Saturday, November 28, 2015 12:26 AM
Monday, February 2, 2015 9:37 PM
As usual, the crazy month of January has come to a close with a visit from the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. Some members arrived Thursday, and others early Friday. We were very fortunate to co-host a dinner with Marie-Hélène Dussech from Château Brane Cantenac at Chef Gerald Hirigoyen’s “West Coast Basque” restaurant Piperade on Thursday evening. A small gathering of customers joined Marie-Hélène, Anya, a négociant, and myself and we were treated to some wonderful wines, courtesy of the Second Growth Margaux property. Served alongside Chef Gerald’s excellent pairing menu, the event was a smashing success! As was reported in a past email about New Year’s resolutions, we are already brainstorming our next event, stay tuned.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 12:51 AM
We will let our collective passion continue to drive us into 2015, and there are some good things on the immediate horizon. Our Top Ten wines of 2014 will be announced soon and there is a fairly intimate Bordeaux dinner coming up. Bordeaux dinner? Yes, as the UGC de Bordeaux makes its way through the country, we’re going to team up with Château Brane Cantenac for a dinner at Piperade restaurant on Battery Street on Thursday, January 29 at 7pm. There are still some places available, but they’re filling fast. Five wines will be paired with five courses, and the price is $100 per person which includes dinner, wine, tax, and gratuity. In the world of Bordeaux dinners, that is dirt cheap! We’re expecting the dinner to sell out, so if you are interested, I recommend you contact me as soon as you can and I will provide further details. – Peter Zavialoff
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7:31 PM
The 2010 Couronneau arrived just in the nick of time as our inventory of the 2009 had dwindled down to just bottles. I thought the 2009 Couronneau was the best wine from Chateau Couronneau I had ever tasted. It’s tricky to make such a statement about a wine because, well, there’s always a next vintage. Among the staff, I freely pronounced my admiration for the ’09, always noting it was the “best ever”.Peter never disputed my claim, but would only say, “wait till you try the 2010”. I trust and know that Peter knows Bordeaux, but my understanding of the vintages is that ’09s are more expressive and drinkable at this early stage, while ’10s are more structured and less outgoing in the fruit department. So why was Peter implying that the 2010 Couronneau was so special? I now know why…the 2010 has amplitude and a brash richness to it that defies its humble Bordeaux Superieur classification. The 2010 Couronneau is dense with plum and tangy cassis fruit, the tannins and acidity are heightened and bring forth a freshness on the palate for all that rich fruit. I don’t know what is happening but I am again smitten with a young Bordeaux.
The Piat family, the proprietors of Chateau Couronneau, have worked hard and meticulously in the vineyard to coax out the best possible fruit for their wine. This hard work includes a dedication to organic farming (they are certified with Ecocert), green harvesting in Spring, and limiting yields to an average well below what is allowed for the appellation (their average is around 35HL/HA when 65HL/HA is allowable). Christophe Piat’s foremost motivation is to make the best quality wine possible. His achievements in the vineyard, and subsequently in the cellar, have not gone unnoticed. He has been regaled with many medals for his wines in France and Chateau Couronneau has been noted for quality and value in multiple wine publications worldwide. Rightly so, Christophe is quite proud of his estates’ medal showings in wine competitions. You can debate the efficacy of organic farming and other such viticultural practices, but the proof is in the pudding so to speak, and I have witnessed, and tasted, the steep trajectory of rising quality from this estate over the past decade. With every vintage, Chateau Couronneau rolls out beautiful, complex, totally satisfying wine. Wait till YOU try it!
