Celebrate November 20 With CRU Beaujolais

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!

oldbeaujsign

In the French wine world, “Cru” means “Growth.” You won’t see the fancy (and often expensive) names “Grand Cru” or “Premier Cru” in Beaujolais. There is a lot of wine that comes from Beaujolais, including Nouveau, butthe BEST of these wines come from Beaujolais’ 10 Crus. Killing two birds with one stone here, the names of the 10 Crus were humorously listed today on Twitter, as “List of ten wines that go with turkey.” In no particular order:
 
Saint Amour
Juliénas
Régnié
Moulin à Vent
Fleurie
Morgon
Chiroubles
Chénas
Brouilly
Cote de Brouilly
 
 
 
 beaujmap2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It is humorous for us wine industry folks, as we have been known to recommend Beaujolais tirelessly to customers seeking Turkey Day red wines.Thanksgiving is a special occasion, so if you’re looking to open something fancier, by all means do so! But taking the traditional T-Day spread into consideration, if you’re going the red route, something light on its feet, spicy, and fruit-driven is the way to go. Knee-jerk reaction? Bam!Beaujolais. Cru Beaujolais, that is.
 

 

It being November and all, we’ve received several inquiries about a sale that usually occurs around this time. Stay tuned, as we will unveil the Anniversary Salewith a bit of fanfare in the coming days. (Though some of you may want to surf around our website. You never know what you might find.) What if one of the wines on sale were a Cru Beaujolais? Read on.
 
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The 2011 Château de Raousset Chiroubles is the lightest of the bunch, with dazzling aromas of bright cherries, forest floor, and baking spices. It’s a great intro to the world of the Cru. Raousset’s Fleurie Grille-Midi is at its peak right now showing off the complexity, balance, and weight that earned that Médaille d’Or on the bottle.The Morgon Douby is the most structured of the trio; it’s got a dark middle and earthy mineral qualities to it. It’s still Gamay Noir, so it’s elegant and not at all tannic – best part is that it’s on sale! Our other Morgon is from Domaine Pierre Savoye. It hails from Morgon’s Côte du Py, the prime terroir of this famous Cru. Savoye’s version isbrighter and fruitier, call it a little more slurpable.
 

 

Yes, today is the day that 2014 Nouveau Beaujolais hits the shops, brasseries, and tables across the globe. For the other 364 days of the year, if you’re talking about Beaujolais, head on over to the Cru section. For as simple and light-hearted as Nouveau is, Beaujolais’ Crus have so much complexity and elegance to offer. It’s as ifNouveau Beaujolais is made to drink while standing, while the Cru Beaujolais is something you may want to sip and discuss while sitting. Hey, a reason to celebrate is a reason to celebrate. Bon fête!

2014 Bastille Day Weekend Sale

Saturday, July 12, 2014 12:29 AM

Happy Friday!!! Being importers of French wines, it’s a pretty big Friday around here. For Monday is la fête nationale, the day we call, Bastille Day! Always a day for revelry and celebration, there’s no right or wrong way to participate in the festivities. Just get your French on!There are many ways to do this. You can hit up your local brasserie, or watch your favorite French film. Spin some Edith Piaf … or any French music for that matter. Anything from Charles Trenet to Ben l’onlce Soul. Better yet, cook up your own French dinner with music playing in the background. Ah, but what better way to be festive than to celebrate la fête with French wine!

 

We thought we’d make that part easy on you. For the occasion, we’re knocking the prices down on several of fête-worthy wines from all over France! The sale goes on through Monday. Bon weekend et bon fête nationale!

Alsace

NV Domaine Ehrhart Cremant d’Alsace

Sparkling; White Blend; Alsace;
SALE $12.95

 

Reg. $17.98

  Add to Cart
Perfect for celebrations!
2011 Domaine Ehrhart Gewurztraminer Herrenweg

White Wine; Gewurztraminer; Alsace;
SALE $12.95

 

Reg. $20.99

  Add to Cart
For spicy food lovers.
2010 Domaine Ehrhart Riesling Hengst

White Wine; Riesling; Alsace;
SALE $23.95

 

Reg. $31.49

  Add to Cart
Fancy an Alsatian twist to your Bastille Day festivities? This Grand Cru will be sublime with choucroute.
White Burgundy
2012 Sebastien Dampt Terroir De Milly Petit Chablis

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
SALE $11.95

 

Reg. $15.99

  Add to Cart
From David’s latest Chablis discovery, the wines from Sébastien Dampt represent incredible value. His Petit Chablis ALREADY tips the quality/price scale at its retail price. Guess what? The 2013 is now here, so let’s say bye-bye to the 2012. You’re not going to want to miss this.
2010 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
SALE $39.95

 

Reg. $55.99

  Add to Cart
Okay, enter the world of fancier white Burgundy …
2011 Domaine Pernot Belicard Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
SALE $54.95

 

Reg. $84.99

  Add to Cart
Made by Philippe Pernot, the grandson of the legendary Paul. It’s Puligny. It’s made by a Pernot. It’s on sale!
2006 Domaine Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Garenne

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
SALE $59.95

 

Reg. $84.99

  Add to Cart
No introduction needed.
2006 Chateau de la Maltroye Batard-Montrachet

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
SALE $119.95

 

Reg. $278.99

  Add to Cart
Just in case you want to get extra fancy.
Red Burgundy
2009 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Clos du Chateau Rouge (half bottle)

Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
SALE $26.95

 

Reg. $34.99

  Add to Cart
2009 Red Burgundy in half bottle on sale?
2008 Chateau de la Maltroye Santenay Rouge 1er La Comme

Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
SALE $27.95

 

Reg. $38.99

  Add to Cart
The under-the-radar village of Santennay has been garnering some attention lately. It’s boasts 11 Premier Cru vineyards! Here’s the Premier Cru La Comme.
2009 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St. Jean Rouge

Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
SALE $47.95

 

Reg. $64.99

  Add to Cart
Again, 2009? Maltroye’s Premier Cru Clos St. Jean vineyard is known for its clay soils which allows the fruit to express itself without a long slumber. Coupled with the fact that this is from 2009, you can drink it this weekend or on Bastille Day 2022!
2011 Stephane Magnien Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers

Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
SALE $59.95

 

Reg. $92.99

  Add to Cart
Another recent addition to our direct-import Burgundy stable, young Stéphane Magnien has some incredible holdings and lets his terroir do the talking. This Premier Cru Chambolle is special stuff, indeed.
2006 Domaine Bertrand Ambroise Corton Le Rognet

Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
SALE $79.95

 

Reg. $132.79

  Add to Cart
For those that wish to go Grand Cru. Makes for a great gift also.
Rhone Valley
2011 Tour de l’Isle Cotes du Rhone Blanc

White Wine; other white varietal; Rhone;
SALE $9.95

 

Reg. $14.59

  Add to Cart
Côtes du Rhône blanc made from equal parts Marsanne, Rousanne, Clairette, and Grenache Blanc. Great balance and complexity.
2009 Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee Nadal

