Monday, November 19, 2007

Anything Wine Has Moved

My Anything Wine blog has moved to a Wordpress account.

The new address is

Thank you for continuing to check out my blog, I really do appreciate it.

John Witherspoon

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2005 Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County

We received this bottle in one of our wine club shipments from Seghesio. Seghesio has a great tasting room in the heart of the Sonoma Valley just outside of Healdsburg. We made a stop by there tasting room the last time we were in Sonoma, and decided to sign up for the wine club. Click here for my review of that visit!

A bit of background on the wine –

As the name would imply, the wine is made from old head pruned vines from vineyards in both the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys. The 2005 growing season was relatively cool and provided a long period of time for grapes to develop slowly and maturely. The grapes were harvested from the end of September to the 1st week of October at a nice high Brix (sugar content) of 26.4. The 2005 Old Vine Zin saw 12 months of barrel aging in a mix of 75% French and 25% American oak, after 10 days of maceration with a final alcohol level of 15.3%.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Fig, raisin, sun-dried tomato

Taste – Boysenberry jam, fresh baby spinach

Mouthfeel – Full body, nice balance, good acid and no real “heat” with the high alcohol

Finish – Long and peppery

Stay tuned in the future for more wine reviews from Seghesio. We feel bad when we drink the ones that they only distribute from the tasting room or to the wine club, so we hold to them as long as we can.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2004 Pascual Toso Reserve Single Estate Malbec

I received this wine for my birthday back in May from my buddy Mike and his fiancée Bobbi. Mike and Bobbi are huge Malbec fans, so I knew this had to be a winner.

A bit of background on the wine –

2004 was a good year for Malbec in Argentina, and rated up there with 2002 and 2003 that were considered excellent vintages for the region. 2004 saw fantastic weather for the majority of the season, although there was some late season rain, the crop was harvested under favorable conditions.

This wine was made from 100% Malbec grapes that are harvested by hand from vineyards in Las Barrancas, Maipu, Mendoza. After fermentation the 100% of this Reserve Malbec is aged in French Oak barrels for 12 months compared to only 30% of the non-reserve which is aged only 10 months. After barrel maturation, it is allowed to age in the bottle for an additional 6 months prior to release.

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Blackberry, Swisher Sweet cigar, roasting coffee and candle wax

Taste – Blackberry jam, tobacco, black cherry towards the finish

Mouthfeel – Medium to Full body, very smooth

Finish – Nice and long with a lot of cherry flavors, good grip and slightly spicy

This is an excellent wine and a great value, especially if you get it for free, or if you pay for it. I think it retails for around $13.00. This Malbec had a nice complex nose, with jammy dark fruit flavors and a long gripping finish.

Give it a try, I think it is pretty well distributed – about 4000 cases are made of the Reserve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Two Wine Tastings at The Wine Cellar This Week

Jeff and his Wine Cellar crew are treating us to two tastings again this week.

Thursday – Beaujolais Nouveau Tasting

Jeff will pit the Nouveau against 3 Cru Beaujolais from 2005 for an unofficial taste off. The Beaujolais tasting will only be from 5:30 – 7:30.

Friday – Thanksgiving Dinner Wines


The Friday tasting is the normal time of 5:00 – 8:00 and both tastings are FREE as usual.

Hope to see you all there.
A quick reminder – after this week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but after this week I will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Education Series - What are tannins?

A while ago I said I was going to start a wine education series. As you may have noticed, I didn’t get very far with that idea-- I think I did only one entry on malolactic fermentation. So I am recommitting myself to this effort through Education Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I will post on a topic, term, or subject that I think needs to be more talked about or better explained.

To start off the series, today’s bit is on tannins. The term tannin is used a lot when describing a wine, whether it is to talk about the mouthfeel (soft, harsh, firm, gripping, etc.) or to determine it’s aging ability. So what is a tannin?

The technical definition for a tannin is a plant-based polyphenol that binds and precipitates proteins, and is found in grapes skins, seeds and stems as well teas, and other fruits and plants. The name “tannin” is actually derived from the tanning process of animal hides. The non-technical answer is that tannins are the substance in wine that makes your mouth feel dry and if too pronounced, can provide a bitter taste. If tannins are excessive as they might be in a young wine, it feels like someone sucked all the moisture out of your mouth. If the wine has been aged, or did not have prolonged contact with the skins, the tannins will be much softer and give you what is described sometimes as a velvety feel in the mouth.

Other than the skin and seed contact that can give red wine its tannic structure, oak and other wood barrels that red wine is commonly aged in can provide some tannins as well.

I mentioned that tannins can be reduced over time with aging, and that pronounced tannins in a particular wine can relate to its ability to age well (in addition to fruit, acid and alcohol levels). So how does this work? What are the tannins doing in that bottle of wine over time?

First, the reason that the wine has better age ability with increased tannins is due to the chemical’s natural preservative effects. Second, the reason that wines taste less tannic and feel less harsh over time is that the tannins gradually polymerize (fancy word for join up) and when joined together in long chains give a much softer mouthfeel.

This was a bit of a technical description but was more in my terms, so I hope it made sense. If you have more questions about tannins or need some more clarification please shoot me an email.

A quick reminder – after next week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but this week will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2004 Seventy Five, Amber Knolls Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon

I picked this up from the Wine Cellar about a month or two ago, just wanting to pick up a real good “everyday” Cab for the wine stock at home. I had heard great things about the wine, and these were confirmed by my favorite Wine Cellar employee Hunter who had just tasted the wine recently. I was a bit skeptical though because Mr. Wine Library himself, who I love, had knocked the wine down a few notches a couple of months prior on his video blog. He still thought it was a good Cab, just not worthy of the 90+ point ratings that it was carrying around. (click here for that episode) But as Gary will tell you, he is giving his opinion based on what he likes and dislikes, so take it with a grain of salt.

A bit of background on the wine:

From the 75wine website -
“This hand-selected, hand crafted vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Amber Knolls Vineyard. The Beckstoffer family purchased this property in the late 1990's after determining that the soils and microclimate were perfect for growing ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes. The property is showcased by its deep, red hillside soils that are heavily laced in obsidian.”

The vineyard itself sits on an East facing slope with varying altitude from 1200 to 2000 feet. The average daytime summer temperature is 84 degrees with average nighttime temps of 51 degrees, allowing for the 2004 Vintage to be harvested at 23.8 Brix.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Ripe blueberry, tar, and bacon

Taste – Maraschino cherry, canned artichoke hearts, espresso

Mouthfeel – very smooth with velvety tannins and medium body

Finish – Nice with a decent length and blackberry flavors lingering

I liked this wine quite a bit. I thought it to be more towards the new world style of Cabernet Sauvignon with a lot of ripe fruit coming through on the nose, but had some nice meaty aromas to balance it out. Interesting vegetable flavor notes – I think the reason I wrote canned artichoke hearts is because the wine had a slight metallic taste to it, but not in a bad way. Not an inexpensive wine (at around $18.95), but a good middle of the week kick up a notch Cabernet.

If you have had this or have it in the future, let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Well this is an admission for those of you who don’t know me. For my friends out there already know that I was and always will be a Beverly Hills 90210 FANATIC. Go ahead, snicker and laugh - but one day there will be a game show devoted completely to 90210 trivia and I will win millions of dollars. :) Ha-Ha

So the only thing that could be better than 90210, is 90210 and wine. I knew that star Jason Priestly had his own wine show called Hollywood and Vines which does not air in Virginia sadly, but recently Jason bought a winery in British Columbia.

From Wine Spectator Unfiltered:

Beverly Hills 902-wine-0? Jason Priestley, best-known for his portrayal of Brandon Walsh on the 1990s television series Beverly Hills 90210, is the latest to join the ranks of winemaking celebrities. The native Canadian has invested in British Columbia’s Black Hills Estate Winery, whose top wine is a Cabernet blend called Nota Bene. Priestley is known to be an epicurean and wine lover—though, sadly, not as well known for the great film Love and Death on Long Island in which he mocks himself, playing a former teen B-movie actor—and is currently co-host of a wine-related travel show on Canadian television called Hollywood & Vines. Priestley joined the board of directors of Vinequest Wine Partners, an Alberta-based investment group created specifically to buy Black Hills. Black Hills cofounder Bob Tennant is happy that the star power of the transaction will help bring attention to the Okanagan wine community, but wondered how hands-on Priestley will be in the day-to-day operations. “My first comment when I heard [Jason Priestley] was involved was, ‘Gee, I hope he knows how to prune.”"

How cool would it be to saddle up to the tasting bar and have Jason doing the tasting?

Have a great weekend everyone - get out and drink some great wine.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wine and Running

So with the Suntrust Richmond Marathon happening tomorrow in town I thought I would write about wine and running. Obviously wine right before or during running serves no benefit and can actually be harmful to your body, but why would you want to reach for a bottle of wine during a race anyway.

There can be some positive affects of wine on the cardiovascular system. Reservatol (a compound found in wine) has been in the news a lot lately mostly for its health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, etc.. But in the same studies on mice and rats, Reservatol was seen to give the animals increased endurance while running on a treadmill. So could drinking wine give you edge need to wine the race? Probably not, but having a glass or two the night before a race will most likely not hurt your performance. One exception though is if you are running a marathon or other extra long race. This is because wine and other alcoholic beverages has a natural diuretic effect and may cause pre-mature dehydration during a long race.


A quick reminder – after next week Anything Wine will be switching to a wordpress address. The new site will be I am posting to both currently, but after next will stop on the blogspot site. So please change you feeds and bookmarks to the new address. Thanks so much for continuing to read Anything Wine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Friday Night Wine Tasting at the Wine Cellar - Nov. 9th

Here are this weeks wines that Jeff will be serving at the Wine Cellar tomorrow night.


Don’t forget about the Special Tasting the Wine Cellar is having Saturday from 1-4.

See you all there from 5:00 to 8:00, and FREE as always.

Other tastings going on around town:

River City Cellars – Friday - 5:00-7:00
Corks and Kegs – Friday - 5:30 – 7:30
Private Stock Cigar and Wine – Every Friday and Saturday
Bella Vino (Midlothian) – Friday - 6:00-8:00

And also make sure to check out Can Can Mondays from 6-7.

Let me know if I have missed any, because I am sure there are others I don’t know about.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wine Tasting: 2004 Imagery Estate Sunny Slope Merlot

Megan and I received this wine as part of our Imagery Estate Wine Club shipment earlier this year. Each shipment contains two bottles of wine that are usually only offered at the winery (as was this Merlot) and get four shipments a year. We visited them when we were on our Napa and Sonoma trip at the end of last year and had a great time. It is a beautiful place to visit, with an excellent tasting room and staff, and an awesome patio for enjoying a picnic lunch.

Some information on the wine:

The Sunny Slope vineyard that these Merlot grapes are from is quite interesting. The site that the vineyard is on is pretty much an old rock quarry and the vines were planted in holes drilled or pick axed more than 20 years ago. The vines get a great southwest exposure that produces a ripe, concentrated, thick skinned grape. The 2004 vintage was dry overall, in fact humidity levels at the end of the season dropped well below the average 30%. (Geez, I wish the humidity around Richmond would average 30%) Proper vineyard care and patience prevailed in allowing the grapes to develop their wonderful flavor, even though sugars were rising prematurely.

I believe the wine, without the 15% member discount, is $38.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Cherry, boysenberry, and caramelized onions

Taste – Rich Black Cherry and celery

Mouthfeel – medium body with a very rich texture, very smooth and polished

Finish – great long length, leaving me with a bit of cocoa on the aftertaste

This was a delightful Merlot, and unfortunately I didn’t write in my notes what we drank this with, and I can’t remember since it was a couple of weeks ago. Since this is only distributed from the winery, you can’t run to your local wine shop and pick it up. But, if by chance you are in Sonoma, give them a visit, you won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Anything Wine moving to Wordpress

Hi Anything Wine Readers

I am moving my Anything Wine blog to Wordpress from Blogger. I have already built the wordpress blog and will continue to post in both for a couple of weeks. If you have feeds setup or currently link to me the new address will be

I will post reminders over the next few days and post a final entry on the blogger site to let you know when I won't be double posting anymore.

Thanks to everyone who reads Anything Wine - I do appreciate it. Let me know what you think of the new site.


Another great time at Barrel Thief

Another visit to Barrel Thief this past Friday provided us with another great time. (click here to read my first review) This time we took my sister Elizabeth and her husband/my best friend Jeff up to sample what B.T. had to offer. Although they were crowded, we did not have to wait for a table this time. They had a new selection of 12 wines by the glass this week, pitting American wines against their French counterparts. We decided to peruse the shop to decide what wines we would be having with dinner. However, when we sat down to order our bottles, our waitress McLane (hope I spelled that right), who was also our waitress last time, informed us that if you buy any bottle of wine currently available by the glass they wave the $6 corkage. Of course, this information changed the game completely, as we thought we had our wines all figured out after our walk around the store. Also since the bottles were on the by-the-glass list, she was able to give us a tasty taste of the wines we were considering.

To start out for the evening we decided on the 2004 Robert Denogent Macon-Solutre Clos de Bertillones from Burgundy ($27). This was a really nice Chardonnay, excellent full bodied and round mouthfeel with just a hint of toasted notes and honey on the finish.

We were impressed to see that even though it was only 3 weeks since our last visit (I know too long) they had made some changes to the menu. On our first visit we had eyed the brie appetizer for 2 that our table neighbors ordered and noticed how good it looked and that it may take more than 2 to finish it. Since we were with Jeff and Elizabeth we decided to split it 4 ways. It was covered with apricot preserves and slivered almonds, a change since our previous visit (looked like it had a dark berry topping). It was delicious, and it paired very nicely with our White Burgundy.

