Category Archives: Peter Zavialoff

Peter’s thoughts on wine.

2008 Chateau Gloria: Instant Decadence For A Modest Price


As I alluded to yesterday, summer is here, and I can go on and on about more white and rosé wines, but on the heels of the praise of Grüner Veltliner, I thought to change it up a bit. Why not? It’s probably no surprise that my thoughts are on Bordeaux, that’s just natural. The Bordelais just hosted VinExpo this past week, and though we were able to follow the festivities via social media, my inbox was unusually quiet this week. That’s all good, we all need time to catch up on things. As I was doing a little housecleaning this morning, I stumbled upon a fairly recent acquisition, the 2008 Château Gloria. I thought, “Here’s an outstanding bottle of red Bordeaux, with a little age on it, for a very fair price. Hey, people drink red wine during summer too.” Summer barbecues? But of course.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about another St. Julien chateau, and my very first experience with it. Back in those early days of exploration, I listened to a lot of people from various wine shops, and received a lot of good advice. Occasionally, I went off on my own and would try something on a hunch. One of these early hunches was Château Gloria. I liked the price and saw “St. Julien” on the label. That was enough to go on. It did not disappoint. I found it very enjoyable with a cedary, tobacco, forest floor element, with a good dose of concentrated dark fruit, all in balance. My fellow diners were equally impressed. Maybe it was the pomp of decanting the bottle, I don’t know, but my friends thought I paid double what I did for it. From that moment on, in my mind, filed under Château Gloria was this experience.


Things have only gotten better at the chateau over the past 20 years as quality has improved remarkably. The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker remarked back in 1998 that, “Recent vintages of Gloria have pushed the level of quality even higher.” After revisiting the 2003 last summer, Parker declared, “Year in and year out, there is rarely a better wine for the money than this dark garnet Gloria.” If you think about the wild ride of Bordeaux pricing, you’ve got to love the fairness in pricing shown by the team at Château Gloria.

The 2008 Gloria is drinking very well. Still youthful, it can be enjoyed now or cellared for another 10 years easy. Probably more. You can take my word for it. Or, here’s what the folks at The Wine Advocate had to say:

First, Robert Parker: “A stunning sleeper of the vintage, this beautiful, already irresistible, plum/garnet-colored 2008 is a wine to purchase by the case. It possesses a dense plum/purple color, a glorious perfume of Christmas fruitcake, cedarwood, black currants, jammy cherries and licorice, medium to full body and a silky personality. It will provide both a hedonistic and intellectual turn-on over the next 10-15 years. 90 points”

And Neal Martin: “The Chateau Gloria 2008 has a fresh, well-defined bouquet with tobacco and graphite notes. It is very clean with well-integrated and judicious use of oak. The palate is medium-bodied with a rounded black cherry and spice-tinged entry leading to a plush, well-defined finish. This is a well-made Saint Julien that should age well over 10-15 years. 91 points”

So yeah, summer can call for lighter wines meant to be sipped chilled, but there are times when you might want a bold, elegant red too. The 2008 Château Gloria is that wine. I’m looking forward to the first barbecue of summer, because I will be packing one of these. An hour or two in the decanter, and voilà: instant decadence for a modest price. Looking for a belated Father’s Day gift? How about a couple of bottles of 2008 Gloria – one for this summer, one for a summer down the road. To all the Dads out there, we wish you a very Happy Fathers’ Day! And a very Happy Summer Solstice too! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, St. Julien in particular, or all of the transfer gossip that permeates the English media this time of year: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2008 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, St. Julien

Summer Refreshment: 2013 Hofer Grüner Veltliner



Happy Friday!! Can you believe spring is almost over??!! Yep, looking at the weather map of the US, it seems most of the country is heating up. Here in SF, we’ve got our cool microclimate, but should one venture north, south, or east for an hour or so, look out! One of summer’s challenges is to stay cool and refreshed. We’ve all got our methods for keeping cool, whether it’s spending time at the beach, pool, cinema, or refrigerated section of the local grocery store. Refreshed? Rule #1 – stay hydrated, drink lots of water. Rule #2? Something cool and crisp in your wine glass. May we offer a suggestion? Full liter bottle. Unpretentious bottle cap enclosure. 12.5% alcohol. Certified organic. Crisp. Dry. Tank fermented. 15 bucks. How about the 2013 H & M Hofer Grüner Veltliner?

