Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

Desserts: More Than 140 of Food & Wine’s Most Beloved Recipes

Desserts: More Than 140 of Food & Wine’s Most Beloved Recipes

Food & Wine is one of the foremost authorities on food, drink, travel, design, and entertaining. Since 1978, the magazine has delivered recipes, cooking tips, wine pairings, reviews, and so much more to its readers.

Dessertsis a curation of more than 140 of Food & Wine’s all-time favorite desserts from the past 30 years. The recipes come from many of your favorite chefs, from Ina Garten and Jacques Pepin to Tom Colicchio, Dorie Greenspan, and Stephanie Izzard. The resulting cookbook is like a master document, filled with the best recipes some of the cooking world’s foremost experts have to offer. The editors of Food & Wine teamed up to compile this selection of the most memorable recipes ever featured.

Christine Quinlan, deputy editor of Food & Wine, came to New York City with a background in finance and no specific job prospects. In 2005, after taking communications classes at The New School and internships at two Italian food magazines, Quinlan landed a job at Food & Wine, eventually working her way up through the ranks to her current position. Below, she answers The Daily Meal’s questions about Desserts.

Recipes featured in the cookbook include:

Brown Butter Pecan Pie With Espresso Dates

— Butterscotch Sticky Buns

— Chocolate Chunk Cookie for One

— Chocolate-Buttermilk Snack Cakes

— Mountain Rose Apple Pie

Pumpkin Pie Bars

To purchase Desserts: More Than 140 of Food & Wine’s Most Beloved Recipes, click here.

The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?
Christine Quinlan:
Relax and have fun. With cooking it can be hard to find the joy when a bunch of people are staring at you waiting to eat, but it’s in there. When I cook I prefer to wing it, versus following recipes to the letter, and I especially love baking. Part of what’s so great about it is that it forces you to slow down and to be patient. When it comes to eating I’m all about being in the moment and focusing on what’s on my plate and who I’m with. I suppose it’s why I’m not the best on Instagram.

How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
Dessert is just inherently fun, so it fits right in with my philosophy. A lot of my picks for this book are classics with a twist. You can only wing it so much when it comes to baking, but there’s usually room for a few surprises.

What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
At Food & Wine we get to taste so many amazing things in our Test Kitchen, so it was hard enough to narrow my picks down to a handful of recipes, never mind just one. But I can tell you the two I make more than any others are the Chocolate Brownie Cookies — bring them to a friend’s and they’ll definitely get you invited back over and over — and the Back-to-School Raspberry Granola Bars — so easy and such a satisfying nutty-buttery-brown sugary treat. I especially love them for breakfast.

What are some of the foods you can’t live without?
A perfectly roasted chicken, blistered pizza with fresh, creamy mozzarella, spicy dandan noodles, crusty kouign-amann. Oh, and chocolate and bourbon.

Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
It really depends. Dining out is an important part of my job, and I love the feeling of community it creates. I can get a little lazy when it comes to cooking for just me but I love to cook for a group — the bigger the better.

What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
For years my go-to cocktail has been a Boulevardier (bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari), so I love that they’ve become popular the past couple of years. Food-wise I love so many things. When I crave something soul-nourishingly delicious, it’s usually pasta: carbonara, amatriciana, bolognese… I could keep going.

How do you hope readers will use this book? What do you hope they take away?
We want them to inhabit the place we were coming from when we ate all of these desserts and put the book together: joy! There is such a broad range of recipes in here, so I hope people use it for everything from bake sales to dinner parties to holiday gifts.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I hate to admit this, but making dessert is actually a little selfish because it often seems more impressive than it really is. It pretty much guarantees oohs and aahs and just makes people happy. What’s not to love about that?


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


Best New Wine Lists

These 10 winners highlight wines from small producers and emerging regions&mdashnot just pricey trophy bottles.

