to sell at our lowest price of the year on this classic single malt whiskey.

 (!) CLICK HERE to add Yamazaki 12 to your cart w/ coupon code (!)

Yamazaki 12
sale: $115                                    retail: $135

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

What day is this… man?

October 18, 2020 Leave a comment

“We may be living in Hell World,
but no one said the comedy was bad.”
– Michael Brooks

Hey Free Rangers,

A bit of chaos this week. The numbers were great, and too much business is a dubious thing about which to complain, but there was also a significant uptick in people ignoring our signage, and coming in 3 or 4 people at a time (often to  buy one bottle). As we’ve been keeping it to 4 people or less for social distancing, it doesn’t take much for a line to form, and for crowd control to become an issue. I am well aware that 99.9% of people who do this kind of thing are not any of you faithful regulars (and/or e-mail readers) that keep us going, but I rarely actually get a chance to properly bitch at the people causing the issues, while said chaos is underway, so thanks for letting me vent. Conversely, I don’t blame you, if you’ve already skipped ahead to the sale at the bottom.

It would definitely help if any of you who know ahead of time what you’re seeking would purchase online for pick-up: www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com. And huge thanks to those of you who continue to go this route. We’ve gotten much more efficient with picking and packing time, though deliveries don’t always go out as quickly as we’d like- especially on weekends. Sorry about that, and thank you all for your continued support and patience. 8 months into this pandemic, there is still no cohesive national response or policy, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, regardless of what the Orange Orangutan in the Oval (and all form of online idiot) has to say. We are all very much still in it together.

It always amazes me how much outside life alters the wine world. And while it’s easy to see and quantify how a popular film like Sideways can increase the perception and consumption of Pinot Noir (and brutally slander Merlot), completely unrelated events can also have outsized effect. While I don’t have numbers to back it up, I feel that Ponzi Vineyards took a perceptual hit when Madoff’s unconscionable shenanigans, widely shorthanded as a Ponzi scheme, put a new dark spotlight on the name, regardless of the quality and sustainability of the wines. The name of Charles Ponzi is synonymous with money draining scams, and has been since the ‘20s, but this caused new focus on the old term via this widely publicized newer thief. The Ponzis of Vineyard fame are not related to the infamous Charles. Sadly, Comedy Central has Drunk History episodes locked down, such that I couldn’t link the applicable scene. Real news.

Regardless of the reason, Ponzi’s Reserve Chardonnay has been consistently discounted in our market for such a period of time, that for multiple vintages we’ve been selling it for about fifteen bucks less than the vineyard charges on site (and on website). This is an absolutely exemplary American Chard that is the perfect antidote for people who think they hate Chardonnay, because they’ve only had Kendall-Jackson (which tastes like a buttered 2×4, smothered in a sauce of balsa wood and Werther’s Originals), and we’ve been ecstatic to be able to offer it at $30 per bottle.

Very recently, the same local distributor put closeout pricing on some of Ponzi’s rarest single vineyard wines, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how little we paid for all remaining Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014 in New York. Good Chard ages quite well, and 2014 was a particularly long lived vintage across the board for Willamette, OR. If you’d like to buy some of this same wine from the two most recent vintages, Ponzi has them on their website for $65 per bottle (and worth every penny). However, we have the absolutely delicious 2014 on the shelf at $44, and this week, we can offer it to you at $35/btl, or a 6-pack at $29/btl plus a FREE tote and FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014
sale: $35                                    retail: $44

6-pack Ponzi Chard Aurora Vineyard 2014 + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $174 ($29/btl)            retail: $264

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

… And I feel fine.

October 4, 2020 Leave a comment

Hello Free Rangers,

Cops continue to meet protests against their unregulated lawless violence with more unregulated lawless violence, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Convention. The main structures of our government and democracy have been irrevocably deliberately eroded, and thousands of career non-partisan public servants have been pushed out, being replaced by unqualified partisan operatives, or by no one at all. Our President and Attorney General are openly speaking about how they mean to subvert the upcoming election, with or without the help of hostile foreign powers. Securities markets continue to flirt with record highs, while more and more Americans tumble into poverty. The global pandemic only seems to be still raging in a few places, but our country is one. The American judiciary is overrun with bible literalists who will be adjudicating to the benefit of faceless corporations, and a bastardized imagining of Jesus, as long as most of us shall live.

Yup, Free Rangers, it really is that bad out there. Western capitalist democracy is in real trouble, largely because of the unchecked capitalism, and the single-minded determination of the religious right. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit scared, and am kind of kicking myself for not selling this joint early in the year, so I could vote early, and be far away for the inevitable dustup. But we’re still here on Atlantic Ave, slinging booze, gearing up, and hunkering down for gifting season, assuming that’s a thing that still happens this year. #2020 Regardless, I can confirm that the whiskey still works.

