Matchmaker Matchmaker Find Me a Wine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:38 PM

If there’s one thing that never gets old, it’s when the stars align and make good things happen.  Case in point, my return to TWH (and thus, blogging) has fallen over that holiday which is so near and dear to thine heart, Valentine’s Day.  Coincidence?  I don’t believe in coincidences…. But I do believe in cheesy holidays that capitalize on human emotions, and apparently, I like writing about them too because the last time I wrote anything about wine (publicly anyways) was last year around this time.  I must preface this post, however, by saying that while this is indeed a post inspired by Valentine’s Day and love and all that good stuff, it is NOT one of those posts where I tell you what to drink with your lover on V-day.  If it were, I would be extremely tardy and my words would fall into a black hole of post-holiday obsolescence.  Instead, I have decided to combine my love for wine with one of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If you haven’t seen the show, a purportedly “great catch” is given a pool of 30 or so eligible persons of the opposite sex from which to find the one with whom he/she will fall in love and spend the rest of his/her life.  Needless to say, it’s everything you’d think a Hollywood matchmaking television show would be, but hey, love works in strange ways, who am I to judge?  That said, I asked Pete (who would like it to be known that he has never seen the show) to choose six noteworthy wine suitors for me- 3 reds & 3 whites– and subsequently took each one of them out on a date in hopes of falling in love.  Am I going to kiss and tell?  You betchya!

Date 1: 2009 Picollo Ernesto GaviI really wanted the Gavi to be my first date.  Certainly, I’d heard good things about all of the wines in the bunch from everyone at TWH, but the Gavi seemed to be extremely high up on the list of “go-to” wines being recommended to customers at the store, so I was highly anticipating making its acquaintance.  With that in mind, I got to know Gavi while nibbling on a marinated mix of olives & peppers and French bread, followed by a lovely dinner of lemon & pesto grilled chicken on top of a mixed green salad with fresh parmesan, steamed veggies, and sun-dried tomato polenta.  This wine definitely lived up to its hype… beautiful nose of melon, honeyed lemon, slight tropical fruit, cut hay, and a touch of salty sea air.  The palate, while fresh and clean, had a very pleasantly surprising viscosity and roundness to it as well.  The fruit was more citrusy on the palate and that classic Italian minerality, herbs/white pepper was there too.  Overall, a fantastic date and I feel like Gavi and I will be the best of friends.  The white wine that I will feel more than confident taking to parties, pairing with a wide range of fare, or just drinking all by itself when the mood strikes.  It’s the kind of wine I want to have a lot of on hand.


Date 2: 2005 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum RougeThough it’s been a while, the ’05 Trassegum and I have met before, and I must say, I’ve always had a crush on it.  It’s a Rhone blend made predominantly from Syrah by one of my all-time favorite producers.  I let the bottle sit open & untouched for about half an hour while I made homemade valentines for loved ones and waited for lamb tandoori from Indian Palace.  When I finally poured myself a glass, the wine was a little tight, but I was still able to discern the nose of charcoaled meat, leather (both sweet & dirty), violets (omigosh, the violets!), dark fruit, a hint of anise and Provençal herbs.  It was juicy and balanced on the palate, but again, needed a little time to unwind.  About an hour later, I noted red fruit coming through more and….mmmm, forest floor.  Later yet, the sweet spices started to shine- cinnamon, vanilla, cassis, spicy raspberry and plums- it just kept getting prettier and more layered.  Oh my, I thought to myself, It’s seducing me, I can feel it! I’d describe the mouth-feel as silky and elegant, but with density and muscle at the same time. Moments later my food arrived. I don’t know if lamb tandoori was the pinnacle of food pairings for this, but sometimes I think the best pairings are whatever you’re in the mood to eat paired with whatever you’re in the mood to drink. Which is exactly what this was… and it was heavenly.


Date 3: 2009 Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Blanc & 2008 Enrico Pierazzuoli Carmignano Le Farnete For the next outing, I grabbed some gal pals and headed down to Sapore Italiano in Burlingame for some fabulous Italian cuisine.  We sipped (ok, gulped) the Couronneau while partaking in the Antipasto delle due Sicillie- an assorted plate of meats, cheeses, olives, grilled veggies, and bruschetta.  Oh we are off to a GREAT start!  Almost a little too good, in fact.  We guzzled the Couronneau and moved on to the Carmignano so fast I felt as if I didn’t give it its due time in the spotlight.  It’s like that person at a party you start flirting with but never really get a chance to talk to before they leave (luckily, I know where to find more).


