Sancerre For Summer Sippin’ – 2014 Philippe Raimbault’s Les Godons

Sancerre Les Godons 2014
After three extremely challenging vintages, 2014 was a welcome and much needed respite for Loire Valley vintners. July and August did bring a bit o’ worry to growers as heat and rain ping ponged back and forth creating the perfect conditions for rot, but September came to the rescue with a string of glorious, sunny days. Throughout the region, you could hear a collective heavy sigh of relief. Philippe Raimbault’s Sancerre Les Godons encapsulates the best traits of the 2014 vintage, which is to say the best wines have ripe fruit in combination with enlivened acidity.

Raimbault Vineyards in Sury En Vaux

Philippe Raimbault farms close to 40 acres in three appellations: Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and the Coteaux de Giennois. He is one of the few non-negociants in the Loire to do so. Philippe comes from a long-line of winemakers dating back to the 1700s. Typically Sancerre producers use several parcels to make their wine, not just one contiguous plot. Hail is notorious for destroying crops is this region, so it is prudent to use grapes from several locations. For his Apud Sariacum Sancerre Philippe does just that – he uses 22 different parcels of vines which circle the village of Sury En Vaux. The Les Godons Sancerre is unusual as it is a single-vineyard that is south-facing and is shaped like an amphitheater. An etching of the vineyard is depicted on the label. Philippe’s grandfather purchased Les Godons in 1946. The exposition of the vineyard contributes to a unique microclimate. I find the Les Godons’ Sauvignon Blanc to be a little richer, a little more opulent, a tad more tropical than your average Sancerre.

Fossil Found in the Vineyard

The 2014 Les Godons has penetrating fruit flavors of mandarin, pomelo and passion fruit. On the nose it screams of Sauvignon Blanc but stops short of being assaulting. On the palate the ripe fruit flavors are escorted by a pronounced minerality. The Les Godons is energetic and, well, delicious. For an unoaked wine, it has superb texture and weight. The fruit Philippe is able to harvest from this special vineyard makes for a high-impact wine. It distinguishes itself from most Sancerre.

Pre-Friday Night Fish Fry Glass

Temperatures spiked in the Bay Area, even the inside of my house got sweltering hot. Except for the Thirst Gamay from Radford Dale, white wine has been the vin de jour all week. For our Friday Night Fish Fry, I was craving something that had complexity, had substantial fruit presence yet finished fresh and lively. I looked around the store to see what I should begin chilling in our tiny staff refrigerator so that after battling end of the work week traffic, I could cool down with a zippy white. My eyes landed on the 2014 Les Godons and I knew I found what I was looking for. I was not disappointed. With a glass in hand, sitting on the front porch, greeting neighbors as they strolled past, I savored the lush flavors of this special Sancerre. Though it tasted nicely with baked fish, I was thinking next time I would like to serve this with a Cobb salad, substituting the Roquefort for Humbolt Fog. A splendid idea!– Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, fish-fry wine, Loire Valley, Sancerre

Affordable Luxury – Premier Cru Chablis



2014 Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet
Domaine Sébastien Dampt

The above photo may look romantic, right? Who doesn’t like a lit up vineyard at night? Unfortunately, it’s not romantic. This picture Sébastien Dampt sent David back in early May shows what sometimes is done in hopes of fending off any severe damage from forecasted overnight frost by keeping the newly broken buds warm. 2016 has been a nightmare for Chablis producers as they had not only frost to contend with, but suffered through two hailstorms. Damage was so severe in some communes that the vintage itself has come into question, as in “Will we make wine in 2016?” As far as we know, Sébastien will make his wines in 2016, but how much is anybody’s guess. Taking that into consideration, one could come to the logical conclusion that in order to keep his business running, he may need to raise his prices slightly to recoup lost revenues due to lost fruit. It’s a sad reality, but it is reality nonetheless. Let’s keep that in the back of our minds and focus on what’s in front of us now, in the present, and currently in-stock: 2014 Domaine Sébastien Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Côte de Léchet and its incredible low price.

