Monthly Archives: June 2008

Tastings in Richmond This Weekend

All the below are FREE!

Tonight Friday June 27th

The Wine Cellar in Midlothian from 5:00 – 8:00

New wines from California and Washington that will feature a bright crisp white and 4 big full-bodied reds, all at great prices.






River City Cellars in Carytown from 5:00 – 7:00

Josef Bauer 2007 Gruner Veltliner:

Made with Austria’s national grape, Gruner Veltliner, this tangy, dry white wine has zippy flavors that remind one of citrus zest and white pepper.  Fabulous as an apertif especially during the torpid days of summer.

Bodegas Muga 2007 Rioja Blanco: 
Floral and hay like scents intertwine with peach and apple like notes in this barrel-fermented white wine from the highly esteemed Bodegas Muga in northern Spain. 

Renzo Masi 2007 Rosato di Toscana IGT: 
Fresh and fruity, this dry yet fruity rose is made from pure Sangiovese grapes in the Chianti area of Tuscany.

Coto de Hayas 2006 Campo de Borja Tinto: 
Vinified from an assemblage of Grenache, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, this full-bodied red from northcentral Spain offers lots of spicy red fruits flavors.  Bargain!

D&N 2007 Primitivo del Salento: 
Related to the Zinfandel grape of California, this deep-toned red has lots of blackberry and tarry notes.  A superb wine for cookouts!

Tomorrow Saturday June 28th

Bella Vino at the Stony Point Fashion Park from 3:00 – 9:00

Unfortunately I accidentally deleted my email from Brad (the store manager) so I don’t have the up to date list of the 5 wines they will be pouring tomorrow. As always the tasting will be free, and if you buy any 3 of the wines on the tasting you will receive $5 off. So make sure to stop by and get your Saturday evening started right.

Just a side note: I attended the Riesling Revelation Tasting last night at the shop and both Megan and I had a great time. The wines were fabulous! I have had some great Rieslings in the past but all of these were new to me and showed so much depth and character it was truly delightful.  And to have the ability to taste a 29 year old wine, which was a first for me, was amazing. Check back soon for a review of the event and all the wines.

New Richmond wine website

 Richmond Food and Wine blogger Genevelyn Steele has a new column on (Richmond Wine Stock) and is focused on wine, more specifically local and regional wine news, events and regular banter about the magical juice.  Make sure to check out this weeks edition for a complete list of all the tastings that go on around Richmond during the week.

Categories: wine tasting | 1 Comment

Vegetarian Decadence at Michael Mina

While Megan and I were in Vegas relaxing at the end of our Southwest tour of hiking and mountain biking, we had made plans to celebrate both our 3 yr anniversary and Megan’s birthday at Michael Mina.  We chose his Vegas restaurant that is located in the Bellagio hotel because they offer a 5 course vegetarian tasting menu.  The atmosphere was very relaxed but the service was exquisite and prompt. It was one of those fine dining experiences where the wait staff just seems to sense that you need something without you having to ask.  In addition to the tasting menu we purchased the wine pairings to go along with each course. With the pairings you had a choice of the regular (R) or the premium (P) selections, so Megan and I got one of each to share, so we had the opportunity to taste more wines.


So unfortunately I forgot my camera when we went to the restaurant so I don’t have pictures of the fabulous food presentation but below is the menu and the wines that we received with each course. It was pretty cool, with each pairing the sommelier came out and told us about each wine and why it was paired.


1st Course – White Crane Ranch Lettuces with Ellie’s Reserve Blue Cheese, red wine poached apples and hazelnuts. The blue cheese was done in a foam along side the greens while slivers of the poached apples lay hidden beneath the salad waiting to be discovered. I like salads but am not usually a huge fan, but this was a damn good salad and it went beautifully with the wines. The wines that were paired with this course were the 2007 Huia Sauvignon Blanc (R) and the 2005 Leeuwin “Artist Series” Riesling (P). Both had nice levels of acidity that complimented the salad with the Riesling being more complex and layered with a longer finish than the Sauv. Blanc.