For dinner Megan and I chose the same Portabello Panini that we had last time, as well as one of the new additions to the sandwich menu – a grilled vegetable Panini with goat cheddar, olive tapenade and balsamic reduction. Of course we loved the Portabello Panini again, but of the two, the grilled veggie Panini was our favorite. Even though the sandwich contained 4 things with very different and powerful flavors – all were present on the palate and none were masked or overpowered by the other. Another excellent addition to the menu!

We were also excited to see a nice drizzle of Balsamic on the plates this time, dressing up those stark white plates very nicely. Another nice addition to the menu is the fact that you can now add a mixed green salad to your Panini for $2.

Jeff and Elizabeth also shared the Portabello Panini as well as the citrus smoked salmon, cream cheese, shaved red onion and capers Panini. They were also delighted with both and thought they were very tasty, but of the 2, the salmon won out for them.

To go with these great sandwiches our second bottle of wine, which was also on the by-the-glass menu, was the 2005 Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches ($20). It was a really nice Cab Franc. We were really impressed with its great red currant aromas laced with clove, and it had a nice slightly earthy finish with a hint of oregano. Again, this wine paired very nicely with the sandwiches that we had chosen.

For dessert Megan and I chose the pound cake and Nutella Panini again, and it was again fabulous. Paired with our pound cake we shared a glass of delicious Vintage port that I can’t remember the name of. Jeff and Elizabeth decided to try the house favorite – Krispy Kreme Strawberry Shortcake. That is definitely a toothache waiting to happen, but they enjoyed it, and we may have to try it next time we are there.

Barrel Thief continued to impress – keep up the good work guys!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Special Saturday Wine Tasting at the Wine Cellar

This Saturday, Nov. 10th, the Wine Cellar is having a special Saturday tasting from 1:00 – 4:00. They will be sampling some nice wines from Australia from the following producers: Cimicky, Berrys Bridge, and Langmeil Winery. Jeff’s email says the price range will be from $20 - $50 for the wines but as always the tasting is FREE.

In addition to the wine Jeff will be sampling some great cheese and chocolates.

See you all there – Stay tuned later in the week for what Jeff will be serving on Friday night.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Wine Book - "To Cork or Not To Cork"

A new book is out this month by author George Taber, writer of "Judgment of Paris". I was really impressed by Judgment of Paris and am looking forward to reading this one as well. The forward of the book is by Karen MacNeil author of the "Wine Bible" (which I also own). The book retails for around $26 and is currently only available in hardback.

Here is an excerpt from an article on the book from the Napa Valley Register.

"The result is a fact-filled book that often reads like a novel. It looks at every type of closure used in the wine industry today and reveals many previously unknown, but perhaps suspected, facts about the controversy surrounding closures. It’s interspersed with occasional “Message in a Bottle” anecdotes which relate good and bad experiences with wine closures, including one about a cork in a bottle of 1961 Chateau Margaux that broke in half when being opened. Nothing could get the bottom half out, so a glass cutter was used to cut the neck of the bottle, the wine was poured through cheesecloth and the guests enjoyed it."

If you pick up the book and give it a read, let me know what you think. As soon as I get it, and read it - I will post a review.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wine Tasting - 2005 Chateau Du Jaunay

2005 Chauteau Du Jaunay, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Sur Lie

A bit of background on the wine – Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape and is produced more than any other wine in the Loire valley. It is produced in the Western end of the Loire valley and this one in particular is produced in the Muscadet Sevre Et Maine appellation. The Chateau du Jaunay is produced from an 11 hectare vineyard site that is always picked by hand, usually in mid – September. The wine is produced in the sur lie style, meaning that it is kept on the lees (spent yeast that falls to the bottom of the vat/tank/barrel) after the fermentation process.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Pear, floral, star fruit

Taste – Honey and lemon

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied but pretty acidic

Finish – Very dry, but not too long – disappeared fairly quickly off the palate

I believe this is the first Muscadet that I have had or at least the first one that I have had knowingly. It was a very nice wine with floral notes meeting you straight out of the gate. Very crisp and refreshing – similar to a Sauvignon Blanc in mouthfeel and balance but not so on the aroma and flavor profile. All in all, a good wine to try – it would be very nice to drink on the beach or a boat somewhere. We served it with Indian food, which was a departure from my normal Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Viognier that we usually default to.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Evil Cellar Palate!!

I think the first time I read about cellar palate was on the website of Jim Law’s Linden Vineyards here in Virginia. He emphasizes that he and his staff taste wine from around the world on a regular basis to keep their palate honed and to ward off the evil cellar palate.

A recent article by Jancis Robinson on brought the issue to my attention again. She reminds us that cellar palate is not just a problem for winemakers, but for consumers as well. Personally, I am not sure that I would define cellar palate as a problem for ALL consumers. If you always drink one particular wine or wine region, and that is all you drink and will most likely not drink anything else, then it doesn’t matter if the consumer adapts to the fact that the wine they continually drink is flabby or overly herbaceous and so on and so forth. In fact, in that case cellar palate may be beneficial, as consumers are able to gradually overlook deficits in their favorite wines. However, becoming accustomed to the poorer aspects of the wine would probably be accompanied by becoming “numb” to the best parts of the wine as well (the strawberry notes may taste less luscious over time).

On the other hand…

If you are a consumer like me who likes to drink many different wines, it may be a different story. For example, if you get on a pinot noir (soft, fruity, earthy) kick for a couple weeks, then go out and have a Syrah from the Rhone region, it may taste closer to an Aussie Shiraz. This is similar to a story that Jancis recounts in the first part of her article. Obviously, if you haven’t had this particular Syrah before (or ever had a Syrah), this first skewed experience could affect your opinions and purchase decisions for future Syrahs.

I think cellar palate further exemplifies the idea that every wine you drink is referenced against every other wine you have had before. As regular consumers, not trained expert wine panelists, we can have a hard time evaluating a wine on its own merits. Of course, most consumers won’t sit there and think “well this Cab. is similar to the one I had 2 years ago, but definitely better than the one I had at the tasting last week.” He/she evaluates against the whole collection of memories of Cab and in fact, not just Cab., but all wines they have had before.

So I believe to further your enjoyment of wine it is a good idea to take Jancis Robinson’s suggestion and drink globally. The more wine you can taste will serve 2 purposes. One, it will keep your palate fresh and keep you from falling susceptible to cellar palate. And two, it will really help you to learn what wines you really enjoy, AND THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART.

“Nobody tells you what you should put on your pizza, they shouldn’t tell you what to like about your wine.”- Gary Vaynerchuk

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Friday Night Tasting at the Wine Cellar - 11.02.07

Below is what Jeff is offering up at the Wine Cellar this week for his free weekly tasting.


I have not tried any of the wine above, which is the case a lot of the time at the Friday night tastings. But this week I have not even had any from these producers. So this should be a lot of fun, as USUAL!!

