Pow, Bam, Fizz – Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:19 PM







I am rarely surprised anymore by the things people say to me on the subject of wine
. However, during a trip to Brooklyn a couple months ago for my friend’s wedding, I stopped into a small, and what I determined to be quite reputable, wine shop.  I struck up a conversation with one of the employees.  Upon asking him if they had any small grower Champagne, I was met with a somewhat astonished facial expression followed by “you guys know about grower Champagne out in California?!” I had to stop myself from laughing hysterically lest I come off as a phony (psst, I’m not really from California) AND offensive.

That said, I know we can be a bit Californicentric with our wine selections on the west coast, but when it comes to bubbles, well…. in the words of one of our favorite Californian winemakers when I asked him what he’s drinking these days… “Champagne. Especially from growers. That’s pretty exciting to me.” So yes world, we know all about Champagne!!! It is delicious; It is festive; It is one of the most diverse and versatile wines on the planet; It is exciting. Oh, and it’s available in California!

Grower Champagne – Champagne made from vines grown on and bottled by a single estate – is not necessarily inherently superior (or inferior for that matter) to one made by a négociant or co-op, but many small grower Champagnes today offer a distinct type of drinking experience that diverges from the larger producers. Not to mention the fact that it’s nice to know where the grapes for your wine come from. TWH carries both categories proudly and with discerning standards. All of our Champagnes represent the absolute best of the various sub-regions, styles, and producers from a region renowned for its pivotal role in history as the place for royal inaugurations and celebrations. Oh, and did we mention that our Champagnes are celebrity-endorsed?

Last night before we closed up shop, TWH staff was treated to a bottle of the 1999 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil (That’s Pascal in the pic above, btw). The freshness, the vibrancy, and the complexity of this wine, after all these years, was mind-blowing. It’s nowhere close to retiring. And even after a long day of work, in the back of our warehouse, with no cause for celebration per se, we had a sense that the moment was special. THIS is why we drink Champagne. Happy New Year! ~ Emily Crichton

** Here are a few of our favorite bubbles in stock **

NV Arlaux Brut 750ml (Also available in 375ml)

Arlaux is a tiny Champagne house run by Christine Marechal. A recoltant-manipulant, Marechal is based in Vrigny, and owns just 7 hectares of Premier Cru vines, predominantly Chardonnay but with both Pinots planted alongside, on the north-western edge of the Petite Montagne de Reims. All of the Arlaux wines are made from the first pressing only and following both fermentations, are aged in the Arlaux cellars before release, with up to three years for the basic non-vintage cuvees, and up to five years for the reserve non-vintage and vintage wines. The entry level non-vintage is the Brut NV, a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and just 10% Chardonnay.- TheWineDoctor.com

1998 Arlaux Brut Millesime

This has a lovely character on the nose, which is evolving and interesting. There is elegant but rich tropical fruit with a lemon twist, and a nutty element coming in behind. The palate is impressive, defined and linear, but also creamy and harmonious. There is great fruit texture, fine acidity and perfect balance. A delicious wine which is very approachable now. –TheWineDoctor.com, March 2009

NV Pascal Doquet Brut Blanc de Blancs

92 Points– Wine & Spirits December 2008

Pascal and his wife Laure own and operate this fabulous small grower Champagne domaine in the town of Vertus, located near Avize. The Doquet’s Champagnes are made entirely from their 15 hectares (2.5 Grand Cru / 12.5 Premier Cru) which are all farmed organically and hand harvested.

In the Cellar the wines ferment in both tank and cask before being bottled to under go secondary fermentation where they are allowed to rest on their lees for a minimum of 2 years but often up to 3 before disgorgement; much longer than the law requires. This technique and patience allows for the wines to develop richness and depth.

This Brut Blanc de Blancs cuvee was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 3 months sur-lies. The wine is a blend 2 vintages: 67% of 2004 and 33% of 2002, and was bottled in April 2005.

NV Pascal Doquet Brut Rose 1er Cru

91 Points– Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

This Rose Brut Premier Cru cuvee comes from the Southern Cote des Blancs: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus, Bergeres-les-Vertus. The wine was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 3 months sur-lies. A Chardonnay base is used along with some Pinot Noir from Vertus. This is a blend of 2005, 2004 and 2003 vintages, which was bottled in April 2006.

NV Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil

92 Points– Wine & Spirits December 2008

This Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs cuvee (100% Chardonnay) comes from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 4 months sur-lies. The wine is a blend 3 vintages: 73% of 1999, 7% of 1998 and 20% of 1996, and was bottled in April 2000.

*2000 Pascal Doquet Brut 1er Cru Mont Aime

*1999 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil

NV Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs

92 PointsStephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
Light, bright green-gold, with a strong bead. Vivid citrus and green apple aromas are complicated by subtle lees, spice and brioche qualities, as well as a slow-building floral quality. Firm and focused, offering tangy orange and orchard fruit flavors along with anise and sweet butter. Gains weight with air but not at the expense of the crackling fruit. The citrus notes linger impressively on the finely etched finish. I really like this wine’s delicacy and sneaky power.
 
And many many more…..

November 2011 Dirty Dozen

Monday, November 7, 2011 5:50 PM

Sniff, sniff … Smell that? Yep, autumn is in the air. Cool air, crisp leaves, and fires roaring in the fireplace. The time for giving thanks is here and we know the last thing you need to think about is which wines to pour at the table. No worries, we’ve got you covered this T-Day. From sweet to sparkling, silky to “sock it to me!”, there is something for everyone in this month’s DD. 12 different turkey-worthy wines, chosen for their versatility, packed into one box, all for an awesome low price.

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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2010 Hooked! Riesling, Rudi Wiest Selections – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
New to us this fall is this yummy unpretentious German quaffer from importer Rudi Wiest. Sourced from vineyards in the Nahe, this perfectly balanced Riesling sings of clean, pear-like fruit. It’s off-dry, so it works well with spicy Szechzuan fare.

NV Cava, Segura Viudas – $7.98 net price, $7.18 reorder
Our most popular sparkler, the Segura Viudas tips the quality-for-price meter completely over! Made from Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, it has to be the best fizz in this price range. It has a pleasant creaminess, a hint of citrus blossom, and finishes fairly crisp. Best thing is, if someone wants to make mimosas, they can do it here … guilt free.

2010 Montravel Blanc ‘Terrement’, Château Puy-Servain – $12.99, $10.39 reorder
Winemaker Daniel Hecquet blends equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris for his ‘Terrement’, and the result is pure magic. The Gris gives the wine its plump fruity middle and the Sauvignon Blanc does the rest with its fresh acidity and flavor profile. Daniel may not be able to write White Bordeaux on the label, but it may as well be. Bowl o’mussels here.

2010 Destinos Cruzados – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
In this corner, hailing from La Mancha region in Spain, is this 100% Macabeo from Destinos. We now know that Macabeo is a grape that is blended to make the sparkling Cava, but here it is on its own. It’s lean, light, and crisp with hints of citrus blossoms and zippy apples. A versatile, easy-going wine, it works well as an aperitif or better with a shrimp salad.

2008 Pinot Gris Im Berg, Domaine Ehrhart – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
We can’t say enough about our friends Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart from Wettolsheim, Alsace. Philippe’s grandfather instilled organic farming techniques and now the Domaine has the official Agricole Biologique status. This Pinot Gris is teeming with aromatic wonderfulness. On the palate it is dry, rich, and balanced. One for that bockworst and cabbage.

NV Mediterranean White, René Barbier – $5.98 net price, $5.38 reorder
If you can find a better deal on a bottle of white wine than this, we need to know about it! Seriously, bang for your buck, Barbier’s white offers stunning value. Clean and crisp and coming in at 11.5%, it’s great with ceviche.

2007 Syrah, Domaine Saint Antoine – $11.29, $9.03 reorder
Nestled in a warm pocket of micro-climate in the Costières de Nîmes is Domaine de Saint Antoine. Run by husband and wife Jean-Louis and Marlène Emmanuel, the wines from this property proudly carry their representation of place. Aromas of briary black and red fruit, herbs, and earth are met with a medium body that would stand up nicely to a prime rib.

NV Sherman & Hookers Shebang! – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Pretty much the best deal we’ve got these days on a California red wine has to be the Shebang! Made by Bedrock’s en fuego Morgan Twain-Peterson, it’s a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Alicante and according to the SF Chronicle’s Jon Bonné tasts like a bottle worth almost twice the price. Would make a fine addition to the holiday table.

2010 Saint George/Cabernet Sauvignon, Skouras – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Looks like our Greek section is growing! A recent peek revealed 4 wines from the land of the Odyssey. Composed chiefly of Greek native Aghiorghitiko, it benefits from a kiss of Cabernet Sauvignon. It goes without saying lamb skewers work.

2008 Dão Vinho Tinto, Quinta do Correio – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Another hit in the November DD, Correio’s Dão Tinto comes mostly from the Portuguese grape Jaen. It undergoes just a little barrel aging to give it some texture and it boasts some medium red fruit and violet flavors. It’s great with pizza.

