2014 Chablis From Sébastien Dampt

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 12:21 AM

 
2014 Chablis from Sébastien Dampt
 
It seems counterintuitive, nevertheless, I’m drawn to sleek, stripped-down whites like a nervy Chablis when it’s cold outside, baby! The mineral attack provided by well-madeChablis mimics that rush you get when you step outside into the chill. Your senses get a jolt.
 
The Wine House’s David Netzer (palate extraordinaire and lead wine scout) had been searching to direct-import a Chablis producer for some time. A series of fortunate twists and turns led David to young vigneron, Sébastien Dampt. Sébastien began making winesfor himself in 2007, having acquired 7 hectares of vines; mostly old vine. Prior to starting out on his own venture, Sébastien had done the requisite internships in other viticultural areas and countries. He had been, and continues to still, work alongside his father and brother at the family’s, Domaine Daniel Dampt. Sébastien’s wines are incredibly pure, traditional in approach, and, because he is at the start of his career, wildly affordable.
 
Sébastien and his brother
A village Chablis can lack the distinction of Premier Cru or Grand Cru Chablis – not Sébastien’s. His village Chablis is well-above the crowd. Some of the credit goes to his vineyard holdings which include several parcels of lieux-dits – Vieille Voye, Champlain, Petit Léchet, Bois de Milly et les Fontenilles. He masterfully blends old vine with young vine fruit to create the right balance of fruit to acidity that he is looking for in his wines. As you’d expect, the wine is vinified in stainless steel tank. It goes through malo-fermentation and sits on its lees in tank for six months before bottling.
 
 
The 2014 vintage was a favorable one in Burgundy. In Chablis, fresh, vibrant mineral notes are the stand-out. You will get that in abundance with Sébastien’s 2014 Chablis.Crunchy on the palate with sparks of white fleshed fruit and delicate citrus notes that collide into a prolonged finish. This is what one hopes to achieve with Chardonnay grown on Kimmeridgian soil. While visiting Sébastien two weeks ago, David checked in via email and reported this back to us, “I went through all the ‘14s, and they are THE BOMB.”
 
 
By December, I’ve usually had a few meals with Dungeness crab thanks to my Sicilian father-in-law, who frequents, and is friendly with, the guys down at the wharf. Not this year. The crab season has been delayed (for good reason), and no start to it is in sight. Boo hoo! Still my mind can imagine how delicious a cold glass of Dampt Chablis with cracked crab would taste. Of course any crustacean or shellfish would pair beautifully with this wine, so I can also imagine a glass served with a tower of fruits de mer. Now wouldn’t that be grand!– Anya Balistreri

Laherte Frères Ultradition Brut

Friday, December 4, 2015 10:39 PM

Why do some people go to the ends of the earth to procure the smallest production of Burgundy, yet when it comes to Champagne, insist on drinking the big brands? We wonder about this often, as we tend to prefer the unique character that artisan Champagne can deliver. Perhaps people are hesitant to experiment as Champagne prices have crept up, up, up over the years. I can tell you honestly, we are on the constant hunt for value in Champagne and whereas we believe grower Champagne to have intrinsic value vis à vis corporate big brands, you can’t always find sub-$40 Champagne that wasn’t mass produced. Therefore, you can see why we were so giddy to come across Laherte Frères Ultradition Brut.
 
 
Laherte Frères is a family-run winery established in 1889. They own 10 hectares of vines covering 75 parcels in 10 different villages. The winery is technically considered a “negociant-manipulant” but this is because family members sell their grapes to the family business, Laherte Frères. In all other aspects, they operate as grower-producers. The vineyards closest to the winery, about half of the total vineyards, are farmed bio-dynamically while the rest are farmed organically. It is the collection of these tiny parcels that contributes to the personality of the wines at Laherte. The composition of the Ultradition Brut is 60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir. The Pinot Meunier gives the wine a wide girth while the acidity and low dosage preserve the brightness and attack of the finish. There is an intricate dance between the prominent red fruit flavors and the salinity on the palate. It is hard to point to a comparable wine for the individualistic Ultradition Brut. We say for $33.98 per bottle, why not give it a go?!
 
 
Our 38th Anniversary Sale continues on through the end of the month. It’s true we’ve sold out of a few items, but we have many, many more super deals throughout the store to offer!Come on by or give us a call, and we’ll do our best to help you find just the wine you’re looking for.

The December 2015 Dirty Dozen

Friday, December 4, 2015 12:15 AM

With Thanksgiving now in our wake, it’s time to focus on December and what little is left of 2015. The holidays are upon us, and throughout the month, there will be ample opportunity to celebrate with friends, family, and business associates. What better to have in your holster during the holidays than a case of wine, all different, all chosen for their versatility for one low price. The December 2015 Dirty Dozen is here!

 

 

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.

 

2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Leaf & Vine $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
This lush, opulent Sauvignon Blanc has notes of lemon curd and ripe grapefruit. The fruit comes from one source, the Turn in the Road Vineyard, located in the Big Valley AVA of Lake County. At elevations of 1400 ft., grown on clay and loam soils, the Sauvignon Blanc ripens nicely yet retains acidity. Pair with finger foods, light appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.
 

 

2014 Picpoul de Pinet, Chevalier de Novato $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
This terrific value-priced Picpoul de Pinet comes to us by way of a former Napa Valley winemaker turned importer. Clean and vibrant, this “lip stinger” – the meaning of the name Picpoul – white has playful acidity and crisp fruit flavors. Perfect to serve at your next oyster bar party or with classic Mediterranean dishes like croquettes de brandade.
 

 

2014 Moscato di Pavia IGT, Centorri $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Three generations of women run the estate that produces Centorri Moscato. Quality is the focus here, making a delightfully fruity, yet restrained Moscato. Slightly frizzante with aromas and flavors of ripe peach, rose petal and ginger, this can work as a pre-dinner aperitif or be served after with cheese, fresh winter fruits and new crop walnuts.
 

 

2014 Vin de Pays d’Oc Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Made from 100% Syrah and vinified using the “saignée” method, or the bleeding off of the Rosé after a little skin contact, the Grange des Rouquette is the south of France in a bottle! Savory red berry fruit joins forces with a little stony mineral and the palate is clean and crisp. Hand a glass of this Rosé to your favorite chef and you’ll get a smile.
 

 

2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Domaine Boudinaud $13.99, $11.19 reorder
One doesn’t immediately think “blanc” when thinking about Côtes-du-Rhône wines, as white wines represent just 25% of the appellation’s output. But just as with the reds, you will find Côtes-du-Rhône blancs deliver huge in the price to quality department! 60% Grenache Blanc/40% Roussanne; it’s fresh and fleshy, and will go great with pork chops.
 

 

2012 Mâcon-Villages Les Tilles, Domaine Sainte Barbe $12.95 sale price, $12.30 reorder
The world’s finest Chardonnay comes from Burgundy, and though much of it comes at a high price, some of it is quite affordable! Take this unoaked Mâcon-Villages from Sainte Barbe. Plenty of lemons, apples, and blossoms in the bouquet, the palate is all in balance, and the finish is firing. A great one to pop with shrimp scampi or if crab season ever happens.
 

 

2014 Treggiaia, Fattoria di Pugliano $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Winemaker Fulvio Galgani makes this fun food-friendly red that is meant to display the characteristics of a classic Italian table wine. Almost entirely Sangiovese, with small additions of Canaiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, this cherry-scented red is bright and lively. A super match for pizza, baked pasta dishes or hearty winter soups like Minestrone.
 

 

2012 Ribera del Duero, Mesoneros de Castilla $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Ribera del Duero, in northern Spain, is famous for its Tempranillo, or Tinta del Pais as it is locally known. A charming, purple-robed red produced by legendary winemaker Ismael Arroyo, who was instrumental in creating the Denominación de Origen. Sultry and texturally smooth; pair it with gamey poultry like duck, goose, or heritage turkey.
 

