2015 Château de Raousset Fleurie "Grille-Midi"

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:54 PM

Chateau de Raousset

Best Vintage Since 1947?

Or so says Georges Duboeuf, so we'll take that with a grain of salt.  Though if you search the interwebs for "2015 Beaujolais Vintage," the superlatives are everywhere! 



My favorite wine writer, Andrew Jefford, had this to say about the 2015 vintage in Beaujolais, "The growing season, growers reported, unfolded according to the script they would have written for themselves – except that quantities were smaller than they would have liked.  The main threat to quality came towards the end of July, when the vines were beginning to show signs of drought stress, but cooler nights and showers in August helped enormously, with most beginning harvest towards the end of that month.  Acidities were fresher and balances livelier than in 2009, while the wines avoided some of the hardness of 2005, with a sweeter and more tender style.  Beaujolais vinifications are so various and sometimes risk-taking in style, however, that it’s still important to buy on recommendation."  That last line there is key.



The good news is that our producer, Château de Raousset, took full advantage of the ideal climatic conditions, and produced a line of wines which we highly recommend!  Maybe I'm biased, maybe I'm swayed by its pretty name, but it seems that vintage after vintage, I find their Fleurie "Grille-Midi" to be ideal for my palate.  The 2015 is stunning!  The aromas are all there, bright red cherry fruit, forest floor, again, maybe it's the name, but there's a hint of something floral going on in there too.  On the palate, the wine seems to float gracefully.  The fruit is perfectly ripe and the structure is seamless.  It comes in at 13% alcohol.  One doesn't hear it often, but this Cru Beaujolais can be cellared and should provide plenty of pleasure from now through 2026, if, as Neal Martin says, "you can resist its charms early on."



I don't want to bum anyone out here, but it is fall, and tomorrow is October 1.  An enthusiastic Rosé-loving customer picked up a case of her favorite earlier today and let it be known she wasn't ready for summer to be over, though she was accepting that very fact.  I always think of Cru Beaujolais as a wine which suits autumn perfectly - that forest floor nuance and all.  I also regularly consume, and happily recommend it be served during the fall's biggest holiday, Thanksgiving.  That's right.  Thanksgiving is next month.  That makes socking away a magnum or two a pretty dang good idea.  We do also have Raousset's Chiroubles, with its lighter profile, and also their Morgon "Douby", which is a bit more structured and even more age-worthy.  Though for me, the Fleurie "Grille-Midi" is just right! - Peter Zavialoff



Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2015 Beaujolais, autumn, Thanksgiving wines, or how sweet it is to be rid of the reason I stopped watching my favorite football club for three years:  peter@wineSF.com    
 

2014 Château de Raousset Fleurie "Grille-Midi"

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 5:48 PM

Over the course of any given day here at TWH, we have conversations about a great many things. With two musicians on staff and our speakers tirelessly serenading us, music comes up a lot. But this is a wine shop, so conversations about food and wine are a daily occurrence. The other day, Chris and I were talking about Nouveau Beaujolais. He said that he's never tasted it. I told him that it is usually a light, simple, fruit driven wine. He went on to say that sometimes, the situation may call for simple, yet enjoyable. I get it, but from a value standpoint, it's overpriced. If you want to taste good value wines from Beaujolais, their top wines, the Cru Beaujolais are pretty darned good values; and they're pretty tasty too!


In brief, Beaujolais is a region that sits just south of Burgundy in central France. Its red wines are made from Gamay Noir. The wines tend to be light in body, with aromas of wild berries, flowers, herbs, forest floor, and mineral. Of course, vintages, producers, and terroir vary, so different wines will have different characteristics. The finest vineyards of the appellation are called Beaujolais' Growths, or Crus in French. There are 10 of these Crus, you can find them on the map above. Fleurie is often described as having the prettiest name, reflective of its wines' personality. I won't argue with that. I've written about Château de Raousset's Fleurie before. Now that the 2014 Fleurie "Grille-Midi" is here in stock, I'm writing again.

