Kristi Green is the author of the blog DC Wineaux. She further indulges her love of wine in her work at a wine bar on U St NW.
Upon first entering the warm, bright space inside Schneider’s on Capitol Hill I was a bit overwhelmed by the floor to ceiling shelves, tightly packed with 12,000 different bottles of wine.
I stumbled through the walls of bottles to the always-alluring funky-labeled Charles Smith collection. Charles Smith was Food and Wine Magazine’s winemaker of the year for 2009 and it was his Boom Boom Syrah that caught my eye (even though I went home with The Velvet Devil Merlot). Just above the shelves bearing the CS collection are the wines of the K Vintners label, also made by Charles Smith–these wines employ super vintage winemaking styles (like foot-stomping!), high quality grapes, and command a higher price than the collection of wines bearing his name.
After my solo exploration of the wine section at Schneider’s, I enlisted the help of the staff. I asked for some recommendations and was taken to Spanish reds and French whites–my two favorites of the old world.
At the recommendation of my newfound guide, I purchased a 2000 Bierzo, a rich full bodied Spanish red with great aging potential. Having already been in the bottle for eleven years, we decided together that it’s definitely ready to drink now. I did spend more than I typically would on this bottle but judging by some internet research, I got it for $15-$25 less than I would have spent elsewhere.
His next recommendation, a 2007 Savennieres (by Domaine de Baumard) is an exhibition of great quality and great value (only $20!). Savennieres (named for the place it’s made, like Champagne) is a full bodied, dry white wine, made from the chenin blanc grape. This rich white pairs well with poultry and light fish–it’s racy acidity works wonders with creamy sauces as well.
The store has a great selection for every price range–they boast that their least expensive bottle is a $5 Chilean “vino de mesa” and their most expensive bottle is $4500; what wine could command such a price? A 1991 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
Specific recommendations after the jump.
The Schneider’s staff member who expertly squired me about the store also recommended a couple of sparkling roses and some off-the-wall Spanish reds I’m looking forward to going back for!
THE PRODUCER/THE PLACE/THE GRAPE/THE VINTAGE
The Velvet Devil (By Charles Smith)/Washington State/Merlot/2009
super smooth reds
the king’s speech! (or your own Oscar pick) for food: great with barbecue. also smooth enough to drink alone (as in without food, not without friends)!
medium bodied. full, round tannin. on the nose: cherry wood and dark fruits. on the palette: ripe raspberry and blackberry, finish of smoke and cedar.
Some great wines purchased at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. From left to right: Charles Smith’s The Velvet Devil Merlot (tasting notes below), Domaine de Baumard Savennieres, and Descendientes des J. Palacios, S.L. Bierzo.