2010 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels

Monday, June 30, 2014 7:43 PM

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 3 months since we’ve moved to our new headquarters here in San Francisco’s Dogpatch district. Though it’s new and different, getting here is so much easier than our last location. I mean we’re ONE BLOCK away from a major intersection of 2 busy San Francisco boulevards! It’s also hard to believe that it’s been 3 months since I landed in Bordeaux to attend the 2013 barrel tastings back at the end of March. Where does the time go … seriously? Now that the dust has somewhat settled, look forward to hearing about the trip and some of the exciting finds I made while visiting Bordeaux this year very soon. Our new location has added a mile to my commute, but this morning I was reminded why I endure it each day: Passion.

 

“If you can sell a wine to me, I can sell it to anyone.” That was how I answered David during my interview after he asked if my lack of retail experience would hinder my ability to perform an important facet of the job. So let’s just say it’s easier for me to recommend wines that appeal to me, especially if there’s a good story behind it. So this morning, a customer came in, she usually sticks to crisp whites, and I have a reasonable idea of what she likes in a wine. As she filled out her case, she threw a curveball at me. Fortunately, it was a hanging curve. She asked me for a Bordeaux recommendation. Smack! Out of the park.

I asked her for some parameters, and quickly reached for a bottle of 2009 Roc de Cambes. She was looking for something “people pleasing and enjoyable now.” I told her that a week ago Thursday night, I poured 3 different Bordeaux wines at the Golden Gate Wine Society’s Bordeaux tasting. I went on about the tasting, and further spoke of my relationship with François Mitjavile and that the Roc de Cambes was the hit of the tasting. When I was done, she asked me, “Do you own this place?” I shook my head and shrugged it off, “no,” I said. She looked at me and replied, “you just work here, eh? Wow, what passion.” I guess so. I love wine, and I love Bordeaux the most. Surprisingly enough, this write-up is not endorsing any particular Bordeaux. It’s about my favorite sub $20 red wine in the shop. I happily drink this wine in every vintage, and I imagine I will do so provided she continues making it. I’m talking about the 2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels.

 

The “she” I’m talking about here is Diane Puymorin. We speak of her often, and for very good reason. She makes unique wines that have a sense of place, are fairly priced, and taste great. Her 2010 Les Cimels rouge has what I love in a red wine. It’s medium-full bodied, has a wide swath of aromatic nuance which include black tea and forest floor, a harmonious complex palate, and a zippy mouthfeel which paves the way for a long, tasty finish. I just love the stuff. It’s not jammy. It’s not oaky. It’s savory. When I think of how to describe the fruit in this wine, my first inclination is to compare it to a Kalamata olive. I have a good buddy who several years ago, after tasting the 2005, told me to “just bring me a case of each vintage of this stuff when it’s released.” I know why. It’s a great red wine, it’s easy on the wallet, you can drink it on its own, and it also is great with food.

 

Pretty much low hanging fruit, but hey, this stuff is sensational. Me being me, my conversation doesn’t drift far from Bordeaux for very long, but it was a simple progression to see how I landed on the 2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels today. The phone rang. It was another of my music playing good pals with an invitation to come by after work for a 3-day marinated tri-tip dinner! Anya saw me jump for joy after I hung up the phone. I’ve really got a thing for tri-tip and my buddy is quite the grill meister. Okay, my part. What do I bring? I began this exercise by walking around the floor. Hmmm. Something good, yes, but, it’s the end of the month, so be careful in the spending department. That got me to the filing cabinet to review my roster of personal wines that I have stored here. Aha, I’ll bring my last bottle of 2003 Château Gloria, St. Julien, so we’ve got the Bordeaux covered. But I know this group, one bottle will not suffice, and as generous as I might have felt at the time, I managed to continue to hold off on those 4 bottles of 1995 Clerc Milon I have left. Wait! No brainer, just grab a Cimels and call it a day. And that’s how we got here.

