Category Archives: Anya Balistreri

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

Lacuna 2011: A Red Blend for Summer

It is often not enough for wine to be good, I like a wine to have a good story behind it too. Believe me when I say there is a lot of wine out there! I do my best to taste through as much of it as I physically can so that I can make an informed decision as to what to buy for the store, but I have my limits. And besides, when I look over my tasting notes and think back on the wines that made the biggest impression on me, it usually comes down to the people behind the wine. It also follows that the passionate souls that I gravitate towards are rooted in a sense of place. Sometimes that place is a physical one – a vineyard, an estate, a region – and sometimes, the place is more of a sensibility. I know, that last part is rather vague, but work with me here. Lacuna is not a winery nor a vineyard, but what is in the bottle of their proprietary red speaks volumes about character and quality. They source sought-after, highly regarded vineyards, choosing only the best each vintage, and because of this all you will read on the label is “Red Wine, California”. That is only the beginning of the story.

 

The first vintage to hit the shelves was the 2007 Lacuna. The Wine House was the first to promote the 2007 Lacuna with unabashed enthusiasm. That enthusiasm continues with the 2011 Lacuna. Lacuna began as a partnership between three veteran wine guys who worked primarily on the distribution side of the wine business. They wanted to take their wine point of view to market by making their own wine. A stroke of genius lead them to ask rising-star winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co. fame to make their first vintage and then subsequently invited him to join the team. Twain-Peterson has made every vintage of Lacuna. Because of their collective connections within the wine business, the Lacuna team is able to source impeccable fruit but in return for getting access to these famed vineyards at favorable prices, they are asked not to reveal the vineyard names.
 

For the 2011 Lacuna, 85% of the blend is Syrah. Various vineyards sites for Syrah were used, including one planted primarily to the Alban clone. The fruit from this vineyard is responsible for lending the distinct bacon and smoke component to the wine. Some of the other Syrah components were co-fermented with Viognier, just like they do in Cote Rotie, to offer an aromatic counterpoint to the broodier Alban-clone site. In addition to Syrah, there are small smatterings of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignan, all sourced from a vineyard originally planted before the turn of the century. Pretty cool stuff! In the end, the various pieces to the puzzle fit together seamlessly to produce a wine of great depth, vigor and a dark edge. Meaty, sanguine and black berry notes dominate. This is not a jump in your lap, lick your face kinda Syrah, but one with deeply satisfying, savory fruit fortified by an ample, forceful structure.

 

A vacation spent at my family’s dacha among the Redwoods along the glorious Russian River last week gave me opportunity to drink some tasty wine. Coincidently, one of the Lacuna guys is also a fan of this area, having grown up there and is now caretaker of the family home. We like to compare notes about where to go and what to do. Inevitably though, I tell him that other than a day spent on the beach, my motivation to go anywhere lately is low! Watching for ospreys and river otters or my daughter’s hilarious attempts at landing on a floaty in the water is entertainment enough. As is relishing a glass of something yummy with dinner in the evening. Take the 2011 Lacuna and a grilled piece of aged beef and you have yourself a feast. The Lacuna’s structure begs for something substantial to pair with it. Other than animal protein, I would suggest serving a hearty grain like a barley risotto with mushrooms. That smokey, bacon quality of the 2011 Lacuna makes you want to sink your teeth into something; it is a sophisticated choice for serving with bold flavors off the grill. Get out and play! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, California, Syrah

Ca’ Lojera: Lugana’s Best

The Lugana DOC from Ca’ Lojera completes a trifecta of impressive TWH-direct whites from Italy that includes Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Tradizionale and Picollo’s Gavi. All three wines offer exceptional quality for the money and show authentic expression of their respective grape variety and place. They also happen to be family-run wineries. To my mind, those are key ingredients for enjoying a wine all the more! Ca’ Lojera’s 2012 Lugana is the fourth vintage to land in our warehouse. It has not lost any of its original luster to my palate.  Each vintage brings with it subtle variation, but always amazing depth, lushness, and a hallmark note of salinity. It is never boring and never palate fatiguing. A second glass, a second bottle, a second case is always in (and on) order!

