Friday, January 5, 2018 4:47 PM
Monday, July 3, 2017 11:28 AM
What is now known as The La Cuadrilla program at Stolpman Vineyards began as a way for the vineyard manager to better train his crew. The idea was to dedicate a two-acre block, or cuadra, that the vineyard crew had to then cultivate, from pruning to harvest, without supervision. This training block was called the La Cuadrilla, in Spanish meaning the people of the block. To challenge the crew even further, this two-acre training block would be set up in another part of the vineyard the next vintage. Eventually the vineyard manager confided to owner Tom Stolpman the success of this training system. It was Tom who came up with the idea of making wine from that training block and giving those bottles to the crew as a way to enjoy the fruits of their labor. By 2009, the program expanded to include fruit from other parts of the vineyard so that La Cuadrilla could be sold commercially. Profits from the sale of La Cuadrilla are divided among the vineyard crew in the form of a year-end bonus. This is a creative way for all to benefit by incentivizing learning and taking steps to achieve sustainable employment. Bravo to Stolpman Vineyards!
Of course, in order for this program to really work well, the wine has to be good – this can’t be just a gimmick. The 2015 La Cuadrilla is a lively blend of Syrah with small additions of Grenache, some of it old vine, and Sangiovese. The wine is vinified in concrete tanks and then aged in neutral barrel. La Cuadrilla has a lot of brightness and tart red fruit. It isn’t heavy or over-ripe, but is dominated by red fruit flavors and a pleasant, earthy note. Because of its fresh palate feel, it’s a great choice for warm-weather food pairings like smoky barbecued meats.
Stolpman Vineyards is located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Ballard Canyon AVA. Ballard Canyon is Santa Barbara’s newest AVA and sits between the Santa Rita Hills and Happy Canyon. Ballard Canyon benefits from warm days during the growing season and is protected from wind by the surrounding hills. Temperatures drop significantly at night. Some soils, like at Stolpman, have limestone deposits.
I won’t only be celebrating our nation’s birthday this weekend. I will also be celebrating my mother’s birthday and my own. Mother and daughter will be throwing a joint birthday party! My brother, bless his heart, suggested putting only one candle on each of our birthday desserts. I agreed, adding that we wouldn’t want to ignite a raging inferno. My birthday year was not a particularly good vintage for wine throughout most of world. No worries here because the party calls for youthful wines, so La Cuadrilla will make an appearance on the table. It should be another great family meal up at the dacha out on the deck beneath the Redwoods. Happy Happy, Everyone! – Anya Balistreri
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 11:11 AM
The Rosés have landed! The Rosés have landed! The one I took home first, was the one I took home most often last vintage: Domaine des Aspras à Lisa Rosé. The 2016 is as delightful as was the 2015. What’s not to love? Fragrant strawberry aromas give way to nuanced berry and melon flavors on the palate.I believe my affinity for Rosé has been well established, and now that I’ve reached a certain age, I am not afraid to admit that I prefer Rosés with a fruitier profile. I still want a dry finish but I want fruit – if I want a white wine, I’ll drink one. The à Lisa Rosé gives me the fruit I am looking for along with the fresh and lively finish I crave.
Aspras in Winter
Domaine des Aspras is located in the unique Provençal village of Correns. What makes Correns unique is that the entire village is BIO. It is the first village in France to become so, which means everyone farms organically and the community has agreed to pursue sustainability in everything they do. Michael Latz, the proprietor of Domaine des Aspras, is also the Mayor of Correns. Michael’s parents, Lisa and Gottfried established the winery in the 1960’s, after first fleeing their native Germany in the thirties and then escaping the Congo Crisis of the early sixties. Neither Lisa nor Gottfried knew anything about viticulture when they settled in Correns, but they made a go of it.
A Room With A View
The à Lisa is the domaine’s entry-level line of wines (there is also a white and a red). As you could probably guess, the name is in honor of Michael’s mother. The Rosé is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Cinsault grown on vineyards along the banks of the Argens River. A direct-press Rosé of 100% de-stemmed fruit, the quality here is on par with pricier Cotes de Provence and Bandol Rosés. A delicate salmon-pink hue is both pretty to look at and delicious to drink – And, there is enough weight on the palate to take this Rosé from aperitif to the dining table.
The night I tasted the 2016 à Lisa Rosé was not nearly as warm as the evenings we’re experiencing this weekend across most of the US, but that didn’t stop me from making one of my all-time favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. Salade Niçoise is on regular rotation at my house for the next several months and my first choice to serve with it is a Rosé. It’s a match made in heaven.
