Alsatian Auxerrois – Say That Five Times Fast!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 8:18 PM


 

2014 Pinot Auxerrois From Saint-Rémy
 
What is Pinot Auxerrois? Pinot Auxerrois is a grape that is planted extensively throughout the Alsatian region of France. It is not always labelled as such as it is legal under AOC Alsace appellation laws to label it under the more commonly recognized Pinot Blanc. Many people will explain that Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc but that is not accurate. In fact Pinot Auxerrois is an offspring of Pinot Blanc, which is a white-berried mutation of Pinot Noir, and is a sibling to Chardonnay, Aligote and Melon de Bourgogne. Pinot Auxerrois has smaller berries than Pinot Blanc so then when yields are limited, a truly interesting wine can be made like the 2014 Pinot Auxerrois from Domaine Saint-Rémy.
 
 
Saint-Rémy’s bottling of Pinot Auxerrois comes from the single-vineyard, Val St. Gregoire. Val St. Gregoire is close to Grand Cru Brand, has southern exposure and the soils are more granitic. I remember when Philippe Ehrhart, proprietor of Domaine Saint-Rémy, visited us at the store in the summer of ’14 and explained these facts. He also made a point of saying that at Saint-Rémy they do not use commercial yeasts, and give a very gentle pressing to the grapes to get pure, clean juice. The Pinot Auxerrois stays on the lees for 6-8 months before bottling. The Ehrharts have taken their centuries old domaine to new heights by converting to organic farming. They became certified organic in 2010 and certified biodynamic in 2012. Phillipe and family are strong advocates of this movement in their region. This fastidious stewardship of the land is rooted in tradition but is also a very real solution to climactic and ecological threats.
 
 
As I mentioned above, Pinot Auxerrois has smaller berries than Pinot Blanc with a higher skin to juice ratio so when made well there is good structure, fruit and acidity. Both Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc can get flabby (true for most of us!) if not taken care of properly. I find the Saint-Rémy Pinot Auxerrois to have plenty of fruit flavors – peach, apricot – a nice bitter tinge and freshness to the finish.This combination makes it delicious to enjoy by the glass sans food or easily adaptable to appetizers. I was particularly impressed at how well it went with my usual Friday Night Fish Fry of baked sole. Typically I reach for something with a leaner fruit profile, but the wine carried the dish beautifully without overpowering it. I’d say go ahead and serve this with poultry and light pork dishes too. It is really quite versatile.
 
 

I’ve survived a full month of back to school scheduling. Twice I’ve forgotten it was my turn in the carpool to do “drop-off”. In a moment of panic, my daughter is surprising compliant at jumping in the car with a hastily clad mother. My husband has been cracking himself up by reenacting my reaction when I finally figure out that theyare not the ones late…I am! So when Friday rolls around, and I finally have a moment to myself, you might find me on the front porch with a glass in hand. This week the 2014 Pinot Auxerrois Val St. Gregoire was a lovely reward to a busy week. The golden, honeyed fruit mirrored the soft hues of the autumn sun’s rays. Aahh, the restorative nature of wine!– Anya Balistreri

Back In Stock – 2012 Pinot Noir From The Ehrharts

Saturday, March 26, 2016 7:11 PM


2012 Domaine St. Rémy Rosenberg Pinot Noir

Every now and then we receive inquiries from customers regarding our stocks of particular wines. Most customers that do ask us about quantities ask because they like a particular wine and don’t want it to sell out before securing a few bottles/cases for their own consumption. So when the answer to the quantity question is greater than 10 cases, most customers feel relieved andassume that the wine will still be in stock the next time they visit us. As with all rules, there have been exceptions that have made us scratch our heads.
 
 
Back in the summer of 2010, as we rolled out the 2009 Bordeaux futures, a customer came into the shopinquiring about an inexpensive Haut-Médoc wine that was one of those great bargains from a super vintage. When we told him that we had 130 bottles left,he left promising to return the following week and put together a futures order. That very same day, we received a phone call from another customer asking about futures. One can never predict what might occur, we told him about a few of our favorites, and he listened attentively, and said that he would call back before the end of the day with an order after doing a little further research. He called back and, get this, ordered 120 bottles of said Haut-Médoc wine! Wow. When the first customer returned the following week, he was disappointed that he couldn’t get a solid case, but he did buy the rest. We learned a valuable lesson. If we want a wine for ourselves and it’s here, buy it now or else that could happen to us.
 
 
So last summer, our friends Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart began exporting their Rosenberg Pinot Noir. It is everything non-Burgundian French Pinot Noir should be.Expressive aromas of berries and herbs with a good mineral representation. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and shows off its layers of sensation in an elegant fashion. It’s a delectable wine that you can drink on its own, but its real home run potential is at the table. Mmmmm. I can imagine a fine rotisserie chicken with Herbs de Provençe and a glass of the 2012 Domaine St. Rémy Pinot Noir. That’ll transport you to France in a heartbeat! We were swooning over this wine last year, Anya even penned a great email praising the Ehrharts and their Rosenberg Pinot Noir. We beganrecommending it to customers whom we knew would appreciate it. “We just got it, so it should be around for a while,” was the foolish answer I gave to a couple of customers who liked it enough to inquire about quantities. Little did I know that there was a big fish out there and it was thirsty for Alsatian Pinot Noir, the 2012 St. Rémy Rosenberg Pinot Noir that is. The big fish was a big event for thousands of people andthey would need it all. Like a whole pallet of it. So, poof! Just like that, no more St. Rémy Pinot Noir. Those customers whom I assured the wine would still be in stock when they returned were disappointed, but luckily weren’t cross with me. No one saw the big fish coming. Moral of the story is that every time going forward that someone asks me about current inventory, they are regaled with these two stories.
 
 
The good news is that the 2012 Domaine St. Rémy (formerly known as Domaine Ehrhart) Rosenberg Pinot Noir is back in stock and drinking beautifully.This is great for all of us as it out-drinks its price point by several degrees. It’s a great one to bring to friends’ houses – one taste and they think you’ve splurged, when you know that it was only a modest sum that was spent. There are a few rows of stacked boxes of the Rosenberg Pinot Noir now in our warehouse, and it should stay in stock for much of the spring season, but, but, but; well, you know. – Peter Zavialoff

NV Cremant d’Alsace From Domaine Saint-Remy

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 8:37 PM


At TWH, I know it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmaswhen one out of every three purchases includes a bottle of bubbly. Our sparkling wine section has been relocated from the far edge of the sales floor to a beautiful, center stage, display – thanks Chris and Tom! It looks so festive!Each time I walk past the display, Carol of the Bells plays in my head. I am so ready to clink glasses with loved ones!But with so many delicious options, what to choose? For fine quality at an affordable price presented in a visually “giftable” package, my choice is Domaine Saint-Remy’s Crémant d’Alsace.
 
