|Whew – Things have gotten really crazy around here … I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Mine was two-pronged, but I made good on both of my vinous promises. I shared a bottle of Sauternes with my sister during our traditional LOBSauTERnes Thanksgiving lunch (it was actually from Barsac, you could probably guess the Château). Then, I literally walked in to a dining room and took the last open place at the table surrounded by 10 hungry musicians and friends, magnum of 2011 Fleurie in tow! I basically watched them have their Thanksgiving meal (I did manage to nosh on some brussel sprouts), helping pass various plates and platters around the table, and of course, pouring the wine. Back here in the shop, it’s pandemonium! Our 36th Anniversary Sale is on, and there are values everywhere! Nowhere are the savings better than in our Burgundy department! With so much to choose from, it’s hard to nail down just one wine, but if I were to choose a sale Red Burgundy for my cellar, it would have to be the 2009 Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru “La Boudriotte” Rouge from Château de la Maltroye. It’s got everything going for it: winemaker, vintage, terroir, and now, price!
We’ve been importing the wines, both red and white, made by Jean-Pierre Cornut for 15+ years. Jean-Pierre took over from his father in 1993-94, and he continues to push the envelope for quality for his swath of bottlings. Formerly an aeronautical engineer, Cornut’s inherent meticulous ways have paid off big time as evidenced by the quality of his wines. For his Pinot Noir, he de-stems his entire crop, and the purity of fruit strikes the taster from the moment the aromas hit through the finish. Jean-Pierre got all he wanted (and then some) from the 2009 growing season, each phase of development was greeted by ideal weather conditions. In general, the wines were precocious and expressive upon release, and are currently filling out nicely. They have the structure to go the long haul, and the expressive fruit destined to stay on the front-end of that for a long time. The Premier Cru “La Boudriotte” vineyard sits to the south of the village of Chassagne adjacent to the “Morgeot Vigne Blanche” vineyard. Cornut’s Pinot Noir vines in “La Boudriotte” comprise just half a hectare, so production is extremely limited, but Jean-Pierre feels the terroir particularly distinct and bottles what he can. The aromatics are dominated by dark, lush berries, earth, and incense. There is a savory quality on the palate that binds with the spicy dark berry fruit and intensifies with a zippy lift. The finish is long and balanced, the wine a mere child in its life. You may remember that last year, one of Cornut’s less expensive bottlings wowed the Thursday Tasting Group and won a 2009 Red Burgundy tasting (which included an Echezeaux, no less). The 2009 Boudriotte is a little more of a serious wine with a longer life expectancy, AND as part of our Anniversary Sale, you can have it in your cellar for less than the price of a village wine!
So yes, our Anniversary Sale is on! The 2009 Boudriotte is just the tip of the iceberg! We’ll be sending out lists of wines that are on sale, so keep an eye on your inboxes. Meanwhile here at TWH, we’re all here ready to take your phone call, process your online order, or answer your email. Whichever way you would like to place your order, we’re ready. December is here and we’ll be running the sale throughout the month … but don’t wait too long, many of the bottles on sale are in very limited quantities and will sell out sooner than later!
Yes it is December, it’s a busy month for all of us, what with the sale and all. It’s a busy sports month for my favorite team overseas, with 9 crucial matches in 31 days. All I know is that we will know much more about the fate of the Blues once the December dust settles. Hey, I’ll take 3rd place on December 1; let’s see what they can do tomorrow. See you at the Mad Dog In The Fog! - Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Our Anniversary Sale, LOBSauTERnes, Bordeaux, or English Football: firstname.lastname@example.org
Category Archives: Peter Zavialoff
|San Francisco, November 16, 2013. Two weeks ago, I pointed out that Thanksgiving was creeping up on us, and guess what? It is! Since this will be my last Sunday email before the big day, I’m going to continue with the T-Day spirit. You see, when it comes to Thanksgiving, I feel like I’ve been born again. Seriously, it has only been a fairly recent development that I get excited about Thanksgiving. Why get excited? Because I get to drink Sauternes, that’s why.
It is important to be grateful and give thanks, and I’ve never had a problem with that. It has been the traditional Thanksgiving meal that I’ve had issues with, and this goes way back to early childhood. Being the only native American in a family of immigrants came with a rather unique perspective. Goings on at the homes of childhood friends, though all different from each other, still had a familiar cultural connection. I would return home and it was like crossing a border or something. Giving thanks was something done daily at the dinner table … after one was finished. Though they had a few years of practice before I came into being, my family’s Thanksgiving meals were bland and banal. They ceased being banal once I started providing the wine, but the family feast still left a lot to be desired. In those days, excessive money was spent on extravagant bottles that drank very well; they just didn’t pair well with anything on the table. I enjoyed sharing fancy wines with my loved ones, and I still do, don’t get me wrong.
