While we patiently await the results of the ongoing harvest all across the northern hemisphere, it’s a good time to remember the vintages past. All of them. The interesting ones. The underrated ones. The classic ones. And, of course, the legendary ones. Looking back upon the past decade of red Bordeaux vintages, it has become a given that 2009 and 2010 have etched their places among the latter two. Before we knew of the power and structure the 2010 vintage gave us, 2009 was eye-opening for its precocious expression and charm.Though, let us not dismiss its potential for aging. We are speaking of red Bordeaux after all. For the classified growths, well, discipline is in order. You’re going to want to hold onto those. Savvy Bordeaux enthusiasts well know that in these type of years, the weather blessed everyone, therefore bargains abound. We could go back and count them, but who has the time? There is a 2009 red Bordeaux that we thought enough of out of barrel, that we bought a modest amount of. We sold about half our allocation as futures, but when it landed here at TWH, the balance was swept up before I could get my hands on a single bottle after taking off a poorly timed three day weekend. Somehow, some way, we were able to get a little more 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc!
For those who know this wine, not much more needs to be said. As I stated, our first drop was gone in a heartbeat. We bought another pallet. Gone. Then another. Gone. Oh well, time moves on, and there are new wines waiting to be discovered. Hold on a second. When we receive new stock lists from our suppliers in Bordeaux, I usually look them over pretty thoroughly. What? 2009 Larrivaux? Really? “David, you’ll never believe what XYZ negoce is offering!” We bought what was left (not much). And now it’s here, back in stock.
Briefly – Château Larrivaux is in the commune of Cissac in the northern sector of Bordeaux’s Haut-Médoc. It is really a 3-wood west of Saint-Estèphe. The property is run by Bérengère Tesseron, and she has been cranking out some impressive wines for quite some time, a bit under the radar. We’re not talking about big, extracted, over-oaked monsters. Her wines are nuanced, elegant, and complex. The 2009 has what it takes to lay down for another decade or more, but it’s so enjoyable now, why not indulge? Seriously, for the price, it’s easy to imagine a Wednesday evening’s slow roasted beef ribs with the fixin’s, a bottle of this, and who cares if you can’t get a reservation at (insert fancy resto name here). It just makes sense; from a flavor standpoint and a budget one, it just makes sense.
We’ve written a blog post, or two (scroll down), or three,about this wine. After this email lands in our inboxes, this too, will live as another one. There’s really not much more to say. 2009 Château Larrivaux is back in stock; most likely, for a short time.
Speaking of harvest, I have spent the past week, and will spend the next on assignment in Slovenia, where the harvest is in full motion. From one perspective, it’s not optimal, as everyone is so busy, it’s difficult to grab the attention of any winemakers around here. That being said, it’s a beautiful country, and it’s almost enough to be stomping around the vineyards, observing the hard work which they undergo, gathering their fruit from the vines. They make time to explain things to us when they can, and it has been a great learning experience.Heck, when all is said and done, I look forward to stashing some 2016 Slovenian wines in my cellar. I probably have some time to achieve that. As far as the 2009 Château Larrivaux goes, I will have to act now. There might not be anything left by the time I return. Na Zdravje! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 red Bordeaux, Bordeaux in general, European Football, the six Bay Area Wilco shows, or anything Slovenia: peter@wineSF.com

Authentic Pomerol – Chateau Bonalgue

Thursday, July 14, 2016 9:36 PM


When Robert Parker retired from tasting Bordeaux En Primeur in the spring of 2015, it created a bit of a stir.For those who relied on his palate to make wine buying decisions, it would be like having to change dentists, accountants, or mechanics. It was going to be different, but is that all so bad? There’s an old saying, “Different is not always better, but better is always, by definition, different.” We let this play out, and one of a few key talking points around the En Primeur tastings this past spring was that the vignerons knew he would not be tasting their wines as barrel samples anymore, and so to the rest of us, they appeared “Un-Parkerised.” Let me just say that when tasting barrel samples, less extract and more terroir transparency are very welcome! Coincidentally, in the spring of 2015, I had lunch with one of our suppliers at Château la Dominique’s La Terrasse Rouge. The wine we drank at lunch? 2008 Château Bonalgue, Pomerol. It was delicious. Old school dusty, earthy mineral aromas, savory black olive-like fruit with hints of brambly red berries, a kiss of sarsaparilla spice all wrapped up in a medium-bodied elegant mouth feel.

Château Bonalgue sits in the very west of Pomerol just near the Libourne city limit. The property consists ofapproximately 7.5 hectares planted mostly to Merlot with around 10% Cabernet Franc. The soils are a mixture of sand, clay, and limestone. The property traces its history back to before the French Revolution with the current owning family having purchased the chateau in 1926. Ironically, it was Robert Parker himself who had this to say about Château Bonalgue, “This over-achieving estate is one of the most consistent performers in Pomerol. Always a well-made, fleshy, succulent, hedonistic wine.”

We placed our order for the 2008, and then noticed the 2009, 2010, and 2012 were available. We couldn’t help ourselves; if a quality vertical is so easy and affordable to stock, why not indulge. So we can’t blame those of you who wish to profiter, and build a vertical of this authentic Pomerol for your cellars! –Peter Zavialoff




2012 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol

Early indications pointed to Pomerol as again the hot spot for the 2012 vintage and now that the wines have been bottled, it certainly is one of the more homogenous appellations for the vintage. The wines are showing decadent fruit and dazzling structure suggesting that they’ll age very well. Here’s what RP said about the 2012 Bonalgue,“This excellent blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc is always one of the best value wines of Pomerol, thanks to the leadership and vision of proprietor Pierre Bourrotte. Deep ruby/plum/purple, with loads of mulberry and black cherry fruit, soft tannins, medium body and excellent concentration, this is a plump, mouthfilling Pomerol that lacks complexity, but offers generosity and loads of fruit. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.”13.5% ABV


Reg. $39.98

buy 2012 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML



2010 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol


Another great Pomerol vintage, another rock-solid Bonalgue. This has a little more grip than its two older bottlings, just as we feel the 2009 needs a little time to gain in complexity, we would advise the same for the 2010. Patience is a virtue and with the 2010 Château Bonalgue, it will serve you well. If you are planning on opening either the 2009 or 2010 any time soon, we strongly recommend you decant them for 60-120 minutes before serving. Again, from Señor Parker, “A delicious wine from proprietors Pierre and Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, this frequent sleeper of the vintage is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Like its older siblings, the 2010 offers loads of tasty mulberry and black cherry fruit and medium to full-bodied texture, It does not have the greatest complexity, but the 2010 Bonalgue is satisfying and charming. Drink it over the next decade.” 14.5% ABV

Reg. $39.98

buy 2010 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML





2009 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol

Part II of the dynamic duo of great back to back vintages, the 2009 has dense, purple fruit and a solid mineral expression. It has gained in intensity since bottling, and we feel it needs another 4-5 years before it begins revealing further complexity. That being said, here are Mr. Parker’s notes,“Another sleeper of the vintage from this very consistent estate that always seems to over-achieve no matter what the vintage conditions, big ripe black cherry and mocha notes intermixed with some forest floor and underbrush jump from the glass of this seductive, dense, full-bodied, fleshy fruit bomb from Pomerol. It is rich, pure, and just irresistible. Drink it over the next 7-8 years.”14% ABV


Reg. $49.98

buy 2009 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML



2008 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol

Another great vintage in Pomerol. Most of Bordeaux needed an Indian Summer to save the vintage, which luckily occurred; but Pomerol was going to be good regardless. The Indian Summer made it great. From Parker,“Bonalgue’s 2008 is a sleeper of the vintage. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by sweet black cherry and plum-like fruit, a fleshy texture, and a heady, long finish with ripe tannin and good freshness. It is a pretty wine for drinkers, not speculators.” 13.5% ABV


Reg. $38.98

buy 2008 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML


To say that the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux was a successful one would be a big understatement. We don’t have the statistics handy, but I’m pretty sure that we sent more emails out about 2009 Bordeaux than any other vintage. Such was the quality of the vintage; from the First Growths down to the Bordeaux Supérieurs, the weather benefitted everyone. I will always remember my first appointment in March 2010, when I asked a negociant how the barrel samples were showing and he replied, “You will find them hard to spit!” Charmingas infants, charming after bottling, and now that they’re putting on weight at the young age of 5 years old, charming still. We bought a whole lot of wine from the 2009 vintage; in some instances, the same wine several times.Hey, if it’s that good, and that popular, why not reload? Our recent container brought forth one of those wines, the 2009 La Croix Calendreau, Saint Émilion.
The first drop of La Croix Calendreau landed here at TWH in June of 2013. It was gone by August. Funny thing was, we didn’t list it in our newsletter, nor did we mention it in an email. It sold out because we were all taken by it, and chances are, if you came in during that time and were looking for a medium/full bodied red wine with charm, structure, and balance, you walked out with a bottle or two. Many of you came back and bought more, then boom! It sold out. Round two was no different. This time, at least we had a chance to get in front of it and send out an email announcing its re-arrival. This, of course, didn’t help in keeping it in-stock, and it was gone in less than 3 months.
We love new containers! Who knows how long it will last this time around, but the 2009 La Croix Calendreau, Saint Émilion is back in the house! It sold out at $25 per bottle. Due to a favorable currency situation, we can offer this final batch at $22.98 per bottle.

