Tag Archives: French Wine

July 2011 Wine of the Month- 2009 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Blanc

The snooze button. I hit it. We all do. Usually more than once.  We silence the noise and happily go back to slumberland until the “urgent” buzzer kicks in as if to shout at us Hey sleepyhead! Get outta bed before it’s too late! Well, consider this a (much more fun) snooze alarm proclaiming LAST CALL! on TWH‘s Wine of the month (Can you believe it’s almost August already?? Oy vey!). 

If you’ve had the wines of Diane Puymorin then you know why she’s one of our all-time favorite winemakers in the Costieres de Nimes (not to mention all of France). If not, you’re in for a treat. Diane’s wines under both the Domaine de la Petite Cassagne and Chateau d’Or et de Gueules labels have acquired a huge following over the years, customers and staff alike. Diane purchased the Petite Cassagne property in the village of St. Gilles back in 1998 and has been making limited parcels of both red and white wines under its label each year.


Moreover, have you seen what good quality white Rhone wines go for these days??! It’s almost unheard of to find one under $20. Aside from being downright delicious, the 2009 Petite Cassagne Blanc is one of those gems that epitomizes what we here at TWH do best… Find great wines for phenomenal prices. For this cuvee, Diane blended 60% Grenache Blanc with 40% Rolle (Italian wine lovers know this varietal as Vermentino). The fruit is farmed with 100% organic methods, pressed immediately after picking, and put into temperature-controlled tanks for fermentation. The result is pure White Rhone magic. Think bright, fresh citrus blossoms with hints of wind-swept herbs and a lively acidity that holds up through the finish. It has enough fruit to please as an aperitif, when a warm evening just calls for a glass of something crisp and cool. However (and I’m not intentionally trying to make you hungry here, but…) the Petite Cassagne will shine like the sun if you serve it alongside a crab salad, herb-laden rotisserie chicken, or pan-seared halibut with a squeeze of lemon. No matter what your end-of-July schedule, don’t forget to include a bottle of this.

Happy Fin de Juillet ~ Emily Crichton

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Filed under Costieres de Nimes, Emily Crichton, French Wine

Saint Antoine 2010 Rosé

*Chateau Coutet Dinner Reminder: A precious few spots are available for our upcoming Bastille Day Dinner with Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet at Range Restaurant! Won’t you join us for a multi-course tour de force of flavor and texture? Click here for details!

…plaisirs d’été
Saint Antoine’s 2010 Rosé is that perfect combination of cheery fruit with a fresh clean finish. Take a sip, close your eyes and you’ll be transported to a place where you can smell that Mistral wind bringing with it aromas of dried leaves, lavender and warm baked sunshine. It’s a summer holiday in a glass. I debated whether or not to choose Saint Antoine’s Rosé as my ‘pick of the week’ for the simple reason that it’s the Rosé we have the least in inventory. It arrived early in spring, so it’s been around longer than some of the Rosés that have what I would describe as having a cult-like following like the Touraine Rosé from Domaine Corbillieres and the L’Instant Rosé from Domaine Fondreche who were late arrivals from France. The Touraine Rosé and L’Instant Rosé are without a doubt some of the most sophisticated, refined Rosés on the market. But if I am being absolutely honest, then I must admit to enjoying Saint Antoine’s 2010 Rosé most this season. It’s not easy picking a favorite among THW’s Rosés. I have frustrated many a customer when I get absolutely tongue-tied when asked which Rosé is best. My answer is always the same: they are all good but each has its own personality and flavor profile. A boring predictable answer perhaps, but the truth. So which Rosé do I go home with 9 out 10 times? The 2010 Rosé from Saint Antoine. And here’s why. I like a Rosé with a fruitier profile. It must finish dry and the Saint Antoine does, but I want that strawberry, Jolly Rancher watermelon, tangy cherry fruit too. On my birthday last month, for appetizers I served the 2010 Rosé with an assortment of Fra’Mani salumi, almonds and sliced green pluots. What a symphony of flavors!

