Archive for the ‘Wine, Beer & Spirits’ Category
Tom Farella is a tireless champion of Coombsville, a wine growing region in eastern Napa. Since Coombsville tends to be cooler than the rest of the region Sauvignon Blanc can avoid the pitfalls of over ripeness and maintain its fresh face. Tropical, grassy aromatics.
Many people believe Sauvignon Blanc didn’t gain popularity until the wines from New Zealand came onto the scene. It’s unlike any Sauvignon Blanc in the world, with its intense fruitiness and lush texture. Nautilus is a perfect example of Marlborough, and is delicious for sipping on the porch or as an aperitif.
Sylvain Bailly Sancerre |$22.99
Classic and classy, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley is archetypal. With its quiet intensity and striking mineral notes, Sancerre is an ideal terroir to balance the grape’s natural fruitiness and aromatics. The Bailly family has been making Sancerre since 1700 and is one of the most traditional producers in the area.
Friuli’s Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect midpoint between old world Sancerre and new world New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Less green and aromatic than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and boasts riper fruit notes found in Sancerre. Scarpetta is a project between two Friuli-obsessed wine veterans, Bobby Stucky and Lachlan Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO.
Gitton Père et Fils Pouilly-Fumé Clos Joanne d’Orion 1985 | $54.99 |Only 6 bottles at Divis!
A 30 year old Sauvignon Blanc is something we don’t get to experience often. After visiting the winery in Sancerre and tasting through several older vintages, we were blown away by the complexity of this wine. Nutty, savory, with bright acid and mineral notes. A complete stunner of a wine. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org you’re interested in one of these bottles.
Ordered and aged at the winery in pristine condition, we’re so excited to offer some of these amazing Sauvignon Blanc from Gitton Père & Fils. Pascal Gitton believes 1990 was one of his greatest vintages for Sancerre and we can understand why. With nearly 25 years of age, this Sauvignon Blanc is surprising lively with stone and citrus notes. We feel like this can go at least 10 more years. Email us at email@example.com if you’re interested in one of these bottles.
“Turn on, Tune in, Drop out” is actually a phrase developed by the sour beer brewers in Leipzig in the 18th century when they discovered their delicious gose style of naturally fermented elixirs. They believed that the bright acidity of their beer was able to transcend the drinker onto a higher plane of existence…OK, so I made that up, but when you taste of the delicious new sours that we have in house right now, you may very well be transported.
Sour beer is all the rage in San Francisco, but how is it made? Brewers use special yeast strains along with lactic acid bacteria to coax more and more acidity from their fermentation, a flavor that is not often found in other styles of beer. Sour beers are also the perfect gateway beer for wine drinkers given their vinous nature. Their flavors tend to evolve and become more dynamic over time, and many are barrel-aged.
These beers are prized for their pairability with food, since acidity is such an important component on the palate, but many are also great on their own with flavors and aromas that cascade over the palate in waves. Sour beers tend to pair well with rich, fatty, savory foods – we’re particularly fond of sour beers with cheese. The only rule about sour beers it seems, is that there are no rules.
Another particularity of sour beers is their affinity for fruit flavors. Locally, Almanac Beer Co. is famous for preserving the produce of a season by ageing their beers on the best local fruit, often calling out the farm on their labels. They follow a seasonal rotation, like the fruit that they brew with, so availability waxes and wanes with the changing of the sun’s position in the sky. Whatever the season (SF “Summer” or SF “Winter”) there is a sour beer companion for your meal, or as a gift for your favorite beer nerd.
The beers featured below are a wonderful representation of the diverse styles of sour beers, but only a smattering of the sours we have in house (and in our online store at Instacart.com), many in limited quantity. Ask one of our Beer and Wine Specialists on the floor at 18th Street or Divis to show you the whole selection, and don’t forget to stop by the Cheese Department for a pairing! Turn on to the sour revolution, baby. Your palate will never be the same.
Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne 750 mL | $13.99
This traditional Flanders Red Ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blending of a younger eight-month-old beer with the 18-month-old barrel-aged brew. Fruity and rich with a full, sweet, and fresh taste.