If one is going to name the most refreshing white wines of the world, Grüner Veltliner is going to be on the short list; its unpretentious, entry-level liter bottles hover near the top of the best values column. It is Austria’s most widely planted grape, and has a global fan base. It’s sleek, herbaceous, mineral driven, bright, and crisp. It’s a great wine to pair with summer salads and crudo dishes, and it is an ideal refresher whilst cooling off on a summer’s evening. That 12.5% abv helps a bunch too; sure, have a second glass! With all of our French and Italian direct-imports, we don’t spend a whole lot of time writing about Grüner-Veltliner, but take our word for it, we all love the stuff! Funny, it was at around this time last year when we sent out a pre-summer blurb about Veltliner. Go back a few more years, and we sent out another pre-summer Gru-V offer! So there you go, no coincidence; when the weather heats up, we love our Veltliner!

The 2013 H & M Hofer certified organic Grüner Veltliner is a Terry Theise selection imported by Michael Skurnik wines out of New York. If you’ve never read any of Terry Theise’s writing about Austrian wines, and you appreciate well crafted wine writing with substance and whimsy, give him a spin. Terry never disappoints. Here’s what he had to say about the liter bottlings of Hofer’s 2013 Veltliner, “This wine took off like a rocket, and we needed to contain it. That’s correct; we needed to write less business, because it was the only way to sustain quality and to ensure the wine would continue being organic.”

So giddy-up, next stop: summer. Let’s all get outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. Hosting an impromptu gathering? Let us suggest the perfect summer aperitif wine: 2013 H & M Hofer certified organic Grüner Veltliner!

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Filed under Grüner Veltliner, Peter Zavialoff

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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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

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

2012 Château de Raousset Beaujolais Blanc Cuvée Marquise de Robien: Unmedicated Chardonnay


2012 Château de Raousset Beaujolais Blanc
Cuvée Marquise de Robien

Recently, at the end of another busy day, our staff locked up the shop and headed for the tasting room to get to know a couple of new arrivals. One of them was a red wine from a region in France famous for its white wines, and the other was a white wine from a region mostly known for its reds. The white wine was the 2014 Beaujolais-Villages Blanc from Château de Raousset. We don’t hear much about Beaujolais Blanc as it typically only represents 1% of the region’s annual production. Almost all Beaujolais Blanc is made from Chardonnay, however Aligoté is allowed, provided the vines were planted prior to 2004. For their Cuvée Marquise de Robien, the Raousset Beaujolais Blanc is 100% Chardonnay. It’s often a challenge to remain free from expectation when evaluating new wines, as David continues to find outstanding new wines from both new and established producers time and time again on his tasting trips to France each year. We’ve carried Beaujolais Blanc in the past, most recently one from the 2009 vintage.

With that distant memory in mind, we popped the corks of the two unusual-for-their-appellation wines and proceeded to taste. Whenever I taste red and white wines at the same time, I like to taste the reds first. This gives me a clearer perception of the acidity in the reds before moving on to the whites. One of the reasons we all taste at the end of the day is that we can all taste the wines together, at the same time. We share our perceptions and ideas, good or bad, and sometimes we all agree, and sometimes we don’t. When we tasted the 2014 Raousset Blanc, it was unanimous; we all loved it! And what’s not to love? It’s pure, unadulterated Chardonnay. No oak, no butter. Pure Chardonnay fruit. A customer walked in today as I began this writing assignment, and she inquired if it had a significant citrusy profile. Though there is a tiny hint of citrus, it has more of a fleshy fruit mouth feel. Anya hit the nail on the head when she described its fruit component to be more reminiscent of a white nectarine. It’s fresh and crisp, and those white fruit flavors pop along with the wine’s racy acidity. All in all, if one factors in the scarcity of such wine and its low price (especially by the case), it probably won’t be around long.

So there we all were in the tasting room, yet another winner on our hands, talking shop and talking about sports. It’s an exciting time of year. Our local basketball team has a chance to win their first title in 40 years. We’ve been lucky in the baseball world in recent years, the UEFA Champions’ League final was played today, and after a 37 year wait, horse racing has a new Triple Crown winner. We had the race streaming live here at TWH headquarters and several customers watched the race with us, leading me to exclaim, “You’ll always remember where you were when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown!” Sometimes, we’re more than just your neighborhood wine shop! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Beaujolais Blanc, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff

A Delicate Touch of Burgundy Goodness – 2012 Rully la Chaume, Claudie Jobard

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I feel like I’m standing on the proverbial precipice here. It’s about to get mondo busy in my world. We’ve already seen a bit of pricing released for 2014 Bordeaux futures, and I am certain that beginning next week, the price releases will be fast and furious. The Wine Advocate will release its April 2015 edition on Thursday, and that should only speed things up. Seeing that May begins next week, that will act as further incentive to those chateaux who haven’t yet announced to release their 2014 prices. Vinexpo takes place in Bordeaux this June, so the Bordelais are going to want to have things wrapped up by the time June 1 comes around, or at least I would. So just knowing what’s on the horizon, I’m going to take the evening off, as I accepted some friends’ invitation for dinner. What’s on the menu? Poulet Provençal.


