2016 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:34 PM

2016 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - So said Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.  It's usually translated as "The more things change, the more they stay the same."  Sometimes change goes unnoticed; other times, it may come as a surprise.  Over the past decade, one of our most popular Rosé wines adhered to a particular style - very pale in color, bone dry, with aromas devoid of any detectable red fruit.  This is what we came to expect from Sébastien Vincenti and Nanou Barthélemy's Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé after a decade of consistency.  I would repeatedly tell customers that if it were served to me in a black glass, I would think it was white wine - it was that sleek.  When we received our container of Rosé wines early this summer, we were all quite surprised by the appearance of the 2016 Fondrèche Rosé.  It had color.

        


Although color alone doesn't necessarily indicate that the wine's flavor profile has changed, it does most certainly affect everyone's perception of it.  I think Anya nailed it on the head when she described its color as, "a light salmon/coral."  Each year, when we receive our Rosé wines from France, our staff gets together and gives them all a taste.  Over the past decade, the Fondrèche Rosé can be a little shy and muted when it first arrives.  We're never worried about it.  After a month or so, it comes to life, and it actually can keep longer than most Rosé wines.  So when we headed to the tasting room earlier this year for Rosé day, we were all anxious to taste Sébastien's Rosé.  The verdict?  Fantastic!  The very first thing we noticed was that its color is a bit deceptive.  It's no fruit bomb.  It's actually very much like its former self, only with detectable red fruit aromas, and a bit of fruit on the palate.  If anything, it's better; though I still may be challenged identifying it as a Rosé if tasting it from the aforementioned black glass.  Hints of strawberries and watermelon drift from the glass, though their expression is subtle.  There are herbal notes as well as stony minerals.  The palate is bone-dry, the soft melon-y fruit sits at its core with the other complexities wrapped around it.  The finish is dry and crisp, like always.

Maybe the word "change" is not doing a service to the 2016 Fondrèche Rosé; it's more like Vincenti finely tuned it.  Either way, it's an extraordinary effort by a winemaker who is not afraid of change.  In fact, Sébastien had been working organically for many years, finally obtaining certification in 2013.  In January of 2016, Decanter magazine reported that he dropped his organic status in favor of "better treatments."  An interesting concept - and one worth looking into.  This resonates with me as it was just Thursday evening, I was dining with a Bordeaux negociant and a young woman from a very prominent Bordeaux family.  We spoke about her mother's property, and she told me that though her mother is open to some organic techniques, she wouldn't go fully organic due to the impact of copper to the soil, which over the long-term is detrimental to a vineyard.  This, of course, has my interest piqued, and I will continue to investigate it.  But for now, it's time for me to just grab a bottle and head off for the weekend.  We've got a big showdown in the world of English Football tomorrow morning; kick off is 5:30 PDT.  May the best team win.  Happy Weekend! - Peter Zavialoff
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2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia

 
Well, that’s a little more like it. Our typical summer in SF weather is back, just in time to shroud The Outside Lands concerts with nature’s air conditioning, known around here as Karl The Fog. Despite the atypical weather patterns that we have been enduring this year, the summer fog is something we can depend on! Not all is lost. If one prefers sunshine and warmer weather, just head north, east, or south some 10 miles or more, and you’ll find some. In keeping things cool, the fog does enable us to add a category to our wine drinking options: Red wine. It’s good to have options, and after being tantalized by a photo posted today by Olivier’s Butchery, I opt to indulge in their grill-ready hanger steak. Hmmm. What to drink with it? I recently had a fine tasting experience with the dregs of a bottle of 2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia that went out on sales calls for a day. It’s time to call one of my food & wine pals and pop a bottle!
 