 
Domaine Saint-Remy traces its history as a winery back to 1725. It continues to operate as a family business with Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart at the helm with three generations of family working at the domaine. Seeped in tradition, the Ehrharts took the steps needed to become certified organic in 2010 and in 2012 became certified biodynamic. The Ehrharts are actively involved in the stewardship and preservation of Alsace’s viticultural heritage.
 
 
The Ehrharts visit us in San Francisco on a fairly regular basis. During their last visit in the summer of ’14, Philippe guided TWH staff in a tasting of several of his wines. As I pour over my notes from that day, I can’t help but noticethe many stars and exclamation points after each wine. Philippe told us that they only use barrel for Pinot Noir and use no commercial yeasts. They like to use a slow, gentle pressing for the grapes. The last wine we tasted was theCrémant d’Alsace. They began making it in 1982 and limit production to a couple thousand cases. My notes read“quite sophisticated – fresh & lively, elegant”. My notes made no mention of the grapes, though I do know it is a blanc de blancs using Chardonnay (just like in Champagne). The grapes are grown on granite in the lieu-dit of St. Gregoire, west of Turkheim.
 
 
I’ve been given my orders: my brother, the host, said to bring sparkling wine to serve with appetizers at our Christmas Eve dinner. For a large crowd – there will be at least 22 of us – the Saint-Remy Crémant d’Alsace will work perfectly. The initial creamy tangerine and ripe pear flavors give way to a snappy green apple finish. It is elegant and fresh. There will be stuffed eggs (always the first to go at a party, in my experience), little roasted potatoes with sour cream and caviar and other tasty morsels. ThisCrémant d’Alsace is versatile and complex enough to do special occasion hors d’oeuvres justice. A few bottles will also make their way as gifts to friends and neighbors I know who enjoy a good glass of bubbly. I am happy to help spread the cheer!
 
And a special cheers goes out to all of you that support and patronize our independent, small business. As an employee of The Wine House, I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to make connections and forge relationships with our customers. The Wine House is not my first job in retail, so I say this having years of experience….TWH customers are the very best! Happy Holidays! – Anya Balistreri

Domaine Saint-Rémy 2014 Rose d’Alsace

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 10:12 PM

If our point of sale system is to be believed, then The Wine House has been stocking wines from the Ehrhart family since 2005. In the ten years that have followed, the winery has gone through some important changes. No longer are their exported wines labelled Domaine Ehrhart. Instead their historic name, Domaine Saint-Rémy, which is how they’ve always been known as in France and which dates back to 1725, is printed on the labels. Completed in 2013, a new winery and cellar was built to ensure quality winemaking. But the most important change, in my opinion, is that thewinery is now certified organic and biodynamic. The conversion to biodynamic farming reflects the Ehrhart’s long-standing determination and dedication to preserving the tradition of wine making in Alsace. The Ehrhart’s take their stewardship of the land and vineyards seriously.
 
 
The 2014 Rose d’Alsace from Domaine Saint-Rémy is new to me and to the store. This is the first vintage we’ve had the opportunity to carry. An un-tinted, slender bottle allows the attractive orange-tinged pink color to show through – the bottle had me at hello! As much of a fan of Rhône varietal rosés that I am, I also deeply enjoy rosés made from Pinot Noir. There is a sophistication and elegance to rosé of Pinot Noir that is undeniable. Domaine Saint-Rémy’s 2014 Rose d’Alsace is pleasantly aromatic – wild strawberries, ripe Charentais melon, and spun sugar. The flavors are vivid but not overly fruity. I predict I will be turning to this wine time and again, especially as Autumn clings to Summer’s heat.
 
 
On the first full day of Fall with outside temperatures above 90 degrees, I prepared one of my family’s favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. A morning trip to the farmer’s market guaranteed flavorful produce and other than whisking together a spiky vinaigrette and a whole lot of chopping, dinner was done! With a plate piled high with crunchy veg, imported Tonno, and briny olives, a glass of chilled rosé was a must. Luckily I planned ahead and stuck a bottle of 2014 Rose d’Alsace in the fridge before heading out in the morning. It was an ideal pairing.
 
 
My newlywed nephew was ordained a Russian Orthodox priest last Sunday. Some say it is a calling, but I call itcourageous. In these times, in this culture, to dedicate one’s life to serve others without the hope of financial gain is an audacious decision to make. My admiration for this exceptional young man is unbounded, as is my love. Emotions continue to ride high as this weekend marks 17 years of wedded bliss! I can recollect my wedding day like it was yesterday. Though my father told me I didn’t have to go through with it as he drove me to the church, I know now that marrying my husband was the best decision ever.

Tony – ты мой мужчина! – Anya Balistreri

2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg – Domaine Saint Rémy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:56 AM

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Pinot Noir accounts for less than 10% of total wine production in Alsace. Not much of it even leaves the region. It is therefore unlikely that many of us have great knowledge or familiarity with Alsatian Pinot Noir. If you desire to dabble in the esoteric then the 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg from Domaine Saint Rémy is a perfect place to start your exploration of Alsatian Pinot Noir.

 

 

Philippe and Corinne Ehrhart have transformed their centuries old domaine into an estate committed tosustainability and conscientious farming practices.They are certified organic and biodynamic. Their emphasis on meticulous work in the vineyard reflects back in the glass. TWH has proudly offered their range of AOC and Grand Cru whites, but it is only recently that we’ve stocked their Pinot Noir.

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Courtesy Domaine Ehrhart’s Facebook page
 
Ehrhart Pinot Noir comes from the Rosenberg vineyard, a recognized lieu-dit. The vineyard is south and southeast facing with clay-limestone topsoil and lots of rock underneath. The age of the vines are 25-30 years.

 

 

The 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg is 100% destemmed and likely spends some time in barrel but certainly not any new. It is light but not without complexity. The exuberant red cherry flavors of new world Pinot Noir are not in play here. Instead the berry fruit goes arm in arm with more savory notes of dried herbs and tea leaves. The lower alcohol (13% on the label) evokes a more restrained palate feel and the aromatics suggest more herb and tea leaves than fruit.
 
RemyVine3
Courtesy Domaine Ehrhart’s Facebook page
 
I slapped myself on the forehead this morning as I spied the 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg tucked among the Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. All week I’ve been asked wine recommendations for ham, lamb or braised brisket. Rhone and Burgundy always came first to my mind, but I see now that I missed a perfect opportunity to introduce Alsatian Pinot Noir to a wider audience.The 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg, with its lighter profile, also makes a nice option for daytime and early evening meals.

