Introducing Villamagna - The finest terroir of d'Abruzzo

Saturday, February 2, 2019 12:36 PM

Introducing Villamagna - The finest terroir of d'Abruzzo

Torre Zambra Display

The Torre Zambra winery

was established in 1961, and continues to be a family run estate with its third generation at the helm. We took the leap last year to begin importing their wines after an introduction by Tiziana Settimo of Barolo's Aurelio Settimo, whose wines we also import. People often ask how we source our wines from abroad, and in this instance, it was a respected winemaker (Tiziana) that connected us to Torre Zambra. Our relationships with the producers we import are vital to the strength of our business. We are in this together. So when someone like Tiziana suggests checking out another winery, we listen. 

So many of you have delighted in Torre Zambra's vibrant rosato, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, their classic, zippy Pecorino and their many styles of Montepulciano. Well, we have one more wine from Torre Zambra that arrived last month during the frenzy of the holiday rush, the 2015 Villamagna DOC. A recent DOC, created in 2011, Villamagna is considered the finest terroir of the Abruzzo, limited to a total of 85 hectares among three municipal districts, Vacri, Bucchianico, and Villamagna. Torre Zambra's hillside estate vines grow at the 500-1000 foot level with an ideal south-east facing exposure within the village of Villamagna.

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Torre Zambra Pecorino, The Wine That Sealed The Deal

Saturday, October 20, 2018 9:15 PM

Torre Zambra Pecorino, The Wine That Sealed The Deal

What a beautiful day in SF's Dogpatch ...

While walking the streets of our neighborhood this afternoon, I couldn't help noticing the general good vibe of throngs of folks out enjoying the warm weather, sitting in parklets and outdoor tables, sharing the weekend with those of us who work and live here. We had more than a couple of first timers poke their heads in our shop today, asking what we're all about. As many of you know, we are always happy to share our stories, answer questions, and put quality juice in your hands. Now that we're moving deeper into autumn, days like today will be fewer, but the vibe this afternoon has me longing for something chilled and delicious. What's this week's Saturday night wine and how did it come to us? It's the 2017 Torre Zambra Colle Maggio Pecorino and to answer the second part, good connections.

41 years is a long time to be in business, and we will turn 41 in less than two weeks! (Pssst - Yes, there will be an Anniversary Sale - stay tuned!) And when you're in business that long, you're bound to make connections. It hadn't been that long after we signed up Tiziana Settimo and her line of wines from Aurelio Settimo:  Dolcetto, Langhe Nebbiolo, and those amazing Baroli, that a package arrived with a range of samples from a producer in d'Abruzzo. Tiziana highly recommended that we try them and let her know what we thought. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves in the tasting room with the samples. There were the usual suspects one finds in d'Abruzzo, Trebbiano and Montepulciano, but there were a couple of other wines including a Pecorino.

Pecorino was not named from the sheep's cheese, its name actually was derived from sheepherders who ate these grapes while tending to their flocks in search of food. Italian wine grape maven, Ian d'Agata wrote in his tome Native Wine Grapes of Italy"Pecorino is not just a grape variety; it is also one of Italy's biggest wine success stories of the twenty-first century."

Wine Glass, Bottle of Pecorino, and Ian d'Agata Book
I have been on a Pecorino kick ever since Anya brought one in for The Dirty Dozen back in 2010. It's gotten to a point where I just have to have it when I see it on a wine list in a restaurant. So when we were tasting the Torre Zambra wines, my inner wine enthusiast was giddy for a taste of the Pecorino. It did not disappoint. That's an understatement. It was remarkably delicious! The aromas are of stone fruit, orchard fruit, and citrus blossoms. Its aromas alone are captivating. On the palate, it has a medium body and bright acidity which sweeps the aromatic complexity into harmony. I still can't get enough of this wine. Another reason I can't lay off in a restaurant, is its ability to pair with food. Often times, when one chooses the wine before the food, your dining options diminish if looking to dial in a perfect pairing. Not so much with Pecorino. This wine works with most seafood entrees and appetizers, and lighter land meats such as porchetta or turkey breast. I was over the moon for the Colle Maggio Pecorino! Heck, I didn't even have to taste any of the other wines to know we would be bringing them in, but for the record, all of the wines were outstanding, and they all represented excellent value at their respective price points. David and our staff were all in agreement. Any guesses who now imports Torre Zambra into California?  TWH, of course.