When David is on assignment in France, he usually stays in touch by sending us notes and comments from some of his tastings. Last winter, he sent this in an email, “Lots of good tastings. I tasted a couple of ’15s at Dampt today – they’ll be nice, round, early maturing. I went through all the ’14s and they are THE BOMB! I actually prefer the 1er Crus to the Grand Crus. The Vaillons, Léchet, and Beugnons are just fantastic.” I probably don’t need to add anything to that; if David is going to recommend something with that kind of enthusiasm, I would say we would be depriving ourselves if we don’t heed his advice.

We’ve mentioned Sébastien Dampt before, as we’ve been directly importing his wines for a few years now. That’s directly importing, as we deal with Sébastien himself, not a negociant or special contact who have their hands open for a “finders’ fee.” This, of course, is great news for all of us as prices are as low as possible. Take that fact and then read Burghound’s Allen Meadows’ comment that, “As the scores and comments suggest, these are well-made wines and at the prices the Dampt wines generally sell for, they are first-rate bargains.” And yes, they’re all that.


I have a soft spot on my palate for wines from Côte de Léchet. Long ago, back when one could tell my hair color was once brown, we had a different producer’s Côte de Léchet, and I loved it. It was $44.99 per bottle. Obviously, we weren’t the importer for that wine. But while we had this other producer’s line of Chablis, it was a rite of late spring to grab one bottle of each vineyard and head over to a buddy’s house to taste them against each other while noshing on sautéed shrimp and scallops. Go figure that the Côte de Léchet was always the standout. So when we began importing Dampt’s wines, it was not a surprise that I gravitated toward the Côte de Léchet. As if I needed further encouragement, the sub $30 price tag was a huge bonus! Don’t you love it when you’re ready to pay $50 for something, but are then told it’s only $30?

The Chablis, shrimp and scallops tradition may have waned in recent years, but tasting Sébastien Dampt’s newly released Côte de Léchet has picked up right where we left off. I tasted the 2014 the other night, this time with some baked chicken with garlic and herbs. Bingo! I think that the thing about Côte de Léchet that tips the scale for me is its richness. When I’m about to take my first sip of Chablis, I am prepared for sleek, zippy acidity and a mineral underlay. From the aromas to the finish, this 2014 Sébastien Dampt Côte de Léchet delivers some rich, fleshy, white and yellow Chardonnay fruit; kind of like a green apple with a little lemon blossom. That fruit is propped up and balanced by the sleek, fresh profile, and the harmony of the finish is quite the upside surprise. I’m a fan.

As summer continues, it just makes sense to have wines on hand that are delicious when chilled. Holy cow! The Thirst Gamay that Anya wrote up last weekend has earned a permanent place in my refrigerator door! Though, just in case I find some nice looking shrimp or scallops at the market on my way home, I’m going to want a bottle of 2014 Sébastien Dampt Côte de Léchet on that shelf too! The new treehouse is finally taking shape and I enjoyed a glass of something nice last night out on the deck while the sun set behind the canopy of trees. Now that’s romantic.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions about Chablis, Côte de Léchet, Bordeaux, European Football, Sauternes, or treehouses: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Chablis, Chardonnay, fish-fry wine, Peter Zavialoff

Authentic Pomerol – Chateau Bonalgue


When Robert Parker retired from tasting Bordeaux En Primeur in the spring of 2015, it created a bit of a stir. For those who relied on his palate to make wine buying decisions, it would be like having to change dentists, accountants, or mechanics. It was going to be different, but is that all so bad? There’s an old saying, “Different is not always better, but better is always, by definition, different.” We let this play out, and one of a few key talking points around the En Primeur tastings this past spring was that the vignerons knew he would not be tasting their wines as barrel samples anymore, and so to the rest of us, they appeared “Un-Parkerised.” Let me just say that when tasting barrel samples, less extract and more terroir transparency are very welcome! Coincidentally, in the spring of 2015, I had lunch with one of our suppliers at Château la Dominique’s La Terrasse Rouge. The wine we drank at lunch? 2008 Château Bonalgue, Pomerol. It was delicious. Old school dusty, earthy mineral aromas, savory black olive-like fruit with hints of brambly red berries, a kiss of sarsaparilla spice all wrapped up in a medium-bodied elegant mouth feel.