A special thanks goes out to my brother and sister-in-law who shared their photos of Domaine des Aspras. I was able to arrange for them to visit the winery this past March after they took a river cruise along the Rhone. Though still winter with a glimmer of spring on the horizon, the photos convey the sheer beauty of the region. Hey Kiki – next time we go together! – Anya Balistreri
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 11:36 AM
Whoa! How did it get to be February already??!! Seriously, the period after the holidays may be somewhat quiet for some, but around here it was hoppin’. I mentioned the parade of folks from Bordeaux passing through our doors the past couple of weeks; the UGC tasting of the newly bottled 2014’s was a week ago Friday. The wines are showing as well, if not better, than I anticipated after having tasted them as barrel samples. I’ve got more to say about them, but tonight’s exercise is more about what I like to call ye olde reliable, Côtes-du-Rhône rouge. Specifically, the 2013 CdR La Boissière from Domaine Boudinaud.
It’s funny. My memory is chock full of useless information. I don’t know why I remember some things (seriously, yesterday was my best friend’s from 3rd grade birthday), and not other, more important things. Like when and where and why did I taste my first Côtes-du-Rhône? It almost feels to me like it just always was a given. If I wanted a nice glass or two of delicious red wine without much expense, there is always Côtes-du-Rhône. When a new customer walks in to our shop and informs me that they like wine, yet aren’t very familiar with French wine, I tend to start here. With Côtes-du-Rhône, it’s tough to go wrong.
We have been working with Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud for well over a decade, and we just love their wines. For the 2013 la Boissière, Thierry blended 55% Grenache with 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. The nuance of each variety’s aromatic profile is noticeable and the blend is quite harmonious. And what’s great about this wine in particular is that you can drink it on its own, with a burger, with steak, with a pork chop, barbecue chicken, and so forth. It is that versatile. Given its price point, it’s a super wine for a very fair price. I do remember how much we liked the 2012, and how my colleagues and I squirreled away bottles for ourselves when our stock began to vanish. When it finally dried up, the countdown began for the new vintage. Now that it’s here, our entire staff is enjoying it. One bottle at a time. And though $13.49 is already an extraordinary deal for a wine of this quality, the case price of $11.47 per bottle is what we call a no-brainer.
Wow. I’m at a loss for what to do for dinner this evening. As Anya mentioned last week, our staff had our annual holiday dinner gathering a fortnight ago, and last Saturday, I was lucky enough to join a supplier and representatives from three Bordeaux chateaux at The Battery for an incredible dinner. It was there that I tasted my very first grade A-5 Wagyu beef. I will not be forgetting about that anytime soon. I have a feeling that tonight’s dinner plans will be less extravagant and more about comfort food. What wine will I be bringing home to sip with my comfort food? Ye olde reliable, of course! – Peter Zavialoff
Monday, August 22, 2016 7:24 PM
Monday, August 15, 2016 9:27 PM
It sure has beenan interesting week. On one hand, it’sthe middle of August. Most of France is on holiday and I’ve always beenunder the impressionthat these waning summer days before school begins againare the official “dog days.” This perception needs updating. While having lunch at a restaurant the other day (still in search of the best French Dip in the North Bay), I overheardtwo people talking about school starting.As in this week! What??!! It’s August 14th! Anya confirmed this today as her daughter is less than a week from her first day. Seriously, where does the time go?It’s a good thing we have wine in our lives. Meant for pleasure rather than scrutiny; each bottle is a living thing made from a combination of elements including soil, grape variety, winemaker, and vintage. In the wine biz, we sometimes get caught up in only thinking about a wine region’s quality during a given year, butit also leaves us an opportunity to reminisce. This week, I am reminiscing with2012 Tour de l’Isle Gigondas.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016 7:19 PM
Whew! Who knew? Put someBurgundy on sale, and things get hopping! Or as one customer who came in today said,“Burgundy sales are the only way mere mortals can buy and enjoy the stuff.” True, true. When we introduced this little surprise sale, we did mention that it wasmore than just Burgundy, and many of you found some other goodies by clicking around our website. On the heels of my recent blurb about affordable reds,I just kicked the proverbial rock and uncovered another beauty, andIT’S ON SALE for $9.95 per bottle: the 2011 Domaine Fondrèche Fayard!
Thursday, January 14, 2016 7:31 PM
As we begin to settle in to 2016, we look forward to all of the new wines and new discoveries that await us. But before we head full-steam into the new year, a brief recap of 2015 in the form of a list of our Top Ten Wines is in order! Here at TWH, over the course of a year, we taste thousands of wines made by hundreds of producers. From all of these tastings, one can only imagine the difficulty in choosing which wines to import and/or to stock on our shelves. A very small percentage indeed. Taking all that into consideration, paring the list of those wines down to a neat Top Ten is quite the challenge. So many wines deserve a mention, but one important criterion consistent in each year’s Top Ten is this: A good story. After all, a bottle of wine is a living thing.And so are we. Good wine is meant to be shared, and that is the only tidbit of instruction that we offer to accompany this list. Life is short. Live a little. Share your wine. Smile. Repeat as often as you can.
