August 2012 Dirty Dozen

Thursday, August 9, 2012 11:30 PM

How fortunate that summer gives us not 1, but 2 months with 31 days in them. Let’s revel in that! That leaves plenty of time for more picnicking and barbecuing, among other fun summer endeavors. Whether you’re on vacation, a staycation, or are enjoying the longer daytime hours that summer gives us, let the Dirty Dozen satisfy all your vinous needs.

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2011 Chardonnay, House Of Independent Producers $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
The House of Independent Producers Chardonnay is an unoaked, terroir-driven quaffer from the Columbia Valley AVA in Washington state. The nose has a solid core of pale yellow fruit wrapped with minerals; the palate is fresh and crisp with hints of apples and citrus. A great food wine, this will pair well with seared scallops, lentils, and corn.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Koura Bay $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Here at TWH, we’re always on the lookout for wines of quality and character. When we taste one that has a very modest price tag, well, that’s when we act. Such was the case when the Koura Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was poured for us. It has a citrus-like profile and an amazing amalgam of herbal notes. Serve it with a cool garden salad.

2011 Vinho Verde, Vera $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Every DD wine is picked for its versatility, and the Vera Vinho Verde from Northern Portugal is exactly that. Meaning “green wine” this Vinho Verde has a citrusy profile reminiscent of grapefruits. Pour it along side a light pasta dish.

2010 Chardonnay/Viognier, Laurent Miquel $10.48 net price, $9.43 reorder
Winemaker Laurent Miquel blends 65% Chardonnay with 35% Viognier sourced from his vineyards in France’s Languedoc region and the result is a winner! The aromas are fruity and rich with hints of peaches, apricots, and lemon-lime. On a hot August night, a chilled glass of Miquel’s Chardonnay/Viognier makes for a terrific by the glass sipper.

2011 Lugana, Ca’Lojera $14.99, $11.99 reorder
In Italy’s Lake Garda region lies the Lugana DOC. Ca’Lojera is run by Ambra and Franco Tiraboschi, and we are happy and proud to resume our relationship with them with the 2011 Lugana. Made from 100% Trebbiano di Garda, or Turbiana (as the locals call it), it’s fruity and crisp with hints of melons and citrus throughout. It’s perfect with grilled chicken.

2011 Touraine Rosé, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Nearly every summer, the Touraine Rosé is the most popular Rosé among our staff and customers. What’s not to like? Its pale salmon color gets you straight away. Made from Loire Valley stalwart Pineau d’Aunis, it shows aromatic hints of herbs and lemon blossoms. On the palate, it’s perfectly balanced with hints of light citrus fruit. Bring it on a picnic.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, R8 Wine Company $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Especially chosen for this month’s DD is a fine Cabernet Sauvignon from the R8 Wine Co. Sourcing their fruit from California’s Central Coast, the folks at R8 deliver a sturdy, fuller bodied Cab at a more than reasonable price. It shows spicy cedary aromas combined with lush dark brambly berries. It’s the wine you’re going to want with that grilled filet.

2010 Tempranillo, Tapeña $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hailing from Tempranillo’s original home, Spain, Tapeña’s take on it is a traditional one. The wine has an overall roundness of medium purple fruit, yet shows an abundance of leathery, earthy, and tobacco like notes. You will certainly have no problem pairing it with any kind of tapas you deem appropriate, though we think meatballs in tomato sauce is best.

2007 Tempranillo, Tempusalba $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Over in Argentina, they’re growing Tempranillo as well. The grape is the same, but the New World’s take on it is unmistakeable. With a little bottle age, some of that youthful up-front fruit has mellowed with the herbal profile resulting in a smooth, balanced red wine. This will be perfect with a veal chop with chimichurri sauce.

2011 Malbec, Alberto Furque $14.99, $12.74 reorder
Unusual for us, but this month’s DD boasts a trio of reds from Argentina. #2 is produced by Alberto Furque. The estate is now run by Alberto’s daughter Carolina, and she makes outstanding Malbec from vineyards planted 3,000 feet above sea level. It’s power packed and is further proof of the grape’s success in Argentina. Pair it with a rib eye steak.

2007 Carmenérè, Inacayal $15.99, $12.79 reorder
Staying in Argentina, here’s another grape that’s found a new home. Carmenere, just like the Malbec above, was once commonly found growing at the various châteaux in Bordeaux’s Médoc. Think of it as the best of both worlds, combining the characteristics of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It’s spicy, full bodied, and delectable. A lamb chop works.

