The January 2019 Dirty Dozen

Thursday, January 3, 2019 1:23 PM

The January 2019 Dirty Dozen

Happy New Year! 

Here we are again, it’s January, and the slate has been wiped clean.

2019 has arrived, and here in northern California, the chill is setting in (by our standards). We looked at today’s forecast, and it says that the next week will be a wet one. 

So, while we stay dry indoors, we’re thinking it’s time to make a hearty dish to pair with a wine from our January Dirty Dozen!

January 2019 Dirty Dozen - The Chillables

The Chillables


2015 Blanco, Vilerma  $19.98 net price, $17.98 reorder    

Traveling east from Rias Baixas in Spain, next up is Ribeiro. Here the influence of the Atlantic is still felt, but the rainfall is slightly lower and the temperatures slightly warmer. This blend of mostly Treixadura combines sunny, citrusy fruit with a solid backbone of acidity. Golden green color in the glass, pair with deep fried veggies or crustaceans. 



2017 Chardonnay, Fableist $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

This Central Coast Chardonnay has been our bestselling white from California under $25 for several vintages. Rich and creamy with just the right amount of oak, it appeals to a wide range of palates that appreciate rich fruit, oaky notes and balance. The label attracts the eye, the wine keeps customers buying it over and over. Nosh with lemon roasted chicken. 



2017 Gemischter Satz DAC, Bernreiter $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder    

Vienna is the only world capital with a significant wine production. It has its own appellation and hundreds of years of wine history. Gemischter Satz is a single wine from a multiple varietal vineyard. Paul Bernreiter makes Gemischter Satz for his heuriger (wine bar/restaurant), but some makes it here. Lively, try with fried meat, cabbage or mushroom tarts. 



2016 Chateau Boisson Blanc, Bordeaux $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder

This estate owns nearly 30 acres of vines grown along the Garonne River. The vineyard sits atop a hill that overlooks ancient stone quarries. A 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, this tank-fermented white offers plenty of orange blossom and perky citrus notes. Ideal with ingredients like goat cheese, smoked salmon or trout and raw oysters.



2017 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Colle Maggio, Torre Zambra $16.99, $13.59 reorder

Limited contact between the grape skins and fermented juice creates the vibrant magenta color of Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. Torre Zambra’s is made exclusively from the varietal, Montepulciano. Cherry on the nose, cherry on the palate and cherry on the finish is the name of the game. Delicious with seafood stews, spicy sausage pizzas and cheesesteaks.



2017 Lugana, Ca’Lojera $16.99, $13.59 reorder

Lugana is a viticultural appellation that straddles the regional border of Lombardy in the west with Veneto in the east. Ca’Lojera’s vineyards are located near Brescia along the flatlands of Lake Garda. It is here that the grape Turbiana flourishes, producing wines of complexity and minerality. Lush and structured, pair up with pan-roasted halibut.

January 2019 Dirty Dozen - The Reds

The Reds


2017 Pinot Noir, Wonderwall $17.98 net price, $16.18 reorder

This is the 3rd vintage we’ve stocked from winemaker Andrew Jones. His Wonderwall Pinot Noir offers great value, using fruit from well-placed vineyards along the Pacific Coast. Telltale flavors of red cherry, black tea and cola permeate the palate. Jammy, yet light on its feet, food pairing possibilities are endless. Coq Au Vin or Chicken Marbella would be nice!

2015 Rioja, Palacio del Burgo $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

This simple, delicious Tempranillo is yet another example of why Spain is where one should look first for well-made, affordable reds. Nothing fancy, the grapes are fermented in steel and aged in concrete vats. The flavors are redolent of black berry and tangy raspberry with gentle tannins and a plush mouthfeel. Serve with tagines, tahdiq or paella. 

2016 Rosso, Paolo Scavino $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

The Scavino family have been making world-famous Barolo since 1921. What a thrill to discover their Vino Rosso, a blend of Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera and Merlot. A delightful table wine that affords everyday enjoyment from a super star producer. Light to medium-bodied, tangy red fruit with lots of freshness. Pair with red-sauced pasta and/or meatballs.

2016 Chateau des Judes, Bordeaux $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder

70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, aged and fermented in steel tank.  Bright red berry and black currant aromas, palate is more focused and less whimsical, the fruit is part of the overall balanced structure. The finish is substantial with sticky tannins that linger.  Fans of The Beatles know what to hum when sipping this wine.

2013 Ventoux Rouge, Domaine de Fondreche $16.99, $13.59 reorder

A recent featured article in Wine Spectator described Fondreche’s Sebastien Vincenti as “an obsessively fastidious grower and winemaker”. His entry-level Ventoux (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) captures the essence of the region, making a red that combines mature fruit with a thread of freshness and minerality. Pair with Mediterranean cuisine.

2016 À Lisa Rouge, Domaine des Aspras $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Domaine des Aspras was established by the Lutz family in the early 1960’s. Mostly Merlot, the À Lisa is a funky, quirky Provençal red that highlights the impeccable organic farming of this estate. Unoaked with plenty of red berry fruit that couples harmoniously with the tame and mild tannins. Serve with Beef Daube, Stroganoff, Goulash or Bourguignon.

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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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Sometimes, you just want some comfort wine ...

Saturday, December 15, 2018 12:10 PM

Sometimes, you just want some comfort wine ...
The Gates At Domaine St. Remy

Sometimes, you just want some comfort wine ...

It's true that some pretty fancy, special wines are gifted and consumed during the holidays. I have helped many customers find some special bottles for gifts and for themselves. I probably don't need to mention that I am one of those customers! I've been lucky enough to receive some special wines as gifts as well, and for that, I am very grateful.

As a friend of mine regularly says, "There are traditions, but there are no rules." For me, when it comes to special wines, fancy or not, there is one rule:  It must be shared. This is a must. As independent as I tend to be, I do not waver from this rule. I have a handful of wine loving friends with which I share the fancy stuff, but you won't ever see me reach into one of my boxes here and take home a Leoville Las Cases to enjoy with some takeout on a Tuesday. Of course, these friends also have been very generous with me.

There are a couple of occasions on the horizon for which I have an inkling to bring something special, but when the madness of December at TWH simmers at the end of a weekday, I just want to get home and relax, cook up some dinner and have a glass of wine or two. A wine that really does the trick for me is the 2016 Domaine St. Rémy Rosenberg Pinot Noir. It's a special wine in its own right. It's complex, delicious, doesn't cost a lot, and it's pretty versatile.

Coming in just under $20 (mixed case price), I don't feel like I need to share the experience each time I have a glass of it, but hey, I'm in the industry and like to drink complex, delicious wines ... even if I'm going home alone on a Wednesday night. The aromatics are proper - red berries, strawberries even, crushed autumn leaves, forest floor, and a hint of the sauvage. The palate is lightweight and lively, the fruit expressive and the complexity abundant. And though the fruit is a ripe, signature Pinot Noir fruit, there is something unmistakably Old World about this wine. It's dry, there is no perceptible sweetness to it at all. Its versatility is where it really hits home. Though it wouldn't be my first choice with a rib-eye, it is my first choice with a Neapolitan Pizza. In fact, it will work with almost all red sauce based Mediterranean cuisine. It goes great with burgers and pork chops, heck one can even enjoy it with salmon!
Founded in 1725, Domaine St. Rémy is in the Alsatian town of Wettolsheim, just southwest of the region's picturesque showpiece, Colmar. Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart have several holdings in the vicinity, including Grand Crus Brand, Hengst, Schlossberg, and Goldert. Certified organic in 2010, they are now farming biodynamically, and have been certified since 2012. They produce Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Auxerrois, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and they make a sparkling Crémant using Chardonnay. We've been working with the Ehrharts for over 15 years and are happy to be their California importer.

