2016 Ca' Lojera Lugana

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 5:04 PM

Like Italian Whites?  

Don't Miss The 2016 Lugana

The Ca' Lojera Facility

Catching up with the times ...

It's been a memorable week.  The Union De Grands Crus De Bordeaux passed through town pouring the newly bottled 2015 vintage.  This came with several visits from our friends overseas.  The tasting was a success, as the wines from Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, and the reds from Pessac-Leognan showed great expression and balance in consistent fashion.  I recently wrote about the 2015 Château Olivier rouge, and after having tasted it this past Thursday, I stand behind my recommendation.  That's all I'm going to say about Bordeaux for now, as the subject of tonight's email is a new arrival from Italy - the 2016 Lugana from Ca' Lojera.



A new container from Italy recently arrived, and we're breaking down pallets in an effort to get these new goodies onto our sales floor and into your hands!  I don't know why this is, but consistently, I seem to have more need for white wine in the winter than any other season.  Last week, I filled up my six bottle wine bag with six different bottles from the container's bounty.  There are some evenings in which any formality around the ritual of opening and serving a bottle of wine is dispelled, and this particular night was one of them.  A couple of after-work errands had me home later than usual, so in a hurry, I stir fried some chicken with vegetables.  A peek into the fridge left me with a few choices.  Knowing what I knew at the time, I felt the new Lugana from Ca' Lojera would work well with what would eventually end up on my plate.  So I popped it.  I poured out a glass and went on supervising the stove top.  At one point, I reached for the glass and had a sip.  I stopped in my tracks, my focus now on this wonderful, fresh, lively white wine in my glass.  I didn't know what was happening; I've enjoyed the Ca' Lojera wines very much over the years, but I hadn't had an experience like this one!  The aromas were clean and fresh, citrus blossoms, grapefruit, honeydew melon, and a hint of a minty nuance.  Then, on the palate, this aromatic goodness lingered and was bolstered by a medium bodied, impeccably balanced mouth feel.  I was smitten.  Needless to say, the bottle didn't last very long.  Not very long at all.



The catalyst of this experience was from an interaction with a customer who lives in the neighborhood.  She regularly purchases Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi's Lugana made from a grape the locals call Turbiana.  She was in the day before this happened and asked us if we had tried the new vintage.  Shrugged shoulders and blank stares were the responses, but that question alone is how a bottle ended up in my wine tote.  She bought two bottles that day and promised to report back with her impressions.  When I came to work the day after I tasted it, I asked my colleagues,  "Holy Cow, you guys.  Have you tasted the 2016 Lugana yet?"  At that point, nobody else had.  That's changed now.  I was pretty excited about it all day.  At the end of the day, this customer was back.  I looked at her and beamed, "I just tried it last night, and man oh man, you must be happy. I think this is the best vintage for them to date!"  Her glowing smile in return was all I needed to know she enjoyed it very much.  She bought six more bottles.  A couple of days later, a bottle was opened as a sample for a wholesale customer.  When the sample made its way back to the shop, Chris and David got to taste it.  Chris was first to reply - he told me I was spot on with my assessment, and pointed in particular to the fresh acidity of the wine which helped fan the complexity across the palate.  David nodded his head and smiled.  He told me that the customer he poured it for liked it a lot. 



Anya's take was more philosophical.  "Here's a wine which I've enjoyed in every vintage we've carried it.  Each vintage puts its own stamp on the wine, and the variation is what makes wine tasting enjoyable and thought provoking.  One can get in trouble proclaiming a wine 'the best ever', because other vintages will follow.  Remember when we first made the deal to import their wines?  We got a call from a well-known boutique importer who took the time to congratulate us on the addition to our portfolio.  The wines are that good.  Their reputation is that good.  They're a first round draft pick.  We're very lucky.  Is the 2016 Lugana their best?  I have to say yes."



There's plenty more to talk about - another new producer and more goodies from our Italian container, more Bordeaux stuff, and 2015 red Burgundy, but that will have to wait for another time.  January is always a very busy time for me, and this one was no exception.  Now that it's almost over, I can relax.  And eat.  Sounds like Dungeness Crab is in order.  You already know which wine I will drink with it.  - Peter Zavialoff

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Domaine Des Aspras

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:29 PM

Domaine Des Aspras

Domaine Des Aspras

The farmhouse photo

À Lisa - An Homage To The Matriarch!

Domaine des Aspras was established by husband and wife, Gottfried and Lisa Latz, immigrants from Germany by way of the Congo, in the early 1960's.They knew nothing of wine growing or wine producing, but they had the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of those who come with little and want to build a better life for their family. Today their descendants run this beautiful estate making impeccable Provençal wines. The land is farmed organically, as does the entire village of Correns, where Domaine des Aspras is located. Here the soils are clay-limestone which is ideal for grape cultivation. The Wine House has now been importing their wines for a couple of vintages. On our last container from France we received back in their entry-level red, À Lisa.

