Archive for the ‘Wine Shops’ Category

Strawberry Street Vineyard Gets a Makeover

April 10, 2011

Strawberry Street is perhaps the cutest little street in Richmond and it just got a little bit cuter.  Strawberry Street Vineyard has been on the block for many years and served as great drop in spot to pick up a bottle for evening dinner.  The shop recently changed ownership and underwent a little renovation and updating.

The redecorated space still focusses on value wines from all over the world with an emphasis on California and France.  There are a few gems in here to take note of.


2010 Cheverny, Le Petit Chambord, François Cazin, $16. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

2009 Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “Clos des Allées” Vieilles Vignes, Pierre Luneau-Papin, $15.  Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Two great, chuggable Loire Valley whites that offer freshness and versatility.

2003 Chateau Camplazens “La Garrigue”, $17. Imported by Boutique Vineyards.

La Garrigue is a typical blend of Syrah and Grenache and comes from the top of La Clape, a sub-appellation of Coteaux du Languedoc which overlooks the Mediterranean sea.  This wine has some bottle age and offers some relaxed, mineral laden fruit and a earthy, herbal bouquet.  A good value from a solid producer.

The Burgundy section is small but has a few home runs.

2009 Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc, $19.  Imported by Vineyard Brands

This pure and focussed white Burgundy comes from 30 years old vines just right outside of Meursault.  Meant for early consumption.

2009 Domaine Hubert Chavy-Chouet “Les Saussots” Bourgogne Blanc, $22. Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.

Also from outside Meursalt, a bit broader and richer than the Matrot.  Again this is a wine to drink early but can stand some years in a cool cellar.

I picked up some fresh blush wine hoping to get over the winter.

2010 Domaine Bellevue Touraine Rose. $10, Imported by Elite Wines.

The 2010 Rose’s are starting to hit our shelves.  Domaine Bellevue is pretty Loire Valley classic, offering up that charming green pepper tartness that is commonly associated with the region.  I think this wine and other new pink releases can probably benefit from a few more weeks of relaxation before they completely come together.

Strawberry Street Vineyard still has a solid cheese program and they also carry the famous “Billy Bread”.  A great spot to stop in after a Fan sidewalk stroll, grab a flick from Fan Video and a meatball sub from 8 1/2.  The wine shop doesn’t seem to be temperature controlled and the fancier, age worthy wines of Barolo, Barbaresco, Burgundy, Brunello di Montalcino, Bordeaux are all stored upright.  I would stick to the fresh stuff that is displayed on the floor in wood crates.  Join their mailing list to find out about tastings and wine events.

Strawberry Street Vineyard

407 Strawberry St.

Richmond, VA 23220


Strawberry Street Vineyard is now owned by Emily Jones and her mother Maria.  Emily was employed by Belmont Butchery before purchasing the wine shop.

The shop which used to be run by Henry Reidy has just joined forces (by marriage) with Tanya Cauthen of Belmont Butchery. Together they are starting up a mobile food service business that will bring grass fed burgers and other meat products to the masses.  You can follow them at First Fridays, look for them next to Quirk Gallery.



All Natural Bargain

April 4, 2011

Heads up: If you have $9 or $14 or all together $23 then here is one bottle or another bottle or two bottles that you should not pass up this month…  Got that?

2008 Château d’Oupia Les Hérétiques Vin de Pays de Herault, $9.  Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

2009 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords, $14.  Louis/Dressner Selections.

Château d’Oupia is located in Minervois, a wine region that is part of the larger Languedoc-Roussillon located in the south of France.  Château d’Oupia is situated much higher than most of the flat, mass-producing wasteland of the Languedoc.  The higher elevation and cool winds from the Mediterranean helps give their wines a freshness that backs up the big style fruit most associated with the area at large. André Iché of the Family Iché (it says so on the bottle) has always bottled wine that he grew himself from old vines.  He used to sell his finished wine to a local négociant who would in return slap his own label on it and sell it off in bulk.  Back in the 80’s André was convinced to start selling his own wine under his own label and has since become one of the leading wine growers of Minervois.

Les Hérétiques (named after some part of the Crusades) is the perfect any night of the week wine.  On the table is it extremely versatile but shows best next to olive oil, tomato sauces, wild aromatic herbs and grilled meats.  Try it with boeuf à la gardiane.  Comprised mostly of Carignan and Syrah, the wine is full bodied, earthy and rustic.