Hope to see you all there. FREE from 5:00 – 8:00

Here are some other tastings that are going on around town.

River City Cellars – Friday - 5:00-7:00
Corks and Kegs – Friday - 5:30 – 7:30
Private Stock Cigar and Wine – Every Friday and Saturday
Bella Vino (Midlothian) – Friday - 6:00-8:00

And also make sure to check out Can Can Mondays from 6-7. – Thanks to Scott for info on this tasting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wine Tasting: 2001 Northstar Merlot Columbia Valley

I received this bottle of Merlot from my parents for my birthday back in May but it retails for around $50. I knew it was supposed to be a rockin’ bottle of wine so we held on to it for just a little bit longer. We drank it the other night with some great veggie Stromboli from our local pizza joint Candelas.

A bit of background on the wine – Northstar is located in the Walla Walla region of the Columbia Valley in Washington State and is famous for their ultra-premium Merlot. According to Northstar, 2001 provided a long stable growing season that lead to ideal (warm clear days with cool nights) harvest conditions in September. Ripe grapes were destemmed and crushed, leaving 25% whole berries intact, then inoculated with various strains of yeast including Prise de Mousse and Fermirouge. Individual lots were fermented separately in 2.5-ton fermenters and punched down 2-4 times daily during the 6-day fermentation process. After primary fermentation to dryness, the wine was racked into barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine was then aged for 17 months in primarily French and some American oak, using 83% new barrels and 17% one-year-old barrels. The final blend was created from 20 different varietal and vineyards lots. The final blend of the wine was 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and was bottle in June 2003.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Plum, black cherry and toasted corn husk

Taste - Blackberry, chocolate and leather

Mouthfeel – Rich, supple and smooth and very full bodied (especially for a Merlot)

Finish – long – over a minute

Wow, what an awesome wine. It is probably the most full bodied Merlot I have ever had. The wine itself was really big but very well balanced and I think it justifies the $50 price tag. Although I got it for free, I don’t think that swayed my opinion at all. Each sip was smooth and rich, and the flavors were all very powerful and the aromas just jumped out of the glass.

If you want a really nice wine for dinner, or are looking to get a nice bottle as a gift for a wine lover, the 2001 Northstar Merlot Columbia Valley fits the bill.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wine Closure Systems and the Environment


Cork vs. Screw cap: A fight over the environment” is the title of a recent article in the Seattle Times. The title being what it is, I thought it would be a push towards screw cap usage to better the environment – I was surprised to read that I was wrong.

Apparently, cork farming is good for the environment on an ecological as well as a socioeconomic level. Cork trees take up 6.7 million acres of land in the Mediterranean regions where they thrive, and cork is a sustainable product that promotes healthy growth of the tree over its approximate 200 year life span.

Here is a quick primer on how cork is harvested (from After about 25 years of the tree´s life, cork used for wine can be harvested. It is after this period, the tree is considered mature and the cork is cut in the form of strips. These strips are then carefully removed and dried for 6 months or so, after which they are boiled for a few hours and then left to dry for around 3 weeks. Subsequently, they are cut and/or molded into the correct cork size. The cork trees can be restripped every 8-14 years throughout its lifespan.

Next, the washing process occurs where a variety of chemicals are used to sanitize the corks against bacterial growth. Some manufacturers are utilizing new technologies such as irradiation as a weapon against the potential bacteria growth, which results in cork taint. Corks are then sealed in bags containing inert preservation gases before being shipped to wineries.

Since the trees are not killed during harvest, it is considered a sustainable resource. The article points out that, as screw cap usage goes up, cork farms will begin to be neglected and will eventually die. Since the majority of cork forests are privately owned, the decline of business for farmers could lead a sell-off of land and subsequent industrial and commercial development. Obviously the ecosystem would be terribly disrupted, in addition to the sociological impacts of 100,000+ people losing their jobs, which could also be devastating to the economy.

So why do winemakers use screw cap closure systems if the use of them threatens cork tree existence? Well it is mostly an issue of quality. Cork is a pretty awesome closure system but it can have its bad days. The biggest reason for use alternative closures whether it be screw caps or synthetic corks is the removal of the possibility that the wine will get cork taint, chemically speaking TCA (2,4,6 Trichloroanisole). TCA will give the wine that famous musty, wet cardboard smell that affects an estimated 5% of all bottles sold. Also, screw caps aren’t susceptible to drying out and letting in air that can oxidize and ruin the wine, or just become brittle and break apart as someone is trying to open there bottle for dinner. So if your brain is anything like mine, you are thinking – well at least screw caps are recyclable? According to the article they are not. The typical process involves non renewable resources and a plastic insert that make it difficult to reuse and not acceptable to most residential recycling programs.

So my question to help settle the debate would be to ask, which manufacturing process is better for the environment? Does one process have less of an environmental impact than the other? Unfortunately I do not know the process of making screw caps nor do I know how much energy and/or waste is produced in the process for cork making outlined above. And at the winery level, which is most efficient on the people power as well as which method has the smallest carbon footprint? The question above is purely to settle the environmental/ecological side of the debate. There is no real way to account for the loss of 100,000 jobs unless you build screw cap mfg. facilities on the sites of old cork farms.

Obviously their are other debates out there on cork vs. screw cap like: screw caps take away the romance of opening the bottle, and only cheap bottles have screw caps. Well the second is definitely not true anymore as bottles over $100 are starting to show up on wine store shelves with brand new screw caps.

So what does everyone think? Give me a shout with your opinion on the subject.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday night wine tasting at the Wine Cellar - 10.26.07

Here is what Jeff and his crew are serving up this Friday night at the Wine Cellar.


I am really excited to try all of these wines, although I have had past vintages of the Campus Oaks Zin, and actually have one in the wine cellar at home. The Campus Oaks is always a great value Zin. They are well balanced with a lot of dark fruit and rich chocolate aromas and not too hot which I feel a lot of the Zins from Lodi sometimes are.

The two wines that are on sale look on paper to be fantastic. I really can’t wait to try the Bighorn Cab, as well as the Bethel Heights Chardonnay.

Hope to see you all there! FREE as always from 5-8pm.

Even though I am a devoted Wine Cellar shopper, I feel that I need to start let people know about the other wine tastings that are going on around Richmond. I am sure there are more than these but these are the ones I know about. If you are a wine shop or a devotee to another weekly tasting that I didn’t mention. Please email and I will post it up regularly.

River City Cellars - Free Weekly Tasting Friday, October 19th, 5-7pm: Tuscany!
Corks and Kegs – Every Friday from 5:30 – 7:30
Private Stock Cigar and Wine – Every Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wine Review - 2005 Keswick Vineyards Consensus

We purchased this wine in June from Keswick Vineyards while we were there for a tasting. I wrote about the visit back in July I think – here is the link. It was part of a big day of wine tasting and lunch at the Palladio Restaurant.

