Home Posts tagged 'California Wine'

Posts Tagged ‘California Wine’


Matt R.

Wine Blitz Is On!

wine blitzIt’s here! It’s happening right now! Our November Wine Blitz is in full swing at our 18th St. location! From now through Sunday, November 17th, you’ll get 20% off 12 or more bottles of wine, mix-and-match! Worried about carrying that wine home? We’re also offering free delivery within San Francisco for Wine Blitz purchases. Now’s the time to stock up on everything you’ll need for the approaching holiday season – especially Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

Can’t make it to the store this week? Worried about crowds? Shoot us an email or give us a ring to let us know what you’re looking for. We’re happy to pick out wines for you, apply the 20% discount this week, and set your wines aside for pick-up or delivery. Easy!

Last week’s newsletter was all about red wines for Turkey Day. This week we’re focusing on fantastic fall whites. We’ve all noticed that chill in the air and the seasonal shift to winter produce, and Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! We think these white wines are perfect for any fall fare – all medium-bodied with great texture and acidity to stand up to the gamut of holiday food in the near future. And all of these wines are limited and won’t be available much past our November Blitz; be sure to grab them while you can!

2012 La Fenetre À Côté Pinot Gris  -  $17.99acote

Winemaker Joshua Klapper started his journey into the wine world at the age of just 19. Straight out of high school, he started working in restaurants and found himself as one of the youngest servers at the iconic Cafe Boulud in Manhattan. Working there, he had the opportunity to try some of the best wines from around the world, which inspired him to pursue wine-making on his own. He moved to California in 2005, and today sources fruit from high-quality and sought-after vineyards throughout the Central Coast. His Pinot Gris is inspired by the Pinot Gris of Alsace. Its texture is unctuous and reminiscent of beeswax with lovely tropical, apple, and honeysuckle notes. Perfect with our Bourbon Sweet Potato Mash!

confrerie2010 Domaine de la Confrérie Haut-Cotes de Beaune Blanc  -  $17.99

One of the newer producers in Burgundy, Domaine de la Confrérie was founded in 1991 by winemaker Christophe Pauchard. Christophe has just 10 hectares of vineyards in the small hamlet of Cirey. He’s dedicated to extreme care in the vineyards and is meticulous about the quality of his grapes. His Haut-Cotes de Beaune Blanc tastes pricier than it is! Fresh aromas of white flowers and honey lead to a long and elegant finish with notes of apple and pear. Try this with our Butternut Squash and Apple Soup!

2011 Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc  -  $29.99thibaud

You know a winemaker is passionate about his craft when he has a side job as a winemaker from his day job as a winemaker. Thibaud Boudignon’s day job is with Domaine Soucherie, whose stellar reputation he has helped craft from the vineyard to the bottle. But on the side, Thibaud’s passion lies in his small, 2-hectare, organically-farmed vineyard of Chenin Blanc vines in Savennières. He is meticulous in the vineyard, minimalist in the winemaking process, and uses a combination of French oak and Austrian oak barrels. His Chenin Blanc has intoxicating quince, saline, and floral aromas with a lush texture and great minerally depth. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving Day white!

Upcoming Events:

November Wine Blitz!! – Monday, November 11 – Sunday, November 17

*18th St. Location Only*

December Wine Blitz!! – Monday, December 9 – Sunday, December 15

*18th St. Location Only*

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe - Every Thursday, 6-9PM, Drop-In

Sancerre Tasting with Pamela Busch – Wednesday, November 13, 7:00-9:00PM, Ticketed

December Wine Blitz Preview Tasting – Friday, December 6, 6-8PM, Drop-In

Tasting Seminar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine – Monday, December 9, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or special requests (415.241.9760 for 18th St. or 415.551.7900 for Divis) or email wine@biritemarket.com.


Matt R.

October Winery of the Month – Birichino

birichino

Besson Vineyard 101-year-old Grenache vine

Birichino means “mischievous” in Italian, and although Birichino founders Alex Krause and John Locke definitely have a glint in their eyes, they are dead serious about making delicious wine. They are both are alums of Randall Graham land at Bonny Doon (have you been paying attention?), and his wine-making philosophies have definitely rubbed off on them: the wines share a similar balance of fruit expressiveness, texture, and earth.

Alex and John are really into the expression of old vine sites, which is one of the most exciting things going on in California these days. Old vineyards like the Besson vineyard near Santa Cruz and the Bechtold Vineyard in Lodi not only produce tiny amounts of super-concentrated fruit for making fantastic wine, but also hold in their trunks the built-up stories of the people that eked an existence out of the land long before there was such a thing as a ’boutique winery’. John and Alex honor those stories by making wines with a sense of place: earth and dust. Their first major commercial release was the 2010 vintage, but the much-hailed 2012s are here now and tasting great. All of these wines are great for the autumn dinner table and pair well with everything from roasted delicata squash with farro and a light salad to a full-on daube Provençal with braised prunes and mashed potatoes. Let us know what you think!

BirichinoPinot22012 Birichino St. George Pinot Noir  -  $19.99

Fruit-forward, fresh, and bright, this is real CA Pinot, but with the restraint and elegance of an old-world wine. They balance the natural spice and sappiness of these vines by using a partial whole-cluster fermentation which tends to yield a lighter, fruitier wine. It’s delicious with everything from Fall vegetables to a hearty winter feast.

2011 Birichino Old Vine Besson Vineyard Grenache  -  $19.99BirichinoGrenache3

The Besson vineyard was one of Alex and John’s first sites. The vines are 100+ years old, but still yield wines that are spry and versatile at the table. Flavors of sour cherry and black pepper fold into a lush texture with a blend of other red fruits. Perfect with a roast chicken, side of root veggies and zesty gremolata. Let your imagination run wild!

BirichinoCinsault22012 Birichino Old Vine Bechtold Vineyard Cinsault  -  $17.99

The incredibly old (sensing a theme?) Bechtold Vineyard was planted in 1886 in deep sandy soils, which make it inhospitable to the phylloxera louse that ravaged many of the original CA plantings. It produces a tiny amount of concentrated fruit. These guys make delicious rose from it, but this red is perhaps the most honest representation of the wild fennel, black cherry, and earth that is inherent to Cinsault and to the ripe wines of Lodi.

2012 Birichino Malvasia Bianco  -  $14.99BirichinoMalvasia3

Malvasia is not so well-known these days, but was one of the most famous grapes in the world back in the Age of Exploration. Alex and John wait to harvest the grapes just when the floral and sweet citrus notes come out, but while the grapes still have a lingering mint character that balances out the flavor cocktail. A delicious choice for those open to varietal exploration, but would be a great stand-in for Pinot Grigio lovers, too!

Upcoming Events:

November Wine Blitz!! – Monday, November 11 – Sunday, November 17

*18th St. Location Only*

December Wine Blitz!! – Monday, December 9 – Sunday, December 15

*18th St. Location Only*

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe - Every Thursday, 6-9PM, Drop-In

November Wine Blitz Preview Tasting – Thursday, November 7, 6-8PM, Drop-In

Sancerre Tasting with Pamela Busch – Wednesday, November 13, 7:00-9:00PM, Ticketed

December Wine Blitz Preview Tasting – Friday, December 6, 6-8PM, Drop-In

Tasting Seminar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine – Monday, December 9, 7-9PM, Ticketed


Matt R.

September Winery of the Month: Bonny Doon Vineyards

GrahamVinous Renaissance man Randall Grahm has been on the vanguard of California winemaking ever since he founded Bonny Doon Vineyards in 1981 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A founding member of the Rhône Rangers, a group of winemakers dedicated to expanding Californians’ palates in the direction of Southern France, he made his own reputation with the release of Le Cigare Volant in 1986, an homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Unfortunately, his original planting of vines in Bonny Doon succumbed to a rare and fatal vine ailment called Pierce’s Disease, but this did not deter him. Fast-forward 25 or so years; he is now one of the elder statesmen of forward-wine-thinkers, but his craft is still ceaselessly experimental, wide-eyed even in the face of the possibilities of California winemaking.