 

 

 
I’ll be pulling double-duty with Western Easter this Sunday and Eastern Orthodox Easter next. Can a bit of spring cleaning even be a consideration for me at this time? Probably not; another fail. Gratefully, failing at choosing the perfect wine to go with Nana’s stuffed roast pork isn’t possible now that the Ehrharts’ Domaine Saint Rémy 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg is back on my radar. Wishing all of you a glorious Spring celebration!

To Pair With Corned Beef And Cabbage: Riesling!

Monday, March 16, 2015 7:02 PM

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Forget what the calendar says, it’s springtime in San Francisco! Temperatures touched 80F today here in the city and around the bay. A customer who braved traffic to visit us today advised us to steer clear of Market St. as thetraditional pre-St. Patrick’s Day Saturday Paradewas well attended by a large crowd of revelers enjoying the weather and whooping it up. St. Patrick’s Day? Yes,Tuesday’s the day. What does that mean? Different things to different people. Now that I’ve toned down my part in the Paddy’s Day festivities, I think more of this day as an easy way to enjoy one of my favorite meals … corned beef and cabbage with potatoes. Anya and I had a conversation about this earlier this week, she said it’s no big deal, as she likes this dish way too much to relegate it to a St. Patrick’s Day-only meal. I understand her point, as I’m known to consume it year-round as well. It probably has something to do with the Eastern European background we share, but it just tastes like home.

 
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It has been around this time of year when we both have mentioned St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef and cabbage,and recommended a wine to complement what some may consider a difficult meal for a wine pairing. Sure, we all know a lot of beer gets poured with it, but there’s a more elegant way to enjoy it without perhaps feeling bloated afterwards. With Riesling. Dry Alsatian Riesling to be exact.
 

 

 

One of Alsace’s most famous dishes is Choucroute,which is a preparation of sauerkraut with sausages and other salted or cured meats. Hmmm, sounds familiar. What do Alsatians drink with Choucroute? What pairs perfectly with Choucroute? Dry Alsatian Riesling, of course.
 
platelive
 
Ah, it’s been too many years ago now, but Chris and I once visited Alsace as TWH won a trip to the area for “best northern California Alsatian wine promotion.” I learned a ton during that trip and we met some prominent growers and winemakers. Apart from that, we ate some delicious food and enjoyed some wonderful wines with our meals. One of these meals that sticks out is the lunchwe had at the home of Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart.We arrived in late morning to taste through their entire line of wines, and did so in the dining room adjacent to their kitchen. Somewhere in the middle of this tasting, the lid to the simmering Choucroute was removed and the“just like home” aromas enchanted me with cartoon-like appeal. I literally felt like I had my eyes closed and was physically floating in the direction of its source. As we concluded tasting and sat for lunch, it was the four bottles of Riesling that made it to the table.
 
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It’s interesting to note that our current selection ofDomaine Ehrhart (Domaine St. Rémy in Alsace) Rieslings mirrors the selections we enjoyed with our Choucroute.The entry-level 2012 Vieilles Vignes Riesling: Dry, refined and delicate, it’s marked by fleshy fruit, blossoms, and minerals. A sip of this and it’s easy to grasp how well this varietal pairs with this kind of cuisine. It doesn’t taste like entry-level anything. The 2011 RieslingHerrenweg is all sourced from one vineyard planted in a mix of gravelly sand which preserves the fruity character while maintaining freshness. It has a lush, deep mouth feel, with notes of citrus, pear, and honey, yet has the “cut” to work well with the salty meat and cabbage frame. The 2011 Grand Cru Hengst Riesling is a special wine. If one takes into consideration what prices “Grand Cru” wine command elsewhere, these are outright bargains. The vineyard is special in its soil content: calcareous marl, limestone boulders, and sandstone pebbles abound. The 2011 is aromatically expressive with notes of apricots, tropical fruit, and stony minerals. The palate is full and complex, with hints of herbs and beeswax floating with the aforementioned fruit. It has azesty finish which suggests it will pair with a myriad of dishes such as lemongrass chicken or enchiladas suizas. The 2010 Grand Cru Hengst is similar, of course, yet has a slightly deeper, honeyed fruity component. It too has an excellent display of minerality, and finishes with flair.Perhaps one can understand exactly why a meal enjoyedmany years ago can still be fresh in my mind!

 

 

 

As mentioned in our recent write-up about the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet (Pre-Arrival), I will be off to Bordeaux soon, this being my last stateside “Sunday Email” for a while. I’ve heard many things about the 2014 vintage in Bordeaux, but I will travel there with an open mind ready to see for myself what this new vintage is all about. I’m preparing to send, at the very least, and update on things a fortnight from tonight on location from Bordeaux, hopefully I’ll have some time to send more. I’m planning on sharing some photos and other things on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so if you follow us there, you’ll be in touch. But all things in good time; I’ve got an excuse to sit down with some corned beef, cabbage and potatoes … sign me up for a bottle of that Grand Cru Hengst! – Peter Zavialoff

 
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments: peter@wineSF.com
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July 25. Yes, we are aware of the fact that we have sent out several emails recently embracing Rosé, and all things summer. Why not? We have now entered late July and the period known as the dog days. What does it mean? Many things to many people. France is about to shut down for a month, and some of our friends from over there have been over here visiting. Last week it was Hélène Garcin-Lévêque from Bordeaux, and this week, we were visited by longtime friend, Philippe Ehrhart from Alsace!

 

 

Ever been to Alsace? Seeing Philippe again always brings back wonderful memories of the time Chris and I visited the Ehrharts at Domaine St. Rémy in Wettolsheim. If you don’t know the story, Chris had been with TWH for around 5 months at the time, and I had just started. A French food & wine promotional company was offering a free trip for 2 for the retailer that did the best job promoting the wines of Alsace during a given period of time.  Chris built the most magnificent pyramid of picturesque Alsatian boxes with different bottles displayed on each tier, flanked by maps of the region. It was rather eye-catching, to say the least. Our sales of Alsatian wines were quite brisk during this period, and one day a few months down the road, the phone rang. It was a representative of the French company sponsoring the contest. We had won! In what I can only describe as pure luck, I was chosen to accompany Chris on a whirlwind tour of Alsace with visits to 9 estates in 3 days. David was consulted by the sponsor for recommendations as to whom to visit. He also amended our itinerary to spend an extra day there in order to visit the 2 growers that we represented at the time. After 3 days chock full of visits, tastings, and rich meals, we were picked up on that final morning by Philippe Ehrhart himself and driven down to Wettolsheim to Domaine St. Rémy.

On the drive, Philippe regaled us with information about the villages, vineyards, and countryside. Once at the winery, he introduced us to his father and we began tasting tank samples of the recent harvest. It was rapidly approaching midday, so we were off to meet Philippe’s wife, Corinne, at their home for a tasting which included lunch. Philippe made the introductions and then led us to the dining room in which 10 bottles of various Domaine Ehrhart wines were opened and ready to be tasted. Somewhere after we tasted our 3rd sample, Corinne must have removed the lid to the pot with the simmering Choucroute, and the heavenly aroma wafted into the dining room. Beside one of my notes I scribbled, “Omg, I smell Choucroute.” (Wait, did I write “Omg?” Really? Hey, it was 2006, I was just a kid.)