Another day in the life of a wine geek. The tasting last week with the Golden Gate Wine Society went great and was a lot of fun. Thinking about addressing this group of tasters gave me a brief pang of nerves. One of the other presenters was a rather famous importer who knows way more about wine than I do. Heeding Anya’s advice, I was just myself, and regaled the group with “the stories that got you to the tasting in the first place.” So yeah, I’m comfortable talking about Bordeaux … you might say passionate. Also, I’m super excited to hear that we are going about picking up our Bordeaux wines getting them ready for their 5 week voyage across the big pond! I’ll try to keep somewhat of a lid on it until they arrive, but in addition to the 2011’s, there will be some great, value-driven Bordeaux wines from earlier vintages that I will by psyched to see among our bins. Patience. Patience. The waiting will be easy. As long as we have plenty of 2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels around. Wishing you all a happy summer and a happy Independence Day! Cheers! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Bordeaux, The Golden Gate Wine Society, high-quality value red wines, the World Cup finals, or the 2010 Les Cimels: peter@winesf.com

Newly Arrived: 2013 Rose From Petite Cassagne

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:04 AM

Why TWH moved to a new location at 829 26th Street at the edge of the historic Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco might be a question many of you have entertained and one that can be answered many ways. One answer is that we needed more space to warehouse our imported wines. As Pete likes to explain and I will paraphrase here, we want new vintages of French Rose as soon as possible and not in the middle of summer. Typically Rose is bottled in March, so given the normal timeframe of shipping logistics, we can expect new vintages of Rose to arrive in SF at the earliest by mid/late April. Too often at the old spot, we’d have to wait so that we can make room for a new container. But here at the new spot, voila, it has arrived fresh, fresh, fresh in April with room to spare in the warehouse. I wasted no time, buying a bottle of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne to enjoy at Easter, and will now attempt to make a strong argument as to why you should want this Rose over any other.

 

The 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne has a baby pink hue so pretty, so translucent, you can’t help but gravitate to the bottle. Made from direct press juice, mainly Cinsault, this Rose has that delicate, subtle appearance that signifies elegance, subtlety, and freshness. The aromas are pervasive but not heady. The strawberry scents are like those that greet you when you pass by a vendor at the Farmers market selling just picked berries; it is a vivid, memory-inducing aroma. On the palate the strawberry theme continues but stops short of excessive fruitiness by the perfectly matched acidity and dryness level. It is not an out of the ordinary Rose, unlike anything you’ve ever tried before, but it is precisely what you want from a $11.49 bottle of Rose from Southern France. Now let’s imagine for a moment that you had the good fortune of summering along the Mediterranean coast and were at an outdoor bistro ordering a glass of Rose. If the restaurant served you a glass of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne, first you would think to yourself why don’t I drink more Rose and second you would begin to wonder whether you could purchase anything like it back in the States. The good news is yes you can and we have it here at TWH!

 

At Easter, my elder brother, who resides in Sonoma County and grows wine grapes as a hobby, asked me to try a Rose that a friend had made. He asked me to honestly critique the wine so that he could report back to his friend. After staying up the night before until 4:30 in the morning-having gone to midnight mass and then breaking the lenten fast afterwards – I wasn’t exactly in the mood for playing the role of the wine expert, but I tasted it anyway and found it to be sound. My biggest objection to it was the heat on the finish and its sense of heaviness on the palate. I could see that my brother was not clear by what I meant, so the next day as we continued our Easter celebration at my other brother’s house for a day-long bbq feast, I poured a glass of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne and instructed my brother to try it. “You see how light and fresh it is?” I told him. And I went on to say, “we sell it at the store for $11.49 per bottle, and even less by the case!” Now he understood, so much so he asked me to set a few bottles aside for him.

 

 

One of the highlights at the bbq feast for me was a slow-cooked, fall-apart-tender pork butt that was served on sweet Hawaiian rolls with sliced cucumbers, pineapple, red onion and cilantro with Siracha and Hoisin sauce. It was an amazingly delicous pairing with the Petite Cassagne Rose. Truly. Red wine would have been too heavy and a white wine wouldn’t have had enough fruity oomph, proving to me once again how versatile and complimentary Rose is with foods that impart heat or spiciness.

 



Winemaker Diane de Puymorin has perfected making Rose that combines real value with sophistication (actually this is true for all her wines). The 2013 Rose from Petite Cassagne is simply hard to beat especially when you factor in the price. At $11.49 per bottle ($9.77 when ordered by the case), you can afford to incorporate a taste of the Mediterranean life into your daily diet. 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 

2011 Petite Cassagne Rosé

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 3:06 PM

We’re here! That unofficial kick-off to summer, Memorial Day Weekend! However you’re spending it, we hope that you are enjoying it. I recently heard some unbelievable stat that purported upwards of 75% of Americans participate in some kind of barbecue festivity during this weekend. Whether or not that is the number is anyone’s guess; the fact though, is that a great many of us will be noshing on something hot off the grill in the next couple of days. Let’s see. Late spring. Long weekend. Afternoon gathering of friends and family. Barbecue grill. One word: Rosé!