 

2010 Chénas, Cave Saint-Cyr $22.98 net price, $20.68 reorder
A family-run winery established in 1963, Saint-Cyr is certified biodynamic. Chénas is one of 10 Crus of Beaujolais. The Gamay vines here are an average age of 55 years and are grown on granitic soil. The aromas evoke floral notes like violet and iris. The mouth feel is fleshy and the fruit is well integrated. It’s super versatile – try it with curries of all types.
 

 

2014 Malbec, Alberto Furque $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 20 years, you know that some of the world’s finest Malbec comes from Argentina. The Furques’ vines are grown at altitudes exceeding 3000 feet, keeping things cool at night, preserving the fruit’s inherent acidity. Big and bold, this red wine is lively on the palate and would be great with grilled kebabs.
 

 

2013 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $14.49, $11.59 reorder
Longtime pal of TWH Enrico Pierazzuoli makes some serious juice. His 100% Sangiovese Chianti Montalbano is everything you’re looking for in a medium-bodied red. Expressive fruit, rich minerality, and that Tuscan terroir are enough to transport the taster to the land of olive trees and terra-cotta roofing. A bowl of simple pasta with red sauce is perfect here.
 

 

2012 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Montravel is located just outside of Bordeaux’s eastern outpost near Saint Foy la Grande. Daniel Hecquet is the proprietor/winemaker at Puy-Servain, and his passion for his land, vines, and wines is unrivaled. His Montravel Rouge is a stunning bargain. 90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc makes for a sturdy St. Emilion-like red; perfect with a filet mignon.

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!

Reg. $173.28

 

On Sale $109.00

Moroccan Dinner With Ouled Thaleb

Saturday, November 28, 2015 12:26 AM


Ouled Thaleb: Dinner Recap
 
A month ago The Wine House hosted a dinner at Mourad –Mourad Lalou’s swanky Financial District restaurantinside the newly renovated Pacific Telephone Building. The dinner was organized to introduce and feature the wines of Ouled Thaleb, Morocco’s oldest working winery. ThoughThe Wine House has been stocking Ouled Thaleb winesever since they became available in California, the wines are still relatively unknown to the larger wine market.
 
 
In a private room, seated around a gorgeous handmade wood table, diners were treated to a delicious multi-course meal accompanied by the wines of Ouled Thaleb. The energetic and charismatic importer of Ouled Thaleb, Didier Pariente, kept our attention focused on the wines, giving us quick tutorials for each one. Throughout the evening Didier shared stories and insights on the food, wine and culture of Morocco. He emphasized the relevance and importance of Morocco as a wine regionand encouraged us to travel there.
 
 
I enjoyed tasting through Ouled Thaleb’s portfolio of wines in their proper context – with food. The cuisine at Mourad is inspired by the flavors of Morocco, transformed through a skilled chef to create a culinary language all his own. This is elevated food, and the wine kept in step. Three years ago I answered the phone and was greeted bya polite, French-accented man who asked me if anyone there would be interested in tasting wines from Morocco.I normally try to avoid biting on a cold call, but I was intrigued. I had an opening in my tasting calendar, so I said “Sure, come on over”. This is how I met Didier. I tasted the wines and felt them to be interesting and of merit on their own terms, not just a novelty. In other words, if the wines weren’t any good, there was no reason to buy them for the store. I continue to find Ouled Thaleb wines deliciousand carry them vintage to vintage. They have a steadyfollowing among ex-pats, adventure seekers and wine drinkers looking to expand their tasting horizons.
 
 
Listed below are Ouled Thaleb wines that are in stock, along with some brief tasting notes. For the future, if anyone reading this would like to be notified of upcoming wine dinners, please send in your request to info@wineSF.comand we’ll add you to our list.
 

2013 Mas de Guiot Grenache/Syrah

Monday, November 23, 2015 8:25 PM

On my first trip to France with The Wine House, we visitedMas de Guiot. The winery is located in Saint Gilles, a village south of Nîmes, near the edge of the Camargue. The Camargue is a beautiful geographical region; a river delta where the two arms of the Rhône River meet the Mediterranean Sea. At the “mas” or farmhouse, I spied a rabbit tied up by its feet near the cellar door. After barrel-tasting, we were invited to ride through a pasture on a flatbed truck to view Les Taureaux de Camargue, the famed bulls of the region. At first it seemed a bit silly to me, but quickly it turned out to be a delightful outing into the gorgeous pastoral setting. Not your average tourist excursion. The whole experience left me with a deeper appreciation for how closely connected François and Sylvie Cornut, owners of Mas de Guiot, are to their land.This country living isn’t a lifestyle, it is their life.
 
 
I have always found wines from Mas de Guiot to exhibit a pleasant amount of funk. Yes, funk – the good kind,George Clinton-style- like in the 2013 Grenache-Syrah.The dense dark berry flavors snap with a black licoricenote that gives it that unmistakable southern Rhône quality. The soil at Mas de Guiot closely resembles what you find in more prestigious Rhône regions like Chateauneuf du Pape,where smooth rocks, les galets roulés, dapple the ground like some sort of moonscape. The age of the vines range from 10-50 years old. The Cornuts pick late, partially de-stem the fruit and cold macerate the grapes for 24-48 hours before putting the wine in tank to finish fermentation.
 
 
A 40/60 blend of Grenache to Syrah, the wine is a vivid dark violet in the glass and has an alluring ripe fruit quality.Elevated French country wine? It has enough interest, a touch of rusticity, and rich fruit to make it enjoyable to linger over while you prepare dinner and it will also nicely carry over to the table. The 2013 Grenache-Syrah has a sale price of $8.95, but the deal gets even sweeter on a full case purchase of $99.

 

 
The intensity of this time of year has ratcheted up and to help combat all the busyness, I have gravitated towardsclassic comfort foods for dinner. Things like chicken enchilada casserole and pot roast with mashed potatoes have been on the menu at chez moi. Meals like these do not need sophisticated, complicated wine. What works is something simple, but impeccably made, like the 2013 Grenache-Syrah from Mas de Guiot.
 
 

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

2010 Col del Mondo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Saturday, November 14, 2015 9:54 PM

 
As The Wine House’s 38th Anniversary Sale gets underway, I’d like to kick off the celebration by highlighting a super bargain for a charming, medium-full bodied red with juicy fruit and unobtrusive tannins: the 2010 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Col del Mondo. This wine will take you far this fall and winter, with its bolder character and supple flavors. Whether you are cozying up to a fireside dinner or are rushing out the door- late again!- to your best friend’s soirée, having a case of the 2010 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Col del Mondo at the ready can ease some of the strain of the season.
 
Photo courtesy of winery’s FB page
 
The Montepulciano grape is widely planted in eastern Italy along the Adriatic Coast. Especially in the region of Abruzzi, Montepulciano proliferated as it adapted well to the climate, and could produce easy-going, drinkable reds. Historically, the intention here was to make a whole lot of good wine, not necessarily emphasizing premium quality wine. This thinking has changed dramatically in recent years as winemakers and wine drinkers have woken up tothe great potential of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to make outstanding wine.
 
Photo courtesy of winery’s FB page
 
Col del Mondo is a winery that came together when three friends set out to change the perception of Abruzzi wine. It is widely noted that Abruzzi farmers are more grape growers than winemakers, so it was common and convenient to join a cooperative. Nowadays, winemakers seeking to produce higher quality wines in the region have set out on their own. Col del Mondo is a young operation with Fabrizio Mazzacchetti, the son of one of the partners, making the wines. The vineyards are extremely well placed in the commune of Collecorvino in the Pescara province. Hillside elevations with south/south-west exposures only 12 miles from the sea provide an ideal growing climate for producing aromatic, fresh and fruity aromas in the wine.
 
The fruit for the 2010 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is grown within the desirable sub-zone of Terre dei Vestini. The wine is fermented in tank and then spends approximately 14-18 months in barrel. What makes this Montepulciano d’Abruzzo stand out is its suppleness. The flavors lean toward plum and blackberry with just a trace of leather. It’s juicy and plump with rounded tannins. Dark in color, you might expect an onslaught of heaviness, but for a big red it sits poised on the palate. I can easily savor a glass on its own as much as I enjoy how it handles a main course.
 
