I thought it would be interesting to take a week-long look at the wine offerings at each of six local restaurants in Coppell and compare them on quality, cost, markup and overall value. The first post in the series is an overview of all six restaurants. This is the second of the detailed reviews of the restaurants.
Carmel Restaurant Lounge is the newest player in the Coppell restaurant scene. Occupying the space that was once Fat Daddy’s and then Bistro M, Carmel has put together a higher-end destination with a more sophisticated look and an elegant Mediterranean-based menu. As one of the more chic spots in Coppell, as you might expect, their wine list has the highest average quality rating in Coppell, but also carries the highest average price per bottle. There are several really good wines to try at Carmel, particularly for date night, an adult’s night out or a special occasion.
Best Splurge: Beringer Quantum The strength of the Carmel wine list is that it carries six 90+ rated wines, more than an other location in Coppell. Of those, by far the best value is the Beringer Quantum Red Blend. At $65 per bottle, the 91-point rated Quantum is only an 18% markup over the average retail price of $55 for this wine. A blend that is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, the Quantum should deliver solid black fruit with a rich texture. If you are looking to splurge on a white, the Nickel & Nickel Truchard Chardonnay is the highest rated white on the list, but I don’t think the price that is double that of the Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Chardonnay or the Stag’s Leap Chardonnay is worth the slight uptick in quality. I would stick with the Stag’s Leap or the St. Jean Robert Young, which are also highly rated but half the price.
Best Budget Bottles: Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre and Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay. Made primarily with Corvina grapes, the main grape in Italian Valpolicella wines, with a touch of Rondinella and Sangiovese, don’t let the fact that the Palazzo red blend is made with grapes not often discussed in most American wines deter you. This wine is a really nice example of an Italian blend, ripe with dark black fruit, chocolate and a touch or earthy herbs. At $34 a bottle ($19 average retail), this is really solid option. Although the Wente Morning Fog is marked up a bit more than would be expected (162% above the $13 average retail price), at $34 per bottle, I still think this is the best bottle of white at a budget price on the Carmel list. With much of the same citrus, melon and apricot flavor notes you would find in Napa and Sonoma Chadonnays, this Livermore Valley Chardonnay spends 7 months in oak barrels and then 7 months in stainless, giving it a slight oak texture without being overbearing. If you are in the mood for something that is red, but not as deep as the Pallazo, both the Lyric and Carmel Road Pinot Noirs are also wonderful options in the budget price range.
Best Red by the Glass: Skyfall Cabernet. At $9 a glass, the Skyfall Cabernet has a bottle-equivalent markup that is well below average for Coppell restaurants. Only 5,000 cases of this Columbia Valley Cabernet were produced, so it’s not a way-too-mass-produced wine. Tending more on the red side of fruit (think of raspberries instead of blackberries or plums), this is a Cabernet that should be equally pleasing to both those who favor Cabernet and to those who favor Merlot.
Best White by the Glass: Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay. I hate to pick the same wine by the glass that was also selected by the bottle, but the weakness I find with the Carmel wine list is the quality of its whites by the glass. If you prefer a Sauvignon Blanc to a Chardonnay, both the Oyster Bay and William hill are decent choices that you won’t be disappointed with, but for $8 or $9 a glass I would expect something of higher quality that you would walk away excited about.
Wines I Would Avoid: The Sycamore Lane Pinot Grigio is consistently rated at the very bottom of the scale (ranging from 78 points to 81 points) and the $7 glass will cost you more than you can buy an entire bottle for at retail. The bottle-equivalent markup on this wine by the glass is a staggering 483%. I would also avoid the Five Rivers Pinot Noir which is thin and overly-spiced (spend the extra $2 for a glass of the Carmel Road instead). When a Malbec is good it can be an outstanding value for the price and a nice change from the Merlots and Cabs, but I would avoid the Alta Vista Malbec, which is often described with politically correct phrases like “pretty good” and “not stellar” by those who review it. You can do better for the price on this wine list.
With the exception of the white wines offered by the glass, I like the depth and diversity of this wine list and think it pairs well with the atmosphere and food. It is a pricey list compared to the others, but that is based mostly on paying for quality not markup. The average markup for Carmel wines are right in the middle of the Coppell restaurant pack.
If you have any comments or questions on any of the posts in this Coppell restaurant series, please feel free to leave a comment to these posts or hit me up on Twitter at @erikj. Also, if you have other area restaurants that you would like to see evaluated for wine offerings, please let me know! The links to all posts in this series appear below.
Six Coppell Wine Lists in Seven Days: