Home Posts tagged 'Wine' (Page 2)

Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

Matt R.

St. Valentine and Grape Vines: An Unusual History‏

st. valentineWhat do St. Valentine and grape vines have in common? The answer may surprise you!

In the 1800s, in the town of Roquemaure in the Rhône Valley, wine business was booming! Roquemaure’s wines had become known throughout France and they were one of the first villages known to label their wines CDR (Côtes du Rhône) to distinguish them as a sign of quality. Yet in 1866, strange things were happening to their precious vineyards. In Roqumaure, and all over Europe, grape vines were mysteriously dying, and no one knew why.

Things were getting desperate and French newspapers and local clergy blamed mankind’s reliance on science rather than God for the sudden vine deaths. In 1868, a Roquemaure dignitary, Maximilian Richard, was sent to Rome to acquire some relics of a patron saint for protection of the vines. He returned with the relics of St. Valentine and housed them in Roquemaure’s church of Saint-Jean-l’Evangeliste. The hopes of the villagers lay in the relics of St. Valentine to help protect the vines and to help the farmers determine why the vines were dying. And then in July of 1868, an accidental pickax blow by a farmer to a grape vine revealed the culprit – tiny yellow aphid-like creatures sucking on the vine’s roots. Phyolloxera!

In time, the French discovered that grafting European vines onto American rootstock, which was resistant to phylloxera, would allow the vines to grow unharmed. And however scientific the ‘cure’, St. Valentine had won a place in the hearts of the people of Roquemaure, where his relics are still housed and celebrated each year with La Fete des Amoureux (The Festival of Lovers).

So help celebrate St. Valentine and his contribution to wine (by way of a comfort to the people of Roquemaure) by enjoying some festive bubbly and cheese!

2011 Champ Divin Cremant du Jura Brut Rose  –  $22.99

wine 1Valerie and Fabrice Closset-Gaziaux have lived a life close to nature. They both grew up with families that kept bees, biodynamic gardens, and vineyards. They’ve both worked together helping farmers and winemakers convert to and farm using biodynamics. In 2009, after travelling the world spreading biodynamic know-how, they decided to settle in the Jura and bought a property with five hectares of vines. Their first bottlings are such a pleasure to drink! This sparkling rose is made in the Champagne method with Trousseau and Pinot Noir grapes. It has aromas of fresh red berries and flavors of tart rhubarb, herbs, and a lush fizz-filled finish. Perfect for your Valentine!

NV Guiborat Fils Extra Brut Tradition Champagne  –  $39.99

wine 2

The Fouquet family has a long tradition in Champagne, having farmed their eight hectares in the sub-region of Cramant since 1885. Today, 5th generation Richard Fouquet and his wife Karine run the estate. While they have traditionally sold most of their grapes to other producers, life many in Champagne do, they’ve recently started saving some of their grapes and bottling their own Champagnes. The Extra Brut tradition is about 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. Although there’s not added dosage (sugar added after disgorgement), a bright floral and honeycomb nose leads to a rich palate full of stone fruit flavors and salty minerality. A great value for a great grower-producer of Champagne!

A Toast for Two: Champagne and Cheese Bundle – $39.99

toast for twoImpress your special someone with the perfect pairing, presented in a pre-made festive package. We’ve done the work for you and have these bundles pre-made and ready to grab at either Market. Each bundle includes one wheel of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam cheese, a delicious, local, soft-ripened triple-creme, along with one split bottle (375 mL) of Guy Charlemagne Reserve Brut Champagne. This 100% Chardonnay Grand Gru Champagne is decadent, elegant and a perfect match for the rich and buttery Mt. Tam!


Upcoming Tastings:

18th Hour Cafe – Thursdays, 6-9PM – Drop-In – At 18 Reasons. On Thursday, February 13, 18th Hour Cafe celebrates San Francisco Beer Week!