Being in this line of work has me a little more focused on pairings nowadays, and I’ve been loving my journey of discovering savory food pairings for the Gold wines of Sauternes and Barsac. I’ve always loved the wines, but I was under-utilizing them. It’s interesting how things come about, and my Sauternes story is certainly a long one; I’ll do my best to spare you the ” … and then the 38 Geary went by” details I’ve been known for while telling a story. It was May, 2008. It was just another day here at TWH, a customer was walking through the Bordeaux section, and then stopped in the Sauternes section. We do have an amazingly large selection of Gold wines, one of the largest in the country. I’m always curious to see customers there, so I went out to investigate. Turns out the customer was Didier Frechinet from Château La Tour Blanche. He was in town for a big Sauternes tasting. David asked me to go to the tasting. A lot changed that day. I am very grateful that Didier visited us that day, and I am also very grateful for all of the good Sauternes has done for me. Very grateful. Giving Thanks.
|After that tasting, I was off in search of unusual savory pairings for the Gold wines of Bordeaux, chiming in here on occasion.Turns out people actually read these things, because not too long thereafter, we teamed up with Aline Baly of Château Coutet for an all-Sauternes dinner for customers at Restaurant Picco in Larkspur. It was a smashing success, as we now have 3 Coutet dinners under our belts! Though born in France, Aline grew up here in the states and always celebrated Thanksgiving with the Gold Wines from her family’s property. Now there’s an idea! It might have taken me a while, as once you get in the habit of dismissing Thanksgiving, it can be difficult to embrace it. But I’m embracing it now; the golden elixir to the rescue!
What I’m trying to say here, as I said last time, there’s no right or wrong way to pair wine with Thanksgiving. Go with what works for you. You want a light-body red? Magnums of 2011 Fleurie would be great. A nice, fairly inexpensive White Burgundy? Try the 2011 Bourgogne Blanc from Michel Bouzereau.In the mood for a full-bodied red? The 2009 Château Larrivaux is calling your name. I could go on and on. Just remember: This is Thanksgiving. These are your friends and family. Do what you want; or as Ms. Baly likes to say, “There are only traditions, no rules.”
|I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, however you celebrate. Over the years, I have received compliments from several customers about these write-ups, and I am very grateful for them. I am also very grateful for those of you that I don’t hear from; thank you for reading! Giving Thanks.
So yes, I am very excited about celebrating this born-again (for me) holiday. You can absolutely count on the fact that I will have, at the very least, a glass of Sauternes or Barsac come November 28.
In case you all want to join me in a toast, check this: We’re having a special sale on the 2005 Château La Tour Blanche in half-bottle! Regularly priced at $29.98, it is now on sale for $19.95!!! When I tasted it with Didier Frechinet in the room, I found the botrytis profound and the structure suggesting the wine will last a long, long time. After tasting it recently, I still find the botrytis ever-present, but it exhibits a melange of complexity that will keep you deep in thought … this baby’s open for business! True story, a customer once asked for a recommendation for a magnum of Sauternes for his daughter born in 2005. He bought the 2005 Château La Tour Blanche, he also asked me to enclose an autographed copy of my tasting notes. That was a first. Very Grateful. Giving Thanks. - Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving, Gold Wines, Bordeaux, or why I don’t like international breaks during footy season: email@example.com
|And POW! Just like a splash of cold water in the face, autumn is upon us. It started last Monday, Anya came in with sad news from the Sunday Farmers’ Market, no more tomatoes. The colder nights have taken their toll on the treehouse and the car: out came the dehumidifier in the former, and on with the defrost in the latter. Then baseball season came to an end. Then I watched an NBA game. Then I saw a bunch of people, big and small, parading around in costume. And now we’re turning back the clocks? What can I say? I do realize that we are fortunate here in the SF Bay Area as summer doesn’t end until November. But now it’s November, and when I take my sunglasses off this evening after driving home, I will realize that this was their final appearance for the after work ride home until late March! I was hanging out with a buddy last weekend, and he asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving dinner … apparently, he wants to host a gathering made up of mostly musical types, to feast, revel, and jam. It looks like my calendar’s free, and if I’m invited to such a fête, I’ve got the wine all figured out. Howzabout a magnum of delicious Cru Beaujolais? Yes, the 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”.
