There’s been a lot going on around here lately, and as is usual for me, much of it has to do with Bordeaux. Of course, there were our two recent offers of the fantastic back to back vintages of 2009 and 2010. Funny, just before I pushed the magic button to send the 2010 vintage email, a couple walked in and said hello. Turns out they were the owners of a chateau in St. Emilion! More Bordeaux people are scheduled to visit us next week, but the big, big news was the announcement by Robert Parker that he will not be traveling to the region for the 2014 En Primeur tastings. Neal Martin will be handling Primeurs for The Wine Advocate beginning this year. The torch is being passed and time moves on. Speaking of time, as the 2nd month of the year comes to a close, I thought it a good time to check in on my wine resolutionsthat were made back at the beginning of the year.


Okay, not bad. Merlot? Just had some last night. Events?Our dinner with Château Brane Cantenac was a huge success. We’ll get something else on the books soon.Expanding horizons? Hmmm. This one needs a little help. Good to know. I’ll work on it. Push the boundaries?I’m learning new things all the time, so no problem with that one. Monthly splurge? Hmmm. Could it be that February has gone by without one? That’s easy to fix, and it’s about asno-brainer as it gets. The wine that every member of our staff is ready to flush their budget for is the 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s from Domaine Pichat.


Last Thursday, somepretty fancy wines were opened for a few of our wholesale customers. At the end of the day, there were some lovely samples for our staff to divvy up and take home. Our staff that day consisted of Chris and myself. Most of the samples had been tasted by Tom and Anya previously, so those were free to go home, but there was one that no one had yet tasted. For occasions such as these, we have small vials that we fill so they can be tasted the next day. It was really hard to part with even a vial-full of this wine! This is the magic that can come from a bottle of Côte Rôtie!


When I first started working here, a close friend of mine who is a regular wine tasting buddy, a foodie, and a great chef to boot asked me to bring by a bottle of Côte Rôtie so he could see what all the fuss was about. What I ended up bringing was a very nice Côte Rôtie, but it fell short of expectations as it wasn’t exhibiting any Côte Rôtie magic that night. Well Chief, if you still read my ramblings, this one has it in spades!!! The first whiff: magic. Côte Rôtie magic. Earth, dark purple Syrah fruit, meat, bacon fat, spice, autumn leaves … I mean the aromas are gorgeous. You can literally spend 5 minutes smelling this wine. The palate is equally spectacular with layers upon layers of complexity all in balance as if all components of the wine were woven together with magical thread. The finish is sad, as in darn, it’s gone. Butas Dr. Seuss reminds us, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Anya and Tom came in the next day, and let’s just say that I didn’t need to keep an eye out for when they tasted the Côte Rôtie. The oohs and ahhs and cries of praise from the tasting room were enough to hear in all corners of our warehouse. I know Chris well, and when he’s committed to a budget, he’s committed to a budget, but he’s already ready to cave, as this wine can seduce the most willful.


As I stated in my wine resolutions,life’s too short to not enjoy something special every now and then. It is just a small sacrifice for pleasure. The 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s from Domaine Pichat is well worth every penny, and if you like the smoky, meaty, dense briary fruit that Côte Rôtie can deliver, this wine’s for you.


Time marches on! Before Robert Parker turned tasting at Bordeaux’s En Primeur tastings over to Neal Martin, he also welcomed Rhône expert Jeb Dunnuck to his staff to cover the region. Here’s what Jeb said about Stéphane Pichat’s 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s:

“Aged two years in 30% new oak, the 2012 Côte Rôtie le Champon exhibits gorgeous notes of black raspberry, sweet black cherry, smoked earth, herbs and dark chocolate. Pure, fine, elegant and layered, with medium to full-bodied richness, it too has a modern ting, but still has plenty of Côte Rôtie style. Drink it over the coming decade. 93 points

Producing a modern-styled Condrieu and Côte Rôtie, this outstanding estate is run by the young Stephane Pichat. He’s excelled in both 2012 and 2013. I think production here is minuscule, but these are worth the effort to track down.”


