Trassegum, Occitan for "Love Potion."

Saturday, November 3, 2018 4:19 PM

Trassegum, Occitan for
Diane & Husband, Mathieu Outside TWH

Talk about an exciting week,

Halloween was a hoot and so was the next day. You know what November 1st is?  It's our Anniversary. This past Thursday TWH celebrated our 41st Anniversary! It's a long time to be in business and we have all of you to thank for it. As a way of saying thanks, we are currently putting the finishing touches on an Anniversary Sale to be unveiled shortly!  Stay tuned.

While sitting at my workstation putting the finishing touches on the November Dirty Dozen write-up, I heard Anya answer the phone. She put the party on hold, called David's attention, and told him, "Diane's on the line."  It was the way she said it.  Not dye-ANNE, like we say here in the states, but "dee-AHN" was how she pronounced it. I knew immediately who it was on the line. David couldn't quite make out what Anya had said over the din in the shop, but he got it eventually and picked up the line. Made me think of how cool it is to work here. Diane Puymorin has been one of our most well-respected winemakers for decades, churning out great wines vintage after vintage. It's been a long standing fact that her Les Cimels Rouge has been my go-to house red for over 10 years, and I'm not alone in my adoration of this wine. I've put many a bottle into satisfied customers' hands over this time, and I just thought it was cool that we bridge the gap between her vineyard, all the way in southern France, to you all, our customers in the good ole USA.
You may have heard the story. In 1998, Diane purchased a property once known as Domaine de la Petite Cassagne and re-named it Château d'Or et de Gueules, Occitan for "Gold and Red," the colors of her family crest. My favorite facet of this story has to be the fact that some of her advisors strongly advised Diane to rip her Carignan vines out, as the variety had a reputation for over-producing, resulting in uninteresting wines. She scoffed at this advice, citing the vines' age at over 60 years at the time. She said that the complexity derived from such a gift in the vineyard would enable her to make great wine. I'm a big fan of pragmatism in the face of peer pressure. I am also grateful, because a tiny bit of that Carignan makes its way into that Les Cimels Rouge, and that is perhaps the reason I love it so much.
Diane uses the fruit from her Carignan vines, now over 80 years old, in another blend known as Trassegum, Occitan for "Love Potion." You may remember Trassegum from the past, but probably not from any recent vintages. That's because a local French restaurant had pretty much swept up the past 3 vintages for their by the glass program. But just like a good comfortable sweatshirt, things have to be changed out every now and then. So when the 2015 Trassegum arrived, we were delighted to know that it's back on our shelves, and that we, the staff are able to purchase the wine for our own enjoyment.

Video Of Chateau With Drone Footage
Currently in stock is the 2015 vintage of Trassegum.  The blend is 50% Syrah, 25% old vine Mourvèdre (80+ years old), and 25% old vine Carignan. Production is a stingy 25 hl/ha. The wine is full-bodied, focused, and concentrated. The fruit is savory in character, more in the way of black olives than plummy fruit and/or berry notes. It's the perfect red for the season and a great wine to pair with the hearty fare we tend to enjoy once the nights grow long and a chill hits the air. It has a distinct forest floor aromatic, which is a byproduct of the old vine Carignan, and a hint of black tea-like tannin on the finish, two particular components I enjoy in red wines. It's not exactly priced at the Tuesday night, happy-go-lucky level, but for the quality one finds in bottle of Trassegumthis is a great value!
Another rite of passage, changing our clocks back to Standard Time, takes place this evening. It's 2018, so there's no need to remind anybody to physically do so, except for maybe on your microwave or inside your car. And being November, as written above, look out for that 41st Anniversary Sale coming soon. With Halloween in our rear view mirror, the most festive time of year lies straight ahead. There will be many opportunities to get together with friends and loved ones to feast and share some delicious wine. In the red department, the 2015 Château d'Or et de Gueules Trassegum will take care of those palates craving fuller-bodied, complex blends, while simultaneously saving you at the register. Special occasion wines tend to cost much more than $25, but we won't tell if you don't! - Peter Zavialoff
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Grower Champagne - Lamiable

Sunday, December 9, 2007 4:14 PM


This is going to be short. For real. Between a container arrival, selling 2005 Burgundy, and the holiday season, there’s not much time these days. However, I love Champagne, this is one of my favorites, and since the others cost anywhere from $20 to $100 more a bottle, I’m going to take a moment to talk Lamiable. I wasn’t going to write it up because Anya loves it so much, and I didn’t want to swoop on her pet Champagne. I asked her, she said it’s okay, but only because I like the wine as much as she does. 

