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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

Bi-Rite Divis is Open!

b-man with divisadero lineThought I’d never say this….but we’re open on Divisadero Street! Please come visit us 9 am – 9 pm today and every day. Store location, hours and parking info (yes, we do have one hour parking for our guests!) is here.


Salty Ginger Sundae, Divis contest winner!

We’ve spent about three years working towards this moment, so today is all about celebrating the long, winding path that brought us here. And what better way to do so than by treating ourselves to the newest additions to our Divis menu: the winners of our Divis Sandwich and Sundae contest!

The Giuseppe: Fra’ Mani salami and mortadella, provolone, lettuce, red onion, tomato, dijon mustard, pepperoncini, and lemon aioli on an Acme Rustic Baguette (congrats to Joseph Slattery!)


Opening is so sweet!

The Salty Ginger: Ginger ice cream, ginger snaps, sea salt, chocolate fudge, and whipped cream (congrats to Zoe Byl!)

Now that the construction is complete, it’s time to start the important work of building relationships with our guests. Our 60 Divis staff members are eager to meet and feed you. Plus, a bunch of our passionate food makers are joining us to give out tastes of their cheese, jams and more: check out the Divis events on our calendar here.

See you soon! And now more than ever, please let us know how we can better serve you.

P.S. You’ve gotta check out this video of neighborhood pup Trotter on his first visit to the store!





It’s Time: Bi-Rite Divis Opens March 13th!

birite-divis-logoRefrigerators delivered: check

Divis Sandwich and Sundae contest  entries in: check

60 new staff members hired: check (almost)!

Guess this leaves only one thing…Opening March 13th!

divis team floor

Pre-opening Divis staff meeting

We can’t even wait to open our doors at 550 Divisadero (at Hayes). Just like our 18th Street Market, Divis will be open every day from 9am-9pm and will be a one-stop shop for farm direct produce, a full-service butcher counter, deli with prepared foods from our on-site kitchen, natural wine & spirits, fresh bread, local dairy… and of course important doodads like toilet paper and deodorant.

shak its time

It’s time!

What took us so long? We renovated and retrofitted the interior of the building –which was one of the original Safeways—while taking care to preserve the art deco façade. And we’re upping the ante from our 18th St. Market: Divis has an old world style cut-to-order cheese counter and an ice cream scoop shop right inside (yes, Sam’s sundae with chocolate ice cream, Maldon sea salt, bergamot olive oil and whipped cream will be here)!

We hope you’re ready to give us feedback on what dishes and items you love and what we can do better, so we can evolve together. We’ve got a 30 year lease, so we’re planning to be around for a while and we look forward to feeding the neighborhood for years.

Big thanks to our new neighbors for weathering the construction. And thanks to everyone who has already made us feel welcome—from the other Divisadero Merchants to school and church leaders from the Western Addition, Haight, Fillmore, and Hayes Valley neighborhoods that so richly intersect here!facade feb



Matt R.

Pierre Gonon and the Wines of St. Joseph

The appellation of St. Joseph in the northern Rhone Valley has witnessed quite the evolution since King Louis XII deemed its wines his favorite in the late 15th century. When it was designated an AOC in 1956, St. Joseph was a small collection of vineyards surrounding just six villages, carefully selected for their location and vine quality. Ten years later the region had expanded with the effect of lowering the quality of production and the illustrious reputation of St. Joseph with it.

In order to restore its reputation, the French committee on appellations (then called the INAO) drastically reduced the size of the region, declassifying poor vineyards to Vins de Pays status and capping the region’s maximum size. Pierre Gonon held on to a few vineyards in Mauves, and today his sons Pierre and Jean run the domain and work to restore the reputation of this region by carefully crafting wine from extremely well-cared for vines and minimalist wine making techniques. We’re fortunate to have two of their elegant, expressive wines to share:

joseph12011 Pierre Gonon ‘Les Iles Feray’  –  $24.99

Les Iles Feray is 100% Syrah that comes from a series of parcels right alongside the western bank of the Rhone. The vines used for this wine have been carefully selected over generations from the Gonon’s own cuttings and are planted in deep sandy soils. The nose has tons of purple and blue fruit qualities along with black olives and smoke. The palate is extremely refined and has savory flavors of plums, minerals, and vanilla – great complexity for its value. We only have 8 cases so grab some while you can!


