Category Archives: Anya Balistreri

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

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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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

October 2014 Dirty Dozen

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All over the northern hemisphere, the annual grape harvest is well under way. That must mean it’s October. Baseball’s post-season is underway and Halloween is right around the corner. What better to have than a case of wine, all different, from six different countries, put together for a 30% discount? The October Dirty Dozen offers all that and more! From crisp whites, a fine Rosé, and Burgundy, try a Dirty Dozen today!
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2012 Tejo White, Portal da Aguia $10.48 net price, $9.43 reorder

Composed of mostly Fernão Pires, a native Portugese variety prized for its aromatic complexity, this lively white is packed with citrus and lemon scents. Devoid of oak, the stone fruit flavors dominate from nectarine to yellow plum. Start out with a glass as you put the finishing touches on dinner, or pair it with lighter fare like main-dish salads or steamed clams.

2012 Torrontes, Ecologica $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Torrontes is no longer an unknown variety and is now recognized as Argentina’s beloved and distinct aromatic white. Pungent on the nose, but fresh and crisp on the palate, the Ecologica is produced from organic fruit grown in the Famatina Valley. Serve with empanadas or other savory-filled pastries like cabbage piroshki or South Indian dosas.

2013 Moscato di Pavia, Centorri $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

The market for Moscato has ignited in the last couple years. Many of these semi-sweet sparklers can be sub-par, but not this one! Produced by one of Italy’s foremost winemakers, this affordable Moscato is like popping a fresh grape into your mouth. Low in alcohol, it’s a perfect aperitif to awaken your palate. Then again, leftover Halloween candy anyone?

2013 Chenin Blanc Bush Wine, The Winery Of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Down in South Africa’s Stellenbosch, Alex Dale’s sturdy old bush vines produce impeccable fruit year in and year out. The ocean exposure is important, keeping things cool at night in order for the Chenin Blanc to produce proper acidity levels. The result is a versatile Chenin Blanc showing lively fruit and a flinty mineral quality. Drink it with crab cakes.

2013 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $10.79, $8.63 reorder

Made from 100% Syrah, Thierry Boudinaud’s Rosé has a distinct fruity richness. It’s made using the saignée method, that is bleeding off some of the juice from the must of the Syrah. This intensifies the Syrah and gives the winemaker the pale juice to make Rosé. An easy-to-like Rosé, this will pair with everything from a tuna salad to a garden burger.

2013 Les Tours, Domaine La Hitaire $9.99, $7.99 reorder

From Gascogne in southwestern France, Yves Grassa’s two sons, Rémy and Armin, run Domaine La Hitaire. Their Les Tours bottling consists of 65% Ugni Blanc, 30% Colombard, and 5% Gros Manseng, typical white grapes of the region. The result is a delightful crisp white with just a kiss of fruit. The handy screwcap makes it a cinch to take on a picnic.

2011 Monastrell, Atope $11.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Dark and inky with flavors of black cherry and blackberries, the underlying notes of dried brush give this Spanish red a full-flavored appeal. You might not want to go it alone with this and opt instead to pair it with grilled meats, long-simmering stews or earthy grains. But be careful, it’s a real tooth-stainer!

2011 Rosso, Torre Quarto $12.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

This blend of Uva di Troia, Sangiovese and Primitivo comes from the bottom of Italy’s boot. This Puglian red is another rugged, full-flavored red. Compact and dense with well-structured tannins, it would pair magnificently with olive-studded dishes, roasts, or other big flavored dishes like pasta with basil pesto or spicy sausages over polenta.

2009 Vaucluse Rouge, Cuvée Jean-Paul $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Simple pleasures here, as this is a classic Southern Rhône country wine. Grenache and Syrah are the mainstays, displaying red cherry fruit, subtle spice, and soft tannins. Enjoy it with comfort one-dish baked favorites like lasagna, mac-n-cheese, or Moussaka. Need some more ideas? Ok then, how about Enchiladas, flatbread pizza, or a cheesesteak?

2011 Ventoux Fayard, Domaine de Fondrèche $17.99, $14.39 reorder

The youthful Sébastien Vincenti worked under famed Rhône producer André Brunel for many years. He now farms his 38 hectares organically and bio-dynamically. For his Fayard, he blends 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre. Medium in body, it’s chock-full of berry-like fruit framed by earthy minerals. A great wine to serve with a rack of lamb.

