Category Archives: Montravel

A Pure Value Play – 2014 Chateau Calabre Montravel Blanc

When customers enter TWH for the very first time, they often inquire about what it is that we do and how we go about sourcing the wines to put in the bins that line our sales floor. While there are no general, party-line answers to those questions, there is one major criterion that is consistently present in our wines, whether they’re $10 per bottle or $200: Value. As in, “Is this worth it?” To a Pomerol collector with a much larger wine budget than mine, the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan is a great wine from a great producer that is every bit worth its $168.98 price tag. Oh how I would love to taste this wine 10 years from now. To a Dogpatch neighbor who walks their dog every afternoon and occasionally pops in for good, inexpensive dry white wine, we have several to choose from. One such white wine, not to be missed, would be the 2014 Montravel Blanc from Château Calabre.

Coming on the heels of Anya’s recent email about longtime relationships in the wine business, TWH is happy and proud of our ongoing association with Daniel Hecquet and his wines from Montravel and Bergerac. We’ve been stocking Daniel’s wines for 20 years! Why? Value. Are they worth it? Unquestionably. The Château Calabre Montravel Blanc is Hecquet’s entry-level white, made in the style of dry white Bordeaux blends. The blend for his 2014 is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. It’s fresh and clean, all tank fermented, and ready to go with its screwcap enclosure. The palate is zippy and lipsmacking with fine balance, and it clocks in at 13% alcohol. It’s a great little versatile white that delivers pleasure at a very reasonable price: $10.99 (or $9.34 by the case). As someone who has worked on sourcing the wines in our Dirty Dozen sampler for a decade can attest to, it is much more difficult to find good quality inexpensive white wine than red. I don’t know why that is, but it is true. If there were more producers out there like Daniel Hecquet, sourcing the Dirty Dozen each month would be a little easier.

It just makes good sense that a shopper doesn’t make a purchase unless they perceive there to be value in said purchase. Please keep in mind that before we offer these wines to you, we ourselves must buy them! That of course makes us wine shoppers also. When tasting and appraising a wine, we have an idea of what its price tag is going to be. That’s where the decision is made. Is it worth it? The 2014 Château Calabre Montravel Blanc sure is; the $9.34 by the case price makes it a no-brainer.Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under fish-fry wine, Montravel, Peter Zavialoff, Semillon

2014 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc

It starts around mid-October. “I hear that you have an annual sale in the fall, are you having one this year?” “Will there be any Bordeaux on sale this year?” “Are you going to send out an email when your sale starts?” – All questions we hear every year. Once the sale gets going, the time flies by. The relevant question we hear regularly is, “How long does your sale go on for?” In early November, the end of the year still seems far away. Well, today being Boxing Day and all, it’s not far away; not at all. Our 38th Anniversary Sale is coming to an end. So if you haven’t loaded up on case special Rosé, or picked out a few special bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy for posterity, time’s running out. The good news is: There are containers on the water and first David, and then I will be traveling to France in Q1 2016. David will be headed to Burgundy among other places, and I will be in Bordeaux to taste barrel samples of the exciting 2015 vintage. Of course, the focus of the annual trip is the new vintage and the many barrel samples, but I taste much more while there. This past April, I got my first taste of the 2014 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc and for the price, it’s tough to beat.

Daniel Hecquet is a friend of The Wine House SF. He has visited us numerous times over the years, and I’ve made a point of visiting him and his wife Catherine each spring. I might have mentioned him a time or two. He is very passionate about his vines and his wines. In fact, he once visited us and told a story about one of his wines that moved a member of our staff to tears upon hearing it. He makes several different wines including a Rosé, and though I have the opportunity to taste them all, I try to focus my concentration on the wines we bring in each year; the wines our customers know and love. For the whites, I always start with his Château Calabre Montravel Blanc. Unpretentious, with screw-cap to prove it, it’s a great “pop and pour” wine. I should know, I had a glass when I finally made it home last night after a much travelled Xmas Day. It’s a great entry-level white that’s right up there with our Gavi as far as $10 whites go. The Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc is always up next, and my usual perception is that it is a more serious wine. It’s more expensive, but that proves nothing. Just like the Gavi has its more serious side, the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, the Puy-Servain Blanc is well worth the additional expenditure. Especially with the 2014!