joseph22011 Pierre Gonon Chasselas  –  $29.99

Chasselas is a grape variety primarily grown in Switzerland and is believed native to the area, although some think it originated in Egypt 5000 years ago! The Gonons purchased their vineyard of 80-year-old Chasselas vines in 2005 and have been bottling this white grape on its own. If you’ve never tried Chasselas, we highly recommend you do! Bright flavors of quince, pear, and white flowers lead to flavors of minerals, white peach, and white pepper. The texture is so mouth-coatingly lush that this would easily stand up to heavier dishes like pork and hearty fishes.


joseph3Cheese of the Week: Vare

Husband and wife cheesemakers Valentin Forcelledo and Anita Gonzalez first started producing cheese in Asturias, Spain as a way to create a lasting business that they could leave to their children. They chose to go against the grain and decided to produce mostly goat’s milk cheeses in Spain’s predominantly cow-covered region. They started with just a few Murciana goats and today are up to 450 in their herd – more than the human population of the cheese’s namesake village, Vare! All of the goats eat feed grown on their own farm and their high quality milk is made into just a few of these 4-inch wheels a day. The paste is smooth and firm with a fruity, floral and slightly tangy flavor. Come ask us for a taste!


Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe: Today, 2/14, 6-10PM, Drop-in

Spring Beer Pairing with Rich Higgins: Wednesday, March 6, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Mini European Wine Blitz Tasting – 20% off cases this night only!: Tuesday, March 12, 6-8PM

The Hills are Alive: The Volcanic Wines of Hungary: Wednesday, March 20, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Matt R.

Germany and Austria: From the Alps to Burgenland

It’s time to dust off your lederhosen, practice your umlauts, pack up your herd of cows (stay with us . . .), and get ready for a trip to Austria and Germany! This week we’re exploring the unique wines and cheeses of this area and the unique producers dedicated to promoting the terroir of these widely unknown regions.

alp12011 Andi Knauß Trollinger  –  $16.99

Andi Knauß farms his family’s small plot of vineyards in Württemberg, the southwestern corner of Germany. His family didn’t always produce their own wine, and in fact Andi’s father used to work for BMW in nearby Stuttgart and sold grapes from their vineyards to other winemakers in the area. However, Andi studied wine making and had several internships with well-known producers in Austria, including Moric (below). This bottle is 100% Trollinger, a grape with a bit of an identity crisis as it’s known as Schiava and Vernatsch interchangeably in Italy and Austria. Light, fresh, and super easy to drink, the bright floral and strawberry aromas lead to a palate of fresh red fruit and just a hint of spice. The fun-sized 1-liter bottle and screw-cap opening make this a no-brainer for a picnic in the park!


alp22011 Moric Blaufränkisch  –  $29.99

Roland Velich has quickly become the rising star winemaker of Austria. When he first started producing wine in 2001 he had one clear mission: to prove that the Blaufränkisch grape can make elegant and ageable wines rivaling those of Burgundy. Well, mission accomplished: he’s put this obscure Austrian grape back on the map. Blaufränkisch is widely grown in Burgenland but is often made into wines that are over extracted, over oaked, or very rustic. Roland has dedicated himself to careful care in the vineyards and natural winemaking techniques that make the grape shine and truly express the unique terroir of his vineyard sites. This bottling is a blend from a few vineyards and has soft red cherry aromas, elegant and long tannins, and just a hint of rustic spice.


alp32009 Moric Blaufränkisch Reserve  –  $49.99

Moric’s 2009 Reserve bottling is also 100% Blaufränkisch aged in large used oak barrels. Roland has used the same oak since he started bottling this wine so each vintage gets smoother and smoother. Soft aromas of dark cherry and earth lead to flavors of blueberry, baking spice, and bright acidity. This truly does rival some high end Burgundies in terms of elegance and complexity!


alp4Cheese of the Week: Spicherhalde Alpkäse

Every summer, the Vögel family goes on vacation, but it’s far from your typical summer holiday. Rather than pack their roof rack with beach chairs, they herd their thirty cows through the Allgäu Alps from their home in Austria to their summer home in Bavaria. At an elevation of 4,800 feet, their cows happily graze on the green mountain hillsides and produce spectacular milk, with which they hand-make just two wheels of Spicherhalde Alpkäse a day. The cheese is aged at leased a year before being sold. Small eyes dot the buttery paste with earthy, floral, and tangy flavors. Come ask us for a taste!


Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe: Tomorrow, 2/14, 6-10PM, Drop-in (We’re pouring fresh Salted Caramel beer made by Cerveceria de MateVeza, the brewers down the block, with the help of Anne & Kris from the Creamery.)

