A Prime 2014 Bordeaux Value – Chateau Senejac


A good-sized parcel of 2014 Bordeaux has landed at TWH! Though several others are still en route, many have now hit our sales floor. I have been closely listening to Peter talk up the vintage, making a strong case for its quality and comparable value, especially on the Left Bank. With Peter’s guidance, TWH seized the opportunity to load up on high-quality, value-oriented Bordeaux from 2014 in addition to the region’s high-flyers. Only after customers who bought wines on futures were notified and the last pallet was broken down, did I buy my first bottle of 2014 to take home – the 2014 Sénéjac.


I selected the 2014 Sénéjac for three reasons:
1) It’s under $20
2) In really good vintages, Sénéjac always ends up on “sleeper of the vintage” lists
3) The crown logo and script font reminds me of another one of my favorite Bordeaux chateau, Branaire Ducru.

I took home the bottle, popped open the cork and poured a glass for myself for no other reason than to edify myself on 2014 Bordeaux. I need a reference point, a place to start all future comparisons. A sub-$20, Haut-Médoc seems like a reasonable place to start.

When I was first introduced to Bordeaux, working here at TWH, I either tasted young Bordeaux in order to acquaint myself with TWH stock or I was treated to cellared, well-aged fine Bordeaux courtesy of David and Company. I got spoiled fast and as a result liked to claim that I didn’t like young Bordeaux, only Bordeaux with some age on it. There was both truth and pretentiousness to this declaration. Over the years, I’ve come to enjoy young Bordeaux more and more. I think some of it has to do with changing wine styles as well as the overall advancement of quality in the region. In some years, 2009 comes to mind, young Bordeaux tastes great from the get-go. No need to wait, but if you find one you like in particular, buying some to cellar is a good thing too.


On Mother’s Day I hosted dinner for nine including my mother, mother-in-law, sister and spiritual mother. I promised to keep it low-key, but it was work nonetheless. I made a pork tenderloin in an agrodolce sauce studded with dry fruit and citrus zest and paired it with the Le Nid 2013 Moulin-à-Vent. As much as I enjoy making a meal for others, this year a long held fantasy was actualized. My daughter made me a special Mother’s Day breakfast. She planned the meal and shopped for it. In the morning, she quietly got out of bed, closed my bedroom door to allow me to sleep longer undisturbed. It was one of the tastiest meals of my life!


Speaking of all things tasty, the 2014 Sénéjac is one of those young Bordeaux that tastes pretty darn good right now. Maybe not as dense as I remember some of the 2009 to be, what the 2014 Sénéjac has going for it is overall balance. The components are all there in harmony: fruit, acid, tannin. The aromas are undeniably Bordeaux with plum and red currant notes, a hint of oak that sneaks out of the glass but gets buried in the fruit on the palate. A classy expression of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I am looking forward to revisiting the rest of the wine tonight!Anya Balistreri

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Filed under 2014 Bordeaux, Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, Haut-Medoc, Petits Chateaux, Value Bordeaux in San Francisco

Bordeaux Update & 2015 Alberto Furque Malbec


While vacillating over whether or not to write about Bordeaux earlier this morning, I discovered that there are a couple of things that must be addressed before I tackle the subject of this week’s Saturday night wine.


#1) The 2016 Bordeaux Futures campaign is in motion. We sent our first offer out a couple of weeks ago, just after Cos d’Estournel released their price. The email included a handful of petits chateaux which we feel showed well at the En Primeur tastings, offering great value in this remarkable vintage. Several other estates have released their pricing since, and we are preparing another offer which we will send early next week. Doubtless, there will be more price releases next week, and the campaign will grow quite busy until the middle of June, at the soonest. Should you have interest in any 2016 Bordeaux wine, released yet or not, please feel free to send me an email: peter@wineSF.com and we can discuss it, reflect pricing (once released), and source it for you, should you approve of the price.