Almanac Beer Co. Farmer’s Reserve Pluot 375 mL | $10.99
Pluots are created by cross-breeding apricots and plums; there are dozens of varieties with an amazing range of color and flavor. All through the summer, Blossom Bluff Orchards picks each variety at its peak: Dapple Dandy, Honey Punch, Flavor Queen, Black Kat, and Dapple Jack were all added to a sour blond ale and aged in wine barrels to create this funky oak-aged brew.
Pairs well with: Garden Variety Cheese’s Sweet Asylum – The balance of brightness and funk between this sour ale and tangy, creamy sheep’s milk cheese combines for a lush blend of floral, lanolin, and earthiness.
Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal “Zure van Tildonk” 375 mL | $10.99
Belgian “Farm to Bottle” sour beer brewed using hops and malt grown on the farm as well as the wild yeasts found around the farm. After a year of aging in a barrel, this sour is cellared for several months prior to release.
Pairs well with: Pecorino Sardo – The bright, buttery hay qualities of this sheep’s milk Pecorino shine with the tart, crisp funkiness of the Tildonk.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House Apricot (Divis Only) 750 mL | $29.99
Strawberry (18th Street Only) 750 mL | $29.99
The Apricot is North West-style sour ale is a blend of wheat and blond ales that were aged in oak wine barrels for up to nine months before aging on fresh apricots for an additional six months. Flavors of fresh and dried apricot fruit are complemented by a tart acidity and lingering notes of apricot preserves. Likewise, the Strawberry is aged in oak barrels with strawberries and vanilla for 12 months. Bright and crisp, it captures the essence of fresh strawberries with subtle notes of oak, vanilla, and fruit preserves.
He founded the Paris Wine Company in his new hometown (of Paris!) in 2012, and has since been seeking out small French and Spanish producers to import into the U.S. Momentum has been building for a couple of years, and by now he brings in some of the best values in San Francisco. Some of our favorites from the past year have come from Josh, like Champagne Piollot, Courtault-Tardieux and wunderkind Yann Bertrand. These three new wines below are just as impressive.
Barou Syrah Vin de Pays Rhone, France 2014 | $15.99
From 40 year old vines on plateau and slopes in Charnas, destemmed and aged in four and five year old barrels. The 2014 is soft and supple and more forward than usual. The aromas are really lovely, black and blueberry fruit with floral and earthy notes. The palate is lush with round red fruits, but is balanced and light on its feet. Beautiful palate coating fruit on the finish, a simply delightful everyday red that’s a sensational value – serve cool and enjoy! (The estate is certified organic since 1975)!
La Galoche Beaujolais
Burgundy, France 2014 | $15.99
A single vineyard, certified organic Beaujolais. Easy to like but also very complex at the same time. Red berry fruits with earth notes. A great value from the region.
Deux Moulins Sauvignon Blanc
Loire, France 2014 | $10.99
An inexpensive yet tasty Sauvignon Blanc, it is organically farmed from Loire Valley, the original home of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s crisp, tart, minerally, with the right amount of citrus fruit. You can’t go wrong with this wine.
Domaine La Suffrene Vin de Pays Provencal Rosé | $14.99
After years of selling grapes to the local co-op, Cedric Gravier started making wine on his family estate in 1996. The result has been terroir-driven wines with clean fruit and bright, fresh acidity. His Mourvedre-blend rose recipé is archetypal (that’s a good thing), and Cedric’s decision to bottle means fabulous value.
Muga Rioja Rosé | $14.99
Muga makes one of the most distinctively delicious rosados in Rioja, indeed in all of Spain. It is a style referred to locally as “clarete,” which is a lighter type of rosé made by combining white wine with some red. It’s tangy and dry with red berry fruit and apricot notes.
Domaine du Pas de L’escalette Ze Rozé | $19.99 750 mL $44.99 magnum
Meet our new favorite French rosé! Made with mostly Cinsault, this rosé is beautifully balanced with tart red fruits, herbs, and a hint of briny minerality. Perfect with goat cheese!
Matthiasson Rosé Magnum | $49.99 Only six left at Divisadero!
SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year, Steve Matthiasson, has done it again! His rosé has bright aromas of grapefruit and white peach with crisp acidity and a dry finish that make a refreshing sipper for a sunny day! Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
In 2014 Cabernet and Chardonnay together comprised about one quarter of all wine grapes crushed in California, but today we’re exploring some of what grows on the other side. Acid-driven and original, these food wines are made for summer. If you haven’t read the New York Times article everyone has been talking about (“The Wrath of Grapes”), it’s a great overview of the new wave of California winemakers, many of whom we sell here at Bi-Rite Market.