Speaking of time marching on, the first bit of English Football silverware is up for grabs tomorrow at Wembley. May the best side prevail! – Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Côte Rôtie, Wine Resolutions, or English Football:

Gorgeous Aromas – Stephan Pichat’s Syrah and Viognier

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 12:51 AM


Aw shucks. We’ve been receiving a lot of praise lately from some of our customers in regard to our write-ups. We just want to say a big Thank You to all of you who read our write-ups with any degree of regularity! It means so much to all of us, and we greatly appreciate the compliments. Why just this morning, in response to our last email about finding 3 more hidden gems from Bordeaux, we were thanked for our time and effort in sussing out such value-driven wines. On Saturday, a customer who lived near our old Carolina Street location over five years ago came in with two friends in tow and made a beeline over to Anya. “I love reading your write-ups,”she gushed. “They’re written with such passion and they are so distinct that I can tell who was doing the writing.When I finish, I just want to lick the screen!” Wow! What incredible praise. We were very touched.


As reported in this past weekend’s email, we all visited the home of some very close friends of TWH for our annual Post Holiday Party. To say it was epic would be a massive understatement! During one course, which was paired with a three vintage vertical of Côte Rotie Les Grandes Places from Stéphan Pichat one of our hosts commented that he had never seen such passion. We were all swirling, sniffing and tasting each of the three glasses we had in front of us. The conversation was all about the wines; where they were in their development; where they were headed. “I can’t imagine any other group of co-workers doing what you’re all doing right now. You all love wine, and it shows!” Again, more praise. For that, we are very grateful.



The 2010, 2011, and 2012 Cote Rotie Les Grandes Places all showed extremely well, each framing the signature of its vintage. They are truly special wines from one of Côte Rotie’s top sites, made by one of the region’s top young winemakers! All three have very long lives ahead of them. We’ve had these remarkable wines for three vintages now, and they’re a bit spendy for regular staff tastings, but Stéphane makes some other wines that aren’t. When David visits Stéphane each year, he also tastes his VDF, or Vin de France wines, a Syrah and a Viognier. Both of these wines represent fantastic bargains and David has put in orders for them each year since we’ve begun working with Stéphane. Up until now, it was no dice. The wines sell out quickly and demand for them exceeds supply significantly. This year we got lucky. We got some. And guess what? They’re here.



The 2013 Domaine Pichat Syrah is a blockbuster of a Syrah with super expressive aromas. They are a solid core of deep red berry fruit, spice and earth that will freeze you in your tracks just taking them all in. I got to the sample first that day and somehow managed to keep a straight face afterwards. Watching Anya take her first sniff was an absolute delight. Her eyes widened, eyebrows went up, mouth agape, she exclaimed, “Now THIS is expression!” We were all quite taken by this magical wine. All of the fruit is from just outside Côte Rotie, but the price is so, so much more friendly!



For the 2013 Pichat Viognier, the fruit is sourced from a vineyard bordered on three sides by Condrieu, where Viognier has thrived since Roman times. Again, it isanother aromatic masterpiece with all its floral expression with hints of apricot, peach, and rose petal. The palate combines all the aromatic complexity with asweet kiss of crisp acidity and the whole package melts together and finishes in wonderful harmony. Again, an amazing wine for a very fair price.

We will let our collective passion continue to drive us into 2015, and there are some good things on the immediate horizon. Our Top Ten wines of 2014 will be announced soon and there is a fairly intimate Bordeaux dinner coming up. Bordeaux dinner? Yes, as the UGC de Bordeaux makes its way through the country, we’re going to team up with Château Brane Cantenac for a dinner at Piperade restaurant on Battery Street on Thursday, January 29 at 7pm. There are still some places available, but they’re filling fast. Five wines will be paired with five courses, and the price is $100 per person which includes dinner, wine, tax, and gratuity. In the world of Bordeaux dinners, that is dirt cheap! We’re expecting the dinner to sell out, so if you are interested, I recommend you contact me as soon as you can and I will provide further details. – Peter Zavialoff


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