Whencustomers enter TWH for thevery first time, they often inquire aboutwhat it is that we do and how we go about sourcing the wines to put in the bins that line our sales floor. While there are no general, party-line answers to those questions, there isone major criterionthat isconsistently present in our wines,whether they’re $10 per bottle or $200: Value. As in,“Is this worth it?” To a Pomerol collector with a much larger wine budget than mine, the2012 Vieux Chateau Certan is a great wine from a great producer that isevery bit worth its $168.98 price tag. Oh how I would love to taste this wine 10 years from now. To a Dogpatch neighbor who walks their dog every afternoon and occasionally pops in forgood, inexpensive dry white wine, we have several to choose from. One such white wine,not to be missed, would be the2014 Montravel Blanc from Château Calabre.

 

 
 
Coming on the heels of Anya’s recent email about longtime relationships in the wine business, TWH is happy and proud of our ongoing association with Daniel Hecquet and his wines from Montravel and Bergerac. We’ve been stocking Daniel’s wines for 20 years! Why? Value. Are they worth it? Unquestionably. The Château Calabre Montravel Blanc is Hecquet’s entry-level white, made in the style of dry white Bordeaux blends. The blend for his 2014 is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. It’s fresh and clean, all tank fermented, and ready to go with its screwcap enclosure. The palate is zippy and lipsmacking with fine balance, and it clocks in at 13% alcohol. It’s a great little versatile white thatdelivers pleasure at a very reasonable price: $10.99 (or $9.34 by the case). As someone who has worked on sourcing the wines in our Dirty Dozen sampler for a decade can attest to, it is much more difficult to find good quality inexpensive white wine than red. I don’t know why that is, but it is true. If there were more producers out there like Daniel Hecquet, sourcing the Dirty Dozen each month would be a little easier.
 
 
It just makes good sense that a shopper doesn’t make a purchase unless they perceive there to be value in said purchase. Please keep in mind that before we offer these wines to you, we ourselves must buy them! That of course makes us wine shoppers also. When tasting and appraising a wine, we have an idea of what its price tag is going to be. That’s where the decision is made. Is it worth it? The 2014 Château Calabre Montravel Blanc sure is; the $9.34 by the case price makes it a no-brainer. – Peter Zavialoff

2014 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:41 PM


It starts around mid-October. “I hear that you have anannual sale in the fall, are you having one this year?” “Will there be anyBordeaux on sale this year?” “Are you going to send out an emailwhen your sale starts?” – All questions we hear every year. Once the sale gets going, the time flies by. The relevant question we hear regularly is,“How long does your sale go on for?” In early November, the end of the year still seems far away. Well, today being Boxing Day and all, it’s not far away; not at all.Our 38th Anniversary Sale is coming to an end. So if you haven’t loaded up on case special Rosé, or picked out a few special bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy for posterity,time’s running out. The good news is: There arecontainers on the water and first David, and then I will betraveling to France in Q1 2016. David will be headed to Burgundy among other places, andI will be in Bordeaux to taste barrel samples ofthe exciting 2015 vintage. Of course, the focus of the annual trip is the new vintage and the many barrel samples, butI taste much more while there. This past April, I got my first taste of the2014 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc and for the price, it’s tough to beat.

 

 
 
Daniel Hecquet is a friend of The Wine House SF. He has visited us numerous times over the years, and I’ve made a point of visiting him and his wife Catherine each spring. I might have mentioned him a time or two. He isvery passionate about his vines and his wines. In fact, he once visited us and told a story about one of his wines thatmoved a member of our staff to tears upon hearing it. He makes several different wines including a Rosé, and though I have the opportunity to taste them all, I try to focus my concentration on the wines we bring in each year; the wines our customers know and love.For the whites, I always start with his Château Calabre Montravel Blanc. Unpretentious, with screw-cap to prove it, it’s a great “pop and pour” wine. I should know, I had a glass when I finally made it home last night after a much travelled Xmas Day. It’s a great entry-level white that’s right up there with our Gavi as far as $10 whites go. The Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc is always up next, and my usual perception is that it is a more serious wine. It’s more expensive, but that proves nothing. Just like the Gavi has its more serious side, the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, the Puy-Servain Blanc is well worth the additional expenditure. Especially with the 2014!
 
