Category Archives: Peter Zavialoff

Peter’s thoughts on wine.

2013 Domaine des Corbillieres Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles



Coming on the heels of our Top Ten Wines of 2015 list, I struggled while choosing a wine to write about this evening, as whatever I might choose would most likely suffer by comparison. But that’s okay. Top Ten wines are special. Special wines can have elevated price tags; that’s just how markets function, efficiently. If one is to incorporate moderate wine consumption into their lifestyle, the best recommendation that I can give is to be open and taste, taste, taste every wine that you have any interest in tasting. If you’re going to be tasting many wines over a shorter period of time, spit. Most wine tasting facilities offer spit buckets of some kind. So why exactly should we taste everything that we possibly can? Experience. No doubt we will taste wines that we really like, but we’ll also experience wines that don’t exactly hit home with our respective palates. Sometimes, we’ll even come across wines we do not like at all. That is all in everyone’s best interest. It’s important to try and understand why certain wines work for us while others don’t. This will make it easier to find wines to our liking in the future, not to mention unlocking the door to the treasure chest known as, “The best wine values!” A wine that certainly falls into that category is the 2013 Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles.



Dominique and Véronique Barbou run the 26 hectare estate in the Loire Valley commune of Oisly, which is approximately 30 km east of Tours. Dominique’s great-grandfather, Fabel, purchased the property in 1923, and together with his grandson, Maurice, built the property up into its current form. TWH regulars are well aware of the tremendous value that the Barbou’s wines provide. Their Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are house favorites for many of us. Their Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles has been one of my go-to reds for the better part of a decade. Usually made from Cabernet Franc, Loire Valley reds can be lighter bodied wines that exhibit distinct herbal qualites. Interestingly enough, the Barbou’s Touraine Rouge Les Demoiselles is made of 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Côt (Malbec). For the 2013, the aromas are of lush, plump purple fruit which no doubt is the Côt’s influence. A second whiff reveals a brambly thicket undertone with hints of strawberries which we can attribute to the Pinot Noir. The palate entry is tangy and lively, with the woodsy Cabernet Franc coming into focus. The Côt provides a bit of weight on the palate and the Pinot Noir continues to express its aromatic complexity. The finish is crisp as the tangy mouth feel fades into the wine’s complexity. Being the sort of chap who usually reaches for white wine with his pork roasts or chops, I can easily build a case to pour this 2013 Les Demoiselles the next time I whip some up.

The 2013 Touraine Les Demoiselles isn’t going to make anyone forget about our Top Ten, but it has its place and will continue to provide food pairing pleasure to those who appreciate it. I still remember my very first encounter with a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. I was perusing the selections at Mill Valley Market and decided it was time to taste a Chinon. I knew very little about Loire Valley wines at this point, as I was still regularly consuming domestic wines. Heeding my own advice mentioned above, I was on a mission to taste (and get to know) more wines out of my comfort zone. The wine was nothing like a rich, ripe, fancy oak barreled Napa Cabernet or the like. It was stemmy, woodsy, crisp and tangy. My palate was surprised to say the least. As I continued to taste more wines from different places, I weened myself from popular local wines and embraced the subtle differences of Old World wines; wines that were less fruit forward, lower in alcohol, which were particularly made to be enjoyed with a meal.


The best tidbit of wine advice that I ever received came from an old boss of mine many years ago, JT. He lived in Napa, collected wine, and knew personally many individuals in different facets of the wine biz. Shortly after hiring me, he learned that I was very interested in wine also. He then told me, “Don’t be concerned about critics and whether or not they like the wines that you like. If you like a wine and a critic pans it, it’s good for you! There will be more of it around and the price will remain low.” Sage advice. We remain friends to this day. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Loire Valley red wine, Bordeaux, Sauternes, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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The Wine House SF – Top Ten Wines Of 2015


 

The Wine House SF
Our Top Ten Wines Of 2015

 

As we begin to settle in to 2016, we look forward to all of the new wines and new discoveries that await us. But before we head full-steam into the new year, a brief recap of 2015 in the form of a list of our Top Ten Wines is in order! Here at TWH, over the course of a year, we taste thousands of wines made by hundreds of producers. From all of these tastings, one can only imagine the difficulty in choosing which wines to import and/or to stock on our shelves. A very small percentage indeed. Taking all that into consideration, paring the list of those wines down to a neat Top Ten is quite the challenge. So many wines deserve a mention, but one important criterion consistent in each year’s Top Ten is this: A good story. After all, a bottle of wine is a living thing. And so are we. Good wine is meant to be shared, and that is the only tidbit of instruction that we offer to accompany this list. Life is short. Live a little. Share your wine. Smile. Repeat as often as you can.