2010 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Easing up a bit, we conclude this month’s DD with a medium-bodied blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Enrico Pierazzuoli’s Le Farnete sits just west of Firenze in the Tuscan countryside and his wines speak of the place. His Barco Reale is fresh and clean, it spends 4 months in 1 year old barrel and 4 months in bottle before release. This is a great all-purpose wine that drinks well on its own, yet will shine along side pizza and saucy pasta dishes.

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May 2012 Dirty Dozen

Monday, May 7, 2012 2:20 PM

The only month with all 31 days spent in spring is upon us. Happy May! It’s also National Barbecue Month, so let’s get grillin’. The Derby, Mothers’ Day, and the old unofficial kickoff to summer, Memorial Day are all coming soon. For any parties or get togethers you may be having, may we suggest the May Dirty Dozen. 12 great wines. 1 low price.

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2007 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Northfield $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Introducing Northfield Wines! They’re a small, family-run producer with vineyards in both New Zealand and California. For this bottling, they blend 25% Semillon with their Waipara Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and the result is a crisp, clean kiss of citrusy fruit and mineral with a soft landing. Pair this up with a spring afternoon and a chicken salad sandwich.

NV Fortuna, Törley $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Now for something completely different. You love fizz, we love fizz. This sparkler from Hungary, made from Muscat Lunel, Muscat Ottonel, and Irsai Oliver (how’s that for wine geekyness?), has a rich, floral presence on the nose and palate. It has a hint of sweetness with just the right acidity to balance it perfectly. A spicy Thai salad works well.

2010 Malvasia, Borgo di Colloredo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Pure 100% Malvasia here, all tank fermented, fresh and lively. The vines are over 30 years old giving the wine an abundance of complexity. The aromas are of fresh blossoms, the palate precise, and the finish long. Linguine with clams.

2011 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $10.99, $9.03 reorder
Leave it to Costières de Nîmes superstar Diane Pouymorin to craft a strong contender for “Rosé of the vintage” for 2011. Made from equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, this year’s offering is light and herbal with a subtle kiss of fruit. Just what you’d expect if you were on holiday in Provençe. A baguette and a bowl of olives will do fine.

2010 Terrement Blanc, Château Puy-Servain $13.99, $9.45 reorder
Another crazy good deal by virtue of direct importation, Daniel Hecquet’s Terrement Blanc smashes the Price for Quality meter to bits! Named for the Terrement de Segur as all his land plus the house and property which once belonged to his grandfather were owned by the Marquis de Segur in the mid 18th century. Dry and crisp, it drinks like White Bordeaux.

2010 Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $11.99, $9.59 reorder
In Gascony, Rémy and Arcin Grassa (sons of the famous Yves) toil in the vineyards at La Hitaire. ‘Hors Saison’ literally means ‘outdoor season’ in the local dialect, and one taste of this springtime quaffer will have you yearning to be outside.

2008 Toscana Rosso, Panizzi $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Next up is a 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany. Sticking with our springtime theme this month, we have a red with aromas of violets and earth. On the palate the tangy red fruit dances with the round tannins making for a complex, well-balanced finish. Definitely a great all-purpose red, it will pair well with pizza, salumi, or a tortellini salad.

2008 Pinot Noir, Avitus $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Since Pinot Noir’s surge in popularity over the last decade, it has become harder and harder to find one of fine quality without saying “ouch” at the register. Hailing from Auvergne in the middle of France, the Avitus does EXACTLY that-delivering that great berry, Pinot Noir flavor for such a low price. The screwcap makes it so easy to take on a picnic!

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Tololo $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
It goes without saying that some of the wine world’s best bargains come from Chile, but here’s further proof of the validity of that statement. Deep, rich purple fruit and spice dominate the aromas, the palate is full and smooth with fine tannins marking the finish. Now that it’s National Barbecue Month, git that grill a-blazin’, and toss on a rib-eye.

2009 Beaujolais Lantignié, Château du Basty $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Great vintages in Beaujolais DO happen, as evidenced by 2009. The wines at the Cru level are special, providing that friendly cherry fruit with a lighter body and mellow tannins. Beaujolais Lantignié sits between Cru and village level, still providing all that yummy, luscious berry fruit with wafts of spice and forest floor. Great with a duck breast sandwich.

2006 Tradition, Château de Valcombe $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Here at TWH, we taste and taste and retaste the wines we have stocked here in our warehouse. A recent staff tasting of the 2006 Valcombe Tradition had our staff fighting over who got to take the sample bottle home. Layers of complexity, dark purple fruit, a hint of earth, herbs, and the famous garrigue make this a superstar. Great with pasta.

