2005 Chateau de Malle: Priced to Move!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 3:31 PM

05demalleThere is not much else I need to write other than this: 2005 Chateau de Malle on sale for $24.95 … and no, that is not for the half bottle!  Unbelievable, right? No wonder Pete keeps telling customers that our Moving Sale has wines at “never-to-be-seen-again” prices. The 2005 Chateau de Malle is delicious. Not a super rich or particularly unctuous Sauternes, it does, however, glide lightly over the palate with charming flavors of butterscotch, browned sweet butter and graham cracker crust. The 2005 de Malle is an elegant example of a medium-weight sticky that at this price will be making its way into my fridge often and regularly. Look here, there’s already a bottle waiting for me when I get home tonight. This makes me so happy!

chdemalleChateau de Malle is a stunning estate with manicured gardens and a museum open to the public. The estate dates back to the 16th Century and has remained in the same family the entire time. In the 1950’s the estate was taken over by Pierre de Bournazel, a man who would become an important figure in the viticultural world of Bordeaux. Pierre renovated the Chateau, replanted the vineyards and brought de Malle into recognition. Interestingly, Chateau de Malle straddles two appellations, Sauternes and Graves (about half of their production is for Sauternes). The composition is classic with 70% Semillon and the balance Sauvignon Blanc and a small trace of Muscadelle. The vineyards are grown on undulating slopes upon a plateau of gravelly clay soil. The wine is aged in barrel between 20-24 months in a third new French oak after which the wine rests in bottle at the Chateau for 2 to 3 years before release.

Our Moving Sale is on!  Prices are slashed on wines ranging from everyday quaffers to top-tiered trophy wines with the caveat that they must leave our premises before we move! I will be moving some of the 2005 Chateau de Malle into my cellar to lighten TWH’s load. I can guarantee you that each time I pop the cork on this honeyed wine with its lingering flavors of melted brown sugar and sweet vanilla cream, I’ll be patting myself on the back for being such a clever, savvy wine buyer. A combo plate from Taqueria San Jose with an enchilada and a house-made chile relleno – pop open a bottle of 2005 Chateau de Malle! After a big meal with friends, no one wants dessert but a plate of crispy, buttery cookies served with a glass of 2005 Chateau de Malle- no one will pass on that! Your neighbor brings back a terrine of foie gras from Paris as payment for taking care of their cat – 2005 Chateau de Malle is a perfect, albeit conventional, pairing! At $24.95 per bottle, you can be as adventurous as you want with the 2005 Chateau de Malle. It’s a guilt-free, slam-dunk, smile-inducing, happy-making wine purchase. 

Spring Cleaning Sale: 2005 Sauternes

Saturday, June 1, 2013 7:58 PM

Whew! I hope everyone had a great long weekend last week. The thing about long weekends is that they lead right into short weeks. Toss in my fairly regular Wednesday off, and let’s just say that I had very little time to take care of all that was on my plate. I’m still going back and forth sending emails to negociants in Bordeaux; be on the look out for our 2012 Bordeaux futures offer very soon. This weekend’s Spring Cleaning Sale has got us all hopping around like crazy, but that’s one way to make some room here in our warehouse. When I arrived here at the shop Thursday morning, I immediately went into overdrive preparing for the sale. One of our favorite customers popped in Thursday morning and inquired, “What’s this weekend’s wine going to be?” Talk about a deer in the headlights moment! And then it occurred to me.  Sauternes on sale? No brainer here.


To update an old quote of mine: Not a day goes by when I don’t say – that not a day goes by when I don’t want to take home a bottle of Sauternes. Not a day. Seriously, it’s come to that. A young couple came in this morning exclaiming, “Last time we were here you helped us with some Sauternes recommendations.” Yep, that’s not difficult to imagine. I was recently looking over some of my earliest invoices as an employee of TWH, and they were dotted with both half and full bottles of various Sauternes. I caught the bug long ago in a past life, and my chef buddy Carsten still calls me “Raymond Lafon” or “Monsieur Lafon” as I once had a seemingly unlimited supply of their 1986. But afterattending a tasting of 2005 Sauternes, I fell hard. Hook, line, and sinker! John explained to me that the period of harvest was (in some cases) 4 times as long as usual. This gave the vignerons that much more to work with. Also, the botrytis in 2005 was profound. At the aforementioned tasting, the botrytis was unmistakable in every sample I tasted; my notes reflecting this fact.

So back to the couple that came in earlier today. They are expecting. This was the reason they were unable to join us back in January for our All-Sauternes (okay, Barsac) dinner at Restaurant Picco with Aline Baly of Château Coutet. Anya still proudly has her menu handy at her work station. She pulled it out and we showed it to them. Then we started talking about Sauternes and food pairings. If you ever want to kill an hour or two, bring that subject up with me. The myriad of plates that pair well with Sauternes is so numerous, that I can declare it the most versatile style of wine when it comes to food pairing. Anya regaled this couple with a historical perspective citing that Sauternes were the wines of choice for many a royal-type throughout history. Expounding on this topic, she also noted that the sweetness of botrytised wine leant an “honesty” to the flavors of the food it was paired with. A dry, austere wine might change a diner’s perception of what they’re eating whereas a Sauternes can enhance the food’s flavors. It makes sense if you think about it. Fois gras and Roquefort cheese are traditional pairings because the sweetness and balancing acidity of the wine frame the flavors and textures honestly. But we’re far beyond traditional pairings here. Or to quote Ms. Baly, “There are traditions, but no rules.”