2009 Morgon Douby, Château Raousset – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
November always marks the arrival of nouveaux Beaujolais, and we really feel that does a disservice to the quality of the region’s top wines, or Cru Beaujolais. A recent scouting trip to France uncovered the gem of a Château, Raousset. The 2009 vintage was astounding for these top Cru wines, we strongly urge you to try this Morgon; you can cellar this one!

2008 Côtes du Rhône Mataro, Vignobles Boudinaud – $21.99, $17.59 reorder
As if this month’s DD needed a trump card! This 100% Mourvèdre CdR tips the scales for quality/price. Think dark, earthy briary berries wrapped up in a fresh, zippy elixir with silky tannins. That’s what you get. We’re proud to be the only shop in the country with this wine. That’s why we’re here; that’s what we do. We find great wines from afar and bring them home for you and yours to enjoy. Enjoy this with a log on the fire and someone special by your side.

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Avitus Pinot Noir

Monday, October 24, 2011 7:09 PM

I remember thinking to myself, as I tasted the 2008 Avitus Pinot Noir, that this is just the sort of Pinot Noir TWH customers have come to expect to find at our store, but is nonetheless challenging to come by; a Pinot Noir with a Frenchy sensibility and an affordable price tag that belies its quality. Now I know that a $15 Pinot Noir is not completely unheard of, we have some tasty offerings from California that are long standing staples, but what I think the Avitus offers is a slightly softer fruit profile overall. Avitus’ American counterparts will always have a more bombastic fruit component to them. Though the 2008 Avitus Pinot Noir is not lacking for charming red cherry fruit, it does finish with earth and mushroom flavors. It is light-bodied, fresh, and sits clean and bright on the palate.
The story behind Avitus begins with Arnaud de la Chanonie who is by trade a wine wholesaler in France. His family has vineyards in Auvergne, which is considered part of the greater Loire region but is actually closer to the vineyards of Northern Rhone than to the Loire River. The vineyards are on steep hillsideswith soils of volcanic origin with basalt, clay and limestone. One of the producers Arnaud represents in France is Chateau St. Cosme in Gigondas. Arnaud is friends with the winemaker, Louis Burruol, whom he met at school. Arnaud enlisted this talented winemaker to make his Pinot Noir. Louis’ approach for the Avitus Pinot Noir is pretty straightforward: after a cold soak, the wine is fermented with natural yeasts and then racked to a stainless steel tank for 9 months before bottling– no pumped up wine trickery here to muck up all the perky fruit.

I just spent a couple days in Southern California pouring our wines for some wine industry events. It’s one thing to know that our imports are good, its another thing to witness wine professionals swoon over our selections. Pretty great, really. Anyway, there were only 125 cases of the 2008 Avitus Pinot Noir imported to the US, and though this is not a huge amount of wine, we hope to have it stocked through the new year.

Anya Balistreri 

And now a word from Emily:

Howdy everyone! If you’ve stopped by the shop recently you may have noticed a tall cardboard box near the door that looks exactly like the one in the picture. Well, it’s not just for decoration… We are officially a Public Collection Partner for ReCORK, a natural wine cork recycling program. How cool is that?! All you have to do is save your (real) corks, bring them to TWH, and we’ll do the rest. Cheers, Emily

October 2011 Dirty Dozen

Monday, October 17, 2011 4:57 PM

What’s this? No more peaches, just pears? It must be October. Yes, the sights and sounds are changing as we march on into autumn. Picnic and beach party seasons may be coming to an end, but as the festivities move indoors, we’re here for you with plenty of great wine. Like this here Dirty Dozen: 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a box for one low, amazing price! Howz that for a great deal?

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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.

2010 Lugana, Ca’Lojera – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Ambra Tiraboschi’s take on the Turbiana grape has certainly turned some heads ’round here! This zippy little quaffer hits you immediately with hints of tangerine blossoms, melons, and minerals. On the palate, its racy mouth feel keeps that citrus sensation alive and the finish is delightfully crisp. Best served with lighter fare, perhaps pan-seared scallops?

2009 Macon-Villages, Roux Père et Fils – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
The Maconnais district, in southern Burgundy, is best known for producing great value whites – and this puppy is NO exception! Made from 100% Chardonnay, it possesses aromas and flavors of buttery apple and lemon, with a hint of toasted almond, and a long, clean, lip-smacking finish. Poullet a la Rotisserie? Le yummy.

2010 Viognier, Serbal – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
This is not the first time we’ve featured a southern hemisphere Viognier, a good thing. Though this Argentine estate is named after the aboriginal bush grown on the property, its dry, single-vineyard Viognier is more reminiscent of fresh white lilies and citrus blossom (thank goodness!). Divine alongside a fresh calamari salad or Gruyere & vegetable quiche.

2010 Jarenincan 1 liter, Crnko – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Though the blend changes every vintage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, & Riesling were the selections for this 2010 Slovenian white blend in Liter. At 11% abv, it gets the official “Must quaff” stamp by TWH staff.

2009 Blanc de la Château de la Petite Cassagne – $6.95 sale price, $6.60 reorder
We just can’t get enough white Rhône these days. Costières de Nîmes superstar Diane Puymorin blends 60% Grenache Blanc with 40% Rolle (Italians call it Vermentino), presses the juice immediately after harvest, and ferments it all in steel tank. It’s bright and fresh offering hints of orange blossoms and fleshy stone fruit. Great with tuna salad.

NV Touraine Rosé, Domaine d’Orfeuilles – $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Rounding out the “chillable” section of the DD is a sparkling gem from the Loire Valley. Made mostly from the grape Côt (some call it Malbec), the d’Orfeuilles represents a HUGE value in Rosé fizz. Hints of bright red fruit persist throughout the tasting and are braced by lively acidity and tiny bubbles. Don’t laugh, but this is GREAT with fried chicken!

2009 Tempranillo, Casa Gualda – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
As our Spanish section continues to grow, we are discovering that the country that produces the most wine also pumps out a consistent bevy of bargains. Not sacrificing quality, Casa Gualda blends a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the Tempranillo to give the wine a little backbone, and it works. Bust it out with that roasted pork sandwich.

2009 Pinot Noir, Bigvine – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Bigvine winemaker Scott McLeod considers 2009 an ideal vintage for California’s Central Coast, and the proof’s right here in a bottle of his Pinot Noir. 85% of the fruit comes from Arroyo Grande and the other 15% from the Santa Rita Hills. Think deep, rich, red berry fruit, a hint of cola, and a lively mouth feel. Would be great with a slice of pizza.

2006 Tradition, Château de Valcombe – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Made in the style of southern Rhône blends, 60% Syrah is blended with 40% Grenache, and the result is a hearty balance of brambly purple fruit and earth. A little bit of bottle age goes a long way, giving the wine some extra complexity.

2007 Syrah de Fayel – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
We had to apologize to Chris when we included this one in the DD. You see, we all have our individual “pet wines” that we take for ourselves because the quality is there and the price is right. This one is/was his baby. Oh well, he’ll have to find a new one, and you all can see what good taste he has. Bright, sturdy country Syrah here, goes great with ribs.

2008 Carmignano, Tenuta Le Farnete – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
When this Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend first arrived, one swirl and sniff indicated that we needed to get on the phone with Enrico and order another pallet. Truth be told, that first pallet went like hotcakes and we were stuck with nothing. The good news is that the new pallet is here and once again you can get your hands on this super, Super Tuscan.

2009 Ventoux “Fayard”, Domaine Fondrèche – $16.99, $13.59 reorder
With the string of successful vintages coming from southern France over the last 8 years, we’re beginning to wonder, “Are bad vintages a thing of the past?” 2009 is everything you want in a red Rhône vintage: plenty of opulent fruit, silky tannins, and lively acidity. Sebastien Vincenti just stays out of the way and bottles the Ventoux terroir.

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

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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Domaine Boudinaud 2008 Cotes du Rhone Mataro

Saturday, August 20, 2011 4:42 PM

It’s amazing how the wines of Thierry & Véronique Boudinaud just keep getting better and better. Not that they were ever disappointing, mind you… Five generations of winemaking and a profound commitment to lifelong professional education allow for a great deal of skill-perfecting, after all.

The Boudinaud estate, located in the tiny commune of Fournès

Jose Tomas

Spanish bullfighter Jose Tomas faces a bull during the Feria, in Nimes, southern France, Friday, May 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

along the right bank of the Rhone River, has definitely put itsbest foot forward with their2008 Mataró Cotes du Rhone, though. The grape here is more commonly known in France as Mourvèdre, though it made its way to the new world in the mid to late 1800s under its alter ego,Mataró – A name taken from a town near Barcelona where the varietal was grown. The Boudinauds decided to use this version of the word, althoughthere are over 50 different names for this grape worldwide, includingBalzar, Drug, and Plant De Saint Gilles (To quote Bill S., “what’s in a name?”). Furthermore, their decision to release a 100% Mourvèdre is as impressive as the wine itself. The grape isn’t typically bottled as a single variety, but more often as part of a blend with other Rhone varietals, such as Syrah and Grenache (it’s the “M” in a GSM blend).

