In-depth analyses of top restaurant wine lists
Club behind the label members are beginning to receive in-depth analyses of top restaurant wine lists, rated for value and quality, and we thought that we might give everybody a taster of what we are doing in this respect. So for one time, and one time only, here is a preview of what members receive under this heading.
We have chosen an outstanding restaurant list for this preview and we are inviting all restaurants to submit their lists to us so that we can assess them and rate them.
At the end of the year we will publish a league table of all the lists we have reviewed and award a certificate of merit to the one that tops the list with a social evening with club members at that restaurant.
So, restaurateurs – please email me your list to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate
THE WINE LIST AT ANDREW EDMUNDS
Andrew Edmunds is a trader and expert in old prints and an opportunity some years ago to acquire the premises next door his Soho establishment and turn it into a restaurant to primarily show off his love for good wine, had enabled him to achieve that, but most importantly at reasonable prices.
It’s a bistro-type restaurant and whilst he might be the first to admit that it’s not exactly haute cuisine, customers beat a path to its door for the selection of wines at very reasonable prices.
I have taken the opportunity to make an in-depth review of the current list which is up on his website to ascertain whther it is really all it has been cracked up to be.
There are 237 wines on the current list, which is pretty near to what I would consider to be the ideal size wine list in a restaurant – 200! That includes 7 wines that are only served by the glass, except for sherries and digestifs, but it is still pretty much the perfect size.
The list is conventionally laid out in French regions and countries and those familiar with these will have no difficulty in navigating it. There are no tasting notes so one is reliant on some prior knowledge of the wines, but if not, you simply have to ask the staff – there is no dedicated sommelier.
The quality of the list is impressive. Of the wines rated in Wine behind the label, just over 80% are rated 3 stars or more in the guide, but the outstanding feature is that 45% of the wines are rated good value for money or exceptional value for money, whilst just under 8% are rated overpriced or very overpriced.
The outstanding value for money wine is the 4 star Picarana white 2016 from Bodegas Marañones near Madrid at only £28. When we consider that a 4 star wine at under £75 on a list is good value and under £55 is very good value and even with a 2 star wine at £36 being good value, this is a truly outstanding bargain. On the other hand, the 4 star Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Champ Canet” 2011 from Etienne Sauzet at £120, would be considered overpriced, as would any 4 star wine listed at over £110. Why not try both and compare! Two other Very Good Value whites are the 5 star Vouvray Moelleux “Clos de Bourg” 1er Trie 1997 from Domaine Huët at £70 and the 3 star plus Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2013 at £30. An extremely well priced sticky is the 3 star plus Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2013 from leading producer Domaine du Durban at only £28.50, whilst the superb 4 star plus Pedro Ximines Solera 1927 from Alvear is a snip at £25 for a half bottle.
On the red side, the two 4 star Gigondas cuvées from Les Pallières “Terasse du Diable” and “Les Racines”, both 2013 vintage at the equivalent of £36.50 a bottle (a half of Les Racines is also £19.50 and a magnum of Diables is £70) are exceptional value, as is the 5 star plus Clos des Papes 1999 at £95. The 4 star Arlewood Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 from the Margaret River in Western Australia at £35 is even more exceptional value. The 4 star plus Bodegas Aalto Ribera del Duero 2014 at £90 for a magnum is also a must for those with a heavy thirst, although it is likely to be a bit on the young side. There are 22 classed growth Clarets and 3 second wines on the list (curiously only one from the right bank (did Andrew ever have a problem in Saint Émilion?) of which we managed to rate 8 as good value (none were exceptionally good value) and that is an achievement in itself. It’s always tricky with Bordeaux, Burgundies and cult wines from other areas – a lot depends on the reputation of the vintage as well as the wine – but the 5 star Léoville Barton 2001 (a pretty good vintage) at £98 is good value. However you may prefer to drink that wine from the superb 2000 vintage at £150 which is fairly priced for the quality but certainly no bargain. Cult wines abound on the list, particularly from the USA, with the 5 star plus Turley Cellars Hayne Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 is on the cusp of being exceptional value at £110. On the other hand, David Abreu’s similarly rated Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 at £475, is the only Very Overpriced Wine on the entire list. Well, there is a big difference in price here for similar quality wines and the vintage ratings for both years are also very similar – not the best, so a word of caution might be applied here as there could be a possibility that they are beginning to fade. Maybe Andrew paid a bit over the top for the Abreu when he bought it originally, but “you pays your money and you takes your choice.”
Less of a risk, perhaps, on the fizz side, the 4 star Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV at £49.50 a bottle, £100 a magnum is excellent value for the quality and the 5 star plus Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill at £200 is pretty reasonably priced without being a bargain, but it is a cult wine.
All in all, this is a great wine list, not only for its quality, but also for making most of the wines achieve such a great rapport qualité/prix (as the French would say and they do still know a bit about wine).
Scores: Quality: 115.39 Value: 150.33 Impression: 15.60 Total: 281.32
When I wrote The Top 100 UK Restaurant Wine Lists 12 years ago, the top scoring list got a score of 190.35. The criteria was a bit different then (we gave points for good value wines but didn’t deduct points for overvalued wines then, which we are doing now), so it makes this score even more remarkable. Are there other restaurants around that can beat this score?
For our scoring criteria please go to https://www.winebehindthelabel.org/nevilles-blog/restaurant-wine-lists/
And to look at our value for money criteria in both shops and restaurants, please go to https://www.winebehindthelabel.org/ratings/