Category Archives: Prosecco

Giavi’s Prosecco Superiore

The newest addition to our Italian portfolio, which at present includes Ca’Lojera, Montenidoli, Picollo, and Tenuta Pierazzuoli, is Prosecco producer, Giavi. Established in 1914, this estate is currently run by enterprising young Marco Cuscito. David had been looking for a Prosecco to import and had narrowed it down to a couple of producers. It was foremost the quality of the wine and then Marco’s vision and plans to push the winery forward that made Giavi the obvious choice. The popularity of Prosecco has skyrocketed in the US over the last few years as lovers of bubbly looked to downsize from Champagne’s top-tier price tags. The Italians wisely met this up tick in sales with a new classification for Prosecco, creating Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG in 2009 to designate Prosecco’s “sweet spot”. It is here that you will find Giavi. Not far from the town of Conegliano, up Monticella hill, Giavi has a little over 17 acres planted. Per DOCG regulations up to 15% can be other grapes, like Chardonnay, but at Giavi it is 100% Glera, a grape more commonly know as Prosecco.

 

When pouring a glass, I immediately become dazzled by the frosty white perlage floating to the top of the glass. The bubbles form a creamy texture on the palate and are met with a fresh grape burst of flavor, ending with a refreshing zip on the finish. It is not bone-dry, as Prosecco typically isn’t, but it sits drier than most and is technically a Brut. As such it is lovely on its own or with little bite-sized snacks. My last visit to Venice was only for a day. Tony and I knew it would be impossible to hit all the tourist spots and, anyway, we had been there before, so our goal was to drink a glass of Prosecco every hour on the hour wherever we found ourselves. What a perfect way to spend a day in Venice! Coincidentally, a customer of TWH who regularly visits Venice, came to us not too long ago and asked, “I know this is a long-shot, but have you heard of a Prosecco producer called Giavi? I don’t know if they are imported into the US yet, but it is probably the best Prosecco I’ve ever tasted.” We all looked at each other, wondering where the cameras were hidden, because you just can’t script a lead-in so perfectly. Without a word we pointed to our stack of newly arrived Giavi. Our customer, as you would guess, was gobsmacked, yet was delighted to go home with a box.

 

Needles are falling down off of Redwoods, I took my first trip to Walkers Apple Farm (only 2 varieties in; a late season), and my daughter has begun 3rd grade! I can smell Autumn approaching fast. It gets me to thinking about late-summer porch parties where a starter of Prosecco always sets the mood for conviviality. A salty snack of cured ham with a favorite fruit would be a smart way to go. I know many of you are early planners, so I would like to point out that Giavi’s Prosecco Superiore is a sophisticated alternative to pricier sparklers for gifts and parties.  Get a jump start on end of year celebrations by loading up with Giavi’s Prosecco Superiore! Va Bene! —Anya Balistreri
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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Prosecco, Sparkling wine

April 2012 Dirty Dozen

Days get longer, the nights grow short, our Easter baskets are getting filled up, and what’s this? Baseball season? Yep, it’s April and it’s time for opening the windows and doors, getting some fresh air, and maybe a picnic or four. However you like to spend your time this spring, consider this: Twelve bottles, one low price.

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2010 Orvieto, Cardèto
Big on our list of springtime wines are dry, crisp, easy quaffers that deliver in the quality department, yet keep the big bills in your wallet. This Orvieto is just the ticket! Lean and crisp with a citrusy freshness, this blend of Trebbiano and Grechetto is a great refresher should a warm spring afternoon come your way. Pairs great with a bowl o’mussels.

2010 Chardonnay, Viano Vineyards
Is it us, or do you ever see Cali Chardonnay in the sub $10 category anymore? At least quality, sub $10 Cali Chardonnay? Sales reps visit us and pour and pour, but we keep saying no until the right one comes along. Well, here it is! From Contra Costa county, no less; halfway between the Napa and Livermore Valleys comes the Viano. Pair with a crab salad.

