Perle de Roche Crémant de Bourgogne from Jean-Marie Chaland
Perle-de-Roche-with-glasses

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 Perle de Roche Brut Nature from Domaine Sainte Barbe is a Crémant de Bourgogne and therefore technically not a Champagne, but you’d be hard pressed to guess otherwise if given a glass to taste blind. An absolute dead ringer for authentic Champagne.

And, just like it's done in Champagne, Domaine Sainte Barbe has the wine go through secondary fermentation in bottle. This is called Méthode Traditionnelle. The legendary 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 the lieux-dits La Verchère, a parcel of 50 year old vines in Viré, just north of Mâcon. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils, lending a pronounced mineral quality to the wine.

jean-marie-chaland
Jean-Marie leaves his Perle de Roche en tirage for a good long time; it sits on the lees for 30 months before disgorgement. Perle de Roche is a Brut Nature, which means it has zero dosage and less than 3 grams of sugar per litre. As a comparison, a Brut can have up to 12 grams of sugar per litre. In other words, it is a sparkling wine for Rock Heads – an affectionate term used for wine drinkers who have an affinity for mineral-driven, steely wines. At the store, we call the Perle de Roche, the Poor Man’s Les Mesnil because of that distinctive, crisp, sleek finish.

Perle de Roche is not made in every vintage and production is tiny, less than 300 hundred cases produced. The bottling we have in stock is entirely from the 2014 vintage. A truly artisanal effort. And here is the real kicker - it's only $28.98 per bottle! 

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)

This holiday season, I’ll be stocking up with bottles of Perle de Roche to take to parties, give out as gifts and have at the ready in case people pop by the house. 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 overpay for mediocre Champagne. 

Cheers! - Anya Balistreri

Adventures In Brut Rosé

Saturday, October 13, 2018 7:27 PM

Adventures In Brut Rosé

An occasion to celebrate...

20 years of marriage! Where did the time go, my love? My husband and I enjoy sparkling Rosé, especially from Champagne. In the early days of our courtship, my husband wooed me with it. That was the right strategy to take with me as I not only loved the stuff, but also appreciated a man who was sure of his own tastes. So when the day came that marked our nuptials, there was no question that we'd be drinking Champagne Rosé. We drank the 2012 Labruyère Anthologie Brut Rosé, a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, all Grand Cru fruit. I was inspired to try it because a customer of ours, whose palate I respect, recently went ga-ga over the Anthologiedescribing it as being "unlike anything else I've tasted". I wanted a unique experience, and I got one. The Anthologie spends an extended time on the lees which creates depth and a rich, vinous structure. It is loaded with cherry fruit; so well-suited for main dishes, not just a ceremonial toast. Because our Anniversary fell mid-week and work/school schedules don't change just because you've shared a life over the past twenty years with the same person, we did not go out to a restaurant nor did we had time to prepare a fancy meal. Instead dinner was generously provided by my in-laws who made eggplant Parmesan using eggplant from my garden. The pairing worked beautifully. Needless to say, one glass quickly turned into two. We drained the bottle.

Two-Alexandras-Map
Alexandra-Presentation
Our Anniversary weekend, as it were, coincided with a visit from Alexandra Lièbart of Champagne Liébart-Régnier (she and my daughter share the same name!). It was a delight to meet her and taste through the wines her family makes from their 10 hectares of vineyard. Alexandra, now finished with her studies, is taking on a more prominent role at the winery. Some of our customers got the chance to meet her and learn more about this small, grower-producer Champagne house. After an impromtu tasting, the remaining bottles were divvied up between TWH staff. I didn't hesitate to ask for the Brut Rosé. Made from a blend of Pinot Meunier (50%), Pinot Noir (35%) and Chardonnay (15%), it has delicious aromas of Sterling roses and flavor notes of blood orange and raspberries. It has formidable fruit impact yet remains elegant on the palate. That evening saw another end to a busy day, so I stopped at our favorite local taqueria on the way home for carnitas tacos. And now a new tradition has been born! Liébart-Régnier Brut Rosé and carnitas tacos (move over fried chicken!).  What a super match-up. The fat, acid and salt quotient hit on all cylinders, thereby making the pleasure points in my brain explode. Just yum. 
Gloria-Ferrer-Barrels
Gloria-Ferrer-Riddle-Rack
View-Gloria-Ferrer
Our Anniversary weekend concluded with a quick overnight trip to Sonoma. It is rare that I head that way, but I never miss an opportunity to stop by at Gloria Ferrer Winery. I made arrangements in advance for a visit and was well taken care of thanks to someone who will remain nameless (but you know who you are!). The view is unparalleled, the hospitality is top-notch, and the wines are absolutely terrific. I have been a fan of Gloria Ferrer's bubbles for decades, really. We tasted through a flight with nibbles and for once, in a very long time, I felt relaxed and far away from it all. At the winery I tasted their vintage Brut Rosé, but here at The Wine House we carry their non-vintage Brut Rosé. It is made up of hand-harvested, estate grown, Carneros fruit. A blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay (40%) it remains on the lees for at least 2 years before bottling. It is a real stand-out for California sparkling wine. 

All in all, my 20th Anniversary celebration was as joyous and full of surprises and warm moments as the last twenty years have been with my husband (love you, Koshka). This and plenty of Brut Rosé.

-Anya Balistreri

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.

