Fresh off the heels of his recent visit, we are happy to announce the arrival of five new wines from producer Daniel Hecquet. We’ve been working with Daniel for over 15 years, and for the past 4, we have been directly importing his wines from Montravel and Bergerac. His passion for winemaking is so genuine and intense that it once moved a member of our staff to tears (we won’t say whom). Both Château Puy-Servain and Château Calabre are located just east of the Bordeaux appellation near Sainte Foy la Grande. It has become part of the annual Bordeaux pilgrimage to visit Daniel and to taste his wines while attending the en primeurs tastings each April. His wines are sensational and they make for amazingly great values. Growing vines in both appellations, Daniel is one of the top producers in the area. His Château Calabre line of wines are bottled in screwcap, and are top notch for their price points. The 2012 Calabre Montravel Blanc is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. It’s bright, crisp, and zippy. Just the right amount of fruit and freshness. The 2010 Bergerac Rouge is made from 60% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s all tank fermented, so it’s clean, pure, and perfectly quaffable. Don’t miss out on these great values. 

 

 

For his Château Puy-Servain label, Daniel sources fruit from older vines in prime locations.The Puy-Servain 2012 Montravel blanc Terrement is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. It too is all tank fermented and exhibits a formidable presence of terroir and harmony. The flagship red, Daniel’s 2010 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes comes from old vine Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It sees some time in oak barrel, which imparts both spicy nuance and texture to the fuller bodied Bordeaux-style blend. A huge lover of Sauternes, Daniel spent some time in his youth working at the hallowed Château d’Yquem. He must have caught the bug there, because he continues to bottle his 2009 Haut Montravel in the Sauternais style. It’s made from 100% Sémillon, and for the price, it is tough to beat. As a matter of fact, considering their prices, they’re all tough to beat! 
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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!


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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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2009 Château Calabre Bergerac Rouge Part Deux

Monday, May 14, 2012 7:27 PM

Happy Mothers’ Day! Wow! How’d it get to be the middle of May already? I was just telling Chris that it’s been over a month since I returned from Bordeaux, but it feels like it’s been just a few days. Matter of fact, 2 different groups of customers visited the shop today asking me if I “just got back?” With all that’s been going on,it sure feels that way.

 

There’s so much that went on this year in Bordeaux, I’ll try to keep you up on it all as we go along. Pricing for many of the 2011 Futures for the petits châteaux has been released already, and we have begun to see pricing from a handful of Cru Classé producers. Though hardly as effortless as the past 2 vintages have been, I did find many barrel samples to my liking and we will be purchasing those wines and offering them to you very soon! If there are any châteaux of particular interest to you, please don’t hesitate to send me an email, and we will do our best to source it.

My trips to Bordeaux are certainly not confined to just Bordeaux either. An explorer/traveler type by nature, I have visited Côtes de Bourg, Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol, Sainte Foy la Grande, Graves, and I have always made a point of visiting Barsac/Sauternes each time I’m there. (Only this year, I just visited Barsac.) One trip that logs a lot of rental car kilometers is the one out past Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, beyond the Côtes de Francs to Montravel and Daniel Hecquet’s Château Calabre. This year I got to taste his 2010 reds, 2011 whites, and his 2009 Liquoreaux. I’m excited by what I tasted, and am looking forward to the wines’ arrival later this fall. In the mean time, one wine that came and went rather quickly was Daniel’s 2009 Château Calabre Bergerac Rouge. I remember being quite taken by it while tasting with Daniel in April of 2011, and even more so when the first pallet arrived last fall. It seems many of you were as taken by it as I was as a healthy inventory position seemed to evaporate quicker than ice cubes on a hot summer day in Chicago. It may still seem to me that I just got back from Bordeaux the other day, but one major event that has transpired since my return has been the arrival of a new container from France. On it is another pallet of Daniel Hecquet’s famous 2009 Château Calabre Bergerac Rouge.

It’s a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc, and it’s long on class yet short on price. Being a stone’s throw away from the “Bordeaux” appellation has blessed the wine with quality, yet being over the border keeps the price down which is a blessing to us wine consumers. It’s a bit of a no-brainer, really; all that quality in a bottle for less than $10 (case price), no wonder it sold out quicker than you can say, “I’ll take a case”!!??

 

Since I started typing, another customer just popped in and, no kidding, she asked me if I just got back from France – that makes 3! So yes, it still feels like I just got back, and I’ve lots to talk about. I will certainly be keeping you up on 2011 Bordeaux as we progress with the Futures campaign, and a WHOLE LOT of other stuff too! Happy Mothers’ Day!Peter Zavialoff

 

P.S. I will not be in the shop next Saturday, May 19th. Superstition forbids me to comment further, but I’m certain some of you know why. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Bergerac, 2011 Futures, or next Saturday: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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December 2011 Dirty Dozen

Thursday, December 8, 2011 4:12 PM

Brrr! That chill in the air makes it so easy to imagine logs on the fire, the room full of friends and family, the smells of home cooking, and the sound of corks being pulled. However and with whomever you spend the Holidays, just know there is a case of wine all different, all chosen for their versatility, for one incredibly low price, The Dirty Dozen! Bring one of these to a party, and they’ll be cheering you, for sure!

