Rose From Provence: Start Your Summer Right!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 11:11 AM

The Rosés have landed! The Rosés have landed! The one I took home first, was the one I took home most often last vintage: Domaine des Aspras à Lisa Rosé. The 2016 is as delightful as was the 2015. What’s not to love? Fragrant strawberry aromas give way to nuanced berry and melon flavors on the palate.I believe my affinity for Rosé has been well established, and now that I’ve reached a certain age, I am not afraid to admit that I prefer Rosés with a fruitier profile. I still want a dry finish but I want fruit – if I want a white wine, I’ll drink one. The à Lisa Rosé gives me the fruit I am looking for along with the fresh and lively finish I crave.


Aspras in Winter


Domaine des Aspras is located in the unique Provençal village of Correns. What makes Correns unique is that the entire village is BIO. It is the first village in France to become so, which means everyone farms organically and the community has agreed to pursue sustainability in everything they do. Michael Latz, the proprietor of Domaine des Aspras, is also the Mayor of Correns. Michael’s parents, Lisa and Gottfried established the winery in the 1960’s, after first fleeing their native Germany in the thirties and then escaping the Congo Crisis of the early sixties. Neither Lisa nor Gottfried knew anything about viticulture when they settled in Correns, but they made a go of it.


A Room With A View


The à Lisa is the domaine’s entry-level line of wines (there is also a white and a red). As you could probably guess, the name is in honor of Michael’s mother. The Rosé is a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Cinsault grown on vineyards along the banks of the Argens River. A direct-press Rosé of 100% de-stemmed fruit, the quality here is on par with pricier Cotes de Provence and Bandol Rosés. A delicate salmon-pink hue is both pretty to look at and delicious to drink – And, there is enough weight on the palate to take this Rosé from aperitif to the dining table.



The Photographers


The night I tasted the 2016 à Lisa Rosé was not nearly as warm as the evenings we’re experiencing this weekend across most of the US, but that didn’t stop me from making one of my all-time favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. Salade Niçoise is on regular rotation at my house for the next several months and my first choice to serve with it is a Rosé. It’s a match made in heaven.


A special thanks goes out to my brother and sister-in-law who shared their photos of Domaine des Aspras. I was able to arrange for them to visit the winery this past March after they took a river cruise along the Rhone. Though still winter with a glimmer of spring on the horizon, the photos convey the sheer beauty of the region. Hey Kiki – next time we go together! – Anya Balistreri

Spring Forward With Fondrèche Rosé

Friday, March 4, 2016 6:59 PM


Wow!Can it be spring already??!! Seriously,we’re turning the clocks ahead, baseball is being played, NCAA Basketball brackets will be revealed tomorrow, and I’m booking appointments at various Bordeaux chateaux to taste barrel samples of the 2015 vintage;it must be March. Taking a trip like that can be a bit disruptive to my normal schedule and duties around here, so I have much to do before saying bonjour to the folks aboard Air France flight #83! This of course is weighing upon me andmy stress level has ratcheted up just thinking and worrying about all the i’s to dot and t’s to cross. That’s when the little voice in my head says,“Stop. Chill. Relax. Do what you can; take ’em one at a time.”What relaxes me? No need to overthink this one:a nice cool glass of Rosé, now that sounds relaxing.

 

 
 
This past Monday, some bottles were opened for a wholesale customer, and Chris, Tom, David, and I got to sample them after we closed that night. There were Côtes-du-Rhônes, both red and white, some crisp Italian whites, and one Rosé, the 2014 Domaine Fondrèche l’Instant. It’s a hit with both staff and customers in every vintage, as it is always the palest, sleekest Rosé among the range we carry. When it arrived last spring, it was its usual self: pale, with just a hint of salmon tinting, lipsmacking fresh, dry, nice and crisp with mere hints of something resembling a cross between a nectarine and an orange blossom. Those of us who love our Rosés in that Provençal style snapped up the palate of cases in a month or so, and more was ordered. They arrived at the end of January, though with all of the post-holiday going on around here, we didn’t get a chance to re-taste it until last Monday. The verdict?Fantastic. Somehow, it got even better.
 
 
We’re longtime supporters of the wines from Sébastien Vincenti and Nanou Barthélemy’s Domaine Fondrèche. Theyalways represent great value from the southern Rhône’s Ventoux region. For the Rosé, Sébastien blends 50% Cinsault with equal parts Syrah and Grenache, and as I stated, the wine is always clean and crisp. With a little time in the bottle now, it seems to have gained a little complexity. Though still fresh and bone dry, there are nuances of other aromas like pink peppercorns, herbs de Provençe, minerals, and berries. Chris was first to remark of the fact that as good as we expected it to be, it somehow exceeded those expectations. I’ve splurged for some famous Rosés in the past while dining out, and I’ve got to say that none of those fancier Rosé wines are any better than what we had in our glasses last Monday. In fact, I backed that up by passing on the other wines and grabbed what was left in the bottle to have with my dinner later that night. Dinner was delicious indeed, complemented by the cool,crisp Provencal-styled Rosé. There’s something about that sensation that just takes me back to the first time I visited the Côte d’Azur and just chilled in one place for two weeks, pretty much only drinking Rosé. I finished the glass, and guess what? I began to relax.
 
 
The trip to Bordeaux for En Primeur 2015 is still over two weeks away, so I will chime in one more Saturday before I leave. Hopefully the Rosé will do its thing and all will be prepared in a cool, organized fashion. I’m going to grab a bottle to take home so I can relax tomorrow as my to-do list is a big one and I will have one less hour to deal with it. There will be something in knowing that as I’m out dealing with traffic, shopping, and paperwork, there will be a nice, cool, crisp glass of 2014 Fondrèche Rosé waiting for me when I’m done! À Santé! – Pierre Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Provençal-styled Rosé, the Côte d’Azur, English Football, or the upcoming 2015 En Primeur tastings in Bordeaux: peter@wineSF.com
0 Comment Posted in Rose Ventoux

Domaine Saint-Rémy 2014 Rose d’Alsace

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 10:12 PM

If our point of sale system is to be believed, then The Wine House has been stocking wines from the Ehrhart family since 2005. In the ten years that have followed, the winery has gone through some important changes. No longer are their exported wines labelled Domaine Ehrhart. Instead their historic name, Domaine Saint-Rémy, which is how they’ve always been known as in France and which dates back to 1725, is printed on the labels. Completed in 2013, a new winery and cellar was built to ensure quality winemaking. But the most important change, in my opinion, is that thewinery is now certified organic and biodynamic. The conversion to biodynamic farming reflects the Ehrhart’s long-standing determination and dedication to preserving the tradition of wine making in Alsace. The Ehrhart’s take their stewardship of the land and vineyards seriously.
 
