Interview with a Vintner

Four favorite recommendations

In business since 1947, Morell & Company is one of Manhattan's leading retailers and auctioneers of fine wines; its Bar & Café sells 150 wines by the glass, 2,000 by the bottle. JACKIE COOPERMAN asked managing director Niko Antonakeas, a member of France's Commanderie de Bordeaux and Italy's Cavalieri di Vini Nobili, to recommend four favorites.

FOR A GRAND OCCASION
• 2000 Paragon, Edna Valley Vineyard, San Luis Obispo, California ($14.95). Chardonnay with spicy tropical-fruit flavors, good balance, medium body.

A BOTTLE TO KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF
• 1985 Lynch Bages Pauillac, Bordeaux ($195). Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Bouquet and flavors of sweet black currants, toasty oak, roasted herbs, and black cherries; very good viscosity, and a long finish.

A GREAT DISCOVERY
• 1978 Solaia, Antinori, Tuscany ($495). Cabernet Sauvignon with flavor of truffles and mushrooms, scents of cigar box, cedar, leather, and a hint of something floral. Vibrant, sophisticated. Look for it at auction (it may take a year or two).

THE PERFECT HOUSE WINE
• 1999 Faro, Palari, Sicily ($25-$35). A blend of Nerello, Acitana, Tignolino, Nocena, Cappuccio, and Galatena grapes, with notes of jasmine, cardamom, ripe berries; a touch of vanilla; flavors of smoke, licorice, herbs. Dry on the palate.