 

Needless to say, the Choucroute was divine! Having the opportunity to taste the Ehrharts’ Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Auxerrois, and Gewurztraminer alongside it was the perfect Alsatian cultural experience.  So, even if it sounds a little cliché, when a couple of Alsatian winemakers invite you to their home for Choucroute, cancel the rest of your plans immediately and accept their invitation! We stayed well past our time limit, and when Philippe asked us what time our next appointment was, I looked at my watch and said, “5 minutes ago.” Philippe exclaimed that he wished we weren’t leaving, and we all reluctantly got in the car for our 20 minute drive.

 

 

I learned a lot during that trip. Having an eastern European background, cured meats, sausages, cabbage, and potatoes are all within my sphere of familiarity. I just never had a clue of what wines to pair with them. I can’t tell you how many bottles of quality red Bordeaux I brought to family gatherings which featured ham at the center of the table. In retrospect, the wines were all great, they just didn’t pair with the salty cured meat. After this trip, I knew, Riesling is the wine. Pinot Gris works too, as does Pinot Blanc’s sibling, Pinot Auxerrois. Gewurztraminer may be a little aromatically overwhelming for a holiday ham, ah, but the things you can pair with Gewurz … More on that later. The trip really opened my eyes as to how versatile the wines of Alsace are, and the formation of my opinion that the best pairings are with white wines had begun to take shape. I eat a lot of spicy food. These wines work well with spicy food. Really well.

So yeah, Philippe Ehrhart visited our new digs in Dogpatch this week! We popped one bottle each of the entire Ehrhart line in the cold box this past Tuesday and tasted them with Philippe and David after their full day of meetings and appointments. Having just flown in, Philippe showed no signs of weariness, and eagerly discussed the wines as we tasted them. The Ehrharts have always farmed organically, and the purity and precision of the end product is evidence of this practice paying off. Philippe informed us that he has been employing bio-dynamic practices in the vineyard, and beginning with their 2012’s, will be Demeter certified.

 

The Ehrharts have recently moved into a lovely, modern new winery complete with upscale tasting room. Another recent development has been to employ a scale from 1-10 on their back label describing the perceived sweetness of their wines.  This is extremely helpful for consumers because there is a wide range of styles amongst the wines of Alsace. Some wines are sweeter than others, and to point out the perceived sweetness in this fashion is useful. With their organic techniques, their new facility, and Demeter certification, we see nothing but great things ahead for the Ehrharts! We love their wines and we applaud their ability to look forward and not rest on any of their laurels. Never been to Alsace? It is worth strong consideration, you won’t regret it! – Peter Zavialoff
2012 Domaine Ehrhart Pinot Auxerrois Val St.-Gregoire

White Wine; other white varietal; Alsace;
$16.99

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Perceived Sweetness – 2

Pinot Auxerrois is considered the finest clone of Pinot Blanc due to its natural low yields and smaller berries. It’s a great aperitif, as it has round apple-like flavors and aromas. Great with things like chicken salad, grilled trout, creamy cheeses, or a lobster roll.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart Riesling Herrenweg

White Wine; Riesling; Alsace;
$19.99

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Perceived Sweetness – 2

It may say 2, but it seems drier to me. The aromas are fresh, there are floral hints surrounding the core of pear fruit and stony mineral. The palate is lively; it’s the epitome of a dry, versatile white wine. It goes with most traditional Alsatian fare, but there’s oh, so much more. Hunan smoked duck would be fun with this, also raclette, spicy shrimp scampi, or maybe even chile verde.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart Pinot Gris Im Berg

White Wine; Pinot Grigio/Gris; Alsace;
$19.99

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Perceived Sweetness – 2

Unlike the Riesling, I get a little more body and sweetness out of this one. Their Pinot Gris has a fuller body and is deep and rich. Aromas of earthy mushrooms are ever-present. The palate has depth, yet is well balanced. Versatile and giving, you can pair this with things like carnitas tacos, a ginger panko crusted salmon with Asian vegetabels, sushi, or Kung Pao pork.
2012 Domaine Ehrhart Gewurztraminer Herrenweg

White Wine; Gewurztraminer; Alsace;
$21.99

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Perceived Sweetness – 4.5

Gewurztraminer is a bit enigmatic. If you like spicy curry dishes, I highly recommend you try a glass of Gewurz with your next curry. I wouldn’t particularly sit down at a wine bar and order a glass of it, but when the balance of the sample bottle was up for grabs, that was all the motivation I needed to whip up a big batch of pork curry with a myriad of peppers last night, and all I have left, sadly is the leftover curry. The Gewurz is long gone! It is the perfect curry wine, no doubt, but I’ve tried it with spicy red beans and rice with much success. Spicy jambalaya, and an abundance of Asian dishes are begging for this highly aromatic, slightly off-dry wine. 

2011 Riesling Herrenweg: Domaine Ehrhart

Sunday, March 17, 2013 6:45 PM

At the start of the New Year, Pete vowed to drink more Alsatian wine – I think he’s on to something there! Food flexible with many affordable choices, Alsatian wines are just so compatible to the way food-conscious, wine-drinking people eat in the US; it’s a wonder more people don’t clamber for them. Admittedly, there are a few hurdles Alsatian wines must overcome marketing-wise, but if you’re in a hurry to reach for a bottle of wine to bring to a dinner party and know nothing about the menu, taking along a dry Alsatian Riesling is a safe bet. The 2011 Riesling Herrenweg from Domaine Ehrhart is distinctive and fresh while still being an open canvas in culinary terms. What wouldn’t the ’11 Riesling Herrenweg match up well with?  The last time I sampled it, my tasting notes ended with “incredibly drinkable”. Now, I concede that this is an overused and vague term, so let me clarify this further.  “Incredibly drinkable” means to me that it has hit a bliss point where acidity and sweetness combine perfectly to demand another taste. The Ehrharts know that choosing an Alsatian wine can be tricky when it comes to sweetness levels, as there are no designations like the Germans use to help consumers easily navigate with terms like Kabinett or Auslese. Starting with the ’11 vintage, the Ehrharts have devised a clever tool located on their back labels. There is a linear scale from 1-10, 1 being dry and 9 being sweet, with a wine glass placed at the point at which they feel the perception of sweetness is matched. The 2011 Riesling Herrenweg is at 2, so it is not bone-searingly dry, but it is nevertheless dry. I think this scale should be implemented more widely in Alsace- super handy!