 

Comparing this Cru Beaujolais to Nouveau isn't fair. So I won't. The 2014 vintage was exceptional in the region. Some are saying that it is the best vintage in Beaujolais since 2005, and that's saying something, as they've had 5 great vintages since then. The wines are expressive in the fruit department and are brimming with aromatic complexity. They can be enjoyed now, though most will benefit from another 3-6 years of aging. When Jeanne-Marie de Champs was here last month, we tasted a lot of Burgundy. I did mention there were other wines. The 2014 Fleurie from Raousset was one of them. And it did not disappoint. The aromas are rich and striking. Layers of wild berry fruit. Spice. Forest floor and a little bit of earthy something. The palate - fresh and intensifying. It's all about the red berry fruit, with the forest floor spice, and lively acidity holding it all together. It's another winner from the producer who Jeanne-Marie always describes as "a great grower." I mean it's great just tasting it here in the tasting room, but I am imagining how good it would be with the right meal.

 

I took a little time out from my usual Friday routine last night and enjoyed a nice dinner with a longtime buddy of mine whom I haven't seen in well over a month! This particular pal of mine is one of my wine tasting friends, and it's always a pleasure to hear his descriptors when tasting. Any of my stories that have ever featured smoked or barbecued meat occurred at his house. Quite the handyman, he's in the process of renovating his kitchen ... as in tearing everything out, including the drywalls. So with nowhere to whip up any side dishes, we went out. We hit a quandary when it came time to choose the wine. He was going with red meat and I wanted chicken. We ended up settling for wines by the glass, which set off some negative comments about by the glass pricing in some restaurants. If only I had thought to bring a bottle of 2014 Fleurie from Château de Raousset, then we both would have been happy! - Peter Zavialoff

Thanksgiving 2015: Some Pairing Ideas

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 1:37 AM


All of us here at TWH were shocked to see and read the news of the tragic events that occurred in Paris on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the French populace.


Not such a pleasant way to commence this week’s Sunday email. Somehow, the topic I’ve had in mind to write about is applicable. Seeing that this is my last Sunday email before Thanksgiving, I will continue the tradition of giving thanks. A good friend of mine summed his feelings up pretty well on his Facebook feed last night. “Very sad day indeed. Could have happened anywhere. Give your loved ones a hug and be grateful for what you have.” A sentiment that I share with many is that giving thanks is an every day activity, not something to be saved exclusively for the fourth Thursday of November.

 
I’ve written about my early perceptions of Thanksgiving before. Most of my life, it was a holiday that I didn’t really celebrate. If I wasn’t skiing, I was bored. I didn’t care for any of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. It wasalways nice to get together with extended family and good friends, but that was it. Of course this all has changed now that I have lobster and Sauternes on Thanksgiving. I’m planning on doing this again, and the wine I’m choosing this year is the 2005 Château Clos Haut Peyraguey. Why? A pair of cosmic tumblersfalling into place.
 
 
Tumbler #1 – The property was purchased by Bordeaux chateaux mogul Bernard Magrez in 2012. TWH was just paid a visit by a Magrez’s export director last Monday, and he commented on our having a couple of back vintages of Clos Haut Peyraguey in stock. We spoke about Barsac and Sauternes at length, and I’m pretty black and white about my feelings for the wines. I think he got my drift.
 
Tumbler #2: It’s a 2005, a fantastic vintage for the wines of Barsac and Sauternes. I can recall John’s excitement about the quality of Bordeaux’s sweet wines when he returned from the region in the spring of 2006. Ben went so far as to purchase some ’05 Clos Haut Peyraguey futures citing its geographical proximity to Yquem.Then there was the tasting of 2005 Sauternes that I attended in 2008, leaving me with quite the impression, especially for Château Coutet. I last had 2005 Coutet on my birthday back in September and it was showing brilliantly! 10 years has worked its magic on the wine which was revealing some bottle bouquet and secondary characteristics. It was still fresh and youthful, yet layered and intellectual. We are trying to get more. I’ll get back to you on that.
 
Back on Wednesday evening, I was invited to the home of a very good friend to celebrate the end of his six year quest for a particular certification. To celebrate he picked up a USDA Prime Tri-Tip, marinated it, and slow cooked it for hours. He finished it off in a pan and popped a1993 Penfolds Grange. It was my very first taste of what is considered Australia’s finest wine. It was a great experience, and along with another good friend we discussed many of the finest food and wine pairings we’ve enjoyed over the years. He humbly dismissed the tri-tip/Grange pairing from being among the best (it belongs in the argument), and poured full praise for “The year you brought that magnum of Fleurie to Thanksgiving dinner.” There’s a lot to say in support for Cru Beaujolais at the Thanksgiving table. It’s light. It’s complex. It’s versatile. It smells like fall. As the holiday approaches, we have helped many customers with their “Beaujolais for Thanksgiving” orders.
 
