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

2010 Lugana Superiore From Ca’ Lojera

Monday, August 31, 2015 10:58 PM

 Ca’ Lojera
The Consorzio Tutela Lugana held an event in San Francisco exclusively for the wine trade this past July. On behalf of Ca’ Lojera,The Wine House participated in this tasting. Even among wine trade professionals, Lugana is a bit of mystery and for many, a new discovery. Not so for TWH customers, who have wholeheartedly embraced the delicious white wines (and reds) of Ca’ Lojera. We know andyou know how special Ca’ Lojera Lugana is, so you can imagine what a pleasure it was to introduce their wine to wine trade unfamiliar with the region. Ca’ Lojera stood outin the room, during the tasting portion of the event, and at lunch, where it was served with the appetizer course. I heard over and over again from the participants that Ca’ Lojera was their favorite. What appealed to most tasters is how Ca’ Lojera Lugana combines rich fruit with a forceful mineral drive.
A view of the vineyards from the winery
In order for Lugana to be labeled Superiore, the wine is required to be aged or mature for one year after harvest. Ca’ Lojera’s 2010 Lugana Superiore spent 18 months in large 25 hectoliter barrels. The large barrels allow the wine to comfortably mature without imparting strong oaky notes to the wine. At an impromptu staff tasting, we reacquainted ourselves with the 2010 Superiore and found it to be showing beautifully.
The winery
The 2010 Superiore has a lot of WOW! factor; explosive, layered aromatics, weight and opulence on the palate, and a long, long finish. I tasted a ripe core of fruit, golden almond notes and a thread of intense minerals that effortlessly piggy-backed the citrus-soaked fruit. The oak aging showed in the round mouthfeel. I remarked that the Superiore is a perfect example of how Turbiana (the grape variety in Lugana) can express itself in many ways depending on how it is vinified, not unlike Chardonnay. David was quick to point out that theSuperiore has a very different flavor profile than Chardonnay but agreed it does indeed compare in sophistication. Together we concluded that the 2010 Lugana Superiore is a wine geek wine without being weird or strange. Only thing lacking at that moment was a roast chicken or a simply prepared fresh fish fillet to go along with the wine.
The 2010 Lugana Superiore is by all means more than capable of being a centerpiece wine at a special meal. At $20.99 per bottle, I’d say for a wine like that – complex and sophisticated from a little known wine region – it’s an unbelievable bargain. But just to make it even more irresistible to try, the 2010 Lugana Superiore has a special sale price of $16.95 per bottle, valid through Labor Day.

I took the last vestiges of the 2010 Superiore home with me last night and finished it off with a baked breadcrumb-crusted fillet of sole topped with lemon slices. Delish! While savoring the last drops, my daughter gave a play by play description of her day at school with the Giants’ game droning on in the background. Turns out middle school is not as awful as she expected. I am keeping my fingers crossed, and saying a lot of prayers, that she continues to feel that way for the next three years. – Anya Balistreri

2011 Ca’Lojera Ravel & 2007 Pierazzuoli Millarium

Friday, November 7, 2014 12:47 AM

Two Sweet Exclusives

TWH does not shy away from sweet wines. Many have marveled at our comprehensive Sauternes selection. I don’t have the scientific data to back this up, but I surmise that TWH has one of the largest selections of Sauternes in the country. But as much as we love Sauternes, why stop there? Two of our direct-imports from Italy, Ca’ Lojera andTenute Pierazzuoli, make superb passito-style sweet wines that are currently in stock at our store. In fact outside of Italy, we are the only place you can purchase these wines! (And I have the scientific data on that fact.) Yes, they are that special and we find them to be value-driven options when selecting something a little sweet for a special dinner or to serve as an aperitif when you want to shake things up.



