6 Great Wine Lists

Where to go and what to buy off six great wine lists

One of the Best wine lists in the world

Address: 2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Phone:(206) 283-3313
And finally we are at Canlis, one of the world’s great wine restaurants and a true destination restaurant. The wine list here is a tome, and frankly it can be intimidating. A lot of the wines are pricy, and in fact the best values, and screaming values at that, were to be found at around the $300 mark, but I did find plenty of wines under our $150 arbitrary limit that look fabulous as well, some well under, but none are the striking values the pair of $300 bottles are.
First lets take a look at the menu, it’s Prix Fixe three courses for  $85, which is entirely fair. My sample dinner would look something like this
Pork belly with spring onion, huckleberries, and plum
Rosemary-grilled lamb ribeye with potato rösti and summer squash
An $8 addition of 
Forest mushrooms sautéed in sherry, garlic, and thyme
An artisanal cheese plate to finish
Let’s kick off the show with something white, sweet and plenty acidic to pair with the pork belly. Canlis has a fabulous selection of Riesling, though rather heavily skewed to the Auslese end of the spectrum. There are lots of trophy wines here but I was able to find a very nice selection of wines with some age on them, and one really fabulous value for a younger example. I’d opt for the 1995 Christoffel with my dish, age has surely mellowed the sweetness and added plenty of savory goodness but I'd bet that the wine remains plenty fruity to deal with the huckleberries and plums I’m getting.
1993 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Auslese $140
1995 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** $125
2001 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese $150
This is a destination restaurant, and it’s also an expense account joint, so don’t think for a moment that they are not going to take advantage of the usual suspects. If you’re looking for a Cabernet from California, don’t bother, there are plenty of great wines but there are no values. If you really must have a Cabernet the  2009 Long Shadows Wineries Cabernet Sauvignon Feather Columbia Valley ($135) is as good an option as any on the list, and it’s a decent value. The 2007 Raats Cabernet Franc ($80) may be a little pricy for what it is but it’s a damn fine bottle of wine, and a relative value on the list. 
That’s what this list is all about, relative values. The two standout, no brainer, no doubt selections for me are these two. Yes they are $300, if they are still on the list, but that’s retail folks, if you could find them!
And then there’s the  2006 Antonelli San Marco Sagrantino di Montefalco ($75) which has to be the best value on this list, and I went through it pretty carefully. Yes it’s a bit of a tough and savory wine, but it's a fine example of Sagrantino with some age on it for a very compelling price. What do you have to lose?
Stasying closer to home and also representing great value, and a more familiar palate impression is the 2008 Cuillin Hills Winery The Dungeon Syrah blend ($70) which is the standout from a rather strong and diverse selection of Rhone style wines. If you like Chateauneuf du Pape there is a small but well thought out selection with two gorgeous wines that also were great values, and if you love great Syrah, the Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Gonon don’t come cheaply but those are some rare bottles with a bit of age on them so it’s not likely you’re going to see them again. After all this is Canlis, treat yourself! Buy the Drouhin and the Rinaldi then drink water for the rest of the month!
2006 Pierre Gonon St. Joseph Vieilles Vignes $185
2007 Pierre Gonon St. Joseph Vieilles Vignes $200

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  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 994

    Impressive article. I can use this for my next trip to the west coast. I would like to see more articles like this.

    Sep 09, 2013 at 1:12 PM

  • Just a "small" question: Why did you not mention the Shenandoah Valley (Amador County), just a hop & a skip from Napa and Sonoma??? However, if your intent is to inform persons about good wine regions, etc, why give so much space to Napa and Sonoma that EVERYONE already knows about??? [Personally, I literally grew up with Napa wines in the 50's & 60's. . .However, when they began reading their press clippings, I moved to the Sonoma vintners. . .And, when THEY became a bit too big for their britches, I left them and "discovered" the Amador wineries in the 80's and 90's and I still exploring their fine wines. . .easily the equal of the Napas and Sonomas; and, without the traffic jams; the "elitism;" and, the general commercialism that prevails in Napa; Sonoma; and, now the Central Coast (by virtue of "Sideways"). . .

    And, I find a "friendliness" that is the way it USED to be in Napa and Sonoma! [And, in case, anyone wonders, I have NO ties to any of the wineries in Amador other than I REALLY enjoy the wines; and, like the people I encounter there. . .And, I like to share a "good thing" <smile>

    Sep 09, 2013 at 3:45 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 204,511

    This is not an article about wine regions, it's an article about wine lists. If you want to share restaurant wine lists that are really outstanding in Amador county, we'd love to add them to the list of restaurants in Napa, Sonoma, Seattle, and the Willamatte Valley that were included in the article.

    Thanks Zinfandel 1. I'll try and keep them coming. And frankly can't wait for my next visits to some of these places!

    Sep 09, 2013 at 5:10 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,876

    Well, GdP, we cannot wait for your next visit out this way, either!

    Someone will always be disappointed that their fave wine region was left out. Amador is not such a small hop, skip and jump and, keeping in mind that Snooth has a national and international readership, proximity to a city with an airport is one of many considerations that also goes into these articles, I'm sure. One could also make the argument that the Santa Cruz Mountains (Ridge, Rhys, Villa Mount Eden, plus Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos and Village Inn in Woodside) deserve mention, or Monterey/Santa Lucia Highlands, if it's wine country you want.

    As someone who grew up here and traipsed to Napa as a kid behind his wine-enthusiast parents, I agree things have changed. But this is where people go and that's the focus of the article. That said, I've had dinners with winemakers and assistants from Napa wineries, and still have pleasant visits to tasting rooms--you just have to seek out the independents like Smith Madrone, Bell, Chappellet, and the like. As for Sonoma, yes, it's getting more corporatized, but not so much that I'd tell people to stay away. Nope, I'd help them find a good place for a meal and a glass of wine!

    That said, I'm going to be in Napa for a conference on Columbus Day weekend, so I will definitely put this article's recommendations to work.

    Sep 09, 2013 at 7:55 PM

  • Snooth User: Jeff Nott
    589275 9

    One of the most impressive wine lists I have ever come across is at Café Riacci in Palo Alto, CA. When last I was there, I asked for a particular bottle on their list. The server then asked "What year would you like?" I asked " What do you have?" Her response "Every year between 1997 and 2010". Apparently this is the same for most of the wines they carry and it is an extensive list. And the food is fantastic!

    Sep 09, 2013 at 8:50 PM

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