2010 Vino Valpredo Bianca Mia, Fritz Winery
Rather than choose between Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, why not blend them? At least that’s what our friends at Sonoma’s Fritz Winery thought. You know what? This is some quality juice. Aromas of stone fruits and citrus blossoms give way to a zesty citrus palate. Anya says grill up some shrimp and serve it with mango salsa … and this, of course.

NV Prosecco Superiore, Giavi
Talk to any of us about our new D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore, the Giavi, and prepare yourself for an enthusiastic reply! Seriously, this Prosecco has it all: tiny bubbles, a pale, frosty appearance, depth, and crispness. Crostini with caviar?

2010 Blanc de Domaine de la Petite Cassagne
Her name is Diane de Puymorin. We adore her wines … all of them. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne estate back in 1998, renamed it Château d’Or et des Gueules, yet still pays homage to the old guard with a Rouge, Rosé, and this Blanc. Diane blends 40% Rolle (Vermentino) with Grenache Blanc and the result is a bright, citrus infused aromatic showpiece.

2009 Fernão Pires, Quinta do Alqueve
Dare we try to get wine geeky on you, but here’s Portugal’s Fernão Pires blended with a smidge of Arinto. Geeky? Maybe. But the stone fruity aromas and crisp mouthfeel will make wine geeks out of us all! Great with sardines.

2009 Garnacha Two Rows, Odisea
As we switch to the reds, let’s point out that our friends at Odisea have another hit on their hands. Mostly Grenache with small parts Syrah and Tempranillo, the Two Rows is a plump palate pleaser. Ripe cherries and raspberries mingle with vanilla spice and herbs resulting in ethereal harmony. If it’s burgers on the grill; sorry, these Two Rows are taken.

2010 Tempranillo, Enanzo
Yummy Tempranillo from Spain’s Navarra region! The philosophy at Enanzo is simple. To quote them, “this Tempranillo is made by applying the only true winemaking criterion: intimate, permanent, progressive harmony between man and his environment.” It works here, the herb infused fruit is braced by dusty tannins and spirited acidity. Great with pizza.

2009 Château de Bouchet La Rentiere
What a vintage 2009 was for the wines of Bordeaux! The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker likened the vintage to the legendary 1982 noting one exception: in 1982 there weren’t many small, inexpensive producers taking advantage of the perfect weather to make great affordable Bordeaux. That’s different now. Pair this beauty with your prime rib.

2008 Les Cimels, Château d’Or et des Gueules
If there’s a better $15 red wine here at TWH, I haven’t seen it. The aforementioned Diane de Puymorin blends some old vine Carignan with Grenache and Syrah, and the result is an herbal masterpiece. Forest floor, Kalamata olives, and black tea dominate the aromas, and the palate is more savory than fruity. The perfect wine for pasta with an herbal sauce.

2009 Côtes du Rhône les Boissières, Vignobles Boudinaud
New to us is Veronique and Thierry Boudinaud’s les Boissières Côtes du Rhône. It’s an exciting story as 100% of what’s imported to the US is imported for us! Think honest, old-school Côtes du Rhône here. It shows plenty of fruit, but without going overboard. Toss in some cracked pepper and herbs Provençal, and you get the drift. This is yet another versatile bottle in what can be called The Versatile Dozen. Great on its own, or paired with cassoulet.

2006 Syrah, Alberto Furque
Ever popular with our staff and customers, the Alberto Furque line crushes it when it comes to quality for price. Grown at altitudes of over 3000 feet, the vineyards of Mendoza’s Bodega Aconquija (we call them Alberto Furque) get just the right amount of warm days and cool nights to produce wines with dazzling structure. This Syrah sings of balance and harmony. If you find yourself dreaming about some thinly sliced Argentine beef with Chimichurri sauce, pour this.