Ready, set, go! – Peter Zavialoff

“How do you guys make your Bordeaux selections?”We may have heard that question once or twice before. Our usual answer is thatwe buy the majority of our Bordeaux selectionsEn Primeur, oras futures, shortly after the barrel samples for the wines are presented to the trade. Sometimes,we also buy additional stocks after bottling, either as a result of one of our suppliers shipping over sample bottles to choose from, or if I tastesomething too good to pass upwhen I meet with negociants while attending the tastings. It’s not often when we buy Bordeaux from another importer. But,just like all rules, there are (have been) exceptions.


We have demonstrated over the years that it pays to peruse close-out lists that different distributors send out periodically. To the trained eye, it doesn’t take very much time, and should something stick out to us, we are quick to respond and scoop up any berries worth scooping. My workstation is the only workstation next to Anya’s (I know, poor Anya), so as I was busy typing away one morning,Anya casually turned and asked me if I tasted the 2009 Château de Malleret. It is documented that I am a big fan of their 2010. What’s not documented, until now, iswhat happened after I tasted (and loved) the 2010.
After each En Primeurs trip to Bordeaux, it is customary to meet with David and discuss the vintage and talk about the wines I tasted, especially any stand-outs.When I returned from the trip in April of 2014, there wasone wine that stood out from the rest, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc. There are so many producers in Bordeaux that it’s not unusual to taste wines that I’m unfamiliar with. Malleret was one of those producers. As I was tasting the wine, I asked the negociantwhere the chateau was located. He informed me it was in the southernmost part of the Haut-Médoc, south of La Lagune and a bit west of the D2 roadway. He then went on to say that his brother had his wedding reception there, as many do, because the grounds are so beautiful.I knew we would be buying good quantities of the 2010 after I returned, so I did a little more research when I arrived back in SF. I discovered that we actually had one bottle of the 2000 vintage in-stock for a ridiculously low price. I bought it and took it home. One word: stellar! Turns out that the bottle was from David’s private cellar and he had another bottle at home. In my world, to enjoy it fully, wine is meant to be shared. So rather than to be selfish, I recommended that David taste it himself, perhaps with one of his tasting groups. I’m still waiting for the report …
Now you’re all up to speed on where my head waswhen Anya asked me about the 2009. The answer was that I hadn’t tasted it, but considering the litany of emails/blog posts I composed regarding the 2009 Bordeaux vintage, and my recent experience with Malleret from two other outstanding Bordeaux vintages, this was about as risk-free as one can get. Factoring in the crazy closeout price makes the 2009 Malleret another sweet deal from our petits chateaux section. Château de Malleret definitely has a house style. One gets a sense of their terroir in every swirl, sniff, and taste. Their style suits my palate well, I love the old school aromas of tobacco, forest floor, and earthy mineral. The 2009 is a user-friendly vintage with excellent weight and fruit expression, and the Malleret has just the right amount of ripe fruit to sit atop the old school structure. Not overbearing nor clunky, the palate is full bodied, yet all in balance with a finish that combines the fruit, structure, and herbal profile.
Here’s what Neal Martin had to say about the 2009 Château de Malleret:
“Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The de Malleret 2009 has a well-defined cedar and briary-scented bouquet with crisp blackberry and dark plum fruit interlaced with cedar. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannins but a very edgy, vibrant finish with lively black fruits that are just slightly clipped on the finish. Otherwise, a very good effort. Tasted September 2011. 89 points”
If you enjoy a great deal on a red Bordeaux, or if you have enjoyed a bottle or two of the 2010 Château de Malleret, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of their 2009. It just makes sense! – Peter Zavialoff

The last time I chimed in on a Saturday night, I promised that I would tell you all about some of our new arrivals.But we all know that I can’t just do that. There’s got to be a story, right? You see I’ve been waiting, very patiently, for these three wines to arrive. I say very patiently because I tasted them last March on my annual trip to Bordeaux. When I returned home, I sat down with David and we discussed what I liked and what and how much of each we should buy. We didn’t feel these three particular petits châteaux wines were well-known enough to offer on pre-arrival, so I just sat here with my tasting experience and my notes and waited. And waited. They’re here now and our staff has tasted them all and everyone agrees, these three wines are screaming bargains! How do we find wines like this? Here’s how.

I usually arrive in Bordeaux on the Wednesday before the hectic En Primeurs week. I like doing this because:
a) I get adjusted to the time, cuisine, and language
b) I have more time to visit negociants and taste the wines at a leisurely pace
This works for the negociants as well, as they get to cross me off their lists before the madness begins the following Monday. I’ve settled into a pattern recently of making tasting appointments Thursday and Friday, morning and afternoon. These appointments are generally informal, I can take my time, taste what I want, and shoot the breeze with the staff. I just looked back at my notes, and I tasted 24 wines at this particular appointment. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we don’t always buy every wine we like, but prefer to focus on the best values. Here are a couple of (translated) examples of notes for wines we did NOT buy: “Broad depth of aromas, youthful palate, complexity, fruit punches thru.” Or, “Modern, fancy smelling, has expansive palate with a spicy finish.” They sound good enough, but the three I chose were a little more convincing.

2010 Chateau La Gorre Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2010
2010 Chateau La Gorre Medoc Cru Bourgeois

“Bright cherries, earth, herbs aromas, palate expressive, has great potential.”Squiggly line (a seldom used

indicator of a wine I really like.)


Reg. $16.98

buy 2010 Chateau La Gorre Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2010

2009 Chateau Devise d'Ardilley Haut-Medoc 2009
2009 Chateau Devise d’Ardilley Haut-Medoc

“Complex, ripe purple fruit aromatics, easy entry, palate dark, expansive, brooding in a good way, all firing on finish.”Squiggly line


Reg. $19.98

buy 2009 Chateau Devise d'Ardilley Haut-Medoc 2009



2010 Chateau de Malleret Haut-Medoc 2010
2010 Chateau de Malleret Haut-Medoc

“Wide palette of aromas, complex, herbal, St. Julien-like fruit …” from here my note concludes because the rest of the experience is seared in my memory. If I were to continue writing, it would go something like this, “pleasantly commanding attention on the palate, vibrant fresh red fruit, forest floor, black tea, hint of incense, yet lively and bright with fine tannins, long finish, the hero of the tasting.” TWO squiggly lines (I can count those on one hand).


Reg. $19.98

buy 2010 Chateau de Malleret Haut-Medoc 2010

In addition to our praise for these wines, The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin has nice things to say about the three of them as well:



2010 Château La Gorre:
“The La Gorre has a very attractive bouquet with lively, vivacious black cherries, boysenberry and crushed stone that is well defined and opens nicely in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, supple tannins. The acidity is crisp and the finish tense, with hints of graphite on the finish. This is a well-crafted Cru Bourgeois. Drink now-2018. Tasted September 2012. 90 points”
2009 Château Devise d’Ardilley:
“Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The Devise d’Ardilley was the winner of the Coup de Cru Bourgeois that I judged at Vinexpo in June. Here, it justifies that “coup”. It has a lovely, beautifully defined bouquet with pure dark berried fruits intertwined with marmalade and orange rind. Sheer class. The palate is beautifully balanced with superb acidity. Very vibrant, very composed with a sensual, caressing finish worthy of a Grand Cru Classe. Outstanding for its class. Tasted September 2011. 92 points”
2010 Château de Malleret:
“Tasted at the Crus Bourgeois 2010 tasting in London. There is plenty of ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit on the nose of the de Malleret, with touches of dark plum emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with firm, dense tannins. There is very good weight here with an appealing, tobacco infused, grainy finish that shows great persistency. Superb. Drink now-2018. Tasted September 2012. 90 points”



When this email hits your inboxes this evening, TWH crew will be celebrating at our annual After-Holiday Party! There were some very special bottles packed up this afternoon and sent over to the home of a very good friend of TWH where the party will be held. Some excellent food will be served and the wines are ready to sing!



We’ll all come back to Earth tomorrow morning; I’ll be waking up on my brother’s couch, hopefully near a remote control so I can watch the big match between Manchester City and Arsenal. Back to Earth, yes, but with a whole new wave of petits châteaux Bordeaux wines now in stock, we’ll be back to Earth in style! – Peter Zavialoff



If you have any questions or comments about Bordeaux, petits châteaux, or tomorrow’s footy match feel free to email me: peter@wineSF.com
We are often asked, “How do you decide which wines to import?”  While there are many ways to answer this question, one thing we DO NOT do is accept sub-par wines in exchange for allocations of hard-to-get wines.  We won’t and don’t play that game.  Being an importer and distributor gives the retail arm of TWH the leverage to say “no” when we don’t feel a wine is up to our standards.  There is one factor that rings consistently with every method we undertake in making our selections:  taste.  So simple, so true.  Taste.  As in one (or more) of us actually sticking our noses in a glass, sipping, and spitting (most of the time).  Last summer saw the arrival of 5 little-known red Bordeaux wines to our new Petits Chateaux section.  To say that they were well received by our staff and customers would be a massive understatement.  They sold out quicker than you could blink; it seems great value Bordeaux struck a major chord among our customer base.  In fact, one of the wines sold out before we could even promote it!
photoWhat do 2012 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet2009 Château Beauguérit2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes2009 La Fleur Boireau, and the 2009 Château La Croix Calendreau, St. Emilion Grand Cru have in common? They were the 5 wines we collectively selected from 24 bottles of samples provided by one of our suppliers in Bordeaux last year. The Croix Calendreau was all gone before we could even write about it like we did for the others! Why? This kind of St. Emilion Grand Cru quality for less than $25 is why!!! First of all, it’s from the amazing 2009 vintage. Vintages with optimal weather offer great opportunities to discover smaller producers, and in 2009 (and 2010), we tasted a whole lot of samples, finding many lesser known chateaux with outstanding wines. Our favorite part of the whole exercise though, is when the wines we selected finally arrive here after their long journey from Bordeaux.