For a look at our previous lists, here are links to our Top Ten Wines from:

 


A few of these wines have sold out, but deserve to be mentioned on their merits. In no particular order, here are our Top Ten Wines of 2015:

 

2010 Domaine Sainte Barbe
Perle de Roche
Crémant de Bourgogne
We begin with bubbles. How can we not? With New Year’s Day festivities in our wake, it just makes sense. The 2010 Perle de Roche Crémant de Bourgogne from Domaine Sainte Barbe is very special indeed. In the day and age of mega-corporate Champagne producers flooding the market with their hundreds of millions of bottles, it’s refreshing to come across a small producer in Burgundy who cares for their Crémant like artisanal Grower-Champagne producers do. This fizz is dry, as only 4g/l of sugar are used, which is much lower than most wines labeled as “Brut.” Stony minerals are at its core, and its zippy nerve leads to a crisp, elegant finish. Winemaker Jean-Marie Chaland has not made this wine since his 2011 (which was produced in tiny quantities), and currently there isn’t any new Crémant in the pipeline. So what is left is all there is. For now.

 

2012 Domaine du Pegau Cuvée Réservée
Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Truly a Châteauneuf-du-Pape lovers’ CdP, Domaine du Pegau is a standard bearer for traditional, old-school wines from the wine capital of the southern Rhône. The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck puts it thusly, “Without a doubt, Domaine du Pegau is one of the top reference point estates for traditionally made Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
He goes on to describe the wine, “One of my favorite wines, the 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée is a classic. Beautiful on the nose, with notions of ground pepper, wild herbs, minerality and smoked plum and dark fruit, it’s medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and has plenty of tannin that comes through on the finish. Similar in style to a lighter-weight 2010, drink this beauty anytime over the coming 12-15 years. 94 points”

 

2012 Scherrer Sonoma County Grenache
On a field trip last summer, Anya paid a visit to the Scherrer winery during their annual open house. Having been on their mailing list since the winery’s early days in the 1990’s, she was very familiar with their various bottlings of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. After another fine visit and tasting, as she was saying her good-byes, Fred Scherrer asked if she had time to taste one more wine. That’s a proposition that few wine geeks can resist, and Anya wasn’t about to buck the trend. He reached behind a barrel and revealed his 2012 Sonoma County Grenache. Knowing a bit about our selections of Grenache-based Rhône wines, Fred felt his Grenache would be a good fit with our customers. It is literally a single-vineyard bottling from Kick Ranch. Let’s just say that it went over so well that we are all in agreement about the wine’s ability to integrate the liveliness of southern Rhône Grenache with the juicy fruit expression of Sonoma County. We’re very happy to include the Scherrers in our Top Ten of 2015!

2012 Gabriel Billard Pommard Les Vaumuriens
It’s all in the family. Laurence Jobard and her sister, Miraille own Domaine Gabriel Billard. You may be familiar with Laurence from her 30 year tenure as oenologist at Maison Joseph Drouhin. The sisters now entrust Laurence’s daughter, Claudie with winemaking duty. Claudie has hit TWH’s Top Ten in the past, and does so again with this 2012 stunner. The domaine is a bit of a secret; they do not submit samples to any well-known publication or critic, and production is remarkably low.
After doing the research (delish!), and composing the write-up for the June 2015 Taste Of Burgundy, I asked David the rhetorical question, “I should have some of this in my cellar, shouldn’t I?” We popped a bottle at the end of a busy Friday during the Anniversary Sale/Holiday frenzy. I think Anya summed it up best when she said, “You know, I always love the inexpensive wines that we have in abundance here. I take a bottle of Gavi or a bottle of Côtes du Rhône home for dinner, and they always deliver, making me think, wow, what a goldmine. But then I taste a wine like this one and I get it. This is in another league; this is special.” The 2012 Pommard Vaumuriens is, for all intents and purposes, sold out. We do have a few bottles left of the 2012 Gabriel Billard Pommard 1er Cru Charmots, which is a qualitative upgrade from the Vaumuriens; but ultimately it’s about 2012 red Burgundy and the Jobard family magic!

