December 2014 Dirty Dozen

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11 down, 1 to go. December is here! It’s the most festive season of the year. The time we refer to as “The Holidays.” So during the hustle and bustle that this time of year regularly provides, why not make your wine pantry happy with 12 bottles, all different, all chosen for their versatility, for one incredibly low price? The December Dirty Dozen is just that! Sporting a 30% discount off the retail price, this is as no-brainer as it gets! Happy Holidays!

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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

 

2012 Chardonnay Mirth, Corvidae $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

The team behind Owen Roe makes this stainless steel, tank-fermented Chardonnay sourced mainly from the Yakima Valley in Washington State. It’s a vibrant Chardonnay dripping with snappy green apple fruit. Seductive tropical notes and a good dose of acidity keeps it interesting. Pairing options include veal Picatta, chard frittata or series TV binge-watching.

2013 Verdejo, Rey Santo $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

From the Rueda region of Spain comes this 100% estate grown Verdejo. Straw yellow in color with succulent tropical and stone fruit flavors, this medium-bodied wine is several quality levels above most similarly priced Spanish whites. Enjoyable on its own pre-dinner, or perfect with a shrimp Louie salad, roast chicken, or butternut risotto.

2011 Albarino, Paco & Lola $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

Albarino is characterized by its fleshy, floral fruit and bracing acidity. Often described as a cross between Riesling and Pinot Gris, Albarino’s popularity is booming in the US. And why not? Fleshy, cool and crisp, Albarino is superb with all types of raw fish preparations like sushi and ceviche, and surprisingly delicious with spicy Asian cuisine – Bahn Mi sandwiches, green papaya salad, pan-fried rice noodles with pork belly, yum!

2013 Rosé Les Cimels, Château d’Or et de Gueules $13.99, $11.19 reorder

For that Provençal look and feel, Diane Puymorin blends 40% each Cinsault and old-vine Mourvèdre with equal parts Syrah and Grenache for her Les Cimels Rosé. The name is the local dialect for “bouquet of fruits,” and one sniff will tell you why. Far less expensive than an airline ticket, this can magically transport the taster to the south of France.

2012 Viognier, Grange des Rouquette $11.99, $9.59 reorder

TWH buddies Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud have many vineyards in and around the southern Rhône Valley. For their Pays d’Oc Viognier, they actually blend in 15% Marsanne to give the floral wine additional backbone and complexity. It works fine as the wine is fresh, lively, and rich. This makes for a great tapas wine … maybe some shrimp fritters?

2012 Macon-Villages Les Tilles, Domaine Sainte Barbe $19.99, $16.99 reorder

It doesn’t happen very often, but every now and again a white Burgundy lands in the Dirty Dozen! This one from the small, but vibrant 2012 vintage. The wine is lively and balanced, the fruit and acid propping each other up through a long, satisfying finish. With crab season here, this is a great go-to wine as it will accompany any shellfish very well.

2010 Pinot Noir The Table, Once Wines $13.95 sale price, $13.25 reorder

Finding good California Pinot Noir – let alone really good Pinot Noir like this one – for under $20 is not an easy task. Winemaker Sashi Moorman of Evening Land is credited with making this wine in collaboration with a group of celebrity sommeliers. What impresses us more is the wine itself: copious cherry fruit and a thread of damp earth delivered in a restrained style. This red has enough sophistication and complexity to serve even at the fanciest of holiday fêtes!

2010 Treggiaia, Az. Agr. Pugliano $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Transport yourself to the rolling hills of Tuscany with this charming Sangiovese blend made by Fulvio Galgani of Fattoria Bibbiani. Aromas of cherry and Etruscan herbs are supported by food-friendly acidity making it the ideal pairing for assertive pasta sauces like Puttanesca and Arabbiata, or try with a pie from your favorite local pizzeria.

2012 Garnacha/Tempranillo, Paco & Lola, $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

A 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo, this medium-bodied Spanish red is redolent of tart berries and forest floor aromas. By skipping out of any oak treatment, this red remains light on its feet. Paella is an obvious choice to match here, but so is cured or smoked ham, vegetable stews and any regional American chili.

2012 Saumur, Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Loire Valley Cabernet Franc in its natural form here. No make-up, no smoke, no mirrors. Just that medium-bodied, herbal splendor that doesn’t speak, it screams of a place. It’s a cerebral wine, complex enough to start a conversation.

