Mon Amour

Sunday, February 14, 2010 6:33 PM

Alright fellas, here’s the dish …. and I don’t mean dinner.  On second thought, that is kind of what I mean.  I’m talking about the dish on Valentine’s Day, and even though Anya did a stellar write-up of one of the most importantcomponents of what should be your Valentine’s Day equation (aka bubbly), I feel this “holiday” warrants some more attention, even if it is a wee bit belated.  After all, isn’t that what Feb 14th is all about, giving and receiving attention?  Furthermore, I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that, aside from the bubbly,you may need a little extra help in the romance department.  Now now, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m sure you’re a regular Casanova when you want to be.  However, as a lady-being, I’ve noticed that even the best romantic intentions are sometimes, well, just way off.  Case in point, my last boyfriend decided that a great way to celebrate my birthday (a milestone birthday no less) would be to take me camping in the middle of nowhere, get sunburned, cook me corndogs, and teach me how to use a folding chair in such a way as to facilitate nature’s call.  Sorry, TMI!!  My point is that, A) I’m a total sissy city girl and B) As cliché as it may be, when it comes to romance, wining and dining (um, like in a dining room with a table, chairs, and candles) is still one of the best ways to woo that special someone in your life.  Of course, once the wheels are set in motion they don’t just keep rolling themselves.  You gotta keep that vino flowing!  So what ELSE are you going to have on hand once you get through those 4-5 bottles of Lamiable Brut Rosé?  Well, I’m going to speak for all lovers (because I’m the one writing, dangit) and recommend one of the sassiest, spiciest, dare-I-say sexiest wines on the planet….Which is pretty much anything with a hefty dose of Grenache.  Oh Grenache!! How I love thee… let me count the ways.  I’m not kidding, if I could (and my lawyer friend in L.A. seems to think I can… Gotta love California), I would marry Grenache.  Although, if you’re like most people, you’d probably just assume drink it.  As such, you have a multitude of fantastic options, none of which are mutually exclusive.  So stop waiting for Cupid to take care of your romantic needs, and instead, head down to TWH and check out some of my favorite Grenache-based wines.


2006 Domaine de Gournier Grenache Noir– This 100% Grenache cuvee contains fruit that is all hand-harvested and vinified in stainless steel tanks to focus on the freshness and purity of the Grenache, which means spicy, juicy, gorgeous red fruit.  And at less than $7 per bottle, it’s cheap, easy, and a hit at parties (er, private parties if ya get my drift).  It’s the “Real Housewives” of wine and who doesn’t love that?!

2005 Domaine de Fondreche Cotes du Ventoux O’Sud- I cannot emphasize enough how much I HEART this producer.  Everything he makes gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and the O’Sud is no exception.  Sébastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is without a doubt the leader in quality in this southern Rhône appellation.  The quality of this 65% Grenache, 35% Syrah blend comes from the 30+ year old vines and the ridiculously meticulous hand-picking and sorting action going on in the vineyard.  Straight up L-O-V-E in a bottle.

2007 T-Vine Cellars Napa Valley Grenache- A self-proclaimed “seeker of stillness” winemaker Greg Brown has certainly managed to achieve anything BUT as he shakes things up in Napa.  Maybe that’s part of his Buddha-like M.O. though… i.e. Shake and you shall receive stillness?  Whatever it is he’s doing, he’s doing it right.  This is perhaps the best Grenache ever produced in California, dripping with raspberry and strawberry in the mouth, a hint of candied fruit on the nose, and a warm licorice spice on the finish.  This wine reminds me of a really good first kiss…. it just makes you smile.

No discussion on Grenache would be complete without mentioning Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  That said, there are two producers that are pretty much always on my mind.  The first is Domaine Font de Michelle.  Aside from my personal affinity for these wines, their 2005 CNP was recently given major accolades in Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, where he so eloquently describes how the “Sexy Asian spices and incense complement fresh strawberry and raspberry preserves on the nose” and the “luscious, alluringly sweet red berry flavors offer liqueur-like intensity but are firmed by juicy minerality….Very suave.”  Who knew Stephen was such a romantic?  Is he single?!

The other, and in no way inferior, CNPs that I love are none other than those ofAndré Brunel.  For the sake of consistency, his 2005 CNP is a terrific example of super-ripe, old-vine Grenache displaying characteristics of cherries and blackberries alongside classic Provençal spices and herbs. Like all of André’s wines, it is supple, open in style, and shows profound complexity.  Le sigh…..

2007 Domaine Mas Lavail Maury Rouge Late Harvest Grenache– Hailing from one of the warmest and driest grape-growing regions on the planet, this 100% Grenache dessert wine in half bottle will give any Port a run for its money.  This wine oozes red fruit, ages well, and releases every combination of cocoa imaginable.  Have it with everything from duck & cranberry sauce to blue cheese, or even a good cigar… But it is at its best with desserts containing fruits or chocolate.  I don’t speak Spanish, but in this heavily Catalan-influenced region of France, I think they’d say this wine is “Muy Delicioso”!