Every year right around now I am frequently asked for advice on what wines to serve at Thanksgiving. It all depends on what’s being served and who’s coming and how many and … yeah. First thing’s first, don’t overthink it. If you want to open something fancy, by all means, please do so. It IS Thanksgiving after all. I used to open fancy full-bodied red wines with my family back in my rambunctious youth, and as inappropriate as they were from a pairing perspective, I was happy to share such nice wine with my loved ones. If you want to dial in pairing perfection, there are several avenues to take, and it all depends on what exactly is being served. When I think of the traditional Thanksgiving table I must say that, first of all, it’s tricky. Second of all, it’s pretty much all about white wine. I know, I know. Many of you want to drink red wine, and that’s perfectly fine. If you’re going to go the red route, it’s fun to tone it down a bit. That’s where Cru Beaujolais gets you. So when I first saw the magnums of 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”, I thought, “Thanksgiving Party.”
|2011 represents the third vintage of wines that we’ve imported from Château de Raousset. Are we ever glad to have them in TWH family!!! Whenever we taste the Raousset wines with our Burgundy negociante Jeanne-Marie de Champs, she never fails to say, “A great grower.” Raousset is a property that dates back to the 18th century with the current structure dating back to 1850. They make 3 different Cru bottlings. A Chiroubles, Morgon, and this here Fleurie. According to their website, the Chiroubles and Morgon won silver medals at the annual Paris tasting in 2012, but the Fleurie “Grille-Midi” took the gold! I guess their judges were wowed by the same factors as our staff: Bright wild cherry, forest floor, moist clay, ripe olives, a hint of tar and allspice. That’s a lot of aromatic complexity. The palate, like most Gamay Noir, is light bodied, which allows all of that complexity to ping off your olfactory sensors. It’s balanced by bright acidity which keeps it interesting throughout its finish. It kind of reminds me a little of the 2011 Château Armurey Bordeaux Clairet that came and went two weeks’ time! It smells like red wine, yet is light in body, with a fruity middle, and a crisp finish. Only the Fleurie has so much more interesting complexity.
I don’t mean to scare anybody; Thanksgiving is still a long ways away, but it will sneak up on you if you’re not looking. I’m guessing these magnums of Fleurie won’t still be in-stock come November 27, but never fear, we still have 750′s of it as well. It’s just that nothing says “festivity” better than large format wine bottles. And for Thanksgiving wines that smell like autumn, are light in body, and reasonable in price? It’s all about the 2011 Château de Raousset Fleurie “Grille-Midi”! - Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Thanksgiving wines, large format bottlings, Cru Beaujolais, or today’s no-show on Tyneside: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out; it’s November! Things are changing quickly. Our clocks will be going back soon, there’s a chill in the air, and at the end of this month, many of us will be seated around the Thanksgiving Day table. Now that time and weather are encouraging us to head indoors, don’t you think a Dirty Dozen is in order? 12 wines, all different, chosen for their versatility, for one low price. And this month the savings are greater than 35%!!! The November Dirty Dozen.
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines
Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.
2011 Chardonnay, Domaine de la Fruitière $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Chardonnay grown in Muscadet? Those famous soils which contain granite, clay, and mica contribute to the bracing freshness and mineral quality of traditional Muscadet wines made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This tank-fermented Chardonnay possesses that crispness combined with its inherent rich, fleshy yellow fruit. Great with scampi!
2012 Chenin Blanc, Kiona Vineyards $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Washington State has some ideal growing conditions for this Loire Valley stowaway, Chenin Blanc. Known for having aromas of crisp, green apples, Kiona’s Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile white wines in its price range. Fermented off-dry, you can serve it as an apèritif, with hors d’oeuvres, and with everything from fish tacos to Kung Pao Chicken.
2012 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Some of us don’t believe that Rosé has a ‘season’. A warm kitchen is cause enough to pop the cork and pour out a cool glass for the chef! But let’s not forget Rosé’s versatility. This one is equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre; the result is a dry, mineral driven Rosé with just a hint of red fruit. How about salmon burgers off the grill pan?
2012 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Montravel is an appellation just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern boundary, and the values that come from there are in great abundance. Known primarily for white wines comprised of the same varieties as of white Bordeaux, Calabre’s blanc is half Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. Depending how you roll, this could be your sushi wine.
2009 Vernaccia Fiore, Montenidoli $21.99, $17.59 reorder
“Nurse of the vines,” Elisabetta Fagiuoli consistently wins awards for her Fiore bottling. There is something about her vineyards planted in an ancient seabed perched above the medieval village of San Gimignano. The Fiore is made using only free-run juice, and in its purity, will pair well with rich dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo.
2012 Gewurztraminer, Aresti $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hmmm, what’s Gewurztraminer doing in Chile? Founded in 1951, the Aresti Estate is one of the largest Chilean producers of this fruity, aromatic variety. This Gewurz is vinified dry, but its aromas suggest it would team up well with a burrito.
2010 CMS Red $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Washington State’s original red blend, Hedges Family Estate’s CMS Red has been produced since 1987! Made from roughly half Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it does include 12% Syrah to bolster the aromatic complexity. Recognized as one of Columbia Valley’s best values, this blend is elegant and pure. The depth of fruit beckons something like a prime rib.
