A Stunner Of A White Bordeaux Deal - 2016 Tour Leognan Blanc
2016 Chateau Tour Léognan Blanc Bottle, Glass, Corkscrew

Dry White Bordeaux

runs the gamut of vinous price points. Starting at around $10-$15, you can find white Bordeaux from the outskirts of the appellation, or from places like Entre Deux Mers or GravesAccessing the more prestigious dry whites from Pessac-Léognan starts at around $35 and quickly escalates to the $100 per bottle level for the likes of Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Pape Clément. The super-elite siblings of Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion can fetch upwards of $700, if you can find them. That's a lot of money, but legend has it that tasting one of those with 20+ years on it can be a life changing experience. That's all fine and dandy, but what about those of us who just love the Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon blends from Bordeaux, who don't want to wait 10-15 years to drink them, and who don't want to spend more than $25? Well, it just so happens that our last container brought forth something for us: the 2016 Château Tour Léognan from Pessac-Leognan. It's $22.98 per bottle.

Wait a second, I just wrote that white Pessac-Léognans start at around $35, what gives? Château Tour Léognan is the second wine of Château Carbonnieux, which usually sells for around $35 and seems to always produce wine that outperforms its price! I am a huge fan of Carbonnieux, especially of their blanc. When I tasted Tour Léognan for the first time several years ago, I did not know that it was Carbonnieux's second wine. I liked the sample a lot, and was going to buy the wine anyway, but when the négociant told me what it was, I shrugged and mumbled, "no wonder I like this so much," and the wine sold in a couple of months' time. It's not the kind of white Bordeaux that you age for a lengthy period of time, but its aromas, palate, and finish remind me of wine fancier than its modest $23 price tag.

The blend for the 2016 Tour Léognan Blanc is approximately 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sémillon. The fruit comes from the property's younger vines, which are around 10 years old. The aromas are bright and expansive with citrus fruit, white flowers, gooseberry and a hint of passion fruit. The palate entry is crisp and vibrant showing yellow fruit and citrus, with a soft, medium bodied texture that leads to a finish that's well balanced and complex. It's a great little white Bordeaux, ready to be enjoyed now, though you could cellar it short term. I wouldn't risk it past 3-5 years, or as the chateau's website recommends, "Best enjoyed around 3 years old."  That would be now.

I can't believe it's February already ... and that it's a quarter of the way over already! With so many personal holidays and friends' birthdays, January is always a blur for me, but somehow during the blur, I was able to book my flights and made a few arrangements for this year's trip to Bordeaux for the En Primeur tastings. You'll never believe this, but all reports from the Bordelais are telling us that 2018 was a great vintage! Imagine that!!?? Either way, it will be interesting to taste the new vintage from barrel, as well as visiting suppliers with already bottled wines available for purchase. That's how we found the 2016 Château Tour Léognan, so I would say it's a worthwhile endeavor. Only time will tell what is waiting to be discovered this year. - Peter Zavialoff

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New Year - Wine Labels - 2016 Chateau Boisson Blanc

Saturday, December 29, 2018 10:45 AM

New Year - Wine Labels - 2016 Chateau Boisson Blanc

Let's Say Goodbye To 2018!

All good things must come to an end ...

And certainly there were high points and low points throughout 2018 for all of us, but it's not out of the norm to be reflective about them as we look forward to the coming New Year. Doubtless, we all enjoyed some special bottles during the year, with several of them being enjoyed within the past month or so. This is neither the time nor the forum for name-dropping, or label-dropping as it might be called. What is most important is that we share our wine and our time, with friends, colleagues, and loved ones. As long as the wine is being shared, what's on the label isn't as important.

My favorite wine writer, Andrew Jefford, penned an article in Decanter Magazine yesterday titled, 
"Are you a wine label drinker?" Not to parrot too much from said article, though I was moved by this analogy, "You don’t have to be standing in the Grand Canyon to experience the wonder of nature." In this case meaning that one doesn't require tasting the finest of the finest to enjoy their wine tasting experience. The article makes several other points that struck chords with me, but that was the biggie.