In wine, whiskey, or any other category of tasty intoxicant, there is no substitute for palate experience, especially comparative tasting. I have learned an amazing amount about the variations to be found in the glass, do to tiny variations of what takes place in barrel (true, not all wine & spirits involve barrel aging). One of my greatest revelations of the last decade was that the age of the whiskey barrel has less to do with the flavor of the finished bourbon, than the floor of the rickhouse. After our tasting with Heaven Hill to choose our second Elijah Craig Barrel, we noticed that all of our favorites were from the 5th and 6th floors, regardless of warehouses or age of the barrel; always the top two floors. The higher the floor, the closer to the ceiling, the greater the heat and pressure changes (daily and seasonally) of the barrel, and the quicker and/or more vigorous the aging of the spirit inside. Air flow within each warehouse is also a huge factor, which is why the barrels that end up being selected for Heaven Hill’s very darkest, richest, and most exclusive Bourbon (William Heavenhill), always come from the same locations in the same warehouses.

It’s often tempting to simply pick the oldest barrel offered, as the higher the age statement, the more we can charge, but we generally go for the best/most intriguing barrel (or two) of the bunch. And the last two times we tasted Elijah Craig barrel samples, the best/most interesting barrels were the 8 year(s). For the first time ever, we have two exceptional single barrels, of the same age, bottled in the same year, on the shelf simultaneously. The barrel that arrived earlier this year is an Elijah Craig 8 year Bourbon from the 5th floor of Warehouse N, while the barrel that just arrived is an Elijah Craig 8 year Bourbon from the 6th floor of Warehouse X.

I hesitate to give too many tasting notes, as coming up with one’s own is half the fun, but both Derek and I find the Warehouse N to be lighter and more yellow visually, and have more prevalent dry, woody, and yeasty characteristics, with a slightly softer finish. The Warehouse X bottling comes off as more fruit forward, with cherry notes up front, and a spicier, bolder finish, with a touch more bite. For the price of 2 bottles of the regular Elijah Craig small batch (one of the best values in world whiskey), you can grab a tasting pair of our two Elijah Craig 8yr Single Barrels.

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Elijah Craig Free Range 8yr Bourbon 2-pack
sale: $58                        retail: $72

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

Categories: Uncategorized

Time Immemorial

September 26, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Howdy Free Rangers,

First, there is soon to be a new Secret Whiskey List going out. This is our separate mailing list for (first come, first served) unpublished whiskey sales, and generally represents our lowest price of the year on the whiskeys on said list. If you have never received one of these, please click here and enter your preferred info (even if you think you signed up in the shop), and we’ll make sure you don’t miss out. Please feel free to share that link with other worthy whiskey nerds.

They say time is on our side. At least the Stones thought so, but that was a long time ago (they were young and high); another era, burned out and long forgotten, from this foul year of our lord, Two Thousand and Twenty. But that’s not the case. Time is not on our side. It has a singular agenda, and is otherwise unimpressionable. While it seems to still be a linear measure, so far as I can tell, our perception of it continues to grow more elastic as it moves along. Is it just me, or does every impending tomorrow seem like a never-ending yesterday (like Groundhog Day, but without Bill Murray, and it’s not funny at all)? Time out of Mind indeed. I’ve been re-reading Beaudrillard, so probably best that I leave you with just the tip of this particular iceberg, and move on to our discounted rarity of the week.

As many of you know, my favorite American whiskey (and probably in the world) is St. George Single Malt. It’s released once a year, as a vintage batch, and while it is always excellent, it varies from year to year fairly significantly. St. George Spirits is the original micro-distiller in America, and has been distilling in Alameda, CA since the early ‘80s. Besides their rare and magical whiskeys, they bottle some of the best gin, vodka, brandies, and liqueurs in the world. Their anniversary single malt releases are a profound (and profoundly rare) story for another time, but when the 40th is released, it’ll be harder to come by than front row Radiohead tickets (in the before time, when concerts were still a thing). Regardless of these variations, we get a max of 6 bottles per year (no retailer in the state gets more), and as such, it is rather expensive.

A few years back St. George introduced The Baller, a different, lighter single malt whiskey, whose name is a play on ‘highball’, and whose bottle wears one of the coolest labels in the industry. While this one does also vary from batch to batch, the quality is consistently high, and it’s a fresh, lighter style (un-peated) Single Malt. If you are into the classic Highball Cocktail, it’ll work out perfectly, but most I know tend to sip it straight. For the first several years of its existence, this release didn’t leave California, and demand has always exceeded supply. Since becoming available in our market, we can usually get a 6-pack two or three times per year. But with the recent shake-up at one of the two major distributors, 160 cases appeared in open inventory (though wholesale price did go up a bit). As you can imagine, we snapped up a good few of those. Hence the below lowest price we’ve ever offered on a truly unique and (usually) very limited American whiskey.