L
amiable is the sparkling darling of the Wine House staff, and one of the best NV Grand Cru, grower Champagnes around. They’re a boutique operation, no advertising or marketing here, but thanks to yours trulies (us – plural), they have a following with both restaurants and our retail customers. For Champagne under $50, this trumps most all big houses and small growers. I’ll make the bold statement that I would pick this over many of the $70 and $80 vintage Champagnes out there. In fact that’s what we do. This time of year, David tells the Wine House staff that we can take a bottle from our inventory. What do we pick? We walk right past the vintage wines, and grab the NV Lamiable. In all fairness to the vintage cuvees, the NV owes part of its deliciousness to the older wine that is blended into it. It has those mature, complexity notes that some of the vintage dated bottles will develop with more time in the bottle. That doesn’t change the fact we could choose more expensive wines, but we go for this. Anya’s petting a bottle right now.
  
So
 that’s that. Short and sweet. If you are in need of Champagne, tis the season after all, here’s what Anya and I drink. David took a bottle to his annual Champagne party. Peter drinks it. Chris and John too. Definitely the Wine House Pinot-based house (we are wine nerds after all) Champagne. I can’t speak for everyone, but each day I get to drink from a bottle of this is a good day. In the end, I think my strongest recommendation for a wine is when I drink it regularly. If Champagne is part of what makes our holiday special, then let’s drink special Champagne. – Ben Jordan

Tasting Notes
Aside from the obligatory notes of baked bread and mineral, I get a nice peppery flavor/texture from the Pinot Noir as well as a citrus/acacia infusion that sits on top of the wine. There are some secondary aromas and flavors that come from the older wine in the blend, and the finish is quite long with a sense of the terroir of Lamiable.

Not to rail against the big houses, but let’s do that a little. This wine has true flavor, which is important when you can spend $40 and not get a whole lot more than bubbles and acidity. I have no problem with mass production and ubiquity of brands, but shouldn’t the wine cost a lot less then? There are some great wines coming from the big names, but they tend to be expensive, and some of the relatively affordable (but still expensive) labels that you see everywhere a really kind of boring if you ask me. They back up tanker trucks of wine to these “wineries” for blending, much like you would do for a cheap bottle of California designated Chardonnay or a $2.99 Charlie whoever.

Then you have this wine. Something that gives you beauty of flavor, a reason to contemplate, and a sense that you are truly treating yourself. I know we don’t have our heads in our glasses as much this time of year, but I smile bigger when this crosses my palate, and I’ll bet your guests won’t set a glass of this down and forget where they put it.

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2005 Grenache/Mourvedre

Monday, December 3, 2007 3:55 PM

 I just realized that I haven’t written about Grenache since the 2004 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf. And I’ve never done an affordable Grenache based wine at all. This is interesting (semi-ridiculous) because the southern French, Rhone-Style wines are one of our specialties, and we work hard to offer great value in this category. I think maybe I’ve ignored them because I drink them so regularly, and I assume everyone already knows about them. Or maybe it’s because many of them are similar, and I needed one that stood out from the pack for it to warrant an email. Well this is that wine. I believe David fell in love with it first, but it wasn’t long before all of us were fawning over the bin that held the 2005 Les Palombieres. I’m not selling our other country French wines short, but this is special. I think it’s the Mourvedre, no I know it’s the Mourvedre. It gives the wine that extra detail layer and spice that makes it about more than soft, sumptuous fruit, though that is nice, too. For those of you who enjoy southern Rhone wine, those of you who love finding extra complexity in their everyday wine, and especially for those of you who fit into both these groups. $11.38 with the case discount makes this a serious contender for the best value Rhone style wine I’ve drunk this year.

