Dinner Tonight: Can you pick a wine from this list?
I'm taking my fiance out for her 30th birthday tonight and have been poring over the wine list non-stop. The selection leans heavily on Bordeaux and other French wines. The Napa cabs are way overpriced for what is available. Also, the price range is a little rough - the sub-$200 range is not so plentiful. (For you New Yorkers on here, the restaurant is Picholine).
I've gone through and am trying to pick from the following. I'm listing the prices in the event any of these are especially good values. Any thoughts?
Ch. Calon-Segur 1996 : $185 (I have a btl of this at home, have never tried it. I believe it's not supposed to be ready until 2010, but..? Also, a little more than I want to spend)
Ch. Lafon-Rochet 1996: $165.... 1995: $150
Ch. Pagodes des Cos 2001: $100 (this was kind of in the sweet spot price-wise; I understand it is the 2nd label of Cos d'Estournel and is pretty good, but is '01 ready to drink?)
Ch. Haut-Batailley 2001: $85
Ch. Talbot 1999: $125
Ch. Haut-LaGrange 2003: $75
Bahans du Ch. Haut-Brion 1998: $150
Dom. de Bonerine Cote-Rotie 2001: $95
Ch. la Nerthe Cdp 2003: $95
Dom. de Monpertuis 2004: $85
Any help would be much appreciated. I know I could ask the sommelier, but this list is a bit long for that, I think.
I don't have much to add on which bottle to suggest specifically, but, what i would suggest is talk to the sommelier. You have questions here posted, like is an '01 ready to drink?, and is this not exactly why restaurants have sommeliers?
I would talk to the sommelier, tell them what you like, willing to spend, ball park, and ask the questions you have posted here. I would assume any sommelier would be ready to help you, someone who seems to have an idea of what they want, over a "so, whats good on these 15 pages?" type of customer.
And, ask him/her to help pair the wine with your mains, as they should know the kitchen very well. A great wine (or great deal on a wine) might not be so great, if it clashes with the food. Maybe get a half-bottle of a favorite wine, while you study the menu, then ask for the sommelier.
Depending on your meal you may do way better with a 15 bottle of german riesling than you will with a trophy 300 bordeaux....
Night and day better... just depends on your meal.
That said, just looking at the specific bottles you list, frankly none of them is very impressive for vintage or price... and most are way too young. Lastly, no one bottle of these heavy reds is going to remotely match every course of your meal from app to dessert!!
At the end of the day, why don't you ask for matching half-glasses of wine with each course... half glasses or full glasses... or one of you order one and split it, etc... that way you can expend your wine budget but have a much better overall series of food and wine matches.
As others have suggested, feel free to ask the sommelier to help you with the wine pairing.
As for the wines themselves, I've only had the la Nerthe CDP and the Côte-Rôtie from (I think you mean) Bonserine. The CDP was pretty unspectacular, and the Bonserine, much less expensive than your typical CR, was pretty tasty (sorry, didn't keep tasting notes) but could use more time in the cellar.
Hope that helps.
Obvioiusly this event is past, and we've no report on what was eaten and drunk, but fwiw, Picholine has a rather Provençal menu, and so on general principal, those wines that are from the South of France are likely candidates for success.
Chateauneuf-du-Papes from 01 through 05 are generally good choices, tho most if not all will benefit from some decanting. Other than the 03, they are very ageworthy, and rather tannic in youth.
If you're so inclined to try them, the whites from the South of France are very food friendly, fragrant and fruity.
Here's another idea: tell the sommelier a) it's a special occasion) b) you can spend $100 tops and c) you won't be getting a second bottle. That will shake some recommendations out of the list for you. Honestly, I think these prices are crazy even for New York. Don't feel you have to spend that much.