October 2012 Dirty Dozen

Friday, October 26, 2012 7:40 PM

Boo! Alas, summer is over, and days are rapidly shortening. That just means that the nights are getting longer, and the time for more indoor activities is here! No worries. We have the perfect idea for indoor gatherings: The October Dirty Dozen. 12 bottles packed neatly into 1 box for a super low price! All different; what could be better than that?

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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2010 Blanco, Bodegas Ercavio $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
The name ‘Ercavio’ is derived from an old Roman settlement, and the grape that goes into the 2010 Blanco is 100% Airén. Say you haven’t heard of Airén? Hailing from the area surrounding Madrid, Spain, it is thought to be the most widely planted wine producing grape variety! Dry and crisp, it’s a great aperitif or, it teams up well with crispy fried fish.

2009 Godello, Montenovo $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Eric Solomon, one of America’s finest small importers, is at it again with this fine example of the Godello grape. Godello is grown in Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain, and does it deliver! It shows plump, ripe white and yellow fruit, propped up by zippy acidity and underlying spice and mineral. No wonder some folks believe it’s similar to Chardonnay.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande $11.79 net price, $8.79 reorder
Need a crisp, affordable white for your next gathering? Look no further than the Lalande Sauvignon Blanc. Vintage after vintage, this TWH staple has always been a hit with customers and staff alike. It is terrific with halibut.

2006 Viognier, Paras Vineyards $14.95 sale price, $14.20 reorder
California Viognier in the DD? This could be a first, or at least a first for a wine of its pedigree. Grown at elevations of over 1000 feet on Mount Veeder, this Viognier was fermented in barrel with no malo. As fermentation stopped, some residual sugar remained, leaving this Viognier off-dry. It’s just the right thing to pour with a cheese plate at the end of a meal … or if exotic flavors strike your fancy, we’re thinking something spicy hot like Hunan-style smoked duck.

2010 Crozes-Hermitage Les Terres Blanches, Domaine Belle $24.99, $19.99 reorder
Every now and then we pull out the stops with our DD selections, and this would be one of those months. This WHITE Crozes-Hermitage is a special wine. It’s a fancy wine. It’s a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Rousanne, 2 of the Rhône’s well known white varieties. It sees some 1 year old barrel which gives it texture and aroma, but there’s no hiding that lovely, complex mineral underneath. This is a classy wine and suits a fancy free range chicken dinner well.

2011 Rosé, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.29, $9.03 reorder
Now that summer is over, the masses are forgetting about just how cool it is to pop a no-frills bottle of Rosé! This one from Saint Antoine is made from 100% Syrah and balances the fruit/acid components perfectly. The result? An easy to pair quaffer; it goes well with everything, and it makes for a great cooler-downer as one toils in a hot kitchen.

2008 Terre de Bussière, Domaine de la Janasse $12.98 net price, 11.68 reorder
The southern Rhône Valley has been bargain central for those of us who love low priced high quality red wines. This unusual blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Syrah will put a smile on your face as it sings along side of that sausage pizza.

2010 Le Loup dans la Bergerie, Domaine de l’Hortus $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Speaking of Syrah/Merlot blends, Domaine de l’Hortus’ Jean Orliac adds a little Grenache to that mix to produce his Le Loup dans la Bergerie. It has great aromas, ample fruit, and medium bodied weight. A solid all-purpose red!

2009 Floresta, Pere Guardiola $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
As the Pyrenees come into view in Empordà-Costa Brava, Spain’s northeastern corner, you will find the vines belonging to Pere Guardiola. The blend here is 40% Garnacha, 30% Mazuela, and 30% Syrah. The wine is ripe, rich, and robust with aromas of dark berry fruit and spice. A great value, it has the stuffing to pair well with a dry rub pork shoulder roast.

2010 Carmenère, In’ka $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Bursting with dark berries, chocolate, and spice, the aromas for the 2010 In’ka Carmenère jump from the glass with delight! Carmenère has its origins in Bordeaux, but was fairly recently discovered in South America where it has been thriving. It has the charm of Merlot, yet the backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect with a juicy steak.