I just spent a long Fourth of July weekend with family on the Russian River. It was one of the most uneventful Fourths I’ve spent in about five years and I am most thankful for that. I had such a great time and was so in the moment that I completely forgot about work, projects, all the things I’ve got to get done, etc. And it was at that point that I got to wondering how it is that when you are completely relaxed things just taste different. I learned that an ice cold Bud Light tastes delicious when sitting at the bow of a boat in 100 degree temperatures in the middle of a lake. How could this be? And a simple $10 Rosé can taste symphonic when you’ve got loved ones around to share it. The lesson to take away here is that if you stop and take the time to smell the Rosés, life gets a whole lot better!Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Costieres de Nimes, French Wine, Rose

Domaine Jean-Marie Chaland: Wines from the Mâconnais

Editor’s note: The boss is usually way to busy to send out emails, and quite frankly, still is. Though here’s a rare glimpse into one of his discoveries earlier this year that’s NOW IN STOCK!!!

This estate was the big “eureka!” moment of my trip to France this past January. I had visited Jean-Marie a year before, and was completely taken with his wines, but I like to see a grower more than once before deciding to take on a portfolio. It’s nice to get a confirmation of two vintages in a row, and boy did I!

The family was selling grapes to the co-op until 1967, at which time Jean-Marie’s father, Jean-Noël, began estate bottling, under the Domaine des Chazelles name, a very good estate in its own right. (A side note – I originally visited them with the idea of importing the Chazelles wines. While there, Jean-Noël said, “my son makes wines under his own label; would you like to taste them too?” Well, sure! And as soon as I had the first Mâcon in my mouth I knew these were the wines I wanted.) Jean-Marie created his own separate estate in 1999, and soon, when his father retires, will take over all of his holdings as well. The family has farmed organically since those early days, and Jean-Marie’s estate became certified organic in 2006 – the first grower in Viré-Clessé to obtain that certification.

Jean-Marie farms eight hectares of Chardonnay vines, consisting of more than 20 separate micro-parcels, and produces roughly 3,000 cases a year. There’s a lot to like here: a high proportion of old vines – 3/4 of his estate is over 50 years old, and his prized Thurissey parcel is over 90. He always uses natural yeasts, and there is no chaptalization, nor acidification. His single vineyard bottlings are bottled unfined and unfiltered. One amusing change from father to son: Jean-Marie is not the horseman his father is, so he must plow with a tractor!

2009 Mâcon “Les Tilles”

This is from a parcel of 40-50 year old vines, located on a plateau of clay/limestone soil in the village of Montbellet. It is aged in stainless steel tanks, on its lees, then bottled. This wonderfully expressive, floral, citrusy Mâcon is super fresh, super mineral, and utterly delicious.

2009 Viré Clessé “Vieilles Vignes”

Viré Clessé is an AOC of the Mâconnais region (similar to Pouilly Fuissé or St. Veran), created just over 10 years ago. It’s a relatively small AOC, producing less than half the quantity of Pouilly Fuissé or St. Veran. This Vieilles Vignes cuvée is produced from three parcels of 50+ year old vines, with gravelly soils. Very fleshy, with great minerality, and in 2009 it shows just a touch of honeysuckle. Jean-Marie says he likes this best at 3-5 years of age, but it sure tastes good right now.

2009 Viré-Clessé “Perrière”

This is a new cuvée for Jean-Marie, made from a parcel that used to go into the Vieilles Vignes, but which he decided has the individuality to stand on its own. Again, great minerality (do you notice a trend?) and a long, stony, lees-y finish. Really classy stuff.

2009 Viré-Clessé “l’Epinet”

All hand harvested, from a vineyard planted in the 1940’s. He makes about 15 barrels – 375 cases or so. There’s no new oak on this, or any of his other wines. The barrels average about 5 years old, as he wants all that brilliant old-vine fruit to take center stage, not the vessel it’s aged in. This is already showing some complexity, with peach and lime, and plenty of spice, perhaps even a touch of licorice. A densely mineral wine. Wow.