 

Domaine Fondrèche is not a newcomer, nor a stranger to me. I have enjoyed many of winemaker Sébastien Vincenti’s wines over the years, their reflections of place and their purity of fruit have had a place at my table since my beginnings here at TWH. To me,Sébastien’s Cuvée Persia has always been a big, big fancy wine that needed something substantial on the plate to stand up to it. So after a long day here at the shop, out popped 7 or so sample bottles that were poured for wholesale accounts, and Tom, Chris, and I headed for the tasting room to see how they were showing. There were Rosés, a bottle of white, and 3 different 2012 cuvées of Fondrèche. I knew going in that, of the reds, I wanted to taste the Cuvée Persia last. That’s what experience will do for you. Short of appetizers, let alone a well seasoned, grilled hanger steak, I was preparing myself for another big, youthful vintage of the Persia. I was in for a surprise. I found the sample rather giving and expressive. It’s still a big wine, and yes, the grilled hanger steak will help, but it was beaming with complexity! So much so, that despite the weather on that particular evening, I was going to drink red. It’s not in the Tuesday night wine price category, but if you consider what the well-known fancy producers around the Rhône Valley get for their wines, there is tremendous value here.

Here is what The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck had to say about the 2012 Cuvée Persia: The 2012 Ventoux Persia is Syrah dominated, yet incorporates 10% Mourvèdre. It’s aged half in small barrels and the balance in a mix of concrete and foudre. Silky, fabulously polished and full-bodied, it gives up lots of cassis, black raspberry, roasted meats and graphite. While it’s upfront and supple, it will evolve gracefully on its purity and balance. 91 points”

 
Having lived in the SF Bay Area all my life, I have always appreciated the summer fog, for if things get too warm (I begin to melt at around 73F), I can always head back into the thick of it for a little relief. And hey, if it gets me grilling and popping amazing red wine, all the better! – Peter Zavialoff
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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
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July 2012 Dirty Dozen

Monday, July 2, 2012 7:12 PM

Summer’s here!!! Our reward? 31 days of July followed by 31 days of another summer month, but we’ll get to that later. So yes, we’ve got warm weather, bustling farmers’ markets, and plenty of daylight for picnics and barbecues. What to drink with all of that frolicking? May we suggest the July Dirty Dozen? 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, for 1 low price. Santé!

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2011 Scaia Bianca $12.98 net, $11.68 reorder
Here we go: blending 60% Garganega with 40% Chardonnay results in a bright, delectable quaffer that Tom likes to refer to as a ‘Super Soave’, as it is in Soave where Garganega is boss! The Chardonnay buffers it with richness and depth, making it perfect to pop with spaghetti langoustini. The über-cool glass enclosure can be reused!

2010 Malvar, Tochuelo $9.98 net, $8.98 reorder
Amazing values in the wine world continue to present themselves! Not yet a household name (at least not here in the states), Malvar is a white grape predominately grown in the Vinos de Madrid DOC. It’s light on its feet with delicate nuances of citrus and orchard fruit. Bone dry, it is great with light dishes such as a shrimp salad.

2011 Sauvignon Blanc, La Petite Perriere $11.48 net, $10.33 reorder
Plenty of Sauvignon Blanc is grown all over the world, that’s for sure. But there is something special about Loire Valley SB, even if it comes in bargain form. The Saget family got their vinous start in the late 18th century putting them among only an elite handful of Loire Valley estates that can boast of such longevity. The proof’s in the juice. Crisp and clean.

NV Rosé Brut, Comte de Bailly $10.98 net, $9.88 reorder
Pop the cork of one of these. Seriously, just do it. When this bargain Rosé fizz was poured for us, we were stumped. How could something so good be so inexpensive? Better yet, it comes from Tempranillo grown in Spain, but it is produced in Burgundy. Clean red fruits are present on the nose and the palate is lively and refreshing. Pour it with anything!

2010 Les Tours, Domaine la Hitaire $10.39, $8.31 reorder
You’ll have to search far and wide to find better deals on white wines than those made by la famille Grassa in Gascony. Purchased by Yves Grassa 20+ years ago, Domaine la Hitaire is run by his 2 sons Rémy and Armin. This blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard is crisp and fresh; the perfect summer sipper. It’s what you drink with a plate of little fried fish.