2013 Syrah, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

Coming from just outside the Rhône Valley, our friends at Saint Antoine craft this brawny Syrah. Another terroir-driven wine that speaks of its place of origin, it’s 100% de-stemmed and all tank fermented. Papardelle with rabbit sauce.

2010 Côtes-du-Rhône, Tour de l’Isle $14.99, $11.99 reorder

DD fans may be somewhat familiar with the Tour de l’Isle Côtes-du-Rhône vis à vis the 2009 vintage which was featured earlier this year. The 2010 vintage was yet another gem in the southern Rhône leading us to believe that bad vintages are a thing of the past. This has all the charm, vigor, and finesse we look for. It makes for a great pasta wine.

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

Celebrate November 20 With CRU Beaujolais

It’s here! It’s the third Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is ONE week away and today, at bistros and brasseries worldwide, the northern hemisphere’s very first wine from 2014 is being served. No matter where you stand on the issue of Nouveau Beaujolais, the undeniable fact of the matter is that it has become a tradition and something to celebrate, for the sake of celebration itself. It gives one the excuse to check into their local Franco-centric establishment and partake in festivity. The wines are light, fruity, and easy to drink. The advertising for the unveiling of these wines is plentiful, and even if you’ve never been to France, it’s difficult to not be taken in by the hype. So, if one is open to the simplicity of Nouveau, why not dig a bit deeper and have a look into the finest wines from this region: Cru Beaujolais!

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In the French wine world, “Cru” means “Growth.” You won’t see the fancy (and often expensive) names “Grand Cru” or “Premier Cru” in Beaujolais. There is a lot of wine that comes from Beaujolais, including Nouveau, but the BEST of these wines come from Beaujolais’ 10 Crus. Killing two birds with one stone here, the names of the 10 Crus were humorously listed today on Twitter, as “List of ten wines that go with turkey.” In no particular order:

Saint Amour
Juliénas
Régnié
Moulin à Vent
Fleurie
Morgon
Chiroubles
Chénas
Brouilly
Cote de Brouilly
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It is humorous for us wine industry folks, as we have been known to recommend Beaujolais tirelessly to customers seeking Turkey Day red wines. Thanksgiving is a special occasion, so if you’re looking to open something fancier, by all means do so! But taking the traditional T-Day spread into consideration, if you’re going the red route, something light on its feet, spicy, and fruit-driven is the way to go. Knee-jerk reaction? Bam! Beaujolais. Cru Beaujolais, that is.

It being November and all, we’ve received several inquiries about a sale that usually occurs around this time. Stay tuned, as we will unveil the Anniversary Sale with a bit of fanfare in the coming days. (Though some of you may want to surf around our website. You never know what you might find.) What if one of the wines on sale were a Cru Beaujolais? Read on.
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The 2011 Château de Raousset Chiroubles is the lightest of the bunch, with dazzling aromas of bright cherries, forest floor, and baking spices. It’s a great intro to the world of the Cru. Raousset’s Fleurie Grille-Midi is at its peak right now showing off the complexity, balance, and weight that earned that Médaille d’Or on the bottle. The Morgon Douby is the most structured of the trio; it’s got a dark middle and earthy mineral qualities to it. It’s still Gamay Noir, so it’s elegant and not at all tannic – best part is that it’s on sale! Our other Morgon is from Domaine Pierre Savoye. It hails from Morgon’s Côte du Py, the prime terroir of this famous Cru. Savoye’s version is brighter and fruitier, call it a little more slurpable.

Yes, today is the day that 2014 Nouveau Beaujolais hits the shops, brasseries, and tables across the globe. For the other 364 days of the year, if you’re talking about Beaujolais, head on over to the Cru section. For as simple and light-hearted as Nouveau is, Beaujolais’ Crus have so much complexity and elegance to offer. It’s as if Nouveau Beaujolais is made to drink while standing, while the Cru Beaujolais is something you may want to sip and discuss while sitting. Hey, a reason to celebrate is a reason to celebrate. Bon fête!

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Filed under Chiroubles, Fleurie, French Wine, Morgon, Peter Zavialoff

2012 Orgo Saperavi: Ancient Winemaking Comes Of Age

The 2012 Orgo Saperavi is a wine I knew existed in theory but had never tasted before until now. Winemaking in The Republic of Georgia dates back 8,000 years. I had read about the wonders of Georgian wine in literary novels. I had heard about how delicious Georgian wines were from my Georgian friends. I have drunk Georgian wines at home supplied by friends who traveled to Russia, as well as purchased locally from food emporiums catering to Russian speakers. I have even been to The Republic of Georgia back when it was part of the Soviet Union and drank wine there. However, these experiences were simply exercises in the exotic. I never tasted a Georgian wine that reaches the level of complexity and vibrancy as the 2012 Orgo Saperavi.