Cantine Russo Part 2: The Sparklers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 11:58 AM

Cantine Russo Part 2: The Sparklers!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about TWH’s new acquisition from Italy, Cantine Russo. I am back to share more wines from this Sicilian producer, but this time it’s not just wine, it’s sparkling wine! There are two: one Blanc de Blancs and one Rosé. It being the season of festive glass clinking, the timing couldn’t have been better to introduce these two exceptional sparklers. I must admit, when I learned that David found a producer in Sicily he wanted to import, I was elated. But when I learned that of the three wines, two were sparklers, I was less enthusiastic. How come you ask? Well, we already import a fabulous Prosecco,Cremant d’Alsace and two sparklers from the Loire, a Vouvray Brut and Touraine Rosé. Did we need two more? Upon my first taste of them, the answer was yes! Wholeheartedly, yes!

CantineRussoSnow_copy

There is so much to like and appreciate about Cantine Russo’s sparklers which they call Mon Pit. The name, Mon Pit, refers to the small craters formed on Mount Etna. Both the Blanc de Blancs and Rosé are vintage dated, produced in the traditional Champagne method and stay on the lees for 24-36 months. All this for only $25.98 per bottle! I know what I’ll be drinking both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve…

MonPitBlancDeBlancs_copy

The Mon Pit Blanc de Blancs is made from Carricante and Cataratto. Carricante is known for its marked acidity, so it makes sense that it could be fermented into a well-balanced, vibrant sparkling wine. The wine is golden-hued with a satisfying yeasty baked bread flavor. Persistent bubbles deliver flavors of honey, citrus and yellow fruits. The sweet fruit finishes with a yeasty, almond note. This is an elegant and serious effort at making fine bubbles outside of Champagne.

MonPitRose_copy

The Mon Pit Rosé is made from yet another indigenous Sicilian grape, Nerello Mascalese. I describe Nerello Mascalese to customers as having the same type of perfume and elegance as Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo. This Rosé is not tutti frutti, but is like the Blanc de Blancs – dry, full-flavored and balanced. The color is more peachy than pink and has flavors of dried cranberry, red plums with a pleasurable spicy note on the finish. It’s got depth and a yeastiness that distinguishes it from sparklers made in the Charmat method. I am sat here salivating, thinking of how magical this Rosé would be with some crispy fried chicken!

ChampagneSection_copy

Considering it’s a week before Christmas, I feel remarkably relaxed. Last year was quite a different story. I learned a valuable lesson from that incredibly stressful period that I am mindful of this year and that is that it is ok to let things go and not do so much. Christmas will come whether or not I’ve found the perfect gift for so-and-so, cooked the perfect meal or mailed out cards. As a wise man once wrote: “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” I’ll be spending Christmas with my family and for that I’m blessed. Here’s wishing you all to be surrounded by loved ones with a glass of bubbly in hand as 2016 closes out!– Anya Balistreri


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


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

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!
 
 

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

June 2013 Dirty Dozen

Friday, June 7, 2013 6:23 PM

And just like that, we’re on to the month that begins the summer. You don’t need to be a dad, grad, or June bride to appreciate this month (but it doesn’t hurt if you are!), there’s plenty of fun stuff to do with the long days and the warmer weather. For your vinous needs, please allow us to help. The June Dirty Dozen is chock full of interesting, versatile wines all packed up for one low price. Viva la Dirty Dozen! Be a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines
Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

 

2009 Chardonnay, Pezzi King $17.98 net, $16.18 reorder
Kicking things off this month is a delectable Russian River Valley Chardonnay from the folks at Pezzi King. Sourcing fruit from two well regarded vineyards (Bacigalupi and Windsor Oaks) whose coastal influence makes for deep flavors of apricots and nectarines with proper balancing acidity. This is one to pop with your sushi or spicy tuna tartare.

2010 Fernão Pires, Quinta do Alqueve $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Fernão Pires is an ancient Mediterranean grape variety produced in the Ribatejo, approximately 40 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal. Proprietor Paulo Saturnino Cunha blends in 10% barrel fermented Arinto to give the wine depth and complexity. Think orchard fruit here. Apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines come to mind; serve it with a fresh mixed green salad.

2010 Roeoro Arneis, La Brenta d’Oro $13.98 net, $12.58 reorder
From Roeoro in Italy’s Piemonte region comes a bright, food friendly Arneis. Known by some as Barolo Bianco, the grape has had a huge resurgence since it received DOC status in 1989. It shows hints of herbs, pears, and almonds on the aromas; the palate is clean and refreshing with the pear-like fruit braced by zippy acidity. Pair it with a chicken sando.

NV Törley Gála Sec $11.98 net, $10.78 reorder
A nice, dry sparkler from … Hungary? Yes, it’s true! The folks at Törley blend Grüner Veltliner, Müller Thurgau, and Királyleányka, and the result is a dazzling, affordable bubbly that will make you say “yum.” Perfect at brunch!

2009 Vernaccia Tradizionale, Montenidoli $17.99, $14.39 reorder
Nurse of the vines, Elisabetta Fagiuoli’s vineyards lie on the hillsides above the medieval village of San Gimignano in Tuscany. These vineyards are actually ancient seabeds, and it is common to find seashells among the soil. This lends a particular degree of saline mineral to the finished wine. Extended skin contact gives the wine strength and complexity.

2012 Rosé Ventoux, Domaine Fondreche $13.99, $11.19 reorder
When a customer walks in looking for “your driest Rosé”, this is undoubtedly where we’ll point them. Made from 50% Cinsault, with the balance of Syrah and Grenache, the Fondreche Rosé is bright, dry, and crisp. It truly has the personality of a Provençal Rosé at a fraction of the price. Great on a sunny day at the beach, or next to fresh salmon.

