2013 Cotes-du-Rhone La Boissiere, Domaine Boudinaud

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 11:36 AM

Whoa! How did it get to be February already??!! Seriously, the period after the holidays may be somewhat quiet for some, but around here it was hoppin’. I mentioned the parade of folks from Bordeaux passing through our doors the past couple of weeks; the UGC tasting of the newly bottled 2014’s was a week ago Friday. The wines are showing as well, if not better, than I anticipated after having tasted them as barrel samples. I’ve got more to say about them, but tonight’s exercise is more about what I like to call ye olde reliable, Côtes-du-Rhône rouge. Specifically, the 2013 CdR La Boissière from Domaine Boudinaud.

It’s funny. My memory is chock full of useless information. I don’t know why I remember some things (seriously, yesterday was my best friend’s from 3rd grade birthday), and not other, more important things. Like when and where and why did I taste my first Côtes-du-Rhône? It almost feels to me like it just always was a given. If I wanted a nice glass or two of delicious red wine without much expense, there is always Côtes-du-Rhône. When a new customer walks in to our shop and informs me that they like wine, yet aren’t very familiar with French wine, I tend to start here. With Côtes-du-Rhône, it’s tough to go wrong.

We have been working with Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud for well over a decade, and we just love their wines. For the 2013 la Boissière, Thierry blended 55% Grenache with 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. The nuance of each variety’s aromatic profile is noticeable and the blend is quite harmonious. And what’s great about this wine in particular is that you can drink it on its own, with a burger, with steak, with a pork chop, barbecue chicken, and so forth. It is that versatile. Given its price point, it’s a super wine for a very fair price. I do remember how much we liked the 2012, and how my colleagues and I squirreled away bottles for ourselves when our stock began to vanish. When it finally dried up, the countdown began for the new vintage. Now that it’s here, our entire staff is enjoying it. One bottle at a time. And though $13.49 is already an extraordinary deal for a wine of this quality, the case price of $11.47 per bottle is what we call a no-brainer.

Wow. I’m at a loss for what to do for dinner this evening. As Anya mentioned last week, our staff had our annual holiday dinner gathering a fortnight ago, and last Saturday, I was lucky enough to join a supplier and representatives from three Bordeaux chateaux at The Battery for an incredible dinner. It was there that I tasted my very first grade A-5 Wagyu beef. I will not be forgetting about that anytime soon. I have a feeling that tonight’s dinner plans will be less extravagant and more about comfort food. What wine will I be bringing home to sip with my comfort food? Ye olde reliable, of course! – Peter Zavialoff

2011 La Bolida – 80 Year Old Vine Mourvèdre

Monday, October 17, 2016 8:29 PM

Wine & Spirits Magazine: Top 100
Last week Jeanne-Marie de Champs came to town, this week it was Diane de Puymorin and Mathieu Chatain from Château d’Or et de Gueules. It was a quick trip as this husband and wife team flew out to California specifically to participate in Wine & Spirits Magazine‘s grand tasting featuring the Top 100 Wineries of 2016. It is the first time in this magazine’s history that they’ve selected a winery from the appellation of Costières de Nîmes for this honor. Now, anyone who has ever been to our store or read any of our newletters should be pretty familiar with Château d’Or et de Gueueles, as we’ve been hardcore fans ever since Diane started making wine. We are thrilled that they’ve been recognized in this way by such a high profile publication. They deserve the accolades!
Diane and Mathieu @ TWH
At the grand tasting Diane and Mathieu poured the 2011 La Bolida which was featured in the Top 100 issue. It received a whopping 94 points and a glowing review (see below). On Tuesday, Diane and Mathieu came by the store to meet with staff and catch up on things wine related and otherwise. TWH has held several wine dinners with Diane over the years, but this was the first time we got to meet her husband Mathieu. Diane told us that we’ve heard her speak about Château d’Or et de Gueules plenty of times, so it would be a nice change to have Mathieu present the wines. Mathieu began his presentation by describing his relationship with Diane at the winery this way, “she is the brain and the hands are here”, raising his hands up for all to see. His affection and respect for his winemaker wife was unmistakable. Mathieu explained that the decision to make wine was not motivated by vanity but by choosing a way of life. With five daughters to raise, living and working on the land was the life they wanted to persue. Next, Mathieu boiled it down to three things that make their wines exceptional: 1) the terroir: stony, pebbly soil like in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and with proximity to the sea, the climate is ideal, 2) low, low yields and 3) they harvest at the right moment – just at the peak of maturity. It’s that simple…!
Mathieu’s presentation
La Bolida falls under a category that Diane and Mathieu like to call “passion”; a small batch cuvée that takes all of their effort to make the finest wine. La Bolida is made from their oldest Mourvèdre vines which range in age from 80-100 years old. The yields are miniscule, only 10hl/h (whereas the appellation allows for 60hl/h). They produce about 3,000 bottles of La Bolida. That’s only 250 cases! While we were tasting the 2011 La Bolida, Diane stretched her hand outwards from her mouth to demonstrate the long length of the wine. She described what she finds in La Bolida as the elegant tension of fruit with the freshness of acidity and tannin. To achieve this balance, Diane ages the wine in 300 liter barrel for a year, then old foudre for another year, and then rests the wine in concrete tank for 6-12 months before bottling. She likes what aging in barrel does for the structure of the wine but she doesn’t want the oak to dominate. The 2011 La Bolida is impactful and impressive. The generous fruit is succulent and cohesive. At once powerful and elegant. La Bolida is masterfully blended with the intention of keeping the integrity of the old vine Mourvèdre front and center. Wow!
Diane & Mathieu
Who’s coming next to visit us? It feels like a party over here in Dogpatch! I always tell new customers that at TWH, we have long relationships with many of the wineries we carry and that we prefer to do business with people we like. For me, it’s more than just about the wine, it’s about the people – their stories and their passion. Meeting with Diane and Mathieu this week puts this all into practice. – Anya Balistreri

Remembering 2012 With A Fine Gigondas

Monday, August 15, 2016 9:27 PM

It sure has beenan interesting week. On one hand, it’sthe middle of August. Most of France is on holiday and I’ve always beenunder the impressionthat these waning summer days before school begins againare the official “dog days.” This perception needs updating. While having lunch at a restaurant the other day (still in search of the best French Dip in the North Bay), I overheardtwo people talking about school starting.As in this week! What??!! It’s August 14th! Anya confirmed this today as her daughter is less than a week from her first day. Seriously, where does the time go?It’s a good thing we have wine in our lives. Meant for pleasure rather than scrutiny; each bottle is a living thing made from a combination of elements including soil, grape variety, winemaker, and vintage. In the wine biz, we sometimes get caught up in only thinking about a wine region’s quality during a given year, butit also leaves us an opportunity to reminisce. This week, I am reminiscing with2012 Tour de l’Isle Gigondas.