For a look at our previous lists, here are links to our Top Ten Wines from:
And there you have it. Another exciting year in wine has passed, another new year awaits. Well, we’re not waiting. It’s only the 13th of January, but we’re already out there tasting new wines to stock on our shelves. Trips to Europe are being planned, and of course, the Bordeaux UGC tastings of the 2013 vintage are set to hit the US at the end of the month. There’s no rest in the wine biz. All the best for a great 2016! –Peter Zavialoff
Monday, January 11, 2016 8:01 PM
The Holidays are a good time to open special bottles. I understand the logic of doing so, but my contrarian nature kept me reaching to open simple, quiet wines like the 2014 Luberon from Tour de l’Isle. When emotions run high and there are lots of goings on, a dependable, built-to-please-many red can be a life-saver. On Christmas Eve, I did opena magnum of Napa Valley red that I had been cellaring for a long time and finally got the nerve up to pop the cork. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t help but be distracted by the table banter, the serving of the meal, etc. to really have enjoyed it. On Christmas Day, it was the 2014 Luberon that called out to me. As I nursed a glass while catching the last frame ofThe Christmas Story marathon, I asked my husband to describe what he liked about this Luberon. His answer was simple but precise “the fruit is there and the tannins are light”. Bring on the distractions! Happy New Year Everyone!– Anya Balistreri
Monday, September 14, 2015 8:03 PM
Monday, March 9, 2015 7:01 PM
Have you ever had one of those weeks where a seemingly innocuous playground accident turned into a three hour visit at the doctor’s office, then leaving with your child wearing a cast on her hand? The visit to the doctor, of course, had been further complicated because your husband’s truck was in the shop and had to use your car for the day, so you had to borrow a ride to get to the doctor’s office in the first place? It doesn’t end there – the truck doesn’t get fixed as quickly as promised, therefore you had to get ready even earlier all week so that there was enough time to drive your husband to work before dropping your child off at school and then try to make it to work on time? What about deciding to wake up extra early on that week’s Saturday so that you can take a long, peaceful shower and perhaps linger over coffee while reading the morning paper before heading off to work, only to discover that the doghad thrown-up in the kitchen as well as had pooped all over the floor of the shower? Ever had one of those weeks? I think you know what I am talking about.
Monday, January 12, 2015 8:12 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 5:47 PM
|“We tried the 2012 Syrah Grenache; WOW is it great!”. That’s how I was greeted when I came into work on Thursday. I hadn’t yet tried the 2012 Syrah Grenache from Boudinaud myself, but I had taken home a bottle over the weekend. I was planning on opening it soon anyway, but with such a resounding endorsement from the crew, I was compelled to open it that evening. When it comes to trying out new vintages of our value-priced direct imports, I don’t like being the odd man out. Deeply relieved, I too found the wine to be delicious. Relieved? Yes, relieved because Boudinaud’s Syrah Grenache is my ‘house red’ as it were. When in doubt or not sure what meal plans lay ahead, I know I can’t go wrong with this versatile, charming red.
|Next month, along with my siblings, I will be throwing a 60th Wedding Anniversary party for my parents. It will be a daytime garden affair. The menu will include a whole spit-roasted pig and salmon. So far, the 2012 Syrah Grenache is my front runner for the red selection. I think it will go equally well with the fish and animal. And because this is a daytime event, I don’t think a heavy powerful red is appropriate or necessary. I like the freshness and liveliness of the tank-fermented Boudinaud Syrah Grenache. It will be a far more pleasant drink and food companion than something with stronger tannins and oak. Plus, as I tried to convey above, this red is not lacking in the fruit department; it has plenty of WOW factor. Anya Balistreri|
Sunday, December 15, 2013 9:45 PM
|Attention Customers: The Wine House SF will be open the following 2 Sundays, December 15 & December 22!!! Please note that our special Sunday hours will be 12 Noon – 4 PM.|
|Yep, there’s something in the air. You feel it. I feel it. It’s indisputable. The longest night of the year is but a mere week away. We’re full-on embroiled in “The Holidays!” And however you choose to celebrate, we hope your celebrations are full of love, cheer, and happiness. It’s a good thing that one of many assignments I have today is to put fingers to keyboard and type away. This way I get to catch up on my thoughts, so please bear with me. It has been a banner week! Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame just rolled through northern California, and if you’ve read any of my ramblings around the times Wilco has been in town, you would be safe to assume that I was in attendance. It was a close call traffic-wise, but I made it up to Davis on Tuesday night just in time to catch Mr. Tweedy from the 2nd row! Wednesday and Thursday nights were less hectic at the legendary Fillmore. Thursday night’s show was particularly special, with an amazing setlist that still has me shaking my head in disbelief. Anyways, all that positive energy has carried me here, and away I type. Here’s the part about a wine that I fancy.|
