I’ve got to get out on our sales floor a little more often! Funny, I work here 5 days a week, so there goes any excuse … Every now and then, presumably on my days off, newly acquired wines make their way to the floor without my noticing them. Here at TWH, we’re like a little family, constantly sharing food and wine tasting experiences, so it was not out of the ordinary when I arrived at work a few days ago and struck up a conversation with Anya. “Oh man, I popped into Picco last night and they’re pouring this delicious Saumur by the glass! It was great; light on its feet, yet with just the right amount of fruit, all framed with the classic herbal and earthy character one gets from Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. I have a new go-to!”

“Who is the producer?” She asked.

“I don’t remember (I had more than one glass). Let me look it up, I bet it’s on their beverage list online.” At which point I surfed to said list and proclaimed, “Yeah, this is it. It’s the 2015 Saumur from La Paleine.”

“Yes, Pete. That’s a good one indeed. You know, it’s out on our floor right now.”

“This Saumur?”

Anya was chuckling now. “Yes. You might want to take a look around every once in a while.”

Talk about instant gratification …



The commune of Saumur is perhaps best known for its fancy chateau which sits on the hill above it. It’s also one of a handful of Loire Valley appellations which produces some of the world’s finest Cabernet Franc wines. Domaine de la Paleine is located in Puy-Notre-Dame, 20km southwest of the chateau, and the 32 hectare property is mainly planted to Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. The soil is clay upon limestone, and the tufa subsoil acts as a sponge, absorbing excess water after the rains, and releasing it slowly when the vines need it. Owners Marc and Laurence Vincent had sought AB (certified organic) status beginning in 2010, and were rewarded with the certification beginning in 2013. As mentioned above, the wine is well balanced with textbook Loire Valley Cab Franc aromas in seamless harmony. The palate is medium in body, with bright acidity and a round raspberry-like core. Loire Valley Cabernet Franc brings out the wine-geek in me, so I am more than thrilled that I can procure a bottle of this for around the same price that restaurants charge for a glass!


This is not the first time that I have tasted a wine at Picco, only to subsequently find it among our offerings here at TWH. I have to give a big tip of the hat to such a fine restaurant in which I have enjoyed countless delicious meals, great wines and company over the years. I have made many friends there, including many members of their staff, which is coincidentally like a little family. This takes me back to my very first professional interaction with a manager who worked there over 9 years ago. On a quiet evening, we were discussing one of her new wines for the list, and I was more than intrigued to try it. When she said we could all try it as long as we covered the bottle’s cost, I was the first one to pony up the cash for my share. After all, it was Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. – Peter Zavialoff



Me: “So, what sort of white wines do you like to drink?”

Customer: “I love Sancerre!”

Me: “Ah, so you like Sauvignon Blanc.”

Customer: “Oh no, I don’t like Sauvignon Blanc.”

I have had this conversation with customers many times over the years. I don’t wish to embarrass anyone so I try to gently and respectfully explain that Sancerre is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. I’ve thought a lot about such conversations and have concluded that the reason why some people might not associate Sauvignon Blanc with Sancerre is that when Sancerre is made well, the super-assertive and super-pungent green flavors of Sauvignon Blanc that prevail out in the marketplace are absent. I for one get why someone would love Sancerre, but be less than thrilled with a sharply herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc.




I took a bottle of the 2015 Sancerre Les Godons from Philippe Raimbault home the other day. It also arrived on the most recent container, along with the many Bordeaux that Pete has recently written about. At my local market, I saw that they had large shrimp on sale, so I planned a shrimp and Sancerre match-up. After poring over a dozen cookbooks, I settled on going without a recipe. Essentially what I made was shrimp Scampi. At first, I sautéed shallots, instead of garlic, in olive oil left over from a jar of Chevoo Smoked Sea Salt and Rosemary goat cheese – waste not, want not. Then to the shrimp I added wine, lemon juice and stock. At the end, I tossed in fresh tarragon and a generous knob of butter. Piping hot out of a cast iron pan, I indulged on the shrimp which was made even more delicious by the lusciousness of the 2015 Sancerre Les Godons.




The 2015 Les Godons exhibits the sweet citrusy flavors of ruby red grapefruit. The citrus tang is there without any hint of harsh acidity. The 2015 vintage was looked upon favorably in Sancerre, but it was lower yielding than the bountiful 2014 vintage. 2015 produced for many a riper-styled wine, but Philippe Raimbault does not acidify his wines, so what you get in the 2015 Les Godons is what nature provided.




Les Godons is a vineyard uniquely shaped in a semi-circle above the village of Sury-En-Vaux. There is a pen and ink illustration of the vineyard on the label, so you can see how steep the slopes are. The vineyard is south-facing, so exposure to the sun is maximized. In some years there is a distinct tropicality to the Les Godons that I find irresistible. I would have thought in a warm vintage like 2015 that quality would dominate, but I found the 2015 to be rather citrus driven; pamplemousse, pomelo and sweet orange. Fragrant and lush, sipping this one on its own is perfectly acceptable and encouraged too.