To start, I must confess that I am a longtime fan of Gigondas. Back in the day, each night after my band finished practicing at Lennon Studios South of Market, we would pack it up and head over to Ruby’s Restaurant on 3rd Street where a friend worked as chef de cuisine.He always took good care of us, and would usually join us at the table after his shift. They had a reasonably priced Gigondas on the list, and it was our go-to dinner wine for years. It was probably around the 5th or 6th time we ordered it, that Mr. Ruby himself took a seat at our booth and inquired exactly how a group of 20-something rockers came to order Gigondas.“Michael (the chef) told me that you’re really into food and wine, but what makes this wine so special that you keep ordering it?” Ruby asked.
“It’s a food wine,” I replied. “There are all sorts of fancy wines out there, many of them are made to impress critics, and that provides no service for the diner. This Gigondas is balanced and elegant. It was made to enjoy with dinner. And you can’t beat the price.”
This seemed to put him at ease, and he agreed wholeheartedly. As we continued our patronage, Ruby wouldoften sit with us for dinner and conversation. He would offer us tastes of the many other wines that he had on his list, but we would always drink the Gigondas with our dinner. Nobody complained. Ever.
When the first Tour de l’Isle wines arrived at TWH, I wasexcited to see that they made Gigondas, and was not going to waste any time waiting to taste it. I did, and that’s why I’m typing. At the helm of the Tour de l’Isle label is Robert Rocchi. Robert has been involved with the wines of the southern Rhône Valley for over 35 years!Rocchi works with a select handful of growers in the area and assists and advises them on how to produce the finest wine from their holdings. As Anya likes to say,“He’s not afraid to make wine that tastes good.” The 2012 Gigondas is comprised of 70% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre, and 12% Syrah, all aged in large foudre.The Mourvèdre gives it some gamey backbone, the Syrah some smokiness, but this is an Old World Grenache lover’s dream. It displays aromas of red and black fruit, spice and herbs, some forest floor earthiness, and a hint of iron. The palate is focused and layered, the elegant fruit persists long after the finish. No, he’s not afraid to make wine that tastes good.
2012. Sure, I have opinions on vintage quality, particularly in Bordeaux, but also the southern Rhône Valley. Butseeing this particular year on the label got me reminiscing about the year itself. Looking back, it was a pretty good one. For me, it was the year of the live show. I went to more concerts than I had in any other year,and by the time it ended, it was me back on stage after taking a few years off from performing live. It was a magical year for European Football as the club I support won club football’s grandest prize in dramatic fashion. A local baseball team did very well also! The trip to Bordeaux was a successful one, especially consideringit was in 2012 when I was able to taste Château Coutet’s dry white, Opalie for the very first time.Shortly thereafter, the 2010 vintage of the wine was released to the world and The Wine House San Francisco was the world’s first wine merchant to offer it! So yeah, great year.
Well, it is mid-August. That’s a fact. I suppose just like any other time of the year, it means different things to different folks. Thousands of kids in the North Bay will be back in school this week, but the French will remain on holiday. My perception of the dog days will continue, as willmy quest for the best French Dip. When I find it, it may be a good idea to have a bottle of 2012 Tour de l’Isle Gigondas handy. After all, it’s a great food wine! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about summer’s dog days, French Dip sandwiches, Gigondas, or Bordeaux: peter@wineSF.com

2013 Domaine Fondreche Ventoux Rouge

Friday, May 20, 2016 6:14 PM

Domaine de Fondrèche Ventoux Rouge

Hands down, the most important producer in the Ventoux, Domaine de Fondrèche continues to evolve – adjusting, experimenting, remaining dynamic. From the start, I’ve been drawn to winemaker Sébastien Vicenti’s wines for they encompass deep fruit expression with captivating spice and herb notes. Success and accolades haven’t stifled Sébastien’s drive to make the finest wine possible. Not at all. For the 2013 vintage, and going forward, the winery will no longer be making their special cuvée, Nadal. Nadal, a Grenache-based blend, garnered high scores and was one of my all-time favorite Rhône reds carried at TWH. So where is all that old-vine Grenache going to go? My guess is that it all went into the 2013 Ventoux and is possibly the reason why this vintage is so incredibly dense and chewy. I should be more upset that my beloved Nadal is no more, but the sting of that loss is easily mitigated by the impressive bottling of the 2013 Ventoux.


Bobby Kacher with Sèbastien

Another change at the winery, but one of less consequence than the demise of Nadal, is that their Ventoux rouge has dropped the name “Fayard”. So henceforth, I’ll be calling Fondrèche’s basic red, the Ventoux rouge. The 2013 Ventoux rouge is half Grenache, 40% Syrah and the balance, Mourvèdre. Sébastien Vicenti is a strict practitioner of organic farming, and though is not certified as such, closely follows the principles of biodynamic farming. In interviews, Sébastien emphasizes the connection between the natural harmony of the land and soil to the grapes. His credo in the vineyard carries over into the winery, where he strives to do “less” to attain “more” from the grapes. The 2013 Ventoux rouge is aged in a combination of egg-shaped concrete tanks, barrels and Foudres. This makes for a very texturally rich and engaging wine. The French publication, Le Guide Hachette des Vins, described it as “chewable”, noting its generous palate as round and silky. The Le Guide Hachetteeven bestowed a coveted “Coup de Coeur”, suggesting it is a wine worthy to investigate, irrespective of price. Good newshere as it relates to price is the 2013 Ventoux rouge is $16.99 per bottle, getting down to $14.44 when purchased by the case or as part of a mixed one! A stunning bargain!

Domaine de Fondrèche

All this gushing over the wine does come with a recommendation and it is this: Be prepared to decant. In Sébastien’s effort to control the freshness of the grapes, the resulting wine is in need of oxygen to release its full potential. Can you pop the cork, pour a glass straight out of the bottle and enjoy it? Sure, that is perfectly acceptable, but I want to suggest getting the wine some air to really set off the bevy of sweet spices and licorice notes you get on the nose. It is one of those wines that can be enjoyed one glass at a time over the course of several days from the bottle. It won’t fall apart quickly.

Second Growth, baby!

Some weeks are good “food” weeks and other are good “wine” weeks. For me, this week was both. It began last Saturday night when my husband and I went to La Folie. The dinner was my Valentine Day’s present. Flowers and jewelry are good choices, but so is a fine meal! It was our first time at La Folie and, though I don’t normally do so, I brought along a special bottle of wine – 2000 Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes from Etienne Sauzet (Thank you to my Fairy Wine-Father!). We dined for nearly 4 hours! A tear ran down my face as the last sweet amuse bouche was served. On Tuesday I attended an Italian wine tasting hosted at Acquerello. Typically at trade tastings some cheese and bread may be offered, but this being an Italian restaurant, there were also platters of salumi and olives, while small plates with either penne al sugo or truffled risotto were passed. I returned to the store in time to taste through some Bordeaux that a visiting Négociant was pouring for Pete and David. We tasted multiple vintages of Brane Cantenac, Nenin and…Leoville Las Cases! Wipe me off the floor! AND at a staff tasting I got to try the 2013 Ventoux rouge from Fondrèche. OK, I’ll stop, though I could go on. Yep, a very good food and wine week.

– Anya Balistreri

Preservation And Old-Vine Mourvedre – 2011 La Bolida

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 8:21 PM

One of the first questions that I asked Anya this morning was, “Do you think there are many Coravin owners out there sufferingfrom buyer’s remorse?” This wasn’t a leading question of any sort. The Coravin device is quite useful, as evidenced by its appearance twice here in our buyer’s tasting room this past week. It’s not exactly cheap, and I was just wondering if she had heard of anyone’s dissatisfaction with it. She mentioned that it is a boon to distributors and sales reps, as they can show their wines to potential customers over a longer period of time. Especially the fancy bottles. Last Monday, we were treated to tasting 3 different vintages of a Second Growth Bordeaux from a negociant! That didn’t happen before the Coravin. Preservation.


Later in the morning, I was waxing nostalgicabout the ballpark trips that I would take in my early 20’s. I had visited all the Major League parks except one, though that number is much higher now. One of the other things that I would do when visiting these cities was to find where the city’s old ballpark used to be, and look for signs of evidence of it. Sometimes there isn’t any. Other times, it could be as subtle as a pub called “The Double Play” kitty-corner from the old site. It’s always best when there’s more than that. I regaled Tom and Anya about the site of old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. It’s now part of the University of Pittsburgh campus, but a fair segment of the ballpark’s brick outfield wall, complete with flagpole still exist to this day. Not only that, where the left field wall once was, is now represented by a brick inlay, sporting a sidewalk plaque commemorating the park’s most memorable moment. Hat’s off to the city planner who allowed for that! More preservation.


Of course, preservation is extremely important with non-Coravined bottles of wine. Not all wine ages well, but the ones that do can be quite magical if preserved properly. The key to any longer term wine storage isconsistent temperature. It’s a great thing to cellar the finest wines and get the opportunity to taste them after their respective proper slumber times, but this requires more patience than most of us have. I own some special wine meant for the long haul, but I’m always looking for fun, interesting, and delicious wines to age for the medium term. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m happy to announce the arrival of the 2011 La Bolida from Château d’Or et de Gueules.


Winemaker Diane Puymorin uses around 90% old-vine Mourvèdre (over 90 years old!), and blends it with around 10% Grenache. Believe it or not, her yields for this wine are painfully low, coming in at 10 hectolitres per hectare. In Bandol, growers are allowed up to 40hl, though many keep the number in the 25-30 range. Diane holds the wine back, at her expense, in order to release it in a drinkable state. The 2011 is the current release. This is always one of my favorite wines to cellar. With decanting, it can be drunk early, yet gets more and more interesting after 5, 9, or 12 years! One gets aromas of red and black fruits, earthy mineral, carmel, and anise. The palate is full and unctuous without being overdone. It has great balance, and in its youth, one gets a sense of its coil of complexity that can be coaxed with just a few years of cellaring. The 2011 is another consistent example of what I consider my favorite wine from the Costières de Nîmes. Time flies, I still have one last bottle of the 2004 that needs drinking soon!


Speaking of time flying, as the calendar continues to flip,we’d like to wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day, and a happy Presidents’ Day right behind it! We’re open on Monday, so no three day weekends here, but that’s okay, I will be sure to pop a bottle of my favorite Valentine’s Day wine tomorrow … as I look forward to enjoying the 2011 La Bolida in 2016, 2020, and 2023. As long as they’re well preserved! – Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the Coravin, old time ballparks, old-vine Mourvèdre, Bordeaux, or this week’s resumption of Champions’ League Football: peter@wineSF.com

Tour de l’Isle 2014 Luberon

Monday, January 11, 2016 8:01 PM

Love, Love, Love This Luberon
The 2014 Luberon from Tour de l’Isle is a worthy successor to the equally enjoyable and delicious 2012 that I gushed over in a newsletter here. Fragrant aromas of blackberry and raspberry twirl around a core of spice and herbs. Yes, it smells divine. Not heavy- it rings in at 13.5% alcohol by volume – this Luberon has plenty of fruit impact, announcing its Southern Rhone pedigree at first sip. What is especially lovely about this juicy red are the soft tannins that help glide the flavors to your senses. Watch out though, it can go down quick if you’re not paying attention.
Photo Courtesy of Domaine de la Citadelle
Tour de l’Isle is Robert Rocchi’s line of wines made at a handful of selected domaines in the Southern Rhone. Robert doesn’t hide the fact that he makes his wines at these various domaines. The domaine names appear on the back label as if to say these wines come from a specific place and are not blends assembled from multiple sources. For the Luberon, Robert uses fruit from Yves Rousset-Rouard, the proprietor of Domaine de la Citadelle.Predominantly Syrah, with additions of Grenache, Mourvedré and Cinsault, as I wrote above, this wine is so juicy and delicious it is hard to limit yourself to just one glass!
The Luberon appellation was established in 1988. The region lies east of Avignon and sits south of the Ventoux and above Coteaux d’Aix-En-Provence. I have never visited this part of the Rhone Valley, but by all accounts, it is particularly picturesque.
Photo Courtesy of Domaine de la Citadelle

The Holidays are a good time to open special bottles. I understand the logic of doing so, but my contrarian nature kept me reaching to open simple, quiet wines like the 2014 Luberon from Tour de l’Isle. When emotions run high and there are lots of goings on, a dependable, built-to-please-many red can be a life-saver. On Christmas Eve, I did opena magnum of Napa Valley red that I had been cellaring for a long time and finally got the nerve up to pop the cork. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t help but be distracted by the table banter, the serving of the meal, etc. to really have enjoyed it. On Christmas Day, it was the 2014 Luberon that called out to me. As I nursed a glass while catching the last frame ofThe Christmas Story marathon, I asked my husband to describe what he liked about this Luberon. His answer was simple but precise “the fruit is there and the tannins are light”. Bring on the distractions! Happy New Year Everyone!– Anya Balistreri


