Get Your Geek On – Gamay From South Africa

Monday, July 11, 2016 7:22 PM


 
 
 
Introducing: Thirst from Radford Dale
 
What is a geek wine? Among wine drinkers I know, a geek wine does not hold a negative connotation – quite the opposite. A geek wine is something that could be rare or less known, certainly not mainstream, and is most likely appreciated by a confident wine drinker (meaning someone who knows what they like and drink it). Thirst Gamay from Radford Dale is such a wine.
 
Where to begin? First, it is Gamay. Gamay as in Beaujolais, but this one is from South Africa. South Africa has only 32 known acres of Gamay vines. That is 0.0128% of total planted vines in South Africa. Leave it to super sleuth Alex Dale to find a vineyard with any Gamay. The Gamay Radford Dale sources were planted in 1984, sothey are fully mature vines with naturally producing low yields. The vines grow on a low-wire trellis system which allows the grapes to grow underneath the canopy, sheltering the berries from direct sunlight, allowing for good retention of acidity and freshness.
 
Alex Dale Modeling His Shirt @ TWH
 
In the cellar, the grapes were fermented whole berry and whole bunch. A portion of the wine went through carbonic maceration. After 3 months in tank, the wine spent a short time in old neutral barrel. The wine is neither fined nor filtered and a minimal amount of sulphur was used. The alcohol content clocks in at a whopping 11.5%!Approximately 500 cases of this unique red were produced which means TWH has 4% of the production.
 
Ok, so what does it taste like? I first tasted the 2015 Thirst Gamay back in May when our stock arrived in our warehouse coinciding with a visit from the owner and founder of Radford Dale, Alex Dale. A visit from Alex Dale is always inspiring, entertaining, informative and motivating. Alex has a lot to say and I like what I hear.The emphasis Alex places on being ecologically and socially conscientious in the pursuit of making wine is honorable, to say the least. It is not just lip service with him. I found the entire line-up of his newly arrived wines the best I’ve tasted yet, but it was the new line, Thirst, that had our staff captivated. The Thirst Gamay is light bodied. You could say it is like a dark rosé, but I think it is better to describe it as a very, very, light red wine. The varietal flavors of the Gamay are spot-on and recognizable: lots of red berry fruit, a dusty earthiness and a perfumed green note of tomato leaf. The finish has an exhilarating dryness to it just as fine cru Beaujolais does. The tannins are present, giving structure to the wine, at the same time the low alcohol makes for a light, refreshing drink. As Alex told our staff, “all our wines are built on an architecture of acidity”, so that is there too, giving lift and freshness.
 
The Line Up with Alex Dale
 
The Thirst Gamay is best served chilled. Yes, it is acceptable to chill red wine, especially this one. On a hot summer’s day or balmy evening, when you are craving red wine but can’t bear to open one because you know it will be too much, too heavy, the Thirst Gamay is a very good option. Certainly the Thirst Gamay is fine on its own to sip before dinner, or to bring along on a picnic, but it is also suited for main course meals. You’d think it was intentionally designed for salmon, as it goes so well with it. Thirst Gamay is not a frivolous wine given its light body and low-alcohol. As Alex likes to suggest it is meant for wine consumers who are looking for a naturally produced wine with little intervention. He also points out that a wine like Thirst is difficult to make both from the standpoint of production as well as the costs associated. I’m gratefulRadford Dale makes the effort.
 
Alex Dale & David Netzer @ TWH
 
I was finally able to spend a few days up at the River like I’d been hoping to do for some time. What made this tripnourishing and special was the convergence of three families under the guise of a wedding shower. Surrounded by this tribe, as we like to call ourselves, is where I am happiest! We don’t see each other often enough, but when we do, it’s like we’d never left each other’s side. Oh, and I discovered that my brother isn’t the only family member who reads my newsletters – thanks TH for reading to the end!– Anya Balistreri
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The July 2016 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, July 2, 2016 6:47 PM



The Dirty Dozen

 

 

As 2016 continues to buzz away, here we are past the halfway mark. July is a great month for oh-so-many reasons. The fourth falls of a Monday this year, and that’s great for those of us who like three day weekends! Baseball’s mid-summer classic is coming up soon, and the long summer days of July are great occasions to get outdoors and enjoy yourself! It’s always good to have some reserves, so we’ve put together a great July Dirty Dozen to keep you prepared for any vinous emergency. Happy July!