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart at the end of January. They came to SF to visit with The Wine House and to meet with new and old supporters around the Bay. They are a lovely couple that, despite their obvious jet lag, were excited to share their passion for their domaine, which began farming organically over two generations ago and is now officially certified organic. For the Ehrhart’s, organic farming is not some new zealous pursuit, it’s simply how they’ve always farmed and will continue to farm. It was a memorable experience to taste through the range of wines, from the creamy Cremant to the heady Grand Crus, with Corinne and Philippe guiding us along. Their understated elegance shone through to their wines. I bemoaned their short stay as I thought back to Pete and Chris’ good fortune of having Corinne’s Choucroute while in Alsace a few years back…would it be rude to ask a visiting vigneron to prepare dinner? You can’t stop a girl from dreaming.Not exactly Choucroute, but I’m guessing a large percentage of the population has had their fair share of Corned Beef and Cabbage this past weekend. I won’t pass up an opportunity to eat Corned Beef and Cabbage and neither will I pass up an opportunity to drink with it, Riesling. A richer, fuller-bodied Riesling like the 2011 Riesling Herrenweg is what I prefer. If you’re reading this post-St. Paddy’s Day and the leftovers are all gone, here’s another way to go: Pad Thai. Oh, yes, so very tasty! 
I won’t be whooping it up this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, though I’m wearing the green. That nasty cold has come to visit chez Balistreri and, as with many un-welcomed guests, won’t go away. Knock on wood, to date I’ve been spared. I attribute my health to that cherished glass of wine post-bedtime reading/lights out time. It is my shortcut to a meditative state of mind. Ah the restorative nature of wine, amen. —Anya Balistreri

2009 Pinot Gris Im Berg From Domaine Ehrhart

Monday, January 28, 2013 10:29 PM

Okay, a new year. I hope everyone had a healthy, happy holiday season. Not going overboard with resolutions here, though I did make one today. In 2013, I will drink more Alsatian wine than I did in 2012. There. In writing. Why would I make such a New Year’s resolution, you ask? I call it the AHA factor.You’ve been there; sitting at the table with friends or family, something delicious on your plate, and in mid-conversation as you taste what’s in your glass, you stop. You recognize that the food and wine pairing deliverssomething bigger than the sum of its parts. That’s the AHA factor. I get more of those with Alsatian pairings than with any other subset of wines. So yeah, more Alsatian wine. Bring it on!

 

Maybe another reason I made the resolution is that EVERY time I drink Alsatian, I remember the trip Chris and I took there in October of 2006. It was Chris’ ingenuity that got us there. He built a tower of Alsatian bottles and boxes that won the prize for northern California’s best Alsatian wine display. I got to go because … well, I don’t know why, but I went anyway. We visitedCorinne and Philippe Ehrhart at their Domain St. Remy in Wettolsheim. That had to be the highlight of the trip, for sure. I mentioned the visit in a ramble a couple of years ago. Funny thing was, at the time, I was a Pinot Gris novice. When I tasted the Ehrhart’s Im Berg Pinot Gris, I was transformed. That earthy, mushroomy aroma, met with soft yellow fruit and a kiss of honey, all picked up by fresh acidity on the palate, finishing with the trio of earth, fruit, and freshness. Yum. It was a profound, complex awakening for me. When I made my resolution, it was Pinot Gris in particular that I had in mind. It is such a versatile wine, as it pairs so well with exotic flavors, spicy dishes, and traditional Alsatian fare like choucroute. Having eastern European roots, I am certainly not a stranger to a head of cabbage. This time of year, it is not uncommon for me to have some stewing in a large pot awaiting marriage with potatoes and a festival of cured meats. The 2009 Im Berg Pinot Gris from Domaine Ehrhart is exactly the ticket for that marriage. It is exactly the ticket for that spicy Hunan chicken with black bean sauce or that veggie burrito picnic. Oh, did I mention Corinne and Philippe farm 100% organically? Yes, they do, and represent the 3rd generation of Ehrharts doing so. Whatever it is they’re doing, we are sure glad they do it!

 

Well it looks like Chinese food is on tap for dinner this evening. If you know me, this is not uncommon at all. I have declared that I could eat various Chinese foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for weeks on end, and sometimes I have Alsatian Pinot Gris with it. This being 2013 and all, tonight I will be enjoying the2009 Im Berg Pinot Gris from Domaine Ehrhart with it! Happy New Year! – Peter Zavialoff

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September 2012 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, September 8, 2012 10:00 PM

As we motor along through 2012, we’re down to 3 weeks of summer left before it’s time to start thinking about raking leaves, post season baseball, and persimmons. Let’s not go there just yet. Our Indian summer is about to begin, so there will be plenty more chances to picnic and barbecue. Need some wine? The September Dirty Dozen should do the trick!


Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines

2011 Vino Blanco, Bodegas Castano $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
The Castano family is one of the most respected wine producing families in southeastern Spain.  For their Vino Blanco, they blend 50/50 Macabeo and Chardonnay, and the result will put a smile on your face.  Hints of white and tropical fruits are present in the aromas and the palate is round and structured.  The perfect wine to pour with that ceviche.

2011 Cercius, Philippe Cambie/Michel Gassier/Eric Solomon $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Eric Solomon, one of America’s finest small importers, teamed up with consultant Philippe Cambie and winemaker Michel Gassier to launch the Cercius label.  A blend of mostly Grenache Blanc with Sauvignon Blanc, the wine plays a bigger role than the sum of its parts.  Fleshy, yet crisp, this will pair mightily with pan-seared scallops over leafy greens.

2010 Chardonnay, Novellum $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Languedoc Chardonnay isn’t something that we hear about too often, but when we tasted the Novellum, we were impressed.  The wine is bright and lively with tropical hints and a kiss of spice.  Pair it with a clam and garlic pasta.

2010 Grenache Blanc/Chardonnay/Marsanne, Cote EST $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Lovers of Rhone-inspired crisp white wines will feel at home with a glass of the Cote EST from France’s Cotes Catalanes.  It has a bright, lively mouth feel, a fleshy fruit presence, and medium bodied weight.  Another wine to enjoy here in the waning warmth of summer 2012, it can be served on its own, at a picnic, or with a shrimp salad.

2011 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, Ernesto Picollo $15.99, $12.79 reorder
Mama mia!  Our scouting missions to various Italian wine tastings have paid off big-time here!  Regular DD subscribers, no doubt, have tasted Picollo’s super bargain Gavi DOCG, but the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto is a whole ‘nother animal.  Richness, purity, and precision present themselves in dapper manner, as this wine exudes class.  A great one for a bowl of mussels.

