Archive for June, 2011

Arianna Occhipinti is Awesome, So Are the Wines of Occhipinti!

June 28, 2011

We all know of ancient Sicily, it sits right off the toe of Italy’s main land and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.  The region has a diverse culture from first being a Greek colony then a Roman outpost that subsequently  fell to Arab rule and eventual invasion by the Normans.  Each past society contributed immensely to art, music, architecture and cuisine giving modern day Sicily a wonderful mix of past kingdom pageantry and peasant agricultural traditions, it is also the home of super cool, down to earth Arianna Occhipinti.

Arianna is a twenty something wine grower who has been producing wine only since 2004 and I bet she has a great sense of humor and is really confident in her wardrobe choices.  I bet she doesn’t really follow fashion trends but instead dresses appropriately for the sunny Sicilian weather and isn’t afraid to wear her vineyard  jeans to the local osteria.  

Arianna farms her vineyard using bio-dynamic methods, letting the chalk heavy soils and the Islands climate shine through in the finished wines.   She believes in only working with Sicilian native varietals: Nero D’Avola and Frappato for the reds, Albanello and Zibbibo for the whites.  The wines fall under the IGT-table wine designation, even though the Nero D’Avola-Frappato blend could sport the DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria label she doesn’t adhere to the barrel aging requirements and instead vinifies and refines everything in concrete.  This preserves the natural, bright freshness of the grapes.  She is an outlaw alright, I wonder if anyone could tame her.  I bet just hanging out and talking to her could be a lot of fun.  I bet she knows about sports as well as politics and I bet you could smell the sunshine and salt water in her hair.

SP68 IGT Sicilia Rosso 2009, $24.  Named after the road that passes by her home, this blend of Nero D’Avola and Frappato is fermented like all her wines using natural yeasts, no temperature control vinification and no filtration.  The result is a wine of elegant precision, balanced tart-red and slick-black fruit.  Perfect for arancine, eggplant caponata, milza (sandwiches with veal spleen) and of course olives.  Arianna’s skin has a nice olive tint to it, I wonder if it would be weird to present her own wine to her at dinner?  Do they have prom night in Sicily?  

Il Frappato IGT Sicilia Rosso 2008, $36.  Frappato usually makes nondescript soft, plush wines but in Arianna’s tough calloused, but still feminine hands it climbs to complex, chiseled heights.  It is light in color and body but delivers powerful, spicy flavor to compliment roasted rabbit with almond sauce or chicken on a skewer.

Siccagno Nero D’Avola IGT Sicilia Rosso 2007, $36.  Sicily’s most planted grape (did you know only 15% of Nero D’Avola is actually bottled on the island, the rest is shipped off to be blended for mass market consumption…ever see that crap at Trader Joes?) Arianna’s is by far the best version in the whole wide world.  Cuddly and expressive with earth driven minerality (am I writing about the wine or Arianna?) save this wine for salsiccia alla pizzaiola, or whatever Arianna’s favorite dish is.

Imported by Louis-Dressner Selections.

Richmond ROSÉ Invasion Continues

June 23, 2011

Take cover!  The pink wines continue their conquest of our defenceless city!  After a ten bottle rosé tasting pummeling at J. Emerson and a rosé carpet bomb tasting at Barrel Thief the warriors in pink make another attempt to finish us off!  


5:30pm Amici Ristorante – 3343 West Cary Street
NV Mottura, Negroamaro Salento

6:15pm Amour Wine Bistro – 3129 West Cary Street
2009 Château De Valcombe, Costières de Nîmes

6:45pm Can Can Brasserie – 3120 West Cary Street
2010 Domaine de Mirail, Cotes de Gascogne

7:15pm Secco Wine Bar – 2933 West Cary Street
Two special flights (in addition to their current selection of over a dozen rosés)

Fight or die!

Bistro Bobette Throws Down the Corkage Gauntlet and Six Burner Dumbs Down Their Wine List

June 22, 2011

Bistro Bobette has announced on their website and on their A-frame, NO CORKAGE FEE MONDAYS! Starting in July.  Their regular corkage fee will be $35.  This means you can bring your own special bottle to their top notch restaurant and drink it.  $35 is about the price of the lowest priced bottle on their wine list.  When you bring your own on Monday’s be sure to offer a taste to your server.

In other news…

What happened to Six Burner’s wine list?  Just a while ago it contained some real adventurous options…

the older list still on their web site…


Featured white by the glass/bottle, 8/30.

  • Blanc de Blancs, NV, L.Mawby, Leelanau Penninsula, MI, 8/15 from Michigan but still good and different
  • Pinot Gris, 08, Eola Hills, Willamette Valley, OR, 8/30
  • Viognier, 07, Camplazens, Languedoc, FR, 7/26
  • Albarino, 08, Burgans, Rias Baixas, ES, 9/32
  • Sauvignon Blanc, 08, Thierry Delauney, Loire Valley, FR, 9/32 great sauvignon producer
  • Chardonnay, 07, Foxglove, Central Coast, CA, 9/32
  • Champagne, NV, Roger Coulon, Brut Tradition Premier Cru, FR, 64 great grower producer Champagne
  • Gruner Veltliner, 07, Buchegger, Kremstal, AT, 32 gruner veltliner, awesome!wine7
  • Cistercensi, 07, “Coenobium”, Lazio, IT, 44 holy shit!  Coenobium?!?!?
  • Viognier, 06, Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville, VA, 38
  • Riesling, 07, Schoffit, Harth “Tradition,” Alsace, FR, 36
  • Gewurtztraminer, 07, Brandborg, Umpqua, OR , 30 ok it isn’t Alsace but still good
  • Sauvignon/Riesling/Marsanne, 2006, d’Arenberg, “The Stump Jump,” McLaren Vale, AU, 26
  • Sauvignon Blanc, 08, Vincent Delaporte, Sancerre, Loire Valley, FR, 46
  • Vernacchia (organic), 08, Podere Canneta, San Gimignano, IT, 30
  • Savoie, 09, Domaine Labbe Abymes, Rhone, France, 28 crispy white from Savoie
  • Chardonnay, 06, Domaine Fevre, Chablis, FR, 36 well it is from Burgundy at leastwine9
  • Chardonnay, 07, L’Ecole No.41, Walla Walla, WA, 44
  • Chardonnay, 07, Rombauer, Caneros of Napa, CA, 60 yuck


Featured red by the glass/bottle, 9/32.

  • Pinot Noir, 07, Brandborg, Umpqua, OR 8/30
  • Counoise, 06, Domaine Monpertuis, Rhone, FR, 7/28 holy crap! Counoise from an awesome Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer
  • Cabernet, 06, Wall Cellars, Napa, CA, 9/32
  • Malbec, 08, Bautista Simona, Mendoza, Argentina 8/30
  • Rioja, 06, Eder, Crianza, ES, 7/26
  • Gamay, 08, Pierre Chermette, Beaujolais, FR 9/32 Beaujolais!
  • Barbera D’Asti, 07, Crivelli, Piedmont, IT,  28 Crivelli is cheap and delicious
  • Pinot Noir, 06, Rossignol-Trapet, Bourgogne Rouge, FR, 40 now we are talkin!
  • Pinot Noir, 07, Arterberry Maresh, Dundee Hills, Oregon, 58
  • Nebbiolo Perbacco, 06, Vietti, Piedmont, IT, 50 who doesn’t love Vietti?
  • Grenache/Syrah/Mouvedre, 06, Domaine Roger Perrin, Chateauneuf du Pape, FR, 60
  • Barbera d’Asti, 06, Vietti, Tre Vigne, Piedmont, IT, 36
  • Barolo, 04,  Castiglione, IT, 70 not sure what this is, I assume it is one of Vietti’s entry level Barolo
  • Shiraz, 04, d’Arenberg “Love Grass,” McLaren Vale, AU, 36
  • Blaufrankisch, 06, Markowitsch, Carnuntum, AT, 32 from Austria and belongs on the table with this cuisine
  • Merlot, 07, Barnard Griffin, ,Washington, 36
  • Cabernet, 03, Terra Blanca, Red Mountain, WA, 40
  • Touriga Franca/Tinto Roriz, 06, Altano, Douro, PT, 22
  • Sangiovese/Cabernet/Merlot (Super Tuscan), 05, Castello di Poppiano, Tuscany, IT, 65
  • Grenache/Syrah, 08, Roc des Anges, Rousillion, FR 44 big style Rousillion for lamb
Now on to the current list……… can click to enlarge…….We all know wine lists can vary from day to day, but the selection now is so uninspired and depressing.  Six Burner’s kitchen can crank out amazing, thoughtful, adventurous dishes.  I hope whoever is doing their wine buying can once again take some chances and learn to compliment the cuisine.

Giving it Up for Gaillac

June 15, 2011

Move over wines from Jurançon, jump into the backseat Irouléguy, you are old news Saint-Pourçain, the new latest trend in white wine comes from the ex-Roman province of Narbonnensis which has now given way to what is now referred to as Gaillac!

Fun Facts!

* The Romans were hanging out here second century B.C. and by the end of the first century A.D. wine production was boomin.

* Sparkling wine from Gaillac pre-dates Champagne by one hundred years!

* Back when the conveniently situated port city of Bordeaux was still swamp land and churned out thin, undrinkable swill, juice from Gaillac was sent up to thickin the wines that were destined for England.

