Saturday, February 2, 2019 12:36 PM
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Friday, January 5, 2018 4:47 PM
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 12:52 PM
In my last post I wrote that Enrico Pierazzuoli was in San Francisco to pour his wines at Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri World Tour held at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavillon. Enrico is a practical man who does not place too much importance on scores, awards and such, but when his estate in Carmignano, Le Farnete, received a “Tre Bicchieri” for their 2013 Carmignano Riserva, he was clearly honored. It feels good to be recognized for your efforts, especially when it’s by Italy’s most influential wine and food publication.
Tuscany’s Carmignano is a lesser-known appellation, but its history of wine growing traces back centuries. In 1716, the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici legally recognized and identified this area for wine growing. Enrico appreciated the timing of receiving his first-ever “Tre Bicchieri” while celebrating Carmignano’s 300th Anniversary! The 2013 Carmignano Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in small oak barrel for a year and then another year in bottle before being released to market, it is a full-bodied expression of Sangiovese. The inclusion of a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is enough to give the wine significant back-bone and structure. Less than 200 cases are produced of the Riserva and only in the best years. It is a wine with a long life ahead of it.
The Pierazzuoli’s run a traditional osteria on their estate in Chianti Montalbano. They sent out a notice earlier this week that they no longer have any reservations open for Easter. Of course there is lamb on the menu, so I am guessing patrons will be enjoying the 2013 Carmignano Riserva as it should be a perfect match. Shame I can’t be there! Buona Pasqua! -Anya Balistreri
Monday, March 27, 2017 12:18 PM
This year’s visit from the Enrico and Gianlorenzo Show coincided with the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri World Tour’s stop in San Francisco on February 15. Enrico was pouring his wine on the tour and Gianlorenzo Picollo, his friend, fellow winemaker, and traveling companion, came along too. Those two usually travel to the States together, which works out perfectly for us because we get the pleasure of meeting with two of our favorite Italian producers at the same time. I lovingly call their visit a “show” because they remind me of a duo á la Jay and Silent Bob, as Enrico is the talkative one and Gianlorenzo, shy and less sure of his English, taking on the role of the sidekick.
Enrico, Gianlorenzo and David
The “show” begins with Gianlorenzo pouring his fabulous Gavis. Pete wrote about the Rovereto earlier in the year. Since there are only two Gavis and the winemaking here is fairly straight forward, this portion of the show is quick. Next up is Enrico with his line-up from two estates; one from Chianti Montalbano and the other from Carmignano. This can take a while because Enrico is adamant on explaining all aspects of his wine production, not to mention that he is not one to hold back on sharing his opinion on, well, most things. I for one relish these presentations by Enrico. His enthusiasm and devotion to his work comes through with equal parts seriousness and humor. Enrico has a dry wit and delivers it with grand hand gestures and animated facial expressions.
2015 Chianti Montalbano
The first wine Enrico poured for us was the 2015 Chianti Montalbano and it was clear right off the bat that this is one of his finest efforts. Enrico, swinging his arms up and folding them behind his head, explained it this way, “in 2014 you really needed to make the wine, in 2015 it made itself…you could go to the beach”. 2015 was a favorable vintage across Italy and Montalbano was no exception. The Sangiovese fully ripened while retaining all the necessary structure, acid and tannin to make great wine. In general, Enrico’s Chianti Montalbano tends to be fruit-driven and light-to-medium bodied, but the 2015 is noticeably fuller and dense. The vines are now over twenty years old and that also contributes to the quality of the grapes.
TWH staff and Enrico spoke at length about the challenges of making and selling Chianti. So much of what is produced is what Enrico calls “industrially made”. These mass produced Chiantis are antithesis to the approach Enrico and his family take to making wine. For the Pierazzuoli’s, it is a real family affair. In addition to making wine, they produce their own olive oil as well as other food delicacies like vegetable conserves and fruit jams. They renovated their farmhouse into an agriturismo and most recently converted an ancient hayloft into a traditional Tuscan osteria. Last summer, my niece had the pleasure of staying a night at one of their apartments during a tour through Italy. She and her fiancé had dinner at the osteria. It was the highlight of their trip. I think I’m due a trip there myself! In the meantime, it’ll be bowls of pasta Puttanesca and glasses of 2015 Chianti Montalbano to tie me over until then.– Anya Balistreri
Monday, March 6, 2017 12:04 PM
What constitutes good value? Well, M-W.com defines the word as, “A fair return or equivalent for goods, services, or money for something exchanged.” Keeping in mind that the word “fair” is subjective; we all want our money’s worth when purchasing anything. Here at TWH, we always seek good value when tasting and deciding which wines to import and stock on our shelves. At every price point, there is value to be had here.
If one is searching for the best values among our bins, it is obvious to begin with wines that we import ourselves. It just makes sense – as there are no middlemen taking their cuts as the wine moves from producer to our shelves. We pride ourselves on being able to provide good value at every price point, from the $10 bottle well into the hundreds. In the world of fine wine, there exists a law of diminishing returns. After all, is a $100 bottle of wine really twice as good as a $50 bottle? There are many reasons for a particular wine’s price to exceed that of similar wines from similar locales. Some brands have excellent marketing arms and are able to command more due to a heightened reputation – deservedly or not. Taking all this into consideration, I have quietly enjoyed a very special wine recently. It’s from a fancy appellation – one that includes wines which sell for hundreds of dollars. I’m talking about Barolo. Specifically, the 2010 Barolo from Aurelio Settimo.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about an Italian white wine which we directly import. Within the write-up I mentioned a tasting room experience in which Tiziana Settimo suggested we try a line of wines made by a friend of hers. The fact that we all really fell for those wines further solidified Tiziana’s reputation in our eyes.
Around a year ago, we introduced Aurelio Settimo in the form of a Sunday email, calling them “Time Machine Wines.” Please click here to access it. Tiziana Settimo, after taking the reins from her late father in 2007, has continued the winemaking tradition in the family, maintaining the estate’s style. Her wines sing beautifully of quality fruit expression and sense of place. When the line of Barolo arrived last year, I was surprised to find that her 2010 Barolo was not only outstanding, but with a little decanting, it could be enjoyed now! I put my money where my mouth was and brought a bottle to Restaurant Picco in Larkspur to enjoy with dinner. I am friendly with several members of their staff, and shared tastes of the Barolo with many of them. The response was unanimous. They all loved it! It is a true Old World wine. The aromas are marked by the quintessential tar and a hint of rose petal, there is some wild cherry in there too, as well as dusty sandstone and herbaceous notes. The palate is medium bodied and elegant, dare I say silky. It’s altogether balanced, and the finish is prolonged by the buoyant acidity. It’s a fancy wine without being flashy. In other words, it’s a classy Old World wine.
2010 was an excellent vintage in Barolo, and among the famous labels, marketing departments or not, prices can be pretty steep. Due to the benefits from direct importation, the 2010 Aurelio Settimo Barolo is not $100 per bottle; not even $50. It comes in at $41.99, and even better, as part of any mixed case, the price gets down to $35.69. For Barolo.
It has been a banner week here at TWH. We co-hosted an intimate dinner at the aforementioned Restaurant Picco in Larkspur this past Tuesday with the Cru Classé wines from Bordeaux’s Bernard Magrez, represented by his daughter, Cécile Daquin. It was a great success, and we hope to have more opportunities to host more dinners in the future. Speaking of Bordeaux, we’re less than a month away from the annual En Primeurs tastings. There are still some loose ends to tie up for me schedule-wise, though I am confident they will be in order sometime this coming week. We’re hearing good things about 2016, but I will reserve judgement until I taste them for myself. That’s what we do here at TWH, and there’s a whole lot of value in that! – Peter Zavialoff
Monday, February 20, 2017 11:49 AM
As I was taking out the week’s recycling this morning, I couldn’t help notice that the four wine bottles going into the bin were all Italian! This doesn’t happen very often. Though we do import and sell wines from Italy, we have soooo much else to choose from, that the odds of each week’s collection of half-poured, taken home samples to all be from the same country are big. Though considering that this week pretty much was Italian week around here, it does make sense.
Italian week. Yes, Gambero Rosso’s annual tre bicchieri tasting took place this past Wednesday at Fort Mason. Our friends, Enrico Pierazzuoli and Gianlorenzo Picollo were in town for it, as Enrico’s 2013 Carmignano Riserva was included in the tasting. Before they arrived, on Monday evening, we all found ourselves in a tasting room with a lineup of red wines from a Sicilian producer for whom we had high expectations. This is one of the ways we decide whether or not to import/carry a producer’s lineup. You can’t learn to swim from a book; and the same can be said about a wine’s tasting experience. Well, expectations being the harbinger of disappointment and all, it was a shame that the wines weren’t up to our standards. After taking in the aromas, Chris decided to not even taste the last wine. That’s how it goes sometimes. But as we often say, “We taste a lot of bad wine (okay, that may be a bit harsh in this case), so you don’t have to.” Many of the half-poured sample bottles didn’t even make it to any of our homes that evening.
Then Tuesday came, and with it, two of our pals from Italy. We tasted through their wines and they were all showing very well. There were no leftover samples on Wednesday morning! We tasted a few more of their wines on Wednesday, and ditto, nothing was left behind. Not even Enrico and Gianlorenzo. They were off to the east coast on Wednesday evening. Thursday came and went without incident, and then on Friday, the expectation/disappointment paradigm went the other way!
Winemaker Tiziana Settimo of Aurelio Settimo fame suggested we taste a lineup of wines made by some friends of her’s. The wines were shipped from Italy via air freight, and when Anya pulled them from the box, she exclaimed, “Ooh. The whites are from 2016 – these folks mean business. I’m really looking forward to tasting these!” First, David and Anya went through the lineup, then Chris and I had our turns. The consensus? We like them. A lot. As a matter of fact, we love them. Not only did all the samples disappear from the tasting room, there was noticeable tension among us while taking turns choosing which wines to take home. You will hear about them someday, when they get here; but for tonight, a similar yarn about an Italian producer whom we hold in high esteem: Ca’Lojera from Lugana.
Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi’s Ca’Lojera was David’s discovery. And as Anya wrote about years ago, he is not the kind of man who jumps up and down and screams, “Read all about it!” That’s more of what we do. David happily signed Ca’Lojera to our roster, and the rest is delicious history. Samples were shipped across the country for our staff to taste, and back at our old location, after we closed one day, we tasted the wines. Our reactions were very much like our reactions this past Friday, we loved them and could barely wait for them to arrive! With 5 successful vintages under our belts, we are pleased to announce the arrival of the Ca’Lojera Lugana from 2015!
A reminder: Ca’Lojera’s Lugana is made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana, or Turbiana, as the locals call it. The vineyards are on the southern shore of Lake Garda, and the winery is located in the commune of Sirmione. (Um, if you search images of Sirmione, you may want to travel there soon). The 2015 vintage was a good one in the region, with healthy ripeness levels and well-balancing acidity. The 2015 Ca’Lojera Lugana has you at “hello.” Its fresh, clean aromas of rich yellow fruit, blossoms, and mineral greet you like a fresh breeze off a lake surrounded by orchards. The palate is harmonious and lively, the complexities abound, all threaded together by the buoyant acidity. The intertwined components all fade slowly on the crisp, yet somehow fleshy, finish. All in all, I have a lot of ideas as to what to pair this wine with. It seems to be as versatile as can be!
Well, Italian week has come and gone. We laughed, we cried. We tasted some wines with great promise, and we tasted some wines to which we will politely say, “No thank you.” We said, “Ciao,” more this week than we will over the next few months combined, and the thought of pairing Osso Bucco with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo will haunt me all day tomorrow. No matter what happens next week, I can be assured of one fact: there will be not one, but at least two bottles of Italian wine in next week’s trip to the bottle bank. For I am taking two bottles of 2015 Ca’Lojera Lugana home tonight to enjoy over next week! – Peter Zavialoff
Friday, January 20, 2017 11:16 AM
When it comes down to quality imported wine for a fair price, you can’t do much better than to purchase them from the importer themselves. We have been importing the line of wines from Ernesto Picollo since the 2007 vintage, and as far as sub-$20 white wine deals go, it’s rather unfathomable to do much better than Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto. It’s been a huge hit with customers and staff for nearly a decade!
The estate is located on the tiny slope of Rovereto which is within Gavi DOCG in southern Piedmont. Its proximity to the Ligurian Sea keeps things cool at night bestowing the Cortese grapes with their lively acidity levels. The vineyard faces due south and that goes a long way in getting the fruit ripe and in seamless balance.
The first written documentation about the Cortese grape came all the way back in 1659, praising its resistance to disease and for producing high quality fruit. Its ideal terroir would be in a dry, cool climate with clay soils and southern exposure – which would describe Rovereto to a T. Gianlorenzo Picollo uses all stainless steel tank for fermentation giving the wine a bright, pure expression, and the refinement, expression, and complexity of his Gavi di Gavi Rovereto will make one scratch their head and wonder, “How could this wine be this good and SO inexpensive?” It’s definitely a great wine to accompany most dishes that you would normally pair with white wine, like seafood or poultry, but it really shines with shellfish.
Gianlorenzo (second from right) & the Picollo family
In many circumstances, when I see a producer with different levels and different takes on the same grape variety, I would recommend saving a few bucks and popping the entry-level bottle, leaving the similar, yet more expensive wine be. Not in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gianlorenzo’s entry-level Gavi, but for less than $5 more, you can get your hands on a much classier, complex, and precise take on what the best terroirs can do for a humble grape such as Cortese. It is well worth the investment! Knowing that there is an abundance of white wine out there which is less complex, less interesting, less tasty, yet far more expensive, we head back to the bin with Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto time and time again. It’s THAT good, and because you’re buying it directly from the importer, it’s THAT inexpensive! – Peter Zavialoff
Tuesday, December 20, 2016 11:58 AM
Two weeks ago, I wrote about TWH’s new acquisition from Italy, Cantine Russo. I am back to share more wines from this Sicilian producer, but this time it’s not just wine, it’s sparkling wine! There are two: one Blanc de Blancs and one Rosé. It being the season of festive glass clinking, the timing couldn’t have been better to introduce these two exceptional sparklers. I must admit, when I learned that David found a producer in Sicily he wanted to import, I was elated. But when I learned that of the three wines, two were sparklers, I was less enthusiastic. How come you ask? Well, we already import a fabulous Prosecco,Cremant d’Alsace and two sparklers from the Loire, a Vouvray Brut and Touraine Rosé. Did we need two more? Upon my first taste of them, the answer was yes! Wholeheartedly, yes!
There is so much to like and appreciate about Cantine Russo’s sparklers which they call Mon Pit. The name, Mon Pit, refers to the small craters formed on Mount Etna. Both the Blanc de Blancs and Rosé are vintage dated, produced in the traditional Champagne method and stay on the lees for 24-36 months. All this for only $25.98 per bottle! I know what I’ll be drinking both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve…
The Mon Pit Blanc de Blancs is made from Carricante and Cataratto. Carricante is known for its marked acidity, so it makes sense that it could be fermented into a well-balanced, vibrant sparkling wine. The wine is golden-hued with a satisfying yeasty baked bread flavor. Persistent bubbles deliver flavors of honey, citrus and yellow fruits. The sweet fruit finishes with a yeasty, almond note. This is an elegant and serious effort at making fine bubbles outside of Champagne.
The Mon Pit Rosé is made from yet another indigenous Sicilian grape, Nerello Mascalese. I describe Nerello Mascalese to customers as having the same type of perfume and elegance as Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo. This Rosé is not tutti frutti, but is like the Blanc de Blancs – dry, full-flavored and balanced. The color is more peachy than pink and has flavors of dried cranberry, red plums with a pleasurable spicy note on the finish. It’s got depth and a yeastiness that distinguishes it from sparklers made in the Charmat method. I am sat here salivating, thinking of how magical this Rosé would be with some crispy fried chicken!
Considering it’s a week before Christmas, I feel remarkably relaxed. Last year was quite a different story. I learned a valuable lesson from that incredibly stressful period that I am mindful of this year and that is that it is ok to let things go and not do so much. Christmas will come whether or not I’ve found the perfect gift for so-and-so, cooked the perfect meal or mailed out cards. As a wise man once wrote: “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” I’ll be spending Christmas with my family and for that I’m blessed. Here’s wishing you all to be surrounded by loved ones with a glass of bubbly in hand as 2016 closes out!– Anya Balistreri
Monday, November 14, 2016 5:17 PM
The Chianti sub-zone of Colli Senesi covers a large area, so as a whole, its reputation for quality does lag behind the more famous and narrowly defined Chianti Classico. But discerning eyes and palates know that drawn borders and appellations only tell part of the story. Take Le Rote as an example, located just a mile north of the famous towers of San Gimignano, you might also notice that it is just 16 miles due west of Castellina, the sweet spot of Chianti Classico. The soil, climate and altitude are quite similar to each other.
To continue the story, Le Rote is owned by Massimo Scotti and his family. They run a successful agriturismo business, make olive oil and produce wine. Their wine production is small, most of it consumed by the guests staying at their restored 18th century farmhouse and also sell a large portion of their fruit to off-set costs. Their Sangiovese is grown on a south-west facing hill with a 100 meters of separation from top to bottom. Depending on vintage conditions, they may either harvest from the top, the bottom, or the middle of the slope. Because they can afford to harvest by altitude, their Chianti has incredible consistency. The importer for this wine explained to me that "we've never met anyone else with the circumstance and ability to be so surgical in their harvest". Their enologist, Paolo Caciorgna, who also makes wines nearby for Andrea Bocelli, is a native of San Gimignano and appreciates the approach the Scotti's take to viticulture. The historic clone Sangiovese grapes are hand-harvested, sustainably farmed and dry farmed. Total production of the Chianti Colli Senesi is shy of 600 cases with yields averaging a bottle a plant.
The 2011 Chianti Colli Senesi from Le Rote is jam-packed with black cherry flavors, some sweet earthy aromatic notes, and a satisfying, easy-going finish. It's drinking optimally right now and should stay so for months to come. To inaugurate The Wine House's 39th Anniversary Sale, the 2011 Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi is now on sale for $14.95 per bottle, down from $19.98. To sweeten the pot even further, we are also offering the enticing special full-case price of $142 - that's less than $12 per bottle! Now that's a deal, non ci piove! Take advantage of this deep discount to spread holiday cheer far and wide. A bottle for your neighbor perhaps who pet-sits in a moment's notice or for the friend who is always available to help out on demo-days? Stashing a case is going to make last minute gift-giving a cinch. Who wouldn't love a bottle of Chianti?
During my research for this write-up, I felt it compulsory to test out a bottle with a bowl of classic red-sauced pasta. Talk about comfort food. You could put a candle on it and serve it to me in lieu of a birthday cake. No joke. There is something magical about the combination of Sangiovese and a tomato-based pasta sauce. The fruit flavors of Sangiovese waltz seamlessly with the acid of the tomato. A dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano completes the sweet/salty balance to achieve flavor nirvana. Cook up a pot, open some bottles of 2011 Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi and invite a bunch of friends over for dinner. Do it - it'll be good for you! - Anya Balistreri
Monday, October 31, 2016 3:16 PM
Monday, August 22, 2016 7:24 PM
Monday, February 23, 2015 8:38 PM
I’ve enjoyed the Scaia rosso starting with the 2007 vintage. Many of you may already be familiar with Scaiaespecially if you’ve been a frequent buyer of The Dirty Dozen; the Scaia goes in nearly every vintage.
And yet, the2012 Scaiadistinguishes itself from past bottlings. Now the varietal, Corvina, is prominently written on the handsome, newly updated front label and Veneto is identified as the IGT or indicazione geografica tipica. But more importantly, it is the wine that makes the 2012 their finest effort. For a 100% Corvina it is pleasantly dense and rich at the core while still maintaining freshness and light tannins. The fruit is all red cherry with a thread of green, typical of the grape.
And Pete is right when he wrote, “life’s too short to not enjoy something special at least once a month.”Splurging is good, but if you can’t (or don’t want to) you shouldn’t have to jeopardize quality in order to enjoy an affordable glass of wine. It may take a bit more effort on your part to find such a wine, but that’s why you have us here at The Wine House – to help you find the best possible wine to enjoy at any price.
Monday, August 20, 2012 7:30 PM
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on old school Cabernet, our next Bordeaux container, Reality TV, or the glorious start to footy season: peter.winehouse@
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 8:16 PM
I’ve been making my way through our latest wine arrivals from Italy,reacquainting myself with old favoritesand discovering new ones likeEnrico Pierazzuoli’s Le Farnete 2010 Barco Reale di Carmignano. Producer/winemaker Enrico Pierazzuoli owns two estates, one in Carmignano and the other in Chianti Montalbano, whose wines TWH has been importing directly for close to 16 years. I know this because 15 years ago, a few months after I began working at TWH, I took off on a trip to Italy which I had planned well in advance of joining TWH staff. I had a pretty tight schedule already in place but was able to connect with Enrico at his estate in Chianti Montalbano near the town of Monte Lupo just west of Florence. Enrico met with me and my now-husband for a tour of the estate and winery. The lasting impression I was left with after meeting Enrico at his estate (which at that time was referred to as Tenuta Cantagallo, before Gallo Winery sent out a Cease and Desist letter claiming copyright infringement because “gallo” appeared in the name), was of a young, passionate winemaker prepared to put in the necessary hard work in the vineyard and in the winery in order to produce the best wine possible. Having completed extensive replanting and modernizing production with new equipment and a new regiment of barrels, it’s obvious to me that Enrico was able to actualize his vision. Along with his brother and two sisters, Enrico has brought his family’s winery estates into the modern era while retaining the traditions of a family business.
The 2010 Barco Reale is essentially a mini-me to their Carmignano, a long-time Wine House bestseller.Whereas the Carmignano, a DOCG, must be in barrel for a year and in bottle for another,Enrico’s Barco Reale, a DOC, sees only 4 months in 1 year old barrel and another 4 months in bottle before release. Like Enrico’s Carmignano, the Barco Reale is comprised of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The name Barco Reale refers to a wall constructed in the 17th century by the Medici family around a hunting preserve. Parts of the original wall exist to this day. In terms of its flavor profile, I get lots of dusty, rocky notes with underpinnings of red cherry and sweet plums. There is a discernible vegetal/bell pepper note from the Cabernet Sauvignon that adds a nice counterpoint to the cherry-er Sangiovese flavors. The 2010 Barco Reale has real charm and is styled for early drinking. It’s a good choice for backyard parties and informal gatherings. At our last patio party my husband grilled up some Spiedini, pounded meat stuffed with seasoned bread crumbs tied up with pancetta then impaled onto a skewer, and I can’t tell you how gloriously well the Barco Reale matched up with it. It was so good my guests assumed that the Barco Reale was a far more expensive wine than it is and when I told them it sells for $11.89 by the case, I got some incredulous stares back.