|They hang like grapes on vines that shine … One of my favorite things about being part of TWH team is knowing that we are extremely flexible when it comes to importing the myriad of wines that we do. One beaming example of this practice (which usually comes with a 5 minute, detailed story on our sales floor), is how we’ve come to be the California importer for Robert Rocchi’s Tour de l’Isle label. It all started in Chicago … and the wind blew me back, Via Chicago in the middle of the night. David went to a trade show there a couple of years ago and tasted a whole lot of wines, many of which were made by producers seeking importers. One wine that he tasted there was the 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He loved it. He loved it so much, he brought a bottle back with him. He brought that bottle back for us to try. We loved it too. It’s true; every single one of our staff was blown away. Chris took a sip and made that snapping sound with his fingers. Tom was gushing with praise (and if I remember, he got to take what was left of the sample bottle home). Anya couldn’t keep the smile off of her face for the better part of an hour. Emily (remember Emily?), who once told me she would marry Grenache if she could, was smitten. David held the air of a proud parent after we were all collectively blown away. One problem: they already had a California importer. Well, we didn’t let a little thing like that stop us. We sought out the importer and bought their remaining stock. And beginning with the 2010 vintage, we are now the importer of the Tour de l’Isle wines! The wines are simply amazing, especially the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Being in the wine biz, it is safe to assume that I get a lot of emails about wine. A lot. Every day, I’ve got a box full of letters … One email that came a couple of weeks ago was for some famous bottlings of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Labels like Pegau, Beaucastel, and the like. Only thing was the price; they were selling these wines for upwards of $100 per bottle! I thought, “Sure these are fancy wines, but sheesh! That’s expensive. Especially considering the fact that we’ve got the Tour de l’Isle for $35. But now that we’re well into our 36th Anniversary Sale, it’s been marked down to $25.95!!! I mean that’s just crazy. This sale will likely mark the end of our having the 2009 in stock, but we sure have this special wine to thank, as it opened our doors to Robert Rocchi’s stable of fine wines from the southern Rhône Valley.
Here’s what Robert Parker had to say about this wine, “The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape Tour de l’Isle reveals tremendous opulence, power and richness. Pepper, spice box, garrigue and kirsch characteristics emerge from this full-bodied effort. It should drink nicely for a decade or more.”
So there you go. If you love Grenache (you don’t have to marry it) – If you love the wines from the southern Rhône Valley – If you love a great sale – pass on this at your own peril!
Whew! What a day! As I type this, we are officially closed for the day, though several customers are still here picking over the bargains scattered around the floor. It was hopping at TWH today! I have to say the quote of the day had to be courtesy of the 8 year old son of a couple of TWH pals, “Do you have any 2005 Cos d’Estournel?” I was floored; that was awesome. Speaking of awesome, it was an odd Saturday as over a handful of customers wanted to talk about Sauternes! I’m not going to question it, nor ask why. I like to talk about Sauternes more than I like to talk about Wilco. But hey, with the music still fresh in my head, and with the shop open tomorrow (and the following Sunday), I’m going to bring my guitar with me. Who knows, with proper coaxing, I might be convinced to play a couple of songs here in the frigid, echoing warehouse. Mr. Browning has a prediction, so we, we’ve all been told. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Our 36th Anniversary Sale, this week’s Jeff Tweedy shows, Bordeaux, or English Football: peter.winehouse@
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 8:18 PM
|There is just something about Santa Duc’s Cotes du Rhônes. In the hands of winemaker Yves Gras, Grenache is elevated to the grand heights of sensory pleasure. For my palate, the taste of ripe, plush Grenache is as comforting as falling into a down-filled overstuffed sofa. With the 2009 Cotes du Rhône Les Vieilles Vignes, Yves augments that cushy, juicy Grenache fruit with elements of white pepper, fragrant forest-floor herb notes, and a seamless finish. It is a lovely drink for evenings that are constructed around simple foods and animated conversations that go long into the night. When you have the urge to tuck in, curl up on the couch, and savor a glass of something yummy, I strongly suggest reaching for Santa Duc’s 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes.|
