We found ourselves in L.A. again.  And since we were in L.A. we were back at Sotto.  Most importantly we were there because it was my friend Jeremey Parzen’s (author of Do Bianchi) last stint there before taking a hiatus back in Austin with his wife Tracey P. in order for them to await the imminent arrival of Baby P.  Jeremey and I had become friends via social media after realizing some mutual connections from back in the day in NYC and from our mutual passion for wine and related subjects.  We have connected a couple times in L.A. at Sotto when we both happened to be in town.  This time was great because Jeremey got to hang with us a bit and we talked about a whole host of subjects from wine to parenthood to Mel Brooks.

I won’t go into the food again at Sotto, if you want to know more about that, you can check out my blog posting on our big night out there recently.  But suffice it to say that it is some of my favorite Italian food anywhere, and if my opinion isn’t grand enough, then perhaps you will believe that they were just voted one of the top new restaurants in the country by Esquire magazine.  What we did try were a few new wines, things that we had not tried at Sotto before; wines and grape varieties which were new to me.  After a certain amount of time being focused/obsessed with wine, you think that there are few surprises left, so it was really nice to step outside of the comfort zone and try some new stuff that Jeremey was psyched about and was pouring that night.  Jeremey’s enthusiasm for wine is as genuine as it is generous and he has never failed to disappoint with the wines.

We tried a set of wines from Campania producer Michele Alois.  Not only was I not familiar with the producer, I was not familiar with the grape varietals of Casavecchia or Pallagrello.  The Settimo, a blend of Casavecchia and Pallagrello raised in stainless steel, was all pure fruit and the Trebulanum, 100% Casavecchia raised in large botti, was dark and spicy.  Michele Alois has a range of wines other than these, in fact, and I am gunning to try some more.  What a super surprise.  And then Jeremey pulled out a wine he was even more psyched on than the Alois:  Ciro Rosso Classico from ‘A Vita, made from the Gaglioppo grape (an obscure variety that I have actually heard of and tasted before, once).  Jeremey thinks this Calabrian gem of a wine is going places, I think he might be right.

Michele Alois 2009 Settimo

A blend of Casavecchia and Pallagrello from Campania.  The Settimo is bright red fruit with a nice citrus spritz.  It is a primary expression of fruit and it is simply delicious to drink.  This is like a great Cru Beaujolais or something Sicilian which has not seen any wood.  I loved it.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Michele Alois 2007 Trebulanum

This is a much more serious offering from Michele Alois.  The Trebulanum is 100% Casavecchia and it is a more serious wine.  It is darker and laced with spice and plum skin and pepper.  There are decent tannins and structure, and while it is drinking well now, I have no doubt the Trebulanum can age well too.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

‘A Vita 2008 Ciro Rosso Classico

Jeremey was all about this wine, and I can see why.  It was very lite in body but deep in structure and tannin?  It was like strawberry water but laced with great tart red fruit and rhubarb.  A decidedly surprising wine.  Different and delicious.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED