Enjoy the food. Savor the conversation.

Vito Restaurant - The Wine Guy Opinion

Vito Restaurant
2807 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Perusing Vito’s wine list for this dinner, the first page was taken up by wines that had been given a price reduction, either because they had too many bottles on hand, or they were looking to get more turnover on their list.  While this may be cause for concern that the wines where losing their condition, our waiter assured us that if anything seemed amiss with a bottle, that would not be a problem…and it wasn’t, our bottles were fine.  The deals in some cases were substantial and there were unquestionably some very nice value picks.  That being said, once you get a little deeper into the list, the A-game comes out.  There are bottles from a number of top growths from across Bordeaux (Pauillac is well represented).  Italian wines are many, but do not overly dominate the list.  Between the deals and the French icons, there’s a bottle for everyone and every wallet.             

2014 Liberty School
Grape Varieties:  88% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier.
ABV:  13.5%
Region:  Central Coast, California, USA

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:  The Liberty School Chardonnay offers aromas of Bartlett pear and ripe, green apple, followed by similar crisp flavors, lively citrus undertones and an elegant, lingering finish. 

We Paired With: Caprese Salad, Scampi, and Calamari.

Why We Chose This Wine:  Central Coast is among the coolest regions for winemaking in CA. That paired with a long growing season and plenty of sunlight allows these Chardonnay’s to retain a healthy acidity and fruitiness.  The region largely eschews the overly oaked, butterball Chardonnays in favor of a restrained balance.  With the right touch of oak, Central Coast Chardonnays are a good call where pairing across a number of dishes and taking into account multiple palates. The winemaker’s choice to add some Viognier also gives this wine a more aromatic quality than a typical 100% Chard.          

2009 Cascina Tiole, Grasso Massimo Barolo
Grape Varieties:  100% Nebbiolo.
ABV:  14%
Region:  Barolo, Piedmont, Italy

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:  Grown at an elevation of approximately 400 meters on slightly sandy, clay, limestone-based soils; aged in Slovenian oak barrels for 3 years.  The color is red with shades of ruby orange.  Aromas are complex with hints of exquisite vanilla, cinnamon and green pepper.  On the palate are flavors of licorice, cranberry and cherry with notes of leather.  

We Paired With: Oso Bucco, Medaglioni al Cognac and Veal.

Why We Chose This Wine:  Because Barolo is the “king of Italian wine”, we were at an old-school Italian restaurant and it was a great bottle for the price (see above re deals on their list).  The Italian village of Barolo is well above the fog line and its wines are typically high in acidity and tannin.  With most of the main dishes coming out with this wine having rich bases and big proteins, a high acid, high tannic wine was an easy call.  Barolos (as well as their cousins from Barbaresco and Langhe) are just supremely suited for heavy dishes like tenderloin, steak, short rib and duck.