Last Tuesday, Italian wine and panini bar enoteca unveiled a new 95-bottle wine list, and last Monday afternoon, the staff at enoteca set about the arduous task of tasting all 40 new wines by the glass appearing on that list. (If you are second-guessing your day job at this moment, we wouldn’t be surprised.) Of course, though it sounds glamorous, the purpose of the tasting session was serious business—and yes, we assume they spit out most of it. Those enoteca folks do have a tough job—they must intelligently lead us mere mortals through an overwhelming number of vino options made with grapes many of us don’t recognize—bianchetta anyone?—from places we can’t identify on the map. The wine list boasts a red and a white wine from all 21 Italian wine-producing regions, and the focus is on small, artisinal and often cult producers, so if you’re completely lost when you first look at the list, you are not alone. But while you may be on unfamiliar terroir at first blush (oh, the wine puns…forgive us, dear readers—Working Pour author J. Tobias Beard was detained this past week, leaving the wine coverage to our less capable hands), enoteca’s general manager, Megan Headley, says the one thing you shouldn’t be is afraid of the choices.
Jobs we love: Over several months of study, negotiation with distributors and preparation, General Manager Megan Headley personally selected enoteca’s new bottles of wine.
“Italian, of all wines, shouldn’t be intimidating,” she says. “With old-world wines, there is so much pride in the region, in the weather and the soil. They want you to taste the place, not the man’s hands in the wine.” And if you visited that place in Liguria, Lazio or Campania, for instance, “this is the wine they would greet you with,” she says. No snobbery, no airs, just a cup of cheer.
Headley, who helped launch enoteca with Coran Capshaw’s restaurant group last June in place of Virginia wine bar Vavino—personally selected the new bottles over several months of study, negotiation with distributors and preparation. It’s a process she does twice a year and a labor of love she likens to giving birth. (And she would know—Headley happened to have found out she was pregnant a few weeks before enoteca opened.)
Most of the wines on the new list are certified organic and biodynamic, which is what American consumers are increasingly seeking, says Headley. She points out, however, that regardless of whether they’ve sought certification, most Italian wine producers have been using natural, organic processes for centuries. One such producer on the list has been relying on atmospheric pressure from the phases of the moon to press the leys in the wine barrels—talk about a labor of love!
In addition to the new wines, enoteca also has added a few new seasonal menu items and a rotating tasting flight of three regional olive oils. Check it out and make those kids work for their wine benefits.
Speaking of new menus, Zinc has changed things up and is now offering an extensive array of small plates. The new lineup of little dishes includes Zinc’s familiar Frenchy fare, just in smaller, cheaper portions easier for sampling and sharing. Restaurantarama, who, like many Americans, is currently experiencing that perfect storm of an expanding waistline and a shrinking pocketbook, more than welcomes the changes. And no worries, you can still get your big fat plate of mussels, fish and chips or onglet a l’echalottes when you’re feeling rich and gluttonous.
Heads up, a new restaurant will open soon in the Clover Lawn Shopping Center across from Blue Ridge Builders Supply in Crozet. It’s called Pesto Mediterranean Grill and it’s from John Ballas, former co-owner of the College Inn. All the Mediterranean-menu bases will be covered, including Greek entrees, such as spanikopita, souvlaki and moussaka, kabobs, subs and pastas. Delivery will be offered to Ivy and Crozet. More details on this come.