Monthly Archives: January 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday #54 Announced and a little preview!

wbwlogoDavid McDuff of McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail is this months host for WBW #54: A Passion for Piedmont. Well of course I totally stoked as Piedmont or Piemonte is one of my favorite wine regions to sip wines from as well as one of my favorites to visit. The rules for this WBW are simple, just pick any wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, sip it and write about it! It can be one of the powerful Nebbiolo based varietals such as Barolo or Barberesco or it can be the aromatic Arneis. My excitement for a Piemontese WBW inspired me to pull out a Barbera d’ Alba the other night, so I figured in addition to the announcement I will tack on a little Piedmont wine review.

The wine for the evening was the 2004 Giuseppe Cortese Barbera d’ Alba from within the Barberesco zone of the Piedmont.

Quick Facts on the wine:

Vineyard: .5 hectare in the Trifolera cru

Grape: 100% Barbera

Vinification: fermentation in all stainless steel tanks

Aging: 6 months in bottle before release

cortese_barberadalbaMy Tasting Notes:

Nose: red currant, raspberry, red clay, leather, boysenberry and toast

Taste: rose/floral, dusty, red currant, cherry and tomato

Mouthfeel: medium body, high acidity and medium tannins

Finish: medium to long in length, good fruit

This is a great example of a Barbera, and at $19 a good value. The 2004 Giuseppe Cortese Barbera d’ Alba showed lots of varietal character with good acidity and lots of red fruit flavors. The only thing that was perplexing after reading the information on the wines website was the aroma of toast, since the wine so no oak aging. I am not sure what I was picking up to give me that aroma, oh well. We drank this with some sun-dried tomato risotto and it paired great. When I have the ability, I love pairing wine and food from the same region.

Stay tuned on February 19th for the Wine Blogging Wednesday #54 to see what delight that I choose from the Piedmont region.


Categories: wine tasting | 2 Comments

Upcoming February Wine Events in Virginia

In addition to the regular tasting that go on around Richmond every week, this February two of the larger wine events in the state happen.

washwineexpo_logoFirst up is the Washington DC Wine Expo, February 14th and 15th from 2:00 – 6:00pm each day at the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. Sample over 800 wines with one admission price. The wines presented are from across the globe and not from one region – over 200 wineries from around the world including Argentina, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand and the United States.

I attended last year and hope to attend Saturday this year as well. It was a great event, but try to get there early as it gets quite crowded.

Tickets are $85 per day.


At the end of the month right here in Richmond at the Convention Center will be the Virginia Wine Expo. Running from Friday February 27th – Sunday March 1st, the event will feature over 300 wines from 50+ Virginia Wineries. I didn’t get a chance to attend last year, but hope to make it this year on Sunday.

Here is a brief schedule of events, click HERE for the full schedule :

Friday, February 27

  • 4:00 – 6:00 PM – Sit-Down Reserve Tasting with Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO of Broadbent Selections

  • 6:30 – 10:00 PM – SunTrust Governor’s Cup Grand Tasting

Saturday, February 28

  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM – Wine Seminar – Exotic Virginia Wines: Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng and Viognier, Virginia Lottery Chef Demonstration Stage

  • 1:00 – 7:00 PM – Walk-Around Grand Tasting and Chef Demonstrations

Sunday, March 1

  • 10:30 AM – Virginia Wine Expo Brunch at The Jefferson Hotel

  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM – Wine Seminar – Aged to Perfection: Comparing Older Vintage Virginia Wine to Recent Vintages, Virginia Lottery Chef Demonstration Stage

  • 1:00 – 6:00 PM – Walk-Around Grand Tasting and Chef Demonstrations

Tickets range in price from $35 – $75 as well as many packages that encompass a lot of the weekends events.


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Quick Sip – 2005 MonteVina Terra d’ Oro Zinfandel

I usually don’t buy wines from Sam’s Club, I like to give my wine business to the local shops around town versus the big guys who don’t “need” my business. But the other day I picked this up for the fun of it.

2005terradoroWine Background

Grapes – 100% Zinfandel

Vineyards – Amador County

Oak program – Each lot was fermented separately, then pressed into American and French small oak barrels, 38% of which was new oak. The individual lots aged for fifteen months before being blended for bottling

Price – $15 – $18

My Tasting Notes

Color – Crimson

Nose – cherry, rhubarb, blackberry

Taste – black currant, spice, raspberry, cedar and cola

Mouthfeel – smooth and lush, with round medium body and dry elegant tannins

Finish – medium in length and fruity

We had this with some awesome veggie pizza from Angelo’s in Midlothian. It was a great pizza wine, lots of layered fruit and lush round mouthfeel. The 2005 MonteVina Terra d’ Oro Zinfandel was very fun, good structured Zin with a splash of acidity that wasn’t overly extracted or to “big” for its britches. It’s got a lot of distribution so you should be able to find it just about anywhere.


Categories: $10-$20, wine review, Zinfandel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Test your wine knowledge and wish me luck!

Next Thursday I take my Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam up in Washington DC. Needless to say I am nervous, I have never been a good test taker, but I’m hoping since I LOVE the subject, it will help my test taking skills. I know I have said it before, but the more I learn about wine and wine making the more I realize what I don’t know. Studying for this test has really taken that thought to a whole new level, which has been fun and enlightening all in the same breath. Where much of the information I have known at a top-line level, having to dive deeper into topographical differences between regions of countries, why certain grapes are grown where and the countless governmental rules that impose the wine making process around the world has been a challenge. But as I said I do LOVE the topic so it has been fun, not like learning calculus!

Along the way I have learned quite a few new facts ,while others have been clarified and explored to a deeper level. I thought it would be fun to put a few of them up on the site, so YOU could test your knowledge. I have put the answers at the bottom of the post.

  1. What grape is said to be the ancestor of all grape varieties?

  2. Trocken, Classic and Select are all terms for “dry” in reference to German Riesling? True of False

  3. What percentage of US wine does California produce?

  4. Were grapes first planted in Napa or Sonoma?

  5. Which has longer aging requirements, a Barolo or a Chianti Classico Riserva?

  6. What is the second fermentation called in the traditional method of making Champagne?

This is a small list of questions, the tip of the iceberg from my 8 inch stack of notecards and pages of notes. After really cracking down for the past couple weeks I feel my wine knowledge has quadroupled and I am feeling confident about the test. Needless to say a little luck could never hurt so keep your fingers crossed for me. 🙂


1. Muscat, 2. True, 3. 90%, 4. Sonoma, 5. Barolo (3 yr. Min vs. 2 yrs and 3 months), 6. Prise de mousse

Categories: wine education | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Quick Sip – 2005 Alderbrook Confluence

We picked up the 2005 Alderbrook Confluence at Alderbrook during our visit in November. Typically Confluence is only poured for wine club members but the tasting room associate hooked us up.

2005confluenceGrape Varieties – 60% Syrah, 40% Zinfandel

Aging – 15 months in French Oak (30% new)

Alcohol – 14.8%

Price – $30

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – prune, fig and espresso

Taste – boysenberry, prune, olive and cola

Mouthfeel – good acid, leathery tannins, slightly flat in the middle

Finish – long and dry with a very “clean” finish, red fruit flavors linger on the palate

A very nice wine that had a lot of the classic Zinfandel flavors, and the higher than average alcohol was not out of balance. Surprisingly it was a little watery and flat in the middle but up front it was full of rich dark fruit and nice espresso flavors. The back end was firm and griping, evidence of the predominant Syrah component, giving a long dry finish.

Although a bit pricey, it was quite good and comparable to other big name Zinfandels at similar price points.


Categories: $20-$30, Quick Sip, wine review | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

“to do everything with passion” – 2007 Tamari Reserva Malbec

Huarpe is the language of the indigenous people of the Mendoza region of Argentina and in the Huarpe language, Tamari means “to do everything with passion”. The 2007 Tamari Reserva Malbec produced by Sebastian Ruiz shows his passion for the land and his belief that the more you respect the land, the better fruit it will produce.

