Category Archives: Peter Zavialoff

Peter’s thoughts on wine.

2013 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc: Not Your Ordinary Bourgogne!


As we wade through the enormity of a newly arrived French container, we are always excited to find wines that are new to us. Sometimes, it is equally exciting to find “old friends”; as in wines we have known and loved in past vintages, now to be greeted by their latest incarnations. This past Tuesday, a handful of new wines went out on tour, poured by our reps for their wholesale customers. At the end of the day, the remaining bottles made their way back to headquarters, and our staff were able to sample them. A few of them were indeed new incarnations of old friends, one of which being a wine it seems we love in every vintage. After tasting the 2013 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc this past Tuesday, we can confirm that last sentence!



The wines from Domaine Michel Bouzereau are very special wines. Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau has a loyal following of Burgundy lovers, and many of his top bottlings are in very short supply, despite prices that hover around the $100 threshold. Lovely wines are these, but some of us can’t burn a Benjamin every time we drink white wine. Something our staff is all clued in on, as well as the many customers who have inquired about Jean-Baptiste’s wines, is that Domaine Michel Bouzereau is located in the village of Meursault. He makes a Bourgogne blanc, but it’s no ordinary Bourgogne blanc. The fruit is sourced from in and around Meursault, and that’s pretty much all we need to know. Heck, there is a litany of evidence in our wake as to how much we love this wine. His 2009 made our Top Ten Wines of 2011 list, and Anya and I have taken turns writing about this wine for several vintages.

2013 was yet another challenging vintage in Burgundy. There was trouble at the stage of flowering. There was rain. There was hail. There was damage. Jean-Baptiste was lucky to not be affected by the hail, but did point out that there were times when it was so wet that he couldn’t get his machinery into the vineyard to treat the vines as usual. After the harvest, when speaking to Burghound’s Allen Meadows, Bouzereau declared, “I would gladly sign a contract today to make the quality that I did in 2013 every year. However, I wouldn’t want to sign up for the same amount of stress and work every year as I would be an old man pretty fast.” He went on to tell Meadows, “As to the wines, I love this style as they’re racy, refreshing and very terroir driven with just the right amount of citrus character that stops short of being aggressive. In terms of style, I would compare the 2013s aromatically to the 2007s but with better overall concentration.”

The 2013 made a considerable impression on me. The layers of complexity one senses with this wine is beyond the mere Bourgogne designation. I picked up a delicate, floral nuance on the bouquet in addition to orchard fruit and lemon zest. The fruit on the palate was subtle and nuanced, with lively acidity keeping it in focus. It was indeed very Meursault-like. The conservative Meadows had this to say, “An exuberantly fresh nose offers up notes of citrus, floral and apple while introducing textured, sleek and delicious middle weight flavors that conclude in a clean, dry, precise and notably complex finale. This is unusually good for its level and would make a fine all-around choice for a house white plus it should improve for a year or three as well.” As a matter of fact, in his listings on Burghound, occasionally you will see a heart symbol next to a wine, which means, “outstanding.” Meadows reviewed 10 wines from Bouzereau in 2013, they all have heart symbols next to them!

We will delve further into this container as time goes forward. As we taste the goodies, we promise to report back. Try the 2013 Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne blanc, you won’t be disappointed! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Burgundy, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff

Little Stones From The Rhone: 2011 Domaine Belle Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles



The Northern Rhône, to be exact. One of my favorite pairing memories from my early days here at TWH was when I was invited to some friends’ house after work for “something that has been on the smoker for hours.” With little first hand experience of tasting the wide selection of red wines on our shelves, I consulted our pal Ben, and he put a 5 year old bottle of Northern Rhône Syrah in my hands. “It’s got structure and ample fruit, but this Syrah has a smoky-meaty quality that will work perfect with your dinner.” The words are seared in my memory because the pairing was perfect. So perfect that my friends loaded up on the wine because their smoker and grill were used pretty often. That wine is long gone, but in the world of 5 year old (okay, 4.5 years) Northern Rhône Syrah, we’ve got a pretty dang good deal!



Crozes-Hermitage surrounds the tiny, and much more expensive appellation of Hermitage on the east bank of the Rhône River just north of the commune of Valence. Syrah is the red grape of the region, and many of the wines from this part of the world have a distinct smoky-meaty-gamey nuance to them. That was certainly the case with the wine I mentioned in the above paragraph. Tonight’s wine has it as well, but there’s more!

