Open Today: Noon - 4:00PM!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:23 PM

Celebrating The Season
SF City Hall Lit Up With Green And Red

We're open on a Sunday!

It doesn't happen often, as we are usually closed on Sundays, but we are open today, December 24 from Noon - 4:00pm.  If you're looking to get away from the full parking lots, crowded shops, and overall madness of the season, stop on by and say hello!  We will make it worth your while, as David is marking down a bunch of wines to be sold as in-store specials just for today.  

Last minute wine craving, or in need of one more gift?  We'll be here for you.

Back in Stock!

The 2010 Château de Malleret took us all by storm a couple of years ago, as it was a happy discovery while tasting samples in Bordeaux in 2014.  We bought a bunch, drank some, sold some, cellared a few, and eventually they were all gone.  It happens; nothing to get down about, we just go back to the source and try to find something comparable.  Usually, when something this good which sells for such a low price sells out, it's out for good.  Surprisingly, back in June, while looking through a supplier's price list, I saw it.  I proclaimed, "You'll never believe this, but so-and-so are showing the 2010 Malleret back in stock."  Less than 5 minutes later, the email was sent:  "WE'LL TAKE IT ALL."

And now it's back in stock!  It won't be around very long, if history is any example, as so many of you have purchased and enjoyed this lovely Haut-Médoc wine from the legendary 2010 vintage.  Maybe today is a good day to head on over to TWH and pick up a bottle or two?

-Peter Zavialoff
2010 Chateau Malleret Bottle
Buy Now - $19.98
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2016 Chateau Armurey Bordeaux Clairet

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 11:19 AM

MYTH: Bordeaux wines are too expensive. First off, “too expensive” is subjective. Secondly, due to high global demand, the most famous Bordeaux wines can be very expensive. These are the wines that grab the headlines. These are the wines around which this myth was born. It has been reported that less than 5% of all Bordeaux wine sells for more than 15€! Let that soak in for a moment. That means that more than 95% of all Bordeaux wine sells for less than 15€ per bottle. So even when we grumble about Château Beau-Coup de l’Argent raising their price by 20% each year over the past three vintages, we still know an overwhelming majority of producers do not engage in such practices. The subject of this week’s Saturday night email is a big favorite of ours. I don’t want to bore anyone here, because it does fall into the 95% category. It is actually a rather unusual wine, as a quick look at WineSearcher Pro Version reveals only two other merchants in the US are listing a 2016 vintage of this type of wine. And after having not purchased any of the 2015 vintage of this wine, we are thrilled to welcome back to our bins, the 2016 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet!



Though seemingly not as obscure as it once may have been, one still must search hard to find a Bordeaux Clairet (say clare-AY), especially here in the states. A reminder: Bordeaux Clairet is a light red wine, darker than a Rosé and lighter than your typical red table wine. It is made in roughly the same way a Rosé may be made, only the juice stays with the skins longer which produces more pronounced flavors and aromas, as well as its happy-go-lucky color. It is made much like the wines which were shipped from Bordeaux to England in the middle ages. These Bordeaux Clairets were enjoyed by the English from the time of Eleanor of Acquitaine’s marriage to the eventual King Henry II in 1154. These wines were the inspiration of the English word Claret (say clare-ETT), still in use today, to describe the much darker red wines from Bordeaux. Bordeaux Clairet is the perfect red wine for summer. Don’t want to drink white wine with your backyard ‘cued burgers and dogs? Don’t fret; a chilled glass of 2016 Château Armurey Clairet will do the trick. Pizza and red sauced pasta? Sure a fine spaghetti red always works, but in the heat of summer? Bordeaux Clairet is the answer. Earning nicknames like, “Fruit Punch for adults, Oh Yeah!, and the anti-wine-geek wine,” we’ve enjoyed this wine going back to the 2012 vintage.

Our quest for Bordeaux Clairet began with a question from a former colleague, which set in motion our tracking down the 2012 vintage. It proved to be a big favorite, not only for our customers, but for each and every one of us.The 2013 came and went. Quickly. The 2014 came with its own humorous story and was enjoyed by all, but when it came time for the 2015, we hit a logistical snag and had to pass on it rather than receive it in late September of last year. Sorry about that. Learning from our mistake, we were sure to buy the 2016 as soon as it was released, and it arrived just as spring was packing its bags and moving on. Anya, Chris, and I have all taken bottles home to enjoy, and we are in agreement that it is the perfect wine for these summer days. Sip it on its own, or pair it with comfort food, the 2016 Armurey Clairet will put a smile on your face and save you some cash to boot!


