Entre-Deux-Mers: Drink Responsibly

Monday, April 24, 2017 1:14 PM

Could it be because Pete just returned from Bordeaux, or that it’s Earth Day and I am thinking about human stewardship of the planet? Or is it because it is a wine I have frequently purchased for my own personal pleasure that I have selected to write a few words about the lovely white Entre-Deux-Mers from Chateau Ferran? For all the above reasons and more, I have the 2015 Chateau Ferran Entre-Deux-Mers on my mind. Entre-Deux-Mers is a expansive Bordeaux appellation but within it are a few choice sub-appellations. One of note is Haut Benauge and this is where you will find Chateau Ferran. Haut Benauge is directly across the Garonne River from Graves and because it is on high ground it is considered a choice location to grow wine grapes.

Chateau Ferran is a family-run estate that converted to organic and biodynamic farming nearly ten years ago. In preparation for this write-up, I visited Chateau Ferran’s website. The website has plenty of information about the winemaking, the farming philosophy and such, but there is practically no mention of the people who make the wine or run the estate. I think this is a deliberate exclusion. It suggests to me that the Ferran family places more importance on the land, the soil, the biodiversity of the vineyards, than on human intervention.

This Entre-Deux-Mers is a blend of equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with 10% each of Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. I am drawn to the yellow fruit flavors, reminiscent of peaches and apricots, that linger long on the palate. It has no pungent, grassy flavors so often associated with Sauvignon Blanc. All tank fermented, with some time on the lees, it has gorgeous floral aromatics that bring to mind citrus blossoms and acacia. The finish is slightly creamy and is very fresh. It has filled in very nicely as my Friday Night Fish Fry wine, making a lovely match with baked, breaded Petrale Sole.

Julien Ferran is the current winemaker who took over from his father, Alain. Julien is a biologist by trade, so his interest in biodynamic farming is not unexpected (check out 

this video of Julien discussing geobiology in the vineyard). I know for many the principles of biodynamic farming are controversial and verge on the cult-like, but in my anecdotal experience with wineries who embrace biodynamics, I see a direct connection between the exhaustive, conscientious work down in the vineyard and the quality of the wine. This under $15 Bordeaux blanc is impressive because of the effort that went into it and the final outcome, its deliciousness.

Samples of Chateau Ferran were sent to us by another French winery who included them among their own samples. We had no prior relationship to Chateau Ferran when we tasted the samples. We knew nothing of them other than they were friends of a wine family with whom we were starting to do business. Based solely on the quality (and price) of the samples, we purchased a pallet of Chateau Ferran. This is atypical of TWH to pull the trigger so quickly, but good wine is good wine – we recognized it immediately, so we felt there was little risk.

The last few weeks have had a recurring theme for me that centers around the question, “what do you believe in?” I have been asking myself a lot of questions about what I am willing to stand up for personally, socially and spiritually. I’ll spare you my existential angst, but if I’m comparing two wines of equal pleasure to me and one is made by a small family who farms organically and/or biodynamically and the other is mass-produced, industrially made, I am going to pick the former every time. The 2015 Entre-Deux-Mers is coming home with me tonight. I am not sure what is on the menu, but I’ll start the evening with a chilled glass of it. Tastes good and it’s good for you! – Anya Balistreri

White Bordeaux For $10?

Monday, December 12, 2016 11:37 AM

There are deals and then there are deals. As I mentioned the other day, there are great wines with their prices slashed all over the shop. In a way, almost too many; it’s our way of saying thanks to our customers! When there are so many choices, sometimes some of the best deals go unnoticed. Make that under-noticed, as evidenced by a visit from one of our long-time regular customers. This gent has been known to pick up a Dirty Dozen on a fairly regular basis, and he also peruses our bins mixing and matching an additional case or so. This past week, he went about his usual business, but with one exception. “Can you grab me a case of the 2014 Château Couronneau Blanc? I love that wine, and that’s just too good a deal to pass up,” he said. I agreed.

2014 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:41 PM

It starts around mid-October. “I hear that you have anannual sale in the fall, are you having one this year?” “Will there be anyBordeaux on sale this year?” “Are you going to send out an emailwhen your sale starts?” – All questions we hear every year. Once the sale gets going, the time flies by. The relevant question we hear regularly is,“How long does your sale go on for?” In early November, the end of the year still seems far away. Well, today being Boxing Day and all, it’s not far away; not at all.Our 38th Anniversary Sale is coming to an end. So if you haven’t loaded up on case special Rosé, or picked out a few special bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy for posterity,time’s running out. The good news is: There arecontainers on the water and first David, and then I will betraveling to France in Q1 2016. David will be headed to Burgundy among other places, andI will be in Bordeaux to taste barrel samples ofthe exciting 2015 vintage. Of course, the focus of the annual trip is the new vintage and the many barrel samples, butI taste much more while there. This past April, I got my first taste of the2014 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc and for the price, it’s tough to beat.


