Category Archives: Peter Zavialoff

Peter’s thoughts on wine.

To Pair With Corned Beef And Cabbage: Riesling!

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Forget what the calendar says, it’s springtime in San Francisco! Temperatures touched 80F today here in the city and around the bay. A customer who braved traffic to visit us today advised us to steer clear of Market St. as the traditional pre-St. Patrick’s Day Saturday Parade was well attended by a large crowd of revelers enjoying the weather and whooping it up. St. Patrick’s Day? Yes, Tuesday’s the day. What does that mean? Different things to different people. Now that I’ve toned down my part in the Paddy’s Day festivities, I think more of this day as an easy way to enjoy one of my favorite meals … corned beef and cabbage with potatoes. Anya and I had a conversation about this earlier this week, she said it’s no big deal, as she likes this dish way too much to relegate it to a St. Patrick’s Day-only meal. I understand her point, as I’m known to consume it year-round as well. It probably has something to do with the Eastern European background we share, but it just tastes like home.

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It has been around this time of year when we both have mentioned St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef and cabbage, and recommended a wine to complement what some may consider a difficult meal for a wine pairing. Sure, we all know a lot of beer gets poured with it, but there’s a more elegant way to enjoy it without perhaps feeling bloated afterwards. With Riesling. Dry Alsatian Riesling to be exact.

One of Alsace’s most famous dishes is Choucroute, which is a preparation of sauerkraut with sausages and other salted or cured meats. Hmmm, sounds familiar. What do Alsatians drink with Choucroute? What pairs perfectly with Choucroute? Dry Alsatian Riesling, of course.
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Ah, it’s been too many years ago now, but Chris and I once visited Alsace as TWH won a trip to the area for “best northern California Alsatian wine promotion.” I learned a ton during that trip and we met some prominent growers and winemakers. Apart from that, we ate some delicious food and enjoyed some wonderful wines with our meals. One of these meals that sticks out is the lunch we had at the home of Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart. We arrived in late morning to taste through their entire line of wines, and did so in the dining room adjacent to their kitchen. Somewhere in the middle of this tasting, the lid to the simmering Choucroute was removed and the “just like home” aromas enchanted me with cartoon-like appeal. I literally felt like I had my eyes closed and was physically floating in the direction of its source. As we concluded tasting and sat for lunch, it was the four bottles of Riesling that made it to the table.
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It’s interesting to note that our current selection of Domaine Ehrhart (Domaine St. Rémy in Alsace) Rieslings mirrors the selections we enjoyed with our Choucroute. The entry-level 2012 Vieilles Vignes Riesling: Dry, refined and delicate, it’s marked by fleshy fruit, blossoms, and minerals. A sip of this and it’s easy to grasp how well this varietal pairs with this kind of cuisine. It doesn’t taste like entry-level anything. The 2011 Riesling Herrenweg is all sourced from one vineyard planted in a mix of gravelly sand which preserves the fruity character while maintaining freshness. It has a lush, deep mouth feel, with notes of citrus, pear, and honey, yet has the “cut” to work well with the salty meat and cabbage frame. The 2011 Grand Cru Hengst Riesling is a special wine. If one takes into consideration what prices “Grand Cru” wine command elsewhere, these are outright bargains. The vineyard is special in its soil content: calcareous marl, limestone boulders, and sandstone pebbles abound. The 2011 is aromatically expressive with notes of apricots, tropical fruit, and stony minerals. The palate is full and complex, with hints of herbs and beeswax floating with the aforementioned fruit. It has a zesty finish which suggests it will pair with a myriad of dishes such as lemongrass chicken or enchiladas suizas. The 2010 Grand Cru Hengst is similar, of course, yet has a slightly deeper, honeyed fruity component. It too has an excellent display of minerality, and finishes with flair. Perhaps one can understand exactly why a meal enjoyed many years ago can still be fresh in my mind!

