Archive for July, 2011

Weird Wines!

July 29, 2011

Not so much weird but rather a pleasant surprise.  Surprise coming from the loud ‘pop’ when you uncork it, this wine has bubbles!  Not fine like Champagne or Franciacorta, more like a light, frothy Saison ale.   Imagine if wine and beer had a baby, sort of.

2009 Bera Arcese Bianco Piemonte, $13.  Imported by Louis Dressner Selections (yet again!).

The Vittoria Bera family hails from Sant’Antonio which lies in the village of Serra Masio which belongs to the municipality of Canelli inside the province of Asti in the region of Piemonte in the country of Italy.  The Bera’s have been making wine since 1785 specializing in the production of fizzy Moscato d’Asti.  They were the first to grow and bottle wine in the Canelli area and never succumbed to the international 80’s craze and desire for sugary, mass-produced Asti Spumante.  They also grow Arneis, Cortese, Favorita, Dolcetto and Barbera, all on slopy, steep, calcerous marl soils.  The farming is entirely organic and the handpicked and sorted, crushed grapes are vinified simply on its native yeast culture.  The Arcese Bianco is a blend of Arneis, Favorita and Cortese.  The bubbles come from a natural, secondary bottle fermentation.  It is slightly yeasty, a little pine nutty but soft and peachy with lovely acidity making this wine refreshing and chuggable in the summer.  Drink it in The James River with an egg salad sandwich and a bag of salty chips.

Dolph Lundgren Discusses His Manly Wine Picks of the Week

July 13, 2011

Dolph Lundgren is one of Sweden’s greatest treasures and is most known to the world as an actor, director, writer, martial artist and chemical engineer.  But did you know he is first and foremost a collector and connoisseur of fine wine?  I caught up with the star of Direct Contact and Missionary Man to talk about the kinds of wines he is enjoying these days.

Richmond Wine Culture:  Thanks Dolph for taking the time to talk to us today.  You call Richmond your third home and spend a great deal of time eating and drinking here, your cellar contains many thousand examples of Burgundy and Barolo, crowd pleasers for sure, but which wines do you open just for yourself that you think might be too tough or masculine for most people?

Dolph:  First, thank you for letting Richmond (my third home) know about thoughtful, artisanal, hand made wines.  There are many, many examples in this area that anyone can find and enjoy…

Richmond Wine Culture:  You bet there are, and they are not expensive like one might think.

Dolph:  Correct!  When you drink a wine from a small, family producer you are not paying for a start up, high-tech winery that spends millions on PR and tasting rooms, instead you are drinking the result of several generations of farming culture.  Their real estate has been paid for a gazillion times over!

Richmond Wine Culture:  True that.  So what’s in your glass right now?

Dolph:  I have been really digging the 2008 Monastero Suore Cistercensi “Rusticum” Lazio Bianco…

Richmond Wine Culture:  Hold on a second, Bianco means white wine doesn’t it?  I thought only girls drank white wine?  Men only drink red wine and pink wine is for…well…

Dolph:  No don’t be crazy, those supposedly “tough guy” wines that are overly ripe, loaded with vanilla flavored oak and have stupid high price tags are the equivalent to licking candy coated velvet.  THAT sounds pretty woosy to me.

The 2008 Monastero Suore Cistercensi “Rusticum” Lazio Bianco comes from Vitorchiano, north of Rome and is made by Cistercian nuns under the direction of superstar Giampiero Bea from Montefalco. It is a blend of organically grown Verdicchio, Trebbiano and Grechetto grapes.   The crushed juice sits with the grape skins for a long period of time creating a multi-layered, full-flavored wine of smoke, orange peal, minerals and sunny day flowers.  I like to drink it alongside dishes of Falukorv, Isterband and Gravlax.  $28. Imported by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchants.

Richmond Wine Culture:  Wow!  Sounds good, though it is surprising you would drink wine from nuns seeing how Sweden is such a godless country.

Dolph:  What do you mean?  We have Thor, Odin…

Richmond Wine Culture:  Ha! Ha!  Well we have Orin Swift…

Dolph:  I am also slugging the 2000 López de Heredia “Viña Gravonia” Crianza Blanco from Rioja, Spain.  Bodegas López de Heredia is one of the oldest and original bodegas in the Rioja region.  What is so great about this 100% organically grown Viura is the 2000 vintage is the CURRENT release!  This wine is aged in barrel for 4 years, fined with egg whites then bottled without filtration.  They hold their wines back (like many traditional Spanish producers) for years in their perfectly temperature controlled cellars until they feel they are ready for consumption.  This beautiful pale copper colored wine is fine and delicately nutty with toasty oak and transformed-mature full bodied fruit.  I chugged a bottle with a Husmanskost appetizer and the wine carried all the way through to the main course of Pitepalt.  $25. Imported by Polaner Selections.

Richmond Wine Culture:  Stop ship captain…Isn’t oaky wine bad?

Dolph:  When it is abused it is.  Like oak chips and saw dust flavoring or 200% expensive new French oak barrels that only mask the fruit that is in the bottle.  Why would you want to cover up the pristine nature of grapes with vanilla and spice?  The “Viña Gravonia” juice is perfectly integrated with its oak treatment.  It has acidity!  Big flavor AND freshness!

Richmond Wine Culture:  Shit, these white wines sound pretty exotic, you’re telling me they are available right here in our lovely city?

Dolph:  You bet, in your local wine shop.  Also maybe the strangest, toughest, most ass-kickin, car blowin-up wine of all…the 2008 Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli from the Republic of Georgia.  This wine has Richmond and Swedish roots, check out their website:  The Republic of Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine, going back to 6000BC.  The vineyards gently slope east of the Georgian Kiziqi province overlooking the Alazani Valley.  The vines get up to 14 hours of sunshine and are cooled down in the evening by the  snow-capped Caucasus Mountains.  The farming is organic and the wine making is pretty hands off.  They crush the grapes, throw the juice into large ancient clay amphora vessels called qvervi.  The juice is covered with beeswax then buried in the earth and left to ferment.  The finished, unfiltered wine is rusty colored but clean,smells like apricots and walnuts, tastes bone dry and very tannic.  Like being rainbow punched in the face by Heimdal!  It is my go-to wine for köttbulla.  $20.  Imported by Williams Corner Wine.

Richmond Wine Culture:  Damn!  Georgia is close to Russia and part of the former Soviet Union.  You are famous for playing boxer Ivan Drago alongside Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky 4”.  You also appeared recently with Sly in “The Expendables” and the upcoming sequel “The Expendables 2”.  Mr. Stallone is also in tune with his wine and food culture, what kind of tough wines get him going?

Dolph:  Sylvester is a huge Chablis fan, he finds it to be the only true expression of Chardonnay.