Albariño and Chenin Blanc, though common in Spain and France, respectively, are rare here in California. Although many winemakers would prefer to experiment with varieties like Vermentino or Aglianico, one of the main obstacles is convincing growers to plant these exotic varieties. In the end, winegrowing is a business and if a farmer can be assured of a good return by planting Chardonnay then why would he or she take a risk with an unknown varietal? There are growers out there who are open, but the experimental winemaker must often work hard to convince growers to plant new and exciting things. In the case that a winemaker is lucky enough to find older vines to work with, as in the Broc Cellars Chenin Blanc, it can be a challenge to convince a grower not to graft over to something more profitable.
Which is why when you see a wine made from an “offbeat” variety from California, you almost always know that whoever made it is really going out on a limb to produce something authentic. You’ll never know until you try!
In this blog post I will attempt to convince you, reader, to stop whatever your current pre-dinner ritual and to instead take 15 minutes to relax and enjoy a light, slightly bitter, slightly sweet drink accompanied by salty snacks (like nuts or olives). The purpose? To whet your appetite and open your senses, preparing your palette to enjoy your meal. If you are totally against this proposition then this post isn’t for you. But if like me, you take pleasure in tasty, unique beverages and crunchy, salty little treats, and you think you might be open to this kind of suggestion, please read on.
You’re still reading, so you likely know that I’m talking about the aperitif. This word refers to both the act of enjoying a pre-meal drink and also to the beverages consumed therein. While it is more common in Europe to experience such a thing, here in the U.S. we too have a fine tradition of imbibing before we eat: think happy hours and cocktail parties. But there is something special about the way that the aperitif wine helps us prepare to eat that a pint of IPA cannot reproduce. It’s the combination of bitterness, acid, and sweetness that awakens the salivary glands and gets us ready for dinner without filling us up.
So, dear reader, next time you are hosting a dinner party, start your night right with a little apéro. You can serve any of these chilled over ice, with a spritz of soda water, or try our very own recipe for your “Aperitif Fix.” Serve them with a bowl of the aforementioned mixed nuts and you’ve got your night started. And we haven’t even mentioned the possibilities for mixing cocktails! Chin chin!
One of the original bitters in Italy, Campari was invented in 1860 by its eponymous founder, Gaspare Campari. It is also the essential ingredient in the classic Negroni cocktail, but if you’re an Italophile you just mix this with soda water and pretend you’re on the Almalfi Coast.
Lillet Blanc $19.99
Lillet is the original French Aperitif – it was initially used to cure malaria, but it tasted so good that it soon being used at the dinner table. It is made from Sémillon wine with quinine and citrus liqueurs added. Serve it chilled with orange peel or add some berries or peach slices for a quick and delicious Sangria.
Uncouth Vermouth Seasonal Hops $44.99
This wildly inventive vermouth is the brainchild of Bianca Miraglia. Using the seasons as her inspiration, Bianca sources different herbs, plants, and spices and infuses them with a complementary wine base. The Hops is made with 16 different plants plus a final addition of Cascade and Nugget hops. Craft beer lovers will totally dig this amazing vermouth.
Buil & Giné Vermut $27.99
A unique aperitif from the Priorat region in Spain, the Buil & Giné is a vermouth made from the Macabeo grape and infused with more than 110 different plants and herbs. It’s then aged for two years in oak barrels to get the desired color. It’s wonderfully bitter with a perfect balance of sour and sweetness. Serve this on the rocks or try it in a Manhattan.
Cocchi Vermouth di Torino $22.99
Vermouth di Torino is one of the only two protected geographical indication of origins for vermouth, the other being Chambéry in France. To celebrate their 120 year anniversary, the House of Cocchi recreated their original recipe for Vermouth Torino. With flavors of citrus, cocoa, and rhubarb, enjoy this neat with a citrus peel. It also makes a fabulous Manhanttan.
