HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
What's your latest food quest? Get great advice
TELL US

Multiple Wines From the Same Producer On a Wine List

ellaystingray Jun 1, 2012 02:03 AM

What are your thoughts?

I am being specifically vague as not to influence how you regard my question. I am interested in every variation on this theme.

  1. g
    goldangl95 Jun 1, 2012 08:50 AM

    It depends on the wine list. If it's a whole book, I don't mind say if they have say, both Chateau Montelena's chardonnay and their cab, or if they have both the Ridge Montebello and the Lytton Springs etc. They are great exemplars of wine and I understand showcasing both.

    On the other hand, when I order a wine off a wine list, I usually order one that I have a hard time obtaining, one I haven't had before etc. If the wine list is short, and then on top of that, is dominated by a producer I already know well, the wine list becomes disappointing to me.

    5 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95
      p
      plaidbowtie Jun 1, 2012 12:34 PM

      Bar Agricole in SF's list is a perfect example of this to me. When you have a 100 bottle list with 15 or so producers, I'm likely to just order a cocktail.

      1. re: plaidbowtie
        Bill Hunt Jun 1, 2012 08:52 PM

        Who are those 15 producers?

        I might agree, or maybe not. It just depends on those producers.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt
          p
          plaidbowtie Jun 2, 2012 02:30 AM

          Francois Chidaine, Pinon, Huet, Pepiere, et al..

          1. re: plaidbowtie
            Bill Hunt Jun 3, 2012 09:33 PM

            I see some good producers in that list, though do not know them all.

            So long as a respected producer is represented, I do not have an issue.

            On one recent, 232 page wine list, there were two full pages from E. Guigal. I understand that. There was one page from Larry Turley (Zins and Syrahs), and almost two from Paul Hobbs.

            To me, it depends greatly on the producer. If they had dedicated 200 pages to the wines of E & J Gallo, or Sutter-Home, then I would question things, and quickly.

            Now, that example is probably extreme, to a great extent. Recently I HAVE encountered much smaller lists, that were almost exclusively the wines of Sutter-Home, though sporting the various names. I was NOT impressed.

            So, it depends, and can depend greatly.

            Hunt

      2. re: goldangl95
        Bill Hunt Jun 1, 2012 08:52 PM

        Good point. I would have zero issue with any wine list, heavy in Ridge.

        Same for Larry Turley.

        Same for Fred Shrader.

        It would just depend.

        Hunt

      3. f
        FrankJBN Jun 1, 2012 02:19 PM

        Wouldn't matter to me at all. It likely would indicate not the best of lists, but how many of the restaurants you go to have the "best"? Some wine lists are better than others.

        I am curious why this would turn someone so against a wine list as to not buy wine at all - for that reason. Not that there arwe nothing but bad wines or wines one is not interested in, but as in the example given by plaidbowtie. A wine list with 15 producers with maybe a half-dozen wines from each. (100 wines total). Why "just order a cocktail"?

        How about if a wine list had 15 wines from 15 different producers? What's the difference (and don't say 85 wines.)

        4 Replies
        1. re: FrankJBN
          g
          goldangl95 Jun 1, 2012 03:00 PM

          This would be the difference (at least for me). With a wine list that is a book (thinking French Laundry as an example), the restaurant is basically claiming that they have in their cellar, a wide and diverse selection of all the wine in the world that should be served at the French Laundry. If then one opened that book, and it had 15 producers in it. There is no way that it represents the best of Barolos, and the best of Bordeauxs, and the best of Cult cabs etc, the best burgandies etc.

          In a small wine list, with say 15 wines offered total, the restaurant is usually saying here is a personal list, of wines the sommelier, has an interest in. Here are some reds and whites that could be of interest to you. It may only feature a couple regions, or 5 producers etc. Now if all 5 producers, are producers I consume at home, that is disappointing to me - but I don't condemn the restaurant for it. They do not claim nor seek accolades for their wine program, and I don't evaluate such restaurants on the strength of their wine program.

          In the French Laundry case, however, if they only have 15 producers, I would condemn it. Restaurants that claim to have world class wine lists, should have a varied, diverse, and exciting cellar. They market their wine list as such, and so I feel like I can take off points if the wine list is disappointing.

          Just to be clear - the French Laundry does not do that, and has a pretty interesting and varied list.

          1. re: FrankJBN
            b
            bg90027 Jun 1, 2012 03:35 PM

            I have to say I agree with Frank. If what they are doing is providing the wines of good estates and offering bottles at varying price points, I don't see any problem with that. If I were looking to order a Rioja, some nights I might want to splurge on the Gran Reserva and other nights I might be happier getting the Reserva at a lower price.

            The three most common issues I have with wine lists are (1) There's nothing reasonably priced; (2) The opposite problem that there's nothing very good; or (3) The list is just boring dominated by well-known wines that while not bad are not particularly interesting without much variety in varietal.

            Once I find one wine that I like and think will pair well with the food being ordered at a price I'm willing to pay, I'm satisfied. Whatever else is on the list (unless it's something I'd rather order) is somewhat academic at that point. If it is a really nice restaurant, I might expect a better wine list but my main concern is just finding something that I'd like.

            1. re: FrankJBN
              Bill Hunt Jun 1, 2012 08:57 PM

              I agree completely. One place, that we frequent, have maybe 50 wines by Paul Hobbs, and 40 by Garand Staglin (or Sherrie), and I would never take that as a negative. They also have a 20 year vertical of La Tache, and close for several other DRC's, and I do not see that as a negative - other than that I cannot do such a vertical, even over 10 days.

              Now, if the producer was Ernest & Julio Gallo, I might have different thoughts. However, without knowing the producer, I cannot comment directly.

              Hunt

              1. re: FrankJBN
                p
                plaidbowtie Jun 2, 2012 02:36 AM

                Frank, this is a completely personal thing-
                When I look at a wine list I can, depending on the restaurant usually tell you a) how much the bottle costs wholesale, b) their markup, and c) who they bought it from. The higher the frequency is that I can do that, the less likely I am to spend MY money. I often know exactly how much wine costs, and how much I could pay for that exact same bottle, as I have those resources available to me (indirectly).

                A list that has nuance to it, and things not as easily found outside the mainstream Sommelier catnip is more likely to grab my attention. Again, it's a totally personal thing, and YMMV

              2. PolarBear Jun 1, 2012 04:37 PM

                "specifically vague" ....love the phrase.

                I would introduce a geographical component, the most obvious would be a large metro areas offerings that may span the globe vs an area with less diversity (cuisine and/or acceess, and or fiscal resources). All to say, I love seeing a number of different wines from the same vintner on the central coast of CA in restaurants, especially if featured BTG. Often I learn of something from a winemaker that I like that was previously unknown to me, and if available only by the bottle intrigues me enough to ferret out that little potential gem.

                Again, this is probably more applicable to the non super star regions of wine country.

                Just my $0.20 (adjusted for inflation) and YMMV

                Cheers,

                Dave

                1. maria lorraine Jun 1, 2012 05:04 PM

                  I think it usually means the restaurant got a volume deal on a producer's wines, rather than hand-picking selections based on quality.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: maria lorraine
                    Bill Hunt Jun 1, 2012 09:10 PM

                    ML,

                    It certainly can be just that, but not always. As cited in this thread, I frequent a restaurant, with a great cache of Paul Hobbs' wines, and many that are not likely to be seen elsewhere. If one just hit the Paul Hobbs page, they might think that they had some sort of deal. Well, maybe they do, but then his wines occupy but one page (spread over several varietals), out of 232 pages.

                    Paul Draper is probably represented on as many pages. Same for Chuck Wagner, Dr Loosen, Costa-Brown, etc. It just depends.

                    Hunt

                    It can just depend.

                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      maria lorraine Jun 2, 2012 12:49 AM

                      Hi, Bill,

                      Yes, of course. I understand what you're getting at. I agree with the examples you've cited.

                      That's why I said "usually" in my post. Most restaurants across the vast expanse of the USA who have lots of wines by a producer are not high-end establishments. That's when you see the brands you've listed -- several wines by Sutter Home, cheap Beringer or low-end Mondavi, or Gallo -- on their lists.

                      It's the rarer case to have a lot of Paul Hobbs, or Kosta-Browne, or Shafer, etc.

                      Maria

                      1. re: maria lorraine
                        Bill Hunt Jun 3, 2012 09:45 PM

                        ML,

                        I do agree. I see too many, that are heavy, if not exclusive to those producers mentioned. I shun those, but do often have to pick something...

                        Those are not wine lists, that I personally enjoy.

                        OTOH, some years back, we found ourselves at a casino/resort, for an event. We dined on-site for about 4 meals. I really hesitated on the first three, as the wine lists were exclusively wines from Kendall-Jackson. I muttered some really negative comments to my long-suffering wife. On the last night, the wine list was presented, and it was horrible! How I wished that we had all of those Kendall-Jackson wines, to choose from. I got "mine."

