The 25 Best Wine Lists in America Slideshow
HMF, Palm Beach
HMF / Facebook
This is a wine list that reads like the accompaniment to a basic wine text: Virtually every major wine region is represented, with representative choices. There are 18 wines by the glass at $11.50 to $20 and the choices are anything but clichéd (2014 Bonny Doon Albariño and 2010 Morgenster, a Bordeaux blend from South Africa, are two examples). Folks must celebrate a lot at The Breakers, the famed hotel in which this restaurant sits, because the Champagne list is long (there are more than 30 rosé Champagnes alone, at $100 to $2,050) and there is a long addendum of other sparklers from Italy, Spain, other parts of France, California, and even Oregon and Washington. There's not a lot of vintage range in the California choices (though there are eight Opus Ones), but it's much better in both Bordeaux and Burgundy. One nice thing about the former category is that the list includes a number of "second" wines from notable properties, like Margaux du Château Margaux, Les Fiefs du Lagrange, and Sarget de Gruaud-Larose. Show-offs will appreciate the 80 or so different wines and vintages from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti ($1,200 to $19,500). More down-to-earth wine-bibbers may turn instead to the nice Spanish selection, which includes a handful of very drinkable and affordable Toros.
Billy Crews, Santa Teresa, N.M.
The far southeastern corner of the Land of Enchantment, near the borders with both Mexico and Texas, isn't the first place you'd look for an interesting wine list, but this Continental steak and seafood place certainly has one. This would be a good place to come if you want to drink lots and lots of wine and not put much of a dent in your wallet. For instance, there are about 120 Argentinian wines, mostly malbec and cabernet but also some whites and other reds; 32 of these will set you back a mere $15 or $16 a bottle. An astonishing number of choices on the list, in fact, are priced at $20 or less. If you want to splurge, there's a 2006 Allegrini Soave for $23, a Dominio de Tares Exaltos old vines Bierzo for $50, six different Ken Wright Oregon pinot noirs for $76 each, and a 1998 Michele Chiarlo Asili Barbaresco for $100. And if you want to really go crazy, $325 will get you a 1996 Penfolds Grange and $671 puts a 1978 Château Latour on your table. I'd be surprised if any restaurant in America sells wines like this for anything close to those prices. (Incidentally, there are also more than 25 New Mexico wines listed, including a syrah from Gruet, better known for its sparkling wines.)
The Village Pub, Woodside, Calif.
The Village Pub / Facebook
if you don't mind spending $200 to $300 a bottle on wine, you'll be in fine shape here. Only about 15 of the 70 or so "short list" wines cost less than $75, and prices shoot up fast from there. This is, though, a well-thought-out, carefully constructed list. There are nearly 150 magnums and other large-format bottles at prices as big as the contents (we'd be very happy, though, with the magnum of 2006 Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Laurence Gewürztraminer for $188); there's a good German list, including a number of half-bottles; there are 35 François Cotat Sancerres, 50-plus Raveneau Chablis, and more than 20 chardonnays and savignins from J-F Ganevat in the Jura. If you're a fan of Nuit Saint-Georges, you'll find an unusually large selection here, including a lot from Domaine de l’Arlot, Robert Chevillon, and Méo-Camuzet. Cornas is another specialty, with some depth of wines from Clape, Robert Michel, and Thierry Allemand, among others. And there are roughly 35 almost affordable "petis châteaux" from Bordeaux, among them like Meyney, Camensac, and Sociando-Mallet (though the 1990 vintage of the last of these, petit or not, still commands $324).
Studio, Laguna Beach, Calif.
Montage Laguna Beach / Facebook
You'll need an eagle eye to spot the bargains on this handsome list (we'd nominate the 2014 Guy Breton Regnié at $62, or maybe the half bottle of 2006 Domaine Tempier at $44); in general the prices are on the high side of average for a fancy place like this, though there are a few drinkable bottles under $50. It's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into this list, however. The Champagnes are well chosen (and it's nice to at least be able to dream about those five vintages of Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blanc, priced from $1520 to $2895). There's good depth in Meursault and in Alsace, and we liked finding five vintages of the singular R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia white. And there must be a story behind the presence of that Miolo Quinta do Seival, a cabernet sauvignon from… Brazil.
