Bedrock Wine Co.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:56 PM
Monday, July 3, 2017 11:28 AM
What is now known as The La Cuadrilla program at Stolpman Vineyards began as a way for the vineyard manager to better train his crew. The idea was to dedicate a two-acre block, or cuadra, that the vineyard crew had to then cultivate, from pruning to harvest, without supervision. This training block was called the La Cuadrilla, in Spanish meaning the people of the block. To challenge the crew even further, this two-acre training block would be set up in another part of the vineyard the next vintage. Eventually the vineyard manager confided to owner Tom Stolpman the success of this training system. It was Tom who came up with the idea of making wine from that training block and giving those bottles to the crew as a way to enjoy the fruits of their labor. By 2009, the program expanded to include fruit from other parts of the vineyard so that La Cuadrilla could be sold commercially. Profits from the sale of La Cuadrilla are divided among the vineyard crew in the form of a year-end bonus. This is a creative way for all to benefit by incentivizing learning and taking steps to achieve sustainable employment. Bravo to Stolpman Vineyards!
Of course, in order for this program to really work well, the wine has to be good – this can’t be just a gimmick. The 2015 La Cuadrilla is a lively blend of Syrah with small additions of Grenache, some of it old vine, and Sangiovese. The wine is vinified in concrete tanks and then aged in neutral barrel. La Cuadrilla has a lot of brightness and tart red fruit. It isn’t heavy or over-ripe, but is dominated by red fruit flavors and a pleasant, earthy note. Because of its fresh palate feel, it’s a great choice for warm-weather food pairings like smoky barbecued meats.
Stolpman Vineyards is located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Ballard Canyon AVA. Ballard Canyon is Santa Barbara’s newest AVA and sits between the Santa Rita Hills and Happy Canyon. Ballard Canyon benefits from warm days during the growing season and is protected from wind by the surrounding hills. Temperatures drop significantly at night. Some soils, like at Stolpman, have limestone deposits.
I won’t only be celebrating our nation’s birthday this weekend. I will also be celebrating my mother’s birthday and my own. Mother and daughter will be throwing a joint birthday party! My brother, bless his heart, suggested putting only one candle on each of our birthday desserts. I agreed, adding that we wouldn’t want to ignite a raging inferno. My birthday year was not a particularly good vintage for wine throughout most of world. No worries here because the party calls for youthful wines, so La Cuadrilla will make an appearance on the table. It should be another great family meal up at the dacha out on the deck beneath the Redwoods. Happy Happy, Everyone! – Anya Balistreri
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 5:13 PM
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 11:36 AM
Whoa! How did it get to be February already??!! Seriously, the period after the holidays may be somewhat quiet for some, but around here it was hoppin’. I mentioned the parade of folks from Bordeaux passing through our doors the past couple of weeks; the UGC tasting of the newly bottled 2014’s was a week ago Friday. The wines are showing as well, if not better, than I anticipated after having tasted them as barrel samples. I’ve got more to say about them, but tonight’s exercise is more about what I like to call ye olde reliable, Côtes-du-Rhône rouge. Specifically, the 2013 CdR La Boissière from Domaine Boudinaud.
It’s funny. My memory is chock full of useless information. I don’t know why I remember some things (seriously, yesterday was my best friend’s from 3rd grade birthday), and not other, more important things. Like when and where and why did I taste my first Côtes-du-Rhône? It almost feels to me like it just always was a given. If I wanted a nice glass or two of delicious red wine without much expense, there is always Côtes-du-Rhône. When a new customer walks in to our shop and informs me that they like wine, yet aren’t very familiar with French wine, I tend to start here. With Côtes-du-Rhône, it’s tough to go wrong.
We have been working with Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud for well over a decade, and we just love their wines. For the 2013 la Boissière, Thierry blended 55% Grenache with 30% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and 5% Cinsault. The nuance of each variety’s aromatic profile is noticeable and the blend is quite harmonious. And what’s great about this wine in particular is that you can drink it on its own, with a burger, with steak, with a pork chop, barbecue chicken, and so forth. It is that versatile. Given its price point, it’s a super wine for a very fair price. I do remember how much we liked the 2012, and how my colleagues and I squirreled away bottles for ourselves when our stock began to vanish. When it finally dried up, the countdown began for the new vintage. Now that it’s here, our entire staff is enjoying it. One bottle at a time. And though $13.49 is already an extraordinary deal for a wine of this quality, the case price of $11.47 per bottle is what we call a no-brainer.