 

Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi began growing grapes in the ’80s. Winemaker Franco comes from a family of farmers who did not grow grapes. Franco was met with skepticism when he embarked on grape growing but he persevered only to be thrown into wine production in the early ’90s when some of his contracts were not honored and he was left with grapes that had no where to go. It was a time when wine from Lugana was relatively unknown and had not yet regained the reputation and notoriety it has today. Once again the Tiraboschi’s persevered and now are known to make one of the finest Lugana in the region. Fortunately, David immediately recognized the exceptional quality of Ca’ Lojera during a 3-day wine seminar and tasting in New York City where he sampled through hundreds of wines and met hundreds of producers some years back.

The grape variety that goes into Lugana is known as Turbiana. It has been genetically linked to Verdicchio though at one time it was referred to as Trebbiano di Lugana. Ca’ Lojera’s Turbiana grows on mineral-rich, deep clay soils very near Lake Garda’s shore giving their wine that touch of salinity and savoriness. Flavors of melon, juicy tangerine, with intermittent notes of spearmint and herb, carrying forth in a fleshy texture that swirls around on your palate. All stainless steel tank fermented, the plushness of the wine is derived entirely from the grape and soil alone. Being situated on Lake Garda, the winery’s pairing suggestions circle around freshwater fish as well as ocean bound ones. I would include crustaceans like shrimp, crab or even lobster. There is enough stuffing to the wine to even pair it up with pork and chicken. It really has a lot of versatility. My family normally cooks nightly, but we’ve been barraged by work and end-of-school goings on, so have more than once relied on take-out in the past couple weeks. At San Anselmo’s Comforts, their ever popular, lightly-dressed Chinese chicken salad makes for a particularly tasty partner with Ca’ Lojera’s 2012 Lugana. 

 

I wait until the absolute last minute to write my weekend newsletter, usually writing it on a Saturday during business hours. This time I am bucking tradition (writing it on Wednesday) because I will be celebrating the epic union of Konstantin and Alla Zaharoff at their 60th Wedding Anniversary – yep, my parents! Oh jeez, I am already tearing up just writing down the words - I better get it out of my system! In the next few days I will be hustling, getting the party organized. Luckily, this is a family affair, so I won’t be going it alone. This much is true: no one will leave the party hungry or thirsty. As for the speech I am expected to give along with my brothers and sister? I’m going to try to keep it short or risk turning into a crying, messy puddle of mush. Growing up I was convinced that if my parents ever divorced it would be over whether or not the chicken was properly cooked. Raw, overdone, I guess it never mattered since if the only thing that they ever really argued over was the chicken’s doneness then their marriage was surely destined to remain intact. Our family is so blessed to be able to celebrate this long, happy marriage all together.
Pazdravlyaem s’ brilliantovoi svadboi!
 I love you Mama and Papa!
– Anya Balistreri 

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2011 Stephane Magnien Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru “Aux Petites Noix”

Domaine Stephane Magnien was formally introduced to TWH customers with the 2010 vintage. Although Magnien’s ’09s hit our shelves, high demand for the vintage caused them to disappear well before we had the chance to properly introduce this small domaine to all of you. But now the ’11s are here and well, it’s time to give these wines the attention they deserve! The 2011 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Cuvee “Aux Petites Noix” (phew, that’s a mouth full!), is a sensational wine that captures both the specificity of its appellation and the charm of the vintage. The “Petites Noix” is a blend of two parcels, “Les Gruenchers” and “Clos Baulet”. The parcels are relatively close in proximity, share similar soil structures and are thought to express the Gevrey-Chambertin side of Morey Saint Denis. The wine has notable structure with plenty of fleshy fruit.

 

Domaine Stephane Magnien has only 4.5 hectares of vines which, even for Burgundy, is considered small. Even so, Stephane, who took over the domaine from his father in ’08, is the fourth generation vigneron to live and work at the family home and cellars that date back to the late 1700’s. Young Stephane embraces traditional winemaking methods and is guided by the principle of preserving the integrity of the wine. Translation: natural practices in the vineyards, manual harvest, not forcing extraction, aging in barrel but not much of it new. What stands out for me when I taste Stephane’s wines, is the perky, fresh elegant red berry fruit and its seamless structure. The charming nature of the ’11 vintage is evident in this “Petites Noix” and so is the ripe, but not over-ripe, fruit. 2011 is thought to be an early drinking vintage. This means you can open this bottle now or over the next few years (decanting it a bit wouldn’t hurt either) without guilt. Burgundy can be a minefield when trying to determine optimal drinking windows, true, however the 2011 Morey Saint Denis “Petites Noix” from Stephane Magnien is showing its stuff now, so go ahead and imbibe!

