Bedrock Rocks!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:56 PM


Bedrock Wine Co.


Congratulations Morgan Twain-Peterson!

Morgan Twain-Peterson, proprietor of Bedrock Wine Co., recently became the first winemaker from California to become a Master of Wine. He is one of only 45 MWs from the United States. That is quite an achievement in and of itself, and yet consider the fact that during the time he was working towards becoming a Master of Wine, he was also building Bedrock Wine Co. - Wow!   I jumped on the Bedrock Wine Co. bandwagon from the start. My admiration was instantaneous and The Wine House has been rewarded for our support of Bedrock wines in the way of allocations. We are proud to carry a wide selection of Bedrock wines,from the vineyard-designated reds to the experimental blends. 



What I recognized early on, was Morgan's devotion to the vineyard. Morgan seeks out to use, but also essentially to preserve, old-vine vineyards. I too have a respect and affinity for the unique character of Zinfandel-based field blends.Without advocates like Morgan, these special, historic vineyards would undoubtedly be lost. I understand that what I am about to write is scientifically unprovable, but in 
Morgan's wines, I can taste that, well, love for the vineyard.

 

 Bedrock Vineyard: photo courtesy of BWC website



Their flagship wine (or at least that's how I see it) at Bedrock is The Bedrock Heritage. The Bedrock Vineyard has a long and storied history that can trace its grape growing roots well over a hundred years. It is a sizeable vineyard that sits in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. There are well over 30 different varieties growing at Bedrock Vineyard. In the 2015 Bedrock Heritage there are 19 different varieties (perhaps even more) that go into the wine, dominated by Zinfandel, Carignane, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouchet. A true, classic Californian field blend. Morgan writes that "Bedrock Vineyard is always going to have orange-scented perfume and rooted tannins". It's a full-scale red that is tasty in all its exuberant youth, but can also rest in the cellar. It really is a taste of California's wine history.



Words fail me to describe the emotions felt since fires ravaged Northern California. I am certain that we all know at least someone touched by this catastrophe.Living here in Northern California all my life, I am aware of the dangers of wildfire, but this was like nothing imaginable. As I learned about the losses to wineries and vineyards, I reflected on what I value most about being in the wine business. It comes down to the people and the land. It is indeed, people like Morgan who pursue winemaking, not just as commerce, but as a way of honoring the past and preserving our heritage, that inspires me. There are fewer and fewer of these precious old vines in California. I am grateful to those who champion these agricultural treasures.  Check out our full line-up of Bedrock wines to explore and taste these historic sites. - Anya Balistreri

From the Winery:

"The 2015 is a svelte lumberjack but a true lumberjack—not the soft-handed, urbane, hipster type, nor the Monty Python cross-dresser (though if that is what it wants to be when it grows up, that is just fine with me!).  A wine that is well-built, a little gruff at first, but full of nuance, soft eyes, and a well-hewn heart."

 

From the Winery:

"This wine, a field blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Negrette, Carignan, Grenache, Trousseau Noir and many more, is dark and lovely stuff.  Definitely give it some time- either in the cellar or the decanter as time and/or air will help it to unfold."

A Taste Of Burgundy - October 2017

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:47 PM

A TASTE OF BURGUNDY

OCTOBER 2017

2014 Beaune 1er Cru Pertuisots

Domaine Pernot-Belicard

The 2014 vintage for white Burgundy was a great one, and depending on who you ask, it borders on legendary status.  August was relatively cool, but it was followed by an exceptional September when the sun 2014 Domaine Pernot Belicard Beaune 1er Cru Pertuisots Bottleshone every day but three.  The perfect conditions at harvest assured that there would be some fine wine produced from the vintage.  Philippe Pernot, grandson of Paul Pernot, one of Puligny-Montrachet’s most famous vignerons, made just two barrels of his Beaune Premier Cru Pertuisots.  That’s just 50 cases for the world, and we got half of them!  The 1er Cru Pertuisots vineyard lies south of the village, very near the highly esteemed Clos des Mouches.  Considering the ideal conditions, it’s not surprising that the 2014 is Philippe’s best vintage to date.  The aromas are fresh and distinct — lime, citrus blossom, snappy green apple, and stony mineral.  The palate is concentrated and that stony mineral holds court with the lively fruit.  The finish is crisp and perfectly balanced.  Enjoy from now-2020.

2015 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières

Domaine Stéphane Magnien

As great as 2014 was for Burgundy’s white wines, the 2015 vintage is equally magnificent for the reds.  Stéphane Magnien represents the fourth generation of winemakers from this branch of the family.  The youthful Magnien has Pinot Noir vines growing in some of the Côtes de Nuits’ most prized vineyards, including about a half a hectare in the Premier Cru Les Faconnières, which is literally a stone’s throw from the famous Grand Cru, Clos de la Roche.  Magnien’s 2015’s are his most fleshy, easy to approach wines since the 2009 vintage, yet they are classically structured, suggesting they will age gracefully.  The bouquet of Stéphane’s 2015 Les Faconnières is wildly expressive with brambly red, blue, and purple berry fruit and spice.  The palate is dense and chewy, yet the tannins are finely integrated, and the finish is harmonious.  If you want to get the most out of this one, we suggest giving it some time in the cellar. Drink from 2020-2035.     

Juicy Rebound

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:41 PM

Juicy Rebound

Douglas Danielak In Vineyard

Cuvée Unique - one white, one red!

Douglas Danielak is a veteran winemaker who has worked primarily for small premium wineries in the Napa Valley. Under the label Juicy Rebound, Douglas makes wines for himself, focusing on Rhône varietals. Towards that end, Douglas makes quintessential California wine through a French lens. Douglas studied winemaking and worked harvest in France before getting his enology degree from UC Davis. In the late 80's, Douglas teamed up with Jim Paras to form Jade Mountain Winery, one of the wineries associated with the Rhone Rangers movement. I still remember (and can almost taste) their Mourvedre and a blend they called La Provençale. Those wines were delicious and affordable - just like Juicy Rebound.





 




The 2016 Juicy Villages Cuvee Unique No. 34 is a blend of Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. Much of the fruit for this blend was acquired from a very high profile grower who wishes to remain nameless. This is a gorgeous, sumptuous white that teases out all the exotic goodness of these varietals while still keeping the balance of flavors tightly corralled. Surprisingly, no oak was used. Surprisingly – yes, because there is so much texture to the wine. The finish has terrific freshness. Only 100 cases were produced.

 

The 2014 Juicy Villages Cuvee Unique No. 84 is 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley. Juicy is the key word here, as the fruit is supple, open-armed and berry-driven. There are herb-inflected notes lurking in the background that reveal Douglas’ penchant for French wine. Slightly more of the No. 84 is produced than the No. 34, but it is still very limited.


 




These mild pepperoncini came courtesy of a neighbor who knows I love to pickle veggies. I reused brine I had made from a previous batch: a shortcut that made certain I didn't end up throwing these beauties into the compost. For you see, this week was jam packed. Besides normal work/life schedule, my volunteer hours were to capacity. I participated in a Challenge Day activity for 7th graders at my daughter's middle school. I signed up last week and found the experience so rewarding, I went for a second day. My Church and School District's fundraisers all needed baked goods. I am not a baker, but with my daughter's assistance, I gave it my best shot. Let's just say, the kitchen needs a scrubbing from floor to ceiling. When that finally happens (or before), I am going to need a glass of wine to unwind. I will reward myself with Juicy Rebound. Full of ripe fruit goodness and a balanced finished - both the white and red from Juicy Rebound allow entry to a high echelon of quality without having to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege. These wines are really something! - Anya Balistreri

From the winery:

"Light, pale straw-colored and frosty, we dove into the wine noses first.Nectarine, lychee, fresh citrus blossoms and Asian pear gave the wine an exotic nose balanced with fine minerality. The rich, creamy Viognier was perfectly offset by the aromatic Roussanne with its fresh acidity and complex flavors of chamomile tea, honey and spiced pears."