 
The 2014 Rose d’Alsace from Domaine Saint-Rémy is new to me and to the store. This is the first vintage we’ve had the opportunity to carry. An un-tinted, slender bottle allows the attractive orange-tinged pink color to show through – the bottle had me at hello! As much of a fan of Rhône varietal rosés that I am, I also deeply enjoy rosés made from Pinot Noir. There is a sophistication and elegance to rosé of Pinot Noir that is undeniable. Domaine Saint-Rémy’s 2014 Rose d’Alsace is pleasantly aromatic – wild strawberries, ripe Charentais melon, and spun sugar. The flavors are vivid but not overly fruity. I predict I will be turning to this wine time and again, especially as Autumn clings to Summer’s heat.
 
 
On the first full day of Fall with outside temperatures above 90 degrees, I prepared one of my family’s favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. A morning trip to the farmer’s market guaranteed flavorful produce and other than whisking together a spiky vinaigrette and a whole lot of chopping, dinner was done! With a plate piled high with crunchy veg, imported Tonno, and briny olives, a glass of chilled rosé was a must. Luckily I planned ahead and stuck a bottle of 2014 Rose d’Alsace in the fridge before heading out in the morning. It was an ideal pairing.
 
 
My newlywed nephew was ordained a Russian Orthodox priest last Sunday. Some say it is a calling, but I call itcourageous. In these times, in this culture, to dedicate one’s life to serve others without the hope of financial gain is an audacious decision to make. My admiration for this exceptional young man is unbounded, as is my love. Emotions continue to ride high as this weekend marks 17 years of wedded bliss! I can recollect my wedding day like it was yesterday. Though my father told me I didn’t have to go through with it as he drove me to the church, I know now that marrying my husband was the best decision ever.

Tony – ты мой мужчина! – Anya Balistreri

The September 2014 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, September 6, 2014 10:29 PM

On we go, into the ‘ber months! Kids are back in school, the French are back from their holidays, and here in San Francisco, it’s time for our summer! For the occasion, we’ve sourced some special wines to make our September a memorable one. Six reds, one crisp Rosé, and five whites, all chosen for their versatility, are screaming values on their own. Pack them all in a box and knock the price down 35%? Magic. The September Dirty Dozen!

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2012 Falanghina Nina, Torre Quarto $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Give it a chill, just not too much, otherwise the lovely melon fruit and fragrant aromas (look for that slight hint of pine) will be muted. Falanghina, an ancient Italian grape, is grown in the south – Puglia in this instance. Yellow-gold in color, this lush white has a round texture that complements seafood, fresh salads and cold entrées.

2012 Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Jean-Paul, Boutinot $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

From southwest France, this dependable refrigerator door white’s beauty – a classic blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc – lies in its simplicity. Notes of lemon and citrus zest move into tangy grapefruit on the palate, leaving a refreshing, lingering lightness. Nothing complicated, but it’s oh so nice ice cold out of the fridge on a warm late summer’s eve.

2012 Pedro Ximenez PX, Cucao $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Pedro Ximenez is a varietal known mainly for its role in Spain’s sweet sherries, but this dry example is grown in the northern-most wine region of Chile – the Elqui Valley. Sunny weather ripens the fruit while the high altitude ensures freshness. A delightful blend of acidity and concentrated fruit; try with miso-dressed soba noodles or coconut shrimp.

2013 Ventoux Rosé l’Instant, Domaine Fondrèche $15.99, $12.79 reorder

This wine gets you at ‘hello.” Just look at that color! As pale as pale Rosé gets, winemaker Sébastien Vincenti blends 50% Cinsault with 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache and the wine is light, lean, crisp, and delicious. It’s a versatile little Rosé, textbook southern French style. Got a hankering for Salmon Étoufée? If you do, try it with this.

2012 Grenache Blanc/Rolle/Roussanne, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $12.89, $10.31 reorder

In 1998, Diane Puymorin purchased this domaine and re-named it Château d’Or et de Gueules. TWH regulars know all about her and those wines, but Diane keeps it real and pays homage to the history of her property with this bottling. Here she blends three classic white Rhône varietals. It’s crisp, clean, and fleshy. Pair it with a seared tuna sandwich.

2012 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder

Gewurztraminer is known for its profound bouquet reminiscent of lychee nuts and rose petals. The Ehrharts’ single-vineyard, Herrenweg is a tad off-dry, and is rich and expressive, both aromatically and on the palate. Not for sipping, this one needs food. Especially spicy food. You must try it with a spicy curry dish, or spicy Cajun red beans and rice.

2010 Tempranillo Dauco, Bodegas Martúe $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder

Hailing from central Spain, this friendly Tempranillo has silky smooth tannins and rich cherry fruit. Outside Rioja, Tempranillo can show many faces, but here it shines as a versatile, charming red, reminding drinkers what makes Tempranillo just so darn delicious! Surely Paella works but so does Pollo con Arroz, Plov, or Tadig with kebabs.

2012 Malbec, Ecologica $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Argentian Malbec is unquestionably a favorite for those looking for value and quality in an everyday wine. Ecologica sources only organic fruit and is Fair Trade Certified. Medium-bodied with welcoming notes of green herbs, red plum and cassis fruit, the acids and tannins hold up well to heavily-seasoned grilled meats or a quesadilla with fresh Pico de Gallo.

2010 Dão, Proeza $11.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Looking for a full-bodied red that goes easy on the pocket book? Look no further than this voluptuous Portuguese red from Proeza. Loaded with big flavors courtesy of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz, grapes traditionally made into Port, this dry red is grippy and broad-scaled. A lot of wine for the money! Hearty, rib-sticking meals would work best.

