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.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

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

Pierazzuoli’s 2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano

Le Farnete’s 2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano combines Sangiovese’s lush red cherry fruit and fresh acidity with Cabernet Sauvignon’s structure and backbone. Not some newfangled blend, Carmignano, a Tuscan region just northwest of Florence, has championed this combination of grapes since the 18th Century! A Super Tuscan before there were Super Tuscans. The Barco Reale di Carmignano will see less time in barrel and comes to market sooner than its big brother, Carmignano. I find the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon extremely complimentary to Sangiovese and in no way detracting from Sangiovese’s intrinsic juiciness and vibrancy. July’s heat has found me drinking plenty of Rose, that’s for sure, but when I am in need of a red wine that has softer tannins yet still has body, the 2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano from Le Farnete fits the bill beautifully.

 

Le Farnete is one of two Tuscan estates owned by the Pierazzuoli family. Enrico is the owner and is assisted by his wife, brother and two sisters. Along with the wines, the Pierazzuoli’s produce olive oil and vegetable preserves and also run an agriturism business. It’s a true family affair for the Pierazzuoli’s. This close connection to each other and to the land is what fuels their passion for making the best wine possible. When Enrico took over from his father in 1990, he began an extensive replanting of the vineyards, choosing low-yielding clones which were densely planted. Improvements also occurred on the production side including building a state-of-the-art winery. All this investment has paid off as their wines continue to impress and provide a high quality to price ratio. I’m not sure exactly how The Wine House was introduced to Enrico Pierazzuoli but I am sure it was his confidence and vision that attracted us to his wines. Believing in Enrico and his vision for the future, The Wine House began importing his wines. That was nearly two decades ago!

 

Sangiovese in summertime. Sounds good and tastes good! Checking out our blog, I noticed that the last two times I wrote about wine from Pierazzuoli it was in summer. I can tell you honestly that stuffed zucchini and Barco Reale di Carmignano are dynamite together! My garden is exploding with zukes and I have a couple of recipes using them that need a red but one where the tannins are in check, has good acidity and rich fruit. Ba-da-bing…2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano from Le Farnete!
 

Last weekend I rushed from work for a quick trip up to the River to meet with childhood friends for a “Russian River Rats” reunion. Many of them I hadn’t seen for a very long time – too long! Lots of laughter and reminiscing ensued and continued well into the night. Funny how we all fell into our roles behaving like we did all those years ago. I brought along a bottle of the Barco Reale di Carmignano. It was a big hit, especially with the lamb shashlik that my brother grilled over a Weber while three of us held flashlights allowing him to see in the darkened backyard. Summer fun! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, Carmignano, Tuscany

The Wines From Corinne And Phillipe Ehrhart – Domaine St. Remy

July 25. Yes, we are aware of the fact that we have sent out several emails recently embracing Rosé, and all things summer. Why not? We have now entered late July and the period known as the dog days. What does it mean? Many things to many people. France is about to shut down for a month, and some of our friends from over there have been over here visiting. Last week it was Hélène Garcin-Lévêque from Bordeaux, and this week, we were visited by longtime friend, Philippe Ehrhart from Alsace!
 

Ever been to Alsace? Seeing Philippe again always brings back wonderful memories of the time Chris and I visited the Ehrharts at Domaine St. Rémy in Wettolsheim. If you don’t know the story, Chris had been with TWH for around 5 months at the time, and I had just started. A French food & wine promotional company was offering a free trip for 2 for the retailer that did the best job promoting the wines of Alsace during a given period of time.  Chris built the most magnificent pyramid of picturesque Alsatian boxes with different bottles displayed on each tier, flanked by maps of the region. It was rather eye-catching, to say the least. Our sales of Alsatian wines were quite brisk during this period, and one day a few months down the road, the phone rang. It was a representative of the French company sponsoring the contest. We had won! In what I can only describe as pure luck, I was chosen to accompany Chris on a whirlwind tour of Alsace with visits to 9 estates in 3 days. David was consulted by the sponsor for recommendations as to whom to visit. He also amended our itinerary to spend an extra day there in order to visit the 2 growers that we represented at the time. After 3 days chock full of visits, tastings, and rich meals, we were picked up on that final morning by Philippe Ehrhart himself and driven down to Wettolsheim to Domaine St. Rémy.

On the drive, Philippe regaled us with information about the villages, vineyards, and countryside. Once at the winery, he introduced us to his father and we began tasting tank samples of the recent harvest. It was rapidly approaching midday, so we were off to meet Philippe’s wife, Corinne, at their home for a tasting which included lunch. Philippe made the introductions and then led us to the dining room in which 10 bottles of various Domaine Ehrhart wines were opened and ready to be tasted. Somewhere after we tasted our 3rd sample, Corinne must have removed the lid to the pot with the simmering Choucroute, and the heavenly aroma wafted into the dining room. Beside one of my notes I scribbled, “Omg, I smell Choucroute.” (Wait, did I write “Omg?” Really? Hey, it was 2006, I was just a kid.)

