2015 Château de Raousset Fleurie "Grille-Midi"

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:54 PM

Chateau de Raousset

Best Vintage Since 1947?

Or so says Georges Duboeuf, so we'll take that with a grain of salt.  Though if you search the interwebs for "2015 Beaujolais Vintage," the superlatives are everywhere! 

My favorite wine writer, Andrew Jefford, had this to say about the 2015 vintage in Beaujolais, "The growing season, growers reported, unfolded according to the script they would have written for themselves – except that quantities were smaller than they would have liked.  The main threat to quality came towards the end of July, when the vines were beginning to show signs of drought stress, but cooler nights and showers in August helped enormously, with most beginning harvest towards the end of that month.  Acidities were fresher and balances livelier than in 2009, while the wines avoided some of the hardness of 2005, with a sweeter and more tender style.  Beaujolais vinifications are so various and sometimes risk-taking in style, however, that it’s still important to buy on recommendation."  That last line there is key.

The good news is that our producer, Château de Raousset, took full advantage of the ideal climatic conditions, and produced a line of wines which we highly recommend!  Maybe I'm biased, maybe I'm swayed by its pretty name, but it seems that vintage after vintage, I find their Fleurie "Grille-Midi" to be ideal for my palate.  The 2015 is stunning!  The aromas are all there, bright red cherry fruit, forest floor, again, maybe it's the name, but there's a hint of something floral going on in there too.  On the palate, the wine seems to float gracefully.  The fruit is perfectly ripe and the structure is seamless.  It comes in at 13% alcohol.  One doesn't hear it often, but this Cru Beaujolais can be cellared and should provide plenty of pleasure from now through 2026, if, as Neal Martin says, "you can resist its charms early on."

I don't want to bum anyone out here, but it is fall, and tomorrow is October 1.  An enthusiastic Rosé-loving customer picked up a case of her favorite earlier today and let it be known she wasn't ready for summer to be over, though she was accepting that very fact.  I always think of Cru Beaujolais as a wine which suits autumn perfectly - that forest floor nuance and all.  I also regularly consume, and happily recommend it be served during the fall's biggest holiday, Thanksgiving.  That's right.  Thanksgiving is next month.  That makes socking away a magnum or two a pretty dang good idea.  We do also have Raousset's Chiroubles, with its lighter profile, and also their Morgon "Douby", which is a bit more structured and even more age-worthy.  Though for me, the Fleurie "Grille-Midi" is just right! - Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2015 Beaujolais, autumn, Thanksgiving wines, or how sweet it is to be rid of the reason I stopped watching my favorite football club for three years:  peter@wineSF.com    

