Our Longtime Pals In The Loire - The Barbous

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 4:31 PM

Our Longtime Pals In The Loire - The Barbous

A lot has changed since 1995,

but one thing hasn't changed: TWH continues to offer the wines from Véronique and Dominique Barbou's Domaine des Corbillières. That's a long time, though there are several good reasons this relationship has lasted as long as it has - good people, good growers, fine wines, and sensible pricing. They make several cuvées, including a sparkler; though we traditionally carry their Touraine Sauvignon (Blanc), Touraine Les Demoiselles (Rouge), and Rosé.

The domaine was purchased by Dominique's great-grandfather Fabel in 1923, and the current duo in charge represent the fourth generation making the wines in Touraine, right in the heart of the Loire Valley. Rumor has it that is was Fabel who first planted Sauvignon Blanc in Touraine by planting one vine and noticing how well it took to the terroir! The rest, as they say, is history.

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2009 Domaine des Corbillieres “Les Demoiselles”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 8:21 PM


12-11-11 … or is it 11-12-11? That would be the European way, and seeing that I was there a week ago, I’m still a little confused. Yes, I got to see the Blues play a home match, and hopefully brought them some good luck for the remainder of the season. Stopped over in Paris to visit Virginie and Carsten (the chef). Let’s just say that both Carsten and I worked that day as some great food and wine were served. It’s been a bit of a blur since I returned, and just like that, I’ve landed in the middle of party season.So for tonight, I’m going to the home of some relatively new friends with whom I first bonded over a bottle of 2006 La Croix de Gay (which was stunning, btw). Last time I visited them, they had 2 chefs visiting from Zurich and a swath of scrumptious wines from all over the world. As a beverage industry professional, I feel it necessary to represent by bringing over something outstanding, of course, yet something a little different. Genius! A Lorie Valley red blend, that’s the ticket. How about our2009 Touraine Les Demoiselles from Domaine des Corbillières?


As we taste through the wines, it’s becoming pretty clear that 2009 was good to all the vignerons of France. It sure was a great vintage in Bordeaux.The Rhône Valley, both north and south, cranked out some great wines. We’ve been raving about the Cru Beaujolais, and it seems that the Loire Valley benefited too! Speaking of the Loire, we’ve been carrying the wines from Dominique Barbou’s Domaine des Corbillières for over a decade and a half. This year, we’re carrying something new from them, their Les Demoisellescuvée. Made from 40% Pinot Noir and 30% each Côt (Malbec) and Cabernet Franc, it’s a complex little quaffer! Toss in the perfect weather that 2009 seemed to bring to the entire country, and you’ve got a winner. The aromas are of dense cassis, tobacco leaf, and cracked pepper. On the palate, the fruit really jumps out and widens. Held together by excellent structure, its complexity can be pondered long after the wine is consumed. It’s got great weight, a juicy mouthfeel, and a very reasonable price tag. Yep, this is another representative of the 2009 vintage. Oh yeah, as December Wine Of The Month, it discounts 20% on full case purchases!

So yes, we all will be hearing about, and hopefully tasting French wines from 2009 for years to come. Look out for an email in the not-too-distant future about 2009 Bordeaux. The wines have just recently been bottled and have been out on the road in Europe and Asia (to huge praise). The tour is scheduled to hit California in late January.

It’s off to my first party of the season tonight, representing TWH with a bottle of 2009 Domaine des Corbillières Les Demoiselles. Not too festive, as I will be here in the shop today (Sunday) from 12 noon until 4 PM. Off Monday though, and we’ll see about whether or not my visit to Chelsea left any good luck for the club as they tackle league leading, undefeated Manchester City at noon our time. Mad Dog In The Fog anyone? – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about wine or football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net


Happy Independence Day!
Whew, now that we finally got our normal weather pattern back, it’s time to relax and enjoy the summer. It’s lovely that when the days grow warm and daylight hours are long, we take our feet off the gas, relax, and take it easy. I’m very much enjoying today’s exercise: I’m reliving memorable moments from summers long past.Yes, I will weave in the 2009 Touraine Blanc Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine des Corbillieres eventually, but let’s take a look back. I guess welearn to love summer quickly in life. Warm days, right? No school? That works. My best friend says I remember more about my childhood than is healthy for a human being. Playing with my friends on 46th Ave, walking up Pacheco to West Sunset Playground, jumping in the car heading to Concord to visit the Grandparents; all great early summer memories for me. It did not go unnoticed, nor unremembered, that every time I went to visit my Grandparents, when lunch was served, along with their bounty of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, there was always wine at the table!



