2008 Chateau Gloria: Instant Decadence For A Modest Price


As I alluded to yesterday, summer is here, and I can go on and on about more white and rosé wines, but on the heels of the praise of Grüner Veltliner, I thought to change it up a bit. Why not? It’s probably no surprise that my thoughts are on Bordeaux, that’s just natural. The Bordelais just hosted VinExpo this past week, and though we were able to follow the festivities via social media, my inbox was unusually quiet this week. That’s all good, we all need time to catch up on things. As I was doing a little housecleaning this morning, I stumbled upon a fairly recent acquisition, the 2008 Château Gloria. I thought, “Here’s an outstanding bottle of red Bordeaux, with a little age on it, for a very fair price. Hey, people drink red wine during summer too.” Summer barbecues? But of course.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about another St. Julien chateau, and my very first experience with it. Back in those early days of exploration, I listened to a lot of people from various wine shops, and received a lot of good advice. Occasionally, I went off on my own and would try something on a hunch. One of these early hunches was Château Gloria. I liked the price and saw “St. Julien” on the label. That was enough to go on. It did not disappoint. I found it very enjoyable with a cedary, tobacco, forest floor element, with a good dose of concentrated dark fruit, all in balance. My fellow diners were equally impressed. Maybe it was the pomp of decanting the bottle, I don’t know, but my friends thought I paid double what I did for it. From that moment on, in my mind, filed under Château Gloria was this experience.


Things have only gotten better at the chateau over the past 20 years as quality has improved remarkably. The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker remarked back in 1998 that, “Recent vintages of Gloria have pushed the level of quality even higher.” After revisiting the 2003 last summer, Parker declared, “Year in and year out, there is rarely a better wine for the money than this dark garnet Gloria.” If you think about the wild ride of Bordeaux pricing, you’ve got to love the fairness in pricing shown by the team at Château Gloria.

The 2008 Gloria is drinking very well. Still youthful, it can be enjoyed now or cellared for another 10 years easy. Probably more. You can take my word for it. Or, here’s what the folks at The Wine Advocate had to say:

First, Robert Parker: “A stunning sleeper of the vintage, this beautiful, already irresistible, plum/garnet-colored 2008 is a wine to purchase by the case. It possesses a dense plum/purple color, a glorious perfume of Christmas fruitcake, cedarwood, black currants, jammy cherries and licorice, medium to full body and a silky personality. It will provide both a hedonistic and intellectual turn-on over the next 10-15 years. 90 points”

And Neal Martin: “The Chateau Gloria 2008 has a fresh, well-defined bouquet with tobacco and graphite notes. It is very clean with well-integrated and judicious use of oak. The palate is medium-bodied with a rounded black cherry and spice-tinged entry leading to a plush, well-defined finish. This is a well-made Saint Julien that should age well over 10-15 years. 91 points”

So yeah, summer can call for lighter wines meant to be sipped chilled, but there are times when you might want a bold, elegant red too. The 2008 Château Gloria is that wine. I’m looking forward to the first barbecue of summer, because I will be packing one of these. An hour or two in the decanter, and voilà: instant decadence for a modest price. Looking for a belated Father’s Day gift? How about a couple of bottles of 2008 Gloria – one for this summer, one for a summer down the road. To all the Dads out there, we wish you a very Happy Fathers’ Day! And a very Happy Summer Solstice too! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, St. Julien in particular, or all of the transfer gossip that permeates the English media this time of year: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2008 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, St. Julien

Summer Refreshment: 2013 Hofer Grüner Veltliner



Happy Friday!! Can you believe spring is almost over??!! Yep, looking at the weather map of the US, it seems most of the country is heating up. Here in SF, we’ve got our cool microclimate, but should one venture north, south, or east for an hour or so, look out! One of summer’s challenges is to stay cool and refreshed. We’ve all got our methods for keeping cool, whether it’s spending time at the beach, pool, cinema, or refrigerated section of the local grocery store. Refreshed? Rule #1 – stay hydrated, drink lots of water. Rule #2? Something cool and crisp in your wine glass. May we offer a suggestion? Full liter bottle. Unpretentious bottle cap enclosure. 12.5% alcohol. Certified organic. Crisp. Dry. Tank fermented. 15 bucks. How about the 2013 H & M Hofer Grüner Veltliner?

