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Cellar: Stop and Smell the Noses


After a barrage of maniacal 'toons, screaming children and ceaseless, mind-numbing choruses of "It's a Small World," I knew I'd had it. My brain was blank; my body and patience exhausted, and my dogs were killing me. I needed a break.

When I think of somewhere to get a good glass of wine, a lot of places pop into my head--noisy bistros, trendy restaurants, quaint, romantic little spots--but one place that never enters my mind is Disneyland. However, it is in the Disneyland Hotel complex that you'll find a quiet wine bar called the California Wine Cellar.

The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, without an ounce of pretension. It's decorated in a cellar motif with dark oak barrels cut in half for tables and a few scattered chairs to augment the bench seating that runs the circumference of the place. There's an ancient wine press that doesn't look like it's seen much action lately, and wooden wine racks as far as the eye can see holding current offerings, as well as empty bottles from years gone by.

The California Wine Cellar regularly offers six white and six red wines in a seven-ounce pour by the glass, at prices ranging from $3.75 to $24. The whites include 1990 William Hill Chardonnay Reserve ($9.50), 1989 Cambria Chardonnay Reserve ($12), and the 1988 Chassagne-Montrachet from Olivier Leflave ($15.75). A couple of the finer reds offered are Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Martha's Vineyard ($24) and Mondavi Pinot Noir Reserve ($11). There aren't many places where you can get this kind of selection, and the prices reflect it.

A nice feature for those wanting to try a few different wines is the two-ounce sample. All wines sold by the glass are also available in this reduced size, for prices starting at $2.25. For $7 you can get a two-ounce sample of 1989 Mondavi/Rothschild Opus I, along with a tiny souvenir carafe bearing the Opus logo.

There's also an intelligent list of wines by the bottle--which can also be bought to go--and in addition to selections from California, there are wines from France, Australia and Italy. Some things to look out for are the Trimbach Gewurztraminer from Alsace and the Penfolds Chardonnay from Australia. Prices range from $14.50 for Mondavi Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc to $150 for Dom Perignon. Although it's easy enough to ask the friendly staff, I do wish that the vintages were on the list.

For beer lovers, the Cellar also offers a good list of bottled imports, including Bass, Steinlager and Clausthaler nonalcoholic. Some of the featured domestics are Red Tail Ale, Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada. All beers are $3.75.

The California Wine Cellar is blissfully nonsmoking, allows kids (though they can't drink alcohol, of course), and it even validates hotel-lot parking. However, the Cellar is not wheelchair accessible. Also, a few words of advice: Eat before you go. The only snacks offered are bread and cheese; for anything more substantial you'll have to adjourn to the Shipyard Inn restaurant above the Cellar.

As wine bars go, this place is a find. Which means the next time someone asks where I'm headed for a decent glass of wine, I'll tell them, "I'm going to Disneyland."

California Wine Cellar, in the Disneyland Hotel complex, 1150 W. Cerritos Ave, Anaheim. Open daily, 4:30 to 10 p.m. (714) 778-6600.

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