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
Monday, July 11, 2016 7:22 PM
Monday, March 21, 2016 6:24 PM
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.
Monday, May 19, 2014 6:34 PM
|One of the many great things about working for a company like TWH is that we get the opportunity to experience some unusual, off-the-beaten-path, wine-geek-wines every now and then. The Clairet de Bordeaux from last year comes to mind; then there’s the Beaujolais Blanc from a couple of years ago; or more recently, a handful of wines from central Europe and the Balkans. What makes a wine a “wine-geek” wine? There are no rules – but low production, lesser known grape varietals, or perhaps familiar varietals from unusual terroirs qualify. What we have here is the latter. What we have here is a red Mâcon. Wait. Aren’t Mâconnais wines made from Chardonnay? Sure, the white ones are, but red? A little research yields the fact that there are indeed red wines from Mâcon. What’s the grape? Gamay. Introducing the 2012 Mâcon-Burgy from Domaine Sainte Barbe.
Having worked here for several years, my instincts have become spot-on regarding certain facets of our business. I don’t have either the time or patience to list out (and link to our blog) the litany of tres cool wines that David has discovered during his trips to France each year. I do have many memories of our staff gathered around the tasting table after work trying something new to us. When we taste a new wine that could be described as “a winner”, we don’t hold back, the praise is heaped high as we enjoy what’s left in the bottle of the new kid on the block. David is a humble man. Sometimes he may give us a chuckle, but usually just a wry smile and an, “It’s good, right?” The other day, a regular customer friend of David’s came in looking for some Burgundy. I had a lot on my plate so I wasn’t paying close attention, but then I heard him say,
|Back to our work stations for a little research, and it was revealed that the vines this wine was sourced from were up to 80 years old! Contrary to my observation, as is custom in Mâcon, the wine underwent carbonic maceration. There is some complex, ripe cherry fruit in the aromatics, but it falls back in line with the structure of the wine on the palate resulting in a fresh, zippy, non-unctuous fruity finish. Hints of tobacco and forest floor hover in the distance. All in all, it’s another winner, courtesy of David’s most recent prospecting trip to Burgundy!
Did I mention there was a lot on my plate? Yes, there is. I’m done whining about it. We are all super excited about our new 2012 Mâcon-Burgy from Domaine Sainte Barbe. After having survived the recent heatwave, I thought it proper to make my selection of the week a red wine. A red wine that one could put a little chill on and enjoy on a warm day/evening. Did I mention it was only 12.5% alcohol? Yes, c’est vrai. You don’t see many Mâcon Rouges out there, fewer that are imported into California; embrace your inner wine-geek and give the Sainte Barbe Mâcon-Burgy a shot. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Gamay, wine-geek wines, Bordeaux, what to do now that footy season is over, or the band’s new album’s release date: peter.winehouse@
Sunday, July 8, 2012 2:56 PM
|How was everyone’s 4th of July week? It seems many of you took long weekends on the front end or on the back end, and some (like Anya) took the whole week off! Whichever way you celebrated, I hope you had fun.It was a crazy week around TWH, as holiday weeks tend to be, but a good week for me as well. As if the 4th wasn’t a spectacle (it was), it was on the 5th when the cosmic tumblers aligned themselves in proper fashion.
The year of the live show continued this week, much thanks to a tap on the shoulder by our sales rep Jon, who gave me a heads up on the “about to sell out in 15 minutes” Gaslight Anthem show at the Independent. The Independent.On Divisidero St. Do you know what’s a half block from the Independent? That’s right, Nopa. Nopa could very well be my favorite restaurant in the city. Sometimes I wonder if I purposely go to shows at the Independent JUST so I can eat at Nopa beforehand. Probably so, though I wonder if the 2 band members seated behind us purposely booked their gig at the Independent so THEY could eat there. Hmmm. Anyways, dinner was a smash, the food impeccable, but eating at Nopa can be challenging if one table is to confine themselves to 1 bottle of wine. There are so many flavors and textures involved that diners need a very versatile vino. The epicurean experience was to conclude with duck, so the wine would be red. But what? Lost in the wine list, I had a sudden moment of brilliance. Gamay! Of course, Cru Beaujolais would do the trick. It won’t be overbearing on the appetizers, yet its fruity profile will sing with the duck. A glance at the handful of Gamays on the list revealed one 2009 Cru Beaujolais selection. We went with that and it shined!Spectacularly.