If one is going to name the most refreshing white wines of the world, Grüner Veltliner is going to be on the short list; its unpretentious, entry-level liter bottles hover near the top of the best values column. It is Austria’s most widely planted grape, and has a global fan base. It’s sleek, herbaceous, mineral driven, bright, and crisp. It’s a great wine to pair with summer salads and crudo dishes, and it is an ideal refresher whilst cooling off on a summer’s evening. That 12.5% abv helps a bunch too; sure, have a second glass! With all of our French and Italian direct-imports, we don’t spend a whole lot of time writing about Grüner-Veltliner, but take our word for it, we all love the stuff! Funny, it was at around this time last year when we sent out a pre-summer blurb about Veltliner. Go back a few more years, and we sent out another pre-summer Gru-V offer! So there you go, no coincidence; when the weather heats up, we love our Veltliner!

The 2013 H & M Hofer certified organic Grüner Veltliner is a Terry Theise selection imported by Michael Skurnik wines out of New York. If you’ve never read any of Terry Theise’s writing about Austrian wines, and you appreciate well crafted wine writing with substance and whimsy, give him a spin. Terry never disappoints. Here’s what he had to say about the liter bottlings of Hofer’s 2013 Veltliner, “This wine took off like a rocket, and we needed to contain it. That’s correct; we needed to write less business, because it was the only way to sustain quality and to ensure the wine would continue being organic.”

So giddy-up, next stop: summer. Let’s all get outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. Hosting an impromptu gathering? Let us suggest the perfect summer aperitif wine: 2013 H & M Hofer certified organic Grüner Veltliner!

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2012 Sancerre Rouge From Domaine des Buissonnes

2012 Sancerre Rouge
Domaine des Buissonnes

The 2012 Sancerre Rouge from Domaine des Buissonnes is yet another fine example of a light, medium-bodied Pinot Noir from a region of France more famous for their whites than for their reds. Its delicate frame carries with it satisfying fruit flavors of sour cherry and tangy raspberry. The gentle tannins play nicely with the chalky finish. There is a soil component to the wine that pleasantly keeps the fruitiness at bay. It is a refreshing drink for those who value character over brawn.

Domaine des Buissonnes’ Sancerre Rouge

In last week’s post, Peter described a staff tasting where a white and a red were tasted. Although the subject of his post was Raousset’s Beaujolais Blanc (he was not at all exaggerating our enthusiasm for the wine!), the red he referred to, but did not name, was Buissonnes’ 2012 Sancerre Rouge. Just like we dug the stripped down, mineral-driven crisp Chardonnay from Raousset, the Buissonnes’ Sancerre Rouge showed us another approach to vinifying Pinot Noir. The 2012 Sancerre Rouge has a transparent quality; it is as if the grapes had sponged up the soil they were grown in and was then squeezed back into the wine. Chris liked the delicacy and lightness of the Sancerre Rouge and Peter was reminded how much he likes reds with a hint of green in it.

Harvest in Sancerre © InterLoire

I don’t foresee this style of Pinot Noir overtaking the popularity of super ripe, super concentrated ones, but I think there is a large segment of wine drinkers who are ready to take on and experience a more nuanced expression of the grape. It is au courant to put a slight chill on this wine, especially in warmer weather, to accentuate the snappy, tangy fruit. The incredible lightness of being that the 2012 Sancerre Rouge evokes, makes it an excellent candidate for lingering over slowly, taking in all the soft-spoken fruit.

It’s been a strangely, and unexpectedly, emotional last two weeks as my daughter finished up her elementary school years. How is it possible for six years to buzz by so quickly? We walked to school on the last day, just as we did on her first day to Kindergarten. I remember thinking then how grown up the fifth graders looked in comparison to my little one, but in my eyes, my soon to be middle-schooler still looks little to me. I realize she’s growing up, but she’ll always remain my baby girl.

5th grade trip: Crissy Fields SF

So, in my invariably Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah way, I’m going to celebrate these life changes by, what else, cooking up some lovely meals and drinking some tasty wine. I’m envisioning a moment this summer, after a long day of nothin’, of firing up the grill for a cedar-plank salmon. The 2012 Sancerre Rouge from Buissonnes would be a perfect match, complimenting the sweet, smokey nuances of this type of preparation. I’d also like to see this wine match up with other types of fish or even grilled octopus sprinkled with smoked paprika. – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Loire Valley, Pinot Noir

The June 2015 Dirty Dozen

If one were to ask a hundred different people what their favorite month is, June would most likely top the chart. Any school kid would choose it, those that love to welcome summer would follow suit. June brides, Dads, and grads all have reason to put the sixth month first. Here at TWH, we’ve got a soft spot for June as well. The clock is ticking; summer is almost here! To get ready for it, why not pick up the June Dirty Dozen today? 12 wines, all different, all chosen for their versatility, one low price!

