Monthly Archives: July 2008

Beer vs. Wine

A news article the other day presented some data from the Gallup organization that stated wine is falling out of favor with adults aged 30-49, who apparently are enjoying more beer when it comes to choosing their favorite fermented beverage.  Although, it also says adults over the age of 50 are still choosing wine on a more regular basis.  I assume this is just like other Gallup polls so no volume/price purchase data has been included in the results they provided, as the last information I read was that wine is still holding the title for favorite alcohol of choice in the US.


I guess if you asked me if I bought more wine than beer on a per bottle basis I might say beer because there are 6 bottles of my favorite microbrew in a pack versus the 1-4 bottles I purchase at a time from my local wine shops. Or if you asked me how many bottles of wine I drank a week, I might say 4, but bottles of beer might be 7. This sort of questioning would lead someone to believe that I purchase and drink more beer than wine unless you factor in price and volume.  So it would be interesting to know what the data collection tool they used for the survey.


I am sure as we approach the end of the year and into the New Year we will see the annual reports of how wine is doing, which according to my friends in the wine business is doing just fine.  I love ’em both!!



Categories: wine industry issues | 1 Comment

Going Through Old Tasting Notes

I was going through some old tasting notes and found this one (2005 Domaine Jean Luc Dubois, Chorey-Les Beaune, “clos margot”) and couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted about it. I was unable to find the picture for it on my camera or in my files and since I drank this in April, I do not have original image of the bottle. In addition, I was unfortunately not able to locate much information on Domaine Jean Luc Dubois via the World Wide Web except for this snippet from their importer, Michael Skurnik Wines.


From his website

Jean-Luc Dubois inherited his vineyards in Beaune and the domaine from his father, Paul Dubois, in 1988. Though Jean-Luc’s father never bottled more than 1 barrel per appellation, Jean Luc has  estate bottled his wine for the last 15 years recognizing that domaine bottling was the wave of the future for  Burgundian farmers.  In total the domaine has 7.5 ha of land.


The designation Chorey-Les Beaune is given to identify the village that this wine came from and I pretty sure that Clos Margot is the vineyard. Chorey-Les Beaune is quite small, around 400 acres and is the closest village to Beaune. Having a generally flat topography it is not the ideal location in Burgundy to grow grapes as are the famous Cotes that abound in the region. This makes it all the more interesting that they are able to produce good quality wines from this area and is probably part of the reason that they are relatively inexpensive.


My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Cherry, raspberry, oregano, espresso, tomato paste, barny (not the purple childrens character)

Taste – cinnamon, green peper, cherry, stone/mineral

Mouthfeel – Medium body, soft tannins, fairly bright acidity

Finish – long and clean


My final note on this wine in my tasting book was “yummy”, and that really sums up this Red Burgundy quite well. At $22 it, in my opinion is a great value considering the region and how truly good Burgundies are hard to find under $30.  It was very well balanced, lots of layers and very drinkable for a 2005 although you could definitely hold on to it for a while longer.  I am pretty sure it is fairly well distributed since so you should be able to find it wherever you are.


Enjoy. Cheers!!


Categories: $20-$30, Burgundy, wine review | 1 Comment

Nothing Small About this Petite Sirah

*disclaimer: I received the bottle for review from the California Wine Club

Also sorry for the cheesy title, it was all I could come up with, haha!

Having had the Sauvignon Blanc from Pedroncelli a couple of times, and liking it quite a bit, I was excited to see that the California Wine Club sent me some Pedroncelli wines to review, both of which I have never had.  The one I decided to try first was the 2004 Dry Creek Valley, “Family Vineyards”, Petite Sirah.

Currently operated by 3rd generation Pedroncelli’s, the winery is located at the Northern border of the Dry Creek Valley appellation in Sonoma County.  Growing grapes and making wine since 1927, Pedroncelli now has an annual production of around 60,000 cases.  Trying to stay regionally as well as terroir focused with their wines, whatever isn’t sourced from their 101 acres of estate grapes comes from vineyards within a ten to twelve mile radius, a lot of which are owned by relatives.