Acquerello, San Francisco
Acquerello / Facebook
This hefty catalogue gets off to a sparkling start with a long list of grower Champagnes, some of which offer particularly good value for the money (for instance, Agrapart & Fils's elegant Blanc de Blancs Brut "Terroirs" at $98). There is a good representation of half-bottles. Appropriate to this upscale Italian restaurant, there is impressive depth in Barolo and Barbaresco, including some older vintages; all the big names are here, like Ceretto, Giacosa, Pio Cesare, both Conternos, Vietti, and Gaja, but there are also admirable lesser-knowns like Burlotto, Cavallotto, and Parusso. California cult wines, Brunellos, and Chiantis are also well represented. Markups are large on the lower end, but many of the rarities go for only twice retail or less. This isn't a list for bargain-hunters, but if you've got wine bucks to spend, Acquerello will do you proud.
Spruce, San Francisco
Spruce / Facebook
A high-end list that covers all the bases, this one gets off to a stylish start with 22 Madeiras by the glass, from Leacock's 5-year ($8) to D'Oliveiras 1908 Bual ($110). There's also a "short list" of about 150 comparatively reasonably priced wines (2014 Ponzi Willamette Valley pinot gris, $38; 2014 Vietti Arneis, $56; 2011 Domaine Faury Saint-Joseph, $72; 2011 Robert Sinskey POV cabernet blend, $94; 2011 Brovia Barolo, $102), and there's a long list of not only magnums but also jeroboams (equivalent to six bottles; a jeroboam of the 1979 Château Lynch-Bages at $1,200 isn't a bad deal, if you're a large party or are really thirsty). There are even five eight-bottle methuselahs (one that size of the 2006 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant goes for $18,500). Most of the essential categories are well covered, with a particularly thoughtful, if expectedly pricey, list of red Burgundies; the (comparative) bargains here are the first-rate Morgons from Jean Foillard and Marcel Lapierre ($64 to $100).
Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, N.J.
Pluckemin Inn / Facebook
This extensive list doesn't give anything away. Anyone wanting to spend less than $100 on a bottle will have to look hard for something interesting to drink; on the other hand, if your upper limit is $200, there's plenty here. The Champagne selection is very nice, with some lesser-known grower wines and smaller negociants as well as the big boys. The big-ticket outlier is 1969 Dom Pérignon P3 Plenitude Brut at $3,500, but there are a number of good bottles under $150, which isn't bad for good Champagne in a nice restaurant (the trendy José Dhondt Mes Vieilles Vignes Blanc de Blanc '06 and '08 are $130 each, and the sexy '07 Doyard Collection de l'An Oeil de Perdrix Brut rosé is $125.) Pluckemin Inn's catalogue includes all the expected California chardonnays, cabernets, and pinot noirs in assorted vintages, but there's also a great assortment of Burgundies, including more than 60 Chassagne-Montrachets priced from $90 to $300, 90-plus Meursaults at $85 to $500 (plus the 2012 Coche-Dury Les Perrières for $1,400) and about 45 Volnays at $125 to $325. There's also a Romanée-Conti from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti from the very good 1934 vintage — only $25,000. Add in lots of Barolo, 25-plus Quintarellis from the Veneto, a dozen Huet sweet Vouvrays, and an excellent collection of Austrian whites, including plenty from FX Pichler, Weingut Knoll, and Franz Hirtzberger, and you have a tasty wine list not primarily meant for mere mortals.
Mustards Grill, Napa, Calif.
Mustards Grill / Facebook
One of this quintessential wine country hangout's slogans is "Way Too Many Wines" — but of course there's no such thing. Anyway, the list is smaller than many others in this ranking. It's very savvy, though. Just for fun, it starts out with a couple of flights of three half-glasses each, one of California "bubblies" and one of "cabs from the hood." (As a reasonably priced alternative to California sparklers, there's a juicy, seldom-seen rosé Crémant d'Alsace from Gustave Lorentz at $62.) There are about 60 half-bottles, from 2014 Honig sauvignon blanc ($21) to 2009 Harlan Estates cabernet sauvignon ($350). While there are some good imports, the selection, not surprisingly, leans towards California, though not exclusively the Napa Valley. There are more than 75 California pinot noirs, and almost 150 cabernet sauvignons, as well as the usual complement of chardonnays and about 40 sauvignon blancs (big names like Groth, Silverado, and Rombauer, but also little names like Arrow & Branch, Favia Linea, and Viluko). The list also shows a sense of adventure with wines like the 2014 Tensley Camp 4 Vineyard grenache blanc/rousanne blend ($40), the 2014 Sidebar Mokelumne River Lodi kerner ($50), the 2010 Parador Napa Valley tempranillo ($66), and the 2009 Fort Ross Sonoma Coast pinotage ($77). In general, there are plenty of nice choices under $75 and a good number under $50.
Canlis / Facebook
This classic Pacific Northwestern restaurant presents a good, big, all-purpose list, fairly priced for the most part, with particular strengths in German rieslings, good matches for a lot of the food (J.J. Prüm 2007 Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett for $75 would go down a treat with the Dungeness crab soup or the tilefish with sweet potatoes and turnips). The range of whites and reds from Oregon and Washington, not surprisingly, is broad (this is the place to come if you want to discover why producers like Leonetti Cellar and Quilceda Creek belong in the top rank of American cabernets — though the process will cost you). There are a few, but not a lot, of truly compelling wines under $100 on this list, but there are plenty between $100 and $200.
Restaurant 301 at Carter House Inns, Eureka, Calif.
Carter House Inns & Restaurant 301 / Facebook
This extensive list offers a good range, from high to low. There's an emphasis on solid mainstream producers, especially in California chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons (you'll find plenty of Kistler, Marcassin, and the like), but there are also offerings from big producers like Beringer (two vintages of their lovely Sbrigia Reserve chardonnay) and tiny ones like Oregon's Brick House Wine Co. It's easy to spend a lot of money with this list, but there are also a good number of bottles under $50; indulge in a 1992 Étienne Sauzet Bâtard-Montrachet for $345 if you want, but there's also a dandy 2004 Vincent Girardin Savigny-lès-Beaune "Les Vermots Dessus" for $45.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
Blackberry Farm / Facebook
"Big" is the word for this list, in length and certainly in price but also in ambition. The tariffs here are imposing, and the list wouldn't have placed this high in our ranking (if at all) but for the fact that it is virtually encyclopedic in some areas. There are roughly 550 half-bottles, just for starters (very few of them under $75, alas). All the essentials for a glamorous list are covered — big-name Burgundies and Bordeaux, trophy wines from California, all the stars from Tuscany and Piedmont, etc. But there's depth in unexpected places: five vintages of Melville's Clone 76 INOX chardonnay, 10 different Huet Vouvrays, 20 vintages and/or vineyard designations of Jobard Meursault, even eight vintages of Leonetti's Washington State sangiovese. The German selection is deep, and the Chablis list is excellent. There are also some nice choices from the Languedoc-Roussillon, and four vintages of an obscure favorite of ours, Lackner Tinnacher Muskateller from Austria. If only almost everything didn't cost over $100 and usually a lot over.
Del Posto, New York City
Del Posto Ristorante / Facebook
Italy is the theme here, not surprisingly. Wines by the glass include 22 red, white, and rosé choices ($13 to $44). Among the white wines, some offered at particularly palatable prices, there are top producers from Friuli (including wines from restaurant co-proprietor Joe Bastianich's estate there), about 30 from Trentino-Alto Adige, and 14 bottles and magnums of Gini Soave Classico. Among the reds are a good choice of amarone, Valpolicella, and other Veneto offerings from Tommaso Bussola, Romano dal Forno, and Quintarelli — names to conjure with in the region. There are unusual reds from the Valtellina, seven reds from the Valle d'Aosta, all the big names from Piedmont, all the super-Tuscans you could want, and more than 40 Sicilian reds (the Cos Nero di Lupo 2013 at $75 would go really well with the restaurant's slow-roasted Abruzzese-spiced lamb). The selection of Italian sweet wines is large and varied. And the list also makes a last-minute westward turn with a nice selection of sherries — perhaps a subtle reminder that the chef ultimately in charge here, Mario Batali, also has Spanish restaurants and a love for Spanish food and drink.
Gary Danko, San Francisco
This list opens with a first-rate choice of wines by the glass, mostly under $20 (2012 FX Pichler Loibner Klostersatz Federspiel at $17 knocks a lot of oaky $25-a-glass chardonnays off the table). Then there's an amazing list of Madeiras, also by the glass, a few of them from the nineteenth century. There are roughly 250 half-bottles, priced from $29 (2013 Torii Mor pinot blanc from Oregon) to $495 (2005 Château Angelus). The selection of Alsatian and Loire wines (including red and sweet ones in the latter case) is far above average. Many big-name Burgundies are represented but there is also a nice choice of less expensive wines from the Mâconnais. We also liked the clutch of about 40 Austrian rieslings from the best producers. There aren't a lot of bargains on this list, but it has style and personality.
Press, St. Helena, Calif.