 
It’s fresh and invigorating in its aromas. Citrusy orange peel notes drift from the glass with a hint of a floral essence.The palate is fresh and lively held nicely together with lighthearted balance. The word “clean” appears in my notes three times, including the note about the finish. Hecquet blends 50% Sauvignon Gris with Sauvignon Blanc to give a little fullness to the mouth feel. All in all, it’s a very well made wine, and as written above, it rivals the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto as to our most serious sub $15 white wine. As a matter of fact, with the very favorable currency exchange rate we had when this wine was purchased, it’s become the price/quality leader! Check out that case discount.
 
So yes, Xmas 2015 was full of great moments for me. Great people, great food (except for my brother’s tri-tip – he overcooks meat), and a very nice surprise. A 1986 Pessac-Léognan Rouge that shined brightly paired with a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin later that evening. Wishing you all good health, success, and happiness in the upcoming New Year! – Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the 2014 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc, sub $15 white wines, English Football, or Bordeaux: peter@wineSF.com


 

 

Time flies. That’s what it does. I’m not going to get philosophical about that, though I struggle getting my head around the fact that it isOctober. I was reminded of this first thing this morning as I awoke with themorning sun beaming down on my pillow. This biannual occurrence lasts for around a week each time, and it is areminder that the next time the sun plays its wake up game with meit will be time to head to Bordeaux forPrimeurs!And though the barrel tastings are the primary focus of my annual visit,there is so, so much more. I typically hang out in the city for the first few days, but once the weekend hits, I take a stroll under the tracks at Gare Saint Jean and pick up a rental car. This year,I picked up the car and drove for 90 minutes out near Saint Foy la Grande and headed north.Up in the rolling hills north of Saint Foy is the appellation of Montravel.That’s where you find Château Puy-Servain and its owner/ambassador, Daniel Hecquet.

 

 
 
Daniel is not new to us. We are well into our second decade of stocking the wines from Puy-Servain. We first carried his wines via our association with importer Robert Kacher, but their mutual relationship ended around 10 years ago. That was when Daniel paid us a visit. He knows we love his wines and he likes that. His English skills are more than adequate and he informed us that we could continue our relationship by importing his wines directly. To hear Hecquet speak about his wines is extraordinary. Talk about passion! After you taste the wines, you can’t help falling for them. So we agreed to move forward and import them. I visited him and tasted through the line the following spring, but we hit a snag with our follow-through. Nothing was done and time passed, and I was alittle apprehensive about scheduling a visit with him the next time I was in Bordeaux thinking that he would not be so receptive to the idea. I was wrong. He was as cheerful and charming as always and invited me to his home to have a meal and meet his wife, Catherine. All went well, the conversation was upbeat and informative and their hospitality was greatly appreciated. After I returned, there were no snags, the wines arrived in the fall, and I continue to visit Daniel and Catherine each spring when I’m nearby.
 
 
I made great time this year and got to Puy-Servain a little early, as Daniel was not yet there. I don’t mind, I’ve got patience. I did owe him, as I was around an hour late the very first time I visited. The views from his hilltop winery are beautiful. When he arrived he was apologetic and I reminded him of the time that I was an hour late, so we let that all go with a good laugh. (I would be happy to share the story behind why I was so late, but not in print.) I tasted through his line-up as he makes around a dozen different wines, all very well priced for their levels of quality. His signature bottling is hisMontravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes, and I’ve got to say, the newly arrived 2012 version is spot-on delicious!I have always felt that 2012 was an underrated vintage in Bordeaux, and Montravel is Bordeaux’s neighbor. And as the bottled 2012’s arrive and are tasted, this sentiment is spreading. Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc (that’s what the label says, Daniel told me it was 90/10), it’s got that brambly Merlot fruit in the aromas and on the palate with elegant expression. What I mean by that is that it doesn’t knock you on the head or overwhelm you in the fruit department. It spends a year in large casks, of which 30% are new, so you get a little bit of spice and texture from the wood. There is an earthy note that complements the brambly fruit and the faintest hint of gamey leather. All in all, it’s the real deal. Here’s the best part: It tastes like fine, Right Bank Bordeaux. But it’s not Bordeaux. That’s why it’s less than $20 per bottle.
 
 
So many people, friends and family included, rib me about traveling to Bordeaux each spring. “It must be nice,” or“Someone’s got to do it,” are common statements, butit’s a work trip. Driving alone for 90 minutes gives me no pleasure whatsoever, even if it’s through the French countryside. What does give me pleasure is when I see a pallet of wine arrive in our warehouse, knowing that wine is both delicious and a great value. How do I know? Because I tasted it. You can count on the fact that I will be looking to uncover more wines just like this one right around the next time the sun wakes me up with it’s blinding rays. – Peter Zavialoff
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November 2013 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, November 2, 2013 5:24 PM

Look out; it’s November! Things are changing quickly. Our clocks will be going back soon, there’s a chill in the air, and at the end of this month, many of us will be seated around the Thanksgiving Day table. Now that time and weather are encouraging us to head indoors, don’t you think a Dirty Dozen is in order? 12 wines, all different, chosen for their versatility, for one low price. And this month the savings are greater than 35%!!! The November 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.

