On March 13, chef Dominique Crenn opened the newest addition to the Crenn Dining Group, Bar Crenn. Located next door to her Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner Atelier Crenn, it serves as a casual spinoff of the flagship restaurant.
A wine bar reminiscent of a Parisian salon, the new concept pays homage to classic French gastronomy. Six of the eight items on the current menu are attributed to chefs that have inspired Crenn's much-lauded cuisine, including the likes of Alain Ducasse, who "donated" his tarte flambée and quenelles Lyonnaises recipes to Crenn, and many more. The items are available as a three-course tasting menu or à la carte.
Crenn Dining Group wine director Matt Montrose describes the wine program as "a global wine list of predominantly biodynamic, organic, and sustainably made wines." The 150-selection list highlights regions from all over France—mainly Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône—California, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Oregon, as well as a small selection of Port, Madeira and Sauternes—L.W.
Contemporary steak house Quality Eats' third location is now open in New York City's Nomad neighborhood. The wine list spans the globe with selections from France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and the U.S., with most bottles under $100. Olivier Flosse, wine director of the Quality Branded group, aims to offer top quality at an accessible price point.
There are 27 selections available by the bottle or by the glass, with an additional 10 selections that can be ordered as "wine stacks"—choose three wines for $48 that will be poured into stackable containers, creating one 9-ounce "bottle."
Renowned Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez pushes culinary boundaries: His Best of Award of Excellence winner Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru, serves its courses based on the different altitudes at which the ingredients grow. His new restaurant, Mil, overlooks the Moray ruins, an archaeological site near Cusco, and only serves dishes and drinks made with ingredients found around its same altitude: 11,500 feet above sea level.
Where does that leave the wine list? "The concept of Mil focuses on the use of ingredients from the immediate area, and since Vitis [vinifera] is not part of that environment, wine plays a small role," Gregory Smith, wine director for both Mil and Central, told Wine Spectator via email. "But I was able to argue my way into placing eight wines on the list!"
Smith highlights wines from high-altitude vineyards in South America, including Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor 2014, Bodega Colomé Sauvignon Blanc Calchaquí Valley Lote Especial 2016 and Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Uco Valley Terroir 2015. Smith will continue to look for more wines to add to Mil's inventory.—L.W.
The newest iteration of chef Michael Mina's popular steak-house chain, Bourbon Steak, is now open in the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif. It replaces Stonehill Tavern, Mina's recently closed Best of Award of Excellence restaurant.
The new restaurant was able to carry over the inventory from Stonehill Tavern, featuring gems like Chateau Montelena and Peter Michael from the 1980s and '90s. Sommelier Michelle Morin oversees the 350-selection wine list, which has a strong focus on France and the U.S., supplemented by wines from Italy, Spain, Germany and more.
Other highlights include a 20 wines by the glass and a vertical of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echézeaux. Classic cocktails and a tableside martini cart round out the beverage program.—L.W.
Mediterranean restaurant chain Fig & Olive opened a new location last week in Houston's Galleria shopping center. The Chicago outpost holds an Award of Excellence for its 120-selection wine list, with strengths in California and France.
Fig & Olive Houston offers 129 wine selections, with 22 available by the glass. The list features the core Italian, French and Spanish wines championed by the chain nationwide, with an eye to U.S. wines. It's also the first Fig & Olive with a designated large-format section that will potentially be implemented nationally.
National beverage manager Fabrizio Nocilla says this is just the latest step in the brand's expansion. "We need to see chances and possibility, so if the right opportunity comes up, I'm sure that we will take it," he told Wine Spectator. "Houston was the right opportunity at the right time."—J.H.
Award of Excellence winner Geranio Restaurant closed March 1 after operating in Alexandria, Va., for 42 years. The restaurant had held the title since 2001 for its 95-selection wine list that focused on Italy, complementing the seasonal Italian cuisine. Owner Troy Clayton served as Geranio's chef in addition to managing the wine program. Clayton has owned several restaurants in the area but has yet to announce if another project is in the works.—J.H.
Next week, restaurants, bars and wine shops all around Philadelphia will host more than 100 events, including wine dinners, tastings and educational presentations, for the fifth annual Philly Wine Week.
On March 22, the Opening Corks kickoff event will feature more than 100 wines with bites from some of the city's top restaurants, including Best of Award of Excellence winner Lacroix at the Rittenhouse. The following day, Barcelona Wine Bar's Glass Pass program will offer flights of wine typically only offered by the bottle, while the Rittenhouse Hotel—home to Lacroix—will host a "mystery wine" blind tasting contest.