2013 Lomas del Valle Pinot Noir

Monday, September 15, 2014 6:34 PM

An associate of ours described what she was going through the past couple of weeks as “The proverbial duck on the water, calm on the surface, but paddling like mad underneath.” Turns out, that’s the way things are going on for all of us here at TWH right now. Transitioning to our new website is all you can imagine it to be. Hey, everyone’s got issues, so I won’t bore you with ours. Yet, we kindly ask you all to please bear with us as we paddle like mad during this transitional period. We’ve got a lot of new wines coming very soon, and we can’t wait to tell you all about them! You can rest assured that when the workday concludes and we all return home, having a glass of wine is a given. For me, the paddling doesn’t stop at the end of the work day. These days, coming to work offers a little less chaos than coming home does, if one can believe that. Not letting that get in the way of work, I was happily surprised by a vinous discovery this past week; the day I twisted off the cap of the 2013 Lomas Del Valle Pinot Noir.

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You certainly don’t hear a whole lot about Chilean Pinot Noir. Sure there’s Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere, both warm climate grapes. It’s been a long, long time since we even carried a Chilean Pinot Noir, there doesn’t appear to be that much available to the American market. From time to time, it gets poured for Anyaduring some of her many tasting appointments. It’s always a good sign to the traveling wine rep when Anya asks, “Can you pour a little more in this glass for our staff to taste?” A sign that she’s ready to pull the trigger. For me, it’s pretty hard to remember what we taste from those little glasses. We never see the labels, so there’s no visual imprint. I’ve been guilty several times asking about wines that I had previously tasted in that fashion. I do remember tasting the 2013 Lomas del Valle Pinot Noir. I remembered taking in the aromas which were correct for the varietal, and the palate which was medium bodied and balanced. When Anya told me the price, I was impressed. Since the film Sideways, there has been a flurry of new Pinot Noirs on the market, and there are enough poor examples of them to lead me to conclude that if that film were to take place in today’s wine world, Niles’ famous comment would have begun with, “If she orders Pinot …” The Lomas del Valle doesn’t fall into that camp. For the price, it’s pretty impressive!

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The Lomas del Valle label (and its parent label Loma Larga) is part of the holdings of the Diaz family, wine producers in Chile since the 19th Century. They planted their vines in cool-climate Casablanca in 1999, and enlisted the help of winemaker Cédric Nicolle, who hails from France’s Loire Valley. It’s the proximity to the Pacific Ocean that gives Casablanca the cool nights required for the lengthy maturation period producing fruit that is physiologically ripe. Pinot Noir thrives in this climate, and for an entry-level Pinot Noir, this one is a price for quality leader!

It was easy to grab a bottle of the Lomas del Valle on the way out the door, its medium body and modest price being the key in this equation. Served alongside my summer-stew (marinated beef shank with kidney beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and celery), the wine proved to outperform its price point by good margin! Briary raspberry, blackberry, and a hint of strawberry are the first things that hit your olfactory sensors. A second dip of the nose into the glass reveals an earthy backdrop with just a kiss of autumnal apple leaves. On the palate, the wine is light to medium in body, the berries back off and the bright acidity neutralizes any perceived sweetness, the finish reminiscent of red fruit and Asian spice. It really worked with the summer stew, so I anticipate I will have another go at this in the near future. It’s worth all, if not more, than that $15 price tag!

Okay, we’ve got a new website. Please do check it out from time to time, our work is nowhere near finished, and our goal is to make shopping online with us better than ever! As you know, we’re like a family here, a food and wine loving family who enthusiastically scour the wine world for the best to present to you, our customers. Don’t get me wrong, the wines are for us too!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about Chilean Pinot Noir, Bordeaux, or English football: peter@wineSF.com

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October 2012 Dirty Dozen

Friday, October 26, 2012 7:40 PM

Boo! Alas, summer is over, and days are rapidly shortening. That just means that the nights are getting longer, and the time for more indoor activities is here! No worries. We have the perfect idea for indoor gatherings: The October Dirty Dozen. 12 bottles packed neatly into 1 box for a super low price! All different; what could be better than that?

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2010 Blanco, Bodegas Ercavio $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
The name ‘Ercavio’ is derived from an old Roman settlement, and the grape that goes into the 2010 Blanco is 100% Airén. Say you haven’t heard of Airén? Hailing from the area surrounding Madrid, Spain, it is thought to be the most widely planted wine producing grape variety! Dry and crisp, it’s a great aperitif or, it teams up well with crispy fried fish.

