When it comes down to quality imported wine for a fair price, you can’t do much better than to purchase them from the importer themselves. We have been importing the line of wines from Ernesto Picollo since the 2007 vintage, and as far as sub-$20 white wine deals go, it’s rather unfathomable to do much better than Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto. It’s been a huge hit with customers and staff for nearly a decade!


The estate is located on the tiny slope of Rovereto which is within Gavi DOCG in southern Piedmont. Its proximity to the Ligurian Sea keeps things cool at night bestowing the Cortese grapes with their lively acidity levels. The vineyard faces due south and that goes a long way in getting the fruit ripe and in seamless balance.

The first written documentation about the Cortese grape came all the way back in 1659, praising its resistance to disease and for producing high quality fruit. Its ideal terroir would be in a dry, cool climate with clay soils and southern exposure – which would describe Rovereto to a T. Gianlorenzo Picollo uses all stainless steel tank for fermentation giving the wine a bright, pure expression, and the refinement, expression, and complexity of his Gavi di Gavi Rovereto will make one scratch their head and wonder, “How could this wine be this good and SO inexpensive?” It’s definitely a great wine to accompany most dishes that you would normally pair with white wine, like seafood or poultry, but it really shines with shellfish.

Gianlorenzo (second from right) & the Picollo family

In many circumstances, when I see a producer with different levels and different takes on the same grape variety, I would recommend saving a few bucks and popping the entry-level bottle, leaving the similar, yet more expensive wine be. Not in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gianlorenzo’s entry-level Gavi, but for less than $5 more, you can get your hands on a much classier, complex, and precise take on what the best terroirs can do for a humble grape such as Cortese. It is well worth the investment! Knowing that there is an abundance of white wine out there which is less complex, less interesting, less tasty, yet far more expensive, we head back to the bin with Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto time and time again. It’s THAT good, and because you’re buying it directly from the importer, it’s THAT inexpensive! – Peter Zavialoff

Sometimes the most enjoyable wine is the simplest. Take our bestselling Gavi from Ernesto Picollo – it is made with one grape, Cortese, fermented in tank for approximately three weeks and then bottled. Simple, no? But what results! Lemony, citrusy flavors made vibrant with a solid backbone of acidity. The 2014 Gavi just landed in our warehouse and it’s as wonderful as the previous seven vintages TWH has carried!
At $10.99 a bottle, it isn’t difficult to understand whyPicollo’s Gavi is a bestseller. It’s an authentic wine made by a tight-knit Italian family who continue to push themselves to make the best possible wine for a very fair price. Gianlorenzo Picollo is the third generation proprietor, whose shy demeanor can mask his passion for the work in the vineyard and the cellar. Because there isn’t much in the way of manipulation in the cellar, it is crucial to bring in excellent fruit. Gianlorenzo accomplishes this with green harvesting and keeping reasonable yields.
The Picollo Family
Though part of Piedmont, its proximity to the Ligurian Sea gives Gavi a more Mediterranean climate as opposed to the continental climate of Barolo and Barbaresco to the north.The winery is located in the hamlet of Rovereto in the heart of Gavi. The Picollo farm is right across from the church, just as depicted on their label. David travelled to Italy for the first time this past summer to visit with many of our Italian producers. David asked for Picollo’s coordinates since he was getting there by car and was using GPS.Gianlorenzo ignored his request and told him when he gets to the church, there they are!
Vineyards in Gavi
We had been out of Gavi for over a month. Our container from Italy was delayed over and over. I was at a loss, for the Gavi is my staple for Friday Night Fish Fry.Whether it’s baked filet of sole, linguine with clams, or pesto pasta, Gavi matches it all. Though fragrant and full of character, Picollo’s Gavi is the perfect foil for fish, shellfish and vegetarian dishes because it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. You notice the acidity but it is never harsh and the citrusy flavors are snappy. The 2014 comes in at 12% abv, keeping things light and easy.
My calendar for 2015 is filling up fast. When I read a post on FB warning that there were only ten Saturdays until Christmas, I felt sick to my stomach. Stay in the moment, I coached myself. One thing at a time. Yes, one thing. Ah yes,the one thing that I am most looking forward to isour event at Mourad’s on October 22 featuring the wines of Ouled Thaleb, Morocco’s oldest working winery. We’ve been carrying Ouled Thaleb wines for some time now, so I am especially excited to taste through them while dining at Mourad Lahlou’s newest restaurant. Seats are still available, so if interested in joining us, please give us a call. – Anya Balistreri

Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 7:32 PM

The 2012 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” from Ernesto Picollo captures the essence of seaside freshness as it combines lime-scented, citrusy fruit with sparkling acidity.There is no argument that Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi DOCG is a true workhorse and bargain, but when you want a little more there there, the “Rovereto” is the way to go. Picollo’s winery and most of their vineyards are in the hamlet of Rovereto within Gavi in southeastern Piedmont. Often referred to as the crown jewel of Piedmontese whites, Gavi, in actuality, has more in common with its southern neighbor’s wines, Liguria. In fact, Rovereto’s climate is influenced by its proximity to the Ligurian sea. The maritime breezes make their way up the hills to Rovereto, preserving there a more Mediterranean climate. Most of Gavi has a mix of both sand and clay soils, however in Rovereto soils tend to be more clay, allowing for reserves of water for deep roots during dry summer months. Also, Rovereto gets full southern exposure, which helps with ripening.

Gavi’s grape, Cortese, can trace its history way, way back. There is written documentation from 1659 naming it as one of the vines planted on an estate in Piedmont. It was prized for its resistance to grape disease and for producing quality grapes with high yields. Ideally Cortese needs a dry climate, meager soils and good sun exposure, all things that Rovereto provides.


So it follows that the lush texture of Picollo’s “Rovereto” with its golden hue and zippy minerality is especially complimentary to seafood and in particular to shellfish. All stainless steel tank-fermented, there is plenty of concentration propelled by a suave palate feel, making Picollo’s “Rovereto” dangerously easy to finish off well before any food shows up at the table. But remember, this is Italian wine and Italians insist on eating food while drinking wine, so do as they say and make sure to have a few nibbles on hand when you pull the cork. Enough with the lecture!


This really happened. At a staff tasting we tried a white wine that struck us as interesting but maybe didn’t quite wow us, so we decided to give it another chance and placed it in the fridge overnight to see if it would evolve in the bottle. At the end of the following day, after the shop was closed up and before heading out, Chris presented Pete and me with a glass of white wine. I took a whiff and was positively baffled at how dramatically the sample white we tried the day before had changed.  Gone were the earthy, adhesive aromas and in its place was pulpy citrus, charged acidity and a fragrant herbal nose. It was fabulous! Could a wine really change that much overnight? Well the glass in my hand certainly proved it could, that is until Pete caught sight of my confusion and also noticed the vast difference between the wine we tasted the day before and the one we were tasting now. Putting two and two together, Pete quickly announced that what we were drinking was not the funky sample but most likely the 2012 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” from Ernesto Picollo. This made perfect sense to me however the only way Chris could have gotten a hold of a perfectly chilled bottle of “Rovereto” was to have opened a bottle that I had placed hours before in the fridge to take home for my Friday Night Fish Fry! Flip flopping from bouts of laughter to shooting “you son of a gun” glances over at Chris for ruining my planned dinner wine, I had to admit it was a comical way to end the work week and that great wine will always and immediately make itself known.


The last couple of weeks have been tough. Without going into details, let me just say that my family has faced some rough challenges – but we’re a tight bunch and I am thankful for that. In between handling family matters, I have taken some time out to bask in summertime’s fun.  An annual trip to the Sonoma County Fair with my daughter and husband was a highlight. Who can resist newborn piglets, greasy fair food, or a free cone of vanilla ice cream from the Clover stand? Oh yeah, and I helped rescue a drowning woman out of the Russian River. All of this makes me more mindful of how blessed I am for the family I have and how it’s best to do now and not later. There is a bag of calamari in my freezer that went in when my husband passed on going to a long ago planned, all-guys retreat to stay home with me while things were still up in the air. The calamari is going to be fried up soon and with it a bottle of 2012 Gavi “Rovereto” will be served. I’ll just have to make sure to hide the bottle away from Chris! – Anya Balistreri

2012 Gavi DOCG from Ernesto Picollo

Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:10 AM

Day 4 at the new place: wine is finally making it to the sales floor. Priority number one? Stack up the 2012 Gavi DOCG from Ernesto Picollo! Why this wine? It is arguably our most universally preferred under $12 bottle of white in the store. I am not sure that the winery’s name, Ernesto Picollo, is what people remember but our customers sure know to ask for “the Gavi”.


The Gavi appellation is located in Italy’s Piedmonte region. The grape is Cortese, a variety cultivated in this area for hundreds of years. Cortese’s signature appeal is the white flower aromas, subtle fruitiness and lively fresh finish. Picollo’s Gavi precisely exhibits these attributes. Measuring under 13% alcohol, usually around 12.5%, Picollo’s Gavi is light on its feet so you can enjoy a glass before dinner without feeling weighted down. 


The Picollo family has been making wine for three generations, currently farming close to 8 hectares of vines in traditional fashion. The average age of the vines is between 25 to 30 years, though much of the newer vines go into the Gavi DOCG. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel, the success of this wine lies with the excellent farming, resulting in perfectly grown grapes with which to make wine.


Not only have we managed to move our entire store this week, but we also took in our first container! The container arrived from Italy with replenished stocks of Picollo’s Gavi. There was a slight lag between running out of the ’11 Gavi and getting in the ’12 Gavi. During this time, I was forced to bring home other affordable whites. I discovered new favorites, but I really missed my Gavi. The nuanced white blossom and melon flavors blanketed by a sea breeze fresh, mineral core is deeply satisfying. I love how it balances out salty snacks. Friday’s Fish Night menu at Taverna Balistreri is often a Meyer lemon topped, herby, bread-crumbed baked filet of Petrale. It is a delicate fish, therefore it needs something light and fresh to go with it. The 2012 Gavi DOCG from Picollo is the hands-down winner for this match-up. 


I was working at TWH when it moved from Bryant to Carolina Street. After that ordeal, I vowed never to do it again! Ha ha. The grueling work aside, I am thrilled to be in this new location. I must commend my colleagues who put in many, many extra hours/days to accomplish this task. Everyone did their part and then some, all the while making it fun with lots of laughter and cheery repartee. And now, sitting at our new workstation, I am feeling an even deeper appreciation for our customers. So many of you have already ventured to our new spot and have patiently waited as we scrambled around the warehouse trying to locate wine for you. Yep, the sales floor is not fully stocked … but it’s getting there! TWH customers are the best! Thank you… – Anya Balistreri

2011 Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG

Monday, June 17, 2013 7:20 PM

Don’t look now, but we are steaming into summer! Solstice is coming up on Friday, I wish I could be in Santa Barbara for that, but alas, I had a very rare weekend off last week. The band played 2 shows up in Hood River, Oregon, and we had a blast. A little wine was sipped, both local and imported, and there were many memorable moments, that’s for sure. Being June and all, there was a whole lot of daylight up there, so yeah, summer is on the mind big time! It must be time to stock up on this year’s refrigerator door white wine. This is an absolute no-brainer here. What else could it be? The 2011 Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG.


