Category Archives: Anya Balistreri

2013 Alberto Furque Malbec – Juicy, Bold, and Grill Friendly!

2013 Alberto Furque Malbec
Alberto Furque’s 2013 Malbec is the 10th vintage The Wine House has stocked from this family-run winery. It has a seductive combination of explosive fruit, bold flavors and impeccable balance. And, because no oak is used, the fruit takes center stage allowing the terroir to shine through.

A view of the Andes from the winery

Bodegas Aconquija is the name of the farm established in 1938 that Alberto Furque purchased to start his venture into wine-making. The estate is located in a prime area of Argentina’s wine growing region, the Uco Valley. This area is about an hour south of the city of Mendoza. Bodegas Aconquija is in La Consulta at the southern end of the valley. In this part of the valley, extreme high altitudes keep grape yields low and flavors concentrated.

Winemaker Carolina Furque

Carolina Furque, Alberto’s daughter, is the winemaker at the estate. The grapes are all hand-harvested and fermented in steel tanks. The wine then rests in concrete tanks before bottling. I truly appreciate this style of winemaking; it relies heavily on bringing quality fruit to the winery. The wine is lush, deeply fruited but also displays a floral aspect that is prized and characteristic of Uco Valley Malbec.

Grilling the Furque-way!

Cooking outdoors during summer months can be necessary but it is also a lot of fun! Our gas grill was decommissioned, so out came the Weber, dusted off from sitting in the corner of the garage all year. The classic Weber grill reminds me that grilling outside does not have to be that complicated. A fire with something to act as a barrier between the ashes and food is all you need. Just look at the photo above, that’s grilling the Furque-way. I love the spontaneity that photo conveys of just throwing down fire and cooking up something delicious. You can bet that back at the table, Furque Malbec was filling everyone’s glass. – Anya Balistreri

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Island Wine: A Sardinian Red – 2013 Sanguineti Cannonau

Antonio Sanguineti’s
Cannonau di Sardegna

Sardinia, an island off the west coast of Italy, is beginning to get its fair share of attention for producing distinctive, delicious wines. The red grape most commonly planted on the island is Cannonau, known as Grenache in France, Garnacha in Spain. (Oh how I adore this grape!) The appellation Cannonau di Sardegna DOC spans the entire island however most of the vineyards planted to Cannonau are found along the eastern side. In general, Cannonau di Sardegna is noted for its potent, dark flavors as well as coming in different styles from dry to sweet. The 2013 Cannonau di Sardegna from Antonio Sanguineti is packed with dry red cherry fruit, a slight earthy backbone and an open-armed fruit appeal. At $12.98, its the sort of wine you can, and should, load up on. It has enough fruit boldness to satiate your red wine desires without overwhelming the palate with heavy tannins and over-extracted fruit which during hot summer months can be a real turn-off.

When Antonio Sanguineti was still a young boy in Tuscany, his family lost their ancestral vineyards. Winemaking remained in Antonio’s blood despite being without a vineyard. Today Antonio works as a consultant with several estates. He has earned deep respect for his skills as a winemaker, even being dubbed “Il Maestro” by his colleagues. It is through these relationships that Antonio buys grapes for his own label. His production remains small and with relatively low-overhead manages to make terrific wine at modest prices. The Cannonau di Sardegna is the latest venture for Antonio and I’m betting one of his most successful. I was shown a sample bottle of the 2013 Sanguineti Cannonau back in March. It had not yet been imported into the states but was presented to me as a pre-arrival. I was immediately smitten by the unoaked, pure red berry flavors. A touch of pomegranate gave the wine a bit of tang. I knew it was a wine that would find many a happy home with our customers.
The 2013 Cannonau di Sardegna from Sanguineti finally arrived this week after a few delays thanks to the continuing backlog at docks along the west coast. Tasting wine at home is quite a different experience than tasting at the store, so I didn’t hesitate to buy a bottle of the 2013 Sanguineti Cannonau di Sardegna to see how it faired away from work. A super quick-n-easy meal of grilled lamb burgers with a corn and squash succotash proved to be a delicious accompaniment to the wine. The Cannonau really took to the fattiness and gaminess of the lamb. Maybe that is why the grape has remained on the island long through its vinous history suppling wine for their long-standing sheep-raising culture.