FACT: Most Bordeaux wine is inexpensive. One fact that often goes unmentioned is that in many cases, estates in Bordeaux are passed down in families for generations, taking real estate costs off the table. The majority of Bordeaux producers are farming families living off the land, producing wine for their own consumption, and allowing the excess to be sold in the marketplace. We’re just happy that we came across the Armurey Clairet a few years ago, as it has become a symbol of summertime for many of you and all of us. Wishing you all good health and fortune for the summer of ’17. – Peter Zavialoff


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March 27, 2016. It’s that time of year again! The folks in Bordeaux are bracing themselves for the upcomingonslaught of wine professionals who will be attending theEn Primeur tastings which officially commence on Monday, April 4. Several well known wine people are already there tasting the wines, and I will follow suit next week. As always, my schedule is pretty full of appointments and chateau visits during the crazy week, but for the days before and afterwards, the pace is a bit more laid back. One day next week, I’m going to (hopefully – if it’s not raining) walk down to Gare Saint-Jean, cross under the tracks, hear the SNCF jingle, pick up a rental car, and drive out to Sainte Foy la Grande. 10 minutes north of Sainte Foy is where Daniel Hecquet tends to his vines at Château Puy-Servain. 10 minutes south?Bénédicte and Christophe Piat and their Château Couronneau.

 

 
 

We’re well into our second decade of importing the Piats’ wines, and since Christophe’s commitment to, first organic farming, and now Demeter certified Biodynamism, we’ve noticed an annual uptick in the quality of their wines. Currently in stock is the 2012 Couronneau Cuvée Pierre de Cartier. You may remember the 2010 version of this wine which earned the nickname, “The Monster.” If the 2010 was “The Monster,” the 2012 must be “The Starlet.” It is all elegance and grace. Again, the Cuvée Pierre de Cartier is100% Merlot sourced from Couronneau’s oldest vineswhich grow in clay upon limestone soils. The wine is deftly aged in oak barrel, some of it new, though isn’t “lost in the woods” when tasting it. The aromas are seductive with dark red and plump purple fruit, hints of clove, violets, and earth. Bracing myself for the attack of the monster from memory, I was calmed by the adult-like, expressive, and seamless palate. The finish is spot-on classy, leaving me with the conclusion that this wine is in a very good place right now, and I have the feeling it will drink very well for a decade or more. It’s elegantenough to broaden one’s pairing ideas away from the typical rack of lamb or rib-eye steak (though those are still applicable) to simpler fare such as a duck breast or simple pasta with red sauce. Having just tasted it minutes ago, I am thinking that it would be a great by-the-glass wine at my local brasserie.

 
Well, it looks like rainy days will welcome me to Bordeaux this year. I just hope that I can get from the bus to the hotel without getting completely soaked. The 2015 vintage for red Bordeaux is getting some very favorable press,as many are citing the “perfect conditions” of the growing season. I will begin my stay with severalnegociant visits tasting already bottled wines that are available in the Bordeaux marketplace. I will start tasting 2015 barrel samples next Sunday, and it will bemostly 2015s over the following 5 days. The rain is expected to clear up by next Friday, which should make my drive to Couronneau a pleasant one. I will make a point of telling Bénédicte and Christophe how much I enjoyed their 2012 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier! – Peter Zavialoff

 

 
 

If there are any particular samples that any of you may be interested in hearing about, please drop me a note and I will do my best to taste them and send along my impressions: peter@wineSF.com

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Another 2010 Standout – 2010 Chateau Larrivaux

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 1:04 AM


 

As we continue to reveal the contents of our last French container, let us tell you about yet another stupendous value-driven wine from Bordeaux! TWH regulars need no introduction to this château, as we backed up the truck not one, not two, but three times with their 2009 wine. It was that good! As a customer once said to us, “It sold out and we cried.” Well crying time is over; now in stock for theunbelievably low price of $16.98 is the 2010 Château Larrivaux!

 
Again, Château Larrivaux is run by Bérangère Tesseron, the wife of Basile Tesseron of 4th Growth Château Lafon Rochet in nearby St. Estephe. 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 makes sense considering its history. With a powerful vintage like 2010, an elegant styled wine like this is astandout.
 
We had high expectations when we tasted the 2010 Larrivaux … and you all know what that can lead to. (High expectations → disappointment) Not this time. This would be the opposite. Aromatically, it shows a solid core of dark cherries and berries within an earthy and spicy framework. The palate is elegant for a 2010 Left Bank wine, with a surprising complexity factor. It is not a typical young 2010, as it is interesting and enjoyable now, though it has the structure to reveal even more complexity over time, say 4-10 years.
 

 

 

Here’s what Neal Martin and Robert Parker had to say about it:
 

 

“There is good intensity on the nose with creme de cassis, plum and violets, quite opulent in style. The palate is medium-bodied with good tension, pure blackberry and plum fruits with a linear but focused finish. Very fine.” – Neal Martin
 

 

 

“Another sleeper of the vintage, this elegant 2010 offers up notes of cedar, loamy soil, black currants and black cherries. Medium-bodied and complex already with supple tannins as well as a nicely layered mouthfeel and finish, it should be consumed over the next decade.” – Robert Parker
 

 

 

Speaking of Bordeaux, there are still a few open spots (8) at the table of our upcoming Bordeaux dinner at Piperade restaurant on Thursday, January 29 at 7pm with Second Growth Château Brane Cantenac. 5 courses, 5 wines. The price? $100 which includes dinner, wine, tax, and gratuity. For a Bordeaux dinner, this is about as inexpensive as it gets! If you are interested, please contact me for more information. It promises to be a fun, educational, and delicious evening! – Peter Zavialoff
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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.
 
negociantroom
 

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

 

malleretnote2


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
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