2011 La Bolida – 80 Year Old Vine Mourvèdre

Monday, October 17, 2016 8:29 PM

 
Wine & Spirits Magazine: Top 100
 
Last week Jeanne-Marie de Champs came to town, this week it was Diane de Puymorin and Mathieu Chatain from Château d’Or et de Gueules. It was a quick trip as this husband and wife team flew out to California specifically to participate in Wine & Spirits Magazine‘s grand tasting featuring the Top 100 Wineries of 2016. It is the first time in this magazine’s history that they’ve selected a winery from the appellation of Costières de Nîmes for this honor. Now, anyone who has ever been to our store or read any of our newletters should be pretty familiar with Château d’Or et de Gueueles, as we’ve been hardcore fans ever since Diane started making wine. We are thrilled that they’ve been recognized in this way by such a high profile publication. They deserve the accolades!
 
Diane and Mathieu @ TWH
 
At the grand tasting Diane and Mathieu poured the 2011 La Bolida which was featured in the Top 100 issue. It received a whopping 94 points and a glowing review (see below). On Tuesday, Diane and Mathieu came by the store to meet with staff and catch up on things wine related and otherwise. TWH has held several wine dinners with Diane over the years, but this was the first time we got to meet her husband Mathieu. Diane told us that we’ve heard her speak about Château d’Or et de Gueules plenty of times, so it would be a nice change to have Mathieu present the wines. Mathieu began his presentation by describing his relationship with Diane at the winery this way, “she is the brain and the hands are here”, raising his hands up for all to see. His affection and respect for his winemaker wife was unmistakable. Mathieu explained that the decision to make wine was not motivated by vanity but by choosing a way of life. With five daughters to raise, living and working on the land was the life they wanted to persue. Next, Mathieu boiled it down to three things that make their wines exceptional: 1) the terroir: stony, pebbly soil like in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and with proximity to the sea, the climate is ideal, 2) low, low yields and 3) they harvest at the right moment – just at the peak of maturity. It’s that simple…!
 
Mathieu’s presentation
 
La Bolida falls under a category that Diane and Mathieu like to call “passion”; a small batch cuvée that takes all of their effort to make the finest wine. La Bolida is made from their oldest Mourvèdre vines which range in age from 80-100 years old. The yields are miniscule, only 10hl/h (whereas the appellation allows for 60hl/h). They produce about 3,000 bottles of La Bolida. That’s only 250 cases! While we were tasting the 2011 La Bolida, Diane stretched her hand outwards from her mouth to demonstrate the long length of the wine. She described what she finds in La Bolida as the elegant tension of fruit with the freshness of acidity and tannin. To achieve this balance, Diane ages the wine in 300 liter barrel for a year, then old foudre for another year, and then rests the wine in concrete tank for 6-12 months before bottling. She likes what aging in barrel does for the structure of the wine but she doesn’t want the oak to dominate. The 2011 La Bolida is impactful and impressive. The generous fruit is succulent and cohesive. At once powerful and elegant. La Bolida is masterfully blended with the intention of keeping the integrity of the old vine Mourvèdre front and center. Wow!
 
Diane & Mathieu
 
Who’s coming next to visit us? It feels like a party over here in Dogpatch! I always tell new customers that at TWH, we have long relationships with many of the wineries we carry and that we prefer to do business with people we like. For me, it’s more than just about the wine, it’s about the people – their stories and their passion. Meeting with Diane and Mathieu this week puts this all into practice. – Anya Balistreri

Mas de Bressades
2012 Cabernet – Syrah Les Vignes de Mon Père
 
There was a big announcement over at The Wine Advocatethat Robert Parker Jr. was passing the baton over to Neal Martin, who will now be the sole reviewer of Bordeaux for the publication. For those of us who follow such things, this is a big deal. Yes, Parker has been reviewing far fewer wines, nevertheless, his impact on the wine industry lingers – especially in Bordeaux and California. What I have observed over the past five years or so is that because Parker is not featuring the portfolios of favored importers as frequently as he once did, the frenzy for some of the exceptional, under-the-radar values that he would highlight has faded. That is a shame. Case in point, the Cabernet-Syrah from Mas de Bressades has not been reviewed in The Wine Advocate for many, many vintages. However, if you were to look up past reviews for this wine you would see mostly scores of 90 & 91 points. Pretty impressive for a wine under $25. Back when I started at TWH, the Mas de Bressades Cabernet-Syrahwas practically doled out case by case. Everyone had readhow terrific the wine was and it had generated a loyal following among those searching for elevated French “country” wine.
 
 
TWH recently purchased the remaining stock of the Mas de Bressades 2012 Cabernet-Syrah at a crazy good price and we’re passing along the savings! It has been awhile since I last tasted a bottle, but I fondly remember the Mas de Bressades Cabernet-Syrah as being the jewel in the crown of Robert Kacher Selections’ offerings from the Costières de Nîmes. Bobby Kacher was a trailblazer in this region, recognizing its great potential for quality wineand began importing the best ones to the US nearly thirty years ago. The Costières de Nîmes was formerly lumped with eastern Languedoc wines, but the soil and climate more closely resembles southern Rhône. Therefore,Costières de Nîmes is now officially part of the Rhône Valley.
 
 
Mas de Bressades’ winemaker, Cyril Mares, is a sixth generation winemaker. His father, Roger, purchased the estate in the early ’60s. Cyril has added the moniker Les Vignes de Mon Pèreto the Cabernet-Syrah in honor of his father and, I think, to emphasis the old-vine pedigree of the grapes. The old-vine character of this wine is palpable; deep berry compote fruit gives way to cedar notes with a rich cassis finish. The wine is supple and coats the mouth with warm, sultry flavors. The blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah. I like to tell customers that it has the structure of Cabernet but with the elegant fruit notes of Syrah. Far from being rustic, this is French country wine at its best. You get fancy textureand flavors from the oak aging, the ripeness of the regionbut without the pearl clutching price of so many other notable French regions. This wine, though full-bodied, is suitable for showy main course masterpieces as well as more humble fare. You can even enjoy a glass on its own, if that is what the occasion calls for.
 
 
In my last post, I mentioned plans for a seaside escape. I am happy to report that the getaway was fabulous! Lots of happy memories made in four fun-filled days. We went to stay at a beachfront hotel in Santa Cruz with a group of friends with lots of children in tow. On the first evening of our arrival, while the children continued to play in the pool, the adults gathered around the gas fire pit to keep warm and chat. I shared the Mas de Bressades 2012 Cabernet-Syrah which we drank from hotel room water glasses. I am grateful to the tolerant hotel staff who kindly overlooked our bad behavior for breaking the “pool rules”.The warming flavors of the wine echoed the warming flames, enhancing the beauty of our surroundings. My friends, expecting a wine this tasty to be expensive, were shocked when I told them TWH sells it for $14.95! Such a deal! Share some bottles with your friends – I am confident they’ll also be impressed. – Anya Balistreri

Preservation And Old-Vine Mourvedre – 2011 La Bolida

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 8:21 PM

 
One of the first questions that I asked Anya this morning was, “Do you think there are many Coravin owners out there sufferingfrom buyer’s remorse?” This wasn’t a leading question of any sort. The Coravin device is quite useful, as evidenced by its appearance twice here in our buyer’s tasting room this past week. It’s not exactly cheap, and I was just wondering if she had heard of anyone’s dissatisfaction with it. She mentioned that it is a boon to distributors and sales reps, as they can show their wines to potential customers over a longer period of time. Especially the fancy bottles. Last Monday, we were treated to tasting 3 different vintages of a Second Growth Bordeaux from a negociant! That didn’t happen before the Coravin. Preservation.

 

 
Later in the morning, I was waxing nostalgicabout the ballpark trips that I would take in my early 20’s. I had visited all the Major League parks except one, though that number is much higher now. One of the other things that I would do when visiting these cities was to find where the city’s old ballpark used to be, and look for signs of evidence of it. Sometimes there isn’t any. Other times, it could be as subtle as a pub called “The Double Play” kitty-corner from the old site. It’s always best when there’s more than that. I regaled Tom and Anya about the site of old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. It’s now part of the University of Pittsburgh campus, but a fair segment of the ballpark’s brick outfield wall, complete with flagpole still exist to this day. Not only that, where the left field wall once was, is now represented by a brick inlay, sporting a sidewalk plaque commemorating the park’s most memorable moment. Hat’s off to the city planner who allowed for that! More preservation.

 

 
Of course, preservation is extremely important with non-Coravined bottles of wine. Not all wine ages well, but the ones that do can be quite magical if preserved properly. The key to any longer term wine storage isconsistent temperature. It’s a great thing to cellar the finest wines and get the opportunity to taste them after their respective proper slumber times, but this requires more patience than most of us have. I own some special wine meant for the long haul, but I’m always looking for fun, interesting, and delicious wines to age for the medium term. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m happy to announce the arrival of the 2011 La Bolida from Château d’Or et de Gueules.