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
SALE $17.95

 

Reg. $25.99

  Add to Cart
“The outrageously delicious 2009 Cotes du Ventoux Nadal (50% tank-aged Grenache from 70-year-old vines, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, both aged in barrel) boasts a dense purple color along with sweet, ripe aromas of black currants, black cherries, licorice and camphor. This opaque purple-colored, dense, opulent, medium to full-bodied, stunning wine sells at an incredibly fair price. 92 points” – Robert Parker
2010 Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux Rouge Cuvee Persia

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
SALE $19.95

 

Reg. $31.99

  Add to Cart
“The 2010 Cotes du Ventoux Persia, a blend of 90% Syrah (from 50-year-old vines) and 10% Mourvedre from the estate’s finest terroir, is aged in small barrels and 600-liter demi-muids, with at least one year of aging on its lees. Abundant notes of blackberries and cassis interwoven with hints of espresso roast, white chocolate and acacia flowers are found in this tightly knit, full-bodied, impressive 2010. Tasting like a top-flight northern Rhone Hermitage rather than a wine from the Cotes du Ventoux, it will benefit from 2-3 years of cellaring and should keep for 15 years thereafter. 93 points.” – Robert Parker
2010 Domaine Belle Hermitage Blanc

White Wine; other white varietal; Rhone;
SALE $45.95

 

Reg. $61.99

  Add to Cart
More fancy stuff. About as fancy as Marsanne/Roussanne can get, actually.
2004 Albert Belle Hermitage

Red Wine; Syrah/Shiraz; Rhone;
SALE $69.95

 

Reg. $99.99

  Add to Cart
Et voila, 10 year old Hermitage. Already cellared for you and ready to drink.
Loire Valley Chenin Blanc
2011 Hauts des Sanziers Saumur Blanc

White Wine; Chenin Blanc; Loire;
SALE $10.95

 

Reg. $14.49

  Add to Cart
Quality Chenin for a great price.
2011 Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Les Coudraies

White Wine; Chenin Blanc; Loire;
SALE $13.95

 

Reg. $20.79

  Add to Cart
Demi-sec Chenin Blanc from TWH’s Vouvray producer. Great for spicy dishes and cheeses. Believe it or not, this can age much longer than you think!
Sauternes
2005 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes (half bottle)

Sweet Wine; other white varietal; Bordeaux;
SALE $32.95

 

Reg. $42.98

  Add to Cart
2005 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes

Sweet Wine; other white varietal; Bordeaux;
SALE $59.95

 

Reg. $79.98

  Add to Cart
In such a profound botrytis vintage such as 2005, the Suduiraut continues to turn heads with its delicacy and elegance. What an experience!
2007 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes (half bottle)

Sweet Wine; other white varietal; Bordeaux;
SALE $38.95

 

Reg. $48.98

  Add to Cart
2007 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes

Sweet Wine; other white varietal; Bordeaux;
SALE $69.95

 

Reg. $85.98

  Add to Cart
“The nose takes time to coalesce in the glass, very pure with honey, white peach, Turkish Delight honeysuckle, and beeswax. The palate is beautifully balanced, still with some oak to be subsumed, but has great depth and precision. This is a confident, almost ambitious Suduiraut with great power and intensity towards the botrytis-rich, viscous finish that is endowed with great persistency. Lovely. Drink now-2030. 93 points” – Neal Martin
2005 Chateau Climens Barsac (half bottle)

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
SALE $49.95

 

Reg. $65.98

  Add to Cart
2005 Chateau Climens Barsac

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
SALE $99.95

 

Reg. $119.98

  Add to Cart
“97 points” – Robert Parker. No tasting note given.
2006 Chateau Climens Barsac (half bottle)

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
SALE $47.95

 

Reg. $57.98

  Add to Cart
2006 Chateau Climens Barsac

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
SALE $89.95

 

Reg. $109.98

  Add to Cart
“one of the top wines of 2006. Medium gold, with a slightly more advanced color than I am used to seeing in a young Climens, the wine displays waxy honeyed pineapple and delicate marmalade and citrus notes with a restrained use of new oak. The wine cuts a full-bodied swath across the palate with terrific acidity, freshness, and moderate sweetness. This is a beauty, but perhaps on a much faster evolutionary track than some of their greatest vintages. 94 points” – Robert ParkerReady to drink now.
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2011 Macon Villages From Domaine Mathias

Thursday, July 11, 2013 6:52 PM

The 2011 Macon Villages from Domaine Mathias is my newest, favorite Friday Night Fish Fry wine. It has lemon blossom aromatics, crunchy, tart apple flavors and the 12.5% alcohol level assures a refreshing, thirst-quenching, body-cooling quality.  Case in point, last Friday temperatures soared in Northern California. I had rearranged my work schedule here at TWH to be off that day so that I could help my husband with his summer sports’ camp for ages K-8. There were close to sixty kids in 100 plus weather; you can imagine the challenges. Fortunately we had an air-conditioned room that we could use to cool down in between games and finished the day with an epic water fight and popsicles – now that’s summer fun! We came home tired and sweaty only to discover that our kitchen faucet had a leak and water was pooling on our brand new hardwood floors. After addressing the crisis, I was famished and very, very, very thirsty for something bright and crisp, but also something that would work as an aperitif and then carry over to dinner. As luck would have it, a bottle of Domaine Mathias’ 2011 Macon Villages was chilling in the fridge, so I poured a frosty glass for myself. Ahhhh… as my stress dissipated the flavors of the wine became more and more vivid and precise. Steely, but with enough citrus and snappy apple to make it charming and easy. The experience was delicious and restorative. 

 

Domaine Mathias can trace their beginnings to 1894. Today it is the husband and wife team of Beatrice and Gilles Mathias who run the winery. Parents to four children, they are hopeful one of them will one day take over the family business. The Mathias’ 2011 Macon Villages is a classic example from this appellation. Grown on clay over limestone, the vines are on average 25 years old. All stainless steel tank fermented, most of the work for this wine happens in the vineyard where they are transitioning to organic farming. Chardonnay gets most of its attention at the high end of the spectrum in general and deservedly so as sub-$20 Chardonnay is often bolstered and primped to be more than it should be. The market is flooded with oak-chipped, inexpensive Chardonnays with trace amounts of residual sugar. These wines are clearly popular, but I think many wine drinkers who enjoy, dare I say love, Chardonnay are looking for an alternative. Here it is. Clean, precise and authentic, the Mathias’ Macon Villages can go from pre-dinner to main course with little trouble. After my first glass last Friday, grilled bacon-wrapped scallops, prawns and whole-stuffed calamari accompanied the second one. In that blistering heat, a more intense, barrel-fermented Chardonnay would have been too much of a good thing whereas this simple, correct Macon Villages by Domaine Mathias was the perfect choice.