2nd Course – Fava Bean Cavatelli with porcini mushroom, brown butter and shaved summer truffles. The dish was served piping hot and was rich without being too rich.  All the ingredients blended perfectly together, no single one was overpowering, but all were present in each individual bite.  The wines for this course were the 2006 Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis “Vieilles Vignes” Burgundy (R) and the 2004 Arnaud Ente Meursault. Again both wines went perfectly with the dish. The Arnaud was a little bit more rich and fuller bodied with slightly less acidity, but both had great pear, apple and almond flavors and were capped with loads of minerality. Of the two the Meursault was my favorite with the dish and was an excellent Chardonnay.


3rd Course – Artichoke Souffle with Parmesan Cream, Pickled Baby Artichoke.  The soufflé came with a little table side service, always a nice treat. Two waiters brought out our plates that the soufflé, pickled artichokes and the parmesan cream were all on and set them down in unison. Next the waiters, again in unison, cut a small tunnel into the soufflé and proceeded to pour the hot parmesan cream into the soufflé until it bubbled out of the top. I think this was probably my favorite dish. The soufflé had a nice crispy top and was exotically rich with the cream that infused each bite. Paired with this dish were the 2006 Dopff & Irion Pinot Blanc (R) from Alsace and the 2005 Albarino Lusco (P).  Both wines had a nice acidity that cut through the richness of the creamy dish and had clean crisp minerality that went well with the often difficult artichoke. The Albarino was different than most I have had with this one being more full bodied and layered, but still had a great acidic backbone.


4th Course – Roasted Vegetable Pot Pie with Braised Fennel, Baby Carrots and Gold Beets. The pot pie also had table side service that was done in unison. After it was set down on the table, the waiters simultaneously cut a perfect circle out of the top of the pie and set it just off to the side of the top giving you the opportunity break off a perfect piece of crust with each bite.  The pie was bottomless as the crust was just over the top of the ramekin and was chock full of rich veggie goodness.  To go with the pie which was technically our entrée, we had two Pinot Noirs to work with.  First was the 2006 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley (R) and the 2002 Domaine Bertagna Vougeot “Clos du Perriere” (P).  These two wines were both excellent but you could really tell the dramatic difference between an old world and a new world Pinot Noir.  The Bethel Heights was more fruit forward with hints of fresh herbs at the finish while the Clos du Perriere was more earthy and good funky up front with darker fruit across the mid palate and great green bean notes at the finish. Both went great with the dish and both were great Pinots in their own resepect.


5th Course – Trio of Michael Mina Signature Desserts – This was fun because instead of getting one dessert we got to taste three.  They were all really delicious and there was just enough of each to make you decision on your favorite but still wanting just one bite more.  Our three selections were the warm chocolate cake, coconut panna cotta and a mini root beer float.  Our favorite was the panna cotta!  To pair with this we both got the same wine, it was the Fonseca 20 Year Tawny Port. Surprisingly to me it went well with all the deserts, even the root beer float.  It was a great Port, very rich with caramel, cola nut and almond extract flavors. A great way to end the meal.


Although that wasn’t technically the end, we each had a cup of coffee while we sat and tried to decide which was our favorite dish and I think for both of us it was the soufflé. The entire meal was a perfect progression both in the food choices and in the wine pairings.  The meal was definitely expensive, the most expensive meal that Megan and I have ever had, but it was definitely the most exquisite dining experience that we have had to date.  It sucks you have to pay an arm and a leg to get ridiculously good service and food, but I am sure it pricey for restaurant owners to have multiple people waiting on 1 single table.  If you want to have a special dinner and a great dining experience I would highly recommend this restaurant the next time you are in Vegas, especially if you are a vegetarian.




