Category Archives: Peter Zavialoff

Peter’s thoughts on wine.

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.
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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

The April 2015 Dirty Dozen

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Now that it’s officially spring, it’s time to start thinking about the next 5 months and the time of year when we tend to take our gatherings and festivities outdoors. Well, when outdoors, what better to have handy than twelve bottles of wine, all different, all chosen for their versatility, packed in a box for one incredibly low price??!! The April 2015 Dirty Dozen includes wines from six different countries, check it out today!

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2013 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, Domaine Boudinaud $13.99, $11.19 reorder

We have been fans of Thierry Boudinaud’s wines for well over a decade, and with each new vintage, we applaud his efforts; it seems his wines get better and better. This here white Rhône is 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne, and it is round and rich with a clean finish. Its richness makes it a nice partner with stronger cheeses or a bowl of olives.


2013 Ventoux Rosé, Domaine Fondrèche $12.45 sale price, $11.83 reorder, $9.95 solid case

What is that color?? Is it pale pink? Salmon? It’s pale, alright. In fact, it is our palest, driest Rosé in stock. Customers just love it, and so do we. This is Rosé done in the Provençal style: 50% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, and the rest Syrah. This is just perfect for a lovely day in the sunshine! Some crispy little calamari would be great here.

2011 Chenin Blanc, Vinum Africa $17.49, $13.99 reorder

Alex Dale’s Vinum Africa label has been getting some much-deserved press of late. Decanter magazine recommended Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc just last week! It’s bright, appley, and the deft touch of new barrel gives it a little spice and texture. It tastes fancy and should be paired with a nice piece of smoked trout.

2013 Chardonnay, Milou $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Dig that fancy label!! No kidding, we’ve been hearing much praise for both the outstanding packaging AND the delicious juice inside the Milou bottle! Grown in soils similar to those in Chablis, there is a distinct resemblance to crisp, mineral driven, more expensive Chardonnays. Versatile as can be, drink the Milou by itself or with some crab cakes.

2012 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, Leaf & Vine $14.98 net price, $13.48 reorder

The grapes for this baby come from the Turn In The Road Vineyard in Lake County’s Big Valley AVA. The vineyard rests some 1400 feet above sea level, and that keeps things mighty cool at night, which is good news for balancing acidity. Bright citrusy aromas give way to a fleshy fruit palate reminiscent of pears and melons. Drink it with lighter fish dishes.

NV Vinho Verde, Broadbent $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder

Bottled to order and shipped in refrigerated containers throughout the year is what keeps Broadbent’s Vinho Verde so fresh and spritzy. At 9% alc., partaking in a glass or two is easy to enjoy. Simple yet full of charm, serve it as a starter to a meal with salty nibbles like Marcona almonds, Serrano ham, pickled veggies and crusty bread.

2011 Touraine Rouge, Domaine des Corbillières $15.99, $12.79 reorder

Here’s another long-time TWH producer whose wines just keep getting better and better! Domaine des Corbillières’ little 3 red grape blend (Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Malbec) has the best of all worlds: aromas, complexity, and structure. It’s the perfect versatile red that accompanies most of the goodies one packs in a picnic basket.

2013 Chianti Montalbano, Pierazzuoli $14.49, $11.59 reorder

Speaking of versatile reds, of course, Chianti is in no-brainer land. Enrico Pierazzuoli’s Chianti Montalbano is 100% Sangiovese. It shows a concentrated nose of red and purple berry fruit with earthy minerals. It has just enough tang to (of course) stand up to rich tomato-based sauces. We say try it with garlic bread and antipasta.

2013 Merlot, Domaine Gournier $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Long time DD fans may remember the name Gournier, as their nicely priced line of southern French wines are packed with happiness and priced with more happiness. The new label shows they’re all grown up now, and this Merlot outperforms its price point significantly. Drink this at barbecues or parties. It will pair with red meats off the grill and good friends.

2013 Grenache/Syrah, Mas de Guiot $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Who turned back the clock? This has been a nostalgic DD this month with the litany of long-time TWH pals on board! Mas de Guiot is another old friend gone missing for a while (see Gournier). We love what we’ve always loved about this wine – sense of place. It has the southern French countryside in its soul, so you better pair it with cassoulet.

2012 Campo de Borja Garnacha, Santo Cristo $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Located just southeast of Rioja, Campo de Borja is one of the most interesting regions for young wines in Spain. It’s much drier and warmer than its famous neighbor, resulting in Garnacha with low yields and more concentration. The young winemakers of Santo Cristo capture this concentration for all of us to enjoy with gamey meats or rabbit stew.


2010 Dão, Proeza $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Looking for a full-bodied red that goes easy on the pocket book? Look no further than this voluptuous Portuguese red from Proeza. Loaded with big flavors courtesy of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz, grapes traditionally made into Port, this dry red is grippy and broad-scaled. A lot of wine for the money! Hearty, rib-sticking meals would work best.