 

From the winery:

"65% Syrah and 35% Grenache. Every August we spend our Sundays picking wild blackberries as we prepare for harvest. This Rhone blend captures that experience. Grenache leads the way with cassis and aromatic herbal notes while Syrah adds juicy blueberry, blackberry flavors, a supple texture and a satisfying richness in the finish."

0 Comment Posted in California

The October 2017 Dirty Dozen

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:30 PM

The October 2017

Dirty Dozen

It's October -

And that means that all over the northern hemisphere, in wine country, it's harvest time.  The cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours have winemakers at the ready to work their magic as the fruit which will someday become 2017 wine comes in from the vines.  While we wait for that magic, how 'bout a smattering of 12 bottles of harvests past, packed in one box, for one crazy, low price?  Swing on by and get your October Dirty Dozen today!

October Dirty Dozen Chillables Bottles

The Chillables

2016 Blanco, Armas de Guerra $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder                

Vinos Guerra is the oldest winery in Spain’s Bierzo region and owns some of its oldest vines. This citrus-laden white is made from local varietals Doña Blanca and Godello which were planted between 1955 and 2008. This wine is focused, chalky and dry, with plenty of fruit. It’s ideal with seafood, be it raw or cooked. Try with a poke bowl or sushi.



2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Old Coach Road $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder                    

This tropical, guava-tinged Sauvignon Blanc comes from Nelson, a wine region at the north end of New Zealand’s South Island. Here, the Tasman Bay provides a moderate climate. Only about 25 wineries exist in this small area just to the west of better known Marlborough. Two vineyards make up the fruit for this wine. Serve with quiche Lorraine.



2015 Chardonnay, Sharecropper’s  $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder                   

Sharecropper’s is a sensational value from the innovative Washington State winery, Owen Roe. Their 2015 Chardonnay is sourced from the DuBrul and Outlook Vineyards. This is fancy fruit and it tastes it! Not a shy Chardonnay, but one with lots of rich, creamy notes and lush, toasty oak flavors. Perfect for wild-caught salmon or veal Saltimbocca.



2016 Touraine Blanc, Domaine des Corbillières $16.59, $13.27 reorder             

We’ve been carrying the wines from Dominique and Véronique Barbou’s Domaine des Corbillières for two decades!  Well, if the quality’s there and the price is right, then, why not?  This Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc has the perfect balance of lively white fruit, citrus blossoms, and stony mineral.  Try it with a caramelized onion tart with goat cheese and thyme.



2015 Côtes de Gascogne Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $14.49, $11.59 reorder

Down in Gascogne, just south of Bordeaux, comes this blend of Sauvignon Blanc (70%) and Sémillon (30%).  The property is owned by Armin and Rémy Grassa, sons of Domaine de Pouy’s Yves Grassa.  It’s all stainless steel tank fermented, so it’s fresh.  The Sémillon tames the Sauvignon Blanc with a round middle and gives it a waxy note.  Think seafood here.



2016 Bordeaux Clairet, Château Armurey $9.99, $7.99 reorder

Is it a red or a rosé?  We’ll let you decide.  Either way, it is chillable!  This Bordeaux Clairet is a throwback to the style of wine shipped from Bordeaux to England in the Middle Ages.  This easy going, unpretentious juice pairs with just about anything.  So keep your bottle well-chilled and pour it with burgers, mac n cheese, pizza, pasta, or a French Dip sando.

October Dirty Dozen Reds Bottles

The Reds



2015 Malbec-Syrah, Tilia $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Tilia wines are made by Leopoldo Kuschnaroff, winemaker and general manager of Mendoza’s Bodegas Esmeralda. This Argentinian red is a tasty blend of Malbec, which gives off an herbal fruitiness, and Syrah, which adds a dark berry and smoky component. An all-occasion red that can adapt to most cuisines, match it up with stuffed peppers or meatloaf.



2015 Cannonau di Sardegna, Sanguineti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

This Italian island red hails from Sardinia where the Cannonau grape makes its home. The grape itself is closely related to Grenache and shares a similar taste profile. Antonio Sanguineti, though Tuscan by birth, has a way with Cannonau. Medium-bodied with strawberry fruit and notes of underbrush, this would be delicious with lamb shanks or Osso Bucco.



2013 Merlot, Praxis $13.95 net sale price, $13.25 reorder

Bill Arbios has been making wine in northern California for over four decades. The man knows his stuff! This pretty little Merlot comes from a single vineyard located behind Jimtown Store in the heart of the Alexander Valley. Aged in American oak for two years, it is a balanced, round tannin red and is a solid option for the Thanksgiving table.



2014 Fronton, Château Coutinel $8.99, $7.19 reorder

Just north of the city of Toulouse lies the appellation of Fronton.  The principal grape grown there is Negrette, and all Frontonais wines must consist of at least 50% of it.  It makes for a light-bodied wine, much like Gamay (of which 20% is blended here), so it is a good pairing partner for those dishes that benefit from a light red – like roast chicken!



2013 Côtes-du-Rhône La Boissière, Domaine Boudinaud $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Thierry Boudinaud is one of our favorite Côtes-du-Rhône producers.  He and his wife Véronique have several labels of wines in and around the Rhône, though their La Boissière is one of their best values.  The blend is Grenache (55%), Syrah (30%), Mourvèdre (10%), and Cinsault (5%), and all together, it’s a great all-purpose red.  Try it with Bragioli.



2014 Chiroubles, Château Raousset $17.99, $14.39 reorder

There’s something about Autumn that just beckons the lover of Gamay-based wines.  Maybe it’s that forest floor aroma which reminds the taster of leaves changing colors and falling.  Maybe it’s that core of bright cherry fruit harmonizing with said forest floor.  This Chiroubles is light in body and versatile with food – give it a spin with Veal Milanese.



2015 Château de Raousset Fleurie "Grille-Midi"

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:54 PM

Chateau de Raousset

Best Vintage Since 1947?

Or so says Georges Duboeuf, so we'll take that with a grain of salt.  Though if you search the interwebs for "2015 Beaujolais Vintage," the superlatives are everywhere! 



My favorite wine writer, Andrew Jefford, had this to say about the 2015 vintage in Beaujolais, "The growing season, growers reported, unfolded according to the script they would have written for themselves – except that quantities were smaller than they would have liked.  The main threat to quality came towards the end of July, when the vines were beginning to show signs of drought stress, but cooler nights and showers in August helped enormously, with most beginning harvest towards the end of that month.  Acidities were fresher and balances livelier than in 2009, while the wines avoided some of the hardness of 2005, with a sweeter and more tender style.  Beaujolais vinifications are so various and sometimes risk-taking in style, however, that it’s still important to buy on recommendation."  That last line there is key.



The good news is that our producer, Château de Raousset, took full advantage of the ideal climatic conditions, and produced a line of wines which we highly recommend!  Maybe I'm biased, maybe I'm swayed by its pretty name, but it seems that vintage after vintage, I find their Fleurie "Grille-Midi" to be ideal for my palate.  The 2015 is stunning!  The aromas are all there, bright red cherry fruit, forest floor, again, maybe it's the name, but there's a hint of something floral going on in there too.  On the palate, the wine seems to float gracefully.  The fruit is perfectly ripe and the structure is seamless.  It comes in at 13% alcohol.  One doesn't hear it often, but this Cru Beaujolais can be cellared and should provide plenty of pleasure from now through 2026, if, as Neal Martin says, "you can resist its charms early on."