Ca’ Lojera’s passito-style wine is called Ravel. Ca’ Lojera settled on this name as a reference to the composer Ravel whose most famous composition, Boléro, can evoke warm, passionate feelings in the listener. Likewise Ca’ Lojera’s Ravel is a moving expression of their local Turbiana grape. A small amount of Malvasia is added in for aromatic lift and perfume, but it is the Turbiana that plays center stage. The grapes are hand-harvested, dried on wooden trays for an extended period of time and then pressed. The wine is then aged in barrel before bottling. The 2011 Ravel is light on its feet with a fresh finish, not at all unctuous. An exotic coconut flavor dominates with cheerful lemon undertones. A glowy citrus yellow color lights up the glass and the lush flavors settle nicely on the palate. The coconut flavors give a nice toasted note without being overly extracted or heavy-handed. Frankly, this wine is better suited for aged cheeses than for matching with a dessert. This wine is perfectly capable of being a stand-alone dessert, no sugary caloric confections needed. In an email providing us with some background notes on their latest releases, Ca’ Lojera’s Ambra Tiroboschi signed off with this charming sentiment, “this is briefly the history of our wines, that derive from our projects and reflect our dreams.”


Pierazzuoli’s 2007 Millarium Vin Santo is a laborious endeavor. First the grapes are hand picked from vines that were deliberately left with only two bunches. The grapes were then hung up to dry in the rafters of their well-ventilated facility. The grapes dry for six months. The must is then fermented and aged incaratelli, very small barrels, for four years, during which time the wine is kept in an area directly under the roof in order to maximize temperature swings during the year. After bottling, the wine rests for another year before commercial release. Amazing isn’t it when you think about what it takes to make a wine like this especially given the usual turn-it-over fast, send-it-out-to-market-quick mentality? Making real Vin Santo is a commitment.Vin Santo, or “holy wine”, has many origin stories. The one proprietor Enrico Pierazzuoli shared with us is that the name is derived from the historical practice of pressing the wine during Easter. Actually what I found most interesting was Enrico’s description of his Vin Santo as being “an ideal wine for company and conversation, as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, it goes very well with sheep cheese served with green tomato marmalade or chestnut honey, or with liver pâté.” Please note that no mention is made of any type of cake, torte or sweet. Save that stuff for the espresso! The2007 Millarium Vin Santo is dark amber in color with a lightly honeyed note, lots of freshness, a slight herbal component that gives a minty spark and finishes with decadent burnt sugar and lots of roasted hazelnuts. Beautifully balanced without any over-compensating sweetness. A perceived dryness permeates the palate giving the wine a youthful sheen. – Anya Balistreri

Ca’ Lojera: Lugana’s Best

Monday, June 23, 2014 7:45 PM

The Lugana DOC from Ca’ Lojera completes a trifecta of impressive TWH-direct whites from Italy that includes Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Tradizionale and Picollo’s Gavi. All three wines offer exceptional quality for the money and show authentic expression of their respective grape variety and place. They also happen to be family-run wineries. To my mind, those are key ingredients for enjoying a wine all the more! Ca’ Lojera’s 2012 Lugana is the fourth vintage to land in our warehouse. It has not lost any of its original luster to my palate.  Each vintage brings with it subtle variation, but always amazing depth, lushness, and a hallmark note of salinity. It is never boring and never palate fatiguing. A second glass, a second bottle, a second case is always in (and on) order!


Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi began growing grapes in the ’80s. Winemaker Franco comes from a family of farmers who did not grow grapes. Franco was met with skepticism when he embarked on grape growing but he persevered only to be thrown into wine production in the early ’90s when some of his contracts were not honored and he was left with grapes that had no where to go. It was a time when wine from Lugana was relatively unknown and had not yet regained the reputation and notoriety it has today. Once again the Tiraboschi’s persevered and now are known to make one of the finest Lugana in the region. Fortunately, David immediately recognized the exceptional quality of Ca’ Lojera during a 3-day wine seminar and tasting in New York City where he sampled through hundreds of wines and met hundreds of producers some years back.


The grape variety that goes into Lugana is known as Turbiana. It has been genetically linked to Verdicchio though at one time it was referred to as Trebbiano di Lugana. Ca’ Lojera’s Turbiana grows on mineral-rich, deep clay soils very near Lake Garda’s shore giving their wine that touch of salinity and savoriness. Flavors of melon, juicy tangerine, with intermittent notes of spearmint and herb, carrying forth in a fleshy texture that swirls around on your palate. All stainless steel tank fermented, the plushness of the wine is derived entirely from the grape and soil alone. Being situated on Lake Garda, the winery’s pairing suggestions circle around freshwater fish as well as ocean bound ones. I would include crustaceans like shrimp, crab or even lobster. There is enough stuffing to the wine to even pair it up with pork and chicken. It really has a lot of versatility. My family normally cooks nightly, but we’ve been barraged by work and end-of-school goings on, so have more than once relied on take-out in the past couple weeks. At San Anselmo’s Comforts, their ever popular, lightly-dressed Chinese chicken salad makes for a particularly tasty partner with Ca’ Lojera’s 2012 Lugana. 