 

 



Driving in to work today, I felt my first bit of cool air having spent the last few days in sweltering Sonoma County. Lazy days on the beach and raucous family dinners in the evenings were a much-needed respite. I’m counting the days until our next trip back up which will include bottles of Mathias’ Macon Villages to go along with the fried calamari we promised to make for my Paps. Can’t wait! —Anya Balistreri

Pernot Belicard: 2010 Meursault

Monday, January 7, 2013 8:41 PM



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m-m-m-Meursault!!!


The 2010 Meursault from Pernot Belicard is textbook Meursault, in my opinion. It has ripe peach fruit, a lemon citrus kick and a note of hazelnut on the finish that parlays into a super long honey aftertaste. Village-level Meursault is often faulted for being fat and anonymous, this Meursault from Pernot Belicard is quite the contrary. It has acidity and brightness tangled in with the fruit and it is big on personality. In our effort to scout out a broader selection of affordable quality Burgundy, Pernot Belicard became an obvious choice for TWH to import – which happened in short order soon after David visited them in the early part of 2012. The wines come with impeccable pedigree; winemaker Philippe Pernot is the grandson of our beloved Paul Pernot of Puligny Montrachet.

 

Philippe has worked for his grandfather for several harvests, but has now branched out on his own having the further good fortune of marrying into the Belicard family, a family of wine growers. Philippe has 5 hectares of vines in 9 different climats. The grapes for his village Meursault come from a single parcel of 65-70 year old vines in the lieu dit, or named vineyard, of Les Pelles Dessus. In the cellar, Philippe likes to use 4 different barrel coopers, finding favor in the variety of flavors that they bring to his wines. His barrels are all low toast. I point this out, well, because David had written this down in his tasting notes and it explains the light touch of oak present in his wines, especially the 2010 Meursault.



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Much has been mentioned of my declaration that if I could, I would drink white Burgundy everyday. I am not distancing myself from that statement but let’s face it, I’m not in a position (yet) to afford it.The idea of white Burgundy evokes a luxuriousness for me that equates with fine dining in elegant surroundings. At $49.99 per bottle ($42.49 by the case) – with the 2010 Meursault from Pernot Belicard, affordable luxury can be attainable. The other night, my Italian-American mother-in-law reminisced about the Feast of the Seven Fishes in her youth. Most of her relatives were fisherman and at Christmas Eve the table was laden with crab, prawns, calamari, etc. Growing up in my Russian-American household, Christmas Eve dinner was also meatless, but the entrée was fish kotleti, aka fishburgers, with a mushroom sauce. What I wouldn’t do for a glass of nutty golden-hued Meursault to wash down those kotleti!



The other day I asked my daughter if she considered her behavior in general as Naughty or Nice, and whether she thought Santa Claus would be bringing her presents this year. Without hesitation she told me that she was fairly certain she had been better behaved this year than last and since Santa Claus did come last year, she’s pretty sure he’ll show up this year too. Now how can you argue with logic like that?!! To all of you, my sincerest wishes for a peaceful, laughter-filled and joyous Holiday Season, preferably all served up with a tasty glass of wine!Anya Balistreri

A TASTE OF BURGUNDY MAY/JUNE 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012 4:59 PM



A great way to learn about Burgundy and its wines, and (even better) the perfect way to get a discount on two high quality bottles. Sign up now!
 

 

Click here to receive the Taste of Burgundy Sampler automatically every other month.

Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please specify “store pickup” or “ship it” in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

2010 Sylvain Langoureau Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “Le Champlot”

The 2010 vintage in Burgundy saw production reduced by some 30-50% compared to 2009; so when Sylvain Langoureau’s 1er Cru landed, we knew we had to act fast to get it into your hands before it all sold. To remind you, Saint-Aubin is a village just west of the several vineyards that all have “Montrachet” in their names, including the Grands Crus themselves. The Premier Cru Le Champlot vineyard sits on a hillside facing southwest just above the village of Gamay. If one were to walk along the same hillside to the east, they would eventually find themselves in Puligny-Montrachet. Langoureau’s 2010 Le Champlot very much resembles his 2008, a benchmark vintage for White Burgundy. The seductive aromas are of blossom, mineral, and spicy pears. On the palate, the wine truly shines with great weight and a full body sensation balanced by dazzling acidity. Drink now through 2020.

2005 Domaine Richard Manière Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Damodes”

Once upon a time, we imported the Burgundies from Manière-Noirot from Vosne-Romanée. That was back in the late 1980’s, when Richard Manière’s parents ran the Domaine. Richard has had full control of the property for several vintages now. And what do we have here? None other than a 2005 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Damodes! The Les Damodes vineyard sits on the border of Vosne-Romanée, very near the superstar La Tache vineyard. The 2005 vintage for Red Burgundy is, and will be a highly celebrated vintage for years and years to come. The wines have depth and strength, yet reveal concentrated fruit which will greatly reward a minimum of 10 years of cellaring. Guess what? We’ve taken care of the first 7 of those 10 years for you, so the task is easier. Manière’s style is to let the terroir speak through the fruit. He got good color and flavor from his fruit, no need to over-extract, especially in a vintage like this. Expressive and structured, this wine will be at its peak from 2015 through 2025. – Peter Zavialoff

When my sister gave birth to her third child, a third son, my mother proudly criticized her for having no imagination. This must be a family trait as I’m once again spending a Saturday afternoon in March writing about a Domaine Belle wine. In my defense, why would I look past a wine just because I wrote about another wine from the same producer two weeks before? Seems silly to avoid a wine like that especially one I find as delicious as the 2010 Crozes-Hermitage Les Terres Blanches from Domaine Belle. It has aromas of white blossoms, apricots and juicy mandarins that carry over on to the palate. It’s got a fresh, zesty mouthfeel dominated by ripe citrus flavors and then stays interesting through to the finish with its perky minerality. In my opinion, there is a lot to love about Rhone whites though they are unjustly overlooked by the more popular Rhone reds.

The 2010 Les Terres Blanches is a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne and sees a third low-toast new barrel, a third 1-year old barrel and the rest is in stainless steel. The barrel regiment is quite deft and is used for texture. I was quite surprised to learn that there was new barrel since I detected no overt oaky flavors or notes. The grapes for Les Terres Blanches are grown on a special white clay soil called Kaolin which is quite rare in Crozes-Hermitage and is likely only found around the town of Larnage where Domaine Belle is located. Marsanne is known for displaying the mineral flavors of the soil in which it is grown and as such, this rare Kaolin soil helps to explain the depth of flavor and, as I wrote above, the perky minerality Belle’s Les Terres Blanches shows in abundance. 
Last Sunday, TWH staff celebrated the last days of winter by throwing a Post-Post Holiday Party at Garçon. It was well worth the wait…as you can imagine the wines selected were dazzling and they showed beautifully. Definitely one of the great perks of working at TWH are times like this drinking great wines with my comrades. It makes putting up with frost bitten toes well worth it. I won’t bore you with the list of wines we drank but if you are curious you can check them out here.

