We interrupt this summer time to bring you … wait. It’s almost August. These are truly the dog days of summer. We all need to just chill.I don’t want to interrupt anybody’s summer. Relax. Have fun. Visit with friends. Visit with family. Travel. Repeat.This is what August is all about. No need for any deep thinking here. When I come home from work and start prepping dinner on a summer evening,I want something cool and crisp in my glass. Sure, I would love some Burgundy, but that’s special wine.Burgundy is better suited for companyand more special an occasion than Monday night dinner prep. In order to have this bottleproperly chilled by Monday night, I need to bring it home when I leave work on Saturday.The wine that I keep grabbing each Saturday so far this summer?The 2015 Les Tours from Domaine La Hitaire.

 

 
Do you remember Domaine de Pouy? Many of us have fond memories of Domaine de Pouy and the affordable quaffability it provided. I’ve heard many customers romanticize about how it “got me through grad school,” or “just pairs with everything.” Anya even served it at her wedding and also informed me that it was the cornerstone of The Dirty Dozen, as it was a consistent component during the DD’s early days. The Les Tours from Domaine La Hitaire is essentially the same wine as the Domaine de Pouy. Both labels are owned by the same family, formerly run by Yves Grassa, and are now in the hands of his two sons Rémy and Armin. Both wines are blends of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Gros Manseng. Both wines are delightfully light and crisp, and they both have that kiss-of-honey finish. They are the same wine.
 
 
Historically, the Gascogne region produces distillates,and the Grassa family’s bas-Armagnac is prized for its quality. The family thought high enough of the quality of their grapes to make wine from them as well, and what a service they have provided for us! Every now and then I peruse the wine selections when I’m shopping at supermarkets and grocery stores. In general, I haven’t found anything below $10 per bottle that give me any reason to revisit. That is why I’ve been leaving with a bottle of Les Tours every weekend. It’s a no-brainer white. It’s not an interruption; it’s delicious, inexpensive, and low in alcohol (10.5%).
 
 
Call it coincidence, but this coming Monday is the first of August. How kind of the calendar makers to give us back to back 31 day months in summer. However you plan to spend August 2016, we hope it is full of wonderful moments, great meals, your favorite people, and memorable wines. Please excuse this interruption. I tried to be brief. I could have just said, “2015 Les Tours from Domaine La Hitaire. It’s $9.17 per bottle by the case. It’s light, crisp, and delicious.” Happy summer! –Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Domaine de Pouy, wines from southwest France, summer plans, or the upcoming football season: peter@wineSF.com
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Everyone is talking about Bordeaux, or so it seems. Parker released his reviews for the 2012 vintage on Friday, essentially ruining every Bordeaux negociants’ weekend. Our very own resident Bordeaux Scout, Pete Z., has been filling us in with vintage impressions and assessments and entertaining us with stories about the many visits he paid to our Bordeaux friends in early April. No trip to Bordeaux would be complete without making the trek to Chateau Couronneau, which Pete made the day before he returned home to SF.  Pete reports that owner/winemaker Christophe Piat’s dedication to organic farming is as strong as ever as he continues to implement Biodynamic farming practices. Starting with the 2012 vintage, Chateau Couronneau will be certified Demeter. I admire Christophe’s passion for farming and his desire to learn how to work even better in the vineyard than he already does. 

 

 

Chateau Couronneau’s 2010 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier is made from the estate’s oldest Merlot parcels grown on clay-limestone soil. I have never tasted such depth and raw concentration in the Cuvée Pierre de Cartier as I do in the 2010. In the spirit of full disclosure I must note that my tasting experience with the 2010 is limited to a day old sample. Remarkably, a day spent in a small glass vial did nothing to tame the intensity of fruit. I couldn’t believe what I was tasting; were the guys playing a trick on me? The story goes that the Piats nicknamed the 2010 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier, The Monster. Knowing their non-interventionalist approach to winemaking, this Monster was obviously created in the vineyard; severely reduced yields made for some incredibly concentrated juice. The news of The Monster had spread and some wine regulator types came to inspect the winery, thinking they might find some trickery going on, but of course they did not. Given the plushness of the 2010 Couronneau Classique, it seems only natural that this reserve bottling, the Cuvée Pierre de Cartier, would show even greater intensity. I wouldn’t say that the 2010 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier is a departure for Chateau Couronneau but it is without question, a monster. The dark plum fruit approaches jamminess but does not cross over that line. There is spice and cedar box lurking beneath the fruit. It is young and delicious and will certainly evolve nicely in bottle. Another aspect to this wine that makes it so appealing are the soft, round, cocoa-dusted tannins, reminding me of what is so darn attractive about Merlot from Bordeaux. 

