Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Hold on a Second! You Tellin Me There’s Extra Special Wine Available In Richmond?

November 17, 2012

So I was out for my afternoon constitution when I came across this sign announcing a private tasting showcasing Virginia’s own all natural wine importer Williams Corner Wines.  I decided to sneak in.

The tasting took place at the popular eatery Acacia Midtown which was great because the wine list here could sure benefit from the incredible wines being showcased.

It all started with some delicate but assertive bubbles from the small seventh generation Champagne grower Laherte Frères.  A blanc de blanc (all Chardonnay) from a single Premier Cru vineyard… “La Pierre de la Justice”  got things going before a 2006 vintage 100 % Pinot Meunier (the third grape of Champagne) “Les Vignes d’Autrefois” and a 2004 “Prestige Millesime” came along and lovingly kicked my ass.  Laherte Frères organically farms just 10 hectares of vineyards spread over a crazy 10 different villages.  Each parcell is vinified separately.  Dosage is minimal, sometimes they allow malolactic fermentation to take place, sometimes they don’t.  They kind of simply let the wines be themselves.  

Look at this!  More Champagne from another wine grower!  This time a young 26 year old guy named Charles Dufour from the off the beaten path area of the Aube.  The Aube historically played second fiddle to the more famous northern areas of Reims and Épernay where a lot of the big production houses are. These days the Aube is home to more and more little grower producers that make distinctive and honest Champagnes.  First came an unusual 2009 Coteaux Champenois Pinot Blanc (Pinot Blanc is still allowed in Champagne but very uncommon these days), second a non-vintage Extra Brut “Ma Cuvee Maison” and third a no-dosage 2006 vintage Blanc de Blanc.  These Champagnes were spicy, wild and lush.

Moving along to some beauties from the Loire Valley… Fanny Breuil was on hand representing some wines from Genuine Wines showcasing selections from Domaine Marie Thibault-Cabrit that included a lovely, sprite rosé “Le Zeze”, a naturally fizzy Chenin Blanc “La roue qui tourne”, a reserve barrel fermented and aged Chenin “Premier Nez”, and the chuggable “Les grandes Vignes” which is a blend of Gamay and Côt (the local name for Malbec).  If you try these and love these you can email the wine grower, her Hotmail address is right on the label, how’s that for small production?

Then to Italy, Emilia-Romagna more specifically… some orange wines made an appearance.  The tiny 2 hectare white grape only estate Denavola specializes in tannic and chalky wines which are the result of several months long skin maceration.  Complex, weird and powerful they are sure to anger your dinner party.  Absolutely awesome.  The only thing cooler than a crowd pleasing wine is a wine that freaks crowds out.

If you like the funk…the 2004 Vino Da Tavola Rosso “Protoasciutto” from Tenuta Grillo provides plenty of it.  “Protoasciutto” is 100% Dolcetto from Monferatto, unlike any other Dolcetto I have tasted.  It was savage and robust, atypical hence the table wine designation.  I would love to take a bottle home if someone in Richmond actually carried it.  Retailers, restaurants, order some for the people.

People love wines from Hungary and people love cool labels, the high altitude Alpine wines of Peter Wetzer come from vineyards comprised mostly of black volcanic soil.  The 2009 Soprani Gemischter Satz “Sag” is made up of several different white grapes that are fermented together.  The red 2009 Soprani Kekfrankos (called Blaufrankisch in Austria) tastes of Autumn with fresh pepper and citrus.  The second red “Silberberg” is also 100% Kekfrankos and comes from old vines.  If you are looking for something different but still tasty you can’t go wrong with these cool weather honeys.

Cool, check it out!  The wines of Domaine du Pech from that area in Southwest France, Buzet, which is west of Toulouse and south of Bordeaux.  The three wines included La Badinerie du Pech which is an aristocratic blend of foot crushed Cabernet Franc, Merlot , and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Smooth, harmonious and exhilarating.   Maybe this is what Bordeaux kind of tasted like 300 years go?