Spring Beer Pairing with Rich Higgins: Wednesday, March 6, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Mini European Wine Blitz Tasting – 20% off cases this night only!: Tuesday, March 12, 6-8PM

Matt R.

Piedmont, Liguria, and Friuli: Preserving Native Grapes

Following last week’s exploration of wines from the Savoie, we’re journeying southwards this week into Northern Italy. Let’s head over the Alps and into Piedmont, Liguria, and Friuli – all very distinct regions but all with producers dedicated to preserving native grape varietals. Sometimes it seems that, with so many indigenous grape varietals all over the world that are constantly being replaced with more popular varieties, there should be an ‘Endangered Grape Varietal’ list! The following producers are working to preserve their native varietals and keep grape diversity strong!

pied12011 Punta Crena Mataòssu Vigneto Reiné –  $21.99

The Ruffino family has been tending vines in the small beachside village of Varigotti for over 500 years. Their vineyards are located on steep hand-built terraces just up the hillside from the quaint beachfront ‘downtown’. Run by four siblings, Tommaso, Paolo, Anna, and Nicola, Punta Crena is producing wine the same way their family’s been doing it for generations. They have the last remaining plantings of the native grape Mataòssu – which has been repeatedly ripped up by others in favor of more popular grapes. Traditionalists to the max, Paolo laughs at the idea of ‘organic farming’ as if it were a new high tech invention; instead saying, “We just do everything the same way our ancestors have for hundreds of years.” Mataòssu is light, crisp, and floral with light briny qualities reminiscent of the ocean and tart acidity – perfect with the seafood of the region!

Perfect Pairing: Fritto misto


pied22011 Zidarich Vitovska  –  $24.99

A visit to Benjamin Zidarich in the Eastern most region of Italy, the DOC of Carso (Friuli), is like a visit to the Shire. Benjamin’s estate is located on a series of small hillsides in the town of Prepotto, with views of the nearby Adriatic Sea. His aging cellars are a series of underground caves that open onto the middle of the hillsides with large wooden doors, somewhat like Hobbit holes! Benjamin grows varietals native to the area, specifically Vitovska, which originated in neighboring Slovenia. His vineyards wind up and down the hillsides, the soils are red with iron, and you can smell the sea air in the breeze. These unique aspects of his location transform themselves amazingly into his wine. His Vitovska is bright and floral, with aromas of stone fruit, orange, and sea foam. The opaque color of the wine tells you he doesn’t filter his wines and the texture is full and round with flavors of apricot, citrus, yeast, and minerals.

Perfect Pairing: Braised artichoke and grilled chicory salad


pied32006 Giuseppe Mascarello Freisa Toetto –  $22.99

The name Giuseppe Mascarello is synonymous with some of the highest quality Barolos being made today. And while winemakers Mauro and Giuseppe are definitely most well-known for their single vineyard Barolos, they are also producing amazing wines from less ‘noble’ grapes (at more affordable prices!). The Mascarello’s are also known for extensive aging of their wines and this bottle from the 2006 vintage is tasting amazing right now! Freisa is a grape native to the Piedmont that is actually related to Nebbiolo. It has beautiful floral and violet qualities along with scents of plums and earth. Medium bodied and elegant, flavors of juicy dark fruit, mushrooms, and minerals are long lasting!

Perfect Pairing: Guffanti 2-Milk Robiola (pictured below!)


pied4Cheese of the Week: Guffanti 2-Milk Robiola

The Guffanti family has been producing cheese in the Piedmont since 1867, aging them in a re-purposed silver mine. Their 2-Milk Robiola is a small format bloomy rind cheese made with cow and sheep’s milk. Beautifully creamy inside, the paste is savory, yet mild with notes of mushrooms and hay. Perfect alongside a glass of Mascarello Friesa – come ask us for a taste!


Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

Matt R.

Domaine Dupasquier: Savoie Terroir

savoie1Visiting the picturesque town of Aimavigne, France is like taking a trip to a land found only in a storybook. The sweeping hills leading up to the Alps are dotted with steep vineyards and cut by winding roads leading to pristine lakes. The town name comes from a French phrase, “Aimer le vigne,” which translates to, “Love the vine.” So it’s no surprise that Noël Dupasquier and his son David, now fifth generation winemakers in Aimevigne, are working so hard to preserve the Savoie’s native grape varietals like Monduese, Altesse, and Jacquere.

