Friday, January 5, 2018 5:54 PM
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 5:48 PM
Over the course of any given day here at TWH, we have conversations about a great many things. With two musicians on staff and our speakers tirelessly serenading us, music comes up a lot. But this is a wine shop, so conversations about food and wine are a daily occurrence. The other day, Chris and I were talking about Nouveau Beaujolais. He said that he's never tasted it. I told him that it is usually a light, simple, fruit driven wine. He went on to say that sometimes, the situation may call for simple, yet enjoyable. I get it, but from a value standpoint, it's overpriced. If you want to taste good value wines from Beaujolais, their top wines, the Cru Beaujolais are pretty darned good values; and they're pretty tasty too!
In brief, Beaujolais is a region that sits just south of Burgundy in central France. Its red wines are made from Gamay Noir. The wines tend to be light in body, with aromas of wild berries, flowers, herbs, forest floor, and mineral. Of course, vintages, producers, and terroir vary, so different wines will have different characteristics. The finest vineyards of the appellation are called Beaujolais' Growths, or Crus in French. There are 10 of these Crus, you can find them on the map above. Fleurie is often described as having the prettiest name, reflective of its wines' personality. I won't argue with that. I've written about Château de Raousset's Fleurie before. Now that the 2014 Fleurie "Grille-Midi" is here in stock, I'm writing again.
Comparing this Cru Beaujolais to Nouveau isn't fair. So I won't. The 2014 vintage was exceptional in the region. Some are saying that it is the best vintage in Beaujolais since 2005, and that's saying something, as they've had 5 great vintages since then. The wines are expressive in the fruit department and are brimming with aromatic complexity. They can be enjoyed now, though most will benefit from another 3-6 years of aging. When Jeanne-Marie de Champs was here last month, we tasted a lot of Burgundy. I did mention there were other wines. The 2014 Fleurie from Raousset was one of them. And it did not disappoint. The aromas are rich and striking. Layers of wild berry fruit. Spice. Forest floor and a little bit of earthy something. The palate - fresh and intensifying. It's all about the red berry fruit, with the forest floor spice, and lively acidity holding it all together. It's another winner from the producer who Jeanne-Marie always describes as "a great grower." I mean it's great just tasting it here in the tasting room, but I am imagining how good it would be with the right meal.
I took a little time out from my usual Friday routine last night and enjoyed a nice dinner with a longtime buddy of mine whom I haven't seen in well over a month! This particular pal of mine is one of my wine tasting friends, and it's always a pleasure to hear his descriptors when tasting. Any of my stories that have ever featured smoked or barbecued meat occurred at his house. Quite the handyman, he's in the process of renovating his kitchen ... as in tearing everything out, including the drywalls. So with nowhere to whip up any side dishes, we went out. We hit a quandary when it came time to choose the wine. He was going with red meat and I wanted chicken. We ended up settling for wines by the glass, which set off some negative comments about by the glass pricing in some restaurants. If only I had thought to bring a bottle of 2014 Fleurie from Château de Raousset, then we both would have been happy! - Peter Zavialoff
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 1:37 AM
All of us here at TWH were shocked to see and read the news of the tragic events that occurred in Paris on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the French populace.
Not such a pleasant way to commence this week’s Sunday email. Somehow, the topic I’ve had in mind to write about is applicable. Seeing that this is my last Sunday email before Thanksgiving, I will continue the tradition of giving thanks. A good friend of mine summed his feelings up pretty well on his Facebook feed last night. “Very sad day indeed. Could have happened anywhere. Give your loved ones a hug and be grateful for what you have.” A sentiment that I share with many is that giving thanks is an every day activity, not something to be saved exclusively for the fourth Thursday of November.
