Friday, October 10, 2008

Dinner at Woodberry Kitchen

After an excellent meal and evening in DC, we headed up to Baltimore, my old home town. We took a visit to Boordy Vineyards where I worked as an assistant winemaker after college as well as driving through my childhood neighborhood of Roland Park. My dining companion was kind enough to allow me to partake in a bit of nostalgia for days gone by.

We had reservations at my old friends Spike and Amy Gjerde’s new restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. By a great stroke of fortune, it also happened to be Spike’s birthday. Spike and I have been friends for 15 years or so. We first met when he had opened Spike and Charlie’s and I was a young turk in the Baltimore wine business and he was an emerging and energetic young chef. We immediately bonded and organized countless wine dinners together and dined together (and partied afterwards) with regularity. We’ve even managed to stay in contact while I’ve moved a couple of times, went to graduate school while he got married, had kids built an empire and watched it crumble, only to emerge again with Woodberry Kitchen. I love the new space and I love where Spike has headed. He’s still the same guy, full of boundless energy end enthusiasm.

We had a broad array of dishes and ordered way m ore than we could eat because there were so many interesting things to try. Among the standouts were a fresh mushroom flatbread, a halibut dish prepared, and a roast chicken with perfect end-of-summer veggies all prepared in the wood oven.

2001 Radikon Ribolla Gialla Venezia Giulia
Ahhh, orange wine. Again, my dining companion seemed to be quite taken with the skin contact white. Not as vibrant as the Massa Vecchia the night before, but maybe more deeply pitched. It has aged out of some of its structure and is a mellower wine than it was a couple of years ago. Was excellent with food, which is a great strength of these wines and Radikon in general. A mistaken assumption about these wines, and Radikon in particular, is that they lack fruit. I’ve never found this to be the case, in fact, I think that the structure and other nuances provide a great frame for the fruit. I’m not sure there is any reason for aging this, but I don’t think anyone yet understands their trajectory. Given the expense, I wouldn’t bury more than one as a science experiement.

1996 Mugneret Chambolle 1er Feusselottes
This was very good to start and, of course, absolutely bloody beautiful for the last glass. I contemplated opening it earlier, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. In retrospect, I should have opened it when we sat down. At least I got to enjoy the velvet-like, seemless texture that makes this wine such a treat. I love the linear, angular Chambolle of Barthod and Mugnier, but there is something about the sexier version from Mugneret that sparks some deep mid-brain reactions in me. This is one 1996 that isn’t a victim of the vintage. I only have a few more bottles and will probably wait another 2-3 years before popping another. If you give it proper time to breath, I think this is starting to get to a good place though.

2002 Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
After all the skin contact wine, this was so much more yellow. Decanted to let that wooly funk out of the wine, although this particular bottle didn’t have quite as much of that. Lots of good fruit and some nice structure, but not a particularly severe version of this. Decent structure and just all around enjoyable.

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