|Domaine Santa Duc has long been recognized for stellar Gigondas and Cotes du Rhônes. In the 1997 edition of Wines of the Rhone Valley, Robert Parker Jr. wrote, “Santa Duc has become not only an important estate in Gigondas…but also a noteworthy producer of high-quality Cotes du Rhone…” I can assure you that in the 15 years since this publication was written, Yves has not been resting on his laurels and in fact is making even better wine today. Back in the late 80’s, Yves took over from his father who had been selling the fruit from their domaine to local negociants. This was common practice back then, but Yves had someithing else in mind for Santa Duc. With his unwavering work in the vineyard and cellar, becoming certified organic as of 2012, Santa Duc has yielded consistently exceptional wine over the years. It certainly hasn’t hurt that the Rhône has been blessed with a string of quality vintages either. However I’d like to point out as testament to Yves’ winemaking prowess that in the disastrous 2002 vintage, when most of the Rhône’s wine production was obliterated by torrential rains and floods, Yves managed to salvage his grapes and make, ok I’ll try not to exaggerate, very good wine. No small feat. The 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes is a selection of vines over 50 years old from primarily Villages-level vineyards, Yves’ own designation for calling it “old vines”. Grenache dominates, with the remainder Syrah, Mourvedre and the other usual Rhone suspects. Other than that, not much else to note – it really is all about the ripe fruit.Today, Wine House customers seemed ready to get busy in the kitchen. I heard about menus featuring roast duck, herb-crusted pork loin and, my favorite, a pork shoulder brined over night to be cooked on a rotisserie attachment over a grill. And what do all these mouth-watering dishes have in common? They’d all be great with the 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes from Santa Duc, c’est vrai!|
|Last Saturday I rushed home to celebrate Mardi Gras, Russian-style. That’s right, we had buckwheat blini with all sorts of preserved and salted fish. As we were catching up on things, my brother commented that he expects to read something about our feast in my next write-up, but I explained it would be difficult since this is one of the few meals where wine just doesn’t work, it’s strictly vodka with blini. What could I do? Well, my brother then went on to say that he likes to keep the Dirty Dozen write-up on top of the wine fridge he keeps in the dining room. That way when he’s sent to grab a bottle for dinner, he can call back, “what’s cooking?” and then try to find what best matches the food pairing suggestion written at the end of each Dirty Dozen wine description. Now that’s a helpful tip I can share. Thanks big brother! —Anya Balistreri|
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 11:44 PM
The 2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound is fun, delicious, and quite a remarkable wine value when you consider the quality of grapes that go into the blend.Winemaker Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvedre from the famed Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa County and added a bit of Sonoma County Syrah and Grenache for the Southern Rhone-inspired Juicy Villages. You would think that fruit from any one of these sources would command a higher price tag, but Douglas was looking to make an entry-level orvillages level, if you would, wine that could be enjoyed immediately.
As is so often the case, Douglas Danielak is not only a winemaker who we have been following for many, many years starting with his pioneering years at Jade Mountain and then at White Rock and now with Paras Vineyards, but is a customer of The Wine House, having a penchant for French wines. Currently, Douglas makes wine for a number of micro-boutique wineries. It is only recently that he has started his own labels, Juicy Rebound and Pont Neuf, with his wife Mary. Douglas’ hobbies extend beyond wine; he is an avid fan of hockey and also plays in local leagues. This seems incongruous to his friendly demeanor and encyclopedic knowledge of wine. When Douglas came by the store last, we got on the subject of premature oxidation in White Burgundy. Douglas gave a quick lecture citing several theories, explaining them in easy-to-understand language, quoting sources from the many French winemakers he personally knows and visits frequently. This AND the fact that he makes fabulous wines and can skate on ice while swinging a stick at a fast moving puck, is impressive, I’d say.
The 2011 Juicy Villages, though approachable and well… JUICY, is not devoid of that dark brooding fruit you’d expect of a wine dominated by Mourvedre.The Mourvedre from Evanghelo Vineyard, which was planted in 1880, grows in sand. Yes, sand. I’ve included a photo, courtesy of Douglas, that puts this fact into vivid view. This sand bank was created where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers merge. The vines are all head-pruned, non-irrigated and on their original rootstock – Douglas calls them “little trees”. All this contributes to lush aromatics, beautiful violet aromas and tangy acidity. Douglas has worked with fruit from Evanghelo Vineyard for 20 years. You can tell how special Evanghelo is to Douglas not only by the deliciousness of the finished wine but by how intimately he describes this unique vineyard site. A strong connection between winemaker and vineyard makes for very interesting wine. The Syrah and Grenache are not afterthoughts but rather intentional components that add richness and sweet fruit. The 2011 Juicy Villages is an example of the exciting and noteworthy wines being made in California that buck the trend of massive, oaky, Cab-centric reds at a budget-friendly price. —Anya Balistreri
Saturday, September 8, 2012 10:00 PM
As we motor along through 2012, we’re down to 3 weeks of summer left before it’s time to start thinking about raking leaves, post season baseball, and persimmons. Let’s not go there just yet. Our Indian summer is about to begin, so there will be plenty more chances to picnic and barbecue. Need some wine? The September Dirty Dozen should do the trick!
