BEST WINE LIST - 2004
What makes a great wine list? Ideally, it would be one that you couldn't assemble yourself, this afternoon, at the liquor store. No. It should reflect some committed, thoughtful buying. It should have things on it that you could not get at the liquor store today, nor, possibly, ever. Because that is one thing that will draw you out of your bunker. It should be priced to allow you to sample things you wouldn't ordinarily get to try, because on the human side, that is generous and hospitable, and on the business side, that is how you turn curious wine drinkers into committed and enthusiastic wine drinkers. It should go with the food at hand, it should be affordable, it should be clear, it should be bold, but also reliable, stout of heart, and pure. Oh wait, that's Boy Scouts. Well, the other stuff, definitely. And that is what we have at the Modern. Check the newish chalkboards when you walk in and you'll see a restaurant rarity like Chaptoutier Marsanne, sold in liquor stores, if you can ever find it, at $45 a bottle, but at the Modern it's on offer for just $6 a glass. Why? Just because owner Jim Grell thinks that's a nifty thing to offer. Sit down in one of the well-worn maple booths and consult the printed list and you'll find plenty to go with new chef Phillip Becht's new menu. Hendry Block 7 Zinfandel to go with the beef short ribs braised with piquillo peppers, perhaps? If you don't know about George Hendry, he's a boutique grower who supplies grapes for such billion-dollar collectible wines as Opus One and Mondavi Reserve, but he also bottles a few, a very, very few, of his own wines, and this powerful bottle is one of them. And if you think that's impressive, consider that it is just one of many powerful bottles on a very powerful list.