Introducing Villamagna, considered to be the finest terroir of d'Abruzzo
2015-villamagna-store-stacks

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 are grown at 500-1000 feet in elevation with an ideal south-east facing aspect within the village of Villamagna. 

villamagna-hillside-vineyards
The 2015 Villamagna is lush and supple. It highlights the best of the Montepulciano grape, showcasing plenty of fruit, a dark robe and gentle tannins. Too often when making their "best" wines, producers in Abruzzo throw too much oak on Montepulciano, masking its inherent approachability. TZ's Villamagna is fermented in stainless steel tank, aged in large cement vats for a year and then rests in bottle for another 6 months. The resulting wine is pure, unadulterated fruit. There are flavors of red cherry and plum, notes of cocoa powder and an underpinning of leather. Its gorgeous, plush mouthfeel reminds me of some Châteauneuf-du-Pâpes. The 2015 Villamagna is constructed for maximum tasting pleasure. 
torre-zambra-third-generation
I drank the 2015 Villamagna on two occasions; once on Christmas day with ricotta-stuffed, baked shell pasta and on New Year's Eve with grilled steaks. In both instances the wine delivered on my expectations for a generous, high-impact fruit wine without any pretensions. Sometimes the mood strikes for more yummy, and less contemplative. 

The last couple weeks held many life lessons for me on facing down doing what is right even if it is hard or uncomfortable. These moments don't always present themselves in a way you can reflect on after the fact. But this time they did and left me feeling better than I felt before dealing with them. It's nice to be able to pat yourself on the back sometimes. And in this spirit, I think I'll buy another bottle of 2015 Villamagna to enjoy with dinner as another winter's storm passes overhead. 

- Anya Balistreri



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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2015 Antonio Sanguineti Cannonau Di Sardegna

Friday, January 5, 2018 4:47 PM



2015 ANTONIO SANGUINETI CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA

Our Bestselling Sardinian Red Is Back In Stock!



Our third vintage of Antonio Sanguineti's Cannonau di Sardegna has recently arrived, ushering in what is a new Summer tradition here at The Wine House. There is just something about this accessible, soft-tannin red that resonates with our customers. I've already managed to tote a few bottles home and each time, I've been delighted by the restrained cherry flavors and distinct underbrush notes. Because the tannins are tempered and the fruit, forward and warm like berry pie filling, it is perfect for casual, outdoor summer dining. To date, I've served it with Cevapcici, a type of Balkan ground meat delicacy, that I make with a combination of beef and lamb and another time with grilled salmon doused in garlic and olive oil. Whether surf or turf, it worked beautifully!

 

Cannonau di Sardegna is an appellation that covers most of the island. The Cannonau grape is not identical to Grenache, though is closely related and is surely as far as taste goes - very similar. An ampelographer could write 2015 ANTONIO SANGUINETI CANNONAU DI SARDEGNAvolumes on Cannonau's genetic background, but for most wine historians, it seems reasonable to believe that the grape is closely linked to Grenache, whether originating from France or Spain. Though able to produce dark, complex, age-worthy wines, Sanguineti's Cannonau di Sardegna is meant for early consumption; a sort of elevated table wine. 





Summer break in my household is coming to a close - for many families, the new school year has already begun. I prefer to think of Summer as the full three month season it is and not just as the time between the end of school year and the start of the new one. To that end, I expect to spend a few more days at the beach and/or throw an impromptu backyard dinner party or two. Still, school starts up for my husband, a teacher, and my daughter, a student, next week.  I think my daughter put it best when she said to me, "I'm sort of excited and sort of not." Raising a glass of Sanguineti's 2015 Cannonau di Sardegna to all the students and teachers out there starting off the new school year!

- Anya Balistreri

Award-Winning Carmignano Riserva – Le Farnete 2013

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

Enrico’s Chianti – Life’s A Beach!

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.



Tenute Pierazzuoli


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

On Value – 2010 Barolo From Aurelio Settimo

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

Tasting Room Revelations – 2015 Ca’Lojera

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

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!



Rovereto


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

Cantine Russo Part 2: The Sparklers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 11:58 AM

Cantine Russo Part 2: The Sparklers!

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!

CantineRussoSnow_copy

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…

MonPitBlancDeBlancs_copy

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.

MonPitRose_copy

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!

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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

Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi

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

Traditional Dolcetto D’Alba from Aurelio Settimo

Monday, October 31, 2016 3:16 PM



Dolcetto D'Alba from Aurelio Settimo
 
He ended the phone conversation with "and I'm going to the store to pick up some cans of 6 in 1". Music to my ears! My husband is making red sauce, or if you like, gravy. I know what I'm bringing home tonight: 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba from Aurelio Settimo. The 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba landed earlier this month and just in time as the 2014 has been sold out for nearly a month. We introduced the wines of Aurelio Settimo in early 2016, dubbing them "Time Machine Wines" because they move the style dial towards "traditional" and away from "modern/international".


dolcettovinesSettimo's Dolcetto Vines

 
Winemaker Tiziana Settimo took production over from her father in 2007 upon his passing. She had worked with her father for twenty years and continues the same traditional winemaking she learned from him. Settimo owns a little over two acres of Dolcetto which is east facing and grown on calcareous soil. Calcareous soil is optimal for growing Dolcetto. Dolcetto is reputed to be difficult to cultivate and vinify. This coupled with the fact that demand for Piedmontese Nebbiolo is at an all time high, helps explain why the total acreage of planted Dolcetto is decreasing. And this is a real shame. Nebbiolo can certainly make some of the world's greatest wine, but what about the joy of a well-made "everyday" wine? Dolcetto has charming, grapey flavors, with bright acidity and medium tannins. It's versatility and freshness make it the perfect everyday/any day red.




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Harvest 2016 at Settimo
 
At Settimo the Dolcetto grapes are hand harvested with careful selection of the bunches. Tiziana gently presses the grapes, leaves the wine on the skins for a short seven days, with frequent pump overs and ages it in concrete tanks for about six months. Because Dolcetto tends to be reductive, the pump overs allow for oxygenation, keeping the flavors and aromas fresh. Making good Dolcetto can take as much (or more) effort than it does Barolo. Settimo's Dolcetto d'Alba is redolent of plum and cheerful red cherry fruit and finishes with perky acidity. It's got a lot of zing. When the 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba was delivered to our warehouse, we were happy to see that David upped the numbers from what we purchased of the 2014. About the 2014 we joked that it was the wine that sold without ever writing about it. It found its way home repeatedly with many customers who shop at the store. The 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba is here and in good quantity...for the moment.
 
 
harvestgrapesPicture perfect Dolcetto bunches

 
6 in 1 All-Purpose Ground Tomatoes is essential to making gravy, at least the Balistreri way. No other canned tomatoes will do. My husband makes a large batch; some to eat now while the remainder is frozen for future meals. A red-sauced pasta is going to need a wine with palpable acidity like a Dolcetto d'Alba to make a merry match. It has been a satisfying week with poured concrete (yeah, no more dirt path!), measurable rain and a daughter who went to her 7th grade school dance and said it was fun. As to the weekend, I'll be putting out Halloween decorations and stock-piling candy. Our well-lighted, close to the curb house typically sees over 500 trick-or-treaters. This is not an exaggeration! I won't even bother closing the door, but will pull up a chair to the front door to greet the masses. Here's hoping everyone has a safe and sweet Halloween! - Anya Balistreri

2014 Cannonau di Sardegna
Antonio Sanguineti
 
 
The new vintage of Sanguineti’s Cannonau di Sardegna has finally arrived at the store! The response to last year’s offer was so enthusiastic, we made sure to double up on quantities. That said, once it’s gone, it’ll be gone until the next vintage as we have only one shot at ordering this wine. The introductory 2013 vintage was delicious and I predicted it would probably end up being winemaker’s Antonio Sanguineti’s most successful offering. Sure enough, I was right. Antonio upped his production by securing more grapes from his friends on the island, those same friends for whom he works for as a consultant. So to those who bought the 2013 and loved it, I am confident the 2014 will not disappoint. As a whole, 2014 was a difficult vintage for red wines in Italy, especially in northern appellations where August rains caused havoc. However, these unfavorable weather conditions did not reach as far south as Sardinia and Sicily, where in fact the vintage is considered excellent.
 
