Château Couronneau: 2013 Blanc & 2012 Rouges

Wow! Can it possibly be? Is Labor Day THIS weekend??!!?? That means that we are two weeks away from the landing of another container here at TWH. This container is carrying Bordeaux! In addition to the 2011’s on it, there will be a handful of petits chateaux, or value Bordeaux landing here as well. We look forward to telling you all about them when the time comes. In the meantime, from the container that just recently arrived, we are happy to present the latest releases from our pals Christophe and Bénédicte Piat and their Château Couronneau.

We’ve mentioned before that the Piats have been farming organically since 2001, and they have proudly sported the Agricole Biologique banner on the side of the driveway leading up to their chateau. In addition, Christophe and Bénédicte have been farming biodynamically for several vintages. I remember Christophe excitingly showing off his swirling fountains, bulls’ horns, and the like when I visited in 2011. One must practice this technique for several years before actual certification. The good news: Beginning with the 2012 vintage, they are now allowed the Demeter certification on their labels.

 

Okay. Why biodynamism? What exactly is biodynamic farming? For more on that here’s what our colleague, Tom discovered:
“Biodynamics is a form of organic agriculture proposed in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. The core of biodynamics is creating healthy soils and a natural equilibrium between vineyards, the soil, surrounding environs, and even the cosmos. The most intriguing aspect of bio-farming is the mystical notion that natural timing and the rhythms of nature are the key to vineyard health. To accomplish this, biodynamic grape growers go beyond organic farming and feed the soil with complex organic preparations.

Key applications include horn-dung (manure packed in a bull’s horn and buried through winter) used as a soil spray to stimulate root growth. A second preparation, horn-silica, is made from powdered quartz (packed in a cow horn and buried in soil over the summer) then sprayed over the vineyard to enhance light and growth. Other preparations used in making compost aid the soil. Growers mix small amounts of the preparations in water to make these field sprays. Stirring, first one way and then another, creates a spiral vortex that takes in air and nature’s energy forces and is said to ‘dynamize’ the solution. These preparations are applied at different times of the year and at different times of the day and phases of the moon.

The amazing thing is, it seems to work. Biodynamic farming creates deep microbial life in the soil and fosters deep root growth. Deep, healthy roots absorb the minerals vital to strong vines and ultimately grapes with more flavor. Deep-rooted vines enable winemakers to express through their grapes wines with a sense of place.”

 

Okay, about the new wines: When I visited this past spring, Christophe told me that for his 2013 Bordeaux Blanc, 70% of the fruit underwent malolactic fermentation, resulting in a fresher wine with a little more nerve than past vintages. It’s a lively and expressive blend of 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, the latter providing the wine with roundness and body. Coming in at 12% alcohol, it’s an elegant wine; perfect for those who love a second glass of crisp White Bordeaux. For the 2012 Couronneau Rouge or “Classique,” it’s 100% Merlot, and is brimming with friendly, juicy fruit that speaks of its place of origin. Underneath the layers of red and purple fruit lie earthy tones and hints of forest floor. It’s an excellent example of the style of wine to expect from 2012 Red Bordeaux. Showing concentrated aromatics with juicy expression, the wines will provide pleasure early, yet have the structure to improve with medium term cellaring. For the 2012 Cuvée Pierre de Cartier, the Piats use fruit sourced from the oldest vines grown in limestone rich soils. The wine is inky purple, glass-staining, if you will. The aromas deep and lush with a little spice derived from time in barrique. On the palate, the wine is dense and concentrated, but has a silkiness to it that’s very pleasant. Definitely the prize of the Couronneau stable, the 2012 Pierre de Cartier is a people-pleaser for a very fair, direct-import price. If you’re planning to open it soon, decanting is advised. Otherwise, drink it over the next 10 years. – PZ

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Ouled Thaleb: Morocco’s Finest

The Wine House has been stocking the wines of Ouled Thaleb for nearly two years! Our reputation for carrying a vast selection of French wine may cause some to overlook the global wine selection at the The Wine House but we have wines from Central Europe, the Southern Hemisphere and beyond. The beyond part takes us to Ouled Thaleb, one of Morocco’s leading wineries established in 1923. The winery is located twenty miles northeast of Casablanca in the Zenata appellation. The Zenata AOG is prized for its coastal climate, sandy shale and gravelly sand soils, and high elevation. The history of wine production in Morocco is said to go back 4,000 years and has appeared and disappeared over the centuries. In the late 1880’s French winegrowers came to Morocco seeking new areas to plant while back home phylloxera was creating havoc and devastation. In 1923 Morocco became a protectorate of France and the cultivation of vines grew to over 130,000 acres. When France left Morocco in 1956 many of the vineyards turned fallow. However in the 1990’s French winemakers returned to Morocco at the urging of its king to lease vineyards and replant. I hope this very brief history lesson is not a total bore, but I find it helps to better understand why there is such a prevalence of traditional French varietals planted in Morocco.