2014 Château de Raousset Fleurie "Grille-Midi"

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

Get Your Geek On – Gamay From South Africa

Monday, July 11, 2016 7:22 PM

Introducing: Thirst from Radford Dale
What is a geek wine? Among wine drinkers I know, a geek wine does not hold a negative connotation – quite the opposite. A geek wine is something that could be rare or less known, certainly not mainstream, and is most likely appreciated by a confident wine drinker (meaning someone who knows what they like and drink it). Thirst Gamay from Radford Dale is such a wine.
Where to begin? First, it is Gamay. Gamay as in Beaujolais, but this one is from South Africa. South Africa has only 32 known acres of Gamay vines. That is 0.0128% of total planted vines in South Africa. Leave it to super sleuth Alex Dale to find a vineyard with any Gamay. The Gamay Radford Dale sources were planted in 1984, sothey are fully mature vines with naturally producing low yields. The vines grow on a low-wire trellis system which allows the grapes to grow underneath the canopy, sheltering the berries from direct sunlight, allowing for good retention of acidity and freshness.
Alex Dale Modeling His Shirt @ TWH
In the cellar, the grapes were fermented whole berry and whole bunch. A portion of the wine went through carbonic maceration. After 3 months in tank, the wine spent a short time in old neutral barrel. The wine is neither fined nor filtered and a minimal amount of sulphur was used. The alcohol content clocks in at a whopping 11.5%!Approximately 500 cases of this unique red were produced which means TWH has 4% of the production.
Ok, so what does it taste like? I first tasted the 2015 Thirst Gamay back in May when our stock arrived in our warehouse coinciding with a visit from the owner and founder of Radford Dale, Alex Dale. A visit from Alex Dale is always inspiring, entertaining, informative and motivating. Alex has a lot to say and I like what I hear.The emphasis Alex places on being ecologically and socially conscientious in the pursuit of making wine is honorable, to say the least. It is not just lip service with him. I found the entire line-up of his newly arrived wines the best I’ve tasted yet, but it was the new line, Thirst, that had our staff captivated. The Thirst Gamay is light bodied. You could say it is like a dark rosé, but I think it is better to describe it as a very, very, light red wine. The varietal flavors of the Gamay are spot-on and recognizable: lots of red berry fruit, a dusty earthiness and a perfumed green note of tomato leaf. The finish has an exhilarating dryness to it just as fine cru Beaujolais does. The tannins are present, giving structure to the wine, at the same time the low alcohol makes for a light, refreshing drink. As Alex told our staff, “all our wines are built on an architecture of acidity”, so that is there too, giving lift and freshness.
The Line Up with Alex Dale
The Thirst Gamay is best served chilled. Yes, it is acceptable to chill red wine, especially this one. On a hot summer’s day or balmy evening, when you are craving red wine but can’t bear to open one because you know it will be too much, too heavy, the Thirst Gamay is a very good option. Certainly the Thirst Gamay is fine on its own to sip before dinner, or to bring along on a picnic, but it is also suited for main course meals. You’d think it was intentionally designed for salmon, as it goes so well with it. Thirst Gamay is not a frivolous wine given its light body and low-alcohol. As Alex likes to suggest it is meant for wine consumers who are looking for a naturally produced wine with little intervention. He also points out that a wine like Thirst is difficult to make both from the standpoint of production as well as the costs associated. I’m gratefulRadford Dale makes the effort.
Alex Dale & David Netzer @ TWH
I was finally able to spend a few days up at the River like I’d been hoping to do for some time. What made this tripnourishing and special was the convergence of three families under the guise of a wedding shower. Surrounded by this tribe, as we like to call ourselves, is where I am happiest! We don’t see each other often enough, but when we do, it’s like we’d never left each other’s side. Oh, and I discovered that my brother isn’t the only family member who reads my newsletters – thanks TH for reading to the end!– Anya Balistreri
Passetoutgrain is a regional appellation in Burgundy. It covers a large area, nearly 2000 acres, and the wine must be at least 30% Pinot Noir and have a minimum of 15% Gamay. So, how come so few know about or drink Passetoutgrain? For the most part, Passetoutgrain has lost favor, particularly in villages that command high dollars. In these places most producers have replanted Gamay with Pinot Noir. This makes economic sense, but as a result some of the cultural history of Burgundy is lost.Passetoutgrain occupies a useful category as it provides an affordable option for locals to drink and it can be poured at domaines while their age-worthy wines are being cellared. You won’t find anyone mistaking Passetoutgrain for Grand Cru, but if you are looking to rub shoulders with Burgundy without mortgaging your home, Passetoutgrain is a viable way to go.
All this background is to emphasize my delight when I discovered bottles of Domaine Françoise Lamarche’s 2013 Bourgogne Passetoutgrain in our wood box stacks. I didn’t even know Lamarche made a Passetoutgrain, let alone that TWH was carrying it! Chock it up to working here part-time. At any rate, I couldn’t wait to taste it! It’s a delicious blend of 50/50 Pinot Noir and Gamay that spends some time in neutral barrel. The production is tiny and comes, according to The Queen of Burgundy, Jeanne Marie de Champs, from a vineyard “on the low part of Vosne Romanée”. It’s pretty polished for this type of wine withloads of cranberry, tart cherry and flavorful spice notes. Put in the context of Pinot Noir from anywhere, I’d sayLamarche’s Passetoutgrain will appeal to those who prefer old-world Pinot Noir. It is light and delicate but with enough fruit to keep one’s interest.
Burghound’s Allen Meadows wrote this about Lamarche’s 2013 Passetoutgrain:
“The exuberant nose of very fresh red berry fruit aromas displays notes of spice and pepper. There is a surprisingly silky mouth feel for a PTG and while there is a touch of rusticity on the finish the overall impression is unusually refined.”
The history of Domaine François Lamarche reads like a novel. The family has been making wine for several generations and can trace their roots in the village of Vosne-Romanée back to 1740. Their vineyard holdings are impressive and include the Grand Cru, La Grande Rue,which is sandwiched between La Tâche on one side and La Romanée and Romanée-Conti on the other. Today, Nicole Lamarche is making the wines, having taken over from her father in 2006. With Nicole at the helm, vineyard practices have changed to biodynamic cultivation, new barrel regiments have been employed using less new oak and the winery has been updated to modern standards. Drinking a glass of Lamarche’s Passetoutgrain gives me that chic hi-lo vibe, like wearing a designer gown under a leather motorcycle jacket. It’s not a Cru, but it is incredibly enjoyable nonetheless – I am drinking Burgundy and spent less than $25 – what a deal!
Basketball, basketball, basketball. From NCAA to the Warriors to the last game of my daughter’s CYO league,March has been mostly about Basketball…and Burgundy! My daughter has never played on an organized sports team before this season. It was entirely her choice to play basketball and though not a “sporty” girl, she loved the whole experience! Her team made it to the first round of play-offs. It was a tough battle. She played in the 2nd quarter, caught a rebound, turned to shoot and was fouled.Her first trip to the free throw line and she made it in! Her first score of the season! Her team lost the game, there were tears for a hard fought game, but my daughter….well she ran off the court with the biggest smile imaginable, shouting “Did you see it? Did you see it?” I sure did and it was great! – Anya Balistreri

Thanksgiving 2015: Some Pairing Ideas

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.

