Grand Cru Brings a Stunning Flavor Profile to Magnolia Avenue
Grand cru – /grand kroo/ – noun – (French official classification) wine of the highest grade, or the vineyards that produce it.
A bold classification, and one that wine lovers the world over respect. An almost unobtainable standard of excellence, “grand cru” signifies the pinnacle achievement of the grape and the art of winemaking. A mere 32 vineyards in the region of Burgundy have this designation, and between them produce some of the world’s most desirable wines.
A wine bar or shop that adopts this name for its own makes a clear statement as to the quality of its wares; Fort Worth’s Grand Cru, located on Magnolia Avenue, not only lives up to its name — but extends this signifier of vinicultural excellence to all aspects of the business, from food to atmosphere, and even craft beer.
Karen and Kayne Chu have grown their business from a small, primarily retail space to its current iteration as a wine bar and eatery in the heart of Fort Worth’s Southside.
“We got our start in the Bryant Irvin, I-20 area in a little shopping center,” says Karen. “We had maybe 10 wines by the glass. We stayed there for five years, and when our lease was up, hurried to Magnolia as soon as possible.”
The move spurred an evolution of the business, with a focused shift to the experiential. While Grand Cru still sells wine for customers to take home, the emphasis now is squarely on the pleasure of fine wine and food in a comfortable and elegant environment.
“The conception for Grand Cru came to us in the early 2000s,” says Karen. “My husband and I have always been food and wine lovers. We traveled a lot and would seek out cool wine bars, shops, and mom and pop places. We decided to open a place that incorporated the best aspects of all of them.”
Karen and Kayne relocated to a 1920s-era building, where the exposed brick walls and bottle displays create an atmosphere reminiscent of a European bodega. More than a simple homage to international wine bars, though, Grand Cru distinguishes itself through the variety of its food and drink offerings.
“We have wines from all over the world,” says Karen. “We try to have wines from surprising places, like a Chardonnay from Hungary, or a Croatian vintage. We offer more obscure wines, and a lot of things you’re not going to see in grocery stores.”
Guests can sample selections of Grand Cru’s wines at weekly flight tastings, offered on the weekends with changing, thematic selections.
“We might focus on a single region, or grape or winery. We always have a red and white to choose from, and offer them at a special price. Our flights can contain wines we don’t normally sell by the glass.”
If you’d rather just drop in for a glass or two, Grand Cru offers approximately 75 wines by the glass at any given time, with virtually everything available by the bottle or for retail purchase.
As for the food, expect more than your average wine bar snacks.
“Everything on our menu is something that I would want to serve to guests at my home,” says Karen. “We have a lot of shareable items, such as cheese and charcuterie, but more substantial choices as well. Every week we offer a fresh, housemade soup, and have flatbread pizzas that come fresh from the oven.”
In addition to its food menu, Grand Cru offers a monthly fixed-menu wine dinner. The evenings develop around the wine selection, usually based on a region, with courses paired for each wine.
“Our wine dinners are a lot of fun,” says Karen. “We make them educational events, with speakers that lead participants through the tasting, and supplemental audio/visual components.”
One more special feature of Grand Cru allows customers to try ultra-premium wines by the ounce, rather than splurge hundreds of dollars on a bottle.
“We use the Corvine system, which allows us to extract wine from a bottle without ever pulling the cork. This ensures that each pour is as fresh as the first, and gives wine enthusiasts the opportunity to try expensive wines without the financial commitment. For example, for as little as $15, you can say you’ve had Gaja Barolo Sperss Barolo without having to fork over more than $250 for the bottle.”
If you enjoy wine, you owe it to yourself to experience what Karen and Kayne’s place has to offer. As far as wine bars go, Grand Cru on Magnolia is a rare vintage indeed.