Okay, T minus 10 days until Christmas! For this occasion, we will be open the next two Sundays from 12 noon until 4:00 pm. The weather looks a bit gloomy outside with rain expected tomorrow. I'll be in the shop tomorrow, but after that, it will be back home for dinner and a glass of that delicious, complex, comfort wine:  the 2016 Domaine St. Rémy Rosenberg Pinot Noir! - Peter Zavialoff

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Perle de Roche Crémant de Bourgogne from Jean-Marie Chaland
Perle-de-Roche-with-glasses

If it isn't Champagne, what do you call it?

In France, the term used to denote a sparkling wine other than Champagne is Crémant. The Perle de Roche Brut Nature from Domaine Sainte Barbe is a Crémant de Bourgogne and therefore technically not a Champagne, but you’d be hard pressed to guess otherwise if given a glass to taste blind. An absolute dead ringer for authentic Champagne.

And, just like it's done in Champagne, Domaine Sainte Barbe has the wine go through secondary fermentation in bottle. This is called Méthode Traditionnelle. The legendary monk, Dom Perignon, is erroneously credited for discovering this technique of making still wine into sparkling wine. The transformation of still into sparkling wine was less of a sudden discovery and more like a drawn-out process that evolved over a long time period. At any rate, Domaine Sainte Barbe’s winemaker, Jean-Marie Chaland, uses 100% Chardonnay, a blanc de blancs as it were, from the lieux-dits La Verchère, a parcel of 50 year old vines in Viré, just north of Mâcon. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils, lending a pronounced mineral quality to the wine.

jean-marie-chaland
Jean-Marie leaves his Perle de Roche en tirage for a good long time; it sits on the lees for 30 months before disgorgement. Perle de Roche is a Brut Nature, which means it has zero dosage and less than 3 grams of sugar per litre. As a comparison, a Brut can have up to 12 grams of sugar per litre. In other words, it is a sparkling wine for Rock Heads – an affectionate term used for wine drinkers who have an affinity for mineral-driven, steely wines. At the store, we call the Perle de Roche, the Poor Man’s Les Mesnil because of that distinctive, crisp, sleek finish.

Perle de Roche is not made in every vintage and production is tiny, less than 300 hundred cases produced. The bottling we have in stock is entirely from the 2014 vintage. A truly artisanal effort. And here is the real kicker - it's only $28.98 per bottle! 

No need to twist my arm, I gladly embrace the tradition of drinking a glass – or two- of bubbly this time of year. Of course, I don’t usually need any encouragement to drink it as I adhere to the Lily Bollinger way of thinking (“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” LB)

This holiday season, I’ll be stocking up with bottles of Perle de Roche to take to parties, give out as gifts and have at the ready in case people pop by the house. The price makes it doable. It doesn’t hurt either that the package is elegant, but ultimately it is the quality in the bottle that will impress and so no one will be the wiser that I did not have to overpay for mediocre Champagne. 

Cheers! - Anya Balistreri
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The December 2018 Dirty Dozen

Monday, December 3, 2018 3:55 PM

The December 2018 Dirty Dozen

11 down, one to go! It’s December, and there’s no mistaking that chill in the air. The days have grown short, with the winter solstice coming up in a few weeks. We’ve already lit a few candles on the menorah, and we’ll be ready to trim the tree in time for Xmas. That makes this a super important time of year to be well stocked in the wine dept. 

The December Dirty Dozen has something for everyone; stop by and get your DD today!

Chillables Bottle Lineup

The Chillables


2016 Albariño, La Milla    $18.98 net price, $17.08 reorder        

Enthusiasts of crisp, mineral-driven whites are flocking to Albariño, especially those from Spain’s Rias Baxias region. La Milla is made from biodynamic and organically farmed vines, 40-80 years old, grown on shallow sandy soil in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Sleek peach and apple flavors meet with a note of anisette. Keep it raw, pair with sushi or ceviche.



2016 Rueda, Vevi   $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder

The wine region of Rueda is located in the heart of Spain where the elevation is high and the climate continental. Rueda is the ancestral home of the Verdejo grape. Vevi’s Verdejo highlights its distinctive character, embracing vivid flavors of ripe pears. The wine sits on its lees for 4-6 months giving the wine its lush texture. Pair up with the catch of the day.



