Category Archives: Chardonnay

A Taste Of Burgundy – April 2017


A Taste Of Burgundy


TOB-BANNER Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

 

2014 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Le Champlot
Domaine Sylvain Langoureau

Saint-Aubin sits along the hillsides above and around the corner from the Côte de Beaune’s Grand Cru vineyards. Premier Cru Le Champlot enjoys full-on western exposure, situated just above the village of Gamay in the appellation’s rolling hills. Winemaker Sylvain Langoureau continues to farm his 9 hectares organically, and for his 2014’s, Langoureau praises the “remarkably clean fruit” which was harvested in mid-September. He also went on to say, “I really like the style of the ’14s because while everyone always says that a given vintage will be good young and old I really do believe that 2014 gave us wines that will in fact fulfill those promises!” We couldn’t agree more; 2014 is clearly one of the region’s exceptional vintages. In an effort to express the hallmarks of the terroir and vintage, Langoureau kept bâtonnage to a minimum and limited the amount of new barrel used to 20%. What he produced is a clean Le Champlot with focused structure, good tension, and expression. It’s good to drink now through 2029.

2013 Pommard 1er Cru Les Chanlins
Domaine Parent

Pommard has enjoyed a long history of notoriety for producing classic wines which are deep in color, profoundly aromatic, structured, and reliable. The village sits between Beaune in the north and Volnay to the south. Premier Cru Les Chanlins lies on the upslope just south of the famous Les Rugiens vineyard, south of the village. For Anne Parent to be energetic and upbeat while discussing her 2013 vintage would mean that considering the challenges (cool, wet spring, trouble during flowering, and a hailstorm in July), she was happy with the overall quality of her bottled wines. Production was less than 50% of average, and there was a bit of sorting which needed to be done. Anne quickly recognized that the fruit was in a delicate state, which caused her to vinify her wines softly and to use less than half the new barrel she would from an average vintage. She went on to say, “I absolutely love the fresh fruit as the flavors are racy and refreshing.” 100% organically farmed, this will be at its best from 2019-2030. – Peter Zavialoff

Leave a comment

Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy club in San Francisco, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir, Pommard, Saint Aubin, Wine Clubs/Samplers

Cellar Aged Chardonnay From Ici/La-Bas

When you discover five cases of a 2008 Chardonnay made by arguably one of California’s most respected winemakers, who do you call? The Wine House! Mel Knox along with winemaker Jim Clendenen partner to make wines under the Ici/La-Bas label. Mel called a week ago and said he had some wine he wanted to show us. Any opportunity to taste with Mel Knox is a welcome one – I will always make time for him. Mel has an encyclopedic knowledge of California’s wine history and of wine in general. He began his career in retail, then started his own company selling French barrels nearly 40 years ago. He knows the industry intimately both here and abroad and has been an integral player in the advancement of California’s wine industry.

And so, Mel came by the store to pour us wine from Ici/La-Bas and from another project he is involved with. I wouldn’t characterize Mel as a typical sales person as he is truly candid and honest in assessing his own wines. A masterful storyteller, his visits are never a splash and dash. The first wine he poured was the Ici/La-Bas 2008 Elke Vineyard Chardonnay from Anderson Valley. Inventory management being what it is, Mel “found” a few cases of it in his warehouse. I wouldn’t say I was skeptical, I know how well Jim Clendenen’s wines age, I just wasn’t expecting to be so blown away by it. It was youthful, fresh, delicious and complex. The flavors on the palate unfurled with each taste, noting apple, pear, creamy vanilla, flint and mineral and a whole lot more. It is a truly Burgundian-styled California Chardonnay.

I asked Mel if he would email a few notes on the winemaking to me. The Chardonnay was barrel fermented in 228 liter Francois Freres barrels. A barrel expert, he explained that, “The barrels were made from wood from the Bertranges forest, air dried three years. Bertranges gives wine a bit more tannic structure, perhaps bad for short-range consumption of the wine but great for long term aging. The longer seasoning of the wood eliminates the harsh tannins and provides a more subtle flavor. We used about 35% new barrels.” The wine was left on its lees for an extended period, then bottled in the Spring of 2010. Now with almost seven years of bottle age, the wine is in its prime! How often do you get the benefit of a cellared wine for such a reasonable price? TWH is offering the remaining bit of 2008 Chardonnay for $29.98 a bottle!