Boudinaud’s 2012 Côtes du Rhône La Boissière is about half Grenache and a quarter Syrah with the balance divvied up between Mourvedre, Cinsault and Counoise.Yeah, this is a Côtes du Rhône alright. Supple, strawberry fruit merges with spicy white pepper Syrah notes, while the Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Counoise complete the aromatic experience. It is a typical Southern Rhône story here at Domaine Boudinaud, with climate and soil perfectly suited for the varietals. But what isn’t typical is the exceptional quality of the 2012 La Boissière. It is compact and jammy on the palate and aromatically on pointe with the berry notes and whiffs of lavender and garrigue.
David & Thierry
I’ve been on a Southern Rhône kick. They’re such good values; I find it hard to pass them up. For Domaine Boudinaud, the newly arrived 2012 reds usher in a Golden Age for the winery. Thierry Boudinaud has always made super-value wines – we’ve been importing his wines for a long time, so we know – however his 2012 reds enter an even higher plane of excellence. Admittedly, I fall into wine-writing cliché here, but it’s unavoidable because it is true: the 2012 reds are Domaine Boudinaud’s best wines to date. Like with Couronneauand Pierazzuoli, as the years advance, so has the quality of their wines. Surely they were terrific to begin with, otherwiseThe Wine House wouldn’t have bothered to import them in the first place, but what you see in these instances over time is the evolution of place and winemaker.

Which way to Boudinaud?

Have you ever had one of those weeks where a seemingly innocuous playground accident turned into a three hour visit at the doctor’s office, then leaving with your child wearing a cast on her hand? The visit to the doctor, of course, had been further complicated because your husband’s truck was in the shop and had to use your car for the day, so you had to borrow a ride to get to the doctor’s office in the first place? It doesn’t end there – the truck doesn’t get fixed as quickly as promised, therefore you had to get ready even earlier all week so that there was enough time to drive your husband to work before dropping your child off at school and then try to make it to work on time? What about deciding to wake up extra early on that week’s Saturday so that you can take a long, peaceful shower and perhaps linger over coffee while reading the morning paper before heading off to work, only to discover that the doghad thrown-up in the kitchen as well as had pooped all over the floor of the shower? Ever had one of those weeks? I think you know what I am talking about.

Boissiere12After work last Saturday, I brought home a bottle ofBoudinaud’s 2012La BoissièreCôtes du Rhône to have with veggie burgers. Given the week I had, I wasreally looking forward to that glass of wine! But before I could even touch my lips to the rim, my cell phone blew up with texts. Before I could shoot a text back, the texter called up on the telephone- great…something must be up! After quelling this mini-crisis, I returned to the kitchen and was handed a glass of theLa Boissière by my husband. I was about to fill him in on the phone conversation, but couldn’t get the words out of my mouth because the aromas of the wine stopped me in my tracks…it smelled so good. In fact so good, Iknew I was going to love this wine! And sure enough, I do.
At TWH, we’ve been referring to Sébastien Vincenti as the “young winemaker” from Domaine de Fondrèche for quite a while. Here’s the funny thing, Sébastien has been making wine at the domaine for twenty years! His youthful looks aside, Sébastien is one of those ambitious and passionate winemakers who early in his career attached himself to important wine mentors and then took on the challenge of producing exceptional wine in a region that was overlooked and overshadowed by its more famous neighbors. A quick whiff of the 2012 Fayard will instantly orient you to the Rhône with its aromas of ripe berries, dusty herbs, and violets. Well it should, as it is from the Rhône, only not from Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas, but from Ventoux.
Sébastien’s mother, Nanou Barthelémy purchasedDomaine de Fondrèche in 1993. The vineyard is 28 hectares and provides the grapes for their red wine production. The vines are grown on rocky soil over gravel and limestone on a plateau that flanks Mount Ventoux. It really is a prime location for the growing of grapes, especially Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, where the Mistral wind keeps the grapes pristine and cools down temperatures for an optimal, long growing-season.
The 2012 Fayard is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and the rest Mourvèdre. The gorgeous red fruit is fresh and vibrant. It is open-knit and drinking superbly at this moment. Unmistakably Rhône-ish, the2012 Fayard has the soft-edged, succulent Fondrèche palate-feel without any of the funkiness it can often have upon release. The 2012 Fayard is raring to go, to delight and share a bit of that Provençal sunshine with each glassful during these wintery dark nights.
It seems a lifetime ago now, but during a trip to France, visiting many of our producers with a large group of wine trade folk, I had a memorable lunch at an auberge where the wines of Domaine de Fondrèche were served. To get to the auberge, you had to drive along a dirt driveway where the animals, that might at some future date be your entrée, were stabled alongside the restaurant. The food was rustic, homey, and for this girl, just the kind of food I like best to eat. The servers also looked like they enjoyed the food they prepared and proudly presented each course family-style. A leg of lamb spit-roasted in the main room’s open fireplace was a favorite dish, but it was the barley salad with sautéed crispy bits of duck gizzards that to this day have me salivating. I can’t remember the exact vintage, but the Fayard poured was perfectly matched to the nuttiness of the grain and the earthiness of the gizzards. I must one day try to re-create this pairing.
This weekend should also be memorable in The Bay Area. Yep, my daughter will be hosting her first ever sleepover birthday party! And, there is the historic Golden Gate Bridge closure. I am well prepared for both events! Or am I? I am beginning to think that before I depart work today and drive northbound over the Golden Gate one last time before a movable medium will be installed on the bridge, maybe, just maybe, I should tote along a bottle of the 2012 Fayard. Fayard and gizzards, that I know match up, but what about Fayard and a gaggle of chatty eleven-year old girls? Probably should take a bottle…wish me luck!
From The Wine Advocate’s issue #210 “A blend of 50% tank-aged Grenache and 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre aged in barrel, the 2012 Cotes du Ventoux Fayard (which was the only 2012 I tasted out of bottle) is a gorgeous effort that gives up impressive notes of black raspberry, flowers, violets and pepper. Perfumed, complex and with the hallmark purity of the fruit that all of this estate’s wines show, this medium-bodied, elegant and lively effort has good acidity and a clean finish. Enjoy it over the coming 4-5 years. “ 90 points.


It’s official. Up and down the California coast, we’ve experienced our first heat wave of the year. With record breaking temperatures hitting some spots both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, folks have been headed outdoors. To the park, to the beach, or to the backyard, it is outdoor season! Hmmm. Kind of makes Rosé sound like a good idea.


As Anya reported last month, being in our new, larger facility in Dogpatch enables us to get some of our imports in-stock quickly and efficiently, so we indeed can have freshly bottled Rosé in April (and May) instead of June or July. It makes the world of difference, especially here in San Francisco. For those of you who don’t know, in the city itself, the months of July and August are marked by endless fog that is drawn in from the ocean by the scorching temperatures of California’s Central Valley. It’s not that depressing, take it from a native. If one is looking for clear skies and warm weather in July and August, a 15 minute drive in any of 3 directions will get you out of the fog.