Harvested in early September, the grapes were aged in both French and American oak for 13 months after fermentation in stainless steel tanks.  The wine garners the “Family Vineyard” designation because the vineyard, which has been provided grapes to the winery since 1940, is owned and managed by the Pedroncelli’s niece, Carol Bushnell.


Color – Deep purple

Nose – Blackberry, black currant, roasted marshmallow

Taste – Black cherry (a lot), Hershey’s chocolate syrup, dry herbs

Mouthfeel – Medium to full body, very round and lush in the mouth with surprisingly dusty tannins at the finish, hint of spiciness

Finish – long and rich


Megan and I drank this with our ultra good, super gigantic Stromboli from Candelas and I have to say this is a great pizza wine. Very rich, with lots of fruit and the right amount of tannins at the back end that snap your palate back into reality from the fruity, chocolaty goodness. Decent acidity keeps the wine from being to overbearing with it’s richness but this wine is definitely for fans of New World style wines. That being said, it is made in the style, that I feel, is what Petite Sirah should taste like and I was very pleased with it.


From what I read on the Pedroncelli website and what the flyer from California Wine Club said, this is no longer available from the winery and is very hard to find so I feel lucky that the CWC sent it to me. If you’re in the mood for a fruity, rich, hard to find Petite Sirah check this one out. I think even if you are not in the California Wine Club you can still buy wines from their website, and it looks like this one is on sale for $10.99 (just checked), not bad.



Categories: $10-$20, california wine club, sonoma, wine review | 1 Comment

Kickin’ It Italian Style

Back in May I attended the Marchesi Di Gresy wine tasting at the Barrel Thief and got to meet the winemaker, Alberto di Gresy himself.  A couple of nights ago we had one of the wines that we purchased there for dinner to accompany our Tofu Parmesan. The wine was the 2006 Marchesi di Gresy Nebbiolo Martinenga priced at $30.



 The 2006 Nebbiolo Martinenga comes from the same single vineyard that Alberto’s famous Barberesco Martinenga comes from and is some of the same grapes, but does not go through the obvious DOCG requirement for Barberesco labeling.  Martinenga’s 29 acre vineyard combines ideal Southern exposure with blue marl soil to provide excellent growing conditions, evening in difficult vintages, for the Nebbiolo grape.




My Tasting Notes –


Color – Ruby red

Nose – Fresh raspberry, tea leaves, leather, sweet basil, clove

Taste – black currant, green pepper, walnut, dry soil

Mouthfeel – medium body bordering on light weight in the mouth, with very firm tannins and bright acidity

Finish – long, fresh blueberry flavors linger on the palate


It went nicely with the tofu parmesan, although not a meat dish, the slight crisp mozzarella cheese and fresh shaved parmigiano reggiano faired nicely with gripping tannins of the wine. Very nice balance of fruit and earth, none of which were overpowering, just present enough to notice. I should have decanted this for a couple of hours, which would have hopefully smoothed out those tannins a bit, or should’ve held on to it for another year but I just couldn’t wait.  Great chance to save a few bucks off the Barberesco price and get a really awesome quality Nebbiolo, I highly recommend it.



Categories: $30-$40, marchesi di gresy, Nebbiolo | 1 Comment

Stopping to Smell The Rosés

For some reason at this time of year, of all the wines in my cellar, Rosés tend to catch my eye the most.  It goes great with the lighter summertime veggie fare that we cook from grilled veggies to pasta salads or by itself. It is a great accompaniment to a lot of food types and as I have stated before a great treat enjoyed by itself on the deck.


So in this post I will give the details on 3 really nice, inexpensive Rosés from 3 different locations. I kept it local with Virginia and then traveling to Spain, both Rioja and Alicante.


