The Wine List

At fancy new restaurants, the upscale menu is often accompanied by a list of wines too young to enjoy.

If the restaurateur sidesteps this problem and offers older red wines, they are usually priced so high that even John Beresford Tipton would be frightened.

The Belvedere wine list avoids both of these problems. It offers a number of mature wines at fair prices and adds three bonuses: perfect wine storage, elegant stemware and a creative selection of wines.

Among the white wines, the lovely 1989 vintage is well represented by wines from Laurier, $24; Matanzas Creek, $23; Cuvaison, $29, and St. Francis, $17. And from 1988, there is Trefethen, $30.

The older-red-wine list is a surprise. Though most of these wines are $50 to $80, they would sell for perhaps 50% more in most other restaurants.

For instance, 1981 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet, a wonderful wine, sells here for $48, which is just $18 more than what it sold for on store shelves seven years ago. There are also other good Cabernets from past vintages--1978 BV Private Reserve, $78; 1979 BV Private Reserve, $72; 1982 Jordan, $60, and 1985 Beringer Private Reserve, $80--as well as many younger wines at much lower prices.

Among the good values are 1989 Columbia Crest Chardonnay, $16, and 1988 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant, a Rhone-type wine, $26.

The list also has some nicely chosen French Bordeaux and Burgundies but a rather odd assortment of Italian wines.

The temperature-controlled room in which the wines are stored has a window into the dining room, and the staff is prepared to take visitors on a tour of the cellar.

Considering how well-thought-out this list is, I was surprised to learn that the corkage charge is an exorbitant $20 per bottle.

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