 

 
Winemaker Diane Puymorin uses around 90% old-vine Mourvèdre (over 90 years old!), and blends it with around 10% Grenache. Believe it or not, her yields for this wine are painfully low, coming in at 10 hectolitres per hectare. In Bandol, growers are allowed up to 40hl, though many keep the number in the 25-30 range. Diane holds the wine back, at her expense, in order to release it in a drinkable state. The 2011 is the current release. This is always one of my favorite wines to cellar. With decanting, it can be drunk early, yet gets more and more interesting after 5, 9, or 12 years! One gets aromas of red and black fruits, earthy mineral, carmel, and anise. The palate is full and unctuous without being overdone. It has great balance, and in its youth, one gets a sense of its coil of complexity that can be coaxed with just a few years of cellaring. The 2011 is another consistent example of what I consider my favorite wine from the Costières de Nîmes. Time flies, I still have one last bottle of the 2004 that needs drinking soon!

 

 
Speaking of time flying, as the calendar continues to flip,we’d like to wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day, and a happy Presidents’ Day right behind it! We’re open on Monday, so no three day weekends here, but that’s okay, I will be sure to pop a bottle of my favorite Valentine’s Day wine tomorrow … as I look forward to enjoying the 2011 La Bolida in 2016, 2020, and 2023. As long as they’re well preserved! – Peter Zavialoff

 

 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the Coravin, old time ballparks, old-vine Mourvèdre, Bordeaux, or this week’s resumption of Champions’ League Football: peter@wineSF.com

2011 Les Cimels: Another Vintage, Another Winner

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 8:18 PM

 


“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” So saidOscar Wilde. Although we understand the poet’s spirit on the subject, there are times when consistency is preferred over any alternative. From healthy check-ups at the doctors’, delicious heirloom tomatoes, safe flights and comfortable shoes, there are times and places for it. It’s a slippery slope here, consistency in wine. We want the expression of terroir, and certainly the signature of any particular vintage to be present in wine we enjoy, butconsistently, we want the wine to taste good!Consistent quality is hardly universal among wines priced in the teens, but we’ve been stocking a particular red from Costières de Nîmes that delivers big time year after year. You can read our notes on the 2005, the 2007, the2009, and the 2010 on our blog.

barreldegueules2

 

Last night after we closed, the remains of several bottles that were poured for wholesale accounts were lined up on our tasting table for our staff to sample,including the 2011 Les Cimels from Château d’Or et de Gueules. Knowing what I know about this wine, it was easy to imagine that it would be to my liking, but just how much, I wasn’t prepared for. I’ve been saying it to customers over and over again for years now, “For me, my favorite bottle of red wine at (or near) the $15 level is a no-brainer, Les Cimels.“ I should not have been as surprised and blown away as I was last night, as I’ve been saying it for years. The character of this wine was not lost upon our staff here. Imagine all of us in the same room, glasses in hand, swirling, sniffing, and sipping. Anya was just shaking her head, “You can’t find complexity and character like this in this price range. As hard as it is to believe that she can improve this wine, she’s gone and done it!” Chriswas fixated on a particular nuance, “Oh, what is it?! It’s a tree thing, you know forest floor, but like tree sap. Yeah! Pine tree sap, that’s it!” Tom summed it all up by saying, “You can point to all of the complexity and say things like pine tree sap, forest floor, and black tea, but again, it’s all about character. It’s got a ton of complexity and character that you would never find elsewhere at this price point.” That’s what I’m saying as well.
 
redgrapesonvine
 
I was the lucky one who took what was left in the bottle home and enjoyed it with a little late-night pasta with red sauce and a Garlic/Gruyere sausage. It was perfect. It hadplenty of friendly fruit to stand up to the tangy sauce and the woodsy forest floor essence just added to the flavor sensation of the savory sausage. I poured it judiciously, and was rewarded with a half glass after the dishes were done.

 

 

 
The Wine Advocate’s Rhône specialist, Jeb Dunnuck had this to say when he tasted the 2011 Les Cimels from barrel:

 

 

 
“Tasted out of barrel, the 2011 Costieres De Nimes Les Cimels is an impressive blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Carignan and 10% Grenache that will spend upwards of two years in tank prior to bottling. Displaying a complex, layered and rich profile, with notions of old leather, plum, cedar, ink and spice-cabinet all emerging from the glass, it is medium+-bodied, beautifully textured and has solid underlying structure. It’s a superb value and should drink nicely for 5-7 years.“
 
cafeinparis
 
We taste a lot of wine here at TWH. The quality levels of these wines are all over the map. It’s a real challenge with wines priced in the teens, to find wines that are more than “one dimensional,” “tricked-up,” or “lacking,” let alone find wines of character and complexity like we have here in the 2011 Les Cimels from Château d’Or et de Gueules. So with all due respect for Oscar Wilde, we sure are happy for the consistency exhibited by winemaker Diane Puymorin! – Peter Zavialoff

The September 2014 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, September 6, 2014 10:29 PM

On we go, into the ‘ber months! Kids are back in school, the French are back from their holidays, and here in San Francisco, it’s time for our summer! For the occasion, we’ve sourced some special wines to make our September a memorable one. Six reds, one crisp Rosé, and five whites, all chosen for their versatility, are screaming values on their own. Pack them all in a box and knock the price down 35%? Magic. The September Dirty Dozen!

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2012 Falanghina Nina, Torre Quarto $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Give it a chill, just not too much, otherwise the lovely melon fruit and fragrant aromas (look for that slight hint of pine) will be muted. Falanghina, an ancient Italian grape, is grown in the south – Puglia in this instance. Yellow-gold in color, this lush white has a round texture that complements seafood, fresh salads and cold entrées.

2012 Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Jean-Paul, Boutinot $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

From southwest France, this dependable refrigerator door white’s beauty – a classic blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc – lies in its simplicity. Notes of lemon and citrus zest move into tangy grapefruit on the palate, leaving a refreshing, lingering lightness. Nothing complicated, but it’s oh so nice ice cold out of the fridge on a warm late summer’s eve.

2012 Pedro Ximenez PX, Cucao $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Pedro Ximenez is a varietal known mainly for its role in Spain’s sweet sherries, but this dry example is grown in the northern-most wine region of Chile – the Elqui Valley. Sunny weather ripens the fruit while the high altitude ensures freshness. A delightful blend of acidity and concentrated fruit; try with miso-dressed soba noodles or coconut shrimp.

2013 Ventoux Rosé l’Instant, Domaine Fondrèche $15.99, $12.79 reorder

This wine gets you at ‘hello.” Just look at that color! As pale as pale Rosé gets, winemaker Sébastien Vincenti blends 50% Cinsault with 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache and the wine is light, lean, crisp, and delicious. It’s a versatile little Rosé, textbook southern French style. Got a hankering for Salmon Étoufée? If you do, try it with this.

2012 Grenache Blanc/Rolle/Roussanne, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $12.89, $10.31 reorder

In 1998, Diane Puymorin purchased this domaine and re-named it Château d’Or et de Gueules. TWH regulars know all about her and those wines, but Diane keeps it real and pays homage to the history of her property with this bottling. Here she blends three classic white Rhône varietals. It’s crisp, clean, and fleshy. Pair it with a seared tuna sandwich.

2012 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder

Gewurztraminer is known for its profound bouquet reminiscent of lychee nuts and rose petals. The Ehrharts’ single-vineyard, Herrenweg is a tad off-dry, and is rich and expressive, both aromatically and on the palate. Not for sipping, this one needs food. Especially spicy food. You must try it with a spicy curry dish, or spicy Cajun red beans and rice.

2010 Tempranillo Dauco, Bodegas Martúe $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder

Hailing from central Spain, this friendly Tempranillo has silky smooth tannins and rich cherry fruit. Outside Rioja, Tempranillo can show many faces, but here it shines as a versatile, charming red, reminding drinkers what makes Tempranillo just so darn delicious! Surely Paella works but so does Pollo con Arroz, Plov, or Tadig with kebabs.

2012 Malbec, Ecologica $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Argentian Malbec is unquestionably a favorite for those looking for value and quality in an everyday wine. Ecologica sources only organic fruit and is Fair Trade Certified. Medium-bodied with welcoming notes of green herbs, red plum and cassis fruit, the acids and tannins hold up well to heavily-seasoned grilled meats or a quesadilla with fresh Pico de Gallo.

2010 Dão, Proeza $11.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Looking for a full-bodied red that goes easy on the pocket book? Look no further than this voluptuous Portuguese red from Proeza. Loaded with big flavors courtesy of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz, grapes traditionally made into Port, this dry red is grippy and broad-scaled. A lot of wine for the money! Hearty, rib-sticking meals would work best.

2010 Touraine Rouge, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder

We’ve been working with Dominique and Véronique Barbou for two decades, their wines can magically transport us to the land of France’s most majestic chateaux. This blend of Pinot Noir, Côt (Malbec), and Cabernet Franc is marked by juicy fruit with an herbal twist. Drink it on its own or with anything you would want to pair with a cheerful red.