Château Bonalgue sits in the very west of Pomerol just near the Libourne city limit. The property consists of approximately 7.5 hectares planted mostly to Merlot with around 10% Cabernet Franc. The soils are a mixture of sand, clay, and limestone. The property traces its history back to before the French Revolution with the current owning family having purchased the chateau in 1926. Ironically, it was Robert Parker himself who had this to say about Château Bonalgue, “This over-achieving estate is one of the most consistent performers in Pomerol. Always a well-made, fleshy, succulent, hedonistic wine.”

We placed our order for the 2008, and then noticed the 2009, 2010, and 2012 were available. We couldn’t help ourselves; if a quality vertical is so easy and affordable to stock, why not indulge. So we can’t blame those of you who wish to profiter, and build a vertical of this authentic Pomerol for your cellars! Peter Zavialoff

 


2012 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol
Early indications pointed to Pomerol as again the hot spot for the 2012 vintage and now that the wines have been bottled, it certainly is one of the more homogenous appellations for the vintage. The wines are showing decadent fruit and dazzling structure suggesting that they’ll age very well. Here’s what RP said about the 2012 Bonalgue, “This excellent blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc is always one of the best value wines of Pomerol, thanks to the leadership and vision of proprietor Pierre Bourrotte. Deep ruby/plum/purple, with loads of mulberry and black cherry fruit, soft tannins, medium body and excellent concentration, this is a plump, mouthfilling Pomerol that lacks complexity, but offers generosity and loads of fruit. Drink it over the next 10-15 years.” 13.5% ABV

Reg. $39.98
buy 2012 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML


2010 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol

Another great Pomerol vintage, another rock-solid Bonalgue. This has a little more grip than its two older bottlings, just as we feel the 2009 needs a little time to gain in complexity, we would advise the same for the 2010. Patience is a virtue and with the 2010 Château Bonalgue, it will serve you well. If you are planning on opening either the 2009 or 2010 any time soon, we strongly recommend you decant them for 60-120 minutes before serving. Again, from Señor Parker, “A delicious wine from proprietors Pierre and Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, this frequent sleeper of the vintage is a blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Like its older siblings, the 2010 offers loads of tasty mulberry and black cherry fruit and medium to full-bodied texture, It does not have the greatest complexity, but the 2010 Bonalgue is satisfying and charming. Drink it over the next decade.” 14.5% ABV

Reg. $39.98
buy 2010 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML

 


2009 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol
Part II of the dynamic duo of great back to back vintages, the 2009 has dense, purple fruit and a solid mineral expression. It has gained in intensity since bottling, and we feel it needs another 4-5 years before it begins revealing further complexity. That being said, here are Mr. Parker’s notes, “Another sleeper of the vintage from this very consistent estate that always seems to over-achieve no matter what the vintage conditions, big ripe black cherry and mocha notes intermixed with some forest floor and underbrush jump from the glass of this seductive, dense, full-bodied, fleshy fruit bomb from Pomerol. It is rich, pure, and just irresistible. Drink it over the next 7-8 years.” 14% ABV

Reg. $49.98
buy 2009 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML


2008 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol
Another great vintage in Pomerol. Most of Bordeaux needed an Indian Summer to save the vintage, which luckily occurred; but Pomerol was going to be good regardless. The Indian Summer made it great. From Parker, “Bonalgue’s 2008 is a sleeper of the vintage. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by sweet black cherry and plum-like fruit, a fleshy texture, and a heady, long finish with ripe tannin and good freshness. It is a pretty wine for drinkers, not speculators.” 13.5% ABV

Reg. $38.98
buy 2008 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol 750ML

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Filed under 2008 Bordeaux, 2009 Bordeaux, 2010 Bordeaux, 2012 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, Pomerol

Get Your Geek On – Gamay From South Africa


Introducing: Thirst from Radford Dale

What is a geek wine? Among wine drinkers I know, a geek wine does not hold a negative connotation – quite the opposite. A geek wine is something that could be rare or less known, certainly not mainstream, and is most likely appreciated by a confident wine drinker (meaning someone who knows what they like and drink it). Thirst Gamay from Radford Dale is such a wine.