 
 




The À Lisa rouge is mostly Merlot, but my suspicion is that the 2016 has a good smattering of Syrah in it. What alerted my suspicion? It's the funk. Oh, yeah. It's got that funk. That funk is part of the À Lisa's charm. Looking for a densely fruited red, with soft tannins, but has earthy aromatics, perhaps a touch of animal? This one is for you! 



I drank a bottle over three consecutive nights and found that quirky note of funk softens with aeration but never quite dissipates. The bottle I took home was a sample that David, Chris and I tasted earlier in the week. The wine washed a wave of nostalgia over us. We all remembered the southern French reds that were once imported by Robert Kacher that The Wine House loyally stocked. Remember Grand Cassagne or Chateau de Valcombe?
 Well, it's kinda like that, but even better. 

 



 




Now that it's mid-January, life feels like I just stopped off one of those airport people movers. I have been so used to the frantic pace of the last couple months that stepping off set me a little off balance. I'll need to quickly right myself as there is much to do in this new year and much that I want to accomplish. But first things first, and that will be cooking up some one-pot braises to provide nourishment and comfort. À Lisa rouge will go beautifully with the types of rustic cooking I am imagining to prepare. À Lisa has the dense berry flavors I'm seeking, while its soft-structured tannins will compliment "fall off the bone" meat and that funk will give that farm-to-table allure. Bring out the dutch oven and grab yourself a bottle of À Lisa rouge. Cheers!

 - Anya Balistreri
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Bordeaux Tasting: Favorites & Upside Surprises

Monday, January 15, 2018 4:50 PM

Bordeaux Tasting:

Favorites & Upside Surprises
Bordeaux Barrel Tasting at Chateau La Dominique Photo

Happy New Year!

From all of us here at TWH, we hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  To many, especially in the hospitality business (which, kind of, includes the wine biz), this is a relatively quiet period of time when many of us catch up on things put off by the mayhem of said holidays.  From a personal perspective, the mayhem will continue throughout the month culminating with the annual visit of Bordeaux's Union des Grands Crus, who will be pouring the recently bottled 2015 vintage here in San Francisco on January 25.

Having tasted many barrel samples from the 2015 vintage back in the spring of 2016, I have some thoughts, impressions, and biases of what I experienced, and I am looking forward to tasting the finished wines, now in bottle, to further those impressions.  I say biased, because it happens.  We all have favorites.  Our favorites are not necessarily the finest things in any particular category, but they do usually offer plenty of personal appeal.  When it comes to wine, my favorites are from Bordeaux.  Time and space does not allow me to list all of my favorites, though in no particular order, some of my favorite Bordeaux chateaux include:

Margaux

Gruaud Larose

Coutet

Ducru Beaucaillou

Haut Batailley (fingers crossed the recent ownership change doesn't affect the wine)

Grand Puy Lacoste

Calon Segur

Pichon Lalande

Mouton Rothschild

La Lagune

Vieux Chateau Certan

I recognize this bias, and when I taste these, and other favorite wines, I try to just focus on what's in the glass.  It goes the other way too.  There are many chateaux, some of them famous, which have produced wines which don't always resonate with me.  I mean the wines are fine, there's nothing wrong with them, they just come up short in the "Wow" department.  With me anyway.  I recognize this bias as well, though it seems each year at least one of these wines surprises me.  What was the biggest surprise for me during the 2015 barrel tastings?  Which wine am I going to pay particularly close attention to at the UGC tasting?  The 2015 Château Olivier Rouge. 
  

 

Medieval Chateau Olivier Photo
Chateau Olivier is one of Bordeaux's oldest chateaux.  Parts of it date back to the 11th century!  It has been owned by the de Bethmann family since the 19th century, and it is said that the son of England's King Edward III, The Black Prince, enjoyed hunting there.  Historically, Olivier has been more famous for their white wines, however recent investments and soil surveys have resulted in increased production and quality of their red wines.  The Wine Advocate's Robert Parker once referred to Olivier as "a perennial underachiever," though in his tasting note for the 2009 rouge, he declared it to be the best Olivier he had tasted up to that point.  Sure 2009 was a precocious vintage, but this was a sign that things were on the upswing at the property.  Fast forward six years, and here's what TWA's Neal Martin had to say about the 2015 after he tasted it from barrel:

"The 2015 Chateau Olivier offers vivacious red cherry and crisp strawberry fruit on the nose, biding its time, gently unfolding in the glass until it takes full flight. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin and smooth wild strawberry and raspberry fruit, laced with cedar and a pleasant saltiness.  This is one of the best wines from Chateau Olivier in recent years, thanks to its greater depth and harmony. Laurent Lebrun has done a great job here."



