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Wine List : There Are Plenty of Hops, but Grapes Are Good, Too

November 04, 1990|DAN BERGER

Not everyone goes to Eureka for the beer. The place happens to have an excellent wine list.

Price is the first attractive thing. Most wines are marked up less than twice retail, meaning 1988 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, which sells in stores for $11, is $18 here, and 1987 Newton Merlot, $15 in stores, is $24 here. And a third of the domestic wines cost less than $20 a bottle.

Best of all, the selection is good and shows a lot of creativity. While many lists stick to well-known (and often boring) names, Eureka offers a number of odd but exciting wines designed to match the food. "What we've tried to do," says co-owner Jerry Goldstein, one of the founders of Acacia Winery, "is find those wines I call odd-duck wines. These are wines that a real wine lover will know, and will seek out."

Among the excellent values on this list are 1988 Acacia Chardonnay and 1987 Byron Reserve. Take, for example, the following reds: 1986 Bourgeuil from Jacques Morin ($16), an incredible wine for the money; 1986 Chinon from Jouget ($21), like the Bourgeuil, a Cabernet Franc; a Gigondas from Aline Bonfils ($19), a delightful wine made entirely from Grenache; and 1984 Lirac Castel Oualou ($12), a southern Rhone made in the style of Beaujolais.

These wines are particularly appropriate to the type of food served here, which doesn't warrant very old wine. Younger red wines stand up to this food and the Rhone wines work wonderfully.

Also available are nine Bordeaux from top properties and good vintages, dozens of lighter-styled red wines, and some lovely Italian wines. One weak spot is the restaurant's lack of German and Alsatian wines--a surprise, given Wolfgang Puck's heritage. With the restaurant's emphasis on smoked meats and sausages made by a European-trained sausage maker, a great opportunity was missed: a dry Alsatian Gewurztraminer or a German Riesling made trocken (dry) would have been perfect.

Among the excellent values on this list are 1988 Acacia Chardonnay and 1987 Byron Reserve Chardonnay, both $22; 1988 Les Charmes-Godard, a Sauvignon Blanc-Muscadelle from Bordeaux at $19; 1986 Golden Creek Cabernet ($14); Bonny Doon Clos du Gilroy ($12), and Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant ($20). Wines by the glass are also obscure but excellent values at $4 for an eight-ounce pour. The white is an Ugni Blanc from Gascony, the red a Rhone.

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