By Danny Brody
Let’s say you have a tough decision to make about dinner. Should I dine at CelebuChef Michael Mina’s hot new Bourbon Steak, or should I get that new car I’ve been eyeing? Hmmm. Maybe the old Jag will last a few more weeks, Topper, let’s fire it up and head over to that hot new restaurant and get some macaroni & cheese (truffled, of course).
Bourbon Steak is in Aventura — home to a big mall, a big hospital and the kind of people who are in constant need of both (figure it out). And the wine list is crafted for those types. Vertical vintages of everyone’s favorite superstar Opus One, and all five Bordaeux "first-growths" are represented here (Haut-Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild – see, you already learned something), as well as rare finds like Cheval-Blanc (1982, $1998), Pétrus (1981, $1013) and Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage, a Jacques Perrin 2004 Magnum at a mere $1989. Sure, that’s grand, you say, but how about something UNDER a grand? Well here are a few bottles that won’t necessitate angioplasty.
Let’s start with the cheap stuff. Speaking of France’s Rhône region, where Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes from (but you already knew that), there’s a Jean Louis Chaves Côtes du Rhône Mon Coeur 2005 for just $42. This is probably the best you will do, as this plush red blend of Rhone varietals Syrah, Grenache and Mourverdre is probably going to cost you $20 retail, if you can find it. It was one of Wine Spectator’s top 100 and rated a 90 (excellent). Mon Coeur, incidentally, means "my heart." (Works every time.) Also pairs well with almost anything on the menu, even some of the fish dishes (but not lobster).
Another buy is listed under the oddly punctuated The Secrets of "The" Sommelier. Tikal Patriota (2005, $58), an Argentinian Malbec heavy blend, will hold its own against steak, as any Malbec should, and might even work with the Fried Chicken with Truffled Mac & Cheese.
For whites, try the always-reliable Crios De Susana Balbo, whose Torrontes 2007 from Mendoza, Argentina is lightly fruity and will pair well with fish as well as with the aforementioned fried chicken (one of "Michael’s Classics"). The Torrontes grape is not well-known yet, so this bottle, at $34, is a relative bargain, retailing for about $14. Remember, it’s not just the numbers that have to work but the quality of the wine, too, to make the multipliers work (2-2 1/2 times retail is the maximum acceptable), and this one is smooth.
Another fantastic bargain is the 2006 Dr. Loosen "Erdener Treppchen" Kabinett from Germany (you don’t have to pronounce it, just point — everyone does). This is a great food wine, as most dry Rieslings are, and you would be hard-pressed to find this under $25 retail. This will also pair well with the "Trio of Duck Fat Fries." And at a mere $54, this will leave you room to order the lobster, and still have money left to tip the valet.