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2010 Chenin Blanc Clarksburg, Blue Plate – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
We were pleasantly surprised when we were poured an unassuming sample recently by one of our regular wine reps. Quality California Chenin Blanc at a super-friendly price. Think round melon-like aromas and flavors with a dry mouth feel and a crisp, layered finish. A brilliant kick-off to the last DD of the year! Great with your Chinese Chicken salad.

2010 Chardonnay, Mirth – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hailing from the Owen Roe folks up in Oregon, this 100% steel-tank fermented Chardonnay goes a long way in the quality-for-price category. It has crisp, lively acidity that marries the fruity combo of apples and citrus blossoms in friendly harmony. This one will get your party started in proper fashion. Enjoy with shrimp scampi with pasta.

2010 Les Tours, Domaine la Hitaire – $10.39, $8.31 reorder
Is Ugni Blanc the most widely planted grape in France? (Across the border in Italy, it is known as Trebbiano.) The majority of it is used in spirits, but leave it to our héros de Gascogne, Yves Grassa to make tasty wine from it. It’s crisp and clean, again all tank fermented, with lively acidity that suggests it makes a great match with a breaded filet of sole.

2010 Touraine Rosé, Domaine des Corbillières – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
One of our Loire Valley superstars, Dominique Barbou of Domaine des Corbillières makes his ever-popular Rosé from Pinot Noir grown among his 50 acres of vineyards. He steeps this wine for 12 hours before transferring the juice to a settling vat for fermentation. That’s how he coaxes out the lovely salmon meets pink color; hints of spice and citrus are present.

2010 Blanc de Château Couronneau – $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Proud practitioners of the Agricole Biologique process, Christophe and Bénédicte Piat blend 50% Sauvignon Gris with 50% Sauvignon Blanc for their Bordeaux Blanc. In this day and age of scarce and expensive White Bordeaux, it’s nice to know that winemakers like Christophe are keeping it real for us. Enjoy with a Crab Louie.

2009 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Paul Pernot – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Come on! Burgundy’s other white grape, Aligoté is quite the delight for, ahem, a fraction of the price of conventional White Burgundy. Monsieur Pernot needs no introduction as he is among a handful of superstars from the village of Puligny. This Aligoté is fresh and crisp with just the right nerve to sit cozy along side that bowl of mussels.

2009 Calatayud Niño Jesús, Tinto Figaro – $10.48 net price, $9.43 reorder
From España, this 100% old-vine Garnacha is yet another astounding value coming from the Iberian peninsula. The aromatics scream of black cherries and dark berries with a touch of spice; on the palate, the fruit explodes with hints of raspberries and boysenberries. Smooth and balanced, this could be a cocktail wine as well as a great pizza wine.

2009 CMS Columbia Valley, Hedges Family Estate – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
We have become very intrigued with the entire line of goods coming from the Hedges Family. This blend of 39% Cab Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 16% Syrah, all sourced from Washington State’s Columbia Valley tips the scale of quality/price yet again. Medium to full body, the CMS has great balance yet will shine with a grilled porterhouse.

2009 Valdubón Cosecha – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
The last vintage of Valdubón made our Top 10 Wines of the Year in 2010, and we are happy to be carrying the latest release as well. 100% Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero goes a long way in the delectability department. Round medium-bodied fruit is framed by an herbal component that makes it a cinch to go with pasta arabiatta.

2009 Bergerac Rouge, Château Calabre – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Daniel Hecquet’s Château Calabre lies just beyond the Bordeaux AOC near St. Foy la Grande. You will hear about the 2009 Bordeaux vintage for many years to come, and this Bergerac will offer you a hint of what all the commotion is about. A blend of Merlot and the two Cabs, it is rich and lively, yet priced where it can be enjoyed on a Tuesday evening.

2007 Tradicional, Quinta do Alqueve – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Portuguese workhorse Touriga Nacional is blended here with Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Trincadeira, and Perquita to make for this ever-popular red quaffer. A kiss of oak spice wraps the package up and makes it perfect for lamb shanks.

2009 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzuoli – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Here at TWH, we’ve been importing Enrico Pierazzuoli’s wines from just west of Firenze for well over a decade! Why? Quality, of course. Not your grandmother’s Chianti (straw bottle, etc.), this 100% Sangiovese is teeming with vibrant fruit and has the depth and texture of wines in a much fancier category. Pop the cork with that Pappardelle Toscana.

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The Wines Of Chateau Calabre And Chateau Puy-Servain

Saturday, October 8, 2011 3:28 PM

One of Anya’sfavorite things to say to customers is, “We taste a lot of bad wine so you don’t have to.” It’s a great quote, mostly because it’s true. But that’s part of the job.We also taste a lot of great wine, and those we share with you.Sometimes it’s easy. A rep comes in and pours something great, we love it, we order it, and it arrives the next day, and it’s on your table come Saturday night. Sometimes, it’s not so easy. Sometimes one of us will fly out to New York or Chicago for a large platform regional tasting, knowing the wines are overseas awaiting importation. Sometimes one of us will fly overseas to meet old friends and attend big tastings. Again, it’s not like we can carry-on 500 cases of wine, so the wine’s got to wait. That’s what we’ve got here. Back in April, while attending the 2010 Bordeaux En Primeurs tastings, there were people to visit and other things to taste. One of the “other things to taste” happened to be the 2001 Lannesan which sold out faster than you can say “screaming bargain”. When the sanctioned tastings finished, there was time to visit some old friends and taste their wines.Just beyond the northeast corner of the Bordeaux appellation, a stone’s throw from the border town of Ste-Foy-la-Grande, Daniel Hecquet makes the wines of Château Calabre and Château Puy-Servain. The nameDaniel Hecquet may be a familiar one. We’ve carried Daniel’s wines going all the way back to the 1980’s through our relationship with importer Robert Kacher Selections. RKS stopped importing Daniel’s wines a couple of years ago, and it was our strong desire to rekindle the relationship. In April 2010, following perfect driving directions provided to me by our friends at Vieux Château Gaubert (more wines from them coming soon), I met Daniel at Château Puy-Servain and got the ball rolling again. I tasted through both lines, the Château Calabre and the Puy-Servain. The wines were in a word, fantastic. Not only that, by virtue of direct importation, they offered gigantic value! Sitting across the table from Daniel later that evening at dinner, I was awestruck at how passionate he was about his vineyards and his wines. I won’t name names, but one of our staffers was once moved to tears as Daniel spoke about wine. We had agreed that we would once again bring his wines into California, said goodnight, and that was that.
Sometimes logistics don’t go our way, or the timing is slightly off, but whatever the reason, we weren’t able to get those wines here last year. That didn’t stop Daniel from welcoming me again this past April. His passion and enthusiasm as warm and fuzzy as always, I apologized for not getting the previous vintage on a container. Dismissing my apology as one of those things that just happens, he guided me to the tasting table, eager to pour the wines for me. I WAS COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY! The Château Calabre wines were fresh, high-toned, and balanced. Given their pricing, it’s tantamount to giving the wines away. The Château Puy-Servain wines are more focused and precise, again for very resonable prices (Tasting notes on all 5 below). Maintaining my composure was difficult at best, but I managed. I also managed to assure Daniel that we would be loading up on his wines, and that I would have the conversation immediately upon my return to San Francisco. All systems were go as we placed our order, and the waiting game began. Just as with the 2001 Lanessan, more great overseas tasting discoveries have arrived! The wait is over. Come on down and check ’em out. – Peter Zavialoff

 

2010 Chateau Calabre Montravel Blanc
White Wine; Sauvignon Blanc; Other France;
$10.99
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50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle. “Bright, fresh, hints of pears and cut grass aromas. You really get a sense of the Semillon. On the palate: easy entry, soft, round white fruit, the crisp acidity picks up mid palate and takes it all along for a crisp, zippy finish.”

Funny story. I brought this over a White Bordeaux loving friend’s house last weekend and we popped it with some halibut. He tasted it and asked me the price point. I said, “sub 10”. He said, “2 cases please”.

2009 Chateau Calabre Bergerac Rouge
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$10.99
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If this isn’t a winner, there’s no such thing. “Bright, fresh red fruit, really nice, a hint of gaminess … just a hint. Palate bright and medium bodied, all tank, all fruit. Well balanced finish, everything firing. Winner. I’m behind this one big time.”
 
2010 Chateau Puy Servain Montravel Terrement
White Blend; Other France;
$12.99
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50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Sauvignon Gris. “Cut grass, mineral, white fruit aromas, linear and crisp. Precise. Lots to like with fruit and mineral braced by lively acidity. Finish harmonious and lengthy.”
2009 Chateau Puy Servain Rouge Montravel Vieilles Vignes
Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$21.99
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90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. “Rich and ripe intense aromas of stewed dark red fruit, incense, vanilla, clove, and anice-like spice. Palate: Solid, direct, dense Merlot fruit, clove spice hangs right in there. Finish marked by that 2009 structure. It practically sings out loud. Very nice.” (40% new oak)
2007 Chateau Puy Servain Haut Montravel (500 ml)
Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
$20.99
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I tasted 2 vintages of this wine, the 2007 got the asterisk. “Fresh citrus, candied pears, hints of botrytis; palate marked by opulence. Plenty of complex flavors, nice weight and viscosity leading to a lively, fresh finish.”Made in the Sauternes style, you may want to know that Daniel once worked for Château d’Yquem.
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