 
As I stated above, giving thanks is something that should be done daily, and I have reason to be grateful for many people and things these days. 2015 has been a very challenging year for me personally, and I wouldn’t be in the state I’m in without the tremendous support that I have received from so very many. Giving thanks, BIG TIME! Happy Thanksgiving!!! – Peter Zavialoff

2011 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie

Monday, November 4, 2013 7:58 PM



raoussetAnd POW! Just like a splash of cold water in the face, autumn is upon us. It started last Monday, Anya came in with sad news from the Sunday Farmers’ Market, no more tomatoes.  The colder nights have taken their toll on the treehouse and the car: out came the dehumidifier in the former, and on with the defrost in the latter. Then baseball season came to an end. Then I watched an NBA game. Then I saw a bunch of people, big and small, parading around in costume. And now we’re turning back the clocks? What can I say? I do realize that we are fortunate here in the SF Bay Area as summer doesn’t end until November. But now it’s November, and when I take my sunglasses off this evening after driving home, I will realize that this was their final appearance for the after work ride home until late March! I was hanging out with a buddy last weekend, and he asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving dinner … apparently, he wants to host a gathering made up of mostly musical types, to feast, revel, and jam. It looks like my calendar’s free, and if I’m invited to such a fête, I’ve got the wine all figured out. Howzabout a magnum of delicious Cru Beaujolais? Yes, the 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”.

Every year right around now I am frequently asked for advice on what wines to serve at Thanksgiving. It all depends on what’s being served and who’s coming and how many and … yeah. First thing’s first, don’t overthink it. If you want to open something fancy, by all means, please do so. It IS Thanksgiving after all. I used to open fancy full-bodied red wines with my family back in my rambunctious youth, and as inappropriate as they were from a pairing perspective, I was happy to share such nice wine with my loved ones. If you want to dial in pairing perfection, there are several avenues to take, and it all depends on what exactly is being served. When I think of the traditional Thanksgiving table I must say that, first of all, it’s tricky. Second of all, it’s pretty much all about white wine. I know, I know. Many of you want to drink red wine, and that’s perfectly fine. If you’re going to go the red route, it’s fun to tone it down a bit. That’s where Cru Beaujolais gets you. So when I first saw the magnums of 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”, I thought, “Thanksgiving Party.”


fleurie2011 represents the third vintage of wines that we’ve imported from Château de Raousset. Are we ever glad to have them in TWH family!!! Whenever we taste the Raousset wines with our Burgundy negociante Jeanne-Marie de Champs, she never fails to say, “A great grower.”  Raousset is a property that dates back to the 18th century with the current structure dating back to 1850. They make 3 different Cru bottlings. A Chiroubles, Morgon, and this here Fleurie. According to their website, the Chiroubles and Morgon won silver medals at the annual Paris tasting in 2012, but the Fleurie “Grille-Midi” took the gold! I guess their judges were wowed by the same factors as our staff: Bright wild cherry, forest floor, moist clay, ripe olives, a hint of tar and allspice. That’s a lot of aromatic complexity. The palate, like most Gamay Noir, is light bodied, which allows all of that complexity to ping off your olfactory sensors. It’s balanced by bright acidity which keeps it interesting throughout its finish. It kind of reminds me a little of the 2011 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet that came and went two weeks’ time! It smells like red wine, yet is light in body, with a fruity middle, and a crisp finish. Only the Fleurie has so much more interesting complexity.

I don’t mean to scare anybody; Thanksgiving is still a long ways away, but it will sneak up on you if you’re not looking. I’m guessing these magnums of Fleurie won’t still be in-stock come November 27, but never fear, we still have 750’s of it as well. It’s just that nothing says “festivity” better than large format wine bottles. And for Thanksgiving wines that smell like autumn, are light in body, and reasonable in price? It’s all about the 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving wines, large format bottlings, Cru Beaujolais, or today’s no-show on Tyneside: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Pierre Savoye Morgon Côte du Py

Sunday, July 8, 2012 2:56 PM

How was everyone’s 4th of July week? It seems many of you took long weekends on the front end or on the back end, and some (like Anya) took the whole week off! Whichever way you celebrated, I hope you had fun.It was a crazy week around TWH, as holiday weeks tend to be, but a good week for me as well. As if the 4th wasn’t a spectacle (it was), it was on the 5th when the cosmic tumblers aligned themselves in proper fashion.