One of the wines in the August 2015 Dirty Dozen is the 2011 Domaine Belle Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles. Due to the budget of our monthly sampler, we could only include a half bottle in the DD, but as Anya advised me,“Our Dirty Dozen customers deserve a treat like Crozes-Hermitage!” A treat it is. The best way that I can describe it is that it’s a red wine that can do it all. It’s got enough fruit and balance to be enjoyed on its own, and now that it’s spent some time in bottle, it has the complexity to be enjoyed with your victuals.


The Wine Advocate’s Rhône specialist, Jeb Dunnuck had this to say about the 2011 Domaine Belle Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles:

“Starting off the 2011s and another delicious, classically constructed effort from this producer, the 2011 Crozes Hermitage Les Pierrelles exhibits ample blackberry, pepper, underbrush and textbook northern Rhone meatiness to go with a medium-bodied, fruit forward and nicely textured profile on the palate. Despite the up-front feel here, it firms up nicely on the finish and should have a gradual evolution. This was a rock solid lineup from this tiny, family owned estate. 89 points”


Being August, I’ve made a point of hitting the farmers’ market each Sunday. The assortment of summer’s bounty is fantastic, with sights and smells that only come this time of year. Speaking of smells, I’ve had to wash a lot of clothes lately, mostly because I’ve been standing around a lot of smoking barbecues. I don’t necessarily want to do more laundry on my day off tomorrow, but if I have to, I have to. That’s the good thing about taking home a bottle of the 2011 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pierrelles: The barbecue is optional. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about smoked meats, grilling, the northern Rhône, Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Peter Zavialoff, Syrah

2010 Domaine Alain Michelot Bourgogne Rouge



Isn’t it great when things come full circle? It happens a lot here at TWH. An example of the traditional route of things coming full circle here would be when we travel overseas, taste a slew of wines, make some decisions, purchase the wines that we like best, return home and wait until they finally make it here, and then we put them in your hands. That’s the traditional route. I was recently made aware of one further step to “full circle.” That’s when something we taste overseas makes it over here, a customer takes it home, and then a few years later, the customer pours it in a glass and hands it to me. Now that’s FULL circle! In an effort to put it out there to the universe, that’s what I am attempting to do here. If you buy this wine and don’t share it with me a few years down the road, I won’t mind, but just know that you will possess a wine that will provide pleasure for yourself and those who you do choose to share your wine with!


It should go without saying, but all of my close friends who like wine are TWH customers. That’s not a stretch. In fact, it was my best friend who tossed out this line to me before my first interview with David all those years ago: “Tell him you’ve got an order for a case of Bordeaux in your pocket if he hires you … if that helps.” Too cool, right? Well, this buddy of mine just got married last month, and the newlyweds threw a little shindig to celebrate at their home. Of course beverages were served and I was in charge of making sure that those who were drinking wine, myself included, were taken care of. The wines being served were selected before my arrival, and I was delighted to see 3 bottles of an old favorite on the table when I got there. When I took my first sip, I proudly smiled and silently celebrated the victory. I aspire to repeat this feat a few years down the road with the 2010 Bourgogne Rouge from Domaine Alain Michelot.


Red Burgundy can be pricey. Something that we strive to do, and succeed at, is finding wines of quality that aren’t pricey. We’ve been importing the wines from Michelot since the 1990’s; their nearly 8 hectares of vineyards are located in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Morey-Saint-Denis. The domaine dates back to the 1880’s, and Alain’s daughter Élodie represents the fifth generation running the show there. With a little bit of modern know-how, yet in keeping with the domaine’s traditional style, Élodie makes wine that expresses her respective terroirs. Her Premier Cru offerings have quite the following among Burgundy lovers and the 2010 vintage was outstanding, producing wines of substantial structure and expression, all with marvelous balance. The Premiers and Grands Crus will need lots of time in the cellar to show their best, but her Bourgogne is a more modest wine that can be enjoyed today or up to another 7 years down the road. It is a fuller-bodied Bourgogne, yet the fruit manages to stay in focus throughout the entire tasting experience. Serve it blind, and you may hear some guesses that it is a Nuits-Saint-Georges, as the fruit is sourced from vines in the south of the appellation. The wine is well worth the regular price of $28.99, but for this weekend only, starting now, it’s just $19.95 a bottle. This is going to sell out, and we apologize for that, but there’s a container about to land and we need the space!

