Dylan here, taking over the weekly wine recommendations for Simon while he focuses on treatment. First of all, we know so many of you want to keep up with how he's doing, so I wanted to share the link to Caring Bridge where his family is posting updates. Also, we wanted to say a big thank you for the amazing outpouring of support to last week's email. Simon and all of us are so grateful for the orders flowing in. Now, on to the wines... This week, I asked Simon's Muir Beach neighbor and fellow wine expert, Thierry Lovato, to taste through some samples with me. You've probably heard Simon rave about the roast chicken at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco -- well, Thierry sources wine for them. So, needless to say, Simon felt an instant bond (despite just a little British-French rivalry of course). It was fun to taste with Thierry, and I can tell you these wines passed a very high bar. Since it's the holidays, and it's that time of year to splurge on great wines for parties and gifts, we decided to highlight some top-notch wines to pull out for those special occasions. For some everyday drinking options, we've included the 'baby brothers' as we call them - great value and easy to enjoy!
Pierre Menard La Varenne de Chanzé Anjou 2019 ($49)
The first wine we picked is from the Loire Valley in France. Pierre Menard is just a fantastic producer. He works incredibly closely with his terroir, crafting these beautiful, elegant wines time and time again. This lovely Chenin Blanc is like the sunshine on your face, warming you on a cool, crisp winter day. Born out of the schist, and volcanic rock soils of Anjou, and grown on the south facing slopes of Varenne de Chanzé this is a special glass of wine. Notes of ripe pear and crushed apple, freshly cut grass, hints of marzipan and wet wool, and a refreshing acidity that balances out the fruit so beautifully. A great example of complex, dry Chenin that would be wonderful with seafood, like salmon, or a cheese plate featuring brie and camembert.
For a more every-day drinking Chenin Blanc, the little brother to this wine would be our Vignoble Musset Roullier Le Moulin de Chateaupanne 2019 ($23). With its fresh, zesty notes of honeycomb, lemon, and spritely sea salt nature, it is wonderfully refreshing and so drinkable.
G.D. Vajra Albe Barolo 2018 ($56)
We love this wine. It is just a wonderful balance of elegance, structure and complexity. Made of fruit grown around the town of Albe in Piedmont on fine terroirs at medium altitude, this is truly a 'Barolo di Barolo'. It has lovely notes of rose, violets, wild herbs, wild plum, pine, and red cherry with notable, but integrated tannins and a very long finish. This is wine that can be drunk now, but will also age for the next decade, so it's a great wine to gift someone with a cellar. Drink alone, or with a steak, cooked sous-vide, then seared and basted with garlic, butter, and thyme. What more could the heart desire?
The little brother to this wine would be our Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2020 ($33). This wine has become a crowd favorite at Wine Friends. It is a great example of youthful Nebbiolo that is so approachable and complex (usually these need a lot more age). The fruit is grown just 200 meters outside the border of the famed Barolo region, which is part of the secret for getting such great quality at a lower price point.
If you'd like any help with wine recommendations for holiday parties or wine gifts for discerning friends, please feel free to reach out to me. I'm always happy to chat and answer any questions you might have!