I spent a portion of the morning reading online articles on Jim Clendenen. My intention was to use some provocative quote of his to highlight Jim’s reputation for being a non-conformist in the wine industry. If you’d like to read a couple quick articles on Jim, please click here, here or here. In my early days at TWH, Jim often came by with new releases. David was an early admirer of Au Bon Climat wines. I was also fortunate to have been a guest at Jim’s annual luncheon at his friend, Michael Wild’s restaurant, Bay Wolf, a couple of times. A tasting of new releases from Au Bon Climat would precede a lunch that always included cellared bottles – that is how I discovered how well his wines aged. Jim lives up to his reputation and I find him inspirational. I always left those luncheons glad to be a part of the wine business.

When Mel left the store, David and I remained in the tasting room discussing the 2008 Chardonnay. David, like myself, was impressed with the wine. He said that TWH might not be known as a California Chardonnay house, but when a wine is this good, we can’t pass it up. With that, I placed my order. Revel in this well-cellared wine. It is in its prime, will likely age further, but is really one to enjoy right now – be in the moment! It is a testament to the skill of the winemaker. It’s a show piece.

I’ll be buying some bottles to take home. I plan to stump industry friends with it, share with my girlfriends who are exclusively Chardonnay drinkers, and for when I am hankering for the style of California Chardonnay I enjoy most. The Ici/La-Bas 2008 Chardonnay Elke Vineyard is not to be missed!
– Anya Balistreri

Leave a comment

Filed under Anderson Valley, Anya Balistreri, Chardonnay, fish-fry wine

A Taste Of Burgundy – February 2017


A Taste Of Burgundy

TOB-BANNER Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

 

2014 Viré-Clessé Thurissey – Domaine Sainte Barbe

Jean-Marie Chaland founded Domaine Sainte Barbe in 1999. He farms 8 hectares in and around Viré-Clessé organically, achieving certification in 2006. He has old vines, as 75% of his holdings are over 50 years old. Chaland’s vines in the lieu dit Thurissey are over 90! Thurissey is a tiny vineyard, consisting of half a hectare facing due south. Jean-Marie makes a mere 200 cases of his showpiece wine, and no new oak is used. The vineyard has a reputation for producing wines that are rich in minerality, and we imagine the roots of Chaland’s old vines are deep into the clay and limestone subsoil. There’s no doubt that 2014 was an exceptional vintage for white Burgundy, and the 2014 Viré-Clessé Thurissey from Domaine Sainte Barbe is one special wine. Its aromas are of citrus blossoms, snappy apples, and stony minerals. The palate is rich and bright with a hint of a saline/mineral quality, and the wine intensifies at the mid-palate. It’s tightly coiled and ready to spring. Drink this from 2020-2030.

2010 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Petites Noix – Domaine Stéphane Magnien

Stéphane Magnien is now the fourth generation winemaker at this domaine in Morey-Saint-Denis which dates back to 1897. He took the reins from his father, Jean-Paul in 2008, and farms 4.5 hectares in the Côte de Nuits. Though his holdings may appear small, they include some fancy locales. Stéphane’s Aux Petites Noix is actually a blend of his holdings in Premier Crus Les Greunchers and Clos Baulet, two tiny vineyards just east of the village. One doesn’t need to do much research to understand that 2010 was an exceptional vintage for red Burgundy, particularly in the Côte de Nuits. In general terms, the wines are teeming with expression and are structured sufficiently for a long life in the cellar. Magnien’s 2010 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Petites Noix is in a beautiful place at the moment, showing aromas of briary red berry fruit, earthy mineral, and forest floor. It’s medium in body with great balance and expression. It’s open for business and can be enjoyed from today through the 2020’s. – Peter Zavialoff

Leave a comment

Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy club in San Francisco, Chardonnay, French Wine, Morey-Saint-Denis, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir, Stephane Magnien, Viré-Clessé

A Taste Of Burgundy – December 2016


A Taste Of Burgundy


TOB-BANNER Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

 

2014 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur Maison Dampt

As we have mentioned before, The 2014 vintage for white Burgundy was stellar. The growing season was cool and, at times, wet. This was beneficial as the vines produced grapes with lively acidity. Warm weather took over in September, ripening the fruit leading up to the harvest. Up in Chablis, the Dampt family has enjoyed a solid reputation for producing wines of serious quality for very fair prices. Or as Allen Meadows of Burghound puts it, “They are screaming bargains.” Maison Dampt was started in 2008 by Daniel Dampt’s two sons, Sébastien and Vincent. Together with their father, they purchase grape must from three Grand Cru vineyards and bottle them using the Maison Dampt label. Aging these Grand Crus in older oak barrel gives the wines added dimension and texture. This 2014 Grand Cru Valmur is full of life. It’s big, dense, and powerful, with aromas of minerals and citrus. This willl need some time in the cellar, and should be best from 2020 – 2030.