A container just arrived bursting with goodies from all over France, among them are a handful of new petits chateaux wines and one re-order, the 2009 Château La Croix Calendreau, St. Emilion Grand Cru. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw the wine become available again (perhaps someone cancelled their order?), and acted swiftly to reserve some. We added to our order by again choosing 5 wines among the last 24 sample bottles supplied. We’ll be telling you about the others very soon, but in case it becomes the first to sell out again, we thought this time we’d lead off with the 2009 La Croix Calendreau.


The château sits among just over 2 hectares of vines in Saint Christophe des Bardes, just east of the medieval village of St. Emilion. The blend for the 2009 is 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec. It’s vinified in cement vats and aged 50/50 in vats and oak barrels, of which 25% are new. This is a St. Emilion Grand Cru worthy of its appellation status. The aromas are bursting with complexity: dark fruit, earthy mineral, a hint of spice and licorice. The palate is fresh and balanced, tannins integrated, the fresh fruit buoyed by the lively acidity leading to a long, complex finish. If you think about what it is and where it’s from, factoring in the price, it is a screaming bargain! That would explain its disappearance last summer – those of you lucky enough to know how good this wine is need no explanation. For those of you who haven’t yet tasted the 2009 La Croix Calendreau, we recommend you act quickly.  Seriously, 2009 St. Emilion Grand Cru for $25. And THAT is one of the best things about direct-importation.

So here we go! You’ll be hearing all about the other wines that just landed very soon, including the other petits chateaux Bordeaux wines. If you have any questions, or want to know more about our new arrivals, please contact us or come visit us in Dogpatch -we’ll be happy to tell you all about them! We thought we bought plenty of this wine last year, and were surprised as to how quickly it sold out. Taking that into consideration, we bought a little more this time, so hopefully more of our customers will get to try it. Predicting the future is a difficult exercise, but saying that the 2009 La Croix Calendreau is going to sell out again isn’t exactly predicting, now is it? – Peter Zavialoff

2009 Roc de Cambes, Cotes de Bourg

Monday, June 2, 2014 5:53 PM

Okay, I was all set to follow up my recent post about crisp summer wines with another suggestion, as well as to fully endorse Anya’s recent praise of Elisabetta Fagiuoli’s 2011 Vernaccia Tradizionale, (it absolutely rocks! We tried a sample last night and you should have seen the battle royale for who got to take the bottle home!) but the chair of a local wine tasting group came in and wanted to chat about Bordeaux. Specifically, 2009 and 2010 Bordeaux. As I’ve mentioned many times, if you are pressed for time, asking me about Bordeaux is not a very good idea. He seemed to have the time. He gave me his parameters; his group was putting on a tasting, looking for red Bordeaux wines between 40 and 75 dollars. We spoke about several of them. The one he walked out with to submit to his tasting group? The 2009 Roc de Cambes from Côtes de Bourg.



During our conversation, we spoke of some of my favorite wines that fall into that price point, and I would have no problem whatsoever serving a 2010 Du Tertre, 2009 Reserve de la Comtesse, or a 2010 Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge to a tasting group, all wines that I recommended. But I guess my story about François Mitjavile pushed him over the edge. I have mentioned François (and his son, Louis) in previous posts. First off, the conversations I have had with François over the years have been memorable to say the least. I place him at the top of the list of people I know who epitomize the term, renaissance man, as he is well-versed on any subject you want to talk about. Secondly, he makes great wine. His Château Tertre Roteboeuf in San Emilion is a cult-wine, as bottles of that can push the $200 envelope these days. So how can you taste a wine François made without paying full-fare, as it were? He happens to also own Roc de Cambes in Côtes de Bourg. The Bordeaux Atlas and Encyclopedia of Châteaux by Hubrecht Duijker refers to Roc de Cambes as “the undisputed leader of the appellation.” Côtes de Bourg lies on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, west of the appellation of Fronsac, just across the estuary from Margaux. The traditional blend here is (mostly) Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon. 2009 was a legendary vintage in Bordeaux, and I found the Roc de Cambes to be an extremely well structured claret with plenty of zippy acidity to prop up that expressive cherry cola fruit. I have always maintained that François’ wines are among the most Burgundian-styled wines coming from Bordeaux, mainly meaning that I find them fresh and silky in texture. So as we were discussing the merits of the 2010 Du Tertre, my eyes glanced down to the 2009 Roc de Cambes bin. My reaction? “What’s that still doing here???” Seriously. I know it isn’t one of our lower priced French country wines, nor is it among our petits chateaux selections, but it is a special wine from a special vintage, made by a special vigneron!


2009 red Bordeaux has been picked over and over, both here and in Bordeaux. We are running out. Bordeaux is running out. Those great 2009 deals we were able to take advantage of recently? Gone daddy gone. I was able to find a few more when I visited in April, they will be here soon.  I will be sure to let you know when they arrive. So, what is the 2009 Roc de Cambes still doing here??!! It too will be gone. There isn’t all that much left, we apologize if it sells out.



Talking about Bordeaux … so as we were checking out, the conversation continued. It seems this tasting group is having a Bordeaux tasting later this month, he threw it out as a “for instance”, but hinted at inviting me to join them for the tasting and general Bordeaux discussions. Hmmm, I wonder how much time the group has? – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on 2009 Bordeaux, summer wines, or the upcoming World Cup Finals: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

Chateau Moulin de la Grangere

Monday, October 14, 2013 6:27 PM

The 2009 Chateau Moulin de la Grangère has turned me into a young Bordeaux drinker. As a general rule, I don’t drink young Bordeaux. It is probably because I have been spoiled, courtesy of TWH, by well-aged, characterful, seamless Old Bordeaux which were graciously shared at special occasions. I like how Bordeaux tastes when the primary fruit fades to the background and the secondary and tertiary flavors emerge. Who doesn’t?  Sometimes I don’t like young Bordeaux because I find it disjointed and a bit clumsy – not so true with 2009 Bordeaux. It is the exceptionally expressive fruit of this vintage that makes them so delicious to drink right now. ’09s tasted great out of barrel, just after bottling and continue to do so, not unlike the ’82s, or so I’ve been told. It occurred to us here at TWH that in a favorable vintage such as ’09, it would make sense to search beyond the famous chateaux to find wine of quality and affordability. We like to call these wines, petits chateaux. The first half of this year was dedicated to a lot of cork pulling, spitting and following our collective instincts as to what we know to be correct, delicious Bordeaux. As Pete mentioned in last weekend’s offering, we have several new arrivals from 2009 that each in their own way merit consideration.  I happened to settle upon Chateau Moulin de la Grangère as my pick because I find that at barely above $20, you can begin to enjoy the elegance and refinement of graceful Bordeaux with this Saint-Émilion Grand Cru. 


The chateau is near the town of St. Christophe-des-Bardes east of the village of Saint-Émilion and enjoys south-facing vineyards. The vineyards are planted to Merlot mostly with additions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and have an average vine age of 30 years. That round voluptuous, sumptuous texture of Merlot grown on clay soils is what dazzles the palate. The 2009 Chateau Moulin de la Grangère shows a hint of mintiness when you first pop the cork but soon moves into deep plum laced with cedar and warm toast notes. With some aeration, the wine gains weight and complexity. The tannins slide smoothly over the tongue and mouth, making it all too easy to consume a glass without giving it a second thought. 


I have been drinking wine long enough now to include myself into that group of wine drinkers who will begin a lament with something like, “I remember when (high-scoring wine) only cost (insert ridiculous low price)!” Well the wine world has changed and first growths are not going for $100 any longer. But if you like to drink Bordeaux, I mean really enjoy a well-made, quality claret, the good news is if you look beyond the usual names and perhaps take the advise of a wine merchant who has over 30 years experience in the Bordeaux business (like TWH!!!), there are delicious options. A good place to start is the 2009 Chateau Moulin de la Grangère with its dark red fruit flavors, dusty cedar notes and perfectly balanced structure for drinking tonight or putting a case aside to revisit every so often.

I have already bought several bottles of our newly arrived 2009 petits chateaux. And instead of satiating my taste for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, I want more. Too much of what I brought home has been carelessly consumed while watching sports on the flat screen in the late evening with my husband. What I really would like to do is defrost those lamb shanks I’ve had in the freezer and slow-braise them till they fall off the bone and ladle them atop stewed white beans and drink a glass of this fabulous Saint-Émilion, the 2009 Chateau Moulin de la Grangère! Sunday dinner, planned! —Anya Balistreri

2009 Chateau Haura, Graves

Monday, October 7, 2013 6:59 PM

Ah, what a week!! It’s always exciting rolling out our new Dirty Dozen and new Taste of Burgundy, but to get them both out in the same week is something seldom practiced. The week began with our staff abuzz about having been paid a visit by a French celebrity last Saturday. The Champions’ League continued in vastly improved fashion on Tuesday, and then there was the annual Grower Champagne tasting on Thursday! I was accompanied to that tasting by TWH intern Stefan Jakoby, who is helping us here as part of his studies of the international wine trade. His palate and ability to appraise the 60 or so Champagne samples we were poured proved a valuable experience to be sure! Believe it or not, as the day drew to a close, our staff gathered around the tasting table to taste a few other samples. A trio of close-outs yielded one winner, and then there were the newly arrived 2009 Bordeaux. 2009 Bordeaux? And taste them we did!


Again, this was a great exercise. Just like we did earlier this year, another two cases of samples were supplied by a Bordeaux negociant; over the course of a month or so, we all tasted the 24 sample bottles. How many did we decide to buy? 5. But this was months ago. That’s where things could get a little dicey. Would the wines still be to our liking? We tasted them, and retasted them, and seeing that it was after the shop closed, ahem, cough, ahem, one of us might have even been drinking their samples. ;) The verdict: Sensational!!! The beauty of it was that all 5 were showing very well, but they were all different from each other. Again, it was great having Stefan (who was not here when we decided on these 5 wines) taste with us, his endorsement of the wines was just the icing on the cake that we were looking for. The 5 new wines range in price from $15-$35, but after tasting through them, Stefan proclaimed the 2009 Château Haura to be the best value among the quintet. Giving the matter a couple of minutes’ thought,I have to say that I agree with him, ergo I write.



Château Haura is located in the Graves appellation just south of the city of Bordeaux.Denis Dubourdieu, the famous professor of oenology at the University of Bordeaux,makes the wine, so you know the fruit is in good hands. The 2009 Château Haura has a seductive bouquet of cassis, dark purple fruit, gravely earth, and incense. On the palate, it is silky and generous, with its fruit/acid/tannin components all on the level. Or as Anya put it, “This is the Goldilocks wine … everything is juuuust right.” With 5 approved sample bottles ready to go home with staff, there wasn’t a dogfight over who got to take the Château Haura home, but Tom was the lucky one, and he was happy to report today that the wine held up nicely and was still great the next day! Okay, take all of that and put a price tag of less than 20 bucks on it, and you’ve got a winner! You’ll be hearing about the other 4 wines soon, but don’t miss out on the 2009 Château Haura! I checked inventory before I started writing and exclaimed, “Oh man, we didn’t buy enough. This is going to sell out.” My apologies in advance when it does.


So yeah, an exciting week. I wrapped things up last night out in the direction of the old hood, at the Philosopher’s Club. It was one of those rare nights of balmy, still air in the usually foggy, brisk, and breezy West Portal. Delightful conversation with wine loving friends about a great many things, but somehow Bordeaux kept working its way back into our conversations. One of the topics covered was how here at TWH, we’re a passionate bunch that enjoy getting to know our customers’ palates, giving us direction in what we recommend to you all. If you love Bordeaux like I do, don’t miss out on the 2009 Château Haura!Time flew by as it usually does, and it was time to pack it up and head on home. A delightful evening indeed, J & L, I thank you very much! Footy match tomorrow is the early one, but thankfully with technology, my viewing of it will begin at 7:30 rather than 5:30. So please, no one divulge the score! – Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 Bordeaux, our Value Bordeaux Section, the Sunset District, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Chateau Larrivaux: The Victory Lap

Thursday, September 19, 2013 7:36 PM

“She say, ‘you can’t repeat the past.’ I say, ‘You can’t? What do you mean you can’t, of course you can.'” More wise words courtesy of Bob Dylan. Looking upon the bright side of his quote, we ask the rhetorical question, aren’t great moments worth reliving? More to the point, aren’t great wines worth re-tasting?  Well, sure. Great wines are always worth re-tasting, but great wines are expensive, right? Yes and no. There’s no doubt that the world’s most famous wines are indeed highly sought after, ergo expensive. We’re NOT talking about them today. Today, we are happy to announce the return of what very well was TWH’s Wine Of The Year in 2012, the 2009 Chateau Larrivaux. When we compile our Top Ten Wines of the Year list, we don’t necessarily rank them 1-10, but it is not coincidence that in the write-up, we might save the best for last. In addition, we seldom list wines that the critics gush over, preferring to factor in important things like affordability and drinkability. You see, here at TWH, we love wine, and show no label bias; it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts. That’s how we found the 2009 Château Larrivaux.


It was the spring of 2010. The weather in Bordeaux was gloomy and drizzly. On the first day, I found myself inside the offices of a negociant tasting through a multitude of barrel samples from the much heralded 2009 vintage. That is where the magic happens. That is where one can find a Picasso at a garage sale. The UGC tastings are fine to attend, but you’re not going to find anything that is off-the-radar at a UGC tasting. That is why I like to get to Bordeaux the week before the sanctioned trade tastings, to taste the wines from producers that are not part of the UGC. The 2009 Larrivaux was one of a handful of samples that I found to be outstanding, and knew would offer great value. After returning to SF, when the futures were released, we bought some. I wrote about it then, I mentioned it to my friends, and I talked it up with my colleagues here at the shop. It was a tough 2 1/2 year wait. I felt like I was sitting on a big secret … but one I could actually blab about. “Wait until you taste these 2009’s,” was all I could say to anyone who asked me about Bordeaux. I’ll never forget the day the first container landed. It is not uncommon for my colleague Chris and I to grab a bottle of something after work and taste it, comparing notes. When I grabbed the Larrivaux, I chuckled. I hadn’t tasted it from bottle either, but I kinda knew what to expect. He swirled, he took in the aromatics, he tasted.

“Wow! Are you kidding??!!”

“That’s what I’ve been talking about.”

How much is it??!!”

“I know. A steal, right?

The next day, Tom and David were in on it too. The following week, a customer walked into the shop looking for value 2009 Bordeaux. It was my day off and Chris helped him. He convinced this customer to try a bottle. When I came in the next day, I went out to the floor to grab a bottle of the 2009 Larrivaux, but it was all gone. This customer bought all of our remaining stock! We went back to our negociants looking for more. We bought a whole bunch more and waited for it to get here. Somehow, Anya missed out on the first go-around. When the second batch arrived, it took plenty of prodding and persistence (young Bordeaux isn’t her favorite) before Anya took a bottle home. See her synopsis at the very bottom of this blog post here. So we were all on board. We bought a lot, and we thought it would last, but even the second batch sold out quicker than we expected. It’s that good. Not expecting to find anything, I perused a different negoce’s catalog, and low and behold, there was more available! We bought their entire stock and had to wait again. Well, the waiting is over! Fresh off of our last container, it’s here and back in stock!!! We bought a bunch, so it should stay in stock for a while … but that’s what we thought last time.

– Peter Zavialoff


Some words from The Wine Advocate: “A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot, this has a fine crisp dark brambly nose: good definition with hints of black olive tapenade and a touch of smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a lovely, slightly “digestif” entry, good acidity, very well balanced with and fine, quite racy finish. Very fine.” – Neal Martin

“A tasty Haut-Medoc with notes of black currants, loamy soil, tobacco leaf and underbrush, this wine should drink nicely for 10 or more years.” – Robert Parker

No doubt you’ve been hearing a lot about our recent foray into the world of the petit chateau lately, and we wouldn’t be so dang outspoken about these wines if we weren’t so excited about the results! Your collective response has been amazing! Putting high-quality Bordeaux into your hands for a very reasonable price has caused a great many to come back and reorder resulting in the nearly sold-out status for 2 of the 4 wines already! There is one more wine of this quartet that we haven’t yet told you all about, until now. In many ways, this could be the most elegant wine of the bunch, the 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes.

In a great vintage like 2009, everyone in Bordeaux was blessed with ideal weather. It is in those kind of vintages that the playing field levels a bit, because there’s little need for expense in the vineyard if everything is going fine throughout the season. Some of the off-the-radar producers are capable of making some great wine. We asked for 24 samples, of which 21 were red wines. We chose only 4. The 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes is one of them. A little online research does actually reveal a little bit about this chateau, perhaps because it has been in one family since the 1700’s. But a check with WineSearcher.com reveals that TWH is the only merchant in the USA with this wine.  Located in the appellation of Montagne St. Emilion, the property is now run by Isabelle Fort and her husband, Jean-Philippe. Jean-Philippe is a former oenology instructor, and is part of Michel Rolland’s viticultural team. The property consists of 7.7 hectares planted on slopes of clay; the average age of the vines is 35 years. The fruit was picked at optimal ripeness levels, all by hand. For the 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes, 80% Merlot was used, as well as 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Approximately 20% of the fermented juice is aged in barrel, which imparts a subtle complexity and texture to the wine. When our staff tasted it, we liked a lot about it. It has great aromatics; spicy, dark purple fruit, hints of herbs, forest floor, and tobacco. It enters the palate in a silky, elegant fashion. That’s the word that best sums up this wine: elegant. Its is complex, yet seamless; everything in perfect harmony. The finish is very much like the rest of the package, a harmonious expression of fruit, spice, and tannin, all buoyed by fresh, lively acidity. It’s the most Burgundian of our 4 new value Bordeaux imports.

As reported, we greatly appreciate your response to this concept, and its subsequent offerings. It seems a great many of you appreciate good quality Bordeaux, and are willing to try wines from off-the-radar chateaux; just like our staff! There will be more wines like these coming soon, when they do, we’ll be sure to tell you all about them. In the mean time, if you like elegant, silky red Bordeaux that won’t break the bank, you should try the 2009 Château La Fleur Grands Landes! – PZ

2009 Chateau Beauguerit

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:25 PM

Sometimes we do little things when we’re young and we don’t then realize how they will impact us in the future. It seems the wine world has been calling my name for quite some time. My first words in English were, “Mom, can I have some grape juice?” No kidding. As a small child, while in swimming pools, I would take in mouthfulls of water and let loose a steady stream of it like a fountain. Hmmm. I do that still, only now it’s with wine into spit buckets. I’ve been to enough tastings to know not everyone can spit wine well, but I can. Childhood friends used to make fun of me when I drank soda. “You ever see how Pete drinks a Coke?” I would take small sips and taste each one, while my peers chugged theirs. I took French instead of Spanish in high school because I thought I would eventually move to Canada to play hockey.  Comes in handy when I travel to Bordeaux. Speaking of which, as previously mentioned, our petits chateaux or value Bordeaux section has grown, and is growing still, now that the first batch of value wines with TWH’s seal of approval recently arrived from Bordeaux. So let me introduce you to another off-the-radar Bordeaux that drinks far past its price point, 2009 Château Beauguérit from Côtes de Bourg.