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Filed under Alberto Furque, Argentina, Costieres de Nimes, Cotes du Rhone, Grenache, Italy, Mendoza, Napa, Napa Valley, Portugal, Prosecco, Rhone, Spain, Sparkling wine, Syrah, The Dirty Dozen, Wine Clubs/Samplers

The Wine House San Francisco: Our Top Ten Wines of 2011

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again where we pick the top ten wines that were released and passed through our shop in the calendar year 2011. We first did this in 2009, and the reaction was so positive that we did it again last year. It’s a fun exercise for us here; we taste a lot of wine throughout the year, most of which doesn’t even make it to our sales floor. Of all that DOES meet our standards and make it to the floor, it becomes a difficult task to narrow it down to just 10. But we get there; the most fun part of the exercise is that while discussing the wines, we get to relive the past year in tasting. Remember, some of these wines have sold out, but deserve to be mentioned here based on their merits.

2010 Lugana – Ca’Lojera
Kicking things off here is the first of 7 direct TWH imports in this year’s top 10! Speaking for those of us who have not met her, we’re so jealous that first David, and then Anya met with Ambra Tiraboschi at successive Italian tastings in New York City. The wines that come from Ambra’s Ca’Lojera are a rare breed indeed. Ambra’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a gem that is not to be missed. But it’s what she can do with the Turbiana variety that lands her in our Top Ten of 2011. Her 2010 Lugana is one of our favorite Italian whites that came this way in 2011. It’s yummy goodness of fresh white fleshy fruit and zippy acidity, not to mention modest price, pushes it right into the Top Ten. If this is only the first of ten of this caliber, you might want to grab a seat.
2009 J-M Chaland Vire-Clesse
Speaking of terrific white wine imports … David was (again) lucky enough to be tasting wine in Burgundy last winter and when he tasted through the unoaked Chardonnays from Jean-Marie Chaland he had an epiphany. Brand new for us are a whole line of delicious Maconais wines which scream “White Burgundy Values”. The top of the line Thurissey is made from vines over 90 years old! Seriously, run don’t walk to this wine.
2008 Claude Thomas Zinfandel
Here’s a real TWH story. You should see our calendar. I mean Anya’s calendar. It’s got names and times jotted down for every day she works. There is a line out the door for the opportunity to have Anya taste (and hopefully, buy) the respective wines that each wine rep sells. It’s gotten so out of hand that one producer periodically sends his friends in specifically asking for his wine. Ah, what some people resort to just to make a sale. Sometimes, one of these encounters results in an extraordinary upside surprise, “winemakers to watch” and all. Yet it happened again in 2011 with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. When the 2008 Claude Thomas Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was poured for her, Anya, who by the way loves Zinfandel, was all in! Ripe, brambly berry and spice, we’re all in too. What a pleasure for all of us here at TWH when Tom Stanley drops off cases of his wine! Well done, Tom.
2008 Vignobles Boudinaud Côtes du Rhône Mataro
Back to France. You love Mourvèdre. We love Mourvèdre. What’s not to love? Big, gamy, muscular, earthy wines always have a home with those who love the style. It says Côtes du Rhône on the label. It says Mataro on the label as well, which is what some people in Spain, and apparently in the south of France call Mourvèdre. It’s a Côtes du Rhône made from 100% Mourvèdre. We love that! All of us here at TWH were wowed by this wine in 2011.
2010 Domaine d’Orfeuilles Vouvray
One of our favorite Loire Valley producers, Domaine d’Orfeuilles, you know, the ones that make sparkling Vouvray. Or maybe you’re familiar with their sparkling Touraine Rosé made from Côt, or Malbec as it’s known elsewhere. Maybe you’ve heard of their demi-sec Vouvray “les Coudraies”. Obviously, we’re big fans of these guys! The wine that brought us to them? It was the 2005 Vouvray “Silex”. That was so long ago that there isn’t even a blog link to attach to it. But the ’05 Silex? Crisp and bone dry with that lovely apple-ey goodness that Chenin Blanc is known for … but the mineral swirl? The stuff of legend. So when the 2010 recently went out to wholesale accounts and the sample bottle returned to the shop, we poured out some tastes for our staff … Chris and I took one swirl and taste … “Dude, can you believe that?” (Yes, we talk that way. Mostly just to each other.) “That acidity? That freshness. The mineral. The Fruit? This is better than the ’05!” It was. And it is. And it will be.