#2) We recently received a new container with a lot of 2014 Bordeaux on it. These wines will be hitting our sales floor sometime later next week. If you have spoken to me about the 2014 vintage, then you already know I’m a big fan, and highly recommend the wines, especially from the Left Bank. I was graciously welcomed to the Thursday Tasting Group’s tasting of 2014 Left Bank Bordeaux the other day. After looking at the roster (d’Armailhac, Branon, La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion, Clerc Milon, Gruaud Larose, Lagrange, La Lagune, Larrivet Haut-Brion, and Poujeaux), I knew I would be in for a treat. Part of the TTG experience is to rank the wines from 1 to 9 in order of one’s preference. At the conclusion, it was said by several tasters that if they were served the wine they respectively ranked 9th, they would enjoy them very much. When I reported this back to David, he just smiled and said, “Well, that’s Bordeaux for you. It’s not uncommon for ALL the wines to show well.” From a price-to-quality perspective, 2014 offers the best value from this impressive trio of vintages.


To say it’s been hectic around here would be an understatement. Juggling the pricing for the futures with the arrival of the “presents” can be daunting. One thing that I am looking forward to is standing around a grill this weekend with friends, preparing some delicious barbecue. There’s a new vintage of one of our staff favorites that I tasted this past week that will be perfect for this grilling affair: 2015 Alberto Furque Malbec.

It’s not Bordeaux, but Malbec’s roots can be traced back to the region, as it was historically used in Bordeaux blends. The plants’ susceptibility to rot and disease saw it lose favor among French vignerons, and now very few Bordelais grow the variety. Sometime in the mid 1800’s, vine cuttings made their way over to Argentina, and they thrived. The rest is history. Malbec is grape variety numero uno in Argentina.

Carolina Furque

How time flies … we’ve been carrying the Alberto Furque Malbec for over a decade! It’s now made by Alberto’s daughter Carolina, and we just love the pure expression of her wines. Everything is hand-harvested, the wine ferments in steel tank, and its elevage takes place in concrete vats; all contributing to the wines’ fresh fruity aromas and profile. Heck, I wasn’t expecting to take to this wine like I did the other night when I took it to a dinner, but its freshness and seductive fruit contributed to a speedy depletion of the bottle’s contents. When I went in for my second glass, all I got were the lucky drops! Having no oak influence gives the fruit the spotlight. It has a plummy character, both in the aromas and on the palate, there are notes of cherries, raspberries, and black currants. The palate is medium to fuller bodied with well-dialed-in balancing acidity, and the tannins are finely integrated. All in all, it’s a superb wine that will suit meals such as steak with chimichurri, pastas with meatballs or sausages, or pulled pork. This weekend, I will pair it with a dry-rubbed tri-tip, grilled to perfection. With barbecue season upon us for the next several months, this is a great wine to have around … for two reasons: Quality and price. The case price is ridiculous.


To all of you Moms out there, we wish you a Happy Mothers’ Day tomorrow! I’m looking forward to visiting my Mom around midday. We will be preparing her favorite, salmon; pairing it with a crisp Rosé. Afterwards, I am planning on attending a memorial reception for a San Francisco restauranteur whom I was lucky to have known and have enjoyed the “family treatment” from his progeny for decades. Later in the evening, I will head over to visit some friends, and we’ll get busy grilling up the tri-tip and pulling a couple of corks of Malbec. A topic of conversation sure to arise around said grill will be English Football and the newly crowned champions. Though my support remains on the sidelines until a certain unsporting individual leaves the club, I am happy for the Blues and for my family of Chelsea brothers and sisters. I’ve got a lot on my plate tomorrow, so by the time I get to that footy conversation, I will be ready for that tri-tip, perfectly paired with Carolina’s 2015 Malbec!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on 2016 Bordeaux Futures, 2014 Bordeaux, great dry-rub recipes, or the Champions of England: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Alberto Furque, Argentina, Barbecue Wine, Malbec, Peter Zavialoff

Domaine Parent’s Exquisite Pommard


Anne Parent visited The Wine House at the end of January along with her sister Catherine and our dear friend and colleague, Jeanne-Marie de Champs. It’s not often we welcome three influential and prominent players from Burgundy at the same time, let alone three women. The dynamic in our tasting room was turned on its head. Most often, I am the only female in the room, but this time I was in the majority. As you can see from my expression in the photo below, I was overjoyed to be in their company.