I don't want to bum anyone out here, but it is fall, and tomorrow is October 1.  An enthusiastic Rosé-loving customer picked up a case of her favorite earlier today and let it be known she wasn't ready for summer to be over, though she was accepting that very fact.  I always think of Cru Beaujolais as a wine which suits autumn perfectly - that forest floor nuance and all.  I also regularly consume, and happily recommend it be served during the fall's biggest holiday, Thanksgiving.  That's right.  Thanksgiving is next month.  That makes socking away a magnum or two a pretty dang good idea.  We do also have Raousset's Chiroubles, with its lighter profile, and also their Morgon "Douby", which is a bit more structured and even more age-worthy.  Though for me, the Fleurie "Grille-Midi" is just right! - Peter Zavialoff



Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2015 Beaujolais, autumn, Thanksgiving wines, or how sweet it is to be rid of the reason I stopped watching my favorite football club for three years:  peter@wineSF.com    
 

2015 Saint-Bris Domaine Verret

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:41 PM

saint-bris-on-patio

If it's Burgundy and it's not Chardonnay, but Sauvignon Blanc - you're drinking Saint-Bris!

What?!! Aligote is not the only "other white grape" of Burgundy? Nope. Saint-Bris is yet another exception to the rule that says white Burgundy must be Chardonnay. Saint-Bris is an appellation in the northwest region of Burgundy, just southwest of Chablis, where the dominant white grape grown is Sauvignon Blanc. This might seem strange at first, but if you look at a map, you'll notice that Saint-Bris is closer to Loire Valley's Sancerre than to Beaune. 



At The Wine House, we've been on the hunt to expand our direct-import Burgundy portfolio, especially from under-represented regions. To this end, we've been scouting out leads, tasting a lot, and in general, doing our homework. Newly arrived Domaine Verret, with the "Imported by: Wine House Limited, San Francisco, CA" sticker (that's us!) on the back label, met our criteria for offering wines of quality, value, and an authentic sense of place. I remember tasting samples of their wines last year and liking the Saint-Bris immediately. I wasn't concerned that this lesser known appellation would be too esoteric for our clientele. I was confident that those who shop with us and enjoy fresh, vivacious Sauvignon Blanc would be drawn to this wine. 



The limestone soils contribute to the zippy minerality, though the texture of the wine is rather round. Super aromatic, on the nose exhibiting more exotic fruits and less cut grass aromas. As you can see from the photo above, I enjoyed a glass of Saint-Bris as an aperitif out on the back deck, enjoying the last of summer's warm rays after work last Saturday. 





A month into the new school year, I've got the carpool arrangements nailed down and the after school activities locked in. Now into Fall, the days are recognizably shorter and the nights significantly cooler. I've been hitting the farmer's market hard, trying to satiate my lust for vine-ripened tomatoes. At home, I've planted my first ever fall/winter vegetable garden. I've already begun harvesting lettuce and kale. Some time soon, I'll be braising greens and serving it with this lovely, evergreen-scented Saint-Bris. It should be a tasty match! -- Anya Balistreri

2015 Château d'Yquem

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:38 PM

2015 Chateau d'Yquem Bottles

The Top Of The Pyramid

Unquestionably, Château d'Yquem is in a league of its own when it comes to quality and notoriety.  Think about it.  If you've tasted any vintage of Château d'Yquem, chances are you remember when, where, and with whom.  If you've had enough Yquem that you've forgotten a few of these occasions, consider yourself lucky!



Here's an opportunity to get in on a legend in the making.  The 2015 vintage in Sauternes was a great one.  The botrytis was profound; the acidity levels healthy.  Here's a short excerpt from what The Wine Advocate's Neal Martin had to say about the 2015 vintage in Sauternes:  "The catalyst was a storm on August 31. The 9 millimeters of rain followed by warm sunny conditions was perfect for botrytis formation, the cool nights locking in the acidity. In some years, harvesters are at the beg and mercy of the capricious weather and hesitant botrytis development; but in 2015, the noble rot was so regular and even, that for once, vineyard managers could almost sashay into the vineyard and pick how they wanted."



Here's Mr. Martin's note from tasting the 2015 Yquem from barrel:

"It has a show-stopping bouquet that is beautifully defined and very complex and exuberant, infused with greater mineralité than recent vintages - intense but not as flamboyant as say the 2009 Yquem at this stage. The palate boasts absolutely stunning balance. This is a Yquem without a hair out of place: fantastically pure, botrytised fruit caressing the mouth. That is as per normal. What distinguishes this Yquem is the sense of electricity that is imbued by that razor-sharp acidity. There is just unbelievably tension here and to be frank, there is little point in me continuing to write this note, because it is simply an astonishing Yquem that will rank alongside the 2001 and 2009." 

2016 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:34 PM

2016 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - So said Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.  It's usually translated as "The more things change, the more they stay the same."  Sometimes change goes unnoticed; other times, it may come as a surprise.  Over the past decade, one of our most popular Rosé wines adhered to a particular style - very pale in color, bone dry, with aromas devoid of any detectable red fruit.  This is what we came to expect from Sébastien Vincenti and Nanou Barthélemy's Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Rosé after a decade of consistency.  I would repeatedly tell customers that if it were served to me in a black glass, I would think it was white wine - it was that sleek.  When we received our container of Rosé wines early this summer, we were all quite surprised by the appearance of the 2016 Fondrèche Rosé.  It had color.



        




Although color alone doesn't necessarily indicate that the wine's flavor profile has changed, it does most certainly affect everyone's perception of it.  I think Anya nailed it on the head when she described its color as, "a light salmon/coral."  Each year, when we receive our Rosé wines from France, our staff gets together and gives them all a taste.  Over the past decade, the Fondrèche Rosé can be a little shy and muted when it first arrives.  We're never worried about it.  After a month or so, it comes to life, and it actually can keep longer than most Rosé wines.  So when we headed to the tasting room earlier this year for Rosé day, we were all anxious to taste Sébastien's Rosé.  The verdict?  Fantastic!  The very first thing we noticed was that its color is a bit deceptive.  It's no fruit bomb.  It's actually very much like its former self, only with detectable red fruit aromas, and a bit of fruit on the palate.  If anything, it's better; though I still may be challenged identifying it as a Rosé if tasting it from the aforementioned black glass.  Hints of strawberries and watermelon drift from the glass, though their expression is subtle.  There are herbal notes as well as stony minerals.  The palate is bone-dry, the soft melon-y fruit sits at its core with the other complexities wrapped around it.  The finish is dry and crisp, like always.



Maybe the word "change" is not doing a service to the 2016 Fondrèche Rosé; it's more like Vincenti finely tuned it.  Either way, it's an extraordinary effort by a winemaker who is not afraid of change.  In fact, Sébastien had been working organically for many years, finally obtaining certification in 2013.  In January of 2016, Decanter magazine reported that he dropped his organic status in favor of "better treatments."  An interesting concept - and one worth looking into.  This resonates with me as it was just Thursday evening, I was dining with a Bordeaux negociant and a young woman from a very prominent Bordeaux family.  We spoke about her mother's property, and she told me that though her mother is open to some organic techniques, she wouldn't go fully organic due to the impact of copper to the soil, which over the long-term is detrimental to a vineyard.  This, of course, has my interest piqued, and I will continue to investigate it.  But for now, it's time for me to just grab a bottle and head off for the weekend.  We've got a big showdown in the world of English Football tomorrow morning; kick off is 5:30 PDT.  May the best team win.  Happy Weekend! - Peter Zavialoff
0 Comment Posted in Rhone Ventoux

The Dirty Dozen - September 2017

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:24 PM



THE DIRTY DOZEN - SEPTEMBER 2017

All the signs are there – the kids are back in school, there is pigskin action on TV, and heirloom tomatoes are out in force. That can only mean that it’s September!  Have no fear, Indian summer’s here!  Let us make your wine shopping easy.  The September Dirty Dozen has it all – 6 reds, 6 chill-ables, and this here tip sheet for one crazy, low price. How can you top a deal like that? Get your September Dirty Dozen today!