The wines that we are featuring this month carry on the goals of the original Rhône Rangers, but bring them into the 21st century. Randall now quests far and wide for his fruit, sourcing from such diverse places as Santa Barbara, Contra Costa, Monterey, and Santa Cruz, looking for the best fruit and for wines of diverse and complementary flavors in order to craft blends of complexity and finesse. Also, while making some of the tastiest premium wines in California, he continues to craft great everyday drinking table wine that will pair with just about anything. So come on in and check out the selection. You’ve haven’t Been Doon until you’ve Been Doon.

 

BD12008 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant  -  $29.99
This is Randall’s flagship wine, now in its 25th iteration. The name references a 1954 law passed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape banning the passage of UFOs over the village for fear of the damage they might inflict on its fabled wines. Although it’s suspect whether the village’s jurisdiction extends to interplanetary travelers, there is no doubt that this New World blend achieves the balance of fruit, earth, spice, and chewy ripe tannin to call itself an homage, however alien. It’s full of rich notes of mulberry, woods, black raspberry, and loamy earth.

 

2012 Bonny Doon Contra  –  $14.99
BD2If the Cigare Volant is the raised pinkie of Grahm’s collection, Contra is the middle finger. Composed of the thoroughly unknown Carignane from a crotchety 100 year old vineyard in Contra Costa County (not wine country) blended with Mourvedre and some bits and bobs of other varietals, it is a wine meant to be savored for its simplicity, straightforwardness, and utter drinkability. No snobs allowed. It has bright aromas of cherries, licorice, baking spices, and cassis.

 

2012 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare –  $15.99
This is Randall’s classic Provençal-style Vin Gris. This lovely light pink/grey rosé is made using grapes specifically harvested for making rosé rather than as a by-product of red-wine making (the way that most CA rosé comes about). That means that it has brighter acidity, zestier fruit flavors, and a more delicate texture than most. Enjoy with a hunk of Brillat-Savarin on all of those warm late-Summer nights that are surely on their way!

 

Upcoming Tastings:

 

18th Hour Cafe - Every Thursday, 6-9PM, Drop-In.

 

Mini Wine Blitz - Friday, September 20, 6-8PM, Drop-In and Ticketed

 

Harvest Beer & Food Pairing Class with Master Cicerone Rich Higgins - Wednesday, October 16, 6:30-9:30PM, Ticketed

 


John Herbstritt

Plate Tectonics and Biodynamics at Hirsch Vineyards

Hirsch3During a recent field trip with the Bi-Rite Wine Team to Hirsch Vineyards and Winery near Cazadero on the Sonoma Coast, I couldn’t help thinking about the pace of change in California wine. Things are always in flux here. We seem compelled to try new things every vintage: winemakers experiment with fermenting and aging their wines in concrete eggs, not using sulfur, spreading strange potions in their vineyards. These are all things that yield exciting results. But the very earth beneath us is also in a constant state of motion.

The San Andreas fault runs along the Pacific coast, just to the West of the Hirsch vineyards, rending and crumpling the land into hills and divots and creating ridges that dart this way and that. Here the Pacific plate slides underneath the North American plate, exposing ancient rocks and transforming the soil composition in the process. The ridges also create the microclimate that makes fine wine production possible. Perched above the fog line, but just on the edge of where the clouds normally burn off in the Summer, the sun is allowed to break through and nourish the vines, but it’s cool enough to ensure a long steady growing season. Perfect for pinot.

hirsch4Measuring change on a human scale is a bit more intuitive. Organic farming is great step toward eliminating chemicals from our land and from our bodies, but it can also be seen as merely a replacement; taking out one chemical and replacing it with a new one. Biodynamicists see farming as a practice that can work with nature instead of against it. Methods such as planting cover crops, composting, applying preparations to the soil that promote the growth of friendly soil bacteria, and planting the right crops next to each other, when coupled with a view of the vineyard as a natural environment that interacts with and is contained in the surrounding “uncultivated” land, result is minimal impact on the land. It also happens that this process can create some pretty compelling wines.

