Showing posts with label Il Buco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Il Buco. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Terre de Trinci Sangiovese Umbria

Vivoli is one of those restaurants we don’t favor too much, even though the food is good.  There are two reasons we slight them, and it’s not really intentional.

First, the restaurant is in a Sunset Boulevard strip mall with another restaurant we like a lot.  Vivoli sometimes loses out at the last second, as we pass the door to the other place and decide to go there instead.

Second, we tend to measure all Italian restaurants against the yardstick of our favorite, Il Buco.  When compared to Il Buco, everybody loses out.

As I mentioned, though, the food at Vivoli is good.  They also have a nice wine list.  It’s not very extensive, but there are a few good selections of Italian wines at decent prices.  The cheese and tomato sauce pizza was simple and rustic, done with a very thin crust which was a little burned around the edge.  We ask for it that way.  I chose a Sangiovese from Umbria to accompany it.

Terre de’ Trinci concentrates on Sagrantino wines, but they do a few others in addition.  The Sangiovese is one of them.  It’s $8 per glass at Vivoli.

Medium red in hue, this 100% Sangiovese goes purple around the edge of the glass.  The nose is earthy with black cherry notes dominating and an almost minty overlay.  The palate is smooth enough - it’s a very drinkable wine - and the medium mouthfeel carries flavors of currant and cherry.

I would have liked the finish to be a bit longer, but the pairing with the pizza was good enough to keep me from thinking about that too much.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Tenuta St. Peter Riesling Alto Adige

If you're like me, when you hear the words "Italian Riesling," something just doesn't sound right.  Of course, the Alto Adige wine region of northern Italy is really more Germanic than Italian.  It borders Austria and is known for its grapes that are more often associated with Germany and Austria.  Gewurztraminer and Riesling are produced in this Alpine area in which the wine industry is comprised largely of small, family-owned wineries.
Some degree of difficulty usually greets me when I try to research small Italian wines.  Such is the case with Tenuta St. Peter Riesling.  All I know is what I remember seeing on the label at Il Buco in Beverly Hills, which sports one of my favorite wine lists in Southern California.  Their collection of Italian wines has never let me down.
This Riesling is 13.5% abv and shows a pale golden-green color in the glass.  There is a strong aroma of minerals or wet rocks on the nose, and a secondary smell of melon - like a canteloupe, but not just the fruit.  I smell the rind and all.
The palate gives a very restrained sense of pears and honeydew, with an overriding minerality.  The acidity stops just short of being bracing.  It's a very smooth quaff which paired quite well with the salad featuring tuna and lentils.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Murgo Etna Bianco

A favorite spot for lunch should have two things, in my family’s estimation: great Italian food and great Italian wine.  As Denise and I have found on many occasionsIl Buco in Beverly Hills has those bases covered, and throws in fabulous service for a culinary hat trick.  It is the one restaurant in Southern California which has never let us down.  The food is always perfect and the wines seem to be chosen for their list with great care.

The Murgo estate has been producing wine since 1850.  Local varieties are used - in the case of this intense white, 70% Caricante and 30% Cataratto - and the Sicilian location southeast of the Mt. Etna volcano gives the grapes tremendous aromatics and tons of minerality.

There’s a huge mineral-laden nose on this wine and the taste is full and rich, with green apple and pineapple, both trying to escape from underneath a pile of wet rocks.  The acidity is razor-sharp and there’s a citrus zest flavor on the brilliant finish.