Photo courtesy of winery’s FB page
 
The $19.98 bottle price is fair, though the $16.95 sale priceis certainly a better deal. The full-case price of $150 is more than a 30% savings…now that’s a super deal! We have a limited number of cases in stock as we took advantage of end-of-vintage savings. Once the 2010 is gone, it’s gone.
 
Yesterday at the shop I was trying to cram in a days extra work for I had been temporarily derailed this week with an eye ulcer…who knew that was even possible? Anyway, we were working on The November Dirty Dozen when Pete commented on one of my food pairings and mused why there hasn’t been an upscale revival of chili in this town? The conversation then turned to chili and wine pairing in general; I had suggested in the DD to pair Tempranillo with chili. As I began my research for this newsletter, I stumbled upon a headline: “The Perfect Chili Wine: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo”. It must be in the air! I concur that Montepulciano d’Abruzzo would be a clever choice for a meaty, tomato-y chili; spicy or not. Before we sell out of this beauty, I’ll have to squirrel away a bottle to do my own research at home with a bowl. As luck would have it, I made nearly 12 quarts of chili last week for Halloween dinner. Even after my guests had their fill, I had enough leftovers to send care packages to some neighbors and freeze some for dinner later. If only I could plan this well all the time! – Anya Balistreri

The November 2013 Dirty Dozen

Thursday, November 12, 2015 8:58 PM

 


Grab your coat and hat, it’s November! The chill in the air and the long nights make it easy to stay indoors and hang out with friends and family. And while doing so, why not have a box of twelve different wines, all chosen for their versatility, for one low price to choose from. Tick-tock goes the clock. Thanksgiving is almost here, and the holidays are right around the corner. The Dirty Dozen is a simple solution for all your vinous needs!

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.

2014 Viognier Pays d’Oc, Grange des Rouquette $11.99, $8.79 reorder

TWH pals Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud produce this Viognier (85%) and Marsanne (15%) blend from the balmy VDP d’Oc. Its aromas are of Granny Smith apples, white peach, and apricot with a hint of white pepper. On the palate, it’s well-balanced and has a lively finish. If you want to go all out, pair this with grilled halibut with asparagus.

2014 Ventoux Blanc, Domaine de Fondrèche $16.59, $13.59 reorder

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a white wine from Domaine de Fondrèche. Not because we haven’t tried (we’ve begged them), but because so little is made, barely any makes it out of the Rhône Valley, let alone France. It’s a fancy tasting blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Clairette, and Rolle. Get the good stemware and serve pan-fried trout.

2014 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder

Just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, north of the commune of Ste. Foy la Grande is Montravel. Given its proximity to the vineyards of Bordeaux, the same grapes grow there. This fine, inexpensive copycat of white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle) is crisp and balanced. A roasted vegetable torte with goat cheese is perfection here!

2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Copain $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

Winemaker Wells Guthrie was a “regular” at TWH long before he started Copain and became known for making some of the most lauded Pinot Noir and Syrah in California. Balance over power is the approach here, and this pink made from Pinot Noir reflects that delicate touch. Freshness, red fruit, and citrus abound. Try it with flatbread with olives.

2014 Chardonnay, Apaltagua $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

This tropical fruit-laden Chardonnay is rich in the fruit department, yet finishes clean and crisp. No oak helps to keep this wine lively and bright. The grapes are grown in the San Antonio Valley, west of Chile’s capital, Santiago, and near the Pacific Ocean. Pair with a sandwich, panini, grinder, hoagie, sub, or po’boy.

2014 Pinot Gris, 99 West $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

Pinot Gris is Oregon’s most widely planted white variety. This one hails from Willamette Valley in western Oregon. Spiced pears permeate the clean, subtle fruit notes on the palate. A versatile white that can be enjoyed by itself or with a wide array of cuisines. Try with pork tenderloin accompanied by quince paste or applesauce – yum!

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bliss Family Vineyards $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

A rarity: estate-grown California Cabernet Sauvignon for under $15! Grapes growers in Mendocino County for three generations, the Bliss family makes this spicy Cabernet in a straightforward manner, offering value and character. Black plum and berry flavors lead the way. Can’t go wrong with braised short ribs, lamb shanks or slow-roasted pot roast.

2012 Tempranillo, Ercavio $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

This is a crazy good value red for those who are looking for bolder, juicier flavors. Old vine Tempranillo grown on limestone and clay soils at elevations above 2000ft east of Toledo equate to a saturated purple color in the glass and flavors of black currant with a slight hint of licorice. Divine! This wine will stand up to spicier fare like chili or posole.

2012 Teroldego Rotaliano, Lechthaler $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder

Teroldego makes its debut in a DD! A deeply pigmented varietal, Teroldego thrives on the flat plateau above Trento where the vines are trained on pergolas to limit vigor. Fruity and bursting with black cherry flavors, this red is fermented in tank and spends less than a year in barrel. This one would be lovely for the Thanksgiving table.

2012 Syrah, Domaine de St. Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

When driving up to St. Antoine, one immediately gets it; it’s not a winery, it’s a farm. No fancy fountains, Ionic columns, or manicured hedges. Instead, there are green fields, tractors, and grizzled farm workers. But don’t think for a second that Jean-Louis Emmanuel’s focus is not on his wines! This Syrah is fresh and complex and drinks great with that pizza.

2012 Tradicional, Quinta do Alqueve $11.29, $9.03 reorder

Alpiarca, some 40 miles north of Lisbon is where you’ll find Paulo Saturnino Cunha and Quinta do Alqueve. For his Tradicional, he blends Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Trincadeira, and Castelao, and the result is one of the best bang-for-your-buck reds out there. Über versatile, you can pair this with all your favorite red wine dishes.

2012 Vinsobres, Tour de l’Isle $17.99, $14.39 reorder

Once part of the more general Côtes du Rhône Villages designation, Vinsobres has been able to label their wines as their own village since 2006; they’re that distinct. Deep aromas of red and purple fruit surround an earthy core in this medium-full bodied red. This will pair great with steaks and chops of all sorts and sizes.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

Reg. $161.62

On Sale $109.00

Defying Expectations: Radford Dale 2012 Chenin Blanc

Monday, October 26, 2015 6:15 PM

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

 
Sometimes the most enjoyable wine is the simplest. Take our bestselling Gavi from Ernesto Picollo – it is made with one grape, Cortese, fermented in tank for approximately three weeks and then bottled. Simple, no? But what results! Lemony, citrusy flavors made vibrant with a solid backbone of acidity. The 2014 Gavi just landed in our warehouse and it’s as wonderful as the previous seven vintages TWH has carried!
 
Rovereto
 
At $10.99 a bottle, it isn’t difficult to understand whyPicollo’s Gavi is a bestseller. It’s an authentic wine made by a tight-knit Italian family who continue to push themselves to make the best possible wine for a very fair price. Gianlorenzo Picollo is the third generation proprietor, whose shy demeanor can mask his passion for the work in the vineyard and the cellar. Because there isn’t much in the way of manipulation in the cellar, it is crucial to bring in excellent fruit. Gianlorenzo accomplishes this with green harvesting and keeping reasonable yields.
 
The Picollo Family
 
Though part of Piedmont, its proximity to the Ligurian Sea gives Gavi a more Mediterranean climate as opposed to the continental climate of Barolo and Barbaresco to the north.The winery is located in the hamlet of Rovereto in the heart of Gavi. The Picollo farm is right across from the church, just as depicted on their label. David travelled to Italy for the first time this past summer to visit with many of our Italian producers. David asked for Picollo’s coordinates since he was getting there by car and was using GPS.Gianlorenzo ignored his request and told him when he gets to the church, there they are!
 
Vineyards in Gavi
 
We had been out of Gavi for over a month. Our container from Italy was delayed over and over. I was at a loss, for the Gavi is my staple for Friday Night Fish Fry.Whether it’s baked filet of sole, linguine with clams, or pesto pasta, Gavi matches it all. Though fragrant and full of character, Picollo’s Gavi is the perfect foil for fish, shellfish and vegetarian dishes because it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. You notice the acidity but it is never harsh and the citrusy flavors are snappy. The 2014 comes in at 12% abv, keeping things light and easy.
 
