2010 Château de Malleret - It's Back!!

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:11 PM



2010 Château de Malleret - It's Back!!

In the wine biz, one gets good at saying goodbye; we all have our favorites, but once they sell out, it’s time to move on.  It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, we get a second (and sometimes third and fourth) chance to repurchase a favorite wine, and then we wait for it to make its way overseas here to our shop.  This weekend’s wine spotlight is on one of these wines.  Won’t you please welcome back to the shop, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc.

 

It went down something like this:  In the spring of 2014, while on assignment in Bordeaux for the En Primeur tastings, I made a handful of appointments with suppliers to taste some of their already bottled inventory.  It was at one of these meetings that 24 sample bottles were open and available for tasting.  I went through the line, swirling, sniffing, tasting, spitting, and jotting down notes.  All in all, it was a successful tasting because I liked 8 or 9 of the wines, but it was one of them that sent me over the moon.  Yes, it was the 2010 Malleret.  When I returned from Bordeaux, I sat down with David and we discussed the new vintage and the wines that I tasted.  When he asked me how much Malleret we should buy, it marked the very first time I answered, “Well, at least a pallet.”  I should point out another characteristic about being in the wine biz – it teaches you patience.  The wine finally arrived in early 2015 and was gone shortly thereafter.  We made a lot of friends with that wine, and said goodbye after it was gone.
Early this year, I was surprised to come across the 2010 Malleret while reading through a supplier’s price list and mentioned it to David.  Without hesitation, we secured the wine, and thanks to a recent container’s arrival, it’s here now.  I have secured my six bottles for the cellar, so come and get it!  I say that I want a few bottles in the cellar because when I came back from Bordeaux in 2014, I found a bottle of the 2000 Malleret for sale at a very fair price.  I hadn't had much experience with this chateau before, so I wanted to taste an older vintage to better understand their style.  It was outstanding!  Which leads me to deduce that perhaps this chateau doesn’t exactly knock it out of the park every vintage, but when they do, the wine can last.  So based on my experience with the 2000 Malleret, I feel the 2010 will still be drinking well in 2024.

 

2010 Chateau de MalleretI took a bottle home this past week, grilled up some steaks, and used the super fancy stemware.  The wine was sensational!  It has put on a little muscle, but there’s plenty of dark berry and cassis fruit there to keep it in balance.  The aromatics are complex:  the fruit is layered, there are earthy elements, and there’s a tobacco and forest floor herbaceous facet to them.  The palate entry is easy, it’s well balanced, medium-full bodied, with the purple-red fruit at its core.  The finish is long and layered, with the fruit and forest floor lingering.  I realize that everyone has their own taste, but this is my kind of wine … and the price is right!  Pure and simple.

 

Things are exciting around here.  Two containers are on the water, headed this way.  There’s going to be some Bordeaux on one of them – another over the moon discovery from this year’s trip, courtesy of one of our suppliers.  It’s a 2014 Saint-Estephe; stay tuned for its arrival!  The annual three week celebration known as Birthdayfest has begun, and will continue through mid-September.  I have a hunch there will be a few special bottles popped in my near future.  Maybe a bottle or two of something I put in my cellar before we said goodbye to it a long time ago?   - Peter Zavialoff

A good-sized parcel of 2014 Bordeaux has landed at TWH! Though several others are still en route, many have now hit our sales floor. I have been closely listening to Peter talk up the vintage, making a strong case for its quality and comparable value, especially on the Left Bank. With Peter’s guidance, TWH seized the opportunity to load up on high-quality, value-oriented Bordeaux from 2014 in addition to the region’s high-flyers. Only after customers who bought wines on futures were notified and the last pallet was broken down, did I buy my first bottle of 2014 to take home – the 2014 Sénéjac.



I selected the 2014 Sénéjac for three reasons:

1) It’s under $20

2) In really good vintages, Sénéjac always ends up on “sleeper of the vintage” lists

3) The crown logo and script font reminds me of another one of my favorite Bordeaux chateau, Branaire Ducru.


I took home the bottle, popped open the cork and poured a glass for myself for no other reason than to edify myself on 2014 Bordeaux. I need a reference point, a place to start all future comparisons. A sub-$20, Haut-Médoc seems like a reasonable place to start.


When I was first introduced to Bordeaux, working here at TWH, I either tasted young Bordeaux in order to acquaint myself with TWH stock or I was treated to cellared, well-aged fine Bordeaux courtesy of David and Company. I got spoiled fast and as a result liked to claim that I didn’t like young Bordeaux, only Bordeaux with some age on it. There was both truth and pretentiousness to this declaration. Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy young Bordeaux more and more. I think some of it has to do with changing wine styles as well as the overall advancement of quality in the region. In some years, 2009 comes to mind, young Bordeaux tastes great from the get-go. No need to wait, but if you find one you like in particular, buying some to cellar is a good thing too.




On Mother’s Day I hosted dinner for nine including my mother, mother-in-law, sister and spiritual mother. I promised to keep it low-key, but it was work nonetheless. I made a pork tenderloin in an agrodolce sauce studded with dry fruit and citrus zest and paired it with the Le Nid 2013 Moulin-à-Vent. As much as I enjoy making a meal for others, this year a long held fantasy was actualized. My daughter made me a special Mother’s Day breakfast. She planned the meal and shopped for it. In the morning, she quietly got out of bed, closed my bedroom door to allow me to sleep longer undisturbed. It was one of the tastiest meals of my life!




Speaking of all things tasty, the 2014 Sénéjac is one of those young Bordeaux that tastes pretty darn good right now. Maybe not as dense as I remember some of the 2009 to be, what the 2014 Sénéjac has going for it is overall balance. The components are all there in harmony: fruit, acid, tannin. The aromas are undeniably Bordeaux with plum and red currant notes, a hint of oak that sneaks out of the glass but gets buried in the fruit on the palate. A classy expression of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I am looking forward to revisiting the rest of the wine tonight! – Anya Balistreri


While we patiently await the results of the ongoing harvest all across the northern hemisphere, it’s a good time to remember the vintages past. All of them. The interesting ones. The underrated ones. The classic ones. And, of course, the legendary ones. Looking back upon the past decade of red Bordeaux vintages, it has become a given that 2009 and 2010 have etched their places among the latter two. Before we knew of the power and structure the 2010 vintage gave us, 2009 was eye-opening for its precocious expression and charm.Though, let us not dismiss its potential for aging. We are speaking of red Bordeaux after all. For the classified growths, well, discipline is in order. You’re going to want to hold onto those. Savvy Bordeaux enthusiasts well know that in these type of years, the weather blessed everyone, therefore bargains abound. We could go back and count them, but who has the time? There is a 2009 red Bordeaux that we thought enough of out of barrel, that we bought a modest amount of. We sold about half our allocation as futures, but when it landed here at TWH, the balance was swept up before I could get my hands on a single bottle after taking off a poorly timed three day weekend. Somehow, some way, we were able to get a little more 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc!
 
For those who know this wine, not much more needs to be said. As I stated, our first drop was gone in a heartbeat. We bought another pallet. Gone. Then another. Gone. Oh well, time moves on, and there are new wines waiting to be discovered. Hold on a second. When we receive new stock lists from our suppliers in Bordeaux, I usually look them over pretty thoroughly. What? 2009 Larrivaux? Really? “David, you’ll never believe what XYZ negoce is offering!” We bought what was left (not much). And now it’s here, back in stock.
 
 
 
Briefly – Château Larrivaux is in the commune of Cissac in the northern sector of Bordeaux’s Haut-Médoc. It is really a 3-wood west of Saint-Estèphe. The property is run by Bérengère Tesseron, and she has been cranking out some impressive wines for quite some time, a bit under the radar. We’re not talking about big, extracted, over-oaked monsters. Her wines are nuanced, elegant, and complex. The 2009 has what it takes to lay down for another decade or more, but it’s so enjoyable now, why not indulge? Seriously, for the price, it’s easy to imagine a Wednesday evening’s slow roasted beef ribs with the fixin’s, a bottle of this, and who cares if you can’t get a reservation at (insert fancy resto name here). It just makes sense; from a flavor standpoint and a budget one, it just makes sense.
 
We’ve written a blog post, or two (scroll down), or three,about this wine. After this email lands in our inboxes, this too, will live as another one. There’s really not much more to say. 2009 Château Larrivaux is back in stock; most likely, for a short time.
 
 
Speaking of harvest, I have spent the past week, and will spend the next on assignment in Slovenia, where the harvest is in full motion. From one perspective, it’s not optimal, as everyone is so busy, it’s difficult to grab the attention of any winemakers around here. That being said, it’s a beautiful country, and it’s almost enough to be stomping around the vineyards, observing the hard work which they undergo, gathering their fruit from the vines. They make time to explain things to us when they can, and it has been a great learning experience.Heck, when all is said and done, I look forward to stashing some 2016 Slovenian wines in my cellar. I probably have some time to achieve that. As far as the 2009 Château Larrivaux goes, I will have to act now. There might not be anything left by the time I return. Na Zdravje! – Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 red Bordeaux, Bordeaux in general, European Football, the six Bay Area Wilco shows, or anything Slovenia: peter@wineSF.com

 


We’re hoping that you all had a happy and safeHalloween, wherever you may be. We had a bit of a parade in the shop today with folks in costume; little and not so little alike. It got me to thinking. Earlier in the week, on my usual Wednesday off, I was finishing up a little business with some people whom I wasn’t familiar with, and was asked,“Do you always have a day off during the week?” I answered affirmatively, but explained that I work on Saturdays, which balances that out. But Saturdays are good days here at TWH; that’s the day that we receive the most foot traffic. More foot traffic meansmore interaction with more customers! A fairly regular Saturday customer popped in for another case of 2010 Château de Malleret (it wasn’t his first!), and as I helped him out, we got to chatting about it.

 


 

 
As anyone who has done so can attest to, bringing up Bordeaux with me will be met with much enthusiasm as well as a story or two. It started with the Malleret, and how pleased I was when I tasted it from bottle at a negociant’s office in Bordeaux. I explained to this gent that I was proud that I found such a wine that has been enjoyed so much by our customers (and staff) for such a reasonable price. I also pointed out that I probably don’t get to taste it if I just went to Bordeaux for the barrel samples. He then began to ask about the barrel samples and how one can appraise a wine not yet in bottle. This warrants a long story, so I’ll spare you that one. The short of it is, speaking for myself, you can’t. At least I can’t tell you what it’s going to taste like 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years down the road. I explained that a bottle of wine is a living thing, and that tasting a barrel sample and describing its complexity 20 years in the future is tantamount to pointing at an infant and declaring it to be a Senator. BUT – tasting a barrel sample does give you an overall impression of a wine’s potential structure, acidity, tannin, alcohol, and most important, balance. Taste enough samples from various appellations, and one gets an impression of the overall character of the vintage. I know, I know. It must be nice … It’s work. Trust me on that one.
 