To find these 10 stellar wine lists, F&W editors reviewed hundreds of contenders from restaurants around the country that opened in 2003. A few trends were apparent. Lists appear to be ranging farther afield than in previous years, with more wines from emerging regions in countries like Portugal, Spain and Italy, often in bottlings of unfamiliar grapes—Touriga Nacional, Torrontés, Bonarda. Luxury restaurants still boast high-end wine lists but now with a twist: Though they may feature trophy wines, most also offer bottles from less well-known places and names. In fact, the catchphrases of 2003 were "passionate small producers," "handcrafted wines" and "wines you won&apost find anywhere else."

NEW YORK CITY
Restaurant openings don&apost get more high profile than those in New York City&aposs new Time Warner Center. Accordingly, reservations at chef Nori Sugie&aposs Asiate, in the Center&aposs Mandarin Oriental hotel, have been sought-after since its opening day. And although many diners come to gape at the 35th-floor views of Central Park, others visit to gawk at the floor-to-ceiling walls of wine presided over by Annie Turso, Asiate&aposs sommelier. Says Turso, "Having worked for six years at Vong, I had a very good idea of what wines match French-based Asian cuisine like Sugie&aposs: aromatic whites like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, as well as reds like Pinot Noir and Rhône wines𠅊ll wines based on natural fruit, not on oak." Another priority was buying wines that are ready to drink, meaning "softer wines, including Merlot-based Bordeaux and older vintages." Asiate&aposs 350-bottle list, divided by varietal, is notable not only for its well-chosen selections of Bordeaux, Burgundy and California wines, but also for its lesser-known offerings, like artisan-brewed sake, artisanal Champagne and Riesling from all over the world. There are many potential complements to Sugie&aposs version of Japanese cooking, which is influenced by his stints in France and Australia. To pair with his pressed suckling pig, served with pig&aposs-trotter croquette, pig-cheek confit and an apple-based japonegi sauce, Turso suggests the 2001 Walter Hansel de la Montanya Vineyard Pinot Noir: "It has gorgeous fruit and an earthy complexity." ASIATE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Hiedler Kamptal Löss Grüner Veltliner Trocken ($32) "This Austrian white is fermented dry (trocken),and it is amazingly clean and focused. It&aposs also a steal at this price," says Turso.

CHICAGO
France and California (with a touch of Spain) reign on the wine list at Pili.Pili, a casual neo-Mediterranean restaurant near Chicago&aposs Merchandise Mart that attracts an eclectic crowd that includes architects and designers. The sophisticated clientele allows wine director and co-owner (with husband Jack Weiss) Tamra Presley Weiss to concentrate on "small-producer, estate-bottled wines that are handcrafted," she says. Though the 120-selection list covers a lot of ground, Weiss&aposs love of southern French wines is obvious, along with her penchant for Rhône-style California wines from producers like Beckmen, Andrew Murray, Calera and Jade Mountain. The Rhône-Provence focus is also designed to fit with chef Fred Ramos&aposs French-leaning, pan-Mediterranean menu the restaurant&aposs name is the Swahili word for a chile pepper and also the name of a spicy southern-French oil. Ramos&aposs tagine of spit-roasted chicken with lemon confit and baby artichokes is a perfect match with the 2001 Domaine de Triennes Viognier from Provence ($36) Weiss likes the wine&aposs "weight and floral essence with the artichokes and citrus." PILI.PILI&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($34) "This is a crisp white with a lot of intensity that gives a true taste of what a great Alsace wine is like𠅊t a reasonable price," says Weiss.

BOSTON
Two years ago, Boston culinary legend Lydia Shire closed her beloved Biba, gutted its interior and got designer Adam Tihany to reimagine the space. The result is the sleek, chrome-and-glass Excelsior, where diners ride a glass elevator past a three-story tower of wine that holds the inventory of the restaurant&aposs 550 selections. Although there are lots of high-profile labels, wine director Eric Buxton is also committed to "wines from places that are just evolving into world class—like Spain." Chef Shire&aposs menu changes weekly but, as Buxton says, "It&aposs Boston, so there&aposs always a lobster." To go with the Knife and Fork Lobster, a three-pound monster that&aposs poached in butter with whiskey and cream, Buxton suggests the equally rich 2002 Kunin Stolpman Vineyards Viognier from Santa Barbara ($75). EXCELSIOR&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 J.M. Boillot La Pucelle Rully ($50) "It&aposs elegant and pure, for people who are tired of over-oaked Chardonnay. It comes from an off-the-beaten-track part of Burgundy," says Buxton.