2008 Marzemino di Isera Husar, de Tarczal $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Okay, let’s just call this one Husar. Made from the Marzemino grape, a genetic cousin of both Lagrein and Syrah, it makes for hearty red wines with complex aromas and hints of rusticity. A Husar was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Calvary, the current proprietor naming the wine after a direct ancestor. The perfect wine for a pizza-with-the-works.
2009 Corbières Réserve, Domaine Sainte Eugenie $16.95 sale price, $16.10 reorder
Bon vivant Hervé Gauntier is an old pal of TWH, and we are happy to be able to offer his fancy Reserve Cuvée for such a reasonable price. Made from Syrah, Carignane, and Grenache, Hervé’s Réserve sees a little (20%) new cask with the remainder in 1 and 2 year old barrels. It has a spicy, lush, dark red fruit profile, and works well with red pasta sauces.
2010 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Ah, but Montravel has red wine too. This old vine Bordeaux-style blend will turn your perception on its head! Winemaker Daniel Hecquet has crafted a full-bodied red, reminiscent of a wine from St. Emilion for a fraction of the price. You will fool a lot of tasters if you sneak it into a Right Bank blind tasting. A fancy wine, yes; pour it with a rack of lamb.
2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder
By now we’ve all heard how successful the 2009 vintage was in the southern Rhône Valley (and almost all of France, for that matter). We would all be doing ourselves a great service to profiter from such fortunate circumstances. There is always great value in Côtes du Rhône, even more so from 2009! It’s great on its own and great with a bowl of olives.
2009 Château Aimée, Médoc $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Speaking of 2009 … It was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux. So good, mind you, that we continue to go back to the well to stock up on “lesser known” chateaux. Why? Quality. Value. This Médoc bottling wowed us with its honesty; it’s just straight up, quality Bordeaux. This will pair well with any of the traditional meals you would want with a full-bodied red.
Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines 5%/ Sale Wines
Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!
|October 2013. It has been with much excitement that we’ve proudly reported here that we (in the form of David) have found and have begun importing the wines from more than a handful of new producers over the past couple of years. There’s Claudie Jobard, Stephane Magnien, and Philippe Pernot with their lovely Côte d’Or Burgundies; the Côtes Chalonaise producer Michel-Andreotti; northern Rhône producer Stephane Pichat, and Robert Rocchi, with his stable of southern Rhône wines. That is exciting stuff!! If you think about it, that represents a great deal for you. Buying directly from the importer is the best way to get the wines you want for the lowest price in town. We’ve been doing this a long time, and just as excited as we are about all of our new producers, we’re happy and proud to have so many more producers already as a part of TWH family!
We’ve been directly importing the wines from Tuscan producer/winemaker Enrico Pierazzuoli for 20 years now. Why? The quality is high, they speak of a place, and they’re very fairly priced. Enrico has two estates, one in Chianti Montalbano, and the other in Carmignano, west of Firenze. The estates are located in areas with a high wine growing and wine production culture, as stated by the Bando Granducale of 1716, which was issued by Cosimo de’ Medici and is considered the first law in the world declaring specific wine production to come from vineyards in specific prestigious areas. See here for a reproduction of the Bando Granducale. A wine coming from the prestigious DOCG of Carmignano is the 2009 Le Farnete Carmignano. Enrico’s Carmignano has been the stuff of legend around here for years! Both Anya and I having written about it in years past. In a past life I remember drinking some fancy, high falutin’ Super Tuscans which were pretty special, but did they ever leave a mark (in the pocketbook). If you think about it, the Super Tuscan is a relatively new concept, beginning in the 1970′s. Aha! But in Carmignano, they’ve been allowed to grow Cabernet Sauvignon to bolster the indigenous Sangiovese since Cosimo de’ Medici’s Bando Granducale! This wine has a special place in our hearts and on our tables, as it is truly a special wine that has a great history, and best of all, it can be had for less than $20.
|2009 was a stellar vintage in Carmignano with wines that show power and concentration, yet they have finesse and can be accessed at present. Enrico’s 2009 Le Farnete Carmignano is alive with expressive purple fruit aromas, hints of smoky incense, and a kiss of the earth. The palate is rich and lively, yet deep, with a good dose of the aromatic complexity, and barely noticeable tannins. The finish is bright and balanced, the fruit and earth persisting. A great food wine, it boggles the mind as to the possibilities … Let’s see, meatballs seem to be all the rage in my world these days; some pork/veal meatballs with an herbal infusion, on a bed of polenta with a rich arrabbiatta sauce along with some sauteed broccolini. Yeah, that’ll be just fine. You’re welcome to try something fancier, but when you get home at 7:00, quick, simple, and delicious is always welcome.
