At Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s elegant Old Town dining room Restaurant Eve, the menu draws from a diverse set of influences: there’s Meshelle’s Filipino heritage, plus chef Cathal’s classical French training and the homespun Irish staples he grew up on. The wine list, overseen by sommelier Nikki Gulick, features several standout local gems as well as an impressive selection of Old World white wines (Burgundy, Alsace, and the Loire Valley). Here’s our advice for finding just the right glass or bottle.
If you’re getting the tempura soft-shell crabs with red curry: The 2012 Jean-Marc Brocard Chardonnay from Chablis ($15 a glass) greets your tongue with flavors of Meyer lemon, yellow peach, and baking spices. A crisp finish accentuates the crab. If a few people at the table are ordering soft shells, consider grabbing a bottle ($60) of 2013 Michael Shaps ‘Honah Lee Vineyard’ Petite Manseng. Produced in Charlottesville, the dry white offers up lush notes of red delicious apple, ripe pear, and a little tropical-fruit sweetness.
If you’re trying the quail with fava bean purée, cornmeal pancakes, and chanterelles: Game birds just seem to flock to Rhone reds, so the 2011 Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone Villages ($11 a glass) works nicely. The masterful, full-bodied blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre has a spice-laced black- and red-fruit core and a touch of black licorice. The 2012 Château De Saint Cosme Rhone Blend ($96 a bottle) from Gigondas—which has excellent depth and an appealing finish with lingering spiciness—is a fantastic pick to share with the table.
If you’re getting the veal sweetbreads with braised yellow roma beans and veal jus: A French dish made in Virginia calls for a wine made by a Virginian in France, like the 2009 Maison Michael Shaps Pinot Noir ($19 a glass). It is full of cinnamon and orange peel on the nose and red cherry and red plum in the mouth. If you’re looking for a bottle, consider the 2011 Cristom ‘Sommers Reserve’ Pinot Noir ($78) from the Willamette Valley. I think Steve Doerner is one of the most thoughtful winemakers in Oregon, and he crafts a Pinot Noir that is both intense and charming, with notes of raspberry, mocha, and cola.
If you’re ordering the panang curry with soft tofu and pork belly: This dish presents a bit of a challenge. Since it’s very spicy, it could use the cooling elements of an off-dry white, but also the spicier attributes associated with a red. I turned to Nikki Gulick for some advice. “Alsace!” she said. “Spicy Thai dishes and Alsatian whites need each other. Oh, the stories I could tell of saving a meal by convincing a guest to switch from their oak-bomb to an off-dry white.” I like the 2010 Domaine Paul Blanck Auxerrois ($16 a glass), a wine that complements food like an off-dry Riesling, but also has the body of a Chardonnay. If you’re going to splurge on this course, do it with the 2012 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht ‘Clos Windsbuhl’ Gewürztraminer ($170 a bottle), which also hails from Alsace. This is a wine that I collect, and I was thrilled to see it on the list. It captures the essence of ripe tropical fruits (think pineapple, guava, and lychee) and is enhanced by a touch of cloves and honeysuckle on the finish.
And if you’re looking for that one bottle to make everyone at the table happy: The 2004 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto ($120 a bottle) from Spain is Gulick’s pick: “This is one of my favorite wines ever. So complex, almost floral. It’s a very flexible wine for food, so if the husband is getting arctic char and you’re having steak, it’s a perfect compromise.”