14 July 2015. Bonne Fête Nationale! Or, Happy Bastille Day! We’re hearing all about parties and celebrations planned for today at local French restaurants, brasseries, and bistros. Our Twitter feed is full of pics of folks in France enjoying their big holiday. We even have a couple of customers visiting St. Emilion as I type! Needless to say, there is festive energy in the air … with a French twist. If your plans include any of these big celebrations, bravo! Enjoy! If not, if something a little low-key is more suitable, one can get by on Bastille Day simply with a delicious bottle of French wine.

 

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

Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut

Monday, July 7, 2014 5:39 PM

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

 

 

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

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

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

Sparklers from D’Orfeuilles

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 10:24 PM

We will be open Christmas Eve, December 24 from 10 am – 4 pm. 

We wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!

 

 

What is your holiday season marker? Stringing up lights around the eaves, getting that first card in the mail dotted with children mugging it up for the camera, or how about having a good cry while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life?” For me, it’s the display of fine Champagne and bubbles from around the world that gets stacked up at TWH. Oh how they twinkle, oh how they glow! So many to choose from, fancy or affordable, we have them all! To help you navigate through a few, allow me to highlight a TWH direct import, Domaine D’Orfeuilles from France’s Loire Valley. What at first seemed a novelty has taken off and captured our clients’ taste buds and desire for sparkling wine that is at once complex and sophisticated while much, much less expensive then anything you’ll find from Champagne. Made in the classic methode traditionelle (meaning that secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle just like it is done in Champagne) our two sparklers from Domaine D’Orfeuilles, one blanc, one rosé, are perfect options for end-of-year reveling. 

 

 

Domaine D’Orfeuilles’ grapes are grown on clay and limestone soil that have a significant amount of silex, or flint, that imparts an undeniable, unmistakable “flinty” character in their wines. The Vouvray Brut is made from 100% Chenin Blanc. It has under-ripe peach and apricot flavors, a hint of green, and a round entry with a chalky finish. I have said it before and I will say it again, this is one of the few sparkling wines that when I drink it, I am not wishing I were drinking Champagne! It provides me with enough complexity, richness and yeastiness to keep me interested, and looking forward to the next sip. Whether toasting sans food or with appetizers, you can confidently bring this Vouvray Brut to the table to continue the meal. The Touraine Rosé is also dry and made with Côt, what the folks in Loire call Malbec. Lots of raspberry and dried cherry red fruit with a tinge of herb pervades the palate. Domaine D’Orfeuilles store their sparklers in a large limestone cellar and therefore have the capacity to keep wine aging in bottle 3-4 years. This also means that there are slight variations from each bottling, just as you would expect from a grower/producer. The most recent Touraine Rosé boasts a jolt of pink color that can trick you into thinking it will be far fruitier than it really is; an optical illusion. The Touraine Rosé is fresh, bright and finishes dry. Perfect for spicier nibbles like ceviche or chili-flecked sausages; also amazing with fried chicken!

 

The bottle prices for these two sparklers have Anniversary Sale written all over them, but once again, to make it even more tempting a $125 full-case price is offered through the end of the year, or while supplies last. You might not get through a case by New Year’s Eve, but remember there is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, and so much more coming just around the corner! So stock up and fill your wine closet/cellar/under-the-bed with two unique, delicious and excellent sparklers from Domaine D’Orfeuilles. 

 

 

Adrenaline shot through my body this morning as my daughter rejoiced over the fact that there were only 4 more days left until Christmas! Her advent calendar is almost devoid of chocolate; the star, the reindeer and the snowman have all been eaten. It must be Christmas. After a few deep breathes, I realized I was excited too. I can’t wait to get together with family. I wonder what Santa will bring me this year? Christmas Day I’ll be playing host. I can’t vouch for the food, but at least no one will go home thirsty. Happy Holidays! – Anya Balistreri

NV Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles

Monday, August 12, 2013 6:15 PM

Summer 2013. I certainly hope you’re all enjoying it, and I also hope you’ve all had reason and occasion to pop the cork on something fizzy. As we power ahead through the dog days of summer, there is a beacon that’s coming into view. Yep, I can foresee much celebration in the coming weeks. I must prepare myself. Let’s see, I’m not in a position to load up on grower Champagne (though special occasions merit special bottles), but I’m going to want to have a bunch of sparkling wine around. So what to choose, what to choose? That’s easy. Bang for your buck, it sure is tough to beat the NV Vouvray Brut from Domaine d’Orfeuilles. Our resident Champagne maven, Anya, once said that the d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut was one of precious few sparkling wines that she could enjoy and not wish that she was drinking Champagne. I concur.  Not only does its complexity outperform its pricepoint, its versatility is where it really shines. I mean it’s a great wine for brunches, cheese plates, fried chicken, potato chips, mussels, charcuterie, crab salads, pistachios, caviar, bacon, and of course, celebrations!