We’re always excited by the arrival of Domaine Dupasquier’s wines to our shelves! They are one of the few producers left in the area really trying to showcase what the native grapes of the Savoie can do rather than ripping up old vines and replanting more ‘fashionable’ grapes. Here’s what we currently have from them:

savoie22010 Domaine Dupasquier Jacquère  –  $15.99

Jacquère is often referred to as the Muscadet of the east (of France). Native to the Savoie, it’s a grape known for producing light, crisp, and briney whites suitable for everyday drinking. Noël and David hold all of their wines back an extra year for aging – atypical compared to the other producers in the area. So the sometimes overly racy acidity in Jacquère is a little more mellow and rounded out in their wine. It has bright lemon, lime, and grassy aromas followed by flavors of lemon, apricot,  and a crisp, tart, finish. It’s perfect alongside a variety of dishes from briney seafood to spicy curries.

Perfect Pairing: Ginger and soy stir-fried winter veggies


savoie32009 Domaine Dupasquier Gamay  –  $19.99

Noël and David really do make the most of their small plantings of Gamay. Having been aged in used foudre (extra large barrels), this Gamay is bright and expressive. It rivals some of our favorite Cru Beaujolais bottlings and at a very affordable price! Bright fruit aromas, are followed by flavors of tart cherry, minerals, and earth. Great acidity makes this a bottle suitable for drinking now or one you could lay down for a few years. Grab some while you can – all of these wines are very limited!

Perfect Pairing: Sharfe Maxx Extra (pictured below!)

savoie42009 Domaine Dupasquier Pinot Noir  –  $21.99

The Dupasquier Pinot is another great value, rivaling some beautiful Burgundies! Again having been aged over a year in used foudre, this cool climate Pinot has had time to mellow out. Bright cherry aromas are followed closely by earthy and herbal qualities like pepper and fennel. Like any cool climate Pinot, it has a bright and clean acidity and flavors of cranberry, earth, and stony minerals. It’s one of our all-time favorite Pinots and pairs well with a variety of dishes.

Perfect Pairing: Seared scallops with caramelized fennel


savoie5Cheese of the Week: Sharfe Maxx Extra

As we continue to celebrate great Alpine cheeses, we’re excited to welcome Sharfe Maxx Extra! Made at the Studer family dairy in Thurgau, Switzerland, this is the extra aged version of their regular Sharfe Maxx. While the original Sharfe Maxx is aged for 6 months, Maxx Extra is aged for a year before release. A wholly unique Swiss cheese, the recipe is similar to an Appenzeller, but uses whole milk and added cream for a rich, creamy texture. The wheels are washed repeatedly, resulting in a pungent and sweet aroma. The extra aging also results in those wonderful little protein crystals dotting the paste. Come ask us for a taste!


Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

Thursdays, Every week, 6-10PM, Drop-in: 18th Hour Cafe

Saturday, January 26, 7-9PM, Ticketed: Producer Dinner: Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars

Matt R.

Introducing our First Winery of the Month: Broc Cellars

If you’ve spent a few minutes in our wine section, you’ve probably noticed that we’re big fans of Chris Brockway and his wines, produced under the Broc Cellars label. Named the SF Chronicle’s Winemaker to Watch in 2012, Chris has quickly made a name for himself as a champion of low-alcohol, food-friendly Californian wines. He’s constantly sourcing grapes from unique vineyards, often seeking out less often used grapes than the ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Broc Cellars is the first of our new Winery of the Month that we’ll be highlighting both in our wine aisle and with tastings and events at 18 Reasons. Be sure to sign up soon for next week’s Producer Dinner with Chris Brockway, which will consist of a four-course meal paired with a lineup of Chris’ wines and his expert knowledge of each. Here are two of his newest releases: 

1broc2011 Broc Cellars Paso Robles Cabernet Franc  –  $24.99

Cabernet Franc is most often found in blends from Bordeaux or in Loire Valley reds like Chinon. However, it’s slowly gaining in plantings and popularity here in California. Thriving well in cooler climate areas, it’s a bit unusual that Chris chose a warm area such as Paso Robles to source his Cabernet Franc. Yet, he was careful in picking early to avoid overripeness. He fermented whole cluster, meaning with the stems, which adds a bit of spicy depth to this red. Medium in weight, this red is aromatic with scents of pepper, cranberry, and plums. Great peppery and spicy depth, and ABV of only 13.2% make this a great red to pour alongside a variety of dishes!

