2010 Chateau Rollan de By, Medoc: Treat It Special!




The very first customer that walked in to the shop today strolled through our Bordeaux section and later commented, “Wow. I remember the days when Lynch Bages was less than $30, and now it’s over $100??!!” Sad, but true. Who doesn’t have a story like that about something, whether it pertains to a house, car, meal in a restaurant, or even a bus fare once paid? Sometimes prices go up, it happens. Not to fret; there’s plenty of sub $30 red Bordeaux out there to be enjoyed! That’s what we do. Sure, we buy most of Bordeaux’s fancy offerings in each vintage, but with our boots on the ground in the region, we suss out quality wines made by smaller, lesser known producers as well. While in Bordeaux early last month, I got the chance to revisit a wine that reassures me that there continue to be delicious bargains from the world’s wine capital. The 2010 Château Rollan de By is that wine.


I’ve gone on before about things I do while in Bordeaux during the time of the En Primeurs tastings. The UGC tastings are crowded affairs, and anyone that knows me well knows that my M.O. in an environment such as this is to focus and stick to the task at hand with maximum efficiency. In other words, do the job and get out. Despite their hectic nature, the UGC tastings only pour around 20% of the samples I taste over there. There are other sanctioned tastings and chateaux visits, but the majority of samples are tasted in a far calmer environment, at the offices and warehouses of negociants. It was in one of these warehouses that I got to taste the 2010 Rollan de By out of bottle for the first time. There is an ethereal aroma/flavor component that I associate with red Bordeaux after it spends some time in bottle. To my friends and colleagues I call it “that Bordeaux funk.” It is not funky nor unpleasant. It is the height of complexity, to a point where I lack the words to describe it further. I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I detect it. It is the reason I drink red Bordeaux. Wines that I have tasted in recent years that have it include 1985 Leoville Las Cases, 1995 Grand Mayne, 2002 Domaine de Chevalier, 2000 Château de Malleret, and 2007 Pape Clement. The 2010 Rollan de By has it in spades.


Château Rollan de By is located in the northern Médoc village of Bégadan. You may remember some earlier praise for a château in Bégadan. The 180 hectare property overlooks the Gironde estuary which protects it from extreme weather conditions. Their 2010 was made from 70% Merlot, and 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The château is run by Jean Guyot. No, this is not Will Durst. Guyot is the son of an antique dealer, which explains the artistic aesthetic of the château and property. A poignant piece of his collection is a cherub-like bronze statuette holding a bunch of grapes to its mouth. According to the chateau’s website,“It symbolizes the love of the grape. Before the love for wine. Wine is a work of art, and like all masterpieces, what counts is to drink it, as much as to talk about it.” That’s what I’m talking about; where’s my wine key?

This from The Wine Advocate: “Consistently better than its humble appellation, this excellent wine from proprietor Jean Guyon offers up plenty of black currant fruit intermixed with cedar wood, licorice and incense in a medium to full-bodied, surprisingly concentrated and expansive style that should drink nicely for a minimum of a decade or more. There’s no need for patience with this sleeper of the vintage, given the sweetness of its tannins, attractive glycerin and fruit levels. 90 points” – Robert Parker

And …

The Rollan du [sic] By 2010 has a ripe raspberry coulis and wild strawberry nose with just a hint of candied orange peel. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp acidity. There is very fine tension here, great purity on the finish with a supple, focused finish with beautifully integrated oak. Excellent. Drink now-2018. 91 points” – Neal Martin

Wow, Will Durst. Back in the days when one could find Lynch Bages for less than $30, I found myself rubbing elbows with the comedian and his wife Debi from time to time. I used to hang out with the gang at The Punch Line comedy club because … I love comedy. I introduced them to the “Hi Bob” game, and that became our way of saying hello to each other for years after. Who’d of thunk he has a doppelgänger in the Médoc.