 

Two years ago, a young Frenchman came into our store and asked whether we’d be interested in tasting wine from Morocco. I jumped at the chance to have a new wine experience. I remember tasting Moroccan wine years and years ago at a restaurant in the Richmond district called Mamounia’s – nothing impressive, but fine and drinkable. I’m sure in those days not much made it out of Morocco and even today, it’s extremely limited. Fortunately for us, this young Frenchman has a strong passion for wine and believes deeply in the potential for great wines from this area of the world. He poured me the entire portfolio from Ouled Thaleb. I was immediately captivated, not only because it was exotic and new, but because the wine tasted so good. The Moroccan White Blend is, you guessed it, a blend of the native varietal Faranah and Clairette. It is a bright, stainless steel fermented, citrus-laden, zippy white. Lots of clean flavors that encourage casual sipping or perhaps a seafood match-up. The Moroccan Red Blend (also a blend!) is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. A juicy, medium-bodied red that sees a short stay in oak barrel, flavors of red plum, ripe cherry dominate with hints of spice. The two Moroccan Blends are perfect everyday wines offering high value to price ratio. The Ouled Thaleb Syrah steps it up a notch, offering a dark smokey fruit profile, a dead ringer for a Northern Rhone Crozes-Hermitage.  Speaking of Crozes-Hermitage, famed vigneron Alain Graillot visited Ouled Thaleb some time back and was so impressed with their Syrah, he collaborated with them, creating his own “barrel-selected” bottling. I like to turn people on to Ouled Thaleb Syrah who express both interest in Syrah and enjoy the more finesse-ful side of the varietal.

 

So where did summer vacation go? School started up this week and it caught me totally unprepared. Granted my focus has been elsewhere, but I just wish I had a few more weeks to laze around in that unscheduled nirvana of summer vacation. The calendar is back up and filling in quickly with after school activities and all the other stuff surrounding elementary school. My consolation is that we’re entering prime tomato season! My own tomato plants had a surge of ripening a few weeks back and have tapered off due to the cooler nights we’ve had in the Bay Area of late. Thankfully the good folks at the Farmer’s Market travel far with their heat-soaked sweet tomatoes! I might take a cue from my own weekend write-up and put together a Moroccan-spiced eggplant tangine to serve with one or all three of the Ouled Thaleb wines offered here at The Wine House! Be adventurous with your tastebuds. Anya Balistreri

 

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Clairette, Syrah

The Winery Of Good Hope’s 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay

As someone who doesn’t travel nearly as often and as far away as I’d like, I find consolation in wine’s ability to transport the taster to its place of origin.  Sure, I’ve logged some decent miles for a bloke who doesn’t travel for a living, but I’ve longed for the road (and sky) since early childhood. I began collecting stamps in kindergarten, and by first grade could name every country in South America, including their respective capitals. While in second grade, my favorite thing to do was to accompany my Pop to the runway viewing area at SFO to watch planes take off. My wanderlust is serving me well, learning about the ways of life outside my sphere of influence. One of the mechanisms that I unconsciously have used to push myself to travel more is to collect guides and literature about destinations which I have yet to visit. It worked for Italy. It worked for France. It’s worked for the UK, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, and Austria. A recent glance at my travel lit bookcase reveals one, and only one, travel guide to a destination that I have not yet been: South Africa. In the meantime, while I await the day, I have the wines from Alex Dale to transport me there!