Where to begin? First, it is Gamay. Gamay as in Beaujolais, but this one is from South Africa. South Africa has only 32 known acres of Gamay vines. That is 0.0128% of total planted vines in South Africa. Leave it to super sleuth Alex Dale to find a vineyard with any Gamay. The Gamay Radford Dale sources were planted in 1984, so they are fully mature vines with naturally producing low yields. The vines grow on a low-wire trellis system which allows the grapes to grow underneath the canopy, sheltering the berries from direct sunlight, allowing for good retention of acidity and freshness.

Alex Dale Modeling His Shirt @ TWH

In the cellar, the grapes were fermented whole berry and whole bunch. A portion of the wine went through carbonic maceration. After 3 months in tank, the wine spent a short time in old neutral barrel. The wine is neither fined nor filtered and a minimal amount of sulphur was used. The alcohol content clocks in at a whopping 11.5%! Approximately 500 cases of this unique red were produced which means TWH has 4% of the production.

Ok, so what does it taste like? I first tasted the 2015 Thirst Gamay back in May when our stock arrived in our warehouse coinciding with a visit from the owner and founder of Radford Dale, Alex Dale. A visit from Alex Dale is always inspiring, entertaining, informative and motivating. Alex has a lot to say and I like what I hear. The emphasis Alex places on being ecologically and socially conscientious in the pursuit of making wine is honorable, to say the least. It is not just lip service with him. I found the entire line-up of his newly arrived wines the best I’ve tasted yet, but it was the new line, Thirst, that had our staff captivated. The Thirst Gamay is light bodied. You could say it is like a dark rosé, but I think it is better to describe it as a very, very, light red wine. The varietal flavors of the Gamay are spot-on and recognizable: lots of red berry fruit, a dusty earthiness and a perfumed green note of tomato leaf. The finish has an exhilarating dryness to it just as fine cru Beaujolais does. The tannins are present, giving structure to the wine, at the same time the low alcohol makes for a light, refreshing drink. As Alex told our staff, “all our wines are built on an architecture of acidity”, so that is there too, giving lift and freshness.

The Line Up with Alex Dale

The Thirst Gamay is best served chilled. Yes, it is acceptable to chill red wine, especially this one. On a hot summer’s day or balmy evening, when you are craving red wine but can’t bear to open one because you know it will be too much, too heavy, the Thirst Gamay is a very good option. Certainly the Thirst Gamay is fine on its own to sip before dinner, or to bring along on a picnic, but it is also suited for main course meals. You’d think it was intentionally designed for salmon, as it goes so well with it. Thirst Gamay is not a frivolous wine given its light body and low-alcohol. As Alex likes to suggest it is meant for wine consumers who are looking for a naturally produced wine with little intervention. He also points out that a wine like Thirst is difficult to make both from the standpoint of production as well as the costs associated. I’m grateful Radford Dale makes the effort.

Alex Dale & David Netzer @ TWH

I was finally able to spend a few days up at the River like I’d been hoping to do for some time. What made this trip nourishing and special was the convergence of three families under the guise of a wedding shower. Surrounded by this tribe, as we like to call ourselves, is where I am happiest! We don’t see each other often enough, but when we do, it’s like we’d never left each other’s side. Oh, and I discovered that my brother isn’t the only family member who reads my newsletters – thanks TH for reading to the end!– Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, Berg River, Gamay, South Africa, Swartland

When Robert Parker Retired From En Primeurs


Shortly before the wine world descended upon Bordeaux in the spring of 2015, The Wine Advocate himself, Robert Parker, announced that he would be retiring from traveling to Bordeaux each spring to attend the En Primeur tastings. He also announced that he had chosen longtime Wine Journal blogger and TWA contributor Neal Martin to replace him each spring in Bordeaux. We applauded this decision as here at TWH we have a great amount of respect for Mr. Martin, his professionalism, and his integrity.

With that news in the air just a few days prior to my landing at Merignac, you can imagine all the questions. “What do you think about Ro-Bear Par-Care’s retirement?” “Do Americans trust Neal Martin?” “How will this impact Americans’ perception of Bordeaux?” Those were just a few. The most poignant conversation I had about it came at lunch somewhere in the middle of the crazy week of Primeurs. After fending off the familiar string of questions, I got this one, “Who will replace Parker in the eyes of Americans now that he has retired?” Hmmm. That’s a good one. The answer was simply, “No one.”

Parker had excellent timing. In the late 1970’s, he was a lawyer who greatly admired consumer advocate Ralph Nader. He had a taste for French wine and arrived on the scene when NO ONE was serving the consumer in regard to the quality of the wines from Bordeaux being offered as futures. The rest is history and that ship has sailed. Anyone thinking that they can be “The next Robert Parker” needs to come to grip with some key facts, as in time does not stand still, and we evolve. Parker doesn’t need replacing. His legacy leaves us all with an improved ability to articulate what we sense when tasting, and more importantly, most Bordeaux producers are now making much better wine than they did prior to Parker’s arrival on the scene. It’s up to professionals across the board, especially those of us who come into direct contact with consumers. Sommeliers and retailers can provide some of the best direction because we forge relationships with our clientele, and in knowing an individual’s likes and dislikes, can provide better advice than the often-misused 100 point scale.

 

Of course, in addition to Parker’s legacy, which played a role in this, is the fact that American wine consumers are more experienced, more knowledgeable, and more trusting in their own perceptions than to blindly trade their money for Parker points (or anyone’s points for that matter) anymore. Just like anything else, there will be people new to the arena, and especially with wine, lack of experience can be very intimidating. We remind those new to wine that it is a beverage created to promote joy and to complement our meals. We encourage new wine drinkers to stay within their budgets and discover their likes and dislikes. What any wine critic/advisor has to say about a wine that you like means nothing. You like it, that’s all that matters. In fact, if you like a wine and a critic publishes something negative about it, you win, as the wine is more likely to be available and not in danger of going up in price.

The American wine consumer has come a long way in the past 40 years. Regardless of any personal feelings or biases, Robert Parker deserves a great amount of recognition for his contribution to that. In this technological age of blogs, apps, and social media, it seems there will always be a forum for anyone to express their perception of what they taste. Professional bloggers and wine journalists will continue to publish tasting notes, for a price. They work very hard, and their experience and knowledge of the subject is well recognized. Many Americans, ourselves included, listen to some of the more objective tasting notes from these folks, yet we tend to treat them more as advice rather than gospel. And that is a sure sign that American wine consumers are more sophisticated than we were 40 years ago. It is yet another rite of passage; just like leaving home, finishing school, and going out into the world, we’re now on our own. I am grateful to Mr. Parker for his legacy as a consumer advocate, and I am also grateful for his decision to retire and leave the rest to us. Again, “Who will replace Robert Parker in the eyes of Americans?” No one. Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff

2014 Cotes de Provence – Domaine des Aspras Les Trois Freres


Wow; how did it get to be July already??!! Having just endured most of what it takes to work through a Bordeaux En Primeurs campaign from the importer/retailer side, it’s easy to lose track of time. Just a reminder, we have plenty of 2015 Bordeaux futures available, please see our website or feel free to contact us should you have any questions about Bordeaux futures. Apart from that, with the long holiday weekend upon us, there’s plenty to do. Several customers have asked about my plans for the long weekend. I’m sticking around; as simple as that! Since I got back from Bordeaux, I’ve been crazy busy … oh yeah, somewhere in the middle of all that I moved too. This will be the first year in a long time that I won’t have the annual 4th of July parade pass my driveway, but I’m planning to catch a glimpse of it while hiking high above it! My plan for the 4th is to eat well, exercise, enjoy the company of some good friends, and share some nice wine. Some grilled steaks and boy-oh-boy, have I found the wine!


