2009 Tour de l’Isle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Sunday, December 15, 2013 9:45 PM

Attention Customers: The Wine House SF will be open the following 2 Sundays, December 15 & December 22!!! Please note that our special Sunday hours will be 12 Noon – 4 PM. 
Yep, there’s something in the air. You feel it. I feel it. It’s indisputable. The longest night of the year is but a mere week away. We’re full-on embroiled in “The Holidays!” And however you choose to celebrate, we hope your celebrations are full of love, cheer, and happiness. It’s a good thing that one of many assignments I have today is to put fingers to keyboard and type away. This way I get to catch up on my thoughts, so please bear with me. It has been a banner week! Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame just rolled through northern California, and if you’ve read any of my ramblings around the times Wilco has been in town, you would be safe to assume that I was in attendance. It was a close call traffic-wise, but I made it up to Davis on Tuesday night just in time to catch Mr. Tweedy from the 2nd row! Wednesday and Thursday nights were less hectic at the legendary Fillmore. Thursday night’s show was particularly special, with an amazing setlist that still has me shaking my head in disbelief. Anyways, all that positive energy has carried me here, and away I type. Here’s the part about a wine that I fancy.
They hang like grapes on vines that shine … One of my favorite things about being part of TWH team is knowing that we are extremely flexible when it comes to importing the myriad of wines that we do.  One beaming example of this practice (which usually comes with a 5 minute, detailed story on our sales floor), is how we’ve come to be the California importer for Robert Rocchi’s Tour de l’Isle label. It all started in Chicago … and the wind blew me back, Via Chicago in the middle of the night. David went to a trade show there a couple of years ago and tasted a whole lot of wines, many of which were made by producers seeking importers. One wine that he tasted there was the 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He loved it. He loved it so much, he brought a bottle back with him. He brought that bottle back for us to try. We loved it too. It’s true; every single one of our staff was blown away. Chris took a sip and made that snapping sound with his fingers. Tom was gushing with praise (and if I remember, he got to take what was left of the sample bottle home). Anya couldn’t keep the smile off of her face for the better part of an hour. Emily (remember Emily?), who once told me she would marry Grenache if she could, was smitten. David held the air of a proud parent after we were all collectively blown away. One problem: they already had a California importer. Well, we didn’t let a little thing like that stop us. We sought out the importer and bought their remaining stock. And beginning with the 2010 vintage, we are now the importer of the Tour de l’Isle wines! The wines are simply amazing, especially the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape.


Being in the wine biz, it is safe to assume that I get a lot of emails about wine. A lot. Every day, I’ve got a box full of letters … One email that came a couple of weeks ago was for some famous bottlings of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Labels like Pegau, Beaucastel, and the like. Only thing was the price; they were selling these wines for upwards of $100 per bottle! I thought, “Sure these are fancy wines, but sheesh! That’s expensive. Especially considering the fact that we’ve got the Tour de l’Isle for $35. But now that we’re well into our 36th Anniversary Sale, it’s been marked down to $25.95!!! I mean that’s just crazy. This sale will likely mark the end of our having the 2009 in stock, but we sure have this special wine to thank, as it opened our doors to Robert Rocchi’s stable of fine wines from the southern Rhône Valley.

Here’s what Robert Parker had to say about this wine, “The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape Tour de l’Isle reveals tremendous opulence, power and richness. Pepper, spice box, garrigue and kirsch characteristics emerge from this full-bodied effort. It should drink nicely for a decade or more.”

So there you go. If you love Grenache (you don’t have to marry it) – If you love the wines from the southern Rhône Valley – If you love a great sale – pass on this at your own peril!

Whew! What a day! As I type this, we are officially closed for the day, though several customers are still here picking over the bargains scattered around the floor. It was hopping at TWH today! I have to say the quote of the day had to be courtesy of the 8 year old son of a couple of TWH pals, “Do you have any 2005 Cos d’Estournel?” I was floored; that was awesome. Speaking of awesome, it was an odd Saturday as over a handful of customers wanted to talk about Sauternes! I’m not going to question it, nor ask why. I like to talk about Sauternes more than I like to talk about Wilco. But hey, with the music still fresh in my head, and with the shop open tomorrow (and the following Sunday), I’m going to bring my guitar with me. Who knows, with proper coaxing, I might be convinced to play a couple of songs here in the frigid, echoing warehouse.  Mr. Browning has a prediction, so we, we’ve all been told. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Our 36th Anniversary Sale, this week’s Jeff Tweedy shows, Bordeaux, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

The Wine House SF Top Ten Wines Of 2012

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:06 PM

Now that we’ve all settled into 2013, we have to say with excitement that this is going to be a great year! We are anxiously looking forward to all of the good things and the many great wines coming our way in 2013. But before we get too far into it, let’s have a look back as we reveal our Top Ten Wines of 2012!

The concept may sound simple … the top wines, right? Well, not so fast. We could tap into the multitude of reviews from wine writers and critics and fashion a list of highly rated, don’t drink until 2025, keep in a bank vault wines, butthat’s not how we roll here at TWH. In years past, our Top Ten lists are comprised of wines we all love. Wines that deliver. Wines that outshine their respective price points. Wines that provide pleasure, because really, isn’t that what wine is all about? We taste a whole lot of wine throughout the year, both here and abroad, and only bring in the ones we deem worthy to be on our shelves for you, our customers. Choosing a Top Ten out of all of the wines we’ve said yes to is a fun albeit difficult exercise. It’s fun because we get to relive our tasting experiences, remembering the meals, the ambiance, and the company that went along with each wine. Remember, some of the wines have sold out, but we list them here based on their merits … So without further ado, here is The Wine House San Francisco’s Top Ten wines of 2012!!!

Please use these links to view our Top Ten from last year, 2010, or 2009.

20NV Pascal Doquet Extra Brut Premier Crus Blancs de Blanc

With New Year’s memories slowly fading, let’s begin with some bubbles. TWH mainstay Pascal Doquet makes some of the best Grower Champagne that we’ve encountered. He sure has been garnering praise recently from the likes of James Molesworth of The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni. Why wouldn’t he? His artisanal Champagnes have been wowing our staff for over a decade! When this Extra Brut landed here in our shop this year, it instantly became a favorite of our staff and all customers who have tried it.Here’s what Mr. Galloni had to say about it, “Doquet’s NV Extra Brut Premier Crus Blanc de Blancs is pretty, soft and enveloping. Dried pears, spices, crushed flowers and almonds wrap around the palate in this expressive, layered Champagne. This is one of the more open Extra Brut Champagnes readers will come across, likely because of the high presence of 2005 juice and full malolactic fermentation. Technical details aside, the wine is flat out delicious. 91 points”
NV Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

Sparkling; Champagne Blend; Champagne;
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19Michel-Andreotti Montagny les Guignottes

White Burgundy. Honestly, we don’t really have to say much more than that. It is special wine. Unfortunately, supply and demand do what they do, and a great amount of it is priced in the ‘special wine’ echelon. Well, David’s trips to Burgundy have paid off yet again, as we are now importing the Montagny “Les Guignottes” from Michel-Andreotti. From the slightly off-the-beaten-path appellation of Montagny in Côte Chalonnaise, “Les Guignottes” outperforms its price point by far and reminds us that there is good White Burgundy out there for a fair price. First came the 2010. It’s an understatement to say that it sold out quickly. Then along came the 2011, it sold out too, but we just re-loaded and it’s back in stock. Which one made our Top Ten of 2012? It’s a dead heat. They both belong!
2011 Domaine Michel-Andreotti Montagny Les Guignottes

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
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182011 Juicy Villages From Juicy Rebound

Now for some local representation. You’ve got to love old-vine Mourvèdre. It’s rare to find a blend from California that showcases the grape in the leading role. Winemaker and hockey fanatic Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvèdre from the Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa where the vines look like “little trees” and blended it with Syrah and Grenache to create a mouth-filling berry bomb bestowing it with the catchy name, Juicy Villages. There’s plenty of grip and tang to give Juicy Villages a well-balanced flavor experience. A whopping 100 cases were produced of this unique and delicious Côtes du Rhône-esque red. All that for a price that’s more than fair on your pocketbook. Bravo!
2011 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages California

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Other California;
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172009 Domaine Martin Bart Marsannay

2012 was the year of containers. It seemed all throughout the year, we were simultaneously in the process of consolidating one overseas, anticipating the arrival of the one already on the water, and unloading the container at our dock! That just means we found lots of goodies on our trips overseas. The 2009 vintage was a phenomenal one in France (more on that later), and we tasted a lot of great wines that now have “Imported by Wine House Limited” on their labels.So 2009 was great in Burgundy, especially for the red wines. So again, we’re sure the top names of the region produced formidable wines, but we like to kick tires and look under rocks to find value! David is on a roll bringing some amazing, new-for-us, high-quality producers to join TWH family! Another feather in his cap in 2012 were the wines from Domaine Bart in Marsannay. Their Les Champs Salomon was a home run of a Red Burgundy. It smelled fancy. It tasted fancy. Its price tag? Not so fancy. That all explains its sold out status. Welcome to TWH top 10, Domaine Bart!


16Ravan From Kabaj

We’ve got our eyes open for great wines from all corners of the wine world. Like Slovenia. Wines from Slovenia are catching favor with consumers and critics alike, popping up on restaurant wine lists and profiled in thoughtful wine publications. Just one whiff, just one taste was enough for us to throw caution to the wind and stack the Ravan from Kabaj high and proud. Were we concerned whether TWH customers would shy away from an unknown producer from an unfamiliar wine region? Not. The staff were all in for sure, but when a wine is this delightful, exotic and complex, we knew our adventurous clientele would embrace the Ravan from Kabaj just as passionately. The 2009 has sold out, but we find the 2010 a worthy successor!
2010 Kabaj Ravan White Wine Goriska Brda

White Wine; other white varietal; Slovenia;
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152009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Tour de l’Isle

Imagine attending a traveling French wine trade show in Chicago in the middle of January … brrrrr! Seriously, at some point you have to ask yourself why? Well, part of our service to you all is to indeed kick tires, look under rocks, kiss some toads, and every now and then, we get lucky. Here goes your proof. Last January David braved the elements and flew into 6 degree Farenheit Chi-town. He met a lot of people and tasted a lot of wine. When he met the folks representing the Tour de l’Isle brand,he was gaga over their Châteauneuf-du-Pape! A sample bottle was shipped to the shop the following week, and now we all sing the praises of this rich, powerful (yet friendly), stone mineral driven, Grenachey Grenache! The 2009 was already in the US, courtesy of another importer. Well, we all love it so much that we made ’em an offer they couldn’t refuse. We bought their entire stock and are now the proud importer of their wines! Boo Yah!
2009 Tour de l’Isle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
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142009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the advantages, and pleasures, of being in business for over 35 years (!) is the long-standing relationships we’ve forged with both customers and vendors. One of David’s first discoveries working at The Wine House was the debut vintage of Spottswoode’s estate grown 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon.The Wine House has been proudly offering their Cabernet Sauvignon every vintage thereafter.The 2009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon is a standout among a very long line of outstanding efforts; it has that unmistakable thread of Spottsberry fruit pushing through with the signature silky tannins wrapping around it. It is a true collectable California Cabernet and we are happy and proud to include this monumental effort among our Top Ten Wines of the year!
2009 Spottswoode Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
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132011 Gavi di Gavi

We’ve been directly importing the Ernesto Picollo line of Gavi wines for 5 vintages now, and though we have always felt they smash the quality for price ratio, their 2011 Gavi di Gavi Roveretohas that extra umph that propels it into 2012’s Top Ten! Anya swears that it is the fact that Picollo’s top cuvée Rughe wasn’t made this year, so that special older-vine fruit made its way into the Rovereto. Whatever it was, there’s no denying the quality of this wine. Crisp, mineral driven, and precise, you would swear that the bottle cost would be twice or even three times as much as it is! It is that special. It’s very likely THE best white wine deal in the house!
2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Roverto

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
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122001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

Chances are if you’ve been in our shop in the latter part of 2012, and perhaps overheard a customer request for a “special wine” or a “gift wine”, you would have heard a member of TWH staff gush over the merits of the 2001 Reserva Especial Rioja Viña Ardanza by La Rioja Alta.Whew, that’s a mouthful; but so is the wine! This well known Rioja producer has only thought it appropriate to make this special bottling in two other vintages: 1964 and 1973! Space limitations will keep us from gushing too much over this in writing, but let’s just say that if it were twice the price, it would still be a bargain. With 11 years of age, it can be enjoyed anytime from now until your 3 year old graduates from college … and then some!
2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja

Red Wine; Red Blend; Rioja;
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11Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Of course it had to be a 2009 Bordeaux. I only wrote about this vintage and its wines umpteen times. But which one? Seriously, this was the toughest point of this exercise. But when you take everything into consideration, we’ve got to give the big tip of the cap to the 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc. I loved it out of barrel. Then, when the first 2009’s arrived in early 2012, it was on the first container. Chris and I grabbed a few of the new arrivals and taste tested them. His overwhelming favorite of the bunch was the Larrivaux. We opened another bottle the following week for Anya, Tom, and David to taste, and it was unanimous! Now that everyone was on board, we went back to the marketplace and loaded up. It is certainly not the only success story from the 2009 vintage, but that kind of quality for less than $25 resonates big time! Ignore at your own peril.
2009 Chateau Larrivaux Haut Medoc

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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So there you have it, our Top Ten Wines of 2012! We’ve already begun tasting new wines in the new year, and we’re taking good notes, so we’ll have plenty of candidates for this list this time next year! Wishing you all the best in 2013!Anya Balistreri & Peter Zavialoff