2010 Touraine Rouge, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder

We’ve been working with Dominique and Véronique Barbou for two decades, their wines can magically transport us to the land of France’s most majestic chateaux. This blend of Pinot Noir, Côt (Malbec), and Cabernet Franc is marked by juicy fruit with an herbal twist. Drink it on its own or with anything you would want to pair with a cheerful red.

2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $14.59, $11.67 reorder

In the rolling hills just west of Firenze is the commune of Carmignano. Long before the days of the ‘Super Tuscan’, Cabernet Sauvignon was allowed to grow here, only to be blended with the native Tuscan Sangiovese. It’s a zippy little red table wine with another layer of complexity. Pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil is all you need with this one.

2009 Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Proprietor of Tour de l’Isle, Robert Rocchi acts as a negociant in the southern Rhône Valley who advises a handful of growers on improtant aspects of winemaking. The results in bottle are not only delicious, they are reflective of their places of origin. Or as Anya likes to say, “He’s not afraid to make wine that tastes good.” Try this with a grilled steak.

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2013 Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Rose

Friday, July 18, 2014 10:03 PM

Happy Friday! There are 14 weekends this summer, and this one is #5. No need to panic, we’ve still got 9 more afterwards, but that little factoid has us thinking that we should make the most of them. Summer always offers us the opportunity to head outdoors, maybe head over to a farmers’ market, meet up with friends, fire up the grill; yeah, stuff like that. It’s a rare summer afternoon or evening that goes by without the thought, “A glass of Rosé would be perfect right now.” Rare indeed. One of our favorite Rosés has to be the Touraine Rosé from Domaine des Corbillières. We received 2 containers recently, and on the French one were pallets of Rosé, 2013 Corbillières included.

 

Our Rosé selections represent a few differing styles and flavor profiles, and we have many fans of each of them. They range from the super-sleek, zippy, extra dry to other dry Rosés with varying degrees of fruit expression. For customers (and staff!) who love a dry Rosé with a light-medium body, delicate layers of pink grapefruit, a hint of saline mineral with a harmonious finish, the Touraine Rosé is the perfect choice. It’s a great wine to have on hand all summer long, as it is truly a people-pleaser!

 

The first thing one notices about the Corbillières Touraine Rosé is the seductive salmon hue. When daydreaming about Rosé, this is precisely the color I envision. The aromas are delicate and nuanced. There’s citrus, a hint of some kind of red fruit as well, an herbal, almost peppery subtlety, and a mineral undertone. The palate is bright and fresh, the fruit and structure charming, and the finish refreshing. This is exactly what one would expect to be served if seated at a French café – a wine like this can transport the taster far, far away.

 

What makes the Touraine Rosé stand out so much? It is made from Pineau d’Aunis.  Pineau d’Aunis? Is that spelled correctly? Yes. What is Pineau d’Aunis? It is a distinct black berried grape from the central Loire Valley that is sometimes called Chenin Noir. It is neither a Pinot nor Chenin. Not widely planted, it is a sanctioned grape for the red and rosé appellations of Touraine and Anjou. Its use is to impart a fruity, peppery profile to rosé wines.

 

The famous philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Just sayin’. We’re already one-third finished with our summer weekends in 2014, so maybe it is a good idea to stop and take a look around this weekend. Stop and look around with a glass of 2013 Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Rosé! – Peter Zavialoff

0 Comment Posted in Rose Touraine

2013 Domaine de Fondreche l’Instant Rose

Friday, July 18, 2014 8:20 PM

Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s summer.  Sure, it means many different things to many different people, but that’s just like everything else. We all entertain ourselves in different ways, we all eat different types of food, and as far as wine goes, there’s something out there for everyone. One thing’s for sure, the summer weather causes a great many of our customers to reach for Rosé. Why not? We love Rosé all year round, though in the summer months it becomes particularly apropos. With so many styles and choices out there, there is indeed, something for everyone. When asking about Rosé, many customers look for a wine that is “pale,” “bone dry,” “crisp,” “fresh,” and “lip-smacking.” If those descriptors resonate with you, then you may want to give the 2013 Domaine Fondrèche l’Instant Ventoux Rosé a taste.

 

 

We have never sent an email offer on ANY Fondrèche l’Instant Rosé in the past. Its color sells itself. Though we have other wines in a similar style, the Fondrèche Rosé is almost always our lightest colored Rosé each vintage. That seems to click with a lot of our customers, especially those who buy in bulk! It doesn’t stay in stock very long. Back in the winter time, we crunched some numbers and decided to ask them to up our allocation because of this. It always goes to show, you never get what you don’t ask for. So we asked, they said yes, and now we can make some noise about it.

 

Domaine de Fondrèche is one of the most well-known domaines in Ventoux, probably because winemaker Sébastien Vincenti has vines growing in the best sites of the appellation. His farming is certified organic, and he has been employing bio-dynamic practices in his vineyards for several vintages. For his 2013 l’Instant Rosé, Sébastien blends 50% Cinsault with 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache giving the wine that Provençal look and flavor.  Coming in at 12% alcohol, pouring that second glass on a warm evening is no problem either!

 

 

The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck listed Vincenti’s 2013 l’Instant among the finest Rosé wines of the year. Here’s what he had to say, “Beautifully pure, with notions of citrus blossom, peach and strawberry, the 2013 Ventoux L’Instant Rose is focused and crisp on the palate in a lean, tight and refreshing style. Drink it over the coming summer months – 90 points.”

We agree! For those of us who enjoy a sleek, mineral-driven, lip-smacking Rosé, the 2013 Domaine de Fondrèche l’Instant delivers big time!!! Oh, check it – this baby comes in magnum too! Talk about a party in bottle! – Peter Zavialoff

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Hey, how did my glass get empty?

 

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

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

November 2013 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, November 2, 2013 5:24 PM

Look out; it’s November! Things are changing quickly. Our clocks will be going back soon, there’s a chill in the air, and at the end of this month, many of us will be seated around the Thanksgiving Day table. Now that time and weather are encouraging us to head indoors, don’t you think a Dirty Dozen is in order? 12 wines, all different, chosen for their versatility, for one low price. And this month the savings are greater than 35%!!! The November Dirty Dozen. 