My calendar for 2015 is filling up fast. When I read a post on FB warning that there were only ten Saturdays until Christmas, I felt sick to my stomach. Stay in the moment, I coached myself. One thing at a time. Yes, one thing. Ah yes,the one thing that I am most looking forward to isour event at Mourad’s on October 22 featuring the wines of Ouled Thaleb, Morocco’s oldest working winery. We’ve been carrying Ouled Thaleb wines for some time now, so I am especially excited to taste through them while dining at Mourad Lahlou’s newest restaurant. Seats are still available, so if interested in joining us, please give us a call. – Anya Balistreri

The October 2015 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, October 10, 2015 6:02 PM


As the days grow ever shorter, there’s a distinct chill in the air lately, especially in the evenings. It’s time to begin thinking about moving the party indoors as fall is indeed upon us. No need to worry. If you’re looking for something fun and seasonal, check out the October 2015 Dirty Dozen. 12 bottles, all chosen with the season in mind, all different, all versatile, in one box for a super-bargain price. The October Dirty Dozen!

 

 

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.

2014 Rosé, Upside $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

At A.P. Vin, Andrew Vingiello makes small lot, single-vineyard Pinot Noir in SF’s Mission district. He also makes this cheery, strawberry-laden Rosé of Pinot Noir. Bright and spicy with enough fruit to make it pleasant to sip on its own or accompany a meal. We think it’s a perfect choice for a hillside sunset viewing with toast points and smoked trout.

2014 Bianco Siciliane, Cantine Colosi $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Cantine Colosi was established in 1987 on Salina, a small island in the Eolian Archipelago, producing wine from Sicily’s native varietals. This white is a blend of Inzolia, Catarrato and Grillo, grapes grown in Sciaccia, along the southwest coast of Sicily. It’s zippy, floral and dry. Serve with tempura-batter foods or any deep-fried specialty.

2013 Paso a Paso, Bodega Volver $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Bodegas Volver is a joint venture between legendary Spanish importer, Jorge Ordonez, and renowned oenologist, Rafael Cañizares. Paso a Paso is made from organically grown grapes in the region of La Mancha situated in Spain’s interior. It’s pale yellow in color with flavors of pear and citrus and a lively finish. Try with a quinoa and kale salad.

2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Tour de l’Isle $14.99, $11.99 reorder

Not only are white Côtes-du-Rhônes fairly priced, some of them are outstanding; like this one! We directly import Robert Rocchi’s Tour de l’Isle blanc for its seamless expression of four grape varietals. Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Clairet are the grapes, and the wine has plenty of fleshy fruit, mineral undertones, and a crisp finish.

2013 Lugana, Ca’Lojera $17.79, $14.23 reorder

Made from the grape Turbiana (others call it Trebbiano di Lugana), this direct-import is made by and shipped to us by Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi from the idyllic commune of Sirmione. It’s a truly unique wine, at once showing off notes of ripe white fruit with zippy citrus backbone framed in a mineral rich, saline-like package. Fried calamari goes well here.

2011 Chenin Blanc, Vinum Africa $17.49, $13.99 reorder

Decanter magazine recommended Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc earlier this year, and we say it’s about time. South African Chenin Blancs have taken off, and this one is a right good deal. It’s bright, apple-y, and the deft touch of new barrel gives it a little spice and texture. It tastes fancy and would be great paired with some yummy barbecue chicken.

2012 Hi-Rollr Red, Yorkville Cellars $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

An uncommon blend of organically grown Zinfandel and Malbec, this vibrant red showcases flavors of boysenberries, plum and warm spices. Aged in neutral barrel and bottled lightly filtered, this is a fabulous value from Mendocino County. Thin-crusted pizza, slow-roasted beef or an eggplant and chickpea tangine are all good options for pairing.

2014 Rouge, Le Chaz $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Merlot go into this delightful Languedoc wine. Spearheaded by winemaker Benoît Chazallon, Le Chaz offers value and distinction sourcing grapes from vines aged 12-20+ years. Smooth and supple with long, silky tannins, this red can be matched with a multitude of dishes like butternut squash risotto or chili.

2013 Carmenere Reserva, Apaltagua $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Carmenere is the progenitor of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. What enterprising 19th century Chilean vignerons thought were Merlot cuttings taken from Bordeaux turned out to be Carmenere. This Carmenere comes from the Colchagua Valley in central Chile. It is rich, bold and full of black fruit and tobacco flavors. Try with lamb curry, rack of lamb or lamb.

2012 Côtes-Du-Rhône, André Brunel $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

André Brunel makes some of the Rhône Valley’s most sought-after wines. Applying his knowhow to the working class Côtes-du-Rhône appellation, he crafts some pretty high quality bottlings which are bargains for sure. Sturdy dark red and purple fruit surround themselves with an earthy French mineral, suggesting this will pair well with a grilled steak.

2013 Grenache/Syrah, Mas de Guiot $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Speaking of bargains, we just love the G/S blend from Mas de Guiot! It is fruity, peppery, earthy, and boasts that signature southern French leatheriness. The palate is medium/full in body and the finish is balanced and long lasting. It’s another versatile red, so you can pair it with all the usual suspects like pizza and pasta with tomato based sauces.

2011 Touraine Les Demoiselles, Domaine des Corbillières $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Last call for the 2011 Loire Valley blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Côt (Malbec)! You truly get a sense of all 3 varieties here. The complex, berry-like aromas exemplify the Pinot Noir. The next level of complexity, especially the crunched up leafy character, is from the Cab Franc, all held up by the backbone of the Côt. All systems go here.

 

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Domaine Saint-Rémy 2014 Rose d’Alsace

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 10:12 PM

If our point of sale system is to be believed, then The Wine House has been stocking wines from the Ehrhart family since 2005. In the ten years that have followed, the winery has gone through some important changes. No longer are their exported wines labelled Domaine Ehrhart. Instead their historic name, Domaine Saint-Rémy, which is how they’ve always been known as in France and which dates back to 1725, is printed on the labels. Completed in 2013, a new winery and cellar was built to ensure quality winemaking. But the most important change, in my opinion, is that thewinery is now certified organic and biodynamic. The conversion to biodynamic farming reflects the Ehrhart’s long-standing determination and dedication to preserving the tradition of wine making in Alsace. The Ehrhart’s take their stewardship of the land and vineyards seriously.
 
 
The 2014 Rose d’Alsace from Domaine Saint-Rémy is new to me and to the store. This is the first vintage we’ve had the opportunity to carry. An un-tinted, slender bottle allows the attractive orange-tinged pink color to show through – the bottle had me at hello! As much of a fan of Rhône varietal rosés that I am, I also deeply enjoy rosés made from Pinot Noir. There is a sophistication and elegance to rosé of Pinot Noir that is undeniable. Domaine Saint-Rémy’s 2014 Rose d’Alsace is pleasantly aromatic – wild strawberries, ripe Charentais melon, and spun sugar. The flavors are vivid but not overly fruity. I predict I will be turning to this wine time and again, especially as Autumn clings to Summer’s heat.
 
 
On the first full day of Fall with outside temperatures above 90 degrees, I prepared one of my family’s favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. A morning trip to the farmer’s market guaranteed flavorful produce and other than whisking together a spiky vinaigrette and a whole lot of chopping, dinner was done! With a plate piled high with crunchy veg, imported Tonno, and briny olives, a glass of chilled rosé was a must. Luckily I planned ahead and stuck a bottle of 2014 Rose d’Alsace in the fridge before heading out in the morning. It was an ideal pairing.
 
 
My newlywed nephew was ordained a Russian Orthodox priest last Sunday. Some say it is a calling, but I call itcourageous. In these times, in this culture, to dedicate one’s life to serve others without the hope of financial gain is an audacious decision to make. My admiration for this exceptional young man is unbounded, as is my love. Emotions continue to ride high as this weekend marks 17 years of wedded bliss! I can recollect my wedding day like it was yesterday. Though my father told me I didn’t have to go through with it as he drove me to the church, I know now that marrying my husband was the best decision ever.