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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2013 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Blanc $11.99, $9.59 reorder

White wines from the Rhône Valley are some of the best bang-for-your-buck wines in the world! This one is a blend of 50% Rolle (some call it Vermentino), 30% Grenache Blanc, and 20% Roussanne, all tank-fermented with fresh and lively fruit expression. This is best served with light summer salads or avocado bruschetta drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

2012 Chenin Blanc, Blue Plate $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Here’s a Chenin Blanc grown sustainably in the Sacramento Delta commune of Clarksburg. It is pure sunny, melon-laden and tropical-tinged juice. The fruit is picked early to keep acids fresh and sugars in check. Fleshy, yet dry, this versatile white pairs up well with fried chicken and all the traditional sides.

2014 Vinho Verde, Arca Nova $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Slightly effervescent and super low in alcohol, a well-made Portugese Vinho Verde, like this one, is perfect for daytime imbibing or partnering up with a picnic. A family-owned winery, Arca Nova makes their Vinho Verde from the grapes, Loureiro, Arinto and Trajadura. For an unexpected pairing, try it with spicy pan-fried rice noodles like Pad Kee Mow.

2012 Riesling Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Ehrhart $19.99, $15.99 reorder

Okay, try this one. You’re sitting at a restaurant with a few friends. One friend orders a turkey sandwich. Another goes for corned beef and cabbage. A third likes the idea of the Dungeness crab salad, and you can’t take your eyes off the fish tacos. Think you all need the ‘by the glass’ list? Think again. This dry Riesling works with all of them.

2013 Chardonnay/Torrontes, Martin Fierro $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder

Tulum Valley, Argentina is north of Mendoza. The vines there grow at elevations exceeding 2000 feet. The combination of Chardonnay and Torrontes makes for a fragrant yet perky, clean wine. A chilled glass to linger over on the veranda is nice especially with some nibbles of fava bean puree on crostini, crunchy crudité or a composed dinner salad.

NV Vouvray, Domaine d’Orfeuilles $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

June is a month known for several celebrations. And though we highly promote sparkling wines to be served at any occasion, this bottle may come in handy should you need a quick fizz pick me up. It’s made from Chenin Blanc and has aromas of dusty mineral and a crisp apple. Sparkling wine pairs very well with salty snacks like chips or popcorn.

2011 Syrah/Grenache, Laurent Miquel $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Spicy Syrah combined with juicy Grenache is a traditional blend in the Languedoc. Laurent Miquel vinifies these two complementary grapes to create an accessible and plush red. One famous British wine writer described producer Laurent Miquel “as one of the most reliable and forward-looking in the Languedoc.” Serve with any Mediterranean inspired dish.

2008 Tempranillo, Gárgola $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

This structured, soft tannin Spanish red comes from grapes grown in the Extramadura region. Situated along the border with Portugal in western Spain, this sparsely populated region is rich in wildlife and home to the famous Jamón Ibérico. Try this cured-meat delicacy with some Marcona almonds and a large goblet of the Gárgola for a quick festive feast!

2012 Grenache, Blue Plate $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Looking for a warm-weather red quaffer? Something juicy and light with little oak? If so, the Blue Plate Grenache is the one for you! Pretty aromas of strawberry, raspberry and a hint of violet charm the senses. Light-bodied and fresh, serve with teriyaki-glazed chicken, Korean short-ribs or anything spicy and assertive that needs a fruity back drop.

2013 Syrah, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

Coming from just outside the Rhône Valley, our friends at Saint Antoine craft this brawny Syrah. Another terroir-driven wine that speaks of its place of origin, it’s 100% de-stemmed and all tank fermented. Pair it with Papardelle with rabbit sauce.

2010 Château La Gorre, Médoc $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

Wait. What??? 2010 Left Bank Bordeaux in the Dirty Dozen? You bet. 2010 was one of the best vintages in the region in recent memory. La Gorre is another producer located in the village of Bégadan, and their 2010 is expressive and balanced. Treat it special: get the good stemware, a decanter, someone to share it with and a nice T-Bone steak.

2011 Ventoux Fayard, Domaine Fondrèche $17.99, $14.39 reorder

Winemaker Sébastien Vincenti has one of the best locales in all of Ventoux, and continues to churn out expressive wines with charm and complexity. For his Fayard blend, Vincenti uses 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre to give it some gaminess and backbone. Pop it with a simple Margherita pizza and your taste buds will be tickled.