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2011 Chardonnay, Domaine de la Fruitière $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Chardonnay grown in Muscadet? Those famous soils which contain granite, clay, and mica contribute to the bracing freshness and mineral quality of traditional Muscadet wines made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This tank-fermented Chardonnay possesses that crispness combined with its inherent rich, fleshy yellow fruit. Great with scampi! 

2012 Chenin Blanc, Kiona Vineyards $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Washington State has some ideal growing conditions for this Loire Valley stowaway, Chenin Blanc. Known for having aromas of crisp, green apples, Kiona’s Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile white wines in its price range. Fermented off-dry, you can serve it as an apèritif, with hors d’oeuvres, and with everything from fish tacos to Kung Pao Chicken.

2012 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Some of us don’t believe that Rosé has a ‘season’. A warm kitchen is cause enough to pop the cork and pour out a cool glass for the chef! But let’s not forget Rosé’s versatility. This one is equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre; the result is a dry, mineral driven Rosé with just a hint of red fruit. How about salmon burgers off the grill pan?

2012 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder 
Montravel is an appellation just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern boundary, and the values that come from there are in great abundance. Known primarily for white wines comprised of the same varieties as of white Bordeaux, Calabre’s blanc is half Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. Depending how you roll, this could be your sushi wine.

2009 Vernaccia Fiore, Montenidoli $21.99, $17.59 reorder 
“Nurse of the vines,” Elisabetta Fagiuoli consistently wins awards for her Fiore bottling. There is something about her vineyards planted in an ancient seabed perched above the medieval village of San Gimignano. The Fiore is made using only free-run juice, and in its purity, will pair well with rich dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo.

2012 Gewurztraminer, Aresti $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hmmm, what’s Gewurztraminer doing in Chile? Founded in 1951, the Aresti Estate is one of the largest Chilean producers of this fruity, aromatic variety. This Gewurz is vinified dry, but its aromas suggest it would team up well with a burrito.

2010 CMS Red $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Washington State’s original red blend, Hedges Family Estate’s CMS Red has been produced since 1987! Made from roughly half Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it does include 12% Syrah to bolster the aromatic complexity. Recognized as one of Columbia Valley’s best values, this blend is elegant and pure. The depth of fruit beckons something like a prime rib.

2008 Marzemino di Isera Husar, de Tarczal $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Okay, let’s just call this one Husar. Made from the Marzemino grape, a genetic cousin of both Lagrein and Syrah, it makes for hearty red wines with complex aromas and hints of rusticity. A Husar was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Calvary, the current proprietor naming the wine after a direct ancestor. The perfect wine for a pizza-with-the-works.

2009 Corbières Réserve, Domaine Sainte Eugenie $16.95 sale price, $16.10 reorder 
Bon vivant Hervé Gauntier is an old pal of TWH, and we are happy to be able to offer his fancy Reserve Cuvée for such a reasonable price. Made from Syrah, Carignane, and Grenache, Hervé’s Réserve sees a little (20%) new cask with the remainder in 1 and 2 year old barrels. It has a spicy, lush, dark red fruit profile, and works well with red pasta sauces.

2010 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Ah, but Montravel has red wine too. This old vine Bordeaux-style blend will turn your perception on its head! Winemaker Daniel Hecquet has crafted a full-bodied red, reminiscent of a wine from St. Emilion for a fraction of the price. You will fool a lot of tasters if you sneak it into a Right Bank blind tasting. A fancy wine, yes; pour it with a rack of lamb.

2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder
By now we’ve all heard how successful the 2009 vintage was in the southern Rhône Valley (and almost all of France, for that matter). We would all be doing ourselves a great service to profiter from such fortunate circumstances. There is always great value in Côtes du Rhône, even more so from 2009! It’s great on its own and great with a bowl of olives.

2009 Château Aimée, Médoc $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Speaking of 2009 … It was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux. So good, mind you, that we continue to go back to the well to stock up on “lesser known” chateaux. Why? Quality. Value. This Médoc bottling wowed us with its honesty; it’s just straight up, quality Bordeaux. This will pair well with any of the traditional meals you would want with a full-bodied red.

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2012 Petite Cassagne Costieres de Nimes Rose

Monday, September 9, 2013 11:11 PM

 

Hoping you all had a great Labor Day weekend … as my colleague, Anya pointed out last week, Labor Day is often seen as a symbolic end to summer, yet officially, the season lasts another 2-3 weeks. And here in the Bay Area, it lasts well into October and beyond. I usually manage to keep pretty cool throughout these times, as hot weather is not exactly my fancy. Well, not this year. It all started with a trip to Sacramento in mid-August. When I returned via Vallejo and saw that it was ONLY 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I rejoiced. I think that’s the first time I’ve rejoiced to see 80F. During the first week of BirthdayFest (Aug 24-31), I found myself in Los Angeles, and forget about staying cool there. It’s been nothing but hot here ever since, and I must say I’m dealing with it fairly well. How exactly? Well one remedy is Rosé. In particular, the 2012 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé!

 

 

The concept of drinking a nice crisp Rosé on a hot day is neither new nor original. It does appear to be natural and logical, though. I sure caught the bug when it was first introduced to me. Served chilled, it’s crisp, complex, aromatic, low in alcohol, versatile, and refreshing. Oh yeah, then there’s the price to factor in. It’s a win-win-win, if you ask me.

 

I have really enjoyed Diane Puymorin’s Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé in recent vintages. The color is pale peach, the wines are clean and complex, and there seems to be a degree of salinity that joins forces with a dusty mineral backbone. I was such a fan of last year’s version, that I eventually depleted 2 cases over the course of the summer and fall. The 2012 landed here back in May, and before I could blink, it was all gone. Hmmm, I barely remember tasting it. Good news! A new container recently arrived from France, and on it was a pallet of 2012 Petite Cassagne Rosé. Ah yes. It has me based on color alone. Well, color and the memory of vintages past. Upon the very first whiff, I got subtle clean fruit, white melons, then a hint of something citrusy, maybe tangerine. Repeated aromatic observations coaxed out more melon-like fruit and definitely the citrus, but there were red berries and a dusty mineral underpinning. The palate is clean and complex. There are a wide variety of taste sensations on the palate, including that hint of salinity which gives your mouth a pleasant pinch. The finish clean, the bottle empty. Oh well, it’s only 12.5% alcohol … and with the case discount, it’s less than 10 bucks a bottle! 