Pleiades XX – Sean Thackrey
Ever been to Bolinas? It’s a fun little town just northwest of Stinson Beach in Marin County. It’s tough to find, though. Locals like to take down the sign pointing the way whenever Caltrans puts up a new one. This keeps a lot of tourists out; or at least that’s the locals’ rationale. But Bolinas is home to Sean Thackrey’s winery. Sean Thackrey has been making wine for three decades! And his wines are our kind of wines; he embraces unique winemaking techniques, and sources his fruit from all over California. He brings it all back to his winery in Bolinas and makes wine with his hands. Thackrey’s Pleiades XX cracks the top 5 due to its serious amalgam of complexity and intensity. We are ALWAYS on the lookout for wines like this one! We sold out of the XX, be on the lookout for the XXI!
NV Giavi Prosecco
Prosecco. Serious Prosecco. The NV Giavi Prosecco. You’ve never tasted Prosecco like this before. We’ve got a serious Champagne customer. Serious. This gent will ONLY buy the best highly allocated Grower Champagnes we can get our hands on. He loves this Prosecco. He is actually talking this wine up to restaurants he dines in. Word is out in the restaurant world. We haven’t been able to offer this in our retail shop for months due to the demands of fine restaurants here in the Bay Area and in LA! We’re finally back on track, and once again have the wine in stock for you to try. This is Top Ten kind of Prosecco. Try one and see for yourself.
2009 Château Puy-Servain Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes
“Everybody loved it.” That’s what a customer said about the 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes from Château Puy-Servain. What a great 2011 discovery this was!! Instead of relaxing in Bordeaux on the Saturday after the En Primeur tastings, I was off to Montravel to meet with Daniel Hecquet at his Château Puy-Servain. When I tasted his 2009 Montravel Rouge Vieilles Vignes I got butterflies thinking about how cool it was going to be to get the wine over here and onto your tables. And even cooler, the wine sold out quickly. We bought more from Daniel and the next batch should be here by the end of March.
2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Bourgogne Blanc
Back to White Burgundy. David has been tasting the wines from Domaine Michel Bouzereau for several vintages, and he’s liked what he’s tasted. But just as he pointed out in regards to the J-M Chaland wines, he likes to taste several vintages before pulling the trigger. Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau is the winemaker these days and he makes some of the finest Premier Cru Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet that we stock here at TWH. You could pick any of Jean-Baptiste’s Premier Crus and put them in the Top Ten, but that’s kind of like cheating. But what’s this? He makes a Bourgogne too! Not only that, it’s a “Bourgogne” though most of the grapes are sourced from in and around Meursault. One taste will have you hooked!
2008 Château Branaire Ducru, St. Julien
Keeping with tradition, we’re going to Bordeaux. It’s so hard to pick just one wine. In 2011, it was the 2008 Bordeaux vintage that hit the market. There were standouts in all categories Red, White, and Gold! But the wine that struck me greatest had to be the 2008 Branaire Ducru. It has everything I look for in a young claret. Its fruit is expressive, the aromas are deep and complex. On the palate, it has a round feel with noticeable structure and more fruit expression braced by the zippy acidity. Great weight and great balance. The finish is long and complex; a perfect reminder as to why I love the wines from St. Julien most. We only have a few bottles left, so sorry when it sells out.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Château Lanessan
Narrowing all that wine tasted over the course of a year down to only 10 is a very difficult task indeed. One main criterion for the list is that the wine be newly released and available to us in said calendar year. But there is one more wine that wowed us in 2011 that deserves a slight mention, the 2001 Château Lanessan. It too was an amazing discovery that was made in the office of one of our negociants in Bordeaux this past April. We sold out of our stock rather quickly, quick enough to still have a chance to buy more! We did, and it’s on its way here. It should arrive at the end of March. – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under 2008 Bordeaux, Cote du Beaune, Cotes du Rhone, Dry Creek Valley, Italy, Jean-Marie Chaland, Lugana, Michel Bouzereau Pere et Fils, Montravel, Peter Zavialoff, Prosecco, Top Ten Wines Of The Year, Vouvray