 

Domaine d’Orfeuilles was built over the site of an old ruined castle near the town of Chançay in the Loire River Valley. Now run by Bernard Herivault and his son Arnaud, the domaine was founded in Vouvray by Bernard’s grandfather Paul in 1947. The Herivault’s Chenin Blanc vines are grown in clay-limestone soils that are rich in flint (or silex). This imparts a snappy minerality that is an unmistakeable component of the wines of Domaine d’Orfeuilles. When I taste this sparkling beauty, I am blown away by the complexity for price! It has dusty aromas of minerals and fresh Granny Smith apples. Those components are present on the palate with the unmistakeable flinty mineral, and all continue harmoniously to a dry, crisp finish. And the bubbles make for an ethereal tasting experience. No wonder I see this wine on every TWH employee’s personal invoices. Ah, what a great memory; when my favorite football club won the European Champions’ League in 2012, I chose a magnum of the d’Orfeuille Vouvray Brut to celebrate with! In a fizzy mood? This is just what you need. An extraordinary bottle of fizz for an equally extraordinary price.

 

 

So there you go, I’m going to go ahead and grab a six-pack of the sparkling Vouvray for starters. I’ve got a big birthday (one with a zero) coming up, and though we are still 2 weeks away from the 3-week-long period known as “BirthdayFest”, it is looking more and more like this year, BirthdayFest has already begun. I’ve already received a Happy Birthday email from a friend overseas, and earlier this week, I was given something special to “open on your birthday” (Thank you, DR). So as the days approach, there will be plenty of reason to have something sparkling on hand, as there is much on the dance card. Let’s see, tomorrow morning football season kicks off with the annual Charity Shield match at Wembley! I am totally psyched to see the band Lucius both in LA and here in SF later this month. If you don’t know them, I highly recommend their 20 minute NPR Tiny Desk concert. It’s the best 20 minutes of music I’ve seen this year. Great dynamics, great harmonies. Meanwhile, the band I play in has 2 gigs coming up, and then there’s a visit to Old Trafford. Whew, this year’s Fest is going to be a doozy! Must have sparkling wine. Must have d’Orfeuilles Vouvray.

Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about affordable sparkling wines, English football, or music: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

The Wine House San Francisco: Our Top Ten Wines of 2011

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 3:13 PM

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again where we pick the top ten wines that were released and passed through our shop in the calendar year 2011. We first did this in 2009, and the reaction was so positive thatwe did it again last year. It’s a fun exercise for us here; we taste a lot of wine throughout the year, most of which doesn’t even make it to our sales floor. Of all that DOES meet our standards and make it to the floor, it becomes a difficult task to narrow it down to just 10. But we get there; the most fun part of the exercise is that while discussing the wines, we get to relive the past year in tasting. Remember, some of these wines have sold out, but deserve to be mentioned here based on their merits.

2010 Lugana – Ca’Lojera

Kicking things off here is the first of 7 direct TWH imports in this year’s top 10! Speaking for those of us who have not met her, we’re so jealous that first David, and then Anya met with Ambra Tiraboschi at successive Italian tastings in New York City. The wines that come from Ambra’s Ca’Lojera are a rare breed indeed.Ambra’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a gem that is not to be missed. But it’s what she can do with the Turbiana variety that lands her in our Top Ten of 2011. Her 2010 Lugana is one of our favorite Italian whites that came this way in 2011. It’s yummy goodness of fresh white fleshy fruit and zippy acidity, not to mention modest price, pushes it right into the Top Ten. If this is only the first of ten of this caliber, you might want to grab a seat.
2009 J-M Chaland Vire-Clesse

Speaking of terrific white wine imports … David was (again) lucky enough to be tasting wine in Burgundy last winter and when he tasted through the unoaked Chardonnays from Jean-Marie Chaland he had an epiphany. Brand new for us are a whole line of delicious Maconais wines which scream “White Burgundy Values”. The top of the line Thurissey is made from vines over 90 years old! Seriously, run don’t walk to this wine.
2008 Claude Thomas Zinfandel

Here’s a real TWH story. You should see our calendar. I mean Anya’s calendar. It’s got names and times jotted down for every day she works. There is a line out the door for the opportunity to have Anya taste (and hopefully, buy) the respective wines that each wine rep sells. It’s gotten so out of hand that one producer periodically sends his friends in specifically asking for his wine. Ah, what some people resort to just to make a sale. Sometimes, one of these encounters results in an extraordinary upside surprise,“winemakers to watch” and all. Yet it happened again in 2011 with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. When the 2008 Claude Thomas Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was poured for her, Anya, who by the way loves Zinfandel, was all in! Ripe, brambly berry and spice, we’re all in too. What a pleasure for all of us here at TWH when Tom Stanley drops off cases of his wine! Well done, Tom.
2008 Vignobles Boudinaud Côtes du Rhône Mataro

