I had a lengthy conversation with a longtime TWH customer yesterday about wine importation. One of the most important traits an importer must possess is patience. There are a ton of variables out there, so sometimes it may take a year or two for a concept to come to fruition. That’s what we have here. A couple of years ago, TWH alum Emily asked me a question,

“Pete, do you ever taste any Bordeaux Clairet when you’re there?”

“Well, that’s what the Brits call red Bordeaux,”
 I answered.

“That’s not what I mean; they make a very light red that’s almost like a heavy Rosé and it’s called Bordeaux Clairet, but it’s rarely seen outside of Bordeaux.”

(Deer in the headlights moment). “Wow, I don’t know a thing about it, I must look into that.”


There’s not a whole lot of information out there about Bordeaux Clairet, even the breathy Oxford Companion To Wine only gives it a couple of thumb-widths of a column. It appears that Bordeaux Clairet is made in the style of the red Bordeaux wines shipped to England in the Middle Ages. It is also said that those wines were the inspiration for the British term “Claret.” Bordeaux Clairet is made by fermenting red skinned grapes in contact with their skins for 24-48 hours before the juice completes its fermentation. Just as in Rosé, this imparts flavor and color to the wine. Though unlike most Rosé, Bordeaux Clairet has unmistakable aromas that one finds in red wine.

Having visited Bordeaux once or twice since Emily asked me that question, I was still at a loss for experiencing Bordeaux Clairet. Well, that’s all changed now. Let me introduce you to the 2012 Chateau Armurey Bordeaux Clairet. Not only have I tried it (8 bottles on my June invoice so far!), but I love it!!! I’m not alone here; my colleagues have collectively depleted a case as well. What’s not to love? It’s a chillable, very light, dry red wine. Made from 100% Merlot grown in the Entre Deux Mers appellation, it has aromas of dark red berries, it’s 12.5% alcohol, it pairs well with just about anything, and get this, it’s less than $10!!! Can you say winner, winner – chicken dinner? And yes, the Bordeaux Clairet will suit a chicken dinner perfectly.

The 2012 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet represents the beginning of our building an exciting new section of wines here at TWH. Back in March 2012, I was sitting at a café along the Garonne River with a negociant with whom I am friendly with. I told him that with the way Bordeaux pricing has gone, that it was important that we stocked and sold quality Bordeaux wines that were at a price point that folks like me could take home and drink with dinner. I told him that I envisioned TWH having a “petits chateaux” or “value Bordeaux” section separate from the Cru Classé section.  Patience was required, but now the waiting is over. When I visit Bordeaux each March/April, I focus on tasting wines from lesser known producers, hoping to find diamonds in the rough. Another exercise, key in expanding our value Bordeaux section, is for our entire staff to taste samples put together by negociants. Our first batch consisted of 24 sample bottles. We tasted them all, chose 6, and passed on the other 18. The 2012 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet was one of the 6. You will be hearing about the other 5 in the weeks to come.


Happy summer! Yow, be careful what you wish for. The daytime high temperature at the treehouse was 95 today. The good news is that I remembered to shut all of the windows, that way it should stay below 80 inside. What better a wine for a balmy evening than the 2012 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet? I’ve got #9 chilling in the cold box as I type. So yeah, thanks to a coworker’s curiosity and the patience of a spider, I am happy to report that TWH is one of four merchants in the USA appearing on Winesearcher.com with 2012 Bordeaux Clairet. Apparently, not much makes it out of Bordeaux. –Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux Clairet, The Value Bordeaux Section, Footy, or the state of the band: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net