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At DC 3, Wine Is Too Good for the Glasses

At first glance, the wine list at DC 3 is impressive. Among its 150 wines are all the requisite things and more--stuff like Angelo Gaja Barbaresco, Guigal Hermitage, Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Joseph Swan, Hanzell, Ridge and more.

Some prices are fair; those at the lower register are marked up moderately, so you can find something that won’t shatter your plastic. And even at the higher range, prices aren’t out of line.

Especially when you see 1971 Beaulieu Private Reserve ($50), 1975 Chateau La Lagune ($75) or 1966 Chateau Pichon-Longueville ($85). Pricing for these older wines is just a few dollars more than suggested retail. Another example: the 1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel is still commercially available and has a suggested retail price of $75; at DC 3 that bottle is $90.

Now, that’s impressive: older wines at fair prices.

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A good sprinkling of half bottles is also a welcome treat. On my first visit, we had half bottles of 1986 Edna Valley Chardonnay ($13) and 1986 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel ($11).

Moreover, I was impressed with the number of unusual items that were well chosen, things such as Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah, Long Riesling, Chalone Pinot Blanc, and even such a rarity as Chateau Grillet.

If this is supposed to be a haven for the Beautiful People, the “in” crowd and the wealthy, Grillet is the perfect wine. It has a cult following, but to me is one of the best examples of idle idol worship I can think of. This is a wine that has little to recommend it except high price. Here it is at $110 a bottle; the Beautiful People will be happy.

Moreover, the mere fact that DC 3 would put it on the list indicates it knows its clientele.

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But now let’s look at other aspects of the equation. First, the list itself isn’t easy on the eyes. It seems to have been printed on a poor-quality dot matrix printer using a small, condensed type.

And the glassware. The red wine glasses we were offered were little five-ouncers--they looked like 59-cent specials from the drug store. So much for the delicate nuances of aroma in such bowls. I asked for better glassware. Sorry, I was told, this is it.

We opted instead to pour our red into the slightly taller, but not much better 69-cent-style jelly jars that were used for the white wine.

Then, there’s the service: We ordered a half bottle of Chardonnay to match our appetizers. The wine came. So did an ice bucket. The wine was poured. Fine. Then 35 minutes elapsed. By the time our first food arrived, the wine was nearly gone. So much for matching wine with food.

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Overall, the wine program at DC 3 left me feeling ambivalent. It’s sort of like watching two superb dancers, where the man is doing the waltz and the woman is doing the fox trot. If the glassware and service here could ever get into sync with the wine selection, it all might come together.

Until it does, fasten your seat belt, you’re in for a rough flight.


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