2012 Domaine Stéphane Pichat Côte Rôtie Champon’s
The hits just keep coming! As the story goes, a sample bottle of the 2012 Domaine Stéphane Pichat Côte Rôtie Champon’s went out on a sales call to some fancy restaurants, and
when the remains showed back up in the shop after we closed that day, Chris and I were treated to more of that “another league” special kind of wine! Layers of all of the goodness a quality Côte Rôtie can provide, smoky, meaty, gamey, dark savory fruit, spice, and earthiness in a glass! It took every bit of willpower we had to not finish the bottle in order for Anya and Tom to get a taste the following day, and after they did, our euphoria for this wine is unanimous! The 2012 has sold out, but we still have some 2011 in stock, and 2013 on the way. I’m building a vertical of this one!
Here’s what The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck had to say about the 2012 Pichat Champon’s, “Aged two years in 30% new oak, the 2012 Côte Rôtie le Champon exhibits gorgeous notes of black raspberry, sweet black cherry, smoked earth, herbs and dark chocolate. Pure, fine, elegant and layered, with medium to full-bodied richness, it too has a modern ting, but still has plenty of Côte Rôtie style. Drink it over the coming decade. 93 points”
And the 2011, “Comprised all of Syrah and aged 24 months in 40% new French oak, the 2011 Cote Rotie Champon’s exhibits a perfumed, complex bouquet of black raspberry, smoke, incense, saddle leather, violets and underbrush. This is followed by a medium to full-bodied, supple, elegant and pure 2011 that can be consumed any time over the coming 10-15 years. 92 points”

2012 Brick & Mortar Pinot Noir
Sometimes you never know what might be coming your way; so it’s a good idea to be open to new things. Introduced to us by David through a connection made via one of his tasting groups, winemaker Matthew Iaconis visited TWH last year and introduced us to Brick & Mortar. By the time he left, we were all convinced that we were on to something. And that’s the beauty of small, family-style run wine shops – If you’re new and under-the-radar, have a good story, and bottle a quality wine, folks like us are approachable. We don’t need fancy marketing, big scores, or any other bells and whistles. If the wine is high in quality and represents good value, bam; everyone wins. Especially our customers! Speaking of which, I took a look at the list of customers who bought the 2012 Brick & Mortar Pinot Noir, and it reads like a who’s who of Pinot Noir-centric customers who appreciate small production, off the radar, quality wines (a handful of which were in on Anthill Farms in the days before they caught on). We were delighted with the 2012 Brick & Mortar Pinot Noir (and their other wines too!), and are looking forward to the next vintage!

2010 G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole
The 2010 vintage for Barolo was an outstanding one. But hold on folks – Rather than gushing about the perfect conditions, we’d like to mention the challenges. First off, winter did not go away easily. Frosty conditions continued through March which delayed the start of the growing season. Temperatures remained cool throughout the spring and summer, and a fair amount of rain fell in June and October. Most estates harvested around mid-October which made for a long growing/ripening season. What we’ve got here is a modern classic vintage. Wines that will age very well and reward those with patience.
Giuseppe Vajra paid us a visit last year and poured some exquisite wines for us, including the 2010 G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole. Taking all that into consideration, this is yet another wine begging the rhetorical question, “I should have some of this in my cellar, shouldn’t I?”

2013 Antonio Sanguineti Cannonau di Sardegna

Island wines. Who knew? We heard quite a bit about island wines in 2015. And when we purchased and subsequently offered the 2013 Antonio Sanguineti Cannonau di Sardegna, we had no idea what was about to happen! First off, we sold through our stocks in record time. Then, we continued to receive inquiries in hopes that we could acquire more wine. Then, this posting received the most hits of the year on our blog. We ordered this wine on pre-arrival, so what was shipped to us was all there was going to be. The good news: All being said, we will be getting the next vintage soon. Stay tuned.

Cannonau is what they call Grenache in Sardinia. As written above, we are big fans of Grenache-based wines, both from the southern Rhône Valley and Sonoma County. Well, we can add another place of origin to the list as this island Cannonau exhibits wonderful round cherry fruit with layers of earth and herbs. Taking all of its quality into consideration, coupled with its value price, it’s no wonder that it was literally swept up in less than a week! Island wines? Now we know.

