2013 Saint Antoine Merlot – A Red For Every Occasion

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At The Wine House, we strive to stock the very best wine in every category from collectibles to everyday pleasures. For the latter, Domaine St. Antoine’s Merlot is our go-to for large gatherings, weddings, or budget-conscious imbibers. The 2013 Merlot is as it should be: fruity with approachable tannins with some backbone and drinkable start to finish. I won’t mislead you; you won’t mistake Saint Antoine Merlot for Ausone. However, that is not to say there are plenty of reasons to find charm and quality in the 2013 Merlot from Domaine St. Antoine.
St.Antoine1Domaine St. Antoine’s vineyards
Domaine St. Antoine is situated west of the Rhone River in the hills southeast of Nîmes. The estate is run by Jean-Louis Emmanuel and his wife, Marlène. The vines are planted on a plateau of rocky limestone that was deposited there when the area was underneath the Rhone River. The approach to winemaking here is simple. The Merlot grapes are 100% de-stemmed to keep the flavors fresh and vibrant, cold fermented in tank and then transferred to concrete cuves to rest before being bottled unfiltered. Nothing is added to bolster fruit flavors or trick tasters into thinking the wine was aged in barrel. This is honest to goodness country wine brought to market for a fair price.
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Jean-Louis and Marlène
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Domaine St. Antoine doesn’t have a website – and unless someone else takes over their social media, it is unlikely they ever will. Domaine St. Antoine is a working farm with an ancient olive grove that they press into oil, that happens to grow grapes. They make simple, albeit delicious, wine. I visited the estate once years ago. With my camera at the ready to take lots of pictures, I found it difficult to capture that postcard perfect angle. It was January and wet. The estate which truly looks more like a farm and nothing like the wineries strewn along California’s Highway 29, was muddy, had farm equipment parked all around and maybe a dog or two barking in the driveway. It was a wonderful place. I met Jean-Louis and remember him as warm, but quite shy. His wine does all of the talking.
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Ancient Olive Tree
On Day 2 of Easter, if the katzenjammer isn’t so bad, we set off on a pilgrimage to a small butcher shop in Santa Rosa to buy made in-house beef jerky, smoked bacon and an assortment of sausages. On the way there we stop by my brother’s house to check in on his chickens, gentlemen’s vineyard (new plantings of Mataro and Grenache have been added to his Petite Sirah and Zinfandel for a field blend effect), and any of his new hobbies. This year he escorted us to the wine cellar to peak in on and taste his curing Prosciutto! Hobbies are good. Bravo K! For tonight’s dinner a package of sausages have been de-frosted and a simple kinda of red is on tap – 2013 Merlot from Domaine St. Antoine. – Anya Balistreri
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Curing Prosciutto

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Quality Is Quality: 2012 Pontet Canet (Pre-Arrival)