Our Bordeaux Scout, Pete Z., is heading off to Bordeaux this week and will be reporting back on the 2011 vintage.Inside our warehouse we are busy making space for back-to-back containers. New stuff is on the way! Yippee! Domestically speaking we’ve got some stellar Pinots from the Anderson Valley from Knez and Drew Family and a new vintage from Arbe Garbe…but more on that later. —Anya Balistreri


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As I sit contemplating the virtues of Domaine Belle’s 2009 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles the soundtrack in my head keeps playing “Reunited…and it tastes soooo good”! Corny, without question, but then I didn’t get the nickname Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah just by chance.Domaine Belle has been a favorite Northern Rhone producer here at The Wine House for 20 years but it has been only recently that we’ve had the opportunity to import the wines directly. This development has allowed us to offer Belle’s wines, which have historically been consideredone of the Rhone’s great wine values, at even more attractive pricing. The staff sampled the 2009 Les Pierrelles last year and the conversation wasn’t whether we should import the wine or not, that was a given, the concern was how much could we get! What’s not to love? Inky, deep purple Syrah exhibiting blueberry and black cherry fruit, pepper spice, and a plush juicy texture that sits pretty on the palate. I am amazed at how approachable and drinkable it is at this stage. I wouldn’t think twice consuming this now and over the next couple years. This is Syrah to drink tonight!



I was able to visit Domaine Belle a few years back. Up until 1987 the Belle’s sold their grapes to the local co-op as many growers in the area do each year. It is a working farm known for growing apricots as well as wine grapes. I wouldn’t say the estate lacks charm, but it is bare bones in the sense that the winery is nothing but tanks and barrels. Clearly they’ve allocated their resources towards production and not ambiance. The estate is located near the town of Larnage about 2 miles north of the 300-acre vineyard of Hermitage. The Les Pierrelles vineyards sit just below Hermitage and are covered with small calcareous/limestone granite pebbles with an average vine age of 25 years.

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For those of you who already know you love Syrah from Northern Rhone:

The 2009 Les Pierrelles offers rich fruit, spiciness both in the aromatics and on the palate, at a price that makes drinking Northern Rhone less of a special occasion drink.

For those of you who know little or nothing about Northern Rhone Syrah: The 2009 Les Pierrelles is a great place to start your vinous journey into the pleasures of Northern Rhone Syrah. There is an intrinsic approachability to this wine that whether you drink Old- or New-World wines, you’ll get this one immediately. Tasty juice is just that, delicious.

Yellow daffodils are coloring the freeway medians of Northern California, a sign that spring is entering its stride. Last night’s glass of 2009 Les Pierrelles had me salivating for some spring lamb and tender greens, but that itch will need to wait to be scratched as I’m doing my best to go meatless for the next 6 weeks. But then again the ’09 Les Pierrellesisn’t so big and burly it needs animal protein. Not at all. Tonight I’ll finish the rest of the bottle with a pizza topped with carmelized onions and goat cheese. Add to that a salad of bitter greens on the side and I’m set. —Anya Balistreri

A TASTE OF BURGUNDY MARCH/APRIL 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012 9:11 PM


A great way to learn about Burgundy and its wines, and (even better) the perfect way to get a discount on two high quality bottles. Sign up now!
 

 

Click here to receive the Taste of Burgundy Sampler automatically every other month.

Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please specify “store pickup” or “ship it” in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.
2006 Puligny-Montrachet Domaine Xavier Monnot
Xavier Monnot is a relatively young man, but he is a vigneron with an old soul. His work in his vineyards, his choice of clones, his pruning techniques, de-budding, how he chooses to re-plant, and the very limited influence of new oak on his wines, all are examples of his commitment to the land and to the sincerityof his wines. Xavier likes to call it “the message of terroir”, as he is a firm believer in letting the vineyard do the talking. For his 2006 Puligny-Montrachet, Monnot sourced his fruit from 60 year old vines grown in the vicinity of the Premier CruRefertsvineyard. 2006 was a ripe vintage, and this wine shows opulent fruit aromas; yet on the palate it has a medium body with stony fruit buoyed by fresh acidity and a mineral verve. The finish is persistent, marked with depth and complexity. It is definitely a wine with fine pedigree that is ready to drink now or can be cellared another 4-8 years.
2009 Volnay “Carelle sous la Chapelle” Paul Pernot
Veteran Taste of Burgundy subscribers are beyond acquainted with Paul Pernot and his dazzling array of White Burgundies. We have received a multitude of requests for more of Pernot’s wines to be included in the sampler, but rules are rules. Well, here’s a tidbit of information you might like to hear: Mr. Pernot has some Pinot Noir holdings as well. If that’s not enough, we got our hands on some of Pernot’s single vineyard Volnay from the much lauded 2009 vintage! TheCarelle sous la Chapelle vineyard is Premier Cru, though a few rows of Pernot’s vines lie just outside the border. We reiterate that 2009 was an outstanding vintage for Red Burgundy. The wines are precociously expressive, have great weight, and, according to Pernot, “will age better than people presently think.” This Volnay is a perfect example of aromatic elegance. According to Burghound’s Allen Meadows: “pretty red berry fruit and mineral notes leading to supple, lacy and admirably pure light to medium weight flavors … picture perfect Volnay in character.” – Peter Zavialoff

2009 Château de la Maltroye Santenay 1er Cru La Comme

Monday, February 20, 2012 4:50 PM

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Blur, noun.
According to M-W.com, definition #2 for this word is: “something moving or occurring too quickly to be clearly seen”. So far it describes my life in 2012perfectly. Holiday celebrations,wine tastings, family celebrations, a whole lot of live music, and professional obligations have held me in a vortex since the crystal ball dropped upon Times Square.One of those professional obligations happened to be joining The Thursday Tasting Group at their recent blind tasting of 2009 Red Burgundies. I know, I know, but somebody’s got to do it.

What is The Thursday Tasting Group? To the best of my knowledge, the TTG was formed in Berkeley sometime in the mid to late 1960s by a group of wine loving Bay Area folks who wanted to share tasting experiences and learn more about fermented grape juice. They meet once per month (in the early days, it was twice), usually on the 2nd Thursday at the home of one of the members. Though no charter members remain in the group, they have carried on all these years and their list of alumni reads like a who’s who of wine authority. Though I am not a member (John and Anya were at one time, David is still), I know many of them, and they are kind enough to invite me to their tastings. When your life is a blur, attending these tastings can be difficult, but when they taste Bordeaux and Burgundy I seem to have the time. Hmmm. Somewhere in the middle of my recent onslaught of live music, the stars aligned and I had a free night, coincidentally the same night as the TTG’s glimpse of 2009 Red Burgundy. 