 

I drink Rosé year round, a frosty glass always keeps me cool while cooking in the winter. Its crisp, lean style makes it versatile enough to pair with a simple salad, bowl o’mussels, or rotisserie chicken. Not to mention, a glass of Rosé will always take me back to that first time I visited by chef buddy Carsten at his place in the Côte d’Azur. It was so civilized. Every day in the early evening, he would open the door and we’d sit on the stoop outside his tiny flat and invite locals and tourists alike to stop by for a chilled glass of Rosé. We met so many interesting people from all over the world, andwhat did we all have in common? We enjoyed Rosé! With sunny skies in the local forecast this weekend, it seems like cheating, but I’m going to my go-to Rosé for 2012. It’s made by our superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin, the 2011 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rosé.

 

Right about this time of year, we get our selections of Rosé from the previous vintage. David gets to taste them on his annual trip to Burgundy and the south of France in January, but for the rest of us, we taste them when they land here. So shortly after multiple pallets arrived in our warehouse, we had sample bottles of over a handful of 2011 Rosé open for our staff. As always, all of our new Rosé are dry, with varying degrees of fruit expression and nuance of flavor. The Petite Cassagnecaught my eye straight away. I’ve seen this wine over several vintages, but this year’s is by far the palest version I have ever seen! We’ve all got different preferences and tastes, but when it comes to Rosé, I like mine pale and mellow. The light, crisp profile carries over to the aromas and palate. A hint of peach blossom and herb garden lead the way to fresh, lively mouth feel of crispness with just a rumor of stone fruit. Diane blends equal parts of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and old-vine Mourvèdre for this Rosé, and in my book, she’s got herself a winner! You should see my invoice … and it’s still only May!

 

So needless to say, I’m psyched about getting 2 days off in a row! I plan to stay clear of the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary madness. As a matter of fact, we’ve received reports that traffic is dreadful already. This will cause Anya and I both to drive home via the Bay Bridge and then the Richmond/San Rafael. I’ll just be glad when I have the car parked, 2 days off, and a couple bottles of the 2011 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rosé to take to the grill! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to write me with any questions or comments about Rosé, 2011 Bordeaux Futures, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the gift that keeps giving: The European Champions: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

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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If you were to park in front of The Wine House at 129 Carolina Street, walk in through the entrance and peer inside, what you would see is a dazzling display of our newly arrived 2010 Rosés from France!!! Take a closer look and you will notice the 2010 Rosé Les Cimels from Chateau d’Or et de Gueules in magnum format beautifully arranged on a wine barrel. (Read with a Homer Simpson voice-over) Mmmmmm maaaaaagnums. It’s a first on two fronts: the first time we’ve offered the Rosé Les Cimels and the first time we have offered a Rosé in magnum. It’s a party in a bottle! I’ve witnessed the demand and appreciation for Rosés climb steadily over the last decade. It is now mandatory for TWH to stock inventory of Rosés year round. Few care any longer whether it’s hot out or not to drink pink.People want their Rosé year round. It may surprise you to learn that getting new vintages of Roses early in the year is no small feat. Most producers do not bottle until March or even April. It takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks to travel overseas, coupled with the obligatory work stoppage or strike in Europe and you’ve got, at best, a May arrival. Et voila, 2010 Rosés sont arrivés!!!

 