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And just like that, Bam!, thanks to the folks at Air France, I’m back in California. En Primeurs 2015 has come and gone, and all I have to show for it are pages and pages of tasting notes, a bunch of emails to catch up on, bills and expense reports, and of course, the memories. In general, the trip was successful as I found many 2014 barrel samples showing the potential for becoming wonderful wines after bottling. I also made time to visit several negociants to taste some back vintages in hopes of finding wines to ship sooner than later. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste at two of my favorite chateaux this year, but that happens too. A fellow Bordeaux Scout who works for a local competitor popped in this afternoon and we chatted about our respective impressions. As we were wrapping up, he asked me, “So what was your #1 highlight?” Hmmm. I had several personal highlights; but professionally, it was a conversation.
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At lunch in St. Emilion, I was with one of our suppliers waiting for her colleague and his two clients to join us at the table. She turned to me and asked, “So now that Robert Parker is not covering Primeurs any longer, who will take his place in the eyes of Americans?” I’m not going to get into my answer today, as time and spacial constraints do not allow for me to answer in full here and now. It was a fairly serious answer, certainly not one for a “Sunday Email,” though I will air it in the form of a blog post soon. I continued to explain that, despite Mr. Parker’s physical absence from Bordeaux in the spring of 2015, his influence was being felt once more. This time, due to a post he placed on The Wine Advocate’s online bulletin board. He wrote, “Just finished tasting over 700 bottles 2012 Bordeaux. Still have about 40 or so to finish, but my initial report in April, 2013 looks to be on the money….with a big exception…the wines are performing better than I originally estimated…which is great considering the ultimate truth is after bottling.” He specifically pointed to Pomerol and Graves, but also mentioned some St. Emilion and some Médoc. Tom and I both attended the 2012 UGC tasting at the end of January, and we both agreed that the wines from Margaux, St. Julien, and Pauillac were stand-outs. Just thinking out loud here, if the Pauillacs of 2012 are showing better than expected, would the 2012 Pontet Canet be of First Growth quality, yet selling for less than $100? I’d bet on it.
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Back in April 2013, I tasted the 2012 Pontet Canet out of barrel, it was one of Pauillac’s standouts. Dense and concentrated, it showed a solid core of dark, lush fruit and earth with captivating structure. The quality of wine Pontet Canet has released for the past 15 years is of the highest standard, and needs to be in the conversation of Bordeaux’s best wine in any vintage. They just do everything right here. When I tasted at Pontet Canet 12 days ago, I asked Mélanie Tesseron about their 2nd wine, Les Hauts de Pontet. She told me there was no reason to show it as there really isn’t very much of it. In fact, it once was comprised of fruit harvested from their youngest vines, but those vines have since matured and in essence, over 90% of their total crop now goes into the grand vin. Operating with the Agence Bio organic certification since 2010, there is a distinct purity of fruit and terroir expression to their wines. This is especially so with their 2012.
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So despite not being in Bordeaux personally, Robert Parker’s presence was felt, as word of his upcoming synopsis of 2012 Bordeaux in bottle was all the buzz on both sides of the Gironde. We’ve received many inquiries from customers about the wines of Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan (and Graves), as those were the first two appellations he mentioned in his bulletin board post; but quality is quality, and Pontet Canet has quality in spades. Pass at your own peril.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about 2012 Bordeaux, 2014 Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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The April 2015 Dirty Dozen

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Now that it’s officially spring, it’s time to start thinking about the next 5 months and the time of year when we tend to take our gatherings and festivities outdoors. Well, when outdoors, what better to have handy than twelve bottles of wine, all different, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a box for one incredibly low price??!! The April 2015 Dirty Dozen includes wines from six different countries, check it out today!

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2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Domaine Boudinaud $13.99, $11.19 reorder

We have been fans of Thierry Boudinaud’s wines for well over a decade, and with each new vintage, we applaud his efforts; it seems his wines get better and better. This here white Rhône is 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne, and it is round and rich with a clean finish. Its richness makes it a nice partner with stronger cheeses or a bowl of olives.


2013 Ventoux Rosé, Domaine Fondrèche $12.45 sale price, $11.83 reorder, $9.95 solid case

What is that color?? Is it pale pink? Salmon? It’s pale, alright. In fact, it is our palest, driest Rosé in stock. Customers just love it, and so do we. This is Rosé done in the Provençal style: 50% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, and the rest Syrah. This is just perfect for a lovely day in the sunshine! Some crispy little calamari would be great here.

2011 Chenin Blanc, Vinum Africa $17.49, $13.99 reorder

Alex Dale’s Vinum Africa label has been getting some much-deserved press of late. Decanter magazine recommended Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc just last week! It’s bright, appley, and the deft touch of new barrel gives it a little spice and texture. It tastes fancy and should be paired with a nice piece of smoked trout.

2013 Chardonnay, Milou $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Dig that fancy label!! No kidding, we’ve been hearing much praise for both the outstanding packaging AND the delicious juice inside the Milou bottle! Grown in soils similar to those in Chablis, there is a distinct resemblance to crisp, mineral driven, more expensive Chardonnays. Versatile as can be, drink the Milou by itself or with some crab cakes.

2012 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, Leaf & Vine $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

The grapes for this baby come from the Turn In The Road Vineyard in Lake County’s Big Valley AVA. The vineyard rests some 1400 feet above sea level, and that keeps things mighty cool at night, which is good news for balancing acidity. Bright citrusy aromas give way to a fleshy fruit palate reminiscent of pears and melons. Drink it with lighter fish dishes.