Last Saturday The Wine House staff dined at Boulevard for our Post-Holiday party. Everything was great – the food, the wine, the company! In my opinion, Boulevard is one of San Francisco’s best restaurants – it’s a classic. The food is impeccable, the service is attentive and seamless, and the atmosphere is welcoming and warm. For our first course, we selected a couple of orders of Foie Gras to share. We drank 1988 De Fargues with it. Divine! The flavor sensors in my brain exploded! Of course, this being TWH Post-Holiday dinner, there was a second bottle of 1988 De Fargues because that’s how we roll. We love Sauternes and enjoy drinking it throughout a meal. There was also White & Red Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne too, but what a luxury it was to have a glass of Sauternes to taste with each course. Thank you Christian, Mrs. Moore, Mr. B, Chris, Pete, Mrs. Netzer and David for a memorable evening! -Anya Balistreri

Sancerre Les Godons 2014
After three extremely challenging vintages, 2014 was a welcome and much needed respite for Loire Valley vintners. July and August did bring a bit o’ worry to growers as heat and rain ping ponged back and forth creating the perfect conditions for rot, but September came to the rescue with a string of glorious, sunny days. Throughout the region, you could hear a collective heavy sigh of relief.Philippe Raimbault’s Sancerre Les Godons encapsulates the best traits of the 2014 vintage, which is to say the best wines have ripe fruit in combination with enlivened acidity.
 
Raimbault Vineyards in Sury En Vaux
 
Philippe Raimbault farms close to 40 acres in three appellations: Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and the Coteaux de Giennois. He is one of the few non-negociants in the Loire to do so. Philippe comes from a long-line of winemakers dating back to the 1700s. Typically Sancerre producers use several parcels to make their wine, not just one contiguous plot. Hail is notorious for destroying crops is this region, so it is prudent to use grapes from several locations. For his Apud Sariacum Sancerre Philippe does just that – he uses 22 different parcels of vines which circle the village of Sury En Vaux. The Les Godons Sancerre is unusual as it is a single-vineyard that is south-facing and is shaped like an amphitheater. An etching of the vineyard is depicted on the label. Philippe’s grandfather purchased Les Godons in 1946. The exposition of the vineyard contributes to a unique microclimate. I find the Les Godons’ Sauvignon Blanc to be a little richer, a little more opulent, a tad more tropical than your average Sancerre.
 
Fossil Found in the Vineyard
 
The 2014 Les Godons has penetrating fruit flavors of mandarin, pomelo and passion fruit. On the nose it screams of Sauvignon Blanc but stops short of being assaulting. On the palate the ripe fruit flavors are escorted by a pronounced minerality. The Les Godons is energetic and, well, delicious. For an unoaked wine, it has superb texture and weight. The fruit Philippe is able to harvest from this special vineyard makes for a high-impact wine. It distinguishes itself from most Sancerre.
 
Pre-Friday Night Fish Fry Glass
 
Temperatures spiked in the Bay Area, even the inside of my house got sweltering hot. Except for the Thirst Gamay from Radford Dale, white wine has been the vin de jour all week. For our Friday Night Fish Fry, I was craving something thathad complexity, had substantial fruit presence yet finished fresh and lively. I looked around the store to see what I should begin chilling in our tiny staff refrigerator so that after battling end of the work week traffic, I could cool down with a zippy white. My eyes landed on the 2014 Les Godons and I knew I found what I was looking for. I was not disappointed. With a glass in hand, sitting on the front porch, greeting neighbors as they strolled past, I savored the lush flavors of this special Sancerre. Though it tasted nicely with baked fish, I was thinking next time I would like to serve this with a Cobb salad, substituting the Roquefort for Humbolt Fog. A splendid idea!– Anya Balistreri


Coming on the heels of our Top Ten Wines of 2015 list, I struggled while choosing a wine to write about this evening, as whatever I might choose wouldmost likely suffer by comparison. But that’s okay.Top Ten wines are special. Special wines can have elevated price tags; that’s just how markets function, efficiently. If one isto incorporate moderate wine consumption into their lifestyle, the best recommendation that I can give is tobe open and taste, taste, taste every wine that you have any interest in tasting. If you’re going to be tasting many wines over a shorter period of time, spit. Most wine tasting facilities offer spit buckets of some kind.So why exactlyshould we taste everything that we possibly can?Experience. No doubtwe will taste wines that we really like, but we’ll alsoexperience wines that don’t exactly hit home with our respective palates. Sometimes, we’ll even come across wines we do not like at all. That is all in everyone’s best interest. It’simportant to try and understand why certain wines work for us while others don’t. This will make iteasier to find wines to our liking in the future, not to mention unlocking the door to the treasure chest known as,“The best wine values!” A wine that certainly falls into that category is the2013 Domaine des Corbillières Touraine RougeLes Demoiselles.

 

 
 
Dominique and Véronique Barbou run the 26 hectare estate in the Loire Valley commune of Oisly, which is approximately 30 km east of Tours. Dominique’s great-grandfather, Fabel, purchased the property in 1923,and together with his grandson, Maurice, built the property up into its current form. TWH regulars are well aware of thetremendous value that the Barbou’s wines provide. Their Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are house favorites for many of us. Their Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles has beenone of my go-to reds for the better part of a decade. Usually made from Cabernet Franc, Loire Valley reds can be lighter bodied wines that exhibit distinct herbal qualites. Interestingly enough, the Barbou’s Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles is made of 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Côt (Malbec). For the 2013, the aromas are of lush, plump purple fruit which no doubt is the Côt’s influence. A second whiff reveals a brambly thicket undertone with hints of strawberries which we can attribute to the Pinot Noir. Thepalate entry is tangy and lively, with the woodsy Cabernet Franc coming into focus. The Côt provides a bit of weight on the palate and the Pinot Noir continues to express its aromatic complexity. The finish is crisp as the tangy mouth feel fades into the wine’s complexity. Being the sort of chap who usually reaches for white wine with his pork roasts or chops, I can easily build a case to pour this 2013 Les Demoiselles the next time I whip some up.
 
The 2013 Touraine Les Demoiselles isn’t going to make anyone forget about our Top Ten, but it has its place and will continue to provide food pairing pleasure to those who appreciate it. I still remember my very first encounter with a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. I was perusing the selections at Mill Valley Market and decided it was time to taste a Chinon. I knew very little about Loire Valley wines at this point, as I was still regularly consuming domestic wines. Heeding my own advice mentioned above, I was on a mission to taste (and get to know) more wines out of my comfort zone. The wine was nothing like a rich, ripe, fancy oak barreled Napa Cabernet or the like. It was stemmy, woodsy, crisp and tangy. My palate was surprised to say the least. As I continued to taste more wines from different places, I weened myself from popular local wines and embraced the subtle differences of Old World wines; wines that were less fruit forward, lower in alcohol, which wereparticularly made to be enjoyed with a meal.
 
 
The best tidbit of wine advice that I ever receivedcame from an old boss of mine many years ago, JT. He lived in Napa, collected wine, and knew personally many individuals in different facets of the wine biz. Shortly after hiring me, he learned that I was very interested in wine also. He then told me, “Don’t be concerned about critics and whether or not they like the wines that you like. If you like a wine and a critic pans it, it’s good for you! There will be more of it around and the price will remain low.” Sage advice. We remain friends to this day. – Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Loire Valley red wine, Bordeaux, Sauternes, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com
Domaine des Corbillières
 
I’ve been known to call Domaine des Corbillières’ Touraine blanc ‘the poor man’s Sancerre’. It’s a quick way to convey that this wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc, like Sancerre, and that it is full of attack, like good Sancerre, but because it says Touraine on the label and does not carry the same cache Sancerre does, it is less expensive. It is rightfully so that Touraine is not as prestigious as Sancerre for it is a vast region encompassing varied soils and climates, often producing underwhelming wines. However, as in every region, there are the exceptions, the stand-outs and one such winery is Domaine des Corbillières.
 
Harvest in Touraine
 
Domaine des Corbillières is situated at the eastern end of Touraine in the village of Oisly. Dominique and Veronique Barbou farm 16 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc that range in age from 13-43 years of age. The vines grow in sand atop deep clay subsoils. In 1923 Dominque’s great grandfather, Fabel, purchased the property and, legend has it, was the first in the region to recognize the benefit of growing Sauvignon Blanc in Touraine. The story goes that Fabel allowed a vine to grow alongside his home and he soon noticed how well it thrived in the terroir. True or not, that’s a pretty cool story!
 
Dominique & Veronique Barbou
 
The 2013 Touraine blanc is showing beautifully at the moment. Lots of pungent pink grapefruit and green melon flavors permeate the wine. It’s assertive without being assaulting to the nose and palate as too many Sauvignon Blancs can be in my opinion. There is enough texture to create interest in the mouth, but still manages to end with an invigorating finish. This Touraine is not only a stand-out for the region, as I wrote above, but it is a stand-out among Sauvignon Blanc.
 