I find the timing for the arrival of fresh batches of Rosés to be in keeping with the whole Springtime renewal and rebirth theme. Drinking Rosés this time of year is an outwardly show of optimism.That’s how I see it anyway. Day 2 of my 3-day Easter celebration was enhanced by an impromptu Rosé tasting I put on for friends and family.You know a wine is good when you put out a bottle in the middle of a kitchen island, go to put something away in the fridge, say, and turn back around only to find the bottle drained. Such is what happened with the 2010 Rosé Les Cimels from Chateau d’Or et de Gueules. How could you keep yourself from not pouring more into a glass? The color alone will get you – a pale pink/orange hue that is glowy and feminine. Then there is the aroma, so intense and unexpected given its pale robe. Then it all drives home with complex flavors on the palate: delicate notes of fruits and flowers, a mélange of berries and agrumes.There is a pithy Ruby Red grapefruit thing going on that is lip smackingly delicious and refreshing. There is sophistication and restraint in the 2010 Rosé Les Cimels. Comprised of 70% Cinsault (Diane’s got some pretty old vines growing on her estate) and 10% each of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Grenache. It isn’t a secret what HUGE fans we are at TWH for wines madeby Diane Puymorin of Chateau d’Or et de Gueules and Petite Cassagne. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this new addition to her stellar line-up should have us all doing the Happy Dance. Of course the excitement doesn’t stop there because as you already read above, the 2010 Rosé Les Cimels comes in magnum!!! Okay, now the bad news. Stock is limited and already fast-acting wine sommeliers and other such insider wine types who like to peruse our shop have been scooping them up. The mags will quickly disappear but don’t fret we’ve got 750s in good supply (at least for the moment!) There is going to be more celebrating this weekend as my papa is having a Birthday. The tribe is gathering and we’ll be toasting Paps and giving thanks for having him in our lives. I am truly blessed to have a father like him! Temperatures are going to be creeping up and I hear my brother will be making his famous Ahi Poke, so a magnum of 2010 Rosé Les Cimels is definitely in order! Mnogoye Lyeto Papachka!Anya Balistreri

Matchmaker Matchmaker Find Me a Wine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:38 PM

If there’s one thing that never gets old, it’s when the stars align and make good things happen.  Case in point, my return to TWH (and thus, blogging) has fallen over that holiday which is so near and dear to thine heart, Valentine’s Day.  Coincidence?  I don’t believe in coincidences…. But I do believe in cheesy holidays that capitalize on human emotions, and apparently, I like writing about them too because the last time I wrote anything about wine (publicly anyways) was last year around this time.  I must preface this post, however, by saying that while this is indeed a post inspired by Valentine’s Day and love and all that good stuff, it is NOT one of those posts where I tell you what to drink with your lover on V-day.  If it were, I would be extremely tardy and my words would fall into a black hole of post-holiday obsolescence.  Instead, I have decided to combine my love for wine with one of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If you haven’t seen the show, a purportedly “great catch” is given a pool of 30 or so eligible persons of the opposite sex from which to find the one with whom he/she will fall in love and spend the rest of his/her life.  Needless to say, it’s everything you’d think a Hollywood matchmaking television show would be, but hey, love works in strange ways, who am I to judge?  That said, I asked Pete (who would like it to be known that he has never seen the show) to choose six noteworthy wine suitors for me- 3 reds & 3 whites– and subsequently took each one of them out on a date in hopes of falling in love.  Am I going to kiss and tell?  You betchya!

Date 1: 2009 Picollo Ernesto GaviI really wanted the Gavi to be my first date.  Certainly, I’d heard good things about all of the wines in the bunch from everyone at TWH, but the Gavi seemed to be extremely high up on the list of “go-to” wines being recommended to customers at the store, so I was highly anticipating making its acquaintance.  With that in mind, I got to know Gavi while nibbling on a marinated mix of olives & peppers and French bread, followed by a lovely dinner of lemon & pesto grilled chicken on top of a mixed green salad with fresh parmesan, steamed veggies, and sun-dried tomato polenta.  This wine definitely lived up to its hype… beautiful nose of melon, honeyed lemon, slight tropical fruit, cut hay, and a touch of salty sea air.  The palate, while fresh and clean, had a very pleasantly surprising viscosity and roundness to it as well.  The fruit was more citrusy on the palate and that classic Italian minerality, herbs/white pepper was there too.  Overall, a fantastic date and I feel like Gavi and I will be the best of friends.  The white wine that I will feel more than confident taking to parties, pairing with a wide range of fare, or just drinking all by itself when the mood strikes.  It’s the kind of wine I want to have a lot of on hand.