I’ve written about my early perceptions of Thanksgiving before. Most of my life, it was a holiday that I didn’t really celebrate. If I wasn’t skiing, I was bored. I didn’t care for any of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. It wasalways nice to get together with extended family and good friends, but that was it. Of course this all has changed now that I have lobster and Sauternes on Thanksgiving. I’m planning on doing this again, and the wine I’m choosing this year is the 2005 Château Clos Haut Peyraguey. Why? A pair of cosmic tumblersfalling into place.
Tumbler #1 – The property was purchased by Bordeaux chateaux mogul Bernard Magrez in 2012. TWH was just paid a visit by a Magrez’s export director last Monday, and he commented on our having a couple of back vintages of Clos Haut Peyraguey in stock. We spoke about Barsac and Sauternes at length, and I’m pretty black and white about my feelings for the wines. I think he got my drift.
Tumbler #2: It’s a 2005, a fantastic vintage for the wines of Barsac and Sauternes. I can recall John’s excitement about the quality of Bordeaux’s sweet wines when he returned from the region in the spring of 2006. Ben went so far as to purchase some ’05 Clos Haut Peyraguey futures citing its geographical proximity to Yquem.Then there was the tasting of 2005 Sauternes that I attended in 2008, leaving me with quite the impression, especially for Château Coutet. I last had 2005 Coutet on my birthday back in September and it was showing brilliantly! 10 years has worked its magic on the wine which was revealing some bottle bouquet and secondary characteristics. It was still fresh and youthful, yet layered and intellectual. We are trying to get more. I’ll get back to you on that.
Back on Wednesday evening, I was invited to the home of a very good friend to celebrate the end of his six year quest for a particular certification. To celebrate he picked up a USDA Prime Tri-Tip, marinated it, and slow cooked it for hours. He finished it off in a pan and popped a1993 Penfolds Grange. It was my very first taste of what is considered Australia’s finest wine. It was a great experience, and along with another good friend we discussed many of the finest food and wine pairings we’ve enjoyed over the years. He humbly dismissed the tri-tip/Grange pairing from being among the best (it belongs in the argument), and poured full praise for “The year you brought that magnum of Fleurie to Thanksgiving dinner.” There’s a lot to say in support for Cru Beaujolais at the Thanksgiving table. It’s light. It’s complex. It’s versatile. It smells like fall. As the holiday approaches, we have helped many customers with their “Beaujolais for Thanksgiving” orders.
As I stated above, giving thanks is something that should be done daily, and I have reason to be grateful for many people and things these days. 2015 has been a very challenging year for me personally, and I wouldn’t be in the state I’m in without the tremendous support that I have received from so very many. Giving thanks, BIG TIME! Happy Thanksgiving!!! – Peter Zavialoff

2012 Macon-Burgy From Domaine Saint Barbe

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,

“Now here’s something I found on my last trip. It’s Red Macon. Made from really old-vine Gamay. He only makes a few barrels, and I managed to get one of them! It is amazing; seriously amazing wine (insert proud chuckle).” I’ve been working with David long enough to read that one right. I pride myself on being a man of great patience (though that seems out the window here), but waiting for the next time the entire staff is present in order to maybe taste this wine, I knew, was not going to fly. So I put one on my invoice and popped it in the coldbox for 25 minutes. I poured out a little taste for Anya, Tom, and myself, and it went down something like this.

“Is it worth 27 bucks?”

“Oh, man. It smells amazing.”

“Does it smell like Beaujolais?”

“No. I mean I can sense the Gamay, but there’s so much more.”

“How’s the palate?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been enjoying the nose for 5 minutes now.”

At this point, I gave Tom and Anya their tasting glasses.

“Wow. That smells amazing! Is that not Pinot Noir?”

“No, it’s Gamay.”

“That’s a whole different kind of Gamay than I’ve ever smelled.”

“No kidding. I can smell this all day, in fact I haven’t even tasted it yet, I’ve just been taking in the aromas.”

“That’s-that’s-that’s what I was just saying!!!”

We all went in for a taste.

“That’s lovely. Reminds me a lot of the Clos Marc, you know with those herbal aromas, and the not-so-fruity, dry finish?”

“Yup. I know what you mean. It doesn’t seem to have that carbonic thing that you get with a Beaujolais.”

“Right. It’s not a tutti-fruity straight-forward George DeBoeuf Beaujolais.”