9 wines were to be tasted that night, our host decanted the wines over an hour prior to the tasting, and poured them back in their respective bottles. Wrapped up in brown paper bags, they were presented to a full house of 12 tasters. We were each given 2 sheets of paper: the first was a list of what wines were being poured (this would be known as a single blind tasting – in a double blind tasting, none of the wines are known). The second sheet was for taking notes, guessing the wines, and for personal ranking. After the wines are poured,no one speaks, everyone makes their own observations, and come to their own conclusions. Once everyone has finished, the discussion begins. The group goes over each wine, one by one, talking about them in detail. Once they’ve all been covered, each wine is ranked by the group. Tasters are asked to rank the wines, 1st to 9th (in this case), and the scores are tallied up. Once the wines have been discussed and ranked, the bags come off and we discover how our guesswork fared. This is usually a very humbling experience, but somehow, I was able to identify 5 of the 9 wines correctly. The consensus winner? The 2009 Santenay Premier Cru La Comme from Château Maltroye.

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We’ve been importing Jean-Pierre Cornut’s wines from Château de la Maltroye for well over decade, andour relationship is rock solid for a reason – quality. Cornut, a former aeronautical engineer, makes some of the finest red and white wines from the southern end of the Côtes de Beaune. Why? Perhaps his past career has left him its inherent meticulousness as Jean-Pierre runs a tight ship both in the vineyard and in the cellar.Combine that with a great vintage like 2009, and you’ve got a home run. Or, in this case, the wine of the night, chosen by The Thursday Tasting Group.

Blur; according to Wikipedia, are an English alternative rock band. Or at least they were in the 1990s. I kind of like their sound, but I’m off the subject, sorry. My personal blur of 2012 will continue this evening as I will be dining early with some good friends. After that, I’m meeting another friend for dinner before we hit The Fillmore for tonight’s Gomez show. Good thing I don’t know about any Saturday Tasting Groups out there that might be having a 2009 Red Burgundy tasting tonight. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the 2009 Santenay Premier Cru La Comme from Château de la Maltroye! –Peter Zavialoff 

Tasting Notes: Bright color, electric dark magenta; candied berries, herbs, hint of tobacco leaf; has substance and structure – minerals, fresh lively acidity, expressive fruit, silky tannins; finishes fresh and alive, fruit and mineral on a slow fade, very nice! – PZ

PS, I forgot to mention that there was an Echezeaux in this tasting!

2009 Bordeaux Back In Stock: Chateau Couronneau

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:09 PM



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Whew!What a day yesterday was.I got up at 5:30 AM in order to prepare for a drive to the airport and a flight down to Los Angeles in order to participate in the Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting of the newly bottled 2009 vintage.I’m sure I wasn’t alone holding high expectations for the wines from a vintage that was overwhelmingly impressive when I tasted them out of barrel two years ago. In a word, the wines shined. Shined. Like Soul Shine. Better than sunshine. Better than moonshine. Way better than rain (more on that later). The energy that filled the large room at theFairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica was electric. Some of my overhears: “Classic Margaux. Note the subtlety, yet the expression.” “Psst. The wines aren’t normally this good so young, are they?” “I’m not wasting this glass.” I could go on and on, but the collective euphoria I experienced just means to me that the vintage will be a popular one for all of us who love wine, especially those of us who love Bordeaux. We will be getting our Cru Classé 2009 Bordeaux in different shipments throughout the calendar year, look out for emails alerting you to the in-stock availability as they come in. Some of the more well known names will begin to arrive in late March. In the meantime, we just reloaded on a 2009 Red Bordeaux that has shown so well that it sold out quicker than you can say2009 Château Couronneau!

 It is always with great pleasure when I visit Christophe and Bénédicte Piat in Ligueux around the time of the En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux each spring. They have a lovely Château and a lovely family, but that just makes sense as they are truly wonderful people. Proudly displaying the banner sporting the “Agricole Biologique” logo in front of their property, they believe in the methodology andthe proof’s in the juice. My visit this past April was met with outstanding weather, and we decided to eat our dinner al fresco. Seeing that I had a long drive back to Bordeaux after dinner, I had to spit all of the wine that was served (so professional), assuring a clear head for the return leg. The toughest wine to spit? The 2009 Château Couronneau Rouge, of course. All of that 2009 goodness, the wine showed expressive dark red fruit, herbs, and earthy mineral.The tannins were smooth allowing for a sensational finish of high toned fruit, hints of autumn leaves, and a just-used shovel. This is not the first time I’ve written about this wine, but seeing that it sold out so quickly, many of you may not know that it’s back in stock. Ding! Ding! It’s baaaaack:2009 Château Couronneau is here at TWH, back in stock! So we wait.The heavy hitters from the 2009 vintage will be arriving soon enough, many of them will benefit from short/medium term aging (though many will be highly enjoyable upon release). The 2009 Château Couronneau is one of those “highly enjoyable now” wines (though a few years in the cellar couldn’t hurt). To borrow from Meursault’s Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau’s list of quotes, “If pleasure is here for the taking, why not take it?”

So yes, an amazing tasting, an amazing day. I had a moment in that room. Time stood still. The sounds around me faded and I just looked around the room. I was tasting the best of the best. I had many friends around the room that I saw enjoying the occasion. I felt so perfectly placed that I snapped out of it and proceeded with my duties. Then the lights flickered and it was time to go. The final tally? 94 wines. Not bad. Please contact me should you want to discuss any particular wine in detail.

During the tasting, I overheard a rumor that ALL flights back to SF were delayed (and this was at 4:00 PM). I dismissed it, as my flight wasn’t until 9:40 PM. After dinner, I called the airline just to see where we stood, and gulp, the flight was delayed until 12:20 AM!!! Not good, not good, so not good. Waiting at the airport, by some stroke of good fortune, I happened to notice a fairly large group of people moving from the gates in the direction of ground transport/baggage claim, so I got up to investigate. Good thing I did. They stuffed all passengers (and checked luggage) from all 3 delayed SF bound flights into 1 and off we went at approximately 11:00 PM. With a significant rain storm pounding the California coast, I must say that I experienced the most turbulent flight in all my airplane experiences last night. All’s well that ends well and when I turned the lock on the treehouse door at 1:55 AM, I was relieved. What a day, indeed.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on 2009 Bordeaux, the upcoming Wilco shows, or of course, English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

A TASTE OF BURGUNDY JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012 3:42 PM

Click here to receive the Taste of Burgundy Sampler automatically every other month.

Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please specify “store pickup” or “ship it” in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

2009 Chassagne-Montrachet Château de la Maltroye
One of our favorite Chassagne producers for many, many vintages has to be Château de la Maltroye. Jean-Pierre Cornut, himself a former engineer, is meticulous about the winemaking, and the proof is in the bottle. The château was acquired by Jean-Pierre’s grandfather in 1940; the first wines made by his great-uncle. Jean-Pierre’s father André worked at the chateau in the 70’s and 80’s despite being a pilot for Air France. When health issues caused André to take a step back in 1993, Jean-Pierre took over. The château is located smack in the middle of Chassagne, and it even boasts a Premier Cru vineyard named for the château. This village Chassagne is rich and vibrant, showing off the round apple-y flavors and citrus blossom aromas one finds in the best Chardonnays. Its acidity keeps it fresh and balanced. It is yet another precocious 2009 Burgundy, puppy-dog friendly and ready to go.