Perfect Pairing: Cider braised pork belly


2broc2011 Broc Cellars Cuvée 13.1  –  $22.99

After the success of his Cuvée 12.5 in 2010, Chris sought to produce another modest alcohol level Syrah from this vineyard site in the Santa Lucia Highlands. A higher elevation and cool mountain breezes in this region of Monterey County lend themselves nicely to a style of Syrah that’s lighter on its feet. The ‘13.1’ refers to the alcohol percentage, which is quite modest compared to many other California reds. Bright wild berry aromas and scents of thyme and pepper lead to a berry-full, minerally, and peppery medium bodied palate with great acidity. You can certainly enjoy this wine on its own but it’s equally as friendly with food.

Perfect Pairing: Andeerer Schmuggler cheese


3brocCheese of the Week: Andeerer Schmuggler

We’re excited to feature a variety of Alpine cheeses this month and even more excited to offer this Alpine gem, Andeerer Schmuggler, for the first time! Produced by husband and wife cheesemakers Maria Meyer and Martin Bienerth of Andeer Dairy in Grisons, Switzerland, this cheese is made of raw cow’s milk sourced from five local farms. Aged for about six months, the wheels receive several washings, giving them great depth of flavor. The name of the cheese comes from a German friend of Maria and Martin’s who loved the cheese so much that he would smuggle a few wheels back over the border with him on every visit. No need to smuggle some to your home though; just come ask us for a taste!!


Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

Thursdays, Every week, 6-10PM, Drop-in: 18th Hour Cafe , Tonight Featuring Alpine Wines and Cheeses with Cory Cartwright of Selection Massale!

Friday, January 18, 6-8:30PM, Ticketed: Stichelton and Hafod: Modern/Traditional British Cheese

Saturday, January 26, 7-9PM, Ticketed: Producer Dinner: Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars

Matt R.

Stock Up On Champagne At Our Holiday Wine Blitz!

Today marks the 79th anniversary of the signing of the 21st Amendment, which as you may know repealed the 18th Amendment, effectively ending Prohibition!! How are we going to celebrate? By officially kicking off our final 2012 Wine Blitz tomorrow!

This is the perfect chance to stock up on bubbly for New Years and gift bottles for all those wine lovers in your life. Whether it be wine for the seasoned wine collector, Champagne for a 2013 toast, or simply a host or hostess gift for a holiday party, we’ve got you covered. Grab these while you can:

2010 Cedric Bouchard Inflorescence Champagne  –  $64.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $51.99

What’s the difference between grower Champagne and a Champagne house? Well as the term suggests, grower Champagnes actually have their own vineyards and grow the grapes that go into their wines. While this may seem commonplace, it’s actually a rarity these days. Most large Champagne houses (Vueve Cliquot, Moët et Chandon, etc.) purchase their grapes from other growers. However, more and more growers are going independent and doing it really well! Cedric Bouchard’s name is now synonymous with some of the highest quality grower Champagne coming out of France. He’s known for going against the grain by not using any wood aging, not fining, not filtering, using no dosage, and bottling only single-vineyard, single-varietal Champagnes – all anomalies in Champagne. The Inflorescence is 100% Pinot Noir from a small 1.5 hectare plot and is immensely complex. Beautiful floral aromas give way to mouthwatering minerality and a soft yet crisp texture. This bottling could definitely be drunk now, but will only get better with age and is available in very limited quantities!

Perfect Pairing: Honey glazed beet and burrata crostini

2011 Arnot-Roberts Santa Cruz Chardonnay  –  $29.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $23.99

Winemaking duo Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts have quickly made a name for themselves as some of the best natural winemakers in California. Avid cyclists, they’ve biked all over California in search of the most unique vineyard sites, choosing smaller, cooler-climate, single-varietal lots. Nathan is a second generation cooper (barrel maker) and hand crafts all the Franch oak barrels they use for aging the wines. They have strong relationships with the farmers of their vineyard sites and are committed to organic farming, using native yeasts, and minimal additions of sulfur. The wines speak for themselves and this Chardonnay from a cool plot in the Santa Cruz Mountains could easily be mistaken for Chablis. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral French oak, this wine has crisp lemon and lime notes with a long minerally finish. Drinkable now, but also suitable for a wine collector to lay down. Oh, and they only made 12 barrels of it!