 

Needless to say, the Choucroute was divine! Having the opportunity to taste the Ehrharts’ Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Auxerrois, and Gewurztraminer alongside it was the perfect Alsatian cultural experience.  So, even if it sounds a little cliché, when a couple of Alsatian winemakers invite you to their home for Choucroute, cancel the rest of your plans immediately and accept their invitation! We stayed well past our time limit, and when Philippe asked us what time our next appointment was, I looked at my watch and said, “5 minutes ago.” Philippe exclaimed that he wished we weren’t leaving, and we all reluctantly got in the car for our 20 minute drive.
 

I learned a lot during that trip. Having an eastern European background, cured meats, sausages, cabbage, and potatoes are all within my sphere of familiarity. I just never had a clue of what wines to pair with them. I can’t tell you how many bottles of quality red Bordeaux I brought to family gatherings which featured ham at the center of the table. In retrospect, the wines were all great, they just didn’t pair with the salty cured meat. After this trip, I knew, Riesling is the wine. Pinot Gris works too, as does Pinot Blanc’s sibling, Pinot Auxerrois. Gewurztraminer may be a little aromatically overwhelming for a holiday ham, ah, but the things you can pair with Gewurz … More on that later. The trip really opened my eyes as to how versatile the wines of Alsace are, and the formation of my opinion that the best pairings are with white wines had begun to take shape. I eat a lot of spicy food. These wines work well with spicy food. Really well.

So yeah, Philippe Ehrhart visited our new digs in Dogpatch this week! We popped one bottle each of the entire Ehrhart line in the cold box this past Tuesday and tasted them with Philippe and David after their full day of meetings and appointments. Having just flown in, Philippe showed no signs of weariness, and eagerly discussed the wines as we tasted them. The Ehrharts have always farmed organically, and the purity and precision of the end product is evidence of this practice paying off. Philippe informed us that he has been employing bio-dynamic practices in the vineyard, and beginning with their 2012’s, will be Demeter certified.

 

The Ehrharts have recently moved into a lovely, modern new winery complete with upscale tasting room. Another recent development has been to employ a scale from 1-10 on their back label describing the perceived sweetness of their wines.  This is extremely helpful for consumers because there is a wide range of styles amongst the wines of Alsace. Some wines are sweeter than others, and to point out the perceived sweetness in this fashion is useful. With their organic techniques, their new facility, and Demeter certification, we see nothing but great things ahead for the Ehrharts! We love their wines and we applaud their ability to look forward and not rest on any of their laurels. Never been to Alsace? It is worth strong consideration, you won’t regret it! – Peter Zavialoff
2012 Domaine Ehrhart Pinot Auxerrois Val St.-Gregoire
White Wine; other white varietal; Alsace;
$16.99
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Perceived Sweetness – 2
Pinot Auxerrois is considered the finest clone of Pinot Blanc due to its natural low yields and smaller berries. It’s a great aperitif, as it has round apple-like flavors and aromas. Great with things like chicken salad, grilled trout, creamy cheeses, or a lobster roll.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart Riesling Herrenweg
White Wine; Riesling; Alsace;
$19.99
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Perceived Sweetness – 2
It may say 2, but it seems drier to me. The aromas are fresh, there are floral hints surrounding the core of pear fruit and stony mineral. The palate is lively; it’s the epitome of a dry, versatile white wine. It goes with most traditional Alsatian fare, but there’s oh, so much more. Hunan smoked duck would be fun with this, also raclette, spicy shrimp scampi, or maybe even chile verde.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart Pinot Gris Im Berg
White Wine; Pinot Grigio/Gris; Alsace;
$19.99
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Perceived Sweetness – 2
Unlike the Riesling, I get a little more body and sweetness out of this one. Their Pinot Gris has a fuller body and is deep and rich. Aromas of earthy mushrooms are ever-present. The palate has depth, yet is well balanced. Versatile and giving, you can pair this with things like carnitas tacos, a ginger panko crusted salmon with Asian vegetabels, sushi, or Kung Pao pork.
2012 Domaine Ehrhart Gewurztraminer Herrenweg
White Wine; Gewurztraminer; Alsace;
$21.99
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Perceived Sweetness – 4.5
Gewurztraminer is a bit enigmatic. If you like spicy curry dishes, I highly recommend you try a glass of Gewurz with your next curry. I wouldn’t particularly sit down at a wine bar and order a glass of it, but when the balance of the sample bottle was up for grabs, that was all the motivation I needed to whip up a big batch of pork curry with a myriad of peppers last night, and all I have left, sadly is the leftover curry. The Gewurz is long gone! It is the perfect curry wine, no doubt, but I’ve tried it with spicy red beans and rice with much success. Spicy jambalaya, and an abundance of Asian dishes are begging for this highly aromatic, slightly off-dry wine. 

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Filed under Alsace, Peter Zavialoff, Riesling, Spicy food