As a late-ripening grape that thrives in high heat, it’s not every Dick & Jane winemaker that can handle it in the vineyard, nor tame its meaty flavors and grippy tannins (What’s Bill’s other saying, “if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the vineyard”??). Furthermore, unlike other wines of the 2008 vintage which show a much more plush, fruit-forward profile, the Mataró Cotes du Rhone is a dark, robust wine with a structure more reflective of the attention-garnering 2009 vintage than its own.That’s not to say it isn’t drinking beautifully right now, as a little decanting goes a long way with this one. Deep, dark, and full-bodied, blackberry & currants lurk beneath a savory mélange of leather, black pepper, graphite, and game-like flavors with a dusty, finely-ground-coffee type texture to the finish that is surprisingly approachable and pleasant (I guess that’s where the 2008 part comes in). It is the type of wine that begs to be paired with grilled meats, sautéed mushrooms, and a generous amount of dried herbs and spices to complement its savory and earthy personality. If single-variety releases like this are the future of Mourvèdre in the Rhone Valley, the future is looking mighty bright. – Emily Crichton

August 2011 Dirty Dozen

Monday, August 8, 2011 6:01 PM

Summertime and the livin’ is easy … At least for a few more weeks. But we’ll take what we can get! The naked ladies are out (Belladonna Lilies, silly!), the peaches are perfect, and you’ve got nothing to do but sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the summer season with your latest Dirty Dozen. Life really doesn’t get any better than this, does it? From Greece to Gascogne, Cali to the Cotes du Rhone, the DD’s got it all going this month. Aloha August and bon santé!


2010 Rosé “l’Instant”, Domaine Fondreche – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Every year this Rosé from Ventoux flies off our shelves as those searching for the “palest Rosé you have” have found what they’re looking for in Sebastien Vincenti’s l’Instant. It’s made from 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, and 20% Grenache, and when you get a load of its crisp herbal profile, if you close your eyes, you can magically transport yourself to the south of France. Goes great with Salmon.

2010 Domaine de Pouy – $9.49, $7.59 reorder
One of the original components of the very first DD, this blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard from the Gascogne region in southwestern France has been pleasing TWH customers for over a decade. One would be hard pressed to find a better value in a white wine. It’s bright, it’s crisp, it has hints of citrus, and get this, it comes in at a mere 11.5% alcohol. Screwcap makes it great for picnics.

2009 Macon “les Tilles”, J.M. Chaland – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Get the white tablecloth, we’re dressing up the Dozen this month with a taste of White Burgundy! That’s right, David tasted Jean-Marie Chaland’s wines the last time he was in France and loved them enough to direct import them. Chaland’s Macon “les Tilles” is pure Chardonnay with no oak interference. It’s bright and precise, and it’s single and on the prowl. Perhaps we should set it up with a lobster?

2010 Roditis-Moscofilero, Skouras – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Not exactly household names here in California, Roditis and Moscofilero come from a land where winemaking has been going on for millennia, Greece. The bright and lean profile of the Roditis balance the floral Moscofilero and together they shine. Let’s see… a hot August night, a bottle of cool crisp Skouras white, some mesquite grilled trout and the company of your choosing… perfect.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Crave – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
We’re not allowed to divulge our source for the Crave Sauvignon Blanc, but let’s just say this is a huuuge domestic value! It’s made by a well-known producer whose estate wines sell for at least twice as much. It has a rich citrus profile and a hint of herb garden.

2010 Gavi, Ernesto Picollo – $10.49 net price, $8.39 reorder
Speaking of values, just off the boat is the newest vintage of Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi! He’s got a couple of fancier, more serious bottlings, but for the sake of value, you cannot beat the Gavi DOCG. Fleshy fruit and minerals dominate the aromatic profile, the wine has great weight and freshness on the palate and the finish is clean and crisp. This is the wine to pour with that halibut crudo.

2007 Touraine Cabernet, Domaine des Corbillieres – $14.99 net price, $11.99 reorder
Loire Valley Cabernet Franc that is. We’re proud to say we’ve been selling Dominique Barbou’s Domaine des Corbillieres wines for over 15 years and still feel like we’re in the honeymoon phase! Violets and rose petals on the nose, vibrant mineral snap on the finish, and a gentle touch of dried herbs. Sooo pretty and versatile, we bet you’ll be smitten too.

2009 Ecuyer de Château Couronneau – $12.79, $10.23 reorder
We love this wine for so many reasons, not the least of which is its ability to show off the impressive quality & structure of the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux without needing 25+ years of cellaring to open up. Rearing and ready to drink, this Merlot is rich, full of character, and as an Agricole Biologique certified wine, the Ecuyer is good for your belly and the environment- Score!

2009 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine de la Guicharde – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Mostly Grenache, this peppery red is medium-bodied, has hints of black olive and flavors of juicy wild plum. Versatile and bursting with fruit, try pairing it with lamb kebabs and a tian of aubergine. A stunning value from a great vintage!

NV Owl House Red – $7.48 net price, $6.73 reorder
What a marvelous go-to red for your next pizza party! This inventive blend of several red varieties has a good smattering of Counoise, a little known grape that is an integral, though small, component for the famed Chateau de Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf du Pape. It is supple and juicy, low on tannins and high on the yum meter!

2009 Petite Sirah, Shannon Ridge – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Prepare your teeth whitening strips cause this is one massive, chewy Petite Sirah from an undervalued, yet overachieving region of California, Lake County. Fermented in steel and aged in French and American oak, this wine is truly bang-for-your-buck goodness. Pair with your favorite bbq or grill specialty. Meaty baby-back ribs perhaps? Oh yeah!

2009 Veritable Quandry Red, Odisea – $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, Alvarelhao (huh?), its all in there and then some. Winemaker Adam Webb has masterfully crafted a velvety, jammy red that wallops a punch of flavor and intensity. Serving suggestions include paella, chicken under a brick or a grilled portabello mushroom burger with a smear of goat cheese. A best-seller from California!





The snooze button. I hit it. We alldo.Usuallymorethanonce.  Wesilence the noise and happily go back to slumberland until the “urgent” buzzer kicks in as if to shout at us Hey sleepyhead! Get outta bed before it’s too late!Well, consider this a (much more fun) snooze alarm proclaiming “LAST CALL!“ on TWH‘s Wine of the month (Can you believe it’s almost August already?? Oy vey!). 

If you’ve had the wines of Diane Puymorin then you know why she’s one of our all-time favorite winemakers in the Costieres de Nimes (not to mention all of France). If not, you’re in for a treat. Diane’s wines under both the Domaine de la Petite Cassagne and Chateau d’Or et de Gueuleslabels have acquired a huge following over the years, customers and staff alike. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne property in the village of St. Gilles back in 1998 and has been making limited parcels of both red and white wines under its label each year.



Moreover, have you seen what good qualitywhite Rhone wines go forthese days??! It’s almost unheard of to find one under $20. Aside from being downright delicious, the 2009 Petite Cassagne Blanc is one of those gems thatepitomizes what we here at TWH do best… Find great wines for phenomenal prices. For this cuvee, Diane blended 60% Grenache Blanc with 40% Rolle (Italian wine lovers know this varietal as Vermentino). The fruit is farmed with 100% organic methods, pressed immediately after picking, and put into temperature-controlled tanks for fermentation. The result is pure White Rhone magic. Think bright, fresh citrus blossoms with hints of wind-swept herbs and a lively acidity that holds up through the finish. It has enough fruit to please as an aperitif, when a warm evening just calls for a glass of something crisp and cool. However (and I’m not intentionally trying to make you hungry here, but…) the Petite Cassagne will shine like the sun if you serve it alongside a crab salad, herb-laden rotisserie chicken, or pan-seared halibut with a squeeze of lemon. No matter what your end-of-July schedule, don’t forget to include a bottle of this.

Happy Fin de Juillet ~ Emily Crichton

Old World Italian Varietals and Their New World Makers

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:21 PM





I understand. You found paradise in America, you had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. And you didn’t need a friend like me. But now you come to me, and you say: “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me Godfather.…. (Ooohhh, chills).

Well, last night marked the (hold for pensive moment…23rd? 57th? 134th?) time I’ve watched “The Godfather”. How does one describe a movie like this to someone who’s never seen it? Well, if you’re me, your eyes bulge out of their sockets and you stammer out something like What!? How have you never seen this movie?! It’s like, it’s uh… I mean, it’s just really good.

Enough said, right?

OK, for the sake of conversation, you could say it’s the 3-part story of an old world family making their mark on new world soil. Oooh, more chills. And so, it is with this story (and all the delicious details) fresh in my mind that I felt inspired to pay homage to a trilogy of wines with Italian bloodlines but domestic zip codes. The following wines aren’t your typical let’s-take-a-stab at “Cal-Ital” and see what happens type of thing. NOT at all. In fact, I’d venture to guess that the creative minds behind the bottles wouldn’t be too keen with such a quaint categorization of what is not only their professional passion, but their personal identity.

