Wine-wise, Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group has been on a bit of a roll lately. Both Maialino and Marta have become out and out wine destinations, although for different reasons, and there is a renewed energy in the wine programs of a few of the other USHG outlets as well. The emphasis that John Ragan and Sabato Sagaria have placed on sommelier recruitment at the corporate level seems to be paying off, and when they recently tapped Eduardo Porto Carreiro to head up wine at Untitled, the group's newest restaurant in the Whitney Museum, it seemed like there was a good chance they would have another hit on their hands. Porto Carreiro developed some strong relationships with customers and built a dynamic program while he was at DBGB, and Untitled will offer a natural platform for him to showcase his fluency on the floor.
As it turned out, the wine team had to hit the ground running, because Untitled has been mobbed with customers since opening, and the museum itself has proved to be a huge draw. Porto Carreiro was also hired rather late in the game, and will only just debut his fully developed wine list at dinner tonight. That being the case, he could be forgiven for drawing heavily on the same wines that he had purchased at DBGB, but in fact there is little overlap. Clearly his familiarity with Burgundy is again apparent, but it would appear that this is a new, wholly drawn up list, with all the research and tasting that implies. This is a well-chosen group of selections, if a bit all over the map. There is Burgundy and also France generally, but also wine from Germany, Austria, Slovenia, California, and the Jura. In this globe-spanning manner, the Untitled list has more in common with its sister restaurant Gramercy Tavern than with Maialino or Marta, both of which draw heavily from Italy. Many of the current choices are the sorts of lighter styled wines that might be expected to go well with chef Michael Anthony's cuisine, although there is a surprising amount of red wine on offer given how geared the current menu seems to be towards white wines.
The real takeaway at Untitled is the pricing, which often has quite a few dollars shaved off the numbers in comparison to other restaurants in town. While the tariffs aren't as consistently low as they are at Marta, for instance, they offer strong relative value at both the mid range of the spectrum: the 2012 Robert Chevillon Passetoutgrains will cost you $55 at Untitled, instead of the $65 that Bâtard asks for the same, and the high end: the 2007 Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge is $298 at Untitled, but $450 at Morrell Wine Bar. It is a list that seems designed to encourage a splurge on a bottle, given what that same wine might cost somewhere else. Why not have the 2013 Egon Müller "Scharzhofberger" Kabinett Riesling for $132 at Untitled when The Gander asks $199 for it? And if you saw how much other restaurants want to charge you for 2002 Dom Pérignon, you might not want to ever leave Untitled.
What could be asked of a such an obvious lunch time spot as Untitled (the light streaming through the windows during the day is a clear draw) is more development of the wine list at the low end of the pricing range or the availability of half bottles. And at dinnertime, customers might wish for more back vintages with age on them. What the list also lacks is ease of use: the current version seems to have never met a piece of information that it would not rather exclude, leaving "1er" to stand in for "1er Cru" and grape varieties off whenever possible. It would be nice to be reminded, for instance, that that Chevillon Passetoutgrains is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. The Untitled list remains silent on such issues, as it does about any sort of stylistic cues regarding the wines on its pages. And while it might be an extra flourish to sum up a group of wines of diverse origins as "Wines From Around the World That We Love," it is obviously too terse to describe them as "Etc.," in the manner of the Untitled list. That said, these are good wines and the prices are favorable.
What should you be drinking at Untitled? Here are several excellent options from the wine list. The full list is at the end.
Heymann-Löwenstein Riesling Sekt 2008 (Mosel, Germany): Arguably the best German sparkling wine on the market, this is pure deliciousness ($69)
Larmandier-Bernier "Vieille Vigne" Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne 2006 (Champagne, France): Quite possibly the lowest price of any restaurant in NYC for this masterful Champagne ($177)
Boudin Chablis 2013 (Burgundy, France): Often overlooked in favor of more famous neighbors, Boudin makes zippy Chablis that shines in the glass and on the table ($48).
Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc 2013 (Loire Valley, France): The latest talked about favorite to come out the Loire, the Boudignon wines are quickly becoming sommelier darlings. And with good reason: the wines are wonderful ($71).
Boxler "Sommerberg" Riesling 2002 (Alsace, France): A tremendous producer who has made some of France's greatest Rieslings, and a terrific choice to pair with Michael Anthony's menu at Untitled ($77).
Domaine de la Pinte "Capitaine" Arbois Rouge 2011 (Jura, France): While other Jura producers get more attention, Pinte is truly an insider's pick: excellent wines for an excellent value ( $51).
Michel Juillot "Vignes de Maillonge" Mercurey Rouge 2012 (Burgundy, France): Genuinely underpriced, overachieving red Burgundy is quickly becoming a rarity. But here it is ($56).
Ridge "York Creek" Cabernet Sauvignon 1985 (Napa Valley, California): An incredible opportunity to try a remarkable wine, with age on it, and to do so for a very reasonable price. This is a treasure, offered for a sum that many people can appreciate ($148).