The Domaine at sunset
 
My daughter wanted mac-n-cheese for dinner. Feeling motivated to cook something special, I made the mac-n-cheese from scratch. I used three different kinds of cheese, sautèed up some red and green bell peppers, and even steeped fresh herbs and garlic into the milk before making the béchamel sauce. I thought it came out pretty good. My daughter, on the other hand, was disappointed that the mac-n-cheese was a casserole! Huh? Unlike my homemade mac-n-cheese, the pasta in the boxed yellow-colored kind made stove-top does not bind together,rather it spreads all over the plate in an oozy orange-glow mess. She likes it that way better! Knowing I had a chilled bottle of the 2013 Touraine in the fridge at the ready helped me to feel more magnanimous towards her. I suggested next time I make homemade mac-n-cheese, she can make the boxed kind herself! – Anya Balistreri

2012 Sancerre Rouge From Domaine des Buissonnes

Monday, June 15, 2015 7:29 PM

2012 Sancerre Rouge
Domaine des Buissonnes
 
The 2012 Sancerre Rouge from Domaine des Buissonnes is yet another fine example of a light, medium-bodied Pinot Noir from a region of France more famous for their whites than for their reds. Its delicate frame carries with it satisfying fruit flavors of sour cherry and tangy raspberry. The gentle tannins play nicely with the chalky finish. There is a soil component to the wine that pleasantly keeps the fruitiness at bay. It is a refreshing drink for those who value character over brawn.
 
Domaine des Buissonnes’ Sancerre Rouge
 
In last week’s post, Peter described a staff tasting where a white and a red were tasted. Although the subject of his post was Raousset’s Beaujolais Blanc (he was not at all exaggerating our enthusiasm for the wine!), the red he referred to, but did not name, was Buissonnes’ 2012 Sancerre Rouge. Just like we dug the stripped down, mineral-driven crisp Chardonnay from Raousset, the Buissonnes’ Sancerre Rouge showed us another approach to vinifying Pinot Noir. The 2012 Sancerre Rouge has a transparent quality; it is as if the grapes had sponged up the soil they were grown in and was then squeezed back into the wine. Chris liked the delicacy and lightness of the Sancerre Rouge and Peter was reminded how much he likes reds with a hint of green in it.
 
Harvest in Sancerre © InterLoire
 
I don’t foresee this style of Pinot Noir overtaking the popularity of super ripe, super concentrated ones, but I think there is a large segment of wine drinkers who are ready to take on and experience a more nuanced expression of the grape. It is au courant to put a slight chill on this wine, especially in warmer weather, to accentuate the snappy, tangy fruit. The incredible lightness of being that the 2012 Sancerre Rouge evokes, makes it an excellent candidate for lingering over slowly, taking in all the soft-spoken fruit.
 
It’s been a strangely, and unexpectedly, emotional last two weeks as my daughter finished up her elementary school years. How is it possible for six years to buzz by so quickly?We walked to school on the last day, just as we did on her first day to Kindergarten. I remember thinking then how grown up the fifth graders looked in comparison to my little one, but in my eyes, my soon to be middle-schooler still looks little to me. I realize she’s growing up, but she’ll always remain my baby girl.
 
5th grade trip: Crissy Fields SF
 
So, in my invariably Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah way, I’m going to celebrate these life changes by, what else, cooking up some lovely meals and drinking some tasty wine. I’m envisioning a moment this summer, after a long day of nothin’, of firing up the grill for a cedar-plank salmon. The2012 Sancerre Rouge from Buissonnes would be a perfect match, complimenting the sweet, smokey nuances of this type of preparation. I’d also like to see this wine match up with other types of fish or even grilled octopus sprinkled with smoked paprika. – Anya Balistreri

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Domaine des Buissonnes’ Sancerre is precisely why Sancerre is so beloved and has such far reaching popularity; the flavors are refreshing, crisp and persistent. Grower and winemakerDominique Naudet is a meticulous farmer. His Sancerre is always lush on the aromatics without compromising that charged Sauvignon Blanc attack. The 2013 is particularly compelling with its focused and precise flavors; compact and clean. You will immediately be greeted by aromas of gooseberry and passionfruit. On the palate it’s got citrus and cut grass freshness, but by no means is it “grassy”.
 
 
At the end of April, Jeanne-Marie de Champs, who represents many of the producers The Wine House imports, and comes to SF bi-annually to visit us,held court in our new conference room sharing with TWH staff a line-up of newly arrived winesoff of our last container. Though Jeanne-Marie works from Beaune in the heart of Burgundy, she is originally from Loire. When Jeanne-Marie is in town, I try to take these opportunities to ask as many questions as possible about each domaine, especially ones like Buissonnes that leaves no marketing or social media footprint. It is as if they don’t exist, other than the fact that our clients clamor for it as if it were the only Sancerre on the market.
 
Jeanne-Marie showing Peter the line-up
 
Jeanne-Marie explained that typical of the region,Domaine des Buissonnes owns several parcels around Sancerre, not just one contiguous vineyard. This is by design as the region is often devastated by hail, and owning vines in various places helps to insure a crop. Dominique Naudet owns about 20 hectares of vines and the winery itself is in Sury-en-Vaux just north of the town of Sancerre. Vinification occurs in stainless steelhowever to draw out aromatics and give a rounded mouthfeel, the wine sits long on the lees.
 