I wait until the absolute last minute to write my weekend newsletter, usually writing it on a Saturday during business hours. This time I am bucking tradition (writing it on Wednesday) because I will be celebrating the epic union of Konstantin and Alla Zaharoff at their 60th Wedding Anniversary – yep, my parents! Oh jeez, I am already tearing up just writing down the words – I better get it out of my system! In the next few days I will be hustling, getting the party organized. Luckily, this is a family affair, so I won’t be going it alone. This much is true: no one will leave the party hungry or thirsty. As for the speech I am expected to give along with my brothers and sister? I’m going to try to keep it short or risk turning into a crying, messy puddle of mush. Growing up I was convinced that if my parents ever divorced it would be over whether or not the chicken was properly cooked. Raw, overdone, I guess it never mattered since if the only thing that they ever really argued over was the chicken’s doneness then their marriage was surely destined to remain intact. Our family is so blessed to be able to celebrate this long, happy marriage all together.

Pazdravlyaem s’ brilliantovoi svadboi!
 I love you Mama and Papa!

– Anya Balistreri 

Ca’Lojera’s 2011 Merlot

Monday, February 10, 2014 7:34 PM

My go-to wine for 2014 thus far has been Ca’Lojera’s 2011 Merlot. Each time I serve it, my wine-drinking companions gush out “yum, what is this?” I am reminded of all the reasons why Merlot became so popular in the first place over twenty years ago. Tasting Ca’Lojera’s 2011 Merlot, you can’t help being charmed and delighted by its fragrant, sour cherry flavors, nuanced notes of green-tinged herbs, lightly forested aromas and the pleasing, soft tannin on the finish. It is enjoyable to sip while waiting for dinner to get to the table and it continues to impress as you dig your fork into the plate. How often do I hear people complain of heavy, over-bearing reds? Well, if you are one of them, check out the 2011 Merlot from Ca’Lojera for that taste of a Bordeaux varietal without all the heaviness. 



Ca’Lojera is located along Italy’s Lake Garda just east of Verona in the Lombardy region. The winemaker, Franco Tiraboschi, and his wife Ambra, who runs the winery, are a perfect partnership of opposites but united in bringing attention to the quality of Lombardy wines. TWH first imported Ca’Lojera’s Lugana in 2011, three years and four vintages of Lugana later, their wines continue to impress and gain favor with our customers, restaurant sommeliers and the wine press. With the success of the Ca’Lojera whites, we were encouraged to dip into their reds by first importing the Cabernet Sauvignon and now for the first time ever, their Merlot. Grown on the rocky hillsides overlooking the lake (unlike the Turbiana which is grown on the clay flats), the Merlot is fermented in steel tank giving it a freshness and fruitiness that matches its intensity. I applaud them for resisting the temptation to introduce any oak to this wine, as it would detract from the perky sour cherry flavors and bolster it in ways it doesn’t need. The 2011 Merlot is medium-bodied but not thin, it is fruity but not jammy, and it is quaffable but not simple. For years I have been erroneously predicting Merlot’s comeback, but poor Merlot simply cannot overcome its image problem and this is a shame. Believe it or not, I am not interested in drinking the “best-ever” wine each and every time I pour a glass. Generally and most often, I just want to drink something delicious and interesting for I am an everyday-glass-of-wine kind of gal and not a just-on-special-occasions/once-in-while kind of wine consumer. Therefore stocking up on a soft tannin red like this 2011 Merlot in my case of ok-to-drink-now wine is a welcomed find. 



