Thursday, November 18, 2010

Briefly Contextualizing Nouveau

The Gang of 13 in Morgon on March 11, 2010
Today, the third Thursday of November, Beaujolais Nouveau arrives and goes on sale. It's a time to celebrate, and be thankful for, the year's harvest. The 2010 vintage in Beaujolais required patience as it was a cool year with the harvest generally three weeks later than normal, which is exactly the kind of year when a vigneron gets to demonstrate his or her stuff. It is also, sadly, the year we lost Marcel Lapierre, who passed away on the final day of the harvest.

We are lucky to represent some of the best Cru Beaujolais. But it is always a pleasure to drink a genuine Nouveau as soon as it lands, and to enjoy for months thereafter. We invite you to come to Thirst tonight and toast the 2010 harvest with us.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tony Coturri Marathon Tasting

In the days before Whole Foods wiped out small independent organic grocery stores like Real Foods in San Francisco, I bought Cotturi wines there and at other local health food stores. The wines were like none other I'd had up to that point. And, even now, they're pretty damn inimitable. Tony doesn't gussy up his wines. They are what they are. As is he.

Tony never manipulates his wines. His grapes aren't treated with pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. He doesn't add sulfites, or yeast cultures, or concentrates to boost sweetness or flavor. He doesn't add acids, sugar, water. His formula for making wine is deceptively simple: fermented grapes.

Winemaking runs deep in the Coturri family. Tony's grandfather, Enrico, made wine in Farneta, Italy, which is just outside of Lucca.  Enrico arrived in San Francisco in 1901 with ten bucks in his pocket. He found work as a barrel cooper and, in 1906, helped rebuild San Francisco after the Great Earthquake & Fire. During Prohibition, Harry "Red" Coturri, Tony's father, learned from Enrico how to make wine using the traditional methods of the old country. Although Tony has been making wine since 1964, the winery was started in 1979 by "Red," Tony, and his brother Phil. "Dad always said 'never put anything in the garden that you wouldn't put in your mouth,'" Tony says.

Coturri Winery is a family business. A third-generation winemaker, Tony works alongside Phil, who is considered Sonoma's leading organic viticulturalist, and he's schooling his son Nic in the craft of winemaking.

The tasting was scheduled to go from two to five pm. Tony poured until almost eight! People really enjoyed meeting him and tasting his wines. And Tony didn't want to stop sharing his wines with our customers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thirstmerchants Wine Club

The positive feedback about the wines of the month from our club members has been gratifying. It's been fun for us at Thirst to work together to determine which wines to select, to find a thematic grouping, to put together tasting notes and pairing suggestions.

This month we feature the glory that is Chenin Blanc from the Loire, which the locals refer to as Pineau de la Loire.  I fell hard for Pineau de la Loire when I first discovered the genuine article at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley, and read about his discoveries in  Adventures on the Wine Route. Previously, I had come across only uninspiring California versions of Chenin Blanc that had none of the finesse of their French cousins. The wines we bought at the KLWM store opened my eyes to the difference terroir can make. Each was distinct, each tasted like the particular place from which they'd come. They were, and are, gamechangers.

This month I hope you have the opportunity to experience a tipping point of your own.

If these wines pique your interest, click here to sign up for our club at the $25, $50, or $100 level and we'll get you started.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kermit Lynch Beaujolais & Languedoc Tasting

Last night, we hosted another tasting with winemakers whose wines are imported by Kermit Lynch. For a cold, snowy evening, the turn-out was pretty impressive. Both Ghislaine Dupeuble, representing her family's property, Domaine Dupeuble (which has been making wine in Beaujolais since 1512!), and Cyriaque Rozier, who makes his own wines under the label Les Traverses de Fontanes and is the winemaker for Chateau La Roque (both properties located in the Languedoc), told us they had a great time meeting our "heureux" customers.

The wines were showing beautifully. If you're curious about what exactly Beaujolais is about, start with Dupeuble. Their Nouveau this year is as good as it gets, and it won't be around much longer. Their regular cuvee, which is made from older vines on their property, is THE wine to have on the table with basic bistro-type fare, and seems to get better every year. Cyriaque's wines, are, well, terrific as well, and also great values. His Les Traverses de Fontanes Cabernet Sauvignon showcases Cab fruit, but with real finesse. It was cool to watch a few regular fans of this wine pick it up; then see their reaction when they learned the winemaker was conducting an in-store tasting.

The La Roque white wine we were pouring, Cuvee Clos des Benedictins, a blend of equal parts Rolle (aka Vermentino) and Marsanne, with the remainder Roussanne, raised in half new oak, is a case in point for how and why new oak can be a very good thing indeed. It's a shame it's so often misused to make fake and/or bad wines. The hit of the evening, though, was the wine most people tasted last, La Roque's old vines Mourvedre. Its pepper, spice nose and lovely kirsch, plummy notes impress. Looking forward to having it soon with grilled lamb seasoned with Provencal herbs.

Jacques Figuette, the owner of Chateau La Roque, spent much of the evening eagerly investigating our selection of wines and spirits.