Okay, so which one? Not so fast, I said I’m a huge fan of 2005, and when Sauternes go on sale, I think it is a good idea to grab any of them! I’ve gone on about half-bottles before, and I still believe they’re a great idea, because one can taste more wine when not having to pour out the “lucky drops” of a 750ml bottle. So I am recommending half-bottles of 2005 Sauternes. Seriously, Sauternes on sale? You’ve been good. You deserve it. 

Okay, this is going to be a memorable week! ALL KINDS of stuff going on. Let’s see, my sister’s birthday, our 2012 Bordeaux futures offer, (fingers crossed, touch wood) the homecoming of football’s finest manager, the release of Camera Obscura’s new album, the June Dirty Dozen, and my band has 3 gigs in the next 7 days … 2 of them in Hood River, Oregon! I’m taking home a half bottle of 2005 Sauternes. Cheers! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2005 Sauternes, Sauternes pairing, 2012 Bordeaux futures, football, or my band’s upcoming gigs: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2005 Mont Perat Magnums – Double Your Fun

Monday, June 7, 2010 3:39 PM

If one is good, two is better. Though that’s not always the case with everything, it sure is true when it comes to having friends who like wine. We’ve gone on about half bottlesbefore, and feel they sure come in handy in low key situations. But what to open when the room is full of friends? In keeping with the zeitgeist of recent events, allow me to suggest adouble bottle … a magnum, that is!

All things are coming up double in my world these days. First off is THE DOUBLE. Wow. That was fun! And looking back on that week of fun, I remember that on my weekday off, I indulged in my once a year visit to In ‘N’ Out Burger. Any guesses what I might have ordered there? ADouble-Double, of course. Must have been totally subconscious, because I didn’t pick up on thedouble theme until today. Last Sunday marked the anniversary of a doubleheader I went to a long time ago when Mike Ivie tied the National League record for most doubles in adoubleheader. Having a sometime photographic memory is both blessing and curse. (I don’t need to remember things like that.) I was double-booked for dinners last Sunday … my apologies toAnya’s Mom for the cancellation. So when this double business finally sunk in, it was only natural for me to start thinking magnums.

I was first introduced to Chateau Mont-Perat shortly after I started working here. We were stocking the 2003 back then. I looked the property up in my borrowed Hachette Guide to French wines, and guess what? The normally reserved and critical guide gave them a glowing report, and get this … included a picture of the label! For those of you unfamiliar with the Hachette Guides, they only include label pictures of very select wines. Names like Leoville Las Cases, DRC, and Haut Brion have their respective labels pictured in this book. I came in to work the next day and grabbed a bottle to see for myself. Was I impressed! Rich racy fruit, structure, harmony, and the Bordeaux terroir all packed into a bottle for a song. And that was the 2003! The 2005 benefited from the fabulous conditions and has a big, powerful structure which matches perfectly with the ripe fruit and spice. We always say, “Go after the little guys in big vintages.” This one tips the scale in the price to quality department. We sold out of our half bottles and 750’s long ago, after the producer was named in the manga Les Gouttes de Dieu, but for some odd reason, several magnums remain in stock.

Okay folks, you don’t see magnums of Bordeaux from great vintages for $41.98 very often … if at all. You should be buying this on principle alone! Let the tail wag the dog here. Buy a magnum and start inviting your friends over. Let’s get this party started. Me? I’m thinking about a doublenecked guitar and maybe a night at the Doubletree! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments regarding doubles, Bordeaux, or the World Cup: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2005 Rabaud Promis On Sale! Treat Yourself

Monday, December 21, 2009 3:12 PM

ATTENTION CUSTOMERS: We will be open Sunday, December 20 from 12 Noon until 4PM and Thursday, December 24 from 10AM until 5PM. We will be closed Christmas Day.

Be a fan of ours on Facebook and, even better, you can follow us on Twitter!!
2005 Chateau Rabaud Promis Sauternes (half bottle)

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;

Reg. $24.98


  Add to Cart
2005 Chateau Rabaud Promis Sauternes

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;

Reg. $49.98


  Add to Cart


What makes something special? A visit to M-W Online will tell you things like, “Unique”, “Distinguished by some unusual quality”, or “Held in particular esteem”. One other descriptor it adds is, “Being other than the usual”. This resonates most with me because really, special is, uh, special. So even though there is not a day that goes by (really … and I’ve said it before) when I want to grab a half bottle of Sauternes to take home, I don’t. Why? Because to me, Sauternes is special. It has been months since I last took any Sauternes home, so last night I got to thinking, it’s the holidays, treat yourself. And treat myself I did!
Ah, but which Sauternes to bring home? Given all the choices, you all must wonder exactly how we come to any decisions as to what to bring home for our own consumption. This story pretty much epitomizes how a member of our staff makes that decision. We have a customer who really enjoys sweeter wines. The other day, she approached me with two different half bottles of Sauternes and asked me for my opinion of them. One was the 2005 d’Arche Lafaurie Cuvee Madame and the other was the 2005 Rabaud Promis. The answer was simple. I had tried the d’Arche Lafaurie (and loved it) and had not tried the Rabaud Promis. Knowing what I know about the 2005 Sauternes vintage (fish in a barrel, anyone?), I knew the Rabaud Promis would be very good as well. I encouraged her to try it and report back (how about that for a lame attempt to get free tasting notes?). She busted me, and chose the d’Arche Lafaurie. That left me exactly where I was, knowing nothing about the Rabaud Promis. Well not quite. My curiosity had been officially piqued. So I decided that it was time to not only know what it tasted like, but to treat myself to something special at the same time. So, without much fanfare, I grabbed a half bottle on my way out the door last night, and was I in for a treat.


