L’uva Bella Wine Gallery in Reno Keeps Wine Interesting

L’uva Bella Wine Gallery should be on the top of your list as a wine “destination” in Reno. Located in the Summit Sierra Mall, the first thing you’ll notice are the outdoor café tables, signboards noting next events, and a window display that lets you know you are in for a fantastic experience when you walk in the door. Try to join one of their wine walks, held the 2nd Sunday of each month.

The selection of wines is fantastic, but what I like most about L’uva Bella Wine Gallery are their educational events. Who better to educate than a former teacher? Debby Bullentini, the proprietor and hostess extraordinaire, was a 5th grade teacher for more than a decade. Since she and her husband established L’uva Bella four years ago, it’s has been chosen the “Best Wine Shop in Reno” by the US Commerce Association for 2009 and 2010.

“We try to stay fresh all the time,” says Debby. “We carry more than 700 labels in our 3000 square feet, and these wines are from all over the globe.” Debby also has a keen eye for value wines; the shop’s front table is filled with great wines that are $15 or less per bottle.

The wonderful tasting bar in the middle of the shop allows customers to experience a variety of wines by the glass. The back of the shop has an appealing grotto that is used for private parties and their wine seminars.

I settled into one of the comfortable chairs at the wine bar and sampled a glass of the 2008 White Oak Chardonnay, Russian River Valley. It’s a classic California chard, crisp and flavorful. The winemaker notes: “vibrant tropical fruit married to toasty oak. Full bodied, round, good depth of fruit, medium long finish. Flavors of citrus fruit, apple, lime, roasted nut and toasted oak.” The grapes for this wine were harvested manually in small lots early in the morning, and the wine was 100% barrel fermented in French and Hungarian Oak. 14 % alcohol $8.00/glass.

A little palate cleansing between tastings? Ask for the Wine Gallery’s cheese board and salumi board. Yummy!

The next taste, a San Telmo Malbec 2009, Esencia, from Mendoza Argentina is a medium bodied and nicely balanced Malbec. Cherry on the nose, and a lingering finish mid-palate. 13.5% alcohol. A real bargain at $4/glass.

The Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Trebbiano D’Aburzzo Vendemmia 2006 is a nice introduction to Italian white wine. Peach and apricot, nutty, and smooth. 13% alcohol. $4/glass.

There was a lot to look at and learn about in this great shop, so I finished my tasting with a Dobra Zemlja 2007 Amador Syrah, Plymouth, CA is a peppery syrah, unfiltered and unfined. Dobra Zemlja means "Good Earth" in Croatian. This small production winery, founded in 1995 and situated in Amador County's historic Shenandoah Valley, produces classic mountain wines with good body, intensity and color. 16.6% alcohol. $10/glass. See http://www.dobraz.com/ for more information on visiting this winery, it’s not that far away!

Upcoming Events at L’Uva Bella:

Each Thursday at 6 p.m., a wine tasting with winemakers or wine sales experts. Coming up:

May 6 - Frank Family Wine Tasting
May 8 - Wines of France Tasting
May 13 - Me Sueno Wine Tasting
May 27 - Luna Vineyards Tasting.

The second Sunday of each month is a wine walk that stops at 12 pouring locations throughout the mall; cost is $20 pp and includes a souvenir glass and discounts on the featured wines (how about taking Mom to the Mother’s Day wine walk at 2 p.m ?)

Every Friday night at 6 PM it’s time for the Rhythm and Wine event, with live music.

To sign up for event alerts, email to celebrate@luvabellawinegallery.com. L'uva Bella Wine Gallery is located at 13925 South Virginia St., Suite 248, (next to Dillard’s), Reno NV 89511. Phone 775 851 1110 for info and hours.
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© 2010 Barbara Keck

For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of
The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in April 2010.

Watch for my forthcoming book: "Wineries of the Sierra and Its Foothills."
Publication date early Summer 2011, Wine Enthusiast Guild Publishing.

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