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Orgo, the winery, is located in the Kakheti region in eastern Georgia. Saperavi, the grape, can make full-bodied, long-aging wines. At Orgo, young winemaker Temuri Dakashvili, who is a fourth generation vigneron, ferments the wine in clay amphoras called kveri. Temuri studied winemaking in Germany but is part of a wave of young Georgian winemakers dedicated to preserving the ancient art of kveri winemaking. Temuri sources the fruit from a small 2.5 hectare vineyard he owns with his brother. The vineyard has vines aged from 50-80 years old that are deep rooted in intensely mineral river bank soils. Only native yeasts are used. Maceration with skins, seeds and stems lasts for 14-18 days in clay kveri. Then the heavy sediments and skins are removed and the wine continues to mature for another 6 months. No oak is used and neither is the wine fined or filtered. This description might lead you to think this is some crazy, strange, “natural” wine, but it is not. It is a wine of sophistication that will appeal to both wine geek and to those looking to try something new but not necessarily weird. Lovers of Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – will find much to appreciate and enjoy here.

The flavors are tangy with plum and pomegranate flavors and lots of spice notes. It has soft, rounded tannins and a welcoming lightness given its full-bodied expression. An aromatic melange of fruit and spices rev up as the wine opens to air. An interesting fact of the Saperavi grape is that it is a teinturier grape which means its skin and flesh are red. Teinturier grapes are rarely used on their own, but are typically blended with other varietals for color. Saperavi is the exception. If anyone has ever had Georgian red wine before, it should probably be emphasized that the 2012 Orgo Saperavi is a dry wine labeled at 12.5% alcohol by volume.
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Along with its famous wines, Georgian hospitality and cuisine are also legendary. I can attest to this fact. Georgian Feasts, or supra, can last hours, often all day, with food overflowing on the table and are officiated by a tamada, or master of ceremonies, to keep the toasts rolling and the spirits high. Back when I visited Tbilisi in the late ’80’s, I was traveling with friends who had family living there. Despite the fact that stores stood empty, when dining at private homes meals were bountiful and complicated. As an honored guest, they would literally take the shirt off their back and give it to me if given the chance. One time I stood admiring a painting on a living room wall. The host noticed me, walked over to the painting, took it off the wall and presented it to me. I had no intention of absconding with their cherished painting nor did I want to insult their generosity, so luckily I managed to convince them that I had no way of transporting such a large picture back home with me. After that incident, I learned not to let my eye rest on anything for too long!
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It is nearly time for our greatest American feast, Thanksgiving, when eating and drinking all day long is also the tradition. If you are looking for a fuller red to serve at your table, the 2012 Orgo Saperavi, with its tannins in check, should marry nicely with the baking spices found in many classic Thanksgiving side dishes. Georgian cuisine uses many ingredients that one might find on a typical Thanksgiving table like walnuts, fruit sauces and even turkey, so I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest the 2012 Orgo Saperavi as a Thanksgiving wine. However, if you remain doubtful, do yourself a favor and cook up some lamb and then pop open a bottle of the Orgo. – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Georgia, Kakheti, Saperavi

Just In Time: 2011 Opalie de Chateau Coutet

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It was like a splash of cold water in the face. Bam! World Series over and done, and all memory of summer with it. Throw in a rain shower, the time change, hoops and hockey on the TV, and all of sudden it’s, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Sheesh! I saw it coming, but I sure didn’t feel it coming. My perception of Thanksgiving has changed in recent years, so I’m looking forward to it, but whoa, there’s a lot of stuff to do between here and there! Things that you’re all going to be hearing about soon, like the Anniversary Sale, Thanksgiving itself, and a dinner in January with Chateau Brane Cantenac, are all coming into view; full steam ahead! Since we still have more than a couple of weeks until the fourth Thursday in November, let me tell you about a very special wine that you may find ideal for this fall’s (and beyond) celebrations. Our final allocation of 2011 Opalie de Chateau Coutet is here and ready for you all to enjoy!