Kevin McKenna was down from NY to help with the tasting representing wines from the Louis/Dressner portfolio (which he co-owns).  The portfolio started by the late Joe Dressner was one of the first ever to feature small production, all natural and traditionally farmed wines.  They are still carrying on his mission and thanks to Williams Corner we are able to enjoy their wines down here in  Virginia.

The big surprises of the day came from the active volcano Mt. Etna in western Sicily.  Salvo Foti is one of the leaders of the natural wine movement there crafting distinct wines from indigenous grapes Nerello Mascalese , Nerello Cappuccio, Alicante and an unknown hodge-podge mix of vines known as Francisi.  We all think of Sicily as being sun drenched and hot but in fact the high altitude area around Etna gets bitter cold in the winter.  The grape growing season is long with harvests taking place in October and early November.  The wines are traditionally and illegally made in Palmentos which are old stone structures where you basically take the grapes to a top level, crush them on the stone floor and slide them through a trap door into old wooden casks to let them ferment.  No electricity involved, only natural gravity.  There are hygiene concerns working this way but it contributes to the natural yeast that is present and adds to the character of the finished wine.  Don’t worry, healthy grapes that have healthy acidity will keep away the bad stuff.  There was 2010 Etna Bianco “Vinujancu”, a blend of Renano,Grecanico, Minella Bianca and Carricante which was complex, wild, and teeth shattering fresh, the two reds included a 2008 “Vinupetra” and tasted of bottled smoky meat.  Elegant and graceful.

Old favorites were here, energetic and meaty Côtes du Rhône Brézème , aromatic and grippy black fruited St Julien en St Alban both from Eric Texier.  Everyday chuggin “Frappato” from Tami, Friday night sippin “Il Frappato” from Occhipinti of Sicily.  Incredible and richly textured white Gambellara (Soave’s neighbor in the Veneto) from La Biancara di Angiolino Maule.  Crazy Slovenian Orange wine from Radikon…

and check this out!  A slightly fizzy Costadila 2010 Rosso dei Colli Trevigiani which comes from a Prosecco producer and happens to be 100% Merlot from vines that were ripped out last year.  The wine will no longer exist after the 2011 vintage.  You have never tasted a Merlot like this.

Also pouring was the big guys son, Jules Dressner.  He walked us through slick Valpolicello Ripasso and thick Amarone Classico from biodynamic producer Monte dall’Ora, more Etna Rosso from stunning Romeo del Castello and he also let us know about the return of 2 awesome German wine estates Knebel and Clemens Busch, both from Mosel.  These guys were part of the now defunct Mosel Wine Merchants portfolio and have found a new loving home at Louis/Dressner.  Both of the wines being sampled were bone dry, steely Trocken Rieslings, pretty minty and refreshing after the dense and powerful Amarone.

Well here we go again, more wines from Sicily!  Back to Mt. Etna, I Custodi produces only 2 wines, a white from Carricante, Minnella, and Grecanico called “Ante” (Etna spelled backwards, those clever Sicilians!) and a red “Aetneus” which is fat, ethereal and savory.  Also from Etna, a bianco and rosso from Ciro Biondi.  People compare the terroir driven wines of Etna to Burgundy but in reality they are their own beast.  They do have in common the finesse, mineral flavors and structure making them ideal to pair with all sorts of food.  Clean and balanced.  Speaking of volcanoes…Lipari, the island is part of a volcanic archipelago north of Sicily and home to Tenuta di Catellaro and soil heavy in pumice and obsidian.  The white made from Malvasia delle Lipari and Carricante grapes taste what I imagine pumice might taste like: stony but with a dose of fresh orange and lemon citrus.  The red from Corinto and Nero d’Avola Grapes is pleasantly ashy, tasting of red-rasberry fruit.