2012 Château Carbonnieux, Pessac-Léognan Blanc

The 2012 Château Carbonnieux Blanc underlines one of our more important strategies when scouting for wines to import. Upon tasting Bordeaux’s 2012 vintage En Primeur in the spring of 2013, I visited negociants, the UGC Tastings, and had several appointments at some fancy chateaux. It takes a lot of concentration to not let bias and perceived quality differences distract from being in the moment and appraising what is in the glass at any given time. It is well documented that I am fond of dry white Bordeaux, though one can probably say that about all styles of wine from the region. Sticking with the dry whites, I usually taste samples of Haut Brion, La Mission Blanc, Domaine de Chevalier, Pape Clement, and several others; wines that will retail for close to $100. In the case of the first two I mentioned, it’s more like $700 per bottle. So yeah, the quality/price model is a bit out of whack here, so uncovering great value is a challenge. I vividly remember tasting the 2012 Carbonnieux Blanc out of barrel at the UGC tasting at Château Olivier. It had the structure and balance that I look for in a barrel sample. In the back of my mind, I had an idea of what its approximate price would be, and had it on a short list of must haves.

Later that same day, I was sitting at dinner at my favorite chateau, when I was asked by the other guests to “defend” a wine. I mentioned how dry white Bordeaux may be a bit underappreciated. Citing the tiny production, significant demand, the overall quality and ability to age well, I called out the 2012 Carbonnieux Blanc as a dynamite value from a sector known for pricy wines. After the wine arrived here in our warehouse last summer, I was happy to read of The New York Times’ Eric Asimov’s endorsement of the 2012 Château Carbonnieux Blanc.This article, of course, helped the wine sell out. Last spring, I tasted the 2014 Carbonnieux Blanc and I liked it every bit as much. With the stronger dollar, the 2014 Carbonnieux Blanc is an even better value! Hmmm. Perhaps one of the Top Ten Wines of 2017?

2012 Château d’Issan, Margaux

Red Bordeaux. Margaux. The 2012 Château d’Issan. It’s funny. I never think about our Top Ten Wines list when I’m out tasting. But this one goes all the way back to the spring of 2013 and Bordeaux’s En Primeur tastings. I tasted this at a large negociant tasting, as Château d’Issan does not participate in the UGC tastings. Tasting at this negociant’s can be quite overwhelming as there are literally hundreds of wines available. I try to pass on most of the wines that I will have other opportunities to taste in order to get to as many as possible. The barrel sample of 2012 d’Issan floored me. Using descriptors such as classy, silky, sexy, expressive, and nothing overboard meant this wine was a textbook example of a great barrel sample. My note ends with, “The star so far.” I was asked several times during this tasting by various members of the negociant’s staff what my impressions were and if I had any favorites. I pointed them all to the d’Issan and witnessed their happy reactions after tasting. When I returned from Bordeaux, I sat down with David to discuss the 2012 vintage. I told him that I liked the reds and whites from Pessac-Léognan, the wines from Barsac, Margaux, and Pomerol. David answered that yes, he had read about Pessac and Pomerol, but regarding Margaux, he said, “You’re kind of on your own here, because nothing I’ve read had anything great to say about Margaux.” Hey, what can I say; I taste what I taste. Maybe it was the d’Issan in particular, though there were other Margaux wines that I felt confident enough in to include the appellation among my favorites.

Fast forward to November of 2014. Augustin Lacaille from Château d’Issan visited us here at TWH and poured a few wines including the newly bottled 2012. My expectations were not in line with reality. Fortunately, neither was the wine. It’s off the charts! The best thing is that it isn’t off the charts when it comes to price. Bravo to the team at Château d’Issan for their outstanding 2012!