We don’t necessarily believe that Rosé has aseason, but it sure is a lot more fun to have a nice, cool, crisp glass of it under sunny skies than it is during a snowstorm. (We don’t get snow here in San Francisco, that drive usually takes around 3 hours). So that underlines the importance of having fresh Rosé in April rather than June or July. Last week’s heatwave is proof of that. The reaction has been astounding. The Rosé that Anya wrote about last month is gone. Gone, like a circus gone. Don’t worry, there’s more on the way.  Winemaker Diane Puymorin makes another Rosé. In fact this one is bottled under her more prestigious label, Château d’Or et de GueulesLes Cimels Rosé.


Having purchased Domaine de la Petite Cassagne in 1998, Diane changed the name to d’Or et de Gueules, the local dialectal “red and gold.” She pours her heart into these wines, and we’re all smitten by them. If you read our emails with any regularity, you need no introduction. For her Les Cimels Rosé, she adheres to the Provençal style, blending mostly Mourvèdre and Cinsault in equal parts. She rounds it off by adding a little Grenache and Syrah for depth and complexity, and voilà, Les Cimels Rosé!

See: Pale, pale. Light, light salmon color.

Smell: Surprisingly pronounced and complex considering the color. Fruity, floral, herbal, all at once.

Taste: Fresh, bright, crisp, palate expanding. Remember: Clean, lipsmacking finish.

Hey, how did my glass get empty?


Yes, it’s officially springtime. Here in San Francisco, we’re enjoying our summer, part I, part II comes in September. And now that we’re in our new facility, we’ve got fresh Rosé. 2013 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels Rosé, to be exact! – Peter Zavialoff

Lacuna & Juicy Villages

Monday, November 25, 2013 7:24 PM

Carrying over Pete’s theme from last week – for Thanksgiving, drink what you like! Yes, the anything goes approach when choosing a wine for Thanksgiving is gaining strength even among wine writers and journalists. It is a relief to me that this new trend has emerged. If asked, I will share strong opinions as to what I think works best with turkey and all the trimmings, but I feel even stronger that at Thanksgiving, time should be spent on family and friends and not worrying about what wine to serve. It really only matters what you enjoy drinking and to understand your crowd. For years I was banging my head against the wall, trying to impress my food-loving, California wine-drinking family with the earthy, soil-driven red Burgundy I brought to share. With age and wisdom, I now know to grab a bottle of Zinfandel or Syrah from one of my favorite California producers to take home. Now we are all happy. So you see, relax and enjoy during this time of gratitude and reflection.

I have selected the following wines as viable options for the Thanksgiving table, that just also happen to be two top values from California. The quality that you get in the bottle far exceeds the price tag. They are not new to TWH and are probably familiar to many of you who read our newsletters, so without any further adieu welcome back in stock Lacuna and Juicy Villages!!!! 


The 2011 is the third vintage from Lacuna. Unlike the 2010, which was heavily influenced by Petite Sirah, and more like the 2007our Top Ten of 2010, the 2011 Lacuna has Syrah back in the driver’s seat. Leave it to winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson to source top quality fruit from various celebrated sites to blend together a perfect amalgamation of fruit, structure and perfume. 


For the three original partners in Lacuna, who were already actively working in the wine business, the aesthetic behind creating Lacuna was all about the aromatics and the texture. The three, passionate about Old World wines, wanted to apply their palate preferences to domestic wine. It may be a marketing nightmare for the guys, but I appreciate how each vintage of Lacuna brings out a different expression of fruit all the while adhering to a strong point of view. The aromatics at this young stage are quite dramatic in the 2011 Lacuna; notes of bacon fat, berries and petals waft up out of the glass. Inside the bottle you will find 85% Syrah, sourced from several sites and some co-fermented with Viognier just like they do in Cote-Rotie, with the balance comprised of old-vine Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Carignan. The mouth-coating fruit is persuasive and energetic. Yes, I would bring this wine to Thanksgiving, but I would also love to see it alongside braised short ribs or a steaming bowl of Carbonnade. The 2011 Lacuna proves to me that ’07 and ’10 weren’t just flukes. The gorgeous Lacuna reds are moving from strength to strength. 

12Juicy Rebound

Last year the 2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound made it to our list of Top Ten of 2012. It did not stay in stock for long. With only 100 cases produced, I expect the same to be true for the newly released 2012 Juicy Villages. Again it is a blend, but this vintage Syrah takes center stage with Grenache and Mourvedre cast in supporting roles. The Syrah and Grenache come from a vineyard in the Russian River Valley, while the Mourvedre comes from the legendary Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa County. It is plush, dense and concentrated.Honestly, if you were to buy a wine of this quality from the majority of wineries out there, you could expect to pay 2-3 times more. So how do we get to be so lucky? It is one of those quirks in the wine industry; if you pay close enough attention though, this type of treasure can still be found.  Let’s just say, I’m deeply thankful to be able to recommend a wine of such pedigree and pleasure at such an affordable price to TWH customers.




There is a classification of winemaker that I describe as “a winemaker’s winemaker”. Douglas Danielak is such a winemaker. He may not be a household name like Randall Grahm, but if you ask around, you will find the respect and admiration for Doug’s winemaking skills, tasting prowess and overall wine knowledge is universal. As proof, Morgan Twain-Peterson (see Lacuna above) last July tweeted, “My vote for most historically underrated winemaker would likely go to Doug Danielak,” along with a photo of a bottle of Juicy Rebound Grenache. So you see, it is not just my opinion! 

It probably comes as no surprise that I do love Thanksgiving! All you do is eat, and drink. Yes, I love the roasted turkey and the traditional sides, but I also love how this American holiday adapts to each individual household. At my husband’s Italian-American family, there will be a platter of ravioli and at my family’s Russian-American table there will be pickled mushrooms and peppers, some type of beet dish and this year, fresh roe my mother cured. I hope to make the rounds to see everyone (and to taste a bit of everything!). Wishing you and yours a bountiful Thanksgiving! – Anya Balistreri

2009 La Bolida: Old Vine Mourvedre

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:21 PM

There is no finer ambassador for Chateau d’Or et de Gueules than their very own dynamic winemaker and proprietress Diane de Puymorin. With hands flying in every direction, Diane clearly and precisely explains her philosophy, passion and technique for making wine with boundless charm. It takes but a moment with Diane to understand her vision for Chateau d’Or et de Gueules. Yes, I’m gushing over Diane, but it is unavoidable. On Thursday, Diane tasted TWH staff through her latest releases. Each one different, each one delicious, but it was the 2009 La Bolida that sent me farthest into orbit. A stellar wine!