2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $14.59, $11.67 reorder

In the rolling hills just west of Firenze is the commune of Carmignano. Long before the days of the ‘Super Tuscan’, Cabernet Sauvignon was allowed to grow here, only to be blended with the native Tuscan Sangiovese. It’s a zippy little red table wine with another layer of complexity. Pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil is all you need with this one.

2009 Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Proprietor of Tour de l’Isle, Robert Rocchi acts as a negociant in the southern Rhône Valley who advises a handful of growers on improtant aspects of winemaking. The results in bottle are not only delicious, they are reflective of their places of origin. Or as Anya likes to say, “He’s not afraid to make wine that tastes good.” Try this with a grilled steak.

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2010 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels

Monday, June 30, 2014 7:43 PM

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 3 months since we’ve moved to our new headquarters here in San Francisco’s Dogpatch district. Though it’s new and different, getting here is so much easier than our last location. I mean we’re ONE BLOCK away from a major intersection of 2 busy San Francisco boulevards! It’s also hard to believe that it’s been 3 months since I landed in Bordeaux to attend the 2013 barrel tastings back at the end of March. Where does the time go … seriously? Now that the dust has somewhat settled, look forward to hearing about the trip and some of the exciting finds I made while visiting Bordeaux this year very soon. Our new location has added a mile to my commute, but this morning I was reminded why I endure it each day: Passion.

 

“If you can sell a wine to me, I can sell it to anyone.” That was how I answered David during my interview after he asked if my lack of retail experience would hinder my ability to perform an important facet of the job. So let’s just say it’s easier for me to recommend wines that appeal to me, especially if there’s a good story behind it. So this morning, a customer came in, she usually sticks to crisp whites, and I have a reasonable idea of what she likes in a wine. As she filled out her case, she threw a curveball at me. Fortunately, it was a hanging curve. She asked me for a Bordeaux recommendation. Smack! Out of the park.

I asked her for some parameters, and quickly reached for a bottle of 2009 Roc de Cambes. She was looking for something “people pleasing and enjoyable now.” I told her that a week ago Thursday night, I poured 3 different Bordeaux wines at the Golden Gate Wine Society’s Bordeaux tasting. I went on about the tasting, and further spoke of my relationship with François Mitjavile and that the Roc de Cambes was the hit of the tasting. When I was done, she asked me, “Do you own this place?” I shook my head and shrugged it off, “no,” I said. She looked at me and replied, “you just work here, eh? Wow, what passion.” I guess so. I love wine, and I love Bordeaux the most. Surprisingly enough, this write-up is not endorsing any particular Bordeaux. It’s about my favorite sub $20 red wine in the shop. I happily drink this wine in every vintage, and I imagine I will do so provided she continues making it. I’m talking about the 2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels.

 

The “she” I’m talking about here is Diane Puymorin. We speak of her often, and for very good reason. She makes unique wines that have a sense of place, are fairly priced, and taste great. Her 2010 Les Cimels rouge has what I love in a red wine. It’s medium-full bodied, has a wide swath of aromatic nuance which include black tea and forest floor, a harmonious complex palate, and a zippy mouthfeel which paves the way for a long, tasty finish. I just love the stuff. It’s not jammy. It’s not oaky. It’s savory. When I think of how to describe the fruit in this wine, my first inclination is to compare it to a Kalamata olive. I have a good buddy who several years ago, after tasting the 2005, told me to “just bring me a case of each vintage of this stuff when it’s released.” I know why. It’s a great red wine, it’s easy on the wallet, you can drink it on its own, and it also is great with food.

 

Pretty much low hanging fruit, but hey, this stuff is sensational. Me being me, my conversation doesn’t drift far from Bordeaux for very long, but it was a simple progression to see how I landed on the 2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels today. The phone rang. It was another of my music playing good pals with an invitation to come by after work for a 3-day marinated tri-tip dinner! Anya saw me jump for joy after I hung up the phone. I’ve really got a thing for tri-tip and my buddy is quite the grill meister. Okay, my part. What do I bring? I began this exercise by walking around the floor. Hmmm. Something good, yes, but, it’s the end of the month, so be careful in the spending department. That got me to the filing cabinet to review my roster of personal wines that I have stored here. Aha, I’ll bring my last bottle of 2003 Château Gloria, St. Julien, so we’ve got the Bordeaux covered. But I know this group, one bottle will not suffice, and as generous as I might have felt at the time, I managed to continue to hold off on those 4 bottles of 1995 Clerc Milon I have left. Wait! No brainer, just grab a Cimels and call it a day. And that’s how we got here.

Another day in the life of a wine geek. The tasting last week with the Golden Gate Wine Society went great and was a lot of fun. Thinking about addressing this group of tasters gave me a brief pang of nerves. One of the other presenters was a rather famous importer who knows way more about wine than I do. Heeding Anya’s advice, I was just myself, and regaled the group with “the stories that got you to the tasting in the first place.” So yeah, I’m comfortable talking about Bordeaux … you might say passionate. Also, I’m super excited to hear that we are going about picking up our Bordeaux wines getting them ready for their 5 week voyage across the big pond! I’ll try to keep somewhat of a lid on it until they arrive, but in addition to the 2011’s, there will be some great, value-driven Bordeaux wines from earlier vintages that I will by psyched to see among our bins. Patience. Patience. The waiting will be easy. As long as we have plenty of 2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels around. Wishing you all a happy summer and a happy Independence Day! Cheers! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Bordeaux, The Golden Gate Wine Society, high-quality value red wines, the World Cup finals, or the 2010 Les Cimels: peter@winesf.com

 

It’s official. Up and down the California coast, we’ve experienced our first heat wave of the year. With record breaking temperatures hitting some spots both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, folks have been headed outdoors. To the park, to the beach, or to the backyard, it is outdoor season! Hmmm. Kind of makes Rosé sound like a good idea.

 

As Anya reported last month, being in our new, larger facility in Dogpatch enables us to get some of our imports in-stock quickly and efficiently, so we indeed can have freshly bottled Rosé in April (and May) instead of June or July. It makes the world of difference, especially here in San Francisco. For those of you who don’t know, in the city itself, the months of July and August are marked by endless fog that is drawn in from the ocean by the scorching temperatures of California’s Central Valley. It’s not that depressing, take it from a native. If one is looking for clear skies and warm weather in July and August, a 15 minute drive in any of 3 directions will get you out of the fog.

 

We don’t necessarily believe that Rosé has aseason, but it sure is a lot more fun to have a nice, cool, crisp glass of it under sunny skies than it is during a snowstorm. (We don’t get snow here in San Francisco, that drive usually takes around 3 hours). So that underlines the importance of having fresh Rosé in April rather than June or July. Last week’s heatwave is proof of that. The reaction has been astounding. The Rosé that Anya wrote about last month is gone. Gone, like a circus gone. Don’t worry, there’s more on the way.  Winemaker Diane Puymorin makes another Rosé. In fact this one is bottled under her more prestigious label, Château d’Or et de GueulesLes Cimels Rosé.

 

Having purchased Domaine de la Petite Cassagne in 1998, Diane changed the name to d’Or et de Gueules, the local dialectal “red and gold.” She pours her heart into these wines, and we’re all smitten by them. If you read our emails with any regularity, you need no introduction. For her Les Cimels Rosé, she adheres to the Provençal style, blending mostly Mourvèdre and Cinsault in equal parts. She rounds it off by adding a little Grenache and Syrah for depth and complexity, and voilà, Les Cimels Rosé!

See: Pale, pale. Light, light salmon color.

Smell: Surprisingly pronounced and complex considering the color. Fruity, floral, herbal, all at once.

Taste: Fresh, bright, crisp, palate expanding. Remember: Clean, lipsmacking finish.

Hey, how did my glass get empty?

 

Yes, it’s officially springtime. Here in San Francisco, we’re enjoying our summer, part I, part II comes in September. And now that we’re in our new facility, we’ve got fresh Rosé. 2013 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels Rosé, to be exact! – Peter Zavialoff

Newly Arrived: 2013 Rose From Petite Cassagne

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:04 AM

Why TWH moved to a new location at 829 26th Street at the edge of the historic Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco might be a question many of you have entertained and one that can be answered many ways. One answer is that we needed more space to warehouse our imported wines. As Pete likes to explain and I will paraphrase here, we want new vintages of French Rose as soon as possible and not in the middle of summer. Typically Rose is bottled in March, so given the normal timeframe of shipping logistics, we can expect new vintages of Rose to arrive in SF at the earliest by mid/late April. Too often at the old spot, we’d have to wait so that we can make room for a new container. But here at the new spot, voila, it has arrived fresh, fresh, fresh in April with room to spare in the warehouse. I wasted no time, buying a bottle of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne to enjoy at Easter, and will now attempt to make a strong argument as to why you should want this Rose over any other.

