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Mar 20, 2008 07:03 AM

help with this wine list...

I am taking my girlfriend to Michael Mina's new restaurant in Miami for her birthday, and am looking for a nice bottle of red that will not break the wallet, somewhere around $60-70 if possible. She is a fan of the older world style, lower alcohol content, softer tannins. She loves pinot noirs, zinfandels, and some cabernets (she liked the Dynamite Vineyards '04 for example). As it is a steak restaurant, we will likely both order red meat, though I may go with a olive oil poached lamb for mine. Which bottles on the list would you look towards if you were sitting in my shoes, with the goal of a perfect birthday dinner.

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  1. >>> . . . looking for a nice bottle of red that will not break the wallet, somewhere around $60-70 if possible. She is a fan of the older world style, lower alcohol content, softer tannins. She loves pinot noirs, zinfandels and some cabernets . . . <<<

    OK, so the cheapest Sonoma Pinot Noirs are $83 and $84, respectively; from the Central Coast, there's one that's $54 (Calera Central Coast, which I'd skip for this occasion, and at this price), two at $69, and three available in the $75-79 range; Oregon has three in the $70+ range; and when it comes to Burgundy, fergitaboutit!

    Zinfandel is no better: four Zins and the cheapest is $78.

    Cabernet? Only two are under triple digits: Ehlers @ $80, and Honig @ $75. No Bordeaux is under $100, either . . .

    Staying roughly in your price range, consider the following

    -- Pinot Noir: Patz & Hall, $84; Melville, $69; or Talley, $78.
    -- Zinfnadel: pass
    -- Cabernet: pass

    BUT . . . wait! There's more . . . .

    There ARE some good buys elsewhere on the list. Finca Sandoval 2004 is a Syrah from Spain that is, IMHO, wonderful! It's also only $51 on the list, and full retail is $40! Under "Rhône," look at the wines from Jean-Louis Chave (Crozes, St.-Joseph) and also the Gigondas from Les Paillières, or -- from Spain -- the 2001 Remirez de Ganuza, or the 205 "Les Terraces" from Alvaro Palacios . . .

    Just some of my thoughts. YMMV.


    8 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Thank you for your response Jason. Through reading the board, your opinion is truly respected and appreciated. What do you think of the Lamelson Thea's or the Au Bon Climat LA Bauge Au Dessus, if you have tried either. While I enjoy them, my girlfriend is not the biggest fan of Syrah, so I have to focus elsewhere on the list. I know it is a difficult one to work with in that price range.

      1. re: mikek

        Between the two, I'd pick the ABC.

        1. re: zin1953

          Thank you again, I re-perused the list and discovered that the Patz & Hall and Talley PN are both offered in 1/2 bottles. So I think I will order one of the Talley 1/2s, and then either order another one of those, a P&H 1/2 or one of the Finca Sandoval full size bottles. Variety is, after all, the essence of life...especially with wines!

      2. re: zin1953

        Is it just me, or is anyone else supremely annoyed by all of the "stories" and history lessons on wine lists? A growing problem in NYC for sure, and now, after perusing this one, I fear elsewhere.

        (Although '82 Latour for $1600 is a steal. The wine is showing at auction for around $2800)

        1. re: Caillerets

          For the wine fanatic, yes it might be. However, for the average diner, I think it is a nice addition to the list. Will it make them knowledgable about that type of wine on its own? Absolutely not. Will it perhaps increase and appreciation for the bottle they are about to drink? Perhaps. Is it worth increasing the wine list by a couple of paragraphs for that possibility? I think so.

          1. re: mikek

            I've never had any problem with stories or historys on the wine list, and my friends consider me a wine fanatic. I actually appreciate it when the list has wines that I am not familiar with and have been known to try a wine that I might never considered after reading what was on the wine list because the story caught my fancy. I would never have tried the 2001 Gravner Ribolla Gialla "Amphora" were it not for the interesting writeup on the wine list. (and the fact that the owner of the restaurant gave me a 1/3 off discount so I would try it.) I am glad I did as it was one of the most unusual and wonderful wines I'd had in a long time.

            1. re: dinwiddie

              I agree, dinwiddie, out of the wines on that list in the 60-80 range what would you select for the perfect birthday dinner for the girlfriend?

          2. re: Caillerets

            The stories and history lessons don't annoy me as much as the opening introduction to their wine list...

            “ I am forever beholden to the mystery of the grape in its most complex form, at its finest hour.”
            Rajat Parr, Wine Director, MICHAEL MINA

            Really? Of all the great quotes about wine you could have dug up, you choose this one, your own? Sniff sniff, is that an air of self-importance I smell?

        2. <She is a fan of the older world style, lower alcohol content, softer tannins. She loves pinot noirs, zinfandels, and some cabernets > interesting, since most zinfandels have a minimum alcohol level of 15% -- which imho is HIGH.

          after perusing the list, here are my suggestions: First of all, Pinot Noir

          Either of the Au Bon Climat's that are $75 are a good value, and would go well with that lamb
          Either of the Oregon Patty Green's - @ $70 and $79 are yummy and gret values
          The Potel Volnay from Burgundy @ $93 would be killer,
          BUT from the Sommelier's Secrets, at the bottom of the list, the steal of the night, and probably outrageous with your dinners, is the Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon "Cote du Py" @$45! That's a cru Beaujolais, but Morgon is the meatiest of the crus, and this is a single vineyard by a stellar winemaker.

          Have a great dinner.

          1. $60-70 is tough on this list. I'd go with the Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses Priorat from Spain at $72. This is a lush fruity wine that goes great with steak. It's primarily grenache, I think.

            ETA: this is way above your budget, but if your girlfriend really likes old world style pinots, the Freeman Sonoma Coast 2005 at $98 is a really nice wine and will definitely impress her. Great burgundian minerality, but approachable and fruity in a California way, and definitely not too hot and alcoholic. Plus, it's pretty hard to get your hands on those bottles on the east coast -- so it's a rare treat.

            1. If I was in your shoes, looking for the perfect birthday/ romantic dinner wines, I wouldn't get just one wine... that's for starters.

              To keep you in your target of 60-70 bucks, why not get a couple glasses of a nice red to fit your entrees. For "steak and lamb" then your obvious first choice is cabernet sauvignon, although merlot, tempranillo, zinfandel, syrah, malbec... (not to mention brunello, nebbiolo, etc....) would all work. Just think "rich red wine".... pinot noir isn't right for these dishes, btw.

              SO, you've had two nice glasses of red with your meal, you still have 50 bucks left for a glass of bubbly or a riesling to open up some appetizers, and a dessert wine with your desserts!


                2 Replies
                1. re: Paul Weller

                  not much of bargin on the list but $95 for '04 peay pinot sounds decent.
                  don't see anything in cab or zin on that list that is worth what they are asking for imo

                  1. re: Paul Weller

                    also '05 etude pinot looks good for $83.