NEW & NOTABLE NEW YORK RESTAURANTS • YEAR’S BEST PINOT NOIR

Wine&Spirits 22
nd ANNUAL RESTAURANT

POLL
EXCLUSIVE REPORT

TOP

50 WINES
NEW & NOTABLE NEW YORK RESTAURANTS • YEAR’S BEST PINOT NOIR

Wine&Spirits 22
nd ANNUAL RESTAURANT

Copyright 2011 Wine & Spirits Magazine; this article may not be sold, altered in any way, or circulated without this statement. Wine & Spirits presents the best of more than 9,500 wines tasted annually, along with James Beard Award-winning coverage of top wine and food destinations, perspectives and news. Subscribe today for access to our online database of reviews at wineandspiritsmagazine.com or call 888-695-4660.

IN AMERICA’S RESTAURANTS

POLL
EXCLUSIVE REPORT

WINES
April 2011
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22ND ANNUAL RESTAURANT POLL

the restaurant

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Michelle, the growing popularity of its rieslings propelling it to number ten. King Estate has also jumped up in the ranks, coming in at number 12—closing in on perennial favorite Santa Margherita. Things get even more interesting from there, with entries from Italy, France, Argentina, New Zealand and Greece. Most notably, the malbec craze has landed Catena in 13th place, up from 21st last year; French Burgundy brands, in the meantime, have fallen off the list. Sommeliers reported a trend away from expensive French wines, whether from Bordeaux or Burgundy, when we followed up with them after the Poll results were tallied. To compile this list, we asked restaurateurs to list the ten wines that sold best during the last three months of 2010. The brands that make up the Restaurant Top 50 are those that received the most mentions, which we’ve calculated at mentions per 100 respondents. To break ties in the rankings, we consider each brand’s total points (see p. 74). The average price includes all bottlings that sommeliers listed within the brand, at the prices they reported.

Here are the 50 most popular wine brands in America’s most popular restaurants; the wines diners order most. It’s a list that’s as notable for what turns up again and again (California classics such as Cakebread, Sonoma-Cutrer, Duckhorn and others) as for what’s missing (the trophy cabs that populated the list pre-recession) and what’s new (agiorgitiko from Greece, for instance). It’s a reflection of the economy and a barometer of current trends—not to mention a handy crib sheet for brands diners trust. As always, American wines rule —with 54.1 percent of the Most Popular Wines—despite lists that are increasingly diverse. “We’re about two to one Old World to New World on the list, but saleswise, the American wines are stronger,” says Billy Allin at Atlanta’s Cakes & Ale. Maurice DiMarino, at Island Prime in San Diego, offers a list “with a little bit of everything, but most of what we sell are names like Ferrari-Carano, wines diners know they’ll like.” That typically means chardonnay and cabernet, although this year, for the first time, a pinot noir specialist broke into the Top Ten: Merry Edwards came in ninth, followed by Chateau Ste.

Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Winery Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Windsor, Sonoma Cty., CA Cakebread Cellars Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA Duckhorn Vineyards St. Helena, Napa Vly., CA Jordan Vineyard & Winery Healdsburg, Sonoma Cty., CA La Crema Windsor, Sonoma Cty., CA Rombauer Vineyards St. Helena, Napa Vly., CA Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Napa, Napa Vly., CA Caymus Vineyards Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA Merry Edwards Windsor, Sonoma Cty., CA Chateau Ste. Michelle Woodinville, WA Santa Margherita Alto Adige, Italy King Estate Eugene, OR Catena Mendoza, Argentina Franciscan Oakville Estate Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA Marchesi Antinori Firenze, Italy

Mentions per 100 responses ’10 ’09 ’08 11.4 13.4 14.3 10.9 9.9 8.4 8.4 7.4 6.9 6.4 5.9 5.9 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.4 13.9 7.2 4.8 6.2 7.2 5.3 2.4 3.3 4.8 4.8 3.8 3.8 3.8 2.4 12.5 4.4 9.6 3.7 6.3 5.9 5.5 4.8 6.6 5.5 – 2.2 2.6 4.0