Rumor has it that we’re soon to be celebrating an Anniversary. It’s true, TWH will enter our 37th year of business this weekend. We owe you all a big, giganticTHANK YOU! As we wouldn’t be here without you. We greatly appreciate your continued patronage, as well as the positive feedback we receive regarding our wines and promotions. As we continue to meet and introduce you to new producers, we would like to take the time to focus on the passion and dedication of one of our stalwarts, Enrico Pierazzuoli and his 2009 Le Farnete Carmignano. - Peter Zavialoff
|Exciting times, these. It’s been a barnburner of a week ’round here at TWH. What, with the introduction of the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet, and all. It is a wonderful privilege, albeit a temporary one, to be the only US merchant offering this special wine. Baseball season is winding down to its finale. Though we have no local representation, it is still exciting, nonetheless. I happen to know some folks who still have a horse in the race, and it is my plan to visit a couple of them after work today to catch Game 6 of the AL playoffs. I offered to bring a couple of bottles over, and knowing my friends’ palates fairly well, tonight it’s going to be the 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc from Domaine Boudinaud.
We love white Côtes du Rhônes because they are often priced very attractively and deliver big time in the palate pleasin’ department. And we’re not shy to write about them, like we did here. I mean seriously, I know little bias when it comes to these beauties. If somebody offers me “a glass of 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc,” I’m going to say, “yes, please.” Why? It’s because the cool temps at night during the growing season helped the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc achieve vibrant acidity to balance out the fruity profile these varieties impart when blended together. As as matter of fact, it has not been uncommon for me to be seen quaffing the domestic, white Rhône blend at my favorite Marin restaurant. But if you factor in tax and tip, you can get a whole bottle of the 2011 Domaine Boudinaud Côtes du Rhône Blanc for around the same price as a glass at Picco. Okay, so why the Boudinaud? Well, we now directly import several wines from Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud’s stable, because we know them well, and have loved their wines for well over a decade. Thierry is quite the studious winemaker, having worked in New Zealand and California before settling back in the south of France cranking out one of our best quality-for-price lines of wines that we import. The 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc is the first vintage that we have ever imported, and it has shot straight to the top of my list of preferred wines coming from Boudinaud. It’s all tank fermented, so it’s very fresh and vibrant. It gets richness and a hint of nuttiness from the Marsanne, whilst the Rousanne gives it complex aromas and bright acidity; a wonderful combination. At least I love it - With the case price coming in below 12 bucks, I’m shocked it’s still in stock!
|So yeah, exciting times indeed! Some fairly regular Saturday customers stopped by today to pick up their Taste Of Burgundy, and asked me what I was writing about. They have made it known that these “Sunday write-ups” are unfair because when they are sent, TWH is closed. So I gave them a little sneak preview of what I was on about today. I’ve got 2 bottles of the 2011 Domaine Boudinaud Côtes du Rhône Blanc chilling in the cold box, and I told them why. Long story short, they picked up a couple bottles themselves and we will all collectively enjoy Game 6 with this tasty wine in our glasses! Okay, short and sweet. I’m probably going to miss the first inning, but more importantly, my gracious hosts’ glasses are empty. It’s time to fill them up with 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc! - Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet, Côtes du Rhône Blancs, Bordeaux, or English Football: email@example.com
|White Bordeaux is one of the wine world’s true treasures. Produced in tiny quantities compared to their red counterparts, the wines offer a vast array of complexity, the ability to pair with a litany of dishes, and a surprising ability to age. Some white Bordeaux wines can last for years and years if properly stored, and still dazzle the olfactory sense and palate with exciting nuances. The wines have a dedicated following, thus making them difficult to source.|
|Last summer, Barsac First Growth Château Coutet introduced us to their 2010 Opalie de Château Coutet. It marked the inaugural vintage of the château’s very special dry white wine, produced in very small quantity. The Wine House San Francisco was the first merchant in the world to offer this special wine (on a pre-arrival basis), and the response from our customers was overwhelming! The 2010 Opalie sold out shortly after arrival, and judging from the feedback we have received, a great many of you have been charmed by this gem of a wine. One good turn deserves another, so just like the 2010, please allow us to introduce the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet!|
|Again, this is a very special dry white Bordeaux. The 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet comes from the quintessential parts of the Grand Cru vineyards. Sourced from a few rows of 40 year old vines, sitting on the thickest layers of clay and limestone, the fruit is hand selected and harvested using small baskets for collection, so as not to bruise the grapes. It is comprised of half Sémillon and half Sauvignon Blanc, the former providing the depth and richness, with the latter contributing liveliness and verve. The wine is fermented and aged for 9 months in 45% new French oak barrels. It is an elegant, harmonious dry white wine that displays Coutet’s inherent richness framed by crisp minerality and freshness.