2011 Tempranillo, El Cortijillo $9.98 net, $8.98 reorder
We just love Tempranillo, especially when it comes from Spain. It consistently delivers complexity in a medium bodied frame, and in this case, the price is right. Seriously, we don’t know how they can make this for such a low price, but we’re asking no questions. Tempranillo is versatile and can be paired with a multitude of dishes. A great wine for tapas.

2007 Bacco In Toscana, Guado al Melo $14.98 net, $13.48 reorder
Made from 80% Sangiovese from Tuscany, the Bacco delivers a one-two punch of fruit flavors and freshness. It’s blended with Syrah which gives it a spicy, smoky quality. This will shine when paired alongside most marinated meats.

2010 Touraine les Demoiselles, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder
What if you were to combine the expressive aromas of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc with the elegant mouth feel of Pinot Noir and prop it up with the backbone of Côt (Malbec)? That’s what we have here. We’re happy and proud to have been working with Veronique and Dominique Barbou for close to 20 years now, as their wines are a big hit with staff and customers alike. The quality you get for the price you pay here is in your favor big time. Great with grilled sausage.

2010 Galatina Rosso, Valle dell’Asso $12.98 net, $11.68 reorder
In the Italian region of Puglia (in the southeast), Negroamaro and Primitivo thrive, and our friends at Valle dell’Asso blend them (70% of the former, 30% the latter) to craft this lively, spicy juice. It has a smoky profile with hints of cigar box, leather, and allspice on the nose. The palate is medium and complex. It’s a great wine to pair with spicy red sauces.

2010 Merlot, Domaine Saint Antoine $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Domaine Saint Antoine’s Jean-Louis Emmanuel toils over 20 hectares of vineyard among the stony limestone soils of the Costières de Nîmes. He de-stems his fruit and vinifies his Merlot in stainless steel tanks, giving the wine freshness and purity. Now sporting a screwcap, this is an ideal picnic wine, as it will shine when paired with a roast beef sandwich.

2009 Côtes du Rhône Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Santa Duc $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Yves Gras blends Rhône stalwarts Grenache and Syrah with a little old-vine Mourvèdre and the result is splendid. It has dark brooding fruit, an earthy mineral core, the quintessential Santa Duc black pepper thing, and a complex, balanced finish. It’s a great all-purpose red, it goes with barbecue, or roasted pork loin, or a pizza with the works.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

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

Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!

Giavi’s Prosecco Superiore

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:06 AM

The newest addition to our Italian portfolio, which at present includesCa’Lojera, Montenidoli, Picollo, and Tenuta Pierazzuoli, is Prosecco producer, Giavi. Established in 1914, this estate is currently run by enterprising young Marco Cuscito. David had been looking for a Prosecco to import and had narrowed it down to a couple of producers. It was foremost the quality of the wine and then Marco’s vision and plans to push the winery forward that made Giavi the obvious choice. The popularity of Prosecco has skyrocketed in the US over the last few years as lovers of bubbly looked to downsize from Champagne’s top-tier price tags. The Italians wisely met this up tick in sales with a new classification for Prosecco, creating Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG in 2009 to designate Prosecco’s “sweet spot”. It is here that you will find Giavi. Not far from the town of Conegliano, up Monticella hill, Giavi has a little over 17 acres planted. Per DOCG regulations up to 15% can be other grapes, like Chardonnay, but at Giavi it is 100% Glera, a grape more commonly know as Prosecco.

 

When pouring a glass, I immediately become dazzled by the frosty white perlage floating to the top of the glass. The bubbles form a creamy texture on the palate and are met with a fresh grape burst of flavor, ending with a refreshing zip on the finish. It is not bone-dry, as Prosecco typically isn’t, but it sits drier than most and is technically a Brut. As such it is lovely on its own or with little bite-sized snacks. My last visit to Venice was only for a day. Tony and I knew it would be impossible to hit all the tourist spots and, anyway, we had been there before, so our goal was to drink a glass of Prosecco every hour on the hour wherever we found ourselves. What a perfect way to spend a day in Venice! Coincidentally, a customer of TWH who regularly visits Venice, came to us not too long ago and asked, “I know this is a long-shot, but have you heard of a Prosecco producer called Giavi? I don’t know if they are imported into the US yet, but it is probably the best Prosecco I’ve ever tasted.” We all looked at each other, wondering where the cameras were hidden, because you just can’t script a lead-in so perfectly. Without a word we pointed to our stack of newly arrived Giavi. Our customer, as you would guess, was gobsmacked, yet was delighted to go home with a box.

 

Needles are falling down off of Redwoods, I took my first trip toWalkers Apple Farm (only 2 varieties in; a late season), and my daughter has begun 3rd grade! I can smell Autumn approaching fast. It gets me to thinking about late-summer porch parties where a starter of Prosecco always sets the mood for conviviality. A salty snack of cured ham with a favorite fruit would be a smart way to go. I know many of you are early planners, so I would like to point out that Giavi’s Prosecco Superiore is a sophisticated alternative to pricier sparklers for gifts and parties.  Get a jump start on end of year celebrations by loading up with Giavi’s Prosecco Superiore! Va Bene! —Anya Balistreri

May 2012 Dirty Dozen

Monday, May 7, 2012 2:20 PM

The only month with all 31 days spent in spring is upon us. Happy May! It’s also National Barbecue Month, so let’s get grillin’. The Derby, Mothers’ Day, and the old unofficial kickoff to summer, Memorial Day are all coming soon. For any parties or get togethers you may be having, may we suggest the May Dirty Dozen. 12 great wines. 1 low price.

