July 17, 2002 News & Features » Cover Story



The best of the city's smaller wine lists

This year's Smaller Wine List standout is Europa, at 1409 E. Cary St. in Shockoe Slip. Europa is European in flavor and specializes in tapas, the "small plates" of Spanish cuisine.

The restaurant features a choice of 17 of these very elegant morsels with eight table wines by the glass, as well as six sherries. The variety of by-the-glass selections matches up well with the large diversity the tapas have to offer. The list itself is loaded with European wines, covering more than 30 regional appellations, from Provence to well-known and little-known Spanish wines. No fewer than seven regions of Italy are represented.

With a group of eight ordering an assortment of tapas, for example, don't be afraid to take a wine tour of the world. A cold bottle of Laxas Albarino, 1999 ($28) — a delightful new-wave Spanish white — is a great way to start. Follow it with Charles Haute Cote de Beaune, 1998 ($32), a silky pinot noir from Burgundy. With the meatier tapas compare the Lamole Chianti Classico Reserva, 1997 ($30) with the Seghesio "Home Ranch" Zinfandel, 1999 ($38). For an average of $8 a glass you have had some of the great wines of the world. The best thing with a list of this quality is the care with which it has been crafted and evolved over time.

Other small lists of great quality include Millie's, 2603 E. Main St. When you are there try the Boizell Rose Champagne, half bottle ($27) with the nectarine-braised salmon. Acacia, 3325 W. Cary St., features a salmon with key lime and curried ginger sauce that is perfect with the Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2000 ($22). Acacia's is a good, eclectic list. Avenue 805, 805 N. Davis Ave., has a solid list, strong in California wines. Bacchus at the corner of Main and Meadow offers lots of value both by the glass and bottle.

There were lots of really fine small wine lists out there, and this was an extremely close contest.

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