Big Bottles For The Big Day

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:40 PM

Big Bottles  For The Big Day

Big Bottles


For The Big Day

Sparkling wine in magnum ...

There is something magical about bubbles in big bottles.  Don't ask me what it is, or why, but they just taste better.  

I was introduced to this concept sometime in the late '90's when my band would take the long Presidents' weekend off each year and head up to Mendocino to jam our faces off for 3 days and nights at a rented house somewhere in the middle of the woods.  Those were indeed fun times, but I'm off subject. 

One year, due to my insistence, we stopped at the Roederer winery and tasting room in Anderson Valley on our way up to Mendo.  The band (there were 6 of us) took over the quiet tasting room, and we were helped by a kind woman who helped navigate us through the wines.  It seemed she knew a thing or two about music, as her boyfriend "played in bands."  It was then and there we learned about magnums.  She poured the same wine, one from bottle, one from magnum, for each of us to taste.  It was unanimous!  We all thought the magnum samples tasted better.  "Why is that?" We all asked, but to no avail; some things remain magical.  Magical, yes, but somehow still a fact.  We thanked our kind guide for her time and headed on up to our weekend jamboree, toting 3 magnums of Roederer sparkling wine!

Over the years, I've heard much about the subject, and have sampled sparkling wines side by side, one from bottle, one from magnum.  The magnum wins ... every time.

We are open today, December 30, and will be closed both tomorrow and Monday.  So today is your last chance to pop in and pick up a magnum of fizz for your 2018 celebrations!  Here is a quartet of our best-priced magnums of sparkling wine.

-Peter Zavialoff
 

NV
Cava Brut
Segura Viudas

$17.98


By far, our best priced magnum of sparkling wine.  This is a great choice for a mixed crowd; it's dry and delicious enough to enjoy on its own, and inexpensive enough to be okay if someone decides to pour peach or orange juice in it!
 
NV
Cava Brut
Reserva Heredad
Sigura Viudas
$44.98



Something much more serious from Segura Viudas.  This regal bottle tells us everything about its contents.  Pure, clean, refined sparkling wine at a "less than Champagne" price.  Oh, why not, this one's worth sabring!
 
NV
Vouvray Brut
Domaine d'Orfeuilles
$39.98



100% Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.  This is another outstanding, Champagne-like value, with its tangy Granny Smith apple fruit and dusty mineral notes.  The magnum bottle just screams, "It's party time!"
 
NV
Crémant de Bourgogne
Perle de Roche
Jean-Marie Chaland
$59.98



We just mentioned the recent arrival of the Perle de Roche Crémant de Bourgogne from Jean-Michel Chaland.  It's all Chardonnay, and with it's tiny bubbles and delicate aromas, can easily charm Champagne lovers.
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Every once in a while,a customer will ask us how we resist temptation, working in a place surrounded by bottles of wine from all over the world. The answer is:we don’t resist it; we like wine, so we drink it. Okay, we spend far more time here in the shop than any customer would, so from a time spent in shop per bottle purchased ratio, it may appear that we do resist temptation … most of the time.While stocking our sales floor this morning,it wasn’t a surprise to find several empty bins that needed refilling. Apart from their emptiness, the other thing these bins had in common were theorange sale signs; there are a solid dozen or so wines around the shop that I would consider outright steals now that they have been marked down. On the short list of the finest of these wines is theNV Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Le Mesnil Sur Oger Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

 

 
 
For me, Champagne is one of those wines that I unfortunately don’t get to drink as often as I would like, but before the orchestra of the world’s smallest violins starts up, I will say that I do make a point to do so from time to time. For celebrations, it’s a given. To pair with fried chicken, it’s a must. To share a meal and some time with someone special, a toast with real Champagne makes it complete. Several years ago, I wrote about summer and Champagne, and heeding my own advice, I’m not going to let summer go by without continuing the tradition.
 