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This is one of my favorite wines and also one of my favorite stories. I’ve gone on more than once about how much I love White Bordeaux. It can be life-altering. Yes. I meant to say that. The dry white wines of Bordeaux are amazing reflections of terroir when both young and aged. It’s funny that this happened on the same day. I was up in the Medoc tasting red wines at various UGC tastings as well as stopping by a handful of esteemed chateaux to taste their wines. One of these well known, fancy chateaux had recently begun making a dry white wine, and though I liked it okay, my notes do include the word, “imposter.” That same evening I had the great pleasure of dining at Chateau Coutet with Philippe and Aline Baly. After dinner, Philippe brought a bottle to the table. It had no label. He poured a glass and Aline told me that Philippe wanted my impressions. Perfect word. I was impressed. It was rich and opulent, much like Coutet itself. The only difference was it was dry and crisp. It spoke of a place. I told them how much I liked it. They then regaled me with the story of Opalie de Coutet.

Seeking the advice of Philippe Dhalluin of Mouton Rothshild (et al.) fame, they chose a couple of rows of 40 year old vines planted in the thickest layers of clay and limestone in their Premier Cru vineyard to source the fruit for Opalie de Coutet. Blending 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon, it is fermented and aged in oak barrels, 45% of it new. To call it unique would be an understatement. It is truly a one of a kind wine. Production is only a precious 250 cases. We had a great amount of success with the inaugural 2010 vintage of Opalie, selling out our entire allocation in record time. For the 2011, we took our allocation in two lots. The first one came to us back in January. It sold out in February. Our second drop has now arrived, and when it’s gone there’ll be no more.
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I got to taste the 2011 Opalie de Coutet for the first time at Coutet along with several wine professionals including Commanderie members and writers, one of which happened to also be an MW. It was a fantastic experience to have a discussion about a young wine that broke down the language barrier from terroir to palate. The quintessential richness of Coutet’s terroir is ever-present in this fresh, zesty, expressive wine. I was and continue to be smitten by Opalie de Coutet.

Fastening my seatbelt here, it is indeed full speed ahead. You will be hearing about the Anniversary Sale soon, and a Bordeaux dinner soon afterwards. But for tonight, it’s all about the 2011 Opalie de Coutet! It’s actually perfect timing. November is a great month for this wine. Crab season is right around the corner, oysters are mighty tasty these days, and the 2011 Opalie de Coutet would be a sensational addition to any Thanksgiving table. Keeping that spirit alive, if the parties and holidays of December call for something special and unique, the Opalie will more than satisfy those criteria. And peeking a bit further into the future, as has been written here before, that Opalie de Coutet is the perfect Valentine’s Day wine. It’s here, for now, so come on by TWH and get yours today!
- Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the 2011 Opalie de Coutet, our Anniversary Sale, our upcoming Bordeaux Dinner in January, and of course, footy: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2011 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff

November 2014 Dirty Dozen

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And just like that, it’s November. It’s getting chilly out. It’s getting darker earlier and earlier. No need to fear, we’ve arrived at that time of year where people gather indoors and enjoy one another’s company. The Holidays are around the corner, beginning with the day of thanks. During times like these, it’s a good idea to have a stockpile of versatile wines ready to go, just in case. Case? Yes, case. 12 bottles, all different, for one low price!

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2013 Picpoul de Pinet, le Chevalier de Novato $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

If you’ve never tried this delightful Languedoc white, boy, are you in for a treat! The name of the grape translated from the French means “stings the lip,” referencing the grape’s natural zippy acidity. On the label an illustration of an oyster hints at the perfect pairing for this wine, though any fresh bivalve will do. A charming aperitif to tickle the appetite!

2011 Moscato Giallo, Castel Sallegg $21.98 net price, $19.78 reorder

The intense, intoxicating aroma of this dry Moscato Giallo has notes of green apple, mango, orange blossom and tuberose. Grown along glacial valleys in the Italian Alps, Alto Adige is positioned just below Austria. Castel Sallegg has deep cellars where they ferment and age their wines 3 stories below ground. Try with Pad Thai or Singapore Noodles.

2010 Catarratto, Tola $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Catarratto is one of Sicily’s oldest native grapes. The Tola estate has vineyards that lie between Palermo and Trapani where the famous Scirocco sends in warm winds and light sea breezes. Simple, light with an abundance of green-tinged citrus notes and flavors, this Sicilian white would match well with flaky white-fleshed fish or grilled Octopus.

2013 Rose, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.49, $9.19 reorder

When it comes to pairing wines with the array of plates one typically finds on the Thanksgiving Day table, Rose is among the most versatile. Its crisp profile, coupled with just the right amount of fruit works with just about anything. Its low price makes it a good one to stock up on. The Petite Cassagne Rose has been a favorite for a few consecutive vintages.