My wife and I drank this with homemade burritos. Some of you are saying to yourselves, “There are three things wrong with that statement.” One: “Why does he keep writing about burritos in his emails. This is like the 3rd time. What’s wrong with him?” I don’t know. Two: “Who makes burritos at home in San Francisco?” It’s true there are plenty of good burritos to be had for cheaper than it costs to assemble all those ingredients, but there’s something to be said for the ritual of home-burrito-assemblage. Plus they started out as tacos, and my wife switched the wrappings at the last minute. Three: “Who drinks wine with burritos? Aren’t you supposed to drink beer?” No. You are not. We default to beer and think that beer is good until 20 minutes after we reach the end of the burrito. We talk of burrito comas, but I don’t mind a little drowsiness. I fear burrito bloat. San Francisco burritos are big, especially if there is rice involved, and the last thing you need it the expansive property of beer in the equation. Food/beverage matching extends beyond your nose and palate; you have to think about the pairing in the confines of your stomach. Wine is much kinder to your system, and can even protect against burrito bloat. Note: The Wine House does not endorse any claims that wine protects against burrito bloat. This advice is meant only for entertainment purposes, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of a real doctor. If burrito bloat persists, please stop eating burritos.


The Palombieres went well with the burrito. The fruitiness of the Grenache allowed the wine to hold its own against the heat, and the Mourvedre brought spice to the spice. My real point in bringing up burritos (and opening myself up for criticism as San Franciscans can be very out-spoken/opinionated re: their burrito habits) is to point out the wine is very versatile. I like to call it a mini-Châteauneuf du Pape though it is not from the Rhone Valley, and it’s definitely not as boozy/extracted as some examples produced from this famous appellation these days, so it’s actually friendly with a lot more food. This is one of those bottles that acts special for those occasions (oversized dinner/holiday parties) that need more than just “house” from your wine, and that is priced low so you can open more than one bottle. You can pour it all night long at this price. – Ben Jordan

 

I really like that soft, silky strawberry, cherry fruit that emerges from a good Grenache, and I’ve always found these wines function across a wide range of palates. I know Mourvedre is a very late to ripen, but I think this wine is a good argument for including it in as many Rhone blends as possible. It really adds depth to the wine bringing a dark, earthier flavor as well as structure and spice. It certainly makes the wine more serious and complex. The vines are around 30 years and older, and the maturity shows in the depth of flavor here. I recommend it as a wine to drink if you like high quality wine at a great price, but I’d also recommend it if you have an occasion where you know you have a diversity of tastes. There’s plenty of fruit for those folks that subsist on California and Aussie wines, and the earth and garrigue in the wine are classic details that will delight your Euro-phile guests. It’s a wine that everyone can enjoy, and that is important this time of year. Who wants to hear, “Do you have anything else that’s a little more … and a little less …?” It’s hard enough keeping glasses full without having to worry about putting all sorts of different wines on the table.

 
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2005 Mourvedre: La Bolida

Sunday, November 11, 2007 5:52 PM

First things first: She said yes!
 

 

Note: This wine is very limited and half of it is being stored at our LA warehouse. Please be patient as the SF stock will be first come, first served. The LA stock is effectively pre-arrival and expected to arrive in a refridgerated truck in two weeks.
 
You know what? I’m liking David Schildknecht’s palate lately. I may eat those words, or simply contradict myself later, but I’ve agreed with a number of the notes he’s given recently. Last week’s Belliviere and this week’s La Bolida. These are examples of cool, non-mainstream wines that happen to be very good, and he hasn’t been afraid to step out and stand behind them. This 90% Mourvedre (10 Syrah) has been in my queue for a while, and I had written much of this when he came out with his notes last week. After such a positive review, it’s now or never. I’ll say it right now, if you want it, get it now. We have very little, and soon we’ll have none. People have a knack of finding anything with 93 points from Parker’s Wine Advocate even if we say nothing. By the way my 6 bottles are safely behind my desk. Don’t even think about coming in while I’m on my honeymoon and asking our new guy (we have a new guy), “Whose are those? Can I buy those?” I will find you when I get back from France. We have a small number of magnums of the 2004, which is very good as well.
 