                        Some restaurants let their distributor fill in the wines, while others actually do some work. If you hand me a wine list, it is usually easy to tell which.

                        I have encountered multi-page wine lists, that were done by the distributor, and here was NOTHING on it, that I wanted to drink. But, I have encountered single-page lists, that show that someone really cared. Those are the ones, that make a positive impression on me.

                        In the end, a wine list does not need to be bound in leather, and the size of an Encyclopedia Britannica edition, to be a good wine list. Large is no guarantee, that the wines will work, and some of the better lists have been a single page - but have included wines, that work well with the foods.

                        Having tons of wines from the right producer, should not be a problem, so long as that producer has wines, that work with the restaurant's food.

                        Hunt

                    2. re: maria lorraine
                      Bill Hunt Jun 1, 2012 09:14 PM

                      ML,

                      Now, and on the other side of that coin, I have encountered too many wine lists that have mostly wines by Sutter-Home, or Gallo, under all their various names. That is not a positive with me. I have seen the same with the older Mondavi, where almost every wine was from their portfolio - regardless of the name. THAT is a turn off, but am not sure what the OP is intimating.

                      Hunt

                    3. ellaystingray Jun 1, 2012 08:49 PM

                      Okay, off to a great start. Thanks to those who've contributed so far.

                      So, let's add this in, is a vertical different than a horizontal?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ellaystingray
                        Bill Hunt Jun 3, 2012 09:48 PM

                        Yes.

                        A "vertical" is the same wine, over several vintages.

                        A "horizontal" is the same vintage, but from different vineyards, or different producers. A good example would be a half-dozen wines, by different producers, all from the Pisoni Vineyard, or would be all Shafer Cabs, from different vineyards, but in the same vintage.

                        I have had great fun with each, and collect examples of each.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                          ellaystingray Jun 4, 2012 09:40 AM

                          Bill, I meant in regard to mulitple listings. Say for instance, would it change the way you thought about a list if you found Robert Mondavi Reserve Cab, Reserve Fume, Reserve Pinot and Reserve Chard or four vintges of Reserve Cab?

                          1. re: ellaystingray
                            Bill Hunt Jun 4, 2012 09:20 PM

                            If I read the question correctly, then NO. I often work with wine lists, that have multiple verticals of many wines.

                            Now, if they ONLY had wines from Mondavi, I would be a bit suspect.

                            Same as an example above, where ALL wines were from Sutter-Home, but under several of their different labels. OTOH, one would have to sort of know WHICH were their labels, as the wines might appear to be from different producers. Sometimes, I think that THAT is the point, but might be wrong. Maybe a distributor can chime-in, on a wine list, that is very heavy on the wines from a particular producer, though reflecting many different labels.

                            To me, such indicates that the restaurant is lazy, and cares little for the wines. They let the distributor design, and dictate the wines, regardless of their pairings with the kitchen's food. I do see such, all too often.

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                              p
                              plaidbowtie Jun 5, 2012 07:49 PM

                              I don't know if laziness can be the sole factor, although Im sure that happens also. In my mind when I see a list that comes completely from Southern/Youngs Market, I think that they can't afford to have someone dedicate the time necessary to do more. Combined that with the often overloaded schedules restaurant managers have day to day, it's easy to pick something out of a book, and call it a day. It can easily be a full time job solely running a beverage program, let alone the daily tasks that needs to get done that no one ever thinks about.

                              Now, if there is a dedicated wine director on staff, then yes, I agree with you- lazy. I'm also not defending those lists, either- they disappoint me as much as anyone.

                              1. re: plaidbowtie
                                Bill Hunt Jun 5, 2012 08:17 PM

                                I am sure that I was being a bit short there, and there are many considerations, with putting together a good wine list - and not just those that are leather-bound, consisting of 500 pages.

                                Back in Denver, a friend of mine was a sommelier at a high-end French restaurant. He "moon-lighted" by providing support for smaller restaurants, with limited wine programs. He held tastings with the kitchens, and then worked on a list for them, plus training time for the servers (no sommelier, or wine-steward on premisis).

                                For me, it was easy to tell the wine lists, that Bob worked on, as they were usually "spot-on," and seldom contained ANY of the "usual suspects."

                                Some of those restaurants were rather eclectic, regarding the foods, and the wine list mirrored that.