And bringing up the rear the final wines of the tasting were also from Sicily (!) this time the same place that the Italian-American Chicken Marsala recipe comes from…Marsala!  The western most point is home to the non-interventionalist wine growing of Nino Barraco.  The 4 wines represented were all 100% varietal wines…whites are Catarratto, Zibibbo, and Grillo, and the red from Pignatello.  All wines undergo spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts without temperature control, a second malolactic fermentation sometimes happens, some of the wines rest on their lees and none of the wines are filtered or clarified.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Acacia had some good finger snacks and they showed well with the variety of wines,

The place was packed proving that Richmond wants honest wines from responsible vineyard stewardship.  We are lucky to have an importer/distributor like Williams Corner bring in these special reflections of viticultural heritage.  I guess our little city is pretty wine savvy after all.

Let Us Have Date Night…At Garnett’s!

May 23, 2012

The bestest, most charming dining room in Richmond has one of the bestest dinner deals.  Garnett’s Cafe serves some of the great sandwiches of the city all day and all night, you and your date can enjoy two of them with a solid bottle of wine for 30 bucks.  The wine list is short, versatile and appropriate.  3 whites, 1 pink, 3 reds.

Virginia is represented with a couple of chaptalized offerings.  Never had anything from Gabrielle Rausse so I can’t turn my nose up at them but The Wineworks Viognier  from Michael Shaps is charming and fresh enough to enjoy alongside a Turkey and cheese sandwich on that ass kicking Boston brown (molasses) bread.  Michael Shaps is kind of a Virginia wine making hero, he also oversees wine production in a famous wine growing region in France, a place called Burgundy, more specifically a place in Burgundy called Meursault.

From the Languedoc: Sensation Gourmande is a varietal bottling line from Domaine de Bellemare, the Chardonnay is clean and correct and can happily be drunk alongside some Scuffletown Chicken Salad.

For pink they did have the Prieuré Saint Hippolyte Rosé from the wine coop Les vignerons de Fontès for a while.  Refreshing, mineral and fruity, also from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, great with…well anything.

Staying in the Languedoc (wow, great values and easy drinking fun, people take notice!) more specifically Saint-Chinian, Calmel + JJoseph produces fruit forward resinous wines with plenty of woodland aromas.  Saint-Chinian wines are great with the Roast beef and Anchovy sauce.

Domaine Mucyn grows Syrah which is the most manly grape in the world and blends it with the most woosy Gamay grape to make a wine that can be enjoyed by everyone. Vin de Pays Collines Rhodaniennes refers to wines produced in a sub-area around the Rhône river valley.  Domaine Mucyn has vineyards located in St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage in the Northern part of the Côtes du Rhône which neighbors the home of some of the best Syrah wines in the world.  The wines smell like smoked meats and herbs and are perfect with The Big Daddy!

Who doesn’t want 3 different kinds of animals (plus bacon) piled between toasted bread for dinner?

A little Bordeaux from Château Lestrille rounds out the list if you want to partake in the Meatloaf sandwich.  Get it with the garlic aioli.

Garnett’s has had some other fun wines that are great to dine with: Ventoux from Rhône producer Xavier Vignon, Merlot from the organic estate Château de Brau, and chuggable terroir driven wines from Laurent Miquel.  They have done a nice job with keeping their wine selection affordable and adventurous yet easy enough for the non-wine geek to find something that would make em happy.  Take your date out on a weeknight for a casual eating and drinking experience, drink more wine with dinner.

There are free mints available so your spouse won’t suspect a thing.

Garnett’s Cafe


2001 Park Ave.

Richmond, VA

Wine and Temperature

April 10, 2012

It is starting to get warm here in Richmond.  What temperature is the glass of wine you are being served?  White wines should be served chilled, not cold (45-50 degrees). Red wines should be served cool, not room temperature (60-65 degrees).   Unfortunately some eating and drinking establishments in our lovely city still think red wines should be served room temperature; room temperature being whatever the hell temperature it happens to be that day (ever try to drink a Loire Valley red that is 80 degrees?).  Fine, delicate wines lose all sense of balance when not poured at the proper temperature, they can taste harsh and out of wack doing a disservice to your taste and your wallet.