NV Vinho Verde, Broadbent $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder

Bottled to order and shipped in refrigerated containers throughout the year is what keeps Broadbent’s Vinho Verde so fresh and spritzy. At 9% alc., partaking in a glass or two is easy to enjoy. Simple yet full of charm, serve it as a starter to a meal with salty nibbles like Marcona almonds, Serrano ham, pickled veggies and crusty bread.

2011 Touraine Rouge, Domaine des Corbillières $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Here’s another long-time TWH producer whose wines just keep getting better and better! Domaine des Corbillières’ little 3 red grape blend (Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Malbec) has the best of all worlds: aromas, complexity, and structure. It’s the perfect versatile red that accompanies most of the goodies one packs in a picnic basket.

2013 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $14.49, $11.59 reorder

Speaking of versatile reds, of course, Chianti is in no-brainer land. Enrico Pierazzuoli’s Chianti Montalbano is 100% Sangiovese. It shows a concentrated nose of red and purple berry fruit with earthy minerals. It has just enough tang to (of course) stand up to rich tomato-based sauces. We say try it with garlic bread and antipasta.

2013 Merlot, Domaine Gournier $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Long time DD fans may remember the name Gournier, as their nicely priced line of southern French wines are packed with happiness and priced with more happiness. The new label shows they’re all grown up now, and this Merlot outperforms its price point significantly. Drink this at barbecues or parties. It will pair with red meats off the grill and good friends.

2013 Grenache/Syrah, Mas de Guiot $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Who turned back the clock? This has been a nostalgic DD this month with the litany of long-time TWH pals on board! Mas de Guiot is another old friend gone missing for a while (see Gournier). We love what we’ve always loved about this wine – sense of place. It has the southern French countryside in its soul, so you better pair it with cassoulet.

2012 Campo de Borja Garnacha, Santo Cristo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Located just southeast of Rioja, Campo de Borja is one of the most interesting regions for young wines in Spain. It’s much drier and warmer than its famous neighbor, resulting in Garnacha with low yields and more concentration. The young winemakers of Santo Cristo capture this concentration for all of us to enjoy with gamey meats or rabbit stew.


2010 Dão, Proeza $11.98 net price, $10.78 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.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine!
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2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg – Domaine Saint Rémy

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Pinot Noir accounts for less than 10% of total wine production in Alsace. Not much of it even leaves the region. It is therefore unlikely that many of us have great knowledge or familiarity with Alsatian Pinot Noir. If you desire to dabble in the esoteric then the 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg from Domaine Saint Rémy is a perfect place to start your exploration of Alsatian Pinot Noir.

Philippe and Corinne Ehrhart have transformed their centuries old domaine into an estate committed to sustainability and conscientious farming practices. They are certified organic and biodynamic. Their emphasis on meticulous work in the vineyard reflects back in the glass. TWH has proudly offered their range of AOC and Grand Cru whites, but it is only recently that we’ve stocked their Pinot Noir.

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Courtesy Domaine Ehrhart’s Facebook page
Ehrhart Pinot Noir comes from the Rosenberg vineyard, a recognized lieu-dit. The vineyard is south and southeast facing with clay-limestone topsoil and lots of rock underneath. The age of the vines are 25-30 years.

The 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg is 100% destemmed and likely spends some time in barrel but certainly not any new. It is light but not without complexity. The exuberant red cherry flavors of new world Pinot Noir are not in play here. Instead the berry fruit goes arm in arm with more savory notes of dried herbs and tea leaves. The lower alcohol (13% on the label) evokes a more restrained palate feel and the aromatics suggest more herb and tea leaves than fruit.
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Courtesy Domaine Ehrhart’s Facebook page
I slapped myself on the forehead this morning as I spied the 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg tucked among the Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. All week I’ve been asked wine recommendations for ham, lamb or braised brisket. Rhone and Burgundy always came first to my mind, but I see now that I missed a perfect opportunity to introduce Alsatian Pinot Noir to a wider audience. The 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg, with its lighter profile, also makes a nice option for daytime and early evening meals.

I’ll be pulling double-duty with Western Easter this Sunday and Eastern Orthodox Easter next. Can a bit of spring cleaning even be a consideration for me at this time? Probably not; another fail. Gratefully, failing at choosing the perfect wine to go with Nana’s stuffed roast pork isn’t possible now that the Ehrharts’ Domaine Saint Rémy 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg is back on my radar. Wishing all of you a glorious Spring celebration!

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