JM Holding Court
 
In an article about Sancerre’s popularity, a wine director for a high profile New York restaurant confessed that he won’t offer Sancerre by the glass because if he did it would make it nearlyimpossible to sell another white by the glass, thus destroying his by-the-glass program. Just some food for thought. Despite the popularity, I would caution that not all Sancerre is made equally.The family-run estate of Domaine des Buissonnes can only survive if it delivers quality, which is does vintage after vintage.
 
At a small town farmer’s market this past week I purchased some sweet, young Spring onions that would be perfect to grill, drizzle with a light vinaigrette and then crumbled over with fresh goat cheese – you know where I am going with this?– to serve with a chilled glass of 2013 Domaine des Buissonnes Sancerre. Now, doesn’t that sound lovely?
 
Greetings! Summertime in the city of San Francisco is a little different than summertime anywhere else in the northern hemisphere. What makes it different? Well, from July 1 through August 31 a great majority of days will be foggy. It’s just a fact. It’s an annual concern on the 4th of July; will there be fireworks, or will we be socked in with fog? It happens every year, and it will last in to September. The good news is that those of us that have endured multiple foggy summers know that a drive 10 miles north, south, or east will get us out of the fog and into the sunlight, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds for us. With “nature’s air conditioner” at work, drinking red wine in August isn’t that uncommon. Anya wrote about a red wine last week, and I also did the week before.  I’m going to continue the trend here as we just got in the latest release of Domaine des Corbillières’ Touraine Les DemoisellesRouge!

 

Inspired by a regular, long-time customer yesterday, I headed over to Olivier’s Butchery here in Dogpatch and picked up some Korean short ribs to bring over to some friends’ house after work yesterday. They live about 5 miles north of the city, so they were socked in most of the day. It had just cleared when I got there, and my comment about it being summer was met with a grumble from them as they didn’t escape the grey shroud all day. I slapped the package of short ribs on the counter, and as we opened it for inspection, the first thing that I popped into my mind was “beef bacon.” The strips were cut rather thin, and according to the salesperson at Olivier’s, required one minute per side on the grill and then they would be done! Talk about delectable fast food!!! Well, what kind of wine with that? They had a bottle of Grüner Veltliner open already, so I had a glass of that while we caught up on the day’s events. Dinner was ready in a flash, beef bacon and all, and I pulled the cork on the 2011 Touraine Demoiselles from Domaine des Corbillières. How did it work out? Stellar.

2011 Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Rouge

Red Wine; Cabernet Franc; Loire;
$15.99

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We have worked with the wines from Véronique and Dominique Barbou’sdomaine for almost 20 years! They represent tremendous value, and are popular with our staff and customers vintage after vintage. The Les Demoiselles cuvée is made of 30% Côt (Malbec), 40% Pinot Noir, and 30% Cabernet Franc. I like to say the Malbec is for backbone, the Pinot Noir for fruit, and the Cab Franc for aromatic complexity. All together, it really works, and for the 2011, it’s sensational! I really love Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. Not obscure enough to be called “wine geek wine”, its herbal profile and lack of “jammy” fruit can put off palates that aren’t used to it, as was the case with me way back when, but as times change, so do wine palates. Only representing a third of the blend, I was surprised as to how Franc-y the aromas were. Blended with the other two varietals, this wine really speaks volumes … at least it did last night! The Malbec lending its solid structure, the Pinot Noir, its fruitiness, and the Franc providing the herbal and earthy complexity. It really worked with the simple salt and pepper seasoning we laid upon the strips of rib meat. There was something spectacular about the pepper, in particular, pairing with the Cabernet Franc. All too soon the food was gone, the wine followed suit, and I was surprised again as to how the time flies.

 

Time flies alright! We’ve now been here in Dogpatch for four months! It seems only weeks ago that Liverpool could have essentially clinched their first title in the Premiership era with a victory over Chelsea back at the end of April, but captain Steven Gerrard’s blunder led to their unraveling. I’ve enjoyed friendly banter over the years with a Liverpool supporting customer who lives overseas, and before the match, via email, he wanted to make a wager on it. I politely declined his offer, but when he came into the shop the other day, he pulled two bottles of wine out of his tote and said, “I know we didn’t have a bet, but I lost, so here.” What a surprise! Thanks, Mark! Included in the duo was a half bottle of Sauternes! It’s pretty well documented that I love Sauternes. He specifically requested that I open IT on opening day. Well what do you know, with time flying and all, opening day is two weeks away! That means the annual kick-off to footy season, the Charity Shield match, is next weekend!!!! Bring it.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments on the SF fog, Loire Valley red wines, Sauternes, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

Sparklers from D’Orfeuilles

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 10:24 PM

We will be open Christmas Eve, December 24 from 10 am – 4 pm. 

We wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!