|After an experience like that, coming in the next morning I made a bee line to the Cru Beaujolais section and grabbed a bottle of 2009 Pierre Savoye Morgon Côte du Py, and it was stellar. As they did at Nopa, I poured it in a Burgundy glass (wide concave bulb). The aromatics alone are what make Cru Beaujolais fun! “There’s strawberry, raspberry, some other kind of berry … wait, no, that’s blueberry, bay leaf, licorice … or is that fennel? No, actually it’s Sambuca like, anise, and sweet tobacco.” And it goes on like that. On the palate, it’s more of the same as nuance after nuance emerge to give you a little kiss but keep the experience lighthearted. Fortunately, the price of Cru Beaujolais is still more than reasonable. So happy as I was with the 2009 Savoye Morgon Côte du Py, I was ready to extol the virtues of “The best red wine for summer outings” in the form of an email, as Beaujolais drinks extremely well with a slight chill. Great idea, but then I realized that I did that very thing a year ago. Oh well, I get a lot of grief from friends and coworkers for telling some of my stories over and over and over, and my response is, “at least you know I’m telling the truth.” Or in this case, at least you know how I really feel. As evidenced by the dwindling representation of 2009 Cru Beaujolais on Nopa’s winelist, consider this email a “last call” if you will, on the fine 2009 Pierre Savoye Morgon Côte du Py.
For those of you who are nearing the end of your long holiday weekend (or entire week!), I hope all went well. For the rest of us who’ve been at it every day except the 4th, let us all enjoy a glorious Sunday. I’m certain that the year of the live show will continue (I’ve got a few pairs of tickets already), but more Nopa dinners? Now that’s another story, but here’s to hoping!!! – Peter Zavialoff
PS: We’ll be unveiling a very special wine come Tuesday … stay tuned!
Friday, March 9, 2012 4:23 PM
It seems that old man winter, pretty scarce around here, has packed it up and is headed home. March is here and it’s soon to be the time to mess with time and move our clocks ahead one hour. So while you’re working on your NCAA brackets, eating corned beef with cabbage, and ringing in the spring, just know we’ve got a box of wine to take care of all your vinous needs, The March Dirty Dozen!
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 Petite Cochon Blanc, Odisea – $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Co-owners Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz are wild about Rhône grapes and scour northern California for quality vineyards that produce them. The Petite Cochon is a blend of Rolle (Vermentino), Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc and it struts its stuff with aromas of citrus blossom and stone fruit, has a fresh peachy mouth feel, and finishes crisp and lively. A wine to pair with filet of sole.
2009 Pinot Grigio, Castelletto – $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Over in Italia, near the Slovenian border, is the Collio region; a great place to grow Pinot Grigio. Ronco Del Castelletto has been around since 1870, and is well respected in Italy with several Tre Bicchieri awards in its trophy case. Think rich, almost Alsatian styled Pinot Gris here. The wine has an abundance of fruit both aromatically and on the palate. This is the wine for your corned beef and cabbage!
2010 Chardonnay, M-F Wines – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Using fruit from premium vineyards is the name of the game at M-F. Matt Bonanno and Fritz Stuhlmuller team up here sourcing premium fruit for a not-so-premium price. Passing the savings along, we all win. All tank fermented, this Chardonnay is pure and fresh with lively aromas of yellow fruit and blossoms. Its green apple/citrus fruit profile suggests it will pair well with a crab salad.
2009 Torrontes, Inacayal – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Torrontes is turning heads in Argentina as it has become their signature white wine. Inacayal’s vineyards are located at elevations of 3000 feet and the cool nights that the altitude provides are essential to produce the acidity the wine needs for balance. It has exotic aromas of orange blossoms and lemons. Pour it as an apéritif; or with a meal, it pairs very well with spicy Thai or Chinese cuisine.
2006 Lugana Superiore, Ca’Lojera – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Elegant. The perfect word that describes the wines from Ca’Lojera and the woman that makes them, Ambra Tiraboschi. Working with the Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana) grape, Ambra crafts this head turning wine. She holds it back for 2 years in barrel to give the Lugana texture and complexity, enough to earn the name ‘Superiore’. Her website’s suggestion for a food pairing? “Elegant dishes”, of course.
2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Talk about screaming good values, we have always been impressed with the array of wines coming from Yves Grassa’s empire in Gascogne, especially his Lalande line. This tank fermented Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and lively with all the citrusy character one expects in a Sauvignon Blanc without going overboard. As we herald in the season of picnicking, allow us to present the picnic wine.
2006 Alentejano, Howard’s Folly – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
From Alentejo, just east of Lisbon, comes another wine that outperforms its price point by a long shot. Howard’s Folly is made up of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional and it sees 6 months in new French and American oak before bottling. The wine shows plenty of dark, smoky fruit and spice and will make a nice accompaniment for a marinated tri-tip, should you grill one.
2009 Chianti, Il Vescovado – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Open a bottle of Chianti, and Tuscany emerges from it, like a genie from a lamp. When you get one this good for a price tag like this, you may as well have burned one of your wishes. Made from Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo, Il Vescovado is the ‘utility player’ of the bunch. Its medium body and lively acidity allow it to pair well with a myriad of dishes. From meatloaf to pizza, your wish comes true!
2008 Bardolino Classico, Valetti – $7.95 sale price, $7.55 reorder
Running head to head with the Chianti mentioned above is the equally food-friendly Bardolino from eastern Lake Garda. It may be lighter still in body than the Chianti, but its zippy acidity makes it perfect alongside any traditional Italian dish that uses tomato sauce and herbs. It’s a blend of mostly Corvina, with a little Rondinella and Sangiovese, and bang for your buck – a super bargain!
2010 Syrah, Saint-Antoine – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
You can’t go wrong with any wines from the south of France in 2010. The growing season was long and warm, yet cool nights provided the proper acidity to balance harmoniously with the opulent fruit. We’ve been working with Domaine Saint-Antoine for many years now, and their wines usually have a rustic charm, but the 2010 Syrah retains the charm with a palate friendly dose of purple fruit. Yummy.
2009 Morgon Côtes du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Okay, what we have here is Cru Beaujolais from a good vintage … make that a great vintage. The Côtes du Py is composed of rocky soil and the wines originating there have that distinct mineral verve which latches on to the juicy Gamay fruit resulting in an elegant, Burgundian styled wine. Light in body, this Morgon would be best when paired with something subtle, like a salad with goat cheese.
2008 Côtes du Rhône Mataro, Vignobles Boudinaud – $21.99, $17.59 reorder
Using only Mataro (Mourvèdre) for a Côtes du Rhône may be a little unusual, but Thierry Boudinaud pulls it off nicely here with this dense, gamey offering. Thierry has worked in California, New Zealand, and Bordeaux, honing his skills before returning to his ancestral home in the southern Rhône to have a go on his own. What he’s done here is magical. One to pour with your sizzling rib eye.
Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines 5%/ Sale Wines
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.
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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Monday, August 8, 2011 9:26 PM
So how’s everyone’s summer going? Tasting anything exciting? Things are great here at TWH. By virtue of the generosity of a great many individuals, I’ve been lucky enough to sip 1996 Lagrange, 1986 Clerc Milon, 1975 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese from Sanctus Jacobus, and 1971, 1949 and 1926 Coutet this summer (The latter 3 at the Bastille Day dinner we had with Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet at Range Restaurant – look for a recap of the event in form of a blog post next week). So yes, very lucky. But drinking special occasion wine isn’t really what summer is all about, is it? When I think of summer wines, I think of grabbing a chilled bottle of Rosé and running out the door to a picnic. Or maybe sipping a cool, crisp white wine from the French countryside with friends while we wait for the coals to heat up. But what if you want something red? Beaujolais is THE perfect summer red wine. It’s fresh, it’s lightweight, has uber-friendly cherry-like fruit, and it tastes terrific with a slight (very slight) chill! Last night’s homerun was the 2009 Domaine Pierre Savoye Morgon, Côte du Py.
We all know how quickly plans can change, and when I realized my curry chicken/Gewurztraminer pairing was not going to happen for favor of bow-tie pasta with red bell pepper sauce, I was thrilled that I just happened to have a bottle of Savoye’s 2009 Morgon handy. We’ve already told you all how great a vintage 2009 was for Beaujolais,especially Cru Beaujolais. Seriously, to describe it, one would have to use the word “perfect”. I’m desperately trying to forget about the case I socked away in the cellar (I really want to see what 10 years can do to great Gamay!). Anyway, when I caught wind of the pasta sauce, I knew the Savoye was going to be perfect. Popped the cork, poured out some glasses and the color gets you straight away. Its bright color is reminiscent of cranberry meets ruby, but hold on to your hat when you go in for the aromatics! I got dark cherry and cedar yes, but then something smokey and earthy, and then the fruit came back with more focus than before … amazing. No better idea than to taste it at this point, and I tipped the glass. I found myself in the middle of a black cherry and raspberry forest! It was fresh and lively, dancing on the palate like a mongoose at a rave. Seriously, it had everything I look for in a great Gamay! The finish was bright and zippy and it teamed up with the acid in the pasta sauce perfectly. Let it be known that I will be pouring Cru Beaujolais with pasta way more often!
|So there you have it. Summer is still a long way from being over. There will still be plenty of warm weather left for your summer wines of choice. Be they pink, white or red. Yes, do try a chilled Beaujolais, you won’t regret it (30 minutes or so in the fridge is usually perfect). Especially if it’s the 2009 Domaine Savoye Morgon Côte du Py. Me? I’m happy. Tomorrow morning I’ll be watching the Charity Shield. Welcome back footy season!!! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any great tasting experiences from this summer, about 2009 Cru Beaujolais, the Charity Shield, or anything else: email@example.com