 

The year of the live show continued this week, much thanks to a tap on the shoulder by our sales rep Jon, who gave me a heads up on the “about to sell out in 15 minutes” Gaslight Anthem show at the Independent. The Independent.On Divisidero St. Do you know what’s a half block from the Independent? That’s right, Nopa. Nopa could very well be my favorite restaurant in the city. Sometimes I wonder if I purposely go to shows at the Independent JUST so I can eat at Nopa beforehand. Probably so, though I wonder if the 2 band members seated behind us purposely booked their gig at the Independent so THEY could eat there. Hmmm. Anyways, dinner was a smash, the food impeccable, but eating at Nopa can be challenging if one table is to confine themselves to 1 bottle of wine. There are so many flavors and textures involved that diners need a very versatile vino. The epicurean experience was to conclude with duck, so the wine would be red. But what? Lost in the wine list, I had a sudden moment of brilliance. Gamay! Of course, Cru Beaujolais would do the trick. It won’t be overbearing on the appetizers, yet its fruity profile will sing with the duck. A glance at the handful of Gamays on the list revealed one 2009 Cru Beaujolais selection. We went with that and it shined!Spectacularly.

After an experience like that, coming in the next morning I made a bee line to the Cru Beaujolais section and grabbed a bottle of 2009 Pierre Savoye Morgon Côte du Py, and it was stellar. As they did at Nopa, I poured it in a Burgundy glass (wide concave bulb). The aromatics alone are what make Cru Beaujolais fun! “There’s strawberry, raspberry, some other kind of berry … wait, no, that’s blueberry, bay leaf, licorice … or is that fennel? No, actually it’s Sambuca like, anise, and sweet tobacco.” And it goes on like that. On the palate, it’s more of the same as nuance after nuance emerge to give you a little kiss but keep the experience lighthearted. Fortunately, the price of Cru Beaujolais is still more than reasonable. So happy as I was with the 2009 Savoye Morgon Côte du Py, I was ready to extol the virtues of “The best red wine for summer outings” in the form of an email, as Beaujolais drinks extremely well with a slight chill. Great idea, but then I realized that I did that very thing a year ago. Oh well, I get a lot of grief from friends and coworkers for telling some of my stories over and over and over, and my response is, “at least you know I’m telling the truth.” Or in this case, at least you know how I really feel. As evidenced by the dwindling representation of 2009 Cru Beaujolais on Nopa’s winelist, consider this email a “last call” if you will, on the fine 2009 Pierre Savoye Morgon Côte du Py.

 

For those of you who are nearing the end of your long holiday weekend (or entire week!), I hope all went well. For the rest of us who’ve been at it every day except the 4th, let us all enjoy a glorious Sunday. I’m certain that the year of the live show will continue (I’ve got a few pairs of tickets already), but more Nopa dinners? Now that’s another story, but here’s to hoping!!!Peter Zavialoff

 

PS: We’ll be unveiling a very special wine come Tuesday … stay tuned!

2009 Domaine Pierre Savoye Morgon Cote du Py

Monday, August 8, 2011 9:26 PM

So how’s everyone’s summer going? Tasting anything exciting? Things are great here at TWH. By virtue of the generosity of a great many individuals, I’ve been lucky enough to sip 1996 Lagrange, 1986 Clerc Milon, 1975 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese from Sanctus Jacobus, and 1971, 1949 and 1926 Coutet this summer (The latter 3 at the Bastille Day dinner we had with Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet at Range Restaurant – look for a recap of the event in form of a blog post next week). So yes, very lucky. But drinking special occasion wine isn’t really what summer is all about, is it? When I think of summer wines, I think of grabbing a chilled bottle of Rosé and running out the door to a picnic. Or maybe sipping a cool, crisp white wine from the French countryside with friends while we wait for the coals to heat up. But what if you want something red? Beaujolais is THE perfect summer red wine. It’s fresh, it’s lightweight, has uber-friendly cherry-like fruit, and it tastes terrific with a slight (very slight) chill! Last night’s homerun was the 2009 Domaine Pierre Savoye Morgon, Côte du Py.