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The July 2015 Dirty Dozen


The Dirty Dozen
The July 2015 Dirty Dozen

Now that we’re officially into summer, it’s the time for holidays, picnics, and summer’s bounty at local famers’ markets. The backyard grill is getting its share of use, and depending on what you might be tossing on it, we’ve got some lovely vinous suggestions for you. The wines were all chosen for their versatility as well as their suitability to the goings on of July and summertime. Great for any occasion; pick up a July DD today!!

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 Les Cimels Rosé, Château d’Or et de Gueules $13.99, $11.19 reorder

Fresh off the boat comes this fresh, Provençal style Rosé from good old Château d’Or et de Gueules. A blend of Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache, this one is light and crisp, its delicate pink robe revealing citrus blossoms and herbs. It’s a great all-purpose Rosé and will pair well with a fresh Provençal salad and the great outdoors.

2013 Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

From the Helderberg area of Stellenbosch, the old bush vines work their magic atop decomposed granite soils while facing the ocean’s cool breezes. It’s pure Chenin Blanc, with its Granny Smith apple character, and a little hint of lime, framed in minerals. It makes for a good aperitif, is great for picnics, and works well with grilled chicken leg quarters.

2013 Pinot Grigio, Inacayal $13.99, $11.19 reorder

Yes, it’s Pinot Grigio, but it’s made more in the style of Alsatian Pinot Gris. It’s rich and concentrated, with a nectar-like mouth feel revealing complexities such as ripe peaches, nuts, and mushrooms. In mid-palate, one gets the sensation that the wine could be a little off-dry, but the acid kicks in just then and the finish is crisp. Try it with fish tacos.

2012 Vermentino, Uvaggio $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

It may sound like it’s an Italian import, but No! – this wine is homegrown from Lodi, CA. Winemaker Jim Moore picks the Vermentino early to insure freshness and uses only free-run juice to ferment in stainless steel tanks. Aromatic and dry, try with Asian noodle dishes, pan-roasted scallops, steamed clams or grilled chicken.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Alluviale $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder

This New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has a bounty of lemongrass and honey-lime flavors. It has lots of attack on the palate but with a subtle hint of lanolin on the nose. Chill down on a hot day to slake your thirst while watching the setting sun. Serve with fresh green-leaf salads sprinkled with goat cheese, white-fleshed fish or raw seafood.

2014 Soave, San Rocco $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

San Rocco is a tremendous value from one of Veneto’s best Soave producers, Monte Tondo. Using 100% Garganega from pristine vineyard sites, this wine offers a burst of citrus with elegant perfume. Light in body, it’s a delight for casual sipping or can marry beautifully with summer’s veggie options like zucchini, corn and peppers.

2013 Abril, Azul y Garanza $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

The winery is located in the Navarra region of northern Spain. The winery’s vineyards, which are farmed organically, exist in desert-like conditions with minimal rainfall and extreme temperature fluctuations between day and night. This tobacco-scented Tempranillo has piercing bitter cherry flavors and full tannins. Try with smoky, grilled meats.

2012 Mencias de Dos, de 2 $15.98 net price, $14.38 reorder

Another Spanish stunner, this 100% Mencia from Bierzo (aka “Gateway to Galicia”) is a bargain considering it comes from an organic vineyard with vines averaging 55 years of age, grown on slate and quartz soils. Three months in barrel rounds out the natural bright acidity of the wine. Serve with highly seasoned meat on small sticks cooked over fire.

2009 Assisi Rosso, Falesco $19.98 net price, $17.98 reorder

This Umbrian red illustrates the complexity of Sangiovese when blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – dark berry flavors accented by underbrush and licorice notes. Plumy and rich, this red benefits from time in bottle, showing off smooth tannins and restrained fruity flavors. It is complete and ready to drink. Go bold here with food pairings.

