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THE WINE LIST

A wine list need not be hand-calligraphered, etched in gold or weigh 20 pounds to be called successful. And it doesn’t have to impress with a lot of costly French imports.

There is the one-page, plastic-coated list at Noa Noa, for example.

This small (73 selections), well-crafted list is made up almost entirely of California wine. Better still, it’s priced so reasonably that almost anyone can afford a bottle of top-notch wine . . . and there’s a lot to choose from.

Eighteen of the 23 Chardonnay choices are less than $30, including such excellent wines as the 1988 Fisher Chardonnay, the 1987 Matanzas Creek, the 1988 Kistler “Durrell” and the 1987 Merry Vintners Reserve.

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For more excitement, I would try a 1988 Chalone Pinot Blanc at $23; a 1988 Niebaum Chevier, a lovely Semillon, at $16; or even a 1987 Phelps Riesling, a dry wine, at $15.

The red wine list, made up mostly of youngish Cabernets, has the excellent 1986 Carmenet at $24 and the superb 1984 Shafer Hillside Select at $31.

But the best wine to go with the food here is unquestionably the 1987 Saintsbury Pinot Noir, a bargain at $20. Pinot Noir goes with more foods than young Cabernet Sauvignon because of the lower tannins. And this Saintsbury wine has so much fruit that it is especially enjoyable, slightly chilled, on warm days. It’s one of the few wines that would be perfect on a tropical island.

Every other wine on Noa Noa’s list is selected with an eye to quality--including the likes of 1981 Ridge Zinfandel from York Creek ($25), 1988 Qupe Syrah ($17), 1986 St. Francis Merlot ($19) and 1988 Charles Shaw Beaujolais ($15).

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It’s true that there’s no Gewurztraminer on this list, which I would feel mandatory for this kind of food, and the list also has just one California sparkling wine. But the wide choices and reasonable prices make it a success.


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