-Emily Crichton

Halve at ’em

Thursday, January 14, 2010 6:53 AM


I bet you had a strange feeling all week that there was something special going on but you couldn’t quite pinpoint it, could you?  Ok sure, Monday was the birthday of both Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern (irony anyone?), today was Make Your Dreams Come True Day, and Friday the beloved Bucks will be making anappearance at Oracle Arena.  However, there is something else of note….Something near and dear to my heart.  Yesterday happened to be my half birthday.  That’s right, I’m (cough, garble, mumble something) and a half years old, which makes me a less-than-thrilled-to-be-aging Cancer.  However, instead of moping about this inevitability, I am choosing to celebrate it.  As such, I have made this week all about halves (or half of this week really, since Monday wasPicco night and last night I was recovering from Picco night).  So, I signed up for a half marathon, I incorporated half-moon pose into my yoga practice, I wore my hair in a half ponytail, bought half and half for my coffee, and have only been wearing clothes on the upper half of my body (just kidding!).  Of course, as a wine geek, I also thought it rather apt to open some half bottles of wine, and in doing so, I’ve started a new tradition.

In keeping with the theme, I half-arsed my dinner tonight and ordered take-out from one of my fave little neighborhood Thai joints.  Certainly a delicious way to celebrate getting older and a fine excuse to open a half bottle, which I rarely do these days.  I don’t know why I don’t drink more half bottles.  To say nothing of how practical they are they’re also just kind of cute.  In fact, I’d like to suggest that we all drink more half bottles.  It shouldn’t be difficult seeing as how most notable wine lists have a half bottle section or allow you to BYO(h)B, and on the retail end, TWH has a plethora of fantastic half bottles from which to choose.  Now what was I saying…. Oh right, the goods.

Well, I ordered the spicy green curry with prawns, so I knew I’d need something delicate enough for seafood, round enough for curry, and something to fight the heat.  I also figured Ishould practice what Ipreach…. No brainer = Alsatian Riesling.  So, I picked up a half bottle of the 2006 Ehrhart Herrenweg Riesling.  Fun facts: The Ehrhart family’s winemaking history dates back to 1725 (how many half birthdays is that!?).  They committed themselves to organic farming two generations ago and the wines are currently all certified organic.  They also have a reputation for making outstanding wines that are at once elegant and age-worthy yet have incredibly refreshing minerality and fruit.  That pretty much sums up my opinion as well, but I will elaborate for all you faithful readers out there.

At first whiff, which came to me before I put the glass anywhere near my nose, the pear and green apple notes really stood out.  As I swirled and sat, the mineral components, honeysuckle, apricot, and other exotic fruits & floral notes started to jump out more.  On the palate, I was pleasantly surprised by how much lemon and minerality came through.  It still had a hint of residual sugar, but not as much as I expected.  Although, at 12.5% alcohol, I suppose that makes sense.  Still, the acidity and sugar were nicely balanced- not too sweet, not too racy.  It was also rich enough for the curry, but again, not too unctuous.  Not half bad!  In the end, the only thing that was not in any way a “half” was my belly.  That was quite full.

At some point before my half-birthday week is up, I’d like to hit Swan’s Oyster Depot or Hog Island Oyster Bar for oysters on the half shell because I’ve got a half bottle of 2007 Domaine des Buissonnes Sancerre I’d like to crack open.  That is, unless someone can suggest a better place for oysters in Half Moon Bay….

Emily Crichton

Half Bottles, Giving Thanks, and Betterment

Monday, November 23, 2009 4:29 PM

Exciting news!!! The Wine House is now on Facebook. And if that’s not enough, you can also follow us on Twitter!!!



In an earlier Sunday email,I wrote something about shivering in November. I was right. My fingers feel like they’ve been forming snowballs. Thanksgiving is next week, and I am certain we all have things to do and people to share them with. Earlier today, I exchanged emails with our DJ pal Arden at KPIG radio, and she agreed with me that although it’s nice to get together with loved ones and celebrate Thanksgiving, conceptually, every day should be for giving thanks. I’m certainly thankful to have a friend like Arden who is a wealth of knowledge of all things musical and so much more, who plays a request for us almost every Saturday and gives us a shout over the airwaves. So there. Giving thanks. Every day. 

Something else I’ve been doing every day since sometime in late spring, is use the word “betterment”. It has made a world of difference in the way I feel each day. Better than any New Year’s resolution, my betterment campaign goes something like this: Whenever any decision needs to be made, I ask myself the question, “Is this for the betterment?” Somehow, this seems to be working. Some nights, I find myself alone in the treehouse cooking up something for dinner. But what to do regarding the wine? Opening a full bottle is not an acceptable practice if one is flying solo. As a charter member of the Betterment Society, I give thanks to the inventors of the half-bottle! Half bottles are an absolute boon to those who love wine. Even in groups, we can taste so much more and not have do deal with the excess. The betterment is not confined to what I am drinking either. Exercise and nutrition are part of the program as well, and for the latter, I routinely check out Summer Tomato. It is a blog run by a San Francisco Foodie, health enthusiast, wine loving scientist. Checking in there has been an inspiration that I am truly thankful for. Let’s just say that I never thought I would walk out of a farmers’ market with a bag of kale, let alone know how to prepare it. Don’t miss the recipes! Giving thanks.

Anyhoo. Back to the half bottle thing. We have a multitude of 375 ml bottles to choose from ranging from Sancerre, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Sauternes. I’m all over the map when it comes to these little beauties and enjoy them all. I’ll list a few of my favorites below.I can’t conclude without thanking you, our customers, for your continued patronage. We wouldn’t be here without you. It is always a pleasure helping you find those wines that put smiles on your faces. Many of you have been very complimentary regarding our write-ups, and I am always touched to hear your kind words. Giving thanks.Peter Zavialoff


Feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving, The Betterment Society, Half Bottles, The Upcoming Chelsea v Arsenal Match, or anything else:

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