Wow. I’m at a loss for what to do for dinner this evening. As Anya mentioned last week, our staff had our annual holiday dinner gathering a fortnight ago, and last Saturday, I was lucky enough to join a supplier and representatives from three Bordeaux chateaux at The Battery for an incredible dinner. It was there that I tasted my very first grade A-5 Wagyu beef. I will not be forgetting about that anytime soon. I have a feeling that tonight’s dinner plans will be less extravagant and more about comfort food. What wine will I be bringing home to sip with my comfort food? Ye olde reliable, of course! – Peter Zavialoff
Monday, January 9, 2017 10:56 AM
Not to belabor the obvious, but it's cold outside. And it gets dark earlier too. This signals the time of year when Syrah calls out to me the loudest - I hear you Syrah, loud and clear! A robust, full-flavored Syrah paired with a slow braised one-pot dish; now that's sounds good to me. As I look around the store, searching for that Syrah to satiate my craving, my eyes naturally fall onto our limited, but stellar selection of Northern Rhones. Of the two producers TWH directly imports, Domaine Belle is the most established. When I came to work for TWH in the late 90's, Belle was a relative newcomer on the Rhone scene and a true darling of Robert Parker who was a great advocate for this French region, propelling fervent enthusiasm for Syrah. In the 1997 revised edition of "Wines of the Rhone Valley", Parker concludes his review of Belle by writing it was "one of the bright, shining stars of Crozes-Hermitage, and this is an estate to follow". In my opinion, he was absolutely right. So what has Domaine Belle been up to in the two decades since Parker wrote that statement? They've been consistently making outstanding wines that fly under the radar!
Philippe Belle is at the helm, having taken over from his father Albert who retired in 2003. Fortunately for Domaine Belle fans, Philippe has sons who are being groomed to work in the family business. On his trip to France this past November, David paid a visit to Belle where he tasted recent and upcoming vintages. There he met with Philippe and his son, Valentin, who is currently studying enology at Montpellier. David sent a photo of father and son to me (I'm always hounding him to take more pics on his trips!) as well as a photo of the 2015 Crozes Hermitage Roche Pierre, which he captioned "one of the darkest wines I've ever seen". The 2015 Roche Pierre won't be available any time soon, but we do have the gorgeous 2012 in stock now. And though we bid adieu to our 39th Anniversary Sale, we will offer the 2012 Roche Pierre at discount for this email - regularly $36.99 per bottle, on sale for $27.95 per bottle!
Roche Pierre is a single-vineyard with vines upwards of 70 years old grown on granitic soil. These are special vines and Belle only bottles this wine in special vintages (otherwise it goes into Cuvee Louis Belle). We have the '12 in stock, and they made '13 and '15, but no '11 or '14. It is a wine that showcases the full spectrum of Syrah's appeal, from the inky color to the dark, black fruit to the spicy, smoky notes. The texture is rich with firm tannins. Less than 300 cases of this single-vineyard Crozes-Hermitage are produced. Jeb Dunnuck who has taken over reviewing Rhone wines for Parker had this to say about the 2012 Roche Pierre:
"I was blown away by the 2012 Crozes Hermitage Roche Pierre and it showed even better from bottle than barrel, which is always a good sign. Aged two years in 40% new French oak, it's certainly one of the top wines of this appellation. Cassis, toasted spice, leather, beautiful minerality and classic minerality are all present in this full-bodied, focused, pure and age-worthy Crozes Hermitage. There's no shortage of tannin here, so give it a year or three, it will have 10-15 years of longevity." 94 points #216 Dec. 2014
This weekend I will be celebrating a milestone birthday...my baby girl is turning 13! A teenager. It doesn't seem possible. Her birthday lands on Old Calendar Christmas Eve (Happy Birthday to MTP as well!), so we'll first celebrate with a traditional Russian lenten meal with family then host a rip-roaring sleepover party with her BFFs the next evening. Call me crazy, but I love hearing all the girl chatter and laughter filling up the house. It warms my heart. Happy Birthday to Sascha, my sweet girl...many blessed years! And Happy New Year to all of you! - Anya Balistreri
Monday, August 15, 2016 9:27 PM
It sure has beenan interesting week. On one hand, it’sthe middle of August. Most of France is on holiday and I’ve always beenunder the impressionthat these waning summer days before school begins againare the official “dog days.” This perception needs updating. While having lunch at a restaurant the other day (still in search of the best French Dip in the North Bay), I overheardtwo people talking about school starting.As in this week! What??!! It’s August 14th! Anya confirmed this today as her daughter is less than a week from her first day. Seriously, where does the time go?It’s a good thing we have wine in our lives. Meant for pleasure rather than scrutiny; each bottle is a living thing made from a combination of elements including soil, grape variety, winemaker, and vintage. In the wine biz, we sometimes get caught up in only thinking about a wine region’s quality during a given year, butit also leaves us an opportunity to reminisce. This week, I am reminiscing with2012 Tour de l’Isle Gigondas.