And there you have it. Another exciting year in wine has passed, another new year awaits. Well, we’re not waiting. It’s only the 13th of January, but we’re already out there tasting new wines to stock on our shelves. Trips to Europe are being planned, and of course, the Bordeaux UGC tastings of the 2013 vintage are set to hit the US at the end of the month. There’s no rest in the wine biz. All the best for a great 2016!Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2012 Red Burgundy, Cannonau, Cremant de Bourgogne, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Pessac-Leognan, Peter Zavialoff, Pommard, Top Ten Wines Of The Year, White Bordeaux

The January 2016 Dirty Dozen




The Dirty Dozen

The January Dirty Dozen

Happy New Year! It’s 2016, and let’s hit the ground running! January is always a month of optimism, as we plot out our respective game plans for the year. One thing we are always excited about each January is the prospect of discovering new wine. That’s what The Dirty Dozen is all about! Twelve great bottles of wine, each one different, all versatile, and all for one inflation-proof price. The January 2016 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 Rosé Les Cimels, Château d’Or et de Gueules $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Winter weather got you missing the warm sunny days sipping Rosé? Fret no more. Grab a friend or two, pull up to a heater or fireplace and pop the cork on a 2014 Les Cimels Rosé. It’s made in the Provençal style: 30% Cinsault, 30% Mourvèdre, and 40% Grenache – Clean and crisp with just the right hint of red fruit and citrus. A salumi plate works.

2014 Côtes du Rhône Blanc, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder
Just like their red counterparts, the white wines from the southern Rhône offer some of the finest values in the wine world. This 4 grape blend (Clairette, Grenache Blance, Marsanne, and Roussanne) has expressive aromas and a fine, round mouth feel. The feisty finish marks it as a great partner for some pan seared scallops with beurre blanc sauce.

2014 Beaujolais Blanc Cuvée Marquise de Robien, Château de Raousset $15.99, $12.79 reorder
White wine from Beaujolais is a rare bird. Only 1% of production is of white wine, Chardonnay and Aligoté being the only two white varieties allowed to grow there. This blanc is 100% Chardonnay; no popcorn, no butter, just pure white nectarine-like fruit with a racy finish. Pour this with a shrimp scampi or save it for whenever crab season starts.

2012 Grüner Veltliner, Weingut Hebenstreit $19.98 net price, $17.98 reorder
It wasn’t long ago when Veltliner was all the rage and hip somms around town were slinging it to pair with dishes ranging from halibut crudo to a breaded pheasant nugget. Maybe it’s lost its place among the trendy, but Grüner Veltliner continues to please palates with its unmistakable white pepper aromas, sleek palate, and mineral force.

2014 Chardonnay Le Versant, Vignobles Foncalieu $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
We taste many wines each month as we seek out our Dirty Dozen roster. When a wine like this one comes along that sings like a new world Chardonnay, yet maintains its humble Pays d’Oc price and profile, we jump quickly. It’s ripe and fleshy with oak spice notes and a complex finish. It’s great on its own, and even better with roasted quail and the fixings.

2014 Heus Blanc, La Vinyeta $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
Originating from Empordà, which is Catalonia’s northeastern border, 5 grapes are blended to make this wine (Macabeu, Xarel-lo, Garnatxa, Malvasia, and Moscat). The wine is raised in tank to preserve its freshness. It sports a saline-like mineral mouth feel along with hints of snappy green apple and lemon-lime. Serve it with crunchy baked flounder.

2012 Agrippa, Grange des Rouquette $18.99, $15.19 reorder
Named for Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who some credit for the construction of the Pont du Gard, this 100% Syrah is only made in the best vintages. Thierry Boudinaud channels the northern Rhône with this dark berry juice and its aromas of black pepper and fine leather. This is a perfect match for a nice piece of smoked tri-tip cooked low and slow.

2010 Château La Gorre, Médoc $16.98 net price, $15.28 reorder
The first of two Bordeaux wines in the DD (talk about starting the year off right!), the 2010 La Gorre is teeming with black cherries and purple berry fruit. The palate is seamless, the fruit intertwined and locked in an earthy mineral frame. A 2010 red Bordeaux that you can drink now, it has the nuance and the stuffing to stand up to a rack of lamb.

2012 Ventoux Fayard, Domaine Fondrèche $16.99, $13.59 reorder
The Côte du Ventoux lies in the east of the southern Rhône River Valley beneath the majestic Mont Ventoux. Winemaker Sébastien Vincenti, once a protégé of André Brunel, blends 20% Mourvèdre with Grenache and Syrah to give his Fayard a bit of a gamey backbone. Rich and ripe, this is best served with hearty fare like oxtail stew.

2012 Pinot Noir, Coopers Creek $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Coopers Creek was founded in Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s north island in 1980. Since then, owners Andrew and Cynthia Hendry have acquired several vineyards, yet haven’t compromised their quality. This Pinot Noir comes from a single block vineyard 200 feet above sea level. Full of berry fruit and spice this versatile red is a great pizza/pasta wine.