We happened to be in the Keswick area this past weekend (after apple picking at Graves Mountain Lodge) and stopped by the winery on our way home to Richmond for a little wine tasting. In doing so, when we got to the 2005 Consensus, we remembered how impressed with it we were and also remembered that we still had a bottle at home. Funny coincidence also that day – we happened to run into our friends Paul and Warren from Virginia Wine Time. So, we all enjoyed the tasting together and afterwards enjoyed a bottle of Viognier while we chatted about all things wine.

So the next night we opened a bottle of Consnesus to have with our “famous” homemade veggie pizza.

Here is a little background on the 2005 Keswick Consensus.

The 2005 Consensus is blended solely by members of the Keswick wine club. This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, and 20% Petite Verdot. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, and aged in 2 and 3 year old French and American Oak. It was bottled in February of this year and total case production was only 245.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Blackberry, Cherry, Smoke (kind of like diluted liquid smoke that you can buy for grilling), and hazelnut

Taste – Cocoa, Black Cherry, and Sautéed green peppers

Mouthfeel – Great body / weight on the palette – smooth tannins with a balanced acidity – slight bit of spiciness towards the finish, - maybe from the American Oak

Finish – nice length, between 45 seconds to a minute

Megan and I were very impressed by this wine and it is another example that Virginia can make good red wine. At $20.95 it is not cheap but I think that the wine definitely merits the quality to justify the price. The Consensus doesn’t have the tannins to stick around in the cellar for more than a couple years so if you pick up a bottle I would recommend drinking it right now. That being said it does have the backbone to deal with heavier Italian dishes that feature robust cheeses but probably not big enough to have with a juicy steak – not that I would know being a veg head.

If you have had this or if you have it in the future, shoot me a line and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wine Review - 2003 Chateau Lacombe Noaillac - Medoc

When I started writing Anything Wine it was mostly wine reviews, then it was almost all about weekend tastings, then their was nothing, and now I am writing about everything. Being inspired by fellow Virginia blogger Sonadora over at Wannabewino (who posts about every bottle she and her husband drink) I am going to try and post my wine notes more frequently. I haven't even been keeping up with putting my notes into Cork'd which populates the list on the right side of the page. So here we go....

So lets start with a little background on Chateau Lacombe Noaillac.

Lacombe Noaillac is located in Jau-Dignac-Loirac north of the Médoc appellation not far from the Gironde estuary. The first vines at Chateau Lacombe Noaillac were planted in 1979 and now total acreage exceeds 30 hectares (about 90 acres). Vineyard plantings which correlate directly to the perecntage of grape make up in the wine are as follows - 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet franc and 3% Petit Verdot.

Price - $16.95 from the Wine Cellar

Tasting Notes:

Nose - Boysenberry, suede, Rhubarb and Shitaki mushroom

Taste- Bright fruit in particular red raspberry with a nice finish of asparagus

Mouthfeel - Tannins still present, but not rough at all. Medium bodied - good weight in the mouth.

Finish - Surprising; I was expecting something decent but it was fairly lengthy lasting up to a minute.

This is a great value Bordeaux. This is the second time we have had this, the first being about 8 months ago. 2003 was a fairly hot vintage in Bordeaux. This led to really ripe fruit and in some cases more fruit forward style of wines. You would think this was the case with this wine as that is definitely comes out of the gate with really rich fruit flavors and aromas. But after about an hour of being open, the terroir of the gravelly soil definitely starts to come through and exhibit more old world characteristics.

Chateau Lacombe Noaillac is pretty widely distributed so check it out if you get a chance.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Friday Tasting at the Wine Cellar - 10.19.07

Here is what Jeff and the folks from the Wine Cellar will be serving at their free tasting this Friday.

1. McMANIS VIOGNIER 2006 (DRY) $12.45
2. McMANIS PINOT NOIR 2006 $12.95
4. McMANIS ZINFANDEL 2005 $12.45
5. McMANIS PETITE SIRAH 2006 $12.45

McMANIS is one of those go to wines. It is WIDELY available, and can be found in almost every grocery store and wine shop. All of their wines are consistently good, and are always fairly inexpensive for the quality. If you haven't had any of McMANIS' stuff, check out the Viognier and the Zin, both great values.

FRIDAY NIGHT FROM 5:00 to 8:00


Where to plant a 2099?

According to a small article in National Geographic this month, by the year 2099 most of the current major viticulture areas in the world will have become too hot to produce wine at all. Or if wine production is still feasible, these areas will not be able to produce great wine from the varietals that are currently being planted. Growing seasons will become too short, and sugar levels will rise to outrageous levels long before the fruit itself has time to mature and develop its wonderful character. The wine industry does recognize this and think it is big issue as well and are taking it seriously. In fact in February of 2008 will be the second conference on Climate Change and Wine in Barcelona Spain where Al Gore is the keynote speaker.

Check out a few articles on Global Warming and Wine – (there are ton of articles out there- just Google it)

Why the Wine Industry Should Care About Global Warming
Grapegrowers Feeling the Heat
Australia at the Crossroads
Global Warming and Wine

I do believe that global warming is truly an issue and will continue to be an issue for all agricultural businesses, but that isn’t why I am writing this entry. I am trying to put a little bit of a thought provoking/ humorous spin on it.

So to the title of the blog entry, where would you plant a vineyard now, knowing the fact that it may not be sustainable in that same area in the year 2099? Do you believe that Global Warming will truly make that dramatic a difference in viticulture as to shorten growing seasons by leaps and bounds? Or are you a glass half full kind of person? Do you believe that we (humans) will solve the climate crisis and, and current viticulture areas will still be producing wonderful fruit in 2099? Or maybe you are a little bit of both! Do you think that the climate will definitely change, for better or worse, but that viticulturists and enologists will develop new grape varieties that will flourish under the new global conditions?

Well in talking to people in the wine industry, there are definitely people that represent all of the above schools of thought. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Winemakers look to hardy hybrids for solutions to environmental challenges” talks to the third point above in regards to developing new grape hybrids that can handle the stresses of higher temperatures and the increasing issues with climate change. In addition to climate change, the growing trend toward greener viticulture practices and reduced fungicide use will also increase the need for more hearty hybrids.

So readers out there let me know what you think. Whether or not you think Global Warming is real, I want to hear your thoughts on the future direction of viticulture.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wine and Dessert Tasting at Relish

So after you hit the Wine Cellar for their free tasting this week, head on down to Relish for their dessert and wine tasting event.
As the flyer says - $15 in advance or $20 at the door.
Sounds like it will be a lot of fun!
See you there!

Friday Night Tasting at the Wine Cellar

Here are this weeks wines that Jeff will be serving at the Wine Cellar in Midlothian.



Friday from 5-8 and as always FREE!

See you there.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My heart a Barrel Thief!

Saturday evening Megan and I ventured up to Barrel Thief Wine, the new wine shop/ wine bar/ café across from Short Pump Towne Center. We were heading there for some dinner and (of course) wine.

Prior to leaving for the restaurant we checked the website to make sure they had vegetarian options on their menu and to get a sneak peak at what wines they serve. We were slightly disappointed to see that they only were currently serving 12 wines by the glass, but were excited nonetheless to try the new wine café out. I mean come on, it has to do with wine. Ha ha

Our disappointment about the limited by-the-glass wine list quickly dissipated while we were waiting to put our name on the list for a table (they were quite busy). We saw a cute little sign that effectively said, "see any wine in the shop you want, take it to your table and the waitress will open it for you, the price will be the retail price on the label plus six dollars." Sweet, a $6 corkage fee!! So while we waited for a table, which was only about 10 minutes, we got to peruse the wine shop-- it was like taking a virtual tour of their wine list. They have a nice, diverse selection, which according to what I read online is currently around 300 bottles, though it seemed like more.

Once we were seated we looked over the menu, which consistedof salads, tapas-style dishes, cheese plates, panini and desserts. The back of the menu had information about the 12 wines they are serving by the glass.

The wine we chose was a bottle of the 2005 Vietti Barbera d’ Asti, which our waitress gladly opened for 6 bucks and brought us two nice Schott Zweissel glasses to drink from.

The tomato mozzarella salad had nice red and yellow vine tomatos with fresh mozzarella, layered with an excellent fresh pesto and topped with toasted pine nuts. The pesto really set it above the typical caprese salad drizzled with balsamic. Don’t get me wrong, I love the typical caprese, but this was a nice spin on the classic.

The sandwich we both ordered was the portabella mushroom Panini which was layered portabella, manchego cheese and sun dried tomato pesto. It was very nicely grilled with a good amount of olive oil- not “greasy” in the slightest. Again, the pesto (this time sun-dried tomato) really set the dish off. It was also nice to have the manchego cheese instead of the typical mozzarella. We both enjoyed the sandwich thoroughly and the Barbera was a perfect match. Our only complaint was that the plate looked rather bare with just the sandwich halves sitting on it. There was no drizzle of sauce or garnish to add a little color to the stark white plate, but if you have to complain about something, I would rather it be that the plate looked naked versus the food.

A few notes on the wine: As I said it was very nice pairing with the food that we ate for dinner. The mushrooms on the sandwich brought out the earthiness in the wine and the fact that the sandwich itself was not laden with oil and not too “heavy” allowed the fruit room to express itself. The Barbera had great aromas of plum, cherry and blueberry, with similar flavors on the palate followed up with a hint of tobacco. The tannins were definitely noticeable as we drank the wine prior to the meal arriving, but the food and the cheese in both of the dishes help manage those quite nicely. If I were to buy this for drinking at home, I would wait another year before opening it.

For dessert we shared a miniature pound cake Panini with Nutella spread in the middle and some fresh whipped cream on the side. Holy cow it was good, and just the right size. The flavor of the grilled pound cake alone was fantastic. My mouth is watering as I am recounting the experience. To go with our delicious dessert we paired an Australian Tokay with it, which is quite similar to a Port in taste but is the Australian version of the Hungarian Tokaji (kind of like Shiraz is the Australian Syrah). It was a great treat, and was served in a unique dessert wine glass. In drinking the Tokay you could definitely taste the alcohol, but it was smooth, with nice round toffee and honey flavors.

As you can tell we had a great time and plan to go back often. We talked with one of the owners, Ned I believe, who let us know that the 12 wines by the glass should be changing weekly and added me to the email list to get updates on what wines they are currently serving.

So go check 'em out! Your heart will be stolen too!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My thoughts on Virginia winery tasting room staff!

One of my complaints about tasting rooms at wineries in Virginia is that a good percentage of the time the staff are not very knowledgeable about wine. Seems as though that should be one of the prerequisites for the job! Now of course I understand that wineries aren't going out and hiring sommeliers to work the counter for $9 or so an hour, but at least give them a crash course on basic wine facts.

Now I am sure you are asking what sparked this blog entry.... well it was the following dialog between myself and some tasting room staff at a northern VA winery:

Me: "so how long was this aged in oak?"
Tasting room person 1: "18 months"
Me: "wow, so this was just bottled recently then, being that it is a 2006"
Tasting room person 2: "No, it has been bottled since 2006, they put the year it was bottled on the label"
Me: weird look at Megan (my wife for those readers who don't know)
Me: [trying to be polite]"Oh, I thought the year on the label represented the year the grapes were harvested"
Tasting room person 1: "No, it is the year it was bottled."
Me: "Okay, thanks" [slightly sarcastic]

Have you ever been in a situation where you KNEW the correct answer but some dumb comment made you think twice? Well this was that moment for me. I definitely did a double take in my brain.

Alright, now I am not saying everyone in the world should know that the year on the bottle is the year the grapes were harvested, but if you are working in the wine industry that is definitely a must (no pun intended). I will say the staff were very friendly and personable, but this was just one of the many things they said that urked me. If you don't know the answer to a question, just say I don't know, that is okay.

So am I being too picky?

When we go to wineries where the staff is knowledgeable about wine we definitely let the owner or the person themselves know how much we appreciate it and them. It just makes the experience for us that much more enjoyable, especially when you have to pay for the tasting.

Let me know what you think!!!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

A quick vegetarian rant!

First of all this has nothing to do about wine, so disregard the title of the blog for the next few minutes. :-)

I have been hearing good things about Karsens in Carytown, but unfortunately I couldn’t seem to find a menu online. Well yesterday the Times Dispatch did an article on Karsens and within the article posted the restaurants website. So I was all excited to see what entrees they had on their menu – for a Vegetarian.

And to my amazement (not really), and confusion another fine dining restaurant in Richmond has not one single Vegetarian entrée on the menu. Come on people, this is ridiculous and it totally baffles mine and Megan’s mind that any restaurant not to mention fancy ones don’t have ONE vegetarian option. I am not asking for 2, 3, or 4, just 1. And yes I know if you go there with other people, usually the chef can whip something up, but sometimes not.

This is not a stab at Karsens, just at fine dining establishments in general that commit the “crime” stated above. Their menu does in fact look delicious for someone who eats meat and fish.

I think that current statistics claim 15% of the population is vegetarian, that is a pretty good number of restaurants goers. So fine dining establishments here in Richmond and across the country listen up, I want to give you my money so get creative and give me a veggie entree option!!

Thank you for letting me rant! Ha ha!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Friday Night Tasting at the Wine Cellar - 10.6.2007

Hello again everyone - here is the list of what Jeff will be serving up this Friday for his FREE tasting at the Wine Cellar.

2. AQUINAS PINOT NOIR 2006 $11.95

See you all there!

5-8pm this Friday Oct. 6th

October is Virginia Wine Month

So with grape harvest in Virginia wrapping up, there are many winery open houses and festivals to help you celebrate the fact that October is Virginia Wine Month.

Click the link to the Virginia Tourism site to check out a complete list of what is going on this month around the state.

