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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

An Italian White with Dungeness Crab at Bottega in Napa Valley

Vietti Roero Arneis 2008

Thomas Matthews
Posted: July 1, 2010

Chef Michael Chiarello has earned some celebrity with his television shows and lifestyle-products catalogs. But his heart is in the kitchen, and his new restaurant Bottega is an excellent addition to the already culinary-centric town of Yountville in Napa Valley.

Since I’m from the East Coast, I order Dungeness crab when I’m out west. Generally it comes in some easy-to-eat dish, maybe a ravioli filling or a cold salad with cilantro and chiles. At Bottega, you get the whole sea-beast, roasted and set in a bowl half-filled with an intense spicy broth, accompanied by a set of nutcrackers. Four napkins later, the crab was a pile of empty shells, and I was a happy man.

Joel Hoachuck, general manager and wine director, dared to pair the dish with a foreign wine, a bright, citrusy Arneis from Italy’s Piedmont region ($13 for a quartino, about a glass and a half). Producer Vietti is well known for its Barolos, Barbarescos and Barberas, but also makes this white. It was light enough not to challenge the crab, but nervy enough to refresh the palate, and the lemony and floral notes mingled well with the spicy broth. I rated the wine 90 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Arneis bottlings from Italy, along with our quick list of Top Values among Italian whites.

Brian Peters
Broomfield, CO —  July 2, 2010 11:31am ET
Like the comments about the wine...don't necessarily agree with the comments about Bottega. We ate there recently and were completely disaapointed. Both of our entrees were sent back because they were cold and bland. Overall, the place is definitely over-priced when so many other options are there like Mustard's Grill, etc.
Thomas Matthews
New York City —  July 3, 2010 2:39pm ET
I'm sorry Bottega disappointed you, Brian. No restaurant is perfectly consistent. How did they respond when you sent your entrees back? I agree that there are many fine restaurants in Napa Valley. Bottega will have to work hard to compete, but my sense is they have already attracted a following.

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