2009 Tour de l’Isle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Friday, February 17, 2012 3:33 PM



Tap, tap, tap. What’s that? Knock, knock, knock. Who is it? BANG, BANG, BANG!!! Got your attention? Good. That would be a table … and we areBANGING THE TABLE on what we can only describe as the most exciting new southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape to be exact, wine to hit our shelves EVER! When you’ve been in business 34 years, that’s one bold statement; but when you’ve been in business 34 years, you’ve got some good connections. A few weeks ago, through one of these connections, a sample bottle of the 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape was popped for our staff at the end of a hectic work day. With 6 of us gathered ’round the tasting table, the Tour de l’Isle CdP didn’t stand a chance of leaving TWH any other way than via the recycle bin. Just ask any of us about this wine, as we were collectively blown away! Think pure, yummy Grenache goodness. Plenty of ripe dark berry fruit, cracked black pepper, and an earthy spice dominate the aromatics; the palate is bursting with power as the fruit, earth, and spice mesh seamlessly with the robust structure of this textbook Châteauneuf! The finish is complex and lively with great length. Seriously, we are so dang excited to be representing this wine, we cannot contain ourselves.

robertrocchiThe Skinny:

Tour de l’Isle’s Robert Rocchi has been involved with the wines of the southern Rhône for over 30 years. After college, he began working for his uncle, a Côtes du Rhône producer. He was involved in all aspects of his uncle’s business from growing to vinifying to international marketing. In 1991, he and his wife purchased a portion of his uncle’s vineyard, opened a large retail wine store and an old-fashioned wine bar, and the Tour de l’Isle brand was born. As their retail business thrived, they found the need to focus on expanding the brand, so they sold their vineyard. Rocchi then worked with a few carefully selected producers,first in the blending of, and then eventually by making his wines at the properties of the respective producers. 100% transparent, Robert lists each producer’s name on the back labels, and the wines come in boxes marked by each individual producer. Patrick Jaume makes this stunning Châteauneuf. His 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made from 85% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 2% Cinsault.


You can sure take our word for it when it comes to the stunning value of this wine, but if you’re looking for additional confirmation,check out what some of the wine world’s heavy hitters have to say about the 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape:

The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker: “The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Tour de l’Isle reveals tremendous opulence, power and richness. Pepper, spice box, garrigue and kirsch characteristics emerge from this full-bodied effort.It should drink nicely for a decade or more. A good sized estate of nearly 50 acres, Domaine des Chanssaud is owned by Patrick Jaume. 92 points”

Jancis Robinson, MW: “Dark ruby. Racy stuff without the intensity of many Châteauneufs but good balance and drinkability – which is not to be sneezed at. A sort of Domaine de Chevalier of Châteauneuf. Rather low key, but rather delicious. 17.5 points”


Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar’s Josh Raynolds: “Glass-staining ruby. Dark berries and potpourri on the highly fragrant nose. Ripe and fleshy on entry, then firmer in the mid-palate, offering blackberry and blueberry flavors that show an exotic quality. Closes on a sweet note, with seamless texture and very good fruit-driven persistence. 90 points”

Andre Brunel’s 2009 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 4:54 PM


One of the greatest things about being in business for over 30 years(Anniversary Sale coming soon … real soon!), are the relationships we make. One of our favorite relationships in the southern Rhône Valley has been with superstar winemaker André Brunel.We’ve been carrying a swath of Brunel’s wines for over 20 years, and that just goes to show that we know a good thing when we’ve got it. So it came as no surprise when the latest The Wine Advocate came out the other day and Mr. Parker heaped a ton of praise on André’s 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Les Cailloux”! We figured that another stellar vintage in the Rhône would put some fire in Brunel’s eye. And How!

Listen to Mr. P gush: “The Les Cailloux 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape (70% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and the rest Syrah and other permitted grape varieties) may be the finest regular cuvee produced at this estate, even eclipsing the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape. A beautiful deep, plum/garnet color is followed by notes of ripe figs, licorice, tobacco leaf, sweet herbs, pepper and sumptuous quantities of kirsch and blacker fruits. Intense and full-bodied with silky tannins as well as a plump, sexy, voluptuous style, it begs for consumption now and over the next 10-15 years.

Andre Brunel’s family first settled in Chateauneuf du Pape in the 18th century and began estate bottling their wines in the middle of the 20th century. Les Cailloux was one of the first estates to employ the now famous oenologist, Philippe Cambie (in 1998). This modestly sized, 45 acre estate has their largest holdings in the northern sector of the appellation in the lieu-dit called Farguerol, which is just behind the plateau of Mont Redon. –95 points”

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