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.
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
It always happens. During our Anniversary Sale, the distractions are everywhere. Case in point; one of our regular customers who always participates in the Anniversary Sale popped in for a few special bottles today, and after he gave me his parameters, I quickly whittled down my mental list to a trio of contenders. He wanted something red and I had one red Bordeaux, one red Rhône, and a red Burgundy all set to recommend. Then I physically walked over to our Burgundy section. Oh, if price signs could talk …. Actually they were talking to me. All of them. But there was one in particular. I immediately replaced the 3 bottles in my head with the one in my hand. “You want something nice. A red wine from France. Something that can be laid down and drink well in 5 years’ time. Something special, but less than $75, right? This is it right here.” That is what I said to him. What was the bottle? The 2012 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières from Stephane Magnien.
A little background on this. When I was a budding wine taster/collector, I worked for a guy who was less than pleasant to work for. In true “there’s an exception for every rule” fashion, this dude must have gone into a fine wine shop and asked a staffer to recommend two very nice bottles of red wine. He gave those two bottles to me during the holidays as a thank you. One was a Corison Cabernet and the other was a Clos Saint Denis from Domaine Dujac. At the time, I knew nothing about either one, and I’m sure that my benefactor didn’t either. I graciously accepted the gifts, and years later, when I opened the Dujac, I was overwhelmed. That was my introduction to Burgundy. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to have tasted something more affordable as a first Burgundy experience, but what can you do? That was all I knew about Burgundy at the time, and that led me to taste more wines from Morey-Saint-Denis and its environs. So let’s say that the village is a particular favorite for me.
A few years ago, when I found out that David had signed up Stephane Magnien to TWH stable, I was thrilled to see some Morey-Saint-Denis (and Clos Saint Denis!) in our bins. We don’t get to taste fancy wines like those often, but when we do, the occasions are memorable. Of his Premier Cru wines, I usually favor Stephane’s Les Faconnières. All I can say is that I like the other wines as well, but there’s an expression there that just fits with my palate and olfactory senses. Having tasted several 2012 red Burgundies over the past couple of years has solidified my opinion that it is a vintage to have in my cellar. In fact, a while back while researching the vintage for A Taste Of Burgundy write-up, I stumbled upon a note from Clive Coates, MW, “But in the end – quality-wise – 2012 has turned out, not merely ‘all right’, but really very good indeed, if not perhaps even very fine. I have already heard the wines refered to as ‘classic’. There are some who regard the potential of 2012 reds as superior to anything recent, and that includes 2010, 2009, 2005 and other years.” I don’t know about you, but if Clive Coates says something like that, I take note. A serious note.
As one can see, Les Faconnières lies just below the Grand Cru vineyards in Morey-Saint-Denis. As a matter of fact, you can draw an equilateral triangle whose three points would be in Clos-Saint-Denis,Clos de la Roche, and Les Faconnières. That’s some special sod, indeed. The wine is already showing its potential, but after another 5 years of cellar time, I anticipate it will be entering its optimal drinking plateau and staying there for many years. Its aromas express dark red berries, herbs, a healthy dose of earthy mineral and tar, and a kiss of vanilla bean. The palate is sturdy, yet balanced. The fruit is part of the package, which at this time is coiled, needing either aeration or a few more years of cellaring, but there’s no question that the fruit is just waiting for the structure to back off one small step for it to shine. The mouth feel is medium bodied with fine tannins, and the finish is balanced and all in line. The wines from Morey-Saint-Denis can be very expressive, and this young Morey has the ingredients to become a great wine some day in the not too distant future. Did I say it can be enjoyed now? Sure, but I highly recommend decanting for 90 minutes.
