The sommelier at one of New York’s newest steak houses, Porter House New York, knew right away something was up when James Laube and I arrived at the table with an editor of Cigar Aficionado, David Savona, and we asked for two wine lists.
“So it’s dueling wine lists tonight, huh?” she said, with an amused smile.
The plan was that each of us would pick a wine on the list, it would be served blind, and we would decide which was better. Savona was supposed to be the tiebreaker.
I quickly spotted a 2001 La Grave à Pomerol on the list and ordered it while Laube found something that I assumed was from California. The sommelier decanted the two wines and poured them into two separate glasses for each of us at the table.
You would have to be a dummy to not figure out which was from Bordeaux and which was from California. One wine (mine) was fresh, delicate and refined on the palate, with a long, caressing finish. It was so subtle and beautiful to drink. The other one was dark-colored, almost black, with masses of fruit jumping out of the glass combined with vanilla oak. It was full-bodied and mouthcoating, with velvety tannins and a long finish--California. It was like comparing a sexy pole dancer to a beautiful ballerina--I wouldn’t like to say which I prefer as far as dancers. Laube’s red was a 2003 Napa Valley Syrah called Hill Climber Pilgrimage.
Laube preferred his and I preferred mine. Not much of a surprise. But Savona wimped out and he said that he liked both the wines. He thought that they were both outstanding quality. I did too, but I still liked mine better!
The release price for my wine (in 2004) is listed in our database at $30 a bottle, and I recently saw it at Zachy’s for about $35 a bottle. It’s a steal. In fact, lots of 2001 Bordeaux are well-priced as the market continues to focus only on 2005, 2003, 2000 and other top, more mature vintages. I am going to drink more 2001s while I am in the States.
And by the way, don’t miss Porter House New York. The food is excellent. Chef Michael Lomonaco is grilling up great steaks and his side dishes are not your usual lead-filled creamed spinach and greasy fries. Everything from roasted vegetables to sautéed mushrooms on polenta is delicate and delicious. It reminds me of a one star Michelin brassiere in Paris. He was at Windows on the World and '21' Club, among others, and he continues to cook focused and delicious food. In addition, the restaurant’s view from the Time Warner building is extraordinary. You would have to go to Per Se to get the same, and that would mean at least a dozen courses and a lot more money. So go to Porter House and decide for yourself if you like Laube’s wine or mine better!