 

Yields for ’10, ’11 and ’12 in Burgundy were all down. I read somewhere that if you combined the totals for all three vintages against normal years, an entire harvest was lost! Thirst for Burgundy remains high and the big, collectable names are allocated in dribs and drabs. There is good news and that is this, TWH makes every effort to continue to discover new energetic domaines from Burgundy that offer quality, value and pleasure – Domaine Stephane Magnien is such a producer. The 2011 “Petites Noix” is a direct import, therefore it will discount 15% when purchased by the case or as part of one. I’d like to think I can buy full cases of Burgundy to have on hand and if I did, I certainly would buy the 2011 “Petites Noix”. If buying a bottle or two is more your style, include it with some of our every-day wine gems to take advantage of the 15% savings. 

 

At home, the school year is wrapping up and summer activities are being lined up. Personally, I am a great advocate for unstructured, unplanned stretches of time, preferably spent outside somewhere, even the backyard. With summer hours approaching, a midweek meal might include a fancier bottle of red (I am crossing my fingers!) like the 2011 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Cuvee “Aux Petites Noix”. I can visualize a medium-rare leg of lamb with a garden-grown vegetable tian accompanied by the juicy red cherry fruit, sweet tannins and elegant finish of the 2011 “Petites Noix”. Now that sounds like a summer vacation to me! Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Burgundy, Morey-Saint-Denis, Pinot Noir, Stephane Magnien

Boudinaud’s 2012 Syrah Grenache

“We tried the 2012 Syrah Grenache; WOW is it great!”. That’s how I was greeted when I came into work on Thursday. I hadn’t yet tried the 2012 Syrah Grenache from Boudinaud myself, but I had taken home a bottle over the weekend. I was planning on opening it soon anyway, but with such a resounding endorsement from the crew, I was compelled to open it that evening. When it comes to trying out new vintages of our value-priced direct imports, I don’t like being the odd man out. Deeply relieved, I too found the wine to be delicious. Relieved? Yes, relieved because Boudinaud’s Syrah Grenache is my ‘house red’ as it were. When in doubt or not sure what meal plans lay ahead, I know I can’t go wrong with this versatile, charming red.
 


I wouldn’t say the 2012 Syrah Grenache is a departure from past vintages, but it clearly has more stuffing to it and a distinctly Rhone-like herby thread that weaves through the nose and palate. David remembered that the 2012 Syrah Grenache is for the first time 100% de-stemmed and is what probably gives the wine the added dimension. The fruit is redolent of black and red berries, fresh and bright but not tanky; it is more akin to a Cotes du Rhone than the average Southern French fighting varietal. Boudinaud’s winery is located in Fournès, a small village between Avignon and Nîmes, and very near the famous Pont Gard. Boudinaud’s vineyards are both within the Cotes du Rhone appellation and just next to it. The 2012 Syrah Grenache is more than fairly priced with lots of personality and a sense of place. 

 

Next month, along with my siblings, I will be throwing a 60th Wedding Anniversary party for my parents. It will be a daytime garden affair. The menu will include a whole spit-roasted pig and salmon. So far, the 2012 Syrah Grenache is my front runner for the red selection. I think it will go equally well with the fish and animal. And because this is a daytime event, I don’t think a heavy powerful red is appropriate or necessary.  I like the freshness and liveliness of the tank-fermented Boudinaud Syrah Grenache. It will be a far more pleasant drink and food companion than something with stronger tannins and oak. Plus, as I tried to convey above, this red is not lacking in the fruit department; it has plenty of WOW factor. Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, Grenache, Languedoc, Syrah