 

 

What is your holiday season marker? Stringing up lights around the eaves, getting that first card in the mail dotted with children mugging it up for the camera, or how about having a good cry while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life?” For me, it’s the display of fine Champagne and bubbles from around the world that gets stacked up at TWH. Oh how they twinkle, oh how they glow! So many to choose from, fancy or affordable, we have them all! To help you navigate through a few, allow me to highlight a TWH direct import, Domaine D’Orfeuilles from France’s Loire Valley. What at first seemed a novelty has taken off and captured our clients’ taste buds and desire for sparkling wine that is at once complex and sophisticated while much, much less expensive then anything you’ll find from Champagne. Made in the classic methode traditionelle (meaning that secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle just like it is done in Champagne) our two sparklers from Domaine D’Orfeuilles, one blanc, one rosé, are perfect options for end-of-year reveling. 

 

 

Domaine D’Orfeuilles’ grapes are grown on clay and limestone soil that have a significant amount of silex, or flint, that imparts an undeniable, unmistakable “flinty” character in their wines. The Vouvray Brut is made from 100% Chenin Blanc. It has under-ripe peach and apricot flavors, a hint of green, and a round entry with a chalky finish. I have said it before and I will say it again, this is one of the few sparkling wines that when I drink it, I am not wishing I were drinking Champagne! It provides me with enough complexity, richness and yeastiness to keep me interested, and looking forward to the next sip. Whether toasting sans food or with appetizers, you can confidently bring this Vouvray Brut to the table to continue the meal. The Touraine Rosé is also dry and made with Côt, what the folks in Loire call Malbec. Lots of raspberry and dried cherry red fruit with a tinge of herb pervades the palate. Domaine D’Orfeuilles store their sparklers in a large limestone cellar and therefore have the capacity to keep wine aging in bottle 3-4 years. This also means that there are slight variations from each bottling, just as you would expect from a grower/producer. The most recent Touraine Rosé boasts a jolt of pink color that can trick you into thinking it will be far fruitier than it really is; an optical illusion. The Touraine Rosé is fresh, bright and finishes dry. Perfect for spicier nibbles like ceviche or chili-flecked sausages; also amazing with fried chicken!

 

The bottle prices for these two sparklers have Anniversary Sale written all over them, but once again, to make it even more tempting a $125 full-case price is offered through the end of the year, or while supplies last. You might not get through a case by New Year’s Eve, but remember there is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, and so much more coming just around the corner! So stock up and fill your wine closet/cellar/under-the-bed with two unique, delicious and excellent sparklers from Domaine D’Orfeuilles. 

 

 

Adrenaline shot through my body this morning as my daughter rejoiced over the fact that there were only 4 more days left until Christmas! Her advent calendar is almost devoid of chocolate; the star, the reindeer and the snowman have all been eaten. It must be Christmas. After a few deep breathes, I realized I was excited too. I can’t wait to get together with family. I wonder what Santa will bring me this year? Christmas Day I’ll be playing host. I can’t vouch for the food, but at least no one will go home thirsty. Happy Holidays! – Anya Balistreri

35th Anniversary Sale Deal: 2011 Apud Sariacum Rosé

Saturday, December 8, 2012 1:20 AM

And just like that, it’s December! Our 35th Anniversary Sale has been going strong for almost a month now, and it’s just a great time of year to be working here at TWH. I’ve seen so many customers in the past few weeks and I always enjoy uncovering great deals for your individual palates. Why just last night, while dining at the home of a friend (who also happens to be a TWH customer), I dropped off a case of Bordeaux futures that recently arrived, and thanked him for having trust in my palate. His response was, “Pete, I trust your palate implicitly.” It’s great. I know what he likes, and when I taste something that I know will work, I tell him about it. I am happy to do the same for many of you … especially during sale time. During sale time, it’s difficult not to notice drastic price reductions among the fancier wines. What was once out of reach becomes a thought for either a gift or maybe a special occasion. That’s what I was on about in my last Sunday email; a special occasion wine for a very fair price. Well, this week it’s different. This week I’ve found something great that’s on sale for $13.95. This week I’ve found something with a strong reputation and pedigree. This week I found the2011 Sancerre Rosé Apud Sariacum by Philippe Raimbault!
Chances are, if you asked me about the 2011 Apud Sariacum Sancerre Rosé, I would have immediately asked, “Do you like mineral-driven Rosé?” It is unmistakable. As is the complexity of this wine. While many of our Rosé selections are easy to drink, light, and refreshing, this one is for the wine lover that’s looking for something a little more serious. I often extol the virtues of sipping Rosé while I work in a hot kitchen, as it is refreshing and cools me down (not to mention, it’s handy in case something on the stove needs a dash or two of wine). I would NOT recommend this Rosé for that purpose. If I have 2 burners, an oven, and a glass of 2011 Apud Sariacum Rosé going, I’m liable to burn something. I would be lost with my nose in a wineglass before I could smell the smoke. I am NOT kidding. This wine is that special.