I’m hoping that you all are enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend! It has been a fun one for me. Of course I continued my Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks and enjoying some fine Sauternes … or in this case, Barsac. ‘Cause that’s how I roll. You can probably guess the chateau. But with two months of special days ahead, there will be occasions for fine red wine as well. I see an opportunity to slip a 2012 Morey-Saint-Denis Les Faconnières from Stephane Magnien! – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Thanksgiving, our 39th Anniversary Sale, Bordeaux, Barsac, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com
It started out as a concept brought to light while fighting off a bout of insomnia, but after five years, it seems to have stuck. A Top Ten Wines of the Year list. We taste so, so many wines each year – whether in the form of reps pouring samples on site, to airfreighted samples that arrive from overseas, the occasional trade tasting, here in SF, LA, Chicago, or New York, or the litany of wines that come at us on tasting trips overseas. Add them up, and we’re talking about thousands of wines made by hundreds of producers! Keeping that in mind, just making the selections as to which wines to stock is a fairly severe exercise which endorses a paltry few bottles compared to all that we taste. Now, take those wines and choose our ten favorites; that is a tough assignment! For a look at our previous lists, here are links to our Top Ten Wine lists from 2013,
There are no rules. They don’t need to cost an arm and a leg. They don’t need some sort of numerical justification from someone who prefers Pepsi over Coca-Cola. They could be surprise packages from unusual locales, well established producers with an exceptional vintage, terrific expressions of terroir, or the ineffable. Favorites are favorites. Some of the wines have sold out, but deserve to be listed due to their merits. Not in any particular order, The Wine House San Francisco’s Top Ten Wines of 2014:
NV Pascal Doquet
Grand Cru Le Mesnil Sur Oger Champagne
Starting things off the same way we recently kick-started our annual Post-Holiday Party. With Grower Champagne. Grand Cru, no less. Laure and Pascal Doquet own and run this 8.66 hectare estate which includes plantings in some of the finest Grand and Premier Cru vineyards in the Côte de Blancs. Pascal’s dedication to quality is relentless. Pascal took the reins of the family’s domaine in 1995, and since 2004, he and Laure are the sole proprietors. Pulling the curtain aside, Pascal shares a great deal of information about his wines on their back labels, such as disgorgement date and contents. For our current stock of Non-Vintage Grand Cru Le Mesnil, it is made up of the following vintages: 2003 (40%), 2002 (40%), and 2001 (20%). We taste a lot of Champagne during the year, and we chose to serve this one at our party! Life’s too short not to enjoy fine Grower Champagne like Doquet’s.
2012 Domaine Raimbault Sancerre “Apud Sariacum”
The phantom. Depending on your timing, you may have seen it on our sales floor, or maybe not. You see, the “Apud Sariacum” Sancerre has been the darling of a high-profile, wine-centric restaurant in the Los Angeles area for a few years. Funny thing is, this resto is known for switching out its wine list often, yet the “Apud” resided there for FOUR VINTAGES! Yep, it’s that people-pleasing. It was a difficult task making sure that there was enough to keep them pouring it continuously, many times resulting in our pulling it from the sales floor. All good things must come to an end, and after a very long ride, the restaurant’s policy of mixing it up resulted in the “Apud’s” replacement. That’s good news for the rest of us! A phantom no more. This bright, refreshing Sancerre is full of life with its zesty citrus aromas framed in stony minerality. Easy to like, you can pour it as an aperitif, or pair it with those dishes that beg for a zippy Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
Throughout the course of each calendar year, we receive over a handful of containers packed with wines from France and Italy. The arrival of each one is highly anticipated as there are always ‘little secrets’ on board. I say ‘little secrets’ because that’s what it’s like when we taste something new overseas, and return home only to wait for what sometimes feels like a long, long time before we can put it in your hands. We waited patiently for this one to arrive, but once it did, patience flew out the window. David continues to find cool new wines from producers familiar to us and beyond. He hit paydirt with this little red from Macon. Wait. Red wine from Macon?? Yes, indeed. Made from Gamay Noir, we all got a big kick out of Sainte Barbe’s “Terres Rouges”, and if you like Old World charm and sour cherry, wine-geeky Gamay, you will too.
2012 Orgo Saperavi
If you’d have asked any of us last year if there would be a wine from the Republic of Georgia in our annual top ten, we may have reacted inquisitively, as in “really?” As you probably already know, we look all over the world for wines to stock here in our shop. And when we say all over, we mean ALL OVER! The Orgo Saperavi took us by storm with its juxtaposition of softness and solid structure. Kind of reminds us of the “fist in a velvet glove” analogy. It comes with a great story too. I love it when a wine gets us talking about history, clay kveri, and Teinturier grapes!
2011 Domaine Stephane Magnien Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru
As David continues to travel to Burgundy (and beyond!) in search of new wines and producers, we are collectively excited at the prospect of welcoming them to our shelves! If you think about it, it takes a lot of work. On these road trips, one tastes a lot of wine. Those outside the wine business make light of this with quips like, “tough job,” “it must be nice,” and “somebody’s got to do it.” Let’s just say that finding wines to bring back home takes a lot of time and patience. One thing that David does regarding new producers is he tastes several vintages before pulling the trigger. He tasted young Stephane Magnien’s wines again and again, and after a few years, bam! Here they are. The entire line is impressive, as Stephane’s holdings include some fancy locales! But we were all quite taken by the 2011 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru “Aux Petites Noix.” One thing that is never looked for, yet always mentioned in my tasting notes when present is “X-tra D,” or extra dimension. This one has it.
