Category Archives: Anya Balistreri

Domaine Saint-Rémy 2014 Rose d’Alsace

If our point of sale system is to be believed, then The Wine House has been stocking wines from the Ehrhart family since 2005. In the ten years that have followed, the winery has gone through some important changes. No longer are their exported wines labelled Domaine Ehrhart. Instead their historic name, Domaine Saint-Rémy, which is how they’ve always been known as in France and which dates back to 1725, is printed on the labels. Completed in 2013, a new winery and cellar was built to ensure quality winemaking. But the most important change, in my opinion, is that the winery is now certified organic and biodynamic. The conversion to biodynamic farming reflects the Ehrhart’s long-standing determination and dedication to preserving the tradition of wine making in Alsace. The Ehrhart’s take their stewardship of the land and vineyards seriously.

The 2014 Rose d’Alsace from Domaine Saint-Rémy is new to me and to the store. This is the first vintage we’ve had the opportunity to carry. An un-tinted, slender bottle allows the attractive orange-tinged pink color to show through – the bottle had me at hello! As much of a fan of Rhône varietal rosés that I am, I also deeply enjoy rosés made from Pinot Noir. There is a sophistication and elegance to rosé of Pinot Noir that is undeniable. Domaine Saint-Rémy’s 2014 Rose d’Alsace is pleasantly aromatic – wild strawberries, ripe Charentais melon, and spun sugar. The flavors are vivid but not overly fruity. I predict I will be turning to this wine time and again, especially as Autumn clings to Summer’s heat.

On the first full day of Fall with outside temperatures above 90 degrees, I prepared one of my family’s favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. A morning trip to the farmer’s market guaranteed flavorful produce and other than whisking together a spiky vinaigrette and a whole lot of chopping, dinner was done! With a plate piled high with crunchy veg, imported Tonno, and briny olives, a glass of chilled rosé was a must. Luckily I planned ahead and stuck a bottle of 2014 Rose d’Alsace in the fridge before heading out in the morning. It was an ideal pairing.

My newlywed nephew was ordained a Russian Orthodox priest last Sunday. Some say it is a calling, but I call it courageous. In these times, in this culture, to dedicate one’s life to serve others without the hope of financial gain is an audacious decision to make. My admiration for this exceptional young man is unbounded, as is my love. Emotions continue to ride high as this weekend marks 17 years of wedded bliss! I can recollect my wedding day like it was yesterday. Though my father told me I didn’t have to go through with it as he drove me to the church, I know now that marrying my husband was the best decision ever.
Tony – ты мой мужчина!Anya Balistreri

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2012 Scherrer Sonoma County Grenache

Scherrer Winery’s
2012 Grenache
I have a confession to make: I do not visit local wineries as much as I should. What’s even worse is that I do not visit as much as I would like to either! Never mind the reasons why I don’t get out to Wine County often enough; it’s simply the reality. What’s even worse is that when I vacation at my family’s dacha along the Russian River, which I do as often as possible, I am only minutes away from hundreds of wineries! As luck would have it, my staycation up at the River this July coincided with Scherrer Winery’s Open House. Normally open by appointment only, Scherrer’s Open House is for mailing list customers to come try new releases and taste wine out of barrel. I’ve been a mailing list customer ever since the winery began in the early ’90s and as a wine buyer now, I am always eager to expound my admiration and preference for Scherrer wines.

The winery itself is a humble structure (an old apple-packing building) and is down a now-paved driveway that always makes me second-guess myself whether I turned down the right way. I love this place! Here there are no meticulously maintained gardens, gift shops, or pool cabanas. It’s a place where they make wine. Inside it’s dark and cellar-cool. The Open House is a family affair, with Fred and his father Ed pouring wines, and Fred’s wife, Judy, helping customers with their wine purchases. Even Fred’s daughter, home for the summer from college, was helping out pouring wine and reciting her father’s morsels of wine wisdom. And of course, you can’t forget about the dogs. Lots of them. All corralled in a pen near some barrels stacked up high.