I had the Murgo with a grilled calamari steak salad, and it tasted great, if you like your flavors intense.  The intensity of the wine was actually almost too much for the gentle calamari.  With a tuna and anchovie salad, I think this would be just about a perfect match.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo

Italian food calls for Italian wine, and that's a rule I try not break - ever.  Fortunately, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Il Buco, has a wine list with a whole page of Italian wines that never disappoint.
Colline Novaresi D.O.C. is in Piedmont, in extreme northwestern Italy.  The Nebbiolo grapes used in this wine are farmed biodynamically in Fontechiara vineyards.  The wine is 100% Nebbiolo and has a 13.5% abv number.  It shows a deep and beautiful red color in the glass, quite dark in fact.  When you pick up the glass, that's when the fun begins.
One whiff and I was sold.  This Nebbiolo has such a rich aroma I just sat and smelled it for quite some time.  A floral smell leaps out first, and is quickly joined by notes of tar.  Finally, I start to sense the fruit and realized it was there all along.  It makes me think of black plums that have been trampled into the earth underneath the tree where they fell.
Then, on the first sip, I expect it to be a bit tannic.  It's not, though.  It's very smooth, and the fruit really shines through.  Blackberry and black cherry flavors are almost candied.  There's licorice, too.  The flavors keep reminding me of Port.  The wine is so juicy and complex I can only marvel at it.  By now, I expect the finish to be lengthy - and it is.  The flavors linger through a moment of reflection and the next bite of farfalle with sauage and peas.  It's one of my favorite dishes at Il Buco in Beverly Hills, but this time it takes a back seat to the wine.
By the way, Il Buco has this Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo for eight dollars by the glass.  With a nose and a palate like this, it's one of the better bargains I've encountered recently.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Monte Zovo Valpolicella

Birthday month rolls on for Denise, and we dropped in on Il Buco again.  I've mentioned them before, with good reason.  The food is excellent, the service is unfailingly pleasant and the wine list is very Italian and fairly deep.  It's no surprise, then, that we ended up there for birthday lunch.

I went with a sausage dish and decided to have a red wine.  I asked the waiter for a good choice, and he pointed me in the direction of a California Meritage, Malibu, in fact.  I would like to try that wine, but as I explained to him, when I go to Il Buco, I like to go Italian.  He immediately suggested this Valpolicella, and I said that it would be fine.

The Monte Zovo Ripasso is the sort of wine I have come to expect from Il Buco, very Italian, a bit rustic and a great match with the food they make.  It's from the Valpolicella region of Veneto in the northeastern part of Italy.

The grapes used are Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (10%).  I'm told Ripasso means "second pressing," indicating the juice is re-fermented on the skins used in making Amarone, which is a "first-pressing" wine.  It's fairly hefty at 14% abv, yet it feels only medium full in the mouth.  It's a deep garnet color with a demomstrative nose of black cherry and blackberry.
The palate shows some dry, dusty, brambly notes which are suggestive of an old-vine Zinfandel.  The flip side of that coin is the freshness that this wine carries with it.  It spends two years in oak, yet the wood seems not to leave its mark as indelibly as it might with other grapes.

I enjoyed this wine with the farfalle and sausage plate.  The pairing was excellent.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino

There are some pretty good options from which to choose in Los Angeles when I want to take my Italian-heritage wife for a birthday-month lunch.  For this outing, I opted for one of our favorite spots, Il Buco on Robertson in Beverly Hills.
For one thing, they treat us like it's our birthday every time we dine there.  For another, the food's great.  Also, they have a pretty decent Italian wine list.  Okay, that last one was on my side of the checklist.  It still counts.  A shrimp salad for the lady, I'll have the chopped, and a glass of Vermentino.
Sella and Mosca is a pretty big deal on the isle of Sardegna - Sardinia, if you prefer.  Their property contains a 1,600-acre estate just inland about four miles.  Their La Cala Vermentino is one of the prizes of the island and is exactly what I look for in this special grape.
La Cala is named for a small cove on the edge of the estate, and it's a natural to pair with seafood thanks to the slight saltiness in the wine.  You can thank the Mediterranean Sea for that.
This 100% Vermentino white is a pale, greenish straw color in the glass.  It delivers a soft nose of grassy salt air and lemons.  There's an alcohol content of 11.5% abv, and it serves up a bracing palate of minerals and tart lemon zest with a nice acidity that lies just beneath the surface.  It's a really good buy at $8 a glass.
It paired well with the shrimp, but also fit nicely with my meatless salad.  It does something good with the garbanzo beans in the chop.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monte Antico Toscana 2006

My favorite Italian restaurant in Los Angeles is Il Buco.  It's actually in Beverly Hills, but it's on Robertson, which feels more like L.A. than B.H. to me.  I think an Italian restaurant should always have a good wine list, and Il Buco's menu has plenty of nice choices from Italy as well as California.