In the winter of 2011, I met with Enrico at a trade tasting event in New York City. Though only our second meeting I was greeted as an old friend. It can be that way in the wine biz. Enrico makes the wine and it’s my job to share his story and his wines. That relationship is valued and it’s what keeps me cemented in this business. More than a decade since we first met in Tuscany, with a few more grey hairs on our heads, Enrico once again impressed me with his devotion and pride for his wines. He still has a nerdy (I mean this in a good way!) attention to detail, explaining at length the technical aspects of his production. Upon departing, I was asked to come visit again in Italy and I replied my usual “You have no idea how much I would like that to happen!” —Anya Balistreri
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:45 PM
Whether you are taking a long weekend, having a short work-week, or it is business as usual, the Fourth of July lands mid-week and it signalsSummerSummertime drinkin’ time. Here are three wines that I’ll be enjoying over the next few days at the beach, on the deck, by the grill, with family, with friends, by myself:
An urban winery movement is happening in San Francisco; a lot of them are sprouting up around The Wine House. We are proud to offer wine from these local artisans. One such new producer on the scene is Qualia, whose young, talented winemaker, Jason Kivelstadt, also runs a successful business providing wine kegs from premium wineries to restaurants and bars. Jason began his wine career at Copain and Donum Estate with the long view goal of making wine from his family’s vineyard in Bennett Valley.The 2009 Qualia Syrah-Grenache is comprised of 60% Syrah from Kivelstadt Vineyard, the family vineyard, and 40% Grenache from Kick Ranch, a vineyard used most notably by Bedrock Wine Co. It’s a super tasty amalgamation of raspberry fruit with notes of black pepper and spice. Fruit-driven and plush, for me, this is a wine that is unequivocally Californian and one that I can bring along to share with my domestic wine-drinking crowd, impress them and enjoy the wine myself.
If there exists someone who doesn’t love Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi, I haven’t yet met that person. We’ve been sold out of Picollo’s Gavi for months as our Italian container took a little longer to arrive than expected-so what else is new-and I thought there might be a riot. Truly. At $8.92 per bottle when purchased by the case, it really is one of the best deals in town, as the saying goes. Made entirely from the Cortese grape grown in south-eastern Piedmont where the influence of the Mediterranean can be felt, this Italian white is not only delicious, light in alcohol and refreshing, but the interplay of fruit and acidity is so satisfying that it’s a wine hard to tire of. It’s got what I call the“potato-chip syndrome” because one sip isn’t enough…you’ve got to have more!
The 2011 Marsannay Rose from Domaine Bart is simply gorgeous: a pale-hued pink laden with wild strawberry and Crenshaw melon fruit, it finishes dry, as one would hope, and has a rich texture, which makes it perfect to serve with firm-fleshed fish as well as four-legged critters. Marsannay is the closest appellation to the city of Dijon and the only village allowed to be named on a bottle of Burgundian Rose. Domaine Bart’s winemaker, Martin Bart, uses 1/3 saignee and 2/3 pressed wine for this cuvee. The Pinot Noir fruit is expressive and unmistakable. When temperatures rise, a well-chilled glass of Rose is what I begin to crave. We’ll be grilling over the Fourth and if temperatures don’t dive below 85 by the time we sit down to dine, I’m serving this Marsannay Rose instead of a red. And here is why: when it is hot outside, no matter if you chill it down, a red will sit clumsy on the palate and show heat. If you serve a structured Rose that has a bit of grip like the 2011 Marsannay Rose from Domaine Bart, you’ll be amazed at how well it drinks throughout the meal.