2009 Carmignano, Le Farnete $18.99, $15.19 reorder
A TWH direct-import, Le Farnete’s Carmignano has been a favorite ’round here for many vintages. The 2009 is no exception. Carmignano has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon since Medici times, long before the age of the ‘Super Tuscan.’ Dark aromas of brambly berries and earth lead to a fuller bodied palate. We’re thinking Osso Bucco here.

2010 Syrah/Grenache, Vignobles Boudinaud $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Grenache and Syrah are a match made in heaven, as if the wines from the southern Rhône don’t already underline that fact. Our pal Thierry Boudinaud crafts a lot of different wines down there, but here is something special that he makes out of some Langeudoc fruit that he sources. Alive and fresh, it is all tank-fermented preserving that pure fruity profile. Don’t let its friendliness fool you. Its medium body allows for some earthy complexity. Great with food, or not!

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CA Cabs: 3 Under $20

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 4:51 PM

Tis’ the season when one should have stock of that reliable Cabernet Sauvignon that you grab and tie with a ribbon as you run out the door to your next party. This Cabernet Sauvignon should be of exceptional value, this goes without saying, but it should also have an attractive outside appearance (I know this is a consideration when it comes to gift giving, so why pretend it’s not), and it shouldn’t have to cost a small fortune. I have a few favorites that meet these criteria that I’d like to share with you. BUT before I do, I’d like to boast that along with our vast budget-friendly offerings, we have in stock many hard-to-find, high-scoring California wines for those wine lovers on your list that are tough to WOW…to that end check out our offerings fromBedrock Wine Company, Carlisle and Varner. Ok, back to the task at hand, here are my recommendations for that last-minute gift for your neighbor who looks after your cat while you are away on vacation, the “within your budget” red for your legendary Boxing Day party, or that tasty boost needed to make wrapping gifts until 2am all the merrier…

 

Humanitas

At Humanitas, “Drink Charitably” is the motto. Proceeds from the sale of every bottle of Humanitas go to charity. Judd Wallenbreck, who moonlights as GM for Michel-Schlumberger in the Dry Creek Valley, began this new concept winery in the late ’90s. His thirty plus years of experience in the wine business has uniquely positioned him to be able create this charitable winery. Of course this concept wouldn’t go anywhere if the wines weren’t any good. The 2009 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is marvelous; mountain fruit from the western part of the valley with a small percentage of Malbec and Merlot blended in for complexity.Because we’re in San Francisco, every time we sell a bottle of the 2009 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a donation is made to the San Francisco Food Bank. What a brilliant concept: you buy a stunning Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged in French oak and tastes of crushed blueberries and tart dried cherries, pay far less then what you would expect to pay for a comparable wine AND in the process do something good for someone else!
2009 Humanitas Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Sonoma;
$16.98
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Twenty Rows

This gem of a wine comes from Lori and Brian Nuss who also own Vinoce atop Mt. Veeder. The 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is primarily made up of fruit from Mt. Veeder and Yountville, so power and structure are its hallmarks. Lots of dark red cherry fruit, hints of chocolate and vanilla bean spice greet the palate. Like Humanitas, you get more (pedigree, quality, winemaking) than what you pay for. Plus, this isn’t some large-scaled, faceless operation with a big marketing budget to promote their wine. Twenty Rows is simply about a winemaking couple who understand that not everyone can, or will, pay top dollar for a Napa Cabernet, and are able, with skill and know-how, to fashion a wine that can bottle up all the pleasure of a top-notch Napa Valley Cabernet into a sub $20 bottle. Kudos to Lori and Bill!
2009 Twenty Rows Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
$17.98
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Broadside

The 2009 Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is Chris Broc’s fourth vintage. This single-vineyard Cabernet outperforms its price range by a wide margin. Margarita Vineyard is the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles appellation, is only 14 miles from the ocean and has limestone soils, making this a Cabernet Sauvignon that along with supple rich fruit has a mineral thread that adds energy to the finish. Each time I drink Broadside’s Margarita Vineyard Cabernet, I am struck by this thing…this other thing that makes this Cabernet way more interesting than 99% of what I taste in this price category. Is it the limestone soil, the natural fermentation, the judicious use of oak (only 2% new in this vintage), or just magic? You be the judge.
2009 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita Vineyard

