What a crazy week! It all started last Saturday after we closed. I attended aKFC/Dom Perignon tasting. Yep. It was great. No, I don’t know why. It was a chaotic week in the 2010 Bordeaux Futures game, as several high-profile chateaux released their prices. It’s been very difficult keeping up, but look for something in your inbox soon. Vinexpo is going on in Bordeaux this week, so they’re going crazier than I, but not by much. Our upcoming Winemaker Dinner with Château Coutet is all-systems-go and reservations are now being accepted. And finally, we’re getting around to sampling some of the new



wines that recently arrived via container.

The thrill of the change of seasons has beckoned the Rosé lover in all of us, and this year’s selections are unbeatable! There are some lovely White Burgundies from the Macon that you all will be hearing about very soon. There are a few reds from the Rhône Valley including a dynamite Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Boudinaud! We’ve had wines from Vignobles Boudinaud for many vintages, but this is the first time we’ve had the La Boissière line. The 2008 La Boissière Côtes du Rhône has everything I like in a Côtes du Rhône: rich, ripe fruit, a kiss of earthy mineral, and a waft of herb which when all tied together makes me happy that unlike the famous wines of Bordeaux, these wines are affordable. I’m not alone here at TWH when it comes to this wine either. Here’s a funny one. So our staff pulled a Chip and Dale on this one. No one wanted to appear selfish and take it home the day we opened it. Emily had left early, so we decided to leave it for her as she and David came in last Sunday for a short time to check out Sunday Streets Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Bayview. I left her a note saying it was here on the tasting table and guess what? She didn’t take it either. It doesn’t happen often, but our entire staff was crestfallen that the best of the bunch was left undrunken. These things do happen, so in penance, I’m buying one for tonight. This will not be my last.

For me, Sundays are for resting. And after the week I had, I will rest. To all you Dads out there, Happy Fathers’ Day! Here’s a tidbit of wisdom from my Pop:

Pete? Do you have a minute?

Right now? Okay … grumble, grumble (I was around 15 at the time)

Sit down (gulp)

Soon, there will be times when you may be drinking

Uh, really?

I just want you to remember one thing.

What’s that, Pop?

If one bottle costs $7 and the other one $15, buy the $15 bottle, you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Huh?

You can go now.

Fast forward to today. Thanks Pop. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me if you want to know more about 2010 futures, our upcoming dinner with Aline Baly of Château Coutet or anything else: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

2009 Grange des Rouquette Syrah/Grenache

Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:23 PM

WINE OF THE MONTH – 2009 GRANGE DES ROUQUETTE SYRAH/GRENACHE





En Avril, n’ote pas un fil. En Mai, fais ce qu’il te plait. Translation: “In April, don’t take off your clothes, but in May, do as you please.”

 

Mon Dieu! “Clothes off? What is this woman talking about!?” You must be wondering. Well, aside from an attempt at showing off what little of the French language I have mastered, I thought this quirky quote a rather lovable and fitting introduction to our May “Wine of the Month”. If you’ve been following us through cyberspace or via snail mail lately, you know that we’re just a smidge excited about Springtime, and in particular, the month of May. The only month of 31 days spent entirely in Spring; The month in which we celebrate everything from horse power and heros to mothers and Mexico… and do a lot of barbecuing to boot!

That being the case, it stands to reason that a wine befitting many occasions (and many a budget) should be the May W.O.M. Drum-roll please…. The 2009 Grange des Rouquette Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah/Grenache is one of those gems that epitomize what we here at TWH love to do most: find wines that outperform their pricepoint. By a LOT.

Now in its fifth generation of viticulture and winemaking, Domaine Grange des Rouquette has become renowned for their craft both locally and abroad. Located in the tiny commune of Fournes, on the right bank of the Rhone River, this estate has produced vintage after vintage of delicious and versatile wines – both red and white – that seem to not only represent the terroir from which they hail, but also the many things about great winemaking learned, practiced, and perfected across the globe. This is thanks to Thierry and Veronique Boudinaud, the heart and soul behind Grange des Rouquette, who have traveled from New Zealand to California and places in between in order to hone their skills. The couple now owns 50 hectares in and around the Cotes du Rhone appellation, and though this Syrah/Grenache (with a little Mourvedre thrown in) is Vin du Pays d’Oc, the old-vine Syrah and Grenache come from their best vineyard sites. The blend is a traditional one, made up of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre – all harvested separately for optimal ripeness. A small portion of the old-vine Syrah gets barrel treatment, but otherwise, the grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks to maximize the freshness of the fruit. The result is a wine with bright, juicy purple & red fruit on the nose and palate and enough savory earthiness and grit to warrant the cognomen “baby Cotes du Rhone.” I’d suggest pairing it with Poulet de Bresse while taking in the view from a grande villa in the Rhone-Alps, but it will be just as fantastic with a fat juicy burger & veggies off the grill in your back yard (and if you happen to take my first recommendation, please take me with you.)