 
Back in late March/early April, I was in Bordeaux for the annual tastings. I arrived on the Wednesday before the hectic week, giving me time to visit growers and negociants. The UGC tastings are important, as that is where many of the well-known chateaux pour their samples. But these days we know there aren’t any bargains at a UGC tasting; hence the negociants’ tastings. I’ve come in habit of hitting one major tasting of barrel samples (see above photo)on Sunday. Hundreds of wines; many of which are petits chateaux. I said it was work, right? With the 2014 vintage, I found many samples to my liking. I get particularly excited when I like one and I know that it’s going to be inexpensive. This year the barrel sample that packs the most quality for the lowest price for me is the 2014 Château Sénéjac, Haut-Médoc. Not being used to the current dollar/euro conversion rate, I was thinking $18-$20 in my head when I tasted it. I felt it worthy. My tasting note ended with “The right stuff.” Underlined. “Good, honest wine”, I called it. It hadexcellent weight, pleasant extract, the right amount of acidity and tannin, and most importantly, all in balance. When I got back and we crunched the numbers, we offered it as part of our 2014 futures. $13. Not a typo.$13. For a bottle of Bordeaux. Okay, not yet a bottle, but for a bottle in the future. $13. What?
 
Okay, one must have a modicum of patience when they buy Bordeaux futures. They take 3 years after vintage to arrive stateside. The 2014 Château Sénéjac will arrive here by the end of 2017. When it does, it probably won’t be $13 (if any is unsold in the first place). Here’s what The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin had to say about the 2014 Sénéjac:
“The Château Sénéjac 2014 has a fresh, lively bouquet, energetic blackberry and boysenberry fruit leaping from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied and tones it down a little. But there is commendable energy here, well-judged acidity and plenty of blackberry and raspberry fruit on the finish that linger long in the mouth. This comes recommended. (89-91 points)”
 
 
With Halloween behind us and November upon us, we will be unveiling our 38th Anniversary Sale very, very soon. Keep an eye out for that. For those of you who are experienced with buying Bordeaux futures, a six-pack of Sénéjac is a no-brainer. For those of you who have never bought them, here’s a low cost opportunity to partake in the exercise, which is actually quite fun and exciting once the wine arrives. Seriously, $13. Do you like wine? $13. Boom! – Peter Zavialoff

“How do you guys make your Bordeaux selections?”We may have heard that question once or twice before. Our usual answer is thatwe buy the majority of our Bordeaux selectionsEn Primeur, oras futures, shortly after the barrel samples for the wines are presented to the trade. Sometimes,we also buy additional stocks after bottling, either as a result of one of our suppliers shipping over sample bottles to choose from, or if I tastesomething too good to pass upwhen I meet with negociants while attending the tastings. It’s not often when we buy Bordeaux from another importer. But,just like all rules, there are (have been) exceptions.

 

 
We have demonstrated over the years that it pays to peruse close-out lists that different distributors send out periodically. To the trained eye, it doesn’t take very much time, and should something stick out to us, we are quick to respond and scoop up any berries worth scooping. My workstation is the only workstation next to Anya’s (I know, poor Anya), so as I was busy typing away one morning,Anya casually turned and asked me if I tasted the 2009 Château de Malleret. It is documented that I am a big fan of their 2010. What’s not documented, until now, iswhat happened after I tasted (and loved) the 2010.
 
 
After each En Primeurs trip to Bordeaux, it is customary to meet with David and discuss the vintage and talk about the wines I tasted, especially any stand-outs.When I returned from the trip in April of 2014, there wasone wine that stood out from the rest, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc. There are so many producers in Bordeaux that it’s not unusual to taste wines that I’m unfamiliar with. Malleret was one of those producers. As I was tasting the wine, I asked the negociantwhere the chateau was located. He informed me it was in the southernmost part of the Haut-Médoc, south of La Lagune and a bit west of the D2 roadway. He then went on to say that his brother had his wedding reception there, as many do, because the grounds are so beautiful.I knew we would be buying good quantities of the 2010 after I returned, so I did a little more research when I arrived back in SF. I discovered that we actually had one bottle of the 2000 vintage in-stock for a ridiculously low price. I bought it and took it home. One word: stellar! Turns out that the bottle was from David’s private cellar and he had another bottle at home. In my world, to enjoy it fully, wine is meant to be shared. So rather than to be selfish, I recommended that David taste it himself, perhaps with one of his tasting groups. I’m still waiting for the report …
 
Now you’re all up to speed on where my head waswhen Anya asked me about the 2009. The answer was that I hadn’t tasted it, but considering the litany of emails/blog posts I composed regarding the 2009 Bordeaux vintage, and my recent experience with Malleret from two other outstanding Bordeaux vintages, this was about as risk-free as one can get. Factoring in the crazy closeout price makes the 2009 Malleret another sweet deal from our petits chateaux section. Château de Malleret definitely has a house style. One gets a sense of their terroir in every swirl, sniff, and taste. Their style suits my palate well, I love the old school aromas of tobacco, forest floor, and earthy mineral. The 2009 is a user-friendly vintage with excellent weight and fruit expression, and the Malleret has just the right amount of ripe fruit to sit atop the old school structure. Not overbearing nor clunky, the palate is full bodied, yet all in balance with a finish that combines the fruit, structure, and herbal profile.
 