I opened up my kitchen door, then the fridge, and popped the Sauternes in for a quick chill. I took care of a little business and got my dinner arranged. It’s funny, I flew through dinner quickly, which is something I never do. I very well may be the slowest eater around. My family is certainly aware of this, as at gatherings it is not uncommon for my mother to ask, “Who wants coffee, who wants tea?”, bringing out dessert; while I am in the middle of lunch. Sorry, I’m rambling again. I flew through dinner because, for me, it was always going to be about the Sauternes. I cleaned up, got a fresh glass and let the corkscrew work its magic. Pop. Out it came. Poured the first glass. It was a little too cold. So I cupped the bowl with my hands as I swirled. I am a pretty patient guy, so I waited 15 minutes or so before I got back involved. Wow, was I rewarded.Aromatically, I picked up tropical notes of pineapple, papaya, and mango … candied peaches, baked apple, and the quintessential botrytis of 2005. On the palate, that baked apple thing really came forth, as did the vanilla, which led me to think of apple pie a la mode straight away. I marveled at the brilliant, lively acidity that seemed to hold the whole thing together and make for a memorable finish of fruit and spice. Wow, talk about something special!

So, you see, you never know what is going to inspire you to taste a wine you’ve never tried before. I would like to thank our customer who inspired this particular tasting (she did come in today and reported the 2005 d’Arche Lafaurie Cuvee Madame to be something special indeed.) But one thing’s for sure, if I could make a list of all of the special things in my life, Sauternes would be on it!Peter Zavialoff

I would like to wish you all a very healthy, safe, and happy holiday season. Thank you, as always, for reading. Should you have any comments or questions on Sauternes, the meaning of “special”, the insanity of the English Premiership, or eating slowly, please address them to: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net
2005 Chateau Rabaud Promis Sauternes (half bottle)

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;

Reg. $24.98


  Add to Cart
2005 Chateau Rabaud Promis Sauternes

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;

Reg. $49.98


  Add to Cart

Half Bottles, Giving Thanks, and Betterment

Monday, November 23, 2009 4:29 PM

Exciting news!!! The Wine House is now on Facebook. And if that’s not enough, you can also follow us on Twitter!!!



In an earlier Sunday email,I wrote something about shivering in November. I was right. My fingers feel like they’ve been forming snowballs. Thanksgiving is next week, and I am certain we all have things to do and people to share them with. Earlier today, I exchanged emails with our DJ pal Arden at KPIG radio, and she agreed with me that although it’s nice to get together with loved ones and celebrate Thanksgiving, conceptually, every day should be for giving thanks. I’m certainly thankful to have a friend like Arden who is a wealth of knowledge of all things musical and so much more, who plays a request for us almost every Saturday and gives us a shout over the airwaves. So there. Giving thanks. Every day. 

Something else I’ve been doing every day since sometime in late spring, is use the word “betterment”. It has made a world of difference in the way I feel each day. Better than any New Year’s resolution, my betterment campaign goes something like this: Whenever any decision needs to be made, I ask myself the question, “Is this for the betterment?” Somehow, this seems to be working. Some nights, I find myself alone in the treehouse cooking up something for dinner. But what to do regarding the wine? Opening a full bottle is not an acceptable practice if one is flying solo. As a charter member of the Betterment Society, I give thanks to the inventors of the half-bottle! Half bottles are an absolute boon to those who love wine. Even in groups, we can taste so much more and not have do deal with the excess. The betterment is not confined to what I am drinking either. Exercise and nutrition are part of the program as well, and for the latter, I routinely check out Summer Tomato. It is a blog run by a San Francisco Foodie, health enthusiast, wine loving scientist. Checking in there has been an inspiration that I am truly thankful for. Let’s just say that I never thought I would walk out of a farmers’ market with a bag of kale, let alone know how to prepare it. Don’t miss the recipes! Giving thanks.

Anyhoo. Back to the half bottle thing. We have a multitude of 375 ml bottles to choose from ranging from Sancerre, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Sauternes. I’m all over the map when it comes to these little beauties and enjoy them all. I’ll list a few of my favorites below.I can’t conclude without thanking you, our customers, for your continued patronage. We wouldn’t be here without you. It is always a pleasure helping you find those wines that put smiles on your faces. Many of you have been very complimentary regarding our write-ups, and I am always touched to hear your kind words. Giving thanks.Peter Zavialoff


Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving, The Betterment Society, Half Bottles, The Upcoming Chelsea v Arsenal Match, or anything else: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

White Bordeaux For $25, Alex

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 3:16 PM

Customers please note: We will be closed Monday, September 7 in observance of Labor Day. We will be back to our regular schedule beginning Tuesday, September 8.

2005 Chateau Olivier Pessac-Leognan Blanc

White Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
  Add to Cart


Happy Labor Day weekend, all! We hope you are resting and enjoying the long weekend, and we toast you, our customers, for your continuing patronage. Cheers!
I know Labor Day traditionally marks the spot where we turn from our summer holidays to focus on the autumn and winter that lay just ahead. But as I said to my colleague Anya this morning as I sliced open yet another summer heirloom tomato, I’m hanging on to summer until I’m insanely standing in shorts knee deep in the snow! If you know me well, you also know that this is not only possible, but inevitable. Good thing I don’t live in the mountains. This has truly been a magnificent summer. In many ways, for me, it has been the summer of Wilco. Their current lineup are at the absolute top of their game, as witnessed four times live, here and abroad. Their new album has been the virtual soundtrack of my summer.Another constant this summer has been my re-embracing of White Bordeaux, which I have been raving about here and yet again, here. Oh yeah, then there was this one last year. These wines are crisp, expansive, and complex, and though they shine all year, it is in the summer heat where they become exponentially superior to anything else I may find in my glass.If you do see me out on the street in November sometime, shivering, eating something I may argue is a tomato, sipping chilled white Bordeaux, please show me a calendar.