I arrived at the winery with husband and daughter in tow, so I planned on making a quick pass through the wines. Fortunately, my daughter was preoccupied with the dogs and the tasty appetizers that were served. I had gotten through the first couple wines when I noticed a TWH customer. It was like running into an old friend! We ended up staying, tasting, chatting for a long time. I was enjoying being a customer and soaking up the atmosphere as more Scherrer fans came through the winery to taste. I didn’t bother grilling Fred with lots of questions this time. Instead I was more like a fly on the wall and just listened to what was going on around me. If you are ever interested in learning even more about wine (and have some time), check out the series Ask a Winemaker that frequently features Fred Scherrer. His thoughtful and clear explanations on wine topics are invaluable.

I wanted to properly thank Fred before I left the winery, and as I tried to catch his attention before heading out the door, Fred waved me over and asked if I had time to taste one more thing. What a question! How could I say no? Why would I say no? Fred pulled out a bottle of 2012 Grenache Sonoma County from behind a barrel. He explained that it was a wine he felt could work well in our store, given our customers’ palate preferences (and mine). It’s a wine that is almost exclusively on restaurant wine lists, as the tannins are smooth and the fruit prevalent without being over-the-top; in other words, a classic-styled Scherrer wine.

The 2012 Grenache has a Sonoma County appellation, but it is essentially a single-vineyard wine from Kick Ranch, which is situated along the eastern edge of Rincon Valley. Fred and Ed have been having a lengthy, on-going dialogue about what to do with a part of their Scherrer Vineyard in Alexander Valley that has laid fallow for some time. They settled on the idea of planting Grenache. Typical of Fred’s curious and methodic nature, he wanted to first work with the varietal before making any decisions in the vineyard. The 2012 Grenache is an impressive effort. I loved the voluminous texture and the soft-edged tannins. The finish gave off this milk-chocolatey nuance that reminded me of the finer Vacqueyras I’ve tasted. The 2012 Grenache captures the liveliness of true Southern Rhone wines but with the juicy fruit expression of California.

In his newsletter, Fred writes that “we have done extensive research at the dinner table pairing this wine with many different foods from tomato-based sauces and pasta, simple grilled pork to braised beef and antelope and find that it is extremely versatile. It also handles a diverse set of food spices and sings with rosemary in particular [no great surprise there].” I am eager to test out his findings at home. I particularly like the rosemary angle…perhaps a grilled leg of lamb basted with rosemary dipped in olive oil or jus? That could be epic! – Anya Balistreri


Filed under Anya Balistreri, Grenache, Sonoma County

The September 2015 Dirty Dozen

September? Have no fear, summer is not over. Not yet. It will be later this month, but let’s not let that put a damper on our spirits. There’s plenty to look forward to as fall approaches. Pigskin lovers are happy, the leaves will be changing, baseball will be turning into its serious phase, and the nights are getting longer. To accompany these changes, how about 12 wines, all different, for one low price? The September Dirty Dozen!

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

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2014 Ventoux Rosé l’Instant, Domaine de Fondrèche $16.29, $13.03 reorder
In the eastern section of the southern Rhône Valley, Sébastien Vincenti makes some fine wine in the Ventoux appellation. His Rosé l’Instant is another great example of a southern French Rosé made in the Provençal style. It’s sleek and crisp with hints of citrus and dried flowers. It’s a great food wine and will pair best with a seared ahi tuna salad Niçoise.

2013 Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $13.99, $11.19 reorder
From the Côtes de Gascogne in southwest France comes this snappy little sipper inspired by the white blends from Bordeaux. 85% Sauvignon Blanc and a little Sémillon combine for a bright, fresh, citrus-like aromatic profile. The palate is light and the finish clean. A versatile table white, salads work well, especially those with goat cheese.

2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Englishman Alex Dale grew up with wine, and in the 1990’s he invested in vineyards near Capetown, South Africa, and founded The Winery of Good Hope. No fancy label, no marketing, it’s all about the wine. 100% unoaked Chardonnay is what you get, no tricks, no makeup. The screwcap enclosure makes it great with picnics and chicken salad sandwiches.

2014 Entre-Deux-Mers, Tertre de Launay $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
The Greffier family has been making wine for over 6 generations and exporting Chateau Tertre de Launay to the US for nearly 40 years. We think they’ve got this thing down. A classic Bordelaise blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle goes into this intense, yet classy wine. Apart from shellfish, try it with grilled lemony-chicken.

2014 Xarel-lo, Bohigas $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Bohigas, a family-run winery an hour north of Barcelona, can trace their history back to the 13th century. Today, father and daughter make a dry white from Xarel-lo, best known for being one of three grapes used for Cava. Zippy flavors of pineapple and white fruit are supported by a solid acid backbone. Try with salty snacks and tapas.