 







P A L M I N A


Ex-surfer/rockstar/Italophile, Steve Clifton (of the Brewer-Clifton fame) and his wife Chrystal (fluent Italian speaker and former wine manager at Bouchon) are the the heart & soul behind Palmina in Santa Barbara, where they make wines that not only represent the varietals indigenous to Italy, but also the culture & lifestyle surrounding the consumption of wine. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen another domestic winemaker so insistent upon the fact that they make wines meant to complement food… in addition to“conversation, celebration, and love.” (I don’t know if that’s more Californian or Italian but I like it!). Based on the two wines we have from them, I’d say they ain’t kidding. Both thePalmina 2010 Santa Barbara County Pinot Grigio and the Palmina 2009 Santa Barbara County Barbera are in a nutshell, wildly unexpected. The fruit shows through in a way that suggests they’re not trying to hide their Santa Barbara upbringing, yet they have thatundeniable acidity & finesse one finds in their quality Italian cohorts. Both were picked from various cool-climate vineyard sites throughout the area and whole cluster-pressed directly after picking in order to retain the cool evening temperatures. The Pinot Grigio is lively and aromatic(two qualities often missing in P.G. on this side of the pond) with hints of lemon curd, quince, and a bit of mineral flintiness that I like quite a bit. While the Barbera is a melange of dark plummy and more tangy cherry/rhubarb fruit underlined by medium tannins and enough earthiness to give it some street cred.

 







PETRONI VINEYARDS 2006 Rosso di Sonoma


Most people know Lorenzo Petroni as the face behind the San Francisco institution known as North Beach Restaurant, which serves authentic Tuscan cuisine to weary travelers and eccentric locals alike. However, rumor has it that Lorenzo’s first love is the grape. More specifically, his dream was to be the first California vintner to grow the prized Sangiovese Grosso clone from his native Tuscany in Sonoma soil. Lofty, but apparentlynot impossible. In the Spring of 1992, Lorenzo & his wife stumbled upon a vineyard site on the red, rocky, mineral rich terrain of the Mayacamas Range, bought it the next day, and began growing grapes. His Rosso is aSuper Tuscan-like blend of Syrah, Sangiovese, and Cabernet. Again, awine that aptly reflects both its Italian heritage and its high elevation Sonoma home. Dense blackberry & dark cherry, cedar, spicebox, and hintsof the volcanic soil from which it hails are the hallmarks of the Rosso’s aromatics. On the palate the tannins are soft & rich, but again, the old world structure hasn’t been lost to a heavy, overly-extracting hand.

In keeping with my old-world-meets-new-world theme today, I’m going to grab a bottle each of these wines and head out to watch the Brew Crew play the Giants and eat some sausages…. Italian sausages, of course! – Emily

2010 French Rose: Part Deux

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:36 PM







I must say, one of the things I miss most about living in the Midwest (aside from being able to say things like “bubbler” without having to explain myself) is summer. A proper summer. With proper summer temperatures. That said, we San Franciscans do a brilliant job of pretending our summers are like those everywhere else.

What’s that? It’s supposed to hit 68° today!? Whoo hoo, heat wave! Windy out!? Not gonna stop MY picnic from happening! Oh darn, there goes my basket…

Ballgames, barbeques, beaches, bikinis… We are nothing if not an optimistic bunch and occasionally Mother Nature rewards us for it. That right, it’s officially warm outside. As such, there is no better time to announce the arrival of:

***Even MORE 2010 French Rosé!!***

Domaine de Fondrèche 2010 “l’instant” Côtes du Ventoux Rosé

Fondrèche Rosé is back and pale as ever! Sebastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is l’artiste behind Fondrèche and although he’s probably best known for his deeply concentrated and delicious red wines, his Rosé just might be his best-kept secret. This blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, and 20% Syrah is made by a combination of techniques known for creating the best Rosé- pressurage directe for the Cinsault and Syrah, while the Grenache is fermented for a short time and then saigneé, or bled off, and blended in tank. The l’instant is a classic French Rosé with faint hints of freshly-picked strawberries and a crisp, dry mineral-driven finish. Oh, did I mention it also comes in MAGNUM format?! It’s a good thing too because we sold out of our Les Cimels Mags several days ago…. Phew, crisis averted!

Vignoble Boudinaud 2010 Pays D’Oc Rosé

If Fondrèche gets the gold medal in the “pale & pretty” category, Boudinaud’s 100% Syrah Rosé takes the top spot in “dark & deceiving”. All I can say about this wine is do NOT be fooled! When we did our staff tasting, every one of us presumed this one would be high in candied fruit and low in acid or mineral, but we could not have been more incorrect. Whoa, does this baby have zing!And why wouldn’t it? It’s Boudinaud for goodness sake! Why would we have ever doubted the quality… shame on us.

L’Ecuyer 2010 Bordeaux Rosé

I don’t do much card playing outside of solitaire on my phone, but I can say that 50-50 is a winning bet when it comes to 2010 Rosé from Bordeaux. Equal parts Cab Franc and Merlot, L’Ecuyer brings a slightly more herbal, earthy profile to the game while still maintaining the bright fruit and clean finish you expect out of a quality Rosé. It’s also got a cool new label resembling a playing card that’s something of a cross between a joker and a club (don’t you like how I tied that all together? Thanks, I try). Hey, I’m not above aesthetics when the product inside lives up to the hype… and this one does. Truly a winner, inside and out.

Domaine des Corbillieres 2010 Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé

I’m not going to say that I’ve saved the best for last, as I really don’t even know that I could choose a favorite out of our 2010 Rosé selections (believe me, I tried to yesterday when a customer asked and ended up with that “deer in headlights” thing happening on my face- not a good look) but I’m also not going to be shy about professing my love for all things made by Dominique Barbou. This 100% Pinot Noir Rosé went through a 12-hour steeping period (that’s a LONG time!) before being transferred to a settling vat for natural fermentation to take place. The result is a pale wine, slightly spicy, with a vague hint of white pepper laced raspberries and killer acidity. It’s just begging to be paired with food. Any food really, but I’m thinking cedar plank-grilled salmon with lemon, fennel, and capers.

Speaking of lemons, one of the things I love most about living in the Bay Area is how everyone has a lemon tree in their yard. I know they’re not in season right now, but they sure are lovely basking in the sun. Cheers to summer! – Emily Crichton



IMAGINE
living in a place where over 80% of the year you are basking in sunshine, and yet, have at your disposal elevations of over 3000 feet, immense diurnal temperature swings, and a river from which to source water (otherwise absent due to lack of rain). What do you do with such extraordinary gifts from Mother Nature? You plant grape vines, that’s what! As it turns out, such a “Grape Utopia” exists in the Uco Valley of Argentina. The Uco Valley is literally an oasis west of Mendoza, situated directly in front of the Andes mountain range and along the northerly course of the Tunuyan River. Argentine winemakers, who have historically based themselves in central Mendoza, are now exploring the Uco Valley, homing in on spots like La Consulta, where amazing, if not previously forgotten, old-vine vineyards can be found.

Moreover, it’s no secret that the world has gone absolutely gaga for Argentine Malbec in recent years, forcing sommeliers and retailers to reorganize their once California and Bordeaux-dominated selections. That said, while Malbec may be king down there, Argentina’s wine industry is not a one-grape show. Apparently, Alberto Furque had a sixth sense about all of this when he purchased the estate called Aconquija (meaning “snow near the moon”) in 1995. Now run by his profoundly dedicated andenergetic daughter, Carolina Furque, the estate boasts 74 hectares of what could be the most attentively-tended Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the area. Carolina harvests much later than many other growers in the area, working with an agronomist to be sure that the grapes have achieved total physiological ripeness. Then, after hand-harvesting the fruit, she ferments her grapes in temperature-controlled tanks, and finally, bottles everything unfilteredin order to preserve the intense color and structure of the wines. Uco Valley wines are famous for their incredible concentration of dark currant, plum, and blueberry flavors (the likes of which aren’t seen in other sub-regions of Mendoza) and Carolina’s wines are the epitome of quality in terms of showcasing these trademark characteristics. No wonder they are well-established on list of TWH’s darlings.

Of course, like everyone else we love the story behind the wines, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what’s in the bottle. These wines not only instantly transport you to the heart of Mendoza wine country upon every sip, but they will transform the way you think about South American wines in general. Salud!

2005 Tempranillo

Typical of this variety, this wine displays a deep red colorin the glass, serving as the perfect sensory precursor to the rich raspberry, blackberry, and currants that inundate your nose upon first whiff. After a moment, the classic leather and fresh tobacco leaf nuances are revealed, letting you know that this is an old world grape with one H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS of a new world makeover. With 5+ years of age in the bottle, its tannins are sweet and sultry in the mouth, but don’t worry, this is one wine that hasn’t lost its backbone.
       
2009 Malbec

Malbec lovers rejoice for we’ve a contender for your all-time favorites list. Regarding the 2009 harvest in Argentina, Julia Harding MW said “Malbec seems to be the great champion of the vintage” (cue image of Malbec showing off gold medal on Wheaties box). When customers ask about this wine, we tell them it’s like blueberry preserves but with ample acidity, firm tannins, and just the right amount of black pepper to pique your senses. You’ll have to drink it to believe it, but Furque’s Malbec proves that it’s possible for a wine to be densely concentrated without being overly ripe or baked. As far as food pairings go, sky’s the limit, for this is a versatile wine if ever one existed. 
       