A small plug to the family winery right here in Richmond (well Midlothian is close enough) Woodland Vineyard. We are having a open house on Saturday October 13th from 12:00 to 5:00. Click HERE for more info! Also Woodland Vineyard is going to be participating in Powhatan Festival of the Grape this year so come check us out as well as all of the other participating wineries.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Night Tasting at the Wine Cellar

Check out tonights wines that the Wine Cellar will be serving up. September 28th



Tonights wines are all from the Columbia Valley in Washington State.

See you tonight 5-8, and FREE as always!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Friday Night Dinner at Pasta Luna

This past Friday Megan and I ate at Pasta Luna on Southside for dinner. It had been over a year since we had been back due the last time being a horrible dining experience from the service that was horrible to the rigatoni that tasted like it had a pound of salt on it.

We recieved a coupon in the mail that offered a free entree and let us know about a new menu for fall. We figured that was enough to give them another shot. We were wrong.

Well that is a little harsh, our service was a lot better and for being as young as she was our waitress Cecilia was very good, a welcome change. We ordered a bottle of Rufino Aziano Chianti Classico Frescobaldi for $36 which was very nice. The wine had good cherry fruit aroma, tobacco, leather and blackberry flavor on the finish. A comment on their wine list, it has been shortened since the last time we were there and is now way overpriced with limited selection.

We ordered the Insalata Gorgonzola to start which was pretty good, but they could've used a lot less dressing in our opinion. For the entrees I ordered a porcini mushroom stuffed gnocchi with a roasted walnut cream sauce. The entree is supposed to come with a lobster cream sauce but since we are vegetarian I switched it up. The sauce worked out well and the gnocchi which was okay but slightly bland, with the porcini filling deserving better seasoning. Megan ordered the asparagus and tomato tortellini with brown butter sage sauce. On sight the butter sauce looked closer to my cream sauce than anything else, and upon tasting it there was no real evidence of sage and it was way to creamy for our taste. The tortellini itself was definitely premade, which they do say on the menu that it is imported from the finest italian chef, Bertolli for $3.99 tastes better. The most odd part of Megan's meal was the fact that it had nothing in it that resembeled asparagus or tomato and in fact it tasted like sweet potato. We let our waitress know this and aksed if there was another tortellini that we may have gotten by mistake. In fact that is the only tortellini on the menu and that she had had it before and thought it did taste like sweet potato or pumpkin. She did apologize for the dish not being what we expected.

For dessert we had the Tiramisu which was actually really good, as well as ordered 2 cups of coffee that took a while to come out. When the coffee arrived it was definitely burnt, a nice carmalized, cooked on the bottom of the pot taste, very dissapointing.

When we got home we checked the menu on the website to see if they had another toretllini that the waitress didn't know about. In fact they have a pumpkin tortellini with butter sage sauce but not the pasta that Megan ordered with apsaragus. GO FIGURE!! If they are going to update the menu, make sure the kitchen knows about it.

After this "great" review and our experiences in the past I really wonder how they keep being rated the best Italian in all of Richmond, which they proudly display on a sign outside of the restaurant. Is it the location on Broad street that is winning all of the awards? There are quite a few Italian restaurants in Richmond both casual and fine dining that blow away Pasta Luna on flavor of the pasta dishes. Now we are vegetarians and don't eat the meat or seafood dishes, so maybe that is where there excellence lies.

Overall our dining experience was fine but the meal coming in at $72 with our free entree before tip wasn't worth it.

Those of you that have a great experience, enough to garner it the best Italian in Richmond, please post your comments.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nutritional Labeling on Wine Bottles

How many people do or don’t want to see how many calories are in a glass of wine? Did you know that if a wine is less than 14% alcohol wines don’t need to list the specific percentage level, and that they need only label it with “Table Wine”? Do you think wineries should be forced to put the above on their bottles, or you really don’t care?

Thanks to an article in Wines and Vines News entitled “Time to Comment on New Label Rules” I was reminded that this is a current issue in wine legislation. And good news the deadline to comment on the issue has been extended 90 days. YAY!

From the article:

"The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is extending the deadline to
January 27th 2008, for public comments on notice No. 73 about these additional labeling and related advertising rules.”

There is a link on the bottom of the article at Wines and Vines to comment electronically so please do so if you have issues or suggestions around this legislation.

Honestly with wine and beer for that matter I don’t think or care about the calories that I am consuming. That is a big departure for me since when I buy food at the grocery store I am very conscious of labels, one because I am nutrition freak and two because I am a vegetarian. You would be surprised at how many things processed chicken parts can slip its way into. :)

I guess with wine, I feel as if it is an indulgent experience so I don’t want to be reminded that I am consuming X amount of calories. That goes for cheese and peanut butter cookies too. Haha

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday Night Wine Tasting

At The Wine Cellar 9.21.07

This weeks Friday night FREE wine taste will include the following wines from France



See you all there 5-8.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friday night tasting at the Wine Cellar this Friday September 14th.

This Friday Jeff is offering up some BIG REDS from California.



See you there!

Monday, September 10, 2007






Saturday, September 08, 2007

More Wine Tasting in the Piedmont Region of Northern Italy

Our second and final winery (cantina) that we visited was Rizzi in the Barberesco zone in the small town of Treiso, north of Alba. This was about a 15 minute drive from where our bed and breakfast was that you saw in the previous post about our Italy trip.

Again we had the great opportunity to tour and taste with the winemaker himself and get great in depth, first hand knowledge of how the wines were crafted.

We started our experience at Rizzi with a tour through the vineyards on property surrounding the winery. Ernrico (yes the young winemaker at Rivetto was also Enrico) pointed out to us the varying crus that Rizzi owns that you could see from where we were standing, and vineyards within those crus, from which would be tasting the wines. Check out the picture below that outlines their different Crus which are all in Treiso.

Since Rizzi is in the Barberesco zone that is the primary wine they produce which is from the Nebbiolo grape as was the Barolo. In addition they produce Dolcetto, Chardonnay (which is not typical for the region), Barbera, and Mosacato (or Muscat).

So what did we taste –
These first 3 wines we tasted with Enrico in the bottling room overlooking the vineyards.

Chardonnay 2006 – very nice Chardonnay. (All stainless, no oak) apple, pear, stone, wheat, and a slight tropical aroma. They did an outstanding job on a varietal not typical for the Langhe region.

Dolcetto D’ Alba 2005 – we thought it was slightly tannic for a Dolcetto, but still quite smooth, with flavors and aromas of raspberry and cherry. Good structure.