Case in point, last Tuesday I enjoyed a mellow Christmas lunch with my brother and our Mother, who is in her 90's. Mom insists on paying for the wine that I bring her, and also believes that anything over $10 is overpriced. I think you get the idea as to what kind of wine we shared. What are you going to do? To stew over not drinking something fancy would ruin the occasion. I happily poured her a glass of French Merlot in her price range, and get this, when I finished she looked at me and said, "You can pour some more, you know." It was a light-hearted moment enjoyed by the three of us.

After lunch, I headed back in to the city to the home of some good friends and a group of around 15. We all were treated to some amazing dishes with Dungeness Crab and Prime Rib being the two headliners. Some of my fellow party goers brought some very nice bottles, and I brought some also, though the ones that I brought weren't quite up to the stature of a mature Bordeaux in magnum! It mattered not. The Trebbiano d'Abruzzo was great with the crab, though I fear our tapping into it during cocktail hour perpetuated its exhaustion midway through the crab dish. The rustic Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake Garda in Italy was terrific with the Prime Rib, and was the topic of some interesting conversation. The dinner was a smashing success for all involved and the sentiments around the table were positive and loving. Looking back, after returning home, it was the best Christmas I've spent in years. By the way, to my friend, P.S., thank you very much for bringing that magnum. It was stunningly good!

Sticking with the topic of modest wine doing the trick, one of my favorite deals in dry White Bordeaux is now here, having just arrived on our most recent container:  It's the 2016 Château Boisson Blanc, Bordeaux. It's modestly priced alright! I'm sure I will be eventually pouring a glass for my Mom sometime in the near future. The aromas are pretty complex for a $10 wine. There's something there on the nose which reminds me of those tart, powdery candies of yore. Along with mineral and floral notes, the gooseberry fruit is in proper balance with the rest of the components. The palate entry is easy and light, the fruit gaining slightly on the palate, braced by some light acidity, and the finish is harmonious with a yellow/gold fruity core. It's $10 per bottle so you can pop it for any occasion. To borrow a sentence from Andrew Jefford, I wouldn't turn down a glass of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, but I can think of plenty of occasions where a glass of the 2016 Château Boisson Blanc would be perfect. Happy New Year, everybody! - Peter Zavialoff

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2010 Opalie de Château Coutet

Sunday, February 10, 2013 7:14 PM

Choosing a wine to write about for tonight’s email took no time nor effort. And no thought either. In tonight’s case, the wine chose me. Seriously. Since my last Sunday ramble, not a day has passed without my being involved in some way with the 2010 Opalie de Château Coutet! Now that it has arrived, I’ve been helping the many of you who purchased the wine on pre-arrival by setting up shipping and/or having it ready for pickup. My best friend had his case personally delivered 10 days ago.  It is special wine. It is such a special wine that I’m going to go out on a limb and declare it 2013’s Valentine’s Day wine! I’ve heard from more than one party that it will indeed be included in this year’s Valentine’s Day celebrations. It’s that special.  Now that it’s here, you can see what all the fuss is about. Now that it’s here, you can partake in the Valentine’s Day festivities with a bottle yourselves. It’s here now, but not for long if recent sales are any indication. 
When we introduced the 2010 Opalie de Château Coutet last year, we received a great response, as many of you are connected to Coutet or TWH or both! We went through a double digit percentage of total production, and for months were the only merchants in the country selling the 2010 Opalie on pre-arrival, which is something that we are very grateful for. It is a wine of class and distinction. The fruit is sourced from a select few rows of 40 year old vines in the heart of Coutet’s Grand Cru vineyards. It is a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, all hand picked, and vinified in French oak barrels. Class and distinction.