2009 Godello, Montenovo $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Eric Solomon, one of America’s finest small importers, is at it again with this fine example of the Godello grape. Godello is grown in Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain, and does it deliver! It shows plump, ripe white and yellow fruit, propped up by zippy acidity and underlying spice and mineral. No wonder some folks believe it’s similar to Chardonnay.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande $11.79 net price, $8.79 reorder
Need a crisp, affordable white for your next gathering? Look no further than the Lalande Sauvignon Blanc. Vintage after vintage, this TWH staple has always been a hit with customers and staff alike. It is terrific with halibut.

2006 Viognier, Paras Vineyards $14.95 sale price, $14.20 reorder
California Viognier in the DD? This could be a first, or at least a first for a wine of its pedigree. Grown at elevations of over 1000 feet on Mount Veeder, this Viognier was fermented in barrel with no malo. As fermentation stopped, some residual sugar remained, leaving this Viognier off-dry. It’s just the right thing to pour with a cheese plate at the end of a meal … or if exotic flavors strike your fancy, we’re thinking something spicy hot like Hunan-style smoked duck.

2010 Crozes-Hermitage Les Terres Blanches, Domaine Belle $24.99, $19.99 reorder
Every now and then we pull out the stops with our DD selections, and this would be one of those months. This WHITE Crozes-Hermitage is a special wine. It’s a fancy wine. It’s a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Rousanne, 2 of the Rhône’s well known white varieties. It sees some 1 year old barrel which gives it texture and aroma, but there’s no hiding that lovely, complex mineral underneath. This is a classy wine and suits a fancy free range chicken dinner well.

2011 Rosé, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.29, $9.03 reorder
Now that summer is over, the masses are forgetting about just how cool it is to pop a no-frills bottle of Rosé! This one from Saint Antoine is made from 100% Syrah and balances the fruit/acid components perfectly. The result? An easy to pair quaffer; it goes well with everything, and it makes for a great cooler-downer as one toils in a hot kitchen.

2008 Terre de Bussière, Domaine de la Janasse $12.98 net price, 11.68 reorder
The southern Rhône Valley has been bargain central for those of us who love low priced high quality red wines. This unusual blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Syrah will put a smile on your face as it sings along side of that sausage pizza.

2010 Le Loup dans la Bergerie, Domaine de l’Hortus $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Speaking of Syrah/Merlot blends, Domaine de l’Hortus’ Jean Orliac adds a little Grenache to that mix to produce his Le Loup dans la Bergerie. It has great aromas, ample fruit, and medium bodied weight. A solid all-purpose red!

2009 Floresta, Pere Guardiola $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
As the Pyrenees come into view in Empordà-Costa Brava, Spain’s northeastern corner, you will find the vines belonging to Pere Guardiola. The blend here is 40% Garnacha, 30% Mazuela, and 30% Syrah. The wine is ripe, rich, and robust with aromas of dark berry fruit and spice. A great value, it has the stuffing to pair well with a dry rub pork shoulder roast.

2010 Carmenère, In’ka $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Bursting with dark berries, chocolate, and spice, the aromas for the 2010 In’ka Carmenère jump from the glass with delight! Carmenère has its origins in Bordeaux, but was fairly recently discovered in South America where it has been thriving. It has the charm of Merlot, yet the backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect with a juicy steak.

2009 Carmignano, Le Farnete $18.99, $15.19 reorder
A TWH direct-import, Le Farnete’s Carmignano has been a favorite ’round here for many vintages. The 2009 is no exception. Carmignano has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon since Medici times, long before the age of the ‘Super Tuscan.’ Dark aromas of brambly berries and earth lead to a fuller bodied palate. We’re thinking Osso Bucco here.

2010 Syrah/Grenache, Vignobles Boudinaud $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Grenache and Syrah are a match made in heaven, as if the wines from the southern Rhône don’t already underline that fact. Our pal Thierry Boudinaud crafts a lot of different wines down there, but here is something special that he makes out of some Langeudoc fruit that he sources. Alive and fresh, it is all tank-fermented preserving that pure fruity profile. Don’t let its friendliness fool you. Its medium body allows for some earthy complexity. Great with food, or not!

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February 2012 Dirty Dozen

Monday, February 6, 2012 6:40 PM

Well the normally 28 day long month of February will gain an extra one seeing that 2012 is a leap year. Shoot! If that’s the case, we better pullout the stops for the leap year month’s DD! How about 7 different countries represented by a whopping 17 grape varieties??!! That’s right. Where else are your going to go and get a case of 12 different wines from 7 countries, made up of 17 grapes for such a low price????