The obvious solution is storing all red and white wines in one of those temperature and humidity controlled refrigeration cabinets…

Not always practical in our historically quaint and tiny eateries.  Another option is the even more expensive and cumbersome Enomatic wine dispenser system.

The easiest and most cost effective way to enjoy a correctly cooled red wine is to request an ice bucket for your bottle.  Ten minutes in one of these and your bottle of Bourgueil will be properly balanced and refreshing.  


The best thing a restaurant could do is to dedicate one of their Lowboy refrigerators for red wines.  Just set it on a not-so-cold setting.  They already do that for the whites and roses, they can make room for reds.  

Wouldn’t you rather be served a red wine that is too cold knowing that it will warm up a bit on your table then to be subjected to a hot wine that has been mistreated and disrespected?


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.

The Wine at Enoteca Sogno

May 22, 2011

“Compromises are for relationships, not wine.” — Sir Robert Scott Caywood.   If you haven’t heard yet there is this crazy Italian wine and food place that just reopened on the Northside of town.  Quite the upgrade from their old digs on Broad St.  The space is gorgeous, complete with a granite wrap around bar, dark wood tables, a warm tin ceiling and walls adorned with photos of Italy.  The owners Gary and Amy were on the floor tending to every patron’s comfort level, this restaurant is their baby and they are seeing to it’s proper development.  The nights have been pretty packed so far so reservations are encouraged.

The food offerings are wine friendly fare made up mostly of pasta dishes reflecting a tour of Italy’s regional food cultures.  A handful of simple appetizers and salads are meant to share.  The menu is supplemented by  daily specials.

The real reason to hit Enoteca Sogno is the wine list.  Nowhere else in Richmond will you find all Italian selections at ridiculously tiny markups.  The list grows each day as the restaurant gets its feet going.  Right now the reds outnumber the whites significantly but that is sure to change.  Verdicchio from Garofoli is solid, and at $20 you can order a second bottle.  Vietti  is famous for their Roero Arneis and Argiolas produces a zippy, herby Vermentino, perfect to wash down a whole Branzino.  The owners are big fans of the rich and dramatic white wines of Friuli and Alto-Adige so expect to see more bottles represented down the road.   The red wines contain mostly selections from Piedmont and Tuscany and a few from Campania.  Paitin’s “Ca Veja” is possibly the most mouth drying wine on the list and at $34 you can afford to punish yourself.  Azelia is a more modern producer of oak infused Barbera for immediate satisfaction.  Domenico Clerico’s “Trevigne” is sappy and sexy.  Felsina and Isole e Olena are two of my favorite estates in Chianti making structured and bright fruit beauties.

Paulo Bea for $48?  G.D. Vajra Freisa for $58?  04 Cepparello for $70?  This place must be crazy, these wines retail for almost the same amount!2001 G.D. Vajra “Bricco delle Viole” and 1999 Sori Paitin Barbaresco for $85 and 1995 Paitin for $90.  You can drink outstanding, life changing and mature wine for under 100 bucks.  Try finding any of these wines at a wine shop at comparable prices.  Brovia and Bruno Giacosa will make you cry into your glass.A few sparklers were highlighted by “Erbaluce di Caluso” from Orsolani.  Erbaluce is the grape that grows in one spot in Piedmont.  Orsolani is perhaps the only producer of it that you can find in the States.  This 2004 vintage bubbly wine is definitely its own thing, different from Champagne, different from Prosecco.  It is both steely and dewey with a fine creamy mousse.Also not listed was the 2010 Proprieta Sperino Rosa del Rosa rosato.  Made from Nebbiolo and tasting of roses, just in time for summer.