NV Gála Sec, Törley $11.98, $10.78 reorder
At the end of the 18th century, after working at Roederer and Delbeck in Reims, József Törley returned home to Hungary to make sparkling wine. His image is on the neck of every Törley bottle. The Gála Sec is indeed dry and made up of three varietals, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Királyleányka. A Prosecco look-alike; it’s yummy with fried chicken.

2013 Poggio d’Elsa, Bruni $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
A 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, this hearty red from the wine region of Maremma, along Tuscany’s coastal flank, offers up ripe flavors of Morello cherries and black plums wrapped up in a smooth tannin finish. Beef brochettes topped with a pungent salsa verde would do nicely here, especially served outside on the terrazza.

2011 Minervois Cuvée Spéciale, Chateau de Paraza $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
After a period of neglect, the Danglas family has brought this historical estate back to its former glory. Along with renovation of the château, emphasis has been on elevating wine quality. The Cuvée Spéciale is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and the rest Mourvèdre. Spicy, juicy, round and delicious! Try with flavors inspired by the Middle East.

2013 Santofimia, Niel $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Black as night in the glass, this Garnacha Tintorera, aka Alicante Bouchet, is a bold, zesty Spanish red wine. The vines are 30 years of age on average and are grown at high altitudes in nutrient-poor soils. Blackberry liqueur and juicy cassis fruit flavors are backed up with formidable acidity. It’s a tooth-stainer! Try with bleu cheese topped grilled steak.

2013 Merlot, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder
We’ve been carrying the wines from Domaine Saint Antoine for well over a decade, one of the main reasons is for the price, they’re quite a deal! This Merlot is not to be taken lightly. It speaks of ripe cassis and cherries, tobacco and lavender. Tee up a rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, and asparagus. Yum.

2012 Syrah/Grenache, Grange des Rouquette $11.99, $9.59 reorder
You may have heard us extoll the virtues of Thierry Boudinaud and the panoply of wines he produces from in and around the southern Rhône. This Syrah/Grenache blend is all business; all tank-fermented, so it’s pure and fresh. What you get are aromas of red and purple berries, a medium-bodied palate and a bright finish. A great all-purpose table red.

2011 Costières de Nîmes Cuvée Trassegum, Château d’Or et de Gueules $22.99, $18.39 reorder
Cuvée Trassegum. In the local Occitan dialect it means “love potion,” and we are smitten. This is serious stuff here. Wine wizard Diane Puymorin blends 20% each Carignan and Mourvèdre (both from 80 year old vines) with Syrah and the result is spectacular. Get the fancy stemware out, grill up a nice grass-fed ribeye and share it with someone special!

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

2010 Lugana Superiore From Ca’ Lojera

 Ca’ Lojera
The Consorzio Tutela Lugana held an event in San Francisco exclusively for the wine trade this past July. On behalf of Ca’ Lojera,The Wine House participated in this tasting. Even among wine trade professionals, Lugana is a bit of mystery and for many, a new discovery. Not so for TWH customers, who have wholeheartedly embraced the delicious white wines (and reds) of Ca’ Lojera. We know and you know how special Ca’ Lojera Lugana is, so you can imagine what a pleasure it was to introduce their wine to wine trade unfamiliar with the region. Ca’ Lojera stood out in the room, during the tasting portion of the event, and at lunch, where it was served with the appetizer course. I heard over and over again from the participants that Ca’ Lojera was their favorite. What appealed to most tasters is how Ca’ Lojera Lugana combines rich fruit with a forceful mineral drive.

A view of the vineyards from the winery

In order for Lugana to be labeled Superiore, the wine is required to be aged or mature for one year after harvest. Ca’ Lojera’s 2010 Lugana Superiore spent 18 months in large 25 hectoliter barrels. The large barrels allow the wine to comfortably mature without imparting strong oaky notes to the wine. At an impromptu staff tasting, we reacquainted ourselves with the 2010 Superiore and found it to be showing beautifully.