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Central Coast;
$18.98
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I went from humbug to ho-ho-ho overnight. I haven’t yet started Christmas shopping (if you are over 21 and on my list, this year you’re all getting wine!), but strangely I’m not panicking. It’ll get done, it always does. And besides it isn’t about that anyway, right? Sunday I’ll be having dinner with my “adoptive” parents for our annual “before Christmas get-together”. It is all the more special this year because last year my other father was at Stanford hospital recovering from heart-transplant surgery. I’m relieved and thankful to report, he’s going great! The menu is set for magret de canard, so I’m bringing Burgundy! Some occasions call for the good stuff! I’d like to wish all of you good health and plenty of time with loved ones, Cheers

Anya Balistreri

Our Top Ten Wines Of 2010

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 3:16 PM

Happy New Year! It was right around this time last year that we listed our first “Top Ten” wines of the year for 2009. We received an overwhelming response from that email/blog post, such a response, mind you, that we’re going to give it another go for 2010.

Again, the concept: A lot of different wines from different places fly through here throughout the year. Some make their way to our sales floor, some don’t. Of those that do, several stand out. They stand out for many reasons. Quality. Price. Quality for price. Exotic origins, unique varieties … You know, in 2008 TWH was awarded an Editor’s Award in the SF Bay Guardian as the Bay Area’s best “French Wine Warehouse”. We were happy and proud to receive such praise and honor, as we take our French wines seriously; but we take all wine seriously. This year, in addition to some French selections, we have wines from Spain, Greece, and of course, California that cracked the top ten. A couple have sold out, regretfully, but are mentioned here due to their merits.

We’re wishing you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2011!

10Domaine Ehrhart Cremant d’Alsace

We hear it often. “I have Champagne taste, but am on a sparkling wine budget.”(This does occur in other regions as well, but we’ll use this version for this wine.) Well, a sparkling 100% Chardonnay from Alsace is great way to get going!Philippe and Corinne Ehrhart’s Domaine is certified organic, and they pour their hearts into the finished product we get in the bottle. This latest batch of their Cremant raised eyebrows all around TWH with more than one staffer grabbing a bottle or two for New Year’s Weekend!
NV Domaine Ehrhart Cremant d’Alsace

Sparkling; White Blend; Alsace;
$16.98
  Add to Cart

 

92008 Valdubon Ribera del Duero Cosecha

From the Ribera del Duero, is our first of two Spanish Top Tenners, the 2008 Valdubon. None of us on the staff need to discuss this at any length with each other, as actions speak louder than words. A good way to gauge what wines are fancied by members of our staff is simply to observe what is taken home for personal consumption. With me, it started with the sample bottle that was left for us. I really love the finesse of this Tempranillo. It’s medium bodied, has bright red fruit and spice up front and sits in perfect balance as its complexities fade. It’s a great food wine too! The medium body lends itself to pair with a wide range of cuisine.Chris’ folks liked it so much, they ordered a six pack, but still haven’t received it because Chris drank it all. Tom packs one under his arm every now and then, and every time Anya loads up a case for friends and family, at least one of these makes its way into the box. Proof’s in the pudding.
2008 Bodegas Valdubon Ribera del Duero

Red Wine; Tempranillo; Ribera del Duero;
$11.98
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82009 Bedrock Old Vine Sonoma Valley Zinfandel

If there is a young California winemaker who had a better year than Morgan Twain-Peterson did in 2010, we haven’t heard of it. Over the course of the year, if you glanced at the Bulletin Board on erobertparker.com, you would see posts entitled Bedrock this and Bedrock that along with Morgan Peterson’s name, time and time again. Having met him here at TWH last year, we couldn’t be more happy for him. His 2009 Bedrock Old Vine Sonoma Valley Zinfandel sold out faster than you can blink, Anya’s write-up notwithstanding. In spite of its sold out status, it surely deserves to be in our top ten!