Click on the link below to add a bottle w/ coupon code to your cart!

St. George Single Malt The Baller            sale: $75            retail: $129

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

No means yes… in wine shopping.

September 16, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Hey Free Rangers,

First, for those who have asked (and thank you for that), while it’s not a complete archive, there is a MailChimp page that displays our 20 most recent e-mails (all previous sales have expired). I do also have a (somewhat neglected) blog, on which I have *tried* to log these messages. There are many other entries from years of its original incarnation as a mishmash of wine, restaurant, and music reviews: www.WineGeist.net. [Obviously, you know about the blog. You’re reading it. Thanks!] Unfortunately, I’m old enough that the vast majority of my published work appeared in physical magazines, before all content was a multi-media simulcast, remaining in clickable suspended animation indefinitely. And for those of you who specifically did not ask, thanks for bearing with an indulgent moment. We now return to your regular program, already in progress…

Why do so many people want to tell you ‘no’ in response to a simple question, when their intent is quite clearly, directly ‘yes’? All obvious innuendo aside.
Example:

Me: Hey, how are you? Is there anything I can help you find?
Customer: No… Just looking for a dry rosé.

So, would this individual like assistance in finding a dry rosé or would they prefer to be left alone, but really want me to know what they’re looking for, so I can seethe with frustration, as I watch them stroll right by the location in our shop where the item(s) in question live? Often the response to my face value query is even less vague, going directly from ‘no’ into what can only be construed as a question:

Me: Any questions about any of this stuff?
Customer: No. What sorts of Bourbon do you have?
Me: You know that’s a question, right?

As I’m writing this, Derek asks a guy if he has any questions, to which he replies, “No, I’m just looking for a gin,” and then asks a direct question about our gins. When ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cease to have constant meaning in the same mode of communication, we’re well beyond Bill Clinton territory, and are deep into Newspeak. It’s a horrifying thing, the destruction of words. Basic verbal communication has become a laborious endeavor, deeply fraught with inherent conflict. It’s double-plus un-good. On tougher days, I like to turn and walk away upon the ‘no’ and am often out of the room by the time they turn around to look at me, in the middle of the question that follows. I’d feel bad about how hard I’m giggling in back, except that I had just been lied to, for no reason at all, which makes it okay. Under Bush the Elder, Robert Anton Wilson referred to the art of saying that which is not, as “Old High Bullshit”, not be confused with “Middle Low Horseshit”, which seeks to use language to say nothing at all. But that level of deception by the orator is deliberate, and insidious. Somehow, when there is no ill intent at its core, the removal of all traditional linguistic bulwark seems even more dangerous. (Literally.) The basic structures of what’s left of American English, along with the structures of civilized society, are exponentially (and existentially) beyond the looking-glass. Fake News! Jabberwocky/Bandersnatch 2020!

[imagine seamless segue about here]

Ridge Vineyards is one the most classic, most iconic American wine labels, and that stylish label text has looked the same since the early ‘60s. Ridge is most famous for their old school Bordeaux style blend from their Monte Bello Estate which ages as gracefully as any wine in the world, and has become quite expensive, and rather difficult to acquire. But as old vine zinfandel is one of the most quintessential of CA red, it has always been in Ridge’s zin based blends that I have found the greatest intrigue and value (though they too have been getting pricier). I genuinely don’t believe you can a have a decent wine shop without at least one Ridge label on the shelf; we have lots. Their juice is unquestionably delicious, and historically significant, but I’d also argue that Ridge labels are as visually timeless and distinct as Domaine Romanée-Conti, the granddaddy of all Burgundy.