 

 

So yeah, Rosé to beat the heat. That’s a natural thing. Why? It works, it really works. Speaking of things that work, BirthdayFest got off to a rolling start this year. So much good company, good food, good music, and good wine. Very Grateful.

 

Going forward, Labor Day is behind us and PeakWeek of the Fest is winding down. One week to go, and as far as I can see, it’s going to remain hot for a while. I’m not jinxing the weather (oh, but I’m trying), so with this heat, I choose the 2012 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé to take to battle! Enjoy the end of summer! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions, comments, or advice on how to beat the heat or about Rosé: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net 

35th Anniversary Sale Deal: 2011 Apud Sariacum Rosé

Saturday, December 8, 2012 1:20 AM

And just like that, it’s December! Our 35th Anniversary Sale has been going strong for almost a month now, and it’s just a great time of year to be working here at TWH. I’ve seen so many customers in the past few weeks and I always enjoy uncovering great deals for your individual palates. Why just last night, while dining at the home of a friend (who also happens to be a TWH customer), I dropped off a case of Bordeaux futures that recently arrived, and thanked him for having trust in my palate. His response was, “Pete, I trust your palate implicitly.” It’s great. I know what he likes, and when I taste something that I know will work, I tell him about it. I am happy to do the same for many of you … especially during sale time. During sale time, it’s difficult not to notice drastic price reductions among the fancier wines. What was once out of reach becomes a thought for either a gift or maybe a special occasion. That’s what I was on about in my last Sunday email; a special occasion wine for a very fair price. Well, this week it’s different. This week I’ve found something great that’s on sale for $13.95. This week I’ve found something with a strong reputation and pedigree. This week I found the2011 Sancerre Rosé Apud Sariacum by Philippe Raimbault!
Chances are, if you asked me about the 2011 Apud Sariacum Sancerre Rosé, I would have immediately asked, “Do you like mineral-driven Rosé?” It is unmistakable. As is the complexity of this wine. While many of our Rosé selections are easy to drink, light, and refreshing, this one is for the wine lover that’s looking for something a little more serious. I often extol the virtues of sipping Rosé while I work in a hot kitchen, as it is refreshing and cools me down (not to mention, it’s handy in case something on the stove needs a dash or two of wine). I would NOT recommend this Rosé for that purpose. If I have 2 burners, an oven, and a glass of 2011 Apud Sariacum Rosé going, I’m liable to burn something. I would be lost with my nose in a wineglass before I could smell the smoke. I am NOT kidding. This wine is that special.

 

Before I started writing today, to set the mood, I decided to pop a bottle in the cold box and share a taste with Anya and Tom. What a great idea!!! The first thing that gets me is the mineral. “Chalky, dusty, strawberry, rocks and rhubarb, geranium leaves, a savory component that adds an extra dimension.” Seriously, those were the words we bandied about … and we were only taking in the aromas. This is a sophisticated Rosé. I could easily (and I did) just smell this wine for minutes before even THINKING about taking a sip. There’s so much there. On the palate, it is pure heaven. Fresh and bright, just a hint of fruit – savory fruit balanced by lively acidity wrapped around a rocky mineral core that finishes with a very faint hint of honey. Bravo! This Rosé rocks my world! Apparently, I’m not the only one. Last year’s version was well received by this gent, and that’s an understatement! He was recommending it at “about $25 per bottle.” Again, as part of our 35th Anniversary Sale, it’s only $13.95. To quote one of today’s customers, “If I had a conscience, I’d feel like I’m stealing.” We invite you to “steal” some of this wine. Again, this is a serious Rosé. It’s not one of those “only good when they’re fresh” Rosés. This will still be drinking fine well into the summer of 2013.We’ve got a few cases left, our apologies when it sells out.

We’ve decided to extend our Anniversary Sale through (at least) the first 2 weeks of December. Though many wines have sold out, there’s still plenty to choose from. If a sophisticated Rosé with pedigree and an amazing swath of complexity is something that tickles your fancy,please allow me to bang on the table and shout, The 2011 Apud Sariacum Sancerre Rosé by Philippe Raimbault is the wine for you!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about our 35th Anniversary Sale, holiday gift ideas, or the implosion of my favourite football club: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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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June 2012 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, June 2, 2012 4:33 PM

2010 Viura, Campos de Enanzo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Call it Viura, or you can call it Macabeo, what we have here is a crisp white that delivers! It’s a grape that usually makes its way into Cava blends; but on its own, its fresh, clean profile makes it a perfect “welcome to summer” sipper. All steel-tank fermented, it has a hint of smokiness on the nose with a clean, crisp mouth feel. Serve it with ceviche!

2009 Branco, FitaPreta Vinhos $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
From Portugal comes a super duper blend of Antão Vaz and Roupeiro. Produced in very small quantities, the fruit is all hand-picked and the juice sees a little oak. One taste and you feel the wine’s pedigree. Hints of grapefruits, green tea, and pineapple all float from the glass. The fruit persists throughout the finish; pour it with Frutos do Mar.

2011 Pinot Grigio, Riff $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Coming from Veneto vineyards on the slopes of the Dolomites, the Pinot Grigio that goes into a bottle of Riff has some kind of class! Crafted by Alto-Adige superstar Alois Lageder for his negociant label, we have all the bling without all the cost. Notes of spicy baked apples interwoven with stony mineral make this a perfect companion for scampi with pasta.

2011 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $12.79, $10.23 reorder
Calling all Rosé lovers! This year’s Grange des Rouquette Rosé is made employing the saignée method, or bleeding of a red wine (in this case, Syrah). It’s electric pink … but it’s fresh, clean, and dry. If there’s a grill nearby, pop this!

2010 Château Couronneau Blanc $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Hailing from Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, the wines from Château Couronneau are proudly farmed organic. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris was bottled using only a small amount of metatartaric acid resulting in harmless tartaric crystals. Citrus blossoms, a hint of herbs, and a crisp palate make this perfect for rotisserie chicken.

2010 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart $16.29, $13.03 reorder
Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc and it thrives in Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart’s Val St. Gregoire vineyard. Apple and peach blossoms dominate the aromatics, and on the palate it is round and fruity. Great with a spicy Thai salad.