 

 

I am uncharacteristically irritable today, and feeling downright annoyed – my daughter woke up this morning with horns in place of her halo, I encountered way too many aggressive drivers on the ride in to work and Pete just devoured a sandwich from the Deli Board, piled high with cured meat, in front of me, oohing and ahhing the entire time (I am in the final stretches of a 7-week meat abstinence). Days like these are eased and soothed by the promise of a quiet moment with a glass of wine at the end of the day. Wine is good! —Anya Balistreri
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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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2010 Domaine de Pouy: Summer in a Glass

Monday, August 1, 2011 4:57 PM

The 2010 Domaine de Pouy is the epitome of what a Summer white house pour should be; it is snappy and crisp, LOW in alcohol, and under $10. It’s perfectly satisfying on its own and versatile enough to move through with a meal. The 2010 Domaine de Pouy isbursting with tangy white grapefruit flavors, lime zest aromatics and a thrilling acid finish. The sharp contrast between ripe fruit and acid had TWH staff wondering if this is perhaps a common characteristic of the vintage in France since this contrast has been widely noted of 2010 Bordeaux. Remarkable how a humble white from the Cotes de Gascogne can trigger a conversation about the merits of a particular vintage in Bordeaux! Made from a blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard, Domaine de Pouy is a staple at our store and though dear to our palates, may not always get the attention it deserves. In fact, the last time I wrote about Domaine de Pouy was four vintages ago. Far too long not to shed a light onwhat is consistently one of the best value whites from France.
The mastermind behind Domaine de Pouy is the swashbuckling Yves Grassa who took grapes that were slated to be distilled into Armagnac, applied modern winemaking techniques that preserved their freshness, then fermented them into a quaffable, zippy white wine. For over 20 years TWH has been singing the praises of this workhorse white that brings the ease and simplicity of French country living into your home and onto your table. This is seriously good juice.

 

My love affair with Domaine de Pouy started the moment I came to work at TWH. Even with my heavy on the California Chardonnay background, Domaine de Pouy immediately appealed to my palate. Domaine de Pouy was the first wine I selected for the first ever Dirty Dozen sampler and was the white wine I served at my wedding, henceforth known as The Wedding White. It didn’t exactly hurt to meet Yves Grassa to fall even deeper in love with Domaine de Pouy as his bigger than life personality is infectious. I remember one visit to France when a lovely, proper Southern Lady who ran a successful restaurant, upon shaking Monsier Grassa’s hand, cooed to him “I just love Pouy!”(emphasis on the oo-eee). It is now impossible for me to say Domaine de Pouy out loud without hearing this line reverberate inside my head. Last weekend our family catered my nephew’s wedding with over 200 guests in attendance. I now know there is a reason why people hire professionals! I am only now recovering from the hard work, fun and heightened emotions. Thankfully everything came off, more or less, as planned. Certainly no one left hungry or thirsty! A good time was had by all; including my daughter who was still going strong at midnight! Looks like I’m in for a lot of trouble. Payback’s a ….!–Anya Balistreri
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June 2011 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, June 4, 2011 3:19 PM

To quote N.P. Willis, “It is the month of June, the month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes, and pleasant scents the noses.” In other words, summer is underway!! Strawberries are ripe for the pickin’, dads everywhere await their moment in the spotlight, and the next baseball game is but a moment away. Best of all, TWH’s latest Dirty Dozen is all revved up and ready to go: 12 fantastic wines, picked for their versatility, packed into one box, all for an incredible price. Enjoy!