Lytton Springs Estate is Ridge’s primary Sonoma property, which is home to 100+ year old zinfandel vines, interplanted with Petite Sirah, Carignan, and small amounts of Mataro (Mourvedre) and Grenache. You can’t fake 100 year old vines, and they consistently produce deep, dark wines of complexity and character. Normally long sold out from the distributor before the next vintage arrives, this year of the zombie apocalypse has found them with an ample supply of the 2017 vintage, as the 2018 is about to be released in our market. We took full advantage of the 10 case discount and while full retail price on this lovely beast is officially over $50, we can do quite a bit better for you. How does $39 per bottle sound? Perhaps you’d prefer a 6-pack at under $35/btl w/ a FREE wine tote, and a FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Ridge Lytton Springs 2017
sale: $39                        retail: $49

6-pack Ridge Lytton Springs 2017 + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $209 ($34.83/btl)            retail: $294

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

50 Cent + 49 pennies…

September 13, 2020 Leave a comment

 

99¢. It’s the original deception in American marketing. Retail’s original sin. It’s the little white lie at the slipperiest pinnacle of the main slope of modern commerce. Perhaps deception is too deliberate a word, maybe it’s more accurate to call it low level trickery, but that doesn’t roll of the tongue as readily. That a majority of all retail products in this country end in .99 has always bothered me. It’s true that there is stalwart psychological principle behind it, and anecdotally, the first six months our little shop was open, I didn’t think that anyone would every spend over $19 on a bottle of wine. But one of the first things I decided we would do differently than most other shops is to have all of our products priced in whole dollars. I’d rather charge 99¢ less for every product (or occasionally round up), rather than insulting and lying to every customer for a buck (literally). It’s far from a revolutionary idea, it just seems more honest this way. If I’m going to be selling legal poison (beautiful as they may be), I feel like we should be straight about every aspect of it. So much of our daily discourse rests on a foundation of fundamental deception, and I’d rather not throw barrel proof bourbon on that particular dumpster fire. It’s a waste of good bourbon. Trust a $1 Store. The 99¢ Store has something to hide.

Everybody seems to be churning out their fall themed marketing already. How many e-mails can I be expected to read about the end of summer, while it remains 85 degrees outside, and our cooling bill is still approaching 4 figures this month? And now, the weather report: you’ve got a window? Open it.

As most of you know, the way we are often able to offer our deeper discounts is by taking advantage of high quantity pricing. Sometimes we get such a good value that even what we consider full mark-up puts our retail price below what the producer considers minimum public pricing for the bottle in question, and many smaller producers (and their distributors) actively police this (which we respect). Last week, we were asked to raise our online price for Rivetto Barolo Serralunga 2016, one of the best deals in Barolo (where the nebbiolo is wonderful, but can get quite expensive), from a superior vintage. Not only are Rivetto’s wines dry and delicious, and quite a bit less expensive than comparable labels, but they are certified biodynamic, in a region not always synonymous with clean practices. $59.99 is the lowest retail price allowed, but we don’t do 99¢, so we raised our online retail price from $55 to $59, making our (slightly higher) price still the very best advertised price on this vintage of this wine in the country. But since a private e-mail blast isn’t a publicly published offer, we can do pretty much whatever we want, so who wants a lovely bottle of $59(.99) Barolo for $49 per bottle?! If you’d like to go for a very reduced price mixed 6-pack of 3 bottles each Rivetto Barolo ’16 and Rivetto Langhe Nebbiolo ’17, I’ll throw in a FREE bonus bottle from my personal collection (which could be literally anything)!

(!) CLICK HERE to access the hidden sale page (!)

Rivetto Barolo Serralunga ’16
sale: $49            retail: $59

Mixed 6-pack: (3 x Rivetto Barolo ‘16, 3 x Rivetto Langhe Nebbiolo ’17) + FREE BOTTLE from my personal collection (+ free wine tote)!
sale: $199                        retail: $246

*** This week only, as supplies last! ***
* No other discounts apply.

Cheers,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits

When I fight authority… well, you know.

August 5, 2020 Leave a comment

 

“Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping by a tree,
and I looked and frowned and the monster was me.”
– David Bowie (from Width of a Circle)

More of the same, Free Rangers.

People ignoring signs, ignoring words, strolling around with no intent to purchase anything. That same jackass whiskey bro came back again, still hasn’t bought anything, this time holding a rag over his face in lieu of an actual mask, and carrying a bag full of bottles from other shops. I’m sure he darkened all of those shopkeepers’ days too. That’s the Cliff’s Notes version. I’m tired of hearing myself bitch, and a lot of you have already gotten the full stories in person. Thanks for asking, and caring about how we’re doing. A little sincerity goes a long way toward counteracting the effects of those who care less, or not at all. But just to be clear about this one thing: if you pull a bottle out of the fridge (which has a sign on it asking you not to do that) to ask me how it is, I’ll say whatever is necessary to get you to not put it back. If you’d like to have an honest and complete conversation, let’s do that in front of the shelves. And I don’t get how some don’t understand that it’s deeply insulting to ask a question whose answer you can’t hear because you’re wearing headphones. I took three whole days off this week, and a couple of half days, which hasn’t seemed to take the edge off.