It has been three weeks straight of sports camps for my daughter and husband (he runs the camp, my daughter goes along). And we are ALL exhausted! We are heading off for a bit of R & R. Can sleeping in past 8am be close at hand? Oh, I hope so. We’re packed and ready, including the dog and the 3 wine selections above. Apart from a fireworks show, no plans have been set in stone and I’m relishing the thought of unstructured time and plenty of rest. Wishing all of you a safe, relaxing, and fun-filled Fourth of July! —Anya Balistreri
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 2:53 PM
|Dark and smoldering indeed. The 2005 Biferno DOC from Borgo di Colloredo is predominantly Montepulciano with a fifth Aglianico. Biferno is one of only three DOCs in Molise, a region that lies north of Italy’s heel, Puglia, and has both mountainous and marine terrain. Borgo di Colloredo is situated in Campomarino near the Adriatic. Enrico di Guilio who has the reputation for being a perfectionist runs the winery. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting him, but I’ve known and followed his wines for many years now. Just last month we included his 2010 Malvasia in the Dirty Dozen (it sold out for a while but more has arrived!) and we’ve stocked his Biferno for the last four years. The Biferno’s appeal rests on its dark, leathery fruit profile and its unmatched price to quality ratio. Molise is practically an unknown wine region and as such wines from here do not command as high a price as say a wine from Piedmonte of comparable quality would. You get a whole lotta wine for the money with a bottle of Borgo di Colloredo’s Biferno. The 2005 is their most recent release; this is remarkable considering it is not a “reserve” bottling. Enrico is known to release wines when he feels they are ready. The ’05 is still a young puppy and does not taste at all like a wine that is 6+ years old. In fact, I would suggest decanting it if you want to get underneath all those layers of fruit and get to the licorice spice and distinct notes of saddle leather. The tannins are rich and robust but are in harmony with the ripe plum/black cherry flavors. If you are craving a dark chewy red that you can almost sink your teeth into, look no further.
I’m in a bit of a rush here as I’m writing this a day early so that I can take Saturday off to watch my daughter dance at her ballet recital. This is likely going to be my only opportunity to watch her twirl around on stage as she has made it abundantly clear that she HATES ballet. I can’t begin to express how crushed I feel about this; my dreams of being a stage mother are sadly fading. A year of ballet lessons, a year of full on meltdowns-but she/we stuck it out and now I get my 3 minutes of delight. No one ever said this was going to be easy…too true! —Anya Balistreri
Monday, May 7, 2012 2:20 PM
The only month with all 31 days spent in spring is upon us. Happy May! It’s also National Barbecue Month, so let’s get grillin’. The Derby, Mothers’ Day, and the old unofficial kickoff to summer, Memorial Day are all coming soon. For any parties or get togethers you may be having, may we suggest the May Dirty Dozen. 12 great wines. 1 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
Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.
2007 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Northfield $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Introducing Northfield Wines! They’re a small, family-run producer with vineyards in both New Zealand and California. For this bottling, they blend 25% Semillon with their Waipara Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and the result is a crisp, clean kiss of citrusy fruit and mineral with a soft landing. Pair this up with a spring afternoon and a chicken salad sandwich.
NV Fortuna, Törley $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Now for something completely different. You love fizz, we love fizz. This sparkler from Hungary, made from Muscat Lunel, Muscat Ottonel, and Irsai Oliver (how’s that for wine geekyness?), has a rich, floral presence on the nose and palate. It has a hint of sweetness with just the right acidity to balance it perfectly. A spicy Thai salad works well.
2010 Malvasia, Borgo di Colloredo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Pure 100% Malvasia here, all tank fermented, fresh and lively. The vines are over 30 years old giving the wine an abundance of complexity. The aromas are of fresh blossoms, the palate precise, and the finish long. Linguine with clams.
2011 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $10.99, $9.03 reorder
Leave it to Costières de Nîmes superstar Diane Pouymorin to craft a strong contender for “Rosé of the vintage” for 2011. Made from equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, this year’s offering is light and herbal with a subtle kiss of fruit. Just what you’d expect if you were on holiday in Provençe. A baguette and a bowl of olives will do fine.
2010 Terrement Blanc, Château Puy-Servain $13.99, $9.45 reorder
Another crazy good deal by virtue of direct importation, Daniel Hecquet’s Terrement Blanc smashes the Price for Quality meter to bits! Named for the Terrement de Segur as all his land plus the house and property which once belonged to his grandfather were owned by the Marquis de Segur in the mid 18th century. Dry and crisp, it drinks like White Bordeaux.
2010 Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $11.99, $9.59 reorder
In Gascony, Rémy and Arcin Grassa (sons of the famous Yves) toil in the vineyards at La Hitaire. ‘Hors Saison’ literally means ‘outdoor season’ in the local dialect, and one taste of this springtime quaffer will have you yearning to be outside.
2008 Toscana Rosso, Panizzi $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Next up is a 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany. Sticking with our springtime theme this month, we have a red with aromas of violets and earth. On the palate the tangy red fruit dances with the round tannins making for a complex, well-balanced finish. Definitely a great all-purpose red, it will pair well with pizza, salumi, or a tortellini salad.
