One Block West is a restaurant for wine lovers. For every beer we sell, we sell cases of wine. Why? Because we love wine. If you love wine, you’ll love our list: one of the finest and most fairly priced small restaurant wine lists in the country, with around 70 wines by the glass.
When you’re in the restaurant, we invite you to come see our nitrogen tap system, featured in Cheers magazine. But we’re warning you, that wall full of tapped bottles of wine can be mighty seductive!
If you want to taste the fruits of the Virginia wine industry, you couldn’t come to a better spot. We’re unabashed cheerleaders for our homegrown industry and we select only the best local wines. We also know the local winemakers and will happily give you directions and advice about which and when to visit.
This is My Wine List
As Chef Ed puts great care into his food, I do the same in selecting wines that will not overpower, but complement, our food. I personally taste each wine to find delicious gems for anyone’s palate.
Locality Matters. We’re located in Virginia wine country and so this list, like our menu, gives preference to the highest quality products of our beautiful home.
Winemaking Matters. I ask that a wine be true to its region or grape variety. And I try to focus on small producers who care as much about their wines as I do about my food.
Value Matters. Drinking wine should be affordable, so I search for unique and interesting (and perhaps less well known) wines that are solid values relative to their category.
I invite you to browse this list and above all, to please ask questions. We will be more than happy to help you find a great wine!
Salud, Santé, Salute, and Cheers,
Poilvert-Jacques Champagne Brut NV, $65
Fresh, subtle, and elegant with floral aromas and a creamy mousse. Very nice quality at a great price.
Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV, $35/$11
Strawberries and cherries in the glass, very nice dry Pinot Noir; appetizers, salads, spicy food, fruit desserts
Adami Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Bosco di Gica” Brut NV, $38/$11
Joy in a glass! Light, fruity and unpretentious; great aperitif wine, salads, spicy food, most appetizers. And, surprise, it paired really well with steak tartare at one of our tastings.
Berlucchi Brut Rosé “Cuvée 61” NV, $52
Primarily Chardonnay with a touch of Pinot Noir, this wine shows lots of red berries: cherry, strawberry, and cranberry, with a nice creamy mouthfeel. It finishes with a little bit of tannins which is always neat in a sparkler. Quite tasty! Excellent with cold meat dishes.
Gruet Blanc de Blancs Extra Dry NV, New Mexico $35/$11
Visually, this wine shades towards the whiter and greener side of golden. On the nose, it is aromatic with a touch of peaches, almonds, and citrus. Not as bone dry as our other sparklers, this tends to be a crowd favorite. Well-made and a great value in domestic sparkling wine.
Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay NV, Virginia $53
Straw-colored with a yeasty Chardonnay nose of pears and ripe apples. Lemony crisp acidity on the palate hides just beneath the yeasty and toasty apple and pear flavors. Finishes with a hint of lemon rind. As good as any blanc de blancs Champagne.
Moulin De Gassac Guilhem Pays d’Hérault Rosé 2014, $32/$8
From the Guibert family, famed producers of the Lafite of the Languedoc, Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge, this beautiful off copper-colored rosé is vinified from 50% Grenache and 50% Carignan which give it a bit of weight. Classic vin gris in style, the wine gives hints of cherry and pomegranate and finishes bone dry. Perfect with appetizers, salads, charcuterie, and most fish dishes.
Domaine de Pouy Côtes de Gascogne Blanc 2013, $32/$8
Everything you could want in an inexpensive bottle of white wine: nose of pears and ripe apples with a crisp green apple acidity that is delicious. We like this primarily for a patio sipping wine, but it would go great with anything from an appetizer to a seafood main course.
Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis (Chardonnay) 2013, $37/$9
This wine has a typical Chardonnay nose of light melon. On the palate, it has great weight thanks to the ripe 2013 vintage with hints of minerality and finishing with sappy green apple. This is a clean, honest, excellent value that is a great introduction to Chablis and stainless Chardonnay. Pair with any seafood.
Gérard Metz Gewürztraminer Vieilles Vignes Alsace 2012, $35/$9
A super ripe and round wine from 35-year-old vines, with a huge bouquet of pear, lychees, rose petals, and peaches. Aging on the lees gives it a big mouthfeel which is complemented by a long fruity finish. Outstanding with starters, seafood, light poultry and a natural for spicy foods and Asian flavor profiles.
Jean Reverdy Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) 2014, $37/$9
Consistently delicious every vintage, this has a grassy nose with hints of grapefruit, clean mid-palate, and finishes with bright citrus acidity. A go-to wine for seafood, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers.
