Notes From Nicholas: Bordeaux: ‘When It’s Great, There’s Nothing Better’

October 8, 2012
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By Nicholas Harary

The restaurant business is an industry driven by trends. “Farm to table” is the latest rage; it seems like every new restaurant in the last couple of years subscribes to this theme. It’s a good one, I’m all for it, my only question is which great restaurant isn’t “farm to table?”

A vineyard in Cotes de Castillon, France.

I don’t know of any that use processed food or goods from a can. I don’t know, seems like they’re stating the obvious. At Nicholas, when we feel like pasta and red sauce for a family meal, we have an issue. We don’t have a can opener in the kitchen. Other than this one day of the month, there’s just no need for one. You’d be amazed at the ways a determined young chef can open a can of tomatoes. By the way, the last new guy had a Swiss Army knife and those things really work. I never would have guessed…

Wine rolls the same way. When we opened the restaurant in the winter of 2000, everybody wanted to drink California merlot. I probably had 20 different selections. Then the movie Sideways came out and simultaneously killed any demand for merlot and drove the market for pinot noir sky high. California growers ripped out thousands of acres of merlot to plant pinot noir in every nook and cranny of the state, in many places where they had no good reason to plant pinot noir except to feed the market beast that would buy any label that read pinot noir. Crazy. Today, I have two American merlots and 30 pinot noirs on the list. Keeping up with that part of the list is near impossible; pinot just flies out the door now while American merlot sits and waits.

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Luckily, the Bordelaise are less reactionary than their California counterparts. Mer­lot has reigned supreme on the Right Bank in Bor­deaux for hundreds of years. In fact, some of the most expensive wines in the world are based on merlot. The current vintage of Chateau Petrus goes for around $3,000 per bottle!?! I wonder if Miles would consider tasting that merlot?

Granted, merlot planted on the Right Bank of Bordeaux is not the same as merlot planted in California. The unique limestone and Bordeaux Cotes de Castillon mineral-rich clay is home to a fantastic new estate we’ve just discovered here at Restaurant Nicholas. Chateau Roque le Mayne is an incredible bottle of Bordeaux, aromatic and lush with just the right amount of stony minerality that keeps the wine fresh. Again, world class Bordeaux under $25 doesn’t come around often. There’s a reason why Bordeaux has been the most famous wine region since Romans roamed western France.

When it’s great, there’s nothing better. I’m selling it through Nicholas Wines, log onto and check it out.


The Wine


Jean-Francois Meynard naturally farms 15 hectares of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and malbec vines on the classic argilo-calcaire soil of the Cotes de Castillon. The minerality in the soil perfectly balances the incredible concentration of fruit Meynard coaxes from his vines. The 2010 vintage, one of the best in a generation at Chateau Roque le Mayne, is marked by an intense purple color, complex aromatics of cassis and sweet herbs and a lengthy finish, one usually reserved for wine twice its price. Roque le Mayne is a steal, delicious today yet with the breed and stuffing to improve in the bottle for up to 15 years. If you can’t resist the killer fruit, pair with grilled lamb chops or any holiday roast.

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Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.


In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store ( Chef Harary’s long- lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.

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