As mentioned in our recent write-up about the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet (Pre-Arrival), I will be off to Bordeaux soon, this being my last stateside “Sunday Email” for a while. I’ve heard many things about the 2014 vintage in Bordeaux, but I will travel there with an open mind ready to see for myself what this new vintage is all about. I’m preparing to send, at the very least, and update on things a fortnight from tonight on location from Bordeaux, hopefully I’ll have some time to send more. I’m planning on sharing some photos and other things on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so if you follow us there, you’ll be in touch. But all things in good time; I’ve got an excuse to sit down with some corned beef, cabbage and potatoes … sign me up for a bottle of that Grand Cru Hengst! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments: peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Alsace, Peter Zavialoff, Riesling

2012 Opalie de Chateau Coutet (Pre-Arrival)

It is once again, with great pleasure, that we announce the American release of an extraordinary dry white wine from Bordeaux! By now, many of you are familiar with Opalie de Château Coutet, as we were the first wine merchants to offer both the inaugural 2010 and its successor from 2011. These are two stunning wines: opulent, textured and complex, both reflective of the prized terroir they’re sourced from and of their distinct vintages. Unique in its vivacity, Opalie is a first-of-its-kind dry white wine from Barsac produced in extremely limited production. And now comes the 2012, another gem extracted from Château Coutet’s Grand Cru vineyard in Barsac.

 

When we unveiled the inaugural 2010 vintage, we pointed out how the dry white wines from Bordeaux can count themselves among the finest wines in the world. They have a committed following of in-the-know wine consumers snapping up what little is produced, and prices for the top echelon wines can be astronomical. The Opalie de Château Coutet is a truly unique white Bordeaux wine that at once encapsulates richness, layers of complexity, opulence, nerve, and texture in unwavering harmony.

With the 2011 Opalie, we again pointed out in what short supply these wines are in, and further praised their ability to age. If you’ve ever tasted a dry white Bordeaux with the additional complexity that comes with age, you already know what we’re talking about. These wines can age for much longer than most of us think. At TWH’s holiday party this past January, we poured a dry white Bordeaux from 1992 out of half-bottle with one of our dinner courses, and it blew us away! Are we saying that you should age your Opalie 20 years before you drink it? NO! It’s in a lovely place, drinking very well right now. But if you find the odd bottle or two in your cellar a few years down the road, you’ll be in for a treat.

So, what about the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet then? Well, for starters, it has to be my sentimental favorite, because it was in April 2012 that I had my very first taste of Opalie while visiting Aline and Philippe Baly at Château Coutet. The 2010 was already in bottle and the 2011 in barrel, but for the 2012, it was just the beginning. After that initial tasting, I shared my glowing impressions of the wine with them. Citing how much I appreciated the wine’s richness, complexity, and sense of place, Philippe persistently inquired as to how I would improve the wine if I could. Again, we all have different taste, but I do have a fairly high tolerance for acidity in white wines. I mentioned this to them, and Philippe agreed stating that the recipe going forward would be to increase the amount of Sauvignon Blanc in the cuvee. For the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet, the blend is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sémillon. The wine is aged for 9 months in oak barrels, with 40% being new. In a word, the wine is fantastic! Its fresh aromas captivate the taster with nuances of citrus blossoms, baking spices, stony minerals, and green tea. The body is lively and zesty, plenty of zip provided by the Sauvignon Blanc, and the palate is rich and complex, with the mineral laden framework enduring through the finish. I tasted the 2012 Opalie on my final day in Bordeaux last year, leaving a long lasting impression on me. Class and distinction. Class and distinction for a very fair price, that is.

 

Here’s what The Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth had to say about the 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet:
“Juicy, with lots of tangerine, white peach and green almond notes that bounce along, carried by vivacious acidity. Hints of melon rind and green plum show on the finish, leaving the impression this could stretch out a little more. Drink now through through 2018. 291 cases made. Score 91.”

 

So there you have it. Château Coutet’s one-of-a-kind dry white wine, the 2012 Opalie. Right now, the only place you can get it on pre-arrival in the US is here at TWH!