The winery

The 2010 Superiore has a lot of WOW! factor; explosive, layered aromatics, weight and opulence on the palate, and a long, long finish. I tasted a ripe core of fruit, golden almond notes and a thread of intense minerals that effortlessly piggy-backed the citrus-soaked fruit. The oak aging showed in the round mouthfeel. I remarked that the Superiore is a perfect example of how Turbiana (the grape variety in Lugana) can express itself in many ways depending on how it is vinified, not unlike Chardonnay. David was quick to point out that the Superiore has a very different flavor profile than Chardonnay but agreed it does indeed compare in sophistication. Together we concluded that the 2010 Lugana Superiore is a wine geek wine without being weird or strange. Only thing lacking at that moment was a roast chicken or a simply prepared fresh fish fillet to go along with the wine.

The 2010 Lugana Superiore is by all means more than capable of being a centerpiece wine at a special meal. At $20.99 per bottle, I’d say for a wine like that – complex and sophisticated from a little known wine region – it’s an unbelievable bargain. But just to make it even more irresistible to try, the 2010 Lugana Superiore has a special sale price of $16.95 per bottle, valid through Labor Day.

I took the last vestiges of the 2010 Superiore home with me last night and finished it off with a baked breadcrumb-crusted fillet of sole topped with lemon slices. Delish! While savoring the last drops, my daughter gave a play by play description of her day at school with the Giants’ game droning on in the background. Turns out middle school is not as awful as she expected. I am keeping my fingers crossed, and saying a lot of prayers, that she continues to feel that way for the next three years. – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Lake Garda, Lugana, Turbiana

2012 Neely: Single-Block Pinot Noir From The Santa Cruz Mountains

Upper Picnic & Hidden Block

Jim Varner says the trick to Pinot Noir is learning to know when not to intercede. Jim and his winemaker brother, Bob, place their trust in the inherent goodness of the fruit grown on Spring Ridge Vineyard that goes into their Neely Pinot Noir. The Spring Ridge Vineyard is a unique site. It is situated next to an open space preserve and sits on a property that spans elevations from 500 ft to 1800 ft. in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This protected area experiences typical Bay Area maritime weather but at the altitude which the vineyard sits, the nights are even cooler and daytime highs are less sizzling, making it ideal for grape growing.

Jim Varner
In early July, Jim came by the store to taste us on the newly released Varner Chardonnays and Neely Pinot Noirs. So why the two different names? I’ll try to keep the explanation as simple as possible. Jim and Bob Varner planted Chardonnay at Spring Ridge Vineyard in the 80’s. In 1995, the property was sold to the Neely family. The Neely’s decided to plant Pinot Noir with the help of the Varners and wisely had them make the wine too! The approach to planting the Pinot Noir was similar to how the Chardonnay was planted, in small parcels or blocks. I won’t go into how terrific the Varner Chardonnays were for the moment because what I want to focus on are their fabulous Pinot Noirs.

A hard day at the office
The 2012s are fleshy and open-armed with distinct personalities. The first one I tasted was the Hidden Block. It immediately triggered a happy taste memory – Dujac of yore. The Hidden Block has that intriguing interplay of strawberry/cherry fruit with just a hint of green. Not vegetal, mind you, but green like stems and leaves. I love that in Pinot Noir, though I find it more often in Burgundy than in domestic Pinots. And then came the Upper Picnic – lots of deep red cherry fruit and with more oomph and power than the Hidden Block. For both wines, after press, the Pinot Noir is put into tank and then a short time later into barrel. The Varners feel this helps to soften the oak influence on the wine.

In talking with Jim, I am fascinated at how the Varners continue to make adjustments, experiment and push themselves to make the best possible wine. There are no recipes here other than trying to get out of the way of the fruit. For such experienced winemakers and highly respected ones at that, the Varners make it seem as if there is mystery in every vintage. I like that about them, they are truly humble winemakers.

On the home front, this is going to be a very BIG weekend – my eldest nephew is getting married! The reception will be catered by family and friends – I’ll be supplying the wine and, NO, it won’t be Neely Pinot Noir. I’m on a budget after all. Besides the Upper Picnic and Hidden Block are allocated to us, so supply is limited. – Anya Balistreri

Here’s what Antonio Galloni writes about Hidden Block:
Succulent red cherries, raspberries, mint, sweet spices and tobacco open up effortlessly in the 2012 Pinot Noir Hidden Block from Neely. Open-knit and absolutely delicious, the 2012 is gorgeous today and should drink well for the better part of the next decade. Pretty crushed rose petal notes add perfume on the gracious, super-expressive finish. 92 points.

