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The Wine List

July 25, 1993|Dan Berger

The chef's name is always emblazoned in headlines when a flashy new restaurant comes along, but the guy who assembles a great wine list, one that helps make the food better, is usually ignored.

But food and wine lovers should pay attention to this name: Chris Schaefer, formerly of Ivy by the Shore, Brentwood Bar & Grill and Geoffrey's, now at Zenzero.

The list is small (60 wines) and well-edited. This means you won't find the same old war horses everyone else stocks, though Zenzero's all-California list has some of the top names in the game. What you do find is an array of wine styles.

Want a full-bodied Chardonnay? There's 1991 Edna Valley Vineyards, $22. Lean? The attractive 1990 Trefethen, $24. A full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon? Look to 1986 Grgich Hills, $30. More refined? There's 1989 Jordan, $35.

Then, for the wine collectors, there is a host of rarely seen items that raise smiles: 1991 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay, $32, an unfined, unfiltered, powerfully constructed wine with a load of oak and highly extracted flavors; 1990 Staglin Family Vineyards Cabernet, $32, gorgeously fragrant, made of fruit from one of the finest vineyards in the Rutherford Bench area; 1991 Buttonwood Farm Sauvignon Blanc, $15, herbal nuances from the Santa Ynez Valley that work wonders with Zenzero's spiced foods; 1991 Navarro Vineyards Gewurztraminer, $14, annually one of the best Gewurztraminers in the nation and a perfect accompaniment to the Far East flavors in many of the dishes.

There's more, including elegant glassware, good service and a house white wine, 1991 Smith-Madrone Riesling, that I happen to love.

Pricing here is among the most reasonable in town, barely twice wholesale, which makes most wines just a corkage charge over retail.

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