Perfect Pairing: Fresh dungeness crab, frisée, and watermelon radish salad


2011 Marcel Lapierre Morgon  –  $29.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $23.99
I’ll give a gold star to anyone who knows exactly how many times I’ve mentioned Marcel Lapierre in a newsletter, as it’s probably been a lot! And for good reason – Marcel Lapierre was one of the most influential winemakers in Beaujolais in the last century. He’s responsible for mentoring and influencing the next generation of producers now on the forefront of natural winemaking in France. His methods, at the same time revolutionary and traditional, call for using only old vines farmed organically or biodynamically, rigorously sorting the grapes, and using minimal to no sulfur. Sadly, Marcel passed away at the end of the 2010 harvest, leaving the estate to his son Mathieu, whose been active in the family winemaking for a number of years now. This Morgon comes from 60 year old vines on granite soils. It’s had extended aging on the lees in old oak barrels. Bright floral and cherry aromas are followed flavors of cranberry, minerals, and a silky texture. Again – drinkable now or age-able!

Perfect Pairing: Herb crusted pork loin with cranberry chutney


Cheese of the Week: Redwood Hill Farm’s Cameo

Gift giving doesn’t only have to be about wine! Redwood Hill Farm’s Cameo is a soft ripened goat’s milk cheese in the style style of Camembert, artfully topped with peppercorns and lemon verbena. This small 8-ounce wheel is the perfect size to gift, and the creamy, oozy paste is pleasantly sweet with a touch of peppery and tangy flavors. We have it available in half or whole wheels. Come by and ask us for a taste!

Matt R.

Meet the Producer: Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars

- November Wine Blitz   ✓

- Thanksgiving                ✓

- December Wine Blitz  __

- Hanukkah                    __

- Christmas                    __

- New Years                   __

Man, the Holidays are moving by quickly! We hope everyone has recovered from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday . . . did I miss any?? But thank goodness it’s Wine Newsletter Wednesday!

Just to remind you, the last of our three annual Wine Blitzes officially kicks off next Thursday, December 6th and runs through Sunday, December 9th, at which point we’ll take 20% off 12 or more bottles of wine mix-and-match with free delivery in San Francisco. If you anticipate going through at least 12 bottles of wine between now and May 2013 for holiday parties, New Years, gifts,and general consumption, this is your last chance to stock up with such a steep discount for a while!

And don’t miss our Wine Blitz Preview Tasting is this Friday, November 30th from 6PM – 8PM at 18 Reasons. We’ll be pouring plenty of new wines that we’re excited about for this final Wine Blitz. We’re also pleased to welcome Berkeley-based winemaker Chris Brockway to this Friday’s tasting event where he’ll be pouring five of his wines. Chris was named the SF Chronicle’s Winemaker to Watch in 2012, and this tasting is a great opportunity to stop by, meet Chris, chat about his wines, as well as explore many other exciting new wines for our December Wine Blitz!

2011 Broc Cellars Valdiguié  –  $19.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $15.99

Chris discovered a vineyard plot in Solano county growing a grape that is today known at Valdiguié. For a while, growers in Napa thought this grape was Gamay, the ubiquitous grape of the Beaujolais region. However, the clever researchers at UC Davis have since determined that this grape is unique and in fact a little known varietal native to the Languedoc, France. But, it’s understandable that growers in California confused this grape with Gamay for so long since it produces wines dark in color but low in alcohol, with very similar flavor profiles. Chris has even made this wine using carbonic maceration, an old, traditional Beaujolais winemaking technique that brings out brighter fruit qualities. This bottling is light on its feet with bright strawberry and cherry aromas. Light in body (and alcohol) this wine is too quaffable and makes a perfect bottle to sip by a cozy winter fire.

Perfect Pairing: Roasted butternut squash stuffed with wild mushrooms


2011 Broc Cellars Carbonic Carignan  –  $22.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $18.39

The grapes for this wine come from a very special vineyard site. Chris is proud to say that he saved this vineyard from “Cabernetification” by preventing the now 120 year old Carignan vines on the site from being ripped up. These are vines that are planted on their original root stock – a true rarity as the great majority of vines in the world today have been grafted. Carignan itself is an outsider in California these days, with very few plantings of this fun Spanish grape remaining. As the name, Carbonic Carignan suggests, Chris also makes this wine using carbonic maceration – allowing the whole fruit to ferment from the inside out before crushing them. The result is a light and fresh wine with bright red fruit aromas followed by a bit of spice and scents of wild herbs from those old vines.

Perfect Pairing: Smoked salmon and grilled chicory salad


2010 Broc Cellars Vine Starr Zinfandel  –  $24.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $19.99
This wine is named after Chris’s great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle born in 1801 in Norway – yes his name was Vine Starr Brockway. This is one of Chris’s original bottlings and is meant to be a lighter style version of the typically bold and spicy Sonoma Zinfandels. The blend varies slightly every vintage and this vintage is mostly Zinfandel, blended with a very small percentage of Syrah. It makes a great everyday red, with a medium body and plenty of dark fruit and spice qualities like black pepper, huckleberry, and cardamom.

