Dedalus / Jessica Sipe
A tasting feast at Dedalus Wine
Raise a glass! The new Dedalus Wine
aims to open its doors at 388 Pine Street on Monday, February 20. The longtime Burlington wine store is leaving its current quarters at 180 Battery Street for an expanded spot promising much more than just wine.
Along with an enormous range of bottles, the warehouse-size space — formerly home to Burlington Furniture Company — will also house a curated stock of charcuterie, imported specialty goods, cheeses and breads, plus a full-menu wine bar open seven days a week.
Dedalus owner Jason Zuliani recently gave me a sneak peek inside. Spoiler alert: My tour ended with a tasting of the current menu, which turned into a two-hour feast sluiced with wine samples and enough cheese to make even pro Catherine Donnelly
blush. But let’s begin with the tour.
The Pine Street space is split into the wine shop and market on one side, wine bar on the other. Zuliani pointed out details of each section as saws buzzed in the background. Though construction wasn't quite
wrapped up during my visit, the space, designed and built by Cornwall-based construction group Imhotep
, is stunning. Along with innovative features by Imhotep, the room showcases neighboring South End artists, as well.
“It’s amazing to be surrounded by all these artisans and craft makers,” said Zuliani. “I can just walk around the corner and visit the team at AO Glass
; they're working on a few pieces for us.”
He pointed to a mounted oak counter near the entrance. It will soon be filled with bottles priced $25 and under; good for oenophiles and novices alike who want to explore interesting small vintners at a wallet-friendly price. The current Dedalus has 35 individual wines available in this price range; the new shop, Zuliani said, will have 65 to 100. Mingled with the bottles will be suggested pairings and accoutrements, he added. Think Loire Valley goat cheese with Sauvignon Blanc, or summer sausage with a bottle of Riesling.
During our tour, we came upon Rory Stamp sorting through a mélange of imported spreads in an area of the shop dedicated to dry goods. Stamp is no newbie to the world of specialty foods. Before assuming the role of artisan food manager of Dedalus Wine, he was the cheese and catalog manager at Shelburne Farms
. Before that, he was the wine buyer and cheese monger at Boston institution Formaggio Kitchen
“The dry goods, cheeses and charcuterie provide the context to really highlight and enjoy your wine,” said Stamp as he browsed preserves on a butcher-block counter. Behind him was an impressive assortment of packaged foods: olive oil and steeped vinegars; imported dried pasta; Italian conserva and mostarda; fat, silvery sardines in Spanish olive oil; tinned pulpo and aged tuna; verdant jarred sauces; and tall, luminous glasses of white asparagus spears from France.
“These are all things you can take home with some charcuterie and cheese to make a beautiful meal with your beautiful wine,” Stamp continued.
Beyond this display, Dedalus opens into a wide space that reveals the building's industrial roots: exposed brick, scuffed wooden floors, matte-black ceilings and warm lighting. This is balanced with rustic, handmade accents. Deep wooden bays on casters are the central focus — the future homes for more than 600 bottles of wine. There’s a space for half bottles, wooden crates for storage, malted birch countertops and a magnum peg rack already stocked with labels. A display case framed in hand-carved wood stands near a glass reach-in case packed with cheese.
“The only requirement I had for this piece,” Zuliani said of the display case, “was that it had to be strong enough to hold 500 pounds of meat and cheese."
A small room controlled for humidity and temperature holds rare and vintage wines. The low-lit quarter has the resiny smell of an old European library. Nearby, a private room is being constructed for tastings, private parties and a forthcoming schedule of wine courses, from one-off regional studies to a five-week series called Wine 101. Vermont Wine School
founder Kevin Cleary, also familiar for former Burlington hubs L’Amante and Vin Bar & Shop, will run a national wine-certification course in this space, as well.
In the back right corner of the warehouse is Dedalus' glass-enclosed wine bar and restaurant, to be fronted by chef Max Mackinnon. Name sound familiar? Mackinnon was the chef-owner of the late Pistou, the small Burlington bistro that earned the young chef a James Beard Foundation nod in 2012. Pistou shuttered two years later.
