After learning more about wine (and by learning I mean drinking), I wanted to know the story behind each glass. What was the winemaker’s philosophy, the history of the estate, or source of their grapes? As I learned more about winemaking techniques and styles (thanks Jon Bonné), I wanted to try wines from labels that offered a different approach. I started searching DC for shops that stock lesser-known small producers, particularly from California. Here’s where you can find me most evenings and weekends.
Arrowine & Spirit, 2175 K Street, NW. Walking home from work one day, I decided to add some weights to my daily cardio workout (walking home and carrying wine is a key part of the lazy girl’s guide to avoiding the gym). I stumbled into the teeny, tiny space that is Arrowine & Spirit. I always ask Tom, the store manager, or Paul, their wine consultant, to recommend a couple of bottles. They carry a very well-curated selection of high-quality wine from around the world, including select bottles from California. I picked up some amazing Matthiessen Chardonnay and Talley Pinot Noir on a recent shopping trip. I also picked up this no string bottle (cover photo) of Lioco Indica 2013 Carignan from Mendocino County ($25). At first I was hit by the acid, and then began to relish the taste of rhubarb and candied strawberry balanced with earthy stone flavors. Who knew Carignan, the grape used for years in cheap jug wine, could be elegant and complex?
MacArthur Beverages, 4877 MacArthur Blvd, NW. Tucked into the secluded neighborhood of the Palisades, MacArthur Beverages has been around since 1957. My inner wine geek was practically jumping up and down to see a bottle of Venge Cabernet (I was not cool enough to get a tasting appointment during my trip to Calistoga in August) but here it was, just a couple of miles from my house! Take that exclusive mailing list. There were also several bottles of Failla, Littorai, and Flowers Wines. I did not even venture into the extensive international section of the store. I picked up a bottle of the staff recommended two strings Whoa Farms Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($47). Mineral flavors of mushroom, balanced with subdued flavors of red fruit, notably classic strawberry, and a hint of cabbage, tasted divine on its own. And 100% of the proceeds go to feed the impoverished in Sonoma County.
Cordial, Union Market. I actually walked into Cordial the way most people do — during a Saturday afternoon eating-extravaganza at the über chic Union Market in Northeast DC. Cordial’s small selection is comprised of premium quality wines. Remy pointed out several of her favorite bottles of California wine and I was surprised pay $52 for three bottles. Score! She was very knowledgable and even offered to hunt down a hard-to-find bottle of Sicilian red I was itching to try again after a tasting class. I particularly enjoyed the no string Blue Plate Grenache from Central Coast ($19). This bottle is a pure joy of bright and light flavors of watermelon, ripe strawberry, and bright red raspberry. I would drink this with cold fried chicken during a picnic any day.
While not nearly as exciting as actually being in the Russian River Valley or Anderson Valley, a stop in at one of these shops will tide me over until my next vacation. Bon shopping DC!