2012 Occidental Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
And from right here in our own backyard, from the Sonoma Coast, we were introduced to a new wine made by some old friends. The celebrated vintner Steve Kistler and business partner Mark Bixler teamed up once again to produce an amazing Pinot Noir under the Occidental label. There isn’t a whole lot of production, so when we saw the chance to get our hands on a teeny-tiny allocation, we jumped at it. You should have been in the tasting room when we all tasted the sample, it was poured into one glass, each of us taking tiny sips and emerging with wide eyes and happy disbelief! We weren’t the only ones who jumped at the chance. The Occidental Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir disappeared from our shelves literally hours after they were placed there!
2012 Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers Saumur Rouge
This one was an example of a wine coming to us! Though there are wine reps here pouring wines multiple times per week for Anya, it is a rare occasion when a rep pours for Anya, Chris, Tom, and myself collectively. This meeting was set up by David, who knew of the 7 or 8 samples to be poured, and strongly advised us to pay close attention to the 2012 Saumur Rouge from Hauts de Sanziers. In retrospect, he didn’t need to mention it. However, mentioning it did create an expectation level that was not only met, but surpassed! It’s a light-styled herbaceous Cabernet Franc from Saumur that has a Burgundian feel, and as Anya once said, “It’s light, but without being thin.” More wine-geek wine here. Loire Valley Cabernet Franc is not for everybody, but if you like the woodsy herbal quality one finds in them, this one’s for you too.
2012 Domaine Michel-Andreotti Montagny 1er Cru
We were already on board with Michel-Andreotti courtesy of their “Les Guignottes” bottling which landed them in our Top Ten list in their rookie year! Back in early 2014, before the move, we noticed a slightly different label coming from a box of their Montagny. Upon further investigation, we discovered that they make a Premier Cru wine called “Les Coères.”It swept us off our feet! Plenty of fresh, fleshy white fruit, a pleasant caress on the palate, sturdy structure, and a zippy, complex finish. Factor in the price, and it’s no wonder that it’s all gone.
2011 Roc de Cambes, Côtes de Bourg
For red Bordeaux, 2011 was not like 2010 nor 2009, but just as each vintage is its own, there are almost always some successful efforts. 2011 was like that. A sensational vintage for the dry whites and gold wines, things were a little challenging for those who made Claret. Having tasted the wines out of barrel in the spring of 2012 and again from bottle in 2014, there were several wines that I would like in my cellar. None more than François Mitjavile’s Roc de Cambes. I vividly recall tasting this wine from barrel in François’ cellar in 2012. Interesting note, François chose to present the Roc de Cambes sample AFTER his Tertre Roteboeuf sample … something he hasn’t done for me before nor since. He knew the potential of this wine back then. When I tasted it out of bottle last spring, it stole the show. Considering that it’s roughly 1/3 the price of Tertre Roteboeuf, it’s always a great opportunity to taste one of Bordeaux’s most charismatic winemaker’s wines without paying full fare. The 2009 and 2010 Roc de Cambes were both stellar, the former coming in a close 2nd to the latter in a local wine society’s annual taste-off in 2014.The 2011 Roc de Cambes will give both a run for their money!
2011 Château Coutet, Barsac
Since April of 2012,I had a feeling that we would get here. It is fairly well documented that I am a fan of Château Coutet. Their terroir and style suit my palate to a T. They are not alone. There are several Bordeaux chateaux that I count as favorites in most vintages. Any kind of pre-conceived notion of liking something before I taste it goes right out the proverbial window once the time comes to actually taste. I’ve been disappointed plenty of times when a château that I fancy comes up short in a particular vintage, and Coutet is not immune to that. But when I tasted the 2011 Coutet out of barrel, sparks flew. All of the components I look for in a barrel sample were right there! As mentioned above, 2011 was a sensational vintage for white and gold Bordeaux, and from that day up until I tasted it out of bottle in January 2014, all I could say about it was, “best Coutet barrel sample I’ve ever tasted.” The 2011 Coutet was the hit of the UGC tasting for me, but I was nowhere near being alone on this. Glowing reviews and huge scores from wine critics followed, topped by The Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth, who gushed forth with a 97 point review. In his review, Molesworth said, “This just makes you feel special when you drink it.” We concur. A week or so after the UGC tasting, when we all were here, we popped a bottle of 2011 Château Coutet, and it was a smash hit with all of us, leading Anya to pen this post. One for the cellar, I hope to enjoy this wine for many years to come!