2009 Pinot Gris Im Berg, Domaine Ehrhart $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Ehrhart.  As in Corinne and Philippe from Wettolsheim.  Their family has only been making wine in Alsace since the early 18th century.  They make opulent wines with excellent balance and verve.  This single vineyard Pinot Gris has earthy, mushroomy aromas and a wide, fleshy presence on your palate.  A great wine with a bacon wrapped chicken breast.

2009 Baron Des Chartrons $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
At this point, you must have heard about the success of the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux.  If not, just know that the weather was perfect for the region’s red wines – everybody got good grapes AND you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to enjoy it.  Check out this more than reasonably priced quaffer from the Moueix family.  Think juicy steak.

2010 Syrah, Porcupine Ridge $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
South Africa’s Porcupine Ridge has delighted our palates for several vintages now, as we can’t help but love those smoky aromas that surround the spicy, dark red fruit.  The palate is medium to fuller bodied, and the smoky, spicy framework holds through to the finish.  If you’ve got a beef brisket cooking low and slow on the smoker, you’ve found your pairing!

2009 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Chateau Puy-Servain $21.59, $17.27 reorder
The success of the 2009 vintage was not confined to Bordeaux, but if your vineyard sits just across the Dordogne from the Bordeaux AOC, you pretty much got great grapes too.  TWH friend Daniel Hecquet’s Montravel Vieilles Vignes is very special in 2009.  So good mind you, that you could sneak this into a blind St. Emilion tasting and get away with it.

2009 Montsant Old Vines, Celler De Capcanes $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Old Vines is an understatement here, as the Grenache vines are over 80 years old.  The Montsant mountains and vines surround the more well known Priorat appellation, though stylistically, the wines are different.  This blend of mostly Grenache with a soupcon of Syrah is another great deal coming from Espana.  Grilled meat skewers will work well here.

2010 Syrah, Saint Antoine $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Red wine lovers on a budget know all about the virtues of Jean-Louis Emmanuel’s Saint Antoine from the Costieres de Nimes.  Jean-Louis now de-stems all of his grapes and vinifies in steel tank resulting in wines that are pure and fresh.  Bright cherry flavors with Cassis and spice make up the flavor profile.  Another great wine for the outdoor grill.

2010 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
You can argue that Chianti is a rustic, simple quaffer meant to be served by the glass next to a bowl of cappellini with fresh tomato sauce.   That’s before you taste Enrico Pierazzuoli’s Chianti Montalbano.  Not your grandfather’s Chianti, Enrico’s is 100% Sangiovese grown just west of Firenze in the Tuscan countryside.  Robust dark cherry flavors with earthy undertones burst forth from the glass suggesting the wine be paired with something a little more serious.

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June 2012 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, June 2, 2012 4:33 PM

2010 Viura, Campos de Enanzo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Call it Viura, or you can call it Macabeo, what we have here is a crisp white that delivers! It’s a grape that usually makes its way into Cava blends; but on its own, its fresh, clean profile makes it a perfect “welcome to summer” sipper. All steel-tank fermented, it has a hint of smokiness on the nose with a clean, crisp mouth feel. Serve it with ceviche!

2009 Branco, FitaPreta Vinhos $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
From Portugal comes a super duper blend of Antão Vaz and Roupeiro. Produced in very small quantities, the fruit is all hand-picked and the juice sees a little oak. One taste and you feel the wine’s pedigree. Hints of grapefruits, green tea, and pineapple all float from the glass. The fruit persists throughout the finish; pour it with Frutos do Mar.

2011 Pinot Grigio, Riff $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Coming from Veneto vineyards on the slopes of the Dolomites, the Pinot Grigio that goes into a bottle of Riff has some kind of class! Crafted by Alto-Adige superstar Alois Lageder for his negociant label, we have all the bling without all the cost. Notes of spicy baked apples interwoven with stony mineral make this a perfect companion for scampi with pasta.

2011 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $12.79, $10.23 reorder
Calling all Rosé lovers! This year’s Grange des Rouquette Rosé is made employing the saignée method, or bleeding of a red wine (in this case, Syrah). It’s electric pink … but it’s fresh, clean, and dry. If there’s a grill nearby, pop this!

2010 Château Couronneau Blanc $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Hailing from Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, the wines from Château Couronneau are proudly farmed organic. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris was bottled using only a small amount of metatartaric acid resulting in harmless tartaric crystals. Citrus blossoms, a hint of herbs, and a crisp palate make this perfect for rotisserie chicken.

2010 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart $16.29, $13.03 reorder
Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc and it thrives in Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart’s Val St. Gregoire vineyard. Apple and peach blossoms dominate the aromatics, and on the palate it is round and fruity. Great with a spicy Thai salad.

2009 Zinfandel, Third Avenue Elke $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Mary Elke may live on Third Avenue in the Coombsville part of Napa, but she gets her “Third Avenue” Zinfandel from Mendocino County. It’s old school Zin, nothing overdone. Medium to full in body; it pairs great with a pork roast.

2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, AgriVerdi $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Picture yourself sitting at a table in the warm shade of an Italian café. Around you are the sights, sounds, and smells of a much different world than ours. The food, ah the food. When you’re sitting at such a table, it is very likely that you will have a wine similar to the AgriVerdi Montepulciano in your glass. Just pour and close your eyes and you’ll be there!

2011 Pinot Noir, Pueblo del Sol $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
If you’re curious about Pinot Noir from Uruguay, here’s your chance to try it. It has all that cherry fruit PN lovers look for, but there is more. On the aromas, there is a distinct note of earthiness and something we like to call polite funk. The palate is medium bodied with the earthy cherries persisting through the finish. A great wine for beef skewers.

2009 Bergerac, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Out in Bergerac, which is just east of the Bordeaux appellation, Daniel Hecquet crafts one of the best bargains in the red wine department. His Château Calabre Bergerac is made from 60% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc. The 2009 vintage smiled on the region and the wine is teeming with red fruit. This will shine with Teriyaki steak.

2010 Bourgogne-Hautes-Cotes-de-Beaune Clos Marc, Domaine Sylvain Langoureau $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Never say never, but you never see Red Burgundy in the Dirty Dozen, do you? Okay, maybe every now and then, but it’s rare! Introducing the Clos Marc from Sylvain Langoureau. All those wild Pinot Noir aromas with a distinct Burgundian twist. A little hint of polite funk and earthiness go a long way to set this apart from other Pinot Noirs. It has Old World written all over it. We suggest pairing it with a marinated skirt steak.

2009 Rouge, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin’s other label is Petite Cassagne, which was actually the name of the domaine she purchased in 1998 and renamed Château d’Or et des Gueules. 2009 wasn’t just a great vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy; add the Rhône to the list! Diane’s Rouge is bold and complex, with dark fruit, black tea, and a forest floor nose. On the palate, it’s fresh and lively with fine tannins. The perfect wine for a baguette and a bowl of olives.

