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Wine 2K

If the world is going to come to an end when the calendar rolls over, wouldn't you like to go out with a truly worthy bottle of wine? Whether your taste runs to a delicate champagne or a woodsy Rhône classic, here's a vintage befitting a millennial splurge.

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Forget about the trillions in pension funds ceasing to exist. Forget about the global meltdown in flight control and everyone's Social Security number becoming 000-00-0000. Let's say it really is the End of the World, Armageddon, Judgment Day, the Last Trump. (Let's all pray that if it isn't, at least Donald is.) Let's say the Beast of Revelation doth verily come crawling out of the East River and sucks up the FDR like a wet noodle. Let's say the Seven Seals are opened, and the kings of the earth and the great men and the rich men and chief captains and Rudy Giuliani hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of Manhattan, and stars do fall from Heaven (my personal prayers being directed at the precipitous descent of Meryl Streep, Craig Kilborn, and the entire cast of The King of Queens).

If it really is Curtains for the Universe, the Cosmic Checkout, the Big Whimper, wouldn't you want to tap-dance off to eternity with a really terrific bottle of wine inside you? Of course you would. First thing you thought of.

According to the Good Book, amid all the mayhem caused by the opening of the Seven Seals, a voice "in the midst of the four beasts" says, "See that thou hurt not . . . the wine." Honest to God, right there in Revelation 6:6. Practically a divine exhortation to Bring Your Own Bottle.

Okay, so you're an atheist. Normally, you don't think 750 milliliters of moldy grape juice should ever cost more than $15. But for NY2K, you're willing to go up to $66.60. Behold four bottles proving that in wine, at least, there is salvation:

  • Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve Year '96. Rare West Coast elegance: jewel-like enough for fish, stately enough for steak. ($55 at Sherry-Lehmann Wines.)

  • Faiveley Corton Clos de Corton '96. Stylish, full, funky, Pinot Noir, Courtney Love in a bottle. ($100 at Park Avenue Liquor Shop.)
  • Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill '96. Always fun, whether with sacrificial lamb or dark chocolate. Yup, chocolate. Try it. Zinful. ($45 at Park Avenue.)
  • Chalone Chardonnay Reserve '96. Classy and complex. ($48 at Sherry-Lehmann.)

For true believers, here are seven more wines (with Seven Seals and Seven Corks) that, even if these turn out not to be the Final Days, will fulfill your millennial splurge-urge. All should bring oohs if not ahs to your New Year's table and will pair gracefully with something thereon. Unlike many bottles on wine wish lists, all of these fab fluids can be purchased right here in Babylon:

  • Gaja Barbaresco Sori Tilden '95. I love anything from the greatest producer in Piemonte, but this one is primus inter pares. With a papal, purple-red magnificence in nose, body, and finish, it's great with big meat dishes. ($285 at Sherry-Lehmann.)
  • Pesquera Reserva Janus '94. Maybe the greatest producer in Spain, certainly the greatest in Ribera del Duero. Entirely trodden by foot; it shows in the dark, rich nose and wild, muscular body. Great with game. ($90 at Park Avenue.)
  • Heitz Martha's Vineyard '90. Amid all the superhyped, super-alcoholic cult rubbish coming out of California, there are still some genuine classics. With its trademark hint of mint in the nose and rich, somehow wintery, plum-cake body, this is one legendary Cabernet. ($250 at Park Avenue.)
  • Riesling Trimbach Clos St. Hune '89. An Alsatian beauty that's a versatile food buddy; a symphony of earth, spice, and fruit. ($250 at Park Avenue.)
  • Chapoutier Hermitage Sizeranne '90. The king of the Rhône Valley makes superb Hermitages. This one is like riding on a fall morning: leathery, mushroomy, mellow fruitfulness. (Magnums, $150 at Park Avenue.) Snap 'em up.
  • Ramonet le Montrachet '95. Burgundy's greatest maker of white wines has had a fine run of vintages. Young yet, but irresistible. A green thought in a green shade, the earthiness of fresh cut truffles. Now, that's Chardonnay. ($550 at Park Avenue.)
  • Chateau Petrus '90. Numerical symbolism is your bag, and your Yahoo stock has gone up another 50 points. How about a magnum of this legend for $2K? Here's what else two big ones will buy: a Latour '61 (Acker Merrall); a Methuselah (eight bottles' worth) of Billecart Salmon Millennium, a nonvintage champagne based on the '90 vintage (Crossroads Wine and Liquors); a mere bottle of the (overrated) Petrus '82 (Park Avenue); or a boxed Jeroboam of Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne '85. (Morrell & Co.)
Price absolutely no object? Consider the millennium dinner being held by Acker Merrall & Condit at Daniel on December 10. Most of the greatest vintages of the century will be on hand: '61 Haut Brion, Latour, and Petrus; '55 La Mission Haut Brion; '53 Lafite-Rothschild; '47 Cheval Blanc; '45 Mouton; '28 Latour; '21 Château d'Yquem; '00 Margaux; and, just to wash them all down, the '45 Taylor, the greatest living port. This dinner is for the genuine wine nut, an opportunity that won't come along again in his or her lifetime; these wines are all but unobtainable. Some seats still left -- a bargain at $5K a head.

Sherry-Lehmann Wines, 679 Madison Avenue (212-838-7500); Park Avenue Liquor Shop, 292 Madison Avenue (212-685-2442); Acker Merrall, 160 W. 72nd Street (212-787-1700); Crossroads Wine and Liquors, 55 W. 14th Street (212-924-3060); Morrell & Co., 1 Rockefeller Plaza (212-688-9370).


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