 
Antonio in the forefront
 
Cannonau is the most widely planted red grape on Sardinia.The common belief is that Cannonau is the same grape as Spain’s Garnacha, though some purists and ampelographers aren’t so sure. After reading a lengthy article laying out a scientific argument for whether or not Cannonau and Garnacha are the same grape, I concluded that for most of the wine drinking population – who cares? What is important to note is that there is commonality in flavor profile between them and so it’s natural to recommend a Cannonau di Sardegna to anyone who is an enthusiast of southern red Rhônes and Spanish Garnacha or visa versa. Though I’ve heard from our customers on more than one occasion that for their palate, Cannonau di Sardegna is far more interesting and pleasurable than most Grenache they’ve tried. AgainMother Nature shows us that something planted here does not taste the same when planted over there – one of the many reasons why I find wine endlessly interesting.
 
Stocked and ready for purchase
 
Antonio sources his Cannonau grapes near the seaside town of Villesimius which sits along the southeastern tip of the island. Unoaked, this red is jam-packed with dusty berry flavors buoyed up by a complementary thread of acidity that keeps the flavors popping. The aromas are a mix of fresh and faded berry notes and some dried herb.Overall it has a smooth presence on the palate, making it pleasurable sipping on its own, though at the table is where it really sings. This is not a monster red, but it will stand up to beef and lamb. Fire up the grill!
 
This is how we do Paella! (no relevance to this newsletter)
 
School started for my daughter this week. It was a bit of a shock getting up so early for all of us except for the dog who remained snoozing in his bed. It probably wouldn’t have been as painful for me if I hadn’t stayed up so late watching the Olympics. It was well worth it. School might have started but summer is not over yet! I’ve got at least until after Labor Day, right? So far, this summer has been wonderful. Far less stressful than the last couple of summers and filled with family gatherings, visits with friends and excursions around Northern California. This weekend I’m going to lay low and catch up with household chores (mostly filling out and signing paperwork for school). A trip to the Farmer’s Market is a must as it’s SHOWTIME there with summer’s harvest in full swing. I’ll probably end up buying way too many tomatoes (not really, not possible!), squash and fruit. My husband will be grilling something on the Weber and the 2014 Cannonau di Sardegna from Sanguineti will be in my glass. Cheers to an endless summer!– Anya Balistreri

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The 2012 Scaia Corvina from Tenuta Sant’Antoniorepresents the 5th vintage we’ve carried at The Wine House. There is a good reason why we have and that is because it is a veritable steal for the quality! 100% Corvina sourced from the winery’s young vines fashioned into a supple, un-oaked red beauty.

 

Tenuta Sant’Antonio began twenty years ago when four brothers decided to take their collective wine knowledge and go into business together, purchasing land to augment their familial vineyard east of Verona. A risky venture anywhere in the wine world, but these four had passion and experience behind them and they were determined to make world-class Amarone and Valpolicella. At last week’s Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tasting at Fort Mason, Sant’Antonio poured their top end Amarone, so the wine world has taken notice of their achievement in making fine wine. A tactic of mine that can bring good results is to seek out high-end wineries that also produce an everyday line such as Sant’Antonio’s Scaia. At best, what I hope to find is top-notch winemaking from quality grapes that from the bottle over-deliver for price. The Scaia Corvina is such a wine.
 
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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.

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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.

 
From issue #216 of The Wine Advocate comes this review:
“The 2012 Corvina Scaia is an unbelievable deal, and a wine that can be purchased by the case-load for those informal occasions at home when a simple glass of red wine accompanies you as you cook dinner or watch television. This is the ultimate downtime wine. The fruit is fresh and bright with white cherry, cassis, sweet almond and freshly milled white pepper. It’s appearance is compact with a light ruby hue. ” 90 points.