La Bolida is made from the estate’s oldest Mourvedre vines thought to be over 100 years old. The best way to describe La Bolida is as Diane does, which is to point out La Bolida’s intrinsic paradox between power and roundness. On the one hand there is the grape, Mourvedre, so it is going to be big and powerful, full of dark smoldering fruit with smoke and leather notes, but on the other hand, Diane takes great measures to ensure round, velvety tannins. Yields are naturally low for the old-vine Mourvedre. Harvest takes place quite late, creating ripe concentrated juice. Diane ferments the wine doing punch downs to extract as much goodness as possible. First the wine ages in small barrel, then in large 500 hl. barrels for about a year and then rests in concrete tank before bottling. All this in done to fashion a round, lush texture. Unlike many Bandols that can be rustic and require cellaring, the 2009 La Bolida is ready to please, though built to age. 


It being Mother’s Day this Sunday, it seems only fitting to be showcasing one of my favorite winemakers who herself is the mother of five filles! Diane spent a couple days with us this week working the market, making the rounds, which included an appointment in North Beach with chef David Wees at Café Divine; a great spot to eat, drink and take in the atmosphere. Big fans of Diane’s wines, they were thrilled to finally meet her in person. Chef David was so delighted he rushed into the kitchen and brought out some tasty nibbles to share with Diane while sampling her wine. Diane remarked that this gesture is not, surprisingly, commonplace in the US, so kudos to Café Divine for their class and hospitality!


I’ll be hosting a Mother’s Day brunch, keeping it simple but with plenty of bubbles. Weather looks to be sunny, so a patio party is the plan. When the riffraff – my family – depart, I’ll be looking forward to popping something special in the evening. A glass of 2009 La Bolida? Yes please! —Anya Balistreri 

2009 Santa Duc Cotes du Rhône Les Vieilles Vignes

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 8:18 PM

There is just something about Santa Duc’s Cotes du Rhônes. In the hands of winemaker Yves Gras, Grenache is elevated to the grand heights of sensory pleasure. For my palate, the taste of ripe, plush Grenache is as comforting as falling into a down-filled overstuffed sofa. With the 2009 Cotes du Rhône Les Vieilles Vignes, Yves augments that cushy, juicy Grenache fruit with elements of white pepper, fragrant forest-floor herb notes, and a seamless finish. It is a lovely drink for evenings that are constructed around simple foods and animated conversations that go long into the night. When you have the urge to tuck in, curl up on the couch, and savor a glass of something yummy, I strongly suggest reaching for Santa Duc’s 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes. 
Domaine Santa Duc has long been recognized for stellar Gigondas and Cotes du Rhônes. In the 1997 edition of Wines of the Rhone Valley, Robert Parker Jr. wrote, “Santa Duc has become not only an important estate in Gigondas…but also a noteworthy producer of high-quality Cotes du Rhone…” I can assure you that in the 15 years since this publication was written, Yves has not been resting on his laurels and in fact is making even better wine today. Back in the late 80’s, Yves took over from his father who had been selling the fruit from their domaine to local negociants. This was common practice back then, but Yves had someithing else in mind for Santa Duc. With his unwavering work in the vineyard and cellar, becoming certified organic as of 2012, Santa Duc has yielded consistently exceptional wine over the years. It certainly hasn’t hurt that the Rhône has been blessed with a string of quality vintages either. However I’d like to point out as testament to Yves’ winemaking prowess that in the disastrous 2002 vintage, when most of the Rhône’s wine production was obliterated by torrential rains and floods, Yves managed to salvage his grapes and make, ok I’ll try not to exaggerate, very good wine. No small feat. The 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes is a selection of vines over 50 years old from primarily Villages-level vineyards, Yves’ own designation for calling it “old vines”. Grenache dominates, with the remainder Syrah, Mourvedre and the other usual Rhone suspects. Other than that, not much else to note – it really is all about the ripe fruit.Today, Wine House customers seemed ready to get busy in the kitchen. I heard about menus featuring roast duck, herb-crusted pork loin and, my favorite, a pork shoulder brined over night to be cooked on a rotisserie attachment over a grill. And what do all these mouth-watering dishes have in common? They’d all be great with the 2009 Les Vieilles Vignes from Santa Duc, c’est vrai! 
Last Saturday I rushed home to celebrate Mardi Gras, Russian-style. That’s right, we had buckwheat blini with all sorts of preserved and salted fish. As we were catching up on things, my brother commented that he expects to read something about our feast in my next write-up, but I explained it would be difficult since this is one of the few meals where wine just doesn’t work, it’s strictly vodka with blini. What could I do? Well, my brother then went on to say that he likes to keep the Dirty Dozen write-up on top of the wine fridge he keeps in the dining room. That way when he’s sent to grab a bottle for dinner, he can call back, “what’s cooking?” and then try to find what best matches the food pairing suggestion written at the end of each Dirty Dozen wine description. Now that’s a helpful tip I can share. Thanks big brother! —Anya Balistreri

The Wine House SF Top Ten Wines Of 2012

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 3:06 PM

Now that we’ve all settled into 2013, we have to say with excitement that this is going to be a great year! We are anxiously looking forward to all of the good things and the many great wines coming our way in 2013. But before we get too far into it, let’s have a look back as we reveal our Top Ten Wines of 2012!

The concept may sound simple … the top wines, right? Well, not so fast. We could tap into the multitude of reviews from wine writers and critics and fashion a list of highly rated, don’t drink until 2025, keep in a bank vault wines, butthat’s not how we roll here at TWH. In years past, our Top Ten lists are comprised of wines we all love. Wines that deliver. Wines that outshine their respective price points. Wines that provide pleasure, because really, isn’t that what wine is all about? We taste a whole lot of wine throughout the year, both here and abroad, and only bring in the ones we deem worthy to be on our shelves for you, our customers. Choosing a Top Ten out of all of the wines we’ve said yes to is a fun albeit difficult exercise. It’s fun because we get to relive our tasting experiences, remembering the meals, the ambiance, and the company that went along with each wine. Remember, some of the wines have sold out, but we list them here based on their merits … So without further ado, here is The Wine House San Francisco’s Top Ten wines of 2012!!!

Please use these links to view our Top Ten from last year, 2010, or 2009.

