As so-called haute-casual restaurants have grown more ambitious, their wine lists have followed suit unfortunately, that also means prices have moved upward. (At ABC Cocina, you can wash down your BLT tacos with a $200 '07 Ferrer Bobet Carignane or $210 '08 Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir, if you're feeling so inclined.) Yes, the variety of wines on offer is fantastic, but if you're not a wine connoisseur, it can also be frustrating to find something good without also looking like you're just going for the third-cheapest bottle on the list. So, to help, Grub Street has enlisted the expert advice of Rom Toulon managing partner of Tribeca's new 24 Hubert Wines and former wine director at Napa Valley's three-Michelin-star Meadowood to pick the best $50-and-under bottles at sixteen of the city's buzziest spots. Take it away, Rom.
White: Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Domaine de la Pépière, Loire Valley, France, 2011 ($35)
"Crisp and complex, this Muscadet has aromas of honeyed orange with a briny minerality on the palate."
Red: Crozes-Hermitage, Etienne Bécheras, Rhone Valley, France, 2011 ($48)
"Purple flowers, cassis, red currant, blackberry, and dusty graphite are balanced by beautiful tannins setting this wine up to be age-worthy."
Pearl & Ash
White: Chardonnay, Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara County, USA, 2011 ($45)
"Textured and full, with fresh acidity and ripe lemon citrus."
Red: Arbois Pupillin "Ploussard," Renardière, Jura, France, 2011 ($47)
"This wine has fresh red fruits and light spice integrated with peppery notes on the finish."
White: Pinot Gris, Domaine Zinck, Alsace, France, 2010 ($44)
"An aromatic, full-bodied wine that displays ripe exotic fruits, with hints of pepper and mouthwatering acidity."
Red: "Fleurie," Christophe Pacalet, Beaujolais, France, 2011 ($38)
"This Gamay is a fruit-forward wine with positive acidity and a refreshing finish."
White: Quincy, Domaine Mardon, Loire Valley, France, 2011 ($40)
"This Sauvignon Blanc is pale yellow with flecks of green. It is a highly aromatic wine displaying ripe citrus and stone fruits."
Red: Vin de Pays, Yves Leccia, Corsica, France, 2011 ($40)
"This unique wine from the island of Corsica displays ripe red currants and a light herbaceous quality, with approachable tannins and a smooth finish."
White: Grechetto Colli Martani "Grecante," Arnaldo Caprai, Umbria, Italy, 2011 ($48)
"The 2011 Grechetto is a refreshing white wine with peach, citrus, and earthy minerality."
Red: Etna Rosso, Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Sicily, Italy, 2011 ($48)
"This full-bodied wine has soft aromas of dried red fruits with soft tannins and a beautiful finish."
White: Gaillac "Perle," Domaine Philamon, South-West, France, 2011 ($40)
"The 2011 'Perle' is a dry wine that displays bright citrus notes, crisp acidity, and a touch of effervescence."
Red: Château du Juge, Première Cotes de Bordeaux, France, 2009 ($40)
"This Merlot-dominated blend is a full-bodied wine, rich with ripe fruit, notes of tobacco, and chewy tannins."
White: Roero "arneis," Brovia, Piemonte, Italy, 2012 ($48)
"Well-balanced and elegant white wine with fresh citrus, floral, and hints of almonds. It has a crisp and clean finish."
Red: Aglianico le Fole, Cantina Giardino, Campania, Italy, 2009 ($45)
"A rustic and robust hearty red wine from the south of Italy with rich red raspberries, notes of ginger, white pepper, and strong tannins."
White: Corbières, Domaine Guillaume Cabrol, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 2011 ($40)
"This wine is tangy and crisp with bright citrus notes, touches of apricot, and a smooth finish."
Red: Bourgueil "Bonn'Heure," Domaine de la Chevalerie, Loire Valley, France, 2011 ($50)
"A wonderful example of classic Cabernet Franc from Bourgueil: vibrant rich wild blackberries, bell pepper, hints of graphite, and iron."
White: Grüner Veltliner "Terrassen Federspiel," Domäne Wachau, Wachau, Austria 2011 ($49)
"Crunchy acidity, savory citrus, and intriguing spice."
Red: Cahors, Clos La Coutale, South-West, France, 2010 ($40)
"Aromas of ripe red and blue fruits, rustic spices, and smooth tannins."
White: Furmint Sec, Királyudvar, Tokaji, Hungary, 2010 ($40)
"Viscous intensity and bright acidity balanced by a moderate sweetness, beautiful floral, and citrus flavors with a stony minerality."
Red: Ponce "Clos Lojen," Manchuela, Spain, 2011 ($35)
"A rich fruit-forward wine with blueberry, black plum, raspberry, and firm tannins."
White: Riesling-Sylvaner-Auxerrois "Saveurs," Domaine Binner, Alsace, France, 2012 ($35)
"Elegantly aromatic, and rich with exotic fruits all of which are balanced by a refreshing minerality."
Red: Lemberger, Damiani Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes, USA, 2011 ($50)
"Big and bold blackberries and sour cherries ... slightly vegetal, with rich yet soft tannins."
White: Ischia Bianco, Pietra Brox, Giardini Arimei, Campania, Italy, 2011 ($45)
"Beautiful aromas of white flowers laden with light spices."
Red: Rosso di Montepulciano, Podee Casanova, Tuscany, Italy, 2005 ($47)
"This is a serious wine packed with cherry, chocolate, espresso, and dusty cedar notes."
White: Torrentés, Laborum, Salta, Argentina, 2011 ($38)
"It's full of tropical fruit with the subtle floral notes that exemplify this unique variety."
Red: Brancellao, Forlon Hope, Sierra Foothills, USA, 2012 ($48)
"Versatile and very aromatic with red fruits. It has a medium finish."
White: Chablis, Domaine Desvignes, Burgundy, France, 2010 ($40)
"Light-bodied Chardonnay with crisp, clean flavors, and a vibrant acidity balanced by ripe citrus."
Red: Merlot, Westrey Vineyards, Happy Canyon, USA, 2007 ($45)
"Displays floral notes of roses and ripe raspberries, with hints of cinnamon and clove on the finish."
White: Assyrtiko, Hatzidakis, Santorini, Greece, 2012 ($38)
"Mouth-watering acidity, hints of apricot, white pepper, and refreshing minerality on the finish."
Red: Teroldego Rotaliano, Cipriano, Trentino, Alto Adige, Italy, 2011 ($44)
"Aromas of savory and spiced herbs, expressions of raspberry and strawberry, and a light mineral dusting on the finish."
White: Riesling Kabinett, Eugen Müller Forster Mariengarten, Pfalz, Germany, 2011 ($39)
"Stunning, with lush citrus, white floral bouquet, and a zesty acidity on the finish."
Red: Syrah/Garnacha, Finca Sandoval, Manchuela, Spain, 2009 ($42)
"Deep, intense purple, and the aromas evoke barnyard funk with red and black fruits and rich tannins."