And from Decanter Magazine:

"Power and poise of rich, muscular tannic frame for good ageing potential. Continuing the more serious expression of Olivier over last few years, begun with the inclusion of the new Bel Air plot of vines that represents 30% of the blend. New addition also in 2015 of 1ha of Petit Verdot, representing 5% of wine along with 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot."



My note from the UGC barrel tasting:

"Fresh, clean, brambly red fruit aromas, Merlot noticeable.  Palate is medium bodied, well constructed!  All components firing with slight grip on finish, but that's a good thing.  Surprise!



Since December 2014, we have enjoyed a very favorable currency conversion rate vs. the Euro.  This kept prices for both the 2014 and 2015 Bordeaux futures down, and in both vintages, bargains abound.  Unfortunately, this past week, the Euro broke out of its three year range and closed near $1.22.  Combine that with the fruit lost due to late April's frost, and it's easy to predict that the 2017 Bordeaux wines will not be the bargains we are hoping for.  So when I see quality like that of the 2015 Olivier rouge for such a price, it's easy to say, "Put me down for six!"

- Peter Zavialoff



    

***The 2015 Château Olivier is available on a PRE-ARRIVAL basis.  It is expected to arrive sometime during 2018.  Please understand that overseas shipments are sometimes subject to delays, though we are expecting this wine to arrive sometime in the spring or early summer. 
 
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The January 2018 Dirty Dozen - Over 30% Savings!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:45 PM

The January 2018 Dirty Dozen - Over 30% Savings!

The January 2018

Dirty Dozen

Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s January, and it’s time to reset the calendar, tally up last year’s resolutions, and set some resolutions for 2018.  Trying more new wines is usually a mindful goal every year, as that is the only true way of knowing for sure whether or not you like a particular wine.  Let us make that task a little easier for you.  The Dirty Dozen club comes out once per month with 12 bottles, all different, all chosen for their versatility, packed in one box for one super-low price.  Get your January 2018 Dirty Dozen today!
Dirty Dozen Chillables Bottle Line Up

The Chillables

2016 Orvieto Vignarco, Palazzone $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

In 1969, the Dubini family purchased their estate in Orvieto, but it was not until the late 1980’s when they began to sell their wine commercially. A classically styled Orvieto with the majority of grapes being Grechetto and Procanico; expect subtle notes of peach and almond blossoms. Try with roasted winter squash dishes or a sauced pan-roasted chicken.



2016 Terre Siciliane Bianco, Colosi $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder    

Over the past few decades, Sicilian wines have seen a rapid increase in quality as well as interest from wine drinkers looking to expand their repertoire. The Colosi Bianco is a triumvirate of native Sicilian varietals: Inzolia, Cattaratto and Grillo. Crisp, completely unoaked and zippy, this white is a nice way to start off a meal or match up with shellfish risotto.




2016 Falanghina, Cantine Le Grotte $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder        

Though Falanghina is most often associated with Campania, there is a bit that is grown on the backside of the boot in Puglia. Cantine Le Grotte’s vineyards are in Apricena, just a few kilometers inland from the Adriatic Sea. Straw yellow in color, it has distinct notes of navel orange and cut flowers. Pair with pork scaloppini or any rice based casseroles.



2014 Montagny Les Guignottes, Dom. Les Guignottes $12.95 sale price, $12.30 reorder                      

White Burgundy here, folks.  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 scampi.




2016 Côtes de Provence Rosé, Domaine des Aspras $16.99, $13.59 reorder 

Over in Provence, specifically in the village of Correns, comes this direct-import Rosé. Correns was the very first village in France to earn official organic designation for all its farms and vineyards.  This is grown-up Rosé – it’s bright, precise, has complexity, and finishes crisp and lipsmacking dry.  A great wine to sip with your octopus a la plancha appetizer.




2016 Sauvignon Blanc Perigord IGP, Puy-Servain $8.79, $7.03 reorder                  

Last April, while visiting Daniel Hecquet just outside of Bordeaux, he introduced us to a new line that he and some fellow growers have been working on launching:  the Puy 170 Perigord IGP.  The bottom line is solid wines for a song.  This SB is expressive and well-balanced.  It’s easy to drink and easy to purchase… great for parties, light salads, or goat cheese.

Dirty Dozen Reds Bottle Line Up

The Reds



2014 Merlot, Cousiño-Macul $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Cousiño-Macul is a historic winery in Chile’s Maipo Valley. It was founded in 1856 and is still operated by the original founding family. This is an honest to goodness Merlot with its soft tannins and ripe berry flavors. Easy going and versatile, it’s enjoyable by the glass or will carry over to the dinner table to accompany your favorite comfort food.