And Antonio Galloni’s review of the Upper Picnic:
“Dark red cherry, plum, tobacco and spice blossom in an ample, generous Pinot Noir….The creamy, expressive finish suggests the 2012 will drink well with minimal cellaring. This parcel was regrafted in 2006 to own-rooted vines. 93 points.”

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains

The August 2015 Dirty Dozen

Ah, summertime. How kind of the calendar makers to give us back to back 31 day months in the middle of it! What to do in the month of August? Let’s look at France for inspiration; they take the month off! Well okay, most of us have to wake up and do what we have to do, but the DD can help make the dog days of summer more pleasurable. 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, for one incredibly low price, The August Dirty Dozen!

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

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2014 Pays du Gard Rosé, Domaine Saint Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

A perennial TWH favorite, the brand new 2014 Saint Antoine Rosé has arrived! The 2014 marked the umpteenth time we’ve carried a new vintage from this tried and true producer from the south of France. It’s one of our more full-bodied Rosé wines that boasts aromas of candied red fruit and chalky minerals. The screwcap makes it great for picnics.

2014 Costières de Nîmes, Les Cimels Blanc, Château d’Or et de Gueules $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Making its DD debut is a brand new wine for us, Les Cimels Blanc. Made by one of our favorite producers in the Rhône Valley, it’s a blend of Grenache Blanc (70%), Rolle (15%), and Roussanne (15%). It shows hints of pineapples and peaches with lively acidity and a medium body. Pair this with a grilled chicken breast with caramelized onions and gruyère.

2013 Côtes de Gascogne Les Tours, Domaine La Hitaire $9.99, $7.99 reorder

Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng … not exactly household names; blend them together 65-30-5% respectively, and you have one of our favorite easy quaffing, crisp white wines in the shop. All tank fermented, it’s fresh as a daisy with hints of Granny Smith apples and other orchard fruit. It’s great on its own, and even better with a scampi risotto.

2013 Montenovo Godello, Valdesil $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

After near extinction in the 1970’s, Godello is making a strong comeback in Spain. A family-run estate, Valdesil makes this one from their youngest vines grown on black slate. Citrus and under-ripe apple harken Chardonnay-like flavors, but the acid here is much more apparent. Grilled octopus, shrimp or scallops pair beautifully as would a shady nook.

2014 Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi, Raphael $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Verdicchio, an ancient Italian grape variety, thrives in the Marche region whose entire eastern edge borders the Adriatic Sea. Maurizio Marchetti works in collaboration with his grower neighbors to make this affordable, crisp and lively white. Notes of white flowers and saline give way to dried tropical fruit flavors. Match up with pesto or shellfish pastas.

2012 Cabirol Blanc, Dit Celler $14.98, $13.48 reorder

This Catalonian white comes from organic vines aged 35-60 years grown in limestone and clay at over 1500 ft. elevations. A 50/50 blend of Garnacha Blanca and Macabeu, on the nose there are aromas of pears and apricots and on the palate flavors of guava and bitter almonds. Try with zucchini fritters or heirloom tomato bruschetta out on the deck!

2013 Grenache VDP, Brunel $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Brunel’s Grenache may be simple in its approach – vinified from 40 year old vines, aged and fermented in tank – but the resulting wine is not! Medium-bodied with ripe strawberry fruit lifted by scents of classic Provençal herbs like lavender and sage. Goes with just about anything, however ginger, garlic and soy-marinated chuck steak would work well here!

2013 BlauFranker Liter, Pfneisl $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

This Austrian Blaufränkisch comes from sisters, Birgit and Katrin Pfneisl, who also work with this grape in Hungary where it is known as Kékfrankos. Juicy, succulent and spicy, light in body like Gamay, but with plenty of freshness, this is an ideal summer red. Give it a slight chill, if you want, and pair with turkey burgers or Sheboygan Brats.

2013 Rosso Conero, Marchetti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Another wine from Marchetti (see Verdicchio above), his Rosso Conero is an elegant expression of the Montepulciano grape. Dark, smoky with deep ripe plum flavors, this red has some real chew on it! Take this wine to enjoy al fresco – it’ll stand up to your boldest bbq/grill food favorites. May we suggest a spice-rubbed T-Bone or smoky pork and beans.