2009 Syrah

If anyone has any doubts about the origin of Furque’s vines, drink this! Only grapes situated 3000+ feet above sea level could reveal such vibrant acidity as those in this Syrah, especially in South America. Which is not to say it is lacking in the fruit and structure departments. Up front the Syrah is lush and full-bodied, but the burst of acid comes through on the back-end, like a little voice whispering (ok, shouting) in your ear that this wine needs to be paired with some grilled flank steak, peppers, onions, and chimichurri sauce. Oh excuse me! I just drooled on my keyboard… – Emily Crichton

2009 Grange des Rouquette Syrah/Grenache

Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:23 PM

WINE OF THE MONTH – 2009 GRANGE DES ROUQUETTE SYRAH/GRENACHE





En Avril, n’ote pas un fil. En Mai, fais ce qu’il te plait. Translation: “In April, don’t take off your clothes, but in May, do as you please.”

 

Mon Dieu! “Clothes off? What is this woman talking about!?” You must be wondering. Well, aside from an attempt at showing off what little of the French language I have mastered, I thought this quirky quote a rather lovable and fitting introduction to our May “Wine of the Month”. If you’ve been following us through cyberspace or via snail mail lately, you know that we’re just a smidge excited about Springtime, and in particular, the month of May. The only month of 31 days spent entirely in Spring; The month in which we celebrate everything from horse power and heros to mothers and Mexico… and do a lot of barbecuing to boot!

That being the case, it stands to reason that a wine befitting many occasions (and many a budget) should be the May W.O.M. Drum-roll please…. The 2009 Grange des Rouquette Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah/Grenache is one of those gems that epitomize what we here at TWH love to do most: find wines that outperform their pricepoint. By a LOT.

Now in its fifth generation of viticulture and winemaking, Domaine Grange des Rouquette has become renowned for their craft both locally and abroad. Located in the tiny commune of Fournes, on the right bank of the Rhone River, this estate has produced vintage after vintage of delicious and versatile wines – both red and white – that seem to not only represent the terroir from which they hail, but also the many things about great winemaking learned, practiced, and perfected across the globe. This is thanks to Thierry and Veronique Boudinaud, the heart and soul behind Grange des Rouquette, who have traveled from New Zealand to California and places in between in order to hone their skills. The couple now owns 50 hectares in and around the Cotes du Rhone appellation, and though this Syrah/Grenache (with a little Mourvedre thrown in) is Vin du Pays d’Oc, the old-vine Syrah and Grenache come from their best vineyard sites. The blend is a traditional one, made up of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre – all harvested separately for optimal ripeness. A small portion of the old-vine Syrah gets barrel treatment, but otherwise, the grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks to maximize the freshness of the fruit. The result is a wine with bright, juicy purple & red fruit on the nose and palate and enough savory earthiness and grit to warrant the cognomen “baby Cotes du Rhone.” I’d suggest pairing it with Poulet de Bresse while taking in the view from a grande villa in the Rhone-Alps, but it will be just as fantastic with a fat juicy burger & veggies off the grill in your back yard (and if you happen to take my first recommendation, please take me with you.)

Santé! –Emily Crichton

p.s. Happy Birthday to my adorable niece Minnie who turns 1 year old today!! Whoo hoo!

Spring Fizz

Saturday, April 9, 2011 4:26 PM





“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

I don’t know if it’s all the daffodils and tulips sprouting up around town or just seasonal allergies going to my head, but I have got Spring Fever like you wouldn’t believe. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind that prompts me to clean my home as if I were about to host the Queen. However, it does have the effect of turning everything I hear or read into something not only spring-related, but something for which the presence of spring could be the only logical explanation.

Which brings us to the portion of the email where I explain what the above quote has to do with spring, and of course, wine (did I mention I also have a tendency to turn everything I see into something wine-related?). It all started when I logged onto our Twitter account this morning and saw this quote. Naturally, it made me smile and think of how spring is the perfect time to celebrate life, friendship, good times of past and those yet to come. In essence, to keep laughing. Cheesy, perhaps, but still apt in my opinion. Moreover, if we are to gather for laughter, we will need something equally apt with which to toast it.

Now for the part of the email that needs very little explanation, as it is almost inevitably “bubbles” that customers ask for when they are about to embark down a celebratory path. That said, this is not the first time, nor the last, that you will hear me say a celebration proper is certainly not necessary for the consumption of sparkling wine. I have and always will be a huge proponent of kicking to the curb any notion suggesting that certain wines be restricted to specific dates, places, weather patterns, lunar phases etc… Rules- who needs them?! So whether you’re mounting your party bus as we speak or quietly giving thanks to the asparagus gods, make this a season of celebration and laughter. Of course, I would never dream of leaving you hanging with a hankering for some sparklers and no suggestions, so I’ve picked a few of TWH staff favorites from fancy to affordable and everything in between. In fact, it seems like almost every day at least one of us comes into work and announces that we’ve recently had one of the sparkling wines listed below- with sushi (me), with fresh crab (David), avec petite brandade croquettes (Anya), on its own with squirt of blood orange (Chris), with peanuts while watching a baseball game (Tom)…. So I guess we’re practicing what we preach alright.

In sum, have fun- drink fizz.

NV Segura Viudas Brut Cava

We have adopted the term “house ‘Champagne'” from one of our customers to describe this Cava as it’s the kind of wine everyone should have at least a few bottles of on hand for an impromptu sparkling moment. While this has been an all-time favorite of TWH staff for some time now, in both the pocketbook and palate categories, there seems to be a consensus around the globe that this is a brut to be reckoned with. A blend of the regional Spanish grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, the Segura is made in the same way as Champagne with its secondary fermentation and further aging done in the bottle. Rich and full, yet crisp and clean at the same time, it has classic citrus, apple and melon flavors but a delightfully unexpected earthy/herbal component. I’ve always been very impressed with the balance of this wine. It definitely out drinks its price-point.

Domaine d’Orfeuilles NV Vouvray Brut

How do I even begin to describe my adoration for this producer. If you thought my spiel about tulips and laughter was cheesy, hang on a moment because I’m about to top it. But first, a little background information. This Loire estate was founded by Paul Herivault in 1947 out of an old Medieval castle that no longer exists. Today the estate is run by Paul’s son and grandson whose M.O. is tomaintain the traditional methods employed by their predecessor and produce wines that reflect the distinct “flintiness” of the clay-limestone soil for which Vouvray is known. In this they have succeeded and then some. The Vouvray Brut, made from 100% Chenin in the traditional method, explodes with peach/apricot & soft white floral notes on the nose that follow through onto the palate with a clean chalky texture that, along with a brilliant acidity, hangs onto every tiny little bubble as if they were some sort of synchronized acrobatic trio (go team!). Anya summed this wine up nicely when she said “it’s one of the few sparkling wines that doesn’t make me wish I were drinking Champagne.”

Domaine d’Orfeuilles also makes a Touraine Rosé from Malbec (known as Côt in the Loire) that boasts beautiful, bright red raspberry fruit balanced by a nice dusty minerality. For some reason this wine (get ready for the cheese in five, four, three…) gives me visions of Mary Poppins ascending into the puffy clouds as she hangs nonchalantly onto her umbrella. Gosh, where do I come up with these things? But truly, it is a lovely representation of the outstanding diversity, quality, and value one can find coming out of the Loire.





2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superior
e

This may be one instance where I tell you it’s ok to judge a wine by its label. The feminine, almost majestic looking, light gray-purple label is fitting for this vintage sparkling wine which bears the name of both the region from which it hails in northeastern Italy and the grape from which it is made. Hands down, this wine has the softest, most delicate mouthfeel of any Prosecco I’ve ever tasted. Slight hints of stone fruit and almond round out the vibrant minerality also present in spades. You may want to drink this in a white wine glass rather than a flute in order to experience the full expression of the wine.

NV Arlaux Brut

Arlaux has been one of our direct grower Champagne imports for years, long before the explosion of grower Champagne ensued. Situated in Vrigny, this estate is known for its use of Champagne’s “other” red grape, Pinot Meunier, which makes up nearly half of the blend and contributes anintriguing hint of forest-floor type earthiness. The rest of the blend is composed of mainly Pinot Noir and just a little bit of Chardonnay, which lends itself to a richer, more red-fruit flavor profile. In the world of sky-high Champagne prices, Arlaux represents an incredible bang for the buck… or should I say, bubble.

Joyeux printemps!

Emily Crichton

2009 Paul Pernot Aligote

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 5:05 PM

Pernot





After nearly 35 years in the wine business, we at TWH have seen and heard it all when it comes to the idiosyncrasies of our customers’ palates. Furthermore, while we love the fact that no two palates are exactly alike, an immediate dismissal of an entire category of wine is somewhat of a conundrum to us wine geeks and is likely to elicit a response such as “Really? Well that’s probably because you’ve never had a good one!” (Although, depending on how furrowed said customer’s brow is, we may only say it in our heads). One such category that is nothing if not underappreciated, is the Aligote grape. Though it was once 40-50% of all Burgundy plantings, including 1er and Grand Cru plots, it took a backseat to its big sister Chardonnay around mid-twentieth century and has since been better known for its role in producing Cremant de Bourgogne and its part in a Kir.