I am not going to close here with some reference to how I plan on drinking the 2011 Merlot from Ca’Lojera because- let’s be honest- tomorrow I will be drinking beer and noshing on all manner of classic Super Bowl viewing snacks. Throughout the NFL season, I have tried to give my husband the opportunity to watch his games with few disruptions. In return, as my reward, he is making his famous wings for me tomorrow. It will probably be mid-week by the time I get the chance to prepare a proper meal. Then I will crack open another bottle of ’11 Merlot from Ca’Lojera to savor and take in the pleasure of the red ripe sour cherry fruit, peppery undertones and silky tannins. Bellissimo! —Anya Balistreri


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.



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.



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

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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

March 2012 Dirty Dozen

Friday, March 9, 2012 4:23 PM

It seems that old man winter, pretty scarce around here, has packed it up and is headed home. March is here and it’s soon to be the time to mess with time and move our clocks ahead one hour. So while you’re working on your NCAA brackets, eating corned beef with cabbage, and ringing in the spring, just know we’ve got a box of wine to take care of all your vinous needs, The March Dirty Dozen!

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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.

2010 Petite Cochon Blanc, Odisea – $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Co-owners Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz are wild about Rhône grapes and scour northern California for quality vineyards that produce them. The Petite Cochon is a blend of Rolle (Vermentino), Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc and it struts its stuff with aromas of citrus blossom and stone fruit, has a fresh peachy mouth feel, and finishes crisp and lively. A wine to pair with filet of sole.

2009 Pinot Grigio, Castelletto – $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Over in Italia, near the Slovenian border, is the Collio region; a great place to grow Pinot Grigio. Ronco Del Castelletto has been around since 1870, and is well respected in Italy with several Tre Bicchieri awards in its trophy case. Think rich, almost Alsatian styled Pinot Gris here. The wine has an abundance of fruit both aromatically and on the palate. This is the wine for your corned beef and cabbage!

2010 Chardonnay, M-F Wines – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Using fruit from premium vineyards is the name of the game at M-F. Matt Bonanno and Fritz Stuhlmuller team up here sourcing premium fruit for a not-so-premium price. Passing the savings along, we all win. All tank fermented, this Chardonnay is pure and fresh with lively aromas of yellow fruit and blossoms. Its green apple/citrus fruit profile suggests it will pair well with a crab salad.

2009 Torrontes, Inacayal – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Torrontes is turning heads in Argentina as it has become their signature white wine. Inacayal’s vineyards are located at elevations of 3000 feet and the cool nights that the altitude provides are essential to produce the acidity the wine needs for balance. It has exotic aromas of orange blossoms and lemons. Pour it as an apéritif; or with a meal, it pairs very well with spicy Thai or Chinese cuisine.

2006 Lugana Superiore, Ca’Lojera – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Elegant. The perfect word that describes the wines from Ca’Lojera and the woman that makes them, Ambra Tiraboschi. Working with the Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana) grape, Ambra crafts this head turning wine. She holds it back for 2 years in barrel to give the Lugana texture and complexity, enough to earn the name ‘Superiore’. Her website’s suggestion for a food pairing? “Elegant dishes”, of course.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Talk about screaming good values, we have always been impressed with the array of wines coming from Yves Grassa’s empire in Gascogne, especially his Lalande line. This tank fermented Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and lively with all the citrusy character one expects in a Sauvignon Blanc without going overboard. As we herald in the season of picnicking, allow us to present the picnic wine.

2006 Alentejano, Howard’s Folly – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
From Alentejo, just east of Lisbon, comes another wine that outperforms its price point by a long shot. Howard’s Folly is made up of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional and it sees 6 months in new French and American oak before bottling. The wine shows plenty of dark, smoky fruit and spice and will make a nice accompaniment for a marinated tri-tip, should you grill one.

2009 Chianti, Il Vescovado – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Open a bottle of Chianti, and Tuscany emerges from it, like a genie from a lamp. When you get one this good for a price tag like this, you may as well have burned one of your wishes. Made from Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo, Il Vescovado is the ‘utility player’ of the bunch. Its medium body and lively acidity allow it to pair well with a myriad of dishes. From meatloaf to pizza, your wish comes true!

