Galician Albarino from Granbazan

Monday, June 27, 2016 7:33 PM


 
Granbázan Albariño Etiqueta Ámbar
 
Blank is the new blank, i.e. gochujang is the new sriracha, or poke is the new ceviche. You get the idea. Statements like these are everywhere, especially where wine is concerned. Allow me to give it a go – Albariño is the new … Sancerre. Albariño is a fresh, mineral-driven white wine full of attack just like Sancerre. And “Albariño” is fun to say just like “Sancerre”. But these types of statements can only go so far, so let’s dispense with the nonsense!Albariño is the name of a grape variety. In its native Spain (though Portugal can claim it as its own too), the grape is grown along the north Atlantic edge in the province of Galicia. In the early ’80s the appellation was named Albariño but was changed to Rias Baixas when Spain entered the EU (EU wine laws did not recognize DOs named after grape varieties). Almost all wine from Rias Baixas is white and of that most is made from Albariño.
 
 
A leader in advancing quality to the region, Granbazán was established in 1980 and today is spearheaded by the founder’s nephew, Jesús Álvarez Otero. The winery sits within the sub-zone of Val do Salnés, which is considered by many to be the best area for growing mineral-driven Albariño. The soils are mostly granitic. It is the wettest and coolest climate of any Rias Baixas subzone with an average annual temperature of only 55ºF. The gently sloping vineyards are susceptible to the maritime influence of the Atlantic, so the tradition is to grow grapes on pergolas. The pergolas can be as high as 7 feet and when the grapes ripen they are harvested by folks who stand on wine bins to reach the fruit. The visual effect of people walking beneath the green canopy of the grapes is extraordinarily beautiful, but it serves a purpose for the grapes. As the grapes grow high above the ground, air flows beneath preventing mildew and promoting even ripening. It amuses me to no end to see how inventive we can be when it comes to viticulture – wine will be made!
 
 
Granbazán makes a few types of Albariño. The Etiqueta Ámbar, my favorite, comes from their oldest vines which are 30+ years old. Only the free-run juice is used. The wine ages on the lees for about six months, giving the wine an exotic roundness and attractive softness to the finish. The intensity of the fruit flavors remind me of how free-run juice sets apart Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Fiore from their other Vernaccias. The combination of the free-run juice and lees aging, while it doesn’t take away from the inherent minerality of Albariño, does enhance the overall texture of the wine.
 
 
Its been two weeks since school let out and somehow my family is feeling more tired than ever. My husband, a physical education teacher, runs a summer sports camp for kids. My daughter goes to camp with him and is one of his “counselors in training”. It’s a lot of work for my husband and a lot of fun for my daughter. They both come home exhausted. We’re due for a quick jaunt up north to the family dacha. That bottle of 2014 Granbazán Etiqueta Ámbar chilling in my fridge should come along too. After a day of swimming and sunning, some grilled shrimp and Albariño should cap off the day perfectly. Gotta make it happen! – Anya Balistreri
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Matchmaker Matchmaker Find Me a Wine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:38 PM

If there’s one thing that never gets old, it’s when the stars align and make good things happen.  Case in point, my return to TWH (and thus, blogging) has fallen over that holiday which is so near and dear to thine heart, Valentine’s Day.  Coincidence?  I don’t believe in coincidences…. But I do believe in cheesy holidays that capitalize on human emotions, and apparently, I like writing about them too because the last time I wrote anything about wine (publicly anyways) was last year around this time.  I must preface this post, however, by saying that while this is indeed a post inspired by Valentine’s Day and love and all that good stuff, it is NOT one of those posts where I tell you what to drink with your lover on V-day.  If it were, I would be extremely tardy and my words would fall into a black hole of post-holiday obsolescence.  Instead, I have decided to combine my love for wine with one of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If you haven’t seen the show, a purportedly “great catch” is given a pool of 30 or so eligible persons of the opposite sex from which to find the one with whom he/she will fall in love and spend the rest of his/her life.  Needless to say, it’s everything you’d think a Hollywood matchmaking television show would be, but hey, love works in strange ways, who am I to judge?  That said, I asked Pete (who would like it to be known that he has never seen the show) to choose six noteworthy wine suitors for me- 3 reds & 3 whites– and subsequently took each one of them out on a date in hopes of falling in love.  Am I going to kiss and tell?  You betchya!