 

The 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne has a baby pink hue so pretty, so translucent, you can’t help but gravitate to the bottle. Made from direct press juice, mainly Cinsault, this Rose has that delicate, subtle appearance that signifies elegance, subtlety, and freshness. The aromas are pervasive but not heady. The strawberry scents are like those that greet you when you pass by a vendor at the Farmers market selling just picked berries; it is a vivid, memory-inducing aroma. On the palate the strawberry theme continues but stops short of excessive fruitiness by the perfectly matched acidity and dryness level. It is not an out of the ordinary Rose, unlike anything you’ve ever tried before, but it is precisely what you want from a $11.49 bottle of Rose from Southern France. Now let’s imagine for a moment that you had the good fortune of summering along the Mediterranean coast and were at an outdoor bistro ordering a glass of Rose. If the restaurant served you a glass of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne, first you would think to yourself why don’t I drink more Rose and second you would begin to wonder whether you could purchase anything like it back in the States. The good news is yes you can and we have it here at TWH!

 

At Easter, my elder brother, who resides in Sonoma County and grows wine grapes as a hobby, asked me to try a Rose that a friend had made. He asked me to honestly critique the wine so that he could report back to his friend. After staying up the night before until 4:30 in the morning-having gone to midnight mass and then breaking the lenten fast afterwards – I wasn’t exactly in the mood for playing the role of the wine expert, but I tasted it anyway and found it to be sound. My biggest objection to it was the heat on the finish and its sense of heaviness on the palate. I could see that my brother was not clear by what I meant, so the next day as we continued our Easter celebration at my other brother’s house for a day-long bbq feast, I poured a glass of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne and instructed my brother to try it. “You see how light and fresh it is?” I told him. And I went on to say, “we sell it at the store for $11.49 per bottle, and even less by the case!” Now he understood, so much so he asked me to set a few bottles aside for him.

 

 

One of the highlights at the bbq feast for me was a slow-cooked, fall-apart-tender pork butt that was served on sweet Hawaiian rolls with sliced cucumbers, pineapple, red onion and cilantro with Siracha and Hoisin sauce. It was an amazingly delicous pairing with the Petite Cassagne Rose. Truly. Red wine would have been too heavy and a white wine wouldn’t have had enough fruity oomph, proving to me once again how versatile and complimentary Rose is with foods that impart heat or spiciness.

 



Winemaker Diane de Puymorin has perfected making Rose that combines real value with sophistication (actually this is true for all her wines). The 2013 Rose from Petite Cassagne is simply hard to beat especially when you factor in the price. At $11.49 per bottle ($9.77 when ordered by the case), you can afford to incorporate a taste of the Mediterranean life into your daily diet. Anya Balistreri

The Wine House SF: Our Top Ten Wines Of 2013

Thursday, January 30, 2014 7:24 PM

 

Where does the time go? It doesn’t seem like it’s been 4 years since we listed our first Top Ten Wines of the Year in January 2010, but it has! 2014 promises to be a great year of discovery, as we have plans to receive more wine from producers new to us. Let us not forget our stalwarts, we’ll have plenty from them as well. We’re expecting visits from some of our friends overseas, keep on the look-out for information about winemaker dinners and events coming soon. All in all, 2014 is shaping up to look like a very exciting year!Before we blaze further into the new year, let’s relive our Top Ten Wines of 2013.

 

 Again, we taste a lot of wine here at TWH throughout the year, and we enjoy the exercise of reminiscing our tasting experiences. Our first Top Ten listing was for the year 2009. We have continued the tradition, and you can view our Top Ten lists from 2010, 2011, or 2012 by clicking on each year. It’s not an easy exercise, as we taste so much throughout the year, and it’s hard to narrow it down to just ten. But somehow we manage. Here at TWH, for our Top Ten Wines of the year, it’s not about highest scoring, most well-known, big names, nor big prices. It’s about quality, it’s about diversity, it’s about value, it’s about wines that we all love! Some of the wines are sold out, but have earned a place on our list due to their merits. Here it is folks, TWH SF’s Top Ten Wines of 2013:

2012 Chateau Armurey Bordeaux Clairet

This one was two years in the making! Back in 2011, our former teammate Emily asked if I had ever tasted Bordeaux Clairet. Not only hadn’t I tasted it, I had no idea it existed! A little research revealed that Bordeaux Clairet is a light red wine, almost like a heavy Rosé that is rarely seen outside Bordeaux. The wine is made in the style of the Bordeaux wines shipped to England during the middle ages. Rumor has it that it was Bordeaux Clairet that inspired the contemporary English term, Claret. Having been on our radar since 2011, we were excited to see it listed on a negoce’s price list in December 2012. We had a sample shipped. We tasted it. We loved it. Now the tricky part; how much should we order? Well, we slightly missed the mark on that one. It sold out way too fast! Not only was it a huge hit for our customers, members of our staff snapped it up a case at a time. What’s not to like? 12.5% alcohol, fresh, crisp, refreshing light red wine (served chilled) for less than $10? I’m responsible for the depletion of over 2 cases. We’ll be tasting the 2013 soon. If it’s anything like the 2012, we can all look forward to cooling our palates this summer with more Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet!

 

 

2011 Claudie Jobard Rully ‘Montagne La Folie’ 

White Burgundy. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? We love white Burgundy, and when we find one of high quality in the sub $30 range, we get very excited. We welcomed Claudie Jobard to TWH family in 2013 via two bottlings of Pommard that she makes for her aunt and her mother at Domaine Gabriel Billard. Her mother being Laurence Jobard, head oenologist at Domaine Drouhin for over 30 years. Taking a step back, Laurence has tasked her daughter to make the wine for the domaine. If Claudie is good enough to make wine for her celebrated mother, she’s certainly good enough for us!  Claudie also bottles red and white Burgundy from vineyards she’s been handed down from her father’s side of the family in Rully. As far as price to quality goes, the wines are in the sweet spot. When Anya wrote the wine up last May, she observed that Claudie’s 2011 Rully Montagne La Folie was what many California Chardonnay producers are shooting for, but “miss the mark.” With the case price, it’s actually less than $25 per bottle! However you see it, it’s terrific white Burgundy, deserving its spot in our Top Ten. Welcome to TWH family, Claudie!
2011 Claudie Jobard Rully Montagne La Folie

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
$28.99
  Add to Cart

 

 

2009 Grange des Rouquette Syrah ‘Agrippa’ 

Now for one from a couple of our longtime friends, Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud. We’ve been representing Thierry and Véronique for many years, first as their California distributor, and now as their importer. They make a range of wines, but they’re mainly good quality, inexpensive country French wines. Wines that you would expect to be poured at any of the bistros, cafés, and brasseries that dot the southern French landscape. A year ago, on a visit to their property, David was poured a barrel sample of something Thierry called Agrippa. The wine is, in essence, a reserve wine. Thierry doesn’t make it every year, and when he does, he only makes 10-15 barrels. Well, David was impressed! If you love northern Rhône Syrah, you owe it to yourself to give the Agrippa a try. This 100% Syrah comes from a 3 hectare parcel of 20+ year old vines planted in sandy loess soils, similar to those in the north.

 

I had a surprise, aha moment with this wine one night. As the day grew to a close, I grabbed a couple of random bottles and put them in my wine bag. Once in the wine bag, you can’t see their labels, but I had thought that the bottle of red wine that I grabbed was a 2010 Boudinaud Syrah/Grenache. I put my groceries away, and grabbed a couple of pots, ready to get dinner started. With my concentration entirely on what I was preparing, I grabbed my corkscrew and opened the bottle of red. I poured a glass, went back to the stove to stir some onions and garlic, and then I took a sip. Whoa! That’s not inexpensive French country wine, that was something entirely different. A closer look at the bottle revealed that it was indeed the Agrippa, and my love affair with this wine began. But ask any of us, the 2009 Boudinaud Agrippa Syrah is a special wine. If you factor in the $16.14 case price, it is pretty much unbeatable.

2009 Vignobles Boudinaud Syrah Agrippa Vin du Pays d’Oc

Red Wine; Syrah/Shiraz; Languedoc-Roussillon;
$18.99
  Add to Cart

 

 

 

 

2011 Palmina Dolcetto

There has been such a buzz lately amongst wine industry people in regard to winemaker Steve Clifton and the wines from Palmina! A recent trip to SF restauranteur Bruce Hill’s revamped Fog City revealed that Palmina is well represented on Gregory Altzman’s list; both by the glass and by the bottle. Well, Anya was on to the concept quite a while ago, as the wines are indeed made for those interested in Italian varietals from California rather than the “Cal-Ital” crowd. The 2011 Dolcetto is sublime, it has Old World character, with just enough fruit to balance out its rich complexity. Medium in body, it’s the kind of wine that pairs well with all of the dishes you would imagine. From a simple Pizza Margherita to a more serious Osso Buco. We’re so pleased with the full line of wines that we received this year from Palmina, but the Dolcetto, that’s something very special indeed!

 

Warning: Less than a case of the 2011 is left. We will soon be moving on to the 2012. Stay tuned for that.

2011 Palmina Dolcetto Santa Barbara County

Red Wine; Dolcetto; Central Coast;
$15.98
  Add to Cart

 

 

2010 Domaine Pernot-Belicard Meursault 

Another of David’s solid recent discoveries was not entirely a “new” discovery. How do you classify that exactly? He’s (fairly) new to us, but he’s the grandson of one of our stalwarts. We’re talking about Philippe Pernot, who in addition to helping his grandfather (and father) at Domaine Paul Pernot et ses fils, makes his own wine sourced from vineyards acquired from his wife’s family. The young Pernot has 5 hectares of vines in 9 different climats, but get this, his Meursault comes from a single parcel and the vines are 65-70 years old! Talk about layered and complex! We were all wowed by this wine when it first arrived, and continue to be. If you love Meursault, and who doesn’t, we recommend you taste the 2010 Pernot-Belicard Meursault.
2010 Domaine Pernot Belicard Meursault

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
$49.99
  Add to Cart
2011 Domaine Pernot Belicard Meursault

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
$50.99
  Add to Cart
Just in!!! Philippe’s 2011! Build a vertical.

 

 

2011 Domaine Pichat Cote Rotie ‘Loss’

During a recent conversation with another importer, we came to the conclusion that discovering new producers who make high-quality, value wine was nearly impossible. Especially when it comes to famous wine regions whose production is severely limited. It’s a theory, yes, with a boatload of truth and logic to back it up. David has been working diligently with his friends and various agents looking specifically for a “new” Côte Rôtie producer for several years now. That means he’s tried a bunch of them over the years, but in each case, graciously said no. Well, that has changed now. He’s liked what he’s tasted from Domaine Pichat for several vintages, and that’s what it takes for him to graciously say yes! When the Pichat wines landed we all got to taste them, and they are indeed special wines with that signature smoky, meaty goodness that Syrah exhibits when originating from the steep terraces of Côte Rôtie. It was unanimous amongst us, the fancier cuvées were great, and will be spectacular wines someday, showing immense concentration, texture and structure. When we tasted the Löss, we were blown away by its balance and drinkability. The complexity was dazzling, and we could swear that Stéphane used some new barrel on it as well, but were assured no, only neutral barrel is used for this wine. Proving again that Syrah is “a ballerina who can kick-box”, Pichat’s 2011 Löss delivers plush, dark plum and red berry flavors framed in a classic smoky, meaty structure. Another great discovery; this time from an almost impossible source!
2011 Domaine Pichat Cote-Rotie Loss

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
$51.99
  Add to Cart

 

 

2011 Domaine Sebastien Dampt Chablis 1er Cru ‘Cote de Lechet’

It was during that same conversation with the other importer where a modicum of possibility did emerge: find someone new or someone young. Sure, that doesn’t guarantee quality, but if you’re going to find the diamond in the rough of unclaimed producers, that’s the place to look. Chablis is much bigger than Côte Rôtie, yes, but finding the new producer wasn’t easy.  Patience is a virtue, because after graciously saying no several times, David found us a bona fide all star, Sébastien Dampt! My, my, what a fine line of wines. The youngster’s family has been making wine for over 150 years! Sébastien had been working with his brother, Vincent, together with their father at his eponymous Domaine Daniel Dampt before setting off on his own in 2007. What this young winemaker can do with Chardonnay is astounding! His 2011 Chablis Premier Cru Côte de Léchet wowed us at first whiff! Its fresh, focused white fruit, floral, and mineral aromas were captivating; the palate was as bright and nervy as expected; the finish long and harmonious. The very fair price, a result of patience and direct importation. Bravo!

 

The 2011 Côte de Léchet has sold out, but its stablemate, the Premier Cru Les Vaillons is another outstanding example of what this young winemaker does with Premier Cru fruit!

2011 Sebastien Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
$26.99
  Add to Cart

 

 

2009 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules ‘La Bolida’

Making her second appearance in a TWH SF Top Ten is our pal in Costières de Nîmes, Diane Puymorin with her 100% old vine Mourvèdre La Bolida. Old vine? Yes, these twisted, weathered vines are between 80 and 100 years old!  Crazy, right? This has always been a prized bottling for our staff as many of us squirrel away a few each year, as they deliver much joy after only a short time in the cellar. Her 2009 La Bolida is all that and more! Mourvèdre has the reputation for yielding big, powerful wines that, in many cases, need cellar time. This is true with many of the wines coming from Bandol. It is a very late ripening grape and only flourishes in a handful of locales around the world. One place it flourishes is in Diane’s vineyard! When discussing La Bolida, she often points to the juxtaposition between the wine’s power and its roundness. It definitely has the stuffing to go the long haul, but is short of any hard edges that may interfere with its charm. The southern Rhône has had a string of successful vintages, and 2009 was one of the best. 
2009 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Bolida Rouge

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Other France;
$36.99
  Add to Cart
2009 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Bolida Rouge (in magnum)

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Languedoc-Roussillon;
$73.99
  Add to Cart

 

 

2010 Opalie de Chateau Coutet

Talk about new discoveries … how about a first time EVER wine? The team at Château Coutet had been working on a secret project for a couple of vintages: to make a top-flight dry white Bordeaux. With the assistance of Philippe Dhalluin and his team at Baron Philippe de Rothschild (Mouton), two particular plots of their Barsac/Sauternes First Growth vineyard were chosen as the source for the new wine. As the wine from the 2010 vintage developed, it was determined that the quality was outstanding and it was time to unveil Opalie de Château Coutet to the world! The Wine House San Francisco were the first merchants in the world to offer the wine on a pre-arrival basis in the summer of 2012. As other merchants in the world began to offer the wine for sale, Decanter Magazine listed us as its exclusive US merchant. It was shipped to us in 2013 and was a huge hit with staff and customers alike. It is a wine of pedigree and refinement, brimming with opulence and richness, yet finishing dry and crisp.

 

The 2010 sold out long ago, however, we are now offering the 2011 Opalie de Coutet, also on pre-arrival. Warning: we have already sold half of our allocation of the 2011. The wine is due to be shipped to us sometime in the spring of 2014.

2011 Chateau Coutet Opalie de Chateau Coutet (Pre-Arrival)

White Wine; other white varietal; Bordeaux;
$44.00
  Add to Cart
Full Case of 12 Bottles 2011 Opalie de Chateau Coutet (Pre-Arrival)

$499.00
  Add to Cart

 

 

2010 Chateau Fleur Cardinale

In the red Bordeaux department, 2010 was a stellar vintage. It was a great follow-up to 2009, a spectacular vintage in its own right, but 2010 was spectacular for a different reason. Sadly, this of course, meant higher prices, which turned more and more Americans away from the wines from Bordeaux. Aha, but let’s not let those who now bottle commodities rather than wine spoil the party for us wine drinkers! It has been reported here, once or twice that a chateau in St. Emilion was not only cranking out fantastic wine, vintage after vintage, but they were pricing their wines where they could be enjoyed by people who love Bordeaux. Since taking over the property beginning with the 2001 vintage, Dominique and Florence Decoster have turned this St. Emilion property into a champion in the quality to price department. They have been on a great run of consecutive vintage successes, and then came 2010. Arguably, their finest vintage to date, the 2010 Château Fleur Cardinale is representative of the hard work and investment made by the Decosters and their team. Their motive is simple. Dominique once told me that if you are going to make wine and travel the world pouring it, you’re going to have to drink it a lot. So make something good! Bravo, Dominique and Florence!

 

Sadly, we sold out of the 2010 weeks ago, but we are selling the 2011 Château Fleur Cardinale on pre-arrival for an unbelievable price. This is quality juice, folks, take it from me.

 

Or, if you would like Robert Parker’s synopsis, “Another top-notch success, the 2011 (70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) hit 15% natural alcohol. Yields were a low 30 hectoliters per hectare, and the harvest occurred quite late. The result is a dense purple-colored wine with a stunning bouquet of blackberry jam, graphite, charcoal and blueberries. With superb density and purity as well as a multidimensional mouthfeel, this intense St.-Emilion is a sleeper of the vintage, although consumers are catching on to the exquisite quality emerging from La Fleur Cardinale. The 2011 should drink well for 15+ years. (92-94 points)”

2011 Chateau Fleur Cardinale Saint-Emilion (Pre-Arrival)

Red Wine; Merlot; Bordeaux;
$36.00
  Add to Cart

 

 

So there you have it. We’re a month into 2014, and we’re already making more vinous discoveries! Many 2011 Bordeaux (now in bottle) were tasted at the UGC tasting in Los Angeles last week. We’ve got winemakers and property owners from wineries in France and Italy lined up to visit us in the first part of this year, and the samples keep coming! We’ll try to stay in front of the onslaught, forever echoing our sentiments here for you all. Or as Anya says, “We taste a lot of bad wine so you don’t have to!” Happy 2014. – Peter Zavialoff

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 

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

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.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

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!