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

2014 Screen Porch White, HRW $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Going back in time here with a Napa Valley Chardonnay for $12! Some Pinot Gris was added to the blend to perk up the acidity, making this the ideal, hot weather sipper from the folks at Hendry Winery. We’re told this is a one-off, so enjoy it while its still available. Crisp and crunchy peach flavors abound. Pair with a main course salad out on the veranda.

2014 Sauvignon Delle Venezie, Torre di Luna $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Torre di Luna Sauvignon is a refreshing, simple and delicious white wine from the region of Trentino in Northern Italy. The light – only 12.5% ABV – crisp flavors are especially welcome this time of year as we head into summer’s heat. Chill it down well to accentuate the fresh tropical flavors. Pair with light pasta dishes, pizza bianco, or fresh spring rolls.

2015 Soave San Rocco, Monte Tondo $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Monte Tondo specializes in Soave. Their hilltop estate, not far from Verona, overlooks the valley. The San Rocco is their entry level Soave, but it is by no means inferior to their estate-branded wines. Offering incredible value, this Soave is vibrant and mineral-driven. Tank fermented, try it with bay shrimp stuffed avocados or a Panzanella salad.

2012 Gewurztraminer Rosenberg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder
Rose petals and lychee nuts are descriptors that follow Gewurztraminer around as the aromas of this variety are definitely marked by these distinct fragrances. This single-vineyard Gewurz is a bit off-dry, as evidenced by the sweetness scale that the Ehrharts use on the back label. Pair this opulent nectar with spicy curry or red beans and rice.


2014 Rosé Les Trois Frères, Domaine Des Aspras $17.59, $14.07 reorder
Every now and then something fancy lands in the DD, and this month, we’ve got a full-fledged Provençal Rosé in the box! Domaine des Aspras is located in the village of Correns, which is an all-organic village. It’s a blend of Cinsault and Grenache, and has aromas of mint, strawberry, peach, and orange blossoms. Pair it with a simple salmon roasted in butter.


2014 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $8.95 sale price, $8.50 reorder
Longtime friend of TWH, Daniel Hecquet continues to turn out delicious wines for a song, and his Château Calabre Montravel Blanc is another winner on a long list of winners! Here, the blend is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle just like many whites coming from nearby Bordeaux. Fresh and zippy, pair it with a chicken salad.


2014 Poggio d’Elsa, Bruni $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
This 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the region of Maremma Toscana, a two-hour drive southwest of Florence. Maremma Toscana was only recently promoted to DOC status, though Azienda Bruni has been making wines since the 1970’s. Rustic, spicy with bright tart red fruit, a must for pizza or meaty baked pasta dishes.


2012 Minervois Cuvée Spéciale, Château de Paraza $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Château de Paraza, like many wineries in the Minervois, can trace its history back many centuries. In 2005 the Danglas family purchased the winery with the intent of bringing its reputation back to its former glory. The quality has improved exponentially and has been a favorite here at TWH for the past five vintages. Juicy, robust, supple. Try it with lamb!


2014 Rosso Conero, Marchetti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Maurizio Marchetti’s Rosso Conero is made with Montepulciano grapes grown along coastal vineyards near the Adriatic Sea south of the seaside town of Ancona. A gentle pressing ensures freshness and supple tannins. A short rest in barrel, maybe 3-4 months before bottling, also aids in making a juicy, delicious red. Serve with chicken cooked under a brick.