2015 Les Tours, Domaine La Hitaire $10.79, $8.63 reorder                

One of our favorite whites, Les Tours from La Hitaire is a blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Gros Manseng.  While these grape varieties are more commonly associated with spirits, they also make for a nice, crisp white.  Hints of light yellow fruit, citrus blossoms, and a kiss of honey are all present on the palate - give it a pour next time you have ceviche.   


2016 Ventoux Rosé, Domaine Fondrèche $16.59, $13.27 reorder              

Winemaker Sébastien Vincenti has changed it up a bit with his Ventoux Rosé – the usual super pale salmon hue has given way to an electric magenta color.  This 2016 Rosé shows hints of red berries and watermelon rind; it’s great on its own, or you can pair it with a myriad of possibilities.  For the ultimate refreshment, pour it with a Salade Niçoise. 


2015 Saint Bris, Domaine Verret $15.99, $12.79 reorder

An overwhelming majority of white Burgundy is made from the Chardonnay grape.  You also may have heard of Aligoté, Burgundy’s “other” white grape.  Believe it or not, there exists one small corner of Burgundy (just southwest of Chablis) that permits Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris to be made into wine:  Saint Bris.  Crisp and citrusy; check it out.

2015 Pinot Gris, Pike Road $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder            

This cheerful Pinot Gris comes from the Campbell family whose pioneering Oregon winery, Elk Cove, was established in 1974. Under the Pike Road label, they use estate grown fruit and some from their neighbors to make this 100% Willamette Valley white. Soft peach flavors and aromas marry with citrus and honey. Try with grilled salmon.


2016 Vinho Verde, Adega de Monção $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder                   

Nothing is as refreshing as a well-chilled glass of Vinho Verde on a hot summer’s eve. With its low alcohol content (only 11.5%)and slight spritz, this white exudes delicate floral and stone fruit flavors. A combination of Alvarinho and Trajadura grapes, allow for fruitiness and a dry finish. Serve with crab cakes, fish ceviche or grilled chicken thighs.


2016 Žilavka, Brkić $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

When we say we scour the world over for the finest values in wine for the DD, we’re not kidding. This lovely, minerally white comes from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The indigenous varietal, Žilavka, is ideally suited for the Mediterranean climate of southern Herzegovina. Yellow plum and pear flavors with a hint of anise; try it with lighter, late summer fare.
2013 Tempranillo, Calipaso $22.98 net price, $20.68 reorder

This robust red uses Tempranillo from two vineyards, one of which is located in the San Miguel District - the northern most region of the Paso Robles AVA. Giving a nod to its Spanish cousin, Rioja, with its berry and pomegranate fruit flavors and spicy undertones - go bold here with food pairings, like BBQ ribs, Carne Asada or Korean Bulgogi.

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, TerraNoble $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile’s Maule Valley is the perfect example of a humble, honest, and most importantly, delicious table wine. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, all you taste is the pure, clean expression of the fruit. The tannins are soft and silky, making it the perfect choice for midweek take-outs and casual gatherings.

2015 Red Blend 6962 $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Argentina is the largest wine producer in South America. Here Malbec, originally from France, has found a new home. This Red Blend is half Malbec, 20% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat, with the balance Petit Verdot. Grippy and full, this wine gives off a full-flavored experience. Gather up the gauchos for grilled steak with Chimichurri sauce.

2015 Touraine Les Demoiselles, Domaine des Corbillières $16.59, $13.27 reorder

Fabel Barbou purchased Domaine des Corbillières in 1923.  Now run by his great-grandson, Dominique and his wife, Véronique, they produce some of our favorite red, white, and rosé wines.  For the Les Demoiselles red they blend Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Côt (Malbec).  The result is a delight.  It’s a great red for an herb crusted pork roast.

2014 Château Ferran Saint Pierre Rouge $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Here’s further proof that great value exists in wines from Bordeaux.  Château Ferran Saint Pierre lies in the Entre-deux-Mers appellation, which is a large swath of land between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.  Made from 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s a lay-up to serve with sizzling steaks fresh off the grill.

2013 Ventoux Rouge, Domaine Fondrèche $16.99, $13.59 reorder

This month’s DD comes with a two-fer from winemaker Sébastien Vincenti.  This one has a cool story.  Sébastien has included fruit that was once vinified on its own under his fancy Nadal label.  Starting in 2013, he discontinued this practice and now includes that prestigious fruit in his entry-level red giving it more substance.

2010 Château de Malleret - It's Back!!

Friday, January 5, 2018 5:11 PM



2010 Château de Malleret - It's Back!!

In the wine biz, one gets good at saying goodbye; we all have our favorites, but once they sell out, it’s time to move on.  It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, we get a second (and sometimes third and fourth) chance to repurchase a favorite wine, and then we wait for it to make its way overseas here to our shop.  This weekend’s wine spotlight is on one of these wines.  Won’t you please welcome back to the shop, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc.

 

It went down something like this:  In the spring of 2014, while on assignment in Bordeaux for the En Primeur tastings, I made a handful of appointments with suppliers to taste some of their already bottled inventory.  It was at one of these meetings that 24 sample bottles were open and available for tasting.  I went through the line, swirling, sniffing, tasting, spitting, and jotting down notes.  All in all, it was a successful tasting because I liked 8 or 9 of the wines, but it was one of them that sent me over the moon.  Yes, it was the 2010 Malleret.  When I returned from Bordeaux, I sat down with David and we discussed the new vintage and the wines that I tasted.  When he asked me how much Malleret we should buy, it marked the very first time I answered, “Well, at least a pallet.”  I should point out another characteristic about being in the wine biz – it teaches you patience.  The wine finally arrived in early 2015 and was gone shortly thereafter.  We made a lot of friends with that wine, and said goodbye after it was gone.
Early this year, I was surprised to come across the 2010 Malleret while reading through a supplier’s price list and mentioned it to David.  Without hesitation, we secured the wine, and thanks to a recent container’s arrival, it’s here now.  I have secured my six bottles for the cellar, so come and get it!  I say that I want a few bottles in the cellar because when I came back from Bordeaux in 2014, I found a bottle of the 2000 Malleret for sale at a very fair price.  I hadn't had much experience with this chateau before, so I wanted to taste an older vintage to better understand their style.  It was outstanding!  Which leads me to deduce that perhaps this chateau doesn’t exactly knock it out of the park every vintage, but when they do, the wine can last.  So based on my experience with the 2000 Malleret, I feel the 2010 will still be drinking well in 2024.

 

2010 Chateau de MalleretI took a bottle home this past week, grilled up some steaks, and used the super fancy stemware.  The wine was sensational!  It has put on a little muscle, but there’s plenty of dark berry and cassis fruit there to keep it in balance.  The aromatics are complex:  the fruit is layered, there are earthy elements, and there’s a tobacco and forest floor herbaceous facet to them.  The palate entry is easy, it’s well balanced, medium-full bodied, with the purple-red fruit at its core.  The finish is long and layered, with the fruit and forest floor lingering.  I realize that everyone has their own taste, but this is my kind of wine … and the price is right!  Pure and simple.

 

Things are exciting around here.  Two containers are on the water, headed this way.  There’s going to be some Bordeaux on one of them – another over the moon discovery from this year’s trip, courtesy of one of our suppliers.  It’s a 2014 Saint-Estephe; stay tuned for its arrival!  The annual three week celebration known as Birthdayfest has begun, and will continue through mid-September.  I have a hunch there will be a few special bottles popped in my near future.  Maybe a bottle or two of something I put in my cellar before we said goodbye to it a long time ago?   - Peter Zavialoff

2015 Antonio Sanguineti Cannonau Di Sardegna

Friday, January 5, 2018 4:47 PM



2015 ANTONIO SANGUINETI CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA

Our Bestselling Sardinian Red Is Back In Stock!



Our third vintage of Antonio Sanguineti's Cannonau di Sardegna has recently arrived, ushering in what is a new Summer tradition here at The Wine House. There is just something about this accessible, soft-tannin red that resonates with our customers. I've already managed to tote a few bottles home and each time, I've been delighted by the restrained cherry flavors and distinct underbrush notes. Because the tannins are tempered and the fruit, forward and warm like berry pie filling, it is perfect for casual, outdoor summer dining. To date, I've served it with Cevapcici, a type of Balkan ground meat delicacy, that I make with a combination of beef and lamb and another time with grilled salmon doused in garlic and olive oil. Whether surf or turf, it worked beautifully!

 

Cannonau di Sardegna is an appellation that covers most of the island. The Cannonau grape is not identical to Grenache, though is closely related and is surely as far as taste goes - very similar. An ampelographer could write 2015 ANTONIO SANGUINETI CANNONAU DI SARDEGNAvolumes on Cannonau's genetic background, but for most wine historians, it seems reasonable to believe that the grape is closely linked to Grenache, whether originating from France or Spain. Though able to produce dark, complex, age-worthy wines, Sanguineti's Cannonau di Sardegna is meant for early consumption; a sort of elevated table wine. 





Summer break in my household is coming to a close - for many families, the new school year has already begun. I prefer to think of Summer as the full three month season it is and not just as the time between the end of school year and the start of the new one. To that end, I expect to spend a few more days at the beach and/or throw an impromptu backyard dinner party or two. Still, school starts up for my husband, a teacher, and my daughter, a student, next week.  I think my daughter put it best when she said to me, "I'm sort of excited and sort of not." Raising a glass of Sanguineti's 2015 Cannonau di Sardegna to all the students and teachers out there starting off the new school year!

- Anya Balistreri

A Taste of Burgundy - August 2017

Friday, January 5, 2018 4:35 PM

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A TASTE OF BURGUNDY

AUGUST 2017

2010 Domaine Xavier Monnot Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru2015 Meursault Les Tessons

Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils

According to Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau, 2015 “presented us with an easy growing season, and for the first time in years, we even obtained reasonable quantities.  Even so, it appeared that we would have a huge production, but in the end, there wasn’t all that much juice in the berries, so yields turned out to be normal.”  The Les Tessons vineyard lies among a cluster of lieu dit vineyards just west of the village.  Burgundy authority, Clive Coates MW named Domaine Michel Bouzereau as one of the “best cellars for (these) Deuxièmes Crus.”   Coates went on to call the domaine the “best of the Bouzereau cellars [with] fine, racy, stylish wines which can be held longer than most.”  Bouzereau began picking his 2015 a little early, in late August, preserving the zippy acidity levels a ripe vintage like 2015 needed for balance.  Burghound’s Allen Meadows writes that the domaine’s 2015 clearly outperformed the general quality of the vintage.  The wine is showing lovely aromas of citrus, peach, apple, and a hint of smoke.  Drink from 2018-2028.

2010 Beaune 1er Cru Les Toussaints

Domaine Xavier Monnot

2010 Xavier Monnot Beaune Les Toussaints 1er CruWe went down to the cellar to pick the red wine for this installment of the T.O.B.!  The 2010 vintage for red Burgundy was a great one, and it seems that all of the pundits agree.  It’s classic in nature, though in general terms, the wines’ structures are firmer than their 2009 counterparts suggesting they’ll be longer lived.  Aubert de Villaine of Domaine Romanée-Conti conveyed that the 2010 reds are more terroir driven than the ripe 2009’s.  In Beaune, the Les Toussaints vineyard is just west of the village, sandwiched between Cent Vignes, Bressandes, and Les Grèves along the mineral-rich line of Premier Cru vineyards at the base of the slope.  Formerly known as Domaine René Monnier (named for his maternal grandfather), Xavier Monnot can trace his lineage back for six generations of winegrowers.   His 2010 Les Toussaints shows crunchy dark fruit, smoke, and spice on the nose.  The palate is medium bodied and well balanced with the dark fruit at its core.  The finish is bright and all in balance.  It’s just hitting its drinking plateau now and should provide pleasure through 2027.       

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The August 2017 Dirty Dozen Wine Club

Friday, August 4, 2017 12:15 PM





The month of August is about as summer as summer gets! 31 days, no national holidays, okay, maybe a solar eclipse this year, and sure, there is always the Perseid meteor shower, but celestial shows are always better viewed away from cities – perhaps while camping? Why not? Well, however you spend your August, we’ve got your wine needs in this here box. 12 bottles, all different, all chosen for their versatility, for one low price. The August Dirty Dozen!



2015 Muscadet, Domaine Des 3 Versants $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Located in the village of La Févrie, on the banks of the Sevre River, this 4th generation family owned estate makes textbook Muscadet. Handpicked grapes are vinified in tank and left on the lees (sur lie) through the winter before bottling. Super crisp with a tonic attack, try it with raw oysters (the perfect pairing) or with a main course salad.



2016 Bianco, Isola Del Satiro $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

This is an appealing blend of Catarrato, a native Sicilian grape, and Grecanico, aka Garganega, the grape most commonly used for making Soave. Produced by Alcesti whose vineyards stretch over 30 hectares south of Marsala on Sicily’s west coast. Youthful, with vigorous notes of yellow fruit, pair with Arancini, grilled swordfish or stuffed squid.



2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Clifford Bay $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

In the heat of summer, a vibrant, grassy, sassy Sauvignon Blanc will often hit the spot. This Sauvignon Blanc is made with grapes grown in New Zealand’s Marlborough region, and they claim to have approximately 2400 hours of sunshine per year. The sunny, dry climate ensures full ripening of the grapes. Anything with goat cheese pairs beautifully here.



2016 Rosé Les Cimels, Château d’Or et de Gueules $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Fresh off the boat, and the first of our sextet of 2016 French Rosés to be included in The Dirty Dozen, the Les Cimels Rosé is a lively, dry offering. Made in the Provenç:al style, blending 40% Mourvèdre and 40% Cinsault (with equal parts Syrah and Grenache), one sip can whisk you away to the pebbly shores of France’s Mediterranean coast. Serve it with a bowl o’mussels.



2015 Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc, Château Ferran $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Another 4 grape blend here, (40% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, 10% Muscadelle, 10% Sauvignon Gris) this white Bordeaux is all about great value! All tank fermented, one swirl and sniff results in clean, fresh aromas of acacia and citrus blossoms. The palate opens up to flavors of apricots and peaches and it finishes crisp and complex. Petrale Sole will work well with this wine.



2015 Bourgogne Aligoté, Domaine Verret $14.49, $11.59 reorder

Brand new among our roster of French imports, Domaine Verret is located in the Yonne department of Burgundy. Southwest of Chablis and southeast of the city of Auxerre, it’s a hidden corner of Burgundy. This Aligot´ makes for a perfect apèritif white. Notes of straw and leesy white fruit greet you aromatically and the palate is round with a fruity core. Crabcakes anybody?



2012 BioNoir, Tinhof $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

Organically grown Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and St. Laurent are blended together to create a soft-tannin red that exudes aromas of red cherry and violet notes. Erwin Tinhof owns thirty five acres of vineyards in the northern part of Austria’s Burgenland region. Serve at a cool cellar temperature, so chill it if you need to – serve with pork & veggie brochettes.



2015 Rosso Conero, Marchetti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Maurizio Marchetti is masterful with the Montepulciano grape. His entry-level Rosso Conero, the Castro di San Silvestro, over delivers for price, vintage to vintage. Aged in old Slavonian oak barrels for 14 months, this wine combines power with finesse. Brambly blackberry flavors are front and center. A smart choice for humble cuts of beef.



2015 Red Blend, Jordanov $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder 

Winemaking in the landlocked Macedonian Republic can be traced back centuries. The Jordanov family makes wine from both indigenous and international varieties at their winery in Tikves. The Red Blend is a third each Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Vranec, a black-skinned grape native to the Balkans. Enjoy with cevapcici or sausages.



2014 Côtes de Provence Les Trois Frères, Domaine des Aspras $17.59, $14.07 reorder

“I like my red wines earthy and fuller bodied.” Say that to any of us, and we’ll put a bottle of the 2014 Les Trois Frères in your hands. 90% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; the farming is all organic here, and the wine dark and brooding with that dominant earthy aroma. It’s the perfect wine for those grilled steaks and truffled mashed potatoes.



2013 Agrippa, Grange des Rouquette $17.59, $14.07 reorder

The southern Rhône Valley’s dominant red grape has to be Grenache, though there is a healthy dose of Syrah growing there which is used in blends. So a 100% Syrah from the southern Rhône is a bit of an anomaly, though Thierry Boudinaud happily makes his Agrippa when the conditions are perfect. Pour it with a smoked brisket.



2015 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder

And rounding out this month’s DD is our pal, Enrico Pierazzuoli’s 2015 Chianti Montalbano. When he was here back in February, Enrico regaled us with tales of the challenges of the 2014 vintage, though he was happy with the end result. His take on the 2015? “We could have just stayed at the beach.” Conditions were THAT good. A perfect spaghetti red.

Muller Thurgau From Oregon

Monday, July 31, 2017 12:07 PM

My wine o’clock choice for Summer sipping while sitting on the front porch, whether I’m checking in on my mom by phone or greeting neighbors as they stroll by, is typically something light, dry and white, and preferably something low in alcohol. The 2015 Müller-Thurgau from Oregon’s Anne Amie meets all of my criteria. In addition, it has a delightful fruitiness that runs the gamut from citrus to fresh pear. Bottled under screw cap, there is an effervescent tingle that dissipates quickly after opening. It is a wine that is so easy to like and so pleasantly uncomplicated.







Müller-Thurgau is commonly found in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy, Slovenia and much of Eastern Europe. Invented by a man named Dr. Herman Müller in 1882, it is a crossing between Riesling and Madeleine Royale.Dr. Herman Müller was born in the Swiss Canton of Thurgau, hence the grape’s name. In Oregon, only a handful of wineries currently grow the grape. Anne Amie’s twelve acres of vines were first planted in 1979. Luckily, despite Müller-Thurgau’s lowly reputation worldwide, Anne Amie has embraced their old-vine plot to successfully produce a wine of distinction and charm.



AnneAmie2



It’s funny but true – I hear similar stories from winery folks all the time – aromatic varietals like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Müller-Thurgau sell well in winery tasting rooms, but have a hard time making an impact on the wine market at large. I have a few explanations for this phenomenon. One is that after a day tasting one young heavy red after another, trying something fresh, aromatic and light on its feet is a welcome departure. Not to mention, not all occasions call for profound, contemplative wines. Sometimes the simplest wine is the most enjoyable one. Think of this 2015 Müller-Thurgau as the equivalent of the perfect Summer beach read – it’s easy to get and satisfying to consume.



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There won’t be any tropical beach getaways for my family this summer. Instead we opted for three tickets to see Hamilton, An American Musical. After nine months of listening to the soundtrack non-stop, it was satisfying to finally see it performed. We surprised my daughter with the tickets, who was left speechless when she saw that they were for that evenings’ performance. This weekend there will be more musical theater shows to see. My girl is performing in a production of Les Miserables as one of the “lovely ladies”, aka Prostitute #3. I couldn’t be more proud! -Anya Balistreri

Fronton And Gaillac – Rustic Charm

Thursday, July 27, 2017 12:03 PM

Just a few kilometers north of the city of Toulouse, lay the wine growing appellations of Fronton and Gaillac. These two appellations aren’t as well known as some others in France; perhaps this is due to their somewhat isolated location – either a two and a half hour drive southeast from Bordeaux or a three and a half hour drive southwest from Nîmes. They’re just smack dab in the middle of the country, just north of the Pyrenees.






Château Coutinel is owned by Vignobles Arbeau and is currently run by Géraud Arbeau (since 2002) and his sister, Anne (since 2005). Arbeau père et fils was founded in 1878 by the siblings’ great, great grandfather, Prosper. It was his grandson, Pierre, who graduated from the Superior Commerce School of Toulouse, who grew the company by expanding both wine activity and that of the family’s distillery. The property was acquired by Pierre’s parents, Jean-Louis and Cécile in 1920 and has been in the family ever since.



In Fronton the principle grape is Negrette, and the appellation’s decree is that each Fronton wine be at least 50% of the variety. It’s a lighter bodied grape which makes for spicy aromatics, a lively palate, and light tannin structure, similar to Gamay Noir. For the Fronton, they use 60% Negrette, 20% Gamay, 10% Syrah, and 10% Malbec. I found it to be a perfect match for a rotisserie chicken! If you want to try Negrette on its own, you’re in luck, as they bottle one of those as well.



Château Langlade has been in the Pagès family for more than 5 generations, and has been managed by Thierry Pagès since 1982. The grapes grown in Langlade’s vineyard are Duras, Braucol, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, and Syrah, and all the vines are over 25 years old. The 2015 Gaillac rouge consisting of near equal parts Duras, Braucol, and Syrah. The aromatics are alive with purple berry fruit, dried tobacco leaf, and earthy mineral. The palate is bright and lively, with the fruit and acid locked in harmony, the tannins are very light, and the finish is well-balanced. It has the rustic charm of a lighter bodied vin de table on would expect served at a café along some of France’s backroads. – Peter Zavialoff

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Classic Rioja – 75 Years In The Making!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:51 AM

Viña Ardanza, the estate owned by La Rioja Alta, is celebrating its 75th Anniversay this year with the release of their 2008 Rioja Reserva. The 2008 is the first vintage that uses 100% grapes grown by the estate. In years past the 20% Garnacha that was blended in with their estate grown Tempranillo was purchased from other growers. While purchasing grapes in and of itself is not problematic, it is clear from statements made by winemaker Julio Sáenz that having control over all of the grapes is a welcome improvement. Sáenz even compares the 2008 to the extraordinary 2001 Reserva Especial which also happens to be the only other Spanish red wine I’ve ever written about for a Saturday night newsletter – that was five years ago!