Here’s what Neal Martin had to say about the 2009 Château de Malleret:
“Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The de Malleret 2009 has a well-defined cedar and briary-scented bouquet with crisp blackberry and dark plum fruit interlaced with cedar. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannins but a very edgy, vibrant finish with lively black fruits that are just slightly clipped on the finish. Otherwise, a very good effort. Tasted September 2011. 89 points”
 
If you enjoy a great deal on a red Bordeaux, or if you have enjoyed a bottle or two of the 2010 Château de Malleret, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of their 2009. It just makes sense! – Peter Zavialoff

Another 2010 Standout – 2010 Chateau Larrivaux

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 1:04 AM


 

As we continue to reveal the contents of our last French container, let us tell you about yet another stupendous value-driven wine from Bordeaux! TWH regulars need no introduction to this château, as we backed up the truck not one, not two, but three times with their 2009 wine. It was that good! As a customer once said to us, “It sold out and we cried.” Well crying time is over; now in stock for theunbelievably low price of $16.98 is the 2010 Château Larrivaux!

 
Again, Château Larrivaux is run by Bérangère Tesseron, the wife of Basile Tesseron of 4th Growth Château Lafon Rochet in nearby St. Estephe. Larrivaux has been in existence since the late 16th century, and has been run by the women of the family throughout the generations. The wine has a particular degree of finesse and elegance, which could lead some to call it feminine, which makes sense considering its history. With a powerful vintage like 2010, an elegant styled wine like this is astandout.
 
We had high expectations when we tasted the 2010 Larrivaux … and you all know what that can lead to. (High expectations → disappointment) Not this time. This would be the opposite. Aromatically, it shows a solid core of dark cherries and berries within an earthy and spicy framework. The palate is elegant for a 2010 Left Bank wine, with a surprising complexity factor. It is not a typical young 2010, as it is interesting and enjoyable now, though it has the structure to reveal even more complexity over time, say 4-10 years.
 

 

 

Here’s what Neal Martin and Robert Parker had to say about it:
 

 

“There is good intensity on the nose with creme de cassis, plum and violets, quite opulent in style. The palate is medium-bodied with good tension, pure blackberry and plum fruits with a linear but focused finish. Very fine.” – Neal Martin
 

 

 

“Another sleeper of the vintage, this elegant 2010 offers up notes of cedar, loamy soil, black currants and black cherries. Medium-bodied and complex already with supple tannins as well as a nicely layered mouthfeel and finish, it should be consumed over the next decade.” – Robert Parker
 

 

 

Speaking of Bordeaux, there are still a few open spots (8) at the table of our upcoming Bordeaux dinner at Piperade restaurant on Thursday, January 29 at 7pm with Second Growth Château Brane Cantenac. 5 courses, 5 wines. The price? $100 which includes dinner, wine, tax, and gratuity. For a Bordeaux dinner, this is about as inexpensive as it gets! If you are interested, please contact me for more information. It promises to be a fun, educational, and delicious evening! – Peter Zavialoff


The last time I chimed in on a Saturday night, I promised that I would tell you all about some of our new arrivals.But we all know that I can’t just do that. There’s got to be a story, right? You see I’ve been waiting, very patiently, for these three wines to arrive. I say very patiently because I tasted them last March on my annual trip to Bordeaux. When I returned home, I sat down with David and we discussed what I liked and what and how much of each we should buy. We didn’t feel these three particular petits châteaux wines were well-known enough to offer on pre-arrival, so I just sat here with my tasting experience and my notes and waited. And waited. They’re here now and our staff has tasted them all and everyone agrees, these three wines are screaming bargains! How do we find wines like this? Here’s how.

 
I usually arrive in Bordeaux on the Wednesday before the hectic En Primeurs week. I like doing this because:
a) I get adjusted to the time, cuisine, and language
b) I have more time to visit negociants and taste the wines at a leisurely pace
This works for the negociants as well, as they get to cross me off their lists before the madness begins the following Monday. I’ve settled into a pattern recently of making tasting appointments Thursday and Friday, morning and afternoon. These appointments are generally informal, I can take my time, taste what I want, and shoot the breeze with the staff. I just looked back at my notes, and I tasted 24 wines at this particular appointment. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we don’t always buy every wine we like, but prefer to focus on the best values. Here are a couple of (translated) examples of notes for wines we did NOT buy: “Broad depth of aromas, youthful palate, complexity, fruit punches thru.” Or, “Modern, fancy smelling, has expansive palate with a spicy finish.” They sound good enough, but the three I chose were a little more convincing.
 
negociantroom
 


2010 Chateau La Gorre Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2010
2010 Chateau La Gorre Medoc Cru Bourgeois

“Bright cherries, earth, herbs aromas, palate expressive, has great potential.”Squiggly line (a seldom used

indicator of a wine I really like.)

