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The Wine List

January 02, 1994|Dan Berger

Piero Selvaggio has a passion for wine like few restaurateurs in the country. The 10-page Primi wine menu, a little brother of that found at Valentino, has more than 100 wines featuring a number of tiny producers found only at Selvaggio-owned restaurants.

In addition, the list offers 12 wines in half bottles and five by the glass, all excellent.

What I like best about this list, though, is Selvaggio's first page, listing 18 wines that he terms "best buys." There are some superb values, such as 1991 Clos du Val Chardonnay at $25 and 1982 Mondavi Cabernet at $34.

Such a creation as this gives the diner tremendous flexibility, permitting purchase of a glass of 1992 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio, $4.50; a half bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, $19; a bottle of 1990 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, $22, and a half bottle of 1987 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Cabernet, $20.

I ran into Piero the other day and asked him about a red wine at Primi that I hadn't heard of but that seemed too good to be true (unfortunately, it has since been removed from the list): 1971 Paradiso from Enologica Valtellinese, priced at $25. Piero just shrugged and said it was a nice, older wine. Then he smiled slyly and said, "But that's on the next-to-last page. I hope you didn't miss what's on the last page."

He was referring to an imposing list of Italian reds, including famed wines from Solaia, Ornellaia, Tignanello, Ca' del Bosco and a dozen more. And no, I didn't miss it.

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