2009 Zinfandel, Third Avenue Elke $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Mary Elke may live on Third Avenue in the Coombsville part of Napa, but she gets her “Third Avenue” Zinfandel from Mendocino County. It’s old school Zin, nothing overdone. Medium to full in body; it pairs great with a pork roast.

2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, AgriVerdi $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Picture yourself sitting at a table in the warm shade of an Italian café. Around you are the sights, sounds, and smells of a much different world than ours. The food, ah the food. When you’re sitting at such a table, it is very likely that you will have a wine similar to the AgriVerdi Montepulciano in your glass. Just pour and close your eyes and you’ll be there!

2011 Pinot Noir, Pueblo del Sol $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
If you’re curious about Pinot Noir from Uruguay, here’s your chance to try it. It has all that cherry fruit PN lovers look for, but there is more. On the aromas, there is a distinct note of earthiness and something we like to call polite funk. The palate is medium bodied with the earthy cherries persisting through the finish. A great wine for beef skewers.

2009 Bergerac, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Out in Bergerac, which is just east of the Bordeaux appellation, Daniel Hecquet crafts one of the best bargains in the red wine department. His Château Calabre Bergerac is made from 60% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc. The 2009 vintage smiled on the region and the wine is teeming with red fruit. This will shine with Teriyaki steak.

2010 Bourgogne-Hautes-Cotes-de-Beaune Clos Marc, Domaine Sylvain Langoureau $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Never say never, but you never see Red Burgundy in the Dirty Dozen, do you? Okay, maybe every now and then, but it’s rare! Introducing the Clos Marc from Sylvain Langoureau. All those wild Pinot Noir aromas with a distinct Burgundian twist. A little hint of polite funk and earthiness go a long way to set this apart from other Pinot Noirs. It has Old World written all over it. We suggest pairing it with a marinated skirt steak.

2009 Rouge, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin’s other label is Petite Cassagne, which was actually the name of the domaine she purchased in 1998 and renamed Château d’Or et des Gueules. 2009 wasn’t just a great vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy; add the Rhône to the list! Diane’s Rouge is bold and complex, with dark fruit, black tea, and a forest floor nose. On the palate, it’s fresh and lively with fine tannins. The perfect wine for a baguette and a bowl of olives.

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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

January 2012 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, January 7, 2012 6:45 PM

Happy New Year! As the whirr of the holi-daze shrinks away in our rear view mirrors, we look forward to many more vinous discoveries coming in 2012! The new year brings hope and optimism, resolutions, and the NFL playoffs! There’s something going on there for us locals, and for you, how about the January 2012 Dirty Dozen? 12 bottles, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a box, for an incredible price. Go SF!

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2009 Cheverny Le Domaine du Moulin, Hervé Villemade – $14.98 net price, $13.49 reorder
Brand new for us is this white blend from Cheverny in the Loire Valley. Cheverny is located just between the cities of Tours and Orleans and boasts one of the Loire’s most famous chateaux. Certified orgainic, Monsieur Villemade blends approximately 70% Chardonnay with 30% Sauvignon Blanc and the result is a delightful balanced wine that shows ample fruit and a crisp finish. A crab salad works fine here.

2009 Mâcon les Tilles, J.M. Chaland – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Every now and then the Dirty Dozen gets a surprise visit from some highly esteemed appellation; this time it’s Burgundy! Jean-Michel Chaland crafts wonderful terroir driven Chardonnays from his vineyards in and around Mâcon. The vines for les Tilles are approximately 40-50 years old, and the wine is vinified all in steel tank. Rich, round, fleshy white fruit with a hint of the tropics. Drink with that lobster.

2009 Chardonnay, Lalande – $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Grassa. Yves Grassa. He’s the man behind the wines from Domaine Lalande in Gascogne. Seasoned DD veterans are familiar with the name and the wines, which are delectable vintage after vintage. Oscar Wilde once said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” We imagine Oscar never had a glass of Lalande Chardonnay. We also imagine an open face turkey sandwich with this.

2010 Rosé de Ecuyer de Château Couronneau – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
In Bordeaux, you hear a lot of fuss about the prices of the finest wines, but less often, do you hear about all the production (the famous wines represent around 5% of Bordeaux’s total output). Christophe and Bénédicte Piat are keeping it real for us, proudly sporting the Agricole Biologique banner on their property at Bordeaux’s eastern frontier. This Rosé is fresh and fruity and goes well with bbq.

2010 Scaia Bianco, Tenuta Sant’Antonio – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Now what do you get when you blend Garganega with Chardonnay? Tom likes to call it a “Super Soave”, and we can’t blame you if you do too as this wine has that soft, fleshy fruit sensation, yet is backed up with a fresh crisp finish. Toss some scampi and serve with pasta.

2010 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Next up could very well be the best white wine bargain in the shop! Made just outside Bordeaux in Montravel, Daniel Hecquet blends 50% Sauvignon Blanc with 40% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle resulting in a knock-off White Bordeaux. All steel tank here, the wine is bright and fresh, with plenty of complexity on the palate, and will have you scratching your head as to how it can be done for this price.

2010 Zinfandel, Old Vines, Rail 2 Rail – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
In Lodi, there is an 82 year old farmer named Andy D’Arrigo. He grows lettuce, prickly pears, and grapes. His Zinfandel vines are more than 45 years old, and he has no intention of selling any of his land because, “I don’t know how to grow buildings.” Surf enthusiast/winemaker Eric Laumann came upon Andy and the result is Rail 2 Rail Zin. Tee this up with a rich pizza with sausage and olives.

2008 Monastrell Hécula, Bodegas Castaño – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Nestled in Spain’s Yecla DO (appellation of origin) you will find Bodegas Castaño. This 100% Monastrell (Mourvèdre) is grown at altitudes of approximately 750 feet on vines 35 years of age or more. We have nothing but praise for this wine, as it outperforms its price point by a long shot. We’re not the only ones; Steven Tanzer says that it could be a Bandol and Robert Parker heaps praise on wine prospector Eric Solomon, saying, “Solomon’s wines are intense expressions of terroir.” This one could use a big juicy t-bone steak.

2009 Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, The Royal – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Grab the passport, we’re off to South Africa. Though after one sip of this silky smooth Shiraz/Cab blend, you may think you’ve gone to the land down under, but alas, The Royal is from Africa’s southern tip. Adding 40% Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend gives the spicy Shiraz a blackberry backbone with just a hint of mocha spice. What to pair here? Think Africa. How ’bout ostrich fillet? Yum.