It being summer and all, let’s say that a glass of something chilled has a bit more appeal than a full-bodied, tannic red wine. If you’re a fan of Chardonnay, you might want to grab a seat because we’ve got a deal for you! For the rest of the month, we’re offering crazy prices on cases of Alex Dale’s Winery Of Good Hope 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay. Regularly $13.49 per bottle, full case orders will receive a 20% discount ($10.79 per bottle), and for orders of 2 cases or more, the discount is nearly 35% ($8.95 per bottle)!!! The Winery Of Good Hope is Dale’s entry-level label, a label for which he minimizes costs by not spending money on oak barrels, label art, or marketing. That’s right, NO oak barrels! It’s something that we hear every once in a while; some customers stay away from Chardonnay due to the usual toasted oak regimen. But right there on the label, and obviously in the aromas and on the palate, there is NO oak used for this wine.

Assisting Alex in making the wines is legendary former super-scout for Robert Kacher Selections, Edouard Labeye. In regard to the unoaked Chardonnay, Edouard had this to say, “This unoaked Chardonnay sets out to give you an easy-drinking yet classy wine at an excellent price. With more freshness, elegance and depth than commercial methods customarily permit. No sickly-sweet or artificial flavours. The wonderful citrus zest and mineral tang of its aromatics are bedded in the fruit and seductive texture characteristic of good Chardonnay. This is not a one-glass wonder, but a wine that you can enjoy by the bottle. For those of you who despairingly thought Chardonnay had to taste like butterscotch, this will restore your faith in the beautiful grape.” We have to echo Edouard’s sentiment. It’s a clean, balanced expression of pure Chardonnay. If you keep your expectations in line with its price, the Good Hope Chardonnay is the perfect white wine to load up on to get us through the end of summer (and maybe even to have around for crab season).

 

Wait. End of summer? Crab season? Yep, they’re coming. Illustrating once again that time is fleeting. Though I have no immediate plans to travel to South Africa, by virtue of the 2012 Good Hope Chardonnay, I’ll let South Africa come to me! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about traveling, South Africa, unoaked Chardonnay, the beginning of Football season, or Bordeaux: peter@winesf.com

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A TASTE OF BURGUNDY AUGUST 2014

A great way to learn about Burgundy and its wines, and (even better) the perfect way to get a discount on two high quality bottles. Sign up now!

Click here to receive the Taste of Burgundy Sampler automatically every other month.

Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please specify “store pickup” or “ship it” in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

2011 Beaune Premier Cru Pertuisots Domaine Pernot Belicard
According to Decanter magazine contributor, Jeannie Cho Lee MW, the 2011 white Burgundy wines, “Have wonderful purity, expressiveness and aromatic appeal. Most of the wines have found balance in their slimness and have masses of drinking appeal.” Much like the 2007 vintage, the wines are sleek, yet already revealing their charm. Philippe Pernot, grandson of Puligny-Montrachet’s Paul Pernot, runs the show here tending to vineyards acquired through his marriage to the daughter of vineyard owners in Puligny and Meursault. It must run in the family, as Philippe’s wines are every bit as terroir driven as those of his famous grandfather. The Premier Cru Pertuisots vineyard sits on the slope just southwest of Burgundy’s big city, Beaune, nearby the famous Clos des Mouches. Philippe’s 2011 Pertuisots is a wine of distinction, showing off plenty of fruit, yes, but at its core is a profound minerality. Stony and chalky, one could build the argument that this resembles a fine Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne. Drink now-2021.

2011 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières Domaine Stephane Magnien
The domaine dates back to the late 19th century, and youthful Stephane Magnien represents the fourth generation at the helm of this small production estate, a role he assumed in 2008. Morey-Saint-Denis is a small village in the Côtes de Nuits. Not very much wine is made here and demand snaps up supply with regularity. 2011 was another successful red Burgundy vintage, causing Clive Coates MW to comment, “Nature is smiling on the Burgundy lover.” He may appear rather youthful, but Stephane’s wines are old-school in charm. Finesse and purity are the name of the game chez Magnien, his wines are loaded with character and complexity. Just a stone’s throw from the pedigreed Grand Cru, Clos de la Roche, the 2011 Les Faconnières is layered with aromatic complexity. On the palate, it is medium in body, has plenty of nerve, and finishes elegant and long. Medium term cellaring is advised, drink from 2018-2028. Be forewarned, the last vintage of Les Faconnières offered in the TOB sold out in a flash. – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy, Morey-Saint-Denis, Peter Zavialoff, Stephane Magnien

Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto”