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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2007 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Northfield $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Introducing Northfield Wines! They’re a small, family-run producer with vineyards in both New Zealand and California. For this bottling, they blend 25% Semillon with their Waipara Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and the result is a crisp, clean kiss of citrusy fruit and mineral with a soft landing. Pair this up with a spring afternoon and a chicken salad sandwich.

NV Fortuna, Törley $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Now for something completely different. You love fizz, we love fizz. This sparkler from Hungary, made from Muscat Lunel, Muscat Ottonel, and Irsai Oliver (how’s that for wine geekyness?), has a rich, floral presence on the nose and palate. It has a hint of sweetness with just the right acidity to balance it perfectly. A spicy Thai salad works well.

2010 Malvasia, Borgo di Colloredo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Pure 100% Malvasia here, all tank fermented, fresh and lively. The vines are over 30 years old giving the wine an abundance of complexity. The aromas are of fresh blossoms, the palate precise, and the finish long. Linguine with clams.

2011 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $10.99, $9.03 reorder
Leave it to Costières de Nîmes superstar Diane Pouymorin to craft a strong contender for “Rosé of the vintage” for 2011. Made from equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, this year’s offering is light and herbal with a subtle kiss of fruit. Just what you’d expect if you were on holiday in Provençe. A baguette and a bowl of olives will do fine.

2010 Terrement Blanc, Château Puy-Servain $13.99, $9.45 reorder
Another crazy good deal by virtue of direct importation, Daniel Hecquet’s Terrement Blanc smashes the Price for Quality meter to bits! Named for the Terrement de Segur as all his land plus the house and property which once belonged to his grandfather were owned by the Marquis de Segur in the mid 18th century. Dry and crisp, it drinks like White Bordeaux.

2010 Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $11.99, $9.59 reorder
In Gascony, Rémy and Arcin Grassa (sons of the famous Yves) toil in the vineyards at La Hitaire. ‘Hors Saison’ literally means ‘outdoor season’ in the local dialect, and one taste of this springtime quaffer will have you yearning to be outside.

2008 Toscana Rosso, Panizzi $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Next up is a 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany. Sticking with our springtime theme this month, we have a red with aromas of violets and earth. On the palate the tangy red fruit dances with the round tannins making for a complex, well-balanced finish. Definitely a great all-purpose red, it will pair well with pizza, salumi, or a tortellini salad.

2008 Pinot Noir, Avitus $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Since Pinot Noir’s surge in popularity over the last decade, it has become harder and harder to find one of fine quality without saying “ouch” at the register. Hailing from Auvergne in the middle of France, the Avitus does EXACTLY that-delivering that great berry, Pinot Noir flavor for such a low price. The screwcap makes it so easy to take on a picnic!

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Tololo $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
It goes without saying that some of the wine world’s best bargains come from Chile, but here’s further proof of the validity of that statement. Deep, rich purple fruit and spice dominate the aromas, the palate is full and smooth with fine tannins marking the finish. Now that it’s National Barbecue Month, git that grill a-blazin’, and toss on a rib-eye.

2009 Beaujolais Lantignié, Château du Basty $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Great vintages in Beaujolais DO happen, as evidenced by 2009. The wines at the Cru level are special, providing that friendly cherry fruit with a lighter body and mellow tannins. Beaujolais Lantignié sits between Cru and village level, still providing all that yummy, luscious berry fruit with wafts of spice and forest floor. Great with a duck breast sandwich.

2006 Tradition, Château de Valcombe $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Here at TWH, we taste and taste and retaste the wines we have stocked here in our warehouse. A recent staff tasting of the 2006 Valcombe Tradition had our staff fighting over who got to take the sample bottle home. Layers of complexity, dark purple fruit, a hint of earth, herbs, and the famous garrigue make this a superstar. Great with pasta.

2005 Trassegum, Château d’Or et des Gueules $21.99, $17.59 reorder
This month’s DD closes with a bang! Diane Pouymorin’s prestige cuvée is a blend of Syrah and 60+ year old-vine Carignan. The result is pure magic. Rich, savory purple fruit, spices, forest floor, and underbrush dominate the aromas. The palate is firm and precise, the fruit mingling with the earthy character, and sturdy tannins which fade nicely on the long, harmonious finish. Pure class in a bottle. Bring this to a fancy barbecue, and you will win everyone’s favor.

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April 2012 Dirty Dozen

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:02 PM

Days get longer, the nights grow short, our Easter baskets are getting filled up, and what’s this? Baseball season? Yep, it’s April and it’s time for opening the windows and doors, getting some fresh air, and maybe a picnic or four. However you like to spend your time this spring, consider this: Twelve bottles, one low price.

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

2010 Orvieto, Cardèto
Big on our list of springtime wines are dry, crisp, easy quaffers that deliver in the quality department, yet keep the big bills in your wallet. This Orvieto is just the ticket! Lean and crisp with a citrusy freshness, this blend of Trebbiano and Grechetto is a great refresher should a warm spring afternoon come your way. Pairs great with a bowl o’mussels.

2010 Chardonnay, Viano Vineyards
Is it us, or do you ever see Cali Chardonnay in the sub $10 category anymore? At least quality, sub $10 Cali Chardonnay? Sales reps visit us and pour and pour, but we keep saying no until the right one comes along. Well, here it is! From Contra Costa county, no less; halfway between the Napa and Livermore Valleys comes the Viano. Pair with a crab salad.

2010 Vino Valpredo Bianca Mia, Fritz Winery
Rather than choose between Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, why not blend them? At least that’s what our friends at Sonoma’s Fritz Winery thought. You know what? This is some quality juice. Aromas of stone fruits and citrus blossoms give way to a zesty citrus palate. Anya says grill up some shrimp and serve it with mango salsa … and this, of course.