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines
2011 Vino Blanco, Bodegas Castano $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
The Castano family is one of the most respected wine producing families in southeastern Spain. For their Vino Blanco, they blend 50/50 Macabeo and Chardonnay, and the result will put a smile on your face. Hints of white and tropical fruits are present in the aromas and the palate is round and structured. The perfect wine to pour with that ceviche.
2011 Cercius, Philippe Cambie/Michel Gassier/Eric Solomon $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Eric Solomon, one of America’s finest small importers, teamed up with consultant Philippe Cambie and winemaker Michel Gassier to launch the Cercius label. A blend of mostly Grenache Blanc with Sauvignon Blanc, the wine plays a bigger role than the sum of its parts. Fleshy, yet crisp, this will pair mightily with pan-seared scallops over leafy greens.
2010 Chardonnay, Novellum $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Languedoc Chardonnay isn’t something that we hear about too often, but when we tasted the Novellum, we were impressed. The wine is bright and lively with tropical hints and a kiss of spice. Pair it with a clam and garlic pasta.
2010 Grenache Blanc/Chardonnay/Marsanne, Cote EST $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Lovers of Rhone-inspired crisp white wines will feel at home with a glass of the Cote EST from France’s Cotes Catalanes. It has a bright, lively mouth feel, a fleshy fruit presence, and medium bodied weight. Another wine to enjoy here in the waning warmth of summer 2012, it can be served on its own, at a picnic, or with a shrimp salad.
2011 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, Ernesto Picollo $15.99, $12.79 reorder
Mama mia! Our scouting missions to various Italian wine tastings have paid off big-time here! Regular DD subscribers, no doubt, have tasted Picollo’s super bargain Gavi DOCG, but the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto is a whole ‘nother animal. Richness, purity, and precision present themselves in dapper manner, as this wine exudes class. A great one for a bowl of mussels.
2009 Pinot Gris Im Berg, Domaine Ehrhart $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Ehrhart. As in Corinne and Philippe from Wettolsheim. Their family has only been making wine in Alsace since the early 18th century. They make opulent wines with excellent balance and verve. This single vineyard Pinot Gris has earthy, mushroomy aromas and a wide, fleshy presence on your palate. A great wine with a bacon wrapped chicken breast.
2009 Baron Des Chartrons $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
At this point, you must have heard about the success of the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. If not, just know that the weather was perfect for the region’s red wines – everybody got good grapes AND you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to enjoy it. Check out this more than reasonably priced quaffer from the Moueix family. Think juicy steak.
2010 Syrah, Porcupine Ridge $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
South Africa’s Porcupine Ridge has delighted our palates for several vintages now, as we can’t help but love those smoky aromas that surround the spicy, dark red fruit. The palate is medium to fuller bodied, and the smoky, spicy framework holds through to the finish. If you’ve got a beef brisket cooking low and slow on the smoker, you’ve found your pairing!
2009 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Chateau Puy-Servain $21.59, $17.27 reorder
The success of the 2009 vintage was not confined to Bordeaux, but if your vineyard sits just across the Dordogne from the Bordeaux AOC, you pretty much got great grapes too. TWH friend Daniel Hecquet’s Montravel Vieilles Vignes is very special in 2009. So good mind you, that you could sneak this into a blind St. Emilion tasting and get away with it.
2009 Montsant Old Vines, Celler De Capcanes $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Old Vines is an understatement here, as the Grenache vines are over 80 years old. The Montsant mountains and vines surround the more well known Priorat appellation, though stylistically, the wines are different. This blend of mostly Grenache with a soupcon of Syrah is another great deal coming from Espana. Grilled meat skewers will work well here.
2010 Syrah, Saint Antoine $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Red wine lovers on a budget know all about the virtues of Jean-Louis Emmanuel’s Saint Antoine from the Costieres de Nimes. Jean-Louis now de-stems all of his grapes and vinifies in steel tank resulting in wines that are pure and fresh. Bright cherry flavors with Cassis and spice make up the flavor profile. Another great wine for the outdoor grill.
2010 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
You can argue that Chianti is a rustic, simple quaffer meant to be served by the glass next to a bowl of cappellini with fresh tomato sauce. That’s before you taste Enrico Pierazzuoli’s Chianti Montalbano. Not your grandfather’s Chianti, Enrico’s is 100% Sangiovese grown just west of Firenze in the Tuscan countryside. Robust dark cherry flavors with earthy undertones burst forth from the glass suggesting the wine be paired with something a little more serious.
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Monday, May 21, 2012 9:37 PM
The 2009 Les Cimelsfrom our beloved Chateau d’Or et de Gueules is a Syrah-driven red that elegantly combines ripened fruit flavors with South of France earth/spice aromas and notes. You wouldn’t mistake Les Cimels for anything but a French wine; you can’t ignore the black pepper spice and herbes de Provence. It’s precisely this quality that I believe draws our customers to this wine vintage after vintage. Les Cimels is not a cookie-cutter product; there is vintage variation, however that distinctive combo of fruit and spice threads through it each year. The 2009 Les Cimels is redolent of raspberry fruit, is really approachable and like so many ’09s from France, has enough tang and structure to keep it interesting. Of course that little hint of Syrah funk is also welcoming.