2011 Vernaccia Tradizionale from Montenidoli

The other day The New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov wrote an article titled Summer’s Winners: 20 Wines for $20Montenidoli’s 2011 Vernaccia Tradizionale was selected to that list, being described as having “depth, presence and texture.” At TWH, we often tell people that Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Tradizionale is a white wine that drinks more like a red wine. Because it is vinified in a traditional way -hence the name- by leaving the skins on for an extended time during fermentation, what emerges is a full-flavored, structured wine. Elisabetta Fagiuoli, legendary winemaker at Montenidoli, suggests pairing her Tradizionale with olive oil-based dishes like those found in cuisines along the Mediterranean. It is this attribute that makes the Tradizionale an especially perfect choice for Memorial Day weekend cook-outs. Kebabs, salmon, fava beans, spring garlic and onions, asparagus, really anything fresh and seasonal, grilled and then drizzled in green-gold olive oil will prove an epic feast when served along with the 2011 Vernaccia Tradizionale

 

TWH team with Elisabetta at Piccino in Dogpatch, February 2012.

TWH has been importing the wines of Montenidoli for a long time now. Elisabetta Fagiuoli was introduced to us by a mutual friend and colleague from Burgundy.Though Montenidoli’s reputation for making superior wines was well known to us, it was only after meeting Elisabetta in person that we fully understood the magnificence of Montenidoli’s wines. We have made many attempts to relay our enthusiasm for Montenidoli to our customers but some times it takes an outside source to drive the point home. Thanks due to a wonderful series called Ask a Winemaker, you can witness first hand how knowing this winemaker gives deeper meaning to her wines. If you have two minutes to spare, please watch this short video of Elisabetta describing the different styles of Vernaccia she makes. And if you enjoyed that, also watch this.

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, San Gimignano, Vernaccia

Tendu: New from Matthiasson

Judging from the liter-sized bottle and crown cap closure, you might think Tendu wines are from Austria or Germany. That’s what many folks assume when they first see bottles of Tendu. The stated alcohol on the labels, 12.5% for the red and 12.2% for the white, does not help to clear up this confusion of provenance and neither does tasting the wine. Tendu wines are part of a whole new breed of California wine that are gaining popularity and acceptance – fresh, young wines that are light and easy, made from unlikely varietals.

Winemaker Steve Matthiasson, in collaboration with his wine broker, set out to make a wine that would be affordable, versatile, and minimally handled in production. Sourcing the fruit for this project was key. To that end, grapes were harvested from a single vineyard in the Dunnigan Hills in Yolo County. The 2013 Tendu White is 100% Vermentino, a Mediterranean varietal that is famously grown on the island of Sardinia and in southern France where it is known as Rolle. The grapes for the 2013 Tendu were harvested in early August with the intention of getting vibrant fruit that has plenty of acidity still intact. The 2013 Tendu White is strikingly zippy and racy with very clean, steely flavors. Not sharp, but taunt - not your typical big fruit, high impact California wine. It has that lightweight freshness reminiscent of crisp southern French whites. Apart from enjoying this as an aperitif, I can imagine serving this with raw oysters or fish poke. For the 2013 Tendu Red, a blend of Montepulciano, Barbera, and Aglianico were used. These three Italian varietals can be rugged and robust, but what you taste is a light-bodied, juicy, slurpy red that is not at all jammy. The red fruit flavors lean towards cranberry and sour cherry, and the slight earthiness of the grapes appears on the finish. You could easily give it a quick chill on a sweltering hot day to better enjoy its low alcohol freshness. 

 

I recently re-tasted the 2013 Tendu White and Tendu Red at an event that featured only less-known grape varietals. In northern California roughly 93% of vineyard acreage is planted to eight grape varieties. The remaining 7% are comprised of less known grape varieties, like the ones in the Tendu wines. The tasting showcased twenty-two wineries who champion these lesser-known varietals. Not surprisingly, The Wine House consistently stocks many of these alternative grape varietals from California. In our opinion, these wines can offer tasty, value-driven options that intrigue and delight.

