This article was originally posted by the New York Times. It is pasted here for your convenience.
Restaurant Bottles From the Bottom Up
By ERIC ASIMOV
Published: September 6, 2011
Rather than judge a restaurant by what it offers at the high end, I decided to examine wine lists from the bottom up, by evaluating their bottle selections at $50 or less. Now, $50 a bottle is not cheap. But practically speaking, the best retail values these days are in the $17 to $25 range. If you follow the conventional formula for restaurant pricing of doubling the retail price, you have a list that can offer very good values at $50 and under.
New York overflows with great lists. I’ll admit: selecting the 10 best at $50 and under was not easy. Some restaurants that I thought would be shoo-ins, like Casa Mono or Trestle on Tenth, have their greatest values at a slightly more expensive level. Nice Matin offers great inexpensive choices, but I disqualified it because I had recently written about its wine list. And the sheer profusion of Italian choices meant some would be left by the wayside. Here, then, is my somewhat arbitrary list, in alphabetical order.
ALTA, 64 West 10th Street, (212) 505-7777. This Mediterranean restaurant offers a wide range of excellent low-end European selections. Highlights include fine rosés and dynamic whites, like the 2001 Viña Gravonia Rioja from R. Lopéz de Heredia ($47) and the 2009 kerner from Abbazia di Novacella in Alto Adige($35). Red choices are more limited but include a good Saumur Château Fouquet 2007 from Filliatreau ($43) and a 2008 Valtellina Grumello from Aldo Rainoldi ($40).
BUTTERMILK CHANNEL, 524 Court Street (Huntington Street), Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, (718) 852-8490. Lost faith in American wines? Buttermilk Channel has an excellent all-American list, with many good values, including a rosé sparkling wine from Gruet in New Mexico ($36), a tangy blend of grenache blanc and vermentino from Donkey and Goat in the Sierra Foothills in California ($40) and a delicious 2009 Bone-Jolly gamay noir from Edmunds St. John, also from the Sierra Foothills ($36).
FRANKIES SPUNTINO, 457 Court Street (Luquer Street), Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, (718) 403-0033. A casual Italian spot with a great Italian list. The depth is in reds, including the excellent 2008 Foradori teroldego from Trentino ($50); the light, lively 2009 frappato from Valle Dell’Acate in Sicily ($45), and the 2008 Barbera d’Alba from Oddero ($39).
FRANNY’S, 295 Flatbush Avenue (Prospect Place), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, (718) 230-0221. Great pizza and a terrific wine list with great esoteric whites like a lively floral 2009 Ermes Pavese Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle from the Vallée d’Aoste ($45) and the highly unusual 2009 blaterle, a nearly extinct grape from Alto Adige from Nusserhof ($50). Top reds include the Occhipinti SP68, a nervy Sicilian blend ($50).
GRAMERCY TAVERN, 42 East 20th Street, (212) 477-0777. Gramercy Tavern, one of the most expensive restaurants in New York? Yes! The list is brilliant from bottom to top, with great low-end choices like Préambulles, a striking, funky, sparkling wine from Causse-Marines in the southwest of France ($44); the excellent 2010 chenin blanc from Paumanok on the North Fork of Long Island ($44); the minerally 2010 Sigalas assyrtiko from Santorini ($48), and the delicious 2008 gamay from Grosjean in the Vallée d’Aoste ($40). The choices go on and on.
JUNOON, 27 West 24th Street, (212) 490-2100. An Indian restaurant with an extensive wine list is a great treat. Wonderful choices include some with a fighting chance of going with Indian food, like a 2009 Muscadet Clos des Briords from Pepière ($42), the unusual 2008 rkatsiteli from Dr. Konstantin Frank in the Finger Lakes ($45) and a superb 2008 dolcetto from Abbona ($39).
OSTERIA MORINI, 218 Lafayette Street, (212) 965-8777. The theme of the food andwine here is Emilia-Romagna, with a special nod to the dry, earthy, sparkly reds of Lambrusco. Why go anywhere else, especially with a half-dozen or more Lambruschi available for less than $50? Orvieto, like Lambrusco, has been maligned, probably fairly so. For a fresh take, how about a minerally 2010 Orvieto Terre Vineate from Palazzone ($34)? And for something completely different, try the 2007 Pignoletto Spungola Bellaria from Alberto Tedeschi, an unusual, apple-and-flower scented, orange-hued white ($45).
ROMAN’S, 243 DeKalb Avenue (Vanderbilt Avenue), Fort Greene, Brooklyn, (718) 622-5300. Brooklyn? Check. Beards? Check. Trilby hats? Check. No reservations? Check. Wine? The beautifully chosen list almost makes everything else tolerable, with whites like the 2009 tocai from the great Slovenian producer Movia ($36) and the subtle, savory 2009 Golfo del Tigullio from Bisson in Liguria ($45). Reds might include the superb 2008 Côte de Brouilly from Château Thivin ($38) and the bracing 2009 Barbera d’Alba from De Forville ($42).
ROUGE TOMATE, 10 East 60th Street, (646) 237-8977. This airy spa-like restaurant offers one of the most extensively intriguing lists in New York, with brilliant choices that can either be esoteric or mainstream. A slightly sweet, sparkling rosé Cerdon du Bugey from the Savoie, like the 2009 from Renardat-Fâche ($40), makes a delicious aperitif. Other great offbeat selections include the 2007 Tokaji Sec from Kiralyudvar, a wonderful dry white ($47), and the earthy, structured red from Monje in the Canary Islands ($48).
VINEGAR HILL HOUSE, 72 Hudson Avenue (Water Street), Brooklyn, (718) 522-1018. Another Brooklyn outpost that takes no reservations. If you’re waiting, here aresome excellent bottles to try. Among the whites, the fine 2010 albariño Igrexario de Saiar from Benito Santos ($35) and the delicious 2007 Jurançon Sec Cuvée Marie from Charles Hours ($47). From the red side, the superb 2007 Irouléguy from Domaine Ilarria ($43) and the mouthwatering 2008 Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Valle Dell’Acate ($40). Don’t worry, more choices await when you are finally seated.A version of this article appeared in print on September 7, 2011, on page D3 of the New York edition with the headline: Restaurant Bottles From the Bottom Up.