For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, here’s the skinny. The famous wines of Bordeaux make up less than 5% of the region’s total production. In great vintages, the other 95% get good grapes too, and some make outstanding wines with them. How do you find the good ones? It’s a numbers game, but that’s why we’re here, we’ll play the game. We looked at a negoce’s catalog and picked 24 different inexpensive, off the radar wines, and they were shipped to us as samples. Over the course of a month, we tasted them. Out of the 21 bottles of red wine, we chose 4. One of them was the 2009 Château Beauguérit. What did we like about it? It’s honest, not contrived. It’s not an oak chipped, overripe, blowzy wine. It’s true to its place of origin, Côtes de Bourg. It’s a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, typical for Côtes de Bourg. The day we tasted the 2009 Château Beauguérit, we kept going back to it saying things like, “This is really good, it’s clean, it’s bright and balanced, has a great finish … is that really the price?” Yes, that’s the price. More online research doesn’t yield much, but that’s probably why its price is so fair.


Côtes de Bourg is on the right bank of the Gironde estuary just across from Margaux. Once a thriving appellation due to its proximity to water, its status waned as Pomerol and St. Emilion were “discovered” by the wine world. Well thanks to folks like François Mitjavile with his Roc de Cambes, and others, the Oxford guide to wine calls Bourg “an appellation worth watching.” Maybe that’s what made Isabelle and Alain Fabre purchase the property in 2000. The château is located in the village of Lansac and the property dates back to the 18th century and has had a long reputation for producing wines of high quality. The vines cover 18 hectares and are planted in clay and chalk soil. The vineyard has direct southern exposure, and the vines average 25 years of age, farmed deploying Agriculture raisonnée. Fermented in steel tank the wine sees no oak, and is fresh and lively, with deep cassis-like notes. It’s just another expressive beauty from the ever-friendly 2009 vintage. It can be drunk now and has the structure to last up to 10 years. For the price, this one’s a no brainer!


So yeah, I don’t quite remember if I attended any grape juice tastings as a child, but I do remember that I preferred a brand different than the most popular. Just goes to show you, keep an eye on the kids, the little things they do can sometimes lead to big ones later in life.  Who knew that imitating a fountain, sipping Coca-Cola in tiny tastes, and French class got me to a morning meeting in Bordeaux with a negociant saying, “I envision an entire section in our shop full of these wines: The Petits Chateaux Section?” – Peter Zavialoff



Oh yeah, Happy Bastille Day!!!

Please feel free to email me with any questions about value Bordeaux, Bordeaux in general, or how I’m passing the time until footy season starts again: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Chateau La Fleur Boireau

Saturday, July 13, 2013 6:46 PM

San Francisco – July 5th. We hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day! The weather here in the Bay Area was beautiful, and we witnessed plenty of evidence that many folks were busy tending to their respective grills. If you’re among the lucky ones enjoying an extra-long holiday weekend (we’re not, but someone has to keep the shop open!), then we invite you to stop on by for a visit as we are open today, July 5th until 6pm. We’ll be open tomorrow, July 6th from 10am until 5pm. We will be closed, as usual, on Sunday.  We recently reported about the creation of a value Bordeaux section here alongside the more famous Cru Classé Bordeaux wines. Again, the concept: We sat down with a visiting Bordeaux negociant and selected 24 wines that seemed interesting from their catalog. The negoce shipped us one bottle each, and over a month long stretch, TWH gang tasted and retasted all of the wines. Of the 24 that we received, we chose 6. Today, we’ll focus on one of the 4 reds chosen, the 2009 Château La Fleur Boireau from Montagne St. Emilion.

A little online research doesn’t reveal very much on the wine, only a few reviews from other wine merchants who at one time stocked the 2009 La Fleur Boireau. As of today, on WineSearcher.com, we are the only merchant in the country with this wine. After reading the reviews from some of the other merchants, we agree with the consensus that this wine is a great value. It was interesting to note that some of those other merchants who were proclaiming this wine “a steal” were selling it for a much higher price! Being the importer helps, big time.

When our staff embarks on a tasting exercise evaluating potential candidates to import and stock, we taste them over the course of the day noting any changes as the wines are exposed to oxygen. The unwritten rule is that nothing is discussed until everyone has tasted the samples and then we begin to share our opinions. These discussions usually lead us all back to the tasting table to re-taste the wines after we hear each other’s opinions. We liked the 2009 Château La Fleur Boireau for a few reasons, price being one of them. The wine possesses the charm and structure of the 2009 vintage. The aromas are of dark berry cassis-like fruit, chalky mineral, spice, and a leathery component that I like to call “that Bordeaux funk.” It’s an interesting juxtaposition of “old school” meets modern times. On the palate, the wine is lush and velvety, medium to full bodied, with a good balance of expressive fruit and rustic Old World charm. The finish is fairly long, with the dark brambly fruit propped up by lively acidity and velvety tannins.Château La Fleur Boireau is located in the appellation of Montagne St. Emilion on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. The vineyard lies in the western part of the appellation just adjacent to Lalande de Pomerol. The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc and the wine is made in cement vats. The fruit comes from vines 30+ years old, grown on a clay/calcareous slope. Checking my own tasting notes, I admired the briary, expressive fruit, chalky mineral, and the hint of rusticity. Stylistically, I have an appreciation for “Old-School” Bordeaux. It was quite evident that over the course of the day, that leathery, “Bordeaux funkiness” blew off. All in all, we liked the complexity, style, structure, and best of all, price of the 2009 Château La Fleur Boireau. 

So yes, it took us a month to taste all of those samples, and we have repeated the exercise with a similar line-up of wines from a different negociant. So our value Bordeaux section is set to expand later this summer. We’re always looking for great new wines to put on our shelves, and sometimes we have to taste through many suboptimal wines to find the good ones. Or as Anya said, “We taste a lot of bad wine so you don’t have to.” – Peter Zavialoff

Slow Down With 2009 Chateau Lagrange

Sunday, May 19, 2013 5:59 PM

Seriously, where does the time go? I picked up the phone yesterday afternoon and assisted an east coast customer who was sending one bottle gifts to several business associates all over the country. Since we were pushing the UPS deadline to begin with, I initially decided that we could wait until next week to ship them. Then it dawned on me, if we ship them on Monday, the east coast customers will get them the following Monday, right? Wrong. No shipping on Memorial Day. Yes, it’s that close. We shipped them yesterday, so no problem there; but what’s up with it being Memorial Day already? How does one slow down the clock? I’ve done a significant amount of research on the subject, but I’ll spare you all the boring parts and just say that one way to slow down time is to have a glass of something rich and complex that is meant to be savored and enjoyed over a long period of time. And if you’re really serious about making time crawl, try cellaring a few bottles of said wine, knowing that you are not to open the next one for x-amount of years. Where am I going? Why 2009 Bordeaux, of course. In particular, 2009 Château Lagrange.


I was once told that my ability to remember so many vivid details about my past was “not healthy”, but I do remember my first moment with Château Lagrange. I was a budding Bordeaux lover weaning myself from fancy Napa Valley wines. I was already building a vertical of Château Gruaud Larose, and it was becoming obvious that St. Julien was my favorite appellation. I was in one of my favorite warehouse-style shops listening to a couple of “pros” talk about Bordeaux. One of them went on and on about Lagrange, a château I had yet to try. Well, not until that evening anyway. The verdict? It made complete sense to me that I liked it. Well sure, it was the 1990 which was a pretty well-received wine. But I also discovered that the property was located just behind Gruaud Larose on the gravelly plateau of St. Julien. I was learning about the concept of terroir. 


Lagrange was given Third Growth status in the famous 1855 classification. But just like so many other châteaux, has endured many ups and downs since. They have been on a roll since the mid 1980’s, causing Robert Parker to report in 1991 that, “this wine currently remains considerably underpriced given the quality level of the wines (sic) that is now emerging.” I went back to the well several times, and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed every vintage of Lagrange I’ve tasted. When I tasted the 2009 out of barrel back in April 2010, I found it rich and intense, yet with expressive, perfumy aromatics. Two years later, from bottle, it was among my favorites of the tasting. Expressive dark red fruit and forest floor dominated the aromas, the palate was rich and deep, my notes continue, “Big profile, great wine, cellar, wow.” Oh yeah, those squiggly lines that only appear next to outstanding wines are on both sides of this note.


Robert Parker had this to say about it, “A slightly lighter, less powerful style of St. Julien, but also less oaky than previous vintages have tended to be, the 2009 Lagrange offers attractive, fresh, red and black currant notes, and an elegant as well as corpulent attack and mid-palate. This wine does not have the weight of the “big boys” of St. Julien, but it displays an endearing finesse, freshness, and purity.”

But it was The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin who said this: “The Lagrange 2009 has an earthy, slightly introverted nose at the moment although it opens ajar with aeration with hints of lavender and crushed flower. The palate is medium-bodied with a fresh, citrus entry, great delineation and a wonderful build of flavours on the mouth, a subtle crescendo as it were. This is so very refined and classy. 95 points”

This is special wine. It’s not for pizza nor for Tuesday nights. It’s special. So here’s the strategy: it will most likely hit its ideal drinking window in approximately 6 or 7 years, and will last for at least another 20. If you pop a bottle now, give it some time to breathe. In the glass or in a decanter, either way will give it some air. Savor it and enjoy it for as long as you can. Sock a bottle or two in the cellar and wait patiently for them to hit that magic window. That’ll keep time from flying by too quickly!