PRESS Restaurant / Facebook
If you want magnums of Napa Valley cabernet from producers like Seavey, Philip Togni, and Opus One — at magnum prices — Press has got you covered. In fact, if you like Napa Valley wines in general, you'll probably want to cash in your bitcoins and settle in at this wine-country steakhouse. Napa is the watchword here. While the majority of the wines are expensive, there are reasonably priced choices, too. You'll find an impressive range of chardonnays, from Agnitio ($68) to White Rock ($60), with considerably pricier choices from the likes of Kongsgaard, Mayacamas, and Scholium Project in-between. You'll encounter six vintages of Stony Hill's superb but oft-neglected gewürztraminer and 23 vintages (!) of Frogs Leap merlot. Offbeat (for California) grapes are featured: Abrente albariño, Macauley tocai friulano, Talahalusi picpoul, Calder charbono, Forlorn Hope valdiguié (a Languedocienne variety formerly misidentified in California as Napa gamay). And of course there's a treasure-house of Napa Valley cabernets — not only big names like Abreu, Araujo, B.V., Caymus, Diamond Creek, Dunn, Heitz, and Phelps, but some older vintages of Charles Krug and Louis Martini (which, trust us, are really the ones you want to spend the big bucks on).
Nopa, San Francisco
Nopasf / Facebook
A popular, casual restaurant named for its neighborhood (NoPa, or "North of the Panhandle"), this place has assembled the very model of a smart, smallish wine list. It's an idiosyncratic selection, full of nicely oddball offerings (you don't find wines like Boudignon Les Fougerais Savennières, Köfererhof Kerner, or Ransom Rogue Valley grenache, for example, on many wine lists). Sherry lovers will find a good selection to choose from here, too. There are very few three-figure prices on the list, which makes it possible to have a little fun and try some unfamiliar bottles without risking a chunk of your paycheck. Even the couple of dozen more exalted choices listed under "Wines from the Vault" aren't too bad; about half are under $200 — the price at which the everyday plonk seems to start at certain fancier places.
Blue Provence, Naples, Fla.
This pleasant bistro near the town dock in the affluent community of Naples is the place to come for, above all, French regional wines of the highest quality. Prices are fair, too, starting with the choice of 25 wines by the glass, almost all under $15. The list goes on with 18 rosés; two dozen Corsican whites and another two dozen reds (these are wines definitely worth trying); a range of Loire whites encompassing not just Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, and Vouvray but also Quincy, Cheverny, and Jasnières; five vintages of Domaine de Trevallon red; seven bottlings each of Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape white and vieille vignes roussanne; 34 Domaine Tempier Bandols; 16 reds from Pic St. Loup… oh, and just to change things up, 40 malbecs from Argentina. There are plenty of more conventional offerings here, too, but this is a wine list to explore with pleasure.
Pearl & Ash, New York City
Pearl & Ash / Facebook
An idiosyncratic Lower East Side restaurant like this probably doesn't need a wine list this extensive and intelligent, but it sure is nice to find. There's a lengthy array of Champagnes to start with, including many grower bottlings, with prices starting at $93 and soaring to $875, with a number of good bottles under $200 along the way (there are also about 35 other sparkling wines, starting at $32). The Loire selection, both white and red, is deftly curated, and includes some under-the-radar producers (Sébastien Riffault, Agnès and René Mosse) as well as the better-known ones. There are 40-plus rosés starting at $39, roughly 30 reds from the Jura, some nice Bordeaux (1988 Château L'Evangile is a comparative steal at $250), and plenty of Rhônes. There are some quirky surprises, too, like eight wines from Arianna Occhipinti in Sicily and such California curiosities as trousseau from two producers (Copain and Arnot Roberts) and refosco from Matthiasson. There are even a few bottles from Arizona and New Mexico. Plenty to dig into here.
