Defying Expectations: Radford Dale 2012 Chenin Blanc

Monday, October 26, 2015 6:15 PM

Radford Dale’s 2012 Chenin Blanc
 
I am commonly asked what kind of wine I like by people I meet after they learn I work in the wine industry. I don’t mean to sound coy or flippant, but my answer is usually “good wine”. Sure I have my preferences, but why limit myself to geography or type when it comes to the vast diversity of wine? Case in point, this week’s staff tasting included a bottle of 2012 Chenin Blanc from Radford Dale(which on the label reads: The Renaissance of Chenin Blanc). This South African white bowled me over with a swath of rich, persistent fruit that while opulent never strayed too far due to the underlying acidity of the wine. Wow, I thought. How do you convince more people to try such a wine? Putting aside for the moment place and varietal, I am convinced that Chardonnay drinkers and admirers, would find much to appreciate and delight in with this full-flavored Chenin Blanc. It isn’t necessarily the die-hard Loire Valley Chenin Blanc devotee that will find this wine compelling but anyone who wants to experience a white wine with complex, balanced flavors delivered in a full bodied thrust of fruit. This is one luscious white.
 
 
 
The Radford Dale wines, which includes Vinum and Winery of Good Hope, are directly imported by The Wine House. Why would we, importers of French and Italian wines, bother to bring in wine all the way from South Africa? Because they are special wines. Radford Dale founded in 1998 by two friends, Alex Dale and Ben Radford, has steadily garnered recognition for their outstanding wines. It was only this past summer that Radford Dale’s Pinot Noir was handpicked by the King of Sweden to be served at his son’s wedding, Prince Carl Phillip. Quite an honor! Alex Dale is the public face of the winery and is making it his mission to elevate the perception of South African Chenin Blanc. Alex has sought out old bush vine Chenin Blanc, encouraging growers not to replace them with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, because it is his belief that these old vines have the greatest potential in South Africa.
 
 
For the 2012 Chenin Blanc, the fruit comes from a single-vineyard of 50 year old bush vines that grow unirrigated along the foothills of the Helderberg Mountains. The vines face south across False Bay and the southern Atlantic Ocean. The soil type is called Clovelly which is adecomposed granite with patches of quartz. The old vines reach deep into the subsoils allowing them to withstand warmer temperatures. The wine is barrel aged for 10 months in mostly small and some large oak barrels, with less than 20% new.
 
I’d like to include a note from the winemaker for this wine instead of my own tasting note, because it accurately reflects my own perception of the wine and it is so well written, I’m sure I could not do any better. So here goes:
“The overriding characteristic given to this wine by its vines and its environment is its complex minerality and its persistent yet elegant intensity. Notes of lime pervade the quenching beam of acidity, penetrating and weaving through the ripe glycerol and lifting the gentle spice and biscuit flavours, carrying them on the citrus palate long after the wine is gone.”
 
Alex Dale
 
This past Thursday, The Wine House hosted an evening of Moroccan wine at Mourad featuring the wines of Ouled Thaleb. I had the good fortune of being able to attend and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed, not only the wine and the food, but most especially, the company. It was a privilege to spend time getting to know some of our customers just a little bit better in a festive environment while breaking bread. It was a great night and one we hope to repeat again soon. If you missed out on this event, but would like to know about future ones, please send us an email indicating your interest and we’ll be sure to let you know of any upcoming events. – Anya Balistreri


14 July 2015. Bonne Fête Nationale! Or, Happy Bastille Day! We’re hearing all about parties and celebrations planned for today at local French restaurants, brasseries, and bistros. Our Twitter feed is full of pics of folks in France enjoying their big holiday. We even have a couple of customers visiting St. Emilion as I type! Needless to say, there is festive energy in the air … with a French twist. If your plans include any of these big celebrations, bravo! Enjoy! If not, if something a little low-key is more suitable, one can get by on Bastille Day simply with a delicious bottle of French wine.

 

 
If it’s acelebration,why not kick things off withsomething sparkling?One of ourfavorite fizzeshas to be theNV Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles. It’ssparkling Chenin Blanc, dry and crisp,with a snappy Granny Smith appley fruit component framed by a dusty mineral character.It’s easy on the pocketbook; and in case you really want to let your hair down, it comes in magnums! We havegone on and on about this wine in the past, as it has a wonderful amalgam of complexity rarely found among sub $20 sparkling wines. Anya once declared that d’Orfeuilles’ Vouvray Brut is “one of the few sparkling wines, that when I drink it, I don’t wish I was drinking Champagne.” When my favorite football club won Europe’s top prize, it was a magnum of this stuff that was popped and poured for a few enthusiastic supporters. So no matter how you intend to observe Bastille Day 2015, there’s a spot for the NV Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut.
 