 

72007 Lacuna Red Blend

Okay, it may be getting tough to get our mitts on anything Bedrock these days, but psssst! Here’s another one of Morgan’s wines under a different label, Lacuna. What a find.Chiefly Syrah that’s blendedwith Cinsault, Zinfandel and Grenache, this wine is a darling to all who love fuller bodied reds. The partners on this project knew straight away that they could have easily charged upwards of $40 for this delectable juice, but wanted it to be accessible to more than just the 40 and up crowd. Yes, sadly, this too will sell out, get yourself some while you can!
2007 Lacuna Syrah Blend California

Red Wine; Syrah/Shiraz; Other California;
$24.98
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Santorini A EN 2009 - 0292009 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko

Looking back, it is somewhat surprising that one of our Top Ten of 2010 is a white wine from Greece. Surprising on the surface, anyway. When we tasted the 2009 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko,we were blown away. Dry and crisp with vibrant acidity, we weren’t the only ones to be blown away by this wine. Your demand for it had us sold out on several occasions as we continued to return to the well for another fix time and again.Think Greek Islands. Growing grapes for purportedly 3000 years. Hmmm. What is the protein of choice of most island societies? What do you suppose they want to drink with it? Yes; crab, scallops or prawns would be perfect.
2009 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini

White Wine; other white varietal; Greece;
$21.98
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52009 Paco & Lola Rias Baixas Albarino

You just never know when the cosmic tumblers are going to line up and point the way to your favorite wine discovery of 2010! But that’s just what happened to me last year. An innocuous taste was just the first of several “signs” that this wine and I were meant to be. Just like many a wine geek, I gravitate toward versatile, aromatic white wines from all over the world. I seem to have found what I didn’t know I was looking for in a Rias Baixas Albarino, the Paco & Lola.
2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias Baixas

White Wine; other white varietal; Rias Baixas;
$16.48
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42009 Mattiasson White Blend

Speaking of versatile, aromatic white wines that will catch the attention of not only the wine geek, but the wine lover in all of us,the 2009 Matthiasson White is an aromatic heavyweight champ. It’s a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ribolla Gialla and Tocai Friulano, all grown in Napa County. It’s the perfect Cali-quaffer that will get you out of a Chardonnay rut before you can say “new oak barrel”. It cracks the Top Ten merely based on the smiles on the faces of you customers who come back raving, as you pick up your replacement bottles. Well, yes, of course, we love it too!
2009 Matthiasson Napa Valley White

White Wine; White Blend; Napa;
$34.98
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32005 Paras Vineyards Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the perks of being in business for 33 years is the multitude of great relationships that we have forged with both customers and suppliers. Sometimes, as a result of a lengthy relationship, we continue to receive allocations of highly sought after wines. It’s kind of like a little bonus and a thank you from the supplier for believing in them before the critics started heaping on the praise. Generally, after the latter, allocations dry up and prices skyrocket. Well, we are tickled pink (or red, in this case) that we received our allocation of the 2005 Paras Vineyards Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. Decanter Magazine tasted through a rather large smattering of 2005 California Cabernets. Guess which one they liked the most? We’re proud and grateful that we can offer this rocking Cab to our customers.
2005 Paras Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
SALE$59.98

Reg. $72.98
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22009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie

Judging from what I’ve tasted so far, 2009 is one of those vintages that was good for everyone. Okay, everyone in France anyway. Timing can be funny. As I type, David is in France meeting people and tasting their wines. One of the many highlights of his prospecting last year were the incredible Cru Beaujolais from Chateau Raousset! The wines are blessed with perfect structure, balance and complexity. Of the 3 wines from Raousset, we found the Fleurie to be drinking perfectly upon arrival. Dare we say Gamay can age, and I would be thrilled to find a 2009 Fleurie (or Morgon) in my cellar 10 years from now. Thinking out loud here, good idea for a bumper sticker,“HIP Wine Drinkers Drink Cru Beaujolais!”
2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie Grille Midi

Red Wine; Gamay; Burgundy;
$19.99
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12007 Chateau Climens

Okay, I didn’t purposely set out to make a false claim in last year’s Top Ten. I did state that no Top Ten list would be complete without a red Bordeaux. What I meant to say was no Top Ten list would be complete without something from Bordeaux. This year a tip of the cap goes out to the 2007 Chateau Climens. It was at the UGC tasting in Los Angeles last January where I got the chance to taste this amazing wine. I had never before, nor have I since proclaimed a wine would receive a perfect numerical score from an influential critic, but I did with this wine. For the record, The Wine Spectator’s number was 93, but it was The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin who saw things in similar fashion to me. Now I don’t expect Mr. Martin has any time on his hands to read my ramblings, but if he did, chances are he would also know that I am a supporter of the Chelsea Football Club. He is not a fan, this I know. My proclamation was issued in February 2010. Martin’s scoring of the 2007 Climens was released at the end of April. His score? 99+. Seems coincidental. We’re sold out, but there’s more in France. Please inquire if you are interested. – Peter Zavialoff