Remember when these e-mails were mostly about our in-store tastings for the week? Good times, great oldies. I really miss those tastings days. As I’m sure you noticed, when we invite(d, in the before times) someone to pour here, they were generally on the production team of the bottles they were showing, and/or were something of an expert in their field. I miss the learning on my end as much as I do the sharing (of tasting notes and bottles), and introducing you fine folks to wine and spirits you might have otherwise never tasted. There is no substitute for palate experience. The vast majority of my own knowledge stems from public tastings in my 20s. So much of life seems a holding pattern these days, and it’s getting older than I am.

I know how lucky we are to be in a business where numbers-wise, things haven’t really changed, though the work per dollar has increased by several times. In parts of the country, unemployment is nearing 30%, while Jeff Bezos’ wealth has increased by $15 billion since March, a profound failure of equity for the richest country on Earth. We’ve been able to maintain a full staff here, and keep everybody paid, and until fairly recently, supply chains in our industry were relatively intact. But with the number of distributors cutting staff, and/or failing completely, the greater infrastructure we rely on to do our daily business is crumbling. And things that used to require a simple e-mail, can now take 4 or 5 e-mails, with a couple of phones calls, and return of the wrong product (or the right products, severely damaged) in between. Sure, we still have a profitable business, but every little thing is so much more time consuming, and less enjoyable, than it was for the previous 7 years.

It’s hard to take a considered look around (our industry and the country as a whole) and not think that this may very well be the end of the ill-fated experiment known as capitalist democracy. Anybody who still doesn’t get that Bernie Sanders was our once in a generation (lifetime?) chance to change all that had better buckle up for what comes next. Speaking of which, does anybody want to buy a wine shop? Got seven years left on a very favorable lease. I’d really rather be out of the country by the first week in November, if I can swing it. I’ll be in New Zealand, if you need me… maybe the Netherlands… or Berlin. I suppose it depends upon which countries are still allowing entry to citizens from the land of the free, and the home of the virulent thugs.

Usual (pandemic) open hours this week (though we rarely shut the door at posted closing time), the website is humming along, and please feel free to call with any questions (718.643.2250): www.FreeRangeBrooklyn.com

We received very little response to our last sale, and a record number of unsubscribes- though not a concerning amount, given the weight of my last missive. I believe that last discount list contained some of our best offers on rarest wine to date. So rather than shoot in the dark again, and miss, I’ll pose a question, and base the next sale on your responses. On what sorts of items (or combination thereof) would you like to see a deal? In the meantime, here are some more complete thoughts on those same bottles, which again are 15% off this week, click here to view the sale page, then add this coupon code in your cart: august15.

Joyce Syrah 2018 is a tiny production old-world style wine from an immaculately farmed plot in the Santa Lucia Highlands of CA; medium bodied, dry fruit, lovely florals, and just a hint of spice (white pepper?). Some fancy guy at some fancy magazine just rated it 90-something points, so we can’t get any more. Normally $34/btl, $28.90 w/ coupon code: august15

Kelley Fox Pinot Blanc 2019, by its endlessly magical namesake, is totally natural, but super clean (no sediment or clouding), bright and crisp, showing light dry stone fruit, and a laser focus to the acidity. You would be hard pressed to come up with a meal this wine would not enhance. Normally $37/btl, $31.45 w/ coupon code: august15

Bechtold Pinot Noir “S” 2017 is a remarkable Pinot at its price. Very high pedigree grapes from Alsace, from 50 year old vines, certified biodynamic, with zero suphur added, this is deliciously pure Pinot finished in old 500 liter barrels. Tasting blind, I would expect to pay at least double the retail price. Normally $39/btl, $33.15 coupon code: august15

Domaine Forey is an old school Burgundy (Pinot Noir) producer whose wine I have been collecting for 20 years. This house uses oak barrels, but huge ones that have been used many times before (neutral), so they don’t impart any oak flavor to the finished wine. Their 2017 Vosne-Romanée is just about the purity of fruit from one of the most lauded pieces of earth in the wine world. Normally $79/btl, $67.15 w/ coupon code: august15

Heitz has been around since the ‘60s, and their unreasonably expensive (and rare) Martha’s Vineyard bottling is one of the gold standards of old guard Napa, and it ages effortlessly for decades. Their Trailside Vineyard Cab produces slightly less concentrated classic CA cab that is far from a pushover, but it does drink better in its youth than its big brother, at 1/3rd of the price. 2013 was a banner vintage, and this will likely be the last one we can get on the shelf at under $100. Normally $99/btl, $84.15 w/ coupon code: august15

***Through Sunday only, as supplies last, no further discounts apply.***

Keep on keepin’ on,

Jack
Proprietor
Free Range Wine & Spirits