That said, what I did experience of the Couronneau absolutely knocked my socks off.  The old world crushed rock minerality exploded off the nose, intermingling in perfect harmony with fresh citrus fruit and hints of white flower.  The fruit and minerality came thru on the palate with exquisite finesse along with a vibrant and long-lasting acidity.  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with when and how this wine was consumed, but I would love to try it again sometime with a mélange of seafood and longer timeframe.  In a nutshell, this wine out-drinks its price point by a LOT.  Moving onto the Carmignano, I think this might win “best friend” in the red category.  It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and while both varietals make their presence known, neither one overpowers the other.  Upon first whiff, I definitely noted the luscious ripe red and dark fruit first, which evolved into a combination of cherries, rose petals, red currants, cedar, and slight oak nuances.  The palate was more rustic than the nose would suggest, with dusty tannins that smooth out and a little mulchy sweetness to the fruit.  Overall, I found it to have an approachability that would please most any group and/or occasion.  I’d say it’s a solid notch and more above your average “pizza wine”, but that certainly didn’t stop me from ordering a whole pie for myself to go with it.

 Date 4: 2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie– Truth be told, I had actually had this bottle in my possession since Thanksgiving.  My initial intention was to share it with my T-day companions because what goes better with Thanksgiving dinner than Cru Beaujolais? But I got selfish and decided to keep it to myself for a later date (sorry gang).  I started out just sipping this sans sustenance, which was delightful.  Then I got hungry and having no patience for a trip to the grocery store, I pulled out some prosciutto, brie, crudités, small green salad, and a whole bunch of sweet potato fries (basically everything that looked yummy in my fridge).  All I have to say is that Cru Beaujolais- especially this one with its beautiful layers of wild strawberries, lavender, Provençal herbs, hint of minerality, and elegant yet juicy palate- is the arm candy of wine.  It is just oh so pretty and it goes with EVERYTHING.  If you’re one of those wine drinkers who still isn’t convinced that Beaujolais can be some of the most gorgeous and versatile wines on the planet, grab a bottle of this tout de suite.

 Date 5: 2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias BaixasFor my last, but no less anticipated, date I braved the rain and met up with a friend of mine for sushi and a bottle of the P&L Albarino.  In my opinion, sushi is comfort food and white wine can be just as cozy a companion as any red.  My notes on this wine were as such: “on the nose, very nice melon, green pear that opens up into more lush tropical fruit.  Noticeable leesiness, and oh, is that macadamia nut? Indeed! Yay! Slight creaminess through the mid-palate and awesome burst of acidity on the finish.  Sushi + P&L + rainy day = love.

The Verdict:  Pete, ya done good, I love them all but I love playing the field (or should I say vineyard) even more and I’m not ready to settle down with one wine just yet.  Being a bachelorette is much much too fun.  - Emily Crichton

Our Top 10 Wines of 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009 3:44 PM

The funniest things happen when we least expect them. I was awoken this morning at 3:46 AM. This happens occasionally, especially when I hit the hay early. It is at this time where one of two things can happen. Either I will fall back asleep immediately, or I’ll toss and turn for hours. When immediate sleep doesn’t happen, I’ve found a way to keep from dragging on too long. I count things. No, not sheep. I don’t know the origin of that one, but it’s dubious at best. This morning I counted my favorite wines that I’ve had this year. Well, I started counting, and all I remember next was waking up at 7:54 AM. Success! So much so, that I thought back as to how I made it back to sleep. Counting wine. How ingenious. While prepping breakfast, I began to think, “We all have had our favorites this year. The Wine House should come up with a list of our favorite 10 wines that passed through here in 2009.” I arrived only to find a 48 foot trailer jockeying for position at our loading dock. David was tied up trying to get that situated properly. Somehow, I got his attention, and said, “I had the greatest middle of the night thought, top 10 list for the year!” We’ve never done that before. He thought it was a great idea, and without further ado, presenting the first annual Wine House Top 10 Wines from 2009:(Please note: Some of these wines have sold out, but have earned the merit to be mentioned here anyway.)