I’ll get back to all of the Bordeaux business shortly, but in order to enjoy my “taking the evening off,” I am still in charge of bringing and opening the wine for dinner. Talk about type-cast!! Oh well, I’m okay with it. Knowing my friends, they’re going to want a light red wine to enjoy with this delicious dish. Me being me, something white … or gold … or in between. Got it! Now as for the red … (pause; thinking). I’m going back to the well here, but considering the aromatic profile, complexity, and light-weight body of this wine, Claudie Jobard’s 2012 Rully la Chaume is the perfect candidate, wine-wise and budget-wise. When we introduced Claudie’s 2012’s in form of this here blog-post a few months ago, we went on about who Claudie Jobard is, and how her wines have made their way into our shop. Not much was said about the wines themselves. Let’s fix that; tonight with her red wine.


When I think of a red wine to pair with Poulet Provençal, I think of a wine with complex aromas, and a red Burgundy is going to have that covered. Jobard’s 2012 Rully la Chaume emits a delicate Pinot Noir bouquet. One gets the cherries, strawberries, forest floor, a hint of earth and baking spices – yet in delicate, restrained fashion. If any of these nuances were to be dialed up a bit, it would transform this complex profile into something more linear. That’s one point that David has made again and again in regard to Claudie’s wines – nothing is overdone. The palate begins with these olfactory sensations still in place, giving the taster the impression of a fruit drive which is immediately coaxed by the vibrant acidity to join forces in its light bodied frame, for a fresh, harmonious finish. There are not a whole lot of red wines that I would ever pair with chicken for my own consumption, not from a pure pairing perspective (if you’d like to open that 1955 La Mission Haut-Brion with my chicken dinner, I say by all means, allez-y). This red wine is different. It has the promise of being a sensational food wine; and its potential partners exist far beyond Poulet Provençal!

Okay, dinner will end. Sunday will come and go. Monday morning, I’ll be right back here typing away. No doubt my inbox will be full of emails, mostly from Bordeaux, and as I mentioned above, the next weeks promise to be full of Bordeaux news. It is not easy to sum up the vintage in a paragraph or seven, but I will say here that the 2014 vintage has the potential to be a success for many producers. As pricing is released, The Wine House SF will offer the futures, as we always do. I highly encourage any customers that are interested, or those with wish-lists, to please inquire with us, and we will provide the pricing information as they are released. So, until then … did I hear right that I’m taking the evening off? – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2012 Red Burgundy, Cote Chalonnaise wine, Peter Zavialoff, Rully Rouge

2013 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc – Better Than Ever

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Two major forces converged on TWH this past week: a fresh
container from France and négociante, Jeanne-Marie de Champs. The timing was grand because more than a handful of wines from said container were shipped by Jeanne-Marie and her company, Domaines et Saveurs. She spent a couple of days here in the Bay Area visiting clients, and at the end of one of those days, she returned to our HQ here in southern Dogpatch to pour a fine array of recent arrivals for our staff. We were all pretty impressed with how each wine was showing (there was one of those fancy, hyphenated Montrachet types in there), but at that moment we were all taken by … get this … the 2013 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc!

Yes, the 2013 version of Paul Pernot’s Bourgogne is here! It’s always a bargain, and it always sells out. We’ve been importing this wine and enthusiastically writing about it for decades, as it is true white Burgundy crafted by one of the region’s most reputable longtime producers. Seasoned TWH customers certainly need no introduction to Pernot’s Bourgogne, as each year it’s on the short list of best bargains from Burgundy. It’s a regular spring occurrence with some customers to pop in and “pick up my case of the Pernot Bourgogne.” We see it time and time again. Collectively, our entire staff enjoys this wine in every vintage, but there was something special about tasting the 2013 last Monday with Jeanne-Marie in the room.

The old adage is “you had to have been there,” and that’s pretty much true for everything you read about wine tasting experiences. That’s also true with any story which is recanted lacking its spontaneous, in the moment experience. When tasting a wine for the very first time, one usually has expectations, but with no first hand experience, surprises may arise. We’ve tasted many vintages of Paul Pernot’s Bourgogne, and even with our expectation levels, are usually impressed. This time our impressions were elevated. Rich, ripe, fleshy yellow and white fruit permeate the aromas. There is more than a hint of stony mineral, and it is all wrapped up with a spicy, toasty frame. It tasted much more fancy than its sub $30 price tag warrants.