The 2011 vintage heavily favored those growing white grapes in Bordeaux. Warm weather in April sped up vineyard activity by two weeks, and the dry weather forced the vines to dig deep into the clay and limestone for nutrients. Cooler weather in summer was beneficial for the grapes to achieve the proper levels of acidity. That was followed by a warm, sunny Indian summer which provided the ideal conditions in which to harvest. In other words, if you prefer dry white wines with good mineral definition and harmonious balance of fruit and acid, the 2011 vintage in Bordeaux is for you! (If you’re a fan of Bordeaux’s Gold Wines, aka Sauternes and Barsac, 2011 is for you too. The 2011 was the best Château Coutet barrel sample I have ever tasted.)
|I was lucky enough to taste the 2011 Opalie back in April at Château Coutet, with a table full of wine enthusiasts (including, at least, one MW!). Pale straw-like in color, the wine had rich aromas of citrus blossoms and stony minerals with that hint of a beeswax shadow. The oak barrel regimen has lessened from 60% new to 45% from the 2010 vintage, and that is recognizable on both the aromatics and palate. The palate is deep and rich, the citrusy Sauvignon Blanc bracing the complex elements of the Sémillon. It is a truly unique tasting experience, the richness from the esteemed Coutet terroir in a dry wine. Compared to their 2010 bottling, the 2011 seemed to have less oak spice on the nose, yet the barrel’s influence was still present in the wine’s texture, which again, seemed to be brighter and even more fresh than the 2010! There were smiles and praise all around the table as the Opalie de Château Coutet is a one-of-a-kind wine. Class and distinction.
Production of the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet is very small, just 250 cases.We have received our allocation, and are happy and grateful to be the first US merchant to offer this wine to all of you! We are selling the 2011 Opalie on a pre-arrival basis. The wine will be shipped here in two drops, the first of which is slated to be in December and the second shipment will arrive sometime in early 2014. Here’s another chance to be the first on your block with the brand new vintage, introducing the 2011 Opalie de Château Coutet!!! - Peter Zavialoff
|Fresh off the heels of a visit by negociante Jeanne-Marie De Champs, TWH staff is abuzz with recent memories of tasting Burgundy. That’s right, Burgundy. Red and white. We get excited about stuff like this because Jeanne-Marie doesn’t visit often. Make that often enough. At the end of the day, when we divvy up the samples, it’s always refreshing knowing that even if one doesn’t have the first or second pick, there will still be Burgundy on the dinner table that night. Yesterday was one of those rare days when all of us were here in the shop (maybe we were all secretly thinking that there would be more Burgundy to taste) and the post-Burgundy banter was constant. Stefan came up with an idea to feature a six bottle sampler, or one staff pick from each of us. As this idea was in its infancy, Chris immediately seized the opportunity to exclaim, “Bourgogne Blanc from Bouzereau. That’s my pick.” Truth be told, that is everyone’s pick. The generic moniker “Bourgogne” says little about what is inside a bottle of 2011 Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils Bourgogne Blanc!|
|It has been reported here a few times that Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils is located in Meursault. David had been tasting (now) winemaker Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau’s wines for several vintages before finally pulling the trigger on the entire line from the 2008 vintage. No doubt, Jean-Baptiste’s Premier Crus and village wines are special treats, but it’s his Bourgogne that has been consistently turning the heads and wagging the tails of our staff. The 2009 version was included in our Top Ten Wines of 2011! Every year it delivers and delivers, yet doesn’t take and take from your wallet. Chris declared it his staff pick most likely because he thought if he didn’t speak up at that moment, someone else would attach their name to the 2011 Bourgogne Blanc. I once overheard a well seasoned wine professional say to another that Chris’ palate “is on par with the upper half of San Francisco somms.” Ultimately, because it is everyone’s pick, nobody got to put their name on it, and the inspiration for this write-up was born.
So here we were; the work day was nearing an end, and there was Jeanne-Marie and 10 or so open bottles. While tasting through the range, Jeanne-Marie regaled us with information about the producers, the vineyards, and vintages. In regard to the Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc, Jeanne-Marie informed us that the fruit came from vineyards in and around Meursault. This caused Anya to speak up. “When I taste this wine, I feel like I’m tasting a secret. Seriously, it says ’Bourgogne’, but it tastes like something more fancy. Dare I say like Meursault?” To reiterate, for a Bourgogne, this IS fancy. It shows dazzling aromas of citrus blossom, mineral, and just a hint of spice. The palate is fresh and vibrant, with lively acidity propping up the complex flavor profile. All this is delivered home with a long, crisp finish; citrus, minerals, and spice.