Champagne Tasting with Sacred Thirst Selections – Friday, February 14, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

21st Amendment Brewing Tasting – Saturday, February 15, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

Speakeasy Brewery Tasting – Sunday, February 16, 4-6PM – At Bi-Rite Divisadero

Rich Higgins Beer Workshop: Food Pairing Techniques – Saturday, February 15, 3-5:30PM – At 18 Reasons

Tasting Seminar: Wine Basics with Pamela Busch – Saturday, February 22, 1-5PM – At 18 Reasons

Inexpensive and Incredible: How to Spot Great Value Wine – Monday April 21, 7-9PM, At 18 Reasons

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.

Jason Rose

Our Christmas and New Year’s Menu is Here!

Christmas menuBeginning today, December 20th, our house-made Christmas and New Year’s menu will be available at Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street and Divisadero. And this year, you can also pre-order everything you need online! Just place your order, select a date and time for pick-up, and you’re all set! Or call us or stop by to place your order. We look forward to seeing you, and are here to help with any planning or cooking tips you may need!

Bi-Rite’s Christmas and New Year’s Menu 

House-Brined and Oven Roasted Diestel Turkey Breast

Bi-Rite’s San Francisco Clam Chowder

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Fresh Sage 

Bourbon Sweet Potato Mash with Candied Pecans 

Horseradish and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Bacon Maple Syrup

Roasted Delicata Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Roasted Mushrooms

Balsamic-Roasted Red Beets and Carrots with Citrus Segments

Cranberry-Tangerine and Honey Relish

Wild Mushroom and Zinfandel Gravy

Chestnut-Apricot Bread Stuffing

Horseradish Crème Fraîche with Fresh Chives

prime ribOur Butcher’s choice this year for the ideal centerpiece for holiday meals is prime rib. We’ve selected prime rib from Five Dot Ranch. Grass-fed and grain-finished, this beautiful beef has just the right amount of marbling for a buttery mouth feel and texture. We’ve also got a wide selection of California-raised poultry including turkeys, geese, ducks, and more!


Winter is also a perfect time to enjoy cheeses. We’ve selected five favorites, along with an array of perfect pairing options, to delight your dinner guests and party-goers. Plus, we’ve created two special bundles just for Christmas and New Year’s that are only available online! Try our Tradition Reigns: Celebrate with Stilton pack to enjoy the classic pairing of English Stilton and port.

No holiday dinner would be complete without decadent, festive, magical desserts!BiRite_Holiday-400

Bi-Rite Creamery has taken tradition to a new level this year with our gorgeous Bûche de Noël, featuring chocolate roulade with milk chocolate butter cream, chocolate glaze, and decorated with adorable meringue mushrooms, pistachios, and sparkling candied rosemary! Don’t forget the ice cream! Our seasonal favorites are back, including Candy Cane, Pumpkin, and Eggnog.

Let us help you select the perfect wine for your meals and spirits to warm you! With vintages that pair perfectly with main courses, festive bubbly and single-barrel bourbons from our favorite family-run distilleries, our hand-selected wines, beers, and spirits are sure to delight.

We look forward to helping make this season memorable for you, your family and friends as you gather and celebrate. Happy Holidays!

Matt R.

December Wine Blitz is on at our 18th Street Market!

wine blitz

Our December Wine Blitz is on right now, and it’s the perfect chance to stock up on wine for Christmas, New Year’s and beyond. Right now at our 18th Street Market, you can save 20% on any twelve or more bottles of wine, mixed and matched in whatever combination you want. Get yourself squared away for the holidays and grab a few bottles to save for special occasions next year. Just make sure to act fast – Wine Blitz ends at closing time on Sunday, December 15th, so come by today and take advantage of our superior selection and expertise.

You can also call us at 415-241-9760 to pre-order for your Wine Blitz selection. Free delivery is available in the city of San Francisco. We want to get you outfitted for the holidays, and time is running short. Call us or come on by.

Perfect Cheeses for Your Holiday Celebration

The wedding adage about “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” always struck me as a bit silly. But I was recently musing on the phrase while celebrating a friend’s Big Day and thought, “Wow – that’s actually pretty good advice for starting an ideal cheese plate!” Just grab something perfectly aged, something fresh, something borrowed (European tradition, for example) and something…bleu. I’m always looking for delicious cheeses that highlight variety in flavor and texture, and the cheeses selected for our 2013 Holiday Guide are all perfect for holiday gatherings.WholeBoard1

If there’s one local favorite that everyone will love, it’s Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam. This rich, buttery cheese is made by our good friends at Cowgirl using organic Straus Family Creamery milk. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser and you really can’t go wrong bringing it to a holiday party.

Redwood Hill’s Cameo, made with local goat’s milk, is a truly elegant show-stopper on the cheese board. Created in nearby Sebastopol, Cameo is studded with cracked black peppercorns and lemon verbena. This lovely cheese is soft, silky, and delicious.

BonneBoucheA favorite among Bi-Rite cheesemongers is Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery. Slightly tangy and beautifully yeasty, this cheese is given its distinctive blue/gray hue by its ashed rind and is accented with a mild minerality.

A wedge of Bleiki Alpkase, imported from Bi-Rite’s very own adopted Swiss Alp, celebrates everything traditional about old-world cheesemaking and brings a fruity, slightly nutty flavor profile to your spread. This cheese is a Bi-Rite exclusive and is not available anywhere else outside of Europe!

And for your “something blue,” you can embrace English-style Christmas tradition with the iconic Stilton. This cheese from Colston Bassett, aged to perfection, is creamy yet crumbly, with notes of wet stone and hay.

If you’re having trouble choosing among these excellent cheese plate options for the holidays, we’ve created two Christmas Cheese Bundles – one for cheese-lovers to share with friends and party-goers, and one for the cheese enthusiast who wants to celebrate holiday tradition. Both pair our favorite seasonal cheeses with some perfectly-matching snack and drink accompaniments. Pre-order them online!

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Party Pack – $39.99CheesemongersChoicePairs

One 8oz round Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam

One 4oz round Bonne Bouche

One 10oz jar of Harvest Song Sour Cherry Preserves

1 box Raincoast Crisp Date and Almond Crackers

StiltonBundlePairs (2)Tradition Reigns! “Celebrate with Stilton” Bundle – $44.99

½ pound Colson Bassett Stilton

One 375ml bottle of Niepoort 10-year Tawny Port

One 5oz jar of Bi-Rite Holiday Nut Mix

The Cheesemonger’s Choice is sure to impress, while the “Celebrate with Stilton” bundle brings together the classic and beloved combination of blue cheese and port wine. Whichever way your taste and palate run, we’ve got your cheese needs covered this Christmas. You can pre-order our featured cheeses and bundles online, or come in for a taste! Happy Holidays!

Matt R.

December Wine Blitz Picks: Celebratory Sparklers!

WinePostcardWe hope everyone had an enjoyable and delicious Thanksgiving and Hanukkah last week! With the condensed holiday season this year, believe it or not, it’s already time to start planning for Christmas and the New Year! Our final Wine Blitz of the year kicks off next week, Monday, December 9th and runs through Sunday, December, 15th at Bi-Rite on 18th Street. This is your last chance for 2013 to stock up on vino! During Blitz, you’ll get 20% off when you buy 12 or more bottles mix-and-match, and we’re once again offering free wine delivery within San Francisco! Think of all those upcoming gifts and holiday parties–you’ll need some wine!

Join us this Friday, December 6th from 6-8PM at 18 Reasons for our Blitz Preview Tasting. You’ll get to sample 25+ wines we’re excited about for the December Blitz and decide which to add to your Blitz wish list!

Can’t make it to the store during Blitz 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 during Blitz week, and set your wines aside for pick-up or delivery. Easy!

This week, we’re focused on all the Holiday entertaining left to do! We’re sure you have at least one or two holiday parties to attend (or even plan!) this season and need a perfect bottle of bubbly to round out the celebrations! Each of the sparkling wines below are great values for festive and celebratory sparklers. And not only are sparkling wines festive, they pair well with almost any food! Add these to your Blitz wish list today, as many of them are limited!

2011 Raventós i Blanc de Nit Rosé  –  $24.99; Blitz Price  –  $19.99

blancdenitCava, Spain’s national sparkling wine, has a long tradition–a tradition that dates back to the Raventós family in 1497. The Raventós estate has been producing wine since this time and Josep Raventós was the first to produce a sparkling wine in Spain in 1872. Today Pepe Raventós carries on his family’s tradition of winemaking and has worked to craft some of the best sparkling wines in Spain. Focused on standing apart from the multitude of mediocre Cavas produced by cooperatives in Spain, Pepe has studied with some the best winemakers in France, including Didier Dagueuneau and Phillippe Blanc. Since Pepe’s time at the winery in 2001, Raventós has converted fully to biodynamic wine-making and now produces stunning Cavas that are on the wine lists of some of Spain’s best restaurants. Their rose is extremely elegant with scents of fresh strawberry, tart tangerine, and a dry, lively finish!

NV Domaine Dupasquier ‘Perles d’Aimavigne’  –  $22.99; Blitz Price  –  $18.39

NVDupasquierWe’re not shy about loving basically everything from Domaine Dupasquier. Their dedication to preserving the native grapes of the Savoie, the amazing quality of the wines they produce, and the fact that simply drinking their wines is helping to preserve centuries-old winemaking traditions are all reasons Domaine Dupasquier has a special place in our hearts and in our wine glasses. The newest wine we’re stoked to have on our shelves is their sparkling. Made from native grapes Jacquere and Altesse with a bit of Chardonnay, their bubbly is one of our favorites this season. Notes of tart apple and white flowers lead to a crisp palate with a round finish. Perfect with anything from starters to sweets!

NV M. Bonnamy Crémant de Loire Brut  –  $14.99; Blitz Price  –  $11.99

NVBonnamyEasily one of the best values on our sparkling shelf, the Crémant de Loire from M. Bonnamy is a no-brainer. From hand-harvested Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc vines grown on limestone soils, this bubbly is a great alternative to pricier Champagnes. A lush and round texture is full of notes of toast, tart green apple, and quince. The perfect wine to get your guests started at the beginning of your holiday party!


Upcoming Events:

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

*18th St. Location Only*

 Upcoming Tastings:

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

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

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

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.

November Wine Blitz at Bi-Rite 18th Street!

wine blitzWe can’t believe it’s already time for our November Wine Blitz at 18th Street! We’ve been doing a fair bit of wine-hoarding and are stoked with the selection we have in store for the two upcoming Holiday Wine Blitzes. The first Blitz kicks off on Monday, November 11th and runs through Sunday, November 17th. If you’ve never participated in one of our Wine Blitzes before, here’s how it works: at our 18th St. location only, during the above-mentioned dates, you’ll get 20% off any 12 or more bottles of wine, mixed and matched however you like! Worried about carrying that wine home? We’re also offering free deliveries within San Francisco for Wine Blitz purchases. We’ve timed this sale perfectly to allow you to stock up on everything you’ll need for the approaching Holiday Season – especially Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.

Can’t make it during that week? Worried about crowds? We love pre-orders! Come by the store, shoot us an email or give us a ring before Wine Blitz starts and let us know what you’re looking for. We’re happy to pick out wines for you, apply the 20% discount during the week of Blitz, and set them aside for pick-up or delivery. And don’t forget to come to the Preview Tasting tomorrow, November 7th from 6 to 8 PM at 18 Reasons, where you can sample 30+ wines and get started writing your own Blitz Wish List. 

The wines below are just a few of many that we’re excited to feature for the November Wine Blitz. They’re all reds that are perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner. And yes, the classic pairing for turkey is Pinot Noir, but we like to think outside the bottle and pair our poultry with something different. All of these are limited and probably won’t be available much past our November Blitz, so be sure to add them to your Blitz List!

madeleine2011 Madeleine ‘Maddie’ Vin de Table  –  $16.99

Damien Georis discovered his passion for wines when he was a young boy living in Belgium and an old family friend, Madeleine, gave him his first sip of wine. This sip inspired Damien’s career as winemaker, and he later went on to study enology at Bordeaux University. He found additional inspiration in the Loire Valley and its signature grape, Cabernet Franc. Damien moved to California in 2005, determined to create a wine that would best express this elegant and refined varietal. ‘Maddie’ is his entry-level, everyday sipping wine, named for his wine muse. A blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Syrah, this wine is fresh, vibrant, juicy and filled with aromas of herbs and pepper.

