House wines now have cachet and feature serious bottlings from first-class wineries. Here are five of F&W’s Lettie Teague’s favorite house wines.
2005 Orsay Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc Les Figuières ($15)
Made by top Rhône consultant Jean-Luc Colombo, this lush and somewhat tropical white Rhône has an excellent balancing acidity. It is the house white wine at Orsay, a chic restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side.
2006 Cuvée Daniel Au Bon Climat Chardonnay ($17)
Though it’s the house wine of a famous French restaurant, New York City’s Daniel, this big, opulent Chardonnay has a decidedly American style. Restaurant wine director Daniel Johnnes helped in its creation.
2005 III Somms Amitié ($22)
This easy-drinking Cabernet Franc–dominant blend from Napa, served at Jean Georges in New York, has notes of bright fruit and soft tannins. It’s made by the Jean Georges wine director, Bernie Sun, and two of his friends.
2004 Smith & Wollensky Private Reserve ($30)
This medium-bodied Napa Cab is a straight-down-the-middle wine from Napa’s Girard vineyards: neither too big and oaky nor particularly slight. It’s well-made, with integrated tannins—a good match for a steak. It’s also quite reasonably priced.
Champagne Chapuy Cuvée Aquavit ($38)
The house wine of chef Marcus Samuelsson’s highly regarded Aquavit in New York, this medium-bodied Champagne is bright, clean and beautifully balanced; it is a versatile match for a wide range of food.