3 Summer Whites: Oysters Anyone?

Monday, July 16, 2012 9:23 PM

In my teens, I noted my summers by the crushes I had-those were good times. Now instead of crushes, a culinary obsession and what wines go along best mark my summers. One year it was the Summer of stuffed vegetables, another making the perfect Ceasar Salad, and so it goes. During my Fourth of July get-away, this summer’s theme emerged: oysters. Teeny tiny ones for slurping up raw or big honking ones that need to heat through on an open fire, I like them all. My brother and his wife purchased a whole mess of medium-sized oysters at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. for the Fourth. We ‘qued them on the grill, sipping on Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi, and served them up with fresh horseradish and garlic butter. We had a large crowd, so there was a wait between bites, but I loved that as you waited for the next delicious taste, people had time to visit with one another. So, now back at the shop, I’ve been eyeing the whites and imagining which would be best suited for my next oyster extravaganza. These three whites are oyster-friendly and are especially suited for Summer sippin’.


The 2011 Jarenincan is another charming, unique wine from Slovenia that has got the staff jazzed. The estate of Crnko is located in eastern Slovenia. Crkno is a working farm that also grows vegetables, raises livestock and even bakes bread daily from the wheat they grow and mill themselves! Their vineyards are planted on a specific type of marl soil. Marl is said to look like slate but is more brittle and silty to the touch. Jarenincan, a proprietary name that refers to the nearby town of Jarenina, accounts for half of the winery’s production from their 6 hectares of vines. Prior to ’09 the entire production of Jarenincan was sold locally in Jarenina.The Jarenincan, which comes in a liter bottle, is a blend of various white grapes grown on the estate. The blend varies from year to year. The 2011 is probably dominated by Muller-Thurgau and Laski Riesling. Probably? Yes, probably. I have read differing accounts from the winery’s website and the importer’s technical data sheet. You might wonder how this is possible, but having had direct experience with small producers in France and Italy, I can only say that Europeans are not always as compelled as we (Americans) are to know the exact varietal composition of a wine. The take away here is that this is not supposed to be a serious wine, but an approachable, delicious, fresh drink. We offered the ’10 in last year’s October Dirty Dozen. It was big hit with DD drinkers. I think the ’11 is less floral and has more attack on the finish, though still ever so slightly off-dry. At under 12% abv., this is unquestionably the one to pop open on that sweltering summer evening.
2011 Crnko Jarenincan (1 liter bottle)

White Wine; other white varietal; Slovenia;
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Portugal’s Vinho Verde is synonymous with Summer sippin’ for many a wine drinker. And why wouldn’t it be? Low in alcohol and loaded with juicy citrus fruit that finishes with a playful, tongue-tingling effervescence. So nice. Vera is a collaborative effort between a Portugese native and a winecentric New Yorker–go figure. The grapes for Vera are sourced from 10-35 year old vines grown in the Vinho Verde sub-region of Basto. The grapes are Arinto, Azal, and Loureiro. Never heard of them? Me neither, but that’s ok because Vinho Verde is all you need to know and Vera makes an especially delightful one! Like the Jarenincan, this is an uncomplicated wine that is ideally suited for casual gatherings, served well-chilled, to go along with snacks or light seafood fare. I recently ate a fried oyster sandwich slathered with fennel-flecked coleslaw while visiting Pt. Reyes…the 2011 Vera would have been the perfect match.
2011 Vera Vinho Verde

White Wine; other white varietal; Portugal;
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Domaine Sigalas

Domaine Sigalas is no stranger at The Wine House. The 2009 Santorini made our Top Ten Wines for 2010. Not to mention that everyone from critic Robert Parker to writer Eric Asimov to every wine blogger who has ever tasted Sigalas’ Assyrtiko have raved about this world renowned wine. The 2011 Sigalas Assyrtiko’s intense mineral attack and finish, its subtle fruit profile and complexity is pitch perfect. It’s exactly what I think most white wine drinkers are looking for in a light-bodied, crisp white wine. I am struck and amazed by how this seemingly easy-going wine lures you in with its freshness but leaves you dazzled by the layers of flavors and long lasting finish. The wine changes in the glass and it changes on the palate. The 2011 Assyrtiko is my go-to pick for raw oysters on the half shell. The briny, sea breeze flavor of the oyster liquor mirrors the mineral taste of Sigalas’ Assyrtiko.
2011 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini

White Wine; other white varietal; Greece;
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Before I began my staycation, I asked/pleaded if it were possible to sleep in past 8am. After a full day of swimming, sun and the wild rumpus of family, that first morning we all slept in till 10am, including the dog! That was golden. Continuing with the summer oyster theme, I hope to make a trek out to the coast for another bushel of those briny morsels…I’ll be sure to have one of each of the above wines at the ready in the fridge. —Anya Balistreri

November 2011 Dirty Dozen

Monday, November 7, 2011 5:50 PM

Sniff, sniff … Smell that? Yep, autumn is in the air. Cool air, crisp leaves, and fires roaring in the fireplace. The time for giving thanks is here and we know the last thing you need to think about is which wines to pour at the table. No worries, we’ve got you covered this T-Day. From sweet to sparkling, silky to “sock it to me!”, there is something for everyone in this month’s DD. 12 different turkey-worthy wines, chosen for their versatility, packed into one box, all for an awesome low price.