Virginia – Pollak Vineyards


2007 Pollak Vineyard Rosé (free run blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon) – $14


Nose – Potpurri, fresh sliced tomato, flint

Taste – cranapple, strawberry, mineral

Mouthfeel – hint of spiciness, medium body, fairly sharp acidity

Finish – lots of lingering strawberry and minerality, quite long, very refreshing



Spain – Rioja


2007 Marques de Caceres Rioja Rosé (Tempranillo and Grenache) – $9


Nose – banana now and later candy, watermelon, passion fruit

Taste – watermelon, strawberry, fuji apple

Mouthfeel – medium body, smooth and dry

Finish – sharp acidity comes through at the finish, pretty long with watermelon flavors dominating the aftertaste


Spain – Alicante


2007 Don Salvador Rosado – (Monastrell) – $9


Nose – watermelon jolly rancher, citrus, slight floral note

Taste – cranberry, mint, strawberry

Mouthfeel – smooth, round, medium body, crisp

Finish – medium in length, clean


There ya go, 3 great Rosés all inexpensive, 2 of which are very widely distributed. Make sure to think pink this summer when you are making your choices for your evening elixir, it most likely will go with whatever you are having,  unless you are cooking a juicy prime rib! haha


What is your favorite pink drink this summer?



Categories: $10-$20, wine tasting | 1 Comment

It’s the weekend and there is tasting to be done!

 It is Friday and I am a little late getting out the info on some of the weekly tastings around town. Don’t forget, these tastings I post aren’t the only ones in town. Most likely your usual shop has a Friday or Saturday tasting, so it doesn’t hurt to ask, you might be missing out.

Tonight Friday the 11th

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

Tonight it will be four new wines and one new vintage. Jim from Cobblestone Cellars will taste his wines.

1. Avery Quinn Chardonnay Monterey $11.75

2. Pampano Vino Blanco Rueda Spain $10.95

3. Simon Hackett Old Vine Grenache $15.45

4. Avery Quinn Merlot Lake County $11.75

5. Matzin Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi $20.95

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

“For this Friday’s wine tasting, I’ll be focusing on southwestern France, a region rich in winemaking tradition, but often overshadowed by other areas.   In addition to well-known grape varietals such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah, the southwest corner of France also has  many indigenous varietals including Negrette, Gros Manseng, and Fer Servadou.  It’s interesting to note that some of these varietals have lately been planted in vineyards right here in Virginia. At any rate, here’s what I will be pouring this Friday:”Domaine de Martinolles 2007 Chardonnay:  Highly regarded for its sparkling Cremant de Limoux, Domaine de Martinolles also makes this crisp, delicately floral Chardonnay in an area south of the city of Carcassone.

Domaine Castera 2006 Jurancon Sec: Made from 100% Gros Manseng, this crisp, dry white wine has a complex mesh of citrus, mineral and herbal elements.  A superb alternative to Bordeaux Blanc!

Chateau Bellevue La Foret 2007 Cotes du Frontonnais Rose:  Made from 70% Negrette, 15% Syrah and 15% Gamay, this dry rose is both fruity and herbal,  and is one of my favorite warm weather wines, period.

Domaine du Cros 2006 Marcillac:  The local grape Fer Servadou imbues this  medium-bodied red wine with rich flavors that recall black currants and raspberries.

Chateau de Jouclary 2005 Cabardes:  Located north of Caracassone, this fuller-bodied red is made from 45% Merlot, 45% Syrah and 10% Grenache.


Saturday July 12th

Bella Vino Stony Point from 2:00 – 9:00

Our free tasting this Saturday will have another line-up of stupendous Italian wines at great prices.  We have over 100 different Italian wines in stock right now, which means that we probably have the most comprehensive Italian wine selection in town.  And, it’s still growing!  Down the road we should have as many as 140 labels.  This tasting will focus on wines from Piedmont, a region in NW Italy.  As usual, the tasting will last from about 2 until 9 and will be free.  Also, buy any of the three wines tasted and get $5 off!  That makes the following wines even better values:

Cantine Sant’Agata Cortese                        Monferrato, Italy                             $11.99/bottle

Although Piedmont is better known for its reds, this little white is a fantastic Summer sipper.  Made from the Cortese grape, it is clean and focused with honey and peach on the palate, and a tangy minerally finish.  An excellent palate-cleanser to go with shrimp or squid, although I think it might also be great with fresh guacamole.

Bricco Dei Tati Barbera                                  Piedmont, Italy                                $8.99/bottle

Few wines make as good a daily red as this inexpensive Barbera.  Barbera makes fruity wines with a certain degree of lively acidity.  This acidity is what makes the wine taunt and vibrant, rather than jammy and thick like many other inexpensive fruity wines.  This acidity also makes Barbera a fantastic food red.  It might be a better pair for red sauce than Chianti.  This wine tastes of dark cherries and has a certain pleasant grapiness.  A great red wine to drink chilled.