 

We all know how quickly plans can change, and when I realized my curry chicken/Gewurztraminer pairing was not going to happen for favor of bow-tie pasta with red bell pepper sauce, I was thrilled that I just happened to have a bottle of Savoye’s 2009 Morgon handy. We’ve already told you all how great a vintage 2009 was for Beaujolais,especially Cru Beaujolais. Seriously, to describe it, one would have to use the word “perfect”. I’m desperately trying to forget about the case I socked away in the cellar (I really want to see what 10 years can do to great Gamay!). Anyway, when I caught wind of the pasta sauce, I knew the Savoye was going to be perfect. Popped the cork, poured out some glasses and the color gets you straight away. Its bright color is reminiscent of cranberry meets ruby, but hold on to your hat when you go in for the aromatics! I got dark cherry and cedar yes, but then something smokey and earthy, and then the fruit came back with more focus than before … amazing. No better idea than to taste it at this point, and I tipped the glass. I found myself in the middle of a black cherry and raspberry forest! It was fresh and lively, dancing on the palate like a mongoose at a rave. Seriously, it had everything I look for in a great Gamay! The finish was bright and zippy and it teamed up with the acid in the pasta sauce perfectly. Let it be known that I will be pouring Cru Beaujolais with pasta way more often!

 

So there you have it. Summer is still a long way from being over. There will still be plenty of warm weather left for your summer wines of choice. Be they pink, white or red. Yes, do try a chilled Beaujolais, you won’t regret it (30 minutes or so in the fridge is usually perfect). Especially if it’s the 2009 Domaine Savoye Morgon Côte du Py. Me? I’m happy. Tomorrow morning I’ll be watching the Charity Shield. Welcome back footy season!!!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any great tasting experiences from this summer, about 2009 Cru Beaujolais, the Charity Shield, or anything else: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

June 2011 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, June 4, 2011 3:19 PM

To quote N.P. Willis, “It is the month of June, the month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes, and pleasant scents the noses.” In other words, summer is underway!! Strawberries are ripe for the pickin’, dads everywhere await their moment in the spotlight, and the next baseball game is but a moment away. Best of all, TWH’s latest Dirty Dozen is all revved up and ready to go: 12 fantastic wines, picked for their versatility, packed into one box, all for an incredible price. Enjoy!

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2008 Muller Thurgau, Niedermayr – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
A unique wine from a unique Italian province where German is the language of choice for many and the wines follow suit. This dry white wine boasts delicate floral aromas with notes of Asian pear, dried herbs, and hints of minerality. Pairs perfectly with pesce bianco or sauerkrautsalat mit schinken.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande – $11.29, $9.03 reorder
The legendary Yves Grassa has conjured up yet another stellar vintage of Sauvignon Blanc from the Gascogne region, just SW of Bordeaux. If you’ve had his wines in the past, we had you at “Lalande”. If not, one sip will have you scratching your head wondering, “How do they do it so inexpensively?” A must have with summer salads and ceviche.

2010 Rose, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Oh my, if we had a nickel for every time someone came into the shop and swooned over this dry Rose … bright, candied red fruit, sweet herbs, and a touch of mineral from the cailloux-rich Costieres de Nimes soil from whence this wine came.

2007 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart – $16.59, $13.27 reorder
Pinot what? Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. Just take comfort in knowing it’s the finest clone of Pinot Blanc made by a revered Alsatian producer. Fresh apple and peach blossom aromas lead to a mouthfeel that is round, slightly off-dry and has a juicy apple-like finish. Bonus points for being certified organic and a killer value to boot!

2008 Vouvray ‘Silex’, Domaine d’Orfeuilles – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Wow, a Vouvray in the Dirty Dozen? Hey, you work hard you deserve to be spoiled. This wine’s ripe, round orchard fruit and uber-mineral-driven palate just begs to be paired with oysters … on a diamond-studded serving platter, of course.

2009 Chardonnay, Grayson Cellars – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
We’re straight up giddy about the quality Grayson Cellars puts into their wine for such great prices. Aged in French oak, this Napa Chardonnay shows aromatics of apples, apricots, and spice with nervy acidity that holds all the fruit together as it rolls into a rich finish. Versatile, yes, but we’re thinking lobster rolls on a sunny afternoon here.

2007 Tradicional, Quinta do Alqueve – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
This wine is hearty, honest, and plain old delish – a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Trincadeira, and Periquita. It is an outstanding representation of what a “country” wine from Portugal should be. Think wood fired pizza with this one.