This past Thursday, The Wine House along with Chateau Coutet hosted a dinner at Picco in Larkspur, pairing Sauternes with each course. This is the third time our Peter and Aline Baly from Chateau Coutet have teamed up to prove that pairing Sauternes with savory courses is not just a gimmick but is in fact an exciting way to broaden your culinary experience. I missed out on the previous dinners, and I have to say, I was getting a little annoyed and rather tired of hearing how great this dish was with that vintage, and how this attendee brought an ancient vintage to share and yadda-yadda-yadda. It’s 2013, a new year, so I decided to use birthday money I had squirreled away to treat myself to this third Coutet dinner. (I also knew they were planning to unveil the inaugural vintage of Chateau Coutet’s first dry white, the 2010 Opalie de Coutet – boy, was that fantastic!). I expected to like the pairing of Coutet with savory dishes, I really did. What was surprising to me though was how effortlessly the wines paired with the savory. The pairings were not at all strange or a culinary stretch. And I didn’t miss having it paired with fois gras. The real stand-out pairings were not with the dessert courses, as is when one typically thinks to break out a bottle of Sauternes. A raw oyster with a chile-cilantro mignonette was paired with the youthful and exuberant 2008 Coutet for a crazy good match of heat, sweet and briny. Another memorable bite was the opulent 2010 Coutet served with crab linguine accented with Korean chili flake. The sweetness of the crab came through brilliantly and the pineapple notes of the young 2010 tempered the heat of the chile flake gloriously. It was a spectacular evening all around with great company, food, wine and atmosphere. I really do need to drink more Sauternes, preferably Chateau Coutet. —Anya Balistreri
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:34 PM
On July 14, all the cosmic tumblers aligned themselves as 55+ diners packed themselves into Range Restaurant for a very special evening. The concept was unusual;can you enjoy Bordeaux’s Gold wines (Barsac/Sauternes) throughout an entire dinner? Back in January, we had a very successful dinner doing just that at Bruce Hill’sRestaurant Picco in Marin. Well, now it wasBastille Day, it was warm and sunny in San Francisco, and Range Restaurant’s Chef Phil West concocted a tour de force of flavor and texture to accompany three vintages of Château Coutet. Aline Baly, who joined us all the way from Château Coutet in Barsac, was there to present the wines (I told you; we had ALL the cosmic tumblers in place). Ms. Baly made time to visit with everyone and she surprised us all with a taste of an older vintage. It was truly an unforgettable evening with smiles and praise bursting from both of the dining rooms. Aline mentioned that one minute she remembered sitting down and the next thing she knew, it was time to leave! Time flies when you’re having fun, eh? Even 4 weeks after the dinner, I received an email from one attendee calling the event, “Stupendous”, and continue to receive phone calls from others thanking us again and asking to be kept in the loop regarding any future Gold Wine dinners! A smashing time for all, myself included. Here’s how it went down:
Guests were treated to a fizzy, raspberry infused cocktail upon arrival in addition to roasted padron peppers that made their way around Range’s reception area. As the reception area filled up, we headed for the tables. Coordinating a pairing dinner for over 55 guests is a difficult task. Hats off to our friendsCameron and Phil West and their staff at Range Restaurant for their impeccable eye for detail. Every facet of the dinner was perfect. Diners were first served a pour of 2007 Château Coutet with an amuse bouche, which in this case consisted of plain custard topped with caviar. Smash hit #1. The flavor of the caviar and texture of the custard created a finish line tape that the 2007 Coutet cut right through with stunning harmony.Staying with the 2007, out came an English Pea stuffed pasta with black truffles and trumpet mushrooms. Again, the depth, earthiness and texture of the pea stuffed pasta and fungi provided the hanging curve ball that the 2007 Coutet slammed out of the ballpark with its freshness, depth and complexity. Spirits were high in anticipation of what was to come.
Fresh glasses came out closely followed by bottles of the2006 Coutet. A very underrated Sauternes vintage in my opinion. It’s a precocious wine of great balance, citrus and spice-like complexity, and fresh bright acidity. Chef’s idea for the 2006?Oysters Diablo.That would be two baked oysters in a creamy sauce with a hint of cayenne pepper to be eaten upon wafer-thin crispy toast. Flavors and textures; the pairing was so perfect that the thought of a bite of Oysters Diablo without a sip of 2006 Coutet was unthinkable. More praise from both dining rooms. Hitting high gear now, we were presented with the main course: Grilled quail on a bed of hominy with broccoli rabe and pancetta in a green peppercorn sauce. What a perfect set up for the profoundly botrytised 2005 Coutet! Its texture, depth and richness clearly demonstrated how versatile Gold wine can be. Most successful food/wine pairings are either complementary or contrasting, and this one was a little of both. The wine shined in complementary fashion with the flavors of the quail and hominy while simultaneously contrasting the nuances of the rabe, pancetta and green peppercorns. Talk about a lot going on! If that wasn’t enough, Aline then surprised everyone with a taste of Coutet 1989! In a word, the wine was stunning. 20 years has been good to this wine as the amalgam of complexity stretches the palate.Buoyed by its quintessential Barsac fresh acidity, the 1989 grabbed dinner guests much like early Technicolor films grabbed audiences used to black and white. What a treat. Thanks Aline!
Yes, the cosmic tumblers were aligned. It was pure harmonic convergence for foodies and wine people. The overwhelmingly obvious answer to the question is YES – YOU CAN DRINK SWEET WINES WITH YOUR DINNER! At least, along with Aline Baly of Château Coutet, we’re 2 for 2 in 2011.
By the way, there were some huge fans of the Château there too. Believe it or not,a couple of diners were responsible for bringing (and sharing a little) 1971, 1949, and get this, 1926 Coutet! The 1926 being the oldest vintage that Aline herself has tasted. It was indeed a very memorable evening leaving all parties involved satisfied and happy.