2008 Bardolino Classico, Valetti – $7.95 sale price, $7.55 reorder
Running head to head with the Chianti mentioned above is the equally food-friendly Bardolino from eastern Lake Garda. It may be lighter still in body than the Chianti, but its zippy acidity makes it perfect alongside any traditional Italian dish that uses tomato sauce and herbs. It’s a blend of mostly Corvina, with a little Rondinella and Sangiovese, and bang for your buck – a super bargain!

2010 Syrah, Saint-Antoine – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
You can’t go wrong with any wines from the south of France in 2010. The growing season was long and warm, yet cool nights provided the proper acidity to balance harmoniously with the opulent fruit. We’ve been working with Domaine Saint-Antoine for many years now, and their wines usually have a rustic charm, but the 2010 Syrah retains the charm with a palate friendly dose of purple fruit. Yummy.

2009 Morgon Côtes du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Okay, what we have here is Cru Beaujolais from a good vintage … make that a great vintage. The Côtes du Py is composed of rocky soil and the wines originating there have that distinct mineral verve which latches on to the juicy Gamay fruit resulting in an elegant, Burgundian styled wine. Light in body, this Morgon would be best when paired with something subtle, like a salad with goat cheese.

2008 Côtes du Rhône Mataro, Vignobles Boudinaud – $21.99, $17.59 reorder
Using only Mataro (Mourvèdre) for a Côtes du Rhône may be a little unusual, but Thierry Boudinaud pulls it off nicely here with this dense, gamey offering. Thierry has worked in California, New Zealand, and Bordeaux, honing his skills before returning to his ancestral home in the southern Rhône to have a go on his own. What he’s done here is magical. One to pour with your sizzling rib eye.

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The Wine House San Francisco: Our Top Ten Wines of 2011

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3:13 PM

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again where we pick the top ten wines that were released and passed through our shop in the calendar year 2011. We first did this in 2009, and the reaction was so positive thatwe did it again last year. It’s a fun exercise for us here; we taste a lot of wine throughout the year, most of which doesn’t even make it to our sales floor. Of all that DOES meet our standards and make it to the floor, it becomes a difficult task to narrow it down to just 10. But we get there; the most fun part of the exercise is that while discussing the wines, we get to relive the past year in tasting. Remember, some of these wines have sold out, but deserve to be mentioned here based on their merits.

2010 Lugana – Ca’Lojera

Kicking things off here is the first of 7 direct TWH imports in this year’s top 10! Speaking for those of us who have not met her, we’re so jealous that first David, and then Anya met with Ambra Tiraboschi at successive Italian tastings in New York City. The wines that come from Ambra’s Ca’Lojera are a rare breed indeed.Ambra’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a gem that is not to be missed. But it’s what she can do with the Turbiana variety that lands her in our Top Ten of 2011. Her 2010 Lugana is one of our favorite Italian whites that came this way in 2011. It’s yummy goodness of fresh white fleshy fruit and zippy acidity, not to mention modest price, pushes it right into the Top Ten. If this is only the first of ten of this caliber, you might want to grab a seat.
2009 J-M Chaland Vire-Clesse

Speaking of terrific white wine imports … David was (again) lucky enough to be tasting wine in Burgundy last winter and when he tasted through the unoaked Chardonnays from Jean-Marie Chaland he had an epiphany. Brand new for us are a whole line of delicious Maconais wines which scream “White Burgundy Values”. The top of the line Thurissey is made from vines over 90 years old! Seriously, run don’t walk to this wine.
2008 Claude Thomas Zinfandel

Here’s a real TWH story. You should see our calendar. I mean Anya’s calendar. It’s got names and times jotted down for every day she works. There is a line out the door for the opportunity to have Anya taste (and hopefully, buy) the respective wines that each wine rep sells. It’s gotten so out of hand that one producer periodically sends his friends in specifically asking for his wine. Ah, what some people resort to just to make a sale. Sometimes, one of these encounters results in an extraordinary upside surprise,“winemakers to watch” and all. Yet it happened again in 2011 with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. When the 2008 Claude Thomas Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was poured for her, Anya, who by the way loves Zinfandel, was all in! Ripe, brambly berry and spice, we’re all in too. What a pleasure for all of us here at TWH when Tom Stanley drops off cases of his wine! Well done, Tom.
2008 Vignobles Boudinaud Côtes du Rhône Mataro