So what is this mother doing for Mother’s Day? Putting on Mother’s Day brunch for the lovely moms in my life, obviously, though this is looking to change for I went to bed last night with a banging headache and a chill. Am I really going to be sick for Mother’s Day? At present, I am trying to will myself well and failing. I hate to miss a good party, especially one I am supposed to be throwing. Now go call your Mother! Anya Balistreri 

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, California

Newly Arrived: 2013 Rose From Petite Cassagne

Why TWH moved to a new location at 829 26th Street at the edge of the historic Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco might be a question many of you have entertained and one that can be answered many ways. One answer is that we needed more space to warehouse our imported wines. As Pete likes to explain and I will paraphrase here, we want new vintages of French Rose as soon as possible and not in the middle of summer. Typically Rose is bottled in March, so given the normal timeframe of shipping logistics, we can expect new vintages of Rose to arrive in SF at the earliest by mid/late April. Too often at the old spot, we’d have to wait so that we can make room for a new container. But here at the new spot, voila, it has arrived fresh, fresh, fresh in April with room to spare in the warehouse. I wasted no time, buying a bottle of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne to enjoy at Easter, and will now attempt to make a strong argument as to why you should want this Rose over any other.

 

The 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne has a baby pink hue so pretty, so translucent, you can’t help but gravitate to the bottle. Made from direct press juice, mainly Cinsault, this Rose has that delicate, subtle appearance that signifies elegance, subtlety, and freshness. The aromas are pervasive but not heady. The strawberry scents are like those that greet you when you pass by a vendor at the Farmers market selling just picked berries; it is a vivid, memory-inducing aroma. On the palate the strawberry theme continues but stops short of excessive fruitiness by the perfectly matched acidity and dryness level. It is not an out of the ordinary Rose, unlike anything you’ve ever tried before, but it is precisely what you want from a $11.49 bottle of Rose from Southern France. Now let’s imagine for a moment that you had the good fortune of summering along the Mediterranean coast and were at an outdoor bistro ordering a glass of Rose. If the restaurant served you a glass of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne, first you would think to yourself why don’t I drink more Rose and second you would begin to wonder whether you could purchase anything like it back in the States. The good news is yes you can and we have it here at TWH!

 

At Easter, my elder brother, who resides in Sonoma County and grows wine grapes as a hobby, asked me to try a Rose that a friend had made. He asked me to honestly critique the wine so that he could report back to his friend. After staying up the night before until 4:30 in the morning-having gone to midnight mass and then breaking the lenten fast afterwards – I wasn’t exactly in the mood for playing the role of the wine expert, but I tasted it anyway and found it to be sound. My biggest objection to it was the heat on the finish and its sense of heaviness on the palate. I could see that my brother was not clear by what I meant, so the next day as we continued our Easter celebration at my other brother’s house for a day-long bbq feast, I poured a glass of the 2013 Rose from Domaine de la Petite Cassagne and instructed my brother to try it. “You see how light and fresh it is?” I told him. And I went on to say, “we sell it at the store for $11.49 per bottle, and even less by the case!” Now he understood, so much so he asked me to set a few bottles aside for him.
 

One of the highlights at the bbq feast for me was a slow-cooked, fall-apart-tender pork butt that was served on sweet Hawaiian rolls with sliced cucumbers, pineapple, red onion and cilantro with Siracha and Hoisin sauce. It was an amazingly delicous pairing with the Petite Cassagne Rose. Truly. Red wine would have been too heavy and a white wine wouldn’t have had enough fruity oomph, proving to me once again how versatile and complimentary Rose is with foods that impart heat or spiciness.

 


Winemaker Diane de Puymorin has perfected making Rose that combines real value with sophistication (actually this is true for all her wines). The 2013 Rose from Petite Cassagne is simply hard to beat especially when you factor in the price. At $11.49 per bottle ($9.77 when ordered by the case), you can afford to incorporate a taste of the Mediterranean life into your daily diet. Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Costieres de Nimes, Nimes, Rose

Santa Duc’s 2010 Vacqueyras Les Aubes

Santa Duc’s Yves Gras has ventured south from Gigondas to Vacqueyras where he uses two parcels to make an impressive, substantial red. The 2010 Vacqueyras Les Aubes showcases the grittier, rustic side of Grenache. In Yves’ capable hands, the signature Santa Duc garrigue-thing is preserved and at the forefront in his Vacqueyras. Sure the fruit is there, but before you get to it, you must peel back layers of lavender and dusty dirt. It is a bold expression of Grenache. A dark berry red color, almost purple really, fills the glass. Just as soon as you stick your nose in, you know you’re in Southern Rhone. No mistaking it for Priorat or New World anywhere. There is a black olive, dried brush aroma that reminds me of taking a hike just after a gentle rain. Aromatically speaking, there is a lot going on in this wine.