NV Giavi Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore (But you can just call it “Giavi”)

So how was everyone’s Bastille Day? All was great here at TWH. Many of our friends stopped by to pick up their French wines for the festivities, and our Bastille Day dinner with Chateau Coutet at Range Restaurant was a big success!!! (Look for a recap of the event in form of a blog post soon!) Now that the dust is settling from that momentous occasion, I find myself next plotting … nothing; for the moment, anyway. Speaking of momentous occasions, by the way, we’ve got one kicking off at noon local time. The 2011 Women’s World Cup Final should provide plenty more fireworks than one can normally expect to see on a football pitch in mid-July. We’ll take it; Go USA!!! Now, what to take along (or have handy in case celebration is in order)? Just yesterday our eyes were opened to yet another new arrival from our recent Italian container. Doubling the number of directly imported Proseccos, it is our pleasure to introduce you to the Giavi Prima Volta Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G. Prosecco Superiore!

In 1969, the Prosecco D.O.C. was established in north-eastern Italy, located roughly from the Veneto (including Venezia itself) to Friuli (all the way to eastern outpost Trieste). The sweet spot for quality, however, is confined to 15 municipalities located between the villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. In 2009, this sweet spot was awarded the D.O.C.G. status. This is the most prestigious status that can be awarded to any vinous region in Italy. The letter “G” stands for “guaranteed” as each bottle of D.O.C.G. wine is given a number, making it unique and guaranteeing its quality. Keep in mind that in Italy, there are 300 D.O.C. wines, yet only 40 with the vaunted D.O.C.G. status. And that’s saying something. Maybe that’s why David socked away a bottle of this new arrival in the fridge to be opened in commemoration of Emily’s recent birthday.

Like it or not, packaging is important. Sometimes, we just say no to a wine that may be of quality, but sports a tacky label. Sad but true. So first impressions matter. With the Giavi? The package passed with flying colors. It is one classy looking bottle, isn’t it? Let’s just go on to say, that if the package works but the wine doesn’t … oh well, we don’t buy it. That should go without saying, we are TWH after all. So yes, we’re all standing around the tasting table in a semi-celebratory state, and pop went the cork! The first noticeable thing were the tiny bubbles. I was a minute late to the unveiling (hey, someone’s got to answer customers’ questions) and have a vivid screenshot of David smiling and commenting on the size of them. I poured myself some, and just as Anya commented on the color, I was quite taken as to just how pale and frosty it looked in my glass. The aromas sang of that delightful tandem of fruit and mineral; the palate was dry and mineral driven, with a hidden fruitiness that was described as, “a hint of grape Jolly Rancher”. Just a hint, mind you. Its acidity gave it a particular freshness, which carried through to a happy finish. Smiles all around. Thanks Emily, for having a birthday on the same day that the Italian container arrived!


Wow. July 17th. I remember back in April when I first came back from Bordeaux. “So when are we doing this?” “When are we doing that?” My friends peppering me with questions about spring/summer plans. My answer, “Talk to me in mid July”. Here we are. Talk to me. First up, the World Cup Final! I fear I may need to bring 2 bottles. One to open before the match, and one just in case. It is only 11% after all. – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Italy, Peter Zavialoff, Prosecco, Sparkling wine

2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superiore

A wise person once told me, “Think a lot, say little, write less.” I totally understand what they were getting at. I’ve shot myself in the foot so many times with the things I’ve written, I’m surprised I can walk. But today I feel wiser. Today I’m working on getting past stereotype. Today I am open to possibility. I am not too busy to dismiss new ideas. For it was another wise person (actually, it was the World Commander) who told me, “The most important thing you can do is to listen. Keep your ears open. Hear everything.”