Date 1: 2009 Picollo Ernesto GaviI really wanted the Gavi to be my first date.  Certainly, I’d heard good things about all of the wines in the bunch from everyone at TWH, but the Gavi seemed to be extremely high up on the list of “go-to” wines being recommended to customers at the store, so I was highly anticipating making its acquaintance.  With that in mind, I got to know Gavi while nibbling on a marinated mix of olives & peppers and French bread, followed by a lovely dinner of lemon & pesto grilled chicken on top of a mixed green salad with fresh parmesan, steamed veggies, and sun-dried tomato polenta.  This wine definitely lived up to its hype… beautiful nose of melon, honeyed lemon, slight tropical fruit, cut hay, and a touch of salty sea air.  The palate, while fresh and clean, had a very pleasantly surprising viscosity and roundness to it as well.  The fruit was more citrusy on the palate and that classic Italian minerality, herbs/white pepper was there too.  Overall, a fantastic date and I feel like Gavi and I will be the best of friends.  The white wine that I will feel more than confident taking to parties, pairing with a wide range of fare, or just drinking all by itself when the mood strikes.  It’s the kind of wine I want to have a lot of on hand.

 

Date 2: 2005 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum RougeThough it’s been a while, the ’05 Trassegum and I have met before, and I must say, I’ve always had a crush on it.  It’s a Rhone blend made predominantly from Syrah by one of my all-time favorite producers.  I let the bottle sit open & untouched for about half an hour while I made homemade valentines for loved ones and waited for lamb tandoori from Indian Palace.  When I finally poured myself a glass, the wine was a little tight, but I was still able to discern the nose of charcoaled meat, leather (both sweet & dirty), violets (omigosh, the violets!), dark fruit, a hint of anise and Provençal herbs.  It was juicy and balanced on the palate, but again, needed a little time to unwind.  About an hour later, I noted red fruit coming through more and….mmmm, forest floor.  Later yet, the sweet spices started to shine- cinnamon, vanilla, cassis, spicy raspberry and plums- it just kept getting prettier and more layered.  Oh my, I thought to myself, It’s seducing me, I can feel it! I’d describe the mouth-feel as silky and elegant, but with density and muscle at the same time. Moments later my food arrived. I don’t know if lamb tandoori was the pinnacle of food pairings for this, but sometimes I think the best pairings are whatever you’re in the mood to eat paired with whatever you’re in the mood to drink. Which is exactly what this was… and it was heavenly.

 

Date 3: 2009 Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Blanc & 2008 Enrico Pierazzuoli Carmignano Le Farnete For the next outing, I grabbed some gal pals and headed down to Sapore Italiano in Burlingame for some fabulous Italian cuisine.  We sipped (ok, gulped) the Couronneau while partaking in the Antipasto delle due Sicillie- an assorted plate of meats, cheeses, olives, grilled veggies, and bruschetta.  Oh we are off to a GREAT start!  Almost a little too good, in fact.  We guzzled the Couronneau and moved on to the Carmignano so fast I felt as if I didn’t give it its due time in the spotlight.  It’s like that person at a party you start flirting with but never really get a chance to talk to before they leave (luckily, I know where to find more).


 



That said, what I did experience of the Couronneau absolutely knocked my socks off.  The old world crushed rock minerality exploded off the nose, intermingling in perfect harmony with fresh citrus fruit and hints of white flower.  The fruit and minerality came thru on the palate with exquisite finesse along with a vibrant and long-lasting acidity.  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with when and how this wine was consumed, but I would love to try it again sometime with a mélange of seafood and longer timeframe.  In a nutshell, this wine out-drinks its price point by a LOT.  Moving onto the Carmignano, I think this might win “best friend” in the red category.  It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and while both varietals make their presence known, neither one overpowers the other.  Upon first whiff, I definitely noted the luscious ripe red and dark fruit first, which evolved into a combination of cherries, rose petals, red currants, cedar, and slight oak nuances.  The palate was more rustic than the nose would suggest, with dusty tannins that smooth out and a little mulchy sweetness to the fruit.  Overall, I found it to have an approachability that would please most any group and/or occasion.  I’d say it’s a solid notch and more above your average “pizza wine”, but that certainly didn’t stop me from ordering a whole pie for myself to go with it.

