Noreetuh, a recent addition to the East Village, highlights the Hawaiian-inspired cuisine of chef Chung Chow, previously a sous chef at Per Se. Chow's partners, Gerald San Jose and general manager Jin Ahn (also the restaurant's wine buyer), met him while also working for Thomas Keller, and their collective resume means that the small, casual restaurant is equipped with an unexpectedly good wine list.
The inexpensive list should have been completely picked clean by now, but the look of Noreetuh, in its rough approximation of the Momofuku aesthetic, does not announce itself as being a place that you can drink 10 year old Chambertin for $235 or Merkelbach from 2002 for $53. Plus it generally closes at 11 p.m., which doesn't allow for price sensitive sommeliers to swing by for a bottle after their own work is done. And the actual wine list at Noreetuh, with its very light colored gray font, is particularly hard to read. Because of all this, with any luck, the wine selections, with pricing that can seem to rival retail and scattered back vintages in the mix, might stick around awhile. But it's still probably best to go right away if you want to take advantage of the low pricing before the best deals are gone, or before someone decides to raise the prices.
The list at Noreetuh is a bit of a hodgepodge, and speaks to Ahn picking wines he's liked in the past, rather than carefully selecting what might be nice with the Hawaiian cuisine of the restaurant. The framework skews towards the classic more than the hip or natural. But you can't argue with the quality of the actual wines, and as has been said, the pricing is downright cheap. Better to purchase a bottle than go by the glass, as the pours tend towards the skimpy in size, and can taste like they have been stored warm. As is often the case, the best relative deals tend to come at the higher end of the list on the price scale, and there are more options in red than white. But the upshot is that you can drink very well for not much at Noreetuh, and probably should do so before the situation changes.
What to drink at Noreetuh:
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey "Le Banc" Saint-Aubin 2013 (Burgundy, France) $69: The problem with the wines of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey is that there aren't enough of them to go around. This producer has subtly refined the wines he has been making under his own label, and he is today in the top echelon for white Burgundy.
Hexamer "Sobernheimer Marbach" Riesling Spatlese 2003 (Nahe, Germany) $86: Hexamer nailed the hot 2003 vintage. The ripeness of the year played perfectly into the exotic style of the wines Hexamer produces, and probably there hasn't been a better vintage match for this winery since. Also this is a great potential pairing for several of the dishes on the menu.
Marc Colin "Les Narvaux" Meursault 2005 (Burgundy, France) $135: Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey also helps out at the family domain, Marc Colin, and this is a perfect example of the value that can be found at noreetuh. This could easily be listed for nearly twice the price, but here it is from a vintage with maturity for way less than $200.
Calera "Mills Vineyard" Pinot Noir 2008 (Mount Harlan, California) $79: Calera might sometimes be overlooked today by consumers looking for what is new from California, but they are excellent wines with a proven track record of ageability. Here is one of the top bottlings, from a rare own rooted vineyard, for a price that is not much more than what you would find it for at retail.
Château Meyney Saint-Estèphe 2000 (Bordeaux, France) $95: Bordeaux is often perceived to be expensive, but Château Meyney has long been a notable exception. Sturdy wines that complement beef or lamb, the Meyney offerings are consistently good, and excellent in years like 2000. This release is from before Château Meyney was sold in 2004, and represents a kind of classic tasting Bordeaux that can at times be difficult to find even amongst Bordeaux.
La Torre Brunello di Montalcino 2008 (Tuscany, Italy) $89: Another classic producer, and one that produces age worthy wines. With all the current excitement in the market for 2010 Brunello, it is worth remembering how some bottle age can really benefit the wines. In this particular case the wine is being offered for a price that isn't much more than retail.
Chateau Musar Red 1990 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon) $150: A truly phenomenal wine, and a terrific testament to the legacy of Chateau Musar's Serge Hochar, who passed away recently. This is the run, don't walk value on the wine list, as this wine is rarely offered at anywhere near this low of a price. Probably it won't be there for long.
Ridge "Lytton Springs" Zinfandel 2005 (Sonoma, California) $90: One more opportunity to try a classic producer and an age-worthy wine with some time in bottle, for a very fair price. If you are ordering red meat for dinner, be sure to consider pairing it with this beauty.