Albert Bichot Bourgogne Blanc (Chardonnay) “Vieilles Vignes” 2012, $37/$9
Here is a very well made white Burgundy at a by-the-glass price. 80% aged in stainless steel. Vanilla nose with melon, great tart green apple acidity with a spicy finish. Very well balanced. Terrific! Salads, shellfish, seafood, poultry would be our pairing suggestions.
Germany & Austria
Pannonica Grüner Veltliner Blend Austria 2013, $32/$8
Floral, lime, citrus notes on the nose, mostly lime on the palate, hint of grapefruit rind in the finish, with crisp acid. Its kind of a cross between our Vinho Verde and NZ Sauv Blanc. Great patio sipper, especially on a hot day. A nice aperitif or lighter first course.
Lucashof Riesling Halbtrocken QbA, Pfalz 2013, $32/$8
Delicious mostly dry (Halbtrocken) Riesling with notes of honey, melons, peaches; a bargain; pair with anything spicy or sweet. A most versatile wine for sipping, for cheese, for appetizers, or any spicy or Asian entrée.
La Slina Gavi di Gavi (Cortese)“Giorgio Cichero” 2014, $32/$8
Italy’s best white wine, from the Cortese grape, with a subtle floral and mineral nose in which I smell a bit of cloves. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine comes across dry and mineral driven just like a Chablis; excellent seafood and shellfish wine.
Di Lenardo Pinot Grigio 2014, $32/$8
Extremely clean, light, with hints of wet stones, minerals, and lemon; unmistakably Pinot Grigio; great aperitif wine, appetizers, salads, light seafood dishes. This year, we tasted a lot of Pinot Grigios trying to find a better one. We keep on going with Di Lenardo for the 11th vintage in a row.
Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014, $32/$8
In a sea of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc this one stands out for being well in check. It starts with a typical New Zealand gooseberry nose, then into a sweet attack with grapefruit and pineapple notes. Oysters and shellfish, salads, and cold dishes would work well with this wine.
DMZ Chardonnay South Africa 2014, $33/$8
DeMorgenzon (“the morning sun”) is an ancient estate (1699) in the Stellenbosch that produces this head-turning Chardonnay with great fruit, great body, and a wonderful balance between oak and screaming lemon acid. I find a butterscotch note in the middle and the finish is pure lemon crème brûlée. A joy to drink.
Tormentoso Chenin Blanc “Old Vines” Paarl, South Africa 2012, $32/$8
Hints of honey, beeswax, round mouthfeel with slight hints of oxidation and pineapple, finishing with lots of acid. Tasty!
Spain & Portugal
Feffiñanes Albariño Rias Baixas 2014, $37/$9
For over a decade now, this is our premier go-to seafood wine, crisp and lemony; shellfish; white fish; pairs well with lemon. Staff favorite.
Broadbent Vinho Verde NV, $32/$8
The nose on this version (it is bottled from tank on demand) is grassy like a good Sauvignon Blanc. On the palate, it is a vivacious and delicious barely sparkling wine with green apple and minerals. We are addicted to this low alcohol slightly effervescent wine. Our go-to patio wine.
Zaca Mesa Viognier Santa Ynez Valley 2012, $35/$9
Viognier is supposed to be Virginia’s grape. We’ve tried a lot of Virginia Viognier and we’re having a hard time finding something worthy of the list. We had to go to California to find this delicious example which is slightly floral with hints of apricot and peach on the nose. Some initial restrained peach fruit upfront with a round mid-palate, finishing dry with spicy acid. Well done Zaca Mesa!
United States-Pacific Northwest
Lone Birch Pinot Gris Yakima Valley 2013, $32/$8
We generally have Oregon Pinot Gris on our list, but 2014 was not kind to that wine, so we moved a bit north to find this gem still in good supply from 2013. The nose is floral with hints of peaches, honeysuckle, and roses, but not over the top like Alsatian Pinot Gris. Good weight and body in the mouth and finishes with crisp green apple acidity. A very pleasant appetizer wine and especially good with our sweet and sour brussels sprouts.
St. Innocent Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley “Freedom Hill Vineyard” 2013, $42/$11
2013 was excellent for whites and this improves on the already wonderful 2012. The nose is a bit tropical with hints of beeswax, melon, and minerals (like dry stones). On the palate you’ll find a tropical attack with perhaps a touch of mango, pure lemony acid, and sprinkled throughout with mineral notes. We like this wine with white fish, beet salad, goat cheese, and cold appetizers.
Linden Chardonnay “Hardscrabble” Virginia 2012, $63
Probably Jim Law’s best Chardonnay to date, this bottling from the 2012 vintage is very Burgundian in style with an expressive Chardonnay nose, followed by moderate oak on the palate coupled with lemony acidity. We recommend it with roasted poultry, crab cakes, cream sauce, and salmon.