2014 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Having visited us earlier in the year, Enrico Pierazzuoli showcased this newly-arrived Chianti Montalbano and our staff happily closed out the day sipping this textbook, 100% Sangiovese with some fresh salumi and provolone. It’s a medium bodied red with fresh acidity making it kind of the utility player of wines … it just goes with everything.


2013 Agrippa, Vignobles Boudinaud $17.49, $13.99 reorder
Thierry Boudinaud doesn’t make his Agrippa every year; the conditions must be just right for this 100% Syrah named in honor of the Roman statesman who oversaw the construction of the famous Pont du Garde. Good thing he’s in southern, Mediterranean France! It’s a concentrated complex Syrah, great for barbecue season, perfect with grilled smoky meats.


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinum Africa $17.99, $14.39 reorder
This Cab Sauvignon from South Africa is a great wine to wrap up this month’s DD. The fruit comes from two prized vineyards in the foothills of Helderberg Mountain, just south of Stellenbosch. It’s a full-bodied Cabernet with a core of red and black fruit, earthy mineral, a hint of herbs, and good grip. This is best served with rack of lamb or a rib-eye.

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Defying Expectations: Radford Dale 2012 Chenin Blanc

Monday, October 26, 2015 6:15 PM

Radford Dale’s 2012 Chenin Blanc
 
I am commonly asked what kind of wine I like by people I meet after they learn I work in the wine industry. I don’t mean to sound coy or flippant, but my answer is usually “good wine”. Sure I have my preferences, but why limit myself to geography or type when it comes to the vast diversity of wine? Case in point, this week’s staff tasting included a bottle of 2012 Chenin Blanc from Radford Dale(which on the label reads: The Renaissance of Chenin Blanc). This South African white bowled me over with a swath of rich, persistent fruit that while opulent never strayed too far due to the underlying acidity of the wine. Wow, I thought. How do you convince more people to try such a wine? Putting aside for the moment place and varietal, I am convinced that Chardonnay drinkers and admirers, would find much to appreciate and delight in with this full-flavored Chenin Blanc. It isn’t necessarily the die-hard Loire Valley Chenin Blanc devotee that will find this wine compelling but anyone who wants to experience a white wine with complex, balanced flavors delivered in a full bodied thrust of fruit. This is one luscious white.
 
 
 
The Radford Dale wines, which includes Vinum and Winery of Good Hope, are directly imported by The Wine House. Why would we, importers of French and Italian wines, bother to bring in wine all the way from South Africa? Because they are special wines. Radford Dale founded in 1998 by two friends, Alex Dale and Ben Radford, has steadily garnered recognition for their outstanding wines. It was only this past summer that Radford Dale’s Pinot Noir was handpicked by the King of Sweden to be served at his son’s wedding, Prince Carl Phillip. Quite an honor! Alex Dale is the public face of the winery and is making it his mission to elevate the perception of South African Chenin Blanc. Alex has sought out old bush vine Chenin Blanc, encouraging growers not to replace them with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, because it is his belief that these old vines have the greatest potential in South Africa.
 
 
For the 2012 Chenin Blanc, the fruit comes from a single-vineyard of 50 year old bush vines that grow unirrigated along the foothills of the Helderberg Mountains. The vines face south across False Bay and the southern Atlantic Ocean. The soil type is called Clovelly which is adecomposed granite with patches of quartz. The old vines reach deep into the subsoils allowing them to withstand warmer temperatures. The wine is barrel aged for 10 months in mostly small and some large oak barrels, with less than 20% new.
 
I’d like to include a note from the winemaker for this wine instead of my own tasting note, because it accurately reflects my own perception of the wine and it is so well written, I’m sure I could not do any better. So here goes:
“The overriding characteristic given to this wine by its vines and its environment is its complex minerality and its persistent yet elegant intensity. Notes of lime pervade the quenching beam of acidity, penetrating and weaving through the ripe glycerol and lifting the gentle spice and biscuit flavours, carrying them on the citrus palate long after the wine is gone.”
 