The time keeps ticking as Bordeaux prepares for its annual En Primeurs barrel tastings which commence on Tuesday, March 31. I will be representing The Wine House SF at the tastings, scouting the 2014 vintage (and more) for our customers. My appointment book is filling up with visits to growers, suppliers, and chateaux. I will continue to scout for lesser known wines that represent great values for their various price-points and it looks like I will be visiting some of Bordeaux’s most famous chateaux in addition to tasting at the UGC events. In keeping with tradition, I will take the time to visit Sauternes and Barsac in particular. There’s a very good chance that I’ll get to taste the 2013 Opalie de Château Coutet, and to that, I am looking forward.Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any specific requests in regard to tasting the barrel samples. Please know that time constraints will not allow for me to taste everything, but I will do my best to share my impressions of any particular wines you may be interested in that I do taste.

peter@wineSF.com

Click Here To Purchase 2012 Opalie de Château Coutet on Pre-Arrival

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Filed under 2012 Bordeaux, Barsac, Peter Zavialoff, Semillon, White Bordeaux

2012 Rully From Claudie Jobard

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What can we say? One of the points that we don’t go over enough is how exactly we narrow down our selections. When he’s overseas tasting Burgundy, David is presented with plenty of samples that he likes, but doesn’t necessarily buy them all. There are plenty of factors to consider, but when a great majority of said factors line up, vintage after vintage, he goes for it.
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The wines from Claudie Jobard have a bit of an unfair advantage, or perhaps have reason to be held with greater scrutiny. Her mother, Laurence, was head enologist at Domaine Drouhin for 30 years! Her Pop, Roger, is a well known pépiniériste whose nursery has been influential in Burgundy for decades. It is on the land from her father’s side of the family that Claudie has her Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines, in the appellation of Rully. Rully sits in the northern sector of Côte Chalonnaise just south of the celebrated Côte d’Or. Decanter magazine reported in 2013 that some of Burgundy’s famous names are, and have been investing in vineyard land in Côte Chalonnaise in recent years, and even featured Claudie’s profile in their article.

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After having tasted a few vintages of Claudie’s wines, David went for it and we began importing her wines with the 2011 vintage. Her 2011 Rully Blanc Montagne la Folie was a huge hit with our customers (and staff), making our Top Ten Wines of 2013. The Rully Rouge La Chaume wowed all that treaded there, charming those who take joy in expressive, balanced Pinot Noir in the sub $30 camp. David’s explanation is that the wines are stylistic. Claudie’s wines are impeccably balanced, with no hard edges, no over ripeness, with elegant expression.

Though we were fairly certain it would be the case going in, her 2012s are fantastic. A difficult vintage for all, with the weather difficulties, it seems the surviving fruit from Burgundy 2012 is among the tops in quality this century. One can sense that upon their first whiff and sip of Claudie’s 2012 Rully Blanc Montagne la Folie: Fresh, bright Chardonnay aromas, medium bodied palate with excellent expression and balance. You can see what David means by calling her wines stylistic immediately. The average age of these Chardonnay vines is 42 years, so the limestone presence is felt both in the aromas and on the palate. Her 2012 Rully Rouge La Chaume is a stunner with its fragrant bouquet of red berries, forest floor, and a hint of spice. Another elegantly harmonious red Burgundy for a very fair price! These wines can be approached now, and will drink well into the next decade.
Don’t forget, they mix and match for a 15% case discount!!

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Filed under Cote Chalonnaise, Peter Zavialoff, Rully

The March 2015 Dirty Dozen

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Could it be that spring is on the horizon? Yes, indeed. The month of March has all sorts of wonderful things to deliver. Think about it. Spring training for baseball lovers, March Madness for fans of college hoops, St. Patty’s Day for amateurs, and the start of spring for those of us who long for warmer weather. This March, why not try out a Dirty Dozen? 12 bottles, all different, all chosen for their versatility, for one low price. The March 2015 Dirty Dozen. Yay!

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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.

2013 Chardonnay Viognier, Laurent Miquel $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Thank you Laurent Miquel for elevating the French country wine to such heights! Harvesting at night and fermenting in stainless steel tank make for a fresh, clean wine that offers up the sunny fruit of the Languedoc. Apricots and citrus fruit flavors abound. Chicken, lemon-stuffed and roasted or drowning in Mojo sauce, would do nicely here.

2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Colline Blanc, La Cabotte $12.48 net price, $10.78 reorder

La Cabotte’s vineyards are certified biodynamic and organic. A third each of Grenache blanc, Clairette and Viognier harmoniously blend together to make a classic white Rhône – stone fruit flavors prevail while the finish retains a striking minerality. The quality over delivers for price on this charmer! A brined and roasted pork loin would pair perfectly!