Perfect Pairing: Spice rubbed spare ribs


Cheese of the Week: Cowgirl Creamery’s Devil’s Gulch

The latest seasonal release from Cowgirl Creamery is here! Their winter cheese is Devil’s Gulch, a creamy, bloomy rinded cheese made of Jersey cow’s milk from John Taverna’s dairy. Essentially the same cheese inside as their other seasonal cheeses (St. Pat, Chimney Rock, and Pierce Point), the dusting of toppings rotates seasonally. Devil’s Gulch is topped with blend of dried sweet and gently spicy peppers from All Star Organics Farm in Nicasio. The peppers are not at all overwhelmingly spicy and just add a pleasant sweet and mild kick to the rind. These mini wheels are just arriving in the store today, so swing by and ask us for a taste!


Matt R.

Cooking with Curds: Broiled Polenta with Poached Eggs and Piquillo Pepper Sauce

Me 'modeling' the Caciocavallo

To me, polenta is just fancy grits. And who doesn’t love fancy grits with some eggs? This classic breakfast combination is always hearty and fulfilling. Breakfast is also one of my favorite meals, so I’m always looking for ways to mix up its traditional ingredients to serve at all hours of the day.

This dish takes regular polenta and incorporates Caciocavallo cheese, a stretched curd cheese from Italy with flavors somewhere between provolone and mozzarella. I then let the polenta set up, and cut it into chunks to broil. I top those with peppery arugula, poached eggs, briney Castelvetrano olives, and a savory piquillo pepper sauce that is a snap to make. Breakfast for dinner has never tasted so good.

Broiled Polenta with Poached Eggs and Piquillo Pepper Sauce

Serves 4

For the red pepper sauce:
– 1 cup roasted piquillo peppers (1 10-ounce jar in liquid)
– 1 clove garlic
– 1 small shallot
– 2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 3.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the polenta:
– 8 ounces Caciocavallo cheese, grated
– 1 cup polenta
– 2 cups whole milk
– 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
– 1 teaspoon salt
– two handfuls baby arugula, washed and dried
– 8 eggs
– 6 ounces Castelvetrano olives, pitted and sliced
– extra virgin olive oil


To make the piquillo pepper sauce
Drain piquillo peppers of their jar liquid and rinse off. In a food processor, combine the peppers, garlic, shallot, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt. Puree until smooth and set aside. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

To make the polenta
Lightly brush or spray a 9×13 pan with extra virgin olive oil. In a medium pot, combine the milk, broth, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Once the pot reaches a boil, pour in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly as you pour. Let the pot return to a boil, stirring, and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir constantly to avoid having a lumpy polenta. The polenta will thicken gradually and eventually start to pull itself away from the edge of the pot. This could take 30 – 40 minutes, but once this starts to happen, the polenta is done.

Transfer the polenta to your prepared 9×13 pan, gently pat it down into an even layer, and set aside. The polenta can be prepared up to a day in advance and kept covered and refrigerated. If you need to use it immediately, place the pan in the fridge uncovered for about an hour until it is set up to a solid consistency.

Preheat the broiler. Once the polenta is set up, remove it from the fridge and cut it into triangles. Place these on a well oiled baking sheet. Broil for a few minutes (2-3) on one side until brown and crisp and remove from the oven. Flip each over and broil the other side until brown and crisp. You may have to broil these in batches depending on the size and type of your broiler. Set finished polenta triangles aside, covered in foil, until all are ready to serve. Poach the eggs, and lightly toss the arugula in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. To plate, place two or three polenta triangles on the plate, spoon over some of the piquillo pepper sauce, add a handful of arugula, top with two poached eggs, and sprinkle with olives. Enjoy!

P.S. Sharing recipes and photos of cooking victories is something I do often on my own blog–check it out: www.missionkitchensf.com

Matt R.