“I like it. I like wines like this. That herbal thing makes it super cool for me.”

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@sbcglobal.net

0 Comment Posted in Gamay Macon

2009 Pierre Savoye Morgon Côte du Py

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!

March 2012 Dirty Dozen

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!

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

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2010 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.

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

September 2011 Dirty Dozen

Friday, September 2, 2011 9:11 PM

Heading out to San Francisco, for the Labor Day weekend show … whether or not you have your Hush Puppies on, you know it’s September and that means the kids are back in school, baseball season is entering its ‘pennant race’ phase, and in New Zealand, the Rugby World Cup is kicking off. No matter your distraction, the Dirty Dozen packs a wallop of value! 12 different wines packed into a box for $109? Just say yes.

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

2009 Unico, Tierra de Castilla, Casa Gualda – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Unico, or unique if you will, is a great way to describe this blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel from España. The floral nature of the Moscatel is just the right counter to round out the richness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the result is magic. Think blossoms and herbs on the aromatics, and a bright crispness on the palate. Grill up some halibut for this.

2010 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
It’s 100% Syrah Rosé from the south of France. Though deep pink in color, the palate offers a surprise; it is vibrant, crisp, and DRY. This is truly a Rosé that can pair with just about anything. If you miss the south of France, one taste of this will transport you there.

2009 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Paul Pernot – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Affectionately referred to as Burgundy’s “other” white grape, Aligoté may not have the notoriety of Burgundian Chardonnay but in the hands of the right vigneron (ahem, Paul Pernot!), it shines with bracing minerality and dazzling citrus and green apple flavors. Try alongside poached white fish or semi-soft cheeses.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, MSH – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
MSH Cellars is one of those hidden treasures of Napa that make us wine geeks all giddy. This wine isn’t resting on its Napa laurels, though … It brings the goods too, smooth and creamy through the mid-palate with a bright, citrus finish. Pair this Yountville Sauvignon Blanc with a sunny afternoon and a drumstick.

2009 Marsanne/Viognier, Vignobles Boudinaud – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud have been turning our heads lately with a wealth of high-class wines at very fair prices. This blend has all the makings of a fancy-pants white Rhône without the pretense. Crisp minerality, round Asian pear flavors, perfectly balanced acidity, and a long, dry floral finish make this tough to beat. Friday fish fry is a callin’…

2008 Pinot Gris ‘Im Berg’, Domaine Ehrhart – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Longtime TWH friends, Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart continue to churn out great juice for a great price! They farm organically (2nd generation to do so), and the results are spot on. 2008 was a great vintage in Alsace, and this single-vineyard Pinot Gris has an abundance of complexity. Amazingly versatile, you can pop one with your fish tacos.

2007 Monastrell ‘Hécula’, Bodegas Castaño – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
This is a steal! Seriously, we know you all shop at TWH because we find great value wines at all price points, but this one is not to be believed. We’re not alone in our praise, Steven Tanzer tasted it and said, “This could be a Bandol”. That’s saying a lot. Think deep, rich purple fruit with hints of smoky meat and earth. Pop it with a pork roast.

2009 Baron des Chartrons, Bordeaux – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Here’s yet another sneak-peak into the hugely successful 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. This blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is true to its vintage, showing rich, expressive fruit, great weight and dazzling structure. Goes to show that you don’t need to plop down multiple Benjamins to get a great taste of Bordeaux. A nice T-Bone works here.

2009 Rouge de la Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin has won our hearts yet again with her Rhône-style blend which includes some old-vine Carignane. Keep in mind that this is very young wine, so decanting is highly recommended. Got cassoulet?

2009 Plavac, Dingac – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
New for us this month is a red wine from Croatia! Plavac Mali is one of several indigenous grape varieties, combining the spicy red berries of a Zin with the body of a Beaujolais. It’s fantastically uncomplicated. Enjoy with your cheeseburger.

2009 Morgon Côte du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Speaking of Beaujolais, have you heard about the 2009 vintage? Coupled with the fact that this is CRU BEAUJOLAIS, this has to be the trump card of this month’s DD. Highly complex, the aromas are of forest floor, bright red berry fruit, and earthy minerals. Its palate is light and fresh with very fine tannins. A bowl of olives and a baguette will work.

2010 Côtes de Ventoux ‘Fayard’, Domaine Fondrèche – $16.99, $13.59 reorder
Wünderkind Sébastien Vincenti continues to dazzle us with his Ventoux blends. Sébastien honed his skills under the tutelage of legendary Rhône master André Brunel, and his amazing string of vintage successes is astounding. The Fayard is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (with a little Mourvèdre and Carignane), and it shows rich, ripe fruit, herbs and earth.

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2009 Domaine Pierre Savoye Morgon Cote du Py

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: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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