 

Yves Gras began to make domaine-bottled wine at Santa Duc in the early 80’s. 1982 was the first vintage bottled. Prior to that, as was customary in the southern Rhone, wine was sold to negociants. Santa Duc led the trend away from selling wine to negociants to making domaine bottled wine. Santa Duc’s Gigondas quickly became a collectable wine, garnering high praise and scores from the wine press.
Yves was always passionate about his work in the vineyard. It is nearly ten years ago that he abandoned methods such as chemical weed control, and naturally evolved to sustainable use of his farmlands and environment. More recently, Yves decided to make his pursuit of organic farming official by seeking certification from Ecocert, an organic certification organization founded in France. The 2012 vintage will have the Ecocert certification on the label.

 

I am five weeks into an ova-pescatarian diet. Though the benefits of eating more healthy are starting to be felt (less puffy, more energy), my craving for fatty protein is getting harder to quell. One way to curb the craving is to pour myself a glass of a meaty red like the 2010 Vacqueyras Les Aubes. The earth, fruit, ripe tannins and succulent acidity of the Les Aubes create a full-flavored wine drinking experience. And because Les Aubes is Grenache-based (20% is Syrah), I can easily match it up with a whole-grain entrée and not feel I am missing out. The other night I was oiling up some Farmers Market fresh, white and purple carrots to roast, when my daughter uttered a yum and commented to me that “roasted carrots are like corn dogs for vegans.” C’est vrai! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Domaine Santa Duc, Rhone Valley, Vacqueyras

2012 Gavi DOCG from Ernesto Picollo

Day 4 at the new place: wine is finally making it to the sales floor. Priority number one? Stack up the 2012 Gavi DOCG from Ernesto Picollo! Why this wine? It is arguably our most universally preferred under $12 bottle of white in the store. I am not sure that the winery’s name, Ernesto Picollo, is what people remember but our customers sure know to ask for “the Gavi”.

The Gavi appellation is located in Italy’s Piedmonte region. The grape is Cortese, a variety cultivated in this area for hundreds of years. Cortese’s signature appeal is the white flower aromas, subtle fruitiness and lively fresh finish. Picollo’s Gavi precisely exhibits these attributes. Measuring under 13% alcohol, usually around 12.5%, Picollo’s Gavi is light on its feet so you can enjoy a glass before dinner without feeling weighted down. 

 

The Picollo family has been making wine for three generations, currently farming close to 8 hectares of vines in traditional fashion. The average age of the vines is between 25 to 30 years, though much of the newer vines go into the Gavi DOCG. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel, the success of this wine lies with the excellent farming, resulting in perfectly grown grapes with which to make wine.


Not only have we managed to move our entire store this week, but we also took in our first container! The container arrived from Italy with replenished stocks of Picollo’s Gavi. There was a slight lag between running out of the ’11 Gavi and getting in the ’12 Gavi. During this time, I was forced to bring home other affordable whites. I discovered new favorites, but I really missed my Gavi. The nuanced white blossom and melon flavors blanketed by a sea breeze fresh, mineral core is deeply satisfying. I love how it balances out salty snacks. Friday’s Fish Night menu at Taverna Balistreri is often a Meyer lemon topped, herby, bread-crumbed baked filet of Petrale. It is a delicate fish, therefore it needs something light and fresh to go with it. The 2012 Gavi DOCG from Picollo is the hands-down winner for this match-up. 

 

I was working at TWH when it moved from Bryant to Carolina Street. After that ordeal, I vowed never to do it again! Ha ha. The grueling work aside, I am thrilled to be in this new location. I must commend my colleagues who put in many, many extra hours/days to accomplish this task. Everyone did their part and then some, all the while making it fun with lots of laughter and cheery repartee. And now, sitting at our new workstation, I am feeling an even deeper appreciation for our customers. So many of you have already ventured to our new spot and have patiently waited as we scrambled around the warehouse trying to locate wine for you. Yep, the sales floor is not fully stocked … but it’s getting there! TWH customers are the best! Thank you… – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Cortese, Gavi