So, why the fuss over Aligote, you may wonder? To put it bluntly, we’re excited (Correction: make that very excited) to be carrying the2009 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Aligote. Not only is Monsieur Pernot one of the most highly respected winemakers in the Cote de Beaune, he is also one of those rare breed of winemakers nowadays that no matter how many acres and accolades he collects, is a farmer at heart. That is why nobody is better equipped to work with the early-ripening, cold-loving Aligote grape than he. Additionally, 2009 was a warmer year in Bourgogne, which helped balance the inherently high-acid grape, producing a white wine that is both vibrant and mineral-driven, yet also expresses a generous amount of ripe apple and citrus fruit as well. What’s even more mind-boggling is that this is the first time Pernot has ever produced Aligote. As far as inaugural releases go, a white Burgundy under $20 that drinks like a top Macon or Vire-Clesse from one of the most esteemed producers on the planet, is dang near unheard of. So while we appreciate all palate quirks and staunch opinions (case in point, Pete still refuses to believe wine and chocolate go together), this is one of those rare gems that supercede all previous notions and stereotypes. If you really want to see what we’re talking about, pair it with steamed mussels in a white wine butter sauce … then prepare to swoon and picture us saying “we told you so!” – Emily Crichton

More love for Lugana

Thursday, March 3, 2011 5:32 AM

If it seems like we’ve been using the word “love” a lot lately, it’s because we have…. but with good reason! As recent posts will attest, TWH is abound with exciting new wines and producers. You may recall Anya’s write-up on2009 Ca’Lojera Lugana, which illustrates the truly ubiquitous passion and dedication to quality going into the wines from this once under-appreciated nook of northern Italy.  Not surprisingly, it appears we’re not the only ones getting all in a tizzy about Turbiana from Lugana (hey, that rhymes:) ).  Check out thisbeautiful 2-page spread about the evolution of a brilliant white wine region, complete with nod to Ca’Lojera, in the most recent Decanter Magazine.  Cheers ~ E

Matchmaker Matchmaker Find Me a Wine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:38 PM

If there’s one thing that never gets old, it’s when the stars align and make good things happen.  Case in point, my return to TWH (and thus, blogging) has fallen over that holiday which is so near and dear to thine heart, Valentine’s Day.  Coincidence?  I don’t believe in coincidences…. But I do believe in cheesy holidays that capitalize on human emotions, and apparently, I like writing about them too because the last time I wrote anything about wine (publicly anyways) was last year around this time.  I must preface this post, however, by saying that while this is indeed a post inspired by Valentine’s Day and love and all that good stuff, it is NOT one of those posts where I tell you what to drink with your lover on V-day.  If it were, I would be extremely tardy and my words would fall into a black hole of post-holiday obsolescence.  Instead, I have decided to combine my love for wine with one of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If you haven’t seen the show, a purportedly “great catch” is given a pool of 30 or so eligible persons of the opposite sex from which to find the one with whom he/she will fall in love and spend the rest of his/her life.  Needless to say, it’s everything you’d think a Hollywood matchmaking television show would be, but hey, love works in strange ways, who am I to judge?  That said, I asked Pete (who would like it to be known that he has never seen the show) to choose six noteworthy wine suitors for me- 3 reds & 3 whites– and subsequently took each one of them out on a date in hopes of falling in love.  Am I going to kiss and tell?  You betchya!

Date 1: 2009 Picollo Ernesto GaviI really wanted the Gavi to be my first date.  Certainly, I’d heard good things about all of the wines in the bunch from everyone at TWH, but the Gavi seemed to be extremely high up on the list of “go-to” wines being recommended to customers at the store, so I was highly anticipating making its acquaintance.  With that in mind, I got to know Gavi while nibbling on a marinated mix of olives & peppers and French bread, followed by a lovely dinner of lemon & pesto grilled chicken on top of a mixed green salad with fresh parmesan, steamed veggies, and sun-dried tomato polenta.  This wine definitely lived up to its hype… beautiful nose of melon, honeyed lemon, slight tropical fruit, cut hay, and a touch of salty sea air.  The palate, while fresh and clean, had a very pleasantly surprising viscosity and roundness to it as well.  The fruit was more citrusy on the palate and that classic Italian minerality, herbs/white pepper was there too.  Overall, a fantastic date and I feel like Gavi and I will be the best of friends.  The white wine that I will feel more than confident taking to parties, pairing with a wide range of fare, or just drinking all by itself when the mood strikes.  It’s the kind of wine I want to have a lot of on hand.

 

Date 2: 2005 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum RougeThough it’s been a while, the ’05 Trassegum and I have met before, and I must say, I’ve always had a crush on it.  It’s a Rhone blend made predominantly from Syrah by one of my all-time favorite producers.  I let the bottle sit open & untouched for about half an hour while I made homemade valentines for loved ones and waited for lamb tandoori from Indian Palace.  When I finally poured myself a glass, the wine was a little tight, but I was still able to discern the nose of charcoaled meat, leather (both sweet & dirty), violets (omigosh, the violets!), dark fruit, a hint of anise and Provençal herbs.  It was juicy and balanced on the palate, but again, needed a little time to unwind.  About an hour later, I noted red fruit coming through more and….mmmm, forest floor.  Later yet, the sweet spices started to shine- cinnamon, vanilla, cassis, spicy raspberry and plums- it just kept getting prettier and more layered.  Oh my, I thought to myself, It’s seducing me, I can feel it! I’d describe the mouth-feel as silky and elegant, but with density and muscle at the same time. Moments later my food arrived. I don’t know if lamb tandoori was the pinnacle of food pairings for this, but sometimes I think the best pairings are whatever you’re in the mood to eat paired with whatever you’re in the mood to drink. Which is exactly what this was… and it was heavenly.

 

Date 3: 2009 Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Blanc & 2008 Enrico Pierazzuoli Carmignano Le Farnete For the next outing, I grabbed some gal pals and headed down to Sapore Italiano in Burlingame for some fabulous Italian cuisine.  We sipped (ok, gulped) the Couronneau while partaking in the Antipasto delle due Sicillie- an assorted plate of meats, cheeses, olives, grilled veggies, and bruschetta.  Oh we are off to a GREAT start!  Almost a little too good, in fact.  We guzzled the Couronneau and moved on to the Carmignano so fast I felt as if I didn’t give it its due time in the spotlight.  It’s like that person at a party you start flirting with but never really get a chance to talk to before they leave (luckily, I know where to find more).





 





That said, what I did experience of the Couronneau absolutely knocked my socks off.  The old world crushed rock minerality exploded off the nose, intermingling in perfect harmony with fresh citrus fruit and hints of white flower.  The fruit and minerality came thru on the palate with exquisite finesse along with a vibrant and long-lasting acidity.  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with when and how this wine was consumed, but I would love to try it again sometime with a mélange of seafood and longer timeframe.  In a nutshell, this wine out-drinks its price point by a LOT.  Moving onto the Carmignano, I think this might win “best friend” in the red category.  It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and while both varietals make their presence known, neither one overpowers the other.  Upon first whiff, I definitely noted the luscious ripe red and dark fruit first, which evolved into a combination of cherries, rose petals, red currants, cedar, and slight oak nuances.  The palate was more rustic than the nose would suggest, with dusty tannins that smooth out and a little mulchy sweetness to the fruit.  Overall, I found it to have an approachability that would please most any group and/or occasion.  I’d say it’s a solid notch and more above your average “pizza wine”, but that certainly didn’t stop me from ordering a whole pie for myself to go with it.

 Date 4: 2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie– Truth be told, I had actually had this bottle in my possession since Thanksgiving.  My initial intention was to share it with my T-day companions because what goes better with Thanksgiving dinner than Cru Beaujolais? But I got selfish and decided to keep it to myself for a later date (sorry gang).  I started out just sipping this sans sustenance, which was delightful.  Then I got hungry and having no patience for a trip to the grocery store, I pulled out some prosciutto, brie, crudités, small green salad, and a whole bunch of sweet potato fries (basically everything that looked yummy in my fridge).  All I have to say is that Cru Beaujolais- especially this one with its beautiful layers of wild strawberries, lavender, Provençal herbs, hint of minerality, and elegant yet juicy palate- is the arm candy of wine.  It is just oh so pretty and it goes with EVERYTHING.  If you’re one of those wine drinkers who still isn’t convinced that Beaujolais can be some of the most gorgeous and versatile wines on the planet, grab a bottle of this tout de suite.

 Date 5: 2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias BaixasFor my last, but no less anticipated, date I braved the rain and met up with a friend of mine for sushi and a bottle of the P&L Albarino.  In my opinion, sushi is comfort food and white wine can be just as cozy a companion as any red.  My notes on this wine were as such: “on the nose, very nice melon, green pear that opens up into more lush tropical fruit.  Noticeable leesiness, and oh, is that macadamia nut? Indeed! Yay! Slight creaminess through the mid-palate and awesome burst of acidity on the finish.  Sushi + P&L + rainy day = love.