2011 Chardonnay, Domaine de la Fruitière $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Chardonnay grown in Muscadet? Those famous soils which contain granite, clay, and mica contribute to the bracing freshness and mineral quality of traditional Muscadet wines made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This tank-fermented Chardonnay possesses that crispness combined with its inherent rich, fleshy yellow fruit. Great with scampi! 

2012 Chenin Blanc, Kiona Vineyards $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Washington State has some ideal growing conditions for this Loire Valley stowaway, Chenin Blanc. Known for having aromas of crisp, green apples, Kiona’s Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile white wines in its price range. Fermented off-dry, you can serve it as an apèritif, with hors d’oeuvres, and with everything from fish tacos to Kung Pao Chicken.

2012 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Some of us don’t believe that Rosé has a ‘season’. A warm kitchen is cause enough to pop the cork and pour out a cool glass for the chef! But let’s not forget Rosé’s versatility. This one is equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre; the result is a dry, mineral driven Rosé with just a hint of red fruit. How about salmon burgers off the grill pan?

2012 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder 
Montravel is an appellation just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern boundary, and the values that come from there are in great abundance. Known primarily for white wines comprised of the same varieties as of white Bordeaux, Calabre’s blanc is half Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. Depending how you roll, this could be your sushi wine.

2009 Vernaccia Fiore, Montenidoli $21.99, $17.59 reorder 
“Nurse of the vines,” Elisabetta Fagiuoli consistently wins awards for her Fiore bottling. There is something about her vineyards planted in an ancient seabed perched above the medieval village of San Gimignano. The Fiore is made using only free-run juice, and in its purity, will pair well with rich dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo.

2012 Gewurztraminer, Aresti $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hmmm, what’s Gewurztraminer doing in Chile? Founded in 1951, the Aresti Estate is one of the largest Chilean producers of this fruity, aromatic variety. This Gewurz is vinified dry, but its aromas suggest it would team up well with a burrito.

2010 CMS Red $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Washington State’s original red blend, Hedges Family Estate’s CMS Red has been produced since 1987! Made from roughly half Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it does include 12% Syrah to bolster the aromatic complexity. Recognized as one of Columbia Valley’s best values, this blend is elegant and pure. The depth of fruit beckons something like a prime rib.

2008 Marzemino di Isera Husar, de Tarczal $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Okay, let’s just call this one Husar. Made from the Marzemino grape, a genetic cousin of both Lagrein and Syrah, it makes for hearty red wines with complex aromas and hints of rusticity. A Husar was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Calvary, the current proprietor naming the wine after a direct ancestor. The perfect wine for a pizza-with-the-works.

2009 Corbières Réserve, Domaine Sainte Eugenie $16.95 sale price, $16.10 reorder 
Bon vivant Hervé Gauntier is an old pal of TWH, and we are happy to be able to offer his fancy Reserve Cuvée for such a reasonable price. Made from Syrah, Carignane, and Grenache, Hervé’s Réserve sees a little (20%) new cask with the remainder in 1 and 2 year old barrels. It has a spicy, lush, dark red fruit profile, and works well with red pasta sauces.

2010 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Ah, but Montravel has red wine too. This old vine Bordeaux-style blend will turn your perception on its head! Winemaker Daniel Hecquet has crafted a full-bodied red, reminiscent of a wine from St. Emilion for a fraction of the price. You will fool a lot of tasters if you sneak it into a Right Bank blind tasting. A fancy wine, yes; pour it with a rack of lamb.

2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder
By now we’ve all heard how successful the 2009 vintage was in the southern Rhône Valley (and almost all of France, for that matter). We would all be doing ourselves a great service to profiter from such fortunate circumstances. There is always great value in Côtes du Rhône, even more so from 2009! It’s great on its own and great with a bowl of olives.

2009 Château Aimée, Médoc $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Speaking of 2009 … It was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux. So good, mind you, that we continue to go back to the well to stock up on “lesser known” chateaux. Why? Quality. Value. This Médoc bottling wowed us with its honesty; it’s just straight up, quality Bordeaux. This will pair well with any of the traditional meals you would want with a full-bodied red.