When proprietress and winemaker Diane de Puymorin purchased the property that would become Chateau d’Or et de Gueules in the late ’90s,she did something really wonderful, something someone with less imagination and integrity would not have done — she left old-vine Carignan growing in the vineyards!! It would have made much better economic sense to rip out the vines that were producing less, that were more of a bother to care for and plant vigorous young vines in their place. Instead Diane followed her conviction, left as much of the old-vines that could be saved and added them to her blends. I think the result is an undeniable complexity that differentiates her wines from other Costieres de Nimes wines. Diane’s wines are true artisanal expressions of winemaking. For the Les Cimels, Diane ferments old vine Carignan carbonically, giving the overall blend a freshness and brightness as counterpoint to the more brooding Syrah (there is also a small portion of Grenache in the mix).
It being the middle of May, I am in full wonderment at the beauty of Spring as April showers have given way to more sunny May days. The fava beans in my garden are finally ready for harvest, though they rarely make it into a pot. I love to eat them raw right there in the yard and toss the shells and skin back into the dirt. Instant composting! But if I were to curtail my habit of eating the fava beans raw, I would probably concoct a ragout of lamb with them and pour a glass of the 2009 Les Cimelsalongside. Now doesn’t that sound like a capital idea! —Anya Balistreri
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:02 PM
Days get longer, the nights grow short, our Easter baskets are getting filled up, and what’s this? Baseball season? Yep, it’s April and it’s time for opening the windows and doors, getting some fresh air, and maybe a picnic or four. However you like to spend your time this spring, consider this: Twelve bottles, one low price.
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines
2010 Orvieto, Cardèto
Big on our list of springtime wines are dry, crisp, easy quaffers that deliver in the quality department, yet keep the big bills in your wallet. This Orvieto is just the ticket! Lean and crisp with a citrusy freshness, this blend of Trebbiano and Grechetto is a great refresher should a warm spring afternoon come your way. Pairs great with a bowl o’mussels.
2010 Chardonnay, Viano Vineyards
Is it us, or do you ever see Cali Chardonnay in the sub $10 category anymore? At least quality, sub $10 Cali Chardonnay? Sales reps visit us and pour and pour, but we keep saying no until the right one comes along. Well, here it is! From Contra Costa county, no less; halfway between the Napa and Livermore Valleys comes the Viano. Pair with a crab salad.
2010 Vino Valpredo Bianca Mia, Fritz Winery
Rather than choose between Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, why not blend them? At least that’s what our friends at Sonoma’s Fritz Winery thought. You know what? This is some quality juice. Aromas of stone fruits and citrus blossoms give way to a zesty citrus palate. Anya says grill up some shrimp and serve it with mango salsa … and this, of course.
NV Prosecco Superiore, Giavi
Talk to any of us about our new D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore, the Giavi, and prepare yourself for an enthusiastic reply! Seriously, this Prosecco has it all: tiny bubbles, a pale, frosty appearance, depth, and crispness. Crostini with caviar?
2010 Blanc de Domaine de la Petite Cassagne
Her name is Diane de Puymorin. We adore her wines … all of them. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne estate back in 1998, renamed it Château d’Or et des Gueules, yet still pays homage to the old guard with a Rouge, Rosé, and this Blanc. Diane blends 40% Rolle (Vermentino) with Grenache Blanc and the result is a bright, citrus infused aromatic showpiece.
2009 Fernão Pires, Quinta do Alqueve
Dare we try to get wine geeky on you, but here’s Portugal’s Fernão Pires blended with a smidge of Arinto. Geeky? Maybe. But the stone fruity aromas and crisp mouthfeel will make wine geeks out of us all! Great with sardines.
2009 Garnacha Two Rows, Odisea
As we switch to the reds, let’s point out that our friends at Odisea have another hit on their hands. Mostly Grenache with small parts Syrah and Tempranillo, the Two Rows is a plump palate pleaser. Ripe cherries and raspberries mingle with vanilla spice and herbs resulting in ethereal harmony. If it’s burgers on the grill; sorry, these Two Rows are taken.
2010 Tempranillo, Enanzo
Yummy Tempranillo from Spain’s Navarra region! The philosophy at Enanzo is simple. To quote them, “this Tempranillo is made by applying the only true winemaking criterion: intimate, permanent, progressive harmony between man and his environment.” It works here, the herb infused fruit is braced by dusty tannins and spirited acidity. Great with pizza.