Until last week very few people knew about this wine. Our staff loves it, the restaurant NOPA in the neighborhood of Nopa loves it, and besides that we just hand sell it to a few folks looking for a particularly special bottle. I believe we were bringing as much of this into the country as any other state. Actually, we may be one of a few retailers in the country with the 2005 at this point. Now it has points, and it just might become an allocated wine in future vintages. It’s funny how these things happen.

We have been a strong supporter of this estate for a number of years now. John and David (David in particular) recognized the quality the first time they tasted with proprietor Diane Puymorin. More importantly they recognized the inspiration that she applies to her winemaking. These are not your everyday drinkers. These are serious, age-worthy wines, and La Bolida is her top wine made from 90% old vine Mourvedre. Diane’s wines are best compared to the those in Chateauneuf du Pape, Bandol, and the prestigious appellations in the northern Rhone. The biggest difference is the prices are wonderfully low relative to their famous counterparts.

Peter, Matt (you all remember Matt, right) and I had the 2004 La Bolida during an epic lunch (eight hours, seven courses) that included the 1990 Montrose, 2003 du Terte, a Chateauneuf du Pape, and a 1998 Gigondas. Guests talked about it as much as any of the other wines, and though the wine was youthful relative to the others, it was many of our ‘wine of the day’. As a side note, none of us were overly full or intoxicated at the end of lunch which is the exact opposite of most of my experiences when I go outto eat. It’s too bad we can’t spend 8 hours every time we have a special meal. Anyway, If you made me choose, I’d say the 2005 has the edge, but the 2004 is so strong, it is a great wine in its own right. I have six bottles and a magnum of that as well. Even though it’s only two vintages, it’s one of the verticals in my cellar I’m most excited about. It’s my Rhone version of Pontet Canet. I want to keep buying it, it used to be under the radar and so far has been very high quality for the price, but if the critics keep scoring it so high, I may not be able to get it anymore! Luckily it’s not experiencing the price inflation that PC is.

I wish I had written about this wine earlier when we had more to go around, but it is such a pet property that I think it’s worth it to offer to all of you who have been so supportive and who have the patience to read these offers which, no matter how hard I try, are always longer than I intend. Like last week, my notes and those from David S. for the 2005 are below. – Ben Jordan

Tasting Notes
Mourvedre, when handled correctly, yields one of the most compelling “dark” wines of the world. As would be expected, this wine is like night. If Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are light and sunny like a summer day, this is black and haunting. The flavors are intense yet they fleet through across your palate. There is a cloak that opens to violets, game, dark spice, and earth. The fruit is rich and black, ripe and assertive. The acidity of the 2005 gives energy to the aromatics, driving and changing your impressions. Though still in its youth the 2004 has settled into itself, and I expect both wines will need a few more years to really start to vibrate. They will both make their 10th birthdays easily.
 
“Diane de Puymorin purchased (and renamed) this property in 1998 and is generating wines of amazing richness and complexity for a relative pittance. The 2005 Costieres de Nimes La Bolida is an essence of Mourvedre (with 5-10% Syrah depending on the vintage) aged in barrel and (sadly) rendered in tiny quantities. With an intense nose of plum preserves, well-aged game, bay, bitter chocolate, black tea, and smoked meats, it saturates the palate with sweet dark fruits, pungent brown spices, and myriad manifestations of meat (that’s Mourvedre!). Marrow, smoky and bitter black tea and fruit pit inflections all cut the wines’ basic sweetness of fruit and torrefactive richness so that they never overwhelm the palate, and this satin-textured beauty finishes with real verve. 93 Points.” David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate #173
 