After having put together a Dirty Dozen or two over the past 7 years, it has become more than obvious that as far as good quality sub $10 wine bargains go, there are substantially more red options than white. Why that is, I don’t know, but it’s a fact. That’s what makes Picollo’s Gavi extraordinary.  We’ve been importing the Ernesto Picollo line for several vintages now, and we are absolutely delighted with the wines. Their entry-level Gavi DOCG is a great example of how refreshing the Cortese grape can be. Grown in Piemonte, Gavi is the white wine of choice all along the coast from the Italian Riviera to Cinque Terre. Think fresh citrus aromas with a hint of melon; the palate is framed by zippy white fruit and a whiff of pebbly minerals, which leads the taster to a bright, lipsmacking finish. I could totally see myself back in sunny Bordighera looking out over the Mediterranean sipping on a glass of this whilst I toss back a bowl of gamberi. The beauty of Picollo’s Gavi DOCG, is that it is great on its own as well as being versatile enough to pair with crustaceans, poultry, pork, or white fish. So what does this baby cost? $10.49 per bottle. By the case? How about less than $9??!!?? Definite no-brainer here.



It’s really hard to find enjoyable wines for less than $10. It’s even harder to find a good white wine in that price range. But that’s what we do; as Anya says, “We taste a lot of bad wines so you don’t have to.” When we say yes to something, it’s for good reason. Like the Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG. I fondly remember the first vintage we carried. I took a bottle over to my favorite Monday night haunt,and excitedly poured a taste for Bruce Hill himself. He took a sip, his expression changed, he nodded and smiled, “Nice,” he said.“What’s the grape?”

“Cortese,” I replied.

“Great, we’ll pour it by the glass at the Pizzeria. Good find. Tell (the manager).”

Let’s just say that I got to know their valets very well, as I used their parking lot several times to drop off cases of the stuff on my way home after work. If it was good enough for them, it is certainly good enough for me, and I will consider it a failure if I ever come home to a summer-heated treehouse and not have a bottle of Gavi already in the fridge!


So yeah, summer is almost here. It’s time for summer traditions like grilling, hiking, biking, hanging at the beach, I could go on but you all know what I’m getting at. Stocking up on quality, inexpensive white wine is another summer tradition that won’t be going away any time soon. As long as they continue to produce it, let’s just say that the Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG will be a summer tradition in 2013, and for years to come. Oh, and to all the Dads out there, best wishes for a Happy Father’s Day! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about summer, inexpensive white wine, the band, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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The Wine House SF Top Ten Wines Of 2012

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:06 PM

Now that we’ve all settled into 2013, we have to say with excitement that this is going to be a great year! We are anxiously looking forward to all of the good things and the many great wines coming our way in 2013. But before we get too far into it, let’s have a look back as we reveal our Top Ten Wines of 2012!

The concept may sound simple … the top wines, right? Well, not so fast. We could tap into the multitude of reviews from wine writers and critics and fashion a list of highly rated, don’t drink until 2025, keep in a bank vault wines, butthat’s not how we roll here at TWH. In years past, our Top Ten lists are comprised of wines we all love. Wines that deliver. Wines that outshine their respective price points. Wines that provide pleasure, because really, isn’t that what wine is all about? We taste a whole lot of wine throughout the year, both here and abroad, and only bring in the ones we deem worthy to be on our shelves for you, our customers. Choosing a Top Ten out of all of the wines we’ve said yes to is a fun albeit difficult exercise. It’s fun because we get to relive our tasting experiences, remembering the meals, the ambiance, and the company that went along with each wine. Remember, some of the wines have sold out, but we list them here based on their merits … So without further ado, here is The Wine House San Francisco’s Top Ten wines of 2012!!!

Please use these links to view our Top Ten from last year, 2010, or 2009.

20NV Pascal Doquet Extra Brut Premier Crus Blancs de Blanc

With New Year’s memories slowly fading, let’s begin with some bubbles. TWH mainstay Pascal Doquet makes some of the best Grower Champagne that we’ve encountered. He sure has been garnering praise recently from the likes of James Molesworth of The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni. Why wouldn’t he? His artisanal Champagnes have been wowing our staff for over a decade! When this Extra Brut landed here in our shop this year, it instantly became a favorite of our staff and all customers who have tried it.Here’s what Mr. Galloni had to say about it, “Doquet’s NV Extra Brut Premier Crus Blanc de Blancs is pretty, soft and enveloping. Dried pears, spices, crushed flowers and almonds wrap around the palate in this expressive, layered Champagne. This is one of the more open Extra Brut Champagnes readers will come across, likely because of the high presence of 2005 juice and full malolactic fermentation. Technical details aside, the wine is flat out delicious. 91 points”
NV Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

Sparkling; Champagne Blend; Champagne;
  Add to Cart


19Michel-Andreotti Montagny les Guignottes

White Burgundy. Honestly, we don’t really have to say much more than that. It is special wine. Unfortunately, supply and demand do what they do, and a great amount of it is priced in the ‘special wine’ echelon. Well, David’s trips to Burgundy have paid off yet again, as we are now importing the Montagny “Les Guignottes” from Michel-Andreotti. From the slightly off-the-beaten-path appellation of Montagny in Côte Chalonnaise, “Les Guignottes” outperforms its price point by far and reminds us that there is good White Burgundy out there for a fair price. First came the 2010. It’s an understatement to say that it sold out quickly. Then along came the 2011, it sold out too, but we just re-loaded and it’s back in stock. Which one made our Top Ten of 2012? It’s a dead heat. They both belong!
2011 Domaine Michel-Andreotti Montagny Les Guignottes

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
  Add to Cart


182011 Juicy Villages From Juicy Rebound

Now for some local representation. You’ve got to love old-vine Mourvèdre. It’s rare to find a blend from California that showcases the grape in the leading role. Winemaker and hockey fanatic Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvèdre from the Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa where the vines look like “little trees” and blended it with Syrah and Grenache to create a mouth-filling berry bomb bestowing it with the catchy name, Juicy Villages. There’s plenty of grip and tang to give Juicy Villages a well-balanced flavor experience. A whopping 100 cases were produced of this unique and delicious Côtes du Rhône-esque red. All that for a price that’s more than fair on your pocketbook. Bravo!
2011 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages California

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Other California;
  Add to Cart


172009 Domaine Martin Bart Marsannay

2012 was the year of containers. It seemed all throughout the year, we were simultaneously in the process of consolidating one overseas, anticipating the arrival of the one already on the water, and unloading the container at our dock! That just means we found lots of goodies on our trips overseas. The 2009 vintage was a phenomenal one in France (more on that later), and we tasted a lot of great wines that now have “Imported by Wine House Limited” on their labels.So 2009 was great in Burgundy, especially for the red wines. So again, we’re sure the top names of the region produced formidable wines, but we like to kick tires and look under rocks to find value! David is on a roll bringing some amazing, new-for-us, high-quality producers to join TWH family! Another feather in his cap in 2012 were the wines from Domaine Bart in Marsannay. Their Les Champs Salomon was a home run of a Red Burgundy. It smelled fancy. It tasted fancy. Its price tag? Not so fancy. That all explains its sold out status. Welcome to TWH top 10, Domaine Bart!


16Ravan From Kabaj

We’ve got our eyes open for great wines from all corners of the wine world. Like Slovenia. Wines from Slovenia are catching favor with consumers and critics alike, popping up on restaurant wine lists and profiled in thoughtful wine publications. Just one whiff, just one taste was enough for us to throw caution to the wind and stack the Ravan from Kabaj high and proud. Were we concerned whether TWH customers would shy away from an unknown producer from an unfamiliar wine region? Not. The staff were all in for sure, but when a wine is this delightful, exotic and complex, we knew our adventurous clientele would embrace the Ravan from Kabaj just as passionately. The 2009 has sold out, but we find the 2010 a worthy successor!
2010 Kabaj Ravan White Wine Goriska Brda

White Wine; other white varietal; Slovenia;
  Add to Cart


152009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Tour de l’Isle

Imagine attending a traveling French wine trade show in Chicago in the middle of January … brrrrr! Seriously, at some point you have to ask yourself why? Well, part of our service to you all is to indeed kick tires, look under rocks, kiss some toads, and every now and then, we get lucky. Here goes your proof. Last January David braved the elements and flew into 6 degree Farenheit Chi-town. He met a lot of people and tasted a lot of wine. When he met the folks representing the Tour de l’Isle brand,he was gaga over their Châteauneuf-du-Pape! A sample bottle was shipped to the shop the following week, and now we all sing the praises of this rich, powerful (yet friendly), stone mineral driven, Grenachey Grenache! The 2009 was already in the US, courtesy of another importer. Well, we all love it so much that we made ’em an offer they couldn’t refuse. We bought their entire stock and are now the proud importer of their wines! Boo Yah!
2009 Tour de l’Isle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
  Add to Cart


142009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the advantages, and pleasures, of being in business for over 35 years (!) is the long-standing relationships we’ve forged with both customers and vendors. One of David’s first discoveries working at The Wine House was the debut vintage of Spottswoode’s estate grown 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon.The Wine House has been proudly offering their Cabernet Sauvignon every vintage thereafter.The 2009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon is a standout among a very long line of outstanding efforts; it has that unmistakable thread of Spottsberry fruit pushing through with the signature silky tannins wrapping around it. It is a true collectable California Cabernet and we are happy and proud to include this monumental effort among our Top Ten Wines of the year!
2009 Spottswoode Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
  Add to Cart


132011 Gavi di Gavi

We’ve been directly importing the Ernesto Picollo line of Gavi wines for 5 vintages now, and though we have always felt they smash the quality for price ratio, their 2011 Gavi di Gavi Roveretohas that extra umph that propels it into 2012’s Top Ten! Anya swears that it is the fact that Picollo’s top cuvée Rughe wasn’t made this year, so that special older-vine fruit made its way into the Rovereto. Whatever it was, there’s no denying the quality of this wine. Crisp, mineral driven, and precise, you would swear that the bottle cost would be twice or even three times as much as it is! It is that special. It’s very likely THE best white wine deal in the house!
2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Roverto

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
  Add to Cart


122001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

Chances are if you’ve been in our shop in the latter part of 2012, and perhaps overheard a customer request for a “special wine” or a “gift wine”, you would have heard a member of TWH staff gush over the merits of the 2001 Reserva Especial Rioja Viña Ardanza by La Rioja Alta.Whew, that’s a mouthful; but so is the wine! This well known Rioja producer has only thought it appropriate to make this special bottling in two other vintages: 1964 and 1973! Space limitations will keep us from gushing too much over this in writing, but let’s just say that if it were twice the price, it would still be a bargain. With 11 years of age, it can be enjoyed anytime from now until your 3 year old graduates from college … and then some!
2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja

Red Wine; Red Blend; Rioja;
  Add to Cart


11Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Of course it had to be a 2009 Bordeaux. I only wrote about this vintage and its wines umpteen times. But which one? Seriously, this was the toughest point of this exercise. But when you take everything into consideration, we’ve got to give the big tip of the cap to the 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc. I loved it out of barrel. Then, when the first 2009’s arrived in early 2012, it was on the first container. Chris and I grabbed a few of the new arrivals and taste tested them. His overwhelming favorite of the bunch was the Larrivaux. We opened another bottle the following week for Anya, Tom, and David to taste, and it was unanimous! Now that everyone was on board, we went back to the marketplace and loaded up. It is certainly not the only success story from the 2009 vintage, but that kind of quality for less than $25 resonates big time! Ignore at your own peril.
2009 Chateau Larrivaux Haut Medoc

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
  Add to Cart


So there you have it, our Top Ten Wines of 2012! We’ve already begun tasting new wines in the new year, and we’re taking good notes, so we’ll have plenty of candidates for this list this time next year! Wishing you all the best in 2013!Anya Balistreri & Peter Zavialoff