Once again, we’d like to thank Aline Baly of Château Coutet for all of her efforts in addition to taking the time to join us and for providing the surprise vintage. Thanks go out to Jon Sillcocks from Range Restaurant for helping get this from fantasy to reality. To Cameron and Chef Phil West of Range Restaurant for their professionalism and for hosting such a fantastic dinner party. To the staff of Range Restaurant for their unparalleled level of service. To Monty Sander and Tom Fuller of Fuller & Sander Communications for their part in coordinating (and Tom for the above photos). And most of all, thanks to all of you who attended the event. Your participation and appreciation made it all worth it! – Peter Zavialoff, The Wine House San Francisco
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 4:16 PM
What a crazy week! It all started last Saturday after we closed. I attended aKFC/Dom Perignon tasting. Yep. It was great. No, I don’t know why. It was a chaotic week in the 2010 Bordeaux Futures game, as several high-profile chateaux released their prices. It’s been very difficult keeping up, but look for something in your inbox soon. Vinexpo is going on in Bordeaux this week, so they’re going crazier than I, but not by much. Our upcoming Winemaker Dinner with Château Coutet is all-systems-go and reservations are now being accepted. And finally, we’re getting around to sampling some of the new
wines that recently arrived via container.
The thrill of the change of seasons has beckoned the Rosé lover in all of us, and this year’s selections are unbeatable! There are some lovely White Burgundies from the Macon that you all will be hearing about very soon. There are a few reds from the Rhône Valley including a dynamite Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Boudinaud! We’ve had wines from Vignobles Boudinaud for many vintages, but this is the first time we’ve had the La Boissière line. The 2008 La Boissière Côtes du Rhône has everything I like in a Côtes du Rhône: rich, ripe fruit, a kiss of earthy mineral, and a waft of herb which when all tied together makes me happy that unlike the famous wines of Bordeaux, these wines are affordable. I’m not alone here at TWH when it comes to this wine either. Here’s a funny one. So our staff pulled a Chip and Dale on this one. No one wanted to appear selfish and take it home the day we opened it. Emily had left early, so we decided to leave it for her as she and David came in last Sunday for a short time to check out Sunday Streets Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Bayview. I left her a note saying it was here on the tasting table and guess what? She didn’t take it either. It doesn’t happen often, but our entire staff was crestfallen that the best of the bunch was left undrunken. These things do happen, so in penance, I’m buying one for tonight. This will not be my last.
For me, Sundays are for resting. And after the week I had, I will rest. To all you Dads out there, Happy Fathers’ Day! Here’s a tidbit of wisdom from my Pop:
Pete? Do you have a minute?
Right now? Okay … grumble, grumble (I was around 15 at the time)
Sit down (gulp)
Soon, there will be times when you may be drinking
I just want you to remember one thing.
What’s that, Pop?
If one bottle costs $7 and the other one $15, buy the $15 bottle, you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
You can go now.
Fast forward to today. Thanks Pop. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me if you want to know more about 2010 futures, our upcoming dinner with Aline Baly of Château Coutet or anything else: peter.winehouse@
Thursday, June 16, 2011 9:21 PM
With the multitude of flavors and textures one finds in contemporary cuisine, it becomes a major challenge to find a wine versatile enough to pair with the many tastes and feels. A concept that is new to many, though hardly new at all is to use one of Bordeaux’s Gold wines. The sweet wines of Barsac/Sauternes make perfect accompaniment for dinner. Especially if the chef is juggling a complex array of texture and flavor.Back in January, together with Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet in Barsac, we held a dinner at Restaurant Picco in Larkspur pairing 3 vintages of Chateau Coutet with Chef Jared Rogers’ delectable expression of flavor and mouth feel. The results? Smashing. Every participant of that event left Picco satisfied … tremendously satisfied.It was such a success that we’re going to do it again! Aline is coming back to SF to visit (she’s calling it a vacation, though it sounds like work to me) in July and we’re teaming up with Chef Phil and Cameron West of Range Restaurant in the Mission for another Barsac/Sauternes tasting dinner, get this, on Bastille Day! What a way to celebrate, right? Seating will be limited to 60 diners; won’t you join the fun for this rare epicurean event? French speaking optional.
Where? Range Restaurant, 842 Valencia St (between 19th and 20th streets)
When? Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 7:00 PM for arrival; 7:30 PM for sit down
How Do I Make Reservations? Range Restaurant will be handling all reservations. Please call them anytime after 3:00 PM at 415.282.8283 and be sure to mention “The Chateau Coutet Dinner on July 14th” when making your booking.
How Much Does It Cost? The dinner with the wines included will cost $135 per diner. Please note: tax and gratuity not included.
What Are The Wines? Diners will be served 1 glass each of 2005, 2006 and 2007 Chateau Coutet. There are rumors that Aline will be treating all diners to a taste of an older vintage of Chateau Coutet.
What’s On The Menu? Though the menu is not 100% certain, it will resemble this:
Where can I park? Parking can be difficult at times, please allow time to find street parking, or there is a public lot not far away on 21st St.
Any Other Questions? Please direct them to Peter Zavialoff – 415.355.9463 or peter.winehouse@