2009 Touraine Les Demoiselles – Domaine des Corbillières – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Not new to us are the wines from Domaine des Corbillières. What IS new to us is Maurice Barbou’s Les Demoiselles cuvée, which is roughly 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Côt (Malbec), and 30% Cabernet Franc. Ding! Ding! Woot! Woot! Winner! Winner! The wine is an aromatic masterpiece of dark red, purple, and black berries, tobacco leaf, and cracked pepper, all singing around a mineral core. Fermented in tank, it’s fresh and juicy. We have a feeling that this one is a keeper. Enjoy with pasta with red sauce.

2007 Chianti Colli Sinese, Montenidoli – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Oh wait, that pairing suggestion was meant for this wine! Oh well, we can have two pasta with red sauce wines in the same DD. Tuscan wine royalty Elisabetta Fagiuoli brews up some old-school Chianti using Sangiovese and Canaiolo. The wine is dense and rich with an herbal component that screams Old World. It is a Chianti that can be enjoyed now, but will gain in complexity if cellared properly.

2010 Malbec, Alberto Furque – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Wine without filtration is the motto at Bodega Aconquija, better known to us as Alberto Furque. Winemaker Carolina Furque does not filter any of her wines. She feels that filtration removes important nuances in both aromas and flavors. Sometimes this may result in a little sediment, but the trade-off is worth it. This Malbec is grown at altitudes of around 3000 ft in the Andes Mountains, which is important for acidity levels in the wines. This wine will shine along side a roast pork tenderloin with chimichurri sauce.

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Who’s Down With Doquet Rose?

Monday, September 26, 2011 4:23 PM

It’s no longer news that Sean Parker of Napster fame threw himself a lavish party across the street from The Wine House this past Thursday. The activity outside our door began last Saturday with the building of an outside stage that was only to be dismantled by Monday morning. Permit problems perhaps? Tuesday things ramped up again and the construction crews were hustling. Thank you to all TWH customers who braved the trucks and inconveniences to visit our store. We appreciate your patronage especially since our normally easy parking situation became a bit trickier. Remember, the spaces in front of our store are for our customers and you can always block our loading dock if there aren’t any deliveries being made at the time.

snoop





We have some good stories to share if you are curious about what goes on when an event of this scale happens outside your door. There is one story in particular that I can’t resist retelling. It goes like this: a well-dressed woman rushes into our store with a list and asks if we have Wine X or Champagne Y. We had Wine X but not Champagne Y, a recognizable mass-produced label. We suggested the Doquet Rosé but she said it hadto be Champagne Y… specific orders of the band. Three hours later she was back, looking slightly more frazzled, asking for another bottle of Rosé Champagne. Again we didn’t have the label requested, and again we recited the virtues of small-grower Champagne and pointed out the superiority of Pascal Doquet’s Premiers Crus Rosé. She said, (and I’ll paraphrase here) “Great, it’s for Snoop Dogg—we’ve got his fried chicken and mac-n-cheese and now his Rosé Champagne; he’s chill.” I have been expounding the virtues of fried chicken and Rosé Champagne for years. It’s a magnificent combination of high and low, acidity and salty, bubbly and crunchy. My groupie days are long gone. Today my “Rock Stars” tend to be winemakers, but still I can’t help get a kick out of knowing Mr. Gin and Juice was drinking Doquet Rosé, purchased at TWH, before the show! How cool is that? Small-grower Champagnes may have finally found their spokesman. Move over Cristal, Farmer Fizz has arrived on the scene!

 

doquet



Pascal Doquet’s Rosé has a gorgeous vibrant pink color
that immediately delights the eyes, setting all the other senses on alert for something great to come! The aromas gently float up revealing delicately crushed red berry fruit and a lovely yeasty note. The wine is classic Doquet with its subtle fruit notes, stealth minerality and long, long finish. It is refined and sophisticated with an earthy note that surprises and delights….lots of layers lurking beyond that initial wave of berry fruit.

The guys kept the shop open late on Thursday. I wanted to stay too but I felt the start of a cold and I arranged to take Friday off so that I could go on a field trip to a rock quarry with my daughter’s 2nd grade class. Oh, how the mighty fall! At least I got to hear The Killers’ sound check that included a tasty rendition of “(Sittin’On) The Dock of the Bay”.

Anya Balistreri

September 2011 Dirty Dozen

Friday, September 2, 2011 9:11 PM

Heading out to San Francisco, for the Labor Day weekend show … whether or not you have your Hush Puppies on, you know it’s September and that means the kids are back in school, baseball season is entering its ‘pennant race’ phase, and in New Zealand, the Rugby World Cup is kicking off. No matter your distraction, the Dirty Dozen packs a wallop of value! 12 different wines packed into a box for $109? Just say yes.

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2009 Unico, Tierra de Castilla, Casa Gualda – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Unico, or unique if you will, is a great way to describe this blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel from España. The floral nature of the Moscatel is just the right counter to round out the richness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the result is magic. Think blossoms and herbs on the aromatics, and a bright crispness on the palate. Grill up some halibut for this.

2010 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
It’s 100% Syrah Rosé from the south of France. Though deep pink in color, the palate offers a surprise; it is vibrant, crisp, and DRY. This is truly a Rosé that can pair with just about anything. If you miss the south of France, one taste of this will transport you there.

2009 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Paul Pernot – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Affectionately referred to as Burgundy’s “other” white grape, Aligoté may not have the notoriety of Burgundian Chardonnay but in the hands of the right vigneron (ahem, Paul Pernot!), it shines with bracing minerality and dazzling citrus and green apple flavors. Try alongside poached white fish or semi-soft cheeses.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, MSH – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
MSH Cellars is one of those hidden treasures of Napa that make us wine geeks all giddy. This wine isn’t resting on its Napa laurels, though … It brings the goods too, smooth and creamy through the mid-palate with a bright, citrus finish. Pair this Yountville Sauvignon Blanc with a sunny afternoon and a drumstick.