Tony – ты мой мужчина! – Anya Balistreri

2012 Scherrer Sonoma County Grenache

Monday, September 14, 2015 8:03 PM

Scherrer Winery’s
2012 Grenache
I have a confession to make: I do not visit local wineries as much as I should. What’s even worse is that I do not visit as much as I would like to either! Never mind the reasons why I don’t get out to Wine County often enough; it’s simply the reality. What’s even worse is that when I vacation at my family’s dacha along the Russian River, which I do as often as possible, I am only minutes away from hundreds of wineries! As luck would have it, my staycation up at the River this July coincided with Scherrer Winery’s Open House. Normally open by appointment only, Scherrer’s Open House is for mailing list customers to come try new releases and taste wine out of barrel. I’ve been a mailing list customer ever since the winery began in the early ’90s and as a wine buyer now, I am always eager to expound my admiration and preference for Scherrer wines.
 
 
The winery itself is a humble structure (an old apple-packing building) and is down a now-paved driveway that always makes me second-guess myself whether I turned down the right way. I love this place! Here there are no meticulously maintained gardens, gift shops, or pool cabanas. It’s a place where they make wine. Inside it’s dark and cellar-cool. The Open House is a family affair, with Fred and his father Ed pouring wines, and Fred’s wife, Judy, helping customers with their wine purchases. Even Fred’s daughter, home for the summer from college, was helping out pouring wine and reciting her father’s morsels of wine wisdom. And of course, you can’t forget about the dogs. Lots of them. All corralled in a pen near some barrels stacked up high.
 
 
I arrived at the winery with husband and daughter in tow, soI planned on making a quick pass through the wines. Fortunately, my daughter was preoccupied with the dogsand the tasty appetizers that were served. I had gotten through the first couple wines when I noticed a TWH customer. It was like running into an old friend! We ended up staying, tasting, chatting for a long time. I was enjoying being a customer and soaking up the atmosphere as more Scherrer fans came through the winery to taste. I didn’t bother grilling Fred with lots of questions this time. Instead I was more like a fly on the wall and just listened to what was going on around me. If you are ever interested in learning even more about wine (and have some time), check out the series Ask a Winemaker that frequently features Fred Scherrer. His thoughtful and clear explanations on wine topics are invaluable.
 
 
I wanted to properly thank Fred before I left the winery, and as I tried to catch his attention before heading out the door,Fred waved me over and asked if I had time to taste one more thing. What a question! How could I say no? Why would I say no? Fred pulled out a bottle of 2012 Grenache Sonoma County from behind a barrel. He explained that it was a wine he felt could work well in our store, given our customers’ palate preferences (and mine). It’s a wine that is almost exclusively on restaurant wine lists, as the tannins are smooth and the fruit prevalent without being over-the-top; in other words, a classic-styled Scherrer wine.
 
 
The 2012 Grenache has a Sonoma County appellation, but it is essentially a single-vineyard wine from Kick Ranch, which is situated along the eastern edge of Rincon Valley. Fred and Ed have been having a lengthy, on-going dialogue about what to do with a part of their Scherrer Vineyard in Alexander Valley that has laid fallow for some time. They settled on the idea of planting Grenache. Typical of Fred’s curious and methodic nature, he wanted to first work with the varietal before making any decisions in the vineyard. The 2012 Grenache is an impressive effort. I loved the voluminous texture and the soft-edged tannins.The finish gave off this milk-chocolatey nuance that reminded me of the finer Vacqueyras I’ve tasted. The2012 Grenache captures the liveliness of true Southern Rhone wines but with the juicy fruit expression of California.
 
 
In his newsletter, Fred writes that “we have done extensive research at the dinner table pairing this wine with many different foods from tomato-based sauces and pasta, simple grilled pork to braised beef and antelope and find that it is extremely versatile. It also handles a diverse set of food spices and sings with rosemary in particular [no great surprise there].” I am eager to test out his findings at home. I particularly like the rosemary angle…perhaps a grilled leg of lamb basted with rosemary dipped in olive oil or jus? That could be epic! – Anya Balistreri

The September 2015 Dirty Dozen

Thursday, September 10, 2015 6:07 PM


September? Have no fear, summer is not over. Not yet. It will be later this month, but let’s not let that put a damper on our spirits. There’s plenty to look forward to as fall approaches. Pigskin lovers are happy, the leaves will be changing, baseball will be turning into its serious phase, and the nights are getting longer. To accompany these changes, how about 12 wines, all different, for one low price? The September Dirty Dozen!

 

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.

2014 Ventoux Rosé l’Instant, Domaine de Fondrèche $16.29, $13.03 reorder

In the eastern section of the southern Rhône Valley, Sébastien Vincenti makes some fine wine in the Ventoux appellation. His Rosé l’Instant is another great example of a southern French Rosé made in the Provençal style. It’s sleek and crisp with hints of citrus and dried flowers. It’s a great food wine and will pair best with a seared ahi tuna salad Niçoise.

2013 Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $13.99, $11.19 reorder

From the Côtes de Gascogne in southwest France comes this snappy little sipper inspired by the white blends from Bordeaux. 85% Sauvignon Blanc and a little Sémillon combine for a bright, fresh, citrus-like aromatic profile. The palate is light and the finish clean. A versatile table white, salads work well, especially those with goat cheese.

2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Englishman Alex Dale grew up with wine, and in the 1990’s he invested in vineyards near Capetown, South Africa, and founded The Winery of Good Hope. No fancy label, no marketing, it’s all about the wine. 100% unoaked Chardonnay is what you get, no tricks, no makeup. The screwcap enclosure makes it great with picnics and chicken salad sandwiches.

2014 Entre-Deux-Mers, Tertre de Launay $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

The Greffier family has been making wine for over 6 generations and exporting Chateau Tertre de Launay to the US for nearly 40 years. We think they’ve got this thing down. A classic Bordelaise blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle goes into this intense, yet classy wine. Apart from shellfish, try it with grilled lemony-chicken.

2014 Xarel-lo, Bohigas $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Bohigas, a family-run winery an hour north of Barcelona, can trace their history back to the 13th century. Today, father and daughter make a dry white from Xarel-lo, best known for being one of three grapes used for Cava. Zippy flavors of pineapple and white fruit are supported by a solid acid backbone. Try with salty snacks and tapas.

NV Gála Sec, Törley $11.98, $10.78 reorder

At the end of the 18th century, after working at Roederer and Delbeck in Reims, József Törley returned home to Hungary to make sparkling wine. His image is on the neck of every Törley bottle. The Gála Sec is indeed dry and made up of three varietals, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Királyleányka. A Prosecco look-alike; it’s yummy with fried chicken.

2013 Poggio d’Elsa, Bruni $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

A 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, this hearty red from the wine region of Maremma, along Tuscany’s coastal flank, offers up ripe flavors of Morello cherries and black plums wrapped up in a smooth tannin finish. Beef brochettes topped with a pungent salsa verde would do nicely here, especially served outside on the terrazza.

2011 Minervois Cuvée Spéciale, Chateau de Paraza $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

After a period of neglect, the Danglas family has brought this historical estate back to its former glory. Along with renovation of the château, emphasis has been on elevating wine quality. The Cuvée Spéciale is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and the rest Mourvèdre. Spicy, juicy, round and delicious! Try with flavors inspired by the Middle East.

2013 Santofimia, Niel $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Black as night in the glass, this Garnacha Tintorera, aka Alicante Bouchet, is a bold, zesty Spanish red wine. The vines are 30 years of age on average and are grown at high altitudes in nutrient-poor soils. Blackberry liqueur and juicy cassis fruit flavors are backed up with formidable acidity. It’s a tooth-stainer! Try with bleu cheese topped grilled steak.

2013 Merlot, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

We’ve been carrying the wines from Domaine Saint Antoine for well over a decade, one of the main reasons is for the price, they’re quite a deal! This Merlot is not to be taken lightly. It speaks of ripe cassis and cherries, tobacco and lavender. Tee up a rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, and asparagus. Yum.