One other great thing about Enoteca Sogno’s new space is their upgrade in stemware.  All Riedel all the time.  The balance and grace of these glasses make wine so much more enjoyable.  They also offer Sori Paitin Barbaresco by the glass for $12.The new space at the end of the night after the rush.The Northside has a real neighborhood gem.  Do yourself a favor, get over to Enoteca Sogno now and drink something different.
Be sure to pet the street cats.

Enoteca Sogno
804.355.VINO (8466)
1223 Bellevue Avenue
Richmond, VA 23227

BYOB Coming Soon!

May 17, 2011

Attention wine lists of the city, soon you will have to be re-thinked!  There are so many good restaurants in our lovely city that serve thoughtful, refined cuisine.  Unfortunately, many of these restaurants offer frustrating, pitiful wine lists (Lemaire, Aziza’s, Mama Zu, you are being called out!).  Senate Bill 1292 takes effect July 1 and will allow any ABC-licensed restaurant to permit customers to bring a bottle of wine to dinner.  Restaurants will be able to charge a corkage fee up to $75 (bring out those old Burgs!).  Restaurants will not be required to participate if they do not wish, those who opt-out might do so for fear of losing money on the wines they carry.  If an eating establishment is worried about losing money to the Bring Your Own crowd then they should take a close look at the plonk on their lists: if they serve wines that are as thoughtful as their dishes, people might not need to bring bottles purchased elsewhere. Maybe we will see better options as a result of this bill.  My hope is that patrons will speak up about their desire for wine list change and bring about a wine renaissance in Richmond.

Stemware: Why We Should Give a Damn

April 3, 2011

With all the gadgets related to wine and wine consumption the only real important component you need to spend your hard earned money on is good to great stemware.  Why don’t we just drink straight from the bottle?  Why are wine glasses shaped the way they are, and why are there so many different shapes? Before the wine enters your mouth the aromas need to enter your nose.  The bouquet of a wine is just as important as the taste. Great wine is complex and always changing, both in smell and taste.  You taste with your nose as much as you do with your tongue.  That is why the shape of your stemware is so important. You need that bell shape to capture aroma.  You need something that is large enough to make a swirl, introducing air into your wine to let it improve and wake it up from its slumber.   No you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on Riedel.

You just need something that is appropriate.   Just as important to white wines as it is to red wines.

You will see glasses for Bordeaux style wines…

meaning full bodied and tannic (including Brunello di Montalcino, Bandol, Priorat, Napa Cab, etc…).

You will see Red Burgundy style glasses…

meaning elegant, aromatic (including aged Barolo, Barbaresco, Oregon Pinot Noir, etc..).

You will see White Burgundy style glasses…

meaning full bodied Chardonnay (looks like a Bordeaux glass sort of).

You will see a Sauvignon Blanc/Riesling style glass…

meaning light, aromatic, zippy (Sancerre, Godello, Verdicchio, Arneis).

And of course a glass for bubbles…

meaning wines with bubbles (Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, etc…)

Of course it would be fun to have a different glass for every occasion, and nothing beats the elegant balance of Riedel or Spiegelau glass (both the same company by the way) but the shit is expensive, and fragile, and requires hand washing.  For red, white AND sparkling wine you just need something with this basic shape: a wide bowl at the bottom with a proportionately narrower opening…

NOT this!!! Note how this glass features a narrow bowl and flares to a too-wide opening, letting aromas escape prematurely.

Here in Richmond you can find affordable, good quality stemware from Schott Zwiesel available at your better wine shops.  Many restaurants use them as well.  From the cheap, dishwasher safe (but a little clunky) “Congresso” line… to the alien looking “Pure”… and super tall “Diva” line…  Expect to pay $8 to $15 per glass.  Well worth it to make your wine experience more enjoyable.