Delaplane Petit Manseng Virginia 2013, $41/10
This is a screamingly brilliant dry Petit Manseng from Jim Dolphin at nearby Delaplane Cellars. The nose is of aromatic tropical fruits, primarily at ripe pineapple. On the palate, the fruits are honeyed pineapple with laser-like passionfruit acidity. I just want to sit on the porch and drink this all afternoon long, but you might appreciate it with any first course, with spicy food, and with anything that contains tropical fruits.
Glen Manor Sauvignon Blanc Virginia 2014, $49/12
Glen Manor’s 2014 offering starts with the slightest hint of peach on the nose followed quickly by newly mown grass morphing into grapefruit juice. On the palate, there is a hint of peach around the edges initially followed by an intensely grapefruity finish. The screaming acid comes across like grapefruit juice complete with a persistent grapefruit rind component.
A Passion for Pinot
You might be asking yourself, “Sparkling, White, … why isn’t the next section Red?” I think the title of this section says it all. I am passionate about Pinot Noir and I also think that it is the wine that pairs generally the best with Chef Ed’s food. For tasting notes, see the entries for each wine in the geographic sections of this list. And you get what you pay for on this list: the higher the price, the better the quality. I only buy wines that are appropriately priced. Sorry there is no Burgundy on here; sadly, it is no longer affordable.
- Cono Sur Pinot Noir Reserva Especial, Valle Casablanca, Chile 2014, $32/$8
- Chilensis Reserva Pinot Noir Valle Del Maul, Chile 2013, $32/$8
- Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir “Commuter Cuvée” Willamette Valley 2013, $42
- Terrapin Cellars Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013, $43
- Heron Pinot Noir Monterey County 2011, $45
- Crowley Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $47
- Bernardus Pinot Noir Monterey County 2012, $49
- Matello Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $52
- Rex Hill Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010, $55
- Goodfellow Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013, $55
- Evening Land Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2011, $58
- Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $60
- JK Carriere Pinot Noir “Provocateur” Willamette Valley 2013, $65
- Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013, $70
- Patricia Green Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $70
- Patton Valley Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2011, $75
- Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $77
Australia & New Zealand
Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz Barossa 2011, $40/$10
William Randell’s baby brother, the Shotfire Shiraz is a great everyday example of Australian Syrah, very deep in color, showing plums and notes of chocolate, overlaid by black pepper. A dynamite Shiraz for grilled meats, filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce, any red meat.
Thorn-Clarke Shiraz “William Randell” Barossa 2010, $72
Made only in the best of vintages, this inky dark wine has explosive fruit that is well-balanced against the fine tannins, plum and violet notes with a touch of mint; one of the greatest Aussie wines made; duck, wild boar, caribou, elk, venison.
Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais 2013, $32/$8
This offering from Kermit Lynch is dark ruby in color and slightly transparent, of a deeper hue than most village-level Beaujolais. It has a typical Gamay nose of plum and raspberry fruit coupled with old leather, soil, and if you’re in the right mood, bacon fat. This is a great all around light-bodied sipping red that will go well with everything from mushrooms to pasta to roast fowl and pork. Cru Beaujolais quality at a Villages price.
Château Tour Bayard Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2010, $43
100% Merlot from one of the smallest appellations in the Right Bank, proving that in the right hands, Merlot makes a great, supple wine. Pleasant and lush, you’ll love this wine with any red meat or even for sipping. Fantastic value!
Château de Sours Bordeaux Rouge 2010, $41
This Bordeaux has lots of big, dark fruit, good tannins, and excellent structure. The blueberry-like Merlot fruit shines through, decent fine tannins give the wine structure, and it ends in a minty finish. This is a great all-purpose red for anything from roast poultry to steak.
Domaine Grand Veneur Châteauneuf du Pape 2012, $75
All the critics give this wine above 90 points as well they should. A dark ruby color, this wine smells of blackberries, plums, spice, black pepper, and grilled meat. Very luscious and spicy with decent acidity and supple tannins. Very nice with grilled meats, especially lamb, or even braised meats.
Alain Jaume Côtes-du-Rhône “Haut de Brun” 2012, $32/$8
This is a lighter bodied mostly Grenache blend leaning to berry fruit and spices. The wine is bigger on the palate than the color would suggest, with silky-smooth tannins. The finish offers touches of licorice and pepper. A good red wine for white meat (poultry, rabbit, and pork).