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Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines 5%/ Sale Wines 

Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!

Hecquet’s 2012 Montravel Terrement

Monday, October 28, 2013 5:53 PM

Daniel Hecquet, winemaker and proprietor of Puy Servain, paid TWH a visit this past May. As long time importers of his wines, Daniel makes it a priority to meet with us every year or two, just as it is important for TWH, that our resident Bordeaux Scout Pete, visits Daniel when in Bordeaux each spring. Daniel is a kind, sincere man, soft-spoken but animated. Daniel has a way of describing his wines to us as if we’ve never tasted them before; his enthusiasm and pride for his wines do not allow him to simply pour a taste. The 2012 Montravel Terrement is a favorite of mine for capturing the energy of zippy Sauvignon Blanc while downplaying its pungent nature. It has an abundance of green melon and under-ripe pit fruit flavors with a delicate, long finish. The herbal notes are present but subtle. Last night I prepared a classic shrimp Louie salad for dinner, choosing the2012 Montravel Terrement to drink alongside. I was impressed at how well-matched the wine was to the sweet shrimp and creamy dressing. 

 

 

 

Daniel Hecquet had always wanted to make wine from his family’s vineyards but it wasn’t until about two decades ago that this dream became a reality.  His grandfather came to the Southwest, Port-Ste-Foy-Et-Ponchapt in the Dordogne, from Northern France in 1914. Though grape growing was part of the estate, raising cattle was the main means of supporting the family. In the early ’80s the Hecquets began making wine from their grapes, but made it at the cooperative. Finally in the early ’90s Daniel was able to start making wine on his own. This happened while he was still working full-time at C.I.V.R.B, the main wine organization for the wine region of Bergerac, as Director and oenologist. Today Daniel devotes his full attention to his wines, making delicious whites and reds that offer great value and quality.

 

The 2012 Montravel Terrement is mostly a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris.  The pink-skinned Sauvignon Gris adds a round, creamy dimension to the mix. Completely unoaked and vinified with the intent to keep in as much freshness as possible, the 2012 Montravel Terrement delivers a bolt of green freshness but then mellows to a pleasant soft finish. It is my go-to wine for awakening the palate pre-dinner or serving with crustaceans and other water-born creatures. 

 

 

 

Preparations are underway for this week’s upcoming Halloween madness. Our neighborhood is crowded with trick-or-treaters. We get between 200-300 kids at our door. Now that’s a whole lotta candy, let me tell you! I am not sure there is an appropriate Halloween wine, I’ll probably want to start with something light and crisp like the 2012 Montravel Terrement. However when the last trick-or-treater leaves and my own settles down to bed, I might want to sneak a few gooey, sticky candies with something sweet to drink, like Daniel’s 2009 Haut Montravel. A late-harvest, botrytised Semillion that is rich, sweet and tangy. My teeth hurt just thinking about all that sugar … yeah! —Anya Balistreri

2010 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes

Saturday, August 31, 2013 6:53 PM

It’s been a banner week here at TWH! A new Taste of Burgundy, a grand staff tasting with Stefan Jakoby of Jakoby Pur,and now Anya is regaling us of a trip she took to Champagne all those years ago. Getting Anya to talk about Champagne is tantamount to getting me to talk about Sauternes. I’ll save that for another email, but another great thing that happened this week was tasting Daniel Hecquet’s 2010 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes.

 

 

Daniel has been a good friend of ours for a long time. He makes great wines without compromise, and sells them for a more-than-fair price. If you engage him in conversation, his passion and emotion for wine will bowl you over. I will mention once again that he once moved a member of our staff to tears while talking about his vineyards. It’s impossible to resist his charm when it comes to food and wine, trust me. I’ve juggled my usually full Bordeaux schedule around more than once due to a tasting, a lunch, or dinner with the man and his wife Catherine. Technically, Montravel sits just across the river from Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, and Daniel sometimes laments this as he “could sell his wines for much more if they were from Bordeaux proper.” For his and Catherine’s sake, I wish things could have been different. For the sake of those of us who love high-quality wines with low price tags, I rejoice!

 

The 2009 Montravel Vieilles Vignes made our Top Ten List of 2011. It was that good! The 2010 could very well be on course to be better. Or, at least that’s what a good pal of mine and I thought when we paired it with a couple of Montreal rib-eye steaks the other night. Its aromatics were deep and complex. I picked up things like chocolate, dark cherry, wet earth, cinnamon, and cola. On the palate, it was full bodied, with darker, purple fruit present. It gained in intensity as the fruit, tannins, and acidity bound together seamlessly. You can really feel the weight and the structure on the lengthy finish. My conclusion is that this is a fine wine, and it will continue to be for many years. I’ve said it before, but if you sneak this wine into a blind St. Emilion tasting, you will fool a lot of tasters. Factor in the price, and we’ve got yet another winner with “Imported by Wine House Limited” on the back label. 