Back to France. You love Mourvèdre. We love Mourvèdre. What’s not to love? Big, gamy, muscular, earthy wines always have a home with those who love the style. It says Côtes du Rhône on the label. It says Mataro on the label as well, which is what some people in Spain, and apparently in the south of France call Mourvèdre. It’s a Côtes du Rhône made from 100% Mourvèdre. We love that! All of us here at TWH were wowed by this wine in 2011.
2010 Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray

One of our favorite Loire Valley producers, Domaine d’Orfeuilles, you know, the ones that make sparkling Vouvray. Or maybe you’re familiar with their sparkling Touraine Rosémade from Côt, or Malbec as it’s known elsewhere. Maybe you’ve heard of their demi-sec Vouvray “les Coudraies”. Obviously, we’re big fans of these guys! The wine that brought us to them? It was the 2005 Vouvray “Silex”. That was so long ago that there isn’t even a blog link to attach to it. But the ’05 Silex? Crisp and bone dry with that lovely apple-ey goodness that Chenin Blanc is known for … but the mineral swirl? The stuff of legend. So when the 2010 recently went out to wholesale accounts and the sample bottle returned to the shop, we poured out some tastes for our staff … Chris and I took one swirl and taste … “Dude, can you believe that?” (Yes, we talk that way. Mostly just to each other.) “That acidity? That freshness. The mineral. The Fruit? This is better than the ’05!” It was. And it is. And it will be.
Pleiades XX – Sean Thackrey

Ever been to Bolinas? It’s a fun little town just northwest of Stinson Beach in Marin County. It’s tough to find, though. Locals like to take down the sign pointing the way whenever Caltrans puts up a new one. This keeps a lot of tourists out; or at least that’s the locals’ rationale. But Bolinas is home to Sean Thackrey’s winery. Sean Thackrey has been making wine for three decades! And his wines are our kind of wines; he embraces unique winemaking techniques, and sources his fruit from all over California. He brings it all back to his winery in Bolinas and makes wine with his hands. Thackrey’s Pleiades XX cracks the top 5 due to its serious amalgam of complexity and intensity. We are ALWAYS on the lookout for wines like this one! We sold out of the XX, be on the lookout for the XXI!
NV Giavi Prosecco

Prosecco. Serious Prosecco. The NV Giavi Prosecco. You’ve never tasted Prosecco like this before. We’ve got a serious Champagne customer. Serious. This gent will ONLY buy the best highly allocated Grower Champagnes we can get our hands on. He loves this Prosecco. He is actually talking this wine up to restaurants he dines in. Word is out in the restaurant world. We haven’t been able to offer this in our retail shop for months due to the demands of fine restaurants here in the Bay Area and in LA! We’re finally back on track, and once again have the wine in stock for you to try. This is Top Ten kind of Prosecco. Try one and see for yourself.
2009 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes

“Everybody loved it.” That’s what a customer said about the 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes from Château Puy-Servain. What a great 2011 discovery this was!! Instead of relaxing in Bordeaux on the Saturday after the En Primeur tastings, I was off to Montravel to meet with Daniel Hecquet at his Château Puy-Servain. When I tasted his 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes I got butterflies thinking about how cool it was going to be to get the wine over here and onto your tables. And even cooler, the wine sold out quickly. We bought more from Daniel and the next batch should be here by the end of March.
2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc

Back to White Burgundy. David has been tasting the wines from Domaine Michel Bouzereau for several vintages, and he’s liked what he’s tasted. But just as he pointed out in regards to the J-M Chaland wines, he likes to taste several vintages before pulling the trigger. Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau is the winemaker these days and he makes some of the finest Premier Cru Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet that we stock here at TWH. You could pick any of Jean-Baptiste’s Premier Crus and put them in the Top Ten, but that’s kind of like cheating. But what’s this? He makes a Bourgogne too! Not only that, it’s a “Bourgogne” though most of the grapes are sourced from in and around Meursault. One taste will have you hooked!
2008 Château Branaire Ducru, St. Julien