Domaine Joël Champet Côte-Rôtie “La Viallière” 2005, $83
Côte-Rôtie (along with Hermitage) is the prestige appellation of the Northern Rhône. La Viallière is located in the Côte Brune. Champet uses 100% Syrah, no Viognier, and produces about 1000 cases per year. Displays the classic old school Syrah nose of smoky bacon, black pepper, and spice. The palate shows dark fruits, more smoke, a lot of pepper, and some old school funk. Pairs well with duck, lamb, braised beef. This wine is drinking spectacular right now!
Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas 2011, $60
Ross-Pie-Eye. This is a delightfully fruity Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre blend showing gobs of dark berry fruit along with an interesting mint or licorice component. Lush with supple tannins, this wine I would love with grilled meat of any sort, but especially lamb. This is always one of the benchmark estates in Gigondas.
Gaja Barbaresco 2004, $295
One of the Piemonte’s great wines, a medium bodied ruby red. Tannins are firm but fine grained and work well with the long, long, long berry fruit finish. I smell a bit of tar mingling around with the oak on the nose. This is a solid vintage pairing excellent ripeness with good acidity. All the critics have this wine well up into the 90-point range and I agree.
Vietti Barbera d’Asti “Tre Vigne” 2010, $40
Notable for its ruby color with ripe red cherry nose, bright acidity, and soft tannins. This is a great everyday drinking red for everything from a simple plate of pasta to a wild mushroom risotto to braised game meats.
Vietti Barolo “Castiglione” 2009, $85
Along with Gaja, Vietti is one of the star producers of the Piedmont and one of the first to bottle single vineyard Barolo and Barbaresco. What I love about this wine is its balance: luscious and dense cherry fruit coupled with supple tannins and refreshing acid. This wine is a great value and should sell for well more than $100.
Orsolani Carema (Nebbiolo) “Le Tabbie” 2010, $55
A light-bodied Nebbiolo, this Carema has a slightly rustic nose of raspberry tea and pomegranate with a hint of dried orange peel. I really fancy this wine with wild mushrooms, grilled veal, and long-cooked meat pasta sauces.
Verbena Brunello di Montalcino 2008, $94
Brunello means roughly “little brown one” and is the local name for the Sangiovese Grosso grape. This is what Sangiovese becomes when it grows up: loaded with ripe fruit, cassis, tobacco, leather and chocolate-covered cherry. It’s a bit youthful yet, so best to enjoy it with a big steak or rich mushroom risotto to give the tannins something to play against. Would benefit from 30 minutes in the decanter.
Poppiano Chianti Colli Fiorentini “Il Cortile” 2012, $32/$8
If you want to taste what good Chianti is all about, this is your bottle. Year in and year out, this wine tastes like Chianti Classico but doesn’t carry the Classico price tag, being from the Colli Fiorentini, the Florentine Hills. This is a juicy ruby wine with lovely cherry notes, typical of Sangiovese. Very typical, great value. I like Chianti paired with wild mushrooms, meat sauce, and other simple meat dishes.
Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana 2011, $46
Staff favorite! Funky, earthy nose of black fruit, tar, and leather. A deep ruby color, deeper than 72% Sangiovese/28% Merlot would lead you to believe. The wine drinks very nicely with great acidity and silky tannins. An excellent food wine to pair with mushrooms, pork, meat sauces, pasta, risotto, and even beef or lamb.
Poppiano Sangiovese “Tosco Forte” 2012, $47/$12
Even though the grapes come from the Colli Fiorentini, they can’t call this Chianti because it is blended with a bit of Syrah, making it just a wonderfully supple Sangiovese. This so-called “Strong Tuscan” wine is deeper, darker, and smoother than little brother “Il Cortile.” In addition to the cherry fruits, the Syrah kicks in a bit of dark plum and black pepper. I prefer this wine with grilled meats, but it is a versatile match for almost any meat dish.
Poppiano Syrah di Toscana 2010, $52
Syrah is not allowed in Chianti blends, but it grows very well there. This is a lush wine of deep purple color with hints of plums and black pepper, very typical Syrah characteristics. Very smooth and opulent, this wine often finds room on my Thanksgiving table. A favorite with roast duck, roast fowls, bison, venison, and elk.
Degani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico “La Rosta” 2009, $103
This wine is roughly half Corvina and half Rondinella picked at ripeness and then dried for four months before pressing. The word velvet comes to mind. Deep, sweet, concentrated, dark fruit with chocolate notes; wild boar, pork, duck with fruit sauces, braised dishes.
Tormentoso Syrah/Mourvèdre, Paarl, South Africa 2011, $32/$8
This blend is 95 Syrah/5 Mourvèdre so it basically comes across as Syrah. Intensely jammy black raspberry nose, hints of bourbon barrel with the same on palate, starts out a bit fruity but has great acid to balance it out. Excellent clean wine that pairs beautifully with duck.