2012 Château Grimard, Bordeaux $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Located just west of Bordeaux’s Fronsac appellation, Château Grimard is regularly one of the region’s best bang-for-your-buck wines. For the 2012, one gets a solid core of dark purple fruit with a cocoa powder belly. The structure is medium-full with lingering tannins. A nice, hearty rib-eye grilled à point will make for a good sidekick to this wine.

2013 Languedoc Les Darons, By Jeff Carrel $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder
Grown in clay/limestone vineyards outside Minervois near Carcassonne, the breakdown is 60% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 15% Syrah. Don’t let its modest price fool you! The old vine Carignan gives this Rhône-styled blend a funky, herbal complexity as well as character. Another versatile red, you can pour this with barbecue chicken, ribs, or pulled pork.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

 

Reg. $184.41
On Sale $109.00

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2006 Chateau de Fargues – Top Quality For A Fraction Of The Cost


Happy New Year! From all of us here at TWH, we hope you had a fantastic holiday season. Okay, now that it’s 2016, what’s up? Plenty. French container on the water should be here around mid-month with Bordeaux, Burgundy, and more! Italian container due to arrive shortly thereafter. David should be off to Burgundy again sometime soon, and I’m headed to LA at the end of the month to taste the newly bottled 2013 vintage at the Union des Grands Crus tasting. Oh yeah, one more IMPORTANT thing: our 38th Anniversary Sale will end at the close of business on Monday, January 4. So, if you’ve had your eye on anything on that list, now is the time to act. For the past 6-8 weeks, we’ve mentioned a few of the great deals that were to be found as part of our sale, and though there are still many, many great deals, just know time is running out. Back in 2015 (okay, last Thursday), a good friend of TWH came in to buy … wait for it … a couple of bottles of Sauternes. Every year he prepares a torchon de foie gras for New Year’s, and this year was no exception. As TWH’s GoldWine Ambassador, I was happy to chat with him about our selections, and after discussing several options, he was very excited about the sale price on the 2006 Château de Fargues, Sauternes. After all, it has pedigree, a famous name, and a sale price that if put into proper perspective, makes it an absolute steal!

So, foie gras and Sauternes pair well together, this is well-known. The rich, creamy, savory texture and flavor sensations of a bite of foie are sent to another dimension when followed by a taste of rich, layered, complex, botrytised Sauternes (or Barsac); the balancing acidity being the catalyst that frames and holds it all together. (TWH customers and friends know that fois gras is the traditional pairing, but that the wines have so, so much more potential as evidenced by the trio of GoldWine dinners *scroll down this link* we’ve had in the past few years). If one is in northern California and needs a bottle of Sauternes/Barsac, TWH is a logical destination as we have few rivals sporting the breadth of our GoldWine section. I presented our customer with several bottles that offered great value as well as a couple of my favorites. Which then brought us into a discussion about Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces and his involvement with both Château d’Yquem and Château de Fargues. The Lur Saluces have been affiliated with Yquem since 1785 and ran the château until selling it to luxury brands group LVMH in 1999. Alexandre stayed on until 2004 before leaving to focus on the family’s long owned Château de Fargues. Alexandre first joined his uncle at de Fargues in 1966 and took over leadership of the chateau after his uncle’s passing in 1968. Throughout the years, the wines from Château de Fargues have rivaled the hoity-toity Yquem in quality, but not in their steep bottle price. Beginning with the 2004, the wines from de Fargues have stepped it up another notch, earning some special praise from Robert Parker and Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate.

Here’s what Mr. Parker had to say about the 2006 de Fargues after having tasted it from barrel:

“The refuge of the Lur Saluces family after selling their beloved Yquem, this is an Yquem-like wine that sells for a fraction of the price fetched for the most famous wine of the region. Rich, honeyed citrus along with creme brulee, vanillin, sweet caramelized pineapple and citrus notes are followed by a wine with an unctuously thick, viscous, full-bodied mouthfeel, but with good enough acidity to balance out the wine’s enormous weight, richness, and concentration.”