So there you have it, another rock-solid red Bordeaux for less than $30. An exercise I like to undertake when I have nice bottle of Bordeaux that sells for a modest price is to treat it special. That’s right, get the decanter, the good stemware, pair it with something good, and of course, share it!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about low priced/high quality Bordeaux, English Football, or our upcoming 2014 Bordeaux Futures campaign: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2010 Bordeaux, Medoc

2012 Rosso di Montalcino From Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona: Value From The Hills Of Montalcino


The majestic, undulating hills of Montalcino give birth to some of the Italy’s greatest wines made from Sangiovese: Brunello di Montalcino. Regrettably, I am not as well-versed in Brunello as I’d like to be. Opportunities to evaluate them have been limited during my wine business tenure and well, they can be too pricey for casual exploration. Luckily I have an ace in the hole for when the urge strikes for a taste of that suave, bright cherry Sangiovese fruit, delivered in a slightly more opulent package than its cousin to the north in Chianti, and that is a bottle of delicious Rosso di Montalcino. Recently, we took in some 2012 Rosso di Montalcino from Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona which I wasted no time purchasing to evaluate at home with a Sunday supper.


The 2012 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso di Montalcino is a beauty with rich layers of black cherry, anise and spice. What attracted me most to this wine is the texture. It has a powerful impression to the fruit but the finish and mouthfeel is pure luxe and velvety smoothness. The texture is the result of fermentation in tank, stainless and concrete, and then a 12 month rest in large Slavonian oak, followed by a few months in bottle before going to market. This regiment smoothes out any sharpness to the acid or roughness to the tannins. It is straight out of the bottle ready.

The Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate dates back to the 17th century, changing hands from church to titled aristocracy. Current ownership of the estate belongs to the Bianchini family who inherited it from the Countess Ciacci Piccolomini, who had no heirs. Giuseppe Bianchini, who has since passed, lived on the estate and raised his family there while overseeing the day-to-day operation of food and wine production for the Countess. In 1985 Giuseppe was willed the estate and his dream to produce Brunello became a reality. Today his children, Paolo and Lucia run the estate and wine production.


I traveled and stayed in Montalcino in the late 90’s. I remember at the time thinking to myself – why all the fuss over vacationing in Chianti and not Montalcino? Less tourists, less traffic, similar beautiful vistas and equally, if not better, wine – impossible not to fall in love with the region.

Anyway, knowing I was going to be matching dinner up with the 2012 Rosso di Montalcino from Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, I naturally turned my thoughts to preparing something Tuscan or at the very least, Italian. I wanted to cook up something comforting but at the same time I didn’t want pasta. I was stumped, so I decided to widen my culinary borders and settled on Shepherd’s pie. I like to include lots of mushrooms to the ground lamb to lighten up the dish a bit, and I always double the portions – gotta have leftovers. The Ciacci Piccolomini Rosso was divine with the dish. The creaminess of the mashed potatoes and the gaminess of the lamb suited the succulence of the Sangiovese beautifully. The wine’s underlying acidity was welcomed and cut through all that comfort food richness.


In the last half of May, my daughter will have performed in three different dance/musical productions. Last night she sang the opening number followed by a long monologue. It was the first time she had a solo role, so emotions ran high. I was excited for her and felt proud watching her overcome nerves to deliver a strong performance. Afterwards, the family celebrated with sweets and libations. No, I didn’t serve the 2012 Rosso di Montalcino from Ciacci Piccolomini, but I did serve chilled bottles of Giavi Prosecco that were quickly and happily depleted by my guests. I think I can get used to this stage mother thing!

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, montalcino, Tuscany

2013 Domaine des Buissonnes Sancerre: Sleek Sauvignon Blanc

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Domaine des Buissonnes’ Sancerre is precisely why Sancerre is so beloved and has such far reaching popularity; the flavors are refreshing, crisp and persistent. Grower and winemaker Dominique Naudet is a meticulous farmer. His Sancerre is always lush on the aromatics without compromising that charged Sauvignon Blanc attack. The 2013 is particularly compelling with its focused and precise flavors; compact and clean. You will immediately be greeted by aromas of gooseberry and passionfruit. On the palate it’s got citrus and cut grass freshness, but by no means is it “grassy”.


At the end of April, Jeanne-Marie de Champs, who represents many of the producers The Wine House imports, and comes to SF bi-annually to visit us, held court in our new conference room sharing with TWH staff a line-up of newly arrived wines off of our last container. Though Jeanne-Marie works from Beaune in the heart of Burgundy, she is originally from Loire. When Jeanne-Marie is in town, I try to take these opportunities to ask as many questions as possible about each domaine, especially ones like Buissonnes that leaves no marketing or social media footprint. It is as if they don’t exist, other than the fact that our clients clamor for it as if it were the only Sancerre on the market.