2005 Trassegum, Château d’Or et des Gueules $21.99, $17.59 reorder
This month’s DD closes with a bang! Diane Pouymorin’s prestige cuvée is a blend of Syrah and 60+ year old-vine Carignan. The result is pure magic. Rich, savory purple fruit, spices, forest floor, and underbrush dominate the aromas. The palate is firm and precise, the fruit mingling with the earthy character, and sturdy tannins which fade nicely on the long, harmonious finish. Pure class in a bottle. Bring this to a fancy barbecue, and you will win everyone’s favor.

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May 2011 Dirty Dozen

Thursday, May 5, 2011 5:34 PM

There is but one month of 31 days all spent in spring, and here we are! It is national barbecue month, then there’s Cinco, the Derby, all ending with the unofficial kickoff of summer, Memorial Day. What to do about all those occasions which warrant a glass of this or a glass of that? The Dirty Dozen is a value giant with its 12 bottles, all chosen for their versatility, packed into one box for an incredibly low price. Viva la DD!

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2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Targovishte – $8.98 net, $8.08 reorder
Exotic? Have a look at the bottle of this Black Sea Coastal Sauvignon Blanc, and you’ll know you’re not in western Europe anymore. Kickin’ off the May DD, we present a nice, crisp, easy to drink Bulgarian white! It’s got all the familiar Sauv Blanc characteristics, but maintains a sense of place. Warm days=cool Sauvignon Blanc. Nazdrave!

2009 Chenin Blanc, Bella Valle – $7.98 net, $7.18 reorder
Say what you will about the times we’re living in, but if high quality, very affordable wine is a result of them, then good for us all! This Cali Chenin Blanc is bright and zesty offering up hints of orchard fruit and honey. It’s a brilliant springtime wine that pairs well with that couscous salad or maybe that hamachi crudo.

2009 Riesling, Skyleaf – $8.98 net, $8.08 reorder
In honor of the upcoming Rugby World Cup being held this year in New Zealand, here’s a lively little Kiwi Riesling. The All-Blacks haven’t won it since its inception, but if they’re half as good as this here Riesling, the hosts stand a strong chance of raising the cup! Full of appley, melon-like fruit braced with fresh acidity, it’s the perfect picnic white.

2008 Chardonnay, Lalande – $12.59, $10.07 reorder
DD regulars should be well aware of the quality of the white wines with the Lalande label on them. From Gascogne in southwest France, the Grassa family vineyards churn out super quality Chardonnay for an extremely fair price. Their 2008 has just the right amount of fleshy fruit buoyed by fresh acidity and should suit that Crab Louie perfectly.

2007 Sancerre ‘Apud Sariacum’, Domaine Raimbault – $23.49, $18.79 reorder
And then there are times when you need a top quality Sauvignon Blanc … where do you go? To Sancerre, of course! Home of some of the most famous Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, the Loire Valley in France has the perfect terroir for this grape variety. The Apud Sariacum is rich in mineral, has a citrus fruit profile, and goes perfectly with a bowl of mussels.

2009 Riesling ‘Incline’, Selbach – $10.98 net, $9.88 reorder
If you’ve never seen how the Riesling is grown in the Mosel in Germany, think incline. As in steep incline. As in vines that are hand picked for a reason. Johannes Selbach is doing us all a solid by somehow crafting this slightly sweet Riesling and offering it for a song. Who says it’s hard to pair wine with a spicy Thai salad? Or Kung Pao Chicken?

2008 Old Vine Garnacha, Vina Alarba – $9.98 net, $8.98 reorder
Spain’s Calatayud seems to be bargain central for high quality red wine these days, so we went prospecting and came up with a bunch; take this here Garnacha. It’s soft and plush, kind of like those velvety beanbag chairs of the 1970’s.

2009 Bonarda, Colonia Las Liebres – $8.98 net, $8.08 reorder
The first of a brace of Argentine reds, this has got to be one of the best deals we’ve seen in a long while! Bonarda is originally from the Piemonte region in Italy. Its aromas are dense and fruit driven, think black cherries; on the palate, it’s deep and complex but in a medium bodied way. This is the kind of red wine that will go well with skewered beef.

2008 Syrah, Fatascia – $12.98 net, $11.68 reorder
It may say 2008 on the label, but the complexity of this Old World Syrah makes you scratch your head wondering how that happens with such a young wine. Anya insists that we serve this wine with our Rigatoni alla Norma.