2012 Ranina Mea Culpa, Kogl $13.98, $12.58 reorder

A wine from Slovenia? A DD first! Ranina is considered indigenous to Slovenia. A wild crossing between some Pinot variety and an unknown parent, Ranina is often used for sweet wine. Kogl prefers to ferment their Ranina dry. White-fleshed fruit and subtle floral aromas on the nose combine to make a captivating, delicious white wine. A wonderful choice for heat-spiked foods and fresh water fish.

2013 Touraine Rosé, Domaine des Corbillières $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Now that the days are getting longer and the weather warmer, it just makes sense to have some Rosé handy. Ah, but this is no ordinary Rosé! Hints of citrus blossoms and red berry fruit are noticeable on the bouquet, yet the palate is crisp. Extremely versatile, one can be quite creative when thinking of pairing partners, though a sunny picnic will do.

2013 Hors Saison, Domaine La Hitaire $13.99, $11.19 reorder

In the local dialect, Hors Saison means outdoor season. It is March, and around these parts, March is not just a verb. It is the time of year when windows open, blossoms appear, and fresh, easy-drinking white wines are fashionable. This blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon is light and refreshing. It is ideal to pour with macaroni salad with tuna and mayo.

2012 Gavi di Gavi Rovereto, Ernesto Picollo $16.79, $13.43 reorder

Direct-importation is responsible for this amazing wine to come to us for such a ridiculously low price! It’s all about the crisp dried yellow fruits and minerals here. If you can pair it with halibut puttanesca, you’ll be in Schaeffer City!

2013 Garnacha, Bodegas Filón $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

DO Catalayud is part of Spain’s Ebro River Valley region, where high elevation vineyards seek refuge from the dry, arid Spanish interior. Garnacha thrives in this region, producing sappy, rich reds with notes of mint. Bodegas Filón does a noble job at producing an open-armed, succulent Garnacha. Time to serve up some patatas al ajillo with chorizo!

2012 Peljesac, Dingac $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

An hour drive north of Dubrovnik, the Peljesac Peninsula juts 40 miles out into the Adriatic. In this part of Croatia, the native grape Plavac Mali is commonly planted. This Plavac Mali is fashioned in a locally popular style – the grapes are harvested late giving the wine the quality of sur-maturité. This super ripeness shows on the nose but not on the palate. Plummy flavors with dried herbs characterize the wine. Be adventurous – pair with Korean short ribs or fajitas.

2009 L’Artisan Languedoc, Laurent Miquel $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

Predominantly Syrah, this is a full-bodied southern French red. Typical of the region, the Syrah impart spice notes of white and black pepper. A tiny touch of Grenache is blended in to give a fruitier dimension. Honestly, this one, because it has had time to settle in bottle, goes with practically any cuisine – all the edges have been smoothed out.

2011 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rouge $12.99, $10.39 reorder

Red Rhône wines have to be counted among the most consistent bargains of the wine world. For quality and price, it’s tough to go elsewhere. For this one, Diane Puymorin blends 10% old vine Carignan and 10% old vine Mourvèdre with Syrah and Grenache and the result is quite complex for a wine in this price range. Serve it with sautéed veal cutlets.

2012 Syrah/Grenache, Grange des Rouquette $11.99, $9.59 reorder

Speaking of red Rhône wines, Thierry Boudinaud uses a similar recipe to craft his entry-level red. His Syrah/Grenache receives the added benefit of a little Mourvèdre (10%), which gives the wine a little added complexity. It’s fresh and charming, no problem if you want to pour it on its own, but it will pair well with pasta in red sauce or a calzone.

2012 Pinotage, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

South Africa’s signature grape, Pinotage was created as a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault back in the 1920s. Alex Dale’s Winery of Good Hope’s version is all de-stemmed and consists of only the free-run juice, keeping the fruit at the forefront. Serve it with a slight chill, and enjoy with spicy carnitas served on corn tortillas.

