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Truxton Circle landed a niche wine bar this winter specializing almost exclusively on natural wines. Close to 400 selections at Domestique utilize biodynamic or organically grown grapes that are fermented with native yeast and finished with very little sulfur. They sometimes have funkier personalities than other wines and are said to deliver less of a hangover. They often pair exquisitely with food.
Former wine bar owner Jeff Segal, a Potomac native, partnered with the co-founders of wine importer Selection Massale—Cory Cartwright and Guilhaume Gerard—to open the 2,500-square-foot shop at 10 Florida Ave. NW. The name, Domestique, is a French word borrowed from the professional cycling world. “It refers to a rider who bears the grunt work in support of the team leader,” Segal explains. They’re quick to give up a tire if a potential champion springs a leak, for example.
A French name is appropriate given about 70 percent of Domestique’s wines come from France. “I’m supporting the people I’ve gotten to know,” Segal says of his travels around the country. “I’ve stayed at their houses. They’re farmers, not industrial wine makers … They’re not making [natural wine] because of some dogmatism. They live healthy, they care about what they feed their kids and feel like that should extend to wine as well.”
Segal is also passionate about natural wines because he thinks oenophiles can more easily taste terrior, the environment in which the grapes are grown, and he likes how the wines continue to evolve after bottles are opened.
Segal chose to set up his first wine shop in the District because of the city’s existing wine culture. “There are very strong wine programs at restaurants and bars here,” he says. “I saw there was no retailer that was doing what I was used to in New York—shops focused on natural wines.” While Washington has a number of wine bars and restaurants that celebrate natural wines including Dio Wine Bar, Maxwell Park, Primrose, and Tail Up Goat, Domestique is its first dedicated natural wine retailer.
So far Segal says he’s seeing a good mix of clients, from wine geeks looking for specific bottles to wine lovers eager to learn more about the style of wine that’s growing in popularity around the globe.
In addition to natural wine, Domestique stocks beers and spirits from producers that share the same low-intervention perspective as natural wine producers such as Empirical Spirits out of Copenhagen, New York’s Neversink Spirits, and Charleston’s High Wire Distilling.
The best time to visit Domestique is on Sunday afternoons when there are tastings centered around a theme such as a specific producer, region, or varietal. Segal says they will be adding more educational programming and events in the coming months.
Domestique is open daily from noon to 8 p.m.
Domestique, 10 Florida Ave. NW; (202) 853-3897; domestiquewine.com
This story has been updated to reflect that Domestique is in Truxton Circle.