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

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Peter Zavialoff, The Dirty Dozen, Wine Clubs/Samplers

2012 Château de Raousset Beaujolais Blanc Cuvée Marquise de Robien: Unmedicated Chardonnay


2012 Château de Raousset Beaujolais Blanc
Cuvée Marquise de Robien

Recently, at the end of another busy day, our staff locked up the shop and headed for the tasting room to get to know a couple of new arrivals. One of them was a red wine from a region in France famous for its white wines, and the other was a white wine from a region mostly known for its reds. The white wine was the 2014 Beaujolais-Villages Blanc from Château de Raousset. We don’t hear much about Beaujolais Blanc as it typically only represents 1% of the region’s annual production. Almost all Beaujolais Blanc is made from Chardonnay, however Aligoté is allowed, provided the vines were planted prior to 2004. For their Cuvée Marquise de Robien, the Raousset Beaujolais Blanc is 100% Chardonnay. It’s often a challenge to remain free from expectation when evaluating new wines, as David continues to find outstanding new wines from both new and established producers time and time again on his tasting trips to France each year. We’ve carried Beaujolais Blanc in the past, most recently one from the 2009 vintage.

With that distant memory in mind, we popped the corks of the two unusual-for-their-appellation wines and proceeded to taste. Whenever I taste red and white wines at the same time, I like to taste the reds first. This gives me a clearer perception of the acidity in the reds before moving on to the whites. One of the reasons we all taste at the end of the day is that we can all taste the wines together, at the same time. We share our perceptions and ideas, good or bad, and sometimes we all agree, and sometimes we don’t. When we tasted the 2014 Raousset Blanc, it was unanimous; we all loved it! And what’s not to love? It’s pure, unadulterated Chardonnay. No oak, no butter. Pure Chardonnay fruit. A customer walked in today as I began this writing assignment, and she inquired if it had a significant citrusy profile. Though there is a tiny hint of citrus, it has more of a fleshy fruit mouth feel. Anya hit the nail on the head when she described its fruit component to be more reminiscent of a white nectarine. It’s fresh and crisp, and those white fruit flavors pop along with the wine’s racy acidity. All in all, if one factors in the scarcity of such wine and its low price (especially by the case), it probably won’t be around long.

So there we all were in the tasting room, yet another winner on our hands, talking shop and talking about sports. It’s an exciting time of year. Our local basketball team has a chance to win their first title in 40 years. We’ve been lucky in the baseball world in recent years, the UEFA Champions’ League final was played today, and after a 37 year wait, horse racing has a new Triple Crown winner. We had the race streaming live here at TWH headquarters and several customers watched the race with us, leading me to exclaim, “You’ll always remember where you were when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown!” Sometimes, we’re more than just your neighborhood wine shop! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Beaujolais Blanc, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff

Pinot Noir From the Russian River Valley: 2014 Poco a Poco

Poco a Poco
The Poco a Poco 2014 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is another one of those strong values made by a talented winemaker offering an entry-level tier. I look out for these types of scenarios because, if the stars all perfectly align, fabulous juice can be purchased for a fraction of what the competition might charge for a comparable wine. The 2014 Poco a Poco Pinot Noir is delightful because of its vibrant, cheery red cherry fruit delivered in a charming light/medium-bodied weight package. This is not an over-the-top Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, but a restrained, fruity and pure example of one.

Poco a Poco is brought to you by Luke Bass and his wife, Elena. Luke Bass is the winemaker at Porter Bass. At the north-western edge of the Russian River Valley lies the vineyards of Porter Bass which are biodynamically farmed. The fruit from this small estate is in very high demand, and they only it sell to a select few. The tiny production at Porter Bass forced them to seek other vineyard sources to make wine under their Poco a Poco label. For the 2014 Pinot Noir, Luke uses fruit from the Forchini family’s vineyard just south of the town of Healdsburg and a half mile east of the Russian River. The Pinot Noir grown here is between 10-30 years of age and is organically farmed. The success of the Poco a Poco Pinot Noir is evident in that little by little production has increased. This is certainly a good thing because TWH has been cut short on more than one vintage. The 2014 has just been released, so I anticipate stocking it over the next couple months.

The 2014 Poco a Poco Pinot Noir is ideally suited for warmer days and evenings with its integrated, delicate tannins. If you decide to pop open a bottle and temps outside are pushing 90 degrees, its important to make sure the wine isn’t at room temperature. Go ahead and stick the bottle in the fridge for a few minutes in order to replicate optimal cool cellar temperatures. By doing so, you’ll get brighter and livelier flavors in the glass.

As wine trends go, I am over-joyed by the uptick in frequency of customers asking specifically for lighter reds. It warms this wine merchant’s heart to see wine drinkers embrace a wider diversity of wine styles. As we head into the summer months, it is not as if we all stop drinking red wine and start drinking white and rosé exclusively. And yet, how often, even with a rich piece of grilled meat, does a heavy tannic red fall flat (or hot) when outside temperatures spike? Avoid this mishap by selecting a softer tannin red, one that does not sacrifice flavor and complexity for heft like the 2014 Poco a Poco Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I know I’ll be looking forward to bringing along a bottle to share with family and friends at one of this summer’s out-on-the-deck beneath the Redwoods dinner gatherings. – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

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