The Right Answer & Ernesto Picollo 2011 Gavi di Gavi

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 7:23 PM

Greetings all. It’s been another banner week here at TWH! There was much excitement here Thursday morning/afternoon as our staff nervously huddled around an AM radio listening to those tortuous Giants hold off a myriad of base runners and a hungry Reds team pent on breaking San Francisco’s hearts. We also were incredibly happy and proud to be mentioned in Decanter.com’s recent article announcing the launch of Opalie de Château Coutet, and of our current US exclusivity! Speaking of Decanter magazine, they regularly have a feature called “Confessions of a sommelier”. It is always a fun read, and this October’s feature with Robert Smith MS of Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas included a question we hear often, “What’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk and why?”It was Mr. Smith’s answer that had our staff abuzz in thought, praise, and delight.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in a write-up that we, the staff of TWH, are like a little family. We love to share our experiences with food and wine, and we love to laugh. We don’t necessarily laugh at everything; when something profound makes its way past the humor filter, we can be awestruck. Like we were when we read Robert Smith’s answer to that question. You see, we (obviously) all love wine. Which wine you ask? Many wines is the answer to that question. Sure, we all have our favorite regions and vineyards, but if you take a survey, you’ll find our favorites are quite catholic. Chris recently divulged that if it all came down to one bottle, it would be Red Burgundy for him. Tom’spreference lies in Burgundy as well, but in the Chardonnay vineyards of Meursault. There is enough evidence pointing to my appreciation of Bordeaux, though it is Sauternes that I choose to drink each year on my birthday. For this exercise, I asked Anya what her preference would be, and though I know she loves White Burgundy, Champagne, and Zinfandel, she brought the conversation back to Robert Smith’s answer to that question. Touché!


 We all like different things. As I’ve said many times before, the beauty of the world is that we all have different taste. If we didn’t, the good stuff would have been gone years ago. Also, that we alone are the experts as to what we, ourselves, like. Tom and I were discussing this concept today.Even if we may not fancy a particular wine, it is important to recognize the wine’s merits.One doesn’t need a Dujac Clos St. Denis, Château Haut Brion, or Vega Sicilia Unico to enjoy a special moment. Oops. I almost gave away the punch line. Take the 2011 Petite Cassagne Rosé, it is EVERYTHING I love about Rosé. No fancy price, but a stunning wine meant to be paired with happiness. No kidding, I’ve gone through 2 cases, one bottle at a time. Then there’s the Château Larrivaux that I wrote about two weeks ago. What joy! Something that I discovered two and a half years ago is finally here, and is it resonating with customers AND staff alike!?! (More on that later). 

So which wine am I going to recommend this weekend? What’s the best white wine value in the shop right now? Hands down. No brainer. It’s the 2011 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto from Ernesto Picollo. We’re now working with our 5th vintage of wines from Gavi producer Ernesto Picollo, and his 2011’s may be the best of the bunch. At least this year’s Rovereto has me smitten! Complex aromas of white peach, stones, and lemon blossom head the zingy palate of refined, zesty fruit and mineral; leading to a crisp, lipsmacking finish with all components firing. This is classy juice, and it’s an incredible deal! Hat’s off to direct importation! What to pair it with? All the usual suspects; but the moral of tonight’s email leads us back to Decanter magazine and “Confessions of a sommelier”

What’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk and why?” Here’s Robert Smith MS’s answer, “It’s not a wine, it’s a moment: like enjoying rosé on the beach in Tahiti or having empanadas and Malbec while on horseback in Argentina.” How true. How profound. How perfectly unpretentious. That pretty much sums it all up. The most perfect pairing for any wine is the right moment. Cheers to you, Robert Smith MS! Thank you for that.

So here at TWH, we’re sure to be huddled around the AM radio this week awaiting further Giants’ torture. We’ll all be tasting different wines this weekend, that will surely lead to some great conversation come Monday. Hopefully we’ll all have had some great moments to make those wines all the more special!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any thoughts about wine pairing moments or the frustration of international football breaks: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Roverto

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
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$13.59 per bottle by the case!!! Note: Website will not calculate discount. It will be applied when we process your order here in our shop. This is about as good a deal that exists for a pedigreed Italian white!



To conclude this weekend’s write-up, I asked Anya to express her thoughts after recently tasting the 2009 Château Larrivaux.Here is her kind reply:


“I could no longer resist the glowing reviews, my colleagues’ endorsements, nor the enthusiastic customer feedback for2009 Larrivaux, so I bought a bottle last Saturday night and promptly opened it when I got home. Why resist you wonder? Well, I am not a big fan of young Bordeaux. I buy Bordeaux, yes, but I can be patient when in comes to cellaring wine, so I prefer to wait a few years before imbibing. Young Bordeaux can be astringent and disjointed to me or just all fruit and wood with no nuance. Then came along 2009 Larrivaux. Wow, what a nose! With no audience within earshot, I nevertheless exclaimed aloud “that nose, that beautiful nose!” just like Santa in the animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie. It was several minutes before I even took a sip as I relished the pencil shaving aromas and deep black cassis notes that wafted way out of the glass. I wasn’t expecting to like this wine as much as I did even though everything pointed to the contrary. I immediately got very concerned (because now she wants to buy them-PZ) as I now knew firsthand what Pete has been writing about since tasting the ’09s out of barrel. I am a believer. What impressed me about the ’09 Larrivaux, along with the classical aromatic notes, was the seamless integration of fruit, wood and acidity. The wine has lift and elegance without a hint of astringency.I can see myself drinking this wine over and over and never tiring of it. 

So there you have it. A great wine. A great price. Waiting for a great moment.