 Date 4: 2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie– Truth be told, I had actually had this bottle in my possession since Thanksgiving.  My initial intention was to share it with my T-day companions because what goes better with Thanksgiving dinner than Cru Beaujolais? But I got selfish and decided to keep it to myself for a later date (sorry gang).  I started out just sipping this sans sustenance, which was delightful.  Then I got hungry and having no patience for a trip to the grocery store, I pulled out some prosciutto, brie, crudités, small green salad, and a whole bunch of sweet potato fries (basically everything that looked yummy in my fridge).  All I have to say is that Cru Beaujolais- especially this one with its beautiful layers of wild strawberries, lavender, Provençal herbs, hint of minerality, and elegant yet juicy palate- is the arm candy of wine.  It is just oh so pretty and it goes with EVERYTHING.  If you’re one of those wine drinkers who still isn’t convinced that Beaujolais can be some of the most gorgeous and versatile wines on the planet, grab a bottle of this tout de suite.

 Date 5: 2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias BaixasFor my last, but no less anticipated, date I braved the rain and met up with a friend of mine for sushi and a bottle of the P&L Albarino.  In my opinion, sushi is comfort food and white wine can be just as cozy a companion as any red.  My notes on this wine were as such: “on the nose, very nice melon, green pear that opens up into more lush tropical fruit.  Noticeable leesiness, and oh, is that macadamia nut? Indeed! Yay! Slight creaminess through the mid-palate and awesome burst of acidity on the finish.  Sushi + P&L + rainy day = love.

The Verdict:  Pete, ya done good, I love them all but I love playing the field (or should I say vineyard) even more and I’m not ready to settle down with one wine just yet.  Being a bachelorette is much much too fun.  - Emily Crichton

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Our Top Ten Wines Of 2010

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 3:16 PM

Happy New Year! It was right around this time last year that we listed our first “Top Ten” wines of the year for 2009. We received an overwhelming response from that email/blog post, such a response, mind you, that we’re going to give it another go for 2010.

Again, the concept: A lot of different wines from different places fly through here throughout the year. Some make their way to our sales floor, some don’t. Of those that do, several stand out. They stand out for many reasons. Quality. Price. Quality for price. Exotic origins, unique varieties … You know, in 2008 TWH was awarded an Editor’s Award in the SF Bay Guardian as the Bay Area’s best “French Wine Warehouse”. We were happy and proud to receive such praise and honor, as we take our French wines seriously; but we take all wine seriously. This year, in addition to some French selections, we have wines from Spain, Greece, and of course, California that cracked the top ten. A couple have sold out, regretfully, but are mentioned here due to their merits.

We’re wishing you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2011!

10Domaine Ehrhart Cremant d’Alsace
We hear it often. “I have Champagne taste, but am on a sparkling wine budget.”(This does occur in other regions as well, but we’ll use this version for this wine.) Well, a sparkling 100% Chardonnay from Alsace is great way to get going!Philippe and Corinne Ehrhart’s Domaine is certified organic, and they pour their hearts into the finished product we get in the bottle. This latest batch of their Cremant raised eyebrows all around TWH with more than one staffer grabbing a bottle or two for New Year’s Weekend!
NV Domaine Ehrhart Cremant d’Alsace
Sparkling; White Blend; Alsace;
$16.98
  Add to Cart

 

92008 Valdubon Ribera del Duero Cosecha
From the Ribera del Duero, is our first of two Spanish Top Tenners, the 2008 Valdubon. None of us on the staff need to discuss this at any length with each other, as actions speak louder than words. A good way to gauge what wines are fancied by members of our staff is simply to observe what is taken home for personal consumption. With me, it started with the sample bottle that was left for us. I really love the finesse of this Tempranillo. It’s medium bodied, has bright red fruit and spice up front and sits in perfect balance as its complexities fade. It’s a great food wine too! The medium body lends itself to pair with a wide range of cuisine.Chris’ folks liked it so much, they ordered a six pack, but still haven’t received it because Chris drank it all. Tom packs one under his arm every now and then, and every time Anya loads up a case for friends and family, at least one of these makes its way into the box. Proof’s in the pudding.
2008 Bodegas Valdubon Ribera del Duero
Red Wine; Tempranillo; Ribera del Duero;
$11.98
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82009 Bedrock Old Vine Sonoma Valley Zinfandel
If there is a young California winemaker who had a better year than Morgan Twain-Peterson did in 2010, we haven’t heard of it. Over the course of the year, if you glanced at the Bulletin Board on erobertparker.com, you would see posts entitled Bedrock this and Bedrock that along with Morgan Peterson’s name, time and time again. Having met him here at TWH last year, we couldn’t be more happy for him. His 2009 Bedrock Old Vine Sonoma Valley Zinfandel sold out faster than you can blink, Anya’s write-up notwithstanding. In spite of its sold out status, it surely deserves to be in our top ten!

