Above: My friend Giampaolo Venica’s Balbium — 100% Magliocco from Calabria — is one of my favorite wines on the list at Sotto in Los Angeles.
When one of my best friends from my college days, Steve Samson, wrote me a few months ago and asked me to author the wine list for his new restaurant in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always been a fan of Steve’s cooking — his mother is from Bologna and so it runs in his veins — and I’ve followed his career since the beginning, dining at the restaurants where he’s worked (Valentino in LA is one of them).
There was just one catch (two actually): the list had to be ALL southern Italian wine with a handlist of California. I immediately set out sourcing some of the best and best-priced southern Italian wines available in the Golden State and the resulting list is a flight of roughly 50 wines from Campania, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, Abruzzo, Molise, and Sardinia (including some of my favs like Dettori, Gulfi, Cos, and Venica’s Balbium). And for the California wines, I told Steve and his partners that I was only willing to write the list if we only allowed Natural and chemical-free wines on the list: Donkey & Goat, Coturri, Clarine Farms, etc. — the only Californian wines I’ll drink.
I’m very proud of the list — partly because of our aggressively patron-friendly pricing — and the extreme value that you find in these wines. But mainly I’m excited because southern Italian wine is super sexy and delicious.
Above: The staff at Sotto and I have been tasting and training together during my recent visits to Los Angeles. A fantastic group of restaurant professionals. Right now their favorite wine is the Cerasuolo di Vittoria by Gulfi.
On Tuesday and Wednesday nights next week, I’ll be working the floor and pouring wines by-the-glass for a special wine pairing tasting menu that we’re working on right now.
Here’s the info and reservation link for Sotto (which just opened this week). I’d love to see you there! (And I’ll do a post on the food and the space once I have chance to dine there next week.)