’07 14.3 13.3 4.3 11.5 5.7 7.5 5.4 8.2 2.9 4.3 6.8 3.9 3.9 3.2 4.3

’06 14.4 15.4 10.1 16.1 4.4 7.0 5.0 8.1 3.7 5.4 7.7 3.7 – 6.4 6.0

’05 15.0 17.3 8.5 10.8 2.3 6.9 7.8 7.8 5.6 5.2 7.8 2.0 – 3.3 6.2

’04 19.3 13.9 7.5 10.5 2.7 5.4 6.4 7.1 3.1 7.8 10.2 2.7 – 8.8 3.4

’03 17.3 17.6 10.6 12.1 4.5 3.3 5.8 4.5 – 7.9 10.0 2.4 2.1 6.4 6.1

’02 16.5 17.2 7.8 14.4 3.0 3.8 8.1 5.8 2.0 9.1 9.9 4.6 – 4.6 7.8

’01 19.7 16.3 8.5 19.2 3.1 5.6 11.3 5.9 2.5 8.2 11.0 – – 4.5 4.2

’00 24.5 13.2 8.3 16.0 – 3.0 12.4 6.3 – 10.5 9.9 – – 4.1 7.4

Average Price ’10 ’09 $49.43 $46.89 $88.82 $73.55 $91.94 $44.24 $66.47 $86.86 $72.87 $89.50 $45.15 $66.33

$94.92 $118.18 $121.38 $85.58 $34.75 $48.82 $47.73 $59.82 $50.91 $66.09 $93.00 $94.71 $32.11 $51.10 $47.00 $46.75 $50.29 $97.20

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When we conduct our research for this feature, we ask restaurateurs to list their ten topselling wines in order of popularity. We then assign point values to the listed wines—from ten points for the most popular wine on the list, to one point for the tenth most popular. The total points a brand accumulates determine its placement in the following categories, grouped by variety and country of origin. The average restaurant wine list prices for individual bottlings appear in the far-right column of each chart.

sauvignon blanc
Diners continued to gravitate toward sauvignon blanc in 2010, choosing more popular bottlings from the US than from France or New Zealand for the second year in a row. Some sommeliers go a step further: “Sauvignon blanc is definitely as popular as chardonnay was before,” says Maximilian Kast of North Carolina’s The Fearrington House. Jean-Paul Henaff of Ame in San Francisco has been offering the Honig Sauvignon Blanc, 2010’s most popular bottling, for several years. “It’s a really enjoyable wine with a good balance of fruit and acidity,” he says. “It seems like I’m always ordering more.” Cakebread’s Sauvignon Blanc retained the number two spot. Tonya Pitts, who runs the wine program at San Francisco’s One Market, points to diversity of style as a major factor in the success of American sauvignon blanc. “We pour the Capture Tradition, which is made in a white Bordeaux style. We also carry Paul Dolan’s version. It’s more grassy, lemony. It’s great to be able to get the flavor profile of an import at a very competitive price.” Among French wines, three Sancerres grabbed spots on the list. Belinda Chang of The Modern in New York reports that her top-selling wine in 2010 was the Lucien Crochet Sancerre. “New Yorkers are Sancerre obsessed,” she comments.

most popular sauvignon blancs
Rank Pts. Winery 1 36 Honig Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA 2 31 Cakebread Cellars Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA 3 28 Lucien Crochet Sancerre, France 4 26 Cloudy Bay Marlborough, New Zealand 5 25 Château de Sancerre Sancerre, France 6 22 Fournier Père & Fils Verdigny, Sancerre, France 7 20 Craggy Range Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 8 18 Duckhorn Vineyards Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA 9 17 Merry Edwards Windsor, Sonoma Cty., CA 10 16 Sterling Vineyards Calistoga, CA 11 15 Kim Crawford Marlborough, New Zealand 12 15 Frog’s Leap Winery Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA 13 8 Nobilo Auckland, New Zealand Bottling Napa Vly. Napa Vly. Sancerre Le Chêne Sancerre La Croix du Roy Marlborough Sancerre Sancerre Sancerre Cuvée Silex Martinborough Te Muna Road Napa Vly. Russian River Valley Napa Vly. Marlborough Rutherford Marlborough Price $ $39 $58 $73 $64 $67 $51 $48 $90 $42 $53 $63 $37 $44 $49 $35