2012 Syrah/Grenache, Grange des Rouquette $11.99, $9.59 reorder

You may have heard us extoll the virtues of Thierry Boudinaud and the panoply of wines he produces from in and around the southern Rhône. This Syrah/Grenache blend is all business; all tank-fermented, so it’s pure and fresh. What you get are aromas of red and purple berries, a medium-bodied palate and a bright finish. A great all-purpose table red.

2011 Costières de Nîmes Cuvée Trassegum, Château d’Or et de Gueules $22.99, $18.39 reorder

Cuvée Trassegum. In the local Occitan dialect it means “love potion,” and we are smitten. This is serious stuff here. Wine wizard Diane Puymorin blends 20% each Carignan and Mourvèdre (both from 80 year old vines) with Syrah and the result is spectacular. Get the fancy stemware out, grill up a nice grass-fed ribeye and share it with someone special!

 

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2010 Lugana Superiore From Ca’ Lojera

Monday, August 31, 2015 10:58 PM

 Ca’ Lojera
 
 
The Consorzio Tutela Lugana held an event in San Francisco exclusively for the wine trade this past July. On behalf of Ca’ Lojera,The Wine House participated in this tasting. Even among wine trade professionals, Lugana is a bit of mystery and for many, a new discovery. Not so for TWH customers, who have wholeheartedly embraced the delicious white wines (and reds) of Ca’ Lojera. We know andyou know how special Ca’ Lojera Lugana is, so you can imagine what a pleasure it was to introduce their wine to wine trade unfamiliar with the region. Ca’ Lojera stood outin the room, during the tasting portion of the event, and at lunch, where it was served with the appetizer course. I heard over and over again from the participants that Ca’ Lojera was their favorite. What appealed to most tasters is how Ca’ Lojera Lugana combines rich fruit with a forceful mineral drive.
 
A view of the vineyards from the winery
 
In order for Lugana to be labeled Superiore, the wine is required to be aged or mature for one year after harvest. Ca’ Lojera’s 2010 Lugana Superiore spent 18 months in large 25 hectoliter barrels. The large barrels allow the wine to comfortably mature without imparting strong oaky notes to the wine. At an impromptu staff tasting, we reacquainted ourselves with the 2010 Superiore and found it to be showing beautifully.
 
The winery
 
The 2010 Superiore has a lot of WOW! factor; explosive, layered aromatics, weight and opulence on the palate, and a long, long finish. I tasted a ripe core of fruit, golden almond notes and a thread of intense minerals that effortlessly piggy-backed the citrus-soaked fruit. The oak aging showed in the round mouthfeel. I remarked that the Superiore is a perfect example of how Turbiana (the grape variety in Lugana) can express itself in many ways depending on how it is vinified, not unlike Chardonnay. David was quick to point out that theSuperiore has a very different flavor profile than Chardonnay but agreed it does indeed compare in sophistication. Together we concluded that the 2010 Lugana Superiore is a wine geek wine without being weird or strange. Only thing lacking at that moment was a roast chicken or a simply prepared fresh fish fillet to go along with the wine.
 
 
The 2010 Lugana Superiore is by all means more than capable of being a centerpiece wine at a special meal. At $20.99 per bottle, I’d say for a wine like that – complex and sophisticated from a little known wine region – it’s an unbelievable bargain. But just to make it even more irresistible to try, the 2010 Lugana Superiore has a special sale price of $16.95 per bottle, valid through Labor Day.
 

I took the last vestiges of the 2010 Superiore home with me last night and finished it off with a baked breadcrumb-crusted fillet of sole topped with lemon slices. Delish! While savoring the last drops, my daughter gave a play by play description of her day at school with the Giants’ game droning on in the background. Turns out middle school is not as awful as she expected. I am keeping my fingers crossed, and saying a lot of prayers, that she continues to feel that way for the next three years. – Anya Balistreri

 
 
2012 NEELY PINOT NOIR:
Upper Picnic & Hidden Block
 
Jim Varner says the trick to Pinot Noir is learning to know when not to intercede. Jim and his winemaker brother, Bob,place their trust in the inherent goodness of the fruit grown on Spring Ridge Vineyard that goes into their Neely Pinot Noir. The Spring Ridge Vineyard is a unique site. It is situated next to an open space preserve and sits on a property that spans elevations from 500 ft to 1800 ft. in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This protected area experiences typical Bay Area maritime weather but at the altitude which the vineyard sits, the nights are even cooler and daytime highs are less sizzling, making it ideal for grape growing.
 
Jim Varner
In early July, Jim came by the store to taste us on the newly released Varner Chardonnays and Neely Pinot Noirs. So why the two different names? I’ll try to keep the explanation as simple as possible. Jim and Bob Varner planted Chardonnay at Spring Ridge Vineyard in the 80’s. In 1995, the property was sold to the Neely family. The Neely’s decided to plant Pinot Noir with the help of the Varners and wisely had them make the wine too! The approach to planting the Pinot Noir was similar to how the Chardonnay was planted, in small parcels or blocks. I won’t go into how terrific the Varner Chardonnays were for the moment because what I want to focus on are their fabulous Pinot Noirs.
 
A hard day at the office
The 2012s are fleshy and open-armed with distinct personalities. The first one I tasted was the Hidden Block. It immediately triggered a happy taste memory – Dujac of yore. The Hidden Block has that intriguing interplay of strawberry/cherry fruit with just a hint of green. Not vegetal, mind you, but green like stems and leaves. I love that in Pinot Noir, though I find it more often in Burgundy than in domestic Pinots. And then came the Upper Picnic – lots of deep red cherry fruit and with more oomph and power than the Hidden Block. For both wines, after press, the Pinot Noir is put into tank and then a short time later into barrel.The Varners feel this helps to soften the oak influence on the wine.
 
In talking with Jim, I am fascinated at how the Varners continue to make adjustments, experiment and push themselves to make the best possible wine. There are no recipes here other than trying to get out of the way of the fruit. For such experienced winemakers and highly respected ones at that, the Varners make it seem as if there is mystery in every vintage. I like that about them,they are truly humble winemakers.
 
On the home front, this is going to be a very BIG weekend – my eldest nephew is getting married! The reception will be catered by family and friends – I’ll be supplying the wine and, NO, it won’t be Neely Pinot Noir. I’m on a budget after all. Besides the Upper Picnic and Hidden Block are allocated to us, so supply is limited. – Anya Balistreri
 
Here’s what Antonio Galloni writes about Hidden Block:
“Succulent red cherries, raspberries, mint, sweet spices and tobacco open up effortlessly in the 2012 Pinot Noir Hidden Block from Neely. Open-knit and absolutely delicious, the 2012 is gorgeous today and should drink well for the better part of the next decade. Pretty crushed rose petal notes add perfume on the gracious, super-expressive finish. 92 points.“
 
And Antonio Galloni’s review of the Upper Picnic:
“Dark red cherry, plum, tobacco and spice blossom in an ample, generous Pinot Noir….The creamy, expressive finish suggests the 2012 will drink well with minimal cellaring. This parcel was regrafted in 2006 to own-rooted vines. 93 points.”

The August 2015 Dirty Dozen

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 7:02 PM


Ah, summertime. How kind of the calendar makers to give us back to back 31 day months in the middle of it! What to do in the month of August? Let’s look at France for inspiration; they take the month off! Well okay, most of us have to wake up and do what we have to do, but the DD can help make the dog days of summer more pleasurable. 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, for one incredibly low price, The August Dirty Dozen!

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.

2014 Pays du Gard Rosé, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

A perennial TWH favorite, the brand new 2014 Saint Antoine Rosé has arrived! The 2014 marked the umpteenth time we’ve carried a new vintage from this tried and true producer from the south of France. It’s one of our more full-bodied Rosé wines that boasts aromas of candied red fruit and chalky minerals. The screwcap makes it great for picnics.