Thursday, July 7, 2016 7:47 PM
Tuesday, June 7, 2016 7:19 PM
Whew! Who knew? Put someBurgundy on sale, and things get hopping! Or as one customer who came in today said,“Burgundy sales are the only way mere mortals can buy and enjoy the stuff.” True, true. When we introduced this little surprise sale, we did mention that it wasmore than just Burgundy, and many of you found some other goodies by clicking around our website. On the heels of my recent blurb about affordable reds,I just kicked the proverbial rock and uncovered another beauty, andIT’S ON SALE for $9.95 per bottle: the 2011 Domaine Fondrèche Fayard!
Saturday, May 28, 2016 8:25 PM
This family owned Crozes Hermitage-based estate seems to fly under the radar, yet they’re a terrific source of beautiful reds and whites from the north.”
Friday, May 20, 2016 6:14 PM
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 7:33 PM
Monday, February 22, 2016 10:47 PM
Monday, January 11, 2016 8:01 PM
The Holidays are a good time to open special bottles. I understand the logic of doing so, but my contrarian nature kept me reaching to open simple, quiet wines like the 2014 Luberon from Tour de l’Isle. When emotions run high and there are lots of goings on, a dependable, built-to-please-many red can be a life-saver. On Christmas Eve, I did opena magnum of Napa Valley red that I had been cellaring for a long time and finally got the nerve up to pop the cork. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t help but be distracted by the table banter, the serving of the meal, etc. to really have enjoyed it. On Christmas Day, it was the 2014 Luberon that called out to me. As I nursed a glass while catching the last frame ofThe Christmas Story marathon, I asked my husband to describe what he liked about this Luberon. His answer was simple but precise “the fruit is there and the tannins are light”. Bring on the distractions! Happy New Year Everyone!– Anya Balistreri
Monday, November 23, 2015 8:25 PM
Thanksgiving next week will find me with family and friends. I only need to bring a side dish, so I am hoping I will find a bit of time to relax that day. The Wine House’s 38th Anniversary Sale has had us buzzing around here and my daughter’s foray into musical theatre has been rather demanding with dress and tech rehearsals all week. Not to mention, I made a huge tactical error when I dropped off my daughter’s costume at rehearsal, only to be talked into staying to “help” with make-up. I am now the expert on doing make-up for Cinderella’s mice. Honestly, I love it. Those darling faces are so perfect, how could my ineptness at face-painting ruin their beauty! Wishing you all a bountiful and meaningful Thanksgiving.– Anya Balistreri
Monday, August 24, 2015 9:50 PM
The Northern Rhône, to be exact. One of myfavorite pairing memories from my early days here at TWH was when I was invited to some friends’ house after work for “something that has beenon the smoker for hours.”With little first hand experience of tasting the wide selection of red wines on our shelves, I consulted our pal Ben, andhe put a 5 year old bottle of Northern Rhône Syrah in my hands. “It’s gotstructure and ample fruit, but this Syrah hasa smoky-meaty quality that will work perfect with your dinner.” The words are seared in my memory becausethe pairing was perfect. So perfect that my friends loaded up on the wine because their smoker and grill were used pretty often. That wine is long gone,but in the world of 5 year old (okay, 4.5 years) Northern Rhône Syrah, we’ve got a pretty dang good deal!