2009 Chateau Larrivaux Haut Medoc

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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Red, White and Rose

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:45 PM

Whether you are taking a long weekend, having a short work-week, or it is business as usual, the Fourth of July lands mid-week and it signalsSummerSummertime drinkin’ time. Here are three wines that I’ll be enjoying over the next few days at the beach, on the deck, by the grill, with family, with friends, by myself:


An urban winery movement is happening in San Francisco; a lot of them are sprouting up around The Wine House. We are proud to offer wine from these local artisans. One such new producer on the scene is Qualia, whose young, talented winemaker, Jason Kivelstadt, also runs a successful business providing wine kegs from premium wineries to restaurants and bars. Jason began his wine career at Copain and Donum Estate with the long view goal of making wine from his family’s vineyard in Bennett Valley.The 2009 Qualia Syrah-Grenache is comprised of 60% Syrah from Kivelstadt Vineyard, the family vineyard, and 40% Grenache from Kick Ranch, a vineyard used most notably by Bedrock Wine Co. It’s a super tasty amalgamation of raspberry fruit with notes of black pepper and spice. Fruit-driven and plush, for me, this is a wine that is unequivocally Californian and one that I can bring along to share with my domestic wine-drinking crowd, impress them and enjoy the wine myself.
2009 Qualia Wines Syrah Grenache Sonoma County

Red Wine; Red Blend; Sonoma;
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Ernesto Picollo

If there exists someone who doesn’t love Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi, I haven’t yet met that person. We’ve been sold out of Picollo’s Gavi for months as our Italian container took a little longer to arrive than expected-so what else is new-and I thought there might be a riot. Truly. At $8.92 per bottle when purchased by the case, it really is one of the best deals in town, as the saying goes. Made entirely from the Cortese grape grown in south-eastern Piedmont where the influence of the Mediterranean can be felt, this Italian white is not only delicious, light in alcohol and refreshing, but the interplay of fruit and acidity is so satisfying that it’s a wine hard to tire of. It’s got what I call the“potato-chip syndrome” because one sip isn’t enough…you’ve got to have more!
2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
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Domaine Bart

The 2011 Marsannay Rose from Domaine Bart is simply gorgeous: a pale-hued pink laden with wild strawberry and Crenshaw melon fruit, it finishes dry, as one would hope, and has a rich texture, which makes it perfect to serve with firm-fleshed fish as well as four-legged critters. Marsannay is the closest appellation to the city of Dijon and the only village allowed to be named on a bottle of Burgundian Rose. Domaine Bart’s winemaker, Martin Bart, uses 1/3 saignee and 2/3 pressed wine for this cuvee. The Pinot Noir fruit is expressive and unmistakable. When temperatures rise, a well-chilled glass of Rose is what I begin to crave. We’ll be grilling over the Fourth and if temperatures don’t dive below 85 by the time we sit down to dine, I’m serving this Marsannay Rose instead of a red. And here is why: when it is hot outside, no matter if you chill it down, a red will sit clumsy on the palate and show heat. If you serve a structured Rose that has a bit of grip like the 2011 Marsannay Rose from Domaine Bart, you’ll be amazed at how well it drinks throughout the meal.
2011 Domaine Martin Bart Marsannay Rose

Rose; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
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It has been three weeks straight of sports camps for my daughter and husband (he runs the camp, my daughter goes along). And we are ALL exhausted! We are heading off for a bit of R & R. Can sleeping in past 8am be close at hand? Oh, I hope so. We’re packed and ready, including the dog and the 3 wine selections above. Apart from a fireworks show, no plans have been set in stone and I’m relishing the thought of unstructured time and plenty of rest. Wishing all of you a safe, relaxing, and fun-filled Fourth of July!Anya Balistreri

This past Tuesday, gathered around a table at the center of Piccino restaurant, Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli gave The Wine House staff a brief but exhaustive history of her Tuscan estate and the nearby medieval town of San Gimignano. The history lesson started by describing that 5 million years ago where Montenidoli now stands was once covered by sea.Today her vineyards grow on these mineral rich soils where ancient oyster shells dapple the rows. The lecture continued to more “present” day events pointing out that it was the Etruscans who predated the Romans that first planted grape vines in this area. Elisabetta went over a lot of information covering many years! She had us riveted to her every word. She showed us photos on her iPad that made us long to fly back home with her. Apart from the lovely aerial photos taken from her estate that literally look down on to San Gimignano (those lucky enough to have visited San Gimignano know that it is a town built on top of a hill) and the valley below, what impressed me most were the photos of the oyster shells and other marine critters that are strewn about her vineyards and a shot of her vineyard in what is probably late spring/summer with cover crop so lush and alive that it looks more like a flower garden. The healthy cover crop in the rows of vines is evidence of the vigor and vitality of Montenidoli soil. Then we began to taste Elisabetta’s wines…



The first sip went to the 2009 Tradizionale Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This is 100% Vernaccia that is left in contact with the skins for an extended period of time before fermenting in cement tanks. It is golden in color with formidable structure and firmness to the finish. To me this wine drinks like a red wine and with this in mind, it really needs food to show off its full potential. Don’t confuse this with a fruity aperitif. No, this wine needs to be lingered over and tasted with the same kind of reverence and mindfulness one gives to a powerful red. I’d love to pop open a bottle the next time I come home with an armful of baby braising greens from the farmer’s market. Elisabetta loves to suggest pairing the Tradizionale with liver and spinach,commenting that iron rich foods compliment it perfectly. I haven’t put this suggestion into practice but I’m game. I can only imagine how well earthy organ meats would play against the fruit, extraction and tannic underpinning of the Tradizionale. Elisabetta makes many references to child rearing and nursing when speaking about her wines. She described leaving the Tradizionale grapes in contact with the skins as a mother who would not want to leave contact with her child. She then made it absolutely clear to us that she is looking for the development of flavor with the extended skin contact but in no way is there oxidation. All the wines showed beautifully that evening and as the glasses emptied the theme that was raised over and over was thatMontenidoli’s Vernaccias are in a class by themselves and though Vernaccia may not be considered a ‘noble’ grape yet, when the synergy of place, terroir, varietal and winemaker come together like they do with Elisabetta’s Vernaccias perhaps the concept of ‘noble’ grape should be reconsidered. Earlier in the day, Elisabetta’s wines were presented to many top SF sommeliers – all were blown away by the complexity of her wines.