 

Reg. $16.98

buy 2010 Chateau La Gorre Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2010


2009 Chateau Devise d'Ardilley Haut-Medoc 2009
2009 Chateau Devise d’Ardilley Haut-Medoc

“Complex, ripe purple fruit aromatics, easy entry, palate dark, expansive, brooding in a good way, all firing on finish.”Squiggly line

 

Reg. $19.98

buy 2009 Chateau Devise d'Ardilley Haut-Medoc 2009

 

malleretnote2



2010 Chateau de Malleret Haut-Medoc 2010
2010 Chateau de Malleret Haut-Medoc

“Wide palette of aromas, complex, herbal, St. Julien-like fruit …” from here my note concludes because the rest of the experience is seared in my memory. If I were to continue writing, it would go something like this, “pleasantly commanding attention on the palate, vibrant fresh red fruit, forest floor, black tea, hint of incense, yet lively and bright with fine tannins, long finish, the hero of the tasting.” TWO squiggly lines (I can count those on one hand).

 

Reg. $19.98

buy 2010 Chateau de Malleret Haut-Medoc 2010
 

In addition to our praise for these wines, The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin has nice things to say about the three of them as well:

 

 

2010 Château La Gorre:
“The La Gorre has a very attractive bouquet with lively, vivacious black cherries, boysenberry and crushed stone that is well defined and opens nicely in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, supple tannins. The acidity is crisp and the finish tense, with hints of graphite on the finish. This is a well-crafted Cru Bourgeois. Drink now-2018. Tasted September 2012. 90 points”
 
2009 Château Devise d’Ardilley:
“Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The Devise d’Ardilley was the winner of the Coup de Cru Bourgeois that I judged at Vinexpo in June. Here, it justifies that “coup”. It has a lovely, beautifully defined bouquet with pure dark berried fruits intertwined with marmalade and orange rind. Sheer class. The palate is beautifully balanced with superb acidity. Very vibrant, very composed with a sensual, caressing finish worthy of a Grand Cru Classe. Outstanding for its class. Tasted September 2011. 92 points”
 
2010 Château de Malleret:
“Tasted at the Crus Bourgeois 2010 tasting in London. There is plenty of ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit on the nose of the de Malleret, with touches of dark plum emerging with time. The palate is medium-bodied with firm, dense tannins. There is very good weight here with an appealing, tobacco infused, grainy finish that shows great persistency. Superb. Drink now-2018. Tasted September 2012. 90 points”
 

 

 

When this email hits your inboxes this evening, TWH crew will be celebrating at our annual After-Holiday Party! There were some very special bottles packed up this afternoon and sent over to the home of a very good friend of TWH where the party will be held. Some excellent food will be served and the wines are ready to sing!
 

 

 

We’ll all come back to Earth tomorrow morning; I’ll be waking up on my brother’s couch, hopefully near a remote control so I can watch the big match between Manchester City and Arsenal. Back to Earth, yes, but with a whole new wave of petits châteaux Bordeaux wines now in stock, we’ll be back to Earth in style! – Peter Zavialoff
 

 

 

If you have any questions or comments about Bordeaux, petits châteaux, or tomorrow’s footy match feel free to email me: peter@wineSF.com

2009 Chateau Larrivaux: The Victory Lap

Thursday, September 19, 2013 7:36 PM

“She say, ‘you can’t repeat the past.’ I say, ‘You can’t? What do you mean you can’t, of course you can.'” More wise words courtesy of Bob Dylan. Looking upon the bright side of his quote, we ask the rhetorical question, aren’t great moments worth reliving? More to the point, aren’t great wines worth re-tasting?  Well, sure. Great wines are always worth re-tasting, but great wines are expensive, right? Yes and no. There’s no doubt that the world’s most famous wines are indeed highly sought after, ergo expensive. We’re NOT talking about them today. Today, we are happy to announce the return of what very well was TWH’s Wine Of The Year in 2012, the 2009 Chateau Larrivaux. When we compile our Top Ten Wines of the Year list, we don’t necessarily rank them 1-10, but it is not coincidence that in the write-up, we might save the best for last. In addition, we seldom list wines that the critics gush over, preferring to factor in important things like affordability and drinkability. You see, here at TWH, we love wine, and show no label bias; it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts. That’s how we found the 2009 Château Larrivaux.

 

It was the spring of 2010. The weather in Bordeaux was gloomy and drizzly. On the first day, I found myself inside the offices of a negociant tasting through a multitude of barrel samples from the much heralded 2009 vintage. That is where the magic happens. That is where one can find a Picasso at a garage sale. The UGC tastings are fine to attend, but you’re not going to find anything that is off-the-radar at a UGC tasting. That is why I like to get to Bordeaux the week before the sanctioned trade tastings, to taste the wines from producers that are not part of the UGC. The 2009 Larrivaux was one of a handful of samples that I found to be outstanding, and knew would offer great value. After returning to SF, when the futures were released, we bought some. I wrote about it then, I mentioned it to my friends, and I talked it up with my colleagues here at the shop. It was a tough 2 1/2 year wait. I felt like I was sitting on a big secret … but one I could actually blab about. “Wait until you taste these 2009’s,” was all I could say to anyone who asked me about Bordeaux. I’ll never forget the day the first container landed. It is not uncommon for my colleague Chris and I to grab a bottle of something after work and taste it, comparing notes. When I grabbed the Larrivaux, I chuckled. I hadn’t tasted it from bottle either, but I kinda knew what to expect. He swirled, he took in the aromatics, he tasted.

