Two weeks ago, the dust had just settled after one of Jeanne-Marie De Champs’ bi-annual visits to TWH.As I wrote at that time, the protocol had changed … over 20 bottles of Burgundy were opened, and when the dregs of these sample bottles made their way back to us, we were able to taste through a wide spectrum of quality Burgundy much like a La Paulée tasting. The result is that the experience is fresh in our collective minds, soif you have any questions about any of our new Burgundy wines, we all have some recent experience with them. Which gets me around to my topic of the week:crab season.


On my day off this past week, I wandered in to one of my favorite lunch spots only to bump into a former colleague from my days in the finance biz. I hadn’t seen him in a decade, so we began to catch up on things a bit. It was the usual small talk. He’s been living in New York for the past 8 years and he was visiting because his daughter is going to school out this way. Since he wasn’t in California last fall, he didn’t know about demoic acid and our lack of a crab season. So I was surprised to hear any optimism associated with the question, “How long until crab season?” Really? My eyes got big. A mutual friend who was seated between us matter-of-factly nodded his head and said, “I’m hearing situation back to normal, the season should start in mid-November.”Understanding his not being an authority on the subject, I made a mental note to get some verification. I asked Anya and Christian about it earlier this morning, and they seemed to echo his sentiments. Then, in walked one of our favorite customers whom we know is a crab enthusiast.“If anyone knows the answer, HE certainly does,” I thought to myself. So I asked him. He answered. Crab season here in northern California will begin November 5, with the commercial season beginning two weeks later. Really? Yes.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where I’m going here. I can make a case for pairing a lot of different white wines with crab. The things to look for are expression, balance, complexity, and acidity. If your white wine has these components, your crab experience will be enhanced. With all of the recent Burgundy tasting with Jeanne-Marie and my colleagues, I remember one particular facet which occurred after everyone went home for the day and Chris and I were left with some 12-15 open bottles of Burgundy. They were all close to being empty, but there was still enough in each of them to be able to get a decent sized taste. With Jeanne-Marie and the others gone, and punk rock radio blasting in our warehouse, we took a less studious approach to our tasting. I’m a firm believer in the concept that discovery often occurs when not searching. I wasn’t looking for it, but there it was. Delicious white Burgundy from an unassuming appellation; relatively inexpensive, but what sent me over the top was that I prefered it to the next wine I tasted, which was a Meursault. The Meursault was fine, don’t get me wrong, but the previous wine at half the price was the better wine; to me anyway. What was it? The 2014 Rully La Folie from Claudie Jobard.
We’ve already touched upon how good the 2014 vintage was for white Burgundy. In a word, it was great. We’ve also already mentioned Claudie Jobard and her winemaking prowess over the past few years. Having a mother as famous as Laurence Jobard must have put a little pressure on Claudie as she began making wine. She has already landed a wine in our annual Top Ten twice!Did I say that I liked her 2014 Rully blanc better than a Meursault? Yes, I did. What does a wine like this cost? $27.99. With case discount? $23.79. Crab season here I come! – Peter Zavialoff

Decanter Magazine’s Stephen Brook’s note from January 2016: “Firm nutty nose, toasty and assertive. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, with spiciness and fine acidity, a gutsy Rully, with swagger, pungent and long.”



Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about crab season, Burgundy, Bordeaux, or The Special One’s return to Stamford Bridge tomorrow:

Spring=Chardonnay=Domaine Sainte Barbe

Monday, April 13, 2015 5:26 PM


2012 Viré-Clessé from Domaine Sainte Barbe

Now that it’s officially spring, we can look ahead to all of the excitement that comes with it! Of the many great things about springtime, especially here in SF, is the warmer weather. And when it warms up, it just makes sense to enjoy a little chill in your vino! Anya recently regaled usabout Jean-Marie Chaland’s unoaked Mâcon VillagesLes Tilles, citing its sophistication for an entry-level offering. Jean-Marie also makes wines from Viré-Clessé,and if you love pure Chardonnay expression for a very fair price, you’re not going to want to miss out on these …
Viré-Clessé is a recently created appellation (1999)in southern Burgundy, singling out a small parcel of land outside of Mâcon’s Pouilly appellations which is capable of producing high-quality Chardonnay. It’s interesting to note that the appellation’s rules dictate that only the dryest (3g residual sugar per liter or lower) wines are allowed to bear the Viré-Clessé label, andChaland makes some sensational wines from this slice of southern Burgundy.
For his 2012 Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Marie’s sources are vines all in excess of 55 years old planted in clay and limestone soils. All tank vinified, the wine is aged on its lees for 14 months and bottled. It’s pure, unadulterated Chardonnay, all business, no pretense. Its structure suggests it should be hitting its happy zone from 2017, but an hour or so of decanting now will have it dancing effortlessly on your palate.
Only 250 cases of Saint Barbe’s 2012 Viré-ClesséPerrière were made. The vines from this vineyard are 35 years old, and typically, the Perrière shows plentiful amounts of mineral notes. It’s aged in barrel, mostly 1 and 2 year old, with 10% being new. The 2012 is a wine marked by rich, ripe, fleshy white fruit flavors. The palate is full, expressive, and accessible; game on!
The vines in Chaland’s L’Épinet vineyard were planted in 1940! The soil consists of gravel upon red clay, and it sits on top a hill with southeast exposure. Jean-Marie uses one new barrel and the rest neutral in aging his l’Épinet, giving it a little texture to complement the dazzling, bright yellow fruit. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, the amalgam of complexity in the 2012 Viré-Clessé L’Épinet drinks well beyond its modest price-point.
Wow! Exciting times indeed. Springtime is here, warm weather straight ahead! Here are a trio of tasty Chardonnays that will impress your palates without “Burgundizing” your pocketbooks. Enjoy!