NV Prosecco Superiore, Giavi
Talk to any of us about our new D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore, the Giavi, and prepare yourself for an enthusiastic reply! Seriously, this Prosecco has it all: tiny bubbles, a pale, frosty appearance, depth, and crispness. Crostini with caviar?

2010 Blanc de Domaine de la Petite Cassagne
Her name is Diane de Puymorin. We adore her wines … all of them. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne estate back in 1998, renamed it Château d’Or et des Gueules, yet still pays homage to the old guard with a Rouge, Rosé, and this Blanc. Diane blends 40% Rolle (Vermentino) with Grenache Blanc and the result is a bright, citrus infused aromatic showpiece.

2009 Fernão Pires, Quinta do Alqueve
Dare we try to get wine geeky on you, but here’s Portugal’s Fernão Pires blended with a smidge of Arinto. Geeky? Maybe. But the stone fruity aromas and crisp mouthfeel will make wine geeks out of us all! Great with sardines.

2009 Garnacha Two Rows, Odisea
As we switch to the reds, let’s point out that our friends at Odisea have another hit on their hands. Mostly Grenache with small parts Syrah and Tempranillo, the Two Rows is a plump palate pleaser. Ripe cherries and raspberries mingle with vanilla spice and herbs resulting in ethereal harmony. If it’s burgers on the grill; sorry, these Two Rows are taken.

2010 Tempranillo, Enanzo
Yummy Tempranillo from Spain’s Navarra region! The philosophy at Enanzo is simple. To quote them, “this Tempranillo is made by applying the only true winemaking criterion: intimate, permanent, progressive harmony between man and his environment.” It works here, the herb infused fruit is braced by dusty tannins and spirited acidity. Great with pizza.

2009 Château de Bouchet La Rentiere
What a vintage 2009 was for the wines of Bordeaux! The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker likened the vintage to the legendary 1982 noting one exception: in 1982 there weren’t many small, inexpensive producers taking advantage of the perfect weather to make great affordable Bordeaux. That’s different now. Pair this beauty with your prime rib.

2008 Les Cimels, Château d’Or et des Gueules
If there’s a better $15 red wine here at TWH, I haven’t seen it. The aforementioned Diane de Puymorin blends some old vine Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, and the result is an herbal masterpiece. Forest floor, Kalamata olives, and black tea dominate the aromas, and the palate is more savory than fruity. The perfect wine for pasta with an herbal sauce.

2009 Côtes du Rhône les Boissières, Vignobles Boudinaud
New to us is Veronique and Thierry Boudinaud’s les Boissières Côtes du Rhône. It’s an exciting story as 100% of what’s imported to the US is imported for us! Think honest, old-school Côtes du Rhône here. It shows plenty of fruit, but without going overboard. Toss in some cracked pepper and herbs Provençal, and you get the drift. This is yet another versatile bottle in what can be called The Versatile Dozen. Great on its own, or paired with cassoulet.

2006 Syrah, Alberto Furque
Ever popular with our staff and customers, the Alberto Furque line crushes it when it comes to quality for price. Grown at altitudes of over 3000 feet, the vineyards of Mendoza’s Bodega Aconquija (we call them Alberto Furque) get just the right amount of warm days and cool nights to produce wines with dazzling structure. This Syrah sings of balance and harmony. If you find yourself dreaming about some thinly sliced Argentine beef with Chimichurri sauce, pour this.

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Pow, Bam, Fizz – Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:19 PM







I am rarely surprised anymore by the things people say to me on the subject of wine
. However, during a trip to Brooklyn a couple months ago for my friend’s wedding, I stopped into a small, and what I determined to be quite reputable, wine shop.  I struck up a conversation with one of the employees.  Upon asking him if they had any small grower Champagne, I was met with a somewhat astonished facial expression followed by “you guys know about grower Champagne out in California?!” I had to stop myself from laughing hysterically lest I come off as a phony (psst, I’m not really from California) AND offensive.

That said, I know we can be a bit Californicentric with our wine selections on the west coast, but when it comes to bubbles, well…. in the words of one of our favorite Californian winemakers when I asked him what he’s drinking these days… “Champagne. Especially from growers. That’s pretty exciting to me.” So yes world, we know all about Champagne!!! It is delicious; It is festive; It is one of the most diverse and versatile wines on the planet; It is exciting. Oh, and it’s available in California!

Grower Champagne – Champagne made from vines grown on and bottled by a single estate – is not necessarily inherently superior (or inferior for that matter) to one made by a négociant or co-op, but many small grower Champagnes today offer a distinct type of drinking experience that diverges from the larger producers. Not to mention the fact that it’s nice to know where the grapes for your wine come from. TWH carries both categories proudly and with discerning standards. All of our Champagnes represent the absolute best of the various sub-regions, styles, and producers from a region renowned for its pivotal role in history as the place for royal inaugurations and celebrations. Oh, and did we mention that our Champagnes are celebrity-endorsed?

