In the wine importation game, it sometimes seems nothing happens as quickly as we would like. There are things we can control, and there are things we can’t. I’ve been happily trading emails with Bordeaux negociants this week informing me that some of our wines have been picked up and will begin making their way here via refrigerated container soon. That’s great news as I am especially looking forward to a handful of fairly inexpensive Bordeaux wines I tasted this past spring during En Primeurs. Alas, those wines are several weeks away, sorry to say, so we must wait a little longer. On the other hand, what we don’t have to wait for are the six petits chateaux wines that arrived a month ago. We’ve introduced you to four of them already, and now, the other two, the 2010 Château Beauregard Ducasse, Graves and the 2010 Château La Fleur de Jaugue, St. Emilion Grand Cru.

Keep in mind the exercise here, out of 24 sample bottlesprovided by one of our suppliers in Bordeaux, we found six to our liking and sent the other 18 packing. Not that they were all bad, mind you. In fact, many of the wines we didn’t buy were also to our liking, but we just felt the six we chose represented the best values for the respective price points. Let’s start off with the 2010 Beauregard Ducasse. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve had a love affair with wines that say “Graves” on their label for many years. Named for the preponderance of gravelly soils throughout the region, it’s an easy appellation to grasp conceptually. If you’ve been lucky enough to taste an Haut Brion from 1985 or earlier, you would have seen “Graves” written on the label. But we’re not talking about Haut Brion here; this is a completely different animal. In 1987, several prestigious chateaux near the villages of Pessac and Léognan (and in between) broke off from the Graves AOC and formed the fancier Pessac-Léognan AOC, with Graves still representing the nebulous region further south all the way past Langon. And that’s where Château Beauregard Ducasse is, in the village of Mazères, about 25km due south of Langon in Bordeaux’s southern frontier.

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A little research reveals the property has been in the Jeanduduran family since 1850, with current administrator/grower Jacques Perromat taking over in 1981, after marrying into the family. The 32 hectare vineyard consists of clay and gravel upon limestone subsoil, and is planted to Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), and Cabernet Franc (5%). The wine is all tank-fermented, and 80% is aged in tank, with the other 20% aged in barrel. This is just another example of the success of the 2010 vintage. From a price to quality standpoint, this is a Grand Slam of a deal!!! AND …. it’s also available in half bottles!

 
2010 Château La Fleur de Jaugue,

St. Emilion Grand Cru
First things first. The words “Grand Cru” mean different things in different French regions. It can be a bit confusing. The folks at Berry Bros. in London have the St. Emilion classification explained very well here. As they state, the consumer would be better served if these wines were labeled “St. Emilion Supérieur.” Well, Château La Fleur de Jaugue is no run-of-the-mill St. Emilion Grand Cru!!! Looking back over several vintages of Robert Parker’s tasting notes, he regularly refers to Fleur de Jaugue as “a sleeper of the vintage, a reliable and impeccably run estate,” and “a shrewd insider’s wine.” Consistent high praise for a château that many of us are not very familiar with.
 

 

Their 2010 is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc from 50 year old vines. They employ techniques one normally sees at more upscale chateaux such as de-stemming and green harvesting. Fermented seperately in concrete vats, the wine is then blended and aged for 18 months in new and 1 year old barrel. The result is astonishing. It has great weight and balance, and again, for the price, is an absolute no-brainer.
 
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Oh yeah, then there’s this. A good friend of mine, with whom I’ve tasted a lot of Bordeaux wines over many yearscame in when these wines first arrived. I gave him a brief rundown on them, and he decided to try one bottle of each of them. I caught up with him a couple weeks later. The wine he couldn’t stop raving about? The 2010 Château La Fleur de Jaugue.
 

 

Another customer came in just yesterday, our write-ups printed out and in hand, he mixed up a case of these wines for himself. He pointed out how well the petits chateaux wines from 2009 and 2010 were showing, and acknowledged our efforts in weeding out the lesser performing wines and stocking great deals like these. He thanked us for “making this so easy” for him. It’s always good to hear, but that’s what we do here at TWH.

Peter Zavialoff

To Pair With The Exotic: 2007 Barsac/Sauternes

Thursday, September 8, 2011 3:30 PM

Sweet indeed. Happy Labor Day weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying these three days, no matter what you do. Labor Day is a lot of things for a lot of people. An old friend of mine once told me that he was melancholy on Labor Day as it was the weekend that he and his family would close down their lakeside cottage in upstate NY. Funny thing was he really loved doing it. Some other friends are annual fixtures at the Sausalito Art Festival, and they generously open their nearby house for friends and family before, during and after the music. For me, there is usually a good chance my birthday lands during this weekend. Emily once told me thatshe drinks Viognier every year on her birthday, and I thought that wassuch a good idea that I immediately held a vote on what my annual bottle should be (it was a close race, but I won 1-0), and established the tradition last year. If you know me at all, it’s pretty easy to guess what I had and will continue to have on my birthday from now on. Gold Wine from Bordeaux, sweeeeet!



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I could go on an on, and I have, but no day of celebration for me would be complete without a regal glass of wine from Barsac/Sauternes. If just as an aperitif, or with foie gras (insert obvious eye roll here), with blue cheese (more eye rollin’), or with dinner itself; it’s just got to be there. And it will be.

2007 was a sensational vintage for the Barsac/Sauternes region. The wines are marked with fresh, crisp acidity and that really helps to keep things in balance and accentuate the complexity of the wines. The now sold out 2007 Climens made our top 10 last year, and was the only wine I have ever predicted would get a perfect score from an influential critic after I tasted it (Neal Martin gave it 99+, so I was wrong). But I find the 2007 vintage to be quite compelling for these wines across the board. If you seek freshness and lively acidity in your Sauternes, you’re going to love these. They’re fantastic with food, I’m thinking lobster (yeah, that’s kind of obvious), or wok-tossed prawns, maybe a Vietnamese pork sandwich, or Chile Rellenos (okay, now I’m starving), a glass of 2007 Gold Wine will do you right! I’ve listed below our current stock of in-stock 2007 Barsac/Sauternes. Won’t you join me in a toast to the wonderful complexity of the wines from Barsac/Sauternes with a glass of wine from Barsac/Sauternes?Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me regarding Bordeaux’s Gold Wines, this year’s Champions’ League draws, or anything else: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Chateau du Basty Beaujolais Lantignie

Monday, February 14, 2011 3:49 PM

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So, I came in this morning with a great wine tasting experience. Last night up in the treehouse, I tasted yet another great 2009 Beaujolais, I had a half-bottle of 2009 Beaujolais Lantignie from Chateau du Basty. This morning, even with a coffee buzz, I couldn’t figure out how to put pen to paper and let y’all in on it. So I stopped thinking about it. Until now. Something I’ve noticed about Beaujolais is that some people are allergic to the name alone. Nevermind whatincredible, delicate and complex wines come from Beaujolais. Some people are prejudiced against them. Edward R. Murrow once said,“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them.” That’s pretty mature thinking. I’m wondering if I’m capable of that kind of thought. I’m going to give it a shot.

 

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One of the reasons that I just couldn’t get pen to paper about this wine is football. Okay, soccer. I support Chelsea. We’re currently the English Premiership title holders. Things haven’t gone so well this year, I won’t bore you with the ugly details, but yeah, not so well. When you’re a champion, you unfortunately become prisoner to that experience. You hold on to that delusion until faced with fact. Mathematical elimination. Today, “The Big One”, as in Manchester United won their local derby inspectacular fashion. After seeing this, in spite of not being mathematically eliminated; in spite of the fact that we play them twice still, I recognize them as The Champions of 2010/2011. That’s not easy to do, not easy to think. Imagine what it takes to put into writing.

 

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Anyhoo, back to the Beaujolais. A great many people have tried wines with the name “Beaujolais” on the label that tastes nothing like real Beaujolais. Prisoners of their own experiences.Recognize the prejudice and let go, people. Just like United is a great team, Beaujolais is great wine. 2009 seems to have been a cracking vintage in most French appellations; in Beaujolais, it was one of the best in memory. You may have heard about some 2009 Beaujolais already, and now we have another, the 2009 Chateau du Basty Beaujolais Lantignie. Lantignie is a Beaujolais Village just next to the Cru of Regnie. It is a village wine of distinction. It truly speaks of a place. I whipped up some meatballs and pasta last night, set the ipod to “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, and popped the cork on the Basty. Hehe. Sometimes it’s just not fair. I know for a fact that last night there were people unsatisfied with their wine pairings who invested far more than I did. The Beaujolais Lantignie was heavenly. There were aromas of cedar and forest floor (something I always associate with Gamay), bright red cherry fruit wafting up from the glass like divine evaporation. On the palate, it showed amazing weight, and for a Gamay, surprisingly sturdy tannins. Something I’ve noticed about all 2009 Beaujolais I’ve tasted this year is the perfect harmony of bright, zippy fruit and the rich structure of acid/tannins. All of that paired so well with my spicy meatballs, pasta and sauteed spinach, that I finished all of it. When I arose from the table, I felt heavy. I ate too much. Why? It was too good, that’s why. Food, Beaujolais and all.