 
It’s nighttime in France now, and we’re seeing further evidence of celebration via the internet. We’ve got a day of work here at the shop, but afterwards, we’ve got choices. Like I mentioned above, even if you want to go low-key (it IS Tuesday afterall), some French wine is plenty of celebration in itself. You can bet all of us here at TWH will be partaking in some of that this evening. Let’s kick things off with the d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut! – Peter Zavialoff

Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut

Monday, July 7, 2014 5:39 PM

Happy 4th of July weekend! It’s nice when the 4th lands on a Friday, and many of us can enjoy an extended weekend. It’s a good time to relax, get some exercise, and catch up on your reading. A great deal of my reading usually has something to do with fermented grape juice, and a topic that seems to be very popular this week has been that of sparkling wine and its versatility. Funny, a sparkling wine that has been popular around here, and one that I have been enjoying of late, has been the sparkling Vouvray from Domaine d’Orfeuilles.

 

 

It’s not difficult to imagine that the majority of the blog posts and articles I’ve been reading lately about sparkling wine had to do with Champagne in particular.  I’m not going to say no to someone who wants to pour me a glass of Champagne, but in the scheme of things, sparkling wines are just as versatile while claiming a small fraction of the investment Champagne demands. The Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuillesrepresents sensational quality for price, the 100% Chenin Blanc imparting its textbook Granny Smith apples and orchard fruit to the aromas. There is also a strong presence of dusty, chalky minerals that pervade the experience. It’s about as serious a sparkling wine can possibly be coming in under $20 per bottle. So serious, mind you, that it caused Anya to exclaim, “IT IS ONE OF THE FEW SPARKLING WINES THAT WHEN I DRINK IT, I’M NOT WISHING I WERE DRINKING CHAMPAGNE.”  Speaking of Anya, she’s taken a little vacation, so that’s why you’re hearing from me tonight. I’ll try to keep it brief, and I think I have so far.

Now that the Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut is back in stock, I wanted to point out its merits (not to mention, take a bottle or two home this weekend!). One of those articles that I read earlier this weekend was about the ability fizz has to pair with a myriad of dishes and snacks. My all-time favorite potato chips (Tim’s Cascade Style Jalapeño) are reason alone for me to have a glass or two of the Vouvray Brut. But here’s a short list of various things that would suit this wine perfectly: salty cheeses, green olives, rotisserie chicken, sea bass, beef jerky (don’t believe me? Try it!), caviar, fried chicken, oysters, eggs benedict, a tuna salad, frogs’ legs, roasted and salted peanuts, mussels, kung pao chicken, or a sunny day and the right company! Okay, back to enjoying the weekend – we’ll resume our regular schedule on Monday, just know that the summer is a perfect time to enjoy a glass of Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles! – Peter Zavialoff

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Vouvray, sparkling wine pairings, Bordeaux, or what I might be doing to pass the time until English Football season begins: peter@winesf.com

Sparklers from D’Orfeuilles

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 10:24 PM

We will be open Christmas Eve, December 24 from 10 am – 4 pm. 

We wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!

 

 

What is your holiday season marker? Stringing up lights around the eaves, getting that first card in the mail dotted with children mugging it up for the camera, or how about having a good cry while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life?” For me, it’s the display of fine Champagne and bubbles from around the world that gets stacked up at TWH. Oh how they twinkle, oh how they glow! So many to choose from, fancy or affordable, we have them all! To help you navigate through a few, allow me to highlight a TWH direct import, Domaine D’Orfeuilles from France’s Loire Valley. What at first seemed a novelty has taken off and captured our clients’ taste buds and desire for sparkling wine that is at once complex and sophisticated while much, much less expensive then anything you’ll find from Champagne. Made in the classic methode traditionelle (meaning that secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle just like it is done in Champagne) our two sparklers from Domaine D’Orfeuilles, one blanc, one rosé, are perfect options for end-of-year reveling. 

 

 

Domaine D’Orfeuilles’ grapes are grown on clay and limestone soil that have a significant amount of silex, or flint, that imparts an undeniable, unmistakable “flinty” character in their wines. The Vouvray Brut is made from 100% Chenin Blanc. It has under-ripe peach and apricot flavors, a hint of green, and a round entry with a chalky finish. I have said it before and I will say it again, this is one of the few sparkling wines that when I drink it, I am not wishing I were drinking Champagne! It provides me with enough complexity, richness and yeastiness to keep me interested, and looking forward to the next sip. Whether toasting sans food or with appetizers, you can confidently bring this Vouvray Brut to the table to continue the meal. The Touraine Rosé is also dry and made with Côt, what the folks in Loire call Malbec. Lots of raspberry and dried cherry red fruit with a tinge of herb pervades the palate. Domaine D’Orfeuilles store their sparklers in a large limestone cellar and therefore have the capacity to keep wine aging in bottle 3-4 years. This also means that there are slight variations from each bottling, just as you would expect from a grower/producer. The most recent Touraine Rosé boasts a jolt of pink color that can trick you into thinking it will be far fruitier than it really is; an optical illusion. The Touraine Rosé is fresh, bright and finishes dry. Perfect for spicier nibbles like ceviche or chili-flecked sausages; also amazing with fried chicken!