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

For lovers of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, the Hauts de Sanziers Saumur is a textbook example of the variety and terroir. It’s bright and lively, has that signature Cab Franc herbal profile balanced with red fruit and fine tannins. A great Old World red for a great price. You might want to pair this with a salumi plate or with a dry-rubbed pork roast.

2011 Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune Clos Marc, Domaine Sylvain Langoureau $19.99, $15.99 reorder

Red Burgundy in The Dirty Dozen! Sylvain Langoureau’s Clos Marc is a rustic, vin du table style Bourgogne that offers up lovely Strawberry and underbrush aromas with a light-medium body propped up by fresh acidity. This is the kind of wine served by the glass at bistros up and down the Côte d’Or. Trot this out with a sausage pizza with Kalamata olives.

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

2012 Tour De L’Isle Luberon

Blackberry patch aromas dominate in the 2012 Luberon from Tour de l’Isle. It is as if you got stuck deep in a thicket where tangy berry scents mingle with dropped leaves, moist earth and dried herb fragrances. By simply sticking your nose into a glass of the 2012 Luberon, you will get that aromatic berry patch sensation without the threat of scratches, bee stings or poison oak. TWH’s partnership with Tour de l’Isle is a relatively new and fateful one. David had been searching for a new producer to import from Southern Rhone for some time but nothing seemed to fit. By chance, David was introduced to Tour de l’Isle’s 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape, first tasting and then buying the wine for the store. Some time later David met with Robert Rocchi who created Tour de l’Isle. After tasting through Robert’s portfolio and hearing his story, David knew that with Tour de l’Isle there was great potential for offering our customers wine with regional typicity, varietal correctness and deep value. Welcome Tour de l’Isle to The Wine House!

Robert Rocchi has worked in many capacities within the wine industry – from production, to distribution, to marketing and sales, to retail. In the early ’80s Robert opened his first wine store just east of Avignon. There he gained an enviable reputation for his tasting skills and was encouraged by several vignerons to start making wine himself. At Tour de l’Isle, Robert Rocchi makes wine at a few select wineries, each in its own appellation, with whom he partners to create wine typical of the region and styled to his palate preference. Though each of his wines accurately represent their respective appellation, there exists a common thread that weaves through each bottling which reflects Robert’s wine philosophy. He clearly prefers wines that emphasize texture and approachability. I will repeat myself yet again and assert that Robert Rocchi is not afraid to make wines that taste good. Too often with wine, power and structure are valued over impact and tastiness. Here I am reminded of T-Vine’s original winemaker and owner, Greg Brown, who would scoff at the topic of wine ageability, explaining that he made his wines to enjoy right now!

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A Southern Rhone red is pure comfort to my palate. The warm, sweet berry fruit, Provençal spice notes and accessible structure can be irresistible. A fuller, more complex Southern Rhone like this 2012 Luberon is a wise choice for the table as we continue to enjoy late Summer’s bounty but are nonetheless heading towards cooler temperatures and thus cooking more stovetop. In much need of comfort, I’ll be bringing home a bottle of the 2012 Luberon for tonight’s dinner: grilled sausage from a local butcher and veggies, a last-of-the-garden tomato salad and tarragon aioli to dip everything into are on the menu. Baseball, a light-hearted film and a glass of Luberon should round out the evening perfectly.  Be well!

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The September 2014 Dirty Dozen

On we go, into the ‘ber months! Kids are back in school, the French are back from their holidays, and here in San Francisco, it’s time for our summer! For the occasion, we’ve sourced some special wines to make our September a memorable one. Six reds, one crisp Rosé, and five whites, all chosen for their versatility, are screaming values on their own. Pack them all in a box and knock the price down 35%? Magic. The September Dirty Dozen!

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2012 Falanghina Nina, Torre Quarto $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Give it a chill, just not too much, otherwise the lovely melon fruit and fragrant aromas (look for that slight hint of pine) will be muted. Falanghina, an ancient Italian grape, is grown in the south – Puglia in this instance. Yellow-gold in color, this lush white has a round texture that complements seafood, fresh salads and cold entrées.