The 2012 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” from Ernesto Picollo captures the essence of seaside freshness as it combines lime-scented, citrusy fruit with sparkling acidity. There is no argument that Ernesto Picollo’s Gavi DOCG is a true workhorse and bargain, but when you want a little more there there, the “Rovereto” is the way to go. Picollo’s winery and most of their vineyards are in the hamlet of Rovereto within Gavi in southeastern Piedmont. Often referred to as the crown jewel of Piedmontese whites, Gavi, in actuality, has more in common with its southern neighbor’s wines, Liguria. In fact, Rovereto’s climate is influenced by its proximity to the Ligurian sea. The maritime breezes make their way up the hills to Rovereto, preserving there a more Mediterranean climate. Most of Gavi has a mix of both sand and clay soils, however in Rovereto soils tend to be more clay, allowing for reserves of water for deep roots during dry summer months. Also, Rovereto gets full southern exposure, which helps with ripening.
Gavi’s grape, Cortese, can trace its history way, way back. There is written documentation from 1659 naming it as one of the vines planted on an estate in Piedmont. It was prized for its resistance to grape disease and for producing quality grapes with high yields. Ideally Cortese needs a dry climate, meager soils and good sun exposure, all things that Rovereto provides.

 

So it follows that the lush texture of Picollo’s “Rovereto” with its golden hue and zippy minerality is especially complimentary to seafood and in particular to shellfish. All stainless steel tank-fermented, there is plenty of concentration propelled by a suave palate feel, making Picollo’s “Rovereto” dangerously easy to finish off well before any food shows up at the table. But remember, this is Italian wine and Italians insist on eating food while drinking wine, so do as they say and make sure to have a few nibbles on hand when you pull the cork. Enough with the lecture!

 

This really happened. At a staff tasting we tried a white wine that struck us as interesting but maybe didn’t quite wow us, so we decided to give it another chance and placed it in the fridge overnight to see if it would evolve in the bottle. At the end of the following day, after the shop was closed up and before heading out, Chris presented Pete and me with a glass of white wine. I took a whiff and was positively baffled at how dramatically the sample white we tried the day before had changed.  Gone were the earthy, adhesive aromas and in its place was pulpy citrus, charged acidity and a fragrant herbal nose. It was fabulous! Could a wine really change that much overnight? Well the glass in my hand certainly proved it could, that is until Pete caught sight of my confusion and also noticed the vast difference between the wine we tasted the day before and the one we were tasting now. Putting two and two together, Pete quickly announced that what we were drinking was not the funky sample but most likely the 2012 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” from Ernesto Picollo. This made perfect sense to me however the only way Chris could have gotten a hold of a perfectly chilled bottle of “Rovereto” was to have opened a bottle that I had placed hours before in the fridge to take home for my Friday Night Fish Fry! Flip flopping from bouts of laughter to shooting “you son of a gun” glances over at Chris for ruining my planned dinner wine, I had to admit it was a comical way to end the work week and that great wine will always and immediately make itself known.

 

The last couple of weeks have been tough. Without going into details, let me just say that my family has faced some rough challenges – but we’re a tight bunch and I am thankful for that. In between handling family matters, I have taken some time out to bask in summertime’s fun.  An annual trip to the Sonoma County Fair with my daughter and husband was a highlight. Who can resist newborn piglets, greasy fair food, or a free cone of vanilla ice cream from the Clover stand? Oh yeah, and I helped rescue a drowning woman out of the Russian River. All of this makes me more mindful of how blessed I am for the family I have and how it’s best to do now and not later. There is a bag of calamari in my freezer that went in when my husband passed on going to a long ago planned, all-guys retreat to stay home with me while things were still up in the air. The calamari is going to be fried up soon and with it a bottle of 2012 Gavi “Rovereto” will be served. I’ll just have to make sure to hide the bottle away from Chris! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Cortese, Gavi

August 2014 Dirty Dozen

How lucky the calendar makers decided to give summer not one, but two months with 31 days in them. Welcome to August! ‘Tis the month of leisure, holiday, and relaxation. Ah, but there are also picnics, trips to the beach, and what would August be like without a barbecue or two? The Farmers’ Markets are bursting with summer’s bounty, so in order to enjoy it to its fullest, come on by TWH in Dogpatch and pick up a Dirty Dozen.