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Reg. $156.58On Sale $109.00

 



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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Peter Zavialoff, The Dirty Dozen

2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s – Domaine Stéphane Pichat – The Syrah That Seduced Us All

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There’s been a lot going on around here lately, and as is usual for me, much of it has to do with Bordeaux. Of course, there were our two recent offers of the fantastic back to back vintages of 2009 and 2010. Funny, just before I pushed the magic button to send the 2010 vintage email, a couple walked in and said hello. Turns out they were the owners of a chateau in St. Emilion! More Bordeaux people are scheduled to visit us next week, but the big, big news was the announcement by Robert Parker that he will not be traveling to the region for the 2014 En Primeur tastings. Neal Martin will be handling Primeurs for The Wine Advocate beginning this year. The torch is being passed and time moves on. Speaking of time, as the 2nd month of the year comes to a close, I thought it a good time to check in on my wine resolutions that were made back at the beginning of the year.

 

Okay, not bad. Merlot? Just had some last night. Events? Our dinner with Château Brane Cantenac was a huge success. We’ll get something else on the books soon. Expanding horizons? Hmmm. This one needs a little help. Good to know. I’ll work on it. Push the boundaries? I’m learning new things all the time, so no problem with that one. Monthly splurge? Hmmm. Could it be that February has gone by without one? That’s easy to fix, and it’s about as no-brainer as it gets. The wine that every member of our staff is ready to flush their budget for is the 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s from Domaine Pichat.

 

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Last Thursday, some pretty fancy wines were opened for a few of our wholesale customers. At the end of the day, there were some lovely samples for our staff to divvy up and take home. Our staff that day consisted of Chris and myself. Most of the samples had been tasted by Tom and Anya previously, so those were free to go home, but there was one that no one had yet tasted. For occasions such as these, we have small vials that we fill so they can be tasted the next day. It was really hard to part with even a vial-full of this wine! This is the magic that can come from a bottle of Côte Rôtie!

 

When I first started working here, a close friend of mine who is a regular wine tasting buddy, a foodie, and a great chef to boot asked me to bring by a bottle of Côte Rôtie so he could see what all the fuss was about. What I ended up bringing was a very nice Côte Rôtie, but it fell short of expectations as it wasn’t exhibiting any Côte Rôtie magic that night. Well Chief, if you still read my ramblings, this one has it in spades!!! The first whiff: magic. Côte Rôtie magic. Earth, dark purple Syrah fruit, meat, bacon fat, spice, autumn leaves … I mean the aromas are gorgeous. You can literally spend 5 minutes smelling this wine. The palate is equally spectacular with layers upon layers of complexity all in balance as if all components of the wine were woven together with magical thread. The finish is sad, as in darn, it’s gone. But as Dr. Seuss reminds us, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Anya and Tom came in the next day, and let’s just say that I didn’t need to keep an eye out for when they tasted the Côte Rôtie. The oohs and ahhs and cries of praise from the tasting room were enough to hear in all corners of our warehouse. I know Chris well, and when he’s committed to a budget, he’s committed to a budget, but he’s already ready to cave, as this wine can seduce the most willful.

 

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As I stated in my wine resolutions, life’s too short to not enjoy something special every now and then. It is just a small sacrifice for pleasure. The 2012 Côte Rôtie Champon’s from Domaine Pichat is well worth every penny, and if you like the smoky, meaty, dense briary fruit that Côte Rôtie can deliver, this wine’s for you.

 

Time marches on! Before Robert Parker turned tasting at Bordeaux’s En Primeur tastings over to Neal Martin, he also welcomed Rhône expert Jeb Dunnuck to his staff to cover the region. Here’s what Jeb said about Stéphane Pichat’s 2012 Côte Rôtie 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

Producing a modern-styled Condrieu and Côte Rôtie, this outstanding estate is run by the young Stephane Pichat. He’s excelled in both 2012 and 2013. I think production here is minuscule, but these are worth the effort to track down.”

 

Speaking of time marching on, the first bit of English Football silverware is up for grabs tomorrow at Wembley. May the best side prevail!Peter Zavialoff

 

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Bordeaux, Côte Rôtie, Wine Resolutions, or English Football:
peter@wineSF.com

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Filed under Cote Rotie, Peter Zavialoff, Syrah