The Verdict:  Pete, ya done good, I love them all but I love playing the field (or should I say vineyard) even more and I’m not ready to settle down with one wine just yet.  Being a bachelorette is much much too fun.  - Emily Crichton

Mon Amour

Sunday, February 14, 2010 6:33 PM

Alright fellas, here’s the dish …. and I don’t mean dinner.  On second thought, that is kind of what I mean.  I’m talking about the dish on Valentine’s Day, and even though Anya did a stellar write-up of one of the most importantcomponents of what should be your Valentine’s Day equation (aka bubbly), I feel this “holiday” warrants some more attention, even if it is a wee bit belated.  After all, isn’t that what Feb 14th is all about, giving and receiving attention?  Furthermore, I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that, aside from the bubbly,you may need a little extra help in the romance department.  Now now, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m sure you’re a regular Casanova when you want to be.  However, as a lady-being, I’ve noticed that even the best romantic intentions are sometimes, well, just way off.  Case in point, my last boyfriend decided that a great way to celebrate my birthday (a milestone birthday no less) would be to take me camping in the middle of nowhere, get sunburned, cook me corndogs, and teach me how to use a folding chair in such a way as to facilitate nature’s call.  Sorry, TMI!!  My point is that, A) I’m a total sissy city girl and B) As cliché as it may be, when it comes to romance, wining and dining (um, like in a dining room with a table, chairs, and candles) is still one of the best ways to woo that special someone in your life.  Of course, once the wheels are set in motion they don’t just keep rolling themselves.  You gotta keep that vino flowing!  So what ELSE are you going to have on hand once you get through those 4-5 bottles of Lamiable Brut Rosé?  Well, I’m going to speak for all lovers (because I’m the one writing, dangit) and recommend one of the sassiest, spiciest, dare-I-say sexiest wines on the planet….Which is pretty much anything with a hefty dose of Grenache.  Oh Grenache!! How I love thee… let me count the ways.  I’m not kidding, if I could (and my lawyer friend in L.A. seems to think I can… Gotta love California), I would marry Grenache.  Although, if you’re like most people, you’d probably just assume drink it.  As such, you have a multitude of fantastic options, none of which are mutually exclusive.  So stop waiting for Cupid to take care of your romantic needs, and instead, head down to TWH and check out some of my favorite Grenache-based wines.

 

2006 Domaine de Gournier Grenache Noir– This 100% Grenache cuvee contains fruit that is all hand-harvested and vinified in stainless steel tanks to focus on the freshness and purity of the Grenache, which means spicy, juicy, gorgeous red fruit.  And at less than $7 per bottle, it’s cheap, easy, and a hit at parties (er, private parties if ya get my drift).  It’s the “Real Housewives” of wine and who doesn’t love that?!

2005 Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux O’Sud- I cannot emphasize enough how much I HEART this producer.  Everything he makes gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and the O’Sud is no exception.  Sébastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is without a doubt the leader in quality in this southern Rhône appellation.  The quality of this 65% Grenache, 35% Syrah blend comes from the 30+ year old vines and the ridiculously meticulous hand-picking and sorting action going on in the vineyard.  Straight up L-O-V-E in a bottle.

2007 T-Vine Cellars Napa Valley Grenache- A self-proclaimed “seeker of stillness” winemaker Greg Brown has certainly managed to achieve anything BUT as he shakes things up in Napa.  Maybe that’s part of his Buddha-like M.O. though… i.e. Shake and you shall receive stillness?  Whatever it is he’s doing, he’s doing it right.  This is perhaps the best Grenache ever produced in California, dripping with raspberry and strawberry in the mouth, a hint of candied fruit on the nose, and a warm licorice spice on the finish.  This wine reminds me of a really good first kiss…. it just makes you smile.

No discussion on Grenache would be complete without mentioning Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  That said, there are two producers that are pretty much always on my mind.  The first is Domaine Font de Michelle.  Aside from my personal affinity for these wines, their 2005 CNP was recently given major accolades in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, where he so eloquently describes how the “Sexy Asian spices and incense complement fresh strawberry and raspberry preserves on the nose” and the “luscious, alluringly sweet red berry flavors offer liqueur-like intensity but are firmed by juicy minerality….Very suave.”  Who knew Stephen was such a romantic?  Is he single?!

The other, and in no way inferior, CNPs that I love are none other than those ofAndré Brunel.  For the sake of consistency, his 2005 CNP is a terrific example of super-ripe, old-vine Grenache displaying characteristics of cherries and blackberries alongside classic Provençal spices and herbs. Like all of André’s wines, it is supple, open in style, and shows profound complexity.  Le sigh…..

2007 Domaine Mas Lavail Maury Rouge Late Harvest Grenache– Hailing from one of the warmest and driest grape-growing regions on the planet, this 100% Grenache dessert wine in half bottle will give any Port a run for its money.  This wine oozes red fruit, ages well, and releases every combination of cocoa imaginable.  Have it with everything from duck & cranberry sauce to blue cheese, or even a good cigar… But it is at its best with desserts containing fruits or chocolate.  I don’t speak Spanish, but in this heavily Catalan-influenced region of France, I think they’d say this wine is “Muy Delicioso”!

-Emily Crichton

Halve at ’em

Thursday, January 14, 2010 6:53 AM

1/13/10

I bet you had a strange feeling all week that there was something special going on but you couldn’t quite pinpoint it, could you?  Ok sure, Monday was the birthday of both Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern (irony anyone?), today was Make Your Dreams Come True Day, and Friday the beloved Bucks will be making anappearance at Oracle Arena.  However, there is something else of note….Something near and dear to my heart.  Yesterday happened to be my half birthday.  That’s right, I’m (cough, garble, mumble something) and a half years old, which makes me a less-than-thrilled-to-be-aging Cancer.  However, instead of moping about this inevitability, I am choosing to celebrate it.  As such, I have made this week all about halves (or half of this week really, since Monday wasPicco night and last night I was recovering from Picco night).  So, I signed up for a half marathon, I incorporated half-moon pose into my yoga practice, I wore my hair in a half ponytail, bought half and half for my coffee, and have only been wearing clothes on the upper half of my body (just kidding!).  Of course, as a wine geek, I also thought it rather apt to open some half bottles of wine, and in doing so, I’ve started a new tradition.

In keeping with the theme, I half-arsed my dinner tonight and ordered take-out from one of my fave little neighborhood Thai joints.  Certainly a delicious way to celebrate getting older and a fine excuse to open a half bottle, which I rarely do these days.  I don’t know why I don’t drink more half bottles.  To say nothing of how practical they are they’re also just kind of cute.  In fact, I’d like to suggest that we all drink more half bottles.  It shouldn’t be difficult seeing as how most notable wine lists have a half bottle section or allow you to BYO(h)B, and on the retail end, TWH has a plethora of fantastic half bottles from which to choose.  Now what was I saying…. Oh right, the goods.

Well, I ordered the spicy green curry with prawns, so I knew I’d need something delicate enough for seafood, round enough for curry, and something to fight the heat.  I also figured Ishould practice what Ipreach…. No brainer = Alsatian Riesling.  So, I picked up a half bottle of the 2006 Ehrhart Herrenweg Riesling.  Fun facts: The Ehrhart family’s winemaking history dates back to 1725 (how many half birthdays is that!?).  They committed themselves to organic farming two generations ago and the wines are currently all certified organic.  They also have a reputation for making outstanding wines that are at once elegant and age-worthy yet have incredibly refreshing minerality and fruit.  That pretty much sums up my opinion as well, but I will elaborate for all you faithful readers out there.

At first whiff, which came to me before I put the glass anywhere near my nose, the pear and green apple notes really stood out.  As I swirled and sat, the mineral components, honeysuckle, apricot, and other exotic fruits & floral notes started to jump out more.  On the palate, I was pleasantly surprised by how much lemon and minerality came through.  It still had a hint of residual sugar, but not as much as I expected.  Although, at 12.5% alcohol, I suppose that makes sense.  Still, the acidity and sugar were nicely balanced- not too sweet, not too racy.  It was also rich enough for the curry, but again, not too unctuous.  Not half bad!  In the end, the only thing that was not in any way a “half” was my belly.  That was quite full.

At some point before my half-birthday week is up, I’d like to hit Swan’s Oyster Depot or Hog Island Oyster Bar for oysters on the half shell because I’ve got a half bottle of 2007 Domaine des Buissonnes Sancerre I’d like to crack open.  That is, unless someone can suggest a better place for oysters in Half Moon Bay….

Emily Crichton

Wine Resolutions – 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010 11:45 AM

Hello and HAPPY NEW YEAR! Wine House newbie here. Normally, I am out pounding the pavement in hopes of getting our fine French and other imported wines into the cellars and onto the shelves of Bay area restaurants and retail establishments, but Pete and Anya were kind enough to give me some blog space. After all, ’tis the season to be sharing….