You may email me at ben.winehouse@sbcglobal.net, but I might not respond for a week or two cause I just got married!
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2005 Loire Valley: Domaine du Belliviere

Saturday, November 3, 2007 10:57 PM

2005 Domaine de Belliviere Coteaux du Loir Le Rouge-Gorge
Red Wine; other red varietal; Loire;

$24.98

  Add to Cart
2005 Domaine de Belliviere Jasnieres Rosiers
White Wine; Chenin Blanc; Loire;

$31.98

  Add to Cart

 

Sometimes I wonder if there are too many different wines these days, but I always manage to convince myself that’s just fool’s thoughts. But I still believe to truly know a wine is to drink it, not to taste it out of a barrel, not to spit it with a sales rep, not to attempt to understand it while tasting 200 other wines in the same afternoon. Some in this industry take pride in their ability to “speed taste,” to go the distance and taste more wines than everyone around them. Some are quick to point out they tasted a wine in its ultra youth (before malo, dude) and remember extrapolating its quality. These are great skills to have, and they are essential if you want to buy and sell wine, but to truly recommend a wine, to really get behind it (especially when it is an unknown producer/appellation), I prefer to drink it.

I like to have a full glass (or two), sit with it, let it open, have it with the meal and without, the most important step is to swallow it. To truly understand a wine, you have to let it intoxicate you. I’m not saying you have to be loaded, in fact I get paranoid when I say things like that, and I feel the need to swear I’m a moderate drinker, but part of truly enjoying a wine is to be halfway through a bottle, and to find something new. Not only is the wine evolving as you go, but you are too, your perception and your state of being is changing and therefore adding to your experience. This is where I always weed out the palate-fatiguing, extracto-bombs that shine at the swirl and spit tastings. And this is where the truly poised and subtle wines (like today’s offering below) truly strut their stuff.

The only problem is that there are so many new wines being created every day that to understand them in this way is not only cost prohibitive, but also bad for your health. As a wine merchant we want to know as much as possible, but we can’t stagger around drunk all day in the name of swallowing wine. At the Wine House, we address this by concentrating on French wine. We have our favorites in Germany, Austria, California, Oregon, and Italy, but our depth is in France. This helps, but I still have to pick my battles. I can’t send out an email on a wine I love everyday, because I don’t love every wine I drink. I would have to drink 5 to 10 bottles of wine a day to even come close to this. I’m a moderate drinker! I am. I am.

So, let’s inch a little closer to the Bellivière wines and ask: do you love wine? Not just as an alcoholic beverage, but as an endeavor? Do you mentally and philosophically participate in its consumption? Do you think about it (in a moderate way) when you’re not drinking it? Do you look forward to drinking a wine that you bought last week/last year/last decade and the hardest part is finding the right person to share it with? Do you find the number of styles and types of wine both exhilarating and exasperating? Exhilarating because it is another new, exciting road to travel down. Exasperating because you want to travel down all roads at once, and you’ve tried that before, it’s a bad idea (see above). If you love wine for its diversity, these Bellivières are wines you need to try. They are at once a study in the obscure and the cutting edge (of wine selection, not production), and they are as interesting and thought provoking as any wine you will drink this year.

First the Rouge Gorge. There’s the appellation: Coteaux du Loir. No, I did not leave the ‘e’ off the end of the word. The Loir is a tributary of the Loire river, and I’ll wager you won’t find any wine of this appellation at BevMo or Costco … though I guess you never know. Domaine de Bellivière is one of a handful of growers in the world producing varietal Pineau d’Aunis, and this rendition is singular. The 2005 is a tour du force, a wine of power and intensity that delivers a whole new spectrum of flavors. This can pull you out of any wine rut, no matter how deep. It will also age very well.

The Rosiers is similarly intriguing, though Chenin Blanc is a slightly more “mainstream” variety. Jasnieres was almost lost as an appellation due to a severe frost 50 years ago. Luckily for us wine geeks, a few intrepid producers kept the torch lit. Though the proprietors Eric and Christine Nicholas consider this their sec, and it usually is completely dry, this year there is a touch of sweetness due to the extraordinary ripeness of the grapes. Sometimes it makes sense to leave a little sweetness in the wine rather than take the alcohol up to an unbalanced point. Besides, it won’t be the first Chenin Blanc with residual sugar.