2012 Le Farnete Carmignano – A Wedding Gift

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Whew! As another week zooms by, what lies in its wake? Well, the big event this past week, no doubt, was Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tasting. Gambero Rosso is a well known Italian wine publication which rates the country’s wines by bicchieri, or glasses, three being the highest. Each year they hit the road with the latest recipients of this designation, and the show was here in SF this past Thursday. Believe it or not, coincidentally, two of our Italian producers were also here on Thursday, though neither was part of Gambero Rosso’s event. Gianlorenzo Picollo was here pouring his family’s Gavi and Gavi di Gavi, and he was joined by Enrico Pierazzuoli from Le Farnete. I have to say that Enrico’s Carmignano has been a personal favorite of mine for many vintages, and as I’ve eluded to recently, this can create lofty expectations, which of course are sometimes difficult to live up to.
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So this past Thursday at closing time, Gianlorenzo and Enrico stepped into our staff tasting area and opened some of their recent releases for us. The wine of the tasting? For me, it was the 2012 Le Farnete Carmignano. I don’t know what it is with this wine, but as I said, I have some history with this wine. I remember loving the 2004. I stocked up on the 2005 after we put it on sale, as it was the mother of no-brainers. Anya and I both thought enough of the 2008 to write about it. The 2009 was another winner, so when it came time to taste the 2012 with Enrico in the room, the pressure was on. I remember the warmth cloaking me and the smile that I couldn’t hide after I put my nose in the glass. Wonderful stuff. Incense, clove, black cherries, forest floor, black tea.My kind of wine. The palate was lush, well balanced, and complex. The finish was firing on all cylinders, another winner!

Le Farnete’s Carmignano is a blend of Sangiovese (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), a wine that might be misclassified as a Super Tuscan. But no, this is not a Super Tuscan. As we have previously reported, under Italian law, Cabernet Sauvignon has been allowed to grow in Carmignano since Medici times. What we didn’t know was this tidbit that Enrico let us in on. In the 16th Century, when Catherine de’ Medici married French King Henry II, as a wedding gift, the French delivered some Cabernet Sauvignon vines that would be planted in Carmignano. And the rest is history.

Considering the price of this wine, it’s another no-brainer. Wines of this kind of quality can sell for double this price or even higher. It’s 13.5% alcohol and can pair with a myriad of cuisine. All of the traditional Italian dishes are easy pairings; osso-buco, bistecca alla Fiorentina, or rabbit pappardelle would be lovely, but the Carmignano is inexpensive enough to pop with simple pasta with Bolognese or Arrabiata sauce and is perfect with a sausage pizza. We had a lovely visit with these two Italian gentlemen.
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I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. The weather here in San Francisco was incredible, or as I’ve said many times, “If it’s not going to rain, it may as well do this.” We’ve got some exciting stuff on the horizon coming your way soon. It starts on Monday. Yes, we’ll be open on President’s Day, normal weekday hours of 10am-6pm. There was no footy, or at least not for my team this weekend, but that’s okay because the Champions’ League knock-out phase begins Tuesday!!! We’re up against French giants Paris Saint Germain. This will be one of those rare weeks when I won’t have my usual Wednesday off. Come on you Blues! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Carmignano, Peter Zavialoff, Tuscany

The February 2015 Dirty Dozen

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February might be the shortest month of the year, but it’s packed with fun stuff to do! There’s Valentine’s Day, of course, but Presidents’ Day and winter break right afterward. That’s reason enough to have a Dirty Dozen handy. Think about it, 12 wines, all chosen for their versatility, in one handy box, for one incredibly low price. So no matter what’s cooking, there’s something in this here sampler that will pair well beside it. Vive la Dirty Dozen!

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2013 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Col del Mondo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

An old favorite makes a return visit to the DD. These mature Trebbiano grapes are grown on silt/clay soils rich in calcareous elements. Winds off the Adriatic keep temps cool at night, preserving freshness. Meticulous work in the vineyard yields results that over-deliver for the price. Unoaked and yet dripping with sunny, citrusy flavors – delizioso! Serving suggestions include veal Piccata, a bowl of Castelvetrano olives, or a rotisserie Chicken.

2013 Chardonnay, Sean Minor $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

This Central Coast Chardonnay is put together keeping balance in mind as only a portion of the wine is aged in barrel. A Chardonnay that is unapologetically Californian in flavor profile: apple, pear, with nuances of tropical fruit. A rounded, creamy finish will compliment Swiss enchiladas, pan-roasted salmon or it can go solo at your next book club meeting.