 

 

When it comes to wine, it’s good to have choices. I’m very happy that we import Daniel’s wines from Château Puy-Servain.  As I wrote a fortnight ago, I’ve got the sparkling wine covered. 21 days of BirthdayFest begin tomorrow, and though there are special bottles earmarked for particular days of the Fest, I will certainly enjoy another bottle of Daniel Hecquet’s 2010 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes at some point. At such a price, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more than one bottle; three weeks is a long time! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Good times: Footy’s back, the band has a gig tomorrow, Anya and her family are rumored to be in attendance (it is in their neighborhood), and I’ll be taking a few days off next week. So yeah, good times. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Montravel, Daniel Hecquet, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

0 Comment Posted in Montravel
Fresh off the heels of his recent visit, we are happy to announce the arrival of five new wines from producer Daniel Hecquet. We’ve been working with Daniel for over 15 years, and for the past 4, we have been directly importing his wines from Montravel and Bergerac. His passion for winemaking is so genuine and intense that it once moved a member of our staff to tears (we won’t say whom). Both Château Puy-Servain and Château Calabre are located just east of the Bordeaux appellation near Sainte Foy la Grande. It has become part of the annual Bordeaux pilgrimage to visit Daniel and to taste his wines while attending the en primeurs tastings each April. His wines are sensational and they make for amazingly great values. Growing vines in both appellations, Daniel is one of the top producers in the area. His Château Calabre line of wines are bottled in screwcap, and are top notch for their price points. The 2012 Calabre Montravel Blanc is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. It’s bright, crisp, and zippy. Just the right amount of fruit and freshness. The 2010 Bergerac Rouge is made from 60% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s all tank fermented, so it’s clean, pure, and perfectly quaffable. Don’t miss out on these great values. 

 

 

For his Château Puy-Servain label, Daniel sources fruit from older vines in prime locations.The Puy-Servain 2012 Montravel blanc Terrement is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. It too is all tank fermented and exhibits a formidable presence of terroir and harmony. The flagship red, Daniel’s 2010 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes comes from old vine Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It sees some time in oak barrel, which imparts both spicy nuance and texture to the fuller bodied Bordeaux-style blend. A huge lover of Sauternes, Daniel spent some time in his youth working at the hallowed Château d’Yquem. He must have caught the bug there, because he continues to bottle his 2009 Haut Montravel in the Sauternais style. It’s made from 100% Sémillon, and for the price, it is tough to beat. As a matter of fact, considering their prices, they’re all tough to beat! 

2009 Château Calabre Bergerac Rouge Part Deux

Monday, May 14, 2012 7:27 PM

Happy Mothers’ Day! Wow! How’d it get to be the middle of May already? I was just telling Chris that it’s been over a month since I returned from Bordeaux, but it feels like it’s been just a few days. Matter of fact, 2 different groups of customers visited the shop today asking me if I “just got back?” With all that’s been going on,it sure feels that way.

 

There’s so much that went on this year in Bordeaux, I’ll try to keep you up on it all as we go along. Pricing for many of the 2011 Futures for the petits châteaux has been released already, and we have begun to see pricing from a handful of Cru Classé producers. Though hardly as effortless as the past 2 vintages have been, I did find many barrel samples to my liking and we will be purchasing those wines and offering them to you very soon! If there are any châteaux of particular interest to you, please don’t hesitate to send me an email, and we will do our best to source it.

My trips to Bordeaux are certainly not confined to just Bordeaux either. An explorer/traveler type by nature, I have visited Côtes de Bourg, Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol, Sainte Foy la Grande, Graves, and I have always made a point of visiting Barsac/Sauternes each time I’m there. (Only this year, I just visited Barsac.) One trip that logs a lot of rental car kilometers is the one out past Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, beyond the Côtes de Francs to Montravel and Daniel Hecquet’s Château Calabre. This year I got to taste his 2010 reds, 2011 whites, and his 2009 Liquoreaux. I’m excited by what I tasted, and am looking forward to the wines’ arrival later this fall. In the mean time, one wine that came and went rather quickly was Daniel’s 2009 Château Calabre Bergerac Rouge. I remember being quite taken by it while tasting with Daniel in April of 2011, and even more so when the first pallet arrived last fall. It seems many of you were as taken by it as I was as a healthy inventory position seemed to evaporate quicker than ice cubes on a hot summer day in Chicago. It may still seem to me that I just got back from Bordeaux the other day, but one major event that has transpired since my return has been the arrival of a new container from France. On it is another pallet of Daniel Hecquet’s famous 2009 Château Calabre Bergerac Rouge.