                                I have no idea what he charged, as a consultant, but the selections were very good to excellent - unlike what many restaurants end up with, just relying on the distributor, who probably has never tasted any dish, from the kitchen - he/she just draws from their portfolio, and fills the list with the wines that are not selling. Might be a reason for that?

                                Now, we often find ourselves in ABC states, and it's easy to spot those, as each restaurant, from the mom-n-pop, to the highest-end places, have the same (or so very similar, that one would say "the same") wine lists. Those are provided by a board, and one, that probably has never tasted either the wines, or the fare from the kitchen. Still, they have the ultimate power, and will usually have gone with the wines of one distributor.

                                I'd almost love to be the "fly on the wall," in those ABC meetings, but would probably be screaming my little fly-lungs out! "Do not choose THOSE wines!" "Get real. Taste the foods first!!!" Yeah, I would be a hoarse-fly.

                                Spent a few days on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and dined at several high-end (for the Coast) restaurants, and was totally underwhelmed. Our "event" was at a location, that had access to "better wines," and I ordered all of those, for my table, just to break from the ABC trend.

                                I see too many of the "distributors' wine lists," and especially in the Deep South. I resent them, and try my best, to get past them, even if it means high "corkage" charges, and I am seldom doing BYOW. I just resent having a bunch of bureaucrats creating a wine list for me, especially as how many do not consume wine, spirits or beer - yet they have ultimate control, and know nothing. Still, they wield the power, and it shows, all too often.

                                Hunt

                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                  p
                                  plaidbowtie Jun 5, 2012 08:58 PM

                                  Hiring a consultant can be a very popular option. The problem with this is that you then have to find someone that both a) a fully developed palate as it relates to food the kitchen is putting out and b) has a great business sense.

                                  It's a very rare person that has both. Sounds like your friend is one of them, and that's why they are able to charge as much as they do. No one else wants to sit in front of Microsoft excel with OCD-like fervor for 8 hours at a time.

                                  1. re: plaidbowtie
                                    Bill Hunt Jun 5, 2012 09:04 PM

                                    Yes, Bob was a rare "find" for several smaller restaurants, and it showed.

                                    I know of two others, in the San Francisco Area, who do the same. Their wine lists are up there with many of the revered "wine meccas," and again, it shows.

                                    Hunt

                      2. Bill Hunt Jun 1, 2012 08:50 PM

                        Well, it will depend on the winery.

                        Let's say that a particular wine list has Shafer's wines, and we have:

                        Red Shoulders Ranch Chard
                        Napa Cab
                        Hillside Select Napa Cab

                        Then I see no problem.

                        However, I tend to think that you are not talking about such.

                        In that case, I cannot comment, without knowing more.

                        Hunt

                        1. m
                          Mike C. Miller Jun 1, 2012 10:11 PM

                          Depends on the producers and the depth of the wine list. Give me as short list with deep verticals of Domaine Dujac, Domaine Rousseau, Comte Lafon, Robert Chevillon and Coche Dury and I'll be in hog heaven.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Mike C. Miller
                            j
                            Julian Teoh Jun 2, 2012 06:59 AM

                            That's the crux of it, isn't it? It depends on the specific situation and context. Especially in wine growing regions, restaurants may have close relationships with certain wineries, especially smaller, lesser-known ones, and will feature a large selection of their wines. The mere fact that the list features a large selection from a single winemaker is neither here nor there.

                            To take Mike C Miller's cue, Le Coq de la Maison Blanche, while not in a wine-growing region, features a large selection of Coche-Dury at very reasonable prices because the owner's been friends with Jean-Francois C-D well before his wines achieved international acclaim.

                          2. z
                            zin1953 Jun 3, 2012 12:26 AM

                            Chiming in late . . . but I have been up in the Douro without internet access. (In Barcelona now, for the next few days.)

                            >>> I am being specifically vague as not to influence how you regard my question <<<

                            No offense, but you are so vague as to make any response someone difficult if not impossible . . . (and please note, I have NOT read any comments except your original post/question as I write this).

                            Multiple wines from E.&J. Gallo or Charles Shaw, for example, I'd probably leave the restaurant (not merely order a cocktail or beer). Multiple wines from some top producer -- be it from Californian, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, or wherever -- and I have no problem with it.

                            Besides: what is the context? If someone has on their list, for example, an extensive vertical offing consistent of various vintages of Château Latour, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, or Ridge Monte Bello, are you seriously going to hold that against them?!?!?!?