We’re all fans of quality Grower Champagnes in general, though we’re even bigger fans of the wines produced by Pascal and Laure Doquet! The wines have layers of complexity which have garnered the attention of esteemed critics and TWH customers who love Champagne. This non-vintage, 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Champagne has expressive aromas of citrus blossoms, apricots, pears, and a sleek, stony mineral nerve. On the palate, one gets a hint of brioche in addition to the fresh fruit, mineral, and a hint of hazelnut. The finish is high-toned and perfectly balanced. It’s a stunning wine at a very fair price. Champagne isn’t cheap, but the sale price on this one makes it one sweet deal!
 
 
We’re one week shy of Labor Day Weekend, which for some of us comes with an extra celebration. Another TWH tradition worth mentioning is that birthdays for staff members are celebrated with something sparkling at the end of the day. I think we now know what I’ll have a hankering for next week: The NV Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Sur Oger Blanc de Blancs Champagne. What temptation? – Peter Zavialoff
 
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments regarding sale wines, Champagne in summer, Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com
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14 July 2015. Bonne Fête Nationale! Or, Happy Bastille Day! We’re hearing all about parties and celebrations planned for today at local French restaurants, brasseries, and bistros. Our Twitter feed is full of pics of folks in France enjoying their big holiday. We even have a couple of customers visiting St. Emilion as I type! Needless to say, there is festive energy in the air … with a French twist. If your plans include any of these big celebrations, bravo! Enjoy! If not, if something a little low-key is more suitable, one can get by on Bastille Day simply with a delicious bottle of French wine.

 

 
If it’s acelebration,why not kick things off withsomething sparkling?One of ourfavorite fizzeshas to be theNV Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles. It’ssparkling Chenin Blanc, dry and crisp,with a snappy Granny Smith appley fruit component framed by a dusty mineral character.It’s easy on the pocketbook; and in case you really want to let your hair down, it comes in magnums! We havegone on and on about this wine in the past, as it has a wonderful amalgam of complexity rarely found among sub $20 sparkling wines. Anya once declared that d’Orfeuilles’ Vouvray Brut is “one of the few sparkling wines, that when I drink it, I don’t wish I was drinking Champagne.” When my favorite football club won Europe’s top prize, it was a magnum of this stuff that was popped and poured for a few enthusiastic supporters. So no matter how you intend to observe Bastille Day 2015, there’s a spot for the NV Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut.
 
 
It’s nighttime in France now, and we’re seeing further evidence of celebration via the internet. We’ve got a day of work here at the shop, but afterwards, we’ve got choices. Like I mentioned above, even if you want to go low-key (it IS Tuesday afterall), some French wine is plenty of celebration in itself. You can bet all of us here at TWH will be partaking in some of that this evening. Let’s kick things off with the d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut! – Peter Zavialoff
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If it isn’t Champagne, what do you call it? In France, the term used to denote a sparkling wine other than Champagne is Crémant. The 2010 Crémant de Bourgogne Perle de Roche from Domaine Sainte Barbe is therefore technically not a Champagne but you’d be hard pressed to know that if given a glass to taste blind.

Just like in Champagne, Domaine Sainte Barbe has the wine go through secondary fermentation in the bottle. This is called Méthode Traditionnelle. The darling monk, Dom Perignon, is erroneously credited for discovering this technique of making still wine into sparkling wine. The transformation of still into sparkling wine was less of a sudden discovery and more like a drawn-out process that evolved over a long time period. At any rate, Domaine Sainte Barbe’s winemaker, Jean-Marie Chaland, uses 100% Chardonnay, a blanc de blancs as it were, from two parcels: one in Mâcon and the other from the lieux-dit, La Verchère, in Viré-Clessé. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils, lending an especially minerally quality to the wine.
 