It’s a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc, and it’s long on class yet short on price. Being a stone’s throw away from the “Bordeaux” appellation has blessed the wine with quality, yet being over the border keeps the price down which is a blessing to us wine consumers. It’s a bit of a no-brainer, really; all that quality in a bottle for less than $10 (case price), no wonder it sold out quicker than you can say, “I’ll take a case”!!??

 

Since I started typing, another customer just popped in and, no kidding, she asked me if I just got back from France – that makes 3! So yes, it still feels like I just got back, and I’ve lots to talk about. I will certainly be keeping you up on 2011 Bordeaux as we progress with the Futures campaign, and a WHOLE LOT of other stuff too! Happy Mothers’ Day!Peter Zavialoff

 

P.S. I will not be in the shop next Saturday, May 19th. Superstition forbids me to comment further, but I’m certain some of you know why. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Bergerac, 2011 Futures, or next Saturday: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2010 Chteau Puy-Servain Montravel Terrement

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 4:39 PM

Woo Hoo! Super Bowl Sunday is here! It’s a big deal to many. It would be a HUGE deal for many a local fan had things gone differently a fortnight ago. Whether or not it’s your thing, it still offers an opportunity to get together with friends and family, nosh on some goodies, and to say “cheers” as you clink your glass with someone special. In my world, the big game kicks off at 8:00 AM PST tomorrow, but that’s another world. After that, I’ll be meeting my sister for lunch (that’s 3 meals away, and I’m already craving the mussels), before joining some friends and music peeps to watch America’s biggest sporting spectacle.Well, what’s the wine going to be? Making an educated guess here, I have to say if it’s moules et frites for lunch and a trip to Doug’s house for the SuperBowl, we’re talking about a crisp white wine. Here at TWH, there are plenty of choices, and I may seem biased, but all I need can be found in that fairytale land around the Garonne. The 2010 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Terrement is just the ticket for all of tomorrow’s needs.
I’ve chimed in about Daniel Hecquet and his Château Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes before (afterall, it DID make our Top Ten Wines of 2011 list). Buthis white wine is equally impressive. Again, Montravel lies just beyond the Bordeaux AOC’s border to the east. The climate is similar to that of its prestigious neighbor, perhaps a bit warmer. Still, Bordeaux’s traditional grape varieties thrive in Montravel as well. We’ve been working with Daniel for over a decade through our relationship with importer Robert Kacher Selections. Shortly after RKS stopped importing the wines from Château Puy-Servain, we tasted the new releases and are importing them directly now! For those of us who love White Bordeaux, the Puy-Servain Montravel Terrement is the bomb when it comes to PQR. (That would be price/quality ratio. You often see this abbreviated as QPR, but that stands for Queens Park Rangers, so we’ll be sticking to PQR here.)Here’s a tidbit of insider info: on the back label it lists the cépages as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle. In actuality, it’s 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. Hmmm. This is interesting, because I know for a fact that Daniel and Christophe Piat of Château Couronneau are good friends. Christophe makes his Bordeaux Blanc by blending Sauvignon Gris with Sauvignon Blanc. It’s an interesting concept as the Sauvignon Gris takes the role traditionally used by Semillon by taking the bite out of the pungent Sauvingon Blanc. You definitely get a sense of cut grass and citrus blossoms, both hallmarks of Sauv Blanc. The Gris gives the wine a wide mouth feel and a hint of a fresh nectarine. Add a touch of mineral and bright, fresh acidity, and you’ve got a winner, winner (yes, a chicken dinner would work nicely with this wine). If you take a look at what White Bordeaux goes for these days (you’re lucky if you can find one under $50), this wine is a screaming good deal. You can bet on the fact that I will be visiting Daniel again this April when I return to Bordeaux for the 2011 UGC En Primeurs tastings.
Talk about good times! I get to taste the 2010 Château Puy-Servain Terrement tomorrow while hanging out with: a) The Chelsea boys down at the Mad Dog in the Fog, b) My sister for lunch, and c) Doug and our musician friends while watching the parade of TV commercials interrupted every now and then by the Super Bowl. It’s been crazy in my world. I caught 6 musical shows in the past 7 nights, starting last Friday at the Connecticut Yankee with our pal Arden from KPIG radio, and culminating with 4 straight Wilco shows. I am headed to another music show tonight (Saturday- NOT Wilco), and have at least 3 more to hit before the 19th of this month. So yes, good times indeed. Well, almost anyway. The Chelsea Blues are singing the blues these days, and I fear with 2 of our starting 4 defenders not playing tomorrow, a foe such as the mighty Manchester United (or as the Chelsea SF ringleader Gerry calls them, the big 1) could prove a bit tough for the home side. We’ll see. That’s why they play the games, right? Win, lose, or draw, it won’t change the fact that I will be drinking the closest thing to White Bordeaux, without paying White Bordeaux prices. What could be better than that?Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about any of the 4 NorCal Wilco shows, Bordeaux, or the English Premiership: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net
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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