Jeanne-Marie, Anne, Anya and Catherine

Anne and Catherine represent the twelfth generation at their family’s estate. Anne makes the wine while Catherine handles the commercial side of the winery. Domaine Parent itself was founded in 1803 in the heart of Pommard, but the family can trace its winemaking heritage back to the beginning of the 17th century. In fact, in 1787 Etienne Parent established a friendship and working partnership with Thomas Jefferson. Etienne assisted Jefferson in navigating Burgundy while he resided in France and then later partnered with Jefferson to import wine to the US when Jefferson returned to Monticello. This tidbit of history delights me – probably more than it would have prior to the invasion of Hamilton An American Musical into my home sphere courtesy of my obsessed daughter. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by wine’s influence on culture and history.

Getting ready for TWH staff

We tasted a couple of vintages and a number of different crus from Domaine Parent’s holdings. The wines are at once robust and not shy of tannin, yet remain finesseful and polished on the palate. We tasted mostly 2013 and 2014, but when we got to the 2011, Anne declared that “people will rediscover 2011”. As so often happens, classic vintages can get lost after hyped, exceptional vintages, in this case 2009 and 2010. 2011’s in Burgundy did have their fair share of challenges, but as Anne is widely quoted and said to us, “there are no bad vintages, only bad winemakers”. 2011 was one in which sorting grapes was of the upmost importance. At Domaine Parent, they sort in the vineyard where they only hand-pick the grapes, then again at the winery, first on a vibrating sorting table and after by hand. This thrice sorting method assures quality grapes. At the Domaine, they farm organically and practice many of the tenants of biodynamic farming.

What a line-up!

I was reflecting on how wine is marketed as the perfect gift for Father’s Day, but not so much for Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s the company I keep or my own personal preference, but I can’t think of too many women who wouldn’t love to receive a special, luxurious bottle of Pinot Noir, like the Parent 2011 Pommard 1er Cru Les Chaponnières. Les Chaponnières sits just below Rugiens and Parent’s vines are 60+ years old. The wine is aged in barrel, of which approximately 30% to 40% is new. Parent’s Pommard shows typicity by way of its fullness and sturdy backbone and yet, Anne coaxes out a suppleness and balance that creates a wine which is harmonious on the palate.

Les Cadeaux

I’ve written this many times, TWH customers are the best. Come on in and I’ll share some stories about the many kind and interesting people I’ve met working here. A case in point, today a couple, who coincidentally share a surname with this Domaine I’m writing about today, came in bearing gifts from a trip they recently took to France. This generous gesture touched my heart, put a smile on my face and reminded me how lucky I am to be a part of this thing called the wine business. I’m thinking the anchovies can be added into a marinade for lamb that in turn should be mighty tasty with a glass of 2011 Pommard Les Chaponnières, n’est ce pas?– Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Pinot Noir, Pommard

The May 2017 Dirty Dozen



The Dirty Dozen


And they’re off! The Kentucky Derby may be around the corner, but the month of May is chock-full of festive spring days, such as a day for all you Moms out there, as well as that unofficial start of summer known as Memorial Day Weekend! With all of the good that May brings us, it’s good to have a stash of quality, versatile wine at the ready. Picnics, barbecues, brunch with Mom, or a long weekend at the cabin? The DD has you covered!

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

2014 Chardonnay, Ramsay $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Kent Rasmussen’s winery began over thirty years ago out of his garage. Today, Kent has a modern facility in southern Napa. Ramsay is a companion label that focuses on combining quality with affordability. This well-balanced Chardonnay is full, without question, but stays fresh and lively on the palate. Serve it up with some buttermilk fried chicken sandos.

