Lacuna & Juicy Villages

Monday, November 25, 2013 7:24 PM

Carrying over Pete’s theme from last week – for Thanksgiving, drink what you like! Yes, the anything goes approach when choosing a wine for Thanksgiving is gaining strength even among wine writers and journalists. It is a relief to me that this new trend has emerged. If asked, I will share strong opinions as to what I think works best with turkey and all the trimmings, but I feel even stronger that at Thanksgiving, time should be spent on family and friends and not worrying about what wine to serve. It really only matters what you enjoy drinking and to understand your crowd. For years I was banging my head against the wall, trying to impress my food-loving, California wine-drinking family with the earthy, soil-driven red Burgundy I brought to share. With age and wisdom, I now know to grab a bottle of Zinfandel or Syrah from one of my favorite California producers to take home. Now we are all happy. So you see, relax and enjoy during this time of gratitude and reflection.
I have selected the following wines as viable options for the Thanksgiving table, that just also happen to be two top values from California. The quality that you get in the bottle far exceeds the price tag. They are not new to TWH and are probably familiar to many of you who read our newsletters, so without any further adieu welcome back in stock Lacuna and Juicy Villages!!!! 

11Lacuna

The 2011 is the third vintage from Lacuna. Unlike the 2010, which was heavily influenced by Petite Sirah, and more like the 2007our Top Ten of 2010, the 2011 Lacuna has Syrah back in the driver’s seat. Leave it to winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson to source top quality fruit from various celebrated sites to blend together a perfect amalgamation of fruit, structure and perfume. 

 

For the three original partners in Lacuna, who were already actively working in the wine business, the aesthetic behind creating Lacuna was all about the aromatics and the texture. The three, passionate about Old World wines, wanted to apply their palate preferences to domestic wine. It may be a marketing nightmare for the guys, but I appreciate how each vintage of Lacuna brings out a different expression of fruit all the while adhering to a strong point of view. The aromatics at this young stage are quite dramatic in the 2011 Lacuna; notes of bacon fat, berries and petals waft up out of the glass. Inside the bottle you will find 85% Syrah, sourced from several sites and some co-fermented with Viognier just like they do in Cote-Rotie, with the balance comprised of old-vine Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Carignan. The mouth-coating fruit is persuasive and energetic. Yes, I would bring this wine to Thanksgiving, but I would also love to see it alongside braised short ribs or a steaming bowl of Carbonnade. The 2011 Lacuna proves to me that ’07 and ’10 weren’t just flukes. The gorgeous Lacuna reds are moving from strength to strength. 


12Juicy Rebound

Last year the 2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound made it to our list of Top Ten of 2012. It did not stay in stock for long. With only 100 cases produced, I expect the same to be true for the newly released 2012 Juicy Villages. Again it is a blend, but this vintage Syrah takes center stage with Grenache and Mourvedre cast in supporting roles. The Syrah and Grenache come from a vineyard in the Russian River Valley, while the Mourvedre comes from the legendary Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa County. It is plush, dense and concentrated.Honestly, if you were to buy a wine of this quality from the majority of wineries out there, you could expect to pay 2-3 times more. So how do we get to be so lucky? It is one of those quirks in the wine industry; if you pay close enough attention though, this type of treasure can still be found.  Let’s just say, I’m deeply thankful to be able to recommend a wine of such pedigree and pleasure at such an affordable price to TWH customers.
 

 

 

There is a classification of winemaker that I describe as “a winemaker’s winemaker”. Douglas Danielak is such a winemaker. He may not be a household name like Randall Grahm, but if you ask around, you will find the respect and admiration for Doug’s winemaking skills, tasting prowess and overall wine knowledge is universal. As proof, Morgan Twain-Peterson (see Lacuna above) last July tweeted, “My vote for most historically underrated winemaker would likely go to Doug Danielak,” along with a photo of a bottle of Juicy Rebound Grenache. So you see, it is not just my opinion! 

It probably comes as no surprise that I do love Thanksgiving! All you do is eat, and drink. Yes, I love the roasted turkey and the traditional sides, but I also love how this American holiday adapts to each individual household. At my husband’s Italian-American family, there will be a platter of ravioli and at my family’s Russian-American table there will be pickled mushrooms and peppers, some type of beet dish and this year, fresh roe my mother cured. I hope to make the rounds to see everyone (and to taste a bit of everything!). Wishing you and yours a bountiful Thanksgiving! – Anya Balistreri
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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;
$54.98
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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;
$19.99
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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;
$19.98
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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;
$19.98
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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;
$34.99
  Add to Cart

 

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;
$144.98
  Add to Cart

 

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;
$15.99
  Add to Cart

 

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;
$29.98
  Add to Cart

 

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;
$23.98
  Add to Cart

 

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
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2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 11:44 PM

juicyleaves

The 2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound is fun, delicious, and quite a remarkable wine value when you consider the quality of grapes that go into the blend.Winemaker Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvedre from the famed Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa County and added a bit of Sonoma County Syrah and Grenache for the Southern Rhone-inspired Juicy Villages. You would think that fruit from any one of these sources would command a higher price tag, but Douglas was looking to make an entry-level orvillages level, if you would, wine that could be enjoyed immediately.
 

 

As is so often the case, Douglas Danielak is not only a winemaker who we have been following for many, many years starting with his pioneering years at Jade Mountain and then at White Rock and now with Paras Vineyards, but is a customer of The Wine House, having a penchant for French wines. Currently, Douglas makes wine for a number of micro-boutique wineries. It is only recently that he has started his own labels, Juicy Rebound and Pont Neuf, with his wife Mary. Douglas’ hobbies extend beyond wine; he is an avid fan of hockey and also plays in local leagues. This seems incongruous to his friendly demeanor and encyclopedic knowledge of wine. When Douglas came by the store last, we got on the subject of premature oxidation in White Burgundy. Douglas gave a quick lecture citing several theories, explaining them in easy-to-understand language, quoting sources from the many French winemakers he personally knows and visits frequently. This AND the fact that he makes fabulous wines and can skate on ice while swinging a stick at a fast moving puck, is impressive, I’d say.

juicylabel

The 2011 Juicy Villages, though approachable and well… JUICY, is not devoid of that dark brooding fruit you’d expect of a wine dominated by Mourvedre.The Mourvedre from Evanghelo Vineyard, which was planted in 1880, grows in sand. Yes, sand. I’ve included a photo, courtesy of Douglas, that puts this fact into vivid view. This sand bank was created where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers merge. The vines are all head-pruned, non-irrigated and on their original rootstock – Douglas calls them “little trees”. All this contributes to lush aromatics, beautiful violet aromas and tangy acidity. Douglas has worked with fruit from Evanghelo Vineyard for 20 years. You can tell how special Evanghelo is to Douglas not only by the deliciousness of the finished wine but by how intimately he describes this unique vineyard site. A strong connection between winemaker and vineyard makes for very interesting wine. The Syrah and Grenache are not afterthoughts but rather intentional components that add richness and sweet fruit. The 2011 Juicy Villages is an example of the exciting and noteworthy wines being made in California that buck the trend of massive, oaky, Cab-centric reds at a budget-friendly price. —Anya Balistreri

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