It may come as no shock to you that I love wine. Red, white, or gold … love them all. I do not like labels. No, not the paper ones on the bottles, the ones that are flippantly attached to certain wines for all sorts of crazy reasons. You know, like Sauternes are dessert wines or Beaujolais wines have little character. Then there’s this one; sparkling wines are just for celebrations. I can see how that one got legs, but still. At the risk of ruining another figurative pair of shoes, I say no to typecasting a wine!

We know Sauternes are perfect with dinner and Cru Beaujolais (especially from 2009) are full of character! So are sparkling wines just for celebrations? Are smiles just for celebrations? Is happiness just for celebrations? Of course the answer to all of these questions is no. Though opening a bottle of sparkling wine can make us a little giddy, it is not mandatory to have a celebratory reason to do so. Remember; this is wine. It is made to complement whatever is on your plate. A couple of weeks ago, I had the best brunch ever; it was capped by, get this, a Crab Benedict. This was utter perfection. Do you ever have those moments? When the first bite of something is so sublime that it alters the time and space continuum? The wine that I had with it was sufficient; good but not great. I sit today typing, knowing that there is a sparkling wine that we carry, the 2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superiore, that would pair so well with that dish, that if I were to ever experience the 2 together, I would turn into someone people would refer to as, “what happened to that dude?”

Yes, Prosecco. This Bellenda Prosecco is yet another of the fruits of our labors. We go on these travelling junkets and taste a lot of wine. Sometimes the surroundings can be a bit uncomfortable. Bumping into people; searching for a spitoon with a mouthful of wine; no air conditioning, stuff like that. Alas, but sometimes you taste a gem of a wine that makes it all worth it. That’s what this is. It’s light and lively. Its texture is complex, pinging off all the right sensors on the palate, and leaving an aromatic panoply of blossoms, pears, almonds and a springtime breeze. When tasting Prosecco, I usually brace myself for simple flavors, lower acid, and a kiss of sugar. Not here. The Bellenda is a whole different kind of Prosecco for me. It’s dry. The lively acid and tiny bubbles make me yearn for another go-around at that Crab Benny! So yeah, not for celebrations … for a Sunday brunch!

Speaking of which, today being what it is and all, a Sunday brunch may be in order. We wish all you Moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day! Every day is really Mother’s Day, just like every day is really Thanksgiving. But this one is sanctioned, or official, so with that, we toast you all! Have some brunch, or lunch; spend some time with friends and family. Want a pairing suggestion, that will work with darned near everything? How ’bout a bottle of Bellenda Prosecco Superiore? That is just what the doctor ordered. – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Italy, Peter Zavialoff, Prosecco, Sparkling wine

Spring Fizz

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

I don’t know if it’s all the daffodils and tulips sprouting up around town or just seasonal allergies going to my head, but I have got Spring Fever like you wouldn’t believe. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind that prompts me to clean my home as if I were about to host the Queen. However, it does have the effect of turning everything I hear or read into something not only spring-related, but something for which the presence of spring could be the only logical explanation.

Which brings us to the portion of the email where I explain what the above quote has to do with spring, and of course, wine (did I mention I also have a tendency to turn everything I see into something wine-related?). It all started when I logged onto our Twitter account this morning and saw this quote. Naturally, it made me smile and think of how spring is the perfect time to celebrate life, friendship, good times of past and those yet to come. In essence, to keep laughing. Cheesy, perhaps, but still apt in my opinion. Moreover, if we are to gather for laughter, we will need something equally apt with which to toast it.

Now for the part of the email that needs very little explanation, as it is almost inevitably “bubbles” that customers ask for when they are about to embark down a celebratory path. That said, this is not the first time, nor the last, that you will hear me say a celebration proper is certainly not necessary for the consumption of sparkling wine. I have and always will be a huge proponent of kicking to the curb any notion suggesting that certain wines be restricted to specific dates, places, weather patterns, lunar phases etc… Rules- who needs them?! So whether you’re mounting your party bus as we speak or quietly giving thanks to the asparagus gods, make this a season of celebration and laughter. Of course, I would never dream of leaving you hanging with a hankering for some sparklers and no suggestions, so I’ve picked a few of TWH staff favorites from fancy to affordable and everything in between. In fact, it seems like almost every day at least one of us comes into work and announces that we’ve recently had one of the sparkling wines listed below- with sushi (me), with fresh crab (David), avec petite brandade croquettes (Anya), on its own with squirt of blood orange (Chris), with peanuts while watching a baseball game (Tom)…. So I guess we’re practicing what we preach alright.