2009 Viré-Clessé “Thurissey”

Viré-Clessé “Thurissey” this exceptional little (1/2 hectare) south-facing parcel is on the northern end of the appellation, away from his other parcels. The vines here are up to 95 years old, and he produces only about 200 cases. Again, no new oak; he uses a regimen of barrels between two and five years old. The wine is kept in barrel for a year on its fine lees, then bottled, without fining or filtration.

Thurissey is always a mineral wine, and even in 2009, which is a fruit-driven vintage, this is the wine for rock-heads. It’s less expressive than the l’Epinet right now; more like a coiled spring, just waiting to release its energy, filled with apple, pear, lime, and stone. Jean-Marie says this should age 5-10 years, or if you drink it now, it’s best to decant it.

2008 Crémant de Bourgogne “Perle de Roche”

Yes, there’s a sparkling wine too! Jean-Marie bottles this one under his “Domaine Sainte Barbe” label. Please pardon the confusion. It’s made from a parcel of young vines rich in limestone. It spends between 2-3 years en tirage, with a very low dosage (4 grams/liter) and there’s a small disgorgement every couple of years of about 3,000 bottles. Very fine for a Crémant, with tiny bubbles, a fresh chalky nose and quite a bit of finesse. Only a few cases available.

Sampler Case

I guess the best thing I can say about these wines is that you will look forward to the next sip, the next bottle, the next case! With that in mind, we’ve put together a very special Sampler Case to introduce these superb wines to you. You’ll get 3 bottles of Mâcon, 2 bottles of each of the Viré-Clessés, and 1 bottle of the Crémant. For taking the plunge, you’ll save 25% off the regular prices. We think you’ll be impressed.- David Netzer

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Filed under Burgundy, Cremant, David Netzer, French Wine

2008 Domaine Boudinaud La Boissière Côtes du Rhône

What a crazy week! It all started last Saturday after we closed. I attended a KFC/Dom Perignon tasting. Yep. It was great. No, I don’t know why. It was a chaotic week in the 2010 Bordeaux Futures game, as several high-profile chateaux released their prices. It’s been very difficult keeping up, but look for something in your inbox soon. Vinexpo is going on in Bordeaux this week, so they’re going crazier than I, but not by much. Our upcoming Winemaker Dinner with Château Coutet is all-systems-go and reservations are now being accepted. And finally, we’re getting around to sampling some of the new wines that recently arrived via container.

The thrill of the change of seasons has beckoned the Rosé lover in all of us, and this year’s selections are unbeatable! There are some lovely White Burgundies from the Macon that you all will be hearing about very soon. There are a few reds from the Rhône Valley including a dynamite Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Boudinaud! We’ve had wines from Vignobles Boudinaud for many vintages, but this is the first time we’ve had the La Boissière line. The 2008 La Boissière Côtes du Rhône has everything I like in a Côtes du Rhône: rich, ripe fruit, a kiss of earthy mineral, and a waft of herb which when all tied together makes me happy that unlike the famous wines of Bordeaux, these wines are affordable. I’m not alone here at TWH when it comes to this wine either. Here’s a funny one. So our staff pulled a Chip and Dale on this one. No one wanted to appear selfish and take it home the day we opened it. Emily had left early, so we decided to leave it for her as she and David came in last Sunday for a short time to check out Sunday Streets Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Bayview. I left her a note saying it was here on the tasting table and guess what? She didn’t take it either. It doesn’t happen often, but our entire staff was crestfallen that the best of the bunch was left undrunken. These things do happen, so in penance, I’m buying one for tonight. This will not be my last.

For me, Sundays are for resting. And after the week I had, I will rest. To all you Dads out there, Happy Fathers’ Day! Here’s a tidbit of wisdom from my Pop:

Pete? Do you have a minute?

Right now? Okay … grumble, grumble (I was around 15 at the time)

Sit down (gulp)

Soon, there will be times when you may be drinking

Uh, really?

I just want you to remember one thing.

What’s that, Pop?

If one bottle costs $7 and the other one $15, buy the $15 bottle, you’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Huh?

You can go now.

Fast forward to today. Thanks Pop. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me if you want to know more about 2010 futures, our upcoming dinner with Aline Baly of Château Coutet or anything else: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under Bordeaux, Cotes du Rhone, French Wine, Peter Zavialoff, Rhone, Winemaker Dinners

2010 French Rose: Part Deux

I must say, one of the things I miss most about living in the Midwest (aside from being able to say things like “bubbler” without having to explain myself) is summer. A proper summer. With proper summer temperatures. That said, we San Franciscans do a brilliant job of pretending our summers are like those everywhere else.

What’s that? It’s supposed to hit 68° today!? Whoo hoo, heat wave! Windy out!? Not gonna stop MY picnic from happening! Oh darn, there goes my basket…

Ballgames, barbeques, beaches, bikinis… We are nothing if not an optimistic bunch and occasionally Mother Nature rewards us for it. That right, it’s officially warm outside. As such, there is no better time to announce the arrival of:

***Even MORE 2010 French Rosé!!***

Domaine de Fondrèche 2010 “l’instant” Côtes du Ventoux Rosé
Fondrèche Rosé is back and pale as ever! Sebastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is l’artiste behind Fondrèche and although he’s probably best known for his deeply concentrated and delicious red wines, his Rosé just might be his best-kept secret. This blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, and 20% Syrah is made by a combination of techniques known for creating the best Rosé- pressurage directe for the Cinsault and Syrah, while the Grenache is fermented for a short time and then saigneé, or bled off, and blended in tank. The l’instant is a classic French Rosé with faint hints of freshly-picked strawberries and a crisp, dry mineral-driven finish. Oh, did I mention it also comes in MAGNUM format?! It’s a good thing too because we sold out of our Les Cimels Mags several days ago…. Phew, crisis averted!

Vignoble Boudinaud 2010 Pays D’Oc Rosé
If Fondrèche gets the gold medal in the “pale & pretty” category, Boudinaud’s 100% Syrah Rosé takes the top spot in “dark & deceiving”. All I can say about this wine is do NOT be fooled! When we did our staff tasting, every one of us presumed this one would be high in candied fruit and low in acid or mineral, but we could not have been more incorrect. Whoa, does this baby have zing! And why wouldn’t it? It’s Boudinaud for goodness sake! Why would we have ever doubted the quality… shame on us.

L’Ecuyer 2010 Bordeaux Rosé
I don’t do much card playing outside of solitaire on my phone, but I can say that 50-50 is a winning bet when it comes to 2010 Rosé from Bordeaux. Equal parts Cab Franc and Merlot, L’Ecuyer brings a slightly more herbal, earthy profile to the game while still maintaining the bright fruit and clean finish you expect out of a quality Rosé. It’s also got a cool new label resembling a playing card that’s something of a cross between a joker and a club (don’t you like how I tied that all together? Thanks, I try). Hey, I’m not above aesthetics when the product inside lives up to the hype… and this one does. Truly a winner, inside and out.

Domaine des Corbillieres 2010 Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé
I’m not going to say that I’ve saved the best for last, as I really don’t even know that I could choose a favorite out of our 2010 Rosé selections (believe me, I tried to yesterday when a customer asked and ended up with that “deer in headlights” thing happening on my face- not a good look) but I’m also not going to be shy about professing my love for all things made by Dominique Barbou. This 100% Pinot Noir Rosé went through a 12-hour steeping period (that’s a LONG time!) before being transferred to a settling vat for natural fermentation to take place. The result is a pale wine, slightly spicy, with a vague hint of white pepper laced raspberries and killer acidity. It’s just begging to be paired with food. Any food really, but I’m thinking cedar plank-grilled salmon with lemon, fennel, and capers.