2012 Franz Gojer St. Magdalener Classico  –  $22.99gojer

Franz Gojer is a master of Shiava and Lagrein, two native grapes of the Alto Adige. His Glogglhof vineyard at the heart of St. Magdalener produces some of the top wines from Alto Adige. The St. Magdalener Classico is blend of 95% Shiava and 5% Lagrein and is the perfect balance between elegance and power. We get aromas of violets and cherries along with a soft, velvety texture and round tannins. We love this with a traditional speck from this region of northern Italy, but it’s also a perfect pairing for your Thanksgiving meal.

dupasuier2010 Domaine Dupasquier Gamay  –  $19.99

It’s no secret we love Gamay at Bi-Rite! It’s our alternative to pricey Pinot Noir and is a very versatile and food-friendly grape! We’re always trying to source Gamay from different regions, especially since the grape can be very transparent and expresses terroir extremely well. One of our favorite Gamay producers is David Dupasquier. He has dramatic and picturesque vineyards in Savoie, high up near the Alps. Dupasquier’s Gamay is clean, high-toned, and minerally; it speaks of both the place and varietal from whence it comces. This is one of those limited wines that sells out fast, so don’t get caught buying just one bottle!

Upcoming Events:

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

*18th St. Location Only*

December Wine Blitz!! – Monday, December 9 to 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

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


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.

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

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.

Defining Wine Words: Minerality

MineralsMinerality. The M-word. It’s a term still widely debated in the wine world, and one that’s hard to define. It’s used widely in wine descriptions, but what does it actually mean? Is it a flavor? Is it a smell? Are we actually tasting the mineral compounds from the soil where the grapes grew?

For many, it’s used to describe both aromatics and flavors in wine, but what creates those aromas and flavors is still unknown. The debate continues as to whether or not mineral compounds in soils actually make their way into grapes at all, let alone in large enough quantities to be perceived. But most do seem in agreement that there’s something about Chablis or Mosel Reisling that sets those wines apart in terms of their ‘minerality.’

We like to think of minerality as aromas or flavors that are distinct from fruit or earthy qualities. Whether that be the salinity of a Muscadet, the chalkiness of a white Burgundy, or the iron tinge of a Hungarian red, these are qualities both unique to these wines and somewhat hard to quantify as individual components. We love minerally wines! And maybe it’s because these mineral qualities only really shine through when unmasked by things like new oak or too much fruit. Or maybe it’s because they provide an added layer of complexity. Either way, we know that mineral-driven wines are a perfect accompaniment to food!

2009 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet ‘3’  –  $24.99
We’re not shy about loving the wines of Marc Ollivier from Muscadet! His classic Muscadets are a throwback to what this corner of Northwest France became known for in the firstplace – terroir driven, accessible, and ageable white wines that are a heavenly match with the seafood (oysters!) of the region. His ‘3’ or ‘Trois’ bottling is his latest release, the ‘3’ referring to the number of years this wine aged on the lees (or yeast leftover from fermentation). Muscadet in general is known for lees-aging, which imparts a richer texture to the finished wine, but the AOC minimum for aging on the lees is only through the 3rd week in March after harvest. Marc far exceeds this with the ‘3’ and the result is a richly textured, brightly acidic, and mouthwatering minerally wine!

(Currently available at both Markets.)

2011 Domaine Pavelot Aligoté  –  $19.99
Aligoté, or ‘The Other White Burgundy’ as it’s sometimes referred to, often gets a bad rap. Many winemakers in Burgundy see this grape as less prestigious than other varieties, and its plantings in Burgundy are far outweighed by Chardonnay. It’s often made into simple, acidic wines that are diluted and balanced with the addition of cassis to create the classic Kir apértif. Surrounded by an abundance of ‘simple’ wines, Domaine Pavelot stands above the rest in terms of the quality of its Aligoté. Their extreme care for their 50-year old Aligoté vines contributes to a clean and balanced white that needs no cassis! Tart lemon zest, apricot, and pear notes lead to a salty minerality on the finish – perfect for sipping on its own or with a scallop crudo!

(Available at both Markets next week!)

Upcoming Tastings at 18 Reasons:

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

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

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