SEATTLE
Union chef and owner Ethan Stowell&aposs culinary style is subtle, clean, and uncomplicated, according to wine director Reinier Voorwinde, which means the food "can disappear when it&aposs paired with a heavily oaked wine." Therefore Voorwinde looks first to small, non-oak-indulgent producers in the Loire, Alsace and the Rhône Valley. Union&aposs 210-bottle list does include a few California cult Cabs like the 2000 Araujo Eisele Vineyard ($265) and top Northwest names like Woodward Canyon and Panther Creek. Voorwinde assembled his list with an eye to value: There are dozens of wines under $60, uncovered through "diligent scouting and actively pursuing auctions and private cellars," he says. Stowell&aposs American bistro menu changes daily, but a recent favorite dish was roasted Arctic char with braised turnips and spinach, which Voorwinde pairs with the 2001 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre ($40) because it has "just enough racy acidity" to balance the richness of the fish. UNION&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 St. Innocent Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($39) "Too many Oregon Pinots are either too thin or too big—overextracted fruit bombs. This St. Innocent strikes a perfect balance," says Voorwinde.

ST. HELENA, CA
Given its location in a storefront on Main Street in the heart of Napa Valley&aposs wine capital, Market began with a pretty good idea of what its wine list would feature. "We are solidly 50 percent Napa," says Market&aposs wine director, Kristie Petrullo, "but the other 50 percent is from all over the world𠅎ven Sonoma." The 100-bottle list, the bulk of which costs between $17 and $30, may be one of the most customer-friendly in America, thanks to the farsighted policy of marking all the value wines up no more than $14 over retail (and charging a reasonable $15 corkage fee). And even the pricier bottles are good deals. "We&aposve got the 2001 Grace Family Cabernet for $260," says Petrullo, "which is a lot of money𠅋ut I&aposve seen it on other lists for $500." There are a multitude of wonderful choices to pair with chef Douglas Keane&aposs market-based seasonal American cuisine with global twists. His Thai-marinated rock shrimp with avocado and papaya slices is tailor-made, says Petrullo, for the sparkling 1999 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($47): "The wine elevates the freshness of the shrimp, basil, mint and cilantro." MARKET&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Borie de Maurel Esprit d&aposAutomne Minervois ($25) This red from the southwest of France has "great structure and complexity for the price," says Petrullo.

SAN FRANCISCO
Guests who manage to wedge themselves into one of 1550 Hyde&aposs 42 coveted seats find that what the spare, mostly candlelit restaurant lacks in floor space, it makes up for in outsize wine bargains. "I&aposd rather have wine go out the door than sit on the shelf," says Kent Liggett, who co-owns 1550 Hyde along with chef Peter Erickson. The restaurant scrapped its original "40 wines under $40" concept, partly because Liggett found that diners couldn&apost be talked into ordering bargains, but the 140-bottle list still has a center of gravity in the mid-$30 range. Split between California and Europe (France, Italy and Spain), it complements the food from Chez Panisse alumnus Erickson. His Californian-Mediterranean menu features superfresh, seasonal, organic dishes that change daily one dish that&aposs often available, however, is the Sonoma rabbit braised in rosé with tomato and rosemary, served with whole-corn polenta. 1550 HYDE&aposS BEST DEAL 2001 Texier St. Gervais Côtes-du-Rhône Cadinnières ($34) A single-vineyard Côtes-du-Rhône made from old-vine Grenache. Says Liggett: "People love the raspberry and blackberry fruit of this wine."