It’s been an action-packed week around here. Daniel Hecquet and his wife, Catherine popped in to visit us. We’re preparing our first offering of 2012 Bordeaux futures, and for one more week, the Chelsea Blues are holders of both European titles. But unfortunately, footy season ends tomorrow. That too will cause time to slow down. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Château Lagrange, St. Julien, the holders of both European titles, or 2012 Bordeaux futures: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net


2009 Domaine L’Aurage, Castillon

Sunday, March 24, 2013 10:08 PM

In the world of Bordeaux, there’s been a lot of fuss about the 2010’s lately. Well, why not? It’s a super vintage, and after the bottled wines made their way through North America earlier this year, they proved to be more charming than originally perceived. It’s part II of back-to-back legendary vintages for the region. The 2009’s were all about charm from the get-go. What a pleasure it has given me to put the many 2009’s in your collective hands and to hear about the joy and pleasure the wines have already provided you! There’s a pretty long list of the various 2009 red Bordeaux that I’ve recommended since I tasted them out of barrel 3 years ago. Your responses to those reco’s are what makes it all worth while!


I love hearing about your experiences with 2009 Bordeaux, but even when I’m not hearing it, I’m seeing it! Case in point: the 2009 Domaine L’Aurage, Castillon. As far as I know, since June of 2010, we’ve been the only US wine merchant with this wine!!! That’s way cool. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing when I go to Bordeaux each spring. Searching for, and finding wines just like this one. Many of you bought this wine on pre-arrival, and I’ve not only heard, but I’ve seen evidence that you’re all lovin’ it.It would take more than one hand to count how many customers have purchased a bottle or 2, and then have come back in and loaded up! The story’s a great one, as winemaker Louis Mitjavile is the son of François who owns and makes the wines of Tertre Roteboeuf. Apples don’t fall far from their trees, so if one wants to taste right-bank Bordeaux made in the Mitjavile style, and doesn’t want to pony up the $200+ that Tertre Roteboeuf can command, here’s a savvy way to do so. For more info, click here. Note: We don’t have a whole lot of it left, our apologies when it sells out.



Well, it’s that time of year again. All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. My next Sunday ramble will come from a hotel room in Bordeaux. From the looks of things, I have a fuller, yet manageable schedule to work with. There’s a new bridge across the Garonne, that should help with the traffic. It should go without saying that it’s a treat to visit the famous chateaux, and tasting while visiting them is educational for my palate. But I will continue to keep my eyes open for the lesser known producers whose wines offer great value. My itinerary tells me that I will taste the 2012 L’Aurage on Friday afternoon, 12 April. My schedule also, as always, has room for the serendipitous:) – Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to email me any questions or comments about your experiences with 2009 Bordeaux, the upcoming 2012 En Primeurs tastings, the disruption of football season due to International play, or serendipity: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net


The Wine House SF Top Ten Wines Of 2012

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:06 PM

Now that we’ve all settled into 2013, we have to say with excitement that this is going to be a great year! We are anxiously looking forward to all of the good things and the many great wines coming our way in 2013. But before we get too far into it, let’s have a look back as we reveal our Top Ten Wines of 2012!

The concept may sound simple … the top wines, right? Well, not so fast. We could tap into the multitude of reviews from wine writers and critics and fashion a list of highly rated, don’t drink until 2025, keep in a bank vault wines, butthat’s not how we roll here at TWH. In years past, our Top Ten lists are comprised of wines we all love. Wines that deliver. Wines that outshine their respective price points. Wines that provide pleasure, because really, isn’t that what wine is all about? We taste a whole lot of wine throughout the year, both here and abroad, and only bring in the ones we deem worthy to be on our shelves for you, our customers. Choosing a Top Ten out of all of the wines we’ve said yes to is a fun albeit difficult exercise. It’s fun because we get to relive our tasting experiences, remembering the meals, the ambiance, and the company that went along with each wine. Remember, some of the wines have sold out, but we list them here based on their merits … So without further ado, here is The Wine House San Francisco’s Top Ten wines of 2012!!!

Please use these links to view our Top Ten from last year, 2010, or 2009.

20NV Pascal Doquet Extra Brut Premier Crus Blancs de Blanc

With New Year’s memories slowly fading, let’s begin with some bubbles. TWH mainstay Pascal Doquet makes some of the best Grower Champagne that we’ve encountered. He sure has been garnering praise recently from the likes of James Molesworth of The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni. Why wouldn’t he? His artisanal Champagnes have been wowing our staff for over a decade! When this Extra Brut landed here in our shop this year, it instantly became a favorite of our staff and all customers who have tried it.Here’s what Mr. Galloni had to say about it, “Doquet’s NV Extra Brut Premier Crus Blanc de Blancs is pretty, soft and enveloping. Dried pears, spices, crushed flowers and almonds wrap around the palate in this expressive, layered Champagne. This is one of the more open Extra Brut Champagnes readers will come across, likely because of the high presence of 2005 juice and full malolactic fermentation. Technical details aside, the wine is flat out delicious. 91 points”
NV Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

Sparkling; Champagne Blend; Champagne;
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19Michel-Andreotti Montagny les Guignottes

White Burgundy. Honestly, we don’t really have to say much more than that. It is special wine. Unfortunately, supply and demand do what they do, and a great amount of it is priced in the ‘special wine’ echelon. Well, David’s trips to Burgundy have paid off yet again, as we are now importing the Montagny “Les Guignottes” from Michel-Andreotti. From the slightly off-the-beaten-path appellation of Montagny in Côte Chalonnaise, “Les Guignottes” outperforms its price point by far and reminds us that there is good White Burgundy out there for a fair price. First came the 2010. It’s an understatement to say that it sold out quickly. Then along came the 2011, it sold out too, but we just re-loaded and it’s back in stock. Which one made our Top Ten of 2012? It’s a dead heat. They both belong!
2011 Domaine Michel-Andreotti Montagny Les Guignottes

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
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182011 Juicy Villages From Juicy Rebound

Now for some local representation. You’ve got to love old-vine Mourvèdre. It’s rare to find a blend from California that showcases the grape in the leading role. Winemaker and hockey fanatic Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvèdre from the Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa where the vines look like “little trees” and blended it with Syrah and Grenache to create a mouth-filling berry bomb bestowing it with the catchy name, Juicy Villages. There’s plenty of grip and tang to give Juicy Villages a well-balanced flavor experience. A whopping 100 cases were produced of this unique and delicious Côtes du Rhône-esque red. All that for a price that’s more than fair on your pocketbook. Bravo!
2011 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages California

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Other California;
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172009 Domaine Martin Bart Marsannay

2012 was the year of containers. It seemed all throughout the year, we were simultaneously in the process of consolidating one overseas, anticipating the arrival of the one already on the water, and unloading the container at our dock! That just means we found lots of goodies on our trips overseas. The 2009 vintage was a phenomenal one in France (more on that later), and we tasted a lot of great wines that now have “Imported by Wine House Limited” on their labels.So 2009 was great in Burgundy, especially for the red wines. So again, we’re sure the top names of the region produced formidable wines, but we like to kick tires and look under rocks to find value! David is on a roll bringing some amazing, new-for-us, high-quality producers to join TWH family! Another feather in his cap in 2012 were the wines from Domaine Bart in Marsannay. Their Les Champs Salomon was a home run of a Red Burgundy. It smelled fancy. It tasted fancy. Its price tag? Not so fancy. That all explains its sold out status. Welcome to TWH top 10, Domaine Bart!


16Ravan From Kabaj

We’ve got our eyes open for great wines from all corners of the wine world. Like Slovenia. Wines from Slovenia are catching favor with consumers and critics alike, popping up on restaurant wine lists and profiled in thoughtful wine publications. Just one whiff, just one taste was enough for us to throw caution to the wind and stack the Ravan from Kabaj high and proud. Were we concerned whether TWH customers would shy away from an unknown producer from an unfamiliar wine region? Not. The staff were all in for sure, but when a wine is this delightful, exotic and complex, we knew our adventurous clientele would embrace the Ravan from Kabaj just as passionately. The 2009 has sold out, but we find the 2010 a worthy successor!
2010 Kabaj Ravan White Wine Goriska Brda

White Wine; other white varietal; Slovenia;
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152009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Tour de l’Isle

Imagine attending a traveling French wine trade show in Chicago in the middle of January … brrrrr! Seriously, at some point you have to ask yourself why? Well, part of our service to you all is to indeed kick tires, look under rocks, kiss some toads, and every now and then, we get lucky. Here goes your proof. Last January David braved the elements and flew into 6 degree Farenheit Chi-town. He met a lot of people and tasted a lot of wine. When he met the folks representing the Tour de l’Isle brand,he was gaga over their Châteauneuf-du-Pape! A sample bottle was shipped to the shop the following week, and now we all sing the praises of this rich, powerful (yet friendly), stone mineral driven, Grenachey Grenache! The 2009 was already in the US, courtesy of another importer. Well, we all love it so much that we made ’em an offer they couldn’t refuse. We bought their entire stock and are now the proud importer of their wines! Boo Yah!
2009 Tour de l’Isle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
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142009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the advantages, and pleasures, of being in business for over 35 years (!) is the long-standing relationships we’ve forged with both customers and vendors. One of David’s first discoveries working at The Wine House was the debut vintage of Spottswoode’s estate grown 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon.The Wine House has been proudly offering their Cabernet Sauvignon every vintage thereafter.The 2009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon is a standout among a very long line of outstanding efforts; it has that unmistakable thread of Spottsberry fruit pushing through with the signature silky tannins wrapping around it. It is a true collectable California Cabernet and we are happy and proud to include this monumental effort among our Top Ten Wines of the year!
2009 Spottswoode Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
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132011 Gavi di Gavi