You can find it at J. Emerson Fine Wines for $9.  A steal.

Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine is located in the Loire Valley of western, central France.  The Loire river that runs east and west through the valley splits off into two tributaries, one is called Sèvre Nantaise and the other La Maine, that is where this wine comes from.  Clos des Briords comes from a patch of vines that were planted in 1930.  The soil is deeper than most of the other vinyard sites and is composed of well draining clay and silica over a subsoil of granite.  The Muscadet area as a whole sees a lot of rain which can bring on rot, so unless you want to employ fungicide spray against mildew, good drainage is critical for grapes to reach optimal ripeness.   The vinification happens two hours after harvest in cool, stainless steel tanks.  The wine then ages on its lees (residual yeasts, leftover yeasts, spent yeasts, what Sur Lie means) for eight months before being bottled.  Drunk young it is very mineral and tight but with a few years aging it can really blossom, gaining power, weight and a floral bouquet.  It is showing lovely now. Of course Muscadet is the choice wine for oysters and all kinds of sea food.  The crisp, bright acidity also matches up nice with cream and butter based dishes.

You can find it at J. Emerson Fine Wines for $14.  Also a steal.

Check out the back labels, a sign of quality, if you are into that kind of thing.

“The Italian Way” Class at Ellwood’s Cafe

March 4, 2011

Here is a good idea, food and wine together!

“If it grows together, it goes together,”

someone said that somewhere.

Ellwood Thompson has a solid, well thought out little wine program so I expect there to be some very fine examples of wine from Italy.

From their website…

The Italian Way

Posted by admin on Mar 07, 2011
Community Classroom Classes


Monday, March 7th 6PM – 7PM


Ellwood’s Cafe


Dave Jones


Welcome to where it all began. In this class, the flavors of Italy will be explored while we visit and discover the tastes of some of the countries most famous regions. Expect wine and cheese pairings based on region and climate.





Register and pay for class

There is limited seating/availability for all classes and events and you must purchase your ticket ahead of time. Either stop by the store’s customer service desk or register and pay online.

Tasting Tonight at River City Cellars

March 4, 2011

Head on over to River City Cellars in Carytown for a sampling of Italian wines. Here is their line up…


Garofoli 2009 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico-Le Marche
Grotta del Sole NV Gragnano della Penisola Sorrentina-Campania
Farro 2009 Piedirosso Per’e Palummo Campi Flegrei-Campania
Vallevo 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo-Abruzzo
Terra Elima 2009 Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT-Sicily

Be nice and buy something, after all the tasting is free.

Questions for Richmond Wine Culture

March 1, 2011

What do you mean by natural wine?  Made by hippy’s?

No, not hippy’s, think more along the lines of families with deep traditional ties to their land and culture. The term “natural” can be subjective and not necessarily regulated but for the most part it means that grapes are grown with little to no chemical pesticides and little to no manipulation by technology in the actual wine making stage. Sometimes you will see labels that claim the grapes were grown organically but it does not always mean the wine made from those grapes weren’t spoofilated by acidification, industrial yeasts, micro-oxygenation, reverse osmosis, oak chips, chaptalization, de-alchoholization…

Aren’t natural wines expensive?

No. You can find honest, delicious wines in all price ranges from all over the world, especially Southwest France.  Good wines are “made” in vineyards and wine cellars that have been around for generations as opposed to brand new high-tech million dollar wineries that have been built on expensive  real estate.  This blog will direct you to several examples for sale in wine shops and restaurants around the city.

How do I know if I am buying or drinking an honest wine?

Hopefully the label can tell you, France has their A.O.C., Italy has their D.O.C.G., Spain has their D.O., Germany has their V.D.P.  Not really a guarantee of quality but it is a starting point.  These label designations mean specific grapes were grown in specific areas by specific means.   Look for who grew the grapes and who put them in the bottle.  Also get to know who the importer is, leave it to these experts to wade through the oceans of wine in the world to find the good stuff.   Of course your local wine shop should be able to point out what’s what.   More on this in the future.

What about ‘Wholefoods’ and ‘Trader Joes’, they sell all-natural wine don’t they?

Don’t get me started, more on this in the future as well.


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!