California Staycation

This week I’ve been entertaining my family visiting from the east coast, where I grew up. This is my mother’s first visit to the west coast since 1975! Of course, I had a long list of things to see and do. We took a few days to explore California, including the Russian River and Sonoma Coast, and I must say that I loved being able to take the time to explore my own ‘backyard’. My mini ‘stay-cation’ reminded me how much I love California and the wines we produce here. As a result, this week’s newsletter is a tribute to some of the new California wines hitting our shelves. Grab a bottle tonight and enjoy exploring California anew.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for this year’s two Wine Blitzes, where you save 20% off 12 or more bottles (mix-and-match) with free delivery in San Francisco:

Wine Blitz #1: Thursday, November 8th – Sunday, November 11th 

Wine Blitz #2: Thursday, December 6th – Sunday, December 9th 

2010 Unti Dry Creek Valley Segromigno  –  $25.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $20.79

While Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma may be best known for Zinfandel, Unti Vineyards is focused on Italian and Rhone varietals. Mick Unti and his father George founded Unti Vineyards in 1997 and have sought to express their Mediterranean heritage in this corner of Sonoma by planting Mediterranean varietals that thrive in this area. Segromigno is the name of a village in Tuscany where Mick’s grandfather was born and where he and George still have family. The blend is mostly Sangiovese with Montepulciano and is a tribute to Rosso Piceno, a traditional blend found in Tuscany. Unti’s Segromigno is one of our favorites every year. Lively red cherry and dried herb aromas are followed by equally bright red fruit flavors, chocolate, bright acidity, and mid-weight tannins. This is the perfect red for a variety of dishes, especially Italian food!

Perfect Pairing: Roasted brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds and pecorino


2011 Arnot- Roberts Luchsinger Trousseau  –  $32.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $26.39

Winemaking pair Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts are producing some of California’s most exciting and sought-after natural wines. They consistently produce interesting and elegant wines from a variety of vineyard sites throughout California. Nathan is himself a trained cooper and produces all the barrels they use for aging. This bottling is 100% Trousseau, an obscure red grape from the Jura, France, that is making quite the impression on the California wine scene. This unusual grape produces very light red wines with aromatic and savory qualities. The Luchsinger vineyard is located near Clear Lake on volcanic and geothermal soils. The color is a light ruby, almost like a dark rosé. It has layered aromatics of orange peel, strawberry, and pomegranate. What you think will be a light palate actually has more gripping tannins with flavors of fresh cherries, tart citrus rind, and savory herbs. Only 4 barrels were produced so get it while you can!

Perfect Pairing: Roasted salmon with dill; arugula and persimmon salad


2010 Onward Hawkeye Ranch Pinot Noir  –  $39.99; Blitz Pricing  –  $31.99
After working for years in the wine industry, Faith Armstong Foster launched her own brand in 2009. She has long, deep relationships with two growers in the Anderson Valley and Mendocino and, so far, produces wines entirely from Pinot Noir, her personal favorite to drink and work with. This bottling is 100% Pinot Noir from Hawkeye Ranch at the north end of the Redwood Valley in Mendocino. The cool climate here and Faith’s hands-off winemaking technique result in a wine of great elegance. It has aromas of soft red fruit, a light floral quality, medium-bodied palate, and great acidity. Thanksgiving wine anyone??

Perfect Pairing: Turkey roulade and sweet potatoes


Cheese of the Week: Pecorino Di Rocca

Many of us don’t realize that Pecorino is a blanket term for any Italian sheep’s milk cheese. Italy produces a wide variety of Pecorinos ranging from piquant and peppery to more subtle and nutty. Pecorino di Rocca is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese from Tuscany. It’s on the less peppery, more sweet and nutty end of the spectrum with a slightly crumbly texture. It’s perfect at the end of a meal or paired with a Tuscan style red like the Unti Segromigno.


Don’t Miss These Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

Thursdays, every week, 6-10PM, Drop-in: 18th Hour Cafe

Friday, November 2, 6-8PM, Drop-In: Thanksgiving Wine Blitz Preview Tasting

Friday, November 9, 6-8PM, RSVP and Drop-In: Rioja Tasting with Bi-Rite and K&L Wine

Wednesday, November 14, 7-9PM, Ticketed: Producer Dinner: Bucklin Winery

Holiday Guide & Menus 2012

Click here to view and print our Holiday Guide! We’re taking pre-orders now, give us a call at 415-241-9760 x 3.

We’re so excited to bring you our first ever Holiday Guide, your one stop shop for a tasty holiday, Bi-Rite style. Inside you’ll find:

-Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah menus

-Turkey options: pre-order yours today!

-Holiday Wine Blitz details

-Sweet Weeks details

-Catering ideas–platters or full service

-Cheese platter tips and our favorites for the holiday

-Pies, holiday ice cream and other sweets from Bi-Rite Creamery

-Gift ideas: 18 Reasons classes, gift boxes, chocolates, special occasion booze, and more…

-Ordering info and deadlines for holiday pre-orders