This thing you should try: Flight Wine Bar’s fancy ‘Higher Altitude’ list

In its perch in Chinatown for just a few months, the handsome Flight Wine Bar has set itself apart with a Marco Polo of wine lists, one that globe-trots among unlikely wine-producing countries such as Serbia and Lebanon. There are plenty of more recognizable wines, too, like the roussanne from France and grüner veltliner from Austria, with price points low enough to keep the list accessible for all.


Ribbed wood ceiling above the bar at Flight Wine Bar on Sixth Street NW. (Juana Arias/For The Washington Post)

But what if you wanted something more exclusive, a wine that will impress a date, or simply give you bragging rights? This month, Swati Bose, who co-owns Flight with her husband Kabir Amir, re-upped the wine list to include 14 mind-boggling rarities -- dubbed "Higher Altitude" wines -- which, unlike most of their selections, fetch $70 to $200 per bottle. (Ouch.)

To make it easier on the wallet, Flight invested in a buzzed-about Coravin system, a syringe-like device that allows them to tap into expensive bottles for as little as a one-ounce pour, without leaving the open wine vulnerable to the corrosive effects of oxygen. The Coravin's needle dips through the cork and siphons out what is needed, without the customer having to foot the bill for a bottle. It works simply enough, but for wine fans, it has the potential to be a game-changer.

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At Flight, the Coravin means you can build your own tasting of higher-priced beauties, pulling as many as five for not much more than $30. "We wanted to keep our global diversity," says Bose. "We still stick to that, but we changed our menu to have a pinot noir, to have a merlot, to have a Chateauneuf-du-Pape without having to open a bottle for $200." We asked Bose, Amir and server Guillaume Bouscavel to talk about five wines on the list and tell us why you should try them.

Whites

Roux Pere & Fils, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru Les Cortons

The Roux Pere & Fils, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru Les Cortons, a white Burgundy made entirely from French Chardonnay grapes, is one of the wines customers at Flight Wine Bar can try, for $6 an ounce, or $30 a glass. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)
Roux Pere & Fils, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru Les Cortons. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

White Burgundies, all made from chardonnay grapes, feel white-hot this summer, and this 2011 bottle offers a chance to try one that's full bodied.
Swati Bose says: "We wanted to find something that's a really great expression of the varietal, that's really well done. It's a very different expression of chardonnay than what we get in California. The Burgundian style is a lot more restrained, there isn't heavy use of wood. The grapes don't ripen as much as a new-world chardonnay. This is one of our favorite whites, and it's really hard to find a great one by the glass."
Try it: By the ounce, $6. By the glass, $30. By the bottle, $96.

Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese
There's a ton of flower power in this 2009 Riesling from tiny but mightily respected German producer Willi Schaefer.
Kabir Amir says: "This family has been around for generations. It's one of the most sought-after Riesling producers in Mosel, which I think, potentially, produces some of the best Riesling in the world. This is an amazing expression. It grows under a rough climate. It's cold."
Swati Bose says: "It's got a great nose. His wines are pretty highly prized. This one is worth trying; it's exceptional. It finishes dry, since it's off-dry."
Try it: By the ounce, $8.  By the glass: $40.  By the bottle, $135.

Reds

La Follette DuNah Vineyard Pinot Noir. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)
La Follette DuNah Vineyard Pinot Noir. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

La Follette DuNah Vineyard Pinot Noir
A light, but still weighty pinot from the esteemed Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, Calif. The wine has been aged for 10 months in French oak, but it's clean and balanced.
Swati Bose says: "Great winemaker Greg La Follette sources fruits from friends and partners he has in the industry. This particular wine is sourced from DuNah, which is oceanside, above the fog line. He makes just a couple hundred cases of this wine, if I'm not mistaken. Russian River Valley is  a cooler climate, you get more of the old-world style, it's more restrained. I like the finish on this, because it's got the earth, and it all comes together in your mouth."
Guillaume Bouscavel says: "The acidity is very strong. For it to last, that's very good news, actually. It's very refreshing as well."
Try it: By the ounce, $6. By the glass, $30. By the bottle, $96.

Chateau Prieure-Lichine
At $200, this 2005 Bordeaux is one of Flight's priciest, rarest bottles. A blend of mostly cabernet sauvignon and merlot, aged in concrete vats, stainless steel and oak, it's worth a spin in part because it hails from a community that produces some of the world's most prized Bordeaux.
Kabir Amir says: "This is one of those wineries we fell in love with when we visited them last year, in a small town called Cantenac. [Its price] has to do with its vintage; 2005 was one of the best years Bordeaux had."
Swati Bose says: "It's Bordeaux, and it's Margaux. That carries a price tag.  We were looking in a region where price tags are high, we thought it represented the region very well, and was very good wine for a reasonable price. It's something people can't drink."
Try it: By the ounce, $12. By the glass, $60. By the bottle, $200.

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli
Brunellos are among Italy's most treasured wines. This 2008 wine, made of sangiovese grapes hailing from Tuscany, is fruit-forward, with hints of blackberry.
Kabir Amir says:  "It's one of the rarer wines of Italy. We've tasted several Brunellos, and we liked it the best. These wines are also like Bordeaux, in the sense that you can age these wines. It's one of those cases where these wines are generally not available for glass drinking, and we just want to make that happen."
Try it: By the ounce, $11. By the glass, $55. By the bottle, $195.

Flight Wine Bar, 777 Sixth St. NW. 202-864-6445.

Lavanya Ramanathan is a professional eater/drinker/thinker for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. University of Texas. Northwestern University. Rap fan.
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