Ernesto Catena Tahuan Malbec Reserva Mendoza, Argentina 2012, $32/$8
This is a big extracted wine with well-integrated new oak and very supple tannins—in short, a pleasure to drink. Spicy plum nose, slight minerality which continues into the palate, soft plum, with hints of tobacco and earth. Pairs well with anything from roast fowl to pork, wild boar to steak.
Chilensis Reserva Pinot Noir, Valle Del Maule, Chile 2013, $32/$8
Ripe, juicy cherry fruit with an herbal notes, earthiness, graphite, and a little bit of spice. This wine displays unheard of complexity of flavor at this price point. Will pair well with anything from salmon to mushrooms.
Cono Sur Pinot Noir Reserva Especial, Valle Casablanca, Chile 2014, $32/$8
Our standard house-pour Pinot for six vintages; always rock solid and displaying plummy fruit with spice. A versatile wine for pairing with almost anything on the menu: one of our go-to wines.
Bodegas Carrau Tannat “Amat” Cerro Chapeu, Uruguay 2009, $55
One of the best steak wines on our list, this reserve Tannat comes from very low yield vines. The wine has a dark intense almost opaque color and has a perfumed nose of plums and tobacco. I taste blackberries and cassis on the palate, followed by firm but smooth tannins, and then a good acid finish that is long and tastes of blackberries. Demands the best steak or duck breast on the menu. Awesome with cheese.
Aletta Campo de Borja (Garnacha) 2011, $32/$8
Wow! Great bang for the buck! This Campo de Borja is bright purple with mineral, blackberry, wet stones, and cassis jam on the nose. It exhibits big black berry fruit with decent acidity and very chewy tannins followed by a long persistent finish. I prefer this with the sweeter red meats: cured hams, pork, wild boar, venison, and elk.
Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County 2012, $37/$9
Joseph Carr is a Napa Valley-based negociant: he buys wine from other winemakers and blends it to produce great value wines from this prestige appellation. This Cabernet has dark berry and pomegranate fruit with a fair amount of oak. Soft tannins on the finish help round out this wine.
Stuhlmuller Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2010, $67
This is a delicious cooler climate Sonoma Cab with blackberries, blueberries, and fine tannins. Being from a cooler climate than Napa, it has better acid and is a great food wine. This graceful wine is a really good buy for California Cabernet.
Opus One, Napa Valley 2003, $300
A blend of the five classic Bordeaux varietals, this wine shows restrained dark fruit and blackberry tea notes. It is surprisingly medium-bodied and has aged with grace; the tannins are very fine and well integrated with the fruit. I would call this a supple wine of great finesse—it’s not going to blow you away with fruit, but it sips beautifully and will pair well with almost any restrained dish, be it fish, fowl, or meat. This delightful wine is definitely not a huge steak wine in the Napa tradition, but rather more French in style.
Joseph Carr Merlot Napa County 2009, $37/$9
Joseph Carr is a Napa Valley-based negociant: he buys wine from other winemakers and blends it to produce great value wines from this prestige appellation. This wine shows lots of blueberry spice (think blueberry pie) really nice acidity, with decent tannins and just a hint of oak. A nice versatile Merlot, well structured.
Bernardus Pinot Noir Monterey County 2012, $49
The nose smells of raspberry jam, but that’s where the typical California Pinot ends. The surprising spice mellows as you sip and turns into a long earthy finish. A different, unexpected, wine that makes you really think.
Heron Pinot Noir Monterey County 2011, $45
Tasted blind, I thought this was Carneros Pinot Noir with its subtle dark fruit and baking spices, but apparently, Monterey County can produce similar wines. This is a very good all-purpose Pinot Noir with softer levels of acidity that make it extremely approachable at a very low price.
Amalie Robert Pinot Meunier Willamette Valley 2010, $55
A tiny production (1/2 acre) wine from one of Oregon’s top Pinot Noir producers. Pinot Meunier is rarely bottled by itself because it is the other red grape blended into Champagne. It displays a glorious nose of black cherries with hints of tobacco and leather, especially with time in the glass. On the palate, waves of cherry fruit and fantastic acidity. This vintage is very hard to distinguish from excellent Pinot Noir. This is a stellar bottle.
Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $77
Year in and year out, Argyle Pinot scores 89-91 points with all the reviewers. It’s a consistent performer that has a slightly earthy blackberry nose and rich fruit. A smooth and supple Pinot.
Crowley Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $47
A typical 2012 nose of dark cherry and plum and the palate echoes the nose. Well balanced with a spicy, persistent finish. A great Willamette Pinot at a very modest price.