2010 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Domaine Ehrhart has been on the Alsatian wine scene since the early 1700’s. With that many generations experiencing that many vintages, you have to say there is expertise afoot! The Herrenweg Gewurz shines with a good chicken curry.

2007 Plaisir 75 cl., Roger Sabon $13.98 net, $12.58 reorder
On to the red side; famed Châteauneuf du Pape producer, Roger Sabon apparently cannot stop with his CdP. The 2007 vintage was soooo good in the southern Rhône that he found some terrific grapes for an even better price and made the Plaisir for notre plaisir. Think bright red fruit, earth, and a waft of Provençal herbs. Pour it with a grilled pork chop.

2008 Bardosa, Bodegas Lomablanca $12.98 net, $11.68 reorder
Garnacha and Tempranillo are the players here in a bottle of 2008 Bardosa. It’s a deep red with more than a dollop of black cherry and cassis, a hint of smoke and bright, lively acidity to keep that finish going. Great with pizza or calzone.

2010 CMS, Hedges $11.98 net, $10.78 reorder
Domestic price to quality wines are becoming more and more difficult to find, but here’s a live one! Hedges Family Estates is proud of their blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 12% Syrah. The CMS is medium/full in body, rich, and balanced. This is a great wine to bring to a party though it may not last long. Burgers on the grill? No prob.

2009 Touraine Les Demoiselles, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Arguably one of our favorite sub $15 reds in the shop, this is our first vintage of Corbillières’ Les Demoiselles cuvée! We’ve always loved their straight-up Cabernet Franc, but this blend consists of 40% Pinot Noir and 30% Côt, with the rest Cab Franc. The result is an aromatic masterpiece. Red fruit, purple fruit, herbs, earth, oh my! It’s a great food wine, think grilled meats and vegetables, but it’s so friendly you can pop it on its own and all will be well.

2010 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Yes, we’ve been directly importing Enrico Pierazzuoli’s wines from Tuscany for well over a decade and there’s one word to describe why … quality! It says on the label “One bottle of wine for each vine”, it’s a great perspective from a man who cares about his vines and the resulting product. Made from 100% Sangiovese, Enrico’s Chianti Montalbano is one of our most popular red wines and his 2010 is rarin’ to go. Flexible and versatile, team it with a bowl of pasta Bolognese.

2009 Côtes du Rhône La Boissière, Vignobles Boudinaud $16.59, $13.27 reorder
Same goes with the wines from Vignobles Boudinaud, we’ve been representing (not importing) them for many years because we believe in Thierry and Véronique’s dedication to the quality of the product they bottle. The Côtes du Rhône La Boissière is imported by DC’s Robert Kacher Selections, yes, but this wine was especially imported just for The Wine House and our customers. True old-school Côtes du Rhône, it’s medium bodied and complex. Veal chops work well here.

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April 2012 Dirty Dozen

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:02 PM

Days get longer, the nights grow short, our Easter baskets are getting filled up, and what’s this? Baseball season? Yep, it’s April and it’s time for opening the windows and doors, getting some fresh air, and maybe a picnic or four. However you like to spend your time this spring, consider this: Twelve bottles, one low price.

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

2010 Orvieto, Cardèto
Big on our list of springtime wines are dry, crisp, easy quaffers that deliver in the quality department, yet keep the big bills in your wallet. This Orvieto is just the ticket! Lean and crisp with a citrusy freshness, this blend of Trebbiano and Grechetto is a great refresher should a warm spring afternoon come your way. Pairs great with a bowl o’mussels.

2010 Chardonnay, Viano Vineyards
Is it us, or do you ever see Cali Chardonnay in the sub $10 category anymore? At least quality, sub $10 Cali Chardonnay? Sales reps visit us and pour and pour, but we keep saying no until the right one comes along. Well, here it is! From Contra Costa county, no less; halfway between the Napa and Livermore Valleys comes the Viano. Pair with a crab salad.