2017 Fiction White, Field Recordings   $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder      

Winemaker Andrew Jones claims to have stood in about every vineyard on CA’s Central Coast. This vast knowledge of the region helps him access the finest grapes. His Fiction White is a multivineyard blend of Chardonnay (80%) with Chenin Blanc and Verdelho. A combo of oak and stainless steel fermentation makes for a fleshy and lively wine. 



2017 Côtes du Rhône Blanc, Tour de l’Isle   $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Rhône scholar, Robert Rocchi, acts as a négociant to a handful of growers in the southern Rhône, making decisions on final blends. Made from Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Clairette, it’s another great value from one of France’s value-centric regions. It shows aromas of pears and peaches and finishes soft and balanced. Happy crab season!



2014 Montagny Les Guignottes, Domaine Les Guignottes   $12.95 sale price, $12.30 reorder

White Burgundy in the Dirty Dozen. White Burgundy which is on-sale, no less! Montagny is an appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise, which is just south of Burgundy’s vaunted Côte d’Or. Only white wines are allowed to adorn the AOC on their bottles, and the grape is Chardonnay, of course.  This is an expressive, fruit driven white, pair it with scallops.



2017 Rosé À Lisa, Domaine Aspras   $13.99, $11.19 reorder

It’s one thing to ask any of us which Rosé is our favorite; answering that question would be subject to the mood we’re in.  Take a look at staff invoices and you’ll see that it’s this Rosé. Why not? It’s dry, crisp, and it has wonderful fruity aromas which lay in fine balance throughout the tasting experience. Pair it with a bowl of mussels and you’ll be set.

The Reds


2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, CaliPaso   $17.98 net price, $16.18 reorder

CaliPaso is a small, boutique winery that is attached to a private inn. We’ve been fond of their wines for some years as they offer both quality and value. The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is big, bold and redolent of black plums and red currant fruit. The oak presence matches beautifully to the fruit. Impactful on the palate, serve with premium cuts of roast beast.



2015 Zweigelt 1L, Zum Martin Sepp   $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

Switching gears here with a light-bodied, soft tannin red made from Zweigelt. Zum Martin Sepp is a small restaurant and inn located in the northern outskirts of Vienna. Winemaker Michi Martin adheres to organic practices, hand picks the grapes and ferments in stainless steel. Simple and delicious, try it with lighter fare like mushroom risotto or gnocchi.



2016 Gene, Gen Del Alma   $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

Hailing from Argentina’s Gualtarry, a sub-region of Uco Valley, this is some wine. The vines are planted at the foot of the Andes at altitudes of 4600 feet! Gene is a blend of Bordeaux varietals, dominated by Malbec. Dark, crushed red cherries, forest floor and graphite flavors abound. Complex, give a decant if time permits. Grilled meats are a natural pairing.



2015 Bergerac, Château Calabre   $10.99, $8.79 reorder

Not far from Bordeaux, you’ll find the Dordogne River Valley and Bergerac. His winery may be in nearby Montravel, but Daniel Hecquet sources fruit from vineyards all around the area including Bergerac. Being so close to Bordeaux, it’s not surprising that this is made from Cab Sauvignon, Franc, and Merlot. It’s a lively number with good fruit. Burgers anyone?



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

He doesn’t make it every year, but Thierry Boudinaud crafts this 100% southern Rhône Syrah when he feels he gets the proper ripeness, and names it after the Roman Governor who oversaw the building of the famous bridge, the Pont du Garde. It’s dark and savory with notes of spice, herbs, and earth. This is a great wine for a rainy night and a pot of stew.



2015 Château de Lagorce   $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder


From vineyards in Bordeaux’s Entre Deux Mers region, the 2015 de Lagorce is an outstanding value! It has floral and herbal notes in the aromas, a medium body, great balance, and a touch of class one doesn’t usually find at this price point. It’s a versatile red Bordeaux, thanks to that medium body, and pairs nicely with chops, meatloaf, pizza, and pasta.





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