Jeanne-Marie showing Peter the line-up

Jeanne-Marie explained that typical of the region, Domaine des Buissonnes owns several parcels around Sancerre, not just one contiguous vineyard. This is by design as the region is often devastated by hail, and owning vines in various places helps to insure a crop. Dominique Naudet owns about 20 hectares of vines and the winery itself is in Sury-en-Vaux just north of the town of Sancerre. Vinification occurs in stainless steel however to draw out aromatics and give a rounded mouthfeel, the wine sits long on the lees.

JM Holding Court

In an article about Sancerre’s popularity, a wine director for a high profile New York restaurant confessed that he won’t offer Sancerre by the glass because if he did it would make it nearly impossible to sell another white by the glass, thus destroying his by-the-glass program. Just some food for thought. Despite the popularity, I would caution that not all Sancerre is made equally. The family-run estate of Domaine des Buissonnes can only survive if it delivers quality, which is does vintage after vintage.

At a small town farmer’s market this past week I purchased some sweet, young Spring onions that would be perfect to grill, drizzle with a light vinaigrette and then crumbled over with fresh goat cheese – you know where I am going with this? – to serve with a chilled glass of 2013 Domaine des Buissonnes Sancerre. Now, doesn’t that sound lovely?

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Loire Valley, Sancerre

The May 2015 Dirty Dozen

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Ah, May … It’s the only month of spring with 31 days in it. And that’s plenty of time to fit a little fun in. Speaking of fun, check out the May 2015 Dirty Dozen: 12 wines, all different, all chosen for their versatility, in one box for an amazingly low price. Spanning the globe, this month’s sampler includes wines from six different countries! So get that wine passport out and start stamping. The May 2015 DD!!!

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Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines

 

 

 

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Pomelo $10.98, $9.88 reorder

Randy Mason began his Napa Valley wine career in 1974 working for Chappellet. Pomelo is the name given to Mason Cellars’ 100% stainless steel Sauvignon Blanc from mostly Lake County fruit. Fragrant, explosive grapefruit aromatics give way to guava and lime peel flavors. Refreshing! Try with tiger prawn ceviche, goat cheese pizza or rotisserie chicken.

2013 Blanco, Ercavio $11.98, $10.78 reorder

30 miles east of Toledo grow the old bush vines (40+ years) of Airén that go into this tongue-sizzling crisp blanco. Grown at high altitudes in Spain’s interior where dry conditions favor this drought-resistant varietal, the Ercavio Blanco flaunts flavors of blossoms, fresh apples and cut grass. Spring greens and fresh peas would do nicely as an accompaniment.

2013 Entre-Deux-Mers, Tertre de Launay $11.98, $10.78 reorder

The high percentage of Muscadelle, around 20%, catapults this lovely Bordeaux white into the realm of complexity and finesse. Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc round out the blend, lending creamy flavors of apple and citrus. It is certainly lovely solo, but shines when paired with flaky white fish dishes, deep-fried shellfish or briny raw oysters.

2013 Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $10.49, $8.39 reorder

Now that some warm weather has kicked in here and there, it’s not just diehard Rosé lovers drinking pink these days! The Grange des Rouquette Rosé, made from 100% Syrah, is for everyone who loves dry Rosé with a little structure. Ample red fruit can be detected in the aromas and palate, and the finish is dry and crisp. Pair it with your saucisson.

2012 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart $16.99, $13.59 reorder

TWH pals Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart grow this clone of Pinot Blanc in the Val St. Gregoire vineyard in the village of Turckheim. It offers rich aromas of apples and peaches, a round mouth feel and finishes with hints of white pepper. A very versatile wine, it’s round enough to drink by itself, yet its 1-2 punch of fruit/acidity will go well with fish tacos.

2012 Touraine Blanc, Domaine des Corbillières $15.49, $12.39 reorder

Regular DD subscribers will have no problem recognizing the Corbillières logo on the label. They’ve made their way into the Dirty Dozen via their Rosé and red Touraines, and of course their Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp citrus blossom fruit permeates the nose, and the palate is lively with a fruity middle. It’s a great wine to sip with a salad with goat cheese.

