What to Drink at Restaurant Voted Best in the World

Recently Eleven Madison Park was voted the world’s best restaurant by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants group. It also has a four-star rating from the New York Times. In 2015, Cedric Nicaise became wine director of Eleven Madison Park, which will open a summer outpost in the Hamptons this season.

What makes the wine and champagne collection at Eleven Madison Park competitive for a New York venue?
One of the most defining characteristics of our champagne list is the vintage depth of grower champagne. We have various vintages or disgorgement of some very small grower producers, which is very hard to find. Similar to the champagne section, one of the more interesting things about our wine list is the vintage depth of more inexpensive wines. We have over 300 wines on the list that are under $100. In some cases, vintages can be as old as 2005. I find that many large lists don’t focus enough on inexpensive wines. Although we don’t try to be everything for everyone, we find special ways to show value. I love entry-level wines from great producers. Something like Patrick Jasmin Vin de Pays 2010 for $75 is a steal, and there are tons of things like that.

Moments of table service at Eleven Madison Park, NY.
Table service at Eleven Madison Park, NY.

Rarest wines/champagnes in the collection:
We have a vertical of Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises, one of the great cuvees of champagne. Pierre Péters Cuvée Spéciale 1999, grower champagne with age, is really hard to find as noted above. Bé- rêche et Fils, Re et d’Antan (12.12) magnum—a nonvintage, perpetual cuvee with four years of bottle age, which is really exciting and not readily available. At the higher end, we have a lot of very old bottles. For example, Conterno from the 1940s or Burgundy from the ’60s and ’70s. Some of the rarest wines we have are from the Rhone; verticals of Gentaz and Verset come to mind. If you are looking for something more reasonable, I love the wines from Tempier, although they are steadily getting more expensive.

Recent wine and champagne discoveries:
Maxime Ponson, a very small grower in the northern part of the Montagne de Reims. The wines that he is producing are great and well balanced. He only makes around 6,000 bottles, so they’re hard to find.

Wine region to watch:
I think Champagne is the region with the most going on. There is a serious changing of the guard, with people in their thirties and forties, some even younger, who are starting to take over family domains or strike out on their own. This new generation is not just searching for better wines but also looking at better, more responsible farming as well.

What you’re drinking:
A lot of champagne—different styles, big houses, small growers, and everything in between.

Trends in wine and champagne for 2017:
More people drinking champagne all the time. It’s going to be more prominent at the dinner table, not just at cocktail parties and celebrations. I think the natural wine trend will slow down a little. The movement really swung the pendulum hard, but it has to swing back at some point. There are a ton of great natural wines, but there are also a lot of really not great ones.

Haute Living | May 2017 
Catherine Sabino

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