Barbera D’ Alba 2005 – Lush, very similar to the Dolcetta, more full bodied, chocolate/espresso flavor on the finish. MMM

These next 6 wines we tasted in the barrel/cask room. As you will see from the pictures, the primary aging (12 months) is done in huge Slovenian Oak Casks while the secondary aging for another 12 months is done in large cement tanks with ceramic linings. We tasted 2 vintages (2006 and 2005) of Barberesco from the 3 different Crus/Vineyards. We tasted them vertically by vineyard. Before the notes, let me say this was an awesome experience…drinking with the winemaker, out of the casks, tasting developing vintages and being able to see the progression….simply awesome. After we tasted these two vintages from the 3 Crus, we tasted the currently bottled 2004 from the Pajore Cru/ Suran Vineyard

Here are the notes

Nervo Cru – Fondetta Vineyard
2006 – not much on the nose, very tannic, but blueberry flavor on the palate
2005 – huge difference from the 2006, blueberry again, chocolate bar, dirt aroma, this would be really nice to bottle now, smoothing out well!!

Rizzi Cru – Bricco Boito Vineyard
2006 – very tannic, tight blackberry aroma/flavor, slight coffee nose,
2005 – more earthy, real dark fruit coming thorough a lot more, cocoa on the mid palate opened up a lot compared to the 2006, GOOD!! Nice Long finish

Pajore Cru – Suran Vineyard
2006 – real young, more fruity than the Bricco Vineyards, leather aroma, tobacco flavors, too tannic
2005 – smoothing out, still get the tobacco flavor, nice black cherry pie with a slightly burnt crust aroma – good finish, nice wine.

This is the giant cement aging vessel

Bottled Pajore – Suran Barberesco 2004 – WOW! Soft and supple texture in the mouth, full bodied overripe strawberry aroma mixed with hay, currant preserve flavor, nice structure. We are taking this home!! MMMMM

As a special treat to us, Enrico allowed us to taste one of Rizzi's dessert wines, the Frimaio Vendemmia Tardiva. This is a late harvest Moscasto (Muscat) with about 8% Residual Sugar, definitely a sipper! One of hte most extraordinary things about the wine is the label, the graphic on each label is hand painted by Enrico himself, so each bottle is different. How aweseome is that!

Frimaio Tasting Notes: apricot, floral, and canned peaches on the nose, similar flavors on the palate, full bodied in the mouth but not cloying, flavor lasts a long time after the wine has left the mouth. THis would be fantastic with some really strong cheese.

Two of Enrico's hand painted Frimaio bottles

Well needless to say all the wines were awesome, but we couldn't leave with everything. We decided to buy 2 of the Chardonnay which were really good, and so inexpensive, about $8 US dollars. We also bought two of the 2004 Pajore Barberesco and two of the Frimaio dessert wine.

Definitely give Rizzi a try, you can find their Barberesco here in the states...currently that is the only wine they export. And if you happen to be in the Piedmont region of Italy give them a visit.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday September 7th FREE wine tasting at the Wine Cellar in Midlothian

This week Jeff and his crew at the Wine Cellar will be tasting some great wines from Washington State.
I am excited about the Northstar Merlot, we have a bottle at home in the cellar that I got for a gift that I have been chomping at the bit to try.

1. 14 HANDS CHARDONNAY 2004 11.45


Tonight from 5-8, see ya there!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Friday August 31st Tasting at the Wine Cellar

Here are this weeks wines that will be tasted....for FREE. Unfortunately I will not be there this week. Don't feel sorry for me, I will be at the beach.


I know I promised the second part of our Italian wine tasting about a month ago, look for it soon I promise, plus a trip to some Central Virginia wineries and more updates to my CORKD tasting notes.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Free Friday Night Wine Tasting at The Wine Cellar

This Friday, 8.10.07


Friday from 5:00 - 8:00pm

See ya there.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tasting Wine in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy

In late June, Megan and I went to northern Italy for her sister's wedding in Valenza, and we could not pass up a chance to do some wine tasting while we were there! We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the small town of Sinio which is right in the heart of the Barolo wine region aptly named Hotel Castello di Sinio. It was fantastic and beautiful as you can see from the picture. One of the proprietors is a chef and she is a fantastic one at that. Our first night there we had an amazing dinner on sight, with a great wine from the winery that we were going to visit the next day, with vineyards that we could see from our dinner table.

Hotel Castello Di Sinio

Just a quick mention of wine tasting in northern Italy. It is slightly different than we are used to here in Virginia and California and so on. Wine tastings are done by appointment only but are very welcome. It is usually done with the winemaker and lasts for over an hour closer to 2, and include touring the winery and vineyard and a fabulous private tasting.

The next morning we made the “long” ten minute drive across the way to our 1st of 2 wineries that we would visit in Piemonte. Rivetto is located in the Barolo wine region of the Piemonte in Northern Italy. The major grape there is Nebbiolo, also grown are Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis, Moscato to name a few.

Our wine guide through Rivetto was Enrico, one of 2 brothers that currently run winery operations. He started our tour in the vineyard (see pics below), showing us all 90 acres and pointing out each individual lot and what grape variety we were looking at.

(Top photo)Vineyards at Rivetto
(Bottom photo) Dolcetto vines at Rivetto with the town of Seralunga in the distance

Next we headed into the winery, which as you would imagine looks like other wineries you may have visited. One slight difference is that in Piemonte they tend to use large casks in addition to the smaller 60 gallon oak barrels (barriques) that in the US we are used to seeing. In this case, the casks are made of Slovenian oak (see below) which do not impose a huge oak flavor on the wine, they are a more neutral oak, similar to French Oak that has been used for several vintages. They impart the softening characteristics that barrel aging provides but not the wood notes.

Now onto the wine….

The wine tasting was done in the “tasting room” which was really more of a dining room, similar to the tasting room at Caymus for those that have been. Enrico opened 4 bottles for us to try, after a quick rinse of the glass we were on our way. Now, also, these weren’t your normal tasting room ½ ounce tastes, these were good 2+ ounce tastings so that you could really get some wine in your mouth and swirl it around.

Wines Tasted

2005 Dolcetto d’ Alba – very nice, easy drinking red wine with bright raspberry on the nose with a soft cherry finish.

2004 Barbera – (60 year old vines) 1 yr. in bottle – extremely smooth, raspberry, vanilla, strawberry and plum.

2003 Barberesco (I know you are thinking…he said they were in Barolo how can they make Barberesco…they have Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barberesco zone) – strawberry, dirt and earth, anise on the mid palate, long finish. MMMM

2003 Barolo “Leon” – (the Leon is the vineyard designate) – Blackberry, earth, huge tannins, long blueberry finish. This thing rocked!!

Enrico getting our wines ready to taste

Megan tasting some Barberesco..yummy!

The wines were all outstanding, not a bad one in the bunch that is for sure. I am definitely becoming a huge fan of Piemonte wines.

All of this was free, the whole experience lasted about 1 ½ hours, we left with 2 bottles of the Barolo “Leon” and 1 bottle of the Dolcetto. We would have bought more because they were an absolute steal compared to the price that we pay for good Barolos here, but we didn’t have enough room in our bags. The experience was fantastic, very personal, excellent wine, we weren’t rushed and it was Megan and I with the winemaker, free to ask all the questions we wanted to with plenty of time to day dream about having a winery of our own in Piemonte…..

Check back soon for winery number 2 on the trip-- Rizzi from Barberesco!