Posting here as a catchall for my visit to DC area - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 05-05-2011 05:30 PM

I wasn't visiting VA or MD wineries on this trip but enjoyed a variety of wines in restaurants in DC and Maryland. I met up with Jon and Liz Peterson (Jon posts on Robin Garr's WLDG forum) at Volt Restaurant in Frederick, MD. Chef is Bryan Voltaggio who was on Top Chef on Bravo a few seasons ago. I ordered the Shitake Veloute with almond and basil(soup course)and Alaskan halibut with blue crab risotto and English peas. I had a 2007 Etude Pinot Noir, Carneros, with the soup and a 2009 La Cana Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain with the halibut course. I didn't take any notes during the meal but the Etude was a medium-bodied pleasing wine which would be adaptable to many food choices. Both dishes were delicious and both wines were good food wines. The white wine list included by the glass Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, Gruner Veltliner from Austria, and a Mosel Riesling from Germany among other choices. The wine list (at least by the glass) was predominantly European with a smattering of California wines. More California choices were available by the bottle. The servers brought out extra glasses so I could also try the wine the Petersons ordered. I believe they ordered a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc which was quite nice, the Merlin Cherrier, le Chene Marchand. I finished dinner with a cheese selection which included a local Maryland goat cheese.

The next day I met up with my friend Sallie for church in College Park, MD (where a male-female duo from the choir sang a beautiful Haydn piece) and lunch at Calvert House known for its crab cakes. After an abbreviated garden tour in University Park, MD (the azaleas were gorgeous and about three weeks later blooming than in Fayetteville, NC) but it started to sprinkle and I didn't want to get drenched, dinner was at Proof in downtown DC. Proof has an extensive wine list and also some 2 oz. or 6 oz. pours available. I requested a 2 oz. pour of Arneis to start but they brought the 6-oz. glass and didn't charge me for the extra wine. I enjoyed this with a tempura of newly arrived asparagus, green bean and wild mushroom with lemon aioli dipping sauce (yum!) Sticking with the wild mushroom theme, I ordered chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and wild mushrooms. It came with polenta which I enjoyed and rapini, not so much. I ordered two small pours of red wines to have with the chicken--a Bourgogne Rouge and a Regnie' Beaujolais Cru. The 2009 VIETTI ARNEIS ROERO ITALY was a straw color with transparency and was served at room temperature. As the server remarked, it was a little round for the grape variety. It had a subtle ginger note. The 2005? DOMAINE DES CROIX BOURGOGNE ROUGE was a deep purple, nearly opaque. It had an unusual scent that I liked but couldn't identify. Dark cherries is not quite accurate as a descriptor but hints of dark cherry informed the nose and palate. I liked this well enough to request a second 2-oz. pour to have with a cheese course. The 2-oz. pour of CHATEAU DU BASTY REGNIE' BEAUJOLAIS CRU (I didn't write the vintage--possibly 2009) was pretty with mostly red fruit but some deeper tones present. Nice flavor and smooth drinking. I liked it better than the server did who speaking frankly called it "gum-droppy" and "macerated." At least that indicated to me that the servers are encouraged to taste the wines on the list and be familiar with their properties. The cheese courses were listed as any 3 or any 6 selections but I wanted to order 4 (really wanted to try 6 but that was too much after two courses) so they priced in between the 3-cheese and 6-cheese prices. I had the Montgomery Cheddar (Somerset, England), a Pecorino (Italy), Humboldt Fog (California) and Blue d'Auvergne (France). I was also considering the Stilton and another. The plate contained two dates, walnut bread, honey and apple puree. The Bourgogne rouge did best with the hard cheeses--Cheddar and Pecorino.