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Though La Rioja Alta is considered a classic, traditional producer of Rioja, their winery facility is state-of-the art. What makes Viña Ardanza Rioja considered traditional is the winemaking and aging. After fermentation, the wine is put into barrels. The barrels are made “in house” in their own cooperage using only American oak that has been cured outside for two years. The wine does not go into new oak, but into used barrels. It is then racked, using gravity, every six months for 3 years (a little less time for the Garnacha). This extended racking method removes sediment from the wine and gently oxygenates it, which helps to soften the tannins and creates an opulent, supple texture. Nearly ten years out from harvest, the wine shows both maturity and youthful vigor. This contrast provides a complex tasting experience; flavors of fresh red cherries mingle with balsamic, herb, spice and cedar.



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Most of the time, you will hear me banging the drum for small production wineries. La Rioja Alta is not a small producer. At any one time, they are said to have over 50,000 barrels and 6.4 million bottles stored- not all of it Viña Ardanza, of course. So for the consumer of Viña Ardanza, this means an opportunity to drink aged, classic Rioja at a very affordable price. At less than $35 a bottle, you can drink an aged, ready to drink red from one of the world’s great wine regions made by one of its most respected producers. I’d say that is real value, and a true bargain.



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I played tourist with my husband, daughter and one of her friends on my day-off this week. We went to the Academy of Sciences, rented a pedal-boat on Stow Lake, had lunch at The Yellow Submarine and got a scoop of ice cream at Polly Ann’s. On the way home, driving north out of the city we marveled at the majestic fog ripping down the Headlands. We drove with the windows open so we could greet the fog and let it cool us. It was a very good day. - Anya Balistreri

I’ve got to get out on our sales floor a little more often! Funny, I work here 5 days a week, so there goes any excuse … Every now and then, presumably on my days off, newly acquired wines make their way to the floor without my noticing them. Here at TWH, we’re like a little family, constantly sharing food and wine tasting experiences, so it was not out of the ordinary when I arrived at work a few days ago and struck up a conversation with Anya. “Oh man, I popped into Picco last night and they’re pouring this delicious Saumur by the glass! It was great; light on its feet, yet with just the right amount of fruit, all framed with the classic herbal and earthy character one gets from Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. I have a new go-to!”

“Who is the producer?” She asked.

“I don’t remember (I had more than one glass). Let me look it up, I bet it’s on their beverage list online.” At which point I surfed to said list and proclaimed, “Yeah, this is it. It’s the 2015 Saumur from La Paleine.”

“Yes, Pete. That’s a good one indeed. You know, it’s out on our floor right now.”

“This Saumur?”

Anya was chuckling now. “Yes. You might want to take a look around every once in a while.”

Talk about instant gratification …



The commune of Saumur is perhaps best known for its fancy chateau which sits on the hill above it. It’s also one of a handful of Loire Valley appellations which produces some of the world’s finest Cabernet Franc wines. Domaine de la Paleine is located in Puy-Notre-Dame, 20km southwest of the chateau, and the 32 hectare property is mainly planted to Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. The soil is clay upon limestone, and the tufa subsoil acts as a sponge, absorbing excess water after the rains, and releasing it slowly when the vines need it. Owners Marc and Laurence Vincent had sought AB (certified organic) status beginning in 2010, and were rewarded with the certification beginning in 2013. As mentioned above, the wine is well balanced with textbook Loire Valley Cab Franc aromas in seamless harmony. The palate is medium in body, with bright acidity and a round raspberry-like core. Loire Valley Cabernet Franc brings out the wine-geek in me, so I am more than thrilled that I can procure a bottle of this for around the same price that restaurants charge for a glass!


This is not the first time that I have tasted a wine at Picco, only to subsequently find it among our offerings here at TWH. I have to give a big tip of the hat to such a fine restaurant in which I have enjoyed countless delicious meals, great wines and company over the years. I have made many friends there, including many members of their staff, which is coincidentally like a little family. This takes me back to my very first professional interaction with a manager who worked there over 9 years ago. On a quiet evening, we were discussing one of her new wines for the list, and I was more than intrigued to try it. When she said we could all try it as long as we covered the bottle’s cost, I was the first one to pony up the cash for my share. After all, it was Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. – Peter Zavialoff


The July 2017 Dirty Dozen

Friday, July 7, 2017 11:41 AM

Happy July, everybody! Believe it or not, 2017 is half over, but the better half is coming on! Summertime is always a great time of year for parties, picnics, barbecues, beach time, holidays, and vacations. For this July, we’ve chosen a case of 12 bottles, all different, all versatile, and all in harmony with summer. So this month, make it easy on yourself and your budget. Stop on by TWH and pick up your Dirty Dozen today!


Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines


2015 Minervois Blanc, Château Paraza $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

The Danglas family purchased the famous Château de Paraza ten years ago. In that short time, they have brought the property and wine back to its former glory. A blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Grenache Blanc, this snappy white is full of delicate floral aromas and finishes with flavors of white peach; a great choice for fish tacos, ceviche, or Pizza Bianco.


2014 Pecorino, I Fauri $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder

Pecorino is found grown along Italy’s eastern coastal regions. Dry and minerally, this white has floral and citrus notes with a flinty aroma that borders on minty-ness. After tasting this with staff, the decision was made to double our order. We anticipate many reorders, plus we wanted to make sure there was enough stock for us too! Try with Fritto Misto!


2015 Jongieux, Carrel $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Jongieux is a named cru within the Savoie appellation. In this Alpine region you will find whites made from the Jacquère grape that are grown at high altitude. Low in alcohol, this Jongieux is fresh and zippy with flavors of ripe pear and citrus. Serve chilled as an aperitif or tote along on your next trip to the coast to have with some raw oysters.


2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Domaine Boudinaud $7.95 sale price, $7.55 reorder

TWH pals Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud have several irons in the fire in and around the southern Rhône Valley. This CdR Blanc is made from 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne, and it shows fleshy yellow fruit with a crisp finish. It’s an easy wine to just pop and pour. Put a nice chill on this and serve it up with a seared Ahi tuna BLT. 


2014 Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

This is 100% Chenin Blanc is from old bush vines planted in decomposed granite in the Helderberg area of Stellenbosch, facing the ocean. Those ocean breezes keep the fruit relatively cool and fresh, lending balancing acidity to the tangy, voluptuous, green apple-like fruit. So grab an ice bucket, head outdoors, and enjoy it over a long balmy evening! 


2016 À Lisa VDP du Var, Domaine des Aspras $12.99, $10.39 reorder

The more we taste the wines from Domaine des Aspras, the more we love what is going on there. In brief, the family fled Germany in the 1930’s, and settled in Congo, only to flee once again, this time to Provence in the 1960’s. They quickly learned how to make wine, and with modern ingenuity, the next generation produces some of the best values in our bins. 


2016 Rouge, Guilhelm Moulin de Gassac $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

A four grape blend from vines that range in age from 25-50 years old, this red is hearty and brimming with fruit. All tank fermented and devoid of any oak treatment, this is a humble wine made by the folks behind the legendary Languedoc winery, Mas de Gaussac. Take inspiration from any cuisine found along the Mediterranean Sea when pairing up this red. 


2015 Pinot Noir, Wonderwall $17.98 net price, $16.18 reorder

And just like that, our best-selling California Pinot Noir ends up in the DD. It’s a tremendous value from winemaker Andrew Jones who claims to have stood in every vineyard on the Central Coast. The grapes come from two vineyards with close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Strawberry and cherry flavors persist. Try it with lamb, pork, or turkey burgers. 