2014 Pommard 1er Cru Les Charmots Domaine Gabriel Billard

Gabriel Billard was a 6th generation winemaker in Burgundy. He passed his domaine down to his two daughters, Laurence Jobard and Mireille Desmonet in 1989. You may recognize Laurence’s name as she had been head enologist at Domaine Joseph Drouhin for some 30 years. Laurence believes that great wine is made mostly in the vineyard, that good grapes from a good place will yield world-class wine with minimal intervention. The sisters now entrust Laurence’s daughter, Claudie Jobard to make their wine, and the family’s winemaking tradition continues. Their parcel in Les Charmots was planted in 1929 on the steep hillside. This 2014 Pommard is powerful and concentrated with complex aromas of wild berries, forest floor, earthy minerals, and a hint of spice. Again, the 2014 vintage for red Burgundy was a very good one with plenty of sunshine leading up to the harvest. Decant this wine should you open it before 2019, and it should drink well for at least a decade thereafter. – Peter Zavialoff

Leave a comment

Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy club in San Francisco, Chablis, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir, Pommard

White Burgundy Value – 2014 Rully La Folie From Claudie Jobard


Two weeks ago, the dust had just settled after one of Jeanne-Marie De Champs’ bi-annual visits to TWH. As I wrote at that time, the protocol had changed … over 20 bottles of Burgundy were opened, and when the dregs of these sample bottles made their way back to us, we were able to taste through a wide spectrum of quality Burgundy much like a La Paulée tasting. The result is that the experience is fresh in our collective minds, so if you have any questions about any of our new Burgundy wines, we all have some recent experience with them. Which gets me around to my topic of the week: crab season.


On my day off this past week, I wandered in to one of my favorite lunch spots only to bump into a former colleague from my days in the finance biz. I hadn’t seen him in a decade, so we began to catch up on things a bit. It was the usual small talk. He’s been living in New York for the past 8 years and he was visiting because his daughter is going to school out this way. Since he wasn’t in California last fall, he didn’t know about demoic acid and our lack of a crab season. So I was surprised to hear any optimism associated with the question, “How long until crab season?” Really? My eyes got big. A mutual friend who was seated between us matter-of-factly nodded his head and said, “I’m hearing situation back to normal, the season should start in mid-November.” Understanding his not being an authority on the subject, I made a mental note to get some verification. I asked Anya and Christian about it earlier this morning, and they seemed to echo his sentiments. Then, in walked one of our favorite customers whom we know is a crab enthusiast. “If anyone knows the answer, HE certainly does,” I thought to myself. So I asked him. He answered. Crab season here in northern California will begin November 5, with the commercial season beginning two weeks later. Really? Yes.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where I’m going here. I can make a case for pairing a lot of different white wines with crab. The things to look for are expression, balance, complexity, and acidity. If your white wine has these components, your crab experience will be enhanced. With all of the recent Burgundy tasting with Jeanne-Marie and my colleagues, I remember one particular facet which occurred after everyone went home for the day and Chris and I were left with some 12-15 open bottles of Burgundy. They were all close to being empty, but there was still enough in each of them to be able to get a decent sized taste. With Jeanne-Marie and the others gone, and punk rock radio blasting in our warehouse, we took a less studious approach to our tasting. I’m a firm believer in the concept that discovery often occurs when not searching. I wasn’t looking for it, but there it was. Delicious white Burgundy from an unassuming appellation; relatively inexpensive, but what sent me over the top was that I prefered it to the next wine I tasted, which was a Meursault. The Meursault was fine, don’t get me wrong, but the previous wine at half the price was the better wine; to me anyway. What was it? The 2014 Rully La Folie from Claudie Jobard.


We’ve already touched upon how good the 2014 vintage was for white Burgundy. In a word, it was great. We’ve also already mentioned Claudie Jobard and her winemaking prowess over the past few years. Having a mother as famous as Laurence Jobard must have put a little pressure on Claudie as she began making wine. She has already landed a wine in our annual Top Ten twice! Did I say that I liked her 2014 Rully blanc better than a Meursault? Yes, I did. What does a wine like this cost? $27.99. With case discount? $23.79. Crab season here I come!Peter Zavialoff

Decanter Magazine’s Stephen Brook’s note from January 2016: “Firm nutty nose, toasty and assertive. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, with spiciness and fine acidity, a gutsy Rully, with swagger, pungent and long.”