Santé! –Emily Crichton

p.s. Happy Birthday to my adorable niece Minnie who turns 1 year old today!! Whoo hoo!

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

2007 Unstoppable

Thursday, July 10, 2008 2:22 PM

2007 Andre Brunel Domaine Becassonne Cotes du Rhone Blanc

White Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
$15.99

  Add to Cart
$13.59 per bottle with case discount.

 

This wine is unstoppable. I was writing about it for the snail mail newsletter, and that phrase ran from my brain, to my fingers, to the screen in front of me. At first I balked, wondering if it was too much of a World Wrestling Federation sort of statement, but I decided I like it. Especially because I think it works, and not only is it describing white wine, but it costs$13.59 per bottle with the case discount. No, this is not a $300, big points, status symbol cabernet, it’s an everybody-pleasing Rhone white that is completely affordable. And it just happens to be unstoppable.

To be more specific: the vineyard is unstoppable. It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the winemaker, Andre Brunel, but I think the best thing he does to this wine is he lets it be exactly what the vines produce. It is not a winery-made wine, it is a vineyard-made wine. One sign of a great vineyard is quality across vintages. Good wine every year. I see this very clearly with the Becassonne vineyard: this wine impresses pretty much everyone every vintage. I served the 2006 at my wedding, I recommended it whenever I could, and many a customer was sad to find it sold out. There are enough wines out there that I could avoid writing about new vintages of wines I’ve already featured, but I would be ignoring high quality/high value wine in this case, and that doesn’t make a lot of sense. So here I am with the 2007, because this vineyard just keeps going, producing great wine every vintage. Brunel knows it, and unlike his other Rhones in this range, he pays homage to the site-place and bottles it under its name: Becassonne.

We don’t usually talk vineyard specifics with wines in this price range. That’s because many are blended from multiple sites. Vineyard designates are reserved for more expensive wines from famous names like Chambertin and To Kalon. Here, we have Brunel’s limestone vineyard planted primarily to Roussanne with some Granache Blanc and Clairette. The result rivals many of the whites made in Chateauneuf du Pape, but since it doesn’t have the C-d-P words on the label, it’s no where near as expensive. If I were the owner of the Becassonne vineyard, I would take pleasure in the fact I could produce such outstanding wines and share them with everyone, not just an affluent few. Also, I would be happy that I didn’t have to include in my budget the salary for a Luxury Lifestyle Director. I’m pretty sure those people are expensive, and I guess if you want to charge $100 for Napa Cabernet, it is industry standard to employ someone with experience in pairing wine with sports cars and private helicopters. Lucky for you Andre. You don’t have to worry about that. You’ve got a great vineyard producing great wine at a great price, and you get to sit back and watch it fly out the cellar door.

This is wonderfully classy white Rhone wine. A perfect companion to summer evenings and their meals. The Roussanne frames the limestone minerality with just the right amount of succulent fruit. I don’t know if Andre Brunel knew what he was creating when he planted this vineyard in 1978 (I suspect he had an inkling, he’s a smart guy), but 30 years later: this little point on the planet named ‘Becassone’, you can’t stop it. No reason to even try. – Ben Jordan

 

2007 Andre Brunel Domaine Becassonne Cotes du Rhone Blanc

White Wine; Rhone Blend; Rhone;
$15.99

  Add to Cart
$13.59 per bottle with case discount.
A Full Case of the 2007 Becassone for $13.59 per bottle. Save $28!
$163.08

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Tasting Notes

I mentioned minerality earlier, and this has it. Not the sulphur-driven stuff you find in some Sancerre and other high acid screechers, but a more subtle, round, limestone minerality like we find in the Meursaults and the Chassagne and Puligny Montrachets. There is also a fresh-ripened stone fruit component to it that is lively, refreshing, and clean. ‘Class’ is the operative word here, as the wine is very comfortable in its harmony. If anyone is looking for a poster child for Roussanne based blends, this is both representative and impressive.