I was tasting through some samples the other day when I pulled the cork on a fairly new acquisition: the 2014 Domaine des Aspras Les Trois Frères Côtes de Provence. Domaine des Aspras? Oh yeah, they’re another new grower that David found while attending a tasting in Chicago many months ago. He liked the wines. They shipped some samples to us. We liked the wines. We bought the wines, and now they’re here!

The story is a soulful one. Driven from Germany in the 1930’s, Gottfried and Lisa Latz sought refuge in Congo until its independence suddenly sent them back to Europe in the early 1960’s, and to Domaine des Aspras. With no winemaking experience for either of them, Gottfried and Lisa’s passion, patience, and perserverence guided the way. In 1995, Gottfried and Lisa’s son, Michael, an agricultural engineer, began managing the property. Nowadays, Michael runs the property with his wife, Anne, and their three sons, Raphael, Sébastien, and Alexandre.


The property consists of 25 hectares of vines grown in clay-limestone soils. Surrounded by limestone hills, the region has enjoyed a reputation for producing excellent wine that goes back to the 13th century. The property gets its name from the Latin, asper-apera, or rough and rocky. The village of Correns sits in the middle of Provence, and since 1996, has been the first French vinous village in which all the farmers have chosen to farm organically. Their Les Trois Frères Rouge is a Syrah based blend with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Les Trois Frères means the three brothers and is named for Raphael, Sébastien, and Alexandre. The three of them represent the third generation of Latz’s running Domaine Aspras, and they adhere to the family philosophy of caring for their land and making the best wines possible from their holdings in the Côtes de Provence.

The 2014 Les Trois Frères is an aromatic beauty. The first whiff reminded my of a Minervois we used to carry. Their wines were Syrah dominated blends and I used to love the savory aromas of forest floor and tobacco. This has a hint of that forest floor for sure, but the tangy red fruit pops out and there is a hint of orange bitters on the nose. There is oak influence both in the bouquet and on the palate, though it dissipates over time. The palate is medium bodied and very lively. I salivate thinking of the food that would go with this wine. The finish is fresh and balanced and that pleasant little pinch of bitterness (much like Diane Puymorin’s wines) caps it all off. This wine speaks of a place. It has a certain rusticity which I chalk up to terroir. The tannins are present, yet they’re fine and integrated. This is a great food wine, I’m going to need more than one bottle for the long weekend!

Yes, long weekend. It’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to some R & R. Whatever it is that you do, from all of us here at TWH, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy Independence Day Weekend!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about long weekends, Côtes de Provence wines, 2015 Bordeaux Futures, or European Football: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Barbecue Wine, Cotes de Provence, Peter Zavialoff, Provence, Syrah

The July 2016 Dirty Dozen




The Dirty Dozen

As 2016 continues to buzz away, here we are past the halfway mark. July is a great month for oh-so-many reasons. The fourth falls of a Monday this year, and that’s great for those of us who like three day weekends! Baseball’s mid-summer classic is coming up soon, and the long summer days of July are great occasions to get outdoors and enjoy yourself! It’s always good to have some reserves, so we’ve put together a great July Dirty Dozen to keep you prepared for any vinous emergency. Happy July!

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

2014 Screen Porch White, HRW $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Going back in time here with a Napa Valley Chardonnay for $12! Some Pinot Gris was added to the blend to perk up the acidity, making this the ideal, hot weather sipper from the folks at Hendry Winery. We’re told this is a one-off, so enjoy it while its still available. Crisp and crunchy peach flavors abound. Pair with a main course salad out on the veranda.

2014 Sauvignon Delle Venezie, Torre di Luna $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Torre di Luna Sauvignon is a refreshing, simple and delicious white wine from the region of Trentino in Northern Italy. The light – only 12.5% ABV – crisp flavors are especially welcome this time of year as we head into summer’s heat. Chill it down well to accentuate the fresh tropical flavors. Pair with light pasta dishes, pizza bianco, or fresh spring rolls.