 

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So, not exactly mature thought, but in spite of my prejudice (I’m a prisoner),I acknowledge the fact that we’ll be looking at red trophy ribbons this May. Accepting this is actually healthy.Funny, a customer I helped earlier today came to the counter with a bottle each of Cremant d’Alsace, Red Burgundy and Gewurztraminer. I engaged her in conversation regarding the randomness of her selections. She went on to say that she normally drinks California wines, and that she wasbroadening her horizons. Speaking for the entire staff of TWH, we all should embrace this customer’s methodology. Especially when it comes to Beaujolais. Do not miss out on 2009 Beaujolais, period.Look, if I can accept that Man U are Champions in early February, and that ain’t easy; you can enjoy a glass of the finest Gamay on the planet. And that IS easy!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with great quotes from Edward R. Murrow, or with any questions or comments about Beaujolais, prejudice, Man U or Chelsea: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

PS: Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the holiday, Emily has agreed to undertake a project related to Valentine’s Day, and post it to our blog. If it’s anything like her Valentine’s Day post last year, we expect a million blog hits!

Perfect Pairing And Learning To Love Seafood

Sunday, December 6, 2009 3:22 PM

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Yeah, yeah; we’ve all heard it before, have repeated it ourselves, but just like anything that loses its definition if repeated often enough, it began as the truth. There is a great deal of different food out there that is not only very healthy, but tastes delicious. Sometimes we don’t get a chance to taste these wonders due to some sort of bias, be it rooted in childhood, stubbornness, or visual perception. Speaking for myself, it is a difficult thing to overcome, due to the power of these preconceived notions telling you, in a word, bleech! But I must say, not only is it good for the betterment campaign, but I am so happy I pushed through my aversion to seafood.

 

Once upon a time long ago, somewhere in the outer Sunset District, where the sun is just a rumor, I was developing a bias that would not only be less than optimal for my health, but would take me years to lose. (Actually, I am still working at it!) Being the youngest child in the family, I pretty much had to go with the flow. My Pop (picky eater) did not eat seafood, so guess what? Neither did the rest of us. A couple of experiences with bad fish cemented the bias that had me ordering chicken at places like Aqua. Alas, this is where the “nothing ventured” line kicks in. I had a foundation, I could eat prawns. Not only that, I liked them. I noticed that I physically felt better after a prawn dinner than after steak and potatoes. Enter my two seafood heroes, my sister and my best friend.

Coming from the same household as I, my sister had her own issues with seafood to overcome, and she did it. With flying colors. She would regale me with dining experiences where she would try things I couldn’t then imagine eating. She encouraged me to try, not necessarily to like, but to try, one different type of seafood each year. Sounded like a good idea to me. So I did a decent job of that in the early years. Then my best friend got involved. A recent convert to seafood himself, he was a perfect guide as to what to try, and what to stay away from. I welcome advice from both of them, and now routinely, when lunching with my sister, I’ll offer her a mussel or two.

Working here at The Wine House, it is my responsibility to be able to offer advice on food and wine pairings, amongst other things. I need to know what the food tastes like before offering a wine pairing suggestion, right? So I’m still growing, learning about the delicate flavors of different seafood. If you’re not learning, you’re not on to something. If you’re not on to something, you’re lost.