SainteBarbe
 
 
Jean-Marie takes further care by leaving the wine en tirage for a good long time, and in the case of the 2010 vintage, the wine sat on the lees for 30 months before disgorgement. Chaland’s 2010 Cremant de Bourgogne is rather dry, he uses only 4 grams of sugar per liter, which is low even for Champagne standards. It is a sparkling wine for Rock Heads – the affectionate term used for wine drinkers who have an affinity for mineral-driven, steely wines. At the store, we call Domaine Sainte Barbe’s Crèmant de Bourgogne, the Poor Man’s Les Mesnil because of that distinctive, crisp, sleek finish.

 

No need to twist my arm, I gladly embrace the tradition of drinking a glass – or two- of bubbly this time of year. Of course, I don’t usually need any encouragement to drink it as I adhere to the Lily Bollinger way of thinking (“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”LB)
 
 
PerleRoche
On Christmas Day, after the wrapping paper and boxes were gathered and put into the refuse bins and we finished a couple cycles of The Christmas Story marathon, I was ready for a celebratory glass of bubbly. The 2010 Crèmant de Bourgogne was right on target with the slightly nutty nose and sleek finish. One sip pushed aside all earthly cares, helping me languish in the moment.

 

For New Year’s Eve, I’ll be arming myself with a couple of bottles of Sainte Barbe’s Crèmant de Bourgogne to take to a house party. The price makes it doable. It doesn’t hurt either that the package is elegant, but ultimately it is the quality in the bottle that will impress and so no one will be the wiser that I did not have to over-pay for mediocre Champagne.
 
In anticipation of the new year, I would like to wish all of you a healthy, joyous, and prosperous 2015!
 
 
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Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut

Monday, July 7, 2014 5:39 PM

Happy 4th of July weekend! It’s nice when the 4th lands on a Friday, and many of us can enjoy an extended weekend. It’s a good time to relax, get some exercise, and catch up on your reading. A great deal of my reading usually has something to do with fermented grape juice, and a topic that seems to be very popular this week has been that of sparkling wine and its versatility. Funny, a sparkling wine that has been popular around here, and one that I have been enjoying of late, has been the sparkling Vouvray from Domaine d’Orfeuilles.
 

 

It’s not difficult to imagine that the majority of the blog posts and articles I’ve been reading lately about sparkling wine had to do with Champagne in particular.  I’m not going to say no to someone who wants to pour me a glass of Champagne, but in the scheme of things, sparkling wines are just as versatile while claiming a small fraction of the investment Champagne demands. The Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuillesrepresents sensational quality for price, the 100% Chenin Blanc imparting its textbook Granny Smith apples and orchard fruit to the aromas. There is also a strong presence of dusty, chalky minerals that pervade the experience. It’s about as serious a sparkling wine can possibly be coming in under $20 per bottle. So serious, mind you, that it caused Anya to exclaim, “IT IS ONE OF THE FEW SPARKLING WINES THAT WHEN I DRINK IT, I’M NOT WISHING I WERE DRINKING CHAMPAGNE.”  Speaking of Anya, she’s taken a little vacation, so that’s why you’re hearing from me tonight. I’ll try to keep it brief, and I think I have so far.

Now that the Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut is back in stock, I wanted to point out its merits (not to mention, take a bottle or two home this weekend!). One of those articles that I read earlier this weekend was about the ability fizz has to pair with a myriad of dishes and snacks. My all-time favorite potato chips (Tim’s Cascade Style Jalapeño) are reason alone for me to have a glass or two of the Vouvray Brut. But here’s a short list of various things that would suit this wine perfectly: salty cheeses, green olives, rotisserie chicken, sea bass, beef jerky (don’t believe me? Try it!), caviar, fried chicken, oysters, eggs benedict, a tuna salad, frogs’ legs, roasted and salted peanuts, mussels, kung pao chicken, or a sunny day and the right company! Okay, back to enjoying the weekend – we’ll resume our regular schedule on Monday, just know that the summer is a perfect time to enjoy a glass of Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles! – Peter Zavialoff

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Vouvray, sparkling wine pairings, Bordeaux, or what I might be doing to pass the time until English Football season begins: peter@winesf.com

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