Comprised of 95% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Bonarda the 2007 Reserva comes from vineyards in the Uco Valley of the Mendoza region. (see map) The vineyards are located on hillsides with predominately stony soil allowing for proper drainage. The climate is well balanced between warm daytime temperatures and cool nighttime temperatures all together combining to bring out the finest qualities of the Malbec varietal.


Harvested in April, the wine saw 12 days of post fermentation maceration prior to oak aging. 70% of the wine was aged in a combination French and American 1st, 2nd and 3rd use barrels while the remaining 30% was aged in stainless steel. Keeping the 30% of the Malbec in neutral vessels helped to maintain the Malbec’s fruity nature before being blended back into the finished wine.

tmrres-nv_bottle_150dpiMy Tasting Notes –

Nose – blackberry, oak, celery, black peppercorns and smoke

Taste – raspberry, eucalyptus, coffee and black cherry

Mouthfeel – smooth with dusty tannins and lots of acidity

Finish – dry, medium to long in length and dark fruit and black pepper flavors

My first impression after I popped and poured this wine was that it was very one dimensional, mostly blackberry and that was about it. After a half hour of being opened and then on to an hour this wine really started to show its form. The slightly vegetal notes, more of the oak and the black pepper (which was very evident) and the lush dark fruit made for a great sip. Mouthfeel was smooth and firm and a hugely acidic backbone, one of the calling cards of the Malbec grape.

Besides its great varietal expression, it as also a great value at between $12 and $16. Being a 2007, it is still young which is probably why it took a bit of time to open up, so if you pick it up now, hold on to it for a bit or decant it before you drink it.


Categories: $10-$20, Malbec, wine review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

When the smell of petroleum in your wine is a good thing!

We picked up the 2006 Schloss Lieser Estate Riesling at Bella Vino Stony point after their Riesling Revelation tasting back in July. It was one of two that we had picked up on the day and I couldn’t hold on to it any longer after it staring at me for 6 months in my cellar. The wine comes from the central Mosel region of Germany and is made by winemaker and estate manager Thomas Haag. The name Schloss comes from the German word for castle and although it may not look like a castle per se, the estate towers over the tiny town of Lieser. Schloss Lieser had a fairly small production in 2006 of under 3500 cases which exemplifies Thomas’ commitment to quality versus quantitiy.

2006-schloss-lieser-estate-rieslingMy Tasting Notes –

Color – light golden

Nose – petroleum, tire, apple, candle wax and hay

Taste – lychee, pear, petrol and a hint of residual sugar

Mouthfeel – good mouthfeel, round and full with good acidity and a hint of effervescence

Finish – long with stony minerality, pear and vanilla flavors

My notes are similar to the ones from the tasting “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” and this was no slouch of a Rielsing. It went well with some Pad Thai that we made, the touch of RS smoothing out the heat of the chili’s. It displayed all the classic flavors and profiles of a great Riesling and could have hung on for another 10 years or so. At $17, it is on the bottom tier of Schloss Lieser and an excellent value from a winery that is soon to be on the hot list of German Rieslings.


Categories: wine tasting | 3 Comments

Quick Sip – 2006 Testarossa Subasio Syrah

Named for the mountain where the University of Assi located, which founder Rob Jensen attended, the Subasio is Testarossa’s flagship Syrah. Although the tasting notes on the website classified this as a blend of new and old world style, I found it to be mostly new world. I’m not saying that is bad, I knew what I was getting into when I bought it after a tasting at the winery, I just thought that the website description was a bit misleading.

2006-testarossa-subasio-syrahWine Facts

Vineyard Appellations – Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Russian River Valley

Oak program – 15 months

Winemaking – extended cold soak, gravity flow, both punch down and pump over

Grapes – 100% Syrah

Alcohol – 14.4%

My Tasting Notes

Nose – black cherry, black currant, cedar

Taste – toasted oak, blackberry and black cherry

Mouthfeel – full body, good acidity, and leathery full tannins

Finish – long and fruity

This was a very nice fruit forward, big Syrah. Although it was quite good, at $30 there are a lot of other California Syrahs that offer the same flavor profile for lower price points. Although the alcohol level was high, it  did not seem out of balance and the wine had a great mouthfeel with full tannins and good acid on the back end.