Biodynamics represents an ideal in farming. The folks at Hirsch have begun to move toward that ideal, but are still in the process, finding out how to best implement these practices on their land. They’ve already figured out how to work with the ever-shifting landscape. Their newest vineyards are mapped into blocks based on soil type and exposition that work with the curves and slopes of the land. These blocks are picked and fermented independently, offering an ever more specific sense of terroir. Ultimately, this is Pinot Noir’s (and Chardonnay’s) greatest asset: the ability to translate the soil into your glass. Fruit is nice, but without earth, you have juice, not wine. Everything that Hirsch does is geared towards the end result. They’re definitely on the right path.

2011 Bohan-Dillon Pinot Noir $39.99
HirschBohanNamed after the road that runs by the winery, this is a blend of some of the younger vines from the estate vineyards and some fruit from neighboring vineyards. Aromas of orange peel and spice with lots of fresh berry fruit. It’s lighter-bodied and bright. Serious for an entry-level wine—with enough depth to make a couple years’ ageing worthwhile—but with enough verve to be great at the table tonight.

2010 San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir $59.99
HirschFaultA blend of fruit from the Western and Eastern ridge. It’s meant to encompass the vineyard as a whole and is Hirsch’s signature wine. The 2010 vintage was extremely cool, highlighting the brightness and savor of the wines rather than the fruit character.  More texture, savor, and grip than the Bohan-Dillon, this will age on the long term beautifully.

2011 Chardonnay $54.99
HirschChardA Chardonnay for people who think they don’t like Chardonnay. With bracing acidity balanced by tons of texture and depth, this drinks much more like a white Burgundy than most CA chards. At 500 cases / year, this is one of the smallest production estate wines at Hirsch. The grapes all come from an extremely steep plot that juts up on the West ridge of the Hirsch property. The wind forms a microclimate that makes it distinctly cooler than any other part of the vineyard and so perfect for Chardonnay. Delicious to drink right now, but will also greatly reward those of us who are patient enough to wait…


Matt R.

August Winery of the Month: Martian Ranch Winery

martian1It’s an exciting time for California wine! The variety of styles produced and grapes grown here in CA is expanding beyond juicy Pinot Noir, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, and oaky Chardonnay; not that these wines don’t have a place, but it’s great to see California’s potential beyond those steadfast traditions!

One of the winemakers leading this change and daringly exploring California’s wine potential is Nan Helgeland of Martian Ranch Winery. Nan and her husband, the award-winning writer/producer Brian Helgeland (Mystic River), always dreamed of making wine, so they bought property in Los Alamos and have released their first vintage, 2011. Nan and her winemaking partner Mike Roth are dedicated to biodynamic farming, native yeast fermentation, and minimal additions of sulphur. Nan and Mike are also dedicated to exploring varietals in CA beyond Pinot Noir, which is so ubiquitous in Santa Barbara. Her vineyards are planted with mostly Rhone and Spanish varietals – all grapes that do well in the hot, dry, rolling hills of Santa Barbara County.

The name, Martian Ranch, is both an homage to Nan’s sons, Martin and Ian, and perhaps a nod to the foreignness of the kinds of grapes she’s using in California. Or as she puts it, “The Martian seen occasionally on the premises is as much as mystery to her as it is to anyone else.” Try these exciting, restrained, vibrant, and food-friendly wines and help support the next generation of California winemaking! And don’t miss our upcoming Mini Wine Blitz, next Friday, August 23rd at 18 Reasons, where you’ll get to taste and order a few wines from Martian Ranch, among many others!

2012 Martian Ranch ‘Down to Earth’ Rosé – $16.99
martian2This is our kind of rosé! It’s based mostly on Grenache, much like our beloved Provencal-style rosé, but the ‘alien’ addition here is a bit of Tempranillo, a typically Spanish varietal. The nose is everything you’d expect in a rose from Southern France with a bit of added cherry and spice qualities. Dried herbs, tart cherry, and watermelon all combine on a dry and crisp palate that’s an easy pairing for a leisurely afternoon in the park!

