Maybe it's just me, but I think a restaurant owes it to its patrons to inform them when a bottle on its wine list is a "private label" — in other words, the restauranteur has worked out a deal with a domestic or foreign wine producer in which (as I understand it) the restaurant purchases a minimum number of bottles that the vintner ships to the restaurant with a customized label.
These private-label wines can be good, but, in some cases — such as last night — they are quite disappointing. I was dining with friends at Les Halles, the French steakhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, N.W. We ordered a 2004 St. Emilion Grand Cru that was priced at $61.
If I had known this was bottled specifically for shipment to Les Halles, I may or may not have decided to order this wine. Knowing this would have at least prompted me to ask the waiter about the wine.
When it arrived, I probably should have said something, but I have always had excellent wines at Les Halles (until last night).
The meal was excellent, but both wines were lackluster. The second one (a Syrah-Mourvedre blend) tasted like it had been "baked" — not stored at the proper temp.