It’s fresh and invigorating in its aromas. Citrusy orange peel notes drift from the glass with a hint of a floral essence. The palate is fresh and lively held nicely together with lighthearted balance. The word “clean” appears in my notes three times, including the note about the finish. Hecquet blends 50% Sauvignon Gris with Sauvignon Blanc to give a little fullness to the mouth feel. All in all, it’s a very well made wine, and as written above, it rivals the Gavi di Gavi Rovereto as to our most serious sub $15 white wine. As a matter of fact, with the very favorable currency exchange rate we had when this wine was purchased, it’s become the price/quality leader! Check out that case discount.

So yes, Xmas 2015 was full of great moments for me. Great people, great food (except for my brother’s tri-tip – he overcooks meat), and a very nice surprise. A 1986 Pessac-Léognan Rouge that shined brightly paired with a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin later that evening. Wishing you all good health, success, and happiness in the upcoming New Year!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about the 2014 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Blanc, sub $15 white wines, English Football, or Bordeaux:

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2012 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes

Time flies. That’s what it does. I’m not going to get philosophical about that, though I struggle getting my head around the fact that it is October. I was reminded of this first thing this morning as I awoke with the morning sun beaming down on my pillow. This biannual occurrence lasts for around a week each time, and it is a reminder that the next time the sun plays its wake up game with me it will be time to head to Bordeaux for Primeurs! And though the barrel tastings are the primary focus of my annual visit, there is so, so much more. I typically hang out in the city for the first few days, but once the weekend hits, I take a stroll under the tracks at Gare Saint Jean and pick up a rental car. This year, I picked up the car and drove for 90 minutes out near Saint Foy la Grande and headed north. Up in the rolling hills north of Saint Foy is the appellation of Montravel. That’s where you find Château Puy-Servain and its owner/ambassador, Daniel Hecquet.

Daniel is not new to us. We are well into our second decade of stocking the wines from Puy-Servain. We first carried his wines via our association with importer Robert Kacher, but their mutual relationship ended around 10 years ago. That was when Daniel paid us a visit. He knows we love his wines and he likes that. His English skills are more than adequate and he informed us that we could continue our relationship by importing his wines directly. To hear Hecquet speak about his wines is extraordinary. Talk about passion! After you taste the wines, you can’t help falling for them. So we agreed to move forward and import them. I visited him and tasted through the line the following spring, but we hit a snag with our follow-through. Nothing was done and time passed, and I was a little apprehensive about scheduling a visit with him the next time I was in Bordeaux thinking that he would not be so receptive to the idea. I was wrong. He was as cheerful and charming as always and invited me to his home to have a meal and meet his wife, Catherine. All went well, the conversation was upbeat and informative and their hospitality was greatly appreciated. After I returned, there were no snags, the wines arrived in the fall, and I continue to visit Daniel and Catherine each spring when I’m nearby.

I made great time this year and got to Puy-Servain a little early, as Daniel was not yet there. I don’t mind, I’ve got patience. I did owe him, as I was around an hour late the very first time I visited. The views from his hilltop winery are beautiful. When he arrived he was apologetic and I reminded him of the time that I was an hour late, so we let that all go with a good laugh. (I would be happy to share the story behind why I was so late, but not in print.) I tasted through his line-up as he makes around a dozen different wines, all very well priced for their levels of quality. His signature bottling is his Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes, and I’ve got to say, the newly arrived 2012 version is spot-on delicious! I have always felt that 2012 was an underrated vintage in Bordeaux, and Montravel is Bordeaux’s neighbor. And as the bottled 2012’s arrive and are tasted, this sentiment is spreading. Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc (that’s what the label says, Daniel told me it was 90/10), it’s got that brambly Merlot fruit in the aromas and on the palate with elegant expression. What I mean by that is that it doesn’t knock you on the head or overwhelm you in the fruit department. It spends a year in large casks, of which 30% are new, so you get a little bit of spice and texture from the wood. There is an earthy note that complements the brambly fruit and the faintest hint of gamey leather. All in all, it’s the real deal. Here’s the best part: It tastes like fine, Right Bank Bordeaux. But it’s not Bordeaux. That’s why it’s less than $20 per bottle.