Categories: restaurant review, vegetarian, wine review | 1 Comment

Upcoming Tastings Around Richmond

Tastings Around Richmond


The Wine Cellar in Midlothian from 5:00 – 8:00

Bryon from the Country Vintner will be pouring the below selection at the Wine Cellar this evening

1. Pazo San Mauro Albarino (White)

2. Marques de Caceres Rose Rioja

3. Via Terre Garnache (Great light Red)

4. Primicia Crianza Rioja (Great Value)

5. Soliterra Priorat (Full-Bodied)

River City Cellars in Carytown from 5:00 – 7:00

La Cappuccina 2007 Soave DOC:

 The “calling card” of the winery, the estate Soave from La Cappuccina is made from 100% Garganega and is characterized by floral notes, delicate fruity elements and a classic bitterness on the finish.
La Cappuccina 2006 Soave DOC “Fontego”:  The single vineyard “Fontego” Soave is made from 90% Garganega and 10% Trebbiano di Soave. Rounder and more persistent than the estate bottling, this dry white wine is elegant and has a long finish.
La Cappuccina 2006 Sauvignon Veneto IGT:  Dry yet aromatic, this white wine is made from the Sauvignon Blanc varietal and is characterized by citrus skin flavors and sweet herbal notes.
La Cappuccina 2006 Rosso Veneto IGT “Madego”:   This single-vineyard dry red is made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Fresh berries mesh with cedary notes in this vibrant, smoothly textured red.
La Cappuccina 2004 Rosso Veneto IGT “Campo Buri”:  Carmenere, an old varietal from Bordeaux, was once planted extensively in the north and north east reaches of Italy, but is now quite rare.  Combined with a small amount of the ancient Veronese varietal, Oseleta,  Carmenere from the single-vineyard “Campo Buri” produces this richer, structured red with impressions of black currants, cigarbox and Don’t forget to bring your own glass (unless you like plastic)!



Bella Vino Stony Point from 3:00 until the shop closes

Clos Roche Blanche Sauvignon #2 2006                  Touraine, France              $15.99/bottle

Those of you who drink Sancerre or almost any other French Sauvignon Blanc will no doubt have noticed that prices have been creeping up over the past year.  That’s what makes this wine such a great deal:  it’s addictive Sauvignon Blanc that tastes distinctly of its region for a relative song.  On the nose it has a citrus aromas and on the palate it has nice weight, grapefruit, and this lovable tangerine note that makes the wine a real pleasure to drink.  Give it a try with a cold goat’s cheese tart.

Schloss Lieser Riesling Estate 2006                          Mosel, Germany              $17.99/bottle

From an excellent producer in the central Mosel Valley, the Schloss Lieser is everything a basic Riesling should be.  It is crisp, clean and focused with apple-pear fruit, a core of minerality and just a hint of sweetness. This is a nervy, racy wine that makes an impression without being heavy or loaded with fruit.  This wine has quite a bit of acidity, and it would be good to let it sit for a few years to calm down a bit.  But, if you’re drinking now, try it with something uber-rich.  Go by Belmont Butcher ( and get their morel pate and have it with this wine.  Thank me later.

Casa Solar Tempranillo 2005                       Vina de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain           $8.99/bottle

Here’s another great little house red from Spain.  It’s a fruit-forward wine that spends a few months on oak to give it hints of vanillin and mocha.  It has plum fruit and a soft texture and it’s not overly heavy.  You could even put a bit of a chill on it if you wanted to.  Try it at your next casual cook out.

Chateau d’Oupia Minervois 2006             Minervois, France                           $14.99/bottle

Until recently, Chateau d’Oupia was run by the late Andre Iche.  He made a lot of money during the bulk wine boom of the 70s.  He could have retired, or focused on making luxury wines no one could afford.  Instead he decided to make great wines from his old vines (40, 50, 60+ years!) Carignan and sell them at reasonable price.  This is one of the best values of southern France:  it has aromas of violets, medium body with plum cherry fruit and hints of wild herbs.  Great with cured sausage or any sort of spicy, hearty food.