I am so grateful to have spent an evening with Elisabetta trying her wines in the company of my colleagues. Listening to Elisabetta explain that it is not she who makes the wine but it is the soil of Montenidoli that is responsible helped to solidify what I already knew to be true thatthis is a woman who is deeply connected to the soil and is clear as to her role in making, or raising as she puts it, wine. Of course the evening wasn’t all serious wine talk, Elisabetta shared many words of wisdom like when she announced that there are two times in life when you can behave as you wish, before 6 and after 70! At one point Elisabetta threw out that Andre Tchelistcheff, known as “the dean of American winemakers”, came to visit her in the late 70s. She said that Andre told her to put her wine in barrel and she did! I nearly fell off my chair. This story resonates with me on so many levels, the least of which is that it took a Russian American to tell an Italian how to make wine…my ethnic chauvinism is rearing its ugly head!


Elisabetta will be back in town next week for Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tasting at Fort Mason. If you can’t make the event, don’t fret, we have plenty ofher lovely wines available at The Wine House. Come on by, we have many more stories to share!

Anya Balistreri

February 2012 Dirty Dozen

Monday, February 6, 2012 6:40 PM

Well the normally 28 day long month of February will gain an extra one seeing that 2012 is a leap year. Shoot! If that’s the case, we better pullout the stops for the leap year month’s DD! How about 7 different countries represented by a whopping 17 grape varieties??!! That’s right. Where else are your going to go and get a case of 12 different wines from 7 countries, made up of 17 grapes for such a low price????

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2011 Lyric, Nederburg – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Wait! Wasn’t 2011 just over a month ago?! Aha! From the southern hemisphere, make that South Africa’s Western Cape, comes a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (56%), Chenin Blanc (23%), and Chardonnay (21%) … how they arrived at the precise numbers is beyond us, but the wine is great. Think peaches and pineapple, citrus, and maybe a crab salad.

2010 Pedro Ximenez, Falernia – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Most commonly known for its use in Sherry, the Pedro Ximenez grape was brought to Spain in the 1500’s by a German man named Peter Siemens. Perhaps because Google Translate wasn’t available at the time, they decided upon the Pedro Ximenez name. This one’s from Chile, and is rich, complex, and dry. It will accompany your pork roast perfectly.

2009 Chardonnay, MSH – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Timing is everything. When the global financial situation took a turn for the worse, a spotlight shone on those producers that were making high quality wine for more than a fair price. Enter MSH. Great balance and weight … and price tag.

2010 Kiralyleanyka, Szoke – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
We can’t resist … this from the distributor – “Yes, I have the Kiralyleanyka and it’s dry. It translates to the ‘Little Princess’ even though large, hairy Hungarian men drink it.” Seriously funny. What we have here is a bright, lively Hungarian native white that will have you closing your eyes and dreaming about a holiday on Lake Balaton with some roasted pike-perch.

2010 Rosé, Domaine Fondrèche – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
“I like a dry Rosé, that’s not tutti-fruiti, you know, like the ones they serve in the south of France.” Generally speaking, that would be what most prospective Rosé buyers say when asking for advice from our staff. The Fondrèche Rosé is EXACTLY that! Made from mostly Cinsault, the wine has a soft, dry, herbal profile that has stunning freshness and a crisp finish.

2010 Gavi DOCG, Ernesto Picollo – $10.49, $8.39 reorder
Wow! 6 perfectly chillable wines from 6 countries! This Gavi from Italia’s Piemonte appellation is the white wine of choice for all of the seafood eating folks living on the Italian coastline from San Remo to Cinque Terre. Think rich, round fruit framed by crunchy minerals propped up by racy acidity. THE perfect pairing for your shrimp scampi.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mercedes Eguren – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
And now for the reds … hailing from España’s Castilla region, this Cab Sauvignon has it all going. The aromas scream of black cherries, plums, herbs, and a hint of chocolate. On the palate, it shows great weight and balance without tipping the scales overboard. This is one to be enjoyed with a nice cut of prime rib with potatoes au gratin.

2007 Plaisir 75cl, Roger Sabon – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Coming from Cave Roger Sabon, the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer, this steal of a deal will not stay on our shelves very long. It is a 2007, though nowhere on the label will it reveal that, but we’re insiders, so we know. Less than half the price of his CdP, Sabon’s Plaisir is all that … 100% pure pleasure. This is one to pour with your cassoulet.

2009 Joven Selectión, Monasterio de Corias – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
From Asturias in España, this 3 grape blend of Carrasquin, Verdejo Negro, and Mencia delivers top notch quality for a very fair price. Asturias is a champion appellation for yielding wines with light body and racy acidity, which is the perfect combination for the rich, sometimes spicy cuisine from the area. May we suggest drinking with Mediterranean meatballs.

2007 Trassegum, Ch&acic;teau d’Or et des Gueules – $22.99, $18.39 reorder
The diamond of the DD! Diane de Puymorin has hit paydirt (yet again) with her focused 2007 Trassegum. Made from mostly Syrah with equal parts old-vine Mourvèdre and Carignan, this is a wine to be taken seriously. It has a rich, smoky profile with notes of Herbs de Provençe, and a gamey, meaty backbone. Serve with something hearty, like a porterhouse.

NV Owl House Red – $7.48 net price, $6.73 reorder
This Cali non-vintage red is a blend of several varieties, though chiefly comprised of Counoise. Counoise is one of many grapes allowed in France’s southern Rhône Valley to be used in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. An über popular wine among our regular customer base, we find the Owl House a screaming value! Bring one to your next Tuesday night pizza party!