 

So not a day has passed in 2 weeks without some Opalie involvement, but that involvement has now hit fever pitch! Customers are tasting it. Customers are loving it! At closing time yesterday, I opened a bottle from my personal stash (Yup, I was the very first Opalie customer) for our staff to taste. Smiles and praise all around the tasting table. I poured off a sample for Tom who is out on Fridays, and took the rest home to share with my neighbors who let me into their kitchen early one morning last year so I could email back and forth with the folks in France about Opalie before 17:00 European time. More praise. More smiles. Tom hadn’t quite gotten to his sample yet this morning when the cellarmaster of a regional Bordeaux tasting group arrived to pick up his case of 2010 Opalie. In an amazing display of harmonic convergence, David happened to be in the shop at this moment. Having just tasted it the previous evening, David spoke about the wine at length, and after inquiring as to the availability of it, the cellarmaster decided to buy another 6 pack. As he was leaving, David gave him the sample and guess what? He returned asking for another 6 pack. If one is to be a cellarmaster for a Bordeaux tasting group, one must know Bordeaux … well. Very well.

And so it goes. After my normal Wednesday off, I arrived at my workstation and fired up my computer. Apparently Chris loaded a photo of this Opalie display that he built onto my computer as my new screensaver! The image was met with a chuckle as I began my workday. Minutes later, I heard my first connection between Opalie and Valentine’s Day. Later that day, another … and so it goes. So yeah, why not?  Valentine’s Day is Thursday, and all indicators are pointing to the 2010 Opalie de Château Coutet as this year’s Valentine’s Day wine! Happy Valentine’s Day all! – Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on 2010 Opalie de Coutet, Valentine’s Day, my band’s upcoming gig this week, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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2008 Hors Saison – Domaine La Hitaire

Friday, July 23, 2010 9:38 AM

Save 15% on full case purchases! Only $10.19 per bottle. Please note: website will not factor in discount. Discount will be applied when we process your order in our shop.

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During my recent exercise of discovering what members of our staff were taking home forBastille Day, I stumbled upon a strange omission. I was able to add a couple of links from our blog to the wines we were choosing. You see, we have archived many of the emails that we send out on this blog, and it comes in handy to have this resource when we need some quick info. I was completely shocked when I was trying to find a link to the wine Anya had chosen. La Hitaire’s ‘Hors Saison’ blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon has been a huge favorite among staff and many a customer for as long as I’ve been slinging here. For some odd reason, we just haven’t written about it. Maybe we’re subconsciously not mentioning it so it stays in stock; though my best friend has purchased over 7 cases since I’ve been working here, so that can’t be it. Oh well, maybe the time just wasn’t right. Today, the time is right! 

It’s certainly not just for summer, but since it IS summer, this is the perfect time to have a ‘Hors Saison’ chillin’ away. ‘Hors Saison’ literally means ‘outdoor season’ in the local dialect, so combine that with the handy screwcap enclosure, and you’ve got your picnic wine ready to go!From the Gascogne region in southwestern France, this wine is produced by the Grassa Family Vineyards. Yves Grassa’s sons, Remy and Armin run this property. They blend 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon in the Bordelais style. The Sauvignon gives the wine a refreshing crispness with zippy acidity, where the Semillon rounds off any hard edges, while it plumps the mid-palate with soft yellow fruit. It may as well be White Bordeaux. White Bordeaux for the people that is. This is certainly a recurring theme here at TWH, top-notch quality for a song. Many a first time customer has come in here looking for a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with an “under $20” price target, and they look at me funny when I recommend this bottle for $11.99. Right? When they say “under 20”, they probably mean around 17 or 18; so when I grab this, it is surprising. It’s fun when these customers return singing the accolades of the ‘Hors Saison’. Many of you are already on to this wine (you know who you are). Yes, there are more than a handful of customers who arrive at the counter, say hello, and are greeted with a case of ‘Hors Saison”! I mean $10.19 per bottle with the case discount? Come on!

So call it cheating, writing about a very popular, crisp, summer white wine. Maybe that’s why we haven’t written this up before. It’s like cheating. We don’t cheat. Maybe it’s because at this price, it doesn’t stay in stock very long. Maybe we want to hold some back for ourselves.Think what you like, this is a tough wine to pass up for 10 bucks, that’s for sure. I guess I better sock away my buddy’s 8th case while I still can. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments regarding Michael Essien’s glorious return, White Bordeaux, the Grassa Family Vineyards, or Lake Balaton: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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