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2011 Lyric, Nederburg – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Wait! Wasn’t 2011 just over a month ago?! Aha! From the southern hemisphere, make that South Africa’s Western Cape, comes a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (56%), Chenin Blanc (23%), and Chardonnay (21%) … how they arrived at the precise numbers is beyond us, but the wine is great. Think peaches and pineapple, citrus, and maybe a crab salad.

2010 Pedro Ximenez, Falernia – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Most commonly known for its use in Sherry, the Pedro Ximenez grape was brought to Spain in the 1500’s by a German man named Peter Siemens. Perhaps because Google Translate wasn’t available at the time, they decided upon the Pedro Ximenez name. This one’s from Chile, and is rich, complex, and dry. It will accompany your pork roast perfectly.

2009 Chardonnay, MSH – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Timing is everything. When the global financial situation took a turn for the worse, a spotlight shone on those producers that were making high quality wine for more than a fair price. Enter MSH. Great balance and weight … and price tag.

2010 Kiralyleanyka, Szoke – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
We can’t resist … this from the distributor – “Yes, I have the Kiralyleanyka and it’s dry. It translates to the ‘Little Princess’ even though large, hairy Hungarian men drink it.” Seriously funny. What we have here is a bright, lively Hungarian native white that will have you closing your eyes and dreaming about a holiday on Lake Balaton with some roasted pike-perch.

2010 Rosé, Domaine Fondrèche – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
“I like a dry Rosé, that’s not tutti-fruiti, you know, like the ones they serve in the south of France.” Generally speaking, that would be what most prospective Rosé buyers say when asking for advice from our staff. The Fondrèche Rosé is EXACTLY that! Made from mostly Cinsault, the wine has a soft, dry, herbal profile that has stunning freshness and a crisp finish.

2010 Gavi DOCG, Ernesto Picollo – $10.49, $8.39 reorder
Wow! 6 perfectly chillable wines from 6 countries! This Gavi from Italia’s Piemonte appellation is the white wine of choice for all of the seafood eating folks living on the Italian coastline from San Remo to Cinque Terre. Think rich, round fruit framed by crunchy minerals propped up by racy acidity. THE perfect pairing for your shrimp scampi.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mercedes Eguren – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
And now for the reds … hailing from España’s Castilla region, this Cab Sauvignon has it all going. The aromas scream of black cherries, plums, herbs, and a hint of chocolate. On the palate, it shows great weight and balance without tipping the scales overboard. This is one to be enjoyed with a nice cut of prime rib with potatoes au gratin.

2007 Plaisir 75cl, Roger Sabon – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Coming from Cave Roger Sabon, the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer, this steal of a deal will not stay on our shelves very long. It is a 2007, though nowhere on the label will it reveal that, but we’re insiders, so we know. Less than half the price of his CdP, Sabon’s Plaisir is all that … 100% pure pleasure. This is one to pour with your cassoulet.

2009 Joven Selectión, Monasterio de Corias – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
From Asturias in España, this 3 grape blend of Carrasquin, Verdejo Negro, and Mencia delivers top notch quality for a very fair price. Asturias is a champion appellation for yielding wines with light body and racy acidity, which is the perfect combination for the rich, sometimes spicy cuisine from the area. May we suggest drinking with Mediterranean meatballs.

2007 Trassegum, Ch&acic;teau d’Or et des Gueules – $22.99, $18.39 reorder
The diamond of the DD! Diane de Puymorin has hit paydirt (yet again) with her focused 2007 Trassegum. Made from mostly Syrah with equal parts old-vine Mourvèdre and Carignan, this is a wine to be taken seriously. It has a rich, smoky profile with notes of Herbs de Provençe, and a gamey, meaty backbone. Serve with something hearty, like a porterhouse.

NV Owl House Red – $7.48 net price, $6.73 reorder
This Cali non-vintage red is a blend of several varieties, though chiefly comprised of Counoise. Counoise is one of many grapes allowed in France’s southern Rhône Valley to be used in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. An über popular wine among our regular customer base, we find the Owl House a screaming value! Bring one to your next Tuesday night pizza party!

2009 Pinot Noir, Big Vine – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Coming from an ideal vintage on California’s Central Coast, the 2009 Big Vine Pinot Noir knocks it out of the park for value in a Pinot Noir. Comprised mainly of fruit from the Arroyo Grande appellation, there is also a smattering of Santa Rita Hills fruit which gives the wine the finesse that will make you stop all conversation and quizzically look at your glass saying, “huh?” The wine is bright and lively with just enough cherry cola to balance the earthy nuances. Goes great with pasta.