“In December I sold so much Sancerre it was scary. I could have applied for the mayorship.”
—Aldo Sohm, Le Bernardin, NYC
New Zealand sauvignon remains as popular as French. At New York’s Buddakan, “A New Zealand sauvignon is our best-selling wine,” says Kevin O’Rourke. “Number two is a Sancerre.”

share of sauvignon blanc points & average price
by Country America France New Zealand Chile Overall Average Price
(Data reflects the fourth quarter of the year indicated.)

% Share of Points ’08 ’09 28.8% 39.9% 33.1 28.9 30.9 25.3 -

’10 38.5% 26.4 26.2 4.5

Avg. Price ’08 ’09 $43.45 $45.66 51.98 56.92 43.18 41.92 $46.04 $47.62

’10 $44.54 55.94 41.76 32.33 $46.62

sauvignon blanc as a % of top-selling wines
’95 ’96 ’97 ’98 ’99 ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 ’10 10 5

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merlot
“There’s almost no one looking for merlot,” observes Michael Wild of BayWolf in Oakland, California. Indeed, merlot accounted for a meager 2.9 percent of the Most Popular Wines in 2010, its weakest showing in the history of our Poll and a far cry from the late 1990s, when it regularly made up 15 percent. Still, merlot continues to offer a viable alternative to the more popular cabernet. Jeff Bradley of The Mercury Grill in Dallas has been shepherding his customers away from high-octane cabernet toward merlot-dominant blends. “I’ve been pouring Northstar’s Stella Maris blend from Washington State,” he says. “It’s a softer style of wine, and people love it.”

“Traditional styles of merlot are slowly but surely making a comeback.”
—Jeff Hagley, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta

At Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, Georgia, Jeff Hagley has more success with an Old-World style of merlot, citing the Lambert Bridge 2006 with lamb. “It’s not that fat, juicy style,” he says. “Merlot is still reeling from the Sideways effect, so people immediately move towards cabernet sauvignon. But a lot of merlots are just as full and rich as cabernet, and people are happy once they taste them.”

most popular merlots
Rank Pts. Winery 1 45 Duckhorn Vineyards Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA 2 16 Frog’s Leap Winery Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA 3 12 Shafer Vineyards Napa, Napa Vly., CA 4 7 Franciscan Oakville Estate Rutherford, Napa Vly., CA Bottling Napa Vly. Napa Vly. Napa Vly. Napa Vly. Price $ $98 $80 $73 $41

share of merlot points & average price
by Country America France by Appellation Napa Valley Sonoma Washington Bordeaux St-Emilion Overall Average Price
(Data reflects the fourth quarter of the year indicated.)

% Share of Points ’08 ’09 ’10 77.0% 76.7% 79.6% 16.1 13.0 19.2 ’08 ’09 35.4% 30.4% 9.2 9.7 14.6 16.8 16.1 12.9 11.5 11.8 ’10 40.0% 4.1 18.8 19.2 3.6

Avg. Price ’08 ’09 $51.09 $54.98 77.00 57.66 ’08 $59.26 47.90 46.92 77.00 53.86 $54.66 ’09 $65.04 48.83 47.20 57.66 56.28 $53.46

’10 $57.67 72.33 ’10 $73.95 43.50 42.55 72.33 60.00 $58.98

merlot as a % of top-selling wines
’95 ’96 ’97 ’98 ’99 ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 ’10 20 15 10 5

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