2009 Beaune Bressandes Premier Cru Albert Morot
Considered one of the finest estates in Beaune, the Domaine Albert Morot was founded in 1820. They began as negociants. In the late 19th century, they purchased 7 hectares of vines and the buildings that they currently occupy. The domaine was run together with the negoce business into the late 1980’s. Current proprietor/vigneron Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry has had the reins of the domaine since the 1999 harvest. Geoffroy had this to say about the 2009 vintage, “(it is) not a typical Burgundian vintage. While the quality of the wines is very good, they are built on their fruit and they’re very round and suave … The wines should be popular as they’re easy to appreciate and I think that they will age better than many people presently think.” We heartily agree; 2009 was a vintage of ripe, precocious fruit, yet the wines are marked by sturdy structure that suggests improvement with medium term aging. Geoffroy always makes wines that speak of their place of origin; this 2009 Bressandes is shining now and will through 2020. – Peter Zavialoff

The Soon To Be Legendary 2009 Bordeaux

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 5:39 PM

 

A Link To Our Complete 2009 Bordeaux Offer

New Year’s? Really? Whew! Time flies. So what’s on the agenda? January is always a particularly busy time of year as many northern-hemisphere wine industry folks are traveling around and there are always a plethora of tastings this time of year. One tasting that is highly anticipated will be the annual Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting. I will be zooming down to LA on Friday, January 20th for the inaugural stateside tasting of 2009 Bordeaux in bottle. I took this trip 2 years ago to taste the newly bottled 2007s. This will be a totally different kind of tasting!Tasting the 2009s out of barrel was an amazing experience. In general, the wines showed expression and harmony, but they were marked by sturdy structure which indicated to me that the vintage will be legendary. I cannot wait to taste the finished product! The UGC has unveiled the vintage in London, Paris, Japan, Korea, and China. All reports that I’ve heard are heaping praise on the wines. A friend of mine who poured at all the tastings told me that they were so successful that she ran out of wine every time. I won’t know until I taste them myself, but as I’ve said before, I have a sneaking suspicion that 2009 will be my favorite Bordeaux vintage for the rest of my life. A wine sales rep heard me say that and asked me, “How can you possibly say something like that?” The answer is simple. I know what I like.

My impressions notwithstanding, the wines are coming. By the end of January, most US based Bordeaux-centric professionals will have tasted the wines, and if my suspicions are correct, there will be excitement, praise, and more hype. The end result will be depleted stocks and, say it ain’t so, higher prices. We bought a lot of wine from the 2009 vintage, we’ve sold a lot as futures, but we still have plenty available on a pre-arrival basis. The wines are due to arrive in various shipments throughout the calendar year 2012. I’ve been focusing in on the best deals, and there are some fantastic wines in the $20-$50 range. You cannot go wrong by having 2009 Bordeaux in your cellar. This is not an opinion, it is a fact.Please consider this a reminder, as you will be hearing all about the 2009 vintage and its wines for a long, long time to come. I will report back after the UGC tasting, but by then I won’t be the only one reminding you. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 Bordeaux or if you would like some recommendations: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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…..

2009 Domaine des Corbillieres “Les Demoiselles”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 8:21 PM



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12-11-11 … or is it 11-12-11? That would be the European way, and seeing that I was there a week ago, I’m still a little confused. Yes, I got to see the Blues play a home match, and hopefully brought them some good luck for the remainder of the season. Stopped over in Paris to visit Virginie and Carsten (the chef). Let’s just say that both Carsten and I worked that day as some great food and wine were served. It’s been a bit of a blur since I returned, and just like that, I’ve landed in the middle of party season.So for tonight, I’m going to the home of some relatively new friends with whom I first bonded over a bottle of 2006 La Croix de Gay (which was stunning, btw). Last time I visited them, they had 2 chefs visiting from Zurich and a swath of scrumptious wines from all over the world. As a beverage industry professional, I feel it necessary to represent by bringing over something outstanding, of course, yet something a little different. Genius! A Lorie Valley red blend, that’s the ticket. How about our2009 Touraine Les Demoiselles from Domaine des Corbillières?

 

As we taste through the wines, it’s becoming pretty clear that 2009 was good to all the vignerons of France. It sure was a great vintage in Bordeaux.The Rhône Valley, both north and south, cranked out some great wines. We’ve been raving about the Cru Beaujolais, and it seems that the Loire Valley benefited too! Speaking of the Loire, we’ve been carrying the wines from Dominique Barbou’s Domaine des Corbillières for over a decade and a half. This year, we’re carrying something new from them, their Les Demoisellescuvée. Made from 40% Pinot Noir and 30% each Côt (Malbec) and Cabernet Franc, it’s a complex little quaffer! Toss in the perfect weather that 2009 seemed to bring to the entire country, and you’ve got a winner. The aromas are of dense cassis, tobacco leaf, and cracked pepper. On the palate, the fruit really jumps out and widens. Held together by excellent structure, its complexity can be pondered long after the wine is consumed. It’s got great weight, a juicy mouthfeel, and a very reasonable price tag. Yep, this is another representative of the 2009 vintage. Oh yeah, as December Wine Of The Month, it discounts 20% on full case purchases!

So yes, we all will be hearing about, and hopefully tasting French wines from 2009 for years to come. Look out for an email in the not-too-distant future about 2009 Bordeaux. The wines have just recently been bottled and have been out on the road in Europe and Asia (to huge praise). The tour is scheduled to hit California in late January.

It’s off to my first party of the season tonight, representing TWH with a bottle of 2009 Domaine des Corbillières Les Demoiselles. Not too festive, as I will be here in the shop today (Sunday) from 12 noon until 4 PM. Off Monday though, and we’ll see about whether or not my visit to Chelsea left any good luck for the club as they tackle league leading, undefeated Manchester City at noon our time. Mad Dog In The Fog anyone? – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about wine or football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:31 PM

 

 

Moving right along here. I was severely tempted to have the subject of this email call this wine something it’s not, but homie don’t roll that way. A great part of the reason that this wine falls into its price category is that it is, technically, NOT from Bordeaux. It is Montravel. Montravel is an appellation that sits just east of Bordeaux’s northeastern border. What’s interesting to note here, at the risk of thoroughly confusing not only myself, but all of you as well, is that when I make the drive from Château Couronneau, which is in the Bordeaux AOC, to Château Puy-Servain, which is not, I drive northwest. Okay whatever, right? The point I’m trying to make is that though Daniel’s wines aren’t from the appellation, they exude Bordeaux.