2008 Pinot Noir, Avitus $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Since Pinot Noir’s surge in popularity over the last decade, it has become harder and harder to find one of fine quality without saying “ouch” at the register. Hailing from Auvergne in the middle of France, the Avitus does EXACTLY that-delivering that great berry, Pinot Noir flavor for such a low price. The screwcap makes it so easy to take on a picnic!
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Tololo $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
It goes without saying that some of the wine world’s best bargains come from Chile, but here’s further proof of the validity of that statement. Deep, rich purple fruit and spice dominate the aromas, the palate is full and smooth with fine tannins marking the finish. Now that it’s National Barbecue Month, git that grill a-blazin’, and toss on a rib-eye.
2009 Beaujolais Lantignié, Château du Basty $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Great vintages in Beaujolais DO happen, as evidenced by 2009. The wines at the Cru level are special, providing that friendly cherry fruit with a lighter body and mellow tannins. Beaujolais Lantignié sits between Cru and village level, still providing all that yummy, luscious berry fruit with wafts of spice and forest floor. Great with a duck breast sandwich.
2006 Tradition, Château de Valcombe $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Here at TWH, we taste and taste and retaste the wines we have stocked here in our warehouse. A recent staff tasting of the 2006 Valcombe Tradition had our staff fighting over who got to take the sample bottle home. Layers of complexity, dark purple fruit, a hint of earth, herbs, and the famous garrigue make this a superstar. Great with pasta.
2005 Trassegum, Château d’Or et des Gueules $21.99, $17.59 reorder
This month’s DD closes with a bang! Diane Pouymorin’s prestige cuvée is a blend of Syrah and 60+ year old-vine Carignan. The result is pure magic. Rich, savory purple fruit, spices, forest floor, and underbrush dominate the aromas. The palate is firm and precise, the fruit mingling with the earthy character, and sturdy tannins which fade nicely on the long, harmonious finish. Pure class in a bottle. Bring this to a fancy barbecue, and you will win everyone’s favor.
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Monday, April 16, 2012 4:36 PM
|The 2007 LuganaDel Lupo from Ca’ Lojera is their “Reserve” wine and is truly unique. The fruit for Del Lupo is harvested late, beginning the end of October and usually finishing by the 10th of November. Sugars get higher and the grapes may get botryticized, yet the intention here is to extract as much minerality from the white clay soil as possible. The grapes are put through a long, slow fermentation process, the juice remains in stainless steel tank for two years and then the wine rests in bottle for another two years. What emerges out of the bottle is a complex dance between ripeness and minerality to the beat of acidity. The 2007 Del Lupois bright and fresh and though it’s been aged in tank and bottle for a minimum of 4 years, it is mind-boggling youthful. There is weight on the palate with waxy flavors of ripe Meyer lemons. The ripeness of the fruit is tempered and tamed by the mineral/acid notes on the finish. The flavors are long and layered.
It has been just over a year since TWH began importing the wines of Ca’ Lojera. We’ve plowed through a few vintages and have been seriously challenged keeping supply up with demand. In fact, at this moment we are out of both the Lugana DOC and the Superiore (no need to fret, more is sailing upon the waters). So it’s clear our customers have discovered just how delicious Lugana from Ca’ Lojera is, so it makes perfect sense to step up, so to speak, to their reserve bottling, Del Lupo, to experience another expression of the Turbiana grape. Like theVernaccia’s from Montenidoli, the Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, achieves another level of complexity and stature at the hands of Ca’ Lojera.
I received a phone call from my brother shortly after he received his March Wine House newsletter to admonish me for not making a better point of mentioning that Franco Tiraboschi, and not his wife Ambra, is the winemaker at Ca’ Lojera. Fair enough, it is true that Franco is the one who makes the wine, but it is Ambra who is the ambassador for the winery and is the one who can best translate the passion that she and her husband share for their vineyards and wine. Ambra told me once that her husband is a man of few words and prefers staying out of the spotlight. And so it is she, Ambra, who puts a face to the wine and what a lovely face it is! There is a moral to this story and it is this: a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Instead of finishing the work my brother began on my house, he and his wife decided to fly to Italy to “check up” on their daughter who was spending a semester abroad. I, foolishly, insisted that my brother go visit Ambra at Ca’ Lojera. They had a lovely visit. I knew they would! But now my brother is correcting me every chance he gets! This photo of my bro with Ambra was taken in the flat clay soil vineyards at the southeastern tip of Lake Garda.Hey AZ, nice of you to wear your dressy shorts and by the way, Happy Birthday! —Anya Balistreri