 

72007 Lacuna Red Blend
Okay, it may be getting tough to get our mitts on anything Bedrock these days, but psssst! Here’s another one of Morgan’s wines under a different label, Lacuna. What a find.Chiefly Syrah that’s blendedwith Cinsault, Zinfandel and Grenache, this wine is a darling to all who love fuller bodied reds. The partners on this project knew straight away that they could have easily charged upwards of $40 for this delectable juice, but wanted it to be accessible to more than just the 40 and up crowd. Yes, sadly, this too will sell out, get yourself some while you can!
2007 Lacuna Syrah Blend California
Red Wine; Syrah/Shiraz; Other California;
$24.98
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Santorini A EN 2009 - 0292009 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko
Looking back, it is somewhat surprising that one of our Top Ten of 2010 is a white wine from Greece. Surprising on the surface, anyway. When we tasted the 2009 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko,we were blown away. Dry and crisp with vibrant acidity, we weren’t the only ones to be blown away by this wine. Your demand for it had us sold out on several occasions as we continued to return to the well for another fix time and again.Think Greek Islands. Growing grapes for purportedly 3000 years. Hmmm. What is the protein of choice of most island societies? What do you suppose they want to drink with it? Yes; crab, scallops or prawns would be perfect.
2009 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini
White Wine; other white varietal; Greece;
$21.98
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52009 Paco & Lola Rias Baixas Albarino
You just never know when the cosmic tumblers are going to line up and point the way to your favorite wine discovery of 2010! But that’s just what happened to me last year. An innocuous taste was just the first of several “signs” that this wine and I were meant to be. Just like many a wine geek, I gravitate toward versatile, aromatic white wines from all over the world. I seem to have found what I didn’t know I was looking for in a Rias Baixas Albarino, the Paco & Lola.
2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias Baixas
White Wine; other white varietal; Rias Baixas;
$16.48
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42009 Mattiasson White Blend
Speaking of versatile, aromatic white wines that will catch the attention of not only the wine geek, but the wine lover in all of us,the 2009 Matthiasson White is an aromatic heavyweight champ. It’s a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ribolla Gialla and Tocai Friulano, all grown in Napa County. It’s the perfect Cali-quaffer that will get you out of a Chardonnay rut before you can say “new oak barrel”. It cracks the Top Ten merely based on the smiles on the faces of you customers who come back raving, as you pick up your replacement bottles. Well, yes, of course, we love it too!
2009 Matthiasson Napa Valley White
White Wine; White Blend; Napa;
$34.98
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32005 Paras Vineyards Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the perks of being in business for 33 years is the multitude of great relationships that we have forged with both customers and suppliers. Sometimes, as a result of a lengthy relationship, we continue to receive allocations of highly sought after wines. It’s kind of like a little bonus and a thank you from the supplier for believing in them before the critics started heaping on the praise. Generally, after the latter, allocations dry up and prices skyrocket. Well, we are tickled pink (or red, in this case) that we received our allocation of the 2005 Paras Vineyards Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. Decanter Magazine tasted through a rather large smattering of 2005 California Cabernets. Guess which one they liked the most? We’re proud and grateful that we can offer this rocking Cab to our customers.
2005 Paras Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder
Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
SALE$59.98
Reg. $72.98
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22009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie
Judging from what I’ve tasted so far, 2009 is one of those vintages that was good for everyone. Okay, everyone in France anyway. Timing can be funny. As I type, David is in France meeting people and tasting their wines. One of the many highlights of his prospecting last year were the incredible Cru Beaujolais from Chateau Raousset! The wines are blessed with perfect structure, balance and complexity. Of the 3 wines from Raousset, we found the Fleurie to be drinking perfectly upon arrival. Dare we say Gamay can age, and I would be thrilled to find a 2009 Fleurie (or Morgon) in my cellar 10 years from now. Thinking out loud here, good idea for a bumper sticker,“HIP Wine Drinkers Drink Cru Beaujolais!”
2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie Grille Midi
Red Wine; Gamay; Burgundy;
$19.99
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12007 Chateau Climens
Okay, I didn’t purposely set out to make a false claim in last year’s Top Ten. I did state that no Top Ten list would be complete without a red Bordeaux. What I meant to say was no Top Ten list would be complete without something from Bordeaux. This year a tip of the cap goes out to the 2007 Chateau Climens. It was at the UGC tasting in Los Angeles last January where I got the chance to taste this amazing wine. I had never before, nor have I since proclaimed a wine would receive a perfect numerical score from an influential critic, but I did with this wine. For the record, The Wine Spectator’s number was 93, but it was The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin who saw things in similar fashion to me. Now I don’t expect Mr. Martin has any time on his hands to read my ramblings, but if he did, chances are he would also know that I am a supporter of the Chelsea Football Club. He is not a fan, this I know. My proclamation was issued in February 2010. Martin’s scoring of the 2007 Climens was released at the end of April. His score? 99+. Seems coincidental. We’re sold out, but there’s more in France. Please inquire if you are interested. – Peter Zavialoff
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2009 Paco & Lola Albarino