Tribeca Grill, New York City
Tribeca Grill / Facebook
We liked the way this list starts with about three dozen bottles described as "Dave's Picks" — "uniquely beautiful, ready-to-drink wines…at sensible prices." Dave would be the restaurant's wine director, David Gordon, who has chosen an interesting group for this purpose, wines like a 2011 Kiralyudvar Sec Tokaji Furmint at $48 and a 2007 Arcadian Westerly Vineyard Santa Ynez Syrah at $65. The list proceeds nicely, with a good Spanish selection, including the Galician wines of Raúl Pérez (four vintages of his "Sketch" albariño, serious stuff at $155 a bottle) plus his reds from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra. There's a small but well-chosen German selection, with some depth of vintages for several blue-chip producers. There are plenty of sought-after California chardonnays (17 Auberts, 22 Marcassins), and the list is strong in white Burgundy. We loved seeing a whole bunch of California grenache, from 2014 Ventana Rubystone Arroyo Seco $45 to eight Sine Qua Nons up to $495. That grenache is something of an obsession here may be seen from the fact that Tribeca Grill has what might very well be the largest choice of Châteauneuf-du-Papes in America, more than 225 of them in all, including some vintages from the '80s. There are plenty more Rhône and Rhône-style wines, too. As an addendum, the list also offers eight Wine Spectator "wines of the year," going back to 1989, and, for when that IPO goes through, a half dozen "wines of the century" from 1989 Guigal La Mouline Côte Rôtie ($1,175) to 1900 Château Margaux ($9,200).
Sepia / Facebook
There are extensive notes throughout this list, written versions of the kinds of spiels you might get tableside from an enthusiastic, non-establishment sommelier. We read about the wine buyer's discovery of some of Portugal's treasures, for instance (eg., a Muxagat Mux from the Douro); we read about "iconoclasts" — who may be famous winemakers or just eccentrics who happen to know their way around a cellar. Wines are arranged within each category by price, from low to high. There's a long sparkling wine list, for instance, that freely interleafs Champagne with cava, sekt, and California bubbly. Familiar names may certainly be found here, but this is one of those lists that wine adventurers will love. Where else will you find this many red wines from Austria's Burgenland region? Or the seldom-seen Inama Più red blend? And extra points to the Sepia folks for having found that sexy Tselepos gewürztraminer from the Peloponnesus.
Valentino, Santa Monica
Valentino Santa Monica / Facebook
It's hardly surprising that one of the great Italian restaurants in America has one of the great Italian wine lists. It is a little surprising, though, that this not inexpensive establishment opens the list with a selection of eight whites under $40 (2012 Nozzole Le Bruniche chardonnay, for instance), six reds similarly priced (like the 2011 Cantine Risveglio negroamaro), and eight reds under $50 (2012 Fenocchio barbera d'Alba is one example) — and then goes on to offer 19 wines by the glass, priced $9 to $14 (with a flute of Mumm's for $17). Wine is essential to the enjoyment of a good Italian meal, and Valentino obviously wants to make sure you get some. If you're looking for something more serious, though, there's a landmark assemblage of Piedmontese vintages, with names like Gaja, Giacosa, La Spinetta, Chiarlo, Sandrone, and Vietti. From Tuscany, there are a half-dozen Solaias, 16 Sassicaias (counting some magnums and two three-liter bottles), and a page of other Super Tuscans priced from $50 to $365. There are also wines from Abruzzo, Marche, Puglia, Campania, and other regions — and 30-plus reds from Valentino proprietor Piero Selvaggio's native Sicily. The big-name California and French wines that are de rigueur for an upscale restaurant these days are present, too, if you're interested. If we weren't drinking Italian ourselves, we'd be more drawn to the surprisingly substantial Spanish selection, which includes some of the first Catalan cabernet sauvignons, the 1969 and 1970 Jean Leon, at only $80 a bottle.
Eleven Madison Park, New York City
Eleven Madison Park / Facebook
You'd expect a Michelin three-star restaurant of this sophistication to have a big-name, expensive wine list. Well, yes, there are a lot of big names here at Wall-Street-bonus-time tariffs, but there are also a fair number of bottles under $100, and even some good choices under $75. You get the feeling they really want you to drink wine here. The wines by the glass, almost 30 in all, are mostly over $20 (and up to $45), but they are well-chosen and unconventional — including things like Domaine Zafeirakis malagousia from Greece, and Hermann J. Wiemer Bye, Bye, Blackbird cabernet franc from the Finger Lakes. Props for a nice New York State selection in general, in fact, from both the Finger Lakes and Long Island. Special attention seems to have been paid to Burgundies (those who can afford it might want to consider diving into a few of the 50 Domaine Roulot Meursaults on offer), and there are plenty of Rhônes — among them 18 different bottles and magnums of Domaine Monier Perréol Saint-Joseph. The list also offers eight Jurançons, not often found in these parts, and occasional surprises like four vintages of Dirler Saering muscat from Alsace. I was surprised, though, not to find more than five or six wines from Switzerland, an excellent wine-producing country and the birthplace of Eleven Madison chef and co-owner Daniel Humm.