2015 Vermentino, Federici $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
The Ligurian coastline is known as the Italian Riviera. Not far from the Tuscan border, in an area famous for Carrara marble quarries, is where you will find Cantine Federici. Vermentino is the dominant white grape variety, producing mineral-driven, floral, crisp wines. A tiny bit of Albarola is blended in too. Try with basil pesto pasta or use other herbs.

2015 Arinto, Dom Diogo $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Quinta da Raza is a family estate established in 1769 in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Their soil is unique for the region because it is granitic with bits of clay and schiste – ideal conditions for producing crisp, vibrant whites. Arinto is known for its citrus expression: so think lemon and grapefruit. Thirst quenching and delicious, serve it with asparagus.

2014 Château Couronneau Blanc $11.95 sale price, $11.35 reorder
A recent article featured in The Wine Advocate sings the praises of the 2014 vintage for white Bordeaux. Neal Martin goes on the record by stating, “Much is sold for bargain prices compared to other French wine regions.” Biodynamically farmed Couronneau is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. Serve it with spring salads with goat cheese.


2015 Viognier, Grange des Rouquette $10.99, $8.79 reorder
It says Viognier, though 15% Marsanne is blended in, giving this user-friendly white added complexity and richness. It’s all tank fermented, allowing the clean, fruity/blossomy aromas to pop. On the palate, it’s light to medium bodied and has a crisp finish. You can serve this as an aperitif or as a versatile house white, as it pairs well with poultry or seafood.


2015 Rosé Les Cimels, Château d’Or et de Gueules $9.95 sale price, $9.45 reorder
For many of us, Rosé is appropriate to drink all year long; for others, it is a seasonal beverage. Well, if it is indeed a seasonal wine, the season has begun! Sure, there’s a particular satisfaction one gets sipping on a glass of Rosé on a warm afternoon or evening. This Rosé has just the right amount of fruity goodness to get you pouring that second glass.


2012 Zio Paolo, Vino Lauria $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
This 100% Nero d’Avola was fermented in stainless steel tanks before bottling. The grapes were grown organically around Alcamo in western Sicily half way between Trapani and Palermo. Here the soil is rich in clay and limestone and the climate arid. Try this simple, friendly red with eggplant and tomato-based dishes like Moussaka or Parmigiana.


2013 Pinot Noir, Praxis $13.95 sale price, $13.25 reorder
Bill Arbios is a veteran winemaker with over forty years of winemaking under his belt. His 2013 Praxis Pinot Noir is made from grapes grown just west of the town of Sonoma, not far from Carneros, yet still within the Sonoma Coast AVA. It is medium-bodied with earthy flavors of cherry and soft plum, accented by spice notes. Pair with lamb riblets or chops.


2014 Estate Red, Christopher Michael $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
The Harm brothers are the masterminds behind Oregon’s Underwood wines. They teamed up again to tackle Washington State grapes. This red blend is predominantly Syrah, with additions of Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Grenache. Juicy, soft tannins combine with plum and red currant fruit – perfect with flank, flap or skirt steak.

2015 Fronton On l’Appelle Negrette, Vignobles Arbeau $12.59, $10.07 reorder
The last couple of DD’s featured a couple of wines sourced from the Fronton region near the French city of Toulouse. This semi-remote viticultural area is the home of the Negrette grape. This is 100% Negrette. The aromas are bright and fruity, with hints of herbs and forest floor. The palate is light in body, making this a fine red option for rotisserie chicken.


2012 Château Les Gabriaux, Médoc $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
Who says Bordeaux wines are expensive? Certainly, the 60 or so most famous wines from the region can command a king’s ransom, but what about the other 7,000? Of course, one must be on their toes, keeping an eye out for quality among the less expensive wines. That’s how we found the Les Gabriaux. It’s inexpensive and delicious. Serve up some Prime Rib here.


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Ca’ Lojera $15.99, $12.79 reorder
You may know Ambra and Franco Tiraboschi’s Ca’ Lojera by their terrific Lugana white wines made from the Turbiana grape, but here’s a sample of their 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown near Lake Garda in Italy. It’s expressive and layered, kind of a throwback to those California Cabs of yore with their brambly berry fruit and hints of mint.