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September 2011 Dirty Dozen

Friday, September 2, 2011 9:11 PM

Heading out to San Francisco, for the Labor Day weekend show … whether or not you have your Hush Puppies on, you know it’s September and that means the kids are back in school, baseball season is entering its ‘pennant race’ phase, and in New Zealand, the Rugby World Cup is kicking off. No matter your distraction, the Dirty Dozen packs a wallop of value! 12 different wines packed into a box for $109? Just say yes.

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Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines

2009 Unico, Tierra de Castilla, Casa Gualda – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Unico, or unique if you will, is a great way to describe this blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel from España. The floral nature of the Moscatel is just the right counter to round out the richness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the result is magic. Think blossoms and herbs on the aromatics, and a bright crispness on the palate. Grill up some halibut for this.

2010 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
It’s 100% Syrah Rosé from the south of France. Though deep pink in color, the palate offers a surprise; it is vibrant, crisp, and DRY. This is truly a Rosé that can pair with just about anything. If you miss the south of France, one taste of this will transport you there.

2009 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Paul Pernot – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Affectionately referred to as Burgundy’s “other” white grape, Aligoté may not have the notoriety of Burgundian Chardonnay but in the hands of the right vigneron (ahem, Paul Pernot!), it shines with bracing minerality and dazzling citrus and green apple flavors. Try alongside poached white fish or semi-soft cheeses.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, MSH – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
MSH Cellars is one of those hidden treasures of Napa that make us wine geeks all giddy. This wine isn’t resting on its Napa laurels, though … It brings the goods too, smooth and creamy through the mid-palate with a bright, citrus finish. Pair this Yountville Sauvignon Blanc with a sunny afternoon and a drumstick.

2009 Marsanne/Viognier, Vignobles Boudinaud – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud have been turning our heads lately with a wealth of high-class wines at very fair prices. This blend has all the makings of a fancy-pants white Rhône without the pretense. Crisp minerality, round Asian pear flavors, perfectly balanced acidity, and a long, dry floral finish make this tough to beat. Friday fish fry is a callin’…

2008 Pinot Gris ‘Im Berg’, Domaine Ehrhart – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Longtime TWH friends, Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart continue to churn out great juice for a great price! They farm organically (2nd generation to do so), and the results are spot on. 2008 was a great vintage in Alsace, and this single-vineyard Pinot Gris has an abundance of complexity. Amazingly versatile, you can pop one with your fish tacos.

2007 Monastrell ‘Hécula’, Bodegas Castaño – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
This is a steal! Seriously, we know you all shop at TWH because we find great value wines at all price points, but this one is not to be believed. We’re not alone in our praise, Steven Tanzer tasted it and said, “This could be a Bandol”. That’s saying a lot. Think deep, rich purple fruit with hints of smoky meat and earth. Pop it with a pork roast.

2009 Baron des Chartrons, Bordeaux – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Here’s yet another sneak-peak into the hugely successful 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. This blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is true to its vintage, showing rich, expressive fruit, great weight and dazzling structure. Goes to show that you don’t need to plop down multiple Benjamins to get a great taste of Bordeaux. A nice T-Bone works here.

2009 Rouge de la Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin has won our hearts yet again with her Rhône-style blend which includes some old-vine Carignane. Keep in mind that this is very young wine, so decanting is highly recommended. Got cassoulet?

2009 Plavac, Dingac – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
New for us this month is a red wine from Croatia! Plavac Mali is one of several indigenous grape varieties, combining the spicy red berries of a Zin with the body of a Beaujolais. It’s fantastically uncomplicated. Enjoy with your cheeseburger.

2009 Morgon Côte du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Speaking of Beaujolais, have you heard about the 2009 vintage? Coupled with the fact that this is CRU BEAUJOLAIS, this has to be the trump card of this month’s DD. Highly complex, the aromas are of forest floor, bright red berry fruit, and earthy minerals. Its palate is light and fresh with very fine tannins. A bowl of olives and a baguette will work.

2010 Côtes de Ventoux ‘Fayard’, Domaine Fondrèche – $16.99, $13.59 reorder
Wünderkind Sébastien Vincenti continues to dazzle us with his Ventoux blends. Sébastien honed his skills under the tutelage of legendary Rhône master André Brunel, and his amazing string of vintage successes is astounding. The Fayard is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (with a little Mourvèdre and Carignane), and it shows rich, ripe fruit, herbs and earth.

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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
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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

NV Cremant d’Alsace: Domaine Ehrhart

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 9:40 AM

Please remember to turn your clocks BACK one hour, as we will resume Standard Time on Sunday, November 7, at 2 AM.  

 

Falling back … falling slowly … falling fast. Whichever way you’re falling, I’ve got a great suggestion that you can fall back on; again and again. The calendar says it’s November 7th. We all know what’s going down here. November 25th is 18 days away … then there’s all that December madness … then there’s early January. Whew! I just had a chill thinking about what I’m going to be up to; all that madness doesn’t end for me until January 15! Let’s just say that in spite of all of the planning and scheduling, there are things that just arise out of the blue, and we need to be prepared for them. This is the perfect time of year to have a little stash of sparkling wine, just in case. You just never know when you may need a bottle or 2, and for a great price, we’ve got a beauty that you can load up on!

We’ve been getting a bunch of new stuff in lately, including the latest batch of NV Cremant d’Alsace from Domaine Ehrhart! Typically when we get new batches of sparkling wines, just as we do with new vintages of wines we know and love, we taste them so we know what’s in the bottle. This past Thursday, we were all here, and that’s always the best time to start popping sample bottles. I’ve elaborated about the rule here at TWH about staff tasting and spitting before, but here we were again. We had some Beaujolais and Bordeaux, and we spat that, but then we tasted the Ehrhart Cremant. It was funny, because it was at the end of the day (coincidence?). It seemed we all had our sample pour in different parts of the shop, but when I first put my nose in the glass, my eyebrows popped! There was an unmistakable mineral drive escorting the creamy apples, peaches, and straw. Tom and Anya both endorse that description, adding that its fruit definition, fresh effervescence, and mouthfeel were perfect. It said au revoir with that fresh zest and a smile. Funny thing, there were nothing but smiles around here Thursday evening. The samples of Beaujolais and Bordeaux were taken home by our staff (guess who got the Bordeaux?), but no one took the Cremant home. Wanna know why? Empty. Yup, the abbreviation for “mountain”; M.T. Do you think anyone spit it? Not a chance, not even the boss! It was that good!

 

Okay, a little perspective here. I am not the boy who cried “Wolf”. Know that. Many of you do, as you’ve come back loading up on the2004 Mont Perat I wrote about a fortnight ago! For a sparkling wine, at this price point, at this time of year, here’s another great buy! At least this is the one I’m stockpiling! 