Spago, Beverly Hills
Spago Beverly Hills / Facebook
This is a good, solid list, obviously aimed at the high-rollers who frequent this celebrated and celebrity-filled landmark (but also obviously aimed at properly accompanying the very sophisticated food the kitchen is now turning out). The Champagne list is substantial and substantially priced, but the list helpfully calls out a Gebrüder Simon Riesling Sekt, a wonderful crisp and fragrant sparkler from the Mosel that goes for $55. All the usual French and California suspects are present (though there are also four vintages of the rare Château Musar white wine from Lebanon, and even a Swiss offering, Romain Papilloud's delicious amigne). There's a good Austrian roster (though perhaps not as large as one would expect, considering the provenance of the restaurant's proprietor, Wolfgang Puck), but the German riesling selection is dazzling. You go right ahead and have that Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc or that Sea Smoke chardonnay; we'll blow $85 on a 1999 Franz Künstler Old Vine Hochheimer Stielweg Spätlese Trocken — or maybe just $42 on a 2011 Eugen Müller Forster Mariengarten Kabinett — and smile all the way through our Puck-style wiener schnitzel.
Restaurant Daniel, New York City
Restaurant Daniel / Facebook
The prices are high here, yes, but this cellar is a treasure cache of older vintages — Champagnes from the 1990s, white Burgundies from the '80s and '90s, 17 vintages of Trimbach's best rieslings (Cuvée Frédèric Émile and Clos Ste. Hune), 14 of Chave Hermitage. In general, there is a wealth of Burgundies and Rhône wines here; a wish list of Margaux, Palmer, Latour, Lafite, Haut-Brion, Pétrus, and Cheval Blanc; a number of Domaine Tempiers in bottles and magnums. (This is not a list that worships at the altar of California chardonnay and cabernet, though these wines are certainly represented.) If you want to go crazy on France's most esteemed dessert wine, there are 22 half-bottles and 43 bottles of Château d’Yquem. These treasures aside, the list also respects the diner who may already be stretching the budget to enjoy the exquisitely crafted French food here. No one will scoff if you choose a 2013 Carl Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg Trocken ($55), a 2013 Domaine Corsin Vieilles Vignes Saint-Veran ($65), a 2014 Domaine Guiberteau Saumur-Champigny ($75), or a 2009 Mountford Estate pinot noir ($80).
"21" Club, New York City
21 Club / Facebook
For those who want to show off their knowledge of iconic wine producers and/or their lack of concern for the size of their credit card bill, this rather old-school, gentlemanly list will be glad to oblige. There are big names in profusion here, at appropriately big prices. There isn't great depth in any category, especially compared to what's offered by some other lists in this ranking, but there's an intelligent choice of most if not all of the key wine regions and varietals. That's all fine as far as it goes. But what really earns this list a high place here are the savvy, user-friendly touches: a handful of well-chosen and very affordable East Coast wines (like Barboursville viognier and Bedell Cellars Musée), a short "Bin Ends" section that includes order-them-tonight bargains (recently a 2004 Domaine Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc at $75 and a 2009 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles at $67, for instance), and for a separate section of about a hundred whites and reds for under $60 a bottle, almost all of them things we'd be delighted to drink.
Commanders Palace, New Orleans
Commander’s Palace / Facebook
The mostly friendly prices on this extensive list begin with a section of "60 Great Wines Under $60 Each" (prices range from $30 to $58, and plenty of nice choices are included — 2013 Chehalem unoaked Willamette Valley chardonnay, $48; 2014 Barnard Griffin Columbia Valley syrah, $44; 2013 Girard Old Vine Napa Valley zinfandel, $54; etc.). There are also 35 reds, whites, and rosés by the glass, priced at $8.50 to $21 (plus one at $36). New Orleans is a party town, so it's not surprising that there are a lot of large-format bottles — about 125 magnums and double-magnums, as well as larger sizes up to a Balthazar (12 liters, equivalent to 16 bottles) of Taittinger La Française Brut at $1,850, which works out to only about $115 a bottle. In general, the list offers a small to medium-size selection from all the right places, along with some depth in uncommon places: four vintages of Château Simone Palette Blanc from Provence, seven vintages of Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels syrah, 10 of white Château Musar, 17 (counting bottles and magnums) of the fine Languedoc producer Domaine d'Aupilhac, 18 of Heitz Martha's Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, 36 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcinos… There is also a particularly large Spanish selection. All in all, a textbook wine list and one that we're happy to honor with our number-one slot.