2009 Merlot Rutherford, MSH Cellars – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
There’s a reason we’ve stood by Merlot all these years, and here it is. No costumes, no make-up, just pure Rutherford Merlot. It’s safe to assume that fruit from this vineyard source makes its way into bottles with much fancier names and much higher prices. Napa Valley fruit never tasted so good, especially at this price. Mmmm … burgers on the grill!

2009 Beaujolais Lantignie, Chateau du Basty – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Sure, if including the Vouvray listed above is spoiling you … then the inclusion of this 2009 Beaujolais in the DD is spoiling you rotten! Ideal weather leads to heaven in a bottle. Juicy red fruit, cedar chest, and forest floor dominate the nose. The palate is lightweight, as Gamay tends to be, but generous with its liveliness. It’s cassoulet time.

2010 Merlot, Saint Antoine – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
And you thought we were done talking about Merlot! We wouldn’t be properly representing our love for the grape if we didn’t throw a bottle from the motherland in the mix. And wowzers, has Saint Antoine stepped up their game in 2010. Fleshy, plummy fruit meets violets and herbs de Provence in this approachable yet authentically French VdP.

2009 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzouli – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
We’ve been importing Enrico Pierazzouli’s Tuscan wines for over a decade now, and why wouldn’t we? They’re loaded with character, speak of a place, and leave plenty of dough in your pocketbook. This Chianti is 100% Sangiovese and has plenty of depth and complexity. Best pair this one with a hearty bistecca or a steaming bowl of pasta Bolognese.

2009 Zweigelt, Berger – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
You learn some of the coolest stuff listening to Tom talk about wine. The other day he was helping a customer and mentioned that Zweigelt was a hybrid of Austrian red heavyweight Blaufrankish. A little research reveals that a fellow named Zweigelt came up with this by crossing it with St. Laurent. Who benefits? If you’re grilling brats, you do!

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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

2009 Chateau du Basty Beaujolais Lantignie

Monday, February 14, 2011 3:49 PM

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So, I came in this morning with a great wine tasting experience. Last night up in the treehouse, I tasted yet another great 2009 Beaujolais, I had a half-bottle of 2009 Beaujolais Lantignie from Chateau du Basty. This morning, even with a coffee buzz, I couldn’t figure out how to put pen to paper and let y’all in on it. So I stopped thinking about it. Until now. Something I’ve noticed about Beaujolais is that some people are allergic to the name alone. Nevermind whatincredible, delicate and complex wines come from Beaujolais. Some people are prejudiced against them. Edward R. Murrow once said,“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them.” That’s pretty mature thinking. I’m wondering if I’m capable of that kind of thought. I’m going to give it a shot.

 

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One of the reasons that I just couldn’t get pen to paper about this wine is football. Okay, soccer. I support Chelsea. We’re currently the English Premiership title holders. Things haven’t gone so well this year, I won’t bore you with the ugly details, but yeah, not so well. When you’re a champion, you unfortunately become prisoner to that experience. You hold on to that delusion until faced with fact. Mathematical elimination. Today, “The Big One”, as in Manchester United won their local derby inspectacular fashion. After seeing this, in spite of not being mathematically eliminated; in spite of the fact that we play them twice still, I recognize them as The Champions of 2010/2011. That’s not easy to do, not easy to think. Imagine what it takes to put into writing.

 

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Anyhoo, back to the Beaujolais. A great many people have tried wines with the name “Beaujolais” on the label that tastes nothing like real Beaujolais. Prisoners of their own experiences.Recognize the prejudice and let go, people. Just like United is a great team, Beaujolais is great wine. 2009 seems to have been a cracking vintage in most French appellations; in Beaujolais, it was one of the best in memory. You may have heard about some 2009 Beaujolais already, and now we have another, the 2009 Chateau du Basty Beaujolais Lantignie. Lantignie is a Beaujolais Village just next to the Cru of Regnie. It is a village wine of distinction. It truly speaks of a place. I whipped up some meatballs and pasta last night, set the ipod to “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, and popped the cork on the Basty. Hehe. Sometimes it’s just not fair. I know for a fact that last night there were people unsatisfied with their wine pairings who invested far more than I did. The Beaujolais Lantignie was heavenly. There were aromas of cedar and forest floor (something I always associate with Gamay), bright red cherry fruit wafting up from the glass like divine evaporation. On the palate, it showed amazing weight, and for a Gamay, surprisingly sturdy tannins. Something I’ve noticed about all 2009 Beaujolais I’ve tasted this year is the perfect harmony of bright, zippy fruit and the rich structure of acid/tannins. All of that paired so well with my spicy meatballs, pasta and sauteed spinach, that I finished all of it. When I arose from the table, I felt heavy. I ate too much. Why? It was too good, that’s why. Food, Beaujolais and all.