These restaurants have good stemware…

Bistro Bobette

Can Can

Secco Wine Bar

Cafe Rustica

Acacia (use to suck but they finally got the good stuff a few months back)

Amour Wine Bistro

Lemaire will give you the shitty glasses unless you ask for the decent ones, they will gladly accommodate  you.  Please ask for them when you go!  Let them take the hint.

The biggest offenders of the stemware situation are Mamma Zu and Edo’s Squid.  They give you those damn juice jars and expect you to drink Lodali Barolo from them?!  I get the whole relaxed, unpretentious, celebratory, comfort atmosphere they are going for, and maybe juice jars reflect this.  It is fine I guess if you stick to the simple, inexpensive Dolcetto or Valpolicella to wash down your pasta, but this place is supposed to be the altar of Italian eating in this city.  Have you been to Italy lately?  Every cafe, Osteria, Ristorante has the good stuff to drink from.

This is a subject that Richmond Wine Culture will return to again.  We will also discuss when to decant and when not to, what temperature should you serve wines, proper storage and handling, when to send a wine back.  The world of wine is never ending and hopefully this blog can be a little educational and enjoyable.  Thank you for playing along!

Welcome to Richmond Wine Culture

February 27, 2011

There are a lot of ways to make wine.

The number of methods makes it seem like wine can be made anywhere in the world. One can easily create a vineyard on a plot of land (away from trees) with well-prepared soil (through tilling, weeding and composting) that has good drainage and a steady flow of water (either by rain or irrigation) ample sun (from Spring through Fall) and enough dry air (or chemical spray) to keep rot and mold away.

If owning and maintaining a vineyard is too costly or labor intensive, one can easily source grapes from differnet growers and have the fruit delivered
to his/her newly constructed, state of the art winery. There, one can fill the mechanical hopper and crusher-destemmer (to separate leaves and twigs and such) to prepare the grapes for a brief, chilly stay in a heat exchanger.  After this, the grapes will get blasted with sulphur dioxide (to prevent fermentation and to slow down oxidation) then move on to a full-on mechanical stomp in a pneumatic press to produce the juice. The juice is then pump pump pumped into settling tanks (add some carbon dioxide in gas form) and then pumped again into the fermentation tanks.

Added here are some specially selected yeast strains intended to impart special characteristics into the finished wine.

The colder the fermentation, the fruitier and more aromatic the wine; the hotter the fermentation, the quicker the tanks can be refilled with the next batch. From there, the wine can be refined in new, more costly oak barrels, or, to keep it cheap, oak chips and saw dust can be thrown into the fermenting wine. After a run through the sheet filtration system the wine is ready to be bottled and slapped with a label!

These are generalized steps of course. One can easily buy the juice already crushed to ferment at will, or buy finished wine and manipulate anyway wanted. The easiest way to make wine, though, is to hire a consulting oenologist to do it all…

There are ways to grow wine, as well.
Wine is an agricultural product and comes from longstanding cultural traditions. Many Artisan growers uphold responsible farming and reflect a sense of place through their wines. When wine is grown rather than constructed, the process honors the land, natural growing cycles, and the integrity of heritage. And, it often tastes better, offering more complex and fresh flavors.

Richmond has access to all kinds of beautiful, real wines. Richmond Wine Culture will let you know where to find these special wines in local shops and restaurants. Join us online for discussions with wine distributors, restraunteurs, and wine shop owners to explore our city’s wine culture. Here, you will find information about noteworthy wine events around town (and notes on which tastings to avoid.)  To thoughtfully think about wine, Richmond Wine Culture will not provide unclear tasting notes like “Stewed gooseberries” or “Asian-spice box” or “Peruivan tree bark” or other ultimately senseless descriptors.  Instead, we’ll talk about how a wine is used to complement cuisine. Richmond Wine Culture will explore off the beaten path wine regions and direct you to wines that celebrate those regions.  We’ll cover the best ways to enjoy these special wines.

We look forward to tasting with you!