Starting in childhood and continuing for around 20 years, my summers revolved around baseball. It sure didn’t seem like a waste of time back then, but yeah, I should have gone water-skiing with Nicole and Judi instead of going to see the Braves. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of good summer memories involving baseball. Sleeping in my rented car in Cooperstown the night before Willie McCovey’s Hall Of Fame induction, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with lunch in Toronto before a game, or the time former Giants announcer Hank Greenwald decided to share an hour of his time with me to talk about, er, everything, were allsweet memories of summers past. Did I say Sauvignon Blanc? Wow! I have loved that wine in the summertime for quite a while now. It is just so refreshing. The pronounced aromatics, the delightful snappy acidity,and crisp finish are oh-so welcome when the mercury moves up the thermometer.The thing about Sauvignon Blanc, though, is the wide variety of styles. From Bordeaux to New Zealand to California to the Loire Valley, you’ll find different styles and flavors from each region’s presentation of this illustrious grape. Let’s focus on the latter here. Sancerre and Pouilly Fume carry the torch for the most famous (and pricey) Sauv Blancs from the Loire, but planting is more widely dispersed than that. A little west of the famous duo is the city of Tours and the Touraine appellation. We have been the exclusive California distributor of the Touraine wines from Domaine des Corbillieres for over 15 years now, and we are proud to be. The 2009 Touraine Blanc will be my summer white wine for 2010! It has a clean aroma with hints of mineral and lemon peel; enters the palate with a crispness that reveals a perfect balance of fruit, herbs, mineral, and lively acidity.This is serious summer juice here. And as much as I like to expound upon the virtues of White Bordeaux, I just find this wine irresistible! Not only does it hit the cover off the ball when it comes to quality, it does so at a price under 15 bucks!



What a fun exercise. I highly recommend you all try it. Just go back in time and remember all the fun things you’ve done in the summertime; and remember all the people you’ve shared these great times with; and maybe, the great wines you’ve had along the way. All the trips, great people, great music, great food, great wines, great times. So yeah, I’m going to keep on going here: Chateau Margaux at the “finest table in Rome”, Schloss Matzen and Blaufrankisch, Gruaud Larose at Quaglino’s, watching that white Lab bathe in a Parisian Fountain, playing ‘The Metro Game’ in Moscow, Rose in the south of France, and Chelsea-Wilco-Wilco-Chelsea in a week last year. Good times. The beauty of it, though, is there will be more. Like this summer, for instance. There will certainly be more to remember! Hopefully, the memories will be good ones. As long as I’m stocked up on the 2009 Touraine Blanc from Domaine des Corbillieres, I’m off to a good start!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments regarding the Outer Sunset, Sauvignon Blanc, the Metro Game, or footy: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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A Rosé Like No Other

Thursday, May 14, 2009 2:16 PM

I’ve been on a Wine House high. Last weekend I participated in an event at Golden Gate Meat Company that introduced their new line of grass fed beef to Bay Area chefs. I poured a few of our wines, and the positive response was nothing short of overwhelming. And then on Wednesday night, I joined David Netzer, store manager and the force behind the Wine House, along with Diane de Puymorin, winemaker for Chateau d’Or et des Gueules and Domaine de la Petite Cassagne, and 16 other wine lovers for a fabulous winemaker dinner at Nopa-more on that later! There is great stuff happening here and it all begins with the wine.


So, I am getting ready to write this email when it occurs to me that I should check my customer “want list” because I recall someone asking to be contacted when the 2008 Rosé Touraine from Domaine des Corbillieres finally arrives. Sure enough there was someone, so I call this customer. She politely tells me “thank you for the call, but I checked with the store earlier this week, was told it just arrived, and I bought some already”. This type of passion and zeal for a wine is usually reserved for high end Napa cabernets or high-scoring Bordeaux and Burgundy, not rosé.But alas this is no ordinary rosé, but a most delicate, nuanced, ethereal rosé from the Loire Valley. Unlike the rosés of sunny southern France, the Touraine rosé from Domaine de Corbillieres is ever so slightly pink and not at all a full frontal attack of fruit. No, this rosé is fresh and zesty on the palate with understated flavors of ripe peach and strawberry, lots of lift and snappy fruit flavors and a dry finish. Stick your nose in the glass and you could swear you were picking strawberries out in the garden.And then there is the color, oh how exquisite and sublime, like the thinnest, sheerest slice of fresh caught salmon imaginable. I was inspired to take out my Benjamin Moore color wheel. I have the color pegged somewhere between Bermuda pink and Sanibel peach. The Touraine Rosé from Domaine des Corbillieres, year after year, sells out the quickest of all our rosés. It has been my experience that those who normally shy away from rosé, gravitate and delight in the delicacy of this wine. I recently opened a bottle to serve with a pork tenderloin that I marinated in a combination of every single Asian condiment I could find in my fridge and pantry. It worked beautifully, however I think that the piece de resistancewould be a match up with salmon, or some other meaty fish.