 

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So, not exactly mature thought, but in spite of my prejudice (I’m a prisoner),I acknowledge the fact that we’ll be looking at red trophy ribbons this May. Accepting this is actually healthy.Funny, a customer I helped earlier today came to the counter with a bottle each of Cremant d’Alsace, Red Burgundy and Gewurztraminer. I engaged her in conversation regarding the randomness of her selections. She went on to say that she normally drinks California wines, and that she wasbroadening her horizons. Speaking for the entire staff of TWH, we all should embrace this customer’s methodology. Especially when it comes to Beaujolais. Do not miss out on 2009 Beaujolais, period.Look, if I can accept that Man U are Champions in early February, and that ain’t easy; you can enjoy a glass of the finest Gamay on the planet. And that IS easy!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with great quotes from Edward R. Murrow, or with any questions or comments about Beaujolais, prejudice, Man U or Chelsea: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

PS: Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the holiday, Emily has agreed to undertake a project related to Valentine’s Day, and post it to our blog. If it’s anything like her Valentine’s Day post last year, we expect a million blog hits!

2009 Beaujolais: Chateau de Raousset

Monday, October 4, 2010 3:01 PM

The last couple of emails from Pete have highlighted some stunning discoveriesmade by David on his scouting trip to France earlier in the year. Burgundy was not the only place David struck gold. The Wine House has now added a magnificent producer of Cru Beaujolais: Chateau de Raousset. And as luck would have it, we were able to secure all three reds Raousset makes from the highly lauded 2009 vintage. I been hearing and reading a lot of praise for ’09 Beaujolais.Many vintners have described it as a near perfect vintage. I couldn’t wait for the Raousset wines to finally land. Wasting no time to taste them, after the container was unloaded, we cut through the shrink wrapped pallets and ripped open a box. I had the honor of popping the corks for the staff tasting. Upon first whiff, it was clear that we were in for something very special. Upon first sip, I was doing my best impression of the cartoon dog that oohs and ahhs then faints in ecstasy. A little carried away, sure, but when wine is this delicious, I can’t help myself.

 





















































Chateau de Raousset dates back to 1761 and what stands today was built in 1850. There are three reds: a Chiroubles, where the estate is located, a Fleurie and a Morgon. Each wine is distinct and representative of its Cru, or village, of which there are nine named in Beaujolais. It is easy to fall into wine writing cliché most of the time, but almost impossible to avoid when writing about Beaujolais. For instance, how else to explain the charm and seriousness of Cru Beaujolais but by making sure to point out that they are NOT Nouveau. If your experience with Beaujolais has indeed been only with Nouveau, understand that Cru Beaujolais is a whole other animal. In exceptional vintages such as 2009, Beaujolais will age gracefully, especially wines from Morgon. Another cliché which can’t be avoided is to mention how versatile and food-friendly Beaujolais can be. The soft tannins and cheerful fruit help to make Cru Beaujolais a star at the table; a major reason why most Saturdays, when contemplating Sunday dinner, if in doubt, I go home with one of Raousset’s Beaujolais. You can’t go wrong.

 

As already mentioned, Raousset makes three reds. The 2009 Chiroubles has a deep raspberry color with explosive aromas of berry and spice. It is super juicy and has slurpability. The 2009 Fleurie comes from a vineyard named “Grille Midi”. Just like with the Chiroubles, there is plenty of fruit along with notes of forest floor, crushed minerals, and perfumed aromas. The Fleurie is just so pretty and elegant; it’s the complete package. The 2009 Morgon from the vineyard “Douby” is, as expected, bigger-scaled than the other two and has a firmer grip. It has big blueberry/grapey flavors and its own aromatic profile. I hope to revisit this one in a few years. That said, the fruit component on all three wines is so juicy and expressive and the tannins so fine, you can enjoy drinking them right away. The fog has crept back in, Autumn is officially here and the air just smells crispy-er. With a bottle of Raousset in tow, I’m thinking a simple roast Chickie should suffice this weekend – its been a rough week and I’m craving comfort.- Anya Balistreri

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