Archive for the ‘Wine Lists’ Category

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

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.

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!