In the interim, Mackinnon has been busy. He spent time at various acclaimed spots around the country and beyond, including Copenhagen’s Relae; Fish & Game in Hudson, N.Y.; and Washington, D.C., hotspot Rose’s Luxury. Most recently, he fronted the kitchen at upscale San Francisco bistro Mason Pacific.
After a three-year absence, Mackinnon returned to Burlington this January. He didn't specify his incentives for the move, though they certainly included his new gig as head chef at Dedalus.
Dedalus / Jessica Sipe
Scott Doherty at Dedalus Wine
From a kitchen roughly the size of a shipping container, Mackinnon will turn out a nightly menu of 12 to 18 often-changing dishes. Small and medium-size plates — that is, excluding a mammoth cheese-and-charcuterie board — will complement a wine list with 36 bottles and a dozen wines by the glass.
The wines, pulled from the aforementioned stock of 600-odd bottles, will rotate multiple times a week to showcase Dedalus’ full scope of growers and regions. A decanting station flanked by wood-post beams sits on the far side of the wine bar, where Dedalus sommeliers will decant most bottles ordered. Speaking of somms: The new Dedalus has four on staff, plus a full-time wine director.
Before departing to the tundra outside, Zuliani invited me to join the Dedalus team for a tasting of Mackinnon’s new menu, complete, of course, with wine pairings. He didn't have to twist my arm.
As we relaxed into our chairs at a long wooden table, I admired the centerpiece: an upturned wedge of French cheese pressed with herbs and flower petals, nestled under a giant orb from AO Glass. The table was set with stemmed Zalto wine glasses; I thought of New York Times
restaurant critic Pete Wells, who once wrote that wine drinkers would be spoiled forever from sipping from anything else. He had a point. The Zaltos made me rethink my usual wine vehicle — an empty jam jar or one of my dad’s old stemless glasses.
Our procession of menu “tastings” soon became a late-afternoon feast as a crew of Dedalus staffers gathered around the table. Mackinnon first brought out circles of sourdough flatbread with bowls of bright-orange romesco, eggplant-tahini sauce and Marcona almonds. Then there was a rustic scoop of beef tartar: rosy LaPlatte River Angus Farm meat over harissa aioli, charred eggplant, chopped almonds and torn leaves of basil, mint and parsley.
A wooden board was laden with slabs of cheese from near and far, huddled around accoutrements such as dried currants, tarragon mustard, sour cherry conserva, buckwheat honey, crackers made from Long Trail Brewing
's spent grain, and a scattering of Spanish corn nuts. I must digress for a moment to emphasize the corn nuts. With the bracing biodynamic French white poured for the table, few things could be better.
Dedalus / Jessica Sipe
Sample cheese plate at Dedalus Wine
Next was a board of speck and smoked ham under a blanket of still-bubbling Raclette cheese, plated alongside salt-roasted fingerlings, grainy mustard and a little bowl of cornichons.
"How do you pair a wine with a dish like Dedalus’ version of the chopped salad?" I asked when the dish arrived at the table. Taste-wise, there's a lot to reckon with: delicate cauliflower, bitter radicchio, raw celery, salty cubes of pecorino and mortadella, briny capers, oil-cured olives, the rugged salt-crunch of croutons.
“Choose the dominant note,” advised Zuliani, “and go with that.”
Mackinnon emerged from the kitchen with more plates — a shallow dish of octopus with chorizo, and artichokes laced richly with tonnato, a creamy-tangy Italian aioli made with capers, anchovies and tuna. The pièce de résistance was soon plunked in the center of the table: a herculean charcuterie board layered with everything from cured meats, rye cookies and hunks of two-year aged Parmesan to green tomato mostarda, Spanish tapenade and whipped goat’s-milk feta with orange zest and Espelette pepper.
Ignoring the golf-ball-size snowflakes battering the windows outside, I relaxed into my chair for one more bite of aged Parmesan, one more sip of Cabernet Franc. I asked Zuliani the purpose behind joining a specialty foods market, retail shop and wine bar under one roof. His answer came easily.
“With the wine bar,” Zuliani said, “we want to reach out and creatively shape the idea of how we like to enjoy food and wine together. Then, with the market and wine shop, you can take the experience all home with you.”
After next Monday, Dedalus Wine Shop, Market & Wine Bar will be open seven days a week.