For the savvy wine collector, filling one’s personal cellar with some of the best vintages in the world may well have become a much-loved hobby, with seeking out new and exciting bottles to add to one’s ever-expanding repertoire bringing almost as much excitement as popping the corks and enjoying the wines themselves.
Even so, fine wine collection is a pursuit that requires time and dedication to truly track down the best the world has to offer – so if a busy lifestyle is somewhat limiting in that respect and curtailing the full enjoyment of the world of wines, then it might be time to look to the experts.
Finding someone who can curate an impeccable selection on your behalf isn’t always easy, but Cork and Fork, an exciting and sophisticated Washington, D.C. based establishment, often described as a fine wine collection rather than a fine wine store, goes the whole-hog. Cork and Fork offer the refined palates of the Logan Circle community a range of carefully selected wines sourced from the greatest growers and winemakers in the world, as well as offering an online service to those who live further afield.
Founder Dominique Landragin, a fifth generation Champenois and a third generation vine grower and winemaker, may often be found in the store and loves to personally assist with customer requests, from delicious table wines to the finest of cellar wines.
Having worked as a travelling winemaker between France and Australia for many years, Dominique finally opted to settle in the US, where he continued to make wine and, eventually, created Cork and Fork. The store was launched in 2008, and since then, it has gone from strength to strength, fast becoming one of the top premium wine stores in the city. A family-run business that is based heavily around an expert father-daughter partnership, today the store has won itself a name for offering the finest quality wines in the city, and the personalised service that comes as part and parcel certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed, either.
The wine selection at Cork and Fork is both complex and well thought out. With limited spacing on the shelves allowing for a quality, rotating, hand-picked selection, guided by Dominique’s technical palate and daughter Antoinette’s trained palate, each wine undergoes extensive tasting and research before a space is reserved for it on the shelf.
Dominique’s experience making wine in Champagne, Loire Valley, south-eastern Australia, and the US has allowed for the team and their palates to have comprehensive exposure to, and understanding of, the greatest wines in the world. As a fortification to the team’s vast experience in the industry, Antoinette sources knowledge from the decade she spent as head wine buyer of her own wine shop before joining the D.C. project. Having travelled to over 14 wine producing countries for wine related study and having judged wine competitions across the United States, her palate brings valued perspective to the selection.
All of this together allows for the acquisition of the finest quality wines with high standards applied to each of the producers the company works with, across all spectrums of the buying process.
The world’s finest
In addition to finding cellar-worthy wines in the store’s collection, customers may source some of the very finest vintages on offer for a guilt-free experience at the till – never for a second compromising on quality.
“Our end goal is to provide the best wines of the world, made by the best winemakers in the world, to all customers, no matter the price point,” explains Dominique.
It is little wonder then, that the store has won itself a legion of loyal fans who flock regularly to see what its latest offerings are and stock up. Many of the customers frequenting Cork and Fork have comprehensive wine experience of their own, and know exactly what constitutes quality. It is this type of discerning buyer that cannot avoid being delighted with what the Landragin family offers – from the wines to the impeccable service, and the wine education linked between.
The taste test
The potential new wines Antoinette selects still have several hoops to jump through before they make it onto the shelves, and are reviewed and cleared by the team first. Part of this process includes detailed research on the wine producers. The team looks at angles such as farming practices, environmental impacts, engagement with the winery’s local charitable organisations, and fair wage and labour practices. Once the wine is vetted and cleared, then it is time to introduce them to customers.
Wines are tasted by potential buyers during Washington, D.C.’s most comprehensive online producer-to-consumer wine education and tasting program, headed by Antoinette. Since the store was first established, the team have hosted more than 900 in-store masterclasses, which attracted students from across the country looking to build upon their expertise on fine wine.
In 2020, when businesses around the world were forced to pivot in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Antoinette single-handedly offered her knowledgeable clientele 100 online tasting events with the world’s greatest brands and most revered winemakers. Through these intimate-class formats, the guests have been able to interact directly with the winemakers, asking questions as the event goes along for a fully immersive experience.
“We strive to offer a luxurious wine experience for every wine lover wherever they are in their wine journey – which is why we have a diverse range of educational offerings aimed at all levels of knowledge,” explains Antoinette.
The perfect pairing
Always championing the value of pairing wine with food, the store’s mission of food-friendly bottlings is not lost on their home ground, the gastronomical neighbourhood of Logan Circle, where the dynamic restaurants lining the streets also emphasise the value of pairing carefully selected wine with equally thoughtful cuisine.
Fitting in with these wine-centric restaurants and wine bars in the vibrant neighbourhood, Cork and Fork offers labels from 24 countries and countless appellations and sub-appellations. Highlighting the Landragin heritage in Champagne, France, the store hosts a well-groomed selection of the iconic bubbly, selected by Dominique who applies his knowledge of winemaking in this northern French region to create a selection of year-round drinkable champagnes.
Chosen to stand alongside the champagne selection is a range of sparkling wine from around the world. Carrying bubbles in all styles – rose, dry, demi-sec, light and full-bodied – from a plethora of countries, such as an Armenian sparkler developed by famed wine consultant, Michel Rolland, to quality English bubblies, to the more classic South African Methode Cap Classique, and Languedoc’s very own Blanquette de Limoux, this range offers a prism of styles to enjoy, pushing it far from a homogenous category.
Antoinette’s passion for championing underdog regions also brings wines to the table from the world’s lesser known corners, such as, coming from France, Savoie, Jura, Jurançon, and Corsica. These additions keep the classic selection padded with a variation of new labels sure to entertain even the most savvy and well-versed of wine lovers, so one never feels like it has all been seen (and tasted) before.
On your next visit to Washington, D.C., when you pass through Logan Circle, and where you will taste the creative menus formed by some of the most highly awarded chefs in the US, look into Cork and Fork for a bottle. While you’re there, branch out and try something new, selecting from the diverse and exciting collection of fine wines from the world over.
Address: 1522 14th Street NW, Washington DC, 20005, United States
Tel: (202) 588-5766