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Filed under The Dirty Dozen, Wine Clubs/Samplers

Springtime In The Glass – Domaine Pichat Cotes de Verenay Viognier


Now that spring is into full swing, it’s time for the shift. Whether or not we’re conscious of it, we all make adjustments as the days grow longer and the weather warms up. For me, some of the things that occur during the shift include turning the heater off (done), dusting off and cleaning up the outdoor grill, getting the shorts and sandals ready, and making room in the fridge for more than the usual one or two bottles of vino! When entertaining during the warmer weather seasons, it’s a good idea to be stocked up on wines we like to call, “Chillables.” Here at TWH, we all have our favorite pet-wines, if you will; wines which we enjoy so much that we don’t mind re-tasting them again and again. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s comforting to have a go-to, or a wine that delivers on both price and flavor. Though in continuance with the goal of expanding horizons, I took a flyer on a new chillable earlier in the week. Maybe it’s because it’s neither Chardonnay nor Sauvignon Blanc; maybe it’s because it’s made by a rising star winemaker; or maybe it’s just because it’s pretty dang delicious, but I am a huge fan of the 2015 Domaine Pichat Côtes de Verenay Viognier!



Yes. I said Viognier. The most famous appellation for Viognier is Condrieu in the northern Rhône Valley. Condrieu is not cheap. A brief online search tells us that they start at about $40 per bottle. Stéphane Pichat bottles a Condrieu, though it’s closer to $60. Aha! But he also makes Syrah and Viognier under his Côtes de Verenay, Collines Rhodanienne label, and both are exceptional values! Pichat’s Viognier is a mere $26.99, which is, for a wine of its class, a bargain. With the full case discount, it is less than $23. If you are looking for a white wine with a touch of class and a modest price, you must try this one.

So yeah, I took a bottle of the 2015 Pichat Viognier home the other day. I heated up some dinner, poured out a glass, and sat down. I took in the aromas … lovely. Stone fruit. Apricots, peaches, and definitely a chalky, almost vitamin-like minerality on the nose. My eyebrows rose; Wow! I thought. This smells fancy. I went in for a taste … delicious. It has a fuller body with fresh acidity bound to the expansive peachy, apricot-like fruit. It’s clean, fresh, and expressive, and finishes all in harmony. I could get used to this wine, in fact, after looking at my personal invoice, it seems to have become a go-to for me.


Here at TWH, we act like a little family, so we know each others’ preferences when it comes to food and wine. When I tasted this wine, I thought of an ongoing conversation that I have with my colleague, Chris. We both agree that if we (employees) don’t plan ahead, sometimes we end up at a corner store or market spending $20 on a bottle of wine that we might not necessarily enjoy as much as we would had we grabbed something before we left work. This is considered an epic fail. I feel a pang of shame whenever this happens, yet every once in a while, it still does. So I came in the next day and stealthily brown bagged a bottle of Pichat’s 2015 Viognier and popped it into the cold box. As the day grew to a close, I poured out a couple of glasses and handed them to Chris and David. What is it? Blind tasting can be fun … and tormenting! I couldn’t hang on to my secret for too long, so I spoiled the party before they could guess by revealing the bottle. Ultimately, they were both very impressed with the wine. David’s first reaction was that, “Shucks, we didn’t buy enough.” And as much fun as it was to taste them blind on it, the main purpose of sharing this bottle was to further cement in our heads that it is indeed an epic fail to spend $20 at the market when that approximate amount could be traded in for a wine of this calibre. Something to think about the next time we have a bottle in our hands at the checkout hoping no one we know sees us. Anya wasn’t in that day, though I strongly suggested she try a bottle. She has and now she’s in the club too!