2009 Pinot Noir, Big Vine – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Coming from an ideal vintage on California’s Central Coast, the 2009 Big Vine Pinot Noir knocks it out of the park for value in a Pinot Noir. Comprised mainly of fruit from the Arroyo Grande appellation, there is also a smattering of Santa Rita Hills fruit which gives the wine the finesse that will make you stop all conversation and quizzically look at your glass saying, “huh?” The wine is bright and lively with just enough cherry cola to balance the earthy nuances. Goes great with pasta.

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Ernesto Picollo: 2010 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto”

Friday, September 2, 2011 7:56 PM


If you’ve been paying close attention to our inventory over the past few years, you may have noticed that our selections of vini d’Italia have increased over three-fold. We can cite many reasons why this is, but it’s good to be in the right place at the right time. Last month we told you about our latest container from Italy, and how it was bursting with new goodies, some of which we’ve never sold before. Alas, there was one name that when pulled from the container garnered thepraise and celebration of our entire staff, Ernesto Picollo. His Gavi DOCG and Gavi di Gavi have pleased many a customer and staff member of TWH for a several vintages, and we’re delighted to have the 2010s in stock.

Made from the Cortese grape, the wines from Gavi are typically medium bodied with bright acidity and hints of citrus fruit. Ah, but Picollo’s Gavi are so much more!The entry level Gavi DOCG is crisp and clean, infused with minerals, citrus and stone fruit. The Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” is a more refined, precise take on both variety and terroir. From vines averaging 35 years of age, its aromatics are pure apricot/peach framed by fresh rocky mineral. The palate is focused and balanced, much like a newly sharpened knife. For the price, it’s tough to beat. Finally, the Gavi di Gavi “Rughe” is Ernesto’s cream of the crop. It is produced in very small quantity due to painstaking procedures like crop thinning prior to ripening and secondary fruit selection. The Rughe has all the precision of the Rovereto, yet has the opulence you’d find in a white wine twice the price.

2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi

Saturday, April 16, 2011 4:08 PM

Happy Friday, all! These are exciting times. Take a look around,everywhere you look, things are a-bloomin’. Check out your local Farmers’ Market, and there are sure signs that spring indeed has sprung. Flip on the TV and check out what’s on the sports channels: Baseball! And if you take a drive through wine country, the skeletal, craggy vines of winter are showing renewed signs of life as budbreak has occurred and the 2011 vintage is on! As the days continue to grow longer and warmer,we’re compelled to trade in that glass of hearty, luscious red wine forsomething cool and crisp. By virtue of our ability to directly import wine from the Old World, have we got a super deal on a super wine from Italia:The 2009 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto from Picollo Ernesto.


We had brought in one previous vintage of the Gavi wines from Picollo Ernesto already, but when we tasted the latest releases, the 2009s, we said, “Ancora!” The Gavi DOCG was a stunning success with just the right amount of crisp, lipsmacking fruit, mineral, and lively acidity.The 2009 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto is a whole ‘nother animal altogether! This is true Gavi di Gavi, grown on the slopes of Gavi’s famous Rovereto. The focused aromas are complex and refined. You get more than a hint of sun baked, rocky, rich mineral and a breeze of stone fruit all wrapped up in a floral profile. The palate is fresh and crisp, with an abundance of complex nuance: think apricots, blossoms, and stones. The fresh acidity keeps all of that humming through the finish leading the contented sipper scratching their head wondering how all of this goodness can come out of a bottle priced well below $20. But that’s why we do what we do! We take such pleasure when we unearth a gem of a wine that drives like a Bentley with the sticker of a Prism. The 2009 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto is that gem of a wine!


What to pair the wine with, you might ask? It will shine with lighter meats, of course, like fish, shellfish, or a chicken breasted Caesar Salad. Its friendliness is not confined to dinner either. A warm evening and a couple of olives with the right company will do the trick just as well. So let’s all get up for the seventh inning stretch, grab some spring leeks, wipe off those eye shades, and enjoy the explosion of April’s colorful flora; spring is here! And just in time, we’ve got your springtime wine covered. Seriously, if it wasn’t so trite, we could easily get away with calling the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, “Springtime in a bottle”. Let the sun shine. – Piero Zaviallo
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2009 Picollo Ernersto Gavi DOCG

Thursday, March 10, 2011 7:33 PM

Happy Mardi Gras, everybody! We’ve been grooving to Cajun sounds all day here at TWH, and we’ve definitely caught the New Orleans vibe. Mmmm, New Orleans. Fond memories; I greatly improved my standing in the eyes of The Big Easy the last time I was there. Anyways, there’s all this talk of beads and crayfish and zydeco and oyster po’boys! Dinner time’s coming on, and we’ve got four TWH empoyees’ tummys a’rumblin.


So yes, Cajun fried chicken, red beans and rice, or Jambalaya; we can go in many directions with this theme. Is there a wine that can go with all those options? I’d like to think so. My colleagues are not going to be very happy with me after they read this, because everybody here loves this wine! Emily took it “out for a date”, and wrote about it recently. Take into consideration its versatility, sense of place, complexity and price, and the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi is the best white wine deal currently in the house! Yup, the best.

This is the second vintage of Picollo Ernesto’s Gavi we’ve imported, and I have to say, it won’t be the last. Hints of lemon blossoms and that vitamin-like mineral waft from the glass; the palate is fresh and crisp with a soft, mouth-coating fruitiness that is balanced by vibrant acidity; the finish is in full harmony with the fruit and mineral bonking each other on the head as they gleefully fade away.

Yes, once again Happy Mardi Gras! Whether you’re chowing down something that reminds you of New Orleans, something Cajun, or anything really, don’t miss out on the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi DOCG.Peter Zavialoff

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