Monday, December 20, 2010 9:32 PM

Alors. When busy, I tend to run around taking care of all that I can, yet not paying attention to some things. Yesterday, I looked at the calendar. Yesterday, I looked at the current date and then I looked as to how close we were to the end of 2010. I was shocked. Yep, this is my last “Sunday Email” of 2010. It’s usually around this time when I start to think of the year as a whole, and all of the joys and sorrows that were felt. In the camp of the former, much of the joy occurred with friends and loved ones … and as is usually the case, there was wine involved. No doubt I was blessed by the generosity of my friends and family as some special wines were opened for me in 2010.

Special occasion wines are exactly that. They are for special moments and special company. Believe it or not, I can say with a great degree of conviction, that my favorite wine of 2010 is NOT a special occasion wine. But it is so good, that it makes me feel like it’s a special occasion when I have a glass in front of me. So the story goes something like this.

It may have been revealed before that I am a huge fan of Bruce Hill’s Restaurant Picco in Larkspur. Let’s just say that I’m there often enough to know their wine buyer. Back in summer, I remember sitting down and looking at the wines by the glass list, noticing a new Albarino being poured. The 2009 Paco & Lola. I asked for a taste, and WOW! The aromatics were of fleshy, peachy orchard fruit infused with stony minerals. More of that on the palate with the mineral ever-present binding with the zippy acidity. The finish is cool and refreshing as the balanced flavors fade together. So, in spite of how busy the restaurant was that evening, the wine buyer walked over to me and said, “I see you like my Albarino.” I was astonished that she even noticed, but we then talked about how likable this wine was. I have had a glass of this wine with my Picco dinners ever since. Every time. It’s that good. And it’s a great partner for the variety of lighter fare dishes I tend to order there. I am so grateful that I got to taste this great wine this year.

Fast forward a few months; it’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, I run over to Whole Foods to pick up some soup, and as I’m walking past their wine section, I notice that familiar polka-dotted bottle of Albarino on their shelves. A couple of steps further, and I run into a Wine House customer whom we help often with recommendations. I brought him over to the Paco & Lola Albarino and sold him a bottle … in Whole Foods!

I had been raving about this wine for over three months to my colleagues before this happened, but I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm about selling wine in someone else’s shop. The customer came in a week later and agreed that the wine was sensational. He then said we should carry it here. What a novel idea, eh? Unbeknownst to me, one recent visit by a wine rep had a sample poured for Anya. I overheard her commenting on the name, as her daughter went through a “Lola” phase, but I didn’t connect the dots (pun intended). An hour or so later, as we were discussing the wines she tasted that day, I figured out it was THAT ALBARINO! Anya asked me (rhetorically) if we should buy some and stock it here at TWH. Hehe. We sold through our first allocation quite quickly, the next batch gets here Tuesday. Reserve yours today!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with your favorite wine discoveries of 2010: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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