This week my daughter was down for the count with the flu. At any given time, I was used as a pillow, blanket and, my personal favorite, a tissue. As I tried to comfort this fever-ridden child, I could not help but get teary eyed as I thought how happy I was to be her mother. Maybe I am the sick one here. This Mother’s Day I will still be working, as my husband and I have an annual brunch celebrating our biological and spiritual mothers. To all you Mothers out there, I salute you! Anya Balistreri

Wedding Reenactment Wine

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 11:20 PM

Did I promise, around a month ago, that I wouldn’t write any more about my wedding/bachelor party/honeymoon? If I did, it looks like I’m a liar, but I think it was one of my New Year’s resolutions to stop looking like I’m lying, so that should be fixed soon. My wife and I told everyone at our reception that next year we were going to have a wedding reenactment. It would be exactly the same, except bigger with more people. It was one of those things we said when we didn’t know what to say, and it was really funny. Though not everyone laughed. Like my aunt who did the reception flowers.

Why in the world am I telling you this? We just got our second (and final) shipment of the 2005 Touraine Rouge from Domaine des Corbillières which, as you may remember, was my wedding red. I must say it worked quite well. Everyone loved it, and it was flexible across the meal, just like I’d hoped. I’ve posted my original write-up below, but I have a few new things to say about this Cabernet Franc from that beautiful vintage. One of my proud wedding planning moments was that I purposefully and successfully over-ordered the wines. We had a budget, and since this was so well-priced, I was able to order more than anyone could possibly drink at the wedding. Especially with the open bar. I even asked my co-workers to try to focus their imbibing on the liquor and beer, so that there would be wine left over. And there was. Excellent. I’m happy to report that for the past two months this has been our house red. We’ve done a lot of entertaining lately, and it has come in very handy. Plus we used some as gifts, took it to Christmas in Dallas, and have enjoyed it whenever we so pleased. Which is good, because I don’t think I got more than a sip at the wedding. I put down and lost track of more drinks that night than I probably have in my life. The wine has been everything I thought and wanted it to be. It smells great, it has that soft warm-fruited charm that makes friends wherever it goes, and it has acidity and structure to keep it lively. I’m glad we (The Wine House) ordered more, because we (the Jordans) sprinted through those cases this holiday season.

One warning. Because we had such a good response on the first shipment from our retail customers, we didn’t really present it to restaurants or retailers. Part of the reasoning for the second shipment was to give our wholesale folks a crack at it. If a buyer runs with this, it will be as good as gone.

It is not my practice to repeat wines in these emails, but this one is a little treasure of a find, and now that I have spent so much time with it, I feel I need to remind everyone how good/versatile this wine is. Plus I have to note towards the end of my last batch, the wine was starting to show promising bottle development. It’s still too young to claim significant bottle age, but my extrapolations tell me to put some of this away. Not forever, but long enough to have a little fun. Those of you who have had this and enjoyed it, I recommend you get seconds (or thirds, fourths) while you can, and those who missed it last time should see what this vintage does for our “everyday” wines. $11.46 a bottle? The Euro hasn’t bested us yet. – Ben Jordan