2012 Bordeaux, Tour de Luchey $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

A charming Bordeaux which sees no time in wood, Tour de Luchey is Merlot with a little Cabernet. Fermented in stainless steel and cement vats, it showcases flavors of cassis and plum – the fruit flavors are further complimented by fresh thyme and green herb notes. A slow-cooked roast is perfectly acceptable to pair here. Invite the whole gang!

2013 Rosso, Gran Passione $11.98, $10.78 reorder

Mostly Merlot with some Corvina, this red wine from Italy’s Veneto region takes its cue from Amarone. The grapes are harvested quite late, concentrating flavors and sugars. Extended skin contact during fermentation further amplifies flavors. This wine is brawny, chewy and ideal for deeply flavored, inexpensive cuts of meats and aged dry cheeses.

2010 The Chemist, Smoke Screen Cellars $14.98, $13.48 reorder

Seven, yes seven, varieties go into this playful, tasty California red blend. By combining Rhone and Bordeaux varietals, winemaker Gary Galleron, whose resume includes Grace Family and Vineyard 29, achieves richness with a supple tannin finish and lush fruit flavors. What’s not to like here? Serve alongside smokey bbq, spicy sausages or chili con carne.

2013 Malbec, Alberto Furque $14.99, $11.99 reorder

May is national barbecue month, and if you’re smoking a brisket, you’re gonna want this here bottle of Malbec to go with it! Grown at elevations of around 3000 ft above sea level, the Alberto Furque Malbec is pure pleasure. From the bodega’s oldest vines, it’s raised in concrete and stainless steel tank, pure and fresh, all plums and dark currents.

2012 Côtes-du-Rhône la Boissière, Domaine Boudinaud $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Thierry Boudinaud grows some pretty snazzy vines in and around the southern Rhône Valley. The fruit for his la Boissière comes from the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation, one of the best bang-for-our-buck wine regions in the world. Medium body, balanced red and purple fruit, and an easy finish: here’s your all-purpose red. Pizzas and pastas made to order!

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinum Africa $17.99, $14.39 reorder

Speaking of national barbecue month, this delightful Cabernet Sauvignon will serve smoky, grilled fare well. It’s got plenty of dark currant and cassis fruit, brambly herbal aromas, and a rich, sturdy structure. If the aforementioned Malbec evaporates too quickly before that brisket is gone, it’d be prudent to have this as a backup.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!

 


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A Delicate Touch of Burgundy Goodness – 2012 Rully la Chaume, Claudie Jobard

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I feel like I’m standing on the proverbial precipice here. It’s about to get mondo busy in my world. We’ve already seen a bit of pricing released for 2014 Bordeaux futures, and I am certain that beginning next week, the price releases will be fast and furious. The Wine Advocate will release its April 2015 edition on Thursday, and that should only speed things up. Seeing that May begins next week, that will act as further incentive to those chateaux who haven’t yet announced to release their 2014 prices. Vinexpo takes place in Bordeaux this June, so the Bordelais are going to want to have things wrapped up by the time June 1 comes around, or at least I would. So just knowing what’s on the horizon, I’m going to take the evening off, as I accepted some friends’ invitation for dinner. What’s on the menu? Poulet Provençal.


I’ll get back to all of the Bordeaux business shortly, but in order to enjoy my “taking the evening off,” I am still in charge of bringing and opening the wine for dinner. Talk about type-cast!! Oh well, I’m okay with it. Knowing my friends, they’re going to want a light red wine to enjoy with this delicious dish. Me being me, something white … or gold … or in between. Got it! Now as for the red … (pause; thinking). I’m going back to the well here, but considering the aromatic profile, complexity, and light-weight body of this wine, Claudie Jobard’s 2012 Rully la Chaume is the perfect candidate, wine-wise and budget-wise. When we introduced Claudie’s 2012’s in form of this here blog-post a few months ago, we went on about who Claudie Jobard is, and how her wines have made their way into our shop. Not much was said about the wines themselves. Let’s fix that; tonight with her red wine.