Things are getting interesting, we've got Halloween coming right up, and our 41st Anniversary the very next day! The rest of 2018 is looking like a rip-roaring good time. Oh yeah, Dungeness Crab season begins November 3. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Pecorino for the win. - Peter Zavialoff

2016 Ca' Lojera Lugana

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 5:04 PM

Like Italian Whites?  

Don't Miss The 2016 Lugana

The Ca' Lojera Facility

Catching up with the times ...

It's been a memorable week.  The Union De Grands Crus De Bordeaux passed through town pouring the newly bottled 2015 vintage.  This came with several visits from our friends overseas.  The tasting was a success, as the wines from Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, and the reds from Pessac-Leognan showed great expression and balance in consistent fashion.  I recently wrote about the 2015 Château Olivier rouge, and after having tasted it this past Thursday, I stand behind my recommendation.  That's all I'm going to say about Bordeaux for now, as the subject of tonight's email is a new arrival from Italy - the 2016 Lugana from Ca' Lojera.



A new container from Italy recently arrived, and we're breaking down pallets in an effort to get these new goodies onto our sales floor and into your hands!  I don't know why this is, but consistently, I seem to have more need for white wine in the winter than any other season.  Last week, I filled up my six bottle wine bag with six different bottles from the container's bounty.  There are some evenings in which any formality around the ritual of opening and serving a bottle of wine is dispelled, and this particular night was one of them.  A couple of after-work errands had me home later than usual, so in a hurry, I stir fried some chicken with vegetables.  A peek into the fridge left me with a few choices.  Knowing what I knew at the time, I felt the new Lugana from Ca' Lojera would work well with what would eventually end up on my plate.  So I popped it.  I poured out a glass and went on supervising the stove top.  At one point, I reached for the glass and had a sip.  I stopped in my tracks, my focus now on this wonderful, fresh, lively white wine in my glass.  I didn't know what was happening; I've enjoyed the Ca' Lojera wines very much over the years, but I hadn't had an experience like this one!  The aromas were clean and fresh, citrus blossoms, grapefruit, honeydew melon, and a hint of a minty nuance.  Then, on the palate, this aromatic goodness lingered and was bolstered by a medium bodied, impeccably balanced mouth feel.  I was smitten.  Needless to say, the bottle didn't last very long.  Not very long at all.



The catalyst of this experience was from an interaction with a customer who lives in the neighborhood.  She regularly purchases Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi's Lugana made from a grape the locals call Turbiana.  She was in the day before this happened and asked us if we had tried the new vintage.  Shrugged shoulders and blank stares were the responses, but that question alone is how a bottle ended up in my wine tote.  She bought two bottles that day and promised to report back with her impressions.  When I came to work the day after I tasted it, I asked my colleagues,  "Holy Cow, you guys.  Have you tasted the 2016 Lugana yet?"  At that point, nobody else had.  That's changed now.  I was pretty excited about it all day.  At the end of the day, this customer was back.  I looked at her and beamed, "I just tried it last night, and man oh man, you must be happy. I think this is the best vintage for them to date!"  Her glowing smile in return was all I needed to know she enjoyed it very much.  She bought six more bottles.  A couple of days later, a bottle was opened as a sample for a wholesale customer.  When the sample made its way back to the shop, Chris and David got to taste it.  Chris was first to reply - he told me I was spot on with my assessment, and pointed in particular to the fresh acidity of the wine which helped fan the complexity across the palate.  David nodded his head and smiled.  He told me that the customer he poured it for liked it a lot. 



Anya's take was more philosophical.  "Here's a wine which I've enjoyed in every vintage we've carried it.  Each vintage puts its own stamp on the wine, and the variation is what makes wine tasting enjoyable and thought provoking.  One can get in trouble proclaiming a wine 'the best ever', because other vintages will follow.  Remember when we first made the deal to import their wines?  We got a call from a well-known boutique importer who took the time to congratulate us on the addition to our portfolio.  The wines are that good.  Their reputation is that good.  They're a first round draft pick.  We're very lucky.  Is the 2016 Lugana their best?  I have to say yes."



There's plenty more to talk about - another new producer and more goodies from our Italian container, more Bordeaux stuff, and 2015 red Burgundy, but that will have to wait for another time.  January is always a very busy time for me, and this one was no exception.  Now that it's almost over, I can relax.  And eat.  Sounds like Dungeness Crab is in order.  You already know which wine I will drink with it.  - Peter Zavialoff

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