We’ve been directly importing the Ernesto Picollo line of Gavi wines for 5 vintages now, and though we have always felt they smash the quality for price ratio, their 2011 Gavi di Gavi Roveretohas that extra umph that propels it into 2012’s Top Ten! Anya swears that it is the fact that Picollo’s top cuvée Rughe wasn’t made this year, so that special older-vine fruit made its way into the Rovereto. Whatever it was, there’s no denying the quality of this wine. Crisp, mineral driven, and precise, you would swear that the bottle cost would be twice or even three times as much as it is! It is that special. It’s very likely THE best white wine deal in the house!
2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Roverto

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
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122001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

Chances are if you’ve been in our shop in the latter part of 2012, and perhaps overheard a customer request for a “special wine” or a “gift wine”, you would have heard a member of TWH staff gush over the merits of the 2001 Reserva Especial Rioja Viña Ardanza by La Rioja Alta.Whew, that’s a mouthful; but so is the wine! This well known Rioja producer has only thought it appropriate to make this special bottling in two other vintages: 1964 and 1973! Space limitations will keep us from gushing too much over this in writing, but let’s just say that if it were twice the price, it would still be a bargain. With 11 years of age, it can be enjoyed anytime from now until your 3 year old graduates from college … and then some!
2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja

Red Wine; Red Blend; Rioja;
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11Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Of course it had to be a 2009 Bordeaux. I only wrote about this vintage and its wines umpteen times. But which one? Seriously, this was the toughest point of this exercise. But when you take everything into consideration, we’ve got to give the big tip of the cap to the 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc. I loved it out of barrel. Then, when the first 2009’s arrived in early 2012, it was on the first container. Chris and I grabbed a few of the new arrivals and taste tested them. His overwhelming favorite of the bunch was the Larrivaux. We opened another bottle the following week for Anya, Tom, and David to taste, and it was unanimous! Now that everyone was on board, we went back to the marketplace and loaded up. It is certainly not the only success story from the 2009 vintage, but that kind of quality for less than $25 resonates big time! Ignore at your own peril.
2009 Chateau Larrivaux Haut Medoc

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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So there you have it, our Top Ten Wines of 2012! We’ve already begun tasting new wines in the new year, and we’re taking good notes, so we’ll have plenty of candidates for this list this time next year! Wishing you all the best in 2013!Anya Balistreri & Peter Zavialoff

More Great Bordeaux: 2009 Potensac

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 9:15 PM

Holiday Hours: The Wine House will be open Monday, December 31 from 10AM until 4PM. We will be closed New Year’s Day and reopen on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 resuming our normal M-F hours, 10AM until 6PM.


Greetings! We hope you all are having a healthy and happy holiday season. Talk about time flying?!? It seems like just the other day I was rattling off some resolutions for 2012. I think I did okay with them in 2012; it was a year ofdelightful surprise, hometown pride, a whole lot of live music, and of course, some great wine. When you spend the majority of the year with something tasty and interesting in your glass, it’s tough to focus on just one wine. Case in point, last night I was lucky enough to have been poured the 2001 Viña Ardanza Rioja Reserva Especial, and in a word, it was sensational! But Anya told you all about that one already. For my last Sunday email of 2012, I’m going back to the (like shooting fish in a barrel) well, 2009 Bordeaux.


It’s a subject that I have written about often, but hey, with so many great wines, I believe that you cannot have enough 2009 Bordeaux in your cellar!Back in April 2010, I remember tasting the baby wines out of barrel, and I was blown away! Then began the waiting game. I tried to tell everyone that would listen that we all need to load up on 2009 no matter what. Well, I can understand the apprehension. Back in the day, I wouldn’t buy a case of wine without tasting a bottle first. Logical. So I felt like I was sitting on a big secret, only I was blabbing about it. But it was a different kind of secret, words are words, and wine tasting is wine tasting. One thing that I noticed early on was that the wines of the northern Médoc struck my particular fancy in 2009. Sure, Calon Segur, Montrose, and Cos d’Estournel, but also, Tour de By, Clauzet, Larrivaux, and Potensac. The 2009 versions of some of these smaller chateaux are head-turning values! Of the last 4 wines I mentioned, the only one I haven’t written up is the Potensac. Having tasted it out of barrel and out of bottle, I’m shocked I haven’t.


Administered by the Delon family of Léoville Las Cases fame, Château Potensac lies between St Yzans and St Germain d’Esteuil in the northern Médoc. It was at Léoville Las Cases where I tasted the 2009 Potensac out of barrel. My synopsis? I’m going to read my notes verbatim here: “Pure racy cassis fruit w licorice, wood spice wei (well integrated), forest floor / dark full body, intensely concentrated, focused and made to be laid down a little while / savory robe, velvety tannins, acid survives finish, wow.” Also in the left margin is that squiggly line which means “a standout”.Usually, my notes are somewhat cryptic, as the way they’re written is meaningful, but in this case, you can pretty much determine what I thought. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. There was a wine potluck at the home of my landlord, everyone was to bring a bottle. I brought a 2009 Potensac. I decanted it for 90 minutes, poured it back in the bottle and headed on up. What a showing! The aromatics were explosively expressive: Pencil shavings, brambly purple fruit, forest floor, and a hint of spice gave way to a concentrated, yet elegant mouthfeel. The wine was fresh and lively, the acidity propping up the fruit, earth, and spice. The finish was long and in perfect balance, the tannins had slightly more grip than I remember out of barrel suggesting a long happy life for the wine.Someday I’ll wake up and regret not buying more 2009 Bordeaux, and there won’t be any more on the market. That day will come, sadly, but as for today, I’m still socking away 2009’s for the cellar. The Potensac included. For the price, I just had to pick up a 6 pack.

Okay, 2013 here we come! I’m excited. The live music will continue, both as performer and spectator. Next gig is January 20. Champions’ League football is out for now, but how sweet it was! What I’m looking forward to most are thenew wines that are waiting to be tasted in the New Year. Onwards and upwards! Happy 2013 everyone!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 Bordeaux, English Football, or live music: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

The Right Answer & Ernesto Picollo 2011 Gavi di Gavi

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 7:23 PM

Greetings all. It’s been another banner week here at TWH! There was much excitement here Thursday morning/afternoon as our staff nervously huddled around an AM radio listening to those tortuous Giants hold off a myriad of base runners and a hungry Reds team pent on breaking San Francisco’s hearts. We also were incredibly happy and proud to be mentioned in Decanter.com’s recent article announcing the launch of Opalie de Château Coutet, and of our current US exclusivity! Speaking of Decanter magazine, they regularly have a feature called “Confessions of a sommelier”. It is always a fun read, and this October’s feature with Robert Smith MS of Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas included a question we hear often, “What’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk and why?”It was Mr. Smith’s answer that had our staff abuzz in thought, praise, and delight.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in a write-up that we, the staff of TWH, are like a little family. We love to share our experiences with food and wine, and we love to laugh. We don’t necessarily laugh at everything; when something profound makes its way past the humor filter, we can be awestruck. Like we were when we read Robert Smith’s answer to that question. You see, we (obviously) all love wine. Which wine you ask? Many wines is the answer to that question. Sure, we all have our favorite regions and vineyards, but if you take a survey, you’ll find our favorites are quite catholic. Chris recently divulged that if it all came down to one bottle, it would be Red Burgundy for him. Tom’spreference lies in Burgundy as well, but in the Chardonnay vineyards of Meursault. There is enough evidence pointing to my appreciation of Bordeaux, though it is Sauternes that I choose to drink each year on my birthday. For this exercise, I asked Anya what her preference would be, and though I know she loves White Burgundy, Champagne, and Zinfandel, she brought the conversation back to Robert Smith’s answer to that question. Touché!


 We all like different things. As I’ve said many times before, the beauty of the world is that we all have different taste. If we didn’t, the good stuff would have been gone years ago. Also, that we alone are the experts as to what we, ourselves, like. Tom and I were discussing this concept today.Even if we may not fancy a particular wine, it is important to recognize the wine’s merits.One doesn’t need a Dujac Clos St. Denis, Château Haut Brion, or Vega Sicilia Unico to enjoy a special moment. Oops. I almost gave away the punch line. Take the 2011 Petite Cassagne Rosé, it is EVERYTHING I love about Rosé. No fancy price, but a stunning wine meant to be paired with happiness. No kidding, I’ve gone through 2 cases, one bottle at a time. Then there’s the Château Larrivaux that I wrote about two weeks ago. What joy! Something that I discovered two and a half years ago is finally here, and is it resonating with customers AND staff alike!?! (More on that later). 

So which wine am I going to recommend this weekend? What’s the best white wine value in the shop right now? Hands down. No brainer. It’s the 2011 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto from Ernesto Picollo. We’re now working with our 5th vintage of wines from Gavi producer Ernesto Picollo, and his 2011’s may be the best of the bunch. At least this year’s Rovereto has me smitten! Complex aromas of white peach, stones, and lemon blossom head the zingy palate of refined, zesty fruit and mineral; leading to a crisp, lipsmacking finish with all components firing. This is classy juice, and it’s an incredible deal! Hat’s off to direct importation! What to pair it with? All the usual suspects; but the moral of tonight’s email leads us back to Decanter magazine and “Confessions of a sommelier”

What’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk and why?” Here’s Robert Smith MS’s answer, “It’s not a wine, it’s a moment: like enjoying rosé on the beach in Tahiti or having empanadas and Malbec while on horseback in Argentina.” How true. How profound. How perfectly unpretentious. That pretty much sums it all up. The most perfect pairing for any wine is the right moment. Cheers to you, Robert Smith MS! Thank you for that.