Alex Dale
 
This past Thursday, The Wine House hosted an evening of Moroccan wine at Mourad featuring the wines of Ouled Thaleb. I had the good fortune of being able to attend and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed, not only the wine and the food, but most especially, the company. It was a privilege to spend time getting to know some of our customers just a little bit better in a festive environment while breaking bread. It was a great night and one we hope to repeat again soon. If you missed out on this event, but would like to know about future ones, please send us an email indicating your interest and we’ll be sure to let you know of any upcoming events. – Anya Balistreri
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The Winery Of Good Hope’s 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 7:15 PM

As someone who doesn’t travel nearly as often and as far away as I’d like, I find consolation in wine’s ability to transport the taster to its place of origin.  Sure, I’ve logged some decent miles for a bloke who doesn’t travel for a living, but I’ve longed for the road (and sky) since early childhood. I began collecting stamps in kindergarten, and by first grade could name every country in South America, including their respective capitals. While in second grade, my favorite thing to do was to accompany my Pop to the runway viewing area at SFO to watch planes take off. My wanderlust is serving me well, learning about the ways of life outside my sphere of influence. One of the mechanisms that I unconsciously have used to push myself to travel more is to collect guides and literature about destinations which I have yet to visit. It worked for Italy. It worked for France. It’s worked for the UK, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, and Austria. A recent glance at my travel lit bookcase reveals one, and only one, travel guide to a destination that I have not yet been: South Africa. In the meantime, while I await the day, I have the wines from Alex Dale to transport me there!

 

It being summer and all, let’s say that a glass of something chilled has a bit more appeal than a full-bodied, tannic red wine. If you’re a fan of Chardonnay, you might want to grab a seat because we’ve got a deal for you! For the rest of the month, we’re offering crazy prices on cases of Alex Dale’s Winery Of Good Hope 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay. Regularly $13.49 per bottle, full case orders will receive a 20% discount ($10.79 per bottle), and for orders of 2 cases or more, the discount is nearly 35% ($8.95 per bottle)!!! The Winery Of Good Hope is Dale’s entry-level label, a label for which he minimizes costs by not spending money on oak barrels, label art, or marketing. That’s right, NO oak barrels! It’s something that we hear every once in a while; some customers stay away from Chardonnay due to the usual toasted oak regimen. But right there on the label, and obviously in the aromas and on the palate, there is NO oak used for this wine.

Assisting Alex in making the wines is legendary former super-scout for Robert Kacher Selections, Edouard Labeye. In regard to the unoaked Chardonnay, Edouard had this to say, “This unoaked Chardonnay sets out to give you an easy-drinking yet classy wine at an excellent price. With more freshness, elegance and depth than commercial methods customarily permit. No sickly-sweet or artificial flavours. The wonderful citrus zest and mineral tang of its aromatics are bedded in the fruit and seductive texture characteristic of good Chardonnay. This is not a one-glass wonder, but a wine that you can enjoy by the bottle. For those of you who despairingly thought Chardonnay had to taste like butterscotch, this will restore your faith in the beautiful grape.” We have to echo Edouard’s sentiment. It’s a clean, balanced expression of pure Chardonnay. If you keep your expectations in line with its price, the Good Hope Chardonnay is the perfect white wine to load up on to get us through the end of summer (and maybe even to have around for crab season).

 

Wait. End of summer? Crab season? Yep, they’re coming. Illustrating once again that time is fleeting. Though I have no immediate plans to travel to South Africa, by virtue of the 2012 Good Hope Chardonnay, I’ll let South Africa come to me! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about traveling, South Africa, unoaked Chardonnay, the beginning of Football season, or Bordeaux: peter@winesf.com

