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Restaurant Spotlight: La Grotta

A haven for wine outside Seoul
The tasting room at