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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A Trio Of Light Reds

Friday, July 2, 2010 2:59 PM

A recent article by San Francisco Chronicle wine editor, Jon Bonné, struck a chord with me. In it, Bonné explores the virtue and diversity of light-bodied reds. As I read it, I felt my neck begin to ache as my head bobbed up and down in agreement with the points made in the article. Afterwards it dawned on me that without any conscious effort on our part to promote light reds,we have been stocking more of these types of reds than ever before. It could be we’re carrying more light reds because customers are asking for them; this is true and a very positive trend. I get excited when asked for a recommendation on a lighter-style red. Selecting a quality bottle of a light red takes the pressure off a bit. It seems to me that it can be easier to agree on what is considered or perceived as light then what is perhaps “the biggest red in the house”. Changing trends in what people want to drink comes hand in hand with what it going on in restaurants and in our food culture in general. With the emphasis on eating what is fresh and local, it makes a lot of sense that wine drinkers would want a red that does not overwhelm Farmer’s Market produce. My point is not that people are forgoing heavy reds, but that there is a growing awareness that there is a need and desire for OPTIONS. Without any further proselytizing, here are my three picks for a lighter shade of red:


Ah, Bardolino…I probably shouldn’t reveal this about myself,but I have been known to dance around the store singing “Bardolino, Bardolino” over and over. I love the way the word rolls off the tongue. Bardolino is a DOC within the Veneto region near the southeastern shores of Lake Garda in north east Italy. A more picturesque wine country you could not imagine! A blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese, it is truly light bodied and zippy. Under 13% alcohol, this wine exhibits fruit notes of light plum, floral violets and a dried herb backnote. I’d love to serve this alongside braised tripe in a light tomato sauce. If you want acidity and low tannins, this is it. Valetti is a family run operation that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The Valetti Bardolino can also be purchased as part of the Dirty Dozen this month.


2008 Luigi Valetti Bardolino Classico

Red Wine; other red varietal; Veneto;
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This unoaked Tempranillo from Spain’s Rioja region is fresh, lively and fruit-driven. The age of the vines range from 15-20 years. Owned by the Llorens family, Arbanta, though not certified, takes an organic approach to farming and wine making. With its inky ruby red color and dark fruit aromas, this juicy Rioja has a firm-structured palate feel. Youthful and bright, this would be ideally suited for Paella. Dust off that gargantuan Paella pan and throw it on the grill. Chicken, saffron-laden rice, Chorizo, these ingredients will play nicely with Arbanta.
2007 Biurko Gorri Arbanta Rioja

Red Wine; Tempranillo; Rioja;
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We were out of the Touraine rouge for a few months after selling out of the ’06 and awaiting the arrival of the ’07. It was a tough wait. This Loire Valley red has a loyal following and when it’s out, nothing else will do. What I enjoy most about this Touraine rouge is that is does not lack in the fruit department, yet it maintains the vibrancy typical of Cabernet Franc. There areviolets and rose on the nose, mineral snap on the finish and a gentle touch of dried herbs. So pretty and such a pleasure to drink. Usually I suggest this with a roast chicken, but seeing how its summer, a chickie on the barbie marinated in white wine with lots of fresh herbs would be perfect.
2007 Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Rouge

Red Wine; other red varietal; Loire;
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Something to keep in mind when serving these wines – don’t be afraid to put a chill on them.It doesn’t have to be as cold as a white, but a nice chill will add freshness and punch. If you’re taking it outdoors, remember the wine will warm up quickly if it’s hot. Put the wine in a bucket of ice if you need to.

Another trick to this light red wine thing is to open a heavy red at the end of the meal, if you are still craving one. Serve that high octane red while folks are still seated and chatting while the dishes are being cleared away. If it’s summer, by this time the temperatures will have probably dropped and conversations can go late into the night under the starry skies. How I relish these times! – 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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