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

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2013 Vinho Verde, Arca Nova $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
This could be the tallest bottle to appear in a Dirty Dozen. Ever. We just love Vinho Verde. Why? It’s fresh, has fruity aromas, is harmonious on the palate and finish, and is only 10.5% alcohol! Talk about the perfect wine for the August DD!! Extremely versatile, you can have it on its own, with a light salad, or with small plates of hand bites.

2011 Chardonnay Trumpeter, Rutini Wines $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Usually, when one thinks of Chardonnay, they think of California … or Burgundy … probably not Argentina. But here we indeed have a charming Argentine Chardonnay. As a matter of fact, it is one of three Argentinian wines in this month’s DD. Fleshy, tropical fruity aromas comingle with a hint of vanilla spice to suggest this will pair well with shellfish.

2013 Ercavio Blanco, Más Que Vinos $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Research shows that Airen is the third most planted wine grape in the world. Just like its relative Trebbiano, it’s known for its light, crisp white wines that are easy to drink and easy to pair with food. Decidedly citrus on the nose, those aromas give way to more of a stone fruit profile on the palate. Drink it with a chicken Caesar salad.

2012 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Tour de l’Isle $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Not only are white Côtes-du-Rhônes fairly priced, some of them are outstanding; like this one! We directly import Robert Rocchi’s Tour de l’Isle blanc for its seamless expression of four grape varietals. Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Clairet are the grapes, and the wine has plenty of fleshy fruit, mineral undertones, and a crisp finish.

2013 Pinot Grigio, Inacayal $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Inacayal was the name of a 19th century Patagonian chief, and when Adriano Senetier founded his winery in 1997, he decided to name the wines after the legendary chief. This Pinot Grigio is made more in the Alsace style: earthy, mushroomy aromas, medium yellow fruit on the palate, hints of citrus, and the finish is fuller and long. A great wine for rich dishes with cream sauces.

2012 Touraine Blanc, Domaine des Corbillières $15.49, $12.39 reorder
Touraine is an appellation smack in the middle of the Loire Valley. From this point and eastward, Sauvignon is the white grape of choice. Proprietors Véronique and Dominique Barbou make some terrific wines that speak of a place and deliver plenty of pleasure. Drink this 100% Sauvignon Blanc with oysters and other shellfish, or with a Greek salad with Feta.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mercedes Eguren $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
A Cabernet Sauvignon from Spain? Well, that’s the DD for you! We taste a lot of wines, and it takes a lot of samples to find a wine like this one. Bodegas Eguren is located in Basque country in northern Spain. The wine’s got plenty of dark fruit, wood spice, and grip; it tastes fancy. The price is more than fair. It’s the wine to pour at that summer bbq.

2012 Malbec, Bodega Armonía $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Rising some 4400 feet into the foothills of the Andes Mountains (really, at what elevation does it cease being a foothill and become a mountain?) are the Malbec vineyards belonging to Armonía. The elevation is key for the fruit to develop the proper acidity to keep the wine in proper balance. It works here, the wine is brighter than you would expect.

2012 Les Fruitières La Closerie des Lys, Domaines Collovray et Terrier $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Outside the fortified city of Carcassone in France’s Languedoc region; Limoux to be exact, are the sun baked vineyards belonging to Domaines Collovray et Terrier (no, NOT the dog …). For their entry-level Closerie label, they blend equal parts Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, and Merlot. The result is amazing. A great all-purpose red, perfect with pizza!

2013 Merlot, Domaine de St. Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Under the watchful eye of Jean-Louis Emmanuel, the wines from Domaine de St. Antoine continue to satisfy TWH customers looking for values from the south of France. Jean-Louis de-stems 100% of his fruit, allowing the pure fruity flavors to express themselves. The screwcap says, “Take me to a picnic.” Pair it with a French Dip sandwich.

2009 Tempranillo, Alberto Furque $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Named Bodega Aconquija in Argentina’s Uco Valley, it is Alberto’s daughter, Carolina who makes the wine now. One doesn’t come upon Tempranillo much outside of Spain, but this unfiltered, tank-fermented juice is all about fresh red and purple berries. A little bottle age lends complexity to a wine that would be great with roasted eggplant and tomatoes.

2011 Chiroubles, Château de Raousset $17.99, $14.39 reorder
Dismiss the wines of Beaujolais at your own peril! Seriously, it’s summer. It’s warm. Looking for a red wine that’s light, fruity, complex, and NOT a big, brooding, tannic monster? Look no further than Raousset’s Chiroubles. Light bodied, with aromas of forest floor and a cherry on top; put a light chill on this and enjoy it on a warm evening with a bowl of olives.