As the drought deepens guests have been asking us how we as retailers have been responding to the growing crisis. We work hard to curtail water use at the markets on a daily basis, and we go a step further to support producers who practice sustainable water usage. In the wine department, we talk a lot about dry-farmed vineyards, and will be showcasing four of our favorite dry-farmed wines this month that are perfect for pairing with summer barbecues.
The first vines planted in California were not irrigated; Spanish settlers and later Italian immigrants planted vines that were drought-resistant, like Zinfandel and the old Mission variety. Even some of the first Chardonnay vineyards like Stony Hill in Calistoga were dry-farmed. But for the variety to take hold in the way that it did after the Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976 irrigation had to become the norm (even though all of those wines came from dry-farmed vineyards!). Chardonnay is originally from Burgundy, a very wet place. Once it became widespread, we, the consumer, and the vines were addicted. You can’t just turn off the spigot on vines that have been continuously irrigated, the shock could kill them. Even dry-farmed vineyards need to be watered for the first couple of years in order for the vines to successfully take hold.
So here we are in quite a pickle: the market demands from California varieties that cannot be produced without irrigation. When a farmer decides to plant a vineyard he or she is going to think first about what sells, but the price of water is becoming an increasingly important consideration. Our job, then, is to promote producers who we feel are already doing it right. Alex Krause and John Locke from Birichino make delicious Grenache from extremely old vineyards just east of Santa Cruz. The site is called the Besson vineyard and it was planted in 1910 to Grenache. They look more like small trees than vines, and they produce a miniscule amount of concentrated fruit each year. What makes old, dry-farmed vines so special? Alex shared his perspective: “I think that vines are like people and that with the benefit of a century or more, they’ve figured out what to do with the available resources – whether we’re talking nutrients from the soil, available water and sunlight, or the crop levels they set. They find their own rhythm and balance.”
If vines are like people then there is some hope for us after all. While each of us figures out how to deal with this crisis, at least there are drought-friendly wines to drink. We all play our part!
Birichino Besson Vineyard Grenache ($19.99)
Birichino was founded by two friends (John Locke and Alex Krause) who both worked at Bonny Doon. This bottling is from 102 year-old dry-farmed, own-rooted Grenache fermented with native yeast, aged in neutral French barrels, bottled unfiltered. A rosehip-like aspect dominates the wild berry fruit. Modest and bright, with a bit more tannin than up-front fruit and a pleasant dried-herb aspect – perfect for a weeknight.
Bucklin “Bambino” Old Hill Ranch ($21.99)
Old Hill Ranch is an historic jewel. It was founded by William McPherson Hill in 1851. Will Bucklin’s mother and stepfather, Anne and Otto Teller, purchased the vineyard in 1981 and sold grapes to Joel Peterson at Ravenswood Winery for their top tier vineyard designate Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel. Bucklin and Ravenswood are the sole producers of wine from the vineyard. The “Bambino” comes from a 10-acre block that was planted on Old Hill in 1998. This young vine field-blend is patterned after the ancient vine field-blend for which Old Hill is known; it is a blend of several grape varieties, principally Zinfandel, but also Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouchet and Grenache to name a few.
Bucklin Rosé Old Hill Ranch Sonoma ($19.99)
Sourced from the Old Hill Ranch Vineyard, this Rosé is made from Grenache, Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Carignane. Whole cluster pressed and finished dry. Beautiful floral aromas with a crisp finish.
Calder Wine Company Charbono ($24.99)
Calder Wine Company was founded by Rory Williams, who grew up in a wine family, with his dad, John Williams who started Frog’s Leap. Part of the Slow Food Ark of Taste, Charbono has a long and wending history in California. Only 70 acres remain here, and it is extinct in its native land of France’s Savoie. After arriving in the mid-1800s (imported, it is believed, by the same man who provided the famed botanist Luther Burbank with the source material for his gardens), it was alternately mistaken for Pinot Noir and Barbera until the mid-20th century, when Inglenook’s John Daniel began making it famous. Some of these mid-century examples still survive, and serve as inspiration for makers of Charbono today, to whom Charbono stands as a lasting connection to the heritage and history of winemaking in Napa Valley. This Charbono features vibrant aromas of cherry cola and ripe plums, backed by intense secondary flavors of forest floor, mustard flowers, dark chocolate, sour cherries and bee pollen. A soft, plummy texture blends with bright acidity and dusty tannins to provide a backbone to the intense aromatics.