2011 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc: The Secret

Saturday, October 12, 2013 12:22 AM

Fresh off the heels of a visit by negociante Jeanne-Marie De Champs, TWH staff is abuzz with recent memories of tasting Burgundy. That’s right, Burgundy. Red and white. We get excited about stuff like this because Jeanne-Marie doesn’t visit often. Make that often enough. At the end of the day, when we divvy up the samples, it’s always refreshing knowing that even if one doesn’t have the first or second pick, there will still be Burgundy on the dinner table that night. Yesterday was one of those rare days when all of us were here in the shop (maybe we were all secretly thinking that there would be more Burgundy to taste) and the post-Burgundy banter was constant. Stefan came up with an idea to feature a six bottle sampler, or one staff pick from each of us. As this idea was in its infancy, Chris immediately seized the opportunity to exclaim, “Bourgogne Blanc from Bouzereau. That’s my pick.” Truth be told, that is everyone’s pick. The generic moniker “Bourgogne” says little about what is inside a bottle of 2011 Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils Bourgogne Blanc! 



It has been reported here a few times that Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils is located in Meursault. David had been tasting (now) winemaker Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau’s wines for several vintages before finally pulling the trigger on the entire line from the 2008 vintage. No doubt, Jean-Baptiste’s Premier Crus and village wines are special treats, but it’s his Bourgogne that has been consistently turning the heads and wagging the tails of our staff. The 2009 version was included in our Top Ten Wines of 2011! Every year it delivers and delivers, yet doesn’t take and take from your wallet. Chris declared it his staff pick most likely because he thought if he didn’t speak up at that moment, someone else would attach their name to the 2011 Bourgogne Blanc. I once overheard a well seasoned wine professional say to another that Chris’ palate “is on par with the upper half of San Francisco somms.” Ultimately, because it is everyone’s pick, nobody got to put their name on it, and the inspiration for this write-up was born.


So here we were; the work day was nearing an end, and there was Jeanne-Marie and 10 or so open bottles. While tasting through the range, Jeanne-Marie regaled us with information about the producers, the vineyards, and vintages. In regard to the Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc, Jeanne-Marie informed us that the fruit came from vineyards in and around Meursault. This caused Anya to speak up. “When I taste this wine, I feel like I’m tasting a secret. Seriously, it says ‘Bourgogne’, but it tastes like something more fancy. Dare I say like Meursault?” To reiterate, for a Bourgogne, this IS fancy. It shows dazzling aromas of citrus blossom, mineral, and just a hint of spice. The palate is fresh and vibrant, with lively acidity propping up the complex flavor profile. All this is delivered home with a long, crisp finish; citrus, minerals, and spice.

Allen Meadows of Burghound had this to say, “An exceptionally fresh and pretty nose features notes of fennel, white flowers and citrus. There is a fine sense of energy and detail to the delicious middle weight flavors that possess good cut and fine drive on the saline-infused finish. This is an excellent example of the appellation that could be enjoyed now or aged for a few years to good effect. One to buy by the case.”

So it was Burgundy that was in the air this week here at TWH. We haven’t forgotten about our petits chateau or “value Bordeaux” selections. In fact, a little birdie tells me you will be hearing about another one soon. In the mean time, if you love Chardonnay, yet find Village White Burgundy too pricey, you owe it to yourself to give the 2011 Bourgogne Blanc from Domaine Michel Bouzereau a shot. What, with crab season on the horizon, this wine is a no brainer. We bought a good chunk of it from 2011, so it’s not going to sell out this week, but don’t wait too long, because it will. It always does. – Peter Zavialoff

* Above photo of Jeanne-Marie and Jean Baptiste from University Wines (

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