This week, a group of 14 winos converged at the newly opened Decanter Restaurant and Wine Bar in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff. Before we went, I had the chance to talk to Executive Chef and Owner Tony Gardizi about his vision for Decanter. He talked about opening an intimate setting that combined a diverse range of the best quality wines with fantastic food. Tony’s attitude about focusing on the experience of wine without pretention resonated with me. He talked about selecting Juan Pablo Taboada , a wine lover and expert, as the person responsible for the wine program. If you add in the cool vibe of the neighborhood and a menu of New American – California cuisine – it seems like Decanter should be a home run.
To be fair, the wine bar has only been open for ten days and judging from the stream of folks eating dinner, the inventory has been depleted with people enjoying a good meal with a nice bottle of wine. And, we all know that the TABC does not make it easy to stock a wine bar in the early days – especially in an area that was recently considered “dry.”
We perused the wines by the glass menu and found some interesting choices, but decided to go with something from the 155 wines by the bottle list. We ordered one. They were out. They were also out of choices two and three. Finally on the fourth bottle Juan Pablo offered us a steal – a 2007 Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel at a reduced rate. Fantastic until the bottle showed up corked (not their fault — six percent of all wines are corked), but we were immediately offered another bottle. I tasted cherry, cranberry and spice. It was a big jammy zinfandel with balance. When I did my research, I realized how generous he had been with us. Insiders hint: ask him for something special that isn’t on the list. He’ll be happy to oblige.
Juan Pablo shared his passion for wine with me and some of the fabulous experiences he’s had since he ditched pre-med for a career in the beverage industry. He’s very knowledgeable and has a vision for what this wine list will be. He also called me later that night when I had to sneak out early to do mom duty and invited me to meet a fabulous wine maker that he was hosting the next day. Alas, the paying gig duty called and I was unable to make it. But, watch this restaurant for events that will bring together great wine, great food and unique experiences.
Throw in an all you can drink champagne brunch and live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and I think you have a young vintage that just needs a little time in the glass to open to its full potential. I’m looking forward to trying it again with a little more aeration.