2009 Marsanne/Viognier, Vignobles Boudinaud – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud have been turning our heads lately with a wealth of high-class wines at very fair prices. This blend has all the makings of a fancy-pants white Rhône without the pretense. Crisp minerality, round Asian pear flavors, perfectly balanced acidity, and a long, dry floral finish make this tough to beat. Friday fish fry is a callin’…

2008 Pinot Gris ‘Im Berg’, Domaine Ehrhart – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Longtime TWH friends, Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart continue to churn out great juice for a great price! They farm organically (2nd generation to do so), and the results are spot on. 2008 was a great vintage in Alsace, and this single-vineyard Pinot Gris has an abundance of complexity. Amazingly versatile, you can pop one with your fish tacos.

2007 Monastrell ‘Hécula’, Bodegas Castaño – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
This is a steal! Seriously, we know you all shop at TWH because we find great value wines at all price points, but this one is not to be believed. We’re not alone in our praise, Steven Tanzer tasted it and said, “This could be a Bandol”. That’s saying a lot. Think deep, rich purple fruit with hints of smoky meat and earth. Pop it with a pork roast.

2009 Baron des Chartrons, Bordeaux – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Here’s yet another sneak-peak into the hugely successful 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. This blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is true to its vintage, showing rich, expressive fruit, great weight and dazzling structure. Goes to show that you don’t need to plop down multiple Benjamins to get a great taste of Bordeaux. A nice T-Bone works here.

2009 Rouge de la Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Superstar winemaker Diane Puymorin has won our hearts yet again with her Rhône-style blend which includes some old-vine Carignane. Keep in mind that this is very young wine, so decanting is highly recommended. Got cassoulet?

2009 Plavac, Dingac – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
New for us this month is a red wine from Croatia! Plavac Mali is one of several indigenous grape varieties, combining the spicy red berries of a Zin with the body of a Beaujolais. It’s fantastically uncomplicated. Enjoy with your cheeseburger.

2009 Morgon Côte du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye – $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Speaking of Beaujolais, have you heard about the 2009 vintage? Coupled with the fact that this is CRU BEAUJOLAIS, this has to be the trump card of this month’s DD. Highly complex, the aromas are of forest floor, bright red berry fruit, and earthy minerals. Its palate is light and fresh with very fine tannins. A bowl of olives and a baguette will work.

2010 Côtes de Ventoux ‘Fayard’, Domaine Fondrèche – $16.99, $13.59 reorder
Wünderkind Sébastien Vincenti continues to dazzle us with his Ventoux blends. Sébastien honed his skills under the tutelage of legendary Rhône master André Brunel, and his amazing string of vintage successes is astounding. The Fayard is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (with a little Mourvèdre and Carignane), and it shows rich, ripe fruit, herbs and earth.

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2010 French Rose: Part Deux

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4:36 PM







I must say, one of the things I miss most about living in the Midwest (aside from being able to say things like “bubbler” without having to explain myself) is summer. A proper summer. With proper summer temperatures. That said, we San Franciscans do a brilliant job of pretending our summers are like those everywhere else.

What’s that? It’s supposed to hit 68° today!? Whoo hoo, heat wave! Windy out!? Not gonna stop MY picnic from happening! Oh darn, there goes my basket…

Ballgames, barbeques, beaches, bikinis… We are nothing if not an optimistic bunch and occasionally Mother Nature rewards us for it. That right, it’s officially warm outside. As such, there is no better time to announce the arrival of:

***Even MORE 2010 French Rosé!!***

Domaine de Fondrèche 2010 “l’instant” Côtes du Ventoux Rosé

Fondrèche Rosé is back and pale as ever! Sebastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is l’artiste behind Fondrèche and although he’s probably best known for his deeply concentrated and delicious red wines, his Rosé just might be his best-kept secret. This blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, and 20% Syrah is made by a combination of techniques known for creating the best Rosé- pressurage directe for the Cinsault and Syrah, while the Grenache is fermented for a short time and then saigneé, or bled off, and blended in tank. The l’instant is a classic French Rosé with faint hints of freshly-picked strawberries and a crisp, dry mineral-driven finish. Oh, did I mention it also comes in MAGNUM format?! It’s a good thing too because we sold out of our Les Cimels Mags several days ago…. Phew, crisis averted!

Vignoble Boudinaud 2010 Pays D’Oc Rosé

If Fondrèche gets the gold medal in the “pale & pretty” category, Boudinaud’s 100% Syrah Rosé takes the top spot in “dark & deceiving”. All I can say about this wine is do NOT be fooled! When we did our staff tasting, every one of us presumed this one would be high in candied fruit and low in acid or mineral, but we could not have been more incorrect. Whoa, does this baby have zing!And why wouldn’t it? It’s Boudinaud for goodness sake! Why would we have ever doubted the quality… shame on us.

L’Ecuyer 2010 Bordeaux Rosé

I don’t do much card playing outside of solitaire on my phone, but I can say that 50-50 is a winning bet when it comes to 2010 Rosé from Bordeaux. Equal parts Cab Franc and Merlot, L’Ecuyer brings a slightly more herbal, earthy profile to the game while still maintaining the bright fruit and clean finish you expect out of a quality Rosé. It’s also got a cool new label resembling a playing card that’s something of a cross between a joker and a club (don’t you like how I tied that all together? Thanks, I try). Hey, I’m not above aesthetics when the product inside lives up to the hype… and this one does. Truly a winner, inside and out.

Domaine des Corbillieres 2010 Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé

I’m not going to say that I’ve saved the best for last, as I really don’t even know that I could choose a favorite out of our 2010 Rosé selections (believe me, I tried to yesterday when a customer asked and ended up with that “deer in headlights” thing happening on my face- not a good look) but I’m also not going to be shy about professing my love for all things made by Dominique Barbou. This 100% Pinot Noir Rosé went through a 12-hour steeping period (that’s a LONG time!) before being transferred to a settling vat for natural fermentation to take place. The result is a pale wine, slightly spicy, with a vague hint of white pepper laced raspberries and killer acidity. It’s just begging to be paired with food. Any food really, but I’m thinking cedar plank-grilled salmon with lemon, fennel, and capers.

Speaking of lemons, one of the things I love most about living in the Bay Area is how everyone has a lemon tree in their yard. I know they’re not in season right now, but they sure are lovely basking in the sun. Cheers to summer! – Emily Crichton

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