There is a wine tasting group known as the “Thursday Tasting Group” that counts as members several of our customers as well as management, and their theme for September is dry white Bordeaux.They are in the process of selecting the wines, and as I’ve noted before, there are two basic different levels of dry White Bordeaux. First is the sub $20 white Graves and Entre Deux Mers category, which are perfectly quaffable, but pale in comparison to any grand cru classe de Graves. Unfortunately for the consumer, the cru classe wines are in huge demand and in short supply. No need to be an econ major to figure out what happens next, as some of the price tags can be quite shocking. We’ve got one currently in stock that has the quality-price paradigm turned on its head, the 2005 Chateau Olivier Blanc. It a a grand cru classe de Graves from the princely appellation of Pessac-Leognan. I’m certain the Thursday group will have their usual eight quality selections, and I’m sure the 2005 Chateau Olivier blanc will be among them.It’s a classy offering which reveals what these complex wines are all about. And the best part is it’s only $25 per bottle!


As stated earlier in this email, no matter what you all are doing this long weekend, whether it be closing down the summer cottage, giving the outdoor grill one more major ride, or just relaxing with friends and family, I hope you enjoy it. I will be staying local, celebrating what remains of my birthday weekend, and I will raise a glass to you all. It would not be a shocker if that glass were to contain a cool, crisp white Bordeaux. Tasting notes below. Peter Zavialoff


Tasting Notes

I’m really easy to please. Really, you had me at Bordeaux. The color is of pale straw, the nose gives and gives. There’s apple, pear, citrus blossom, notes of something tropical … (could it be banana?) and a hint of clovespice. On the palate, it dazzles with magnificent weight, light as a feather, yet full of fruit, spice and a mineral lift. The moderate level of acidity binds it all together, and makes this, all in all, one of Pessac-Leognan’s super bargains of the vintage.It’s ready to go now, but will gain in complexity if you drink it over the next 8 years or so. 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on the Wilco shows at Vicar Street in Dublin, white Bordeaux, Chateau Olivier, Labor Day weekend, or which wines I may be drinking to celebrate my birthday weekend: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net


2005 Chateau Olivier Pessac-Leognan Blanc

White Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
  Add to Cart

Roadtrips And Sauternes – 2005 Coutet

Thursday, June 18, 2009 4:53 PM


Ah, the road. I love road trips. Haven’t been on one in a while, but I’m on my way tomorrow (Thursday). If all is Rosy, I will be in The Big Easy when this email hits your inbox. But that’s not going to stop me from chiming in with my thoughts each fortnight.

One of the more interesting things about being in the wine business is the constant observation of human nature and how we react to big scores, low scores, big hype, and even one single line in a film! I have a very wide range of emotion when it comes to these observations. Say what you want about ratings, but they don’t seem to be going away any time soon. It is my feeling that in spite of having the best intentions for the consumer, the folks who use the 100 point scale have actually hurt us wine drinkers by giving producers a numerical reason to hold out for more cash. Alas, amidst all the hype, sometimes something goes unnoticed.

If you have a sweet tooth (most of us do, including me – even though I rarely have dessert), you may want to look into the wines of Sauternes. A little research into the topic yields fascinating results. Really, if you think about it, it has to be painfully expensive to make this wine. I mean when the time comes, you’re sending a lot of people out into the vineyard to hand pick grapes for several days, not to mention employing other people to inspect these grapes one by one when they come in. And that’s all before you even start to make wine out of them. Then there’s the cost of new barrels … why bother? You know why?Because the wines of Sauternes are among the best wines in the world that’s why. They are incredibly complex, pair well with an abundance of cuisine, both sweet and savory, and due to their sugar content, they can last a long, long time if properly cellared.


So, maybe 2005 Sauternes got lost in the hype of the 2005 Red Bordeaux andWhite Bordeauxand Red Burgundyand White Burgundy and the Southern Rhone Valley and the Northern Rhone Valley. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. When John returned from Bordeaux in the spring of 2006, in spite of having just tasted the superb red and dry whites of 2005, he was beaming about Sauternes! One point he made over and over was that the period for harvesting botrytised grapes was much longer than normal. In fact it was up to five times longer than some vintages. This made for incredible complexity. I have tasted several 2005 Sauternes, and I said it then, and I will say it now – I was, and continue to be, blown away. Kaboom! I have heard a lot of hype about the 2001, 2003, and 2007 vintages. I have tasted them. There is no comparison for me. 2005 was the Sauternes vintage.They’re still young, but they are already breathtaking. Sauternes are all about botrytis, and in 2005, the botrytis is profound.


Chances are, if you’ve come in our shop and asked me for a recommendation for a 2005 Sauternes, my knee-jerk reaction would have been Cou-tet. As big a fan as I am of the vintage as a whole, I choose the Chateau Coutet as the finest of these sticky sensations. I will never forget that Sauternes tasting I went to last year where all the wines showed incredibly well. But the fun part was tasting the Coutet with a room full of wine people. It was quiet and professional, but when it came time for all of us to taste the Coutet together, wow! The din ratcheted up several levels, smiles were tossed around the room, and I didn’t notice too many people spitting.

I went to check out this wine on Robert Parker’s website, and next to the wine was this, “92+”. As I always do, I like to read about the tasting experience in words. That usually tells me lots more about a wine than some numeric snapshot in time. When I clicked on the wine, it opened a window that said, “no tasting note given”. Whatever. See my tasting notes below.