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July 2011 Dirty Dozen

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 1:52 AM

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Yay!  Summer’s here … finally.  To get you going this July, may we suggest the Dirty Dozen.  That’s 12 different bottles, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a case for a song.  A great choice for a long weekend, picnics, parties and any other gathering, you’ll find something for everyone here.  Going global, the July DD represents 6 countries!


2009 Pinot Grigio, Inacayal
Grown in vineyards averaging altitudes of 3000+ feet, Inacayal’s Pinot Grigio is a Pinot Grigio all to itself. The altitude allows for cool nights maintaining proper acidity levels; the warm summer days contribute the rich, ripe, earthy fruitiness that finishes with a kiss of honey. That sweet kiss makes it ideal for light, spicy dishes like kung pao chicken.

2010 Scaia Bianco, Tenuta Sant’Antonio
‘Super Soave’ is what Tom likes to call this one; as blending Garganega with Chardonnay is tantamount to calling Sangiovese/Bordeaux Varietal blends ‘Super Tuscans’. All’s we know is it’s pretty dang yummy for its price point. Think rich, fleshy yellow fruit with just the right amount of zip to make this a no brainer when that lobster salad arrives.

2009 Vinho Verde, Vale da Mina
This crisp, herbal white from Portugal could be the most interesting bottle in the bunch. Its lipsmacking citrusy goodness will make you crave a couple of oysters. Checking in at 11% alcohol, it should be no surprise as to how fast it’s empty.

2006 Gewurztraminer, Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart
Philippe Ehrhart coaxes perfect balance of fruit and acidity out of his wines … and his Gewurz Herrenweg is known for its single vineyard richness. Rose petal, lychee nut and spice, this will pair perfectly with spicy curried shrimp.

2008 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, ‘The Flying Winemaker’
Cameron Hughes has done us all a solid by sourcing grapes from all over (see below), but let’s talk about the Chardonnay he gets from Santa Barbara County. He gets the fruit from a long-time grower, uses new barrel on a third of it, and produces a delectable, complex Chardonnay that puts a smile on your face and keeps the green in your billfold.

2010 Bordeaux Rosé, l’Ecuyer de Château Couronneau
Brand new for us and fresh off the boat is a Bordeaux Rosé made by our friends Christophe and Bénédicte Piat of Château Couronneau. Bottled under their “l’Ecuyer” label, this fresh Rosé is comprised of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot. As you may know, the Piats have been certified Agricole Biologique, so cheers to July … and to organic Rosé!

2005 Tempranillo, Alberto Furque
Trekking back down to Argentina, we’ve got yet another product of high altitude vineyards. In this case, Rioja’s red champion Tempranillo. We love the cedary, tobacco-like nuance of the variety, and combined with the ripe New Worldiness Carolina Furque coaxes from her grapes, it’s all systems go! A little bottle age has given it the time to develop further complexity, which is a huge bonus. Bottled unfiltered, please don’t mind the sediment.

2005 Palombières, Domaine Montpezat
Last call for the Palombières! This seductive little number is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. The latter providing the backbone for all that juicy fruit. This is a sip-on-its-own wine that is delicious with or without food.

2005 Merlot, Sonoma County, Table Wine, Sutton Cellars
Not your run of the mill, tutti fruity Merlot, this ‘old soul’ of a wine has an amalgam of complexity that will leave you dumbfounded as to how it can be done, in California, for such a price. Leave it to our pal Carl Sutton to come to the rescue. Hints of cigar box and pencil lead are usually complexities found in wines from St. Emilion, but here they are.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile, ‘The Flying Winemaker’
It’s a long way from Santa Barbara County (see above) to the Maipo Valley in Chile, but again Cameron Hughes knows no borders when it comes to finding fruit that can be made into great wine. Situated between the coastal mountains and the Andes, the Maipo Valley is an ideal growing space for Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re grilling lamburgers, pour this.

2008 Syrah ‘Only Girls’, Château d’Or et des Gueules
Ah, then there’s Diane Puymorin, who needs no introduction around these parts. Diane has crafted a 100% Syrah from the environs of the southern Rhône, and the result is money in the bank! Rich, round, spicy, unadulterated Syrah fruit will tantalize your palate and make you start thinking about grabbing some mesquite and a chunk of meat.

2007 Chianti Colli Senesi, Sono Montenidoli
This may come as a shocker, for as much as we laud the wines crafted by Mme Puymorin (above), Elisabetta Fagiuoli’s reputation as a winemaker is of legendary status. With vines planted in and around San Gimignano, her wines have a global following. This Chianti Colli Senesi is deep, rich and complex. Elisabetta herself told Anya that this was the wine for barbequing. No, she didn’t mean Memphis pork, she meant, “Just grill something, would ya?” Enjoy!

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