Last night before we closed up shop, TWH staff was treated to a bottle of the 1999 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil (That’s Pascal in the pic above, btw). The freshness, the vibrancy, and the complexity of this wine, after all these years, was mind-blowing. It’s nowhere close to retiring. And even after a long day of work, in the back of our warehouse, with no cause for celebration per se, we had a sense that the moment was special. THIS is why we drink Champagne. Happy New Year! ~ Emily Crichton

** Here are a few of our favorite bubbles in stock **

NV Arlaux Brut 750ml (Also available in 375ml)

Arlaux is a tiny Champagne house run by Christine Marechal. A recoltant-manipulant, Marechal is based in Vrigny, and owns just 7 hectares of Premier Cru vines, predominantly Chardonnay but with both Pinots planted alongside, on the north-western edge of the Petite Montagne de Reims. All of the Arlaux wines are made from the first pressing only and following both fermentations, are aged in the Arlaux cellars before release, with up to three years for the basic non-vintage cuvees, and up to five years for the reserve non-vintage and vintage wines. The entry level non-vintage is the Brut NV, a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and just 10% Chardonnay.- TheWineDoctor.com

1998 Arlaux Brut Millesime

This has a lovely character on the nose, which is evolving and interesting. There is elegant but rich tropical fruit with a lemon twist, and a nutty element coming in behind. The palate is impressive, defined and linear, but also creamy and harmonious. There is great fruit texture, fine acidity and perfect balance. A delicious wine which is very approachable now. –TheWineDoctor.com, March 2009

NV Pascal Doquet Brut Blanc de Blancs

92 Points– Wine & Spirits December 2008

Pascal and his wife Laure own and operate this fabulous small grower Champagne domaine in the town of Vertus, located near Avize. The Doquet’s Champagnes are made entirely from their 15 hectares (2.5 Grand Cru / 12.5 Premier Cru) which are all farmed organically and hand harvested.

In the Cellar the wines ferment in both tank and cask before being bottled to under go secondary fermentation where they are allowed to rest on their lees for a minimum of 2 years but often up to 3 before disgorgement; much longer than the law requires. This technique and patience allows for the wines to develop richness and depth.

This Brut Blanc de Blancs cuvee was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 3 months sur-lies. The wine is a blend 2 vintages: 67% of 2004 and 33% of 2002, and was bottled in April 2005.

NV Pascal Doquet Brut Rose 1er Cru

91 Points– Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

This Rose Brut Premier Cru cuvee comes from the Southern Cote des Blancs: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus, Bergeres-les-Vertus. The wine was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 3 months sur-lies. A Chardonnay base is used along with some Pinot Noir from Vertus. This is a blend of 2005, 2004 and 2003 vintages, which was bottled in April 2006.

NV Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil

92 Points– Wine & Spirits December 2008

This Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs cuvee (100% Chardonnay) comes from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and was aged in tanks for 6 months, including 4 months sur-lies. The wine is a blend 3 vintages: 73% of 1999, 7% of 1998 and 20% of 1996, and was bottled in April 2000.

*2000 Pascal Doquet Brut 1er Cru Mont Aime

*1999 Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Le Mesnil

NV Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs

92 PointsStephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
Light, bright green-gold, with a strong bead. Vivid citrus and green apple aromas are complicated by subtle lees, spice and brioche qualities, as well as a slow-building floral quality. Firm and focused, offering tangy orange and orchard fruit flavors along with anise and sweet butter. Gains weight with air but not at the expense of the crackling fruit. The citrus notes linger impressively on the finely etched finish. I really like this wine’s delicacy and sneaky power.
 
And many many more…..

NV Arlaux Champagne: Simply Genius

Friday, October 21, 2011 3:47 PM







Je rêve.
There’s a lot going on these days. Sure, there’s a new Wilco album out, but that’s not what I’m on about.We’ve told you about the recent container which brought loads of goodies from France. Guess what? There’s another French container about to set sail that’s full of good stuff. On its heals is another container from Italy, and then there will be one from Bordeaux! Expect a full warehouse and frantic TWH staff come late November through January! We’re 8 matches into footy season, the Champions’ league resumes Wednesday, and I’ve embarked on a new music venture. So yeah, there’s a lot going on. But still I dream. And I dream big. So I’m thinking about all this stuff and what it’s going to feel like when it all goes down successfully. What to drink? Champagne. Real Champagne.

Early last month I celebrated a birthday, and though I always drink Gold Wine from Barsac/Sauternes on my birthday, my colleagues here at TWH nonchalantly invited me to the tasting table the Friday before, and there before my eyes were several Champagne flutes a-glistenin’. There’s just something about those bubbles. They were perched there, alive and energetic, like thoroughbreds in the gates of the Kentucky Derby waiting to bust out. A glass was handed to me, and as they say, “They’re off!” A quick toast, and a quick sip, and a double take. The Champagne they chose for my birthday? NV Arlaux. I’ve had the Arlaux Champagnes many times over the course of my gig here at TWH, and I’ve had high praise for it as well. But there was something particularly special about this bottle (which came from a recent container). It had all the fruit and mineral complexity, but that brioche/hazelnut nuance was strongly pronounced and we were all amazed at what we had in our glasses. The bottle didn’t last long as we were happily tasting and engrossed in praising the exquisite elixir. Everyone walked away from that tasting with a strong reminder that it’sthe little guys that make truly great Champagne.

So yes, we’re busy getting wine on the water and we’ll probably do something special for our upcoming 34th Anniversary. The holidays are creeping up and will be here before you know it, and with an eye on footy and an ear in the studio, I’ve got a full plate of things to do. I ain’t afraid. With help from my friends and colleagues, it will all go down just fine. And we will drink Champagne. The NV Arlaux Champagne, that is.Peter Zavialoff

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So how was everyone’s Bastille Day? All was great here at TWH. Many of our friends stopped by to pick up their French wines for the festivities, and ourBastille Day dinner with Chateau Coutet at Range Restaurant was a big success!!!(Look for a recap of the event in form of a blog post soon!) Now that the dust is settling from that momentous occasion, I find myself next plotting … nothing; for the moment, anyway. Speaking of momentous occasions,by the way, we’ve got one kicking off at noon local time. The 2011 Women’s World Cup Final should provide plenty more fireworks than one can normally expect to see on a football pitch in mid-July. We’ll take it; Go USA!!! Now, what to take along (or have handy in case celebration is in order)? Just yesterday our eyes were opened to yet another new arrival from our recent Italian container. Doubling the number of directly imported Proseccos, it is our pleasure to introduce you to the Giavi Prima Volta Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore!