2011 Martian Ranch ‘Uforic’ Albariño – $19.99

martian3Albariño
is a grape native to Galicia, Spain where it makes light, crisp, and brightly tart white wines that are a perfect match for any of the fresh seafood that abounds in Northwest Spain. Martian Ranch’s Albariño is a fresh take on this Spanish varietal. It’s aged in foudre (large used barrels) for six months giving a richer texture to this sometimes overly austere grape. Floral and stone fruit aromas are followed by a richly textured palate and a solid acidic backbone that is sure to stand up to anything from poultry to pork!

2011 Martian Ranch ‘Redshift’ Syrah – $21.99
martian4The Martian Ranch ‘Redshift’ is a great homage to the Syrah’s of the Northern Rhone. 95% Syrah blended with just 5% Viognier (not unlike Côte-Rôtie!) is fermented and aged in a combination of old and new French oak. Rustic dried herbal notes lead to a mid-weight palate that’s rich and full of dark blackberry and baking spice flavors. Just like Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding by observing the Red Shift phenomenon, we’re glad that Martian Ranch is expanding California’s Rhone-style credentials!

Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe On Thursday, August 22nd, we will be pouring a selection of wines from Martian Ranch Winery! 6-10PM, Drop-In.

Tasting of wines from Martian Ranch Winery: Friday, August 16 6:30-8:30PM at Bi-Rite Divisadero. Space is limited, RSVP here to reserve your spot.

18th Hour Cafe – Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.

Mini Wine Blitz – Friday, August 23, 6-8PM, Ticketed


Matt R.

July Winery of the Month: Dashe Cellars

DasheLogoPart of the Urban Wine Revolution, Michael and Anne Dashe make delicious terroir-driven California wine in the Jack London District of Oakland. Sharing advanced degrees in enology, Michael and Anne combined their complementary backgrounds to form Dashe Cellars in 1996. Previously, Michael worked at many renowned wineries: Far Niente in Napa, Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, and Ridge in Santa Cruz, where working with famous winemaker Paul Draper exposed him to the heart and soul of Zinfandel, California’s own varietal. Working with some of the best Zinfandel vineyards in the world in Northern Sonoma County, the Dashes wanted to dedicate their work to this great grape, but also to newly emerging ideas about natural wine and the possibilities of vineyard management that derive from organic practices.

Fifteen years later they have achieved that goal. Michael works closely with growers to source some of the best fruit in Sonoma County, but one of his favorite spots for great California red wine is Dry Creek Valley, his old stomping grounds. He has also expanded his reach to other varietals and techniques: pretty, soft Vin Gris, unctuous mineral-driven Dry Riesling, and organically farmed, earthy and spicy Grenache. The Dashes’ wines are both palate-pleasing and thought-provoking in a precarious balance that is difficult to achieve, but for the most experienced winemakers. Join us in celebrating these California pioneers!

2012 Dashe Dry Riesling  -  $21.99
Dashe1
From a cool, chalky vineyard in the Potter Valley of Mendocino, this Riesling defies all preconceived notions. Since Michael is dedicated to natural yeast fermentation, he left this Riesling to ferment naturally at room temperature – a process that took 3 months! Mineral-driven and bright, flavors of grapefruit and spice and tons of texture, it’s the perfect companion for fish or fowl or for an afternoon picnic!

2010 Dashe Florence Vineyard Zinfandel  -  $37.99
Dashe2
The young Florence Vineyard in the North of Dry Creek Valley has really come into its own. The cool 2010 vintage allowed for a concentration of fruit, but balanced by brightness that keeps the wine alive on the palate. It’s bolstered by a small percentage of one-year old oak barrels that offer the wine a bit of heft. Try with grilled sausages and mushrooms!

2012 Dashe ‘Les Enfants Terribles’ Grenache  -  $24.99
Dashe3Not content simply to make wines of complexity and nuance in Dry Creek, the Dashes wanted to experiment with natural winemaking techniques: thus the Enfants Terribles project was born. This Grenache is organically farmed. It’s luscious and velvety with flavors of strawberry and raspberry and a hint of spice.

 

 

Upcoming Tastings at Bi-Rite Market Divisadero:

Tasting with Mike Dashe of Dashe CellarsFriday, July 12, 6:30-9pm. Limited capacity. RSVP required in advance. Reserve your spot here.