Back to France. You love Mourvèdre. We love Mourvèdre. What’s not to love? Big, gamy, muscular, earthy wines always have a home with those who love the style. It says Côtes du Rhône on the label. It says Mataro on the label as well, which is what some people in Spain, and apparently in the south of France call Mourvèdre. It’s a Côtes du Rhône made from 100% Mourvèdre. We love that! All of us here at TWH were wowed by this wine in 2011.
2010 Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray

One of our favorite Loire Valley producers, Domaine d’Orfeuilles, you know, the ones that make sparkling Vouvray. Or maybe you’re familiar with their sparkling Touraine Rosémade from Côt, or Malbec as it’s known elsewhere. Maybe you’ve heard of their demi-sec Vouvray “les Coudraies”. Obviously, we’re big fans of these guys! The wine that brought us to them? It was the 2005 Vouvray “Silex”. That was so long ago that there isn’t even a blog link to attach to it. But the ’05 Silex? Crisp and bone dry with that lovely apple-ey goodness that Chenin Blanc is known for … but the mineral swirl? The stuff of legend. So when the 2010 recently went out to wholesale accounts and the sample bottle returned to the shop, we poured out some tastes for our staff … Chris and I took one swirl and taste … “Dude, can you believe that?” (Yes, we talk that way. Mostly just to each other.) “That acidity? That freshness. The mineral. The Fruit? This is better than the ’05!” It was. And it is. And it will be.
Pleiades XX – Sean Thackrey

Ever been to Bolinas? It’s a fun little town just northwest of Stinson Beach in Marin County. It’s tough to find, though. Locals like to take down the sign pointing the way whenever Caltrans puts up a new one. This keeps a lot of tourists out; or at least that’s the locals’ rationale. But Bolinas is home to Sean Thackrey’s winery. Sean Thackrey has been making wine for three decades! And his wines are our kind of wines; he embraces unique winemaking techniques, and sources his fruit from all over California. He brings it all back to his winery in Bolinas and makes wine with his hands. Thackrey’s Pleiades XX cracks the top 5 due to its serious amalgam of complexity and intensity. We are ALWAYS on the lookout for wines like this one! We sold out of the XX, be on the lookout for the XXI!
NV Giavi Prosecco

Prosecco. Serious Prosecco. The NV Giavi Prosecco. You’ve never tasted Prosecco like this before. We’ve got a serious Champagne customer. Serious. This gent will ONLY buy the best highly allocated Grower Champagnes we can get our hands on. He loves this Prosecco. He is actually talking this wine up to restaurants he dines in. Word is out in the restaurant world. We haven’t been able to offer this in our retail shop for months due to the demands of fine restaurants here in the Bay Area and in LA! We’re finally back on track, and once again have the wine in stock for you to try. This is Top Ten kind of Prosecco. Try one and see for yourself.
2009 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes

“Everybody loved it.” That’s what a customer said about the 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes from Château Puy-Servain. What a great 2011 discovery this was!! Instead of relaxing in Bordeaux on the Saturday after the En Primeur tastings, I was off to Montravel to meet with Daniel Hecquet at his Château Puy-Servain. When I tasted his 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes I got butterflies thinking about how cool it was going to be to get the wine over here and onto your tables. And even cooler, the wine sold out quickly. We bought more from Daniel and the next batch should be here by the end of March.
2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc

Back to White Burgundy. David has been tasting the wines from Domaine Michel Bouzereau for several vintages, and he’s liked what he’s tasted. But just as he pointed out in regards to the J-M Chaland wines, he likes to taste several vintages before pulling the trigger. Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau is the winemaker these days and he makes some of the finest Premier Cru Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet that we stock here at TWH. You could pick any of Jean-Baptiste’s Premier Crus and put them in the Top Ten, but that’s kind of like cheating. But what’s this? He makes a Bourgogne too! Not only that, it’s a “Bourgogne” though most of the grapes are sourced from in and around Meursault. One taste will have you hooked!
2008 Château Branaire Ducru, St. Julien

Keeping with tradition, we’re going to Bordeaux. It’s so hard to pick just one wine. In 2011, it was the 2008 Bordeaux vintage that hit the market. There were standouts in all categories Red, White, and Gold! But the wine that struck me greatest had to be the 2008 Branaire Ducru. It has everything I look for in a young claret. Its fruit is expressive, the aromas are deep and complex. On the palate, it has a round feel with noticeable structure and more fruit expression braced by the zippy acidity. Great weight and great balance. The finish is long and complex; a perfect reminder as to why I love the wines from St. Julien most. We only have a few bottles left, so sorry when it sells out.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Château Lanessan

Narrowing all that wine tasted over the course of a year down to only 10 is a very difficult task indeed. One main criterion for the list is that the wine be newly released and available to us in said calendar year. But there is one more wine that wowed us in 2011 that deserves a slight mention, the 2001 Château Lanessan. It too was an amazing discovery that was made in the office of one of our negociants in Bordeaux this past April. We sold out of our stock rather quickly, quick enough to still have a chance to buy more! We did, and it’s on its way here. It should arrive at the end of March. – Peter Zavialoff

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