Pick It Apart

Examining your favorite restaurant wine lists

Moving onto the reds, we begin again with a strong Burgundy selection, though one that seems a bit too focused on a few producers. A fair amount of Dujac here, which would be tough to argue with if it weren’t all so young! In fact, the list is almost all relatively current release wines, which makes spending a ton on Burgundy here a bit of a waste.

For a younger wine, I would probably want to check out this out:

Volnay 1er Cru Les Champans, Domaine Joseph Voillot 2006 - $140

Bordeaux is much of the same. Lots of fine wine but most too young, or too expensive for my tastes. If it has to be Bordeaux though, I would probably opt for either:

Château Haut-Bailly 2001 - $160
Château Haut-Bailly 2002 - $145

I was hoping to see a stronger list of wines from the South of France and I was honestly a little disappointed by the limited selection. Not to mention the list from the Northern Rhone dominated by Guigal trophy wines that was saved by two killer listings:

Côte-Rôtie, Patrick Jasmin 2006 - $120
Cornas, Thierry Allemand 2006 - $180

The Southern Rhone was another drag and I was about to give up on the list entirely (though in all honesty that has more to do with the wines of the Southern Rhone as opposed to the list itself), when I found the super cluster of the list and order was restored.

Domaine de la Grange Des Pères, Vin de Pays de L'Hérault 2004 - $155
Vin de Pays de L'Hérault, Mas de Daumas Gassac 2006 - $105
Domaine Tempier, Bandol 2007 - $90
Domaine Tempier Les Tourtine, Bandol 2006 - $125

The rest of the list was well thought out, if unexciting, selections from Italy and the Iberian peninsula, where I did find this gem:

Viña Bosconia Reserva, Rioja 2000  - $80

The domestic Pinot Noir selection was certainly interesting with many fairly priced selections. I really liked two from Oregon:

Dusky Goose, Dundee Hills 2008 - $130
Brickhouse Select, Ribbon Ridge 2008 - $70

Once past the Pinot, there were some selections of bigger reds, Zins and Syrahs, that didn’t grab my attention as well as listings of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with prices that seemed to indicate that this was a sweet spot for selling on the list. Even though these wines may not be the best partners for the menu, it would not surprise me to see that these wines are inordinately strong sellers.

Australia and New Zealand appear to be a bit of an afterthought of the list, with a nice representation, but nothing to write home about. T hough the Martinborough Vineyard Martinborough Terrace Point Noir 2004 is priced to try ($50) and may just be one of the more interesting aged wines on the list!

I’m not much for sweet wines, though this list has a fine selection. If I was with a group I could see being very happy with a half-bottle of:

Domaine La Tour Vieille 2004 500ml - $55

But if any area of this list seemed to be a touch weak and more aggressively priced, these sweeties would seem to be it.

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Mentioned in this article


  • Take a look at the my favorite DC Italian wine list, at Dino. It's a PDF accesssed from this page: http://www.dino-dc.com/2008/05/vini...

    Jun 01, 2011 at 11:48 AM

  • Snooth User: cmajka
    272535 11

    Hi Greg -

    My favorite Spanish wine list has a lot of offers by the glass as well...
    I had a chance to try he Clos Mogador 2004 a couple weeks ago - it was amazing.



    Jun 01, 2011 at 12:57 PM

  • Snooth User: diablo58
    75866 298

    Still rummaging around in Chicago, The Purple Pig is a nice spot, especially for a nice summer evening. It's a "european bistro" featuring small plates and a nice list of wine by the glass, quartinos, half and full bottles. You can grab a nibble or build a meal. Off Michigan and overlooking Illinois, it features long tables which amps up the social interaction.

    Most frustrating: McCormick and Schmick's wine list. I know its a chain, but for an "upscale" spot...

    Jun 01, 2011 at 1:02 PM

  • Great feature! Will send a list from some Dallas-Fort Worth faves.

    Jun 01, 2011 at 4:33 PM

  • Snooth User: Typeaux
    820185 16

    I like this feature and I particularly enjoy finding spectacular wines lists at otherwise out-of-the-way places, such as the Groveland Hotel here in California near Yosemite. It is a long, eye-popping list. As to your Les Nomades wine list, it is a fine list but for the fact that they serve roast duck and yet do not have the quintessential pairing with a great Cotes-Rotie or Hermitage (Northern Rhones) which would compliment it perfectly. At the same time, they do offer a Condrieu (viognier) from the same region, which leaves me scratching my head in wonder. (I may be from California, but some dishes scream for French, or Italian, or yes, even Iberian wines from the Duoro...) More articles like this one, please!

    Jun 01, 2011 at 6:10 PM

  • Snooth User: jamessulis
    Hand of Snooth
    426220 1,486

    Wonderful that you should start in my home town, Chicago. One of the finest dining experience anyone will ever experience is Charlie Trotters. Although quite expensive, the food in unimaginable and the wine list is like looking at the yellow pages. Hope you will review some restaurants in the Portland, Oregon area as well. Nice article, here's Charlie Trotter website
    Lefty - The Great Pacific Northwest

    Jun 01, 2011 at 6:15 PM

  • Snooth User: outthere
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    324443 3,835

    Love Madrona Manor in Healdsburg. Great restaurant and wine list!

    Jun 01, 2011 at 6:43 PM

  • Snooth User: Typeaux
    820185 16

    To Outthere... It's one thing to have a great wine list in Chicago, but it is almost redundant for a restaurant that has literally dozens of world-class wineries within a 10-minute drive of Madrona Manor! But then, I haven't dined there (have friends who have, and loved it). Bound to have a great wine list, but it's a bit like paying for a peep show while staying at Hefner's house. ;o)

    Jun 01, 2011 at 7:02 PM

  • Snooth User: outthere
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    324443 3,835

    @ Typeaux - I agree to an extent but you would be surprised at the number of crappy wine lists we have here in Sonoma County even though having exceptional wines on hand should be a slam dunk. Redundancy is a word not in the vocab of many restauranteurs here in Wine Country unless you are comparing some of their wine lists. Yikes!

    Jun 01, 2011 at 7:18 PM

  • Snooth User: Typeaux
    820185 16

    @ Outthere... Point well taken. My problem with wine lists is not the list itself but rather the keystoning of prices (doubling, even tripling the price). We often simply pay for corkage of a wine we bring in (provided it is not on their wine list -- which is considered bad form, and I agree). Since we're fairly local (Bay Area), we're more inclined to visit some tasting rooms and then follow that with a huge picnic al fresco (with wine, of course). After that, dining out seems, well, superfluous. ;o)

    Jun 01, 2011 at 7:43 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 204,776

    Great comments folks. I really appreciate them. I'm going to make this at least a monthly feature, perhaps more as time allows!

    Jun 02, 2011 at 10:10 AM

  • Snooth User: mqadams
    345854 4

    Great topic, Greg. Question: how much did you pay for the meal and the wines? Also, how much did you tip, especially for the wines, bearing in mind that the wine service is esentially the same regardless of the price of the wine. Thanks.

    Jul 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM

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