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2007 Bourgogne Blanc – Paul Pernot

Okay, well here is a no brainer. Paul Pernot, no doubt, has a penchant for crafting some of the finest Chardonnays, respected the world over. His entry-level Bourgogne Blanc rings all of the bells required to be a super value! We import a great amount of this wine year after year, and it sells out. It’s that good. The 2007 was magnificent, but sadly, it’s gone. The 2008 promises to be yet another steal, and will be available to us in 2010, stay tuned for details. Here’s a link to Anya’s write-up of the 2007.


2007 Cotes du Ventoux – Domaine Fondreche

A protege of Rhone-master Andre Brunel, Sebastien Vincenti has been making wine for over 10 vintages! His expression of fruit and terroir have seduced fans of all things Rhone related ever since I started working at The Wine House. His top cuvee, Persia, has always been the darling of customers and critics alike. Think about all you’ve heard about the Rhone and 2007 … simply genius! Here’s a link to one of his, unfortunately, sold out 2007’s. Just know that this is his precious top of the line blend.
2007 Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux Rouge Cuvee Persia

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
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2008 Bordeaux Blanc – Chateau Couronneau

Okay, you had me at White Bordeaux. Sorry to say, the 2008 Couronneau Blanc has also sold out. It’s okay. We have a very good relationship with Christophe and Benedicte Piat who make some of the most amazing wines from their perch in the eastern chunk of Bordeaux. I, personally, loved this wine from moment one. So much, I put it in writing!


2006 Santenay – Chateau de la Maltroye

Okay, let me confess something here. When I started working at TWH, I thought I was well versed on French wine. I knew my Bordeaux, and Rhones … but Burgundy? That was a whole other animal. I now know that I prefer elegant red Burgs that show their terroir as well as those subtle nuances that Pinot Noir is able to express. I was compelled to chime in about it.

2006 Chateau de la Maltroye Santenay Rouge 1er La Comme

Red Wine; Pinot Noir; Burgundy;
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2007 Bianco, Arbe Garbe

Sometimes, it is a good thing to leave our schedules open for the serendipitous. Wow! This was one of the coolest California wines to cross our threshold this year. 2007 Bianco, Arbe Garbe.
2004 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon

Oh my, the hits keep coming! This is, and has been, one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons, to come from Alexander Valley for years. Its value (for $25, really) has put it over the top for all of us here at TWH. Tom’s a huge fan! Indulge! Oh yeah, here’s what Anya had to say about that.
2004 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Sonoma;
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Sparkling Vouvray

Festive times call for festive wines, right? Sparkling Vouvray, you might ask? Well, it’s not Champagne, but, it’ll stop right there. This fizz will tantalize you with its complexity! Chris will fight you for a bottle! Check it outhere!
NV Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray Brut

Sparkling; Chenin Blanc; Loire;
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The Bomb!

Sorry, there will be no Columbia Crest here in OUR top 10! Not taking anything away from them, they make a lot of wine that is long on quality and short on price. If you can get it at your local grocer, we, most likely will choose to go with others, This gem from Espana has everything we all love. As a matter of fact, our staff is in flux as to who gets to put their name on this one! Anya got to it first, so it’s hers. Emily loves it too, and without asking her permission, I believe this could very well be her choice for “Wine Of The Year. Here ya go!
2006 Dehesa de Rubiales Alaia Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon

Red Wine; Red Blend; Other Spain;
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Academy Award

Introducing our “Academy Award Wine”. You know how the “top flicks” sneak their way into the calendar year at the end of December? This is what we have here. 2007 needs no intoduction in the southern Rhone. We haven’t had time to write about this one because it, literally, just got here. It’s that good! And more. David was lucky enough to taste this one months ago, he told us about it, but now we know! For those of you who love the wines crafted by Diane Puymorin, this is as good as it gets. This will sell out. If you’ve loved her wines in previous vintages, you MUST check this out …
2007 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Select

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Languedoc-Roussillon;
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After all, it’s Bordeaux

Yes, I am biased. There will never be a top 10 list that does not include red Bordeaux. It’s that simple. It’s funny, 2006 as a vintage, does not get the proper respect that it deserves. These wines did not get the accolades that their 2005 predecessors did, but, you know what? In many cases, some Chateau were able to make wines of higher distinction in 2006. I have always loved Pichon Lalande, and I have a feeling I always will … a wine for dreams …– Peter Zavialoff
2006 Chateau Pichon Lalande Pauillac

Red Wine; Bordeaux Blend; Bordeaux;
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All of us here at The Wine House wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! We will be here to assist you all with any of your vinous needs, anytime!

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