                            OTOH, if someone's entire list consists of a selection of "Vintner's Reserve" wines from Kendall-Jackson across various varietals . . . well, yes, that IS a problem!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: zin1953
                              Bill Hunt Jun 3, 2012 09:52 PM

                              Jason,

                              I do not think that you missed much. What you stated, is about what many of us have stated.

                              If you get to Neirpoort, tell Dirk that the "Hunts say hello," and "thank you for a wonderful event at Blackberry Farm."

                              Travel safely,

                              Hunt

                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                z
                                zin1953 Jun 4, 2012 12:15 AM

                                Thread Drift . . .

                                Had lunch @ Quinta de Nápoles with Luis in the Douro, and a tasting with Nick in Gaia -- Dirk is off traveling somewhere. In Barcelona, but leaving tomorrow for Priorat . . .

                                1. re: zin1953
                                  Bill Hunt Jun 4, 2012 09:23 PM

                                  Actually, Dirk was possibly sitting with us, and pouring, and pouring. with Martine at his side. Should have mentioned you, but then we had our noses too deeply embedded in the glasses!

                                  Hunt

                            2. ellaystingray Jun 3, 2012 03:58 AM

                              Haha. Jason, I've read enough of your posts over the years to not take any offense at all.

                              I think this thread (had you read it **winking**) basically came to the exact same conclusion you did. And I completely agree. If done in a thoughtful way and germane to the restaurant/list, multiple expressions from the same producer are not a problem.

                              Nearly every wine question has so many variables it is difficult to make unequivocal statements in response, yet we try (naturally) to narrow things down to where we can give a defensable response. The problem was my post got too long for even me to remain interested as I tried to provide all the necessary caveats. Maybe a more talented questioner could have crafted a shorter post (or one where I didn't tip my hand in terms of my opinion) but it just didn't read right in long form. Hence the short version.

                              ANYWAY, I think the question needs to be modified. And made more fun.

                              Let's each give two producers, one who is allowed to have multiple listings and one who isn't. Provide context if you want, or just fire away. This is sort of a highjacking, but I started the thread. So there. Oh, and once someone has used a producer, you can't use that one again.

                              Gaja. Allowed.

                              Geyser Peak. Not Allowed.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: ellaystingray
                                sunshine842 Jun 3, 2012 04:57 AM

                                Why would one producer be allowed to have multiple listings where another isn't?

                                Unless there's some sort of quasi-ergo-sponsorship going on, I don't know why you'd have this restriction.

                                1. re: sunshine842
                                  ellaystingray Jun 3, 2012 02:32 PM

                                  Sunshine, you ask a terrific question that dives directly to the core of my original post. Though it was hard to see because I didn't explain much about where I was coming from.

                                  Basically, we know it's okay to have a vertical of Grange, no one would say that's dumb. I think we also know that red, white and pink from Delicato implies certain things about a wine buyer that are undesireable to an enthusiast. But somewhere in the giant middle a line exists (arbirtrary for sure and surely personal) where it seems the selections are becoming less thoughful and more driven by some other force when we see a certain winery listed multuple times.

                                  So, since the board quickly disected my question and came to a reasonable conclusion, I am asking for pure opinion. Which producers have a hall pass to be listed extensively and who doesn't?

                                  Think of it as a public opinion poll.

                                  p.s. I have nothing personal against Geyser Peak. They were partially a victim of my interest in alliteration. Gaja, Geyser Peak...

                                  1. re: ellaystingray
                                    sunshine842 Jun 3, 2012 03:05 PM

                                    I think it mostly comes down to the label itself -- if it's a good or great house, nobody blinks.

                                    If it's a grocery-store wine aisle label -- well, bleah.

                                    We all know the grocery store labels -- the good-to-great labels vary widely by region, so there's no way to say THIS label or THAT label.

                                    We eat in restaurants (France) on a regular basis where the owner has a close partnership (usually based in a friendship or familial relationship) with a vintner -- and nobody bats an eye if that same producer shows up all over the carte de vins.

                                    1. re: ellaystingray
                                      z
                                      zin1953 Jun 4, 2012 12:18 AM

                                      You mean you're opposed to that vertical of Delicato White Zinfandel???? What about a vertical of the infamous Turley White Zin from the Smoot-Hawley vineyard?

                                      1. re: zin1953
                                        ellaystingray Jun 4, 2012 09:41 AM

                                        Only if offered in a flight BTG.

                                Show Hidden Posts