In sum, have fun- drink fizz.

NV Segura Viudas Brut Cava

We have adopted the term “house ‘Champagne'” from one of our customers to describe this Cava as it’s the kind of wine everyone should have at least a few bottles of on hand for an impromptu sparkling moment. While this has been an all-time favorite of TWH staff for some time now, in both the pocketbook and palate categories, there seems to be a consensus around the globe that this is a brut to be reckoned with. A blend of the regional Spanish grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, the Segura is made in the same way as Champagne with its secondary fermentation and further aging done in the bottle. Rich and full, yet crisp and clean at the same time, it has classic citrus, apple and melon flavors but a delightfully unexpected earthy/herbal component. I’ve always been very impressed with the balance of this wine. It definitely out drinks its price-point.

Domaine d’Orfeuilles NV Vouvray Brut

How do I even begin to describe my adoration for this producer. If you thought my spiel about tulips and laughter was cheesy, hang on a moment because I’m about to top it. But first, a little background information. This Loire estate was founded by Paul Herivault in 1947 out of an old Medieval castle that no longer exists. Today the estate is run by Paul’s son and grandson whose M.O. is to maintain the traditional methods employed by their predecessor and produce wines that reflect the distinct “flintiness” of the clay-limestone soil for which Vouvray is known. In this they have succeeded and then some. The Vouvray Brut, made from 100% Chenin in the traditional method, explodes with peach/apricot & soft white floral notes on the nose that follow through onto the palate with a clean chalky texture that, along with a brilliant acidity, hangs onto every tiny little bubble as if they were some sort of synchronized acrobatic trio (go team!). Anya summed this wine up nicely when she said “it’s one of the few sparkling wines that doesn’t make me wish I were drinking Champagne.”

Domaine d’Orfeuilles also makes a Touraine Rosé from Malbec (known as Côt in the Loire) that boasts beautiful, bright red raspberry fruit balanced by a nice dusty minerality. For some reason this wine (get ready for the cheese in five, four, three…) gives me visions of Mary Poppins ascending into the puffy clouds as she hangs nonchalantly onto her umbrella. Gosh, where do I come up with these things? But truly, it is a lovely representation of the outstanding diversity, quality, and value one can find coming out of the Loire.

2009 Bellenda Prosecco Superiore

This may be one instance where I tell you it’s ok to judge a wine by its label. The feminine, almost majestic looking, light gray-purple label is fitting for this vintage sparkling wine which bears the name of both the region from which it hails in northeastern Italy and the grape from which it is made. Hands down, this wine has the softest, most delicate mouthfeel of any Prosecco I’ve ever tasted. Slight hints of stone fruit and almond round out the vibrant minerality also present in spades. You may want to drink this in a white wine glass rather than a flute in order to experience the full expression of the wine.

NV Arlaux Brut

Arlaux has been one of our direct grower Champagne imports for years, long before the explosion of grower Champagne ensued. Situated in Vrigny, this estate is known for its use of Champagne’s “other” red grape, Pinot Meunier, which makes up nearly half of the blend and contributes an intriguing hint of forest-floor type earthiness. The rest of the blend is composed of mainly Pinot Noir and just a little bit of Chardonnay, which lends itself to a richer, more red-fruit flavor profile. In the world of sky-high Champagne prices, Arlaux represents an incredible bang for the buck… or should I say, bubble.

Joyeux printemps!

Emily Crichton

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Filed under Cava, Champagne, Cremant, Emily Crichton, French Wine, Italy, Prosecco, Spain, Sparkling wine