Monday I had lunch at Bistro Lepic and Wine Bar on Wisconsin Avenue before leaving DC. The wine bar is only open in the evening so I was lunching on the first floor. I had a tomato salad with frisee and balsamic vinaigrette (from their 3-course Prix Fixe lunch menu) and Crevettes Sautees avec Riz Chinois (sauteed jumbo shrimp with forbidden rice and thin green beans and Parmesan? melted cheese.) The shrimp dish was marvelous and the tomato salad was refreshing. I had two glasses of 2009 DOMAINE DE LA CHAUVINIERE MUSCADET SEVRE ET MAINE SUR LIE. 12% alcohol. Nearly transparent. Green-tinged straw color. Crisp and lemony. The waiter (French?) said it should be consumed with oysters and black bread but it did nicely with my meal. He also refered to it as "stun gun" I guess because of the acidity which is pronounced but not enamel-stripping. The Muscadel also exhibited mild salinity (sea salt). Very pleasant. Recommended if you see it at a good price. The 2009 was sufficiently young to be very appealing. Nice, relaxed, unhurried lunch before a visit to Macarthur's Beverages (Bassin's) and the drive to Baltimore.

My last fine dining experience of the trip was Monday night at Cinghiale Restaurant on Lancaster Street in Baltimore. I ate in the less formal Enoteca/Wine Bar side. The extensive all-Italian wine list offers small pours and flights of wine (white wine flight, Sangiovese flight, Tuscany flight, etc.). To be continued tomorrow.

- winoweenie - 05-06-2011 02:03 PM

As usual a big "ATTA-GIRL". You do me old black heart proud to have had the pleasure of being in youses' company. WW

- wondersofwine - 05-06-2011 05:05 PM

Thanks, WW, but the honor was mine. From humble beginnings you fashioned a successful life in both wealth and relationships.

At Cinghiale I had an appetizer special--cured Tasmanian seatrout (similar but lighter than smoked salmon) with greens, shaved fennel, orange zest, a bite of grapefruit, blood orange (in the sauce?) and capers. For my main course I had spit-roasted lamb with a couple bites of Yukon potatoes. I don't recall if the green vegetable was green beans or asparagus and a red wine jus. I tried Tallegio cheese as my dessert course after hearing Rachel Ray says it was her husband's favorite. It is a semi-soft cheese. Okay but I like other cheese more. I went with 3-oz. pours to have a variety of wines. With the seatrout salad I had 2008 VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI CLASSICO, BUCCI, LE MARCHE, ITALY. (It's an all-Italian wine list.) $7.00 for a 3-oz. pour and $14.00 for a 6-0z. glass at the restaurant. Pale, crisp, medium-bodied with a long finish. Steely backbone. I liked this and think Verdicchio is one I will look for on my trip to Italy late summer.

With the lamb entree I had a 3-oz. pour of 2007 AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE, BISCEGLIA "TERREA DI VULCANO" BASILICATA, ITALY. I didn't like this as well as the Aglianico I had at the restaurant last year--it may be a new producer for their wine list. $5.50 for 3-oz. pour or $11 for 6-oz. glass. Opaque purple with crimson rim. Lifted nose, almost a blueberry fragrance and I'm not fond of blueberry in wine. Yup--the blueberry carried over to the palate flavors.

My other 3-oz. red wine pour was the 2008 TOSCANA ROSSO TENUTA DELL'ORNELLAIA "LE VOLTE" blending Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot at $9.50 for 3 oz. or $19 for 6 oz. I liked this better. Nearly smooth and approachable now though I don't think it will fade quickly. Some cassis and possibly dark berries or dark plumskin. Slightly clearer and darker in appearance than the Aglianico.

- TheEngineer - 05-07-2011 04:50 AM

As always WoW, nice posts! Love the reading! I'm experiencing the same as you noted on recent aglianico's. STeady producers that Iknow never disappoint but new producers are 35% hit and 75% miss for me as I fin them either too acidic and lean or too acidic and overtly ripe but not interesting Nothing in balance yet but th eprodcers I do know, I love the varietal!

- Drew - 05-08-2011 12:06 PM

Wow, WOW...nice write up! I've heard lots of good things about Volt but I understand Cinghiale is not quite what it used to be. A must visit on Lancaster Street is Charleston.

- wondersofwine - 05-09-2011 01:05 PM

I've stopped in at Charleston for a glass of wine but have yet to dine there. The fact that they are closed on Sunday made it inconvenient to dine there on one trip.