I wished our customer a hearty, “Bonne Année”, and await the report on his experience with his first de Fargues. Funny thing, earlier in the week, a couple of ladies came in to buy some party wines and one of them inquired about Yquem, as she had once tasted it at a New Year’s celebration. I told her the price ($500) and she politely chuckled and said, “No thank you.” I then explained there were plenty of top-notch Sauternes selling for far less, and when I told her the Lur Saluces story, and that she could have Yquem-like quality for $79.95, she happily bought one to continue the Sauternes-as-part-of-the-New-Year-celebration tradition.

So yes, happy 2016! It’s mid holiday season for me as December 24 is just day number one of 13 days of celebration between late December and late January. Celebratory day #6 is today (Sunday), and I’ve got a bottle of GoldWine for it, because if you’re not celebrating with Sauternes, you’re not really celebrating. It seems this mode of thinking is slowly catching on; on December 30 and 31, we sold more bottles of Sauternes than of the more traditional sparkling wines. Yep. When it comes to celebrating, there are traditions, but there are no rules. Here’s to good health, success, and happiness to all of you in 2016!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions about our Anniversary Sale, Sauternes, foie gras, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2006 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, Sauternes, 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: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Montravel, Peter Zavialoff, Sauvignon Gris

A Taste Of Burgundy – December 2015

TOB-BANNER Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

morotsign
 

2013 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros
Maison Dampt

The Dampt name has been known in Chablis for over 150 years. Sébastien and his brother Vincent represent the next generation of the family’s vignerons. Together they have worked for their father’s Domaine Daniel Dampt; and Sébastien has been bottling wines under his own name since 2007. Maison Dampt is yet another project involving the trio, using purchased must from a few of Chablis’ Grand Cru vineyards. Bougros is the western-most of the cluster of Chablis Grands Crus, and sits on the same slope as Les Grenouilles and Les Clos, all three just north/northwest of the village. Though volume was very low yet again, the 2013 vintage in Chablis yielded medium-bodied wines with pretty floral aromas that should provide pleasure for early to medium-term drinking. This 2013 Grand Cru Bougros is a bit of an exception to that. It’s sturdy and dense and it has seen some time in oak barrels. We would recommend decanting should you wish to taste this early in its life, otherwise it should be fantastic from 2018-2026+.

2012 Beaune 1er Cru Teurons
Domaine Albert Morot

“Domaine Albert Morot is a very good place to start investigating Beaune.” Or so said Clive Coates MW in his comprehensive Burgundy reference book Côte d’Or. Domaine Albert Morot was founded in 1820, and Geoffroy Choppin de Janvry has been winemaker there since 1999. Regarding his 2012’s, he stated, “I like the vintage as the wines are ripe, fresh and concentrated, in fact there’s really not much to dislike about them.” It has been mentioned here that despite the challenges and low production from the 2012 red Burgundy vintage, the quality of the harvested fruit is on par with the finest vintages of the 2000’s. The sizable 1er Cru Les Teurons sits just west/northwest of the village of Beaune, and is known for producing red wines that are, in Coates’ words, “fullish but properly round, rich and balanced, with plenty of depth.” The 2012 Morot 1er Cru Teurons is a formidable wine which could stand a few years in the cellar before strutting its stuff. It will be at its best from 2020-2030 and beyond. – Peter Zavialoff

Reg. $114.98
On Sale $89.98

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Filed under 2012 Red Burgundy, A Taste of Burgundy, Albert Morot, Chablis, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir, Wine Clubs/Samplers

The December 2015 Dirty Dozen

 

With Thanksgiving now in our wake, it’s time to focus on December and what little is left of 2015. The holidays are upon us, and throughout the month, there will be ample opportunity to celebrate with friends, family, and business associates. What better to have in your holster during the holidays than a case of wine, all different, all chosen for their versatility for one low price. The December 2015 Dirty Dozen is here!

 

 

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.

 

2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Leaf & Vine $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder
This lush, opulent Sauvignon Blanc has notes of lemon curd and ripe grapefruit. The fruit comes from one source, the Turn in the Road Vineyard, located in the Big Valley AVA of Lake County. At elevations of 1400 ft., grown on clay and loam soils, the Sauvignon Blanc ripens nicely yet retains acidity. Pair with finger foods, light appetizers or hors d’oeuvres.