Sure Sauternes can be special occasion wine. Lord knows what kind of group you need to drink one out of magnum. Of all Bordeaux bottlings, I would have to say that you see more half bottles of Sauternes than anything. There’s a reason for that. A little half bottle of a great Sauternes is the perfect capper for any occasion. Break one of those out, and you’ll get comments like, “Wow. You thought of everything!” I’ve been known to do just that.

Woo-hoo! I’m psyched about hitting the road. Let’s just say the last time I went to New Orleans (15 years ago), I was a cocky youngster and was humbled … deeply. I am returning seeking redemption. I will revel in doing my small part in helping this soulful old city continue its road to recovery. I’ll make a deal with you all. This email is scheduled to hit on Saturday evening at 9:00PM PDT. It will be 11:00PM where I am. Perfect time for finishing a nice dinner. Precisely at that hour, I will order a half-bottle of Sauternes from whichever restaurant I will be dining that evening. Hopefully, they’ll have the 2005 Coutet!

Tasting Notes

Here we all were in a small room, all quiet, swirling the same wine. Notes are being jotted down, sips taken, the spitting (romantic huh?), more notes, then all of a sudden, the euphoria we felt as a group couldn’t be contained, and smiles of glee and praise were heaped. My own note concluded with “Cover off the ball”. Hints of flintiness on the nose combined with the profound botrytis and some citrus notes, but I had no idea what was in store for me. The wine showed amazing weight, sat perfectly on the palate, gained in intensity, showed off candied fruit and spice-cake among other things, and finished like the grand finale of a fireworks show. The hit of the tasting. Need I say more? Peter Zavialoff

The Bin That’s Always Empty

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 3:23 PM

2005 Chateau Marjosse Bordeaux

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;

  Add to Cart



I work every Saturday. It’s funny. I should mind, but I don’t. I think I’ve had one Saturday off in the last year. Not a problem. Why, you may ask? Well, there are several reasons.


First off; and even though this is weird I’ll tell you anyway. You see, (and you may have heard) for over a couple of years now, we’ve been pals with Arden who is the Satuday DJ at KPIG radio. She has been kind enough to play our suggestions and gives us the occasional shout out. There is always a variable, though, as she will not play an artist twice in too short a time. So sometimes, if someone plays the band I have in mind, I’ll have to change it up on the fly. Arden is such a wealth of musical knowledge (not to mention good energy and literary prowess), that I feel challenged to suggest songs that are out of the normal realm of what is being played on pedestrian radio. So let’s just say I don’t suggest Tom Petty songs. So checking in with her, hearing a favorite song, and getting a shout on the radio is always something I look forward to on Saturdays.

Probably the best part about Saturdays is the traffic here in the shop. Many of you work Monday through Friday and can only come visit us on Saturdays. It’s always great to see you, the new and the regular. Saturdays are the days where we see more of you than any other, and that’s always something to look forward to. As a matter of fact, the reason I’m off on this ramble today, is due to a comment someone made earlier today, about how she reads all of our emails and loves them. Well, thank you for the inspiration.

Saturdays are also the days when the Sunday Email is usually composed. So I’m thinking about it. All that good energy we get from the radio, from emails, and from your visiting can be highly inspirational. Anyway enough of all that babble, let me tell you about a wine.

I never know when and how a wine will jump out at me, but this one’s a peach. There have been times when a customer will come in looking for a red Burgundy for around $20. I just shrug my shoulders and say, “Sorry, we don’t have any.” Burgundy is a funny thing too. The wines are always changing, and sometimes, it can be a bit of a gamble as to how they are going to show once you open them. Bordeaux I find more consistent. Find a good vintage, and there are great wines all across the board. So recently someone wanted a big red under $20, and I immediately knew where to go. I’ve been going there for a few weeks now, and I have to say the majority of the time the bin is empty and I have to dig more wine out and reload it. The wine?2005 Chateau Marjosse. It’s got pedigree too. Pierre Lurton, director of Chateau Cheval Blanc, proudly puts his name smack dab on the label. We always advise you to look for the little guys in great years, and though Lurton isn’t exactly a little guy, this Chateau qualifies. Take into fact that it is $15.98 per bottle, and we are talking absolute steal here folks.

Though I’ve always been more of a Friday night guy than a Saturday night guy, I still have no problem working on Saturday. Of course that will change on Saturday, May 30, the day of the FA Cup Final. But that’s a one-off, and I’ll most likely watch it before I come in. So taking all that into consideration, I actually relish my opportunity to work on Saturdays!


Tasting Notes:

Ah Bordeaux. It’s always exciting. Even the pop of the cork is different. Regal. Yeah. The king of wines. Pour it in a glass. This is beautiful. Dark. Where purple meets ruby. Smell? All kinds of things going on there. There is cassis, pencil lead, allspice, violets, and a hint of that toasted espresso bean. On the palate, it teeter-totters to a standstill between dark, velvety fruit and an uplifting zippyness. Its weight is more medium to full bodied and the tannins are fine. This wine has some of characteristics of what would be referred to as modern, yet somehow it manages to hold on to its rusticity. Factor in the $15.98 price tag, and you’ve got an amazing effort here.Peter Zavialoff


Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about working on Saturdays, non pedestrian songs, the FA Cup Final, or, of course, Bordeaux. peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

We Love It, Robert Parker Does Too

Friday, March 13, 2009 4:50 PM



2005 Chateau La Vieille Cure Fronsac

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;

  Add to Cart



I love March!
It probably has something to do with my being hooked on baseball all those years ago, but I am still giddy with excitement when I turn the February page of the calendar. And this year is no exception. Two of my favorite musical acts are releasing new material, Eric Lindell and Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles , providing the soundtrack for all of the other good things on their way! You know, like Daylight Savings Time and the start of spring for starters. 