Speaking of lemons, one of the things I love most about living in the Bay Area is how everyone has a lemon tree in their yard. I know they’re not in season right now, but they sure are lovely basking in the sun. Cheers to summer! – Emily Crichton

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Filed under Costieres de Nimes, Cotes du Ventoux, Emily Crichton, French Wine, Rose, Touraine

2009 Grange des Rouquette Syrah/Grenache

WINE OF THE MONTH – 2009 GRANGE DES ROUQUETTE SYRAH/GRENACHE


En Avril, n’ote pas un fil. En Mai, fais ce qu’il te plait. Translation: “In April, don’t take off your clothes, but in May, do as you please.”

Mon Dieu! “Clothes off? What is this woman talking about!?” You must be wondering. Well, aside from an attempt at showing off what little of the French language I have mastered, I thought this quirky quote a rather lovable and fitting introduction to our May “Wine of the Month”. If you’ve been following us through cyberspace or via snail mail lately, you know that we’re just a smidge excited about Springtime, and in particular, the month of May. The only month of 31 days spent entirely in Spring; The month in which we celebrate everything from horse power and heros to mothers and Mexico… and do a lot of barbecuing to boot!

That being the case, it stands to reason that a wine befitting many occasions (and many a budget) should be the May W.O.M. Drum-roll please…. The 2009 Grange des Rouquette Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah/Grenache is one of those gems that epitomize what we here at TWH love to do most: find wines that outperform their pricepoint. By a LOT.

Now in its fifth generation of viticulture and winemaking, Domaine Grange des Rouquette has become renowned for their craft both locally and abroad. Located in the tiny commune of Fournes, on the right bank of the Rhone River, this estate has produced vintage after vintage of delicious and versatile wines – both red and white – that seem to not only represent the terroir from which they hail, but also the many things about great winemaking learned, practiced, and perfected across the globe. This is thanks to Thierry and Veronique Boudinaud, the heart and soul behind Grange des Rouquette, who have traveled from New Zealand to California and places in between in order to hone their skills. The couple now owns 50 hectares in and around the Cotes du Rhone appellation, and though this Syrah/Grenache (with a little Mourvedre thrown in) is Vin du Pays d’Oc, the old-vine Syrah and Grenache come from their best vineyard sites. The blend is a traditional one, made up of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre – all harvested separately for optimal ripeness. A small portion of the old-vine Syrah gets barrel treatment, but otherwise, the grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks to maximize the freshness of the fruit. The result is a wine with bright, juicy purple & red fruit on the nose and palate and enough savory earthiness and grit to warrant the cognomen “baby Cotes du Rhone.” I’d suggest pairing it with Poulet de Bresse while taking in the view from a grande villa in the Rhone-Alps, but it will be just as fantastic with a fat juicy burger & veggies off the grill in your back yard (and if you happen to take my first recommendation, please take me with you.)

Santé! –Emily Crichton

p.s. Happy Birthday to my adorable niece Minnie who turns 1 year old today!! Whoo hoo!

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Filed under Cotes du Rhone, Emily Crichton, French Wine, Grenache, Rhone, Syrah

August 2008 Dirty Dozen

If there were a sweet spot of summer, it would have to be August. No holidays (unless you count Hawaii Statehood Day) that demand our participation, warm days and nights, and just a perfect time to chill. In case you’re not relaxed enough, how ’bout 12 different bottles of wine, 6 for the fridge, and 6 reds for one crazy price?

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

Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2007 Rose, Chateau Guiot – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
It’s safe to say that Rose has made a comeback. It really is the ultimate summer sipper. If you’re not enjoying dry Rose from the south of France this summer, you’re missing out. Bright, flashy fruit fills out the profile of this perfect for a picnic (notice screwcap) Rose. Salads, sandwiches and sunshine should suffice.

2007 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Blanc – $12.99, $10.39 reorder
Perfect for summer, this blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Rolle (you may know this grape by its Italian name, Vermentino) is a top-notch white Rhone wine sans the white Rhone price tag. It’s fresh and lively, shows hints of citrus and blossoms with the right amount of zip to stand up to even a cauliflower casserole!