20NV Pascal Doquet Extra Brut Premier Crus Blancs de Blanc

With New Year’s memories slowly fading, let’s begin with some bubbles. TWH mainstay Pascal Doquet makes some of the best Grower Champagne that we’ve encountered. He sure has been garnering praise recently from the likes of James Molesworth of The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni. Why wouldn’t he? His artisanal Champagnes have been wowing our staff for over a decade! When this Extra Brut landed here in our shop this year, it instantly became a favorite of our staff and all customers who have tried it.Here’s what Mr. Galloni had to say about it, “Doquet’s NV Extra Brut Premier Crus Blanc de Blancs is pretty, soft and enveloping. Dried pears, spices, crushed flowers and almonds wrap around the palate in this expressive, layered Champagne. This is one of the more open Extra Brut Champagnes readers will come across, likely because of the high presence of 2005 juice and full malolactic fermentation. Technical details aside, the wine is flat out delicious. 91 points”
NV Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

Sparkling; Champagne Blend; Champagne;
  Add to Cart


19Michel-Andreotti Montagny les Guignottes

White Burgundy. Honestly, we don’t really have to say much more than that. It is special wine. Unfortunately, supply and demand do what they do, and a great amount of it is priced in the ‘special wine’ echelon. Well, David’s trips to Burgundy have paid off yet again, as we are now importing the Montagny “Les Guignottes” from Michel-Andreotti. From the slightly off-the-beaten-path appellation of Montagny in Côte Chalonnaise, “Les Guignottes” outperforms its price point by far and reminds us that there is good White Burgundy out there for a fair price. First came the 2010. It’s an understatement to say that it sold out quickly. Then along came the 2011, it sold out too, but we just re-loaded and it’s back in stock. Which one made our Top Ten of 2012? It’s a dead heat. They both belong!
2011 Domaine Michel-Andreotti Montagny Les Guignottes

White Wine; Chardonnay; Burgundy;
  Add to Cart


182011 Juicy Villages From Juicy Rebound

Now for some local representation. You’ve got to love old-vine Mourvèdre. It’s rare to find a blend from California that showcases the grape in the leading role. Winemaker and hockey fanatic Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvèdre from the Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa where the vines look like “little trees” and blended it with Syrah and Grenache to create a mouth-filling berry bomb bestowing it with the catchy name, Juicy Villages. There’s plenty of grip and tang to give Juicy Villages a well-balanced flavor experience. A whopping 100 cases were produced of this unique and delicious Côtes du Rhône-esque red. All that for a price that’s more than fair on your pocketbook. Bravo!
2011 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages California

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Other California;
  Add to Cart


172009 Domaine Martin Bart Marsannay

2012 was the year of containers. It seemed all throughout the year, we were simultaneously in the process of consolidating one overseas, anticipating the arrival of the one already on the water, and unloading the container at our dock! That just means we found lots of goodies on our trips overseas. The 2009 vintage was a phenomenal one in France (more on that later), and we tasted a lot of great wines that now have “Imported by Wine House Limited” on their labels.So 2009 was great in Burgundy, especially for the red wines. So again, we’re sure the top names of the region produced formidable wines, but we like to kick tires and look under rocks to find value! David is on a roll bringing some amazing, new-for-us, high-quality producers to join TWH family! Another feather in his cap in 2012 were the wines from Domaine Bart in Marsannay. Their Les Champs Salomon was a home run of a Red Burgundy. It smelled fancy. It tasted fancy. Its price tag? Not so fancy. That all explains its sold out status. Welcome to TWH top 10, Domaine Bart!


16Ravan From Kabaj

We’ve got our eyes open for great wines from all corners of the wine world. Like Slovenia. Wines from Slovenia are catching favor with consumers and critics alike, popping up on restaurant wine lists and profiled in thoughtful wine publications. Just one whiff, just one taste was enough for us to throw caution to the wind and stack the Ravan from Kabaj high and proud. Were we concerned whether TWH customers would shy away from an unknown producer from an unfamiliar wine region? Not. The staff were all in for sure, but when a wine is this delightful, exotic and complex, we knew our adventurous clientele would embrace the Ravan from Kabaj just as passionately. The 2009 has sold out, but we find the 2010 a worthy successor!
2010 Kabaj Ravan White Wine Goriska Brda

White Wine; other white varietal; Slovenia;
  Add to Cart


152009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Tour de l’Isle

Imagine attending a traveling French wine trade show in Chicago in the middle of January … brrrrr! Seriously, at some point you have to ask yourself why? Well, part of our service to you all is to indeed kick tires, look under rocks, kiss some toads, and every now and then, we get lucky. Here goes your proof. Last January David braved the elements and flew into 6 degree Farenheit Chi-town. He met a lot of people and tasted a lot of wine. When he met the folks representing the Tour de l’Isle brand,he was gaga over their Châteauneuf-du-Pape! A sample bottle was shipped to the shop the following week, and now we all sing the praises of this rich, powerful (yet friendly), stone mineral driven, Grenachey Grenache! The 2009 was already in the US, courtesy of another importer. Well, we all love it so much that we made ’em an offer they couldn’t refuse. We bought their entire stock and are now the proud importer of their wines! Boo Yah!
2009 Tour de l’Isle Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
  Add to Cart


142009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the advantages, and pleasures, of being in business for over 35 years (!) is the long-standing relationships we’ve forged with both customers and vendors. One of David’s first discoveries working at The Wine House was the debut vintage of Spottswoode’s estate grown 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon.The Wine House has been proudly offering their Cabernet Sauvignon every vintage thereafter.The 2009 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon is a standout among a very long line of outstanding efforts; it has that unmistakable thread of Spottsberry fruit pushing through with the signature silky tannins wrapping around it. It is a true collectable California Cabernet and we are happy and proud to include this monumental effort among our Top Ten Wines of the year!
2009 Spottswoode Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
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132011 Gavi di Gavi

We’ve been directly importing the Ernesto Picollo line of Gavi wines for 5 vintages now, and though we have always felt they smash the quality for price ratio, their 2011 Gavi di Gavi Roveretohas that extra umph that propels it into 2012’s Top Ten! Anya swears that it is the fact that Picollo’s top cuvée Rughe wasn’t made this year, so that special older-vine fruit made its way into the Rovereto. Whatever it was, there’s no denying the quality of this wine. Crisp, mineral driven, and precise, you would swear that the bottle cost would be twice or even three times as much as it is! It is that special. It’s very likely THE best white wine deal in the house!
2011 Picollo Ernesto Gavi di Gavi Roverto

White Wine; other white varietal; Piedmont;
  Add to Cart


122001 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

Chances are if you’ve been in our shop in the latter part of 2012, and perhaps overheard a customer request for a “special wine” or a “gift wine”, you would have heard a member of TWH staff gush over the merits of the 2001 Reserva Especial Rioja Viña Ardanza by La Rioja Alta.Whew, that’s a mouthful; but so is the wine! This well known Rioja producer has only thought it appropriate to make this special bottling in two other vintages: 1964 and 1973! Space limitations will keep us from gushing too much over this in writing, but let’s just say that if it were twice the price, it would still be a bargain. With 11 years of age, it can be enjoyed anytime from now until your 3 year old graduates from college … and then some!
2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial Rioja