Evening Land Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2011, $58
This is a very pretty red wine in color, very aromatic with both red and black fruits and even some blueberries and spice, and very tasty with fruit, spice and earth notes. I would call this wine “soft and lush” and would pair it with roast fowl, grilled quail, and roasted pork dishes.
Goodfellow Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013, $55
Here’s a new wine to us that turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Goodfellow is Matello’s second label and in 2013, the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has turned out to be every bit as good if not better than Matello. Copious amounts of red fruit and generous acidity combine to make a delicious bottle of wine.
Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir “Commuter Cuvee” Willamette Valley 2013, $42
Very light bodied wine with red cherry fruit and high acid with some smoky notes in the nose and on the palate. Tasty with pork, ham, smoked sausage, and wild mushrooms in cream sauce.
JK Carriere Pinot Noir “Provocateur” Willamette Valley 2013, $65
In a word, OK, two words: red raspberry. A great example of Willamette Pinot that expresses the red side of the fruit spectrum coupled with the awesome acidity that makes the Willamette Valley renowned for Pinot Noir.
Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $60
Ken Wright makes some righteously expensive single vineyard wines that are among the Valley’s best year-in and year-out. This is his base level wine and the most affordable of his wines. The nose comes across earthy with hints of black plums and some black cherry. On the palate, lots more fruit and earthiness with plenty of acid to keep it from being boring. If it says Ken Wright on the label, you can rest assured the wine is delicious.
Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013, $70
This is Chef Ed’s favorite style of wine: room-filling black cherry nose, subtle dark cherry and black raspberry fruit on the palate that lets secondary characteristics such as leather and smoke shine through, finishing with glorious mouthwatering acid that makes each sip a pleasure. Not all producers in the Valley made great 2013 as it was a troublesome vintage; Ken Wright hit it out of the park with his entry-level wine.
Matello Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012, $52
Matello is a bit of a sleeper in that it has a somewhat closed nose (or did when we last tasted it, but wines do change in bottle). Once you taste it, we think you will agree with us that the pomegranate and red berries on the palate are charming. This very smooth wine is a favorite.
Patricia Green Pinot Noir “Estate” Willamette Valley 2012, $70
The winemaking team of Patty Green and Jim Anderson has a cult-like following and count me among that group: if I see Patty Green on the label, I know there is no-nonsense Pinot in the bottle. Their estate is in Ribbon Ridge right next to Beaux Frères and the brilliant ruby wine displays great blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry notes. Awesome red fruit notes on the palate with zippy closing acid yields a base level wine that tastes far more expensive than it is.
Patton Valley Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2011, $75
Long a staff favorite, the Patton Valley wines conjure the word “silky.” The nose of dark fruit and hints of tea leaves overlay a big berry palate. Lots and lots of luscious fruit combine with vivid acidity to make this a really, really fun wine. You’ll love this wine, guaranteed.
Rex Hill Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010, $55
Now owned by A to Z, Rex Hill is always a solid example of Willamette Pinot. This wine is made from grapes from several parcels around the valley. Displaying blue and black fruit, this wine is more intense and more intensely perfumed than the incredible 2008 vintage, but lacks a touch of the structure of the 2008.
Terrapin Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013, $43
Light ruby in color with red fruit nose and red fruit on the palate, mainly cherry with hints of pomegranate, with a slight earthy component. Very good acidity makes this wine extremely food friendly.
Barboursville Vineyards Octagon XI Virginia 2008, $94
A Merlot-dominant blend including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. This is a medium body red wine that I find very elegant but not super weighty. I love the 2008 vintage and this is one of the flagship wines of that vintage, which didn’t start off that great but is coming together fantastically with some bottle age. Let us decant it for you to help it open up.
Boxwood Cellars Topiary Virginia 2010, $48
The 2010 vintage is very much a crowd pleaser with plush red Cab Franc fruit buoyed by some Merlot. 2010: more youthful, brighter fruit; A good sipping wine that is best with softer textured dishes such as wild mushroom risotto, osso buco, or veal cheeks.
Delaplane Cellars Left Bank Virginia 2010, $74
This blend from our friends Jim and Betsy Dolphin is about half Cabernet Sauvignon with lesser parts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. I find this wine a touch lighter than the Williams Gap, which contains much more Petit Verdot, but I can never make up my mind about which I like better. The dark fruit profile would argue for a nice steak.
Delaplane Cellars Williams Gap Virginia 2010, $74
At only 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and correspondingly more Petit Verdot than the Left Bank, this wine is dark and supple with firm tannins. I think this wine goes slightly better with bison and elk than beef, but it’s also great with our local beef. Williams Gap is a south-facing, steep vineyard where VA 7 crosses the Blue Ridge.