2012 Petite Cassagne Costieres de Nimes Rose

Monday, September 9, 2013 11:11 PM

 

Hoping you all had a great Labor Day weekend … as my colleague, Anya pointed out last week, Labor Day is often seen as a symbolic end to summer, yet officially, the season lasts another 2-3 weeks. And here in the Bay Area, it lasts well into October and beyond. I usually manage to keep pretty cool throughout these times, as hot weather is not exactly my fancy. Well, not this year. It all started with a trip to Sacramento in mid-August. When I returned via Vallejo and saw that it was ONLY 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I rejoiced. I think that’s the first time I’ve rejoiced to see 80F. During the first week of BirthdayFest (Aug 24-31), I found myself in Los Angeles, and forget about staying cool there. It’s been nothing but hot here ever since, and I must say I’m dealing with it fairly well. How exactly? Well one remedy is Rosé. In particular, the 2012 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé!

 

 

The concept of drinking a nice crisp Rosé on a hot day is neither new nor original. It does appear to be natural and logical, though. I sure caught the bug when it was first introduced to me. Served chilled, it’s crisp, complex, aromatic, low in alcohol, versatile, and refreshing. Oh yeah, then there’s the price to factor in. It’s a win-win-win, if you ask me.

 

I have really enjoyed Diane Puymorin’s Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé in recent vintages. The color is pale peach, the wines are clean and complex, and there seems to be a degree of salinity that joins forces with a dusty mineral backbone. I was such a fan of last year’s version, that I eventually depleted 2 cases over the course of the summer and fall. The 2012 landed here back in May, and before I could blink, it was all gone. Hmmm, I barely remember tasting it. Good news! A new container recently arrived from France, and on it was a pallet of 2012 Petite Cassagne Rosé. Ah yes. It has me based on color alone. Well, color and the memory of vintages past. Upon the very first whiff, I got subtle clean fruit, white melons, then a hint of something citrusy, maybe tangerine. Repeated aromatic observations coaxed out more melon-like fruit and definitely the citrus, but there were red berries and a dusty mineral underpinning. The palate is clean and complex. There are a wide variety of taste sensations on the palate, including that hint of salinity which gives your mouth a pleasant pinch. The finish clean, the bottle empty. Oh well, it’s only 12.5% alcohol … and with the case discount, it’s less than 10 bucks a bottle! 

 

 

So yeah, Rosé to beat the heat. That’s a natural thing. Why? It works, it really works. Speaking of things that work, BirthdayFest got off to a rolling start this year. So much good company, good food, good music, and good wine. Very Grateful.

 

Going forward, Labor Day is behind us and PeakWeek of the Fest is winding down. One week to go, and as far as I can see, it’s going to remain hot for a while. I’m not jinxing the weather (oh, but I’m trying), so with this heat, I choose the 2012 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé to take to battle! Enjoy the end of summer! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions, comments, or advice on how to beat the heat or about Rosé: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net 

2009 La Bolida: Old Vine Mourvedre

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:21 PM

There is no finer ambassador for Chateau d’Or et de Gueules than their very own dynamic winemaker and proprietress Diane de Puymorin. With hands flying in every direction, Diane clearly and precisely explains her philosophy, passion and technique for making wine with boundless charm. It takes but a moment with Diane to understand her vision for Chateau d’Or et de Gueules. Yes, I’m gushing over Diane, but it is unavoidable. On Thursday, Diane tasted TWH staff through her latest releases. Each one different, each one delicious, but it was the 2009 La Bolida that sent me farthest into orbit. A stellar wine!

 

La Bolida is made from the estate’s oldest Mourvedre vines thought to be over 100 years old. The best way to describe La Bolida is as Diane does, which is to point out La Bolida’s intrinsic paradox between power and roundness. On the one hand there is the grape, Mourvedre, so it is going to be big and powerful, full of dark smoldering fruit with smoke and leather notes, but on the other hand, Diane takes great measures to ensure round, velvety tannins. Yields are naturally low for the old-vine Mourvedre. Harvest takes place quite late, creating ripe concentrated juice. Diane ferments the wine doing punch downs to extract as much goodness as possible. First the wine ages in small barrel, then in large 500 hl. barrels for about a year and then rests in concrete tank before bottling. All this in done to fashion a round, lush texture. Unlike many Bandols that can be rustic and require cellaring, the 2009 La Bolida is ready to please, though built to age. 

 

It being Mother’s Day this Sunday, it seems only fitting to be showcasing one of my favorite winemakers who herself is the mother of five filles! Diane spent a couple days with us this week working the market, making the rounds, which included an appointment in North Beach with chef David Wees at Café Divine; a great spot to eat, drink and take in the atmosphere. Big fans of Diane’s wines, they were thrilled to finally meet her in person. Chef David was so delighted he rushed into the kitchen and brought out some tasty nibbles to share with Diane while sampling her wine. Diane remarked that this gesture is not, surprisingly, commonplace in the US, so kudos to Café Divine for their class and hospitality!

 

I’ll be hosting a Mother’s Day brunch, keeping it simple but with plenty of bubbles. Weather looks to be sunny, so a patio party is the plan. When the riffraff – my family – depart, I’ll be looking forward to popping something special in the evening. A glass of 2009 La Bolida? Yes please! —Anya Balistreri 

2009 La Bolida Château d’Or et de Gueules

Monday, December 24, 2012 10:54 PM

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You may have heard about a recent container arriving here from France carrying loads of goodies for us wine lovers. Sure, all the bells and whistles were included: Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne; but if you look over the pallets with a fine toothed comb, you may discover some other interesting wines. Like the 2009 La Bolida from Château d’Or et de Gueules. It’s the brand new vintage of one of our favorite wines! At this stage, there is nothing short of a litany, that we’ve written about Costières de Nîmes producer Diane Puymorin. We think all of her wines are special, but the one that every TWH employee has in their cellar is her old vine Mourvèdre, La Bolida.

Pardon me for patting myself on the back, but it was a wise decision for me to sock away several bottles of the 2004 La Bolida back in the day when it was available. Or, at least, it has been proven wise recently, as the wine is showing brilliantly. Something we’ve observed here over the years is that if we ever hear the word “regret” here in our shop, it is always used for NOT buying enough of a particular wine. True story. So true that I regret not buying a full case of the 2004 La Bolida, shucks. Building a vertical of a great wine is not only a fun task, but the rewards are immense. The pedigree of Diane’s La Bolidais tip-top in every vintage, but 2009 was such a great vintage in the Rhône Valley, that I’m making room for at least a six-pack for posterity. I’m probably going to regret, what am I saying? I’m sure I’ll regret just buying six bottles of the 2009 La Bolida, but six is a start. Maybe another six down the road sometime … if there are any left, that is. Check out what The Wine Advocate’sRobert Parker had to say about the 2009 La Bolida from Château d’Or et de Gueules:

 

“A 100% Mourvedre cuvee from 80- to 100-year old vines that spends one year in foudre and one year in barrel is the Costieres de Nimes La Bolida. The bottled 2009, which was tasted last year from barrel, is as outstanding as I expected. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by aromas of blueberries, blackberries, roasted meats, bouquet garni and melted asphalt. This complex, rich, full-bodied, solidly made effort possesses excellent ripeness, but none of the rusticity or kinkiness that Mourvedre can sometimes exhibit. Drink it over the next decade.

Proprietor Diane de Puymorin fashions these individualistic, seriously endowed, distinctive wines from different blends, and bottles them with Provencal names (which are not that easy for most Americans to pronounce). Except for La Charlotte, all of the wines carry the Costieres de Nimes appellation, and they represent some of the finest wines of that appellation. They are all bursting with the essence of Provence in their spiciness and exuberance. 91 points”



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It’s getting close to the end of the year 2012, sigh. The year of the live show, the year of major trophies for a couple of sports teams dear to my heart, and the year that the 2009 Bordeaux have landed! You can count on something from my new favorite Bordeaux vintage to be on our Top Ten Wines of 2012 list (to be announced in early January). Sad to say, 2013 will begin without Champions’ League footy for my team; oh well, gotta take the bad with the good, and last season was pretty good. Really good. And the year of the live show has been a good one. I think I’ve seen more live bands in 2012 than in the previous 5 years combined. I was supposed to hit the Fillmore Sunday night to see Graham Parker, but instead, I’ve got a gig myself. Spectator or participant? Always participate, with no regrets!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 La Bolida, The Europa League, or what might be on my set list for Sunday night: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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!


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

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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June 2012 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, June 2, 2012 4:33 PM

2010 Viura, Campos de Enanzo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Call it Viura, or you can call it Macabeo, what we have here is a crisp white that delivers! It’s a grape that usually makes its way into Cava blends; but on its own, its fresh, clean profile makes it a perfect “welcome to summer” sipper. All steel-tank fermented, it has a hint of smokiness on the nose with a clean, crisp mouth feel. Serve it with ceviche!

