What do a 1982 Château Margaux, a 1975 Sassicaia and a 1991 Dalla Valle Napa Cabernet have in common?
Well, besides being elusive, expensive red wines, they’re all lying prone in a dimly lit, 55-degree cellar in the middle of Eisenhower Park — along with Italian Barolos from the 1990s, 30-year-old Penfolds Grange reds from Australia and multiple vintages of Château Haut-Brion.
Eisenhower Park’s opulent restaurant, The Carltun, has a quietly formidable wine cellar — 1,200 wines, and 15,000 bottles in all, tended by a French-born sommelier, Fadi Yako.
“You have to be cautious with these bottles, you don’t want to move the sediment,” said Yako, who ever so slowly lifted the Château Margaux from a rack. “The more stable the wine, the better chance you have to preserve it.”
High-octane wine collecting was going on here long before Yako joined The Carltun in 2016; owner Anthony Capetola began buying rare bottles at auction in the mid-1990s.
Now that private collectors are snapping up rare wines as financial investments, prices are surging — rendering The Carltun’s assemblage even more of a trove, from the 1970 Château Latour and red burgundies from Domaine de La Romanée Conti to the Opus Ones and 1868 Château Lafite, grown the year Ulysses Grant was first elected president.
For those who lack the will or deep pockets to spend hundreds (or thousands) on a bottle of wine, the 86-page list has plenty of more modestly priced choices, starting around $35. “Smaller producers are key for me. The smaller the production, the more love you have in the wine,” Yako said.
Yako pops open some of these during weekday wine pairing dinners that he and executive chef Rodrigo Bernal collaborate on, changing the country of origin — and corresponding dishes and wines — each month.
Where will they travel, wine-wise, in February? “February is the month of love, so . . . ” Yako said in his thick French accent.
Expect French wines, of course, and the foods that love them.
The Carltun is at 1899 Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow; 516- 542-0700, thecarltun.com