We don’t have enough time in our life to taste every wine from every corner of world, and I don’t try. But I do try to find quality in lesser known places, because most times that means value. These wines definitely qualify for that description, and if you have an adventuresome wine bone in your body, these would be perfect replacements for your traditional dinner wine. ITIOFD, we do not have the lowest price in the country as the importer is based on the East Coast, but I did the best I could, and our margin is very slim. On a final note, David Schlidknecht of the Wine Advocate shocked the Loire Lovers when he “outed” Belliviere in issue 172. I’ve included his thoughts in the tasting notes section. – Ben Jordan

2005 Domaine de Belliviere Coteaux du Loir Le Rouge-Gorge
Red Wine; other red varietal; Loire;

$24.98

  Add to Cart
2005 Domaine de Belliviere Jasnieres Rosiers
White Wine; Chenin Blanc; Loire;

$31.98

  Add to Cart

 

Tasting Notes Two Ways
Rouge Gorge
I drank the 2004 version of this and found it intriguing in its peppery, fresh garden earthiness, but the 2005 (as you would expect) is in another category altogether. The power and extract are impressive, the fruit is long and deep, and I can see this wine aging alongside many mid-level Bordeaux and Burgundy from the same vintage. The spice and earth here are not like any spice and earth you have ever had. In fact the words are misleading. Let’s call the flavors ‘sparth’ and ‘eice’, and from now on when we drink this wine those will be the descriptors we use. I’m serious. You haven’t had wine like this.

“Belliviere’s dry red 2005 Coteaux du Loir Le Rouge Gorge offers aromas of sour cherry, almond, and fennel. Bright and juicy yet also dense and creamy on the palate, with rich black cherry fruit and an invigoratingly tart fruit skin edge and chalky undertone, this practically explodes with concentrated bitter black cherry, plum, and herbal elixirs in a finish also marked by a continued counterpoint of creaminess with subtle chalk and fruit skin astringency. The 2004 rendition turns out to have more refinement and complexity – but give this another year or two in the bottle. 90 Points.” – David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate #172.

2005 Domaine de Belliviere Coteaux du Loir Le Rouge-Gorge
Red Wine; other red varietal; Loire;

$24.98

  Add to Cart

 

Les Rosiers
Like I mentioned there is a touch of sweetness and it is entirely pleasing. This is a perfect way to start a wine dinner by itself or with whatever appe-teaser you’re pushing. It is my opinion that its real place is with the cheese. The fruit character, the bit of sugar, and its quintessential Loire-ness, will be versatile across most of your cheese plate. Blues and stinkies may overwhelm, but most everything else is golden. Mr. S. below praises the combo of clarity and richness and I have to agree. There’s a lot to pay attention to here, and like the Rouge Gorge it is thoroughly individual.“The driest wine of an extremely ripe, relatively precocious harvest that required gentle, whole-cluster pressing is Belliviere’s 2005 Jasnieres les Rosiers. Sultry and peachy in the nose, this Chenin displays creamy texture and luscious fullness yet refinement and clarity on the palate, orange zest, fruit pit bitterness, herbs, and chalk dust accenting a peach and apricot fruit concentrate. A delicate hint of sweetness (although in point of analytical fact, the residual sugar here is a full fifteen grams) helps extend the finish and integrate the wine’s hint of bitterness. The overall effect is gorgeous, although the wine’s sheer richness will demand that it be paired cautiously at table. I suspect that one should not begin to worry about holding it for at least another 5-7 years, but I don’t pick it to be a long keeper by Loire Chenin standards. 90 Points.” – David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate #172.

2005 Domaine de Belliviere Jasnieres Rosiers
White Wine; Chenin Blanc; Loire;

$31.98

  Add to Cart
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