HOUSTON
This steak house is the flagship of Landry&aposs, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list. As general manager Tim Kohler explains, the wine list is "the result of a long-term vision." For a new restaurant to offer seven vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild dating back to 1945 ($18,000) certainly suggests that kind of planning. Kohler and wine manager Dave Poss assembled a list that, in addition to its terrific Bordeaux selection, also includes numerous outstanding bottles from the U.S., Burgundy, Italy and Australia, all ideal with chef Carlos Rodriguez&aposs prime, 31-day-wet-aged center cuts. "The traditional favorite is the filet mignon," Poss says, "which I like with a robust but softer red like the 1999 Guilliams Cabernet Sauvignon ($77) from Napa&aposs Spring Mountain." VIC & ANTHONY&aposS BEST DEAL 1999 Allende Rioja ($51) Poss says, "This wine has a juiciness and fruitiness that Rioja often does not, as well as the perfect balance of acidity."

LAS VEGAS
"In Las Vegas it seems like every wine list is over-the-top, with big names and nothing else," complains Rajat Parr, wine director for the Mina Group of restaurants, which includes Seablue in Las Vegas&aposs MGM Grand hotel. Like its competitors, Seablue offers splurges𠅊 1997 Ramonet Le Montrachet goes for $1,455𠅋ut the white-wine-heavy 300-bottle list focuses on what Parr calls "esoteric and cool" choices. A recent by-the-glass lineup began with wines from Nasik (India), Rueda (Spain) and Kremstal (Austria)𠅊nd those weren&apost even in the "Off the Beaten Path" section. They&aposre well matched to chef Jay Wetzel&aposs Mediterranean-style cuisine, with dishes such as shellfish with baby fennel and Portuguese sausage. SEABLUE&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Skouras Moschofilero ($33) "It&aposs like a Viognier but crisper, cleaner and brighter," Parr says of this Greek wine. "If people could pronounce the name, it would be the next big thing."

CORAL GABLES, FL
For Sergio González-arias, a physician and avid wine collector, it all started during a conversation with a friend about how Hispanics are not courted by the wine industry. González-Arias decided to take matters into his own hands he and a few partners, including former F&W Best New Chef 1994 Robbin Haas, opened Chispa, slang for spark or spunk. González-Arias built the restaurant&aposs 220-bottle list around wines from the U.S. and the Latin world. Although California dominates, there are also choices from places like Argentina&aposs Mendoza, Spain&aposs Rioja and Chile&aposs Colchagua Valley. Patrons can compare across grape types or hemispheres by opting for a "mixed bottle," a selection of three different 250ml carafes brought out on a wooden tray. Chispa&aposs Latin focus is enhanced by its decor, which features Cuban tile floors, big louvered windows and Guatemalan beaded lamps, and by Haas&aposs cuisine. Part of the so-called "Mango Gang" of Caribbean fusion chefs, Haas makes what González-Arias calls "contemporary food with significant Latin expressions." A favorite is crispy pork belly and garlic clams, which González-Arias likes to pair with the full-bodied, spicy 2002 Red Car Sugardaddy Syrah ($80) from California. CHISPA&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Vi༚ Morandé Merlot ($25) "It&aposs a soft Chilean Merlot, very fruit-forward and balanced, with a perfect middle palate. It can go with anything from seviche to meat dishes," says González-Arias.

WASHINGTON, DC
Every wine on Nectar&aposs list is available by the bottle, half-bottle and glass, which is not only a fun idea, but in Nectar&aposs case probably also a necessary one. Toe-in-the-water sampling can be an appealing strategy at a place that offers no Bordeaux, no Burgundy, no Chardonnay and very few familiar names. A recent list included a Müller-Thurgau from Baden, Germany, a Primitivo from Puglia, Italy, and a vin de paille from Jura, France. "I want to force customers to think, and to drink, outside the box," says restaurant director Jarad Slipp. "But these aren&apost just quirky wines for the sake of weirdness—they stand on their own." Slipp chooses the 2002 Adelsheim Tocai Friulano ($57) from Oregon to pair with chef Jamison Blankenship&aposs scallops with haricots verts and curry-spiced chorizo. "It has a lovely floral quality and the body to stand up to the curry spices in the chorizo," he explains. NECTAR&aposS BEST DEAL 2002 Calvinor Torrontés ($29) "Ever tasted a wine from Uruguay? This one has a juicy brightness and a little spritziness that reminds me of a Vinho Verde," says Slipp.


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