 

Before I started writing today, to set the mood, I decided to pop a bottle in the cold box and share a taste with Anya and Tom. What a great idea!!! The first thing that gets me is the mineral. “Chalky, dusty, strawberry, rocks and rhubarb, geranium leaves, a savory component that adds an extra dimension.” Seriously, those were the words we bandied about … and we were only taking in the aromas. This is a sophisticated Rosé. I could easily (and I did) just smell this wine for minutes before even THINKING about taking a sip. There’s so much there. On the palate, it is pure heaven. Fresh and bright, just a hint of fruit – savory fruit balanced by lively acidity wrapped around a rocky mineral core that finishes with a very faint hint of honey. Bravo! This Rosé rocks my world! Apparently, I’m not the only one. Last year’s version was well received by this gent, and that’s an understatement! He was recommending it at “about $25 per bottle.” Again, as part of our 35th Anniversary Sale, it’s only $13.95. To quote one of today’s customers, “If I had a conscience, I’d feel like I’m stealing.” We invite you to “steal” some of this wine. Again, this is a serious Rosé. It’s not one of those “only good when they’re fresh” Rosés. This will still be drinking fine well into the summer of 2013.We’ve got a few cases left, our apologies when it sells out.

We’ve decided to extend our Anniversary Sale through (at least) the first 2 weeks of December. Though many wines have sold out, there’s still plenty to choose from. If a sophisticated Rosé with pedigree and an amazing swath of complexity is something that tickles your fancy,please allow me to bang on the table and shout, The 2011 Apud Sariacum Sancerre Rosé by Philippe Raimbault is the wine for you!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about our 35th Anniversary Sale, holiday gift ideas, or the implosion of my favourite football club: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

July 2012 Dirty Dozen

Monday, July 2, 2012 7:12 PM

Summer’s here!!! Our reward? 31 days of July followed by 31 days of another summer month, but we’ll get to that later. So yes, we’ve got warm weather, bustling farmers’ markets, and plenty of daylight for picnics and barbecues. What to drink with all of that frolicking? May we suggest the July Dirty Dozen? 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, for 1 low price. Santé!

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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.

2011 Scaia Bianca $12.98 net, $11.68 reorder
Here we go: blending 60% Garganega with 40% Chardonnay results in a bright, delectable quaffer that Tom likes to refer to as a ‘Super Soave’, as it is in Soave where Garganega is boss! The Chardonnay buffers it with richness and depth, making it perfect to pop with spaghetti langoustini. The über-cool glass enclosure can be reused!

2010 Malvar, Tochuelo $9.98 net, $8.98 reorder
Amazing values in the wine world continue to present themselves! Not yet a household name (at least not here in the states), Malvar is a white grape predominately grown in the Vinos de Madrid DOC. It’s light on its feet with delicate nuances of citrus and orchard fruit. Bone dry, it is great with light dishes such as a shrimp salad.

2011 Sauvignon Blanc, La Petite Perriere $11.48 net, $10.33 reorder
Plenty of Sauvignon Blanc is grown all over the world, that’s for sure. But there is something special about Loire Valley SB, even if it comes in bargain form. The Saget family got their vinous start in the late 18th century putting them among only an elite handful of Loire Valley estates that can boast of such longevity. The proof’s in the juice. Crisp and clean.

NV Rosé Brut, Comte de Bailly $10.98 net, $9.88 reorder
Pop the cork of one of these. Seriously, just do it. When this bargain Rosé fizz was poured for us, we were stumped. How could something so good be so inexpensive? Better yet, it comes from Tempranillo grown in Spain, but it is produced in Burgundy. Clean red fruits are present on the nose and the palate is lively and refreshing. Pour it with anything!

2010 Les Tours, Domaine la Hitaire $10.39, $8.31 reorder
You’ll have to search far and wide to find better deals on white wines than those made by la famille Grassa in Gascony. Purchased by Yves Grassa 20+ years ago, Domaine la Hitaire is run by his 2 sons Rémy and Armin. This blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard is crisp and fresh; the perfect summer sipper. It’s what you drink with a plate of little fried fish.

2010 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Domaine Ehrhart has been on the Alsatian wine scene since the early 1700’s. With that many generations experiencing that many vintages, you have to say there is expertise afoot! The Herrenweg Gewurz shines with a good chicken curry.

2007 Plaisir 75 cl., Roger Sabon $13.98 net, $12.58 reorder
On to the red side; famed Châteauneuf du Pape producer, Roger Sabon apparently cannot stop with his CdP. The 2007 vintage was soooo good in the southern Rhône that he found some terrific grapes for an even better price and made the Plaisir for notre plaisir. Think bright red fruit, earth, and a waft of Provençal herbs. Pour it with a grilled pork chop.