So many people, friends and family included, rib me about traveling to Bordeaux each spring. “It must be nice,” or “Someone’s got to do it,” are common statements, but it’s a work trip. Driving alone for 90 minutes gives me no pleasure whatsoever, even if it’s through the French countryside. What does give me pleasure is when I see a pallet of wine arrive in our warehouse, knowing that wine is both delicious and a great value. How do I know? Because I tasted it. You can count on the fact that I will be looking to uncover more wines just like this one right around the next time the sun wakes me up with it’s blinding rays.Peter Zavialoff

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November 2013 Dirty Dozen

Look out; it’s November! Things are changing quickly. Our clocks will be going back soon, there’s a chill in the air, and at the end of this month, many of us will be seated around the Thanksgiving Day table. Now that time and weather are encouraging us to head indoors, don’t you think a Dirty Dozen is in order? 12 wines, all different, chosen for their versatility, for one low price. And this month the savings are greater than 35%!!! The November Dirty Dozen. 

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2011 Chardonnay, Domaine de la Fruitière $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Chardonnay grown in Muscadet? Those famous soils which contain granite, clay, and mica contribute to the bracing freshness and mineral quality of traditional Muscadet wines made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This tank-fermented Chardonnay possesses that crispness combined with its inherent rich, fleshy yellow fruit. Great with scampi! 

2012 Chenin Blanc, Kiona Vineyards $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Washington State has some ideal growing conditions for this Loire Valley stowaway, Chenin Blanc. Known for having aromas of crisp, green apples, Kiona’s Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile white wines in its price range. Fermented off-dry, you can serve it as an apèritif, with hors d’oeuvres, and with everything from fish tacos to Kung Pao Chicken.

2012 Rosé, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $11.49, $9.19 reorder
Some of us don’t believe that Rosé has a ‘season’. A warm kitchen is cause enough to pop the cork and pour out a cool glass for the chef! But let’s not forget Rosé’s versatility. This one is equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre; the result is a dry, mineral driven Rosé with just a hint of red fruit. How about salmon burgers off the grill pan?

2012 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $10.99, $8.79 reorder 
Montravel is an appellation just beyond Bordeaux’s eastern boundary, and the values that come from there are in great abundance. Known primarily for white wines comprised of the same varieties as of white Bordeaux, Calabre’s blanc is half Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. Depending how you roll, this could be your sushi wine.

2009 Vernaccia Fiore, Montenidoli $21.99, $17.59 reorder 
“Nurse of the vines,” Elisabetta Fagiuoli consistently wins awards for her Fiore bottling. There is something about her vineyards planted in an ancient seabed perched above the medieval village of San Gimignano. The Fiore is made using only free-run juice, and in its purity, will pair well with rich dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo.

2012 Gewurztraminer, Aresti $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Hmmm, what’s Gewurztraminer doing in Chile? Founded in 1951, the Aresti Estate is one of the largest Chilean producers of this fruity, aromatic variety. This Gewurz is vinified dry, but its aromas suggest it would team up well with a burrito.

2010 CMS Red $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Washington State’s original red blend, Hedges Family Estate’s CMS Red has been produced since 1987! Made from roughly half Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it does include 12% Syrah to bolster the aromatic complexity. Recognized as one of Columbia Valley’s best values, this blend is elegant and pure. The depth of fruit beckons something like a prime rib.

2008 Marzemino di Isera Husar, de Tarczal $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder
Okay, let’s just call this one Husar. Made from the Marzemino grape, a genetic cousin of both Lagrein and Syrah, it makes for hearty red wines with complex aromas and hints of rusticity. A Husar was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Calvary, the current proprietor naming the wine after a direct ancestor. The perfect wine for a pizza-with-the-works.

2009 Corbières Réserve, Domaine Sainte Eugenie $16.95 sale price, $16.10 reorder 
Bon vivant Hervé Gauntier is an old pal of TWH, and we are happy to be able to offer his fancy Reserve Cuvée for such a reasonable price. Made from Syrah, Carignane, and Grenache, Hervé’s Réserve sees a little (20%) new cask with the remainder in 1 and 2 year old barrels. It has a spicy, lush, dark red fruit profile, and works well with red pasta sauces.