It's great to find a restaurant you call your favorite, but it's even better when the personnel at the restaurant make you feel as if you are their favorite customer.  Even if my wife and I haven't been in to dine there in a couple of months, they always remember us and greet us warmly.  The food is delicious, too, so it's rare that we don't see them for longer than a few weeks at a time.

I usually dine fairly light there, so white wine is my usual choice.  This time, I was in the mood for a big rosso.

After a brief scan of the wine list, I settled on the Monte Antico Toscana.  Deeply hued and sporting a big cherry nose, the wine is best described as huge.  Mouth watering tannins - which probably could have settled down a bit more had I a little more time to linger with it - made me wish I had ordered a dish with a big meat sauce, but it paired well with the pizza we had decided upon.  Big berries and plums on the palate and enough acidity to pair it with whatever you'd like make it a great tasting and versatile dinner wine.

The big Tuscan is 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  I understand the grapes come from 25-year-old vines.  2006 is said to be a superb Sangiovese year, and from this wine I'd believe it.  The cost was only $8 per glass.

Il Buco is located at 107 N Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Couple of Nero d'Avola Wines

I have been drinking quite a few Italian wines lately, not because they are necessarily my preference, but because my wife, Denise, really loves them. Don't get me wrong - I really love me some good ol' Italian varietals. I just prefer exploring the wines of California more than any other area.

I hate to drink alone, however, and if the wife has an Italian wine open, that's okay by me.

It's possible the reason she's so drawn to Italian wines is because it's in her blood. Her family tree has roots in Sicily. And she does seem more drawn to Sicilian wine than the other regions of Italy. Whatever the reason, when we can enjoy a glass of wine together, it's a good thing.

I can compare two wines made from Sicily's most important red wine grape, Nero d'Avola. From the southern town of Avola, this grape was long used primarily as a blending grape. Since the 1980s, though, it has stood very well on its own. The characteristics a Nero d'Avola shows are somewhat akin to those of a new world Syrah, so this would seem to be a nice varietal for a California wine guy like me.

First, a bottle from home, then a restaurant selection.

Ruggero di Tasso Archeo Nero d'Avola 2007 - True to its reputation, I found Syrah-like pepper on the nose and palate with ripe berries in the forefront. A vegetal note also came into play that I found intriguing. The texture is smooth, but the medium mouthfeel left me wanting something a little more substantial. There's a decent amount of acidity and it would probably fare well with a nice pasta dish or some Italian sausage. The finish is not too dramatic. It's serviceable enough, and I think it usually sells for under $10, so expectations shouldn't be too high.

The restaurant selection came at Il Buco on Robertson in Beverly Hills, a favorite of ours. The wine was Cataldo Nero d'Avola 2006. If the Tasso didn't quite satisfy my new world taste, the Cataldo certainly didn't. A big, fruity nose with blackberries, plum and pepper came off as perfumy - even my wife wrinkled her nose a bit. There was a vegetal note on the back end in this wine as well, but it served more as a curiosity than anything else.

The wine had good color, but unfortunately I found the taste not so much "medium" as "thin and watery." It was not my style, although its fruitiness and freshness would no doubt be attractive to some. It was a very lightweight entry.

Neither of these wines held too much interest for me. They were both drinkable - the Tasso more than the Cataldo - but ultimately I like a little more body in a wine.