I have some Testarossa Pinot Noirs in the cellar from our visit as well and I can’t wait to try those, as they are their specialty.


Categories: $20-$30, california, wine review | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Virginia Wine Goes to Washington

No this is not an announcement of the long awaited sequel to Mr. Smith goes to Washington, it is a post to let you know that Virginia wine will be part of the inauguration celebration. I read today on Barboursville Vineyards website that they will be serving two of their wines at events preceding inauguration day. The Inauguration Conservation Gala at the historic Andrew Mellon Auditorium will serve as their red wine for the evening the 2005 Barboursville Vineyards Octagon Eighth Edition. In addition, at the reception preceding the dinner the 2006 Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve will be poured.


What a great way to welcome President Obama to Washington, serving him some fabulous wine that was made less than two hours away from where he will soon be sleeping. For those of you who don’t know, the Octagon name is derived from for the centerpiece of the estate symbolizing the Great Room of the mansion that Thomas Jefferson designed for governor James Barbour.



Categories: wine tasting | 1 Comment

Visiting a new region with the Lorgeril L’Enclos des Bories Minervois Rouge

This is my first wine from the Minervois region I’m sorry to say as they offer great early drinking values from the Southern part of France.


A little background…


Located in the Western part of Languedoc, Minervois was granted AOC status in 1985. The appellation gets its name for the city of Minerve with viticulture activities dating back to the Roman Empire.  Wines coming from Minervois must be comprised of at least 20% of Mourvedre or Syrah, with other grapes adding to the blends such as Grenache, Carignane and Cinsault.  The Minervois which has the shape of a large amphitheater, lies 30km from the ocean giving it a nice Mediterranean climate of hot dry summer and cool winters.


minervoisWine stats for the 2007 Lorgeril L’Enclos des Bories Minervois Rouge

Grapes – 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache

Ageing – Temperature controlled concrete vats

Soil – Schist and Limestone


My Tasting Notes

Color – Deep garnet

Nose – chalky, blueberry and blackberry

Taste – blueberry, red currant, vanilla and black pepper

Mouthfeel – light to medium body, bright acidity and smooth with a good dose of tannins

Finish – short and fruity


This was very fruity and easy drinking although surprisingly tannic compared to the other components of the wine. This is not to say that the tannins were overpowering, just surprising.  The black pepper on the back end of the palate was very nice and provided for a good spicy finish, a nice contrast to the overall fruitiness of the wine. Ranging between $10 and $15 the Minervois wines from Lorgeril look to offer some great values from the region.



Categories: $10-$20, wine review | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Monday Quick Sip – 2006 Morande Edicion Limitada Carmenere

2006 Morande Edicion Limitada Carmenere


morandeGrapes – 85% Carmenere, 15% Merlot

Cooperage – oak casks for 16 months

Region – Maipo Valley, Chile

Price – $22

Nose – black currant, mint, black cherry and chocolate

Taste – blackberry, blueberry, “spice”, cedar and licorice

Mouthfeel – medium to full body, nice acidity, peppery and slightly “hot”

Finish – long with moderate tannin levels, smooth and dry


This was a very nice wine and it paired well with our broccoli risotto. I am not sure why I was picking up some heat on the wine although at 14.5% alcohol it is on the high side, I have definitely had higher with no heat to speak of.  Other than the heat issue, the wine was very well balanced but definitely filled with lots of mature dark fruit flavors. I feel with the smooth tannins and round mouthfee, combined with the great fruitiness of the wine, it would do fine if you chose do drink it on its own.



Categories: $20-$30, Chile, wine review | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

New Midlothian Restaurant – Mediterraneo Fine Cuisine

About a year ago, a new, little (actually little) shopping center started going up about a mile from my house. All the buildings had fancy facades that matched each other and it was starting to look like we were going to have a medical offices complex close by. As we drove by this complex being built everyday going to and from work, I said to Megan, “wouldn’t it be great if we got an awesome restaurant this close to our house!” She of course told me to not get my hopes up, so I didn’t. Well low and behold, a few weeks ago, up pops a sign for Mediterraneo Fine Cuisine, hot damn.