“Starting off the 2011s and another delicious, classically constructed effort from this producer, the 2011 Crozes Hermitage Les Pierrelles exhibits ample blackberry, pepper, underbrush and textbook northern Rhone meatiness to go with a medium-bodied, fruit forward and nicely textured profile on the palate. Despite the up-front feel here, it firms up nicely on the finish and should have a gradual evolution. This was a rock solid lineup from this tiny, family owned estate. 89 points”
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 6:43 PM
2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia
Domaine Fondrèche is not a newcomer, nor a stranger to me. I have enjoyed many of winemaker Sébastien Vincenti’s wines over the years, their reflections of place and their purity of fruit have had a place at my table since my beginnings here at TWH. To me,Sébastien’s Cuvée Persia has always been a big, big fancy wine that needed something substantial on the plate to stand up to it. So after a long day here at the shop, out popped 7 or so sample bottles that were poured for wholesale accounts, and Tom, Chris, and I headed for the tasting room to see how they were showing. There were Rosés, a bottle of white, and 3 different 2012 cuvées of Fondrèche. I knew going in that, of the reds, I wanted to taste the Cuvée Persia last. That’s what experience will do for you. Short of appetizers, let alone a well seasoned, grilled hanger steak, I was preparing myself for another big, youthful vintage of the Persia. I was in for a surprise. I found the sample rather giving and expressive. It’s still a big wine, and yes, the grilled hanger steak will help, but it was beaming with complexity! So much so, that despite the weather on that particular evening, I was going to drink red. It’s not in the Tuesday night wine price category, but if you consider what the well-known fancy producers around the Rhône Valley get for their wines, there is tremendous value here.
Here is what The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck had to say about the 2012 Cuvée Persia: The 2012 Ventoux Persia is Syrah dominated, yet incorporates 10% Mourvèdre. It’s aged half in small barrels and the balance in a mix of concrete and foudre. Silky, fabulously polished and full-bodied, it gives up lots of cassis, black raspberry, roasted meats and graphite. While it’s upfront and supple, it will evolve gracefully on its purity and balance. 91 points”
Monday, March 9, 2015 7:01 PM
Have you ever had one of those weeks where a seemingly innocuous playground accident turned into a three hour visit at the doctor’s office, then leaving with your child wearing a cast on her hand? The visit to the doctor, of course, had been further complicated because your husband’s truck was in the shop and had to use your car for the day, so you had to borrow a ride to get to the doctor’s office in the first place? It doesn’t end there – the truck doesn’t get fixed as quickly as promised, therefore you had to get ready even earlier all week so that there was enough time to drive your husband to work before dropping your child off at school and then try to make it to work on time? What about deciding to wake up extra early on that week’s Saturday so that you can take a long, peaceful shower and perhaps linger over coffee while reading the morning paper before heading off to work, only to discover that the doghad thrown-up in the kitchen as well as had pooped all over the floor of the shower? Ever had one of those weeks? I think you know what I am talking about.
Monday, March 2, 2015 8:01 PM
“Aged two years in 30% new oak, the 2012 Côte Rôtie le Champon exhibits gorgeous notes of black raspberry, sweet black cherry, smoked earth, herbs and dark chocolate. Pure, fine, elegant and layered, with medium to full-bodied richness, it too has a modern ting, but still has plenty of Côte Rôtie style. Drink it over the coming decade. 93 points
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 12:51 AM
We will let our collective passion continue to drive us into 2015, and there are some good things on the immediate horizon. Our Top Ten wines of 2014 will be announced soon and there is a fairly intimate Bordeaux dinner coming up. Bordeaux dinner? Yes, as the UGC de Bordeaux makes its way through the country, we’re going to team up with Château Brane Cantenac for a dinner at Piperade restaurant on Battery Street on Thursday, January 29 at 7pm. There are still some places available, but they’re filling fast. Five wines will be paired with five courses, and the price is $100 per person which includes dinner, wine, tax, and gratuity. In the world of Bordeaux dinners, that is dirt cheap! We’re expecting the dinner to sell out, so if you are interested, I recommend you contact me as soon as you can and I will provide further details. – Peter Zavialoff
Monday, January 12, 2015 8:12 PM