Next Thursday June 26th from 8:00 – 9:00 at Bella Vino Stony Point

Big Riesling tasting that will feature Riesling dry and sweet from some of the best producers in Germany.  We’ll have Riesling 10, 20, and 30 yrs old open and food matched to go with them.  It will be a blast and will really open your eyes to the complexity and, may I say, the glory of Riesling.


The Furst Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2004

Von Buhl Riesling Spatlese Trocken 2005

Schafer-Frohlich Riesling Halbtrocken 2005

Schloss Lieser Riesling 2006

Bert Simon Riesling Kabinett Serriger Wurtzberg 1998

J. J. Prum Riesling Spatlese Wehlehner Sonnenuhr 2004

Zilliken Riesling Spatlese Saarburger Rausch 1989

Kartheuserhof Riesling Auslese Eitelsbacher Kartheuserhofberg 1979


Tickets:  $15 for one; $25 for a pair

($5 discount with Bella Vino Amanti tag)

(Further $5 discount if you attended the previous tasting)


Pre-payment will be required

For reservations, call:

Bella Vino Stony Point                                                                  Bella Vino Hull St.

(804) 272-3202                                                                                    (804) 639-2870

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June 3rd Barrel Thief Tasting Review

Back on the 3rd of June, Barrel Thief had a large “trade” style tasting with 30 wines up for sampling. Megan and I attended and had a great time as usual, tasted some new wines, found a few favorites and one or two that we would probably avoid in the future. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera for the event but it was a good turn out, quite a few people but with 6 tasting stations it didn’t seem too crowded.


Here is what we tasted – (not in order)


2006 Lioco Chardonnay $24 – apple, pear, round, spicy

2006 Brooks Amycas $19 – fruity and tart, hint of sweetness and canned pears

2006 Lioco Indica $20 – raisin, slightly too oaky, “fat” tasting tannins

2006 Qupe Syrah $20 – earth, peppermint nose, dirty raspberry and ripe cranberry flavors, soft tannins

2006 Capiaux Pinot Noir Widdoes Vineyard $45 – new world, cranberry, slightly jammy and spicy finish – uncharacteristic for a Pinot


2007 Virginia Wineworks Rose $12 – watermelon, apple cider vinegar, strawberry, medium body, good acid

2006 Shaps & Roucher Bougogne Blanc $19 – cooked apples, lot of mineral and stone at the finish

2007 Michael Shaps Viognier $35 – key lime nose, apricot, peach, mineral and apple, round with a clean crisp finish

2005 Michael Shaps Petit Verdot $35 – blackberry, current, cherry and blueberry finish, full round body

2005 Shaps & Roucher Volnay Santenots $59 – black cherry, wood, cured meat, strong tannins and an aspirin flavor at the finish (new flavor for me)


NV Broadbent Vihno Verde $10 – grassy, tart and fuji apple flavors, a little bubbly

2007 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc $20 – gooseberry, grass, grapefruit nice and crisp – always a good Sauv Blanc

2005 Bodega Weinert Carrascal SB/CB Blend $15  – cooked fruit, odd off note I couldn’t identify

2006 Qunita do Crasto Douro $19 – leather, cranberry, good acid , firm tannins, medium body

1999 Chateau Musar Red $50 – dark fruit, floral notes, smooth with soft tannins


2006 Gini Soave Calssico $24 – green apple, pear, almond, round mouthfeel, asparagus at the finish

2006 Chehelem Pinot Gris $25 – kiwi, lime, actually a bit bitter with a quinine aftertaste, very odd because I rarely, if at all, find wine bitter, especially whites

2006 Lucignano Chianti $19 – blackberry and tar and black pepper on the nose, cherry and green pepper flavors dominate, medium body, dusty tannins, acidic backbone

2006 Chehelem Pinot Noir $39 – cranberry, strawberry, thyme, almond, smooth medium body, very nice Pinot

2003 Laurona Monsant $45 – earth and cinnamon nose, licorice and raspberry flavors, nice structure, medium and round body