When I think of a red wine to pair with Poulet Provençal, I think of a wine with complex aromas, and a red Burgundy is going to have that covered. Jobard’s 2012 Rully la Chaume emits a delicate Pinot Noir bouquet. One gets the cherries, strawberries, forest floor, a hint of earth and baking spices – yet in delicate, restrained fashion. If any of these nuances were to be dialed up a bit, it would transform this complex profile into something more linear. That’s one point that David has made again and again in regard to Claudie’s wines – nothing is overdone. The palate begins with these olfactory sensations still in place, giving the taster the impression of a fruit drive which is immediately coaxed by the vibrant acidity to join forces in its light bodied frame, for a fresh, harmonious finish. There are not a whole lot of red wines that I would ever pair with chicken for my own consumption, not from a pure pairing perspective (if you’d like to open that 1955 La Mission Haut-Brion with my chicken dinner, I say by all means, allez-y). This red wine is different. It has the promise of being a sensational food wine; and its potential partners exist far beyond Poulet Provençal!

Okay, dinner will end. Sunday will come and go. Monday morning, I’ll be right back here typing away. No doubt my inbox will be full of emails, mostly from Bordeaux, and as I mentioned above, the next weeks promise to be full of Bordeaux news. It is not easy to sum up the vintage in a paragraph or seven, but I will say here that the 2014 vintage has the potential to be a success for many producers. As pricing is released, The Wine House SF will offer the futures, as we always do. I highly encourage any customers that are interested, or those with wish-lists, to please inquire with us, and we will provide the pricing information as they are released. So, until then … did I hear right that I’m taking the evening off? – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2012 Red Burgundy, Cote Chalonnaise wine, Peter Zavialoff, Rully Rouge

2013 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc – Better Than Ever

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Two major forces converged on TWH this past week: a fresh
container from France and négociante, Jeanne-Marie de Champs. The timing was grand because more than a handful of wines from said container were shipped by Jeanne-Marie and her company, Domaines et Saveurs. She spent a couple of days here in the Bay Area visiting clients, and at the end of one of those days, she returned to our HQ here in southern Dogpatch to pour a fine array of recent arrivals for our staff. We were all pretty impressed with how each wine was showing (there was one of those fancy, hyphenated Montrachet types in there), but at that moment we were all taken by … get this … the 2013 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc!

Yes, the 2013 version of Paul Pernot’s Bourgogne is here! It’s always a bargain, and it always sells out. We’ve been importing this wine and enthusiastically writing about it for decades, as it is true white Burgundy crafted by one of the region’s most reputable longtime producers. Seasoned TWH customers certainly need no introduction to Pernot’s Bourgogne, as each year it’s on the short list of best bargains from Burgundy. It’s a regular spring occurrence with some customers to pop in and “pick up my case of the Pernot Bourgogne.” We see it time and time again. Collectively, our entire staff enjoys this wine in every vintage, but there was something special about tasting the 2013 last Monday with Jeanne-Marie in the room.

The old adage is “you had to have been there,” and that’s pretty much true for everything you read about wine tasting experiences. That’s also true with any story which is recanted lacking its spontaneous, in the moment experience. When tasting a wine for the very first time, one usually has expectations, but with no first hand experience, surprises may arise. We’ve tasted many vintages of Paul Pernot’s Bourgogne, and even with our expectation levels, are usually impressed. This time our impressions were elevated. Rich, ripe, fleshy yellow and white fruit permeate the aromas. There is more than a hint of stony mineral, and it is all wrapped up with a spicy, toasty frame. It tasted much more fancy than its sub $30 price tag warrants.

When asked about the oak treatment, Jeanne-Marie informed us that usually for his Bourgogne, Pernot uses all neutral
barrels. His overall 2013 production was less than expected (and far less than average), so there were a few extra new barrels available, and Pernot vinified 15% of the 2013 Bourgogne in them! Perhaps that’s where some of the fancy aromas and texture come from. But it’s far more than that. In order for a wine to exhibit character like this, it must have rich fruit, layers of complexity, a tame alcohol level (12.5%), and harmonizing acidity. This wine has no, as in zero, rough edges. It is seamless in its harmony. There wasn’t much up for grabs at the end of the tasting, but let’s just say that more than one of us (read: all of us) wanted what was left to take home.

So yeah, you had to have been there, but the good news is that the 2013 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc is here, in stock! Put two hours of refrigerated chill on a bottle, pop the cork, pour out a couple of glasses, and you will be there too! – Peter Zavialoff

*Photos by Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Burgundy, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff

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
Prosciutto
Curing Prosciutto

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