2008 Bardosa, Bodegas Lomablanca $12.98 net, $11.68 reorder
Garnacha and Tempranillo are the players here in a bottle of 2008 Bardosa. It’s a deep red with more than a dollop of black cherry and cassis, a hint of smoke and bright, lively acidity to keep that finish going. Great with pizza or calzone.

2010 CMS, Hedges $11.98 net, $10.78 reorder
Domestic price to quality wines are becoming more and more difficult to find, but here’s a live one! Hedges Family Estates is proud of their blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 12% Syrah. The CMS is medium/full in body, rich, and balanced. This is a great wine to bring to a party though it may not last long. Burgers on the grill? No prob.

2009 Touraine Les Demoiselles, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Arguably one of our favorite sub $15 reds in the shop, this is our first vintage of Corbillières’ Les Demoiselles cuvée! We’ve always loved their straight-up Cabernet Franc, but this blend consists of 40% Pinot Noir and 30% Côt, with the rest Cab Franc. The result is an aromatic masterpiece. Red fruit, purple fruit, herbs, earth, oh my! It’s a great food wine, think grilled meats and vegetables, but it’s so friendly you can pop it on its own and all will be well.

2010 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Yes, we’ve been directly importing Enrico Pierazzuoli’s wines from Tuscany for well over a decade and there’s one word to describe why … quality! It says on the label “One bottle of wine for each vine”, it’s a great perspective from a man who cares about his vines and the resulting product. Made from 100% Sangiovese, Enrico’s Chianti Montalbano is one of our most popular red wines and his 2010 is rarin’ to go. Flexible and versatile, team it with a bowl of pasta Bolognese.

2009 Côtes du Rhône La Boissière, Vignobles Boudinaud $16.59, $13.27 reorder
Same goes with the wines from Vignobles Boudinaud, we’ve been representing (not importing) them for many years because we believe in Thierry and Véronique’s dedication to the quality of the product they bottle. The Côtes du Rhône La Boissière is imported by DC’s Robert Kacher Selections, yes, but this wine was especially imported just for The Wine House and our customers. True old-school Côtes du Rhône, it’s medium bodied and complex. Veal chops work well here.

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2009 Domaine des Corbillieres “Les Demoiselles”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 8:21 PM



glasses



12-11-11 … or is it 11-12-11? That would be the European way, and seeing that I was there a week ago, I’m still a little confused. Yes, I got to see the Blues play a home match, and hopefully brought them some good luck for the remainder of the season. Stopped over in Paris to visit Virginie and Carsten (the chef). Let’s just say that both Carsten and I worked that day as some great food and wine were served. It’s been a bit of a blur since I returned, and just like that, I’ve landed in the middle of party season.So for tonight, I’m going to the home of some relatively new friends with whom I first bonded over a bottle of 2006 La Croix de Gay (which was stunning, btw). Last time I visited them, they had 2 chefs visiting from Zurich and a swath of scrumptious wines from all over the world. As a beverage industry professional, I feel it necessary to represent by bringing over something outstanding, of course, yet something a little different. Genius! A Lorie Valley red blend, that’s the ticket. How about our2009 Touraine Les Demoiselles from Domaine des Corbillières?

 

As we taste through the wines, it’s becoming pretty clear that 2009 was good to all the vignerons of France. It sure was a great vintage in Bordeaux.The Rhône Valley, both north and south, cranked out some great wines. We’ve been raving about the Cru Beaujolais, and it seems that the Loire Valley benefited too! Speaking of the Loire, we’ve been carrying the wines from Dominique Barbou’s Domaine des Corbillières for over a decade and a half. This year, we’re carrying something new from them, their Les Demoisellescuvée. Made from 40% Pinot Noir and 30% each Côt (Malbec) and Cabernet Franc, it’s a complex little quaffer! Toss in the perfect weather that 2009 seemed to bring to the entire country, and you’ve got a winner. The aromas are of dense cassis, tobacco leaf, and cracked pepper. On the palate, the fruit really jumps out and widens. Held together by excellent structure, its complexity can be pondered long after the wine is consumed. It’s got great weight, a juicy mouthfeel, and a very reasonable price tag. Yep, this is another representative of the 2009 vintage. Oh yeah, as December Wine Of The Month, it discounts 20% on full case purchases!

So yes, we all will be hearing about, and hopefully tasting French wines from 2009 for years to come. Look out for an email in the not-too-distant future about 2009 Bordeaux. The wines have just recently been bottled and have been out on the road in Europe and Asia (to huge praise). The tour is scheduled to hit California in late January.

It’s off to my first party of the season tonight, representing TWH with a bottle of 2009 Domaine des Corbillières Les Demoiselles. Not too festive, as I will be here in the shop today (Sunday) from 12 noon until 4 PM. Off Monday though, and we’ll see about whether or not my visit to Chelsea left any good luck for the club as they tackle league leading, undefeated Manchester City at noon our time. Mad Dog In The Fog anyone? – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about wine or football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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