If one were to suggest to me that three weeks after returning from the annual Bordeaux trip that I would be talking about a fantastic Viognier experience, I would have had my doubts. Though now with the month of May on the horizon, it’s time for the shift. Keep the Viognier a-flowin’! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments: peter@wineSF.com

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Entre-Deux-Mers: Drink Responsibly

Could it be because Pete just returned from Bordeaux, or that it’s Earth Day and I am thinking about human stewardship of the planet? Or is it because it is a wine I have frequently purchased for my own personal pleasure that I have selected to write a few words about the lovely white Entre-Deux-Mers from Chateau Ferran? For all the above reasons and more, I have the 2015 Chateau Ferran Entre-Deux-Mers on my mind. Entre-Deux-Mers is a expansive Bordeaux appellation but within it are a few choice sub-appellations. One of note is Haut Benauge and this is where you will find Chateau Ferran. Haut Benauge is directly across the Garonne River from Graves and because it is on high ground it is considered a choice location to grow wine grapes.


Chateau Ferran is a family-run estate that converted to organic and biodynamic farming nearly ten years ago. In preparation for this write-up, I visited Chateau Ferran’s website. The website has plenty of information about the winemaking, the farming philosophy and such, but there is practically no mention of the people who make the wine or run the estate. I think this is a deliberate exclusion. It suggests to me that the Ferran family places more importance on the land, the soil, the biodiversity of the vineyards, than on human intervention.

This Entre-Deux-Mers is a blend of equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with 10% each of Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. I am drawn to the yellow fruit flavors, reminiscent of peaches and apricots, that linger long on the palate. It has no pungent, grassy flavors so often associated with Sauvignon Blanc. All tank fermented, with some time on the lees, it has gorgeous floral aromatics that bring to mind citrus blossoms and acacia. The finish is slightly creamy and is very fresh. It has filled in very nicely as my Friday Night Fish Fry wine, making a lovely match with baked, breaded Petrale Sole.


Julien Ferran is the current winemaker who took over from his father, Alain. Julien is a biologist by trade, so his interest in biodynamic farming is not unexpected (check out
this video of Julien discussing geobiology in the vineyard
). I know for many the principles of biodynamic farming are controversial and verge on the cult-like, but in my anecdotal experience with wineries who embrace biodynamics, I see a direct connection between the exhaustive, conscientious work down in the vineyard and the quality of the wine. This under $15 Bordeaux blanc is impressive because of the effort that went into it and the final outcome, its deliciousness.


Samples of Chateau Ferran were sent to us by another French winery who included them among their own samples. We had no prior relationship to Chateau Ferran when we tasted the samples. We knew nothing of them other than they were friends of a wine family with whom we were starting to do business. Based solely on the quality (and price) of the samples, we purchased a pallet of Chateau Ferran. This is atypical of TWH to pull the trigger so quickly, but good wine is good wine – we recognized it immediately, so we felt there was little risk.

The last few weeks have had a recurring theme for me that centers around the question, “what do you believe in?” I have been asking myself a lot of questions about what I am willing to stand up for personally, socially and spiritually. I’ll spare you my existential angst, but if I’m comparing two wines of equal pleasure to me and one is made by a small family who farms organically and/or biodynamically and the other is mass-produced, industrially made, I am going to pick the former every time. The 2015 Entre-Deux-Mers is coming home with me tonight. I am not sure what is on the menu, but I’ll start the evening with a chilled glass of it. Tastes good and it’s good for you! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under 2015 Bordeaux, Anya Balistreri, Entre-Deux-Mers, fish-fry wine, Petits Chateaux, Sauvignon Gris, Semillon, Value Bordeaux in San Francisco, White Bordeaux

Taking Pics On The Bordeaux Trip & A Great Futures Deal!


“Take more pictures!” We say it each time one of us travels to any wine region. We say it because no matter how many pictures any of us take, we can always use more. So when I left for Bordeaux back at the end of March, I had this phrase stuck in my head. It’s not easy to take oneself out of the moment in order to capture an image or two, but I made an effort. I found myself with a couple of free hours in Saint-Emilion last Friday morning, and the bulk of my images were snapped then and there. I will try to scatter a few of my faves from this year’s Bordeaux trip throughout this write-up. This is one avenue in which all of us here at TWH could use a little encouragement! If you would like to see more on-location pictures from us, don’t hesitate to tell us, “Take more pictures!”