Daniel Hecquet is a friend of The Wine House SF. He has visited us numerous times over the years, and I’ve made a point of visiting him and his wife Catherine each spring. I might have mentioned him a time or two. He isvery passionate about his vines and his wines. In fact, he once visited us and told a story about one of his wines thatmoved a member of our staff to tears upon hearing it. He makes several different wines including a Rosé, and though I have the opportunity to taste them all, I try to focus my concentration on the wines we bring in each year; the wines our customers know and love.For the whites, I always start with his Château Calabre Montravel Blanc. Unpretentious, with screw-cap to prove it, it’s a great “pop and pour” wine. I should know, I had a glass when I finally made it home last night after a much travelled Xmas Day. It’s a great entry-level white that’s right up there with our Gavi as far as $10 whites go. The Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc is always up next, and my usual perception is that it is a more serious wine. It’s more expensive, but that proves nothing. Just like the Gavi has its more serious side, the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, the Puy-Servain Blanc is well worth the additional expenditure. Especially with the 2014!
It’s fresh and invigorating in its aromas. Citrusy orange peel notes drift from the glass with a hint of a floral essence.The palate is fresh and lively held nicely together with lighthearted balance. The word “clean” appears in my notes three times, including the note about the finish. Hecquet blends 50% Sauvignon Gris with Sauvignon Blanc to give a little fullness to the mouth feel. All in all, it’s a very well made wine, and as written above, it rivals the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto as to our most serious sub $15 white wine. As a matter of fact, with the very favorable currency exchange rate we had when this wine was purchased, it’s become the price/quality leader! Check out that case discount.
So yes, Xmas 2015 was full of great moments for me. Great people, great food (except for my brother’s tri-tip – he overcooks meat), and a very nice surprise. A 1986 Pessac-Léognan Rouge that shined brightly paired with a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin later that evening. Wishing you all good health, success, and happiness in the upcoming New Year! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the 2014 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc, sub $15 white wines, English Football, or Bordeaux: peter@wineSF.com

Hecquet’s 2012 Montravel Terrement

Monday, October 28, 2013 5:53 PM

Daniel Hecquet, winemaker and proprietor of Puy Servain, paid TWH a visit this past May. As long time importers of his wines, Daniel makes it a priority to meet with us every year or two, just as it is important for TWH, that our resident Bordeaux Scout Pete, visits Daniel when in Bordeaux each spring. Daniel is a kind, sincere man, soft-spoken but animated. Daniel has a way of describing his wines to us as if we’ve never tasted them before; his enthusiasm and pride for his wines do not allow him to simply pour a taste. The 2012 Montravel Terrement is a favorite of mine for capturing the energy of zippy Sauvignon Blanc while downplaying its pungent nature. It has an abundance of green melon and under-ripe pit fruit flavors with a delicate, long finish. The herbal notes are present but subtle. Last night I prepared a classic shrimp Louie salad for dinner, choosing the2012 Montravel Terrement to drink alongside. I was impressed at how well-matched the wine was to the sweet shrimp and creamy dressing. 




Daniel Hecquet had always wanted to make wine from his family’s vineyards but it wasn’t until about two decades ago that this dream became a reality.  His grandfather came to the Southwest, Port-Ste-Foy-Et-Ponchapt in the Dordogne, from Northern France in 1914. Though grape growing was part of the estate, raising cattle was the main means of supporting the family. In the early ’80s the Hecquets began making wine from their grapes, but made it at the cooperative. Finally in the early ’90s Daniel was able to start making wine on his own. This happened while he was still working full-time at C.I.V.R.B, the main wine organization for the wine region of Bergerac, as Director and oenologist. Today Daniel devotes his full attention to his wines, making delicious whites and reds that offer great value and quality.


The 2012 Montravel Terrement is mostly a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris.  The pink-skinned Sauvignon Gris adds a round, creamy dimension to the mix. Completely unoaked and vinified with the intent to keep in as much freshness as possible, the 2012 Montravel Terrement delivers a bolt of green freshness but then mellows to a pleasant soft finish. It is my go-to wine for awakening the palate pre-dinner or serving with crustaceans and other water-born creatures. 




Preparations are underway for this week’s upcoming Halloween madness. Our neighborhood is crowded with trick-or-treaters. We get between 200-300 kids at our door. Now that’s a whole lotta candy, let me tell you! I am not sure there is an appropriate Halloween wine, I’ll probably want to start with something light and crisp like the 2012 Montravel Terrement. However when the last trick-or-treater leaves and my own settles down to bed, I might want to sneak a few gooey, sticky candies with something sweet to drink, like Daniel’s 2009 Haut Montravel. A late-harvest, botrytised Semillion that is rich, sweet and tangy. My teeth hurt just thinking about all that sugar … yeah! —Anya Balistreri

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