 





In 1969, the Prosecco D.O.C. was established in north-eastern Italy, located roughly from the Veneto (including Venezia itself) to Friuli (all the way to eastern outpost Trieste). The sweet spot for quality, however, is confined to 15 municipalities located between the villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. In 2009, this sweet spot was awarded the D.O.C.G. status. This is the most prestigious status that can be awarded to any vinous region in Italy. The letter “G” stands for “guaranteed” as each bottle of D.O.C.G. wine is given a number, making it unique and guaranteeing its quality. Keep in mind that in Italy, there are 300 D.O.C. wines, yetonly 40 with the vaunted D.O.C.G. status. And that’s saying something. Maybe that’s why David socked away a bottle of this new arrival in the fridge to be opened in commemoration of Emily’s recent birthday.

Like it or not, packaging is important. Sometimes, we just say no to a wine that may be of quality, but sports a tacky label. Sad but true. So first impressions matter. With the Giavi? The package passed with flying colors. It is one classy looking bottle, isn’t it?Let’s just go on to say, that if the package works but the wine doesn’t … oh well, we don’t buy it. That should go without saying, we are TWH after all. So yes, we’re all standing around the tasting table in a semi-celebratory state, and pop went the cork! The first noticeable thing were the tiny bubbles.I was a minute late to the unveiling (hey, someone’s got to answer customers’ questions) and have a vivid screenshot of David smiling and commenting on the size of them. I poured myself some, and just as Anya commented on the color, I was quite taken as to just how pale and frosty it looked in my glass. The aromas sang of that delightful tandem of fruit and mineral; the palate was dry and mineral driven, with a hidden fruitiness that was described as, “a hint of grape Jolly Rancher”. Just a hint, mind you. Its acidity gave it a particular freshness, which carried through to a happy finish. Smiles all around. Thanks Emily, for having a birthday on the same day that the Italian container arrived!

 







Wow. July 17th. I remember back in April when I first came back from Bordeaux. “So when are we doing this?”“When are we doing that?” My friends peppering me with questions about spring/summer plans. My answer, “Talk to me in mid July”. Here we are. Talk to me. First up, the World Cup Final! I fear I may need to bring 2 bottles. One to open before the match, and one just in case. It is only 11% after all. – Peter Zavialoff

SPECIAL NOTE: Be on the lookout for our weekly E-mail only Wednesday Wine Deal starting next week. TWH’s way of saying thanks for reading…

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2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superiore

Monday, May 9, 2011 2:45 PM

A wise person once told me, “Think a lot, say little, write less.” I totally understand what they were getting at. I’ve shot myself in the foot so many times with the things I’ve written, I’m surprised I can walk. But today I feel wiser. Today I’m working on getting past stereotype. Today I am open to possibility. I am not too busy to dismiss new ideas. For it was another wise person (actually, it was the World Commander) who told me, “The most important thing you can do is to listen. Keep your ears open. Hear everything.”

 

It may come as no shock to you that I love wine. Red, white, or gold … love them all. I do not like labels. No, not the paper ones on the bottles, the ones that are flippantly attached to certain wines for all sorts of crazy reasons. You know, like Sauternes are dessert wines or Beaujolais wines have little character.Then there’s this one; sparkling wines are just for celebrations. I can see how that one got legs, but still. At the risk of ruining another figurative pair of shoes,I say no to typecasting a wine!

We know Sauternes are perfect with dinner and Cru Beaujolais (especially from 2009) are full of character! So are sparkling wines just for celebrations?Are smiles just for celebrations? Is happiness just for celebrations? Of course the answer to all of these questions is no. Though opening a bottle of sparkling wine can make us a little giddy, it is not mandatory to have a celebratory reason to do so. Remember; this is wine. It is made to complement whatever is on your plate. A couple of weeks ago, I had the best brunch ever; it was capped by, get this, a Crab Benedict. This was utter perfection. Do you ever have those moments? When the first bite of something is so sublime that it alters the time and space continuum? The wine that I had with it was sufficient; good but not great. I sit today typing, knowing that there is a sparkling wine that we carry, the 2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superiore, that would pair so well with that dish, that if I were to ever experience the 2 together, I would turn into someone people would refer to as, “what happened to that dude?”

Yes, Prosecco. This Bellenda Prosecco is yet another of the fruits of our labors. We go on these travelling junkets and taste a lot of wine. Sometimes the surroundings can be a bit uncomfortable. Bumping into people; searching for a spitoon with a mouthful of wine; no air conditioning, stuff like that. Alas, but sometimesyou taste a gem of a wine that makes it all worth it. That’s what this is. It’s light and lively. Its texture is complex, pinging off all the right sensors on the palate, and leaving an aromatic panoply of blossoms, pears, almonds and a springtime breeze. When tasting Prosecco, I usually brace myself for simple flavors, lower acid, and a kiss of sugar. Not here. The Bellenda is a whole different kind of Prosecco for me.It’s dry. The lively acid and tiny bubbles make me yearn for another go-around at that Crab Benny! So yeah, not for celebrations … for a Sunday brunch!