So there you go; I’m putting it out to the universe. Actually, I was a little more proactive than that. I have what we call an “open order,” or the authorization to assign particularly good deals to some of my close friends. I’m hoping they can be patient enough to hang on to a few bottles of the 2010 Bourgogne Rouge from Domaine Alain Michelot for a party a few years down the road! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Burgundy, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir

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


buy The Dirty Dozen

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

2012 Domaine Fondreche Ventoux Cuvee Persia – A Special Red For Grill Night


2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia

Well, that’s a little more like it. Our typical summer in SF weather is back, just in time to shroud The Outside Lands concerts with nature’s air conditioning, known around here as Karl The Fog. Despite the atypical weather patterns that we have been enduring this year, the summer fog is something we can depend on! Not all is lost. If one prefers sunshine and warmer weather, just head north, east, or south some 10 miles or more, and you’ll find some. In keeping things cool, the fog does enable us to add a category to our wine drinking options: Red wine. It’s good to have options, and after being tantalized by a photo posted today by Olivier’s Butchery, I opt to indulge in their grill-ready hanger steak. Hmmm. What to drink with it? I recently had a fine tasting experience with the dregs of a bottle of 2012 Domaine Fondrèche Ventoux Cuvée Persia that went out on sales calls for a day. It’s time to call one of my food & wine pals and pop a bottle!

Domaine Fondrèche is not a newcomer, nor a stranger to me. I have enjoyed many of winemaker Sébastien Vincenti’s wines over the years, their reflections of place and their purity of fruit have had a place at my table since my beginnings here at TWH. To me, Sébastien’s Cuvée Persia has always been a big, big fancy wine that needed something substantial on the plate to stand up to it. So after a long day here at the shop, out popped 7 or so sample bottles that were poured for wholesale accounts, and Tom, Chris, and I headed for the tasting room to see how they were showing. There were Rosés, a bottle of white, and 3 different 2012 cuvées of Fondrèche. I knew going in that, of the reds, I wanted to taste the Cuvée Persia last. That’s what experience will do for you. Short of appetizers, let alone a well seasoned, grilled hanger steak, I was preparing myself for another big, youthful vintage of the Persia. I was in for a surprise. I found the sample rather giving and expressive. It’s still a big wine, and yes, the grilled hanger steak will help, but it was beaming with complexity! So much so, that despite the weather on that particular evening, I was going to drink red. It’s not in the Tuesday night wine price category, but if you consider what the well-known fancy producers around the Rhône Valley get for their wines, there is tremendous value here.

Here is what The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck had to say about the 2012 Cuvée Persia: The 2012 Ventoux Persia is Syrah dominated, yet incorporates 10% Mourvèdre. It’s aged half in small barrels and the balance in a mix of concrete and foudre. Silky, fabulously polished and full-bodied, it gives up lots of cassis, black raspberry, roasted meats and graphite. While it’s upfront and supple, it will evolve gracefully on its purity and balance. 91 points”

Having lived in the SF Bay Area all my life, I have always appreciated the summer fog, for if things get too warm (I begin to melt at around 73F), I can always head back into the thick of it for a little relief. And hey, if it gets me grilling and popping amazing red wine, all the better! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Cotes du Ventoux, Peter Zavialoff, Rhone, Syrah

2012 Domaine Saint Barbe Vire-Clesse Vieilles Vignes – No Apologies



Q. Does one need to pay large amounts of money for a tasty bottle of white Burgundy?


Regular TWH customers already know the answer to that one.

A. Nope.

As importers, we have the luxury of meeting the producers, making the right deals, and getting the wines into the hands of our customers for less expenditure than the majority of wine merchants nationwide. Take our experience and our many relationships into consideration, and it’s not long before our showroom resembles a treasure chest of wine value. As if that’s not enough, every now and then, we have a sale where an item is marked down even further! That’s what we’re going to do today (and this weekend) with a solid white Burgundy which is now the best white wine deal in the shop. The 2012 Domaine Sainte Barbe Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes was another great direct-import value at $24.29 per bottle. Starting now, this weekend only, we’re going to slash that price by 35%. Starting now it’s $15.75 per bottle. Ready, set, go!


No apologies. All too often we hear about wines from humble, farming appellations being compared to wines that come from fancy, well-known, well-marketed origins; as in “The Meursault of the Mâcon.” No apologies. This wine is not Meursault. If you want Meursault, we have Meursault that we can sell you. No, this is Viré-Clessé. And you know what? It tastes like Viré-Clessé; and that’s a good thing!