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2008 Muller Thurgau, Niedermayr – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
A unique wine from a unique Italian province where German is the language of choice for many and the wines follow suit. This dry white wine boasts delicate floral aromas with notes of Asian pear, dried herbs, and hints of minerality. Pairs perfectly with pesce bianco or sauerkrautsalat mit schinken.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande – $11.29, $9.03 reorder
The legendary Yves Grassa has conjured up yet another stellar vintage of Sauvignon Blanc from the Gascogne region, just SW of Bordeaux. If you’ve had his wines in the past, we had you at “Lalande”. If not, one sip will have you scratching your head wondering, “How do they do it so inexpensively?” A must have with summer salads and ceviche.

2010 Rose, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Oh my, if we had a nickel for every time someone came into the shop and swooned over this dry Rose … bright, candied red fruit, sweet herbs, and a touch of mineral from the cailloux-rich Costieres de Nimes soil from whence this wine came.

2007 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart – $16.59, $13.27 reorder
Pinot what? Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. Just take comfort in knowing it’s the finest clone of Pinot Blanc made by a revered Alsatian producer. Fresh apple and peach blossom aromas lead to a mouthfeel that is round, slightly off-dry and has a juicy apple-like finish. Bonus points for being certified organic and a killer value to boot!

2008 Vouvray ‘Silex’, Domaine d’Orfeuilles – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Wow, a Vouvray in the Dirty Dozen? Hey, you work hard you deserve to be spoiled. This wine’s ripe, round orchard fruit and uber-mineral-driven palate just begs to be paired with oysters … on a diamond-studded serving platter, of course.

2009 Chardonnay, Grayson Cellars – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
We’re straight up giddy about the quality Grayson Cellars puts into their wine for such great prices. Aged in French oak, this Napa Chardonnay shows aromatics of apples, apricots, and spice with nervy acidity that holds all the fruit together as it rolls into a rich finish. Versatile, yes, but we’re thinking lobster rolls on a sunny afternoon here.

2007 Tradicional, Quinta do Alqueve – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
This wine is hearty, honest, and plain old delish – a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Trincadeira, and Periquita. It is an outstanding representation of what a “country” wine from Portugal should be. Think wood fired pizza with this one.

2009 Merlot Rutherford, MSH Cellars – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
There’s a reason we’ve stood by Merlot all these years, and here it is. No costumes, no make-up, just pure Rutherford Merlot. It’s safe to assume that fruit from this vineyard source makes its way into bottles with much fancier names and much higher prices. Napa Valley fruit never tasted so good, especially at this price. Mmmm … burgers on the grill!

2009 Beaujolais Lantignie, Chateau du Basty – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Sure, if including the Vouvray listed above is spoiling you … then the inclusion of this 2009 Beaujolais in the DD is spoiling you rotten! Ideal weather leads to heaven in a bottle. Juicy red fruit, cedar chest, and forest floor dominate the nose. The palate is lightweight, as Gamay tends to be, but generous with its liveliness. It’s cassoulet time.

2010 Merlot, Saint Antoine – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
And you thought we were done talking about Merlot! We wouldn’t be properly representing our love for the grape if we didn’t throw a bottle from the motherland in the mix. And wowzers, has Saint Antoine stepped up their game in 2010. Fleshy, plummy fruit meets violets and herbs de Provence in this approachable yet authentically French VdP.

2009 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzouli – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
We’ve been importing Enrico Pierazzouli’s Tuscan wines for over a decade now, and why wouldn’t we? They’re loaded with character, speak of a place, and leave plenty of dough in your pocketbook. This Chianti is 100% Sangiovese and has plenty of depth and complexity. Best pair this one with a hearty bistecca or a steaming bowl of pasta Bolognese.

2009 Zweigelt, Berger – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
You learn some of the coolest stuff listening to Tom talk about wine. The other day he was helping a customer and mentioned that Zweigelt was a hybrid of Austrian red heavyweight Blaufrankish. A little research reveals that a fellow named Zweigelt came up with this by crossing it with St. Laurent. Who benefits? If you’re grilling brats, you do!

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