2014 Costières de Nîmes, Les Cimels Blanc, Château d’Or et de Gueules $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Making its DD debut is a brand new wine for us, Les Cimels Blanc. Made by one of our favorite producers in the Rhône Valley, it’s a blend of Grenache Blanc (70%), Rolle (15%), and Roussanne (15%). It shows hints of pineapples and peaches with lively acidity and a medium body. Pair this with a grilled chicken breast with caramelized onions and gruyère.

2013 Côtes de Gascogne Les Tours, Domaine La Hitaire $9.99, $7.99 reorder

Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng … not exactly household names; blend them together 65-30-5% respectively, and you have one of our favorite easy quaffing, crisp white wines in the shop. All tank fermented, it’s fresh as a daisy with hints of Granny Smith apples and other orchard fruit. It’s great on its own, and even better with a scampi risotto.

2013 Montenovo Godello, Valdesil $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

After near extinction in the 1970’s, Godello is making a strong comeback in Spain. A family-run estate, Valdesil makes this one from their youngest vines grown on black slate. Citrus and under-ripe apple harken Chardonnay-like flavors, but the acid here is much more apparent. Grilled octopus, shrimp or scallops pair beautifully as would a shady nook.

2014 Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi, Raphael $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Verdicchio, an ancient Italian grape variety, thrives in the Marche region whose entire eastern edge borders the Adriatic Sea. Maurizio Marchetti works in collaboration with his grower neighbors to make this affordable, crisp and lively white. Notes of white flowers and saline give way to dried tropical fruit flavors. Match up with pesto or shellfish pastas.

2012 Cabirol Blanc, Dit Celler $14.98, $13.48 reorder

This Catalonian white comes from organic vines aged 35-60 years grown in limestone and clay at over 1500 ft. elevations. A 50/50 blend of Garnacha Blanca and Macabeu, on the nose there are aromas of pears and apricots and on the palate flavors of guava and bitter almonds. Try with zucchini fritters or heirloom tomato bruschetta out on the deck!

2013 Grenache VDP, Brunel $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Brunel’s Grenache may be simple in its approach – vinified from 40 year old vines, aged and fermented in tank – but the resulting wine is not! Medium-bodied with ripe strawberry fruit lifted by scents of classic Provençal herbs like lavender and sage. Goes with just about anything, however ginger, garlic and soy-marinated chuck steak would work well here!

2013 BlauFranker Liter, Pfneisl $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

This Austrian Blaufränkisch comes from sisters, Birgit and Katrin Pfneisl, who also work with this grape in Hungary where it is known as Kékfrankos. Juicy, succulent and spicy, light in body like Gamay, but with plenty of freshness, this is an ideal summer red. Give it a slight chill, if you want, and pair with turkey burgers or Sheboygan Brats.

2013 Rosso Conero, Marchetti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Another wine from Marchetti (see Verdicchio above), his Rosso Conero is an elegant expression of the Montepulciano grape. Dark, smoky with deep ripe plum flavors, this red has some real chew on it! Take this wine to enjoy al fresco – it’ll stand up to your boldest bbq/grill food favorites. May we suggest a spice-rubbed T-Bone or smoky pork and beans.

2012 Côtes du Rhône Mataró, Vignobles Boudinaud $17.99, $15.28 reorder

And along comes a Côtes du Rhône made from 100% Mourvèdre, or Mataró as its locally known in Catalonia and along the southern French Mediterranean coast. It’s medium-full bodied with a gamey presence and rounded edges. As we get caught up with plating sizzling steaks and chops from off the grill, Boudinaud’s Mataró should pair perfectly with them.

2012 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Toning things down a bit is a versatile little number from Tuscany. Longtime TWH producer Enrico Pierazzuoli blends 80% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon to give us his Barco Reale. The result is zippy and high-toned with layers of red fruits and herbs. What to pair with it? Easy answers: Pasta with red sauce, pizza, or grilled mild Italian sausages.

2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles, Domaine Belle 375ml $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Whoa! Crozes-Hermitage in the Dirty Dozen?!! Okay, it is in half bottle, which is perfect when looking for just a glass or two to share, and Crozes-Hermitage sure deserves to be shared! Pure Syrah fruit and that rocky Crozes mineral give the wine its name, Les Pierelles, or the little stones. Serve it with that low-and-slow smoked brisket.

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2013 Juicy Rebound
Juicy Villages Cuvée Unique No. 34
 
Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne: ingredients for making the perfect white Rhône only this one doesn’t come from Côtes du Rhône, not even the Côstières de Nîmes or the Languedoc for that matter. This charming wine comes from the climats de Northern California. When Mary Danielak, partner and wife ofwinemaker Douglas Danielak, sent an email asking to see if she could pour us something new from Juicy Rebound, we were intrigued. First of all, Douglas makes some of the best Chardonnay from anywhere on the planet under the label Pont Neuf. Second, previous vintages of Juicy Rebound wines have been positively received (and drunk) by our customers. The Syrah and Grenache-based Juicy Villages reds from Juicy Rebound offer top quality fruit from exclusive vineyard sites offered at incredible value. All of Douglas’ wines are made in minuscule amounts, so his wines are not made nor meant for the masses. Douglas makes wines that clearly show off his unabashed love of French wines all the while being deeply rooted in northern California.
 
Garden Grapes
 
Mary came by the store not too long ago to pour us a sample of the 2014 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages Cuvée No. 34. It is a long trek from Angwin, where they live in northern Napa, but like most country folk, other than the traffic and parking, visiting the big city can be a treat. Mary was a wine buyer for nearly two decades at an influential Napa Valley store before leaving to work full time with Douglas on their own wine projects, so she knows to pour the wine and wait before jumping in and giving her thoughts on the wine. Truthfully, nothing Mary could have said or added in terms of a wine story or technical notes would have changed my mind on the wine…I loved it! The thing with Douglas’ wines is that they weave varietal character with richness but never venture over the top – in a word,balanced.
 
Russian River Valley Sunset
 
Rhône white varietals, in particular Viognier, can be very tricky to vinify in California. Or at least that is my perception given my opinion that most Viogniers from California suffer from being flabby and redolent of canned fruit cocktail flavors – not necessarily my cup of tea. On the other hand, the Juicy Villages Cuvée No. 34 takes that exotic note of Viognier and places it in check with some perky acidity and crunch – that’s where the Roussanne and Marsanne come into play. The texture is pretty luxe and the fruit flavors go the way of apricot and apriums with light touches of jasmine on the nose. It is a very pretty wine that I can’t help but think is perfect for late summer sippin’. It has all of the fruit but none of the oak/butter qualities of Chardonnay, so it is super refreshing yet super versatile food-wise.
 
Walking on Water
 
This is my first day back at the store in over a week. After hosting a wedding shower for my nephew’s fiancé last weekend, I headed north with the husband, the girl and the dog in tow to spend a week at my happy place, the Russian River. Mornings were spent lazily with some time devoted to clean up around the dacha before heading down to the beach. Normally, I can’t seem to pull myself away from beach time, but I did get motivated one afternoon to visit one of my favorite wineries to taste some new releases and wine out of barrel – I’ll be sharing highlights of that visit soon. As for now, a bottle of 2014 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages Cuvée No. 34 is going home with me. Tomorrow will be dinner with friends and I just know the Cuvée No. 34 will dazzle my guests. – Anya Balistreri
 
2013 Alberto Furque Malbec
 
 
Alberto Furque’s 2013 Malbec is the 10th vintage The Wine House has stocked from this family-run winery. It has a seductive combination of explosive fruit, bold flavors and impeccable balance. And, because no oak is used, the fruit takes center stage allowing the terroir to shine through.
 
A view of the Andes from the winery
 
Bodegas Aconquija is the name of the farm established in 1938 that Alberto Furque purchased to start his venture into wine-making. The estate is located in a prime area of Argentina’s wine growing region, the Uco Valley. This area is about an hour south of the city of Mendoza. Bodegas Aconquija is in La Consulta at the southern end of the valley. In this part of the valley, extreme high altitudes keep grape yields low and flavors concentrated.
 