2010 Montravel Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $20.99, $16.79 reorder
Ah, but Montravel has red wine too. This old vine Bordeaux-style blend will turn your perception on its head! Winemaker Daniel Hecquet has crafted a full-bodied red, reminiscent of a wine from St. Emilion for a fraction of the price. You will fool a lot of tasters if you sneak it into a Right Bank blind tasting. A fancy wine, yes; pour it with a rack of lamb.

2009 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder
By now we’ve all heard how successful the 2009 vintage was in the southern Rhône Valley (and almost all of France, for that matter). We would all be doing ourselves a great service to profiter from such fortunate circumstances. There is always great value in Côtes du Rhône, even more so from 2009! It’s great on its own and great with a bowl of olives.

2009 Château Aimée, Médoc $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Speaking of 2009 … It was a fantastic vintage in Bordeaux. So good, mind you, that we continue to go back to the well to stock up on “lesser known” chateaux. Why? Quality. Value. This Médoc bottling wowed us with its honesty; it’s just straight up, quality Bordeaux. This will pair well with any of the traditional meals you would want with a full-bodied red.

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Filed under Chenin Blanc, Costieres de Nimes, Cotes du Rhone, Medoc, Montravel, Peter Zavialoff, Rose, The Dirty Dozen, Washington State

Hecquet’s 2012 Montravel Terrement

Daniel Hecquet, winemaker and proprietor of Puy Servain, paid TWH a visit this past May. As long time importers of his wines, Daniel makes it a priority to meet with us every year or two, just as it is important for TWH, that our resident Bordeaux Scout Pete, visits Daniel when in Bordeaux each spring. Daniel is a kind, sincere man, soft-spoken but animated. Daniel has a way of describing his wines to us as if we’ve never tasted them before; his enthusiasm and pride for his wines do not allow him to simply pour a taste. The 2012 Montravel Terrement is a favorite of mine for capturing the energy of zippy Sauvignon Blanc while downplaying its pungent nature. It has an abundance of green melon and under-ripe pit fruit flavors with a delicate, long finish. The herbal notes are present but subtle. Last night I prepared a classic shrimp Louie salad for dinner, choosing the2012 Montravel Terrement to drink alongside. I was impressed at how well-matched the wine was to the sweet shrimp and creamy dressing. 


Daniel Hecquet had always wanted to make wine from his family’s vineyards but it wasn’t until about two decades ago that this dream became a reality.  His grandfather came to the Southwest, Port-Ste-Foy-Et-Ponchapt in the Dordogne, from Northern France in 1914. Though grape growing was part of the estate, raising cattle was the main means of supporting the family. In the early ’80s the Hecquets began making wine from their grapes, but made it at the cooperative. Finally in the early ’90s Daniel was able to start making wine on his own. This happened while he was still working full-time at C.I.V.R.B, the main wine organization for the wine region of Bergerac, as Director and oenologist. Today Daniel devotes his full attention to his wines, making delicious whites and reds that offer great value and quality.

The 2012 Montravel Terrement is mostly a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris.  The pink-skinned Sauvignon Gris adds a round, creamy dimension to the mix. Completely unoaked and vinified with the intent to keep in as much freshness as possible, the 2012 Montravel Terrement delivers a bolt of green freshness but then mellows to a pleasant soft finish. It is my go-to wine for awakening the palate pre-dinner or serving with crustaceans and other water-born creatures. 


Preparations are underway for this week’s upcoming Halloween madness. Our neighborhood is crowded with trick-or-treaters. We get between 200-300 kids at our door. Now that’s a whole lotta candy, let me tell you! I am not sure there is an appropriate Halloween wine, I’ll probably want to start with something light and crisp like the 2012 Montravel Terrement. However when the last trick-or-treater leaves and my own settles down to bed, I might want to sneak a few gooey, sticky candies with something sweet to drink, like Daniel’s 2009 Haut Montravel. A late-harvest, botrytised Semillion that is rich, sweet and tangy. My teeth hurt just thinking about all that sugar … yeah! —Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Montravel, Sauvignon Gris

2010 Chateau Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes

It’s been a banner week here at TWH! A new Taste of Burgundy, a grand staff tasting with Stefan Jakoby of Jakoby Pur,and now Anya is regaling us of a trip she took to Champagne all those years ago. Getting Anya to talk about Champagne is tantamount to getting me to talk about Sauternes. I’ll save that for another email, but another great thing that happened this week was tasting Daniel Hecquet’s 2010 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes.


Daniel has been a good friend of ours for a long time. He makes great wines without compromise, and sells them for a more-than-fair price. If you engage him in conversation, his passion and emotion for wine will bowl you over. I will mention once again that he once moved a member of our staff to tears while talking about his vineyards. It’s impossible to resist his charm when it comes to food and wine, trust me. I’ve juggled my usually full Bordeaux schedule around more than once due to a tasting, a lunch, or dinner with the man and his wife Catherine. Technically, Montravel sits just across the river from Bordeaux’s eastern frontier, and Daniel sometimes laments this as he “could sell his wines for much more if they were from Bordeaux proper.” For his and Catherine’s sake, I wish things could have been different. For the sake of those of us who love high-quality wines with low price tags, I rejoice!


The 2009 Montravel Vieilles Vignes made our Top Ten List of 2011. It was that good! The 2010 could very well be on course to be better. Or, at least that’s what a good pal of mine and I thought when we paired it with a couple of Montreal rib-eye steaks the other night. Its aromatics were deep and complex. I picked up things like chocolate, dark cherry, wet earth, cinnamon, and cola. On the palate, it was full bodied, with darker, purple fruit present. It gained in intensity as the fruit, tannins, and acidity bound together seamlessly. You can really feel the weight and the structure on the lengthy finish. My conclusion is that this is a fine wine, and it will continue to be for many years. I’ve said it before, but if you sneak this wine into a blind St. Emilion tasting, you will fool a lot of tasters. Factor in the price, and we’ve got yet another winner with “Imported by Wine House Limited” on the back label. 


When it comes to wine, it’s good to have choices. I’m very happy that we import Daniel’s wines from Château Puy-Servain.  As I wrote a fortnight ago, I’ve got the sparkling wine covered. 21 days of BirthdayFest begin tomorrow, and though there are special bottles earmarked for particular days of the Fest, I will certainly enjoy another bottle of Daniel Hecquet’s 2010 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Vieilles Vignes at some point. At such a price, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more than one bottle; three weeks is a long time! – Peter Zavialoff


Good times: Footy’s back, the band has a gig tomorrow, Anya and her family are rumored to be in attendance (it is in their neighborhood), and I’ll be taking a few days off next week. So yeah, good times. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Montravel, Daniel Hecquet, or English Football:

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The Wines Of Daniel Hecquet: Chateau Calabre And Chateau Puy-Servain

Fresh off the heels of his recent visit, we are happy to announce the arrival of five new wines from producer Daniel Hecquet. We’ve been working with Daniel for over 15 years, and for the past 4, we have been directly importing his wines from Montravel and Bergerac. His passion for winemaking is so genuine and intense that it once moved a member of our staff to tears (we won’t say whom). Both Château Puy-Servain and Château Calabre are located just east of the Bordeaux appellation near Sainte Foy la Grande. It has become part of the annual Bordeaux pilgrimage to visit Daniel and to taste his wines while attending the en primeurs tastings each April. His wines are sensational and they make for amazingly great values. Growing vines in both appellations, Daniel is one of the top producers in the area. His Château Calabre line of wines are bottled in screwcap, and are top notch for their price points. The 2012 Calabre Montravel Blanc is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle. It’s bright, crisp, and zippy. Just the right amount of fruit and freshness. The 2010 Bergerac Rouge is made from 60% Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s all tank fermented, so it’s clean, pure, and perfectly quaffable. Don’t miss out on these great values. 



For his Château Puy-Servain label, Daniel sources fruit from older vines in prime locations.The Puy-Servain 2012 Montravel blanc Terrement is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. It too is all tank fermented and exhibits a formidable presence of terroir and harmony. The flagship red, Daniel’s 2010 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes comes from old vine Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It sees some time in oak barrel, which imparts both spicy nuance and texture to the fuller bodied Bordeaux-style blend. A huge lover of Sauternes, Daniel spent some time in his youth working at the hallowed Château d’Yquem. He must have caught the bug there, because he continues to bottle his 2009 Haut Montravel in the Sauternais style. It’s made from 100% Sémillon, and for the price, it is tough to beat. As a matter of fact, considering their prices, they’re all tough to beat! 

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Filed under Bergerac, Montravel, Peter Zavialoff