 

I can’t believe there ever was a time that I didn’t eat crab. I’m shaking my head. But I deprived myself of this delicacy for far too long. I’m making up for it now! So last night, when Chris went to see if Whole Foods Market still had fresh Dungeness crab for $5.99 a pound, I asked him to report back. He came back, looked at me, and said that it was today’s Friday special, and was $3.67 per pound. Also, that he took the liberty of buying me one. Perfect! I’ve been looking for an excuse to drink white Burgundy for a while, and here was the perfect one. In fact, my glee could not be contained as I chimed in on both Facebookand Twitter!! I excitedly grabbed a bottle of 2006 Petit Chablis from Denis Pommier with my already cracked crab and raced home anxious for the pairing. Anya told me not to bother with any accompaniments (as always, I should have listened to her, though the noodles and spinach came in handy for lunch today). So as the Chablis chilled, I whipped up a couple of sides. Brought it all to the table and proceeded to make a mess. A delicious mess, I might add. But I quickly pushed the sides away and dug into the crab and Chablis. Talk about perfect harmony. The succulent, delicate crab meat and the stony, racy Chablis bonded to create exactly what I would call a perfect food and wine pairing!

 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained? I am so glad I ventured here! Tasting notes below. Oh yeah, as a side note, I once had this conversation with my father: “Pop? Have you ever tried any seafood?”

“Yes I have, actually”

“Really, what did you try?”

“Sardines.”

“How many days did you have to starve before you ate them?”

“Four”

“How were they?”

“Dee-licious!”

– Peter Zavialoff

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about seafood, perfect wine pairings, or anything else you may have on your mind: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

 

Tasting Note

Popped the bottle, and poured a glass. Nice color, a little deeper than straw, but not at all dark. Initially on the nose there was a little funkiness I attributed to sulphur that I knew would blow off, so I left it alone for around 10 minutes and was right. It was showing off notes of apples and pears with a hint of dare I say nectarine? All braced with a spicy mineral verve. On the palate, it was exactly what that crab needed: a good amount of round fruit with just the right amount of acidity to give your cheeks a pleasant pinch which combined with the residual crab flavor creates a delicious flavor all its own. The finish is just more of the delicious product created by a sublime pairing! Cheers!

Half Bottles, Giving Thanks, and Betterment

Monday, November 23, 2009 4:29 PM

Exciting news!!! The Wine House is now on Facebook. And if that’s not enough, you can also follow us on Twitter!!!

 

 

In an earlier Sunday email,I wrote something about shivering in November. I was right. My fingers feel like they’ve been forming snowballs. Thanksgiving is next week, and I am certain we all have things to do and people to share them with. Earlier today, I exchanged emails with our DJ pal Arden at KPIG radio, and she agreed with me that although it’s nice to get together with loved ones and celebrate Thanksgiving, conceptually, every day should be for giving thanks. I’m certainly thankful to have a friend like Arden who is a wealth of knowledge of all things musical and so much more, who plays a request for us almost every Saturday and gives us a shout over the airwaves. So there. Giving thanks. Every day. 

Something else I’ve been doing every day since sometime in late spring, is use the word “betterment”. It has made a world of difference in the way I feel each day. Better than any New Year’s resolution, my betterment campaign goes something like this: Whenever any decision needs to be made, I ask myself the question, “Is this for the betterment?” Somehow, this seems to be working. Some nights, I find myself alone in the treehouse cooking up something for dinner. But what to do regarding the wine? Opening a full bottle is not an acceptable practice if one is flying solo. As a charter member of the Betterment Society, I give thanks to the inventors of the half-bottle! Half bottles are an absolute boon to those who love wine. Even in groups, we can taste so much more and not have do deal with the excess. The betterment is not confined to what I am drinking either. Exercise and nutrition are part of the program as well, and for the latter, I routinely check out Summer Tomato. It is a blog run by a San Francisco Foodie, health enthusiast, wine loving scientist. Checking in there has been an inspiration that I am truly thankful for. Let’s just say that I never thought I would walk out of a farmers’ market with a bag of kale, let alone know how to prepare it. Don’t miss the recipes! Giving thanks.

Anyhoo. Back to the half bottle thing. We have a multitude of 375 ml bottles to choose from ranging from Sancerre, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Sauternes. I’m all over the map when it comes to these little beauties and enjoy them all. I’ll list a few of my favorites below.I can’t conclude without thanking you, our customers, for your continued patronage. We wouldn’t be here without you. It is always a pleasure helping you find those wines that put smiles on your faces. Many of you have been very complimentary regarding our write-ups, and I am always touched to hear your kind words. Giving thanks.Peter Zavialoff

 

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving, The Betterment Society, Half Bottles, The Upcoming Chelsea v Arsenal Match, or anything else: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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