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

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Filed under Peter Zavialoff, The Dirty Dozen, Wine Clubs/Samplers

2011 Domaine des Cobillieres Touraine “Les Demoiselles”

Greetings! Summertime in the city of San Francisco is a little different than summertime anywhere else in the northern hemisphere. What makes it different? Well, from July 1 through August 31 a great majority of days will be foggy. It’s just a fact. It’s an annual concern on the 4th of July; will there be fireworks, or will we be socked in with fog? It happens every year, and it will last in to September. The good news is that those of us that have endured multiple foggy summers know that a drive 10 miles north, south, or east will get us out of the fog and into the sunlight, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds for us. With “nature’s air conditioner” at work, drinking red wine in August isn’t that uncommon. Anya wrote about a red wine last week, and I also did the week before.  I’m going to continue the trend here as we just got in the latest release of Domaine des Corbillières’ Touraine Les Demoiselles Rouge!

Inspired by a regular, long-time customer yesterday, I headed over to Olivier’s Butchery here in Dogpatch and picked up some Korean short ribs to bring over to some friends’ house after work yesterday. They live about 5 miles north of the city, so they were socked in most of the day. It had just cleared when I got there, and my comment about it being summer was met with a grumble from them as they didn’t escape the grey shroud all day. I slapped the package of short ribs on the counter, and as we opened it for inspection, the first thing that I popped into my mind was “beef bacon.” The strips were cut rather thin, and according to the salesperson at Olivier’s, required one minute per side on the grill and then they would be done! Talk about delectable fast food!!! Well, what kind of wine with that? They had a bottle of Grüner Veltliner open already, so I had a glass of that while we caught up on the day’s events. Dinner was ready in a flash, beef bacon and all, and I pulled the cork on the 2011 Touraine Demoiselles from Domaine des Corbillières. How did it work out? Stellar.

2011 Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Rouge
Red Wine; Cabernet Franc; Loire;
$15.99
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We have worked with the wines from Véronique and Dominique Barbou’s domaine for almost 20 years! They represent tremendous value, and are popular with our staff and customers vintage after vintage. The Les Demoiselles cuvée is made of 30% Côt (Malbec), 40% Pinot Noir, and 30% Cabernet Franc. I like to say the Malbec is for backbone, the Pinot Noir for fruit, and the Cab Franc for aromatic complexity. All together, it really works, and for the 2011, it’s sensational! I really love Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. Not obscure enough to be called “wine geek wine”, its herbal profile and lack of “jammy” fruit can put off palates that aren’t used to it, as was the case with me way back when, but as times change, so do wine palates. Only representing a third of the blend, I was surprised as to how Franc-y the aromas were. Blended with the other two varietals, this wine really speaks volumes … at least it did last night! The Malbec lending its solid structure, the Pinot Noir, its fruitiness, and the Franc providing the herbal and earthy complexity. It really worked with the simple salt and pepper seasoning we laid upon the strips of rib meat. There was something spectacular about the pepper, in particular, pairing with the Cabernet Franc. All too soon the food was gone, the wine followed suit, and I was surprised again as to how the time flies.

Time flies alright! We’ve now been here in Dogpatch for four months! It seems only weeks ago that Liverpool could have essentially clinched their first title in the Premiership era with a victory over Chelsea back at the end of April, but captain Steven Gerrard’s blunder led to their unraveling. I’ve enjoyed friendly banter over the years with a Liverpool supporting customer who lives overseas, and before the match, via email, he wanted to make a wager on it. I politely declined his offer, but when he came into the shop the other day, he pulled two bottles of wine out of his tote and said, “I know we didn’t have a bet, but I lost, so here.” What a surprise! Thanks, Mark! Included in the duo was a half bottle of Sauternes! It’s pretty well documented that I love Sauternes. He specifically requested that I open IT on opening day. Well what do you know, with time flying and all, opening day is two weeks away! That means the annual kick-off to footy season, the Charity Shield match, is next weekend!!!! Bring it.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments on the SF fog, Loire Valley red wines, Sauternes, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Barbecue Wine, Loire Valley, Peter Zavialoff, Touraine