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
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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
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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
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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.



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.
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.“
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
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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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