BEST WINE BAR - 2005
As Godzilla is to lizards, as the QE2 is to dinghies, and as the Grand Canyon is to ditches, Cesaré's is to local wine bars. How to enumerate the riches? First, there is Cesaré's (pronounced Chezz-uh-ray's) charming physical space, with the wooden tables, the wrap-around patio with the outdoor heaters, the plantings, the general air of wood-made grace. On the tabletops you'll find four sorts of Riedel stemware in which they serve the wine, and a lovely list of slow-food snacks, ideal pairs to savor and, of course, to show off the wines. The servers are all old hands, folks who live and breathe Cesaré's and can answer almost any question about the food or beverage. And then, of course, there's the beverage, the heart and Godzilla of the place. A recent perusal of the wine list offered the usual Cesaré's experience of simultaneous vertigo and ecstasy: 17 pages of wine, wine, wine! If you've got some scratch, you could invest in a jeroboam of Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé or a vertical of Ridge Cabernet (for one price, $800, you get three bottles from running vintages '91, '92, and '93.) If you've got Champagne taste and a Chardonnay budget, you could go for some lust-after Pinot Noirs like a $50 '95 Volnay from Georges Glantenay or, for $69, a '99 Willamette Valley from Elk Cove. If you've got adventure in your soul, you could opt for all but unknown wine grapes like Pansa Blanca or Aligoté. And if your wallet contains little but a bitter mandate to keep to a budget, please know that Cesaré's stocks a solid 50 bottles priced at $25 or under. As far as we're concerned, Arizona can keep its Grand Canyon and the Atlantic can keep the QE2, we're satisfied with our own worldwide wonder, Cesaré's Wine Bar.