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe - Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In.
On Thursday, July 11, we will be joined by Michael Dashe of Dashe Cellars!

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New California – Tuesday, July 23, 7-9PM, Ticketed

Tasting Seminar with Pamela Busch: The New France – Tuesday, July 30, 7-9PM, Ticketed

 


Matt R.

June Winery of the Month: Hobo Wine Co. and Kenny Likitprakong

KennyBoardingKenny Likitprakong’s winemaking career has been one of constantly moving exploration. “From skateboard to vineyard,” as one local paper wrote, from conventional to natural winemaking, and from traditional CA varietals (Zinfandel and the like), to thoroughly modern styles like skin-fermented Chenin Blanc. He started his career studying at UC Davis’ wine program and spent two years managing their organic vineyard. As Kenny moved into the world and began making his own wines, he took for granted the potions and tricks that most winemakers used to doctor their wines. A six-month stint in France opened his eyes to the possibilities of natural winemaking.

Fast-forward ten years, and Kenny uses only organically-grown fruit and native yeasts, and he assiduously sources vineyards far and wide in order to find the best fruit available. Chenin blanc from Mendocino? Gewurtztraminer from Monterey County? This stuff is no Napa Chard, but each wine has a sense of place. By letting the wine make itself, by intervening as little as possible into the wine “making” process, Kenny is able to offer a lineup of wines whose common thread is like a neighborhood of old Victorians – each with a different façade and paint, distinct and beautiful on their own.

Banyan

2012 Banyan Gewurtztraminer  -  $11.99
Banyan is Kenny’s homage to his Southeast Asian heritage. When he discovered an old Gewurztraminer vineyard in Monterey County, he decided to produce a wine that would pair well with the foods he loved to eat, both in flavor and in price! This Gewurztraminer is a killer value and is full of exotic tropical fruit aromas including pineapple, lychee, and lemongrass. The palate is dry and crisp, with great white pepper and honeysuckle flavors. A surefire match with any spicy Asian dish!

JeanneDArc

2012 Folk Machine Jeanne d’Arc  -  $16.99
Folk Machine is Kenny’s line of Central Coast, cool climate wines. This savory, skin-fermented white might fall into the “curiosity” category if it weren’t for the fact that it is so darn delicious. It’s 100% Chenin Blanc that’s had 20 days of skin contact giving it an enticingly hazy orange hue. Notes of apples, pears, and cinnamon combine with a cider-like intensity of texture for a food-friendly experience. Try with a hunk of Camembert cheese and just let it wash over you.

FolkMachine

2012 Folk Machine Pinot Noir  -  $19.99
Kenny’s Folk Machine Pinot Noir is made from grapes sourced mostly from vineyards in the Central Coast with a splast of Mendocino fruit. The focus here is cool climate, early-picked Pinot. Juicy red fruits, bright acid, and a beautiful light translucence. Serve this lightly chilled with a summer lunch of little gem lettuce salad and Taleggio grilled cheese with caramelized onions.

Ghostwriter

2010 Ghostwriter Santa Cruz Pinot Noir – $24.99
It’s no wonder that this wine made the list in Jon Bonne’s Top 100 in last year’s SF Chronicle lineup. Ghostwriter Wines are Kenny’s wines from the cool-climate Santa Cruz Mountains. His Pinot Noir has a density of fruit that will please lovers of CA Pinot, but enough earth and forest floor herbal aromas to woo those Burgundy-philes too. It has a light, bright finish, and is a steal for delicious CA Pinot Noir. Get it while it’s still around!

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

18th Hour Cafe will host this month’s featured winemaker, Kenny Likitprakong on Thursday June 20th from 6-10pm. Come by to meet Kenny and taste his wonderful wines.

18th Hour Cafe - Every Thursday, 6-10PM, Drop-In

Producer Dinner: Forlorn Hope Winery – Friday, June 7th, 7-10PM, Ticketed

Wine Appreciation: Palate Development School with Oliver McCrum – Mondays, June 17th and 24th, 6:30-9PM, Ticketed

Sour Beer Class with Master Cicerone Rich Higgins – Tuesday, June 25th, 7-9PM, Ticketed