Keeping with tradition, we’re going to Bordeaux. It’s so hard to pick just one wine. In 2011, it was the 2008 Bordeaux vintage that hit the market. There were standouts in all categories Red, White, and Gold! But the wine that struck me greatest had to be the 2008 Branaire Ducru. It has everything I look for in a young claret. Its fruit is expressive, the aromas are deep and complex. On the palate, it has a round feel with noticeable structure and more fruit expression braced by the zippy acidity. Great weight and great balance. The finish is long and complex; a perfect reminder as to why I love the wines from St. Julien most. We only have a few bottles left, so sorry when it sells out.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Château Lanessan

Narrowing all that wine tasted over the course of a year down to only 10 is a very difficult task indeed. One main criterion for the list is that the wine be newly released and available to us in said calendar year. But there is one more wine that wowed us in 2011 that deserves a slight mention, the 2001 Château Lanessan. It too was an amazing discovery that was made in the office of one of our negociants in Bordeaux this past April. We sold out of our stock rather quickly, quick enough to still have a chance to buy more! We did, and it’s on its way here. It should arrive at the end of March. – Peter Zavialoff

October 2011 Dirty Dozen

Monday, October 17, 2011 4:57 PM

What’s this? No more peaches, just pears? It must be October. Yes, the sights and sounds are changing as we march on into autumn. Picnic and beach party seasons may be coming to an end, but as the festivities move indoors, we’re here for you with plenty of great wine. Like this here Dirty Dozen: 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a box for one low, amazing price! Howz that for a great deal?

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2010 Lugana, Ca’Lojera – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Ambra Tiraboschi’s take on the Turbiana grape has certainly turned some heads ’round here! This zippy little quaffer hits you immediately with hints of tangerine blossoms, melons, and minerals. On the palate, its racy mouth feel keeps that citrus sensation alive and the finish is delightfully crisp. Best served with lighter fare, perhaps pan-seared scallops?

2009 Macon-Villages, Roux Père et Fils – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
The Maconnais district, in southern Burgundy, is best known for producing great value whites – and this puppy is NO exception! Made from 100% Chardonnay, it possesses aromas and flavors of buttery apple and lemon, with a hint of toasted almond, and a long, clean, lip-smacking finish. Poullet a la Rotisserie? Le yummy.

2010 Viognier, Serbal – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
This is not the first time we’ve featured a southern hemisphere Viognier, a good thing. Though this Argentine estate is named after the aboriginal bush grown on the property, its dry, single-vineyard Viognier is more reminiscent of fresh white lilies and citrus blossom (thank goodness!). Divine alongside a fresh calamari salad or Gruyere & vegetable quiche.

2010 Jarenincan 1 liter, Crnko – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Though the blend changes every vintage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, & Riesling were the selections for this 2010 Slovenian white blend in Liter. At 11% abv, it gets the official “Must quaff” stamp by TWH staff.

2009 Blanc de la Château de la Petite Cassagne – $6.95 sale price, $6.60 reorder
We just can’t get enough white Rhône these days. Costières de Nîmes superstar Diane Puymorin blends 60% Grenache Blanc with 40% Rolle (Italians call it Vermentino), presses the juice immediately after harvest, and ferments it all in steel tank. It’s bright and fresh offering hints of orange blossoms and fleshy stone fruit. Great with tuna salad.

NV Touraine Rosé, Domaine d’Orfeuilles – $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Rounding out the “chillable” section of the DD is a sparkling gem from the Loire Valley. Made mostly from the grape Côt (some call it Malbec), the d’Orfeuilles represents a HUGE value in Rosé fizz. Hints of bright red fruit persist throughout the tasting and are braced by lively acidity and tiny bubbles. Don’t laugh, but this is GREAT with fried chicken!

2009 Tempranillo, Casa Gualda – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
As our Spanish section continues to grow, we are discovering that the country that produces the most wine also pumps out a consistent bevy of bargains. Not sacrificing quality, Casa Gualda blends a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the Tempranillo to give the wine a little backbone, and it works. Bust it out with that roasted pork sandwich.

2009 Pinot Noir, Bigvine – $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Bigvine winemaker Scott McLeod considers 2009 an ideal vintage for California’s Central Coast, and the proof’s right here in a bottle of his Pinot Noir. 85% of the fruit comes from Arroyo Grande and the other 15% from the Santa Rita Hills. Think deep, rich, red berry fruit, a hint of cola, and a lively mouth feel. Would be great with a slice of pizza.