Allen Meadows of Burghound had this to say, “An exceptionally fresh and pretty nose features notes of fennel, white flowers and citrus. There is a fine sense of energy and detail to the delicious middle weight flavors that possess good cut and fine drive on the saline-infused finish. This is an excellent example of the appellation that could be enjoyed now or aged for a few years to good effect. One to buy by the case.”
So it was Burgundy that was in the air this week here at TWH. We haven’t forgotten about our petits chateau or “value Bordeaux” selections. In fact, a little birdie tells me you will be hearing about another one soon. In the mean time, if you love Chardonnay, yet find Village White Burgundy too pricey, you owe it to yourself to give the 2011 Bourgogne Blanc from Domaine Michel Bouzereau a shot. What, with crab season on the horizon, this wine is a no brainer. We bought a good chunk of it from 2011, so it’s not going to sell out this week, but don’t wait too long, because it will. It always does. - Peter Zavialoff
* Above photo of Jeanne-Marie and Jean Baptiste from University Wines (uwineseattle.com)
|Ah, what a week!! It’s always exciting rolling out our new Dirty Dozen and new Taste of Burgundy, but to get them both out in the same week is something seldom practiced. The week began with our staff abuzz about having been paid a visit by a French celebrity last Saturday. The Champions’ League continued in vastly improved fashion on Tuesday, and then there was the annual Grower Champagne tasting on Thursday! I was accompanied to that tasting by TWH intern Stefan Jakoby, who is helping us here as part of his studies of the international wine trade. His palate and ability to appraise the 60 or so Champagne samples we were poured proved a valuable experience to be sure! Believe it or not, as the day drew to a close, our staff gathered around the tasting table to taste a few other samples. A trio of close-outs yielded one winner, and then there were the newly arrived 2009 Bordeaux. 2009 Bordeaux? And taste them we did!
Again, this was a great exercise. Just like we did earlier this year, another two cases of samples were supplied by a Bordeaux negociant; over the course of a month or so, we all tasted the 24 sample bottles. How many did we decide to buy? 5. But this was months ago. That’s where things could get a little dicey. Would the wines still be to our liking? We tasted them, and retasted them, and seeing that it was after the shop closed, ahem, cough, ahem, one of us might have even been drinking their samples. ;) The verdict: Sensational!!! The beauty of it was that all 5 were showing very well, but they were all different from each other. Again, it was great having Stefan (who was not here when we decided on these 5 wines) taste with us, his endorsement of the wines was just the icing on the cake that we were looking for. The 5 new wines range in price from $15-$35, but after tasting through them, Stefan proclaimed the 2009 Château Haura to be the best value among the quintet. Giving the matter a couple of minutes’ thought,I have to say that I agree with him, ergo I write.
|Château Haura is located in the Graves appellation just south of the city of Bordeaux. Denis Dubourdieu, the famous professor of oenology at the University of Bordeaux, makes the wine, so you know the fruit is in good hands. The 2009 Château Haura has a seductive bouquet of cassis, dark purple fruit, gravely earth, and incense. On the palate, it is silky and generous, with its fruit/acid/tannin components all on the level. Or as Anya put it, “This is the Goldilocks wine … everything is juuuust right.” With 5 approved sample bottles ready to go home with staff, there wasn’t a dogfight over who got to take the Château Haura home, but Tom was the lucky one, and he was happy to report today that the wine held up nicely and was still great the next day! Okay, take all of that and put a price tag of less than 20 bucks on it, and you’ve got a winner! You’ll be hearing about the other 4 wines soon, but don’t miss out on the 2009 Château Haura! I checked inventory before I started writing and exclaimed, “Oh man, we didn’t buy enough. This is going to sell out.” My apologies in advance when it does.
So yeah, an exciting week. I wrapped things up last night out in the direction of the old hood, at the Philosopher’s Club. It was one of those rare nights of balmy, still air in the usually foggy, brisk, and breezy West Portal. Delightful conversation with wine loving friends about a great many things, but somehow Bordeaux kept working its way back into our conversations. One of the topics covered was how here at TWH, we’re a passionate bunch that enjoy getting to know our customers’ palates, giving us direction in what we recommend to you all. If you love Bordeaux like I do, don’t miss out on the 2009 Château Haura!Time flew by as it usually does, and it was time to pack it up and head on home. A delightful evening indeed, J & L, I thank you very much! Footy match tomorrow is the early one, but thankfully with technology, my viewing of it will begin at 7:30 rather than 5:30. So please, no one divulge the score! - Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2009 Bordeaux, our Value Bordeaux Section, the Sunset District, or English Football: firstname.lastname@example.org
October is a great month for so many reasons. Sports fans are rejoicing as it seems everything is on. All over the northern hemisphere, vintners are busy with their respective harvests. What better to celebrate than with 12 bottles, all different, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a box for one incredibly low price! The October Dirty Dozen!