Friday, November 21, 2014 2:13 AM
It’s here! It’s the third Thursday of November.Thanksgiving is ONE week away and today, at bistros and brasseries worldwide, the northern hemisphere’s very first wine from 2014 is being served. No matter where you stand on the issue of Nouveau Beaujolais, the undeniable fact of the matter is that it has become a tradition andsomething to celebrate, for the sake of celebration itself. It gives one the excuse to check into their local Franco-centric establishment and partake in festivity. The wines are light, fruity, and easy to drink. The advertisingfor the unveiling of these wines is plentiful, and even if you’ve never been to France, it’s difficult to not be taken in by the hype. So, if one is open to the simplicity of Nouveau, why not dig a bit deeper and have a look into the finest wines from this region: Cru Beaujolais!
Monday, November 4, 2013 7:58 PM
And POW! Just like a splash of cold water in the face, autumn is upon us. It started last Monday, Anya came in with sad news from the Sunday Farmers’ Market, no more tomatoes. The colder nights have taken their toll on the treehouse and the car: out came the dehumidifier in the former, and on with the defrost in the latter. Then baseball season came to an end. Then I watched an NBA game. Then I saw a bunch of people, big and small, parading around in costume. And now we’re turning back the clocks? What can I say? I do realize that we are fortunate here in the SF Bay Area as summer doesn’t end until November. But now it’s November, and when I take my sunglasses off this evening after driving home, I will realize that this was their final appearance for the after work ride home until late March! I was hanging out with a buddy last weekend, and he asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving dinner … apparently, he wants to host a gathering made up of mostly musical types, to feast, revel, and jam. It looks like my calendar’s free, and if I’m invited to such a fête, I’ve got the wine all figured out. Howzabout a magnum of delicious Cru Beaujolais? Yes, the 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”.
Every year right around now I am frequently asked for advice on what wines to serve at Thanksgiving. It all depends on what’s being served and who’s coming and how many and … yeah. First thing’s first, don’t overthink it. If you want to open something fancy, by all means, please do so. It IS Thanksgiving after all. I used to open fancy full-bodied red wines with my family back in my rambunctious youth, and as inappropriate as they were from a pairing perspective, I was happy to share such nice wine with my loved ones. If you want to dial in pairing perfection, there are several avenues to take, and it all depends on what exactly is being served. When I think of the traditional Thanksgiving table I must say that, first of all, it’s tricky. Second of all, it’s pretty much all about white wine. I know, I know. Many of you want to drink red wine, and that’s perfectly fine. If you’re going to go the red route, it’s fun to tone it down a bit. That’s where Cru Beaujolais gets you. So when I first saw the magnums of 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”, I thought, “Thanksgiving Party.”
2011 represents the third vintage of wines that we’ve imported from Château de Raousset. Are we ever glad to have them in TWH family!!! Whenever we taste the Raousset wines with our Burgundy negociante Jeanne-Marie de Champs, she never fails to say, “A great grower.” Raousset is a property that dates back to the 18th century with the current structure dating back to 1850. They make 3 different Cru bottlings. A Chiroubles, Morgon, and this here Fleurie. According to their website, the Chiroubles and Morgon won silver medals at the annual Paris tasting in 2012, but the Fleurie “Grille-Midi” took the gold! I guess their judges were wowed by the same factors as our staff: Bright wild cherry, forest floor, moist clay, ripe olives, a hint of tar and allspice. That’s a lot of aromatic complexity. The palate, like most Gamay Noir, is light bodied, which allows all of that complexity to ping off your olfactory sensors. It’s balanced by bright acidity which keeps it interesting throughout its finish. It kind of reminds me a little of the 2011 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet that came and went two weeks’ time! It smells like red wine, yet is light in body, with a fruity middle, and a crisp finish. Only the Fleurie has so much more interesting complexity.
I don’t mean to scare anybody; Thanksgiving is still a long ways away, but it will sneak up on you if you’re not looking. I’m guessing these magnums of Fleurie won’t still be in-stock come November 27, but never fear, we still have 750’s of it as well. It’s just that nothing says “festivity” better than large format wine bottles. And for Thanksgiving wines that smell like autumn, are light in body, and reasonable in price? It’s all about the 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving wines, large format bottlings, Cru Beaujolais, or today’s no-show on Tyneside: peter.winehouse@