Love Potion

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 7:39 PM

2003 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum Rouge

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Languedoc-Roussillon;
$21.99

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$18.69 per bottle with case discount.

 

AKA the man with the strawberry and bacon salad.

We’ll get to the salad later. Let’s address “love potion.” Trassegum means love potion. It’s funny that a staff favorite has so many less-than-pronounceable words on its label. The 2003 d’Or et de Gueules Trassegum Rouge. Feel free to just ask for the love potion. Feel free to ask in a husky voice.

Regardless of the difficulty of pronunciation, these wines are some of these best that we offer. Anya gave up a staff secret when she wrote up their “Select” (the red and gold wine), and that sold out faster than we could secure our stashes. We are trying to get more. The Trassegum sits at a higher level, and beats most every Rhone wine in this price range.We are the only ones in the country selling this blend of Syrah and old vine Mourvedre and Carignane. It is the chateau’s prestige level wine, which they don’t release until it has rested for the appropriate time in bottle. 2005 Chateau Margaux has hit the United States, yet it won’t be ready to drink for decades. Diane Puymorin, who is as close to a rock star as a winemaker can get if you ask me, ages this wine at her estate, at her own expense, and as a result we get something lovely.

There are a lot of good reasons to drink this wine, and I will go into some (not all), but the main reason is that it is exceedingly delicious. Seriously. If you like anything about Rhone wine and its myriad of flavors, this is for you. Another reason is that Diane is exactly the type of person we want making wine. She has strong beliefs and opinions, and she’s out there going for it, no matter what people say about big production and money making. She is on the cutting edge, yet there is an intuitive simplicity to the way she works. For example this wine sits in cask (no new wood) for a year in order to develop the mouthfeel. Then she racks into tank, where it sits for two more years, as she wants the wine to age before release, but she doesn’t want too much wood influence. Makes good sense, right? But this is not normal protocol. It’s something she figured out based on what she wanted from a wine. And it shows. The wines give genuine flavor with the fine texture that you expect from the well bred. When a winemaker is truly progressive, and her wines work, I want to support her.

Another reason is the sheer breadth of flavor and character. When you smell this, as it washes across your palate, immediately your brain starts running around looking for descriptors. It reminds me of speeding through beautiful countryside. There are many details that are no doubt very interesting, and you can try to concentrate on specific points in your panorama, but it’s much better if you take in the view as a whole. That saidthere are two flavors that really stuck with me. A beautiful ripe strawberry fruit accompanied by savory meatiness. It’s such an intriguing combo, I am always in danger of drinking too fast when this is in my glass. I wonder how a strawberry and bacon salad would taste? Not strawberries and bacon on salad. The two together, maybe with a light dressing, but that’s it. I think that sounds good. But I know better than to trust myself here. I’m the one who served my wife a balsamico Martini. That didn’t work. Not that it couldn’t, but when a martini looks like it is dosed with iodine, you should rethink your presentation. So I’ll stick with wine and leave the hipster salad and martini making to those gifted in these fields.

The point of the strawberry bacon comments is to point out how wine can pull off ultra-dynamic flavors. Even with top Ferry Building Farmer’s Market real estate, I bet the bacon-strawberry-salad man would have a hard time, cursing his creativity as shoppers mull past muttering, “Weird” and “Let’s get a chicken.” Wine is lucky in its freedom. Wine is also lucky to have Diane Puymorin as a creator and Trassegum as a representative. While I can’t promise your date will fall in love with you with this in their glass,they will fall for the wine. You just have to keep giving them more. –Ben Jordan

 

2003 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum Rouge

Red Wine; Rhone Blend; Languedoc-Roussillon;
$21.99

  Add to Cart
$18.69 per bottle with case discount.

 

Tasting Notes

As I mentioned, specific tasting notes are not what this wine is about. It is a full Rhone experience. If you like the flavors of Gigondas, Chateauneuf, and Cote Rotie, this amalgamates them. I was worried that the wine would be too 2003, oversized and brooding, but Diane has a deft touch. She has the components working in unison. There is tannin, but it is rounded by age, and it melts into food. And the wine smells beautiful. Overall the experience well outpaces the price, making this a great buy.

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