The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2017

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26  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2017 WHAT'S NEW IN D.C. O ur nation's capital is awash in great places to enjoy a glass of wine—traditional French bistros, Italian osterias, Spanish tapas trend-setters and the white table- cloth'd dining rooms of the rich and powerful. This abundance is fortunate, since Washington, D. C. consistently ranks among the highest in the nation for per capita wine consumption. The concentrated collection presents a challenge, however, for anyone opening a new, wine-focused concept. How can anyone possibly meet and exceed the expectations of the District's well-heeled wine-lovers? Brent Kroll has been thinking about that question for the last four years, and his ruminations have culminated in the opening of his new 33-seat wine bar. Maxwell Park is Kroll's adult wine playground, named after the park where Kroll would hang out as a child. "I want this to be the kind of place that could capture the feeling I had rolling up to that park as a kid," he explains. By that, Maxwell will be the kind of place where you know you will have a great time with your friends. Washingtonians know Kroll from his previous roles developing wine lists for other D.C. institutions like Iron Gate, The Oval Room and the St. Regis Hotel. His passion for hospitality and his willingness to venture off the well-worn paths of the wine world have shaped his reputation. Despite being relatively young for having so much experience, he has won the respect of the local sommelier community and commands a strong following among wine enthusiasts in D.C. Maxwell Park will emphasize hospi- tality above all. In that endeavor, Kroll has called upon two up-and-comers, Daniel Runnerstrom and Niki Lang, to join his team. "I wanted to hire two talented sommeliers who I felt were on the rise, so that people could come in and get the same level of expertise from any of us. I feel like that isn't common at many wine bars." The wines by the glass list will rotate monthly. Wine flights will be a creative partnership between the sommeliers and the guests, starting with friendly conversations, and taking shape as the somms write the name of each wine in chalk on the slate bar as they set down the selected choices. During these custom flights, the bar-top can also be used by the guests to write their own tasting notes, making it a truly interac- tive experience. While snobbishness and pretense will be left behind, the seriousness behind the scenes will still be on point. Kroll and his crew are continuously studying to be able to tell the stories behind the wines they choose for the list. Some of the attention to detail will add subtle nuances to the experience, such as the fact that the wines will be kept at four different temperature zones to ensure that they are served at the optimal temperature to bring out their best. "You're not going to get a Chablis served at the same temperature as a Meursault," according to Kroll. Gone are too-cold whites and too-warm reds. Maxwell Park will allow guests to play with new flavors, and with Brent Kroll at the helm, they know they can trust the palate behind the fun. A WINE PLAYGROUND FOR ADULTS AT MAXWELL PARK story and photo by David Denton, CWE, IBWE A Walk in the Park The team—all Certified Sommeliers—at newly opened Maxwell Park (left to right): Sommelier Daniel Runnerstrom, owner Brent Kroll and Sommelier Niki Lang.

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