2006 Chateau Ragotiere Muscadet $16 – citrus, slate, lemon and green apple, very tart

Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay $12 – intense mango on the nose, very mellow and refreshing, lots of citrus towards the finish

2006 Girardin Savigny Les Beaune Vermot $39 – a bit of toasty notes on the nose, nuts, pear and round with floral notes at the finish

2006 Perrin Cotes du Rhone “Nature” $15 – pepperoni, blackberry and green olive, very smooth but firm at the finish

2005 Dona Paula Cabernet $14 – lots of fig and currant on the nose, prune flavors leathery tannins


2006 Hess Estate “Suskol ineyard” Chardonnay $23 – asian pear, vanilla with a “dusty” taste

2005 Glenn Carlou Charddonnay $20 – cooked apple nose, nutty, oak apple

2005 Peter Lehmann Shiraz $15 – bright red fruit, soft/lush mouthfeel, wheat toast and green olive

2006 Artezin Zinfandel $18 – jammy, chocolate, cherry with green flavor at the finish

2006 Bodega Colome Malbec $32 – cola and raspberry nose, spice and cranberry flavors, med/full body


It was a lot of new wines but we did come out with a few favorites. The Chehelem Pinot was a very nice Pinot from the Willamette Valley with lots of good red fruit, herbs and great mouthfeel. It was good to see Michael Shaps who was there showing off his new projects. He is out on his own now, no longer making wine for King Family Vineyards, he has his own line of Michael Shaps wines, his wine line with French winemaker Michel Roucher-Sarrazin, and the value wines produced under the Virginia Wineworks label – his custom crush facility. I hope to do a more thorough interview with him in the near future on of his new ventures.


Two other favorites were the Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay and the Perrin Cotes du Rhone “Nature” (also organic). Both were great wines in their own respects and had great price points.


I hope you enjoy the tasting notes, some were scattered and hard to read but I think I transposed them all correctly, and usually I have a fairly good memory for what I tasted even if the notes are a bit jumbled. It was another nice event at the Barrel Thief, looking forward to the next one.



Categories: wine tasting | 1 Comment

Upcoming Posts

Wow, have I been a slacking blog writer since I got back from vacation. Not really, we have been doing a lot of stuff to get back in the groove of the real world, so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write up the ever growing stack of posts.

Here is a little teaser of whats to come:

  • Write-up of the June 3rd Barrel Thief Wine Tasting
  • A visit to the only winery in Utah producing estate wines
  • Riesling and Thai at the famous Lotus Siam in Vegas
  • Our review of our dinner at Michael Mina
  • Upcoming Tastings in Richmond
  • …and more!!

Again sorry I have been slow on the posts lately, I should pick back up to normal pace soon.


Categories: wine tasting | 3 Comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday #46 – White Rhones

Wine Blogging Wednesday #46 is brought to us by Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 and is the theme of White Rhone varietals.  My wine was the 2006 Ferration Pere & Fils Cotes du Rhone Blanc Samorens and it is the 3rd and final wine of my WBW Blogger 3 pack I purchased from domaine547. (Thanks again Jill)


The 2006 Samorens is a blend of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, as is produced from the village of Laudun in the Rhone valley of France.


My Tasting Notes (sorry no pic, I have it on my other computer at home, not on my laptop with me on vacation)


Color – golden

Nose – Pineapple, sautéed ginger, tropical, cooked apple

Taste – Asian pear, cardamom, lime, lemon, apple

Mouthfeel – Medium body, dry across the mid palate, medium acidity and dry at the finish

Finish – long, key lime pie flavor


This wine really impressed me, especially for the $12 price tag. I am becoming more and more a fan of the Rhone wines both white and red. I have been a fan of Viognier for quite some time and have just recently gotten turned onto Grenache Blanc, and this one continued to peak my interest for the region.



Categories: $10-$20, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine review | 5 Comments

On the Road but Not out of Touch

Megan and I are exploring the desert Southwest of Utah and Nevada the next 8 days, partaking in our other passions of hiking, climbing and mountain biking. Do not fear fellow bloggers and readers I will be trying to post whilst I am on the road, including next weeks Wine Blogging Wednesday and tales of our travels.