2005 Chardonnay, Lalande – $12.59, $10.07 reorder
Many of you have questioned us regarding our low prices and current currency crisis. Well, the answer to the question, How do prices stay so cheap in spite of the dollar? is that some of our wine was purchased with a stronger dollar and we keep the prices competitive for you. Take this Chardonnay & some roast chicken … yum.

2006 Sauvignon/Semillon, Hors Saison, Domaine la Hitaire – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
Using the same two main grape varieties used in the making of white Bordeaux, this wine from Gascony is big on flavor, short on price. That’s a win-win wine. This wine gets its structure and aroma from the Sauvignon Blanc, and is rounded off and finessed by the Semillon adding up to pure pleasure in a glass. Perfect for fish and chips.

2005 Pinot Blanc Tradition, Rene Mure – $14.99, $11.99 reorder
Forget any preconceived notions about bottle shape and off dry wines, we assure you this is dry Pinot Blanc. This is the perfect wine to pop to get things going. It’s great on its own, works well with finger food and tapas, and still answers the bell if you were to throw something serious at it. Something like Mongolian chicken, perhaps.

2006 Cassanus, Chateau Grande Cassagne – $11.29, $9.03 reorder
This Chateau is located 25 miles west of Avignon in the village of St. Gilles, so the weather is on par with Chateauneuf du Pape. Roussanne and Marsanne are the players here, add a kiss of oak, and what we’ve got is one classy bottle of vino! How’s bout a pan seared halibut steak and haricot verts with shallots?

2004 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Enrico Pierazzuoli – $12.99, $10.39 reorder
80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, we’ve got a baby Super Tuscan here for a song. The aromatics are of dark, brooding fruit, spice, and earth. Medium to full bodied in weight, we would suggest pasta with salsiccia.

2005 Zinfandel, Portrait of a Mutt, Mutt Lynch – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
It’s tough to keep this wine on the shelves. Luscious fruit, spice and pepper add up to a tasting experience that makes you wonder how they do it and keep the wine in the sub $15 range. We don’t question, we just buy it and offer it up to all you Zin lovers. A blackened Cajun filet would pair nicely here.

2005 Cabernet/Syrah, Mas de Guiot – $15.79, $12.63 reorder
Of our producers of Cabernet/Syrah blends, we love Mas de Guiot because their blends are so complex, they’re like baby Medocs. There’s plenty of dark fruit surrounded by earth, leather, and mineral. Definitely on the fuller bodied side, we’d recommend you pair it with something full flavored like, say, leg of lamb.

2005 Corbieres, Domaine Sainte Eugenie – $11.49, $9.19 reorder
The most versatile red in the DD, you may remember this one being described as The Pinot Noir of the Languedoc. And even though it’s not Pinot Noir, it has an amazing ability to pair well with a broad range of dishes. Medium in body, it goes well with pizza, pasta with tomato sauces, or barbeque pork.

2005 Syrah, Alberto Furque – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Syrah from Argentina? You betcha. Full bodied, ripe, and full of new worldy fruitiness, this Syrah is the perfect ringer to throw in a blind tasting. It’s got hints of spice and smoke that pop up while the layers of fruit present themselves. If you’re invited to anyone’s house where grilling is even a remote possibility, bring this wine.

2005 Merlot Prestige, Les Enclos, Montpezat – $13.39, $10.71 reorder
If you have a phobia against Merlot because of something a character in a movie said, get over it. If that film were to take place in 2008, it would have been Pinot Noir that would be taking the brunt of that infamous line. What we have here is bright, zesty Merlot from its country of origin. It’s medium in body, perfect for a duck breast.

Check Out Our Complete Inventory at WineSF.com
Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines • 5%/ Sale Wines

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Filed under French Wine, General, Peter Zavialoff, The Dirty Dozen, Wine Clubs/Samplers