2010 Vino Valpredo Bianca Mia, Fritz Winery
Rather than choose between Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, why not blend them? At least that’s what our friends at Sonoma’s Fritz Winery thought. You know what? This is some quality juice. Aromas of stone fruits and citrus blossoms give way to a zesty citrus palate. Anya says grill up some shrimp and serve it with mango salsa … and this, of course.

NV Prosecco Superiore, Giavi
Talk to any of us about our new D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore, the Giavi, and prepare yourself for an enthusiastic reply! Seriously, this Prosecco has it all: tiny bubbles, a pale, frosty appearance, depth, and crispness. Crostini with caviar?

2010 Blanc de Domaine de la Petite Cassagne
Her name is Diane de Puymorin. We adore her wines … all of them. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne estate back in 1998, renamed it Château d’Or et des Gueules, yet still pays homage to the old guard with a Rouge, Rosé, and this Blanc. Diane blends 40% Rolle (Vermentino) with Grenache Blanc and the result is a bright, citrus infused aromatic showpiece.

2009 Fernão Pires, Quinta do Alqueve
Dare we try to get wine geeky on you, but here’s Portugal’s Fernão Pires blended with a smidge of Arinto. Geeky? Maybe. But the stone fruity aromas and crisp mouthfeel will make wine geeks out of us all! Great with sardines.

2009 Garnacha Two Rows, Odisea
As we switch to the reds, let’s point out that our friends at Odisea have another hit on their hands. Mostly Grenache with small parts Syrah and Tempranillo, the Two Rows is a plump palate pleaser. Ripe cherries and raspberries mingle with vanilla spice and herbs resulting in ethereal harmony. If it’s burgers on the grill; sorry, these Two Rows are taken.

2010 Tempranillo, Enanzo
Yummy Tempranillo from Spain’s Navarra region! The philosophy at Enanzo is simple. To quote them, “this Tempranillo is made by applying the only true winemaking criterion: intimate, permanent, progressive harmony between man and his environment.” It works here, the herb infused fruit is braced by dusty tannins and spirited acidity. Great with pizza.

2009 Château de Bouchet La Rentiere
What a vintage 2009 was for the wines of Bordeaux! The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker likened the vintage to the legendary 1982 noting one exception: in 1982 there weren’t many small, inexpensive producers taking advantage of the perfect weather to make great affordable Bordeaux. That’s different now. Pair this beauty with your prime rib.

2008 Les Cimels, Château d’Or et des Gueules
If there’s a better $15 red wine here at TWH, I haven’t seen it. The aforementioned Diane de Puymorin blends some old vine Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, and the result is an herbal masterpiece. Forest floor, Kalamata olives, and black tea dominate the aromas, and the palate is more savory than fruity. The perfect wine for pasta with an herbal sauce.

2009 Côtes du Rhône les Boissières, Vignobles Boudinaud
New to us is Veronique and Thierry Boudinaud’s les Boissières Côtes du Rhône. It’s an exciting story as 100% of what’s imported to the US is imported for us! Think honest, old-school Côtes du Rhône here. It shows plenty of fruit, but without going overboard. Toss in some cracked pepper and herbs Provençal, and you get the drift. This is yet another versatile bottle in what can be called The Versatile Dozen. Great on its own, or paired with cassoulet.

2006 Syrah, Alberto Furque
Ever popular with our staff and customers, the Alberto Furque line crushes it when it comes to quality for price. Grown at altitudes of over 3000 feet, the vineyards of Mendoza’s Bodega Aconquija (we call them Alberto Furque) get just the right amount of warm days and cool nights to produce wines with dazzling structure. This Syrah sings of balance and harmony. If you find yourself dreaming about some thinly sliced Argentine beef with Chimichurri sauce, pour this.

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