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  Vol.3
 

Sharing is Caring
by Tejal Rao
December 2006

Just as specific vineyard location plays an important role in wine’s personality, sommelier Vajra Stratigos describes his food and wine philosophy as finding the wine that works within the restaurant's space. His interest in how the environment affects the meal as a whole comes through in a series of well-thought out pairings that exemplify how the idea of terroir can be taken to its philosophical limits to create a wine experience that amplifies the food as well as the design of the space. The location in question? The Atlanta Fencing Club. But a space that used to connote Southern exclusivity has been transformed into a casual chic restaurant whose food, wine program, and design all emphasize the restaurant’s elegant and rustic theme. From the small plates for groups to the wine notes handed to each diner, to the comfortable and trendy design, Ecco is all about sharing.

 
 
Restaurant
Ecco
40 7th Street
Atlanta, GA 30308
Who
Coming from three generations of restauranteurs, Vajra Stratigos’ interest in wine was sparked as a kid when he spent time at the family restaurant. But Stratigos is anything but old school. At Ecco, his goal is to make the wine scene as accessible and enjoyable as possible. His method? A well-organized, reasonably priced wine list and a series of paper-thin cedar cards printed with wine notes that arrive with every glass or bottle ordered. But this commitment to educating diners on bottles, origins and varietals is only the beginning of the wine experience for Stratigos, who puts thought into his pairings to create a complete dining experience without stealing the show.
Wine
Les Cailloux, Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc, France ‘05
Price per Bottle
$68
Dish
House-Made Garganelle, Braised Rabbit, Chanterelles, and White Asparagus
Pairing Notes
The earthiness of the wine matches the mushrooms without overpowering the delicate flavor of the rabbit meat. The round, brilliant acidity and notes of honeycomb cut the richness and creaminess of the dish. And while this wine has some real weight, it doesn't overbear the simple and delicate pasta.
Wine
Château du Trignon, Gigondas, France ‘03
Price per Bottle
$48
Dish
Fig-Glazed Lamb Loin, Grilled Domestic Frisée, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Piquillos
Pairing Notes
This particularly tender and mild cut of lamb with a sweet glaze pairs well with a fruitier and more floral wine. The Château du Trignon is smooth, with dark, rich fruit and a hint of gaminess that picks up the smoky flavors of the grilled frisée, amplifies the lamb and sweet peppers, but doesn’t devastate the delicate goat cheese.
Wine
Alain Jaume, “Grande Veneur,” Côtes du Rhône, France ‘04
Price per Bottle
$36
Dish
Braised Short Ribs Stuffed with Piquillo Peppers; Fried Goat Cheese; House-Cured Chorizo with Cider-Roasted Pears
Pairing Notes
The series of traditional Basque small plates is varied in flavors and strength with sweet cherry notes to match the varying degrees of earthiness, acidity, meatiness and dairy. A great multiple-appetizer or small plates match.

 

 

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