So there we are, already well into 2015! The UGC de Bordeaux passed through town pouring the 2012’s from bottle back at the end of January. 2012 is not a “vintage of the century,” but a solid one with plenty of wines to like. There are containers on the water. David will be headed to France next month, and I will follow shortly thereafter. All of that means we are hard at work, not only looking for our Top Ten of 2015, but for a fine stable of solid wines that we can present for your enjoyment. Onwards and upwards!! – Peter Zavialoff
A great way to learn about Burgundy and its wines, and (even better) the perfect way to get a discount on two high quality bottles. Sign up now!
Click here to receive the Taste of Burgundy Sampler automatically every other month.
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 specify “store pickup” or “ship it” 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.
2011 Beaune Premier Cru Pertuisots Domaine Pernot Belicard According to Decanter magazine contributor, Jeannie Cho Lee MW, the 2011 white Burgundy wines, “Have wonderful purity, expressiveness and aromatic appeal. Most of the wines have found balance in their slimness and have masses of drinking appeal.” Much like the 2007 vintage, the wines are sleek, yet already revealing their charm. Philippe Pernot, grandson of Puligny-Montrachet’s Paul Pernot, runs the show here tending to vineyards acquired through his marriage to the daughter of vineyard owners in Puligny and Meursault. It must run in the family, as Philippe’s wines are every bit as terroir driven as those of his famous grandfather. The Premier Cru Pertuisots vineyard sits on the slope just southwest of Burgundy’s big city, Beaune, nearby the famous Clos des Mouches. Philippe’s 2011 Pertuisots is a wine of distinction, showing off plenty of fruit, yes, but at its core is a profound minerality. Stony and chalky, one could build the argument that this resembles a fine Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne. Drink now-2021.
2011 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières Domaine Stephane Magnien The domaine dates back to the late 19th century, and youthful Stephane Magnien represents the fourth generation at the helm of this small production estate, a role he assumed in 2008. Morey-Saint-Denis is a small village in the Côtes de Nuits. Not very much wine is made here and demand snaps up supply with regularity. 2011 was another successful red Burgundy vintage, causing Clive Coates MW to comment, “Nature is smiling on the Burgundy lover.” He may appear rather youthful, but Stephane’s wines are old-school in charm. Finesse and purity are the name of the game chez Magnien, his wines are loaded with character and complexity. Just a stone’s throw from the pedigreed Grand Cru, Clos de la Roche, the 2011 Les Faconnières is layered with aromatic complexity. On the palate, it is medium in body, has plenty of nerve, and finishes elegant and long. Medium term cellaring is advised, drink from 2018-2028. Be forewarned, the last vintage of Les Faconnières offered in the TOB sold out in a flash. – Peter Zavialoff
Domaine Stephane Magnien was formally introduced to TWH customers with the 2010 vintage. Although Magnien’s ’09s hit our shelves, high demand for the vintage caused them to disappear well before we had the chance to properly introduce this small domaine to all of you. But now the ’11s are here and well, it’s time to give these wines the attention they deserve! The 2011 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Cuvee “Aux Petites Noix” (phew, that’s a mouth full!), is a sensational wine that captures both the specificity of its appellation and the charm of the vintage. The “Petites Noix” is a blend of two parcels, “Les Gruenchers” and “Clos Baulet”. The parcels are relatively close in proximity, share similar soil structures and are thought to express the Gevrey-Chambertin side of Morey Saint Denis. The wine has notable structure with plenty of fleshy fruit.