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The Winery Of Good Hope
Alex’s “entry level” label, The Winery of Good Hope offers terrific value for price. Dale minimizes the costs of packaging, releases the wines fresh, and doesn’t use any oak barrels for these wines, hence the low prices. The 2012 Good Hope Chenin Blanc offers up clean aromas of Granny Smith Apple, a hint of mineral, and a kiss of lime. It’s a perfect example of crisp, clean South African Chenin Blanc. The 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay is exactly that, pure fleshy white fruit with a hint of lemon blossom, that has a zippy, lip-smacking finish. The 2012 Pinotage is simply amazing. Forget what you may think of Pinotage. South Africa’s signature red grape, it was created in the early 20th century as a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. This one is made with elegance in mind; therefore the fruit is de-stemmed and they only use the free-run juice. Think bright red berries, a hint of smoke, and a bright, fresh finish. This is unlike any other Pinotage you’ve ever had! You can even try this one with a slight chill, it’s a great bbq wine.
2012 The Winery of Good Hope Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch
White Wine; Chenin Blanc; South Africa;
$13.49
  Add to Cart
2012 The Winery of Good Hope Unoaked Chardonnay Western Cape
White Wine; Chardonnay; South Africa;
$13.49
  Add to Cart
2012 The Winery of Good Hope Pinotage Stellenbosch
Red Wine; Pinotage; South Africa;
$13.49
  Add to Cart
Vinum Africa
The Vinum Africa wines sport an etching that some have called an ancient tribal symbol, but it is just a clever way to write the word, Vinum. This line represents a step-up in quality, as the fruit comes from vineyards in the Stellenbosch region – the cool maritime breezes of this ocean-facing appellation create the ideal environment for growing grapes. Edouard Labeye heads the winemaking team bent on “staying out of the way” and letting the fruit and terroir do the talking. The 2011 Chenin Blanc was all hand harvested and 70% of it fermented on its lees in steel tank. The other 30% is divided among new, 1, 2, and 3-year old Burgundian barrels to give the wine more complexity and a rich texture. It shows aromas of white flowers, crisp limes, and a hint of cinnamon spice. The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon benefited from an idyllic “Indian Summer” where sugars and tannins ripened just as hoped for. The goal is to combine the structure of Old World Cabernets with the sense of place one finds in Stellenbosch. Deft oak treatment complements the brambly black cherry/blueberry fruit lending a cigar box nuance to the aromas. Earthy minerals appear on the mid-palate, and the finish is lively and complex. Again, for the price, this is pretty fancy stuff – Bravo!
2011 Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc
White Wine; Chenin Blanc; South Africa;
$17.49
  Add to Cart
2011 Vinum Africa Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch
Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; South Africa;
$17.99
  Add to Cart
The 5 above wines are all packaged in screwcap.
Radford Dale
The flagship Radford Dale line sees modern winemaking combined with traditional values and sense of place, creating an exciting line of “some of the finest and rarest gems of The Cape Of Good Hope.” The Radford Dale Black Rock is a Shiraz-dominated blend with a tiny bit of Cinsault and Carignan. Strict grape selection is the key here. Once in the vineyard and again at the sorting table, assuring only the best makes its way into the blend. The aromas are of lavender, blueberries, strawberries, and spice; the mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a smoky earthiness that wraps the package up nicely for the long, balanced finish. The 2011 Freedom Pinot Noir is named as such to both commemorate the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela and the freedom Alex now enjoys without the need to adhere to the restrictions imposed by the EU. Again, grape selection is strict and the hand harvest only occurs at sunrise, before the sun can raise daytime temperatures. The emphasis is on finesse and depth as the extraction is delicate. The wine finishes its fermentation in oak barrel, which imparts complexity and texture. The result is a finely textured, pedigreed Pinot Noir with an excellent mineral backbone, silky tannins, and delectable berry fruit. 
2011 Radford Dale Black Rock Red Wine Swartland
Red Wine; other red varietal; South Africa;
$34.99
  Add to Cart
2012 Radford Dale Pinot Noir Freedom Elgin
Red Wine; Pinot Noir; South Africa;
$42.79
  Add to Cart
Note: All wines can sort for 15% case discount, mix-and-match. Website will not calculate discount; we will apply it when we process your orders in our shop.
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