Paras Vineyards

Saturday, January 8, 2011 9:13 PM

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James Paras has been a passionate collector of fine wines for 40+ years
so it is no wonder that he would parlay his love of Bordeaux and Rhone wines into creating something of his own closer to home. No Johnny-come-lately, Paras’ successful foray into wine production came in the late 80’s with Jade Mountain Winery. Dedicated to Rhone varietals, Jade Mountain was at the forefront of Syrah production in California. A decade or so later, in a fortuitous move, Paras sold Jade Mountain Winery, the brand and the inventory, but wisely kept his prized vineyard property high atop Mount Veeder for himself. Thus began Paras Vineyard. Together with his longtime winemaker Douglas Danielak,they determined that the soil content of his Mount Veeder vineyard was particularly well suited for Rhone varietals and not just Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 

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Paras Vineyard takes the promise of mountain fruit to its logical conclusion by producing wines of great scale with concentrated flavors that can, without a doubt, be long lived. This hillside vineyard ranges between 1200 and 1400 feet above sea level and is comprised mostly of sedimentary shale. The majority of fruit for Paras Vineyard’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Mount Veeder, save for a tiny bit of Petite Verdot which is not Estate grown. It is a majestic red that displays intense berry fruit, as well as spice, bittersweet chocolate and plum flavors, contained along a firm spine. With mouth-coating tannins, this is a big Cab, yet it remains balanced and focused. Rated the top California Cabernet of the vintage by Decanter Magazine, it is no surprise here that the Brits find this wine so alluring and in step with fine Bordeaux. The 2005 Merlot continues the interplay of rich fruit coupled with serious structure. As the pendulum swings back to appreciating fine Merlot, it is precisely wines such as Paras’ that will win back the public’s adoration. One taste of this bold, layered, highly aromatic red and you immediately understand that given the right place, the right environment, great Merlot from California is indeed possible and must not be overlooked. A common thread to Paras’ Merlot is a note of cocoa – the 2005 is especially endowed with it. Superb!

 

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As alluded to earlier, Paras was an early pioneer of Rhone varietals on Mount Veeder, planting Syrah, Grenache and Viognier. The 2005 Syrah is, dare we say, Hermitage-like, with black fruit and sanguine, meaty notes. Chewy and dense, you will find a few grindings of black pepper and Asian spice helping to create of full medley of flavors and scent sensations. Requiring 24 months in barrel before bottling, the tannins are full and present in this Syrah, yet the finish is silky smooth. San Francisco wine writer Steve Pitcher, writing in Wine News, noted it as the ‘Syrah of the Year’ from among all the wines they tasted in 2008. Cult wine, anyone? Moving on, the 2007 Grenache is bold, juicy and wonderfully plush. Wild strawberries, white pepper, dusty tannins all wrapped up in fully ripened fleshy fruit. This one is easy to love; it is pure, heart-stirringly yummy. We conclude this tour de force of Paras Vineyard wines with their sole white, the 2007 Viognier. Paras’ ardent commitment to this rare varietal is reflected in the quality of the finished wine. Super low yields make way for a highly concentrated flavor profile. Fermented in neutral barrels, it exudes the classic Viognier notes of lychee nut and ripe peach. The texture is seamless and its unctuous mid-palate makes one heck of a showstopper with rich seafood dishes. Although Viognier can be a shy producer in the vineyard, in the glass Paras’ 2007 Viognier is anything but…!

With the full range of varieties Paras Vineyard masters, the wine lover has the opportunity to experience the delicate partnership of site with grape. Whether this is an introduction to Paras Vineyard or whether you’ve been following them for years, you will be truly dazzled once you get your hands on these wines from one of Napa’s top producers from the truly unique viticultural appellation of Mount Veeder. As they say, this is a no-brainer!

 

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