As I just said to our friend and good customer Carl, 2009 is going to be the new 1990; meaning the wines from every appellation in France are superb. 2009 Bordeaux is all that, and then some. Back in April, when Daniel broke out his Montravel Vieilles Vignes and told me it was from 2009,my expectations heightened. Now I am all for managing expectations – one of my “Peteyisms” is, “Planning leads to expectations, and expectations are the harbinger of disappointment. You see a lot more kids crying at Disneyland than you do at the dentist.” So, after 10 days in Bordeaux, tasting hundreds of fantastic samples, the trip to Puy-Servain was my final scheduled tasting. Even with the lofty expectations, the Montravel was singing with class and distinction. The unmistakable 2009 structure was ever-present. The fruit was rich and ripe, the oak was well-integrated giving the wine texture and spice, and the acidity kept the wine fresh and lively. All in all, not a bad way to finish 10 days of tasting.

All of the Château Puy-Servain wines arrived not long ago, but it was this past week when a sample of the Montravel Vieilles Vignes was opened. I speak for our entire staff when I say that this wine, in many ways, sums up what we do here pretty well. Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we meet in the middle, and sometimes we have to go to them, but by whichever means, we taste a lot of wines in order to find wines like the 2009 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes to bring to your respective tables. The wine is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Vinified in barrique (approximately 30% new), the wine possesses a particular degree of seriousness. As our staff swirled around the tasting table, interjections of praise were lavished on the wine. “Wow, the fruit is so expressive!” “OMG, this could be St. Emilion! I wouldn’t be surprised if you could sneak this into a St. Emilion tasting as a ringer.” “Holy cow, the structure and balance are that of a much more expensive wine!”

Moving along indeed. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, here’s a candidate for your red wine. Easy on the pocketbook, serious and classy in the glass. Thanksgiving? Wow. This is my last Sunday email before the big day. I’ve got quite the checklist of things to do before hand: finish this email, get our 34th Anniversary Sale up and running, get the paper newsletter for the sale mailed out, get in the studio and cut demos for 2 more songs just written, get a Sunday email prepared for two weeks from now (because I won’t be here), and start packing. For this year on Turkey Day, I’ll be on my way to see the Chels play a home game. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!Peter Zavialoff

2009 Persia from Fondreche

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:49 PM

 

At Domaine Fondreche, winemaker Sebastien Vicenti makes an opulent, opaque purple, mostly Syrah cuvee called Persia. It’s audacious and downright concentrated, smashing conventional wisdom for what is thought possible to be produced in the Ventoux, an appellation that flanks and gets its name from Mount Ventoux. In the shadow of the mountain, particularly areas south and west, temperatures tend to be cooler than other parts of the Southern Rhone. Sebastien Vicenti exploits this cooler climate to his advantage, making deeply concentrated wines that retain nerve and tension in the finish. Sebastien makes another cuvee called Nadal that is Grenache-based, which I have tended to favor(and have raved about before) up until this past Tuesday when I had my first taste of the 2009 Persia. Now that is what I call powerful juice! It has notes of oak, from its year in a combination of small barrel and large cask, that is in complete balance with the power of the Syrah fruit. Lots of spice and tangy black berry fruits dominate the flavor spectrum. I may not want to pop the cork on this one during the heat of summer, but now that there is a chill in the air, the 2009 Persia is just the kind of bone-warming, soul-stirring red I want to linger over in front of a warm hearth.

Sebastien has long ago embraced Biodynamics and organic farming; he is part of a wellspring of winemakers who firmly believe in the health and vitality of the soil. I’ve been privileged to follow Sebastien’s evolution as a winemaker over the past 15 years. It’s clear to me that now, even with his “level-entry” cuvee Fayard,his wines have elevated to a category that rivals the most famous and prestigious Rhone appellations. And though his wines can be delicious young, the potential for aging is there, especially so for the Persia.

 





It didn’t take me long to figure out that a newWine Advocate review of Rhones had beenissued as the phone calls and emails poured in this week. Domaine Fondreche garnered a slew of big points, for the 2010 vintage that, except for the Fayard, won’t arrive until next year. So you’ll have to go back a year to see that Fondreche’s 2009 Persiareceived the same smoking 93 points as did their 2010.

I’ve got leg of lamb defrosting in my fridge that I plan making into plov (or pilaf) on Sunday. With any luck I might get in a bit of football but more than likely I’ll be taking a hike with the girl and the dog so that the husband can watch his dose of action without interruption. And furthermore, with any luck, I’ll have a glass of the 2009 Persia to match up with my steamy bowl of spiced rice and gamey lamb…this will more than make up for any loss of game watching, n’est pas?

Anya Balistreri

Andre Brunel’s 2009 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 4:54 PM



cailloux





One of the greatest things about being in business for over 30 years(Anniversary Sale coming soon … real soon!), are the relationships we make. One of our favorite relationships in the southern Rhône Valley has been with superstar winemaker André Brunel.We’ve been carrying a swath of Brunel’s wines for over 20 years, and that just goes to show that we know a good thing when we’ve got it. So it came as no surprise when the latest The Wine Advocate came out the other day and Mr. Parker heaped a ton of praise on André’s 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Les Cailloux”! We figured that another stellar vintage in the Rhône would put some fire in Brunel’s eye. And How!

Listen to Mr. P gush: “The Les Cailloux 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape (70% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and the rest Syrah and other permitted grape varieties) may be the finest regular cuvee produced at this estate, even eclipsing the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape. A beautiful deep, plum/garnet color is followed by notes of ripe figs, licorice, tobacco leaf, sweet herbs, pepper and sumptuous quantities of kirsch and blacker fruits. Intense and full-bodied with silky tannins as well as a plump, sexy, voluptuous style, it begs for consumption now and over the next 10-15 years.

Andre Brunel’s family first settled in Chateauneuf du Pape in the 18th century and began estate bottling their wines in the middle of the 20th century. Les Cailloux was one of the first estates to employ the now famous oenologist, Philippe Cambie (in 1998). This modestly sized, 45 acre estate has their largest holdings in the northern sector of the appellation in the lieu-dit called Farguerol, which is just behind the plateau of Mont Redon. –95 points”

The Prodigious 2009 Dujac and Vogue Burgundies

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 7:44 PM







If you love Red Burgundy (like we do)
, you most likely have heard much about the 2009 vintage. The praise began shortly after harvest, the flames were fanned once the press were allowed to taste out of barrel, and finally the wines are beginning to arrive stateside, so the secret is out. Some of the most sought after Burgundies are virtually impossible to obtain, especially in the best vintages (like 2009); allocations get cut, leaving we the merchants happy when we get our hands on a few precious bottles. There is no doubt that the wines from Domaines Dujac and Comte Georges de Vogue have a huge global following due to their reputations for being among the best of the best producers in Burgundy.

