Help with This Wine List, Please
Hi all, I really need some Help here. This is the situation: Im taking my partner to a nice restaurant for his Bday celebration and I took a look at their wine list. This is it:
I found the list pretty expensive and, as almost always, the wines I know on the list are 3 times the market price or even a bit more. We will probably have a chef's menu consisting of 4 or 6 courses, I guess i'll eat duck, beef, pork, fowl and he'll probably eat fowl and more fish than me. However, we will share a bottle of red -medium to full body- but I don't want the wine to overpower his food. So Im thinking of something that gets along with a several course menu......NOW, the big question/counseling: Does any of you knows a wine on this list that fits my needs and either #1 costs around 50 or #2 costs a bit more but is NOT 3 times the market price? I will deeeeeply appreciate any help. Jacques
Those prices are criminal.
I do not mean to be insensitive to your price considerations, but from that list, meeting your criteria of a red wine that will also pair well with lighter fare, that comes anywhere close to your price range, I would say the easy choice is the 2005 Cristom Pinot Noir Louise @ $120. @ $108 the Peay Les Titans Syrah is a very good wine and surprisingly balanced for a CA Syrah... it would probably be a little much with fish, though.
That said, given your criteria of a red wine that will pair well with rich red meats and also some lighter fare, and taking *value* into account more than the actual number. Without question, the two wines I would be debating between would be the 2001 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vignet Valeirano @ $240 and the 1981 Lopez de Heredia Vigna Bosconia Gran Reserva @ $205.
No, wait, let me re-phrase that. There is absolutely no way in hell I would not order the Lopez from that list. And I would be in heaven. But you have to know that you like rustic, earthy wines. The Barbaresco is safer. And, at half the price, the US wines I suggested certainly fit your price range at least a bit better, and are both more "obvious" in their upfront fruit, which you may actually prefer, if that is your thing.
Here's how to do it...
FIRST, your menu hardly calls for a "medium to full body red"... that's ridiculous... you're having fowl, duck, fish.... come on.... that's got white or lighter/medium reds written all over it. You don't want a dry ponderous red wine for this meal.
Match your dinner with the appropriate delicious wines. The best red to match all of this is Pinot Noir, IMO.... the best whites would be riesling or chardonnay. The riesling has the advantage of reaching quite a bit better to the pork than the chardonnay would.
NOW.... at $50 I don't see any opportunities in Pinot for you, except perhaps by the glass, which would be an excellent option. But in the bottles, the best choice by far is probably the Rossignol Santenots at $88 for a 1/2 bottle, which is probably all you need, and is an excellent wine from a superb vintage.
The other two wines that are anywhere near where you want to be would be the Lost Canyon Saralees Pinot at $98 or the 2006 Chehalem Pinot 3 but that's slightly youngish for me. I'd really prefer the Rossignol or just get a glass or 2 of pinot by itself.
NOW, for the whites, you have some excellent choices here... The Christoffel 2005 Erdener Treppchen Mosel kabinett at $60 or the 2005 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher at $57. Both of those wines are from superb vineyards, great vintages, and match a very wide range of the foods you have in mind.
In Chardonnay you have a good choice in the Pinson Chablis Mont De Milieu 2005 but that's at $80... great vintage and matches your meal pretty well..
Overall, given your budget targets and the food you have in mind I'd probably go with the 2005 riesling and then a glass of pinot each...
re: Chicago Mike
Jacques: I did mean also to say that the only food item on your list that these wines probably don't match well is "beef" (depending on the dish of course)... since it's an outlier from the standpoint of wine matching I'd suggest dropping it in favor of something that better matches these wine themes of pinot noir and either riesling or chardonnay.
That said, "beef" probably won't be a flavor clash either so if it comes as part of a tasting menu you'll still be okay.
re: Chicago Mike
yes, thanks, I understand your reasoning on white but I think my partner (whose bday im celebrating) wont drink a bottle of white, I mean he would enjoy much more a bottle of red, so yes, I was actually thinking of having a pinot. maybe a glass of riesling first or even a sparkling (but the prizes are outrageous) and then red. I think half a bottle of the rossignol santenots for 88 is still too much for our -well, my budget-, specially because I'm certain he will like a whole bottle or maybe he'll have half a bottle but then he will want to drink wine afterwards...maybe that is not such a bad idea after all, i mean to have half a bottle and then go somewhere else to have a glass of wine. or we could come back home and have a special bottle here... now...a question, would it be totally absurd and uninteresting to buy something like an au bon climat pinot (at 60...instead of the 17 I pay here)?
re: jacques gaudet
I don't think the Au Bon Climat is a bad idea at all. It's a very youngish vintage and that's why I shied away a bit from it and the 06 chehalem. But definitely drinkable and 06 was a pretty good vintage in Santa Barbara... so IMO definitely an option for you.
And given that this is very budget-friendly, absolutely spring for some whites to go with it. Even if your friend isn't fond of whites "on their own", he'll definitely like the match with the food, based on your description of the likely menu.
You could really turn it into a wine-learning event by just having one glass each of riesling and chardonnay with this meal, in addition to your bottle of pinot. That way you have 3 very appropriate wines to sample with the food, and compare and contrast how they each match up.
Having dined at several Gordon Ramsay restaurants in the UK, and having done the tasting menu at these, we have gone with the "sommelier's pairings," and have not been disappointed. The pricing for these seemed fair (better than the wine list appears), and the pairings were very good to excellent. We have usually held onto our earlier wines, just to do comparissons. Now, you have to remember that we were thinking $'s and the prices were in £'s, but all seemed fair for London and its environs.
This allows one to have a wine, paired with each course, and by someone who *should* know the kitchen and the prep of each dish. This is better than trying to pick the quintessential wine for *every* course. Chef Ramsay is big on his wines, and his sommeliers, at least in the UK, have indicated that they "get it."
IMO, if you are going to that "kind" or restaurant (price-wise), just forget about the prices, and get yourself a bottle of wine you want and scream about it when you receive your credit card bill later.
Yes the markup are very high, but you want to indulge in one expensive restaurant from the beginning.
anyway, personally, i would get the Pommard or if you want something a little "lighter" a red from the Loire.