Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two Vermentinos

Wine made from the Vermentino grape is one of the more refreshing experiences in life.  Often a Vermentino wine will come from the Italian island of Sardegna - or Sardinia - but the grape is also cultivated elsewhere, like in France, California and Virginia.  Vermentino has been found through its DNA to be identical to the Pigato grape in Liguria and the Favoria in Piedmont.  

There are few true Italian grape varieties planted on Sardegna, and Vermentino is one of the few.  The grape varieties found on the island tend to be those with more of a tie to France or Spain - Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malvasia and Bobal are plentiful, as is Cannonau, a Grenache clone.

A new restaurant in Los Angeles - Gusto, on 3rd near the Beverly Center - specializes in homestyle Italian with wines to match.  Chef Victor Casanova says the place is designed as a "cool neighborhood joint with an informal vibe and intoxicating aromas," and he has succeeded in those efforts.

Gusto has a nice wine list, too.  It’s tidy and well-stocked with good Italian choices.  I had the Villa Solais Vermentino, from Sardegna, with my meal.  The golden color is lovely and the nose - rather than being all about the aromas of the ocean, also shows traces of wood and an herbal note that is intriguing.  The wine has a great acidity - great with food - but it also feels somewhat full and creamy in the mouth.  It’s $8 by the glass.

We had appetizers of tomatoes stuffed with burrata and fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese, followed by the roasted chicken and a side of rosemary potatoes.  The freshness of the food is simply amazing - Gusto instantly became our favorite Italian food in Los Angeles.

The Vermentino, unfortunately, did not hit the mark for Denise with the tomatoes - a little too much acidity in that mouthful - but it was excellent with squash, the chicken and the potatoes.

Some Vermentino was poured in Las Vegas, too, at the Terra Rosso restaurant at Red Rock Resort.  The Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Vermentino is part of the Antinori wine group.  It comes from the Guado al Tasso estate on the Tuscan coast .  The wine is vinified in stainless steel tanks.

The pale straw color tips me off to the fact that it might be a stainless steel wine, since wood usually imparts more of a golden shade in a white wine.  Smelling the wine offers that wonderful “oceanesque” salinity, but there’s also a nice presence of apricots here.  The acidity level is wonderful, and it feels vibrant in my mouth.

It would have been a better match with seafood, but it did alright with the late-night snack of arancini bolognese - fried, mozzarella-stuffed risotto.

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