2006 Tradition, Château de Valcombe – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Made in the style of southern Rhône blends, 60% Syrah is blended with 40% Grenache, and the result is a hearty balance of brambly purple fruit and earth. A little bit of bottle age goes a long way, giving the wine some extra complexity.

2007 Syrah de Fayel – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
We had to apologize to Chris when we included this one in the DD. You see, we all have our individual “pet wines” that we take for ourselves because the quality is there and the price is right. This one is/was his baby. Oh well, he’ll have to find a new one, and you all can see what good taste he has. Bright, sturdy country Syrah here, goes great with ribs.

2008 Carmignano, Tenuta Le Farnete – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
When this Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend first arrived, one swirl and sniff indicated that we needed to get on the phone with Enrico and order another pallet. Truth be told, that first pallet went like hotcakes and we were stuck with nothing. The good news is that the new pallet is here and once again you can get your hands on this super, Super Tuscan.

2009 Ventoux “Fayard”, Domaine Fondrèche – $16.99, $13.59 reorder
With the string of successful vintages coming from southern France over the last 8 years, we’re beginning to wonder, “Are bad vintages a thing of the past?” 2009 is everything you want in a red Rhône vintage: plenty of opulent fruit, silky tannins, and lively acidity. Sebastien Vincenti just stays out of the way and bottles the Ventoux terroir.

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2010 Lugana from Ca’ Lojera

Monday, September 12, 2011 3:23 PM



An embarrassment of riches
is what that is, all those cases of Ca’ Lojera stacked up high at TWH. How happy it makes me feel to see all that luscious Lugana waiting to be drunk. I also, admittedly, feel a tinge of pride when I look at their labels and read “Imported by Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA”…that’s us!!!! We introduced Ca’ Lojera to you this past winter and the response to the wines has been overwhelming. A second shipment from Ca’ Lojera quickly followed and brought with it the 2010 Lugana which is as enchanting and delicious as was the ’09. The apples-n-cream fruit is bright and alive and has a finish that reveals minerality and finesse. The 2010 Lugana, once again, outperforms for quality and price. At $15 per bottle, the 2010 Lugana allows you to step up to a level of complexity and quality that is rarely found at this price. How does Ambra do it? Ambra Tiroboschi that is, along with her husband Franco, do it by seemingly doing nothing, as in letting the grapes do their thing,and doing everything, as in doing all that is necessary in the vineyards to get the best fruit possible and doing much of the same in the winery.



I’ll go ahead and just say it: I adoreAmbra. There are many reasons why and I could easily list them, but it comes down to this; I met Ambra and I just knew she was special. Well apparently, Ambra has a way of making lots of people feel this way as evidenced this week when an established and successful importer of Italian wine stopped by to present us with his portfolio. Now I’ve known this gentleman for years and have been buying wine from him just as long, so I am well acquainted with his impeccable palate and dedication to independent, high quality producers. Not five minutes into our meeting, he began to gush about Ambra and her wines. There was a lot of “you felt that way too?” “isn’t Ambra wonderful and aren’t the wines amazing?” and on and on we went. And then before leaving the store, he bought three bottles of the 2010 Lugana. I probably should have mentioned earlier that this importer met Ambra in Italy last April. He was so impressed with her wines that he asked to import Ca’ Lojera but was told he couldn’t because Ca’ Lojera was already imported by Wine House Limited (aka The Wine House). So you know what he did? Upon returning home, he promptly called David to congratulate him on acquiring Ca’ Lojera. Though wine business folk can be a friendly bunch, this type of gesture normally doesn’t happen (business is business after all). I hope this story helps to illustrate the level of quality and deliciousness that is inherent in Ca’ Lojera’s wines.

I keep dreaming of a visit to Italy. Its been a looong time; a year longer than my marriage, oh yeah…Happy Anniversary Koshka! My in-laws are traveling through Italy right now. My niece is there too, spending a semester abroad. Her father and mother are planning to visit soon to “check up” on her. Can’t I go too? Ok, so whats a girl to do in the meantime? You know it…crack open another bottle of 2010 Lugana! If I can’t be there at least I can get a taste of Italy!

Anya Balistreri

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