* Gaillac wine helped establish Bordeaux as a major player by being charged outrageous tariffs to pass through Bordeaux’s shipping ports. Bordeaux took the extra tax money and modernized their vineyards and cellars making Bordeaux number 1.

* Since Bordeaux controlled the wine trade to England, they sent their wines out first and made Gaillac wait till after the new year to send theirs through.

* Gaillac is pronounced gah-yack or more like guy-yack (hold your nose while you say it).

* Gaillac has a greater variety of wine styles than anywhere else in France!  Dry whites, sweet whites, dry sparkling whites, sweet sparkling whites, tannic reds, fresh reds, racy roses’…(today we focus on whites).

No longer will you have to settle for over hyped wines made from grapes such as petit courbu or yesterdays lauzet or burned out rouchelein.  Gaillac has its own home grown varietals: mauzac, len de l’el, muscadelle (not to be confused with that wannabe muscat), ondenc and something called sauvignon blanc.

2008 Gaillac “Esprit”, La Bastide, $10.  Imported by World Shippers and Importers Co.

After phylloxera screwed everything up and Gaillac regained their momentum in the 1900’s, most wine was sold to négociants and hardly anything was bottled at the origin.  With few wine making facilities in existence the first cooperative was formed in 1949, the Coopértive de Labastide-de-Lévis.  With 300 or so members producing around 13,000,000 bottles, the wines represent the diverse styles associated with the region.  “Esprit” has the trademark smell of lemongrass and nutmeg, is light, citrusy and mineral on the tongue and is a decent (though a little flabby and one dimensional) introduction to what the region can offer.

2009 Gaillac “Perle” Domaine Philemon, $12. Imported by Wine Traditions.

Mathieu Vieules of Domaine Philemon has some of the lowest yields in Gaillac and it really shows in his concentrated and beautifully balanced wines.  “Perle” is blend of indigenous len de l’el and mauzac grapes with a sprinkle of sauvignon blanc.  From other producers, Perle has a trademark slight sparkle from trapped CO2 as a result from natural second bottle fermentation.  Mathieu’s version is much dryer and steelier than most and is perfect as an apéritif or with fresh seafood, or perhaps a shaved Foie Gras salad.

2009 Gaillac Blanc Domaine des Terrisses, $12.  Imported by Wine Traditions.

One of my go-to all purpose whites, crisp and round, rich and focussed this blend of mauzac and and len de l’el is bone dry and perfect with chevre or alongside Rouzole (Bacon and Ham Pancake).  The family that makes up Domaine des Terrisses has been growing wine for seven generations.  Wait till you see its incredible platinum color.

2008 Gaillac Blanc “Les Greilles” Domaine de Causse Marine, $20, imported by Louis-Dressner Selections.

The opposite end of the wine spectrum, “Les Greilles” comes from bio-dynamically farmed, hand picked grapes and produced without the addition of prepared yeasts, temperature controlled fermentation, filtration or sulphites.  The resulting wine has an oxidative/nutty quality on the nose with an immense floral perfume that is beautifully balanced by bracing acidity and ripe, stone fruit.  Have this with saucisson, boudin blanc de Rethel, duck terrine and a baguette.  This wine will benefit from being opened for a few hours or even a few days, it is ever evolving everytime you check in with it.(alcohol is bad for badgers!)

No need to order these wines from a website or an out of state wine store, these wines are available right here at your local Richmond wine shop.  You will not find these amongst the boring, mass produced wines at the grocery stores.


Where There is Great Wine, There Are Great Hamsters

June 10, 2011

Responsible farming, planting the right crops, respecting all the critters.  We are all in this together.

from the NY Times

Ruling Favors a 10-Inch Citizen of France

Mega Purple to the Rescue!

June 5, 2011

“Help!  My less than superior Pinot Noir grapes that I bought have finished into a puny, thin wine with pale color and it stinks of brettanomyces.  How can I thicken the texture, sweeten the finish, mask the odors and give the wine a more aesthetic dark appearance?”


Brought to by Constellation Brands, they own… basically all the mass-produced wine beverages found in every grocery and box store around the country.

MEGA PURPLE! is a super concentrated, boiled down jelly substance derived from Teinturier grape varieties which have dark skins AND dark pulp.  Add a small percentage to your wine before fermentation and let the magic happen.  A little bit goes a long way, too much and your wine will have an over-ripe characteristic.  Get it on your fingers and it will stain them for a long time.

Use it to “adjust” your wine, sweeten it up, give it a syrupy body.  Make those pink rosés redder, those red Syrahs blacker.  Who wants a delicate, mineral wine with a sissy rosy bouquet when you can jack it up with MEGA PURPLE! and turn it into a crowd pleasing jam bomb with viscous purple legs.  

It is relatively cheap as well!

Celebrate the homogenization of wine, do yourself a favor and request only MEGA PURPLE! wines!!!!