2009 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:31 PM

 

 

Moving right along here. I was severely tempted to have the subject of this email call this wine something it’s not, but homie don’t roll that way. A great part of the reason that this wine falls into its price category is that it is, technically, NOT from Bordeaux. It is Montravel. Montravel is an appellation that sits just east of Bordeaux’s northeastern border. What’s interesting to note here, at the risk of thoroughly confusing not only myself, but all of you as well, is that when I make the drive from Château Couronneau, which is in the Bordeaux AOC, to Château Puy-Servain, which is not, I drive northwest. Okay whatever, right? The point I’m trying to make is that though Daniel’s wines aren’t from the appellation, they exude Bordeaux.

As I just said to our friend and good customer Carl, 2009 is going to be the new 1990; meaning the wines from every appellation in France are superb. 2009 Bordeaux is all that, and then some. Back in April, when Daniel broke out his Montravel Vieilles Vignes and told me it was from 2009,my expectations heightened. Now I am all for managing expectations – one of my “Peteyisms” is, “Planning leads to expectations, and expectations are the harbinger of disappointment. You see a lot more kids crying at Disneyland than you do at the dentist.” So, after 10 days in Bordeaux, tasting hundreds of fantastic samples, the trip to Puy-Servain was my final scheduled tasting. Even with the lofty expectations, the Montravel was singing with class and distinction. The unmistakable 2009 structure was ever-present. The fruit was rich and ripe, the oak was well-integrated giving the wine texture and spice, and the acidity kept the wine fresh and lively. All in all, not a bad way to finish 10 days of tasting.

All of the Château Puy-Servain wines arrived not long ago, but it was this past week when a sample of the Montravel Vieilles Vignes was opened. I speak for our entire staff when I say that this wine, in many ways, sums up what we do here pretty well. Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we meet in the middle, and sometimes we have to go to them, but by whichever means, we taste a lot of wines in order to find wines like the 2009 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes to bring to your respective tables. The wine is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Vinified in barrique (approximately 30% new), the wine possesses a particular degree of seriousness. As our staff swirled around the tasting table, interjections of praise were lavished on the wine. “Wow, the fruit is so expressive!” “OMG, this could be St. Emilion! I wouldn’t be surprised if you could sneak this into a St. Emilion tasting as a ringer.” “Holy cow, the structure and balance are that of a much more expensive wine!”

Moving along indeed. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, here’s a candidate for your red wine. Easy on the pocketbook, serious and classy in the glass. Thanksgiving? Wow. This is my last Sunday email before the big day. I’ve got quite the checklist of things to do before hand: finish this email, get our 34th Anniversary Sale up and running, get the paper newsletter for the sale mailed out, get in the studio and cut demos for 2 more songs just written, get a Sunday email prepared for two weeks from now (because I won’t be here), and start packing. For this year on Turkey Day, I’ll be on my way to see the Chels play a home game. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!Peter Zavialoff