Original Email From Last Year

As I’ve mentioned in previous emails, I’m getting married soon. I’m lucky to be engaged to a woman who is very much on top of things and has allowed me to take on relatively few responsibilities. Which is important because if I don’t practice my banjo every day, Chris and Peter are never going to want to play with me. It’s also in her best interest as I can be a klutz at planning beautiful ceremonies. Intelligent woman that she is, she has been very careful in her delegation.You know where this is going, don’t you? I am in charge of the booze. High Five! At first I was excited, daydreaming: I’ll serve amazing wine at the wedding and people will whisper, “This is delightful. You can tell he’s in the wine business. How romantic!” People will remember this as the wedding where the wine was wonderful. They’ll say, “Remember that wedding with the wine? That was delightful.” Then I started getting nervous. How can I possibly please everyone? So many tastes, and we’re serving 3 different entrees, and my reputation depends on this. Don’t panic. I’ll just have 10 different wines to choose from. Then I started getting real. You can’t have a wine list at your wedding. One red. One white. That’s it. But make sure they’re great. Then I remembered money. Weddings in San Francisco are expensive, and since I’d like to avoid looking for a cheaper apartment on our honeymoon, I can’t spend all of our money on wine. I can’t spend all of our money on wine. I can’t spend all of our money on wine. I ran this by my fiancée, and she confirmed: I can’t spend all of our money on wine. For months I was pre-occupied by finding the magical, mystical wine that everyone will love, that will pair with our menu, that will fit our budget, and most importantly that will make us famous as the wedding that served the most delicious wine ever.

I found it, and would you believe it’s Loire Valley Cabernet Franc? Yes, because it’s 2005. They simply put “Cabernet” on the label as Franc is the only Cabernet of any significance in the Loire. We offered a wine from this region/vintage/variety last month, and while both show the success of the vintage, this one is cut from different cloth. The Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny is good now, but really wants more time in the bottle. This Touraine, the wedding wine, will certainly age, but it’s delicious now (see my tasting notes below), and avoiding a wine, when it is drinking so well is self-restraint I rarely practice.

So back to important life decisions. I said to myself, “Ben, this is an important life decision, this is your wedding wine, what do you know about this Touraine Rouge?” “Well,” I responded. “You tasted it in France, and you loved it. We ordered quite a bit of it because David and John liked it a lot. You tasted it when it landed in California, and you loved it again. That lady bought a case for a dinner party, and the next day the guests came back and bought five more. That guy with the underground restaurant poured it, and the diners tracked us down to buy it by the case. You recommend it and people always come back for more. What more do you want for your wedding? People love it, and it’s a fraction of the price of other options. And another thing. You’ve been drinking quite a lot of it. ”

And that was it, I had my wine. It’s perfect. It smells nice: Ripe yet still floral as it should be. The fruit is rich, but not heavy, no oak, and it is incredibly easy to drink. It’ll do chicken, it’ll do lamb, and it’ll do just fine by itself. It’s one of those wines you look for to purchase in quantity, as it works with just about anything, and it pleases just about everybody. It’s one of those wines that cost $10.70 per bottle if you buy a case, and therefore it’s one of those wines that is hard to come by in this day and age. Anybody ahead of the game enough to stock up for the holidays? If not, I’d recommend you stock up for now. And later. Do you own 2005 Couronneau? This’ll help you stay away from that. Personally, I hope that my wedding guests get into a tequila shooting contest, thereby distracting them from the wine so we have some of this left over. My fiancée does not agree about the tequila, but she would love to have some left over. Tasting notes follow. – Ben Jordan

Tasting Notes

Tasted 3 ways. In my effort to always be professional and objective, I tasted this under many different circumstances. Here are three.

1. Apartment temperature: There’s so much fruit here, it’s just plain delicious. There’s that violet, floral quality in the nose, but once I get it in my mouth all I can think about is the plush red fruit. Just a touch of herbs in the finish adds complexity. No wonder I drink this so often.

2. Slightly chilled. Wow. Also delicious. This tempers the fruit a bit and allows more nuance to show through. The floral, Loire character shows itself a little more now. The fact that you can change the temperature just makes the wine more flexible. I’m taking some of this to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in GG Park. When are they going to announce the lineup, anyway?

3. Cold, like white wine. This was an accident. I meant to chill it just a touch so I could write the previous tasting notes, but I forgot about it and left it overnight. I don’t usually recommend drinking red wine at this temperature as it can bury the fruit and accentuate the tannin. But you know what? It has so much fruit, those tannins don’t stand a chance. This wine is good cold! You might find it a little weird to taste red wine this cold, so you’re probably best served at room temp or slightly chilled, but if you accidentally over-chill, and you’re impatient, your first glass will be just fine.

P.S. To my soon to be wife who wishes to remain unnamed: I know that wine is not the most important part of our wedding. I’m trying to be funny, while also representing my excitement for the wine. I also know that you already know this, but I thought it might also be fun to send a postscript to you. I’ll drink anything as long as you are there to drink it with me. Even that grocery store swill they were trying to sell us with the catering package. It’s cool though, we don’t have to drink that swill, because I found this great wine from the Loire Valley! (See above.)

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