 

The bottle prices for these two sparklers have Anniversary Sale written all over them, but once again, to make it even more tempting a $125 full-case price is offered through the end of the year, or while supplies last. You might not get through a case by New Year’s Eve, but remember there is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, and so much more coming just around the corner! So stock up and fill your wine closet/cellar/under-the-bed with two unique, delicious and excellent sparklers from Domaine D’Orfeuilles. 

 

 

Adrenaline shot through my body this morning as my daughter rejoiced over the fact that there were only 4 more days left until Christmas! Her advent calendar is almost devoid of chocolate; the star, the reindeer and the snowman have all been eaten. It must be Christmas. After a few deep breathes, I realized I was excited too. I can’t wait to get together with family. I wonder what Santa will bring me this year? Christmas Day I’ll be playing host. I can’t vouch for the food, but at least no one will go home thirsty. Happy Holidays! – Anya Balistreri

November 2013 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, November 2, 2013 5:24 PM

Look out; it’s November! Things are changing quickly. Our clocks will be going back soon, there’s a chill in the air, and at the end of this month, many of us will be seated around the Thanksgiving Day table. Now that time and weather are encouraging us to head indoors, don’t you think a Dirty Dozen is in order? 12 wines, all different, chosen for their versatility, for one low price. And this month the savings are greater than 35%!!! The November Dirty Dozen. 

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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 

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2011 Chardonnay, Domaine de la Fruitière $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Chardonnay grown in Muscadet? Those famous soils which contain granite, clay, and mica contribute to the bracing freshness and mineral quality of traditional Muscadet wines made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This tank-fermented Chardonnay possesses that crispness combined with its inherent rich, fleshy yellow fruit. Great with scampi! 

2012 Chenin Blanc, Kiona Vineyards $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Washington State has some ideal growing conditions for this Loire Valley stowaway, Chenin Blanc. Known for having aromas of crisp, green apples, Kiona’s Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile white wines in its price range. Fermented off-dry, you can serve it as an apèritif, with hors d’oeuvres, and with everything from fish tacos to Kung Pao Chicken.

2012 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Some of us don’t believe that Rosé has a ‘season’. A warm kitchen is cause enough to pop the cork and pour out a cool glass for the chef! But let’s not forget Rosé’s versatility. This one is equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre; the result is a dry, mineral driven Rosé with just a hint of red fruit. How about salmon burgers off the grill pan?

2012 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder 
Montravel is an appellation just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern boundary, and the values that come from there are in great abundance. Known primarily for white wines comprised of the same varieties as of white Bordeaux, Calabre’s blanc is half Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. Depending how you roll, this could be your sushi wine.

2009 Vernaccia Fiore, Montenidoli $21.99, $17.59 reorder 
“Nurse of the vines,” Elisabetta Fagiuoli consistently wins awards for her Fiore bottling. There is something about her vineyards planted in an ancient seabed perched above the medieval village of San Gimignano. The Fiore is made using only free-run juice, and in its purity, will pair well with rich dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo.

2012 Gewurztraminer, Aresti $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hmmm, what’s Gewurztraminer doing in Chile? Founded in 1951, the Aresti Estate is one of the largest Chilean producers of this fruity, aromatic variety. This Gewurz is vinified dry, but its aromas suggest it would team up well with a burrito.

2010 CMS Red $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Washington State’s original red blend, Hedges Family Estate’s CMS Red has been produced since 1987! Made from roughly half Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it does include 12% Syrah to bolster the aromatic complexity. Recognized as one of Columbia Valley’s best values, this blend is elegant and pure. The depth of fruit beckons something like a prime rib.

2008 Marzemino di Isera Husar, de Tarczal $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Okay, let’s just call this one Husar. Made from the Marzemino grape, a genetic cousin of both Lagrein and Syrah, it makes for hearty red wines with complex aromas and hints of rusticity. A Husar was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Calvary, the current proprietor naming the wine after a direct ancestor. The perfect wine for a pizza-with-the-works.