Having prepared the March Dirty Dozen (with Anya’s help), I find myself with a moment to look around and take a deep breath. So where do my thoughts wander when I have moments like this, inevitably with my physical being close behind? Why to the Bordeaux section, of course. It’s as natural as the tide. I was invited by a friend who is a customer (or is it a customer who is a friend?) over for dinner last night, and wanted to bring something nice over. So as I grabbed my bottle of white Bordeaux (we were having mussels), something caught my eye. It was the 2005 Chateau la Vieille Cure.

I hope that I will wake up one day in, say March 2024, and discover that I still have some 2005 Bordeaux left in my cellar. We’ll see, I guess, but the foundation of that 2005 cellar is right here in 2009! It’s time for me to make my choices. Sure, I want some Leoville Las Cases; sure, I want some Pontet Canet; but in a vintage like 2005, prices will dictate which Chateaux will wind up in my cellar. The 2005 Chateau la Vieille Cure is one of them. With the prices of the two aforementioned wines being what they are, I’m sorry, they won’t be joining the party in 2024. In a vintage like 2005, one doesn’t need to shoot for the stars, because everybody got good grapes. This is the kind of vintage where the little people made exceptional wines.

We opened one of these up a while back and tasted it. Gripping and tight immediately after opening, one could detect an immense richness of dark fruit and earth just waiting to emerge. No one took the sample bottle home that day, but we were all pleased to discover it the following day (after it had been opened for 24 hours!). It had opened up brilliantly! It showed a deep, black cherry, earthy nuance that is best described as extraordinary. It is still a baby. If you want to try one, the 24 hours open trick works really well. It is meant for the cellar. I am so happy to make this wine a part of my future, and I highly recommend that you Bordeaux lovers out there do too! Oh, just don’t take my word for it, Robert Parker has some very nice things to say about it as well. His Notes below.

From The Wine Advocate #178, August 2008: La Vieille Cure’s amazing 2005 is even better than their terrific 2003 and 2000. The 2005 boasts an inky/ruby color as well as a gorgeously sweet perfume of charcoal, black cherries, black currants, and spring flowers as well as an underlying mineral component. Superb concentration, full-bodied power, wonderful symmetry, purity, and texture, and a multidimensional mouthfeel are all found in this fabulous sleeper of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020+ – 93 Points 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about March, why I don’t watch baseball anymore, mussels, 2024, or Bordeaux: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net


The Only Merchant In America With This Wine!

So, as the story goes … In the spring of 2006, while I was finishing up my first month in the wine business, John was visiting Bordeaux for the annual en primeurtastings. On getaway day, he was down in Barsac visiting Chateau Climens, where he was informed about the length of the Sauternes harvest. The 2005 harvest period was unusually long as some grapes weren’t picked until November!Having so many different batches of grapes gave thevignerons a wide palate of flavors to blend with, adding to the already complex nuances of these grapes affected by the noble rot. By the time he made the trip back up to Bordeaux proper, it was getting late in the day, and the prospects of tasting many other Sauternes from this amazing vintage were dwindling. He did have an appointment with a negociant, and when he arrived, he was met and taken to a room (really, an entire room) full of unopened wine bottles most of which were 2005s. As is custom, he was offered the opportunity to taste whatever struck his fancy, and amongst others, he swirled a 2003 Sauternes from a lesser-known Chateau d’Arche-Lafaurie. It was their fairly new Cuvee Madame, which we are coming to learn is a huge step up from previous offerings from this chateau. Impressed with the 2003, he had a go at the 2005 as well, and loved it. His tasting notebook dog-eared at the page, he returned home, and when the wine came up for sale as futures, he bought some.

 What is interesting about this is that according to a few wine-specific search engines, we are the only merchants in the country carrying this wine!We sold some as futures, and I made a point of questioning those of you who bought this wine as to why you chose this particular chateau, as I didn’t have any knowledge of these wines. I found that many of you either had experience with, or heard about the success of the 2003 version. Anyway, when the wine finally arrived, our staff had to try a half-bottle.

As we were all tasting this wine, you could hear descriptors like, creme brulee, coconut cream, dates, and candied pear. Followed by, “How much is it??!! You’ve got to be kidding, this is great!” All of us who tasted that day were very impressed. I could go on and on about the vintage itself. Wait a sec, I already have! Suffice to say, despite what I have read about Sauternes vintages of the oughts, to me, 2005 is clearly the most complex, pleasurable vintage for these amazing wines.


After working hard in the kitchen with prep and execution, having had some laughs and lively conversation with friends both while cooking and during dinner, not to mention having tasted some fine wine paired with said dinner, warrants the question, How do you follow an act like that? We’re making it easy for you. A simple half bottle of 2005 Chateau d’Arche-Lafaurie Cuvee Madame will do the trick. Sure, if your table is bigger than mine (most are), then perhaps a full bottle. Bring ’round the cheeses, bring the desserts, or simply sip your dessert. It’s all good.


PS If you think you might want to cellar some of this wine for posterity, I say good idea, you’re on to something. A Sante! – Peter Zavialoff


Tasting Notes

Ah … there’s nothing like having a glass of fine Sauternes in your hands. Savor the aromatics. I picked up aromas reminiscent of Butter Rum LifeSaver, with hints of caramel, pear, and sawdust. It enters the palate much like a long ride on a big wave. The flavors and vibrancy come together hand in hand and seemingly ride on forever. The wine seems to intensify as it builds tension which never pushes you over the edge. It finishes with a zippy lift that leaves you thinking about how to conserve what’s left in your glass without compromising your gustatory experience.


Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2005 Sauternes, staff tastings, Butter Rum LifeSavers, or the wine business in general: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

Cheers To Our Customers

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 7:31 PM

During our Anniversary sale, I was helping a customer load up with some good wine for an unbelievable price. Happy as she was, she also said, “The downside of this is that I won’t be back for a while.” It struck me. I felt the same. We love having you all here in our shop! Whether you’re buying, seeking advice, comparing notes, or just popping in to say hi, we’re always here for you and are glad to see you. (If you do not live in our area, please know that we appreciate your phone calls, emails, and other correspondence just as much). Anyway, before I get too gushy here, the point that I’d like to illustrate is that we get so much out of these unique relationships that we have with you. I could name names and go on and on, but that would probably cause most of you to hit the delete key thinking that I’ve been doing too much “research”. But through the feedback we have received, and of these relationships we have with you, we know we’re not just another wine shop.

As our staff is acutely aware of, you never know what you’re going to get when you answer the phone. I answered one the other day, and it was a longtime customer who particularly loves Bordeaux. I like to talk about Bordeaux. That’s an understatement. In fact, if it wasn’t for Bordeaux, they’d call me the quiet guy around here. From time to time, when this customer calls, we share tasting notes and perceptions of various Bordeaux that we have tasted. He asked me if I had tried the 2005 Chateau Grand Ormeau. When I said no, not yet, he said, “I would advise you to do so, the sooner the better.”

2005 Chateau Grand Ormeau Lalande de Pomerol (half bottle)

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
Very limited supply in half-bottles
2005 Chateau Grand Ormeau Lalande de Pomerol

Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;

  Add to Cart
2005 Bordeaux For Now – Chateau Grand Ormeau


This emphatic advice was not lost upon me. Considering the source, I was not going to hesitate. I plopped a bottle down by the radio (where I like to keep my homework before I leave) and drew up plans to pop it on New Year’s Day of the Julian Calendar (which was last Wednesday). Being a holiday, I planned to do it up a little. I’ve been dining at my best friend’s house a lot lately, always leaving him with a less than tidy kitchen. I thought it only fair to mess mine up for a change. When I got home, I popped the Grand Ormeau. No decanter, I just let it breathe out of the bottle. An hour and a half had passed. We had a little sparkling to start, it was New Year’s after all. Then, as things had come together, we tasted the Bordeaux. “Holy cow. Where’d this come from?” he asked. We have been tasting wine together for many years and his reactions are usually more reserved and scientific in nature. We then continued to enjoy a delightful holiday dinner with an accessible 2005 red Bordeaux that continued to improve over time.

What struck me most was indeed the accessibility of this wine. I’ve tasted through more than a handful of 2005 red Bordeaux, and one thing is for sure, it is a vintage of amazing concentration across the board. The concentration and structure of most of these wines makes you want to forget about them in the cellar for 10 years or more. But this one? It was lovely. Rich in aromatics; solid, yet harmonious on the palate, finishing like the encore at a Springsteen show. Hmmmm. No wonder my buddy just bought a case!

Tasting Notes

As stated above, opened approximately 90 minutes prior to tasting and left in bottle. My first impression of the aromatics was favorable. It was young, no doubt, but behind the toasty, mocha aroma was what seemed like an elegant presence of briary, berry-like fruit. On the palate, the oak influences backed off as the velvety, dark fruit shined through it as a halogen light would in a dark forest. We could detect some earthy, forest floor like nuances on the palate as well. The finish was bright and zippy and quite reminiscent of dark cherries. If you would have served this to me blind, there is no way I would have thought it to be from 2005, it’s just so drinkable! I bet it will still be good in 10 years too.

Oh yeah, some of you may care what Robert Parker thinks: “Grand-Ormeau, one of Lalande de Pomerol’s finest estates, has fashioned two outstanding wines in 2005 (I actually preferred the basic cuvee over the Cuvee Madeleine). The open-knit, accessible 2005 regular cuvee boasts a dense ruby/purple color as well as copious quantities of sweet black cherries, mocha, and strawberries, and an opulent, plush, concentrated mouthfeel. This beautifully textured, heady, round wine should be enjoyed over the next 7-8 years.” – 91 points, The Wine Advocate #178, August 2008

So you see, it’s a two way street here. As Anya said, “We taste a lot of bad wine so you don’t have to.” And we can advise you, based on what we learn about your tastes, what wines you may or may not enjoy. The best thing for us is hearing your stories about what you’re tasting and what you’re enjoying. We look forward to seeing/hearing from you all soon, and to continue helping you with all things vinuous! – Peter Zavialoff


I Should Have Opened My Mouth Sooner

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 8:53 PM

I don’t drink Bordeaux as often as I’d like. There are multiple reasons for this. I belong to a generation that hasn’t been able to afford it on a regular basis (long gone are the days of $12 first growths). I also lack the patience to age claret into the autumnal glow of earthy, wooly secondary characteristics, and consume it in its primary, tannic youth. And lastly, my heart hasn’t always been in it. It was, I think, the exotic, wild perfume and spice of Rhone wines that first seduced me, but sometimes I do seek the aristocratic reserve and intellectual stimulation of Bordeaux.

So it was a couple weeks ago that I took home a bottle of 2005 Cap de Faugeres (85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc). It has a long reputation as an overachiever in the Cotes de Castillon, it’s from an indisputably great vintage, we were grilling a Flintstone-esque cowboy ribeye that night, and the price was right. And I was attracted by the decent dose of Cabernet Franc and what it might contribute to the perfume.