When asked about the oak treatment, Jeanne-Marie informed us that usually for his Bourgogne, Pernot uses all neutral
barrels. His overall 2013 production was less than expected (and far less than average), so there were a few extra new barrels available, and Pernot vinified 15% of the 2013 Bourgogne in them! Perhaps that’s where some of the fancy aromas and texture come from. But it’s far more than that. In order for a wine to exhibit character like this, it must have rich fruit, layers of complexity, a tame alcohol level (12.5%), and harmonizing acidity. This wine has no, as in zero, rough edges. It is seamless in its harmony. There wasn’t much up for grabs at the end of the tasting, but let’s just say that more than one of us (read: all of us) wanted what was left to take home.

So yeah, you had to have been there, but the good news is that the 2013 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc is here, in stock! Put two hours of refrigerated chill on a bottle, pop the cork, pour out a couple of glasses, and you will be there too! – Peter Zavialoff

*Photos by Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Burgundy, Chardonnay, Peter Zavialoff

Quality Is Quality: 2012 Pontet Canet (Pre-Arrival)

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And just like that, Bam!, thanks to the folks at Air France, I’m back in California. En Primeurs 2015 has come and gone, and all I have to show for it are pages and pages of tasting notes, a bunch of emails to catch up on, bills and expense reports, and of course, the memories. In general, the trip was successful as I found many 2014 barrel samples showing the potential for becoming wonderful wines after bottling. I also made time to visit several negociants to taste some back vintages in hopes of finding wines to ship sooner than later. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste at two of my favorite chateaux this year, but that happens too. A fellow Bordeaux Scout who works for a local competitor popped in this afternoon and we chatted about our respective impressions. As we were wrapping up, he asked me, “So what was your #1 highlight?” Hmmm. I had several personal highlights; but professionally, it was a conversation.
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At lunch in St. Emilion, I was with one of our suppliers waiting for her colleague and his two clients to join us at the table. She turned to me and asked, “So now that Robert Parker is not covering Primeurs any longer, who will take his place in the eyes of Americans?” I’m not going to get into my answer today, as time and spacial constraints do not allow for me to answer in full here and now. It was a fairly serious answer, certainly not one for a “Sunday Email,” though I will air it in the form of a blog post soon. I continued to explain that, despite Mr. Parker’s physical absence from Bordeaux in the spring of 2015, his influence was being felt once more. This time, due to a post he placed on The Wine Advocate’s online bulletin board. He wrote, “Just finished tasting over 700 bottles 2012 Bordeaux. Still have about 40 or so to finish, but my initial report in April, 2013 looks to be on the money….with a big exception…the wines are performing better than I originally estimated…which is great considering the ultimate truth is after bottling.” He specifically pointed to Pomerol and Graves, but also mentioned some St. Emilion and some Médoc. Tom and I both attended the 2012 UGC tasting at the end of January, and we both agreed that the wines from Margaux, St. Julien, and Pauillac were stand-outs. Just thinking out loud here, if the Pauillacs of 2012 are showing better than expected, would the 2012 Pontet Canet be of First Growth quality, yet selling for less than $100? I’d bet on it.
horsepontet
Back in April 2013, I tasted the 2012 Pontet Canet out of barrel, it was one of Pauillac’s standouts. Dense and concentrated, it showed a solid core of dark, lush fruit and earth with captivating structure. The quality of wine Pontet Canet has released for the past 15 years is of the highest standard, and needs to be in the conversation of Bordeaux’s best wine in any vintage. They just do everything right here. When I tasted at Pontet Canet 12 days ago, I asked Mélanie Tesseron about their 2nd wine, Les Hauts de Pontet. She told me there was no reason to show it as there really isn’t very much of it. In fact, it once was comprised of fruit harvested from their youngest vines, but those vines have since matured and in essence, over 90% of their total crop now goes into the grand vin. Operating with the Agence Bio organic certification since 2010, there is a distinct purity of fruit and terroir expression to their wines. This is especially so with their 2012.
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So despite not being in Bordeaux personally, Robert Parker’s presence was felt, as word of his upcoming synopsis of 2012 Bordeaux in bottle was all the buzz on both sides of the Gironde. We’ve received many inquiries from customers about the wines of Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan (and Graves), as those were the first two appellations he mentioned in his bulletin board post; but quality is quality, and Pontet Canet has quality in spades. Pass at your own peril.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about 2012 Bordeaux, 2014 Bordeaux, or English Football: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under 2012 Bordeaux, Pauillac, Peter Zavialoff