Cantine Sant’Agata Altea Barbera            Asti, Italy                                             $13.99/bottle
This is a more expensive example of Barbera, and it shows it.  Not that this wine is exponentially more delightful than the Tati, but it has more complexity and character.  Here, the black cherry fruit is backed up by certain amount of mushroomy funk, and the wine has a bright, raspberry edge to it.  Nonetheless, the wine is still excellent with food.  Whereas the last wine was a Tuesday night pasta wine, this is a Sunday night risotto wine.

Lodali Nebbiolo 2005                                     Alba, Italy                                           $17.99/bottle

Holy crap, is this wine good!  Those of you who know Barolo will know that Nebbiolo is the grape that goes into that wine.  Here’s the same grape from the same region from a great vintage at, oh, ¼ the price!  On the nose, classic aromas of menthol, truffles and earth, on the palate expansive dark fruit and dry tannins on the finish.  This wine may lack the complexity of a great Barolo (now, although if you aged it 2-3 more years…) but it has the great structure and power of that wine.  I’m stocking up on this wine, I hope you will too.

Lodali Moscato D’Asti                                    Asti, Italy                                             $13.99/bottle

I smile when I think of how this tasting will go:  after the big, serious Nebiollo we have…Moscato D’Asti!  This wine is as delightfully simple to enjoy as a lollipop.  Bright peach and tangerine fruit and significant sweetness.  Just the thing to clean the tannins of a big red out of your mouth.  And at only 5.5% alcohol, this wine will leave you feeling refreshed and revived.  Buy some of our fresh biscotti to have with this wine after dinner

Next Tuesday July 15th

The Barrel Thief in Short Pump from 5:00 – 8:00

Join us Tuesday, July 15th, from 5-8pm for a tasting with Jim Ungerleider, owner of Exclusive Wine Imports. For $5, you will be able to taste 8-10 wines from Burgundy. This is a great time to try-before-you-buy all the wonderful 2005 reds (best vintage of a generation) and 2006 whites before they sell out.


Cheers! Have a great weekend!

Categories: wine tasting | 1 Comment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #47: Today’s Wine Brought To You By The Letter “S”

Wine Blogging Wednesday #47 is hosted by Erin and Michelle from Grape Juice and is the loosest of restrictions I have seen since I have been participating in the WBW phenomenon.  WBW #47 – Today’s Wine Brought to you by the Letter S gives us the only stipulation that some part of the wine must revolve around the letter S.  Lucky for me, since I completely forgot about this WBW, I am in the wine club for Seghesio which of course starts with the letter S.


I made my way down to the “cellar” and picked out the 2006 Home Ranch Zin to go with our homemade veggie pizza and provide me a topic for the letter S.  The 2006 H.R.Z. comes from vineyards originally planted in 1895 that surround the site of the first home of Edoardo and Angela Seghesio.  Harvested at a 26.2 brix, the wines are aged for 11 mos. In 50% French and 50% American Oak, 33% of which is new after going through a 10 day maceration.


Here is what I thought of it:


Color – purple to light magenta

Nose – Fig, leather, black berry, sweet cedar, spiced meat

Tasting – Black cherry, raspberry, mint, basil, chocolate

Mouthfeel – medium body, very dry with leathery tannins and vibrant juicy acidity, smooth and round across the mid palate

Finish – long and leathery with raspberry topped pound cake flavors


I am always a huge fan of Seghesio Zin and the ’06 Home Ranch didn’t disappoint. The 15.7% alcohol wasn’t evident as it was well integrated with the fruit, acidity and firm tannins that were present in each sip. The luscious ripe fruit was not super jammy and over the top and that combined with the woody, meaty flavors really compounded for a complex layered Zin.  At $36 (before club discount) it is in the range of the other Dry Creek heavy hitters and definitely brings the thunder for the price, with lots of layers, delicious fruit and herby goodness.


Check it out, and give your salute to the letter S.