2011 Pinot Gris Im Berg, Domaine Ehrhart $19.99, $15.99 reorder

Speaking of Thanksgiving, here’s another autumnal wine. Straight away you can sense the earthy, mushroomy aromas behind the fresh orchard fruit and almond notes. On the palate the wine is sturdy with a bit of viscosity, apple-y fruit and earthiness meet head to head and take you to a long finish. If a ham shows up at the table, this is your wine.

2012 Gavi, Ernesto Picollo $10.99, $8.79 reorder

What’s the wine of choice along the Italian Riviera? That’s a rhetorical question in this context. Gavi is in Piemonte, the grape is Cortese, and the profile is dry, medium bodied with ample fruit, and crisp. There is a detectable mineral presence, both aromatically and on the palate. This will pair well with shellfish, rotisserie chicken, or of course, turkey.

2011 Chianti, Fattoria Petriolo $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

A textbook Chianti jam-packed with tangy Sangiovese fruit; a cheerful combination of red cherry and dusty red dirt. The inherent low tannin and high acid nature of Sangiovese makes it ideal for any tomato-based dish or long-simmered meat. Grandma’s short-rib stew or Nonna’s Sunday gravy over spaghetti is all you need to take away autumn’s chill.

2013 Pinot Noir, Underwood $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

A perennial favorite, Oregon’s Underwood Pinot Noir is nearly unmatched for its quality/price ratio. How do they do it? Drawing from vineyard sites all across Oregon then blending to construct a light/medium-weighted cherry explosion, they seem to get better with each vintage! Elevate your leftover turkey sandwich with a glass the day after.

2007 Primitivo, Feudo di San Nicola $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder

Primitivo is an Old World (Italian) relative of Zinfandel. It’s robust and earthy, with plummy notes tangling with fresh cracked black pepper. A little time spent in bottle have softened the tannins of this wine, so it’s good to go right now! When pairing, think marbled steak, Pimenton-spiced brisket, or rack of lamb – Va Bene!

2012 Mountainside Shiraz, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Frenchman and TWH pal Edouard Labeye makes the wines for English ex-pat Alex Dale at his Winery of Good Hope. The concept is to keep costs down so the wines are great values to consumers; so no new barrel, no fancy packaging. Take this Shiraz out for a spin. Spicy red fruit, layers of brambly berries, and cracked black pepper; try it with ostrich.

2013 Malbec, Alberto Furque $14.99, $11.99 reorder

Malbec has taken Argentina by storm. Once upon a time, it was used as a blending grape in Bordeaux (where it still plays a minor role), but there is something about the terroir in Argentina that works for this variety. Here, Carolina Furque uses steel and concrete tank to make this plummy, med/full bodied number. A marinated skirt steak works very well here.

2011 Cotes-du-Rhone la Boissiere, Domaine Boudinaud $13.49, $10.79 reorder

What better way to round out this month’s DD than with a tasty Cotes-du-Rhone. Pound for pound, the red wines from this region continue to represent some of the wine world’s best deals. The 2011 la Boissiere is medium bodied, complex, and balanced. It’s a great all-purpose red, and would suit pizzas, calzones, pasta dishes, and burgers just fine.

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Arlaux Champagne? Yes, Yes, Yes!

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TWH staff had occasion to celebrate this week, so we did with a bottle of Arlaux’s Brut Rosé. Arlaux’s Brut Rosé is produced from the family’s 9 hectare vineyard which faces east/southeast along hillside slopes not far from Champagne’s epicenter, Reims. Produced independently since 1826, Arlaux makes only 5,000 cases a year, a minuscule amount for a Champagne house. That’s probably why Arlaux is not a household name, except for here at The Wine House.

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With over 10 years importing Arlaux under our belt, we’ve become pretty familiar with Arlaux’s signature style which showcases Champagne’s lesser known, but most widely planted variety, Pinot Meunier. Arlaux’s Brut Rosé is over 50% Pinot Meunier, therefore it has a fuller, fruitier expression than the more delicate Pinot Noir- or Chardonnay-based Rosés. A beautiful shade of salmon pink with edges of amber, the Arlaux Rosé strike a lovely balance between amplitude and delicacy. Yeasty aromas mingle with red raspberry fruit and give way to a creamy long finish.

The vine age at Arlaux ranges from 20-80 years old and are 100% classified Premier Cru. Their farming practices are “lutte raisonneé” which for Arlaux means that they are not using any pesticides in combination with careful vineyard management. Their stewardship of the land looks to a sustainable model.