2007 Grenache VDP, Andre Brunel – $9.99, $7.99 reorder
If you love Red Rhone wines, you know 2 things: Andre Brunel makes pretty dang good wines, and 2007 was a sensational vintage for the region. All of that shows in this here bottle. Ripe fruit and backbone, herbs and spice … yum.

2005 Cabernet/Syrah ‘Cuvee Alex’, Chateau Guiot – $21.49, $17.19 reorder
Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah. Sounds right. This special cuvee, made especially for importer Robert Kacher, has the profile of a much more pricy wine. Dark cherry fruit, spice, and forest floor dominate the aromatics; the wine is full-bodied, yet zippy, with a perfectly balanced finish. Yep, this is the wine to pour when the rib-eyes come off the grill!

2009 Syrah, Alberto Furque – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Now for something completely different. New World, southern hemisphere Syrah. The vines grow 3000 ft above sea level, providing the cool nights necessary for the wine to develop proper acidity. True to its variety, there is tobacco and leather in the aromas; the palate is marked by ripe berry-like fruit and vibrant acidity, suggesting this will pair perfectly with an herb encrusted roast pork loin.

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2006 Dry Riesling Marlborough Isabel Esate Vineyard

Thursday, January 20, 2011 5:01 PM

Happy New Year, all! Whew! I hope all y’all’s holidays went well. I knew sometime in late November that I wouldn’t be taking my foot off the gas pedal until mid-January. See, I have reason to celebrate January 1st, 3rd, 7th and 14th. Actually, for me, it really goes until the 25th, and this year, next week will be packed with good stuff. The annual UGC Bordeaux tasting comes to San Francisco next Friday, the 21st. Also, we have the Sauternes/Barsac tasting dinner with Aline Baly, and the fabulous wines of Chateau Coutet coming up at Restaurant Picco this Monday evening. Another Sauternes friend will be arriving Wednesday, and there are more dinner plans. Followed by what will be my first glimpse into the newly bottled 2008 Bordeaux! Whew! Is right.

I just returned to the treehouse after being treated to dinner by one of my dearest friends. She and I go way back, and we are often spotted at Brandy Ho’s on Columbus & Pacific. In all the years I’ve been going to that restaurant, there is one dish I order EVERY TIME. It is the spicy Smoked Ham With Cloves Of Garlic. If you like smoky ham, garlic and lots of hot pepper, I highly recommend it. One of our favorite rituals is that she asks me to take the leftovers (I call them “Brandovers”) for the next day, provided I send her a text when I’m eating them, expounding on their delicacy. So, a bit of a rarity, tonight being Saturday, I will not eat my Brandovers at work tomorrow, I will eat them here, so I get to pair them with wine! What wine, you may ask? Tomorrow, it will be the2006 Dry Marlborough Riesling from Isabel Estate Vineyard. So the story goes something like this: Just as the ever-popular, sold out, 2004 Chateau Mont Perat, we caught a distributor closing out a great wine. (Please keep in mind that we taste a lot of “closeouts” and pass on the vast majority of them.) But this wine was poured for me blind, in a sense, and as I inhaled the aromas, I was impressed. It had an herbal note that was unmistakeable, a mineral drive and that petrol-like complexity that Riesling of distinction can have. On the palate, it was crisp and lively. The fruit was in harmony with the herbs and minerals, and it was as complex as some of my favorite dry Rieslings from Alsace. Anya already knew what I didn’t, but when they told me the price, I took a glass to a very busy David, and asked him what he thought. Stop. For a second. David is an expert. His ability to evaluate a wine is amazing. So when I do things like this, I don’t tell him a thing about the wine. I just handed him a glass. He took in the aromatics, blind, mind you. His response was “It smells like Riesling with a little age, but on the palate, it has New World fruit … it’s enigmatic, but really good!” I then told him that we could sell it for 8 bucks a bottle. He arose from his busy desk, greeted the rep, asked how much they had, and bought it all. Now, we can offer this to all of you … for 8 bucks. If you love dry Riesling with character, this is a no-brainer!

So yeah, Monday night will be the dinner with Aline at Picco, and that will be epic. I may have a seat or two (no more than that) available, and will be checking my email Sunday and Monday, in case any last minute Coutet fans may fancy hanging with us. But one night before, I will be enjoying my Brandovers with a couple of glasses of the 2006 Dry Riesling from Isabel Estate Vineyard! – Peter Zavialoff

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