Glen Manor Hodder Hill Virginia 2010, $68
Winner of a gold medal at the 2013 Governor’s Cup competition, this vintage blends 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Where the 2009 is much more structured with firmer tannins, the 2010, because of the hot year, is ripe, smooth, mouth-filling, and much more approachable at a young age. I would prefer this with braised meats, but it will certainly complement any steak.
Linden Claret Virginia 2012, $48/$12
The 2012 Claret has a red fruit nose with hints of spice and earth. Primarily Merlot from the Hardscrabble Vineyard, the wine is medium bodied with light tannins and moderate acidity. This is a good all-purpose Bordeaux-style blend.
Linden Red “Hardscrabble” Virginia 2008, $75
The 2008 Hardscrabble is 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 7% Merlot. It exhibits a peppery nose with a touch of mocha and dark fruit. I find this wine very feminine for having so much Cab: it strikingly supple and well balanced, making it delicious for sipping, a steak, or anything in between.
Linden Red “Hardscrabble” Virginia 2009, $95
Of the 15 or so vintages I have tasted, 2009 so far is my favorite Hardscrabble, even better than 2010 and 2012. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc. The fruit character is dark plum and blueberry, but the interesting bits are the tannins which are very supple and long, resulting from the extended post-fermentation maceration. This wine continues to get better and better in bottle. Winegrower Jim Law prices his wines according to how good he thinks they are and you can see the big price hike for 2009, which I consider to be the best red wine ever made in this state.
Philip Carter Cleve Virginia 2010, $67
Winner of a Gold Medal at the 2013 Governor’s Cup, this wine is an unusual blend of Petit Verdot and Tannat. The combination of Petit Verdot’s big fruit and Tannat’s tannins works well. The nose gives black fruits and the palate tastes of black cherries and currants with an interesting chocolate/cacao note in the mid-palate. This would be great with any meat, preferably game.
Fabbioli Cellars Cabernet Franc Virginia 2012, $39/$10
This is a fairly ripe wine exhibiting dark and blue fruit, mostly blue- and blackberries with a lot of spice from the oak regimen. As a fairly soft wine with lower acid and lower tannins, it tends to be a crowd pleaser. I like this with lamb, game, or beef.
Michael Shaps Cabernet Franc Carters Mountain Vineyard, Monticello 2012, $55
Michael Shaps is one of the best winemakers in Virginia and he delivers a very ripe and expressive Cabernet Franc from the Charlottesville area in Central Virginia. So much Virginia Cabernet France is lean, green, and tannic from not being sufficiently ripe. No problem here: the big berry fruit is extremely pleasant.
Fabbioli Cellars Chambourcin Virginia 2013, $35/$9
Chambourcin does well in Virginia producing full-bodied fruity reds. Fruity Chambourcin pairs well with sweeter meats such as duck, pork, and wild boar. This is a crowd pleaser wine with ripe fruit and soft tannins.
Chrysalis Norton Virginia 2011, $39/$10
Norton is a grape that was bred here in Virginia from non-vinifera native grapes and Chrysalis makes the best Norton in the state. A big, brooding, inky wine that has a decided minerality along with big tannins and plenty of acid. Norton ages extremely well. Pairs best with big, gamy meats such as venison, antelope, and elk.
Michael Shaps Petit Verdot Monticello 2012, $55
Petit Verdot does amazingly well in Virginia, exhibiting gobs and gobs of inky dark almost Syrah-like fruit in the right hands. But in the wrong hands, the tannins can get out of control in a hurry. This wine is big, ripe, dark, dense, and framed by pleasant tannins, perfect for a steak or better yet duck, elk, venison, or other game.
(by the 3-ounce glass only)
Château Suau Cadillac 2009, $7
This sticky Bordeaux is a blend of 60% Sémillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. The botrytis on the Sémillon gives a beautiful apricot and peach character. Even now, this wine is still fresh and vibrant.
Di Lenardo Late Harvest Verduzzo Venezia Giulia 2011, $7
One of the most versatile dessert wines on our list because it is not as syrupy in body as some. This white grape from Friuli shows hints of honey and honeysuckle on the nose, but a decided peach palate that finishes slightly spicy. Pairs extremely well with most desserts and many cheeses.
Poppiano Vin Santo 2005, $9
An oft overlooked bargain, this “Holy Wine” is made from partially dried Malvasia grapes and aged in oak and chestnut barrels for years. It has a nutty Sherry nose with toffee, caramel, and toasted nuts on the palate plus lemony acidity, finishing dry. Try it by itself, with a piece of cheese, or with any dessert featuring toffee or nuts.