One of our first customers this morning stopped by specifically to check on our Champagne selection. He knew that this is the time of year Champagne inventory at The Wine House expands. And then it dawned on me, holy cow it’s here, the time most closely associated with drinking Champagne – the holidays. Ready or not!

As I wrote above, The Wine House staff had occasion to celebrate this week. A local team we all like to root for in a sport we all enjoy following won an important series, so after spending the day analyzing the victory (& working), at the end of the business day, we selected something worthy with which to clink our glasses: Arlaux’s Brut Rosé. It had been some time since I last drank this Rosé. I always considered Arlaux’s Rosé to be the perfect bathtub wine; languishing in scented bath water, soaking away the stress and sipping something special and bubbly. I could sure use such a soak and a sip. A Friday Halloween sent droves of trick-or-treaters past my front door. Explain to me how it can be so exhausting handing out candy to little children? At any rate, next time you find yourself in need of something special and bubbly, whether it be for a soak in the tub, marking a win, or any type of holiday festivity, check out Arlaux’s Brut Rosé. It is a wise choice! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Champagne, Pinot Meunier

2011 Ca’Lojera Ravel & 2007 Pierazzuoli Millarium

Two Sweet Exclusives

THW does not shy away from sweet wines. Many have marveled at our comprehensive Sauternes selection. I don’t have the scientific data to back this up, but I surmise that TWH has one of the largest selections of Sauternes in the country. But as much as we love Sauternes, why stop there? Two of our direct-imports from Italy, Ca’ Lojera and Tenute Pierazzuoli, make superb passito-style sweet wines that are currently in stock at our store. In fact outside of Italy, we are the only place you can purchase these wines! (And I have the scientific data on that fact.) Yes, they are that special and we find them to be value-driven options when selecting something a little sweet for a special dinner or to serve as an aperitif when you want to shake things up.

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Ca’ Lojera’s passito-style wine is called Ravel. Ca’ Lojera settled on this name as a reference to the composer Ravel whose most famous composition, Boléro, can evoke warm, passionate feelings in the listener. Likewise Ca’ Lojera’s Ravel is a moving expression of their local Turbiana grape. A small amount of Malvasia is added in for aromatic lift and perfume, but it is the Turbiana that plays center stage. The grapes are hand-harvested, dried on wooden trays for an extended period of time and then pressed. The wine is then aged in barrel before bottling. The 2011 Ravel is light on its feet with a fresh finish, not at all unctuous. An exotic coconut flavor dominates with cheerful lemon undertones. A glowy citrus yellow color lights up the glass and the lush flavors settle nicely on the palate. The coconut flavors give a nice toasted note without being overly extracted or heavy-handed. Frankly, this wine is better suited for aged cheeses than for matching with a dessert. This wine is perfectly capable of being a stand-alone dessert, no sugary caloric confections needed. In an email providing us with some background notes on their latest releases, Ca’ Lojera’s Ambra Tiroboschi signed off with this charming sentiment, “this is briefly the history of our wines, that derive from our projects and reflect our dreams.”

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Pierazzuoli’s 2007 Millarium Vin Santo is a laborious endeavor. First the grapes are hand picked from vines that were deliberately left with only two bunches. The grapes were then hung up to dry in the rafters of their well-ventilated facility. The grapes dry for six months. The must is then fermented and aged incaratelli, very small barrels, for four years, during which time the wine is kept in an area directly under the roof in order to maximize temperature swings during the year. After bottling, the wine rests for another year before commercial release. Amazing isn’t it when you think about what it takes to make a wine like this especially given the usual turn-it-over fast, send-it-out-to-market-quick mentality? Making real Vin Santo is a commitment. Vin Santo, or “holy wine”, has many origin stories. The one proprietor Enrico Pierazzuoli shared with us is that the name is derived from the historical practice of pressing the wine during Easter. Actually what I found most interesting was Enrico’s description of his Vin Santo as being “an ideal wine for company and conversation, as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, it goes very well with sheep cheese served with green tomato marmalade or chestnut honey, or with liver pâté.” Please note that no mention is made of any type of cake, torte or sweet. Save that stuff for the espresso! The 2007 Millarium Vin Santo is dark amber in color with a lightly honeyed note, lots of freshness, a slight herbal component that gives a minty spark and finishes with decadent burnt sugar and lots of roasted hazelnuts. Beautifully balanced without any over-compensating sweetness. A perceived dryness permeates the palate giving the wine a youthful sheen. – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Lugana, Tuscany