 

2014 Picpoul de Pinet, Chevalier de Novato $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
This terrific value-priced Picpoul de Pinet comes to us by way of a former Napa Valley winemaker turned importer. Clean and vibrant, this “lip stinger” – the meaning of the name Picpoul – white has playful acidity and crisp fruit flavors. Perfect to serve at your next oyster bar party or with classic Mediterranean dishes like croquettes de brandade.

 

2014 Moscato di Pavia IGT, Centorri $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder
Three generations of women run the estate that produces Centorri Moscato. Quality is the focus here, making a delightfully fruity, yet restrained Moscato. Slightly frizzante with aromas and flavors of ripe peach, rose petal and ginger, this can work as a pre-dinner aperitif or be served after with cheese, fresh winter fruits and new crop walnuts.

 

2014 Vin de Pays d’Oc Rosé, Grange des Rouquette $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Made from 100% Syrah and vinified using the “saignée” method, or the bleeding off of the Rosé after a little skin contact, the Grange des Rouquette is the south of France in a bottle! Savory red berry fruit joins forces with a little stony mineral and the palate is clean and crisp. Hand a glass of this Rosé to your favorite chef and you’ll get a smile.

 

2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Domaine Boudinaud $13.99, $11.19 reorder
One doesn’t immediately think “blanc” when thinking about Côtes-du-Rhône wines, as white wines represent just 25% of the appellation’s output. But just as with the reds, you will find Côtes-du-Rhône blancs deliver huge in the price to quality department! 60% Grenache Blanc/40% Roussanne; it’s fresh and fleshy, and will go great with pork chops.

 

2012 Mâcon-Villages Les Tilles, Domaine Sainte Barbe $12.95 sale price, $12.30 reorder
The world’s finest Chardonnay comes from Burgundy, and though much of it comes at a high price, some of it is quite affordable! Take this unoaked Mâcon-Villages from Sainte Barbe. Plenty of lemons, apples, and blossoms in the bouquet, the palate is all in balance, and the finish is firing. A great one to pop with shrimp scampi or if crab season ever happens.

 

2014 Treggiaia, Fattoria di Pugliano $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Winemaker Fulvio Galgani makes this fun food-friendly red that is meant to display the characteristics of a classic Italian table wine. Almost entirely Sangiovese, with small additions of Canaiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, this cherry-scented red is bright and lively. A super match for pizza, baked pasta dishes or hearty winter soups like Minestrone.

 

2012 Ribera del Duero, Mesoneros de Castilla $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Ribera del Duero, in northern Spain, is famous for its Tempranillo, or Tinta del Pais as it is locally known. A charming, purple-robed red produced by legendary winemaker Ismael Arroyo, who was instrumental in creating the Denominación de Origen. Sultry and texturally smooth; pair it with gamey poultry like duck, goose, or heritage turkey.

 

2010 Chénas, Cave Saint-Cyr $22.98 net price, $20.68 reorder
A family-run winery established in 1963, Saint-Cyr is certified biodynamic. Chénas is one of 10 Crus of Beaujolais. The Gamay vines here are an average age of 55 years and are grown on granitic soil. The aromas evoke floral notes like violet and iris. The mouth feel is fleshy and the fruit is well integrated. It’s super versatile – try it with curries of all types.

 

2014 Malbec, Alberto Furque $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 20 years, you know that some of the world’s finest Malbec comes from Argentina. The Furques’ vines are grown at altitudes exceeding 3000 feet, keeping things cool at night, preserving the fruit’s inherent acidity. Big and bold, this red wine is lively on the palate and would be great with grilled kebabs.

 

2013 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $14.49, $11.59 reorder
Longtime pal of TWH Enrico Pierazzuoli makes some serious juice. His 100% Sangiovese Chianti Montalbano is everything you’re looking for in a medium-bodied red. Expressive fruit, rich minerality, and that Tuscan terroir are enough to transport the taster to the land of olive trees and terra-cotta roofing. A bowl of simple pasta with red sauce is perfect here.

 

2012 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes, Château Puy-Servain $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Montravel is located just outside of Bordeaux’s eastern outpost near Saint Foy la Grande. Daniel Hecquet is the proprietor/winemaker at Puy-Servain, and his passion for his land, vines, and wines is unrivaled. His Montravel Rouge is a stunning bargain. 90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc makes for a sturdy St. Emilion-like red; perfect with a filet mignon.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Click here to purchase all 12 wines for $109!

Reg. $173.28

On Sale $109.00


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