“Wow! Are you kidding??!!”

“That’s what I’ve been talking about.”

How much is it??!!”

“I know. A steal, right?


The next day, Tom and David were in on it too. The following week, a customer walked into the shop looking for value 2009 Bordeaux. It was my day off and Chris helped him. He convinced this customer to try a bottle. When I came in the next day, I went out to the floor to grab a bottle of the 2009 Larrivaux, but it was all gone. This customer bought all of our remaining stock! We went back to our negociants looking for more. We bought a whole bunch more and waited for it to get here. Somehow, Anya missed out on the first go-around. When the second batch arrived, it took plenty of prodding and persistence (young Bordeaux isn’t her favorite) before Anya took a bottle home. See her synopsis at the very bottom of this blog post here. So we were all on board. We bought a lot, and we thought it would last, but even the second batch sold out quicker than we expected. It’s that good. Not expecting to find anything, I perused a different negoce’s catalog, and low and behold, there was more available! We bought their entire stock and had to wait again. Well, the waiting is over! Fresh off of our last container, it’s here and back in stock!!! We bought a bunch, so it should stay in stock for a while … but that’s what we thought last time.

– Peter Zavialoff

 

Some words from The Wine Advocate: “A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot, this has a fine crisp dark brambly nose: good definition with hints of black olive tapenade and a touch of smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a lovely, slightly “digestif” entry, good acidity, very well balanced with and fine, quite racy finish. Very fine.” – Neal Martin

“A tasty Haut-Medoc with notes of black currants, loamy soil, tobacco leaf and underbrush, this wine should drink nicely for 10 or more years.” – Robert Parker

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;
$54.98
  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;
$19.99
  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;
$19.98
  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;
$19.98
  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;
$34.99
  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;
$144.98
  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;
$15.99
  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;
$29.98
  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;
$23.98
  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!

rovereto



 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;
$15.99
  Add to Cart

$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!

 

anyalarrivaux 



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;
$23.98
  Add to Cart

 

2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc

Monday, October 1, 2012 6:28 PM

2009larrivaux



Here at TWH, this has been quite the eventful week! I just got word that our next container from France is almost full and will be on the water shortly. On it will be some goodies from the Loire Valley and Burgundy as well as more 2009 Bordeaux. 2009 Bordeaux. Pinch me, I’m dreaming. They’re that good. As I’ve said recently, you don’t need a second mortgage to fill your cellar with high-quality 2009 Bordeaux. I’ve been excitedly writing about this subject ever since April 2010 when I returned from the En Primeur tastings. We sold healthy quantities of some of my recommendations as futures, and I’m grateful for those of you who participated in that. Things are different now. Today, as I write about yet another fabulous, budget-friendly 2009 Bordeaux, just know that the wine is here, ready to be tasted. Many customers have been picking up their 2009’s, and guess what? They’re loving it! No doubt they will be great in 15-20 years, but what’s simply amazing is that they’re already showing brilliantly. And this week, several customers have entered TWH elated at the quality of the 2009’s they’ve bought here, like longtime customer Ken, who was radiating about one that I recommended.

 

One of the reasons why it’s great to have an independent family-style wine shop staffed with folks who love wine at your beckon call is that we pay attention to what you buy, what you like, and just as important, what you don’t like. Many years ago, Ken and I had a conversation about modern styled wines versus old-school ones. He mentioned that he preferred the latter, and when he said that, I knew I had something for him! I told him that we just so happened to have an atavistic Bordeaux from the celebrated 2000 vintage. He tried a bottle. Then another. Then another. Eventually it sold out. Ken came in this past week, and when I saw him, I rose from my desk and put a bottle of 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc in his hands. He bought several other wines that day, but when he and his better half came in today, she exclaimed, “He’s so excited about this wine that he brought in the cork!” What was it? The 2009 Château Larrivaux, of course. He was so happily excited that he went back and emptied the bin. Using terms like “lean”, “mannered”, and “very adult”, he then went on about its “cheap price.” It’s always such a good feeling when we’re able to find something affordable that resonates so well with a customer that they can’t contain themselves when they come back to the shop! He went on to say, “Once upon a time, you found an atavistic Bordeaux, and I loved it. I bought bottle after bottle, and then it sold out and we cried. You kept prospecting, kept on tasting, and low and behold, you’ve found another winner; thank you!” No. Thank you, Ken.

 

berangere



A little research yields some interesting tidbits. First off, the château is run by Berangère Tesseron, the wife of Basile Tesseron of 4th Growth Château Lafon Rochet in nearby St. Estephe. Basile is the nephew of Pauillac high flyer Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet Canet fame. Larrivaux has been in existence since the late 16th century, and has been run by the women of the family throughout the generations. The wine has a particular degree of finesse and elegance, which could lead some to call it feminine, which just makes sense, considering the château’s history. Though Ken argued this point with me, saying that Red Bordeaux is masculine by rule. Either way, it is a fantastic wine from a legendary vintage for a very fair price that will bring pleasure to all who taste it for years to come. I highly recommend that all you budget-friendly Bordeaux lovers jump on this opportunity to taste this delectable wine.