After giving the restaurant a few weeks to work out the jitters Megan and I went with her family to see if Mediterraneo would be a local favorite. Right off the bat, the interior of the restaurant was very pleasing. It had a cozy, warm atmosphere that was a great combination of rustic and modern making us feel far removed from the strip mall the restaurant is nestled in.


First off the wine list was very nice, a great range of wines both in region and countries as well as prices. Although I would have loved to choose one of the nice Barolo’s or Barbaresco’s on the menu, I decided to stick with the same region but different grape. We started off with the 2006 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d’ Asti DOC for $28. It had very nice red fruit, dominated by red currant and cherry with a touch of wet earth and shroom on the palate, very nice especially for the price point. On the menu we had ample vegetarian options for appetizers as well as entrees, so of course we were pleased.

In addition to the assortment of foccacia with sun-dried tomato olive oil dipping sauce and balsamic marinated olives we ordered a very interesting sounding salad as an appetizer. The Ricca Gorgonzola consisted of endive leaves filled with corn, hearts of palm, romaine and avocado topped with a creamy gorgonzola dressing. At $13.75, I was slightly concerned that the salad was overpriced until I saw the size of it, this definitely could have easily been shared by four people. The gorgonzola sauce was not overpowering and added a salty richness to the otherwise refreshing salad.

By this time we were already on our second bottle of Chiarlo Barbera and we ordering our 3rd before the entrees arrived but were informed that we had taken the last two bottles. So, wanting to stick with Barbera I chose another one from the list although a bit more expensive at $40, the 2005 Rive Barbera d’ Alba DOC was quite good. The Rive had more dark fruit and fuller tannins, surprising being that it was a year older, and again a healthy dose of earthy, funkiness that was very nice and provided some great layers to each sip.

For entrees Megan got the Gnocchi ($13.75) and I got the Fettuccine Alfredo ($12.75) as well as a side of asparagus. The gnocchi was covered in a wonderful fresh basil pesto and was cooked to perfection. My fettuccine was quite surprising, but in a good way. I hadn’t had fettuccine alfredo in quite some time, remembering it as an overly rich soupy, cheesy mess that isn’t worth the caloric expenditure. But I went out on a limb and was glad I did, the dish was not super heavy but definitely rich and super flavorful. The sauce had a slight nuttiness to it that was enjoyable and the fettuccine itself was cooked perfectly and was just on the side of al dente.

For dessert we had hazelnut gelato and two cups of coffee. Oh man, I am not sure if the hazelnut gelato is always on the menu, but I definitely hope it is the next time we go back. It was so good!! It was as if someone took some Nutella and a bit of espresso and froze it to make this creamy delight!!

Everyone else at the table loved their dishes as well even my Italian brother in law gave his seal of approval. Some of the other dishes were the Filetto al Pepe Verde ($26 – filet mignon, topped with creamy green peppercorn sauce), Carpaccio di Manzo ($12.75 – thinly sliced beef loin topped with micro greens, shaved cheese and extra virgin olive oil), Swordfish ($23 – fresh swordfish grilled and topped with lemon salmoriglio) as well as a couple more that I didn’t write down and can’t remember. In addition for vegetarians, there are a few more pasta options as well as some great sounding pizzas.


Also being the stemware freak that I am, I loved all the glassware that Mediterraneo uses, it definitely adds a nice touch. I can’t wait to go back, especially since I can walk to the restaurant!


Mediterraneo Fine Cuisine

3730 Winterfield Rd.

Midlothian VA 23113


Mediterraneo Fine Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Categories: restaurant review | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Happy New Year

Just a quick post to tell everyone Happy New Year and to apologize for the sporatic posting. With the holiday craziness coming to an end, I should be returning to my regular daily posting schedule!

Coming up…

  • New restaurant visit – Mediterraneo Bistro
  • 2006 Morande Edicion Limitada Carmenere
  • 2007 L ‘Enclos Des Bories Minervois
  • …and more!


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