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The Wine List

January 09, 1994|Dan Berger

Americans seem to love wine lists that are largely chocolate-and-vanilla (i.e., Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay) affairs.

Yet invariably, the best wines to go with food, especially the spice-rich food at Nicola, are wines other than these two varieties. The small wine list at Nicola has enough chocolate and vanilla items to make traditionalists happy and enough real wine (i.e., food wines) to make foodies purr.

Best bets for the sharply flavored appetizers here are 1992 Trefethen Riesling, $17, and 1990 Navarro Gewurztraminer, $18. For main dish fare, I'd try the assertive and distinctive 1991 Lucien Crochet Sancerre, designated "Le Chene," at $34, a bit steep but an excellent accompaniment to the food.

Among the red wines, the Pinot Noirs--Saintsbury (1991 Garnet, $28), and 1991 Zaca Mesa, $23, are both good choices. You also might like the superb 1991 Havens Merlot, $25.

A unique feature to this list is an entire section (five wines) devoted to the wines of Bonny Doon, including the well-regarded Cigare Volant, $30. For some of the more richly flavored foods, try Bonny Doon's 1990 Big House Red, a kind of Rhone-Italian blend that at $16 is a best buy.

The list also has 1988 Ceretto Barolo, a massively constituted red wine best dealt with by saving it a decade more. I hope the wine is around then. I hope I am, too. Chances are, however, it won't be at today's price, $39. Oh, well, c'est le vin .

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