Winemaker Carolina Furque
 
Carolina Furque, Alberto’s daughter, is the winemaker at the estate. The grapes are all hand-harvested and fermented in steel tanks. The wine then rests in concrete tanks before bottling. I truly appreciate this style of winemaking; it relies heavily on bringing quality fruit to the winery. The wine is lush, deeply fruited but also displays a floral aspect that is prized and characteristic of Uco Valley Malbec.
 
Grilling the Furque-way!
 
Cooking outdoors during summer months can be necessary but it is also a lot of fun! Our gas grill was decommissioned, so out came the Weber, dusted off from sitting in the corner of the garage all year. The classic Weber grill reminds me that grilling outside does not have to be that complicated. A fire with something to act as a barrier between the ashes and food is all you need. Just look at the photo above, that’s grilling the Furque-way. I love the spontaneity that photo conveys of just throwing down fire and cooking up something delicious. You can bet that back at the table, Furque Malbec was filling everyone’s glass. – Anya Balistreri
 
Antonio Sanguineti’s
Cannonau di Sardegna
 
 
Sardinia, an island off the west coast of Italy, is beginning to get its fair share of attention for producing distinctive, delicious wines. The red grape most commonly planted on the island is Cannonau, known as Grenache in France, Garnacha in Spain. (Oh how I adore this grape!) The appellation Cannonau di Sardegna DOC spans the entire island however most of the vineyards planted to Cannonau are found along the eastern side. In general, Cannonau di Sardegna is noted for its potent, dark flavors as well as coming in different styles from dry to sweet. The2013 Cannonau di Sardegna from Antonio Sanguineti is packed with dry red cherry fruit, a slight earthy backbone and an open-armed fruit appeal. At $12.98, its the sort of wine you can, and should, load up on. It has enough fruit boldness to satiate your red wine desireswithout overwhelming the palate with heavy tannins and over-extracted fruit which during hot summer months can be a real turn-off.
 
 
When Antonio Sanguineti was still a young boy in Tuscany, his family lost their ancestral vineyards.Winemaking remained in Antonio’s blood despite being without a vineyard. Today Antonio works as a consultant with several estates. He has earned deep respect for his skills as a winemaker, even being dubbed “Il Maestro” by his colleagues. It is through these relationships that Antonio buys grapes for his own label. His production remains small and with relatively low-overhead manages to make terrific wine at modest prices. TheCannonau di Sardegna is the latest venture for Antonio and I’m betting one of his most successful. I was shown a sample bottle of the 2013 Sanguineti Cannonau back in March. It had not yet been imported into the states but was presented to me as a pre-arrival. I was immediately smitten by the unoaked, pure red berry flavors. A touch of pomegranate gave the wine a bit of tang. I knew it was a wine that would find many a happy home with our customers.
 
 
The 2013 Cannonau di Sardegna from Sanguinetifinally arrived this week after a few delays thanks to the continuing backlog at docks along the west coast. Tasting wine at home is quite a different experience than tasting at the store, so I didn’t hesitate to buy a bottle of the 2013 Sanguineti Cannonau di Sardegna to see how it faired away from work. A super quick-n-easy meal of grilled lamb burgers with a corn and squash succotash proved to be a delicious accompaniment to the wine. The Cannonau really took to the fattiness and gaminess of the lamb.Maybe that is why the grape has remained on the island long through its vinous history suppling wine for their long-standing sheep-raising culture.

The July 2015 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, July 11, 2015 7:52 PM



The Dirty Dozen
The July 2015 Dirty Dozen



Now that we’re officially into summer, it’s the time for holidays, picnics, and summer’s bounty at local famers’ markets. The backyard grill is getting its share of use, and depending on what you might be tossing on it, we’ve got some lovely vinous suggestions for you. The wines were all chosen for their versatility as well as their suitability to the goings on of July and summertime. Great for any occasion; pick up a July DD today!!

 

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.

2014 Les Cimels Rosé, Château d’Or et de Gueules $13.99, $11.19 reorder

Fresh off the boat comes this fresh, Provençal style Rosé from good old Château d’Or et de Gueules. A blend of Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache, this one is light and crisp, its delicate pink robe revealing citrus blossoms and herbs. It’s a great all-purpose Rosé and will pair well with a fresh Provençal salad and the great outdoors.

2013 Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

From the Helderberg area of Stellenbosch, the old bush vines work their magic atop decomposed granite soils while facing the ocean’s cool breezes. It’s pure Chenin Blanc, with its Granny Smith apple character, and a little hint of lime, framed in minerals. It makes for a good aperitif, is great for picnics, and works well with grilled chicken leg quarters.

2013 Pinot Grigio, Inacayal $13.99, $11.19 reorder

Yes, it’s Pinot Grigio, but it’s made more in the style of Alsatian Pinot Gris. It’s rich and concentrated, with a nectar-like mouth feel revealing complexities such as ripe peaches, nuts, and mushrooms. In mid-palate, one gets the sensation that the wine could be a little off-dry, but the acid kicks in just then and the finish is crisp. Try it with fish tacos.

2012 Vermentino, Uvaggio $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

It may sound like it’s an Italian import, but No! – this wine is homegrown from Lodi, CA. Winemaker Jim Moore picks the Vermentino early to insure freshness and uses only free-run juice to ferment in stainless steel tanks. Aromatic and dry, try with Asian noodle dishes, pan-roasted scallops, steamed clams or grilled chicken.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Alluviale $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder

This New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has a bounty of lemongrass and honey-lime flavors. It has lots of attack on the palate but with a subtle hint of lanolin on the nose. Chill down on a hot day to slake your thirst while watching the setting sun. Serve with fresh green-leaf salads sprinkled with goat cheese, white-fleshed fish or raw seafood.

2014 Soave, San Rocco $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

San Rocco is a tremendous value from one of Veneto’s best Soave producers, Monte Tondo. Using 100% Garganega from pristine vineyard sites, this wine offers a burst of citrus with elegant perfume. Light in body, it’s a delight for casual sipping or can marry beautifully with summer’s veggie options like zucchini, corn and peppers.

2013 Abril, Azul y Garanza $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

The winery is located in the Navarra region of northern Spain. The winery’s vineyards, which are farmed organically, exist in desert-like conditions with minimal rainfall and extreme temperature fluctuations between day and night. This tobacco-scented Tempranillo has piercing bitter cherry flavors and full tannins. Try with smoky, grilled meats.

2012 Mencias de Dos, de 2 $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder

Another Spanish stunner, this 100% Mencia from Bierzo (aka “Gateway to Galicia”) is a bargain considering it comes from an organic vineyard with vines averaging 55 years of age, grown on slate and quartz soils. Three months in barrel rounds out the natural bright acidity of the wine. Serve with highly seasoned meat on small sticks cooked over fire.

2009 Assisi Rosso, Falesco $19.98 net price, $17.98 reorder

This Umbrian red illustrates the complexity of Sangiovese when blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – dark berry flavors accented by underbrush and licorice notes. Plumy and rich, this red benefits from time in bottle, showing off smooth tannins and restrained fruity flavors. It is complete and ready to drink. Go bold here with food pairings.

2012 Château Couronneau Rouge $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

Winemaker Christophe Piat’s commitment to biodynamic practices has finally earned him the esteemed Demeter insignia on his labels. What has happened to his wines since he began implementing these procedures has been quite impressive! The fruit and mineral expressions of the 2012 Couronneau are breathtaking. Serve this one with a grilled cowboy steak.

2007 3 Cepas, Furque $15.99, $12.79 reorder

What do you get when you blend 50% Malbec, 30% Syrah, and 20% Merlot? 3 cepas, that’s what. It’s a delectable blend, now with a little bottle age, that will do just fine when the time calls for a sturdy red. Furque’s vines are 3000 feet above sea level, so the cool nights give the fruit the acid they need for balance. Enjoy it with a leg of lamb.

2011 Morgon “Douby”, Château de Raousset $19.39, $15.51 reorder

On the opposite spectrum in the red wine department, a Cru Beaujolais is light in body and well suited for the summer months. It shows cedary, tobacco-like aromas with cherries and berries, and a little forest floor. On the palate, it’s fresh and easy and would accompany a pizza margherita perfectly. Best results if you put a chill on it before serving.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!

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