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Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine!
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Spring=Chardonnay=Domaine Sainte Barbe

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2012 Viré-Clessé from Domaine Sainte Barbe

Now that it’s officially spring, we can look ahead to all of the excitement that comes with it! Of the many great things about springtime, especially here in SF, is the warmer weather. And when it warms up, it just makes sense to enjoy a little chill in your vino! Anya recently regaled us about Jean-Marie Chaland’s unoaked Mâcon Villages Les Tilles, citing its sophistication for an entry-level offering. Jean-Marie also makes wines from Viré-Clessé, and if you love pure Chardonnay expression for a very fair price, you’re not going to want to miss out on these …
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Viré-Clessé is a recently created appellation (1999) in southern Burgundy, singling out a small parcel of land outside of Mâcon’s Pouilly appellations which is capable of producing high-quality Chardonnay. It’s interesting to note that the appellation’s rules dictate that only the dryest (3g residual sugar per liter or lower) wines are allowed to bear the Viré-Clessé label, and Chaland makes some sensational wines from this slice of southern Burgundy.

For his 2012 Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Marie’s sources are vines all in excess of 55 years old planted in clay and limestone soils. All tank vinified, the wine is aged on its lees for 14 months and bottled. It’s pure, unadulterated Chardonnay, all business, no pretense. Its structure suggests it should be hitting its happy zone from 2017, but an hour or so of decanting now will have it dancing effortlessly on your palate.
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Only 250 cases of Saint Barbe’s 2012 Viré-Clessé Perrière were made. The vines from this vineyard are 35 years old, and typically, the Perrière shows plentiful amounts of mineral notes. It’s aged in barrel, mostly 1 and 2 year old, with 10% being new. The 2012 is a wine marked by rich, ripe, fleshy white fruit flavors. The palate is full, expressive, and accessible; game on!

The vines in Chaland’s L’Épinet vineyard were planted in 1940! The soil consists of gravel upon red clay, and it sits on top a hill with southeast exposure. Jean-Marie uses one new barrel and the rest neutral in aging his l’Épinet, giving it a little texture to complement the dazzling, bright yellow fruit. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, the amalgam of complexity in the 2012 Viré-Clessé L’Épinet drinks well beyond its modest price-point.

Wow! Exciting times indeed. Springtime is here, warm weather straight ahead! Here are a trio of tasty Chardonnays that will impress your palates without “Burgundizing” your pocketbooks. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jean-Marie Chaland, Peter Zavialoff, Viré-Clessé

A Pre-Arrival Bordeaux Deal: 2012 Beau-Sejour Becot

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Bonsoir! I hope all is well back in the states. I’ve been in Bordeaux since Wednesday afternoon, and after getting over the time difference, I can say with conviction that I’m ready for the crazy time known around here as En Primeurs week. I visited two suppliers on Thursday and tasted through 29 samples of various Bordeaux wines from vintages ranging from 1999-2012. We have more prospects. Tomorrow, it will get intense. There will literally be hundreds of 2014 barrel samples available for tasting at the respective warehouses of two different suppliers. I need a good night’s sleep. So I will be brief. If you love Bordeaux like I do, or even a little bit less, a wine you should have in your cellar is the 2012 Chateau Beau-Séjour Bécot.

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We’re still selling it on pre-arrival, but when it arrives, we don’t anticipate it staying around for very long, as it has pedigree, sense of place, restraint, and for the price, big-time value! It is scheduled to begin arriving in mid 2015, and the last of it should arrive no later than the end of the year. Back in 2013, I remember tasting it out of barrel. “How was the Beau-Séjour Bécot?” David asked. “Spectacular!” I said.

The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker, prior to his retiring from his 30+ year job of traveling to Bordeaux for primeurs, had this to say about the 2012 Beau-Séjour Bécot out of barrel,

A spectacular wine from this nearly 50-acre vineyard situated atop St.-Emilion’s famed limestone plateau, the final blend for the 2012 Beau-Sejour Becot was 70% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. It achieved 14% natural alcohol and yields were 31 hectoliters per hectare. One of the stars of the vintage, it is elegant yet powerful, rich and authoritative with abundant black raspberry, blueberry, graphite and toasty vanillin notes. Full-bodied and super rich for a 2012, it is packed with potential. The tannins are ripe as well as abundant suggesting several years of bottle age will be required. It should turn out to be a 20 year proposition. (92-95) points”
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Wines like the 2012 Beau-Séjour Bécot serve as a constant reminder as to how much we trust Bordeaux. The respective chateaux owners might be mired in ye olde “let’s outdo the neighbors” mentality, but we feel fortunate that the Bécot family have their senses about them and offered their wine for a very fair price. Perhaps “too” fair? – Peter Zavialoff

PS: Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about 2014 futures, 2012 Beau-Séjour Bécot, or English football. – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2012 Bordeaux, Peter Zavialoff, St. Emilion

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