The Last Bubbles team with Blake Van Treese (Vice President) front and center and counter clockwise Kaitlyn Russell (Marketing), Rachel Avila (Customer Support), Connor Swanson (Copywriting), Ryan Anderson (Purchasing)
The Wine Exchange
Allen R. Balik
Last Bubbles launches on
Global Champagne Day
Today, we commemorate one of the life’s great pleasures by celebrating “Global Champagne Day” that occurs each year on the fourth Friday in October. Through the years the day has also been hailed by sparkling wine producers and lovers across the globe whether from Champagne or other “sparkling” bastions.
Folklore and legend point to 1693 as the year Benedictine Monk Dom Perignon in the Abbey d’Hautvillers discovered the magic of creating the second fermentation (Méthode Traditionnelle or Méthode Champenoise as it is known in Champagne) in the bottle creating the bubbles. As the story goes, at this moment he was said to proclaim to his fellow monks, “Come quickly, I’m tasting stars!”
Actually, the oldest recorded sparkling wine dates to 1531 when Benedictine Monks (also from the Abbey d’Hautvillers) created Blanquette de Limoux by bottling wine before the completion of primary fermentation (Méthode Ancestrale, Pétillant Originel or Pétillant Naturel, now often referred to as Pet Nat).
In this method, fermenting wine is transferred to the bottle from vat and sealed. The primary fermentation continues, carbon dioxide is released and the bubbles are produced. There is no addition of sugar and yeast to start a second fermentation, nor is there any disgorgement of the spent yeast cells as in Méthode Traditionnelle
In 1662 Christopher Merret, an English physician and scientist, documented that adding sugar and yeast to a finished wine in bottle, a second fermentation would begin. This process also created the “magic bubbles” but by a separate fermentation rather than a continuation of the primary fermentation. Yet this method did not come into use in Champagne until the 19th century (long after Dom Perignon’s passing) when christened Méthode Champenoise.
In celebration of today’s Global Champagne Day, Napa’s veteran wine team behind Last Bottle and BPWine is launching “Last Bubbles” as the only daily online offering dedicated strictly to sparkling wine. Last Bubbles will now join the already successful online family of Last Bottle, First Bottle and Invino as a “guide to all things bubbles.”
Originally founded in 2006 in a 1,200 square foot St. Helena warehouse, partners Stefan Blicker, Brent Pierce and Cory Wagner launched a plan to sell fine and rare wines online sourced from collectors, restaurant cellars and others to a wine-knowledgeable clientele. The business quickly grew and now resides in a new 93,000 square foot facility just south of Napa in American Canyon.
Even though the magnitude of the business and warehouse space has greatly expanded over the last 16 years, Director of Marketing Kaitlyn Russell enthusiastically expresses that, “The Last Bottle mentality keeps the family vibe going in a ‘scrappy’ non-corporate manner with all hands on deck.”
Each of the four brands follows its own model while working in sync with the others to deliver a multi-faceted marketplace to satisfy a diverse buying public. Last Bottle (2011) is a daily site featuring a single selection of import and domestic wines that are in-stock and priced to sell quickly.
First Bottle (2018) is focused on fine, rare and newly released wines with an emphasis on a global variety of choices for wine lovers hungry to learn more about wine and its producers. Invino was acquired in 2019 and rounds out the company’s model as a browsable online wine shop with extensive selections at Last Bottle pricing.
According to Stefan Blicker, “Last Bubbles will now follow the highly successful Last Bottle format and pricing strategy to bring bubbles to a thirsty audience evidenced by the spectacular growth of sparklers similar to what we’ve observed in the wine sphere with rosé over the last 10 years.”
Stefan continues, “The demand for rosé, and now sparklers, is almost beyond the producers’ ability to keep up. With our extensive import and domestic partners, our team is uniquely positioned to acquire and import these wines, offering (literally) a new find daily aimed at quenching each customer’s relentless thirst!”
The overall aim of Last Bubbles is to offer something for every sparkling wine lover. It may be those wines made by Méthode Champenoise (from Champagne) or Méthode Traditionnelle from elsewhere such as Northern Italy’s Lombardy DOCG with Franciacorta, Southern England and Wales, Spain’s Cava Region or California’s North Coast.
Also included in the daily offerings will be wines produced in the Charmat Method (aka Metodo Italiano) such as Prosecco along with the rising category of Pet Nat. Each wine will have its place and the variety of offerings is meant to satisfy a broad range of consumer preferences.
Kaitlyn was also quick to mention, “Sparkling wines are not just for celebrations and are best enjoyed with a variety of dishes for everyday drinking. And, with that in mind, Last Bubbles will focus on many exclusive wines produced in a wide range of styles from areas far and wide to appeal to those customers looking for a daily surprise and something new to discover.”
Sparkling wines from around the globe are reaching new heights and experiencing historic demand in the marketplace at widely disparate prices from the low teens to the hundreds of dollars and more. No longer do we only consider Champagne as a stand-alone, but also look to new and established producers suppling a thirsty market with wines made of traditional and indigenous varieties that satisfy everyone’s budget and palate.
Last Bubbles creator and CEO Cory Wagner added, “Last Bubbles has recognized this trend and stepped up with an easy platform of daily choices we can explore. Every [perceptive] human loves sparkling wine, and we’re thrilled to respond to the overwhelming global demand for top-quality bubbles at second to none pricing, accompanied by un-intimidating notes and a roundup of critics’ scores…”
With today’s launch and in celebration of Global Champagne Day, the Last Bubbles team invites you to, “Grab your bottle of bubbles and let the sabering begin.”
Share your experiences with other readers by commenting on this article with an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allen Balik, a Napa resident, has been a wine collector, consultant, author, fundraiser and enthusiast for more than 40 years.