2009 Corbières Réserve, Domaine Sainte Eugenie $16.95 sale price, $16.10 reorder 
Bon vivant Hervé Gauntier is an old pal of TWH, and we are happy to be able to offer his fancy Reserve Cuvée for such a reasonable price. Made from Syrah, Carignane, and Grenache, Hervé’s Réserve sees a little (20%) new cask with the remainder in 1 and 2 year old barrels. It has a spicy, lush, dark red fruit profile, and works well with red pasta sauces.

2010 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Ah, but Montravel has red wine too. This old vine Bordeaux-style blend will turn your perception on its head! Winemaker Daniel Hecquet has crafted a full-bodied red, reminiscent of a wine from St. Emilion for a fraction of the price. You will fool a lot of tasters if you sneak it into a Right Bank blind tasting. A fancy wine, yes; pour it with a rack of lamb.

2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder
By now we’ve all heard how successful the 2009 vintage was in the southern Rhône Valley (and almost all of France, for that matter). We would all be doing ourselves a great service to profiter from such fortunate circumstances. There is always great value in Côtes du Rhône, even more so from 2009! It’s great on its own and great with a bowl of olives.

2009 Château Aimée, Médoc $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Speaking of 2009 … It was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux. So good, mind you, that we continue to go back to the well to stock up on “lesser known” chateaux. Why? Quality. Value. This Médoc bottling wowed us with its honesty; it’s just straight up, quality Bordeaux. This will pair well with any of the traditional meals you would want with a full-bodied red.

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

Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!

NV Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles

Monday, August 12, 2013 6:15 PM

Summer 2013. I certainly hope you’re all enjoying it, and I also hope you’ve all had reason and occasion to pop the cork on something fizzy. As we power ahead through the dog days of summer, there is a beacon that’s coming into view. Yep, I can foresee much celebration in the coming weeks. I must prepare myself. Let’s see, I’m not in a position to load up on grower Champagne (though special occasions merit special bottles), but I’m going to want to have a bunch of sparkling wine around. So what to choose, what to choose? That’s easy. Bang for your buck, it sure is tough to beat the NV Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles. Our resident Champagne maven, Anya, once said that the d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut was one of precious few sparkling wines that she could enjoy and not wish that she was drinking Champagne. I concur.  Not only does its complexity outperform its pricepoint, its versatility is where it really shines. I mean it’s a great wine for brunches, cheese plates, fried chicken, potato chips, mussels, charcuterie, crab salads, pistachios, caviar, bacon, and of course, celebrations!

 

Domaine d’Orfeuilles was built over the site of an old ruined castle near the town of Chançay in the Loire River Valley. Now run by Bernard Herivault and his son Arnaud, the domaine was founded in Vouvray by Bernard’s grandfather Paul in 1947. The Herivault’s Chenin Blanc vines are grown in clay-limestone soils that are rich in flint (or silex). This imparts a snappy minerality that is an unmistakeable component of the wines of Domaine d’Orfeuilles. When I taste this sparkling beauty, I am blown away by the complexity for price! It has dusty aromas of minerals and fresh Granny Smith apples. Those components are present on the palate with the unmistakeable flinty mineral, and all continue harmoniously to a dry, crisp finish. And the bubbles make for an ethereal tasting experience. No wonder I see this wine on every TWH employee’s personal invoices. Ah, what a great memory; when my favorite football club won the European Champions’ League in 2012, I chose a magnum of the d’Orfeuille Vouvray Brut to celebrate with! In a fizzy mood? This is just what you need. An extraordinary bottle of fizz for an equally extraordinary price.

 

 

So there you go, I’m going to go ahead and grab a six-pack of the sparkling Vouvray for starters. I’ve got a big birthday (one with a zero) coming up, and though we are still 2 weeks away from the 3-week-long period known as “BirthdayFest”, it is looking more and more like this year, BirthdayFest has already begun. I’ve already received a Happy Birthday email from a friend overseas, and earlier this week, I was given something special to “open on your birthday” (Thank you, DR). So as the days approach, there will be plenty of reason to have something sparkling on hand, as there is much on the dance card. Let’s see, tomorrow morning football season kicks off with the annual Charity Shield match at Wembley! I am totally psyched to see the band Lucius both in LA and here in SF later this month. If you don’t know them, I highly recommend their 20 minute NPR Tiny Desk concert. It’s the best 20 minutes of music I’ve seen this year. Great dynamics, great harmonies. Meanwhile, the band I play in has 2 gigs coming up, and then there’s a visit to Old Trafford. Whew, this year’s Fest is going to be a doozy! Must have sparkling wine. Must have d’Orfeuilles Vouvray.

Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about affordable sparkling wines, English football, or music: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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