2012 Côtes du Rhône Mataró, Vignobles Boudinaud $17.99, $15.28 reorder

And along comes a Côtes du Rhône made from 100% Mourvèdre, or Mataró as its locally known in Catalonia and along the southern French Mediterranean coast. It’s medium-full bodied with a gamey presence and rounded edges. As we get caught up with plating sizzling steaks and chops from off the grill, Boudinaud’s Mataró should pair perfectly with them.

2012 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Toning things down a bit is a versatile little number from Tuscany. Longtime TWH producer Enrico Pierazzuoli blends 80% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon to give us his Barco Reale. The result is zippy and high-toned with layers of red fruits and herbs. What to pair with it? Easy answers: Pasta with red sauce, pizza, or grilled mild Italian sausages.

2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles, Domaine Belle 375ml $13.49, $10.79 reorder

Whoa! Crozes-Hermitage in the Dirty Dozen?!! Okay, it is in half bottle, which is perfect when looking for just a glass or two to share, and Crozes-Hermitage sure deserves to be shared! Pure Syrah fruit and that rocky Crozes mineral give the wine its name, Les Pierelles, or the little stones. Serve it with that low-and-slow smoked brisket.

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

Reg. $162.42

On Sale $109.00

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

2013 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages Cuvee Unique No. 34 – The Name Begins With Juicy

2013 Juicy Rebound
Juicy Villages Cuvée Unique No. 34

Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne: ingredients for making the perfect white Rhône only this one doesn’t come from Côtes du Rhône, not even the Côstières de Nîmes or the Languedoc for that matter. This charming wine comes from the climats de Northern California. When Mary Danielak, partner and wife of winemaker Douglas Danielak, sent an email asking to see if she could pour us something new from Juicy Rebound, we were intrigued. First of all, Douglas makes some of the best Chardonnay from anywhere on the planet under the label Pont Neuf. Second, previous vintages of Juicy Rebound wines have been positively received (and drunk) by our customers. The Syrah and Grenache-based Juicy Villages reds from Juicy Rebound offer top quality fruit from exclusive vineyard sites offered at incredible value. All of Douglas’ wines are made in minuscule amounts, so his wines are not made nor meant for the masses. Douglas makes wines that clearly show off his unabashed love of French wines all the while being deeply rooted in northern California.

Garden Grapes

Mary came by the store not too long ago to pour us a sample of the 2014 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages Cuvée No. 34. It is a long trek from Angwin, where they live in northern Napa, but like most country folk, other than the traffic and parking, visiting the big city can be a treat. Mary was a wine buyer for nearly two decades at an influential Napa Valley store before leaving to work full time with Douglas on their own wine projects, so she knows to pour the wine and wait before jumping in and giving her thoughts on the wine. Truthfully, nothing Mary could have said or added in terms of a wine story or technical notes would have changed my mind on the wine…I loved it! The thing with Douglas’ wines is that they weave varietal character with richness but never venture over the top – in a word, balanced.

Russian River Valley Sunset

Rhône white varietals, in particular Viognier, can be very tricky to vinify in California. Or at least that is my perception given my opinion that most Viogniers from California suffer from being flabby and redolent of canned fruit cocktail flavors – not necessarily my cup of tea. On the other hand, the Juicy Villages Cuvée No. 34 takes that exotic note of Viognier and places it in check with some perky acidity and crunch – that’s where the Roussanne and Marsanne come into play. The texture is pretty luxe and the fruit flavors go the way of apricot and apriums with light touches of jasmine on the nose. It is a very pretty wine that I can’t help but think is perfect for late summer sippin’. It has all of the fruit but none of the oak/butter qualities of Chardonnay, so it is super refreshing yet super versatile food-wise.

Walking on Water

This is my first day back at the store in over a week. After hosting a wedding shower for my nephew’s fiancé last weekend, I headed north with the husband, the girl and the dog in tow to spend a week at my happy place, the Russian River. Mornings were spent lazily with some time devoted to clean up around the dacha before heading down to the beach. Normally, I can’t seem to pull myself away from beach time, but I did get motivated one afternoon to visit one of my favorite wineries to taste some new releases and wine out of barrel – I’ll be sharing highlights of that visit soon. As for now, a bottle of 2014 Juicy Rebound Juicy Villages Cuvée No. 34 is going home with me. Tomorrow will be dinner with friends and I just know the Cuvée No. 34 will dazzle my guests. – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, White New World Rhone Blends