2015 Soave San Rocco, Monte Tondo $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Monte Tondo specializes in Soave. Their hilltop estate, not far from Verona, overlooks the valley. The San Rocco is their entry level Soave, but it is by no means inferior to their estate-branded wines. Offering incredible value, this Soave is vibrant and mineral-driven. Tank fermented, try it with bay shrimp stuffed avocados or a Panzanella salad.

2012 Gewurztraminer Rosenberg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder
Rose petals and lychee nuts are descriptors that follow Gewurztraminer around as the aromas of this variety are definitely marked by these distinct fragrances. This single-vineyard Gewurz is a bit off-dry, as evidenced by the sweetness scale that the Ehrharts use on the back label. Pair this opulent nectar with spicy curry or red beans and rice.


2014 Rosé Les Trois Frères, Domaine Des Aspras $17.59, $14.07 reorder
Every now and then something fancy lands in the DD, and this month, we’ve got a full-fledged Provençal Rosé in the box! Domaine des Aspras is located in the village of Correns, which is an all-organic village. It’s a blend of Cinsault and Grenache, and has aromas of mint, strawberry, peach, and orange blossoms. Pair it with a simple salmon roasted in butter.


2014 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $8.95 sale price, $8.50 reorder
Longtime friend of TWH, Daniel Hecquet continues to turn out delicious wines for a song, and his Château Calabre Montravel Blanc is another winner on a long list of winners! Here, the blend is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle just like many whites coming from nearby Bordeaux. Fresh and zippy, pair it with a chicken salad.


2014 Poggio d’Elsa, Bruni $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
This 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the region of Maremma Toscana, a two-hour drive southwest of Florence. Maremma Toscana was only recently promoted to DOC status, though Azienda Bruni has been making wines since the 1970’s. Rustic, spicy with bright tart red fruit, a must for pizza or meaty baked pasta dishes.


2012 Minervois Cuvée Spéciale, Château de Paraza $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Château de Paraza, like many wineries in the Minervois, can trace its history back many centuries. In 2005 the Danglas family purchased the winery with the intent of bringing its reputation back to its former glory. The quality has improved exponentially and has been a favorite here at TWH for the past five vintages. Juicy, robust, supple. Try it with lamb!


2014 Rosso Conero, Marchetti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Maurizio Marchetti’s Rosso Conero is made with Montepulciano grapes grown along coastal vineyards near the Adriatic Sea south of the seaside town of Ancona. A gentle pressing ensures freshness and supple tannins. A short rest in barrel, maybe 3-4 months before bottling, also aids in making a juicy, delicious red. Serve with chicken cooked under a brick.

2014 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Having visited us earlier in the year, Enrico Pierazzuoli showcased this newly-arrived Chianti Montalbano and our staff happily closed out the day sipping this textbook, 100% Sangiovese with some fresh salumi and provolone. It’s a medium bodied red with fresh acidity making it kind of the utility player of wines … it just goes with everything.


2013 Agrippa, Vignobles Boudinaud $17.49, $13.99 reorder
Thierry Boudinaud doesn’t make his Agrippa every year; the conditions must be just right for this 100% Syrah named in honor of the Roman statesman who oversaw the construction of the famous Pont du Garde. Good thing he’s in southern, Mediterranean France! It’s a concentrated complex Syrah, great for barbecue season, perfect with grilled smoky meats.


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinum Africa $17.99, $14.39 reorder
This Cab Sauvignon from South Africa is a great wine to wrap up this month’s DD. The fruit comes from two prized vineyards in the foothills of Helderberg Mountain, just south of Stellenbosch. It’s a full-bodied Cabernet with a core of red and black fruit, earthy mineral, a hint of herbs, and good grip. This is best served with rack of lamb or a rib-eye.

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Filed under Chianti, South Africa, Stellenbosch, The Dirty Dozen, Trentino, Wine Clubs/Samplers

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