Waiting for the arrival of Iron Gate, Tony Chittum's Neighborhood Restaurant Group project, has been a study in patience. But in order to tide readers over before the (projected October) arrival, wine director Brent Kroll sat down with Eater to share some early details on what to expect from the cozy restaurant's wine and spirits program.
Kroll says he's been working on the program pretty much since he started with NRG back in February. He describes Iron Gate's wine list as about one third Southern Italian wines, one third Greek wines, and the rest a mix (about five percent of the list will be from Virginia). The wine list reflects Chittum's planned cuisine, inspired by Southern Italy, Greece and local ingredients.
Greek wines are relatively affordable compared to many wine regions; Kroll has an analogy. "I look at wines in Napa and Bordeaux as Georgetown, and Greek wines as Anacostia," he said, comparing the rents in the different areas. "You can find deal after there." That means Iron Gate will be able to sell plenty of impressive wines in the $40-$70 per bottle range. As a rule, Greek wines are often misunderstood because they aren't marketed well, and are hard to pronounce. But there are plenty of nuances — more than 300 grapes are indigenous to Greece, he said. NRG's Planet Wine shop offers about 10-12 Greek wines, and that's considered a broad selection in U.S. terms, he said — often, a typical wine store will have just a single bottle decorated with cheesy drawings of Greek columns. Kroll took a recent trip to Greece to meet producers and learn more about the region.
Iron Gate will offer roughly 18 wines by the glass and 200 by the bottle. Kroll is particularly excited about pairing Greek wines, which tend toward minerality and acidity, with Iron Gate's cuisine. The restaurant is also working with Greek winery Tselepos (Kroll bonded with the owner during his trip to Greece) on two private label wines, an agioritiko and a moschofilero, both which will be offered for a low price by the glass for diners. Brent plans to organize the wine list by theme and tastes (for example, "bold" or "juicy") rather than by region.
Iron Gate will serve at least 20 varieties of grappas and ouzos, and the restaurant will offer table service (think of Italians and Greeks sitting around with a bottle and glasses, socializing, rather than picturing bottle service at a club). NRG brought on Jo-Jo Valenzuela, formerly of The Occidental and Black Jack, to help oversee the cocktail program at Iron Gate. The cocktails will be organized into groups, including Greek-inspired, Italian-inspired and domestic, with two cocktails on draft.
· Tselepos Winery [Official Site]
· All Previous Brent Kroll Coverage [-EDC-]
· All Previous Iron Gate Coverage [-EDC-]
Brent Kroll [Photo: Neighborhood Restaurant Group]