2013 Rouge, Le Cirque $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

Côtes Catalanes, in southern France near the border of Spain, is an exemplary geographical region for viticulture. Hot summer days are tempered by winds coming off the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea. This un-oaked, bold red is a yummy blend of Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Dusty tannins give way to dark berry fruit. This one calls for lamb.



2014 Borgaio, Meleto $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Castello di Meleto is a grand estate in the heart of Tuscany. The castle dates back to the 11th Century. Today they not only produce wine, but also olive oil and raise heirloom pigs. Their Borgaio red is mostly Sangiovese and fermented in tank. A small portion is aged in neutral barrel to flesh out the wine. Red sauced pasta dishes are the way to go here.



2013 Vinsobres, Tour de l’Isle $17.59, $14.07 reorder

One of several Côtes-du-Rhône villages which has the character enough to be given its own village status (not to be taken lightly), Vinsobres wines are usually half Grenache, rounded out with Syrah and Mourvèdre.  That’s what we have here – it’s a great, versatile red. You can drink it on its own, or you can pair it with the usual suspects – how about meatballs?



2014 Château Pitray, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

There has been a lot of activity around Castillon throughout the last decade as investors (many of which are Right-Bank châteaux owners) are snapping up any Castillon properties which come on the market.  Why?  Though further east, it still shares many similarities with St. Emilion, which is next door.  This red is medium/full bodied and is great for steak.



2015 Fronton On l’Appelle Negrette, Vignobles Arbeau $12.59, $10.07 reorder

Just north of Toulouse in southern France, north of the Pyrenees one finds the appellation of Fronton.  The principal grape there is Negrette.  What is it?  It’s a light-bodied, spicy, fruity grape which yields lighter styled wines similar to Cru Beaujolais.  Here it is on its own, bright cherry fruit, spicy forest floor, no harsh tannins, and a silky finish; Ahhh.

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Big Bottles For The Big Day

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:40 PM

Big Bottles  For The Big Day

Big Bottles



For The Big Day

Sparkling wine in magnum ...

There is something magical about bubbles in big bottles.  Don't ask me what it is, or why, but they just taste better.  



I was introduced to this concept sometime in the late '90's when my band would take the long Presidents' weekend off each year and head up to Mendocino to jam our faces off for 3 days and nights at a rented house somewhere in the middle of the woods.  Those were indeed fun times, but I'm off subject. 



One year, due to my insistence, we stopped at the Roederer winery and tasting room in Anderson Valley on our way up to Mendo.  The band (there were 6 of us) took over the quiet tasting room, and we were helped by a kind woman who helped navigate us through the wines.  It seemed she knew a thing or two about music, as her boyfriend "played in bands."  It was then and there we learned about magnums.  She poured the same wine, one from bottle, one from magnum, for each of us to taste.  It was unanimous!  We all thought the magnum samples tasted better.  "Why is that?" We all asked, but to no avail; some things remain magical.  Magical, yes, but somehow still a fact.  We thanked our kind guide for her time and headed on up to our weekend jamboree, toting 3 magnums of Roederer sparkling wine!



Over the years, I've heard much about the subject, and have sampled sparkling wines side by side, one from bottle, one from magnum.  The magnum wins ... every time.



We are open today, December 30, and will be closed both tomorrow and Monday.  So today is your last chance to pop in and pick up a magnum of fizz for your 2018 celebrations!  Here is a quartet of our best-priced magnums of sparkling wine.



-Peter Zavialoff

 

NV

Cava Brut

Segura Viudas


$17.98





By far, our best priced magnum of sparkling wine.  This is a great choice for a mixed crowd; it's dry and delicious enough to enjoy on its own, and inexpensive enough to be okay if someone decides to pour peach or orange juice in it!

 
NV

Cava Brut

Reserva Heredad

Sigura Viudas

$44.98






Something much more serious from Segura Viudas.  This regal bottle tells us everything about its contents.  Pure, clean, refined sparkling wine at a "less than Champagne" price.  Oh, why not, this one's worth sabring!

 
NV

Vouvray Brut

Domaine d'Orfeuilles

$39.98






100% Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.  This is another outstanding, Champagne-like value, with its tangy Granny Smith apple fruit and dusty mineral notes.  The magnum bottle just screams, "It's party time!"

 
NV

Crémant de Bourgogne

Perle de Roche

Jean-Marie Chaland

$59.98






We just mentioned the recent arrival of the Perle de Roche Crémant de Bourgogne from Jean-Michel Chaland.  It's all Chardonnay, and with it's tiny bubbles and delicate aromas, can easily charm Champagne lovers.
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