Categories: $30-$40, wine tasting | 3 Comments

Riesling Revelation

I have had quite a few Rieslings since I have gotten into wine, I would say in the realm of 25 different ones, give or take. Tasting that many would give you a pretty good understanding of what Riesling taste like, that is until you taste a 1979 Auslese from the Mosel. Enter the Riesling Revelation, a recent tasting at Bella Vino Stony Point here in Richmond, that put the spotlight on the big “R” to show 40 lucky people what Riesling is all about. Now all of these Rieslings displayed some or all of the typical Riesling characteristics, but some of these wines went above and beyond what I have come to expect.


My Tasting Notes:


2004 The Furst Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg – ($20.99) – Nice honeydew, pear and apple with honey, slate and a dry mineral finish. Slightly tight, but good body and acidity


2005 Von Buhl Riesling Spatlese Trocken – (19.99) – lite petroleum on the nose with grass and Asian pear, hint of spice with slight rubber and slate aftertaste


2005 Schafer-Frohlich Riesling Halbrocken – (19.99) – match, burnt rubber and chalk on the nose interlaced with pear and honey included tastes of baked apple with a hint of sweetness at the finish


2006 Schloss LIeser Riesling Estate – (17.99) – campfire and apricot and flint on the nose with hay and peach flavors with fuller body, and a slight effervescence on the tongue that mingles well with the slightly higher viscosity


2000 Zilliken Riesling Kabinett Saarburger Rausch – (27.99) – petroleum and pineapple on the nose, nice round body with honey and smoked gouda taste and a slightly sweet finish


2004 J.J. Prum Riesling Spatlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr – (44.99) – rubber, fuji apple, nice viscosity, medium to full body and fresh cut pineapple flavors, clean mineral finish


1989 Zilliken Riesling Spatlese Saarburger Rausch – (46.99) – smokey campfire on the nose again with slight peach, very nice baby swiss cheese flavors intermingled with honey and pear. Tight and clean finish. Very well integrated!


1979 Kartheuserhof Riesling Auslese – (62.99) – beautiful golden color, with tangerine on the nose, blue cheese and apricot flavors, surprising acidity for a 29 year old wine, slate finish with hint of sweetness


This was a great tasting that really gave me a greater understanding of the true spectrum of flavors and mouthfeel that Riesling has to offer. In addition it was a first time tasting any wine 29 years old, which alone was a great experience.


In addition to the great wines we had some great commentary from store manager Brad and local distributor Robin Spicer who provided all but one of the wines. As we were poured each wine we got a 5 or so minute background on where each wine came from, how it was produced and the history of the land in which the grapes were grown. For the geek in me the information was almost as good as the wine, almost!!


Brad has all these wines in stock regularly, except for the 79 Kartheuserhof (I think), so stop by the store and pick a few great Rieslings for your collection.



Categories: wine tasting | 1 Comment

Great Summertime Wine, or Anytime for That Matter

If you are looking for a great food worthy white or a white wine for sipping on the back porch during the hot and humid Richmond afternoons, look no further than 2006 Burgans Albarino. Grown in the Rias Baixas D.O. of the Galicia region in Northern Spain, the Albarino grape thrives in the regions mild, maritime climate.  The Albarino grape is characterized by smaller than usual clusters (less than 125g), high sugar content and high degree of acidity that lead to a wine provides loads of freshness and personality.  The Burgans Albarino is made by Bodega Martin Codax in Cambados the capital of the Salnes Valley within the Rias Baixas.


We had our Burgans with some sautéed tofu, butternut squash risotto and sautéed green beans on a recent hot summer evening.  The meal was fairly light and the crisp acidity went well with the creamy texture of the risotto, as did the flavor profile of the wine.


My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Honey, pear, apple, brie and grass

Taste – Hay, citrus, pineapple and apple

Mouthfeel – medium weight in the mouth with moderate to high acidity

Finish – medium length, clean and refreshing with a lot of vanilla bean flavor


At about $12 – $14 this is a great option for people looking to try new wines this summer. Not at all one dimensional, good Albarinos deliver lots of layered goodness, and the great combination of a round, smooth mouthfeel and crisp clean finish.  Give it a try for your next evening on the patio!












Categories: $10-$20, Spain, wine review | 4 Comments