Baffled by a wine list? BYO Chateauneuf

wood fire pizzaAfter visiting a Philly BYOB, Robert Parker once let an apparent deep-seated contempt for sommeliers flow free, dubbing them defenders of “vinofreakism.”

Perhaps trying to atone for his equivalent to a Howard Dean howl, Parker posted to his web site that he enjoyed his recent meal to A16, a pizza specialist in San Francisco with a long list of wines from Campania and the Mezzogiorno more generally. Even though he admits that after seeing the wine list he wished for a lifeline phone call to his Italian critic Galloni, Parker says the sommelier, Emily, was “very knowledgeable about the wines.”

So which wines did he then have? A Champagne and two 2007 Chateauneufs (one in magnum) that aren’t on the wine list. Oh, and perhaps the best-known wine from Campania, a Montevetrano, which he said was extremely closed. Chew on that…

Shelley Lindgren, wine director and one of the owners, wrote in her book A16: Food + Wine that a wine list based on Southern Italian wines was a tough sell when she opened the restaurant. But soon enough, she writes, “we had a dining room full of curious customers interested in expanding their wine horizons.”

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11 Responses to “Baffled by a wine list? BYO Chateauneuf”

  1. Everyone knows the proper pairing for pizza is #CDP07 in large format. Who knows how to properly pronounce “Nerello Cappuccio”, anyways?

  2. Jon – You will surely appreciate this cartoon:

  3. WOW…just wow. And the continual disconnect between ‘major publication reviewer’ and progressive wine society continues.

    French Toast? None of other than Rayas!
    Pad Thai? Hmmm, how about Clos St Jean!
    Sole Meuniere? Beaucastel of course!
    Gnocchi with Ricotta? Let’s deviate…Pavie!

  4. This is why Parker fits in the life style of the people who buy Bordeaux and auction house total disconnect with the world

    I mean yeah drink what you like but I mean as a wine writer he is he should show some respect to a thought out wine list by a sommelier even if they are a dirty hipster or a tree hugging cow dung burying hippy

  5. I see the benefits to BYOB in many respects but there is just something about taking someone’s tried and true suggestion that shouldn’t be ignored.

    — Kristy @ Wine Logic

  6. Kristy,

    I agree completely. That said especially in a city like Philadelphia (and Chicago), the cost of a liquor license is absurd and the most profitable way for a restaurant to make it initially is BYO.

    Also as a wine lover and collector, too many wine lists have prices that are incredibly high and the selection (for what Parker in this case wanted to drink) does not exist at most restaurants.

    I eat out frequently and buy wine out frequently…that said popping for a bottle of 90 Gentaz Cote-Rotie or 82 Leoville Las Cases may be impossible and make little if any sense if I had three bottles of each and wanted to bring two to a BYO.

    I believe it is about balance and having great relationships with restaurants one frequents. Unless it is completely illegal (as it is in a handful of states), if you are a bit of a regular who will order a bottle of wine when you’re in the Sommelier/Wine Director will rarely have an issue with bringing a special bottle of wine in.

  7. All good points, Aaron!

    — Kristy @ Wine Logic

  8. @Aaron – Yeah, it does show a certain lack of curiosity about what’s in the broader world of wine.

    @Weston – Yes, and why he may dislike sommeliers (perhaps the feeling is mutual?).

    @Aaron and Kristy – Yes, BYOB can be great for wine enthusiasts. But if you’re the self-proclaimed most powerful critic in the world hitting a place for the first time that has a distinctive wine list –and planning on writing up the experience for your web site–you might want to order off the list and comment on how the pairings worked, rather than beating the #CDP07 drum yet again.

  9. CdP, really? did he also ask them to cook him some 7 hour lamb so it would match his wine?
    I’ve eaten at A-16, and it was a fantastic way to experience the flavors of the south of Italy. The wine list is fantastic and appropriate, (not just because I currently work for an Italian importer (Winebow) and have sold other Italian wines (Vias, etc.). The list if full of great wines that really go with the authentic food they make.

    and I’m guessing that he picked the Montevetrano because it’s a Cab/Merlot/Aglinico blend. he was scared of the other grapes! oh, and his publication gave the 2006 94 points…

    Parker has become the David Letterman of wine. Increasingly irrelevant and past his prime, relying on what he used to be.

  10. Is there ANYTHING that the guy won’t eat alongside a 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape? He made the same move at Le Bernardin, for God’s sake. Mmmmmm, sea bass crudo with lime zest and fresh horseradish with a 16% alcohol Grenache. Mmmmmmmm!!! Poached lobster with ginger accompanied by a Syrah and Mourvedre blend that was made in 100% new high toast small oak casks! Oh, baby! Pain grille all around!

  11. i’m so tired of fuddy duddy wine critics being so ready for retirement that they can’t explore and learn new things. they can’t handle the fact that the wine world is so vast now and requires a lot more knowledge than in their day when the major regions and classic grapes were all one needed to know. it makes me glad that generation is nearing retirement. all hail a-16! they have a rad wine list, as does reynard and many other vinofreakish restaurants.


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