If you don’t know Mike Cordero by name, you at least know his work. As the executive chef and owner of A-Town, Barley Mac, Don Tito, Don Taco, and Primetime Sports Bar (among others), he’s no stranger to the northern Virginia eating and drinking scene.
And this Virginia kid will toast to that.
Recently, Cordero has taken to producing his own wines – through a partnership with with Darcie Kent Vineyards in Livermore, CA. Called Cordero Wine, varietals are available at all of his restaurants, and prices range between $8-$10 per glass to $39-$42 a bottle.
This Thursday, though, the deal gets sweeter. In celebration of National Wine Day (which I thought was everyday?), Cordero’s chardonnay will cost $16 per bottle, the merlot $17, and pinot noir $18 across all five restaurants mentioned above.
In advance of this, The Hungry Lobbyist was called upon to taste these wines and sample appetizers at Barley Mac – known for its extensive selection of bourbons and whiskies – to ensure everything is as good as it sounds. Hey, not all heroes wear capes.
As wines produced for sale at his restaurants, they’re meant to enhance the flavor of his food, not overshadow it.
We went for the merlot first, a fruity but fuller-bodied wine that plays nice with fattier foods like duck, liver, and pate. We drank this with Barley Mac’s dynamite coccoli – crispy dough, stracchino cheese, prosciutto di parma – because we’re professionals.
The biggest hit at our table was the pinot noir, a well-balanced red that we paired with the restaurants potato skins (at first) and continued to drink along with the rest of the food we were able to sample.
Last, we were gifted with the chardonnay (the order of the wine was our choice, by the way – don’t come at me, wine snobs), described to us as pinot grigio-like by our waiter. The comparison was fair, too. The chardonnay was the opposite of dry. Bright, acidic, and sweet, this was an easy wine to drink. Almost too easy. Pair this with the fried calamari or grilled octopus.
Then go home happy and healthy. It would be hard not to.