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about crab season, Burgundy, Bordeaux, or The Special One’s return to Stamford Bridge tomorrow: peter@wineSF.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Chardonnay, Cote Chalonnaise, Cote Chalonnaise wine, Peter Zavialoff, Rully

A Taste Of Burgundy – October 2016

 

TOB-BANNER Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

“pulignysign

 

2014 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Chateâu, Château de la Maltroye

The 2014 vintage for Burgundy’s white wines is already receiving praise for perhaps being the finest white vintage since 2008 (If not better!). The ingredients were all there; a mild winter and the right amount of rainfall in early March got things going. The remainder of spring stayed dry. A cool, damp summer gave the fruit healthy acidity levels, an Indian summer finished things off, balancing the acidity with fine ripeness. Former aeronautical engineer-turned-winemaker, Jean-Pierre Cornut has already enjoyed a fine reputation over the past decade, but it was Burghound’s Allen Meadows who had this to say after tasting his bottled 2014’s, “I would observe that Cornut continues to push his wine quality even higher, and these 2014’s are definitely worthy of your attention.” We agree wholeheartedly. This signature Clos du Château blanc has fine aromas of citrus and stone fruit, mineral, and spice. The palate feel is bright, with layers of balancing fruit and a clean finish. Give this a little time to let it shine: Drink from 2018-2028.

2014 Marsannay Les Champs Salomon, Domaine Bart

According to Clive Coates MW, in September 2014, “The sun has shone almost without exception throughout the month.” This was especially important for the Pinot Noir that had endured the cool summer. When the month began, the fruit needed to ripen and as Coates puts it, “It is sunshine rather than heat which ripens fruit.” He went on to say, “We have not had such splendid harvest weather for many years. This will ensure high quality across the board.” Pierre Bart feels that his 2014’s are ripe and structured, with a tender, round texture suggesting they will be approachable young. There’s plenty to like about the 2014 Bart Marsannay Les Champs Salomon. The aromas are fresh and complex: dark berry fruit, herbs, minerals, and allspice. On the palate, the wine is silky with good mineral definition framing the complex, medium-bodied fruit. The finish is a well balanced display of fruit, mineral and spice, with the fresh acidity keeping it interesting. It’s enjoyable now, but little cellar time will benefit this wine. We suggest drinking from 2018-2029. – Peter Zavialoff

 

Leave a comment

Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy club in San Francisco, Chardonnay, Chassagne-Montrachet, Château de la Maltroye, Domaine Bart, Marsannay, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir

Grower Champagne For Summer: NV Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Le Mesnil Sur Oger Blanc de Blancs


Every once in a while, a customer will ask us how we resist temptation, working in a place surrounded by bottles of wine from all over the world. The answer is: we don’t resist it; we like wine, so we drink it. Okay, we spend far more time here in the shop than any customer would, so from a time spent in shop per bottle purchased ratio, it may appear that we do resist temptation … most of the time. While stocking our sales floor this morning, it wasn’t a surprise to find several empty bins that needed refilling. Apart from their emptiness, the other thing these bins had in common were the orange sale signs; there are a solid dozen or so wines around the shop that I would consider outright steals now that they have been marked down. On the short list of the finest of these wines is the NV Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Le Mesnil Sur Oger Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

For me, Champagne is one of those wines that I unfortunately don’t get to drink as often as I would like, but before the orchestra of the world’s smallest violins starts up, I will say that I do make a point to do so from time to time. For celebrations, it’s a given. To pair with fried chicken, it’s a must. To share a meal and some time with someone special, a toast with real Champagne makes it complete. Several years ago, I wrote about summer and Champagne, and heeding my own advice, I’m not going to let summer go by without continuing the tradition.

We’re all fans of quality Grower Champagnes in general, though we’re even bigger fans of the wines produced by Pascal and Laure Doquet! The wines have layers of complexity which have garnered the attention of esteemed critics and TWH customers who love Champagne. This non-vintage, 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Champagne has expressive aromas of citrus blossoms, apricots, pears, and a sleek, stony mineral nerve. On the palate, one gets a hint of brioche in addition to the fresh fruit, mineral, and a hint of hazelnut. The finish is high-toned and perfectly balanced. It’s a stunning wine at a very fair price. Champagne isn’t cheap, but the sale price on this one makes it one sweet deal!


We’re one week shy of Labor Day Weekend, which for some of us comes with an extra celebration. Another TWH tradition worth mentioning is that birthdays for staff members are celebrated with something sparkling at the end of the day. I think we now know what I’ll have a hankering for next week: The NV Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Sur Oger Blanc de Blancs Champagne. What temptation?Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments regarding sale wines, Champagne in summer, Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Champagne, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff, Sparkling wine