2012 Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Jean-Paul, Boutinot $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

From southwest France, this dependable refrigerator door white’s beauty – a classic blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc – lies in its simplicity. Notes of lemon and citrus zest move into tangy grapefruit on the palate, leaving a refreshing, lingering lightness. Nothing complicated, but it’s oh so nice ice cold out of the fridge on a warm late summer’s eve.

2012 Pedro Ximenez PX, Cucao $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Pedro Ximenez is a varietal known mainly for its role in Spain’s sweet sherries, but this dry example is grown in the northern-most wine region of Chile – the Elqui Valley. Sunny weather ripens the fruit while the high altitude ensures freshness. A delightful blend of acidity and concentrated fruit; try with miso-dressed soba noodles or coconut shrimp.

2013 Ventoux Rosé l’Instant, Domaine Fondrèche $15.99, $12.79 reorder

This wine gets you at ‘hello.” Just look at that color! As pale as pale Rosé gets, winemaker Sébastien Vincenti blends 50% Cinsault with 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache and the wine is light, lean, crisp, and delicious. It’s a versatile little Rosé, textbook southern French style. Got a hankering for Salmon Étoufée? If you do, try it with this.

2012 Grenache Blanc/Rolle/Roussanne, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $12.89, $10.31 reorder

In 1998, Diane Puymorin purchased this domaine and re-named it Château d’Or et de Gueules. TWH regulars know all about her and those wines, but Diane keeps it real and pays homage to the history of her property with this bottling. Here she blends three classic white Rhône varietals. It’s crisp, clean, and fleshy. Pair it with a seared tuna sandwich.

2012 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder

Gewurztraminer is known for its profound bouquet reminiscent of lychee nuts and rose petals. The Ehrharts’ single-vineyard, Herrenweg is a tad off-dry, and is rich and expressive, both aromatically and on the palate. Not for sipping, this one needs food. Especially spicy food. You must try it with a spicy curry dish, or spicy Cajun red beans and rice.

2010 Tempranillo Dauco, Bodegas Martúe $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder

Hailing from central Spain, this friendly Tempranillo has silky smooth tannins and rich cherry fruit. Outside Rioja, Tempranillo can show many faces, but here it shines as a versatile, charming red, reminding drinkers what makes Tempranillo just so darn delicious! Surely Paella works but so does Pollo con Arroz, Plov, or Tadig with kebabs.

2012 Malbec, Ecologica $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Argentian Malbec is unquestionably a favorite for those looking for value and quality in an everyday wine. Ecologica sources only organic fruit and is Fair Trade Certified. Medium-bodied with welcoming notes of green herbs, red plum and cassis fruit, the acids and tannins hold up well to heavily-seasoned grilled meats or a quesadilla with fresh Pico de Gallo.

2010 Dão, Proeza $11.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Looking for a full-bodied red that goes easy on the pocket book? Look no further than this voluptuous Portuguese red from Proeza. Loaded with big flavors courtesy of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz, grapes traditionally made into Port, this dry red is grippy and broad-scaled. A lot of wine for the money! Hearty, rib-sticking meals would work best.

2010 Touraine Rouge, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder

We’ve been working with Dominique and Véronique Barbou for two decades, their wines can magically transport us to the land of France’s most majestic chateaux. This blend of Pinot Noir, Côt (Malbec), and Cabernet Franc is marked by juicy fruit with an herbal twist. Drink it on its own or with anything you would want to pair with a cheerful red.

2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $14.59, $11.67 reorder

In the rolling hills just west of Firenze is the commune of Carmignano. Long before the days of the ‘Super Tuscan’, Cabernet Sauvignon was allowed to grow here, only to be blended with the native Tuscan Sangiovese. It’s a zippy little red table wine with another layer of complexity. Pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil is all you need with this one.

2009 Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Proprietor of Tour de l’Isle, Robert Rocchi acts as a negociant in the southern Rhône Valley who advises a handful of growers on improtant aspects of winemaking. The results in bottle are not only delicious, they are reflective of their places of origin. Or as Anya likes to say, “He’s not afraid to make wine that tastes good.” Try this with a grilled steak.

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Argentina, Carmignano, Costieres de Nimes, Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Ventoux, Peter Zavialoff, Portugal, Rose, The Dirty Dozen, Touraine, Uncategorized, Wine Clubs/Samplers