 

Date 2: 2005 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum RougeThough it’s been a while, the ’05 Trassegum and I have met before, and I must say, I’ve always had a crush on it.  It’s a Rhone blend made predominantly from Syrah by one of my all-time favorite producers.  I let the bottle sit open & untouched for about half an hour while I made homemade valentines for loved ones and waited for lamb tandoori from Indian Palace.  When I finally poured myself a glass, the wine was a little tight, but I was still able to discern the nose of charcoaled meat, leather (both sweet & dirty), violets (omigosh, the violets!), dark fruit, a hint of anise and Provençal herbs.  It was juicy and balanced on the palate, but again, needed a little time to unwind.  About an hour later, I noted red fruit coming through more and….mmmm, forest floor.  Later yet, the sweet spices started to shine- cinnamon, vanilla, cassis, spicy raspberry and plums- it just kept getting prettier and more layered.  Oh my, I thought to myself, It’s seducing me, I can feel it! I’d describe the mouth-feel as silky and elegant, but with density and muscle at the same time. Moments later my food arrived. I don’t know if lamb tandoori was the pinnacle of food pairings for this, but sometimes I think the best pairings are whatever you’re in the mood to eat paired with whatever you’re in the mood to drink. Which is exactly what this was… and it was heavenly.

 

Date 3: 2009 Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Blanc & 2008 Enrico Pierazzuoli Carmignano Le Farnete For the next outing, I grabbed some gal pals and headed down to Sapore Italiano in Burlingame for some fabulous Italian cuisine.  We sipped (ok, gulped) the Couronneau while partaking in the Antipasto delle due Sicillie- an assorted plate of meats, cheeses, olives, grilled veggies, and bruschetta.  Oh we are off to a GREAT start!  Almost a little too good, in fact.  We guzzled the Couronneau and moved on to the Carmignano so fast I felt as if I didn’t give it its due time in the spotlight.  It’s like that person at a party you start flirting with but never really get a chance to talk to before they leave (luckily, I know where to find more).





 





That said, what I did experience of the Couronneau absolutely knocked my socks off.  The old world crushed rock minerality exploded off the nose, intermingling in perfect harmony with fresh citrus fruit and hints of white flower.  The fruit and minerality came thru on the palate with exquisite finesse along with a vibrant and long-lasting acidity.  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with when and how this wine was consumed, but I would love to try it again sometime with a mélange of seafood and longer timeframe.  In a nutshell, this wine out-drinks its price point by a LOT.  Moving onto the Carmignano, I think this might win “best friend” in the red category.  It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and while both varietals make their presence known, neither one overpowers the other.  Upon first whiff, I definitely noted the luscious ripe red and dark fruit first, which evolved into a combination of cherries, rose petals, red currants, cedar, and slight oak nuances.  The palate was more rustic than the nose would suggest, with dusty tannins that smooth out and a little mulchy sweetness to the fruit.  Overall, I found it to have an approachability that would please most any group and/or occasion.  I’d say it’s a solid notch and more above your average “pizza wine”, but that certainly didn’t stop me from ordering a whole pie for myself to go with it.

 Date 4: 2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie– Truth be told, I had actually had this bottle in my possession since Thanksgiving.  My initial intention was to share it with my T-day companions because what goes better with Thanksgiving dinner than Cru Beaujolais? But I got selfish and decided to keep it to myself for a later date (sorry gang).  I started out just sipping this sans sustenance, which was delightful.  Then I got hungry and having no patience for a trip to the grocery store, I pulled out some prosciutto, brie, crudités, small green salad, and a whole bunch of sweet potato fries (basically everything that looked yummy in my fridge).  All I have to say is that Cru Beaujolais- especially this one with its beautiful layers of wild strawberries, lavender, Provençal herbs, hint of minerality, and elegant yet juicy palate- is the arm candy of wine.  It is just oh so pretty and it goes with EVERYTHING.  If you’re one of those wine drinkers who still isn’t convinced that Beaujolais can be some of the most gorgeous and versatile wines on the planet, grab a bottle of this tout de suite.

 Date 5: 2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias BaixasFor my last, but no less anticipated, date I braved the rain and met up with a friend of mine for sushi and a bottle of the P&L Albarino.  In my opinion, sushi is comfort food and white wine can be just as cozy a companion as any red.  My notes on this wine were as such: “on the nose, very nice melon, green pear that opens up into more lush tropical fruit.  Noticeable leesiness, and oh, is that macadamia nut? Indeed! Yay! Slight creaminess through the mid-palate and awesome burst of acidity on the finish.  Sushi + P&L + rainy day = love.

The Verdict:  Pete, ya done good, I love them all but I love playing the field (or should I say vineyard) even more and I’m not ready to settle down with one wine just yet.  Being a bachelorette is much much too fun.  - Emily Crichton

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