The Wines Of Chateau Calabre And Chateau Puy-Servain

Saturday, October 8, 2011 3:28 PM

One of Anya’sfavorite things to say to customers is, “We taste a lot of bad wine so you don’t have to.” It’s a great quote, mostly because it’s true. But that’s part of the job.We also taste a lot of great wine, and those we share with you.Sometimes it’s easy. A rep comes in and pours something great, we love it, we order it, and it arrives the next day, and it’s on your table come Saturday night. Sometimes, it’s not so easy. Sometimes one of us will fly out to New York or Chicago for a large platform regional tasting, knowing the wines are overseas awaiting importation. Sometimes one of us will fly overseas to meet old friends and attend big tastings. Again, it’s not like we can carry-on 500 cases of wine, so the wine’s got to wait. That’s what we’ve got here. Back in April, while attending the 2010 Bordeaux En Primeurs tastings, there were people to visit and other things to taste. One of the “other things to taste” happened to be the 2001 Lannesan which sold out faster than you can say “screaming bargain”. When the sanctioned tastings finished, there was time to visit some old friends and taste their wines.Just beyond the northeast corner of the Bordeaux appellation, a stone’s throw from the border town of Ste-Foy-la-Grande, Daniel Hecquet makes the wines of Château Calabre and Château Puy-Servain. The nameDaniel Hecquet may be a familiar one. We’ve carried Daniel’s wines going all the way back to the 1980’s through our relationship with importer Robert Kacher Selections. RKS stopped importing Daniel’s wines a couple of years ago, and it was our strong desire to rekindle the relationship. In April 2010, following perfect driving directions provided to me by our friends at Vieux Château Gaubert (more wines from them coming soon), I met Daniel at Château Puy-Servain and got the ball rolling again. I tasted through both lines, the Château Calabre and the Puy-Servain. The wines were in a word, fantastic. Not only that, by virtue of direct importation, they offered gigantic value! Sitting across the table from Daniel later that evening at dinner, I was awestruck at how passionate he was about his vineyards and his wines. I won’t name names, but one of our staffers was once moved to tears as Daniel spoke about wine. We had agreed that we would once again bring his wines into California, said goodnight, and that was that.
Sometimes logistics don’t go our way, or the timing is slightly off, but whatever the reason, we weren’t able to get those wines here last year. That didn’t stop Daniel from welcoming me again this past April. His passion and enthusiasm as warm and fuzzy as always, I apologized for not getting the previous vintage on a container. Dismissing my apology as one of those things that just happens, he guided me to the tasting table, eager to pour the wines for me. I WAS COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY! The Château Calabre wines were fresh, high-toned, and balanced. Given their pricing, it’s tantamount to giving the wines away. The Château Puy-Servain wines are more focused and precise, again for very resonable prices (Tasting notes on all 5 below). Maintaining my composure was difficult at best, but I managed. I also managed to assure Daniel that we would be loading up on his wines, and that I would have the conversation immediately upon my return to San Francisco. All systems were go as we placed our order, and the waiting game began. Just as with the 2001 Lanessan, more great overseas tasting discoveries have arrived! The wait is over. Come on down and check ’em out. – Peter Zavialoff

 

2010 Chateau Calabre Montravel Blanc

White Wine; Sauvignon Blanc; Other France;
$10.99
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50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle. “Bright, fresh, hints of pears and cut grass aromas. You really get a sense of the Semillon. On the palate: easy entry, soft, round white fruit, the crisp acidity picks up mid palate and takes it all along for a crisp, zippy finish.”

Funny story. I brought this over a White Bordeaux loving friend’s house last weekend and we popped it with some halibut. He tasted it and asked me the price point. I said, “sub 10”. He said, “2 cases please”.

2009 Chateau Calabre Bergerac Rouge

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$10.99
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If this isn’t a winner, there’s no such thing. “Bright, fresh red fruit, really nice, a hint of gaminess … just a hint. Palate bright and medium bodied, all tank, all fruit. Well balanced finish, everything firing. Winner. I’m behind this one big time.”
 
2010 Chateau Puy Servain Montravel Terrement

White Blend; Other France;
$12.99
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50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Sauvignon Gris. “Cut grass, mineral, white fruit aromas, linear and crisp. Precise. Lots to like with fruit and mineral braced by lively acidity. Finish harmonious and lengthy.”
2009 Chateau Puy Servain Rouge Montravel Vieilles Vignes

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
$21.99
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90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc. “Rich and ripe intense aromas of stewed dark red fruit, incense, vanilla, clove, and anice-like spice. Palate: Solid, direct, dense Merlot fruit, clove spice hangs right in there. Finish marked by that 2009 structure. It practically sings out loud. Very nice.” (40% new oak)
2007 Chateau Puy Servain Haut Montravel (500 ml)

Sweet Wine; Semillon; Bordeaux;
$20.99
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I tasted 2 vintages of this wine, the 2007 got the asterisk. “Fresh citrus, candied pears, hints of botrytis; palate marked by opulence. Plenty of complex flavors, nice weight and viscosity leading to a lively, fresh finish.”Made in the Sauternes style, you may want to know that Daniel once worked for Château d’Yquem.

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