 

Speaking of which, ’tis also the season when those nagging little New Year’s resolutions start tugging at the sleeves of our conscience. Or, if you’re like me, you think of them randomly throughout the year, get distracted by something, and promptly forget them. Nevertheless, this is a time for anticipation of good things to come. Consequently, I have been thinking a lot about wine resolutions for 2010. That is to say, I’ve been thinking about wines we should all be resolving to consume more of throughout the next 12 months and beyond because, gosh dangit, they’re good…. If maybe a little underappreciated. Moreover, if there is any truth to the saying “you are what you drink” (that is the saying, right?), then these wines will surely make us all better people. Certainly these are only a sliver of the pie (mmm, pie) in terms of wines we should all drink more often, so if you have any wine resolutions, recommendations, and revelations, do tell! In the meantime, on with the blog…

The longer I am on this Earth, the greater my predilection for experiencing any moment in life with sparkling wine. Thus, it only seems logical that I begin my discussion with bubbles. Of course, we can talk about Champagne. Champagne is lovely. We all know this. It hardly needs repeating or endorsement. But what about the Cremants, Cavas, Proseccos, and non-Champagne Bruts of the world? If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ve probably noticed that we mention the Domaine D’Orfeuilles N/V Vouvray Brut a LOT. But have you tried it?!? I think Anya summed it up best when she said “it’s a sparkling wine that doesn’t make me wish I was drinking Champagne”… And in this economy, it’s nice to know there are affordable sparkling alternatives that don’t leave an after-taste of self-pity. While we’re on the subject, how have we all come to believe that sparkling wines, Champagne or otherwise, are solely for celebrations? My fellow winos, I beseech you, the next time you eat sushi (or eggs, or Doritos, or WHATEVER), try it with something sparkling. If it’s not Champagne, more power to you.
Next on the list, and maybe it’s the Alsatian in me (nod to Grandma), but I can’t help get excited about all the Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from the Noughties that are tucked away in the Alsace section of the store, just waiting to be paired with things like spicy Thai or Indian curry, chicken pot pie, crème brulée, cheese, vanilla cupcakes & leftover Christmas cookies (I can personally attest to the latter two pairings)…. And don’t even get me started on Thanksgiving dinner. Tending to be richer and rounder than their German counterparts while still maintaining a delightful minerality, beautiful stone fruit, and varying degrees of sweetness, Alsatian whites are where it’s at for winter food and festivities. Don’t believe me? I dare you to bring any one of the Domaine Ehrhart Rieslings or Gewurztraminers, such as the 2006 Domaine Ehrhart Gewurztraminer Herrenweg or the 2004 Domaine Ehrhart Riesling Schlossberg, along with spicy chicken wings and a boat load of Ranch dressing to your next Super Bowl party and see what happens. It might be the first time people pay more attention to the food than the game.

 

 

Moving on, and you will probably hear me say this many times over in the future, I am a huge fan of year round dry Rosé consumption.Anyone who claims Rosé is limited to the summertime is missing out on 3 WHOLE SEASONS of absolute bliss in a bottle. Pete likes to drink them while he cooks (“to fight off the heat”) but no doubt they’ll be just as satisfying with the finished product. That said, not all Rosé wines stand the test of time and so should be consumed within a year or two of bottling for best results. Moreover, no one represents Rosé better than les gens en France, so if you’re feeling rosy, you might want to check out the 08’s from the Costieres de Nimes, which range in style from bright candied fruit, like that from Domaine Gournier to a spicier, mineral driven rose like the Rosé de Fayel. By the way, these wines will also go exceedingly well with cupcakes and leftover Christmas cookies… Just in case you were wondering.

 

Last but not least, the Reds. So many favorites I don’t even know where to start, but I’ve found that a good place to end up is with a glass of Port in your hand. That’s right… I’m skipping the dry stuff and going right to the sweet spot (shocking, I know). Here’s the thing about Port, it’s NOT just for dessert and cheese pairings. Nor is it always red and sweet, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to that genre. That said, I’m not going to get into the different types of sweet red Port and their virtues or whether non-Portuguese fortified wines should even be called “Port”, lest I overextend my newfound writing privileges. However, I will say that Port is a fun category with which to experiment. True story: I once went to a wine dinner where they paired the NV Meyer Family Cellars Zinfandel Port, a blend of several vintages of old-vine Zinfandel that average eight years of age at release and made in a modified Solera method, with Pork and a reduction sauce made from the aforementioned beverage of choice and OMIGOSH it was heavenly. If the chicken wings and Alsatian wines didn’t convince you, go for a Ribs-n-Port combo. Not only will it be a hit with the friends, but it’ll last a while once open so you’ll have plenty of time to drink some while you’re getting warm and cozy by the fire with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. Of course, it probably goes without saying that Port will be a stellar accompaniment to all the cupcakes and cookies (the chocolate ones in particular) come next holiday season.

Well, enough blogging, time to get going on those resolutions…. Bon Santé and Enjoy! – Emily Crichton

December 2009 Dirty Dozen

Friday, December 11, 2009 5:55 PM

Deck the halls with bottles of wine, fa-la-la-la-la … – Wait! Stop singing: Just in time for the holidays, we present the December 2009 Dirty Dozen! 12 different bottles representing different regions and wine styles all packed into one box for an amazing low price. Okay, back to the singing!

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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

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2007 Pinot Grigio, Riff – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

We’ll start you off with a super value from Italia. Riff is German for reef and it pays homage to the ancient sea that existed where the vineyards now lie. Made by famous winemaker Alois Lageder, this is classy, crisp Italian Pinot Grigio.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Envy – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

One would never think that you could hear ‘from the outskirts of Calistoga’ and ‘super bargain’ in the same sentence, but there you go. There is a first for everything. Not your typical Sauv Blanc, the Envy offers up notes of tropical fruit, honeysuckle, and crisp green apple. Rich and creamy, this would be perfect with a Greek salad with lots of Feta.

2007 Pinot Gris, Balletto Vineyards – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Versatility is what this wine is all about. Round in the mouth, it has nuances of mangoes, apples, and cinnamon spice. Talk about super value, this is one that The Wine House staff has gone to after a hectic day. Perfect with that holiday bird.

2008 Rose de Fayel, Domaine des Cantarelles – $10.79, $8.63 reorder

Whether you’re pairing it with the Christmas ham or the fruitcake from Aunt Ida, Rose is one of the most versatile food wines on the planet … even during the cold months. This particular little gem is a blend of 65% whole-berry crushed Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah and 5% Grenache. Its delicious candied cherry/raspberry flavors, delightful minerality, and refreshing acidity are sure to score points with everyone (and every food) at the table.

2008 Gruner Veltliner Liter, Setzer – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

We just love these liter bottles of Gruner Veltliner from Austria. They would be a great value in 750ml format, but it seems Austrian winemakers have a generous side, and here they’re letting it show. Dry and subtle, this wine shows an herbal profile marked by its distinct peppery character. Great with lighter fare, we’re thinking swordfish with this one.

2008 Domaine de Pouy – $8.99, $7.19 reorder

One of our all-time favorite value white wines here at TWH boasts two rarely acknowledged yet extremely crowd-pleasing white varietals, Ugni Blanc and Colombard. The two are probably best known for their roles in the production of Cognac & Armagnac, but are also used to make simple wines with fresh floral character and tart citrus acidity. Winemaker Yves Grassa at Domaine de Pouy has had over 20 years of experience working with these varietals in the Cotes de Gascogne. For some reason the phrase “practice makes perfect” comes to mind.

2006 3 Cepas, Alberto Furque – $15.99, $12.79 reorder

The Uco Valley – They call it the sweet spot of Mendoza because of its very cool nights, very warm days, and nearly 300 days of sunshine each year which produces wines with outstanding ripe fruit flavors but also firm acidity & structure. The “3 cepas” which comprise this Dirty Dozen member are Malbec, Tempranillo, and Syrah … all vinified separately and aged in French and American oak. A big red wine that calls for a big juicy steak.

2007 Crimson, Steven Vincent – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Unbelievable how they do it, but the folks at Steven Vincent have crafted an inspired new world Syrah/Cabernet blend that is priced in a range where one doesn’t normally see wine of this quality. Deep dark purply fruit combines with spice, and that makes this one of the ones you want to pop with beef, lamb, duck, or pasta.

2006 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, Domaine des Amouriers – $12.99, $10.39 reorder

Essentially, what we have here is de-classified, young vine Vacqueyras for an amazing price. A great country wine, this hip little blend offers a medium bodied profile with just enough zip and tannin to fully engage your palate.

2005 GSM, Vignobles Boudinaud – $9.95 sale price, $9.46 reorder

Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre are harvested separately for optimal ripeness, fermented in steel tank for purity, and bottled unfiltered for flavor intensity. Yet another bang for your buck juice, this is a great Tuesday night pizza and pasta wine.

2007 Merlot, Domaine Saint Antoine – $10.99, $8.79 reorder

Don’t listen to Sideways … Merlot can be good. Really good. This VdP from Jean-Louis Emmanuel and his lovely wife Marlene is the perfect example, showing both fresh red and dark brambly fruit and just enough terroir to prove to you (and Hollywood) that it means business. Perfect with the trendy sliders at your company holiday party or with a pizza and a movie (preferably Merlot-friendly) on a cold night in.

2004 Cabernet/Syrah, Mas Carlot – $14.99, $11.99 reorder

How better to finish the DD than with a hearty Cab/Syrah? A mere whiff of this wine will transport you to the harvest … basketfulls of brambly berries. It has the signature southern France garrigue thrown in for good measure, and all in all, has wonderful structure to stand up to all you can pair it with. We suggest marinated flank steak.

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December 2009 Dirty Dozen – Mixed Case Sampler
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