2009 Branco, FitaPreta Vinhos $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
From Portugal comes a super duper blend of Antão Vaz and Roupeiro. Produced in very small quantities, the fruit is all hand-picked and the juice sees a little oak. One taste and you feel the wine’s pedigree. Hints of grapefruits, green tea, and pineapple all float from the glass. The fruit persists throughout the finish; pour it with Frutos do Mar.

2011 Pinot Grigio, Riff $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Coming from Veneto vineyards on the slopes of the Dolomites, the Pinot Grigio that goes into a bottle of Riff has some kind of class! Crafted by Alto-Adige superstar Alois Lageder for his negociant label, we have all the bling without all the cost. Notes of spicy baked apples interwoven with stony mineral make this a perfect companion for scampi with pasta.

2011 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $12.79, $10.23 reorder
Calling all Rosé lovers! This year’s Grange des Rouquette Rosé is made employing the saignée method, or bleeding of a red wine (in this case, Syrah). It’s electric pink … but it’s fresh, clean, and dry. If there’s a grill nearby, pop this!

2010 Château Couronneau Blanc $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Hailing from Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, the wines from Château Couronneau are proudly farmed organic. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris was bottled using only a small amount of metatartaric acid resulting in harmless tartaric crystals. Citrus blossoms, a hint of herbs, and a crisp palate make this perfect for rotisserie chicken.

2010 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart $16.29, $13.03 reorder
Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc and it thrives in Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart’s Val St. Gregoire vineyard. Apple and peach blossoms dominate the aromatics, and on the palate it is round and fruity. Great with a spicy Thai salad.

2009 Zinfandel, Third Avenue Elke $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Mary Elke may live on Third Avenue in the Coombsville part of Napa, but she gets her “Third Avenue” Zinfandel from Mendocino County. It’s old school Zin, nothing overdone. Medium to full in body; it pairs great with a pork roast.

2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, AgriVerdi $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Picture yourself sitting at a table in the warm shade of an Italian café. Around you are the sights, sounds, and smells of a much different world than ours. The food, ah the food. When you’re sitting at such a table, it is very likely that you will have a wine similar to the AgriVerdi Montepulciano in your glass. Just pour and close your eyes and you’ll be there!

2011 Pinot Noir, Pueblo del Sol $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
If you’re curious about Pinot Noir from Uruguay, here’s your chance to try it. It has all that cherry fruit PN lovers look for, but there is more. On the aromas, there is a distinct note of earthiness and something we like to call polite funk. The palate is medium bodied with the earthy cherries persisting through the finish. A great wine for beef skewers.

2009 Bergerac, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Out in Bergerac, which is just east of the Bordeaux appellation, Daniel Hecquet crafts one of the best bargains in the red wine department. His Château Calabre Bergerac is made from 60% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc. The 2009 vintage smiled on the region and the wine is teeming with red fruit. This will shine with Teriyaki steak.

2010 Bourgogne-Hautes-Cotes-de-Beaune Clos Marc, Domaine Sylvain Langoureau $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Never say never, but you never see Red Burgundy in the Dirty Dozen, do you? Okay, maybe every now and then, but it’s rare! Introducing the Clos Marc from Sylvain Langoureau. All those wild Pinot Noir aromas with a distinct Burgundian twist. A little hint of polite funk and earthiness go a long way to set this apart from other Pinot Noirs. It has Old World written all over it. We suggest pairing it with a marinated skirt steak.

2009 Rouge, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin’s other label is Petite Cassagne, which was actually the name of the domaine she purchased in 1998 and renamed Château d’Or et des Gueules. 2009 wasn’t just a great vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy; add the Rhône to the list! Diane’s Rouge is bold and complex, with dark fruit, black tea, and a forest floor nose. On the palate, it’s fresh and lively with fine tannins. The perfect wine for a baguette and a bowl of olives.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

2011 Petite Cassagne Rosé

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 3:06 PM

We’re here! That unofficial kick-off to summer, Memorial Day Weekend! However you’re spending it, we hope that you are enjoying it. I recently heard some unbelievable stat that purported upwards of 75% of Americans participate in some kind of barbecue festivity during this weekend. Whether or not that is the number is anyone’s guess; the fact though, is that a great many of us will be noshing on something hot off the grill in the next couple of days. Let’s see. Late spring. Long weekend. Afternoon gathering of friends and family. Barbecue grill. One word: Rosé!

 

I drink Rosé year round, a frosty glass always keeps me cool while cooking in the winter. Its crisp, lean style makes it versatile enough to pair with a simple salad, bowl o’mussels, or rotisserie chicken. Not to mention, a glass of Rosé will always take me back to that first time I visited by chef buddy Carsten at his place in the Côte d’Azur. It was so civilized. Every day in the early evening, he would open the door and we’d sit on the stoop outside his tiny flat and invite locals and tourists alike to stop by for a chilled glass of Rosé. We met so many interesting people from all over the world, andwhat did we all have in common? We enjoyed Rosé! With sunny skies in the local forecast this weekend, it seems like cheating, but I’m going to my go-to Rosé for 2012. It’s made by our superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin, the 2011 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rosé.

 

Right about this time of year, we get our selections of Rosé from the previous vintage. David gets to taste them on his annual trip to Burgundy and the south of France in January, but for the rest of us, we taste them when they land here. So shortly after multiple pallets arrived in our warehouse, we had sample bottles of over a handful of 2011 Rosé open for our staff. As always, all of our new Rosé are dry, with varying degrees of fruit expression and nuance of flavor. The Petite Cassagnecaught my eye straight away. I’ve seen this wine over several vintages, but this year’s is by far the palest version I have ever seen! We’ve all got different preferences and tastes, but when it comes to Rosé, I like mine pale and mellow. The light, crisp profile carries over to the aromas and palate. A hint of peach blossom and herb garden lead the way to fresh, lively mouth feel of crispness with just a rumor of stone fruit. Diane blends equal parts of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and old-vine Mourvèdre for this Rosé, and in my book, she’s got herself a winner! You should see my invoice … and it’s still only May!

 

So needless to say, I’m psyched about getting 2 days off in a row! I plan to stay clear of the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary madness. As a matter of fact, we’ve received reports that traffic is dreadful already. This will cause Anya and I both to drive home via the Bay Bridge and then the Richmond/San Rafael. I’ll just be glad when I have the car parked, 2 days off, and a couple bottles of the 2011 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rosé to take to the grill! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to write me with any questions or comments about Rosé, 2011 Bordeaux Futures, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the gift that keeps giving: The European Champions: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Les Cimels: South of France in a Glass

Monday, May 21, 2012 9:37 PM

 



diane



The 2009 Les Cimelsfrom our beloved Chateau d’Or et de Gueules is a Syrah-driven red that elegantly combines ripened fruit flavors with South of France earth/spice aromas and notes. You wouldn’t mistake Les Cimels for anything but a French wine; you can’t ignore the black pepper spice and herbes de Provence. It’s precisely this quality that I believe draws our customers to this wine vintage after vintage. Les Cimels is not a cookie-cutter product; there is vintage variation, however that distinctive combo of fruit and spice threads through it each year. The 2009 Les Cimels is redolent of raspberry fruit, is really approachable and like so many ’09s from France, has enough tang and structure to keep it interesting. Of course that little hint of Syrah funk is also welcoming.  

When proprietress and winemaker Diane de Puymorin purchased the property that would become Chateau d’Or et de Gueules in the late ’90s,she did something really wonderful, something someone with less imagination and integrity would not have done — she left old-vine Carignan growing in the vineyards!! It would have made much better economic sense to rip out the vines that were producing less, that were more of a bother to care for and plant vigorous young vines in their place. Instead Diane followed her conviction, left as much of the old-vines that could be saved and added them to her blends. I think the result is an undeniable complexity that differentiates her wines from other Costieres de Nimes wines. Diane’s wines are true artisanal expressions of winemaking. For the Les Cimels, Diane ferments old vine Carignan carbonically, giving the overall blend a freshness and brightness as counterpoint to the more brooding Syrah (there is also a small portion of Grenache in the mix).

It being the middle of May, I am in full wonderment at the beauty of Spring as April showers have given way to more sunny May days. The fava beans in my garden are finally ready for harvest, though they rarely make it into a pot. I love to eat them raw right there in the yard and toss the shells and skin back into the dirt. Instant composting! But if I were to curtail my habit of eating the fava beans raw, I would probably concoct a ragout of lamb with them and pour a glass of the 2009 Les Cimelsalongside. Now doesn’t that sound like a capital idea! —Anya Balistreri

April 2012 Dirty Dozen

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:02 PM

Days get longer, the nights grow short, our Easter baskets are getting filled up, and what’s this? Baseball season? Yep, it’s April and it’s time for opening the windows and doors, getting some fresh air, and maybe a picnic or four. However you like to spend your time this spring, consider this: Twelve bottles, one low price.