Domaine Stephane Magnien has only 4.5 hectares of vines which, even for Burgundy, is considered small. Even so, Stephane, who took over the domaine from his father in ’08, is the fourth generation vigneron to live and work at the family home and cellars that date back to the late 1700’s. Young Stephane embraces traditional winemaking methods and is guided by the principle of preserving the integrity of the wine. Translation: natural practices in the vineyards, manual harvest, not forcing extraction, aging in barrel but not much of it new. What stands out for me when I taste Stephane’s wines, is the perky, fresh elegant red berry fruit and its seamless structure. The charming nature of the ’11 vintage is evident in this “Petites Noix” and so is the ripe, but not over-ripe, fruit. 2011 is thought to be an early drinking vintage. This means you can open this bottle now or over the next few years (decanting it a bit wouldn’t hurt either) without guilt. Burgundy can be a minefield when trying to determine optimal drinking windows, true, however the 2011 Morey Saint Denis “Petites Noix” from Stephane Magnien is showing its stuff now, so go ahead and imbibe!
Yields for ’10, ’11 and ’12 in Burgundy were all down. I read somewhere that if you combined the totals for all three vintages against normal years, an entire harvest was lost! Thirst for Burgundy remains high and the big, collectable names are allocated in dribs and drabs. There is good news and that is this, TWH makes every effort to continue to discover new energetic domaines from Burgundy that offer quality, value and pleasure – Domaine Stephane Magnien is such a producer. The 2011 “Petites Noix” is a direct import, therefore it will discount 15% when purchased by the case or as part of one. I’d like to think I can buy full cases of Burgundy to have on hand and if I did, I certainly would buy the 2011 “Petites Noix”. If buying a bottle or two is more your style, include it with some of our every-day wine gems to take advantage of the 15% savings.
At home, the school year is wrapping up and summer activities are being lined up. Personally, I am a great advocate for unstructured, unplanned stretches of time, preferably spent outside somewhere, even the backyard. With summer hours approaching, a midweek meal might include a fancier bottle of red (I am crossing my fingers!) like the 2011 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Cuvee “Aux Petites Noix”. I can visualize a medium-rare leg of lamb with a garden-grown vegetable tian accompanied by the juicy red cherry fruit, sweet tannins and elegant finish of the 2011 “Petites Noix”. Now that sounds like a summer vacation to me! Anya Balistreri
After the striking, curvaceous 2009’s, now we have 2010, which to many observers are more classical, certainly more structured, and which have been ordained as great, greater even than 2009, by some critics. What fun it will be in 10 or 20 years to compare! Certainly we haven’t had such a super pair of back-to-back vintages in many years, and it’s rather nice that they’re complementary in style. The only downside to 2010 is the quantity. Yields were down significantly from ’09, so there’s less to go around than usual. I (DN) have been tasting at Domaine Magnien over the last several years and am extremely pleased to now be able to offer these stunning wines to you.
These are red Burgundies of precision and purity. They’re NOT oaky, alcoholic, fruit bombs; they don’t overpower you in any way. They just seduce you with their dazzling beauty until you’re a quivering mess, incapable of rational thought, wanting only another taste, and then you just collapse in a blithering heap. Oh, sorry, I got sidetracked there.
Stephane Magnien works his vineyards in the traditional manner (though he is not certified organic), and he is not a fan of lots of new oak. Just a very small percentage of new barrels is all the seasoning he requires. How refreshing! The domaine dates back to 1897, and Stephane, now the fourth generation at the helm, has been working with his father Jean-Paul since 2002, and took over the reins with the 2008 vintage. Stephane has received plaudits from the French press, and just recently was the recipient of a very complimentary review from Allen Meadows in Burghound.
It’s such a treat to be able to offer wines from Morey St. Denis and Chambolle-Musigny, two tiny villages with only a small amount of wine to be had. You will have a great time working your way through these wines. They are absolutely delicious the moment they’re opened, and they continue to benefit from air; in fact when we opened several bottles the other day, just after their refrigerated voyage, all were even better on day two. The two villages wines have gorgeous character and represent tremendous value for the money. The Morey “Aux petites Noix,” a blend of two 1er Cru vineyards, Les Greunchers and Clos Baulet, is a lovely, deeply scented pinot, just so elegant and long. Les Faconnières (from a parcel just a stone’s throw from the Grand Cru Clos de la Roche) and Mont Luisants show the breed that you expect from top 1er Cru vineyards.
We are thrilled to be able to offer these gorgeous wines to you, and it is especially fortuitous to be able to debut them in such a fine vintage. Oh, and I was able to pry away a few cases of Stephane’s 2009 Morey 1er Cru Faconnières. Taste the ’09 next to the ’10, and enjoy the pleasure of both superb vintages. Feel free to ask the staff for their own personal recommendations, but don’t be surprised to hear “We love them all!” – David Netzer