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines
Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.
2012 Montravel Terrement, Château Puy-Servain $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern frontier lies the appellation of Montravel. Proprietor Daniel Hecquet blends equal parts Sauvignon Blanc with Sauvignon Gris and the result is terrific. It’s a well-balanced, zippy white that will put a smile on your face while keeping some scoots in your wallet! Pair it up with a Tuna BLT and you’ll be set.
NV Vinho Verde, Broadbent $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
This Vinho Verde is light-bodied and kissed with a touch of effervescence. Bart Broadbent has made it a priority to bring in fresh, youthful wine transported in cold storage to ensure the wine tastes just like it does in Portugal! Low in alcohol, quaff it down after a long hike, or with your BFF while noshing on take-out Chinese and catching up with things.
2011 Viognier, Le Paradou $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Crisp and completely unoaked, this Viognier is grown in the high altitude mountain vineyards of the Luberon in the east of the Rhône River Valley. Showcasing the mineral side of this aromatic grape, it is taunt and lively. Serve this floral white with lemon-stuffed roasted chickie or with lime-drenched ceviche.
2012 Sauvignon Blanc, CMS Hedges $11.98 net price, 10.78 reorder
The Hedges family, instrumental in developing the wine region of Washington State’s Red Mountain, offers tremendous value at all levels. This (mostly) Sauvignon Blanc white, with trace amounts of Chardonnay and Marsanne, is citrusy and pungent. Not a bad choice for shellfish risotto or peppery salad greens topped with hazelnut-encrusted goat cheese.
2009 Fiefs Vendéens Les Clous, Domaine St. Nicolas $18.98 net, $17.08 reorder
Domaine St. Nicholas is at the forefront of quality in the tiny Loire Valley appellation of Fiefs Vendéens, south of Muscadet along the Atlantic Ocean. Mostly Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay, this dried apricot, tangy, apple blossom-scented white is characterized by sleek, rocky acidity. Try with steamed clams, raw oysters or smoked trout.
2012 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $10.79, $8.63 reorder
Thierry and Véronique Boudinaud produce a swath of wines from in and around the Rhône River Valley. Their Grange des Rouquette Rosé is made from 100% Syrah and is bright and crisp with red-fruity goodness. Try it with fish tacos.
2009 Refosco, Russolo $18.98 net price, $17.08 reorder
Refosco is an ancient grape variety with a somewhat mysterious origin. It’s known for making big hearty wines with considerable weight and power. Also known as Teran in Croatia, this is a rugged, rustic wine with black cherries and raspberries present on the palate. Earthy and leathery, try this with sausage and peppers … Long Island style!
2011 Casamatta Toscana, Bibi Graetz $9.98 net, $8.98 reorder
“Casamatta” means “crazy house”, and though the name is whimsical, proprietor Bibi Graetz’s intent is to produce an easy-to-like table wine and sell it for a more than fair price. This is 100% Sangiovese that is lively and fruit driven, with nuances of loamy soil, rich iron, cherries, and plums. They won’t send you to the casamatta if you pour this with a pizza!
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinum Africa $17.99, $14.39 reorder
Englishman Alex Dale has tapped into something special in South Africa. He and winemaker Edouard Labeye “stay out of the way” allowing the fruit and terroir exhibit themselves. This Cabernet Sauvignon benefited from an Indian summer, giving the wine perfect levels of fruit and tannin. Deft oak treatment gives it that cigar box aroma. Rack of lamb?
2010 Syrah, Domaine de Saint-Antoine $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Showcasing the sauvage side of the south of France comes Jean-Louis Emmanuel’s 2010 Syrah. Jean-Louis de-stems all of his fruit to lend an air of ripeness to his brawny, ripe, Provençal Syrah. Think smoky, earthy Syrah bursting with red and black berries. Kind of makes you want to pour the bottle in a carafe, set the table with tumblers, and serve cassoulet.
2011 Rouge de Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $12.99, $10.39 reorder
100% Gamay, this is a light-bodied, charming red, laden with red cherries and perfumed with notes of violets and roses. Dynamo winemaker Thierry Michon has been farming biodynamically since 1995 and has championed Fiefs Vendéens, a little known region of the Loire where Atlantic winds whip through vines grown on mostly slate and some silex. Roast chicken!
2010 Vinsobres, Tour de l’Isle $17.99, $14.39 reorder
Grippy and succulent, this soft-edged Grenache-based Rhône red is heavily accented with dried herbs. Vinsobres was given AOC status in late 2005. The Tour de L’Isle wines are crafted by Robert Rocchi, a successful restaurateur who took his impeccable palate to the next level. Enjoy late summer’s harvest by serving this delicious red with ratatouille, sliced tomatoes or stuffed zucchini.
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