2013 Pinot Grigio, Riff $11.98, $10.78 reorder

One of Italy’s most famous producers, Alois Lageder, makes this delightful, delicious and de-lovely Pinot Grigio. Fermented in tank and left on its lees for four months to develop texture, this is far removed from the sea of plonky Pinot Grigio. Depth and pronounced aromas of orchard fruit make this a perennial TWH favorite. Food match-ups are endless here, but to get you started: Oysters Rockefeller, clam chowder, or a grilled Gruyere & ham sandwich. Nice!

2012 Unoaked Chardonnay, The Winery of Good Hope $13.49, $10.79 reorder

English expat Alex Dale has a few labels under his umbrella down Stellenbosch way. His entry-level brand, The Winery of Good Hope doesn’t spend precious resources on new barrels, packaging, or marketing, ultimately keeping their bottle prices über-friendly. Here it is: Lively Chardonnay with no make-up, waiting to be poured with those crabcakes.

2012 Bordeaux Clairet, Château Armurey $9.99, $7.99 reorder

Speaking of the English – They’ve called red Bordeaux wines “Claret” for centuries. Where’d they get that from? In the Middle Ages, light red wine called Clairet (say Klare-ay´) was shipped from Bordeaux to England, and that inspired this now permanent fixture in their lexicon. Not a red wine, not a Rosé, this Clairet is as versatile as it is easy on the wallet!

NV Touraine Brut Rosé, Domaine d’Orfeuilles $17.98 net price, $16.18 reorder

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s a pink sparkler with plenty of nuance and character. Made mostly from Côt (non Loire people call it Malbec), it sports a deep brick-like color, but don’t let that fool you. This fizz is dry and zesty, the fruit pings with freshness, and there is gravelly mineral at its core. Perfect to open with tempura and/or sushi.

2013 Luberon, Dauvergne Ranvier $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Juicy black cherry and plum flavors are embraced by firm, velvety tannins making this the ideal anytime Rhône red. Two-thirds Syrah with the balance Grenache, this wine captures the easy-to-drink profile of the region. Each sip can elicit taste memories of fruit and Provençal herbs. Try with turkey and hominy chili (make it as hot as you like, this red with handle the heat), lamb burgers or white bean and kale stew for meatless Monday.

2013 Nero d’Avola, Marchione $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

The dark-skinned Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most important and widely planted grape. This rendition of Nero d’Avola opts to take the fresher route by fermenting the grapes in tank, leaving the acid bright and the fruit intense. A charming Nero d’Avola if ever there was one. It is well suited for tomato-based sauces and dishes, as well as Mediterranean seafood stews like Cioppino or Bouillabaisse. Too much effort? Ok then, a lamb shawarma or carnitas burrito can do in a pinch.

2013 Bobal, Atance $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

One can easily make the case that Spain produces the greatest selection of wine values in the world. Allow us to put into evidence, Atance Bobal. Crusader of Bobal, Toni Sarrion of Bodegas Mustiguillo, makes this wine using grapes from the DO Valencia. A medium-bodied red, the aromatics have an alluring thread of black pepper in tandem with the raspberry fruit. Muy ricos!

2013 Merlot, Domaine de St. Antoine $11.49, $9.19 reorder

Jean-Louis Emmanuel’s terroir in the hills to the southeast of the city of Nîmes have been compared to the terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He grows Syrah as well, but he found something to his liking by planting Merlot under the hot sun of the Costières de Nîmes. It’s juicy and medium bodied with a hint of the garrigue; great with pasta and duck ragu.

2011 Morgon Côte du Py, Domaine Pierre Savoye $18.99 net price, $15.19 reorder

There are 10 classified ‘Crus’, or growths, in Beaujolais. Though they’re not labeled as such, their recognition suggests each one special, akin to Premier Cru or Grand Cru. The wines from Morgon’s Côte du Py are considered to be some of Beaujolais’ more age worthy. Think bright red cherries and forest floor, this juicy number suits a turkey sando just fine.

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

Hardly a newfangled ‘Super Tuscan,’ Cabernet Sauvignon has been allowed to grow in Carmignano since Medici times. Blended with 80% Sangiovese, the Barco Reale shows plenty of brightness braced by the sturdy Cabernet fruit. This is a food wine extraordinaire, as it will suit pasta, pizza, stews, barbecue, veal shanks, meatballs; we could keep going!

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

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