This weekend offers the usual array of tasting opportunities, so while I am out of town, Richmonder’s will need to drink my share of the vino. Haha


Tonight (Friday)

The Wine Cellar from 5-8







River City Cellars from 5-7

Cantine Sant’Agata 2007 Cortese del Monferrato “Ciarea”:  Crisp and 
refreshing white from the Piedmont region made from pure Cortese.  
Cortese means “courteous” in Italian, and your palate will respond 
with a “very pleased to meet you as well” when you try this!Poggio Le Volpi 2006 Frascati Superiore:  Produced in the hills that 
overlook Rome, this dry yet aromatic white wine is made from Malvasia 
and Bombino.  Just the thing for pasta carbonara or white pizza!

Monte Schiavo 2005 Rosso Piceno Superiore “Sassaiolo”:  Sangiovese 
and Montepulciano are the grapes behind this single-vineyard red from 
the Marches region.  Cherry, spice and an immensely satisfying 
mouthfeel characterize this medium-bodied wine that puts many a 
Chianti to shame.

Dedicata a Marianna 2004 Aglianico “Moro Di Pietra”:  Produced in 
Campania, this plummy, savoury red is perfect with pizza with sausage 
or all manner of grilled meats.

Lodali 2007 Moscato d’Asti:  Peachy, delicate sweet, and vivaciously 
sparkling, this white wine from the Piedmont is irresistible sipped 
on its own on a lazy afternoon or evening.  A not-so-guilty pleasure



Tomorrow (Saturday)

The Barrel Thief from 2-4

Scott Peterson Tasting and Class

From 2pm-3pm, join winemaker Scott Peterson for a FREE class on how wine is made. If you are at all curious about the production side of wine, come out and listen to Scott share his experience making wine. For more information on Scott, please visit his website at In addition to the free wine class on making wine, join Scott for a tasting of 4 of his own wines. The cost for the tasting is only $5 and will run from 2pm-4pm


Bella Vino Stony Point 3-9

Join Bella Vino on Saturday from 3-9 as they taste 5 wines for FREE as always this Saturday.



More to come from the road.

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Cheap and New

A while back at the Wine Cellar we picked up this wine on a whim, one because it was inexpensive at $8 and two because it was made from 3 grapes, two of which I had not heard of before. The 2006 Colombelle from the Vin de Pays Cotes de Gascogne in the Southeastern part of France (near Toulouse) is made from primarily Colombard (60%) with a good percentage of Ugni Blanc (30%) and Listan (10%).  I have heard of Ugni Blanc and have only had it as a component of a wine one other time, but know that it is one of the grapes in the hybrid, Vidal Blanc. Colombard and Listan were both entirely new to me. Colombard had huge plantings (70,000 acres) in California prior to the 1990’s where it was used to make the infamous “jug wines”. Listan is better known as the Palomino grape in Spain where it is used as the primary grape in the production of Sherry.  Who knew I would geek out so much with an $8 wine? Another bonus is this is 2 more grapes to check off on my journey for the Wine Century Club.


What I thought about it!

Color – very pale straw

Nose – mango, pear, lime, honey, roasted nut, flint

Taste – Lemon, mint, acorn squash

Mouthfeel – light body, soft across the mid palate with generous amount of acidity towards the finish, crisp

Finish – disappeared fairly quickly but left a nice flavor of coconut on the palate


We drank this with homemade veggie tacos and it was a great fit, especially for a warm spring evening. The nose wasn’t overly powerful but what I got was great tree fruit and tropical flavors. The fruit on the palate was much more evident and had a great acorn squash flavor that was very nice and slightly unusual. Great refreshing acidity and clean minerality makes this a perfect summer time sipper, but it is complex enough that it would go well with not-so-spicy Mexican and Indian dishes as well as lighter seafood fare.



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