 

So yes, I get more and more excited every time I hear about any customer’s experience with any of our 2009 Bordeaux, and it has begun to happen with regularity! The Blues won a huge match this afternoon and last week’s Wilco shows were sensational! Good times! Even better, there’s budget-friendly 2009 Bordeaux here at TWH. Come and git it! – Peter Zavialoff

Neal Martin’s notes: “A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc 3% Petit Verdot, this has a fine crisp dark brambly nose: good definition with hints of black olive tapenade and a touch of smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a lovely, slightly “digestif” entry, good acidity, very well balanced with and fine, quite racy finish. Very fine. Tasted March 2010. (89-91 points)”

Above photo of Berangère and Basile Tesseron from efwines.com

Now In Stock!!! 2009 Château Cantemerle

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:53 PM

cantemerlelabel





As we head full-steam into the dog days of summer, things are gettingpretty exciting around here. Our next container from France has been collected and is awaiting transport! What’s on it, you ask? More 2009 Bordeaux, that’s what! I have gone on the record declaring 2009 to be “my favorite Bordeaux vintage for the rest of my life”, and am happily squirreling bottle after bottle away in my cellar to remind me lest I forget someday. There are some unbelievable wines on that container. Off the top of my head, I know there are good quantities of a couple sub $25 bottles that will blow you all away with their quality. I’ll be sure to let you all in on what they are when they get here.

Let’s focus instead on what is already here. We recently received our 1st container of 2009 Bordeaux, and boy has it been fun tasting and recommending them! Despite their youth, these wines are open, accessible, and expressive, revealing exactly what makes 2009 such a great vintage: fresh, rich, deep, and expressive fruit framed by a perfect balance of tannins and acidity. The precocious fruit leads me to believe that many wines will be consumed before their respective maturity dates, but who cares? See joy, feel joy. My strategy has been to taste and experiment with the lower priced 2009’s (I’m cellaring them too), but also to carefully select some more serious bottlings to get a chance to know what 2009 will taste like in say … 2025!

 

cantemerlechateaux





The firstserious 2009 that I’ve socked away is theChâteau Cantemerle.This Haut-Médoc Fifth Growth property has been on my radar for many years now. It’s about a 5-iron from Margaux, and stylistically, Cantemerle’s wines have that Margaux-like charm. You may remember a recent write-up about the2009 Château Cantemerle, written shortly after having tasted it out of bottle for the first time. It was being sold on pre-arrival at the time, and sold so well, we went back to our negociant and bought some more. Guess what? It’s here now! Tasting a 2009 Château Cantemerle today is a bit of a crime, but it will reveal how incredible the 2009 vintage is. I wouldn’t recommend tasting/drinking more than 1 bottle at this stage of its life, but for scientific purposes, I caved, and is it ever great.

 

 

Robert Parker had this to say about the wine:

“Readers looking for the more ethereal, elegant side of Bordeaux need search no further than Cantemerle, one of the estates in the very southern end of the Medoc. Dense ruby/purple (nearly opaque), this wine offers up notes of lead pencil shavings, spring flowers, raspberries and black cherries. The wine is ethereal, medium-bodied, and by no means a blockbuster, but long and intellectual. However, the tannins are present, and the wine is certainly capable of putting on weight with time in the bottle. Give it 3-4 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 25+ years. – 91+ points”

 

And The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin had this to say:

“Tasted at the Union de Grand Cru in London. The Cantemerle 2009 has a lovely floral, almost Margaux-like bouquet with fine delineation and intensity. The palate is well balanced with fine delineation, a little grainy on the entry but very focused on the supple finish. This is a very attractive Cantemerle that should age with panache. Tasted November 2011. – 91 points”

 

I don’t want to open up Pandora’s box here and regale you all with my quirky beliefs and and prejudices about points and wine, but let’s just say that if I look up a wine that I haven’t tasted yet, I am more likely to enjoy a wine in the 88-92 range than I will a 96-100. Just sayin’.

 

I sure hope everyone’s enjoying their summer. We’re plugging away for you all tasting this and tasting that, looking for liquid gems for drinking now and for laying down. Here at TWH, our palates never tire! As I said, we’re excited about the next Bordeaux container coming soon, but let’s continue to relish in the one that has already arrived. For after all, it brought us the 2009 Château Cantemerle!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments regarding 2009 Bordeaux, Château Cantemerle, Points and Wine, or how I’m passing the time until footy season starts: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Here’s to hoping everyone made it through St. Patrick’s Day okay! Wait a minute, St. Patrick’s Day? Wow, time is really flying now. It just occurred to me that the next time I chime in with a Sunday email,I will do so from a hotel room in Bordeaux. Yep, it’s that time of year again; I still have a couple of loose ends to tie up, but I’m pretty much ready to head across the pond to taste the red, white, and gold wines from the 2011 vintage out of barrel. You know I’m a bit of a wine geek, doing things like encouraging people to drink Riesling with their corned beef and cabbage, for instance, but my passion and devotion in the wine world is found along the banks of, and further inland of the magical estuary known as the Gironde. Bordeaux. For me, it’s the beginning and end of every story. For me, it’s all I want; all I need.