I tried it right after opening it, and it was a monster. Aromatically withdrawn, brooding in texture, fruit withheld and sternly tannic, my fear that this may be too young would possibly be confirmed. (I’m not expecting a fully integrated, open knit, totally expressive experience from any 2005 Bordeaux at the moment, but I found this surprisingly forbidding). However, after an hour in the decanter, it really started to bloom, serving up fragrances of luscious dark fruits, licorice, graphite and lilacs. Still dense and firm in the middle, the clamps were starting to loosen on the fruit to suggest richly concentrated cassis and mulberry. There was also some Cabernet Franc-induced green tobaaco and attractive herbaceousness. However, those tannins were still strongly in charge, although the grip was perhaps balanced by the gradually yielding aromas and flavors. After two hours in the decanter and competition from the steak, the tannins started to stretch out a bit, allowing for a more pliable texture, with a long, luscious finish.

I love it! With a little decanting and beating the wine up a bit in the glass, here’s a young Bordeaux that offers lots of pleasure right now!This is not to say that it lacks profundity – far from it. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull a bottle in five years, or even ten; it has the stuffing to not only last, but develop tremendous complexity down the line.

So, you may rightly ask why I didn’t open my big mouth (although I’m not typically known for bombast) a couple weeks ago when we had this wine on sale for $18.75 or $199 a case?! Mea culpa! Well, to right the situation, we have extended sale pricing on this baby past our anniversary sale. So, stock up now on this red Bordeaux that will reward both the patient and impatient alike. – Patrick Mitten

2005 Larrivet Haut Brion And Waiting

Monday, June 16, 2008 7:10 PM

2005 Larrivet Haut Brion

Waiting. It can be frustrating. It builds tension. Tension that is released when what we’re waiting for finally arrives. It’s kind of like the crescendo in a great song that builds and builds until the final chorus bursts forth and knocks all of that tension to the four corners of existence. So, in spite of a little tension, good things come to those who wait.

Ever since I first walked through the doors as a Wine House employee, not a day has gone by without some mention of 2005 red Bordeaux. I likened it to talking about the lives of celebrities. What’s the point? They’re not here. Out of sight, out of mind. So, why bother talking about them? Yet unlike the prospect of Natalie Imbruglia meeting me for lunch, I knew in the back of my mind that someday these wines would arrive. So I listened. And talked. And waited. Did I mention that Bordeaux is what makes me tick? The foundation of why I love the wines of France? The reason why I’m sitting here in The Wine House typing this right now? Yes, it is all because of Bordeaux.

The first 2005 we received and tasted was the Mylord, then the Croix de la Roche, Potensac, and Mont Perat. Then I got to taste a handful of bigger names before the recent Sauternes tasting I attended. I must say that I sit in humble agreement with all who use the term legendary when discussing the vintage.

In front of me now are seventeen different 2005s in half bottle. I am waiting no longer. A week ago Wednesday, I happened to grab one as I went off to do my Wednesday thing. You see, I have Thursdays off, so for the past several months, Wednesday evenings for me are often spent with my friends at Wellington’s Wine Bar in Sausalito. It is a very comfortable room run by nice people who happen to know a thing or two about wine and offer an array of selections from around the wine world in various sized portions. After cooling off with a couple glasses of white wine off the list, I thought I’d mention to Jeremy, the proprietor, that I had a half bottle of 2005 Larrivet Haut Brion in the car. He chuckled and told me to fix that problem. I fetched the half bottle, we popped it and decanted it. After around 45 minutes or so, we decided to pour a few glasses out. Of course it was youthful, yet was rounded and bursting with fruit. Time passed; everyone involved was blown away by the complexity (mineral, spice, earth, forest floor) that kept popping up as the young wine took a few breaths.


I came in to the shop on Friday morning with high praise for the 2005 Larrivet Haut Brion. Such high praise, I might add, that I convinced Ben to take a half bottle home. He usually shakes his head when he hears me talk up a young Bordeaux. Not only did he take it home … per my recommendation, he decanted it for two hours. He came in on Tuesday gushing (yes gushing) with enthusiasm. “Three thumbs up”, he said. I’ve never heard him say that about any wine.

Waiting. It’s a cruel trick to wait for two years for a bottle that demands we wait another five to ten years to drink it! Though destined to be a classic with a decade of proper storage, if you decant for around two hours, you can take a peek at what we’re on about here. In the film “Big Jake”, John Wayne said, “Waiting’s good for them and bad for us.” In the case of 2005 Larrivet Haut Brion, we feel the opposite, whoever they are. – Peter Zavialoff

Tasting Notes

Immediately after we opened the bottle, we poured it into a decanter and it was pointed out to me that the aroma was much like buttered popcorn. It was. Ben suspects it experienced malo in barrel (which appears to be a trend though no one really speaks of it). It would need time for that toasty new oakiness to blow off and to let the fruit emerge. After 45 minutes or so, when it was time for that first sip, I found the aromatics to scream of spicy, dark berry fruit. On the palate, it was rich in fruit, yet showed elegant restraint; not going “over the top.”  The tannins held up their end in silky fashion without taking center stage. More time in the glass only began to reveal the true makeup of this wine. We were all in agreement that every time we went back for another sip, another nuance would present itself. We found forest floor, spicy mineral, pencil lead, leather, and earth, all held together by the high-toned structure. Needless to say, a mere half bottle didn’t stand a chance with us. We were begging for more when it came up dry. Jeremy took the empty bottle and said, “Hall of Fame”, then put it up with the rest of the trophy bottles that line Wellington’s windows.

Email me with any questions or comments regarding waiting, Bordeaux, lunch with Natalie Imbruglia, or which Wednesday evenings I might be at Wellington’s: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

13 Item(s)