Red Wine; Red Blend; Rioja;
  Add to Cart


11Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Of course it had to be a 2009 Bordeaux. I only wrote about this vintage and its wines umpteen times. But which one? Seriously, this was the toughest point of this exercise. But when you take everything into consideration, we’ve got to give the big tip of the cap to the 2009 Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc. I loved it out of barrel. Then, when the first 2009’s arrived in early 2012, it was on the first container. Chris and I grabbed a few of the new arrivals and taste tested them. His overwhelming favorite of the bunch was the Larrivaux. We opened another bottle the following week for Anya, Tom, and David to taste, and it was unanimous! Now that everyone was on board, we went back to the marketplace and loaded up. It is certainly not the only success story from the 2009 vintage, but that kind of quality for less than $25 resonates big time! Ignore at your own peril.
2009 Chateau Larrivaux Haut Medoc

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
  Add to Cart


So there you have it, our Top Ten Wines of 2012! We’ve already begun tasting new wines in the new year, and we’re taking good notes, so we’ll have plenty of candidates for this list this time next year! Wishing you all the best in 2013!Anya Balistreri & Peter Zavialoff

2009 La Bolida Château d’Or et de Gueules

Monday, December 24, 2012 10:54 PM


You may have heard about a recent container arriving here from France carrying loads of goodies for us wine lovers. Sure, all the bells and whistles were included: Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne; but if you look over the pallets with a fine toothed comb, you may discover some other interesting wines. Like the 2009 La Bolida from Château d’Or et de Gueules. It’s the brand new vintage of one of our favorite wines! At this stage, there is nothing short of a litany, that we’ve written about Costières de Nîmes producer Diane Puymorin. We think all of her wines are special, but the one that every TWH employee has in their cellar is her old vine Mourvèdre, La Bolida.

Pardon me for patting myself on the back, but it was a wise decision for me to sock away several bottles of the 2004 La Bolida back in the day when it was available. Or, at least, it has been proven wise recently, as the wine is showing brilliantly. Something we’ve observed here over the years is that if we ever hear the word “regret” here in our shop, it is always used for NOT buying enough of a particular wine. True story. So true that I regret not buying a full case of the 2004 La Bolida, shucks. Building a vertical of a great wine is not only a fun task, but the rewards are immense. The pedigree of Diane’s La Bolidais tip-top in every vintage, but 2009 was such a great vintage in the Rhône Valley, that I’m making room for at least a six-pack for posterity. I’m probably going to regret, what am I saying? I’m sure I’ll regret just buying six bottles of the 2009 La Bolida, but six is a start. Maybe another six down the road sometime … if there are any left, that is. Check out what The Wine Advocate’sRobert Parker had to say about the 2009 La Bolida from Château d’Or et de Gueules:


“A 100% Mourvedre cuvee from 80- to 100-year old vines that spends one year in foudre and one year in barrel is the Costieres de Nimes La Bolida. The bottled 2009, which was tasted last year from barrel, is as outstanding as I expected. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by aromas of blueberries, blackberries, roasted meats, bouquet garni and melted asphalt. This complex, rich, full-bodied, solidly made effort possesses excellent ripeness, but none of the rusticity or kinkiness that Mourvedre can sometimes exhibit. Drink it over the next decade.

Proprietor Diane de Puymorin fashions these individualistic, seriously endowed, distinctive wines from different blends, and bottles them with Provencal names (which are not that easy for most Americans to pronounce). Except for La Charlotte, all of the wines carry the Costieres de Nimes appellation, and they represent some of the finest wines of that appellation. They are all bursting with the essence of Provence in their spiciness and exuberance. 91 points”


It’s getting close to the end of the year 2012, sigh. The year of the live show, the year of major trophies for a couple of sports teams dear to my heart, and the year that the 2009 Bordeaux have landed! You can count on something from my new favorite Bordeaux vintage to be on our Top Ten Wines of 2012 list (to be announced in early January). Sad to say, 2013 will begin without Champions’ League footy for my team; oh well, gotta take the bad with the good, and last season was pretty good. Really good. And the year of the live show has been a good one. I think I’ve seen more live bands in 2012 than in the previous 5 years combined. I was supposed to hit the Fillmore Sunday night to see Graham Parker, but instead, I’ve got a gig myself. Spectator or participant? Always participate, with no regrets!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 La Bolida, The Europa League, or what might be on my set list for Sunday night: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 11:44 PM


The 2011 Juicy Villages from Juicy Rebound is fun, delicious, and quite a remarkable wine value when you consider the quality of grapes that go into the blend.Winemaker Douglas Danielak took 120+ year old Mourvedre from the famed Evanghelo Vineyard in Contra Costa County and added a bit of Sonoma County Syrah and Grenache for the Southern Rhone-inspired Juicy Villages. You would think that fruit from any one of these sources would command a higher price tag, but Douglas was looking to make an entry-level orvillages level, if you would, wine that could be enjoyed immediately.



As is so often the case, Douglas Danielak is not only a winemaker who we have been following for many, many years starting with his pioneering years at Jade Mountain and then at White Rock and now with Paras Vineyards, but is a customer of The Wine House, having a penchant for French wines. Currently, Douglas makes wine for a number of micro-boutique wineries. It is only recently that he has started his own labels, Juicy Rebound and Pont Neuf, with his wife Mary. Douglas’ hobbies extend beyond wine; he is an avid fan of hockey and also plays in local leagues. This seems incongruous to his friendly demeanor and encyclopedic knowledge of wine. When Douglas came by the store last, we got on the subject of premature oxidation in White Burgundy. Douglas gave a quick lecture citing several theories, explaining them in easy-to-understand language, quoting sources from the many French winemakers he personally knows and visits frequently. This AND the fact that he makes fabulous wines and can skate on ice while swinging a stick at a fast moving puck, is impressive, I’d say.


The 2011 Juicy Villages, though approachable and well… JUICY, is not devoid of that dark brooding fruit you’d expect of a wine dominated by Mourvedre.The Mourvedre from Evanghelo Vineyard, which was planted in 1880, grows in sand. Yes, sand. I’ve included a photo, courtesy of Douglas, that puts this fact into vivid view. This sand bank was created where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers merge. The vines are all head-pruned, non-irrigated and on their original rootstock – Douglas calls them “little trees”. All this contributes to lush aromatics, beautiful violet aromas and tangy acidity. Douglas has worked with fruit from Evanghelo Vineyard for 20 years. You can tell how special Evanghelo is to Douglas not only by the deliciousness of the finished wine but by how intimately he describes this unique vineyard site. A strong connection between winemaker and vineyard makes for very interesting wine. The Syrah and Grenache are not afterthoughts but rather intentional components that add richness and sweet fruit. The 2011 Juicy Villages is an example of the exciting and noteworthy wines being made in California that buck the trend of massive, oaky, Cab-centric reds at a budget-friendly price. —Anya Balistreri

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