2014 Zinfandel, Foxglove $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder 

Brothers Bob and Jim Varner make this affordable and delicious Zinfandel from fruit grown in Paso Robles. Juicy and vibrant with brambly fruit notes, though not a wimpy wine, it is a tad less bombastic than most Paso Zins. If outside temperatures spike, don’t be afraid to give this red a slight chill to keep flavors popping. It’s magnificent with bbq ribs.


2015 Dolcetto d’Alba, Aurelio Settimo $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Barolo winemaker Tiziana Settimo worked with her father, Aurelio, for 20 years before taking over a decade ago. While Nebbiolo plantings dominate her family’s holdings, she continues to tend to her 1 hectare of Dolcetto. It’s juicy and grapey with bright acidity and easy tannins. Pour this with ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms smothered in red sauce. 


2015 Ventoux Rouge, Tour de l’Isle $13.49, $10.79 reorder

No doubt, many of you have enjoyed wines from this negociant-like producer in the southern Rhône Valley. Robert Rocchi works with a handful of growers in the region and bottles each wine with his own Tour de l’Isle label. Rocchi is not afraid to make wines that taste good. Case in point this lovely Ventoux rouge. This has backyard bbq written all over it. 


2014 Château Bellevue la Randée $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder

Speaking of backyard bbq, this red Bordeaux wine comes from the stable of Jean-Luc Thunevin, one of the original Bordeaux garagiste winemakers, whose top wine can sell for over $200! But this is the DD, and this month, we include Jean-Luc’s entry-level red, which is also perfect for the outdoor grill. Spare ribs, steaks, and chops can be enjoyed here.

Giving Back – La Cuadrilla!

Monday, July 3, 2017 11:28 AM

What is now known as The La Cuadrilla program at Stolpman Vineyards began as a way for the vineyard manager to better train his crew. The idea was to dedicate a two-acre block, or cuadra, that the vineyard crew had to then cultivate, from pruning to harvest, without supervision. This training block was called the La Cuadrilla, in Spanish meaning the people of the block. To challenge the crew even further, this two-acre training block would be set up in another part of the vineyard the next vintage. Eventually the vineyard manager confided to owner Tom Stolpman the success of this training system. It was Tom who came up with the idea of making wine from that training block and giving those bottles to the crew as a way to enjoy the fruits of their labor. By 2009, the program expanded to include fruit from other parts of the vineyard so that La Cuadrilla could be sold commercially. Profits from the sale of La Cuadrilla are divided among the vineyard crew in the form of a year-end bonus. This is a creative way for all to benefit by incentivizing learning and taking steps to achieve sustainable employment. Bravo to Stolpman Vineyards!



Of course, in order for this program to really work well, the wine has to be good – this can’t be just a gimmick. The 2015 La Cuadrilla is a lively blend of Syrah with small additions of Grenache, some of it old vine, and Sangiovese. The wine is vinified in concrete tanks and then aged in neutral barrel. La Cuadrilla has a lot of brightness and tart red fruit. It isn’t heavy or over-ripe, but is dominated by red fruit flavors and a pleasant, earthy note. Because of its fresh palate feel, it’s a great choice for warm-weather food pairings like smoky barbecued meats.




Stolpman Vineyards is located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Ballard Canyon AVA. Ballard Canyon is Santa Barbara’s newest AVA and sits between the Santa Rita Hills and Happy Canyon. Ballard Canyon benefits from warm days during the growing season and is protected from wind by the surrounding hills. Temperatures drop significantly at night. Some soils, like at Stolpman, have limestone deposits.



I won’t only be celebrating our nation’s birthday this weekend. I will also be celebrating my mother’s birthday and my own. Mother and daughter will be throwing a joint birthday party! My brother, bless his heart, suggested putting only one candle on each of our birthday desserts. I agreed, adding that we wouldn’t want to ignite a raging inferno. My birthday year was not a particularly good vintage for wine throughout most of world. No worries here because the party calls for youthful wines, so La Cuadrilla will make an appearance on the table. It should be another great family meal up at the dacha out on the deck beneath the Redwoods. Happy Happy, Everyone! – Anya Balistreri

2016 Chateau Armurey Bordeaux Clairet

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 11:19 AM

MYTH: Bordeaux wines are too expensive. First off, “too expensive” is subjective. Secondly, due to high global demand, the most famous Bordeaux wines can be very expensive. These are the wines that grab the headlines. These are the wines around which this myth was born. It has been reported that less than 5% of all Bordeaux wine sells for more than 15€! Let that soak in for a moment. That means that more than 95% of all Bordeaux wine sells for less than 15€ per bottle. So even when we grumble about Château Beau-Coup de l’Argent raising their price by 20% each year over the past three vintages, we still know an overwhelming majority of producers do not engage in such practices. The subject of this week’s Saturday night email is a big favorite of ours. I don’t want to bore anyone here, because it does fall into the 95% category. It is actually a rather unusual wine, as a quick look at WineSearcher Pro Version reveals only two other merchants in the US are listing a 2016 vintage of this type of wine. And after having not purchased any of the 2015 vintage of this wine, we are thrilled to welcome back to our bins, the 2016 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet!



Though seemingly not as obscure as it once may have been, one still must search hard to find a Bordeaux Clairet (say clare-AY), especially here in the states. A reminder: Bordeaux Clairet is a light red wine, darker than a Rosé and lighter than your typical red table wine. It is made in roughly the same way a Rosé may be made, only the juice stays with the skins longer which produces more pronounced flavors and aromas, as well as its happy-go-lucky color. It is made much like the wines which were shipped from Bordeaux to England in the middle ages. These Bordeaux Clairets were enjoyed by the English from the time of Eleanor of Acquitaine’s marriage to the eventual King Henry II in 1154. These wines were the inspiration of the English word Claret (say clare-ETT), still in use today, to describe the much darker red wines from Bordeaux. Bordeaux Clairet is the perfect red wine for summer. Don’t want to drink white wine with your backyard ‘cued burgers and dogs? Don’t fret; a chilled glass of 2016 Château Armurey Clairet will do the trick. Pizza and red sauced pasta? Sure a fine spaghetti red always works, but in the heat of summer? Bordeaux Clairet is the answer. Earning nicknames like, “Fruit Punch for adults, Oh Yeah!, and the anti-wine-geek wine,” we’ve enjoyed this wine going back to the 2012 vintage.

Our quest for Bordeaux Clairet began with a question from a former colleague, which set in motion our tracking down the 2012 vintage. It proved to be a big favorite, not only for our customers, but for each and every one of us.The 2013 came and went. Quickly. The 2014 came with its own humorous story and was enjoyed by all, but when it came time for the 2015, we hit a logistical snag and had to pass on it rather than receive it in late September of last year. Sorry about that. Learning from our mistake, we were sure to buy the 2016 as soon as it was released, and it arrived just as spring was packing its bags and moving on. Anya, Chris, and I have all taken bottles home to enjoy, and we are in agreement that it is the perfect wine for these summer days. Sip it on its own, or pair it with comfort food, the 2016 Armurey Clairet will put a smile on your face and save you some cash to boot!


FACT: Most Bordeaux wine is inexpensive. One fact that often goes unmentioned is that in many cases, estates in Bordeaux are passed down in families for generations, taking real estate costs off the table. The majority of Bordeaux producers are farming families living off the land, producing wine for their own consumption, and allowing the excess to be sold in the marketplace. We’re just happy that we came across the Armurey Clairet a few years ago, as it has become a symbol of summertime for many of you and all of us. Wishing you all good health and fortune for the summer of ’17. – Peter Zavialoff


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