2009 Château de Bouchet La Rentiere
What a vintage 2009 was for the wines of Bordeaux! The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker likened the vintage to the legendary 1982 noting one exception: in 1982 there weren’t many small, inexpensive producers taking advantage of the perfect weather to make great affordable Bordeaux. That’s different now. Pair this beauty with your prime rib.
2008 Les Cimels, Château d’Or et des Gueules
If there’s a better $15 red wine here at TWH, I haven’t seen it. The aforementioned Diane de Puymorin blends some old vine Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, and the result is an herbal masterpiece. Forest floor, Kalamata olives, and black tea dominate the aromas, and the palate is more savory than fruity. The perfect wine for pasta with an herbal sauce.
2009 Côtes du Rhône les Boissières, Vignobles Boudinaud
New to us is Veronique and Thierry Boudinaud’s les Boissières Côtes du Rhône. It’s an exciting story as 100% of what’s imported to the US is imported for us! Think honest, old-school Côtes du Rhône here. It shows plenty of fruit, but without going overboard. Toss in some cracked pepper and herbs Provençal, and you get the drift. This is yet another versatile bottle in what can be called The Versatile Dozen. Great on its own, or paired with cassoulet.
2006 Syrah, Alberto Furque
Ever popular with our staff and customers, the Alberto Furque line crushes it when it comes to quality for price. Grown at altitudes of over 3000 feet, the vineyards of Mendoza’s Bodega Aconquija (we call them Alberto Furque) get just the right amount of warm days and cool nights to produce wines with dazzling structure. This Syrah sings of balance and harmony. If you find yourself dreaming about some thinly sliced Argentine beef with Chimichurri sauce, pour this.
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Friday, February 17, 2012 3:33 PM
Tap, tap, tap. What’s that? Knock, knock, knock. Who is it? BANG, BANG, BANG!!! Got your attention? Good. That would be a table … and we areBANGING THE TABLE on what we can only describe as the most exciting new southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape to be exact, wine to hit our shelves EVER! When you’ve been in business 34 years, that’s one bold statement; but when you’ve been in business 34 years, you’ve got some good connections. A few weeks ago, through one of these connections, a sample bottle of the 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape was popped for our staff at the end of a hectic work day. With 6 of us gathered ’round the tasting table, the Tour de l’Isle CdP didn’t stand a chance of leaving TWH any other way than via the recycle bin. Just ask any of us about this wine, as we were collectively blown away! Think pure, yummy Grenache goodness. Plenty of ripe dark berry fruit, cracked black pepper, and an earthy spice dominate the aromatics; the palate is bursting with power as the fruit, earth, and spice mesh seamlessly with the robust structure of this textbook Châteauneuf! The finish is complex and lively with great length. Seriously, we are so dang excited to be representing this wine, we cannot contain ourselves.
Tour de l’Isle’s Robert Rocchi has been involved with the wines of the southern Rhône for over 30 years. After college, he began working for his uncle, a Côtes du Rhône producer. He was involved in all aspects of his uncle’s business from growing to vinifying to international marketing. In 1991, he and his wife purchased a portion of his uncle’s vineyard, opened a large retail wine store and an old-fashioned wine bar, and the Tour de l’Isle brand was born. As their retail business thrived, they found the need to focus on expanding the brand, so they sold their vineyard. Rocchi then worked with a few carefully selected producers,first in the blending of, and then eventually by making his wines at the properties of the respective producers. 100% transparent, Robert lists each producer’s name on the back labels, and the wines come in boxes marked by each individual producer. Patrick Jaume makes this stunning Châteauneuf. His 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape is made from 85% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 2% Cinsault.
You can sure take our word for it when it comes to the stunning value of this wine, but if you’re looking for additional confirmation,check out what some of the wine world’s heavy hitters have to say about the 2009 Tour de l’Isle Châteauneuf-du-Pape:
The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker: “The dense ruby/purple-tinged 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Tour de l’Isle reveals tremendous opulence, power and richness. Pepper, spice box, garrigue and kirsch characteristics emerge from this full-bodied effort.It should drink nicely for a decade or more. A good sized estate of nearly 50 acres, Domaine des Chanssaud is owned by Patrick Jaume. 92 points”
Jancis Robinson, MW: “Dark ruby. Racy stuff without the intensity of many Châteauneufs but good balance and drinkability – which is not to be sneezed at. A sort of Domaine de Chevalier of Châteauneuf. Rather low key, but rather delicious. 17.5 points”
Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar’s Josh Raynolds: “Glass-staining ruby. Dark berries and potpourri on the highly fragrant nose. Ripe and fleshy on entry, then firmer in the mid-palate, offering blackberry and blueberry flavors that show an exotic quality. Closes on a sweet note, with seamless texture and very good fruit-driven persistence. 90 points”