2012 Château Couronneau Rouge $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder

Winemaker Christophe Piat’s commitment to biodynamic practices has finally earned him the esteemed Demeter insignia on his labels. What has happened to his wines since he began implementing these procedures has been quite impressive! The fruit and mineral expressions of the 2012 Couronneau are breathtaking. Serve this one with a grilled cowboy steak.

2007 3 Cepas, Furque $15.99, $12.79 reorder

What do you get when you blend 50% Malbec, 30% Syrah, and 20% Merlot? 3 cepas, that’s what. It’s a delectable blend, now with a little bottle age, that will do just fine when the time calls for a sturdy red. Furque’s vines are 3000 feet above sea level, so the cool nights give the fruit the acid they need for balance. Enjoy it with a leg of lamb.

2011 Morgon “Douby”, Château de Raousset $19.39, $15.51 reorder

On the opposite spectrum in the red wine department, a Cru Beaujolais is light in body and well suited for the summer months. It shows cedary, tobacco-like aromas with cherries and berries, and a little forest floor. On the palate, it’s fresh and easy and would accompany a pizza margherita perfectly. Best results if you put a chill on it before serving.

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2013 Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Blanc: Lush Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Domaine des Corbillières

I’ve been known to call Domaine des Corbillières’ Touraine blanc ‘the poor man’s Sancerre’. It’s a quick way to convey that this wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc, like Sancerre, and that it is full of attack, like good Sancerre, but because it says Touraine on the label and does not carry the same cache Sancerre does, it is less expensive. It is rightfully so that Touraine is not as prestigious as Sancerre for it is a vast region encompassing varied soils and climates, often producing underwhelming wines. However, as in every region, there are the exceptions, the stand-outs and one such winery is Domaine des Corbillières.

Harvest in Touraine

Domaine des Corbillières is situated at the eastern end of Touraine in the village of Oisly. Dominique and Veronique Barbou farm 16 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc that range in age from 13-43 years of age. The vines grow in sand atop deep clay subsoils. In 1923 Dominque’s great grandfather, Fabel, purchased the property and, legend has it, was the first in the region to recognize the benefit of growing Sauvignon Blanc in Touraine. The story goes that Fabel allowed a vine to grow alongside his home and he soon noticed how well it thrived in the terroir. True or not, that’s a pretty cool story!

Dominique & Veronique Barbou

The 2013 Touraine blanc is showing beautifully at the moment. Lots of pungent pink grapefruit and green melon flavors permeate the wine. It’s assertive without being assaulting to the nose and palate as too many Sauvignon Blancs can be in my opinion. There is enough texture to create interest in the mouth, but still manages to end with an invigorating finish. This Touraine is not only a stand-out for the region, as I wrote above, but it is a stand-out among Sauvignon Blanc.

The Domaine at sunset

My daughter wanted mac-n-cheese for dinner. Feeling motivated to cook something special, I made the mac-n-cheese from scratch. I used three different kinds of cheese, sautèed up some red and green bell peppers, and even steeped fresh herbs and garlic into the milk before making the béchamel sauce. I thought it came out pretty good. My daughter, on the other hand, was disappointed that the mac-n-cheese was a casserole! Huh? Unlike my homemade mac-n-cheese, the pasta in the boxed yellow-colored kind made stove-top does not bind together, rather it spreads all over the plate in an oozy orange-glow mess. She likes it that way better! Knowing I had a chilled bottle of the 2013 Touraine in the fridge at the ready helped me to feel more magnanimous towards her. I suggested next time I make homemade mac-n-cheese, she can make the boxed kind herself! – Anya Balistreri

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2012 Sancerre Rouge From Domaine des Buissonnes

2012 Sancerre Rouge
Domaine des Buissonnes

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

Domaine des Buissonnes’ Sancerre Rouge

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

Harvest in Sancerre © InterLoire

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

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

5th grade trip: Crissy Fields SF

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

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The June 2015 Dirty Dozen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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