 

Speaking of which, today being what it is and all, a Sunday brunch may be in order. We wish all you Moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day!Every day is really Mother’s Day, just like every day is really Thanksgiving. But this one is sanctioned, or official, so with that, we toast you all! Have some brunch, or lunch; spend some time with friends and family. Want a pairing suggestion, that will work with darned near everything? How ’bout a bottle of Bellenda Prosecco Superiore? That is just what the doctor ordered. – Peter Zavialoff

Spring Fizz

Saturday, April 9, 2011 4:26 PM





“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

I don’t know if it’s all the daffodils and tulips sprouting up around town or just seasonal allergies going to my head, but I have got Spring Fever like you wouldn’t believe. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind that prompts me to clean my home as if I were about to host the Queen. However, it does have the effect of turning everything I hear or read into something not only spring-related, but something for which the presence of spring could be the only logical explanation.

Which brings us to the portion of the email where I explain what the above quote has to do with spring, and of course, wine (did I mention I also have a tendency to turn everything I see into something wine-related?). It all started when I logged onto our Twitter account this morning and saw this quote. Naturally, it made me smile and think of how spring is the perfect time to celebrate life, friendship, good times of past and those yet to come. In essence, to keep laughing. Cheesy, perhaps, but still apt in my opinion. Moreover, if we are to gather for laughter, we will need something equally apt with which to toast it.

Now for the part of the email that needs very little explanation, as it is almost inevitably “bubbles” that customers ask for when they are about to embark down a celebratory path. That said, this is not the first time, nor the last, that you will hear me say a celebration proper is certainly not necessary for the consumption of sparkling wine. I have and always will be a huge proponent of kicking to the curb any notion suggesting that certain wines be restricted to specific dates, places, weather patterns, lunar phases etc… Rules- who needs them?! So whether you’re mounting your party bus as we speak or quietly giving thanks to the asparagus gods, make this a season of celebration and laughter. Of course, I would never dream of leaving you hanging with a hankering for some sparklers and no suggestions, so I’ve picked a few of TWH staff favorites from fancy to affordable and everything in between. In fact, it seems like almost every day at least one of us comes into work and announces that we’ve recently had one of the sparkling wines listed below- with sushi (me), with fresh crab (David), avec petite brandade croquettes (Anya), on its own with squirt of blood orange (Chris), with peanuts while watching a baseball game (Tom)…. So I guess we’re practicing what we preach alright.

In sum, have fun- drink fizz.

NV Segura Viudas Brut Cava

We have adopted the term “house ‘Champagne'” from one of our customers to describe this Cava as it’s the kind of wine everyone should have at least a few bottles of on hand for an impromptu sparkling moment. While this has been an all-time favorite of TWH staff for some time now, in both the pocketbook and palate categories, there seems to be a consensus around the globe that this is a brut to be reckoned with. A blend of the regional Spanish grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, the Segura is made in the same way as Champagne with its secondary fermentation and further aging done in the bottle. Rich and full, yet crisp and clean at the same time, it has classic citrus, apple and melon flavors but a delightfully unexpected earthy/herbal component. I’ve always been very impressed with the balance of this wine. It definitely out drinks its price-point.

Domaine d’Orfeuilles NV Vouvray Brut

How do I even begin to describe my adoration for this producer. If you thought my spiel about tulips and laughter was cheesy, hang on a moment because I’m about to top it. But first, a little background information. This Loire estate was founded by Paul Herivault in 1947 out of an old Medieval castle that no longer exists. Today the estate is run by Paul’s son and grandson whose M.O. is tomaintain the traditional methods employed by their predecessor and produce wines that reflect the distinct “flintiness” of the clay-limestone soil for which Vouvray is known. In this they have succeeded and then some. The Vouvray Brut, made from 100% Chenin in the traditional method, explodes with peach/apricot & soft white floral notes on the nose that follow through onto the palate with a clean chalky texture that, along with a brilliant acidity, hangs onto every tiny little bubble as if they were some sort of synchronized acrobatic trio (go team!). Anya summed this wine up nicely when she said “it’s one of the few sparkling wines that doesn’t make me wish I were drinking Champagne.”

Domaine d’Orfeuilles also makes a Touraine Rosé from Malbec (known as Côt in the Loire) that boasts beautiful, bright red raspberry fruit balanced by a nice dusty minerality. For some reason this wine (get ready for the cheese in five, four, three…) gives me visions of Mary Poppins ascending into the puffy clouds as she hangs nonchalantly onto her umbrella. Gosh, where do I come up with these things? But truly, it is a lovely representation of the outstanding diversity, quality, and value one can find coming out of the Loire.





2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superior
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This may be one instance where I tell you it’s ok to judge a wine by its label. The feminine, almost majestic looking, light gray-purple label is fitting for this vintage sparkling wine which bears the name of both the region from which it hails in northeastern Italy and the grape from which it is made. Hands down, this wine has the softest, most delicate mouthfeel of any Prosecco I’ve ever tasted. Slight hints of stone fruit and almond round out the vibrant minerality also present in spades. You may want to drink this in a white wine glass rather than a flute in order to experience the full expression of the wine.

NV Arlaux Brut

Arlaux has been one of our direct grower Champagne imports for years, long before the explosion of grower Champagne ensued. Situated in Vrigny, this estate is known for its use of Champagne’s “other” red grape, Pinot Meunier, which makes up nearly half of the blend and contributes anintriguing hint of forest-floor type earthiness. The rest of the blend is composed of mainly Pinot Noir and just a little bit of Chardonnay, which lends itself to a richer, more red-fruit flavor profile. In the world of sky-high Champagne prices, Arlaux represents an incredible bang for the buck… or should I say, bubble.

Joyeux printemps!

Emily Crichton

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