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2010 Hooked! Riesling, Rudi Wiest Selections – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
New to us this fall is this yummy unpretentious German quaffer from importer Rudi Wiest. Sourced from vineyards in the Nahe, this perfectly balanced Riesling sings of clean, pear-like fruit. It’s off-dry, so it works well with spicy Szechzuan fare.

NV Cava, Segura Viudas – $7.98 net price, $7.18 reorder
Our most popular sparkler, the Segura Viudas tips the quality-for-price meter completely over! Made from Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, it has to be the best fizz in this price range. It has a pleasant creaminess, a hint of citrus blossom, and finishes fairly crisp. Best thing is, if someone wants to make mimosas, they can do it here … guilt free.

2010 Montravel Blanc ‘Terrement’, Château Puy-Servain – $12.99, $10.39 reorder
Winemaker Daniel Hecquet blends equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris for his ‘Terrement’, and the result is pure magic. The Gris gives the wine its plump fruity middle and the Sauvignon Blanc does the rest with its fresh acidity and flavor profile. Daniel may not be able to write White Bordeaux on the label, but it may as well be. Bowl o’mussels here.

2010 Destinos Cruzados – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
In this corner, hailing from La Mancha region in Spain, is this 100% Macabeo from Destinos. We now know that Macabeo is a grape that is blended to make the sparkling Cava, but here it is on its own. It’s lean, light, and crisp with hints of citrus blossoms and zippy apples. A versatile, easy-going wine, it works well as an aperitif or better with a shrimp salad.

2008 Pinot Gris Im Berg, Domaine Ehrhart – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
We can’t say enough about our friends Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart from Wettolsheim, Alsace. Philippe’s grandfather instilled organic farming techniques and now the Domaine has the official Agricole Biologique status. This Pinot Gris is teeming with aromatic wonderfulness. On the palate it is dry, rich, and balanced. One for that bockworst and cabbage.

NV Mediterranean White, René Barbier – $5.98 net price, $5.38 reorder
If you can find a better deal on a bottle of white wine than this, we need to know about it! Seriously, bang for your buck, Barbier’s white offers stunning value. Clean and crisp and coming in at 11.5%, it’s great with ceviche.

2007 Syrah, Domaine Saint Antoine – $11.29, $9.03 reorder
Nestled in a warm pocket of micro-climate in the Costières de Nîmes is Domaine de Saint Antoine. Run by husband and wife Jean-Louis and Marlène Emmanuel, the wines from this property proudly carry their representation of place. Aromas of briary black and red fruit, herbs, and earth are met with a medium body that would stand up nicely to a prime rib.

NV Sherman & Hookers Shebang! – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Pretty much the best deal we’ve got these days on a California red wine has to be the Shebang! Made by Bedrock’s en fuego Morgan Twain-Peterson, it’s a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Alicante and according to the SF Chronicle’s Jon Bonné tasts like a bottle worth almost twice the price. Would make a fine addition to the holiday table.

2010 Saint George/Cabernet Sauvignon, Skouras – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Looks like our Greek section is growing! A recent peek revealed 4 wines from the land of the Odyssey. Composed chiefly of Greek native Aghiorghitiko, it benefits from a kiss of Cabernet Sauvignon. It goes without saying lamb skewers work.

2008 Dão Vinho Tinto, Quinta do Correio – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Another hit in the November DD, Correio’s Dão Tinto comes mostly from the Portuguese grape Jaen. It undergoes just a little barrel aging to give it some texture and it boasts some medium red fruit and violet flavors. It’s great with pizza.

2009 Morgon Douby, Château Raousset – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
November always marks the arrival of nouveaux Beaujolais, and we really feel that does a disservice to the quality of the region’s top wines, or Cru Beaujolais. A recent scouting trip to France uncovered the gem of a Château, Raousset. The 2009 vintage was astounding for these top Cru wines, we strongly urge you to try this Morgon; you can cellar this one!

2008 Côtes du Rhône Mataro, Vignobles Boudinaud – $21.99, $17.59 reorder
As if this month’s DD needed a trump card! This 100% Mourvèdre CdR tips the scales for quality/price. Think dark, earthy briary berries wrapped up in a fresh, zippy elixir with silky tannins. That’s what you get. We’re proud to be the only shop in the country with this wine. That’s why we’re here; that’s what we do. We find great wines from afar and bring them home for you and yours to enjoy. Enjoy this with a log on the fire and someone special by your side.

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