 

In the last six months since my father’s passing, I’ve met my youngest nephew hours after his birth and just last night witnessed my eldest nephew announce his weddingengagement to the family.  Life does indeed go on.
 
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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.

 

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I’ve often thought that The Wine House would make for a great concept for a reality show. You never know what’s going to happen. Why just the other day a couple walked in to “take a look around”. As they perused our selections, the lady exclaimed,“White Burgundy?!? I’ve never heard of White Burgundy. Is it new?” At least Tom was here to handle the situation professionally. It was disclosed later that they owned a wine shop in Florida. Really? The same day, a few hours later, a man walked in with his 11 year old daughter. He walked up to Chris and asked him where he might find the Maltroye wines, when his daughter interrupted him pointing out, “Dad, over there, White Burgundy!” If you think about it, it would make for some interesting TV. We’ve all been working together for several years, and we’re like a little family here. We share our joys, frustrations, recipes, shopping tips, and anything else pertinent with each other, usually amidst much hilarity. From a professional point of view, the most important thing that we all share are our experiences with wine. One of my recent shares had to do with a new vintage of a favorite wine of mine, Ca’Lojera’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

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Most of my good friends are also TWH customers, and that just makes sense. It’s a great service that all of us here at TWH are happy to provide; we get to know your respective palates, we recommend wines that you’ll love. I was to have dinner at a good friend’s house the other night, and as things simmered on the stove top, I was handed a corkscrew and bottle of2009 Ca’Lojera Cabernet Sauvignon.Recognizing it as an old friend, it had momentarily slipped my memory that this would be my first time tasting the new vintage. Funny coincidence, it was this time last year when I wrote up the 2008. I poured out a couple of glasses, and just as with the 2008, we’re talking old school Cabernet here. No oaky influence, no massive extract, just pure farmer’s wine courtesy of Franco Tiraboschi. It has an array of complexity ranging from earthy notes, racy dark red fruit, and a hint of bell pepper. I was immediately struck by all that complexity on the nose, so I went in for a taste. Another winner! All that complexity held up nicely, all wrapped in harmonious structure. As I’ve said before, it kind of reminds me of my early days of wine tasting, which were mostly old school California Cabernets. There’s just something charming about that informality. If Château Latour is a black-tie event, then Ambra and Franco Tiraboschi’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte della Guardia is like a visit to a dude ranch.

 

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I came in to work the next day and started yapping about the wine. Again, it then led to a great conversation, with Anya regaling us with the virtues of old school winemaking practices which result inmore complexity and less uniformity. If you’re a wine geek like we all are, then you would appreciate this wine. Reality TV. Sure, it would be a great idea, but the more I think about it, all those cameras and boom stands would probably get in the way. It’s probably best for us to just keep doing what we’re doing the way we do it. Speaking of which, I am thrilled that our next Bordeaux container is 2 weeks away! For upon it are some great wines that you all will be hearing about very soon. Yeah, it’s better this way. Better for us. Better for you. Reality TV, what a stupid idea. The 2009 Ca’Lojera Cabernet Sauvignon, now that’s a great idea! – Peter Zavialoff

 

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@sbcglobal.net

0 Comment Posted in Italy Lugana

A Tuscan Beauty for under $15

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 8:16 PM



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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.


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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

Red, White and Rose

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:

Qualia

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.
2009 Qualia Wines Syrah Grenache Sonoma County

Red Wine; Red Blend; Sonoma;
$22.98
  Add to Cart
Ernesto Picollo

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!
2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
$10.49
  Add to Cart
Domaine Bart

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.
2011 Domaine Martin Bart Marsannay Rose

Rose; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
$17.59
  Add to Cart

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

2005 Biferno Rosso from Borgo di Colloredo

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

May 2012 Dirty Dozen

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.

Be a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

 

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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Del Lupo: Ca’ Lojera’s Reserve Lugana

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

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