I wrote a little blurb this past spring about Jean-Marie Chaland and his Domaine Sainte Barbe. So did Anya, here. Mentioning the 2012 Viré-Clessé, which comes from vines that are 55 years old, I went on to suggest that it will “hit its happy zone in 2017”, and no doubt, it will be great then, but judging from the bottle we opened this afternoon, I don’t think it’ll be around in 2017! It’s all tank-fermented, so it’s fresh and pure. The aromas are opulent. I got big-time apple-y Chardonnay fruit. I really couldn’t get past this apple characteristic, but I hadn’t yet tasted the wine. I asked Anya and Chris to give me their impressions. Chris and I are on the same page with the apple thing, Anya dug a little deeper. She explained that it was a bit of a surprise as to how the rich aromatic profile lulled us into thinking it would be super opulent, but it wasn’t. The wine has racy acidity that keeps the fruit in check in fine harmony. The more I sat with the glass, the more nuances I picked out. There are hints of stony minerals as well as a kiss of citrus blossom. Pretty classy stuff for $24.29 per bottle. Wait. Make that $15.75! Ready, set, go!

Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Macon, Peter Zavialoff, Vire-Clesse

2009 Chateau de Malleret: Another Fantastic 2009 Bordeaux Bargain


“How do you guys make your Bordeaux selections?” We may have heard that question once or twice before. Our usual answer is that we buy the majority of our Bordeaux selections En Primeur, or as futures, shortly after the barrel samples for the wines are presented to the trade. Sometimes, we also buy additional stocks after bottling, either as a result of one of our suppliers shipping over sample bottles to choose from, or if I taste something too good to pass up when I meet with negociants while attending the tastings. It’s not often when we buy Bordeaux from another importer. But, just like all rules, there are (have been) exceptions.

We have demonstrated over the years that it pays to peruse close-out lists that different distributors send out periodically. To the trained eye, it doesn’t take very much time, and should something stick out to us, we are quick to respond and scoop up any berries worth scooping. My workstation is the only workstation next to Anya’s (I know, poor Anya), so as I was busy typing away one morning, Anya casually turned and asked me if I tasted the 2009 Château de Malleret. It is documented that I am a big fan of their 2010. What’s not documented, until now, is what happened after I tasted (and loved) the 2010.


After each En Primeurs trip to Bordeaux, it is customary to meet with David and discuss the vintage and talk about the wines I tasted, especially any stand-outs. When I returned from the trip in April of 2014, there was one wine that stood out from the rest, the 2010 Château de Malleret, Haut-Médoc. There are so many producers in Bordeaux that it’s not unusual to taste wines that I’m unfamiliar with. Malleret was one of those producers. As I was tasting the wine, I asked the negociant where the chateau was located. He informed me it was in the southernmost part of the Haut-Médoc, south of La Lagune and a bit west of the D2 roadway. He then went on to say that his brother had his wedding reception there, as many do, because the grounds are so beautiful. I knew we would be buying good quantities of the 2010 after I returned, so I did a little more research when I arrived back in SF. I discovered that we actually had one bottle of the 2000 vintage in-stock for a ridiculously low price. I bought it and took it home. One word: stellar! Turns out that the bottle was from David’s private cellar and he had another bottle at home. In my world, to enjoy it fully, wine is meant to be shared. So rather than to be selfish, I recommended that David taste it himself, perhaps with one of his tasting groups. I’m still waiting for the report …

Now you’re all up to speed on where my head was when Anya asked me about the 2009. The answer was that I hadn’t tasted it, but considering the litany of emails/blog posts I composed regarding the 2009 Bordeaux vintage, and my recent experience with Malleret from two other outstanding Bordeaux vintages, this was about as risk-free as one can get. Factoring in the crazy closeout price makes the 2009 Malleret another sweet deal from our petits chateaux section. Château de Malleret definitely has a house style. One gets a sense of their terroir in every swirl, sniff, and taste. Their style suits my palate well, I love the old school aromas of tobacco, forest floor, and earthy mineral. The 2009 is a user-friendly vintage with excellent weight and fruit expression, and the Malleret has just the right amount of ripe fruit to sit atop the old school structure. Not overbearing nor clunky, the palate is full bodied, yet all in balance with a finish that combines the fruit, structure, and herbal profile.

Here’s what Neal Martin had to say about the 2009 Château de Malleret:
“Tasted at the Cru Bourgeois 2009 tasting in London. The de Malleret 2009 has a well-defined cedar and briary-scented bouquet with crisp blackberry and dark plum fruit interlaced with cedar. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannins but a very edgy, vibrant finish with lively black fruits that are just slightly clipped on the finish. Otherwise, a very good effort. Tasted September 2011. 89 points”

If you enjoy a great deal on a red Bordeaux, or if you have enjoyed a bottle or two of the 2010 Château de Malleret, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of their 2009. It just makes sense!Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2009 Bordeaux, Haut-Medoc, Peter Zavialoff, Petits Chateaux