We were able to get micro-allocations of several wines from these vaunted domaines, and we list them below. Our apologies in advance for anything that sells out. With one exception, as noted, tasting notes provided by Allen Meadows’ Burghound.

2009 Domaine Dujac Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru

“A notably floral-infused nose of red berry fruit also reflects a discreet note of new wood that complements the rich, dense, serious and palate staining medium-bodied flavors that possess fine complexity on the balanced and quite firm finish. This should be excellent in time. (90-92)”

2009 Domaine Dujac Gevrey Chambertin Aux Combottes

“A fresh though very reserved nose that is airy, cool and admirably pure offers up plenty of floral notes along with the muted red berry fruit. The mineral-infused, tight and beautifully well-detailed middle weight flavors possess a lovely serenity on the harmonious, long, balanced and linear finish. This is exquisite and fashioned in an understated style. (90-93)”

2009 Domaine Dujac Vosne Romanee Les Beaux-Monts

“The 2009 Vosne-Romanee Les Beaux-Monts is a dark, powerful wine in the way it sweeps across the palate with substantial depth and richness. Smoke, tar and minerals add complexity on the bracing finish. The Beaux Monts is an inward, implosive wine that will require a measure of patience. (90-92)” – Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

2009 Domaine Dujac Chambolle Musigny Les Gruenchers

“Strong reduction presently dominates the nose but the rich, generous and forward middle weight flavors possess good verve as well as ample minerality that gives lift to the mouth coating and gorgeously long finish brimming with dry extract. This is one of the more structured vintages of this wine that I have seen as it will require 10 to 15 years to be at its best. (91-93)”

2009 Domaine Dujac Vosne Romanee Les Malconsorts

“A highly spiced nose speaks of anise, clove and violet nuances on the pretty mix of blue and black pinot fruit and plum aromas. The rich, full-bodied, concentrated and powerful medium weight plus flavors possess a seductive and velvety mouth feel, all wrapped in a very firm and explosively long finish. This should be wonderful in due time though note well that this will require every bit of 15 years of cellar time. (92-95)”

2009 Domaine Dujac Clos St. Denis

“Discreet wood spice adds breadth to the cool and quite concentrated nose of floral notes, red raspberry and red currants precedes the intense, tension-filled and beautifully precise medium-bodied flavors that possess a very firm but buried structure on the mineral-driven and superbly long finish. This is a powerful yet refined vintage for this wine. (93-95)



2009 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses

“An extremely fresh and strikingly complex nose speaks of violets, anise, clove and cinnamon on the mélange of red and blue pinot fruit. The detailed and ultra fine middle weight flavors are also intensely mineral-driven and culminate in a posed, harmonious and explosively long finish where an interesting note of mandarin surfaces. A text book Amoureuses. (92-95)”

2009 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes

“A fantastically complex nose offers up aromas of rose petal, violets, mint, cassis, black berry and a plethora of spice nuances that continue onto the intense and remarkably powerful imposingly constructed flavors that are blessed with buckets of dry extract that render the presently rigid tannic spine almost invisible on the impeccably and palate staining finish that seems to persist without end. I could still taste this several hours later and if given sufficient cellar time, this should be one of the great vintages for this storied wine. (94-97)”

2008 Chauvenet-Chopin Bourgogne Rouge

Thursday, October 27, 2011 8:21 PM

One of the things we do best around here is offer some great, interesting wines at prices that are deemed more than fair. We taste wines from all over the world, always looking for new discoveries. It takes some time and effort, and you kiss a lot of frogs, but they’re out there. Sometimes we don’t have to beat back the bushes quite so hard as great deals can still be found from well known regions.

Red Burgundy. You love it. We love it. There’s only one thing not to like about it. Yet sometimes we pay up for it anyway. You don’t always have to.Another recent close-out discovery has yielded a sensational deal on a Red Burgundy: 2008 Chauvenet-Chopin Bourgogne Rouge.

Sure, we’ve heard stories like this one before. Daniel Chopin of Domaine Chopin-Groffier had a daughter who married vigneron Hubert Chauvenet. The 2 families combined their old vine holdings and Domaine Chauvenet-Chopin was born. The union combined Chopin’s 8 hectares with Hubert’s 9, and their holdings spread from Clos Vougeot to Nuits St. Georges. Chauvenet-Chopin has to be TWH’s favorite of importer Robert Kacher’s Burgundy producers.

The entry level Bourgogne is supple and seductive, with dazzling aromatics of cherry cola, spice, forest floor, and earth. On the palate, it is lightweight to medium bodied, with lively, uplifting freshness. The food-friendly acidity carries the finish through with finesse and balance. We’ve always been big fans of Chauvenet-Chopin’s Bourgogne Rouge and we know many of you who appreciate a price-friendly Red Burgundy do too. – Peter Zavialoff

NV Arlaux Champagne: Simply Genius

Friday, October 21, 2011 3:47 PM







Je rêve.
There’s a lot going on these days. Sure, there’s a new Wilco album out, but that’s not what I’m on about.We’ve told you about the recent container which brought loads of goodies from France. Guess what? There’s another French container about to set sail that’s full of good stuff. On its heals is another container from Italy, and then there will be one from Bordeaux! Expect a full warehouse and frantic TWH staff come late November through January! We’re 8 matches into footy season, the Champions’ league resumes Wednesday, and I’ve embarked on a new music venture. So yeah, there’s a lot going on. But still I dream. And I dream big. So I’m thinking about all this stuff and what it’s going to feel like when it all goes down successfully. What to drink? Champagne. Real Champagne.

Early last month I celebrated a birthday, and though I always drink Gold Wine from Barsac/Sauternes on my birthday, my colleagues here at TWH nonchalantly invited me to the tasting table the Friday before, and there before my eyes were several Champagne flutes a-glistenin’. There’s just something about those bubbles. They were perched there, alive and energetic, like thoroughbreds in the gates of the Kentucky Derby waiting to bust out. A glass was handed to me, and as they say, “They’re off!” A quick toast, and a quick sip, and a double take. The Champagne they chose for my birthday? NV Arlaux. I’ve had the Arlaux Champagnes many times over the course of my gig here at TWH, and I’ve had high praise for it as well. But there was something particularly special about this bottle (which came from a recent container). It had all the fruit and mineral complexity, but that brioche/hazelnut nuance was strongly pronounced and we were all amazed at what we had in our glasses. The bottle didn’t last long as we were happily tasting and engrossed in praising the exquisite elixir. Everyone walked away from that tasting with a strong reminder that it’sthe little guys that make truly great Champagne.

So yes, we’re busy getting wine on the water and we’ll probably do something special for our upcoming 34th Anniversary. The holidays are creeping up and will be here before you know it, and with an eye on footy and an ear in the studio, I’ve got a full plate of things to do. I ain’t afraid. With help from my friends and colleagues, it will all go down just fine. And we will drink Champagne. The NV Arlaux Champagne, that is.Peter Zavialoff

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