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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

2010 Orvieto, Cardèto
Big on our list of springtime wines are dry, crisp, easy quaffers that deliver in the quality department, yet keep the big bills in your wallet. This Orvieto is just the ticket! Lean and crisp with a citrusy freshness, this blend of Trebbiano and Grechetto is a great refresher should a warm spring afternoon come your way. Pairs great with a bowl o’mussels.

2010 Chardonnay, Viano Vineyards
Is it us, or do you ever see Cali Chardonnay in the sub $10 category anymore? At least quality, sub $10 Cali Chardonnay? Sales reps visit us and pour and pour, but we keep saying no until the right one comes along. Well, here it is! From Contra Costa county, no less; halfway between the Napa and Livermore Valleys comes the Viano. Pair with a crab salad.

2010 Vino Valpredo Bianca Mia, Fritz Winery
Rather than choose between Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, why not blend them? At least that’s what our friends at Sonoma’s Fritz Winery thought. You know what? This is some quality juice. Aromas of stone fruits and citrus blossoms give way to a zesty citrus palate. Anya says grill up some shrimp and serve it with mango salsa … and this, of course.

NV Prosecco Superiore, Giavi
Talk to any of us about our new D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore, the Giavi, and prepare yourself for an enthusiastic reply! Seriously, this Prosecco has it all: tiny bubbles, a pale, frosty appearance, depth, and crispness. Crostini with caviar?

2010 Blanc de Domaine de la Petite Cassagne
Her name is Diane de Puymorin. We adore her wines … all of them. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne estate back in 1998, renamed it Château d’Or et des Gueules, yet still pays homage to the old guard with a Rouge, Rosé, and this Blanc. Diane blends 40% Rolle (Vermentino) with Grenache Blanc and the result is a bright, citrus infused aromatic showpiece.

2009 Fernão Pires, Quinta do Alqueve
Dare we try to get wine geeky on you, but here’s Portugal’s Fernão Pires blended with a smidge of Arinto. Geeky? Maybe. But the stone fruity aromas and crisp mouthfeel will make wine geeks out of us all! Great with sardines.

2009 Garnacha Two Rows, Odisea
As we switch to the reds, let’s point out that our friends at Odisea have another hit on their hands. Mostly Grenache with small parts Syrah and Tempranillo, the Two Rows is a plump palate pleaser. Ripe cherries and raspberries mingle with vanilla spice and herbs resulting in ethereal harmony. If it’s burgers on the grill; sorry, these Two Rows are taken.

2010 Tempranillo, Enanzo
Yummy Tempranillo from Spain’s Navarra region! The philosophy at Enanzo is simple. To quote them, “this Tempranillo is made by applying the only true winemaking criterion: intimate, permanent, progressive harmony between man and his environment.” It works here, the herb infused fruit is braced by dusty tannins and spirited acidity. Great with pizza.

2009 Château de Bouchet La Rentiere
What a vintage 2009 was for the wines of Bordeaux! The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker likened the vintage to the legendary 1982 noting one exception: in 1982 there weren’t many small, inexpensive producers taking advantage of the perfect weather to make great affordable Bordeaux. That’s different now. Pair this beauty with your prime rib.

2008 Les Cimels, Château d’Or et des Gueules
If there’s a better $15 red wine here at TWH, I haven’t seen it. The aforementioned Diane de Puymorin blends some old vine Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, and the result is an herbal masterpiece. Forest floor, Kalamata olives, and black tea dominate the aromas, and the palate is more savory than fruity. The perfect wine for pasta with an herbal sauce.

2009 Côtes du Rhône les Boissières, Vignobles Boudinaud
New to us is Veronique and Thierry Boudinaud’s les Boissières Côtes du Rhône. It’s an exciting story as 100% of what’s imported to the US is imported for us! Think honest, old-school Côtes du Rhône here. It shows plenty of fruit, but without going overboard. Toss in some cracked pepper and herbs Provençal, and you get the drift. This is yet another versatile bottle in what can be called The Versatile Dozen. Great on its own, or paired with cassoulet.

2006 Syrah, Alberto Furque
Ever popular with our staff and customers, the Alberto Furque line crushes it when it comes to quality for price. Grown at altitudes of over 3000 feet, the vineyards of Mendoza’s Bodega Aconquija (we call them Alberto Furque) get just the right amount of warm days and cool nights to produce wines with dazzling structure. This Syrah sings of balance and harmony. If you find yourself dreaming about some thinly sliced Argentine beef with Chimichurri sauce, pour this.

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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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September 2011 Dirty Dozen

Friday, September 2, 2011 9:11 PM

Heading out to San Francisco, for the Labor Day weekend show … whether or not you have your Hush Puppies on, you know it’s September and that means the kids are back in school, baseball season is entering its ‘pennant race’ phase, and in New Zealand, the Rugby World Cup is kicking off. No matter your distraction, the Dirty Dozen packs a wallop of value! 12 different wines packed into a box for $109? Just say yes.

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2009 Unico, Tierra de Castilla, Casa Gualda – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Unico, or unique if you will, is a great way to describe this blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel from España. The floral nature of the Moscatel is just the right counter to round out the richness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the result is magic. Think blossoms and herbs on the aromatics, and a bright crispness on the palate. Grill up some halibut for this.

2010 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
It’s 100% Syrah Rosé from the south of France. Though deep pink in color, the palate offers a surprise; it is vibrant, crisp, and DRY. This is truly a Rosé that can pair with just about anything. If you miss the south of France, one taste of this will transport you there.

2009 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Paul Pernot – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Affectionately referred to as Burgundy’s “other” white grape, Aligoté may not have the notoriety of Burgundian Chardonnay but in the hands of the right vigneron (ahem, Paul Pernot!), it shines with bracing minerality and dazzling citrus and green apple flavors. Try alongside poached white fish or semi-soft cheeses.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, MSH – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
MSH Cellars is one of those hidden treasures of Napa that make us wine geeks all giddy. This wine isn’t resting on its Napa laurels, though … It brings the goods too, smooth and creamy through the mid-palate with a bright, citrus finish. Pair this Yountville Sauvignon Blanc with a sunny afternoon and a drumstick.

2009 Marsanne/Viognier, Vignobles Boudinaud – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud have been turning our heads lately with a wealth of high-class wines at very fair prices. This blend has all the makings of a fancy-pants white Rhône without the pretense. Crisp minerality, round Asian pear flavors, perfectly balanced acidity, and a long, dry floral finish make this tough to beat. Friday fish fry is a callin’…

2008 Pinot Gris ‘Im Berg’, Domaine Ehrhart – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Longtime TWH friends, Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart continue to churn out great juice for a great price! They farm organically (2nd generation to do so), and the results are spot on. 2008 was a great vintage in Alsace, and this single-vineyard Pinot Gris has an abundance of complexity. Amazingly versatile, you can pop one with your fish tacos.

2007 Monastrell ‘Hécula’, Bodegas Castaño – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
This is a steal! Seriously, we know you all shop at TWH because we find great value wines at all price points, but this one is not to be believed. We’re not alone in our praise, Steven Tanzer tasted it and said, “This could be a Bandol”. That’s saying a lot. Think deep, rich purple fruit with hints of smoky meat and earth. Pop it with a pork roast.

2009 Baron des Chartrons, Bordeaux – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Here’s yet another sneak-peak into the hugely successful 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. This blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is true to its vintage, showing rich, expressive fruit, great weight and dazzling structure. Goes to show that you don’t need to plop down multiple Benjamins to get a great taste of Bordeaux. A nice T-Bone works here.

2009 Rouge de la Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin has won our hearts yet again with her Rhône-style blend which includes some old-vine Carignane. Keep in mind that this is very young wine, so decanting is highly recommended. Got cassoulet?

2009 Plavac, Dingac – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
New for us this month is a red wine from Croatia! Plavac Mali is one of several indigenous grape varieties, combining the spicy red berries of a Zin with the body of a Beaujolais. It’s fantastically uncomplicated. Enjoy with your cheeseburger.

2009 Morgon Côte du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Speaking of Beaujolais, have you heard about the 2009 vintage? Coupled with the fact that this is CRU BEAUJOLAIS, this has to be the trump card of this month’s DD. Highly complex, the aromas are of forest floor, bright red berry fruit, and earthy minerals. Its palate is light and fresh with very fine tannins. A bowl of olives and a baguette will work.

2010 Côtes de Ventoux ‘Fayard’, Domaine Fondrèche – $16.99, $13.59 reorder
Wünderkind Sébastien Vincenti continues to dazzle us with his Ventoux blends. Sébastien honed his skills under the tutelage of legendary Rhône master André Brunel, and his amazing string of vintage successes is astounding. The Fayard is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (with a little Mourvèdre and Carignane), and it shows rich, ripe fruit, herbs and earth.

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