Donkey & Goat @ Range
We tried to eat lunch this past weekend at Brian Voltaggio’s new restaurant Range. While the signs might indicate an 11:30am opening they are still a few weeks away from having the lunch menu fully developed. So it opens for dinner at 5:30pm instead. Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like was in town this week. When he suggested I pick a restaurant for us to meet at I immediately thought of Range. Somewhere I read about aspirations of a great wine list and being on the DC side of Western Avenue meant it was possible. I met Frank Morgan for dinner a few nights ago. They did not seat walk-ins at tables but were able to place us at counter seating which faced one of the kitchen stations.
The space was quite generous so we had no problem angling ourselves to face each other. The wine list was big and full of selections at all price points. I immediately picked up on the 2010 Donkey & Goat, Five Thirteen, El Dorado for $44. I first heard about Donkey & Goat several years ago when a friend left his Donkey & Goat wine carrier bag at my house. Since then I have heard good things but never managed to try a wine. Frank had similar feelings so we ordered a bottle instead of studying the wine list.
You are meant to share the plates of food. There is quite a large variety and our waitress was willing to help us choose. Actually, she kept trying to get us to order more plates and more expensive ones at that. But Frank is gently firm so we ended up with terraine, Brussels sprouts, grits (Frank lives in the South of Virginia), bone marrow, Roseda beef tender, and beef heart (a first for both of us) . Knowing nothing about the actual range of Donkey & Goat wines I started searching and quickly came across a Chateauneuf du Pape reference. Then it hit me, it must be a blend of five grapes from the allowable thirteen. Indeed when the bottle was brought out the back states the Thirteen Series is a southern Rhone style blend. The 2010 Five Thirteen is a blend of 47% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, 10% Counoise, and 6% Cinsault. The wine is foot-stomped, fermented with indigenous yeasts in wood puncheons, then aged in used barrels.
Modern Burgundy-like stems were placed shortly before the Sommelier Joachim (?) brought out our bottle. Throughout the restaurant are the chilled wine cabinets where the wine is stored. The temperature is certainly set to the cold side of cellar temperature. The ambient temperature of the restaurant was at a cool, yet comfortable setting, but not high enough to warm up the wine. What was in our glass was cold enough to be muted and to not give up much so we set about trying to warm the bowls with our hands. This was actually a first for me, being served a wine too cold. Still, I would rather have a cold red wine than a warm red wine. The latter of which is far more common. Perhaps they could have two sets of temperature: a touch warmer for those bottles meant for short-term consumption and a touch colder for those that might age for many years. Regardless the wine eventually tasted young, fresh, with lots of red fruit. I did not really pay attention, though, for I was having a great time talking about wine. Jenn asked if we only talked about wine or did we ever talk about our families. Sure, I responded, I told Frank about the time our daughter role-played wine tasting with her friend.