 

It was around 2 years ago when I jetted off to Bordeaux to taste the massively successful 2009 vintage out of barrel, and as I’ve said before, no wine cellar would be complete without representation from this illustrious vintage. As was mentioned in my previous Sunday email, Robert Parker’s ratings of 2009 Bordeaux out of bottle were released at the end of last month, with a remarkable 19 wines earning his highest praise. Say what you will, and it’s all been said, but I drink wine, NOT points. One wine that struck a strong chord within me was the 2009 Château Cantemerle. I know this property well, as it sits just south of Margaux in the Haut-Médoc. One of my best pals and bandmates turned me on to the stuff when he lived in London and regularly sought advice from the staff at his local Nicolas shop in Notting Hill. Another pal of mine was generous enough to invite me over to his home on my last birthday and pop a bottle of Cantemerle’s 1983. If you can get your hands on one of those, I strongly recommend you do! Surely, someday I believe the 2009 version will trump that 1983 experience. The wine has it all. My usually reserved tasting notes seem to have been written by a teenager on the last day of school before the summer. The famous squiggly line, exclamation points, and the phrase “Home Run” jump off the page. But a closer look reveals words like nuanced, elegant, fresh and silky. It is abundantly clear that I was highly impressed with the 2009 Cantemerle. When you consider the price, compared to the other Cru Classé wines, this was a no-brainer. When I returned from the 2009 UGC tasting in Los Angeles, David asked me if there were any wines that we should be buying more of. Without thinking, without consulting any of my notes, and without hesitation, I said, “Cantemerle and La Lagune” (more on that one later). Wham! Bam! A few days later, several more cases were confirmed from our sources in Bordeaux, and I’m so excited knowing that they will be arriving sometime this year! Dismiss at your own peril.

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2009 Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc (Pre-Arrival)

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$39.00
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“Readers looking for the more ethereal, elegant side of Bordeaux need search no further than Cantemerle, one of the estates in the very southern end of the Medoc. Dense ruby/purple (nearly opaque), this wine offers up notes of lead pencil shavings, spring flowers, raspberries and black cherries. The wine is ethereal, medium-bodied, and by no means a blockbuster, but long and intellectual. However, the tannins are present, and the wine is certainly capable of putting on weight with time in the bottle. Give it 3-4 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 25+ years. 91+ points” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

 



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Châteaux Cantemerle and La Lagune are 2 of only 5 properties awarded Cru Classé status in the 1855 classification that are not from the Médoc’s most-famous appellations (both are Haut-Médoc). Situated nearby Cantemerle, La Lagune is one of my favorite, favorite “under the radar” Bordeaux properties. It has been for some time now, but all of a sudden, in the past 4 months, it has exploded, as everywhere I look, there it is again. Seriously, it all started with 10 bottles of the 1985 (until 2009, my favorite vintage) that we purchased from a private cellar. I know the wine, it was priced $300 lower than Chateau Margaux of the same year, but it is every bit as enjoyable. A couple of customers listened to my advice, and they were very pleased. Then, a customer and his father came in and tried one. The phone rang an hour later, the customer’s father had declared it “the best wine I’ve ever had”, and now he is a customer too! In fact, he scooped up what was remaining, and sampled the 2006 which was much to his liking. Then I was having lunch with my sister at The Left Bank in Larkspur, and there was a large table of older gentlemen conducting a wine tasting. Without craning my neck too much, I saw some familiar fancy California labels, but I didn’t want to gawk, so I let my curiosity dissipate while enjoying my visit with my sister. Our server, and that of the table of wine tasters, is a friend of mine, so when the tasting finished and the large table emptied, I asked her about the wines. Turning my head completely around, I looked and there it was, a bottle of La Lagune. I asked to see the bottle, and she brought it to me. 1986. And there was still wine in it, which she permitted me to taste. Magnificent! Time had been good to this bottle. I couldn’t help noticing the back label which clearly stated, “Imported by Wine House Limited.” A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at work and as I signed in to my work email account, there was an email from a representative from La Lagune inviting me to the Chateau when I visit later this month, spooky. My schedule is pretty tight, but I’m trying to figure out how to fit it in. But back to the L.A. tasting. If I thought the Cantemerle tasting notes were written by a teenager, then the La Lagune notes were written by an exuberant lottery winner. 2 squiggly lines … I believe that this is the ONLY time I’ve ever done that, “Good God! Vitamin-like minerals, rich, deep, dark red and purple fruit, great weight, sublime!” I don’t know what winning the lottery feels like, but while tasting the 2009 La Lagune, I think I have an idea.
2009 Chateau La Lagune Haut Medoc (Pre-Arrival)

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$69.00
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“It is not unusual that the 2009 La Lagune is a spectacular effort given the fact that this estate has been making terrific wines over the last decade or more. It boasts a dense purple color as well as a beautiful perfume of blueberries, mulberries, cassis, white chocolate and subtle toasty oak. Notes of Chinese black tea, cedarwood and forest floor also make an appearance in the singular aromatic and flavor profiles. This sumptuous, full-bodied La Lagune possesses low acidity, abundant but ripe, sweet tannin and a long, 45-second finish. Give this beauty 5-7 years of bottle age and drink it over the following three decades. 95 points” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
So there you have it, 2 Cru Classé Left Bank Bordeaux from the 2009 vintage that are way long on quality and more than reasonable in price. Alas, here we are in mid-March. I’m all set for another scouting mission to my favorite wine region on the planet. I promise to take more pictures and post them on our Facebook page. I promise to taste more wines than last year. I will be a good boy and make all of my appointments on time, just like last year. Lastly, I promise not to be too distracted at the Commanderie dinner, fully knowing that my team will be playing the deciding match of the European Champions’ League Quarter Finals that evening. Scout’s honor!Peter Zavialoff

 

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