Linden Petit Manseng Virginia 2008, $10
This gorgeous wine was not released to restaurants, but we managed to talk Jim out of a few bottles. With a wonderful honeysuckle nose, this wine has a bright citrusy acid finish that is delicious and plays off the caramelized sugar and spice on the palate. A fine, fine example of Petit Manseng at its best.
Fabbioli Cellars Raspberry Merlot Virginia NV, $8
Delightfully raspberry; a blend of both raspberry wine and Merlot wine, the perfect choice with dark chocolate.
Fabbioli Cellars Rosa Nera Black Raspberry Wine Virginia NV, $10
Big Port-style fortified, nearly dry wine with gobs of earthy black raspberry fruit; enjoy with chocolate or cheese.
Linden Late Harvest Vidal Virginia 2007, $9
This 100% Vidal Blanc wine has a nose of baked apricot tart with a nutty, peachy palate. Strong acidity keeps this wine from being cloying. Works equally well as an aperitif with foie gras or with desserts that feature dried fruits or cream such as vanilla crème brûlée.
Veritas Kenmar Virginia 2005, $8
Made with Traminette, this wine has a rose petal and lychee nose and palate.
Rockbridge V d’Or (Eiswein) Virginia 2010, $10
This rarely seen dessert wine can compete with the world’s best. A blend of Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, and Riesling, this wine is golden colored with a nose of pears, apricots, and peaches. The palate is more at honey and very ripe or dried apricots with excellent acidity rivaling the world’s best sweet wines.
(by the glass only)
Graham’s 6 Grapes Ruby NV, $6
Ruby is a young, typically fairly fiery Port. This one is bright purple with hints of sweet plums and cotton candy, firm tannins and nice balance. Would benefit from a piece of cheese.
Quinta de la Rosa Late Bottled Vintage 2006, $7
LBV is typically aged in barrel slightly longer than vintage Port and is filtered before bottling, hence none of the mess associated with vintage Port. This is a beautiful wine of deep purple color tasting of plums, prunes, and toffee candy with excellent tannins and balancing acidity. Would benefit from a piece of cheese.
Romariz Reserva Latina Tawny NV, $6
Blended from 7- to 9-year old tawnies, this wine is a deep amber with aromas of fig, dried apples, and raisins with a honey and spice palate. Delicious with coffee or with any dessert containing blue cheese, figs, nuts, or caramel.
Quinta de la Rosa 10-year old Tawny NV, $10
A beautiful tawny, slightly brighter red than some, with delicious fig, caramel, honey, and toasted nut flavors. Port is best by itself or with our blue cheese plate.
Graham’s 20-year old Tawny NV, $13
A thing of beauty is this amber delight tasting of honey and dried figs with a huge toasted walnut streak. A mellow wine with excellent balance, probably best sipped solo but will pair well with a nut tart or a cheese plate.
(by the glass only)
Blandy’s Verdehlo 5-year old Madeira NV, $6
The white Verdehlo (“ver DALE yo”) grape produces a light amber-colored, medium-bodied wine with a nutty nose with hints of raisin, honey, toasted hazelnuts followed by vivid acid to keep it light and lively. Reminiscent of an Amontillado sherry.
Broadbent Madeira Colheita 1996, $11
Vintage Madeira is a single vintage wine of at least 20 years of age. A colheita (“col YAY ta”) is a single vintage wine with less age. A deep amber wine with a nose and palate of honey, spice, figs, and a hint of orange rind. This wine strikes a good balance between sweetness and acid, tasting perfectly balanced. I prefer this wine solo.
(by the glass only, from lightest to darkest)
Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa NV, $6
Notable for being aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda rather than Jerez itself, this is a very pale sherry that works best as an aperitif or seafood wine. I find it has a bit of a salty nose. The sherry itself is very light with some lemony and mineral notes and finishes bone dry.
Lustau Amontillado Escuadrilla NV, $6
This pale amber wine has a touch of pear and toasted nuts on the nose while the palate is very dry and nutty. Works with cheese, soups, appetizers, even a wild mushroom risotto.
Lustau Palo Cortado Peninsula NV, $6
A dark amber wine with some toffee and caramel in the nose and on the palate. Surprisingly dry, this wine also has hints of chocolate. I prefer this wine by itself or perhaps with a few candied walnuts and a slice of cheese.
Lustau Cream East India Solera NV, $6
A blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez aged for three years in a solera, this coffee-colored wine has a nose of toffee, raisins, coffee, and chocolate. The palate offers complex notes of raisins, prunes, caramel, and toasted walnuts with a clean acidic finish. Sometimes I detect a note of orange rind in the finish. Best enjoyed solo.