 


This year’s trip to Bordeaux was a very good one. I can sum it up briefly: Flights went well, weather was great, and the new vintage’s barrel samples were great. I made all of my appointments, was only late to two of them; I shared some great meals and wines with friends and associates, and experienced zero stress. Maybe I didn’t take as many pictures as we would have wanted, but that’s just gravy.


You will doubtless be hearing all about the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux very soon as the futures campaign has officially begun. We don’t envision any of the region’s famous producers to be releasing their prices this coming week, nor the next, but since the city of Bordeaux will be hosting VinExpo come mid-June, it is likely that the campaign will be finished by then. In the meantime, I will be working as hard as I can to keep you all up on our purchases and offers as quickly as possible. Whether by emails like this one, links on our website, or articles in our paper newsletter, we will be sure to alert you to our offers for 2016 Bordeaux futures. With the recent experiences of these tastings in my mind, please feel free to contact me should you have any specific questions about any of the wines.


These are exciting times, as the new futures campaign is in its infancy. We have noticed that several suppliers in Bordeaux have put a moratorium on sales of any 2015 wines in the past few weeks. Perhaps they are waiting for the new vintage to be received by the public, and will adjust their prices accordingly. Unfortunately, these adjustments seldom tend to be favorable for consumers. Anyhow, WE will continue to offer our 2015’s, and believe it or not, there are still some bargains out there. One of my favorite wines, vintage after vintage, for over a decade, is Château Larrivet Haut-Brion. I don’t think it’s in print anywhere, but in my personal cellar, my broadest vertical of red wine is of Larrivet Haut-Brion. Why? Quality. Price. Period.



Picture from Panoramio.com


Many years ago, I penned an email about (what was then) a recent experience tasting the 2005 Larrivet Haut-Brion out of half bottle. I still remember the enthusiasm I had for that wine, and if you take a peek in my cellar, and into the cellars of my Bordeaux drinking pals, you will find several bottles from this fine Pessac-Léognan château. Slowly but surely, each year I taste the wine from barrel and also the most recently bottled vintage. And coincidentally, my cellar grows each year we receive new wines from Larrivet Haut-Brion. I fondly remember visiting the property 9 years ago when they hosted the UGC Pessac-Léognan tasting, and John and I had lunch there after the tasting. A week ago Tuesday, I drove right past it as I had a late appointment at Château Haut Bailly, just across the road. Say what you wish, terroir is terroir, and having a neighbor like Haut Bailly is a good thing! Tasting the 2015 Larrivet Haut-Brion from barrel last year was another excellent display of dark, complex fruit, herbs, and earthiness. The palate was silky and seamless; with the finish displaying immense potential for the young, coiled barrel sample.

The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin had this to say about the 2015 Larrivet Haut-Brion: “The 2015 Larrivet Haut-Brion might be overlooked against some startling other 2015s with “Haut Brion” in their name, which would be wholly unfair because this is a potentially great wine. It has an outgoing bouquet with plenty of bright and bushy tailed red fruit that is well defined and very nicely focused. The new oak is carefully used here and gives it real lift. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins, fleshy in the mouth with crisp acidity and a nicely composed, lightly spiced finish. This is an excellent Pessac-Léognon and it will hopefully will be well priced.”



If you’re still reading all the way down here – I thank you! As I said above, this year’s Bordeaux trip went very well. I tried to take more pictures, and I sure hope these are to everyone’s liking. I’m no photographer, but I like to give these kind of things a shot when I can. I was able to taste the 2016 version of Larrivet Haut Brion out of barrel, and I must say, I continue to be impressed by the efforts made by the winemaking team. As my vertical continues to grow, I encourage any of you who enjoy fine quality Bordeaux for a reasonable price to join me!Peter Zavialoff


Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about taking pictures while on location, the 2016 Bordeaux futures campaign, Bordeaux in general, Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2015 Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Pessac-Leognan, Peter Zavialoff, Value Bordeaux in San Francisco