 

It is with great pleasure that I endorse the Ehrharts’ Cremant in this write-up. It has been over 4 years since Chris and I visited them. You see, Chris built this display during a month where a French promotional group offered a free trip to Alsace for the shop with the best promotion/display. Chris is good. Real good.We won. Maybe it was because I was new here and didn’t know much about Alsatian wines, but I got to go too! We had 3 days with the group, but on the 4th day, we were to see the 2 growers that we represented at the time. The first wasPhilippe and Corinne Ehrhart’s Domaine St. Remy in Wettolsheim.(St. Remy is what they call Domaine Ehrhart in France.) Philippe picked us up in morning rush hour traffic, and we drove for 45 minutes back to the Domaine. It looks just like it does on the label! We met Philippe’s father there, tasted some tank samples, saw the bottling and packaging process, and then we were off for a 2 block walk to meet Corinne at their house. We also met their 2 children who welcomed us. We were in the kitchen, yet I spied a row of bottles on a table in the next room. We walked into the dining room and all of a sudden, it hit me! That smell, that divine smell! Choucroute! Corinne had prepared the dish for us, and joined us in the dining room to present their wines. We tasted through the whole line, spitting of course, then we selected some Grand Cru Riesling for lunch. Wow! Talk about perfect! The food and wine combos were ethereal. Corinne excused herself early, she had to pick up a group of customers at the airport; it was a great pleasure having met her. Lunch was finished, and it was time to check out the vineyards. We first went to Val St. Gregoire where they grow their Pinot Auxerrois, thenHerrenweg (Gewurz & Riesling), then to Grand Cru Brand (Pinot Gris). Then it was back to the house for cafe and little chocolates al fresco, as we enjoyed an Indian Summer afternoon in their backyard. It was way past time for us to go to see our other grower, and when I informed Philippe of this, he said, “That is a shame. I wish you two could stay longer.” Chris and I were more than touched. What a soulful experience!

Our other visit went very well, they were very nice to us. But in no possible way, could I ever forget visiting Philippe and Corinne Ehrhart’s Domaine St. Remy!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Cremant d’Alsace, The English Premiership, or anything else you may have on your mind: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

0 Comment Posted in Alsace

palmer

 

Okay. First, the big news. I will be representing The Wine House at this year’s En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux beginning March 29th. Never mind the fact that long-term forecasts are calling for “showers” for the whole week. Never mind the fact that I’ve been worried sick over making all these reservations and appointments. Anya has threatened to “whack (me) upside the head” if she hears any more worry or concern. But I understand her point. Yes, I am going to Bordeaux. I accept. I will keep quiet. I will be professional. Starting NOW!  

It is no secret that I love Bordeaux. Yes, it’s obvious. Very few things give me as much pleasure as sharing a fine bottle of Claret with the right company. Or Sauternes. Or Dry White Bordeaux, for that matter. I take particular pride in helping those of you who ask for recommendations for all wines Bordelais. It makes me prouder than a parent with an honor student bumper sticker when y’all come in raving about a Bordeaux that I helped you pick out. Well I’ll be. I had to stop typing this for a minute to ask a customer how he liked a half bottle I recommended last week. He loved it! He asked me to recommend something else in 750 ml format. He’s walking out of here today with a 2006 Chateau Fleur Cardinale. Something tells me he’s going to love that one too. 2006, to me, is definitely the most overlooked and underrated Bordeaux vintage that I’ve tasted in a decade!

So far we’re hearing a lot of positive things about the 2009 vintage. We’ve been here before. Vintage of the decade? Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! So I’m going to go find out for myself. And for all of you too! As a matter of fact, I would love to hear from you all about this. I will be tasting a lot of wine. A lot is an understatement. If any of you readers are curious about any particular chateau’s 2009, please drop me a line at:peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net, and let me know which ones you’re interested in, and I’ll do my best to taste and evaluate the wine for you. I can’t guarantee I will be able to answer all requests, but I will do the best I can. I also plan to write about the week’s activities on our blog, with links onFacebook and Twitter. So be a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and I’ll keep you up on all the goings on!

 

vorbourg

 

2003 Domaine Rene Mure/Clos St. Landelin Riesling Vorbourg

White Wine; Riesling; Alsace;
SALE$19.95

Reg. $33.99
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landelinAnd Now My Wine Of The Week:

Changing gears completely, how did you all survive St. Paddy’s week? With the exception of The Chelsea Blues crashing out of the Champions’ League, it has been a positive week for me.I had one particularly great wine-tasting experience. Once upon a time, I was in a rock and roll band that played on Front St. on St. Paddy’s Day four years in a row. For a bunch of amateurs with day jobs, those were the gigs of dreams. Anyhoo, it has become tradition to play music on this day (and get the car parked). Fast forward to this year, and my current band, who got together at Slaggers (That would be my nickname for the lead guitar player’s jam room). In fine Irish tradition, there was corned beef in the Crock Pot, boiled taters, and of course, the cabbage. He called earlier in the day and asked me to “bring a couple bottles of Riesling.” Not wanting to break the bank, I thought to take a shot on the2003 Grand Cru Vorbourg Riesling from Rene Mure. His Grand Cru Rieslings are unbeatable. They are rich and expressive, dry and mineral laden. 2003 was a very hot, dry vintage which made it difficult for the wines to achieve the proper levels of acidity. Mure’s wines were a different story. I tried several of his “entry level” Tradition wines from this vintage and have been impressed with the balance and verve of acidity. So impressed that when I saw a Grand Cru for less than $20, I had to jump on it. At first, I grabbed a bottle, and was looking for something else, and stopped in my tracks. “Why not just grab 2?” I thought. “You know this wine has good acidity, it’s a Grand Cru, it’s going to go over great.” Good instincts.

I got to my buddy’s house around 6:45, found the boys downstairs in the middle of “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, and immediately forgot about my commute. They stopped playing, we all went upstairs, I began to relax, and we assessed dinner was around 30 minutes away. Back down to the room for 3 songs and it was time. Set the table, got the food on serving plates, and out of the fridge came 2 bottles of the Riesling. The pairing couldn’t have been better. Nothing but praise from all 4 corners of the table. The wine had fleshy Riesling fruit, just a hint of petrol, a profound dusty mineral presence, bracing acidity, and a long zippy finish. It’s not just for Corned Beef and Cabbage either. If you like dry Riesling that speaks of a place, don’t pass this up. It’s the bee’s knees!

In just 30 minutes, everything was gone. Except the smiles. This gang knows their wine, so winning their collective praise is not an everyday experience. But on March 17, 2010, I hit the cover off the ball! Hmmm. Just think, what does Grand Cru Burgundy cost? Hmmm. Interesting indeed! The music took on a whole new vibe after dinner, and the beginning of my new song, “Like a Brick Through a Window”, was written! – Peter Zavialoff

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