So here at TWH, we’re sure to be huddled around the AM radio this week awaiting further Giants’ torture. We’ll all be tasting different wines this weekend, that will surely lead to some great conversation come Monday. Hopefully we’ll all have had some great moments to make those wines all the more special!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any thoughts about wine pairing moments or the frustration of international football breaks: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Roverto

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
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$13.59 per bottle by the case!!! Note: Website will not calculate discount. It will be applied when we process your order here in our shop. This is about as good a deal that exists for a pedigreed Italian white!



To conclude this weekend’s write-up, I asked Anya to express her thoughts after recently tasting the 2009 Château Larrivaux.Here is her kind reply:


“I could no longer resist the glowing reviews, my colleagues’ endorsements, nor the enthusiastic customer feedback for2009 Larrivaux, so I bought a bottle last Saturday night and promptly opened it when I got home. Why resist you wonder? Well, I am not a big fan of young Bordeaux. I buy Bordeaux, yes, but I can be patient when in comes to cellaring wine, so I prefer to wait a few years before imbibing. Young Bordeaux can be astringent and disjointed to me or just all fruit and wood with no nuance. Then came along 2009 Larrivaux. Wow, what a nose! With no audience within earshot, I nevertheless exclaimed aloud “that nose, that beautiful nose!” just like Santa in the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie. It was several minutes before I even took a sip as I relished the pencil shaving aromas and deep black cassis notes that wafted way out of the glass. I wasn’t expecting to like this wine as much as I did even though everything pointed to the contrary. I immediately got very concerned (because now she wants to buy them-PZ) as I now knew firsthand what Pete has been writing about since tasting the ’09s out of barrel. I am a believer. What impressed me about the ’09 Larrivaux, along with the classical aromatic notes, was the seamless integration of fruit, wood and acidity. The wine has lift and elegance without a hint of astringency.I can see myself drinking this wine over and over and never tiring of it. 

So there you have it. A great wine. A great price. Waiting for a great moment.

2009 Chateau Larrivaux Haut Medoc

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc

Monday, October 1, 2012 6:28 PM


Here at TWH, this has been quite the eventful week! I just got word that our next container from France is almost full and will be on the water shortly. On it will be some goodies from the Loire Valley and Burgundy as well as more 2009 Bordeaux. 2009 Bordeaux. Pinch me, I’m dreaming. They’re that good. As I’ve said recently, you don’t need a second mortgage to fill your cellar with high-quality 2009 Bordeaux. I’ve been excitedly writing about this subject ever since April 2010 when I returned from the En Primeur tastings. We sold healthy quantities of some of my recommendations as futures, and I’m grateful for those of you who participated in that. Things are different now. Today, as I write about yet another fabulous, budget-friendly 2009 Bordeaux, just know that the wine is here, ready to be tasted. Many customers have been picking up their 2009’s, and guess what? They’re loving it! No doubt they will be great in 15-20 years, but what’s simply amazing is that they’re already showing brilliantly. And this week, several customers have entered TWH elated at the quality of the 2009’s they’ve bought here, like longtime customer Ken, who was radiating about one that I recommended.


One of the reasons why it’s great to have an independent family-style wine shop staffed with folks who love wine at your beckon call is that we pay attention to what you buy, what you like, and just as important, what you don’t like. Many years ago, Ken and I had a conversation about modern styled wines versus old-school ones. He mentioned that he preferred the latter, and when he said that, I knew I had something for him! I told him that we just so happened to have an atavistic Bordeaux from the celebrated 2000 vintage. He tried a bottle. Then another. Then another. Eventually it sold out. Ken came in this past week, and when I saw him, I rose from my desk and put a bottle of 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc in his hands. He bought several other wines that day, but when he and his better half came in today, she exclaimed, “He’s so excited about this wine that he brought in the cork!” What was it? The 2009 Château Larrivaux, of course. He was so happily excited that he went back and emptied the bin. Using terms like “lean”, “mannered”, and “very adult”, he then went on about its “cheap price.” It’s always such a good feeling when we’re able to find something affordable that resonates so well with a customer that they can’t contain themselves when they come back to the shop! He went on to say, “Once upon a time, you found an atavistic Bordeaux, and I loved it. I bought bottle after bottle, and then it sold out and we cried. You kept prospecting, kept on tasting, and low and behold, you’ve found another winner; thank you!” No. Thank you, Ken.



A little research yields some interesting tidbits. First off, the château is run by Berangère Tesseron, the wife of Basile Tesseron of 4th Growth Château Lafon Rochet in nearby St. Estephe. Basile is the nephew of Pauillac high flyer Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet Canet fame. Larrivaux has been in existence since the late 16th century, and has been run by the women of the family throughout the generations. The wine has a particular degree of finesse and elegance, which could lead some to call it feminine, which just makes sense, considering the château’s history. Though Ken argued this point with me, saying that Red Bordeaux is masculine by rule. Either way, it is a fantastic wine from a legendary vintage for a very fair price that will bring pleasure to all who taste it for years to come. I highly recommend that all you budget-friendly Bordeaux lovers jump on this opportunity to taste this delectable wine.


So yes, I get more and more excited every time I hear about any customer’s experience with any of our 2009 Bordeaux, and it has begun to happen with regularity! The Blues won a huge match this afternoon and last week’s Wilco shows were sensational! Good times! Even better, there’s budget-friendly 2009 Bordeaux here at TWH. Come and git it! – Peter Zavialoff

Neal Martin’s notes: “A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot, this has a fine crisp dark brambly nose: good definition with hints of black olive tapenade and a touch of smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a lovely, slightly “digestif” entry, good acidity, very well balanced with and fine, quite racy finish. Very fine. Tasted March 2010. (89-91 points)”

Above photo of Berangère and Basile Tesseron from efwines.com

A Great Budget Friendly 2009 Bordeaux: Château Clauzet

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 8:43 PM

One of the best things about being direct importers is that we taste the wines and wedecide which wines are up to snuff to bring over for our customers. Direct importation also means there’s no middle man with his feet up on a desk carving out a chunk of change that gets passed along to the consumer. When we’re out on the road, we’re not just tasting the tried and true, we’re always looking for new producers and new wines, sometimes from lesser known locales. We’ve been on a bit of a roll this year, a recently discovered Red Burgundy turned some heads and sold out quicker than you can blink. The same thing happened 2 weeks earlier with a White Burgundy. Gone. Gone in a week gone. We’re going to do it again here; this time with Bordeaux. If you love Red Bordeaux that won’t break the bank, you’re going to love this one.
One afternoon in April 2010, in this very room, more than 80 barrel samples from Bordeaux’s 2009 vintage were tasted. As we all know, the vintage is and will be the stuff of legend. Of course with a vintage like 2009, no one needs a Bordeaux scout to tell them that Leoville Las Cases, Margaux, and Montrose were excellent. Mind you, it was great education to taste barrel samples from Bordeaux’s prized chateaux, but it was important to pay very close attention to the smaller producers; to find wines that were budget-friendly. Budget-friendly and GREAT, that is. There were several winners that came out of this room that day. I wrote about one of them shortly after returning from France. The futures sold out shortly thereafter. Well, budget-friendly winner #2 just landed here in our warehouse, and we strongly urge you to check it out.



Tasting numerous barrel samples one after the other istough work, no matter what anyone says. Their similarities run into each other, and if one is not concentrating, the exercise is lost. When I tasted the sample for the 2009 Château Clauzet, I was greatly impressed. Calling it “easy to like” in my tasting notes, I admired its structure and balance. It is medium bodied; elegant as a princess. There is plenty of dark red fruit, smoky incense, and spice to charm the taster, but the trump card of a St. Estephe from a great vintage is its underlying mineral presence; and this one has it. The beautiful thing is that the 2009 Château Clauzet tastes like St. Estephe and the price for a case is lower than the price for one bottle of 2009 Cos d’Estournel.


A little about the Château: Belgian Baron Maurice Velge first dipped his toe in the St. Estephe water in 1997, purchasing 2-3 hectares of vineyards from Château de Côme. A short while later, he purchased Château Clauzet and its 5-6 hectares. The château sits in the village of Leyssac, just west of the road that connects the famous Cos d’Estournel with Château Montrose and others. After several other transactions, Clauzet’s vineyard plots total over 20 hectares. These plots are located between Montrose, Haut Marbuzet, Meyney, and Cos d’Estournel … some prime real estate.Baron Velge wasted no time hiring José Bueno, cellarmaster at Clerc Milon and d’Armailhac and 23 year employee of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, making him technical director of Château Clauzet. Respecting the individual terroirs is the name of the game now at Clauzet. Careful attention is paid to each plot throughout the year, and the fruit selection is strict. The result is a quality Claret that will put a smile on your face and will keep cash in your wallet. The 2009 Château Clauzet will certainly do that!Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

For more info on Château Clauzet, click here.

2009 Chateau Clauzet Saint Estephe

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin tasted it out of barrel and had this to say, “Tasted at Vintex. The Clauzet has a rather floral, almost Margaux-like bouquet with good definition, smoky, earthy aromas developing with further aeration. The palate is full-bodied with dense, chewy tannins, a masculine Saint Estephe with good weight, but showing good definition and focus towards the finish that should unwind nicely throughout its elevage. Tasted March 2010. (88-90 points)”


After tasting it out of bottle, he remarked, “Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The Clauzet 2009 has a very classic, cedar and sous-bois tinged bouquet with good depth of fruit. The palate is harmonious and well-defined with light, tensile tannins and very refined, elegant finish. Bon vin! Tasted September 2011. (90 points)”

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