August 2011 Dirty Dozen

Monday, August 8, 2011 6:01 PM

Summertime and the livin’ is easy … At least for a few more weeks. But we’ll take what we can get! The naked ladies are out (Belladonna Lilies, silly!), the peaches are perfect, and you’ve got nothing to do but sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the summer season with your latest Dirty Dozen. Life really doesn’t get any better than this, does it? From Greece to Gascogne, Cali to the Cotes du Rhone, the DD’s got it all going this month. Aloha August and bon santé!


2010 Rosé “l’Instant”, Domaine Fondreche – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Every year this Rosé from Ventoux flies off our shelves as those searching for the “palest Rosé you have” have found what they’re looking for in Sebastien Vincenti’s l’Instant. It’s made from 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, and 20% Grenache, and when you get a load of its crisp herbal profile, if you close your eyes, you can magically transport yourself to the south of France. Goes great with Salmon.

2010 Domaine de Pouy – $9.49, $7.59 reorder
One of the original components of the very first DD, this blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard from the Gascogne region in southwestern France has been pleasing TWH customers for over a decade. One would be hard pressed to find a better value in a white wine. It’s bright, it’s crisp, it has hints of citrus, and get this, it comes in at a mere 11.5% alcohol. Screwcap makes it great for picnics.

2009 Macon “les Tilles”, J.M. Chaland – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Get the white tablecloth, we’re dressing up the Dozen this month with a taste of White Burgundy! That’s right, David tasted Jean-Marie Chaland’s wines the last time he was in France and loved them enough to direct import them. Chaland’s Macon “les Tilles” is pure Chardonnay with no oak interference. It’s bright and precise, and it’s single and on the prowl. Perhaps we should set it up with a lobster?

2010 Roditis-Moscofilero, Skouras – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Not exactly household names here in California, Roditis and Moscofilero come from a land where winemaking has been going on for millennia, Greece. The bright and lean profile of the Roditis balance the floral Moscofilero and together they shine. Let’s see… a hot August night, a bottle of cool crisp Skouras white, some mesquite grilled trout and the company of your choosing… perfect.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Crave – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
We’re not allowed to divulge our source for the Crave Sauvignon Blanc, but let’s just say this is a huuuge domestic value! It’s made by a well-known producer whose estate wines sell for at least twice as much. It has a rich citrus profile and a hint of herb garden.

2010 Gavi, Ernesto Picollo – $10.49 net price, $8.39 reorder
Speaking of values, just off the boat is the newest vintage of Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi! He’s got a couple of fancier, more serious bottlings, but for the sake of value, you cannot beat the Gavi DOCG. Fleshy fruit and minerals dominate the aromatic profile, the wine has great weight and freshness on the palate and the finish is clean and crisp. This is the wine to pour with that halibut crudo.

2007 Touraine Cabernet, Domaine des Corbillieres – $14.99 net price, $11.99 reorder
Loire Valley Cabernet Franc that is. We’re proud to say we’ve been selling Dominique Barbou’s Domaine des Corbillieres wines for over 15 years and still feel like we’re in the honeymoon phase! Violets and rose petals on the nose, vibrant mineral snap on the finish, and a gentle touch of dried herbs. Sooo pretty and versatile, we bet you’ll be smitten too.

2009 Ecuyer de Château Couronneau – $12.79, $10.23 reorder
We love this wine for so many reasons, not the least of which is its ability to show off the impressive quality & structure of the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux without needing 25+ years of cellaring to open up. Rearing and ready to drink, this Merlot is rich, full of character, and as an Agricole Biologique certified wine, the Ecuyer is good for your belly and the environment- Score!

2009 Cotes du Rhone, Domaine de la Guicharde – $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Mostly Grenache, this peppery red is medium-bodied, has hints of black olive and flavors of juicy wild plum. Versatile and bursting with fruit, try pairing it with lamb kebabs and a tian of aubergine. A stunning value from a great vintage!

NV Owl House Red – $7.48 net price, $6.73 reorder
What a marvelous go-to red for your next pizza party! This inventive blend of several red varieties has a good smattering of Counoise, a little known grape that is an integral, though small, component for the famed Chateau de Beaucastel’s Chateauneuf du Pape. It is supple and juicy, low on tannins and high on the yum meter!

2009 Petite Sirah, Shannon Ridge – $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Prepare your teeth whitening strips cause this is one massive, chewy Petite Sirah from an undervalued, yet overachieving region of California, Lake County. Fermented in steel and aged in French and American oak, this wine is truly bang-for-your-buck goodness. Pair with your favorite bbq or grill specialty. Meaty baby-back ribs perhaps? Oh yeah!

2009 Veritable Quandry Red, Odisea – $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, Alvarelhao (huh?), its all in there and then some. Winemaker Adam Webb has masterfully crafted a velvety, jammy red that wallops a punch of flavor and intensity. Serving suggestions include paella, chicken under a brick or a grilled portabello mushroom burger with a smear of goat cheese. A best-seller from California!

2009 Picollo Ernersto Gavi DOCG

Thursday, March 10, 2011 7:33 PM

Happy Mardi Gras, everybody! We’ve been grooving to Cajun sounds all day here at TWH, and we’ve definitely caught the New Orleans vibe. Mmmm, New Orleans. Fond memories; I greatly improved my standing in the eyes of The Big Easy the last time I was there. Anyways, there’s all this talk of beads and crayfish and zydeco and oyster po’boys! Dinner time’s coming on, and we’ve got four TWH empoyees’ tummys a’rumblin.

 

So yes, Cajun fried chicken, red beans and rice, or Jambalaya; we can go in many directions with this theme. Is there a wine that can go with all those options? I’d like to think so. My colleagues are not going to be very happy with me after they read this, because everybody here loves this wine! Emily took it “out for a date”, and wrote about it recently. Take into consideration its versatility, sense of place, complexity and price, and the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi is the best white wine deal currently in the house! Yup, the best.

This is the second vintage of Picollo Ernesto’s Gavi we’ve imported, and I have to say, it won’t be the last. Hints of lemon blossoms and that vitamin-like mineral waft from the glass; the palate is fresh and crisp with a soft, mouth-coating fruitiness that is balanced by vibrant acidity; the finish is in full harmony with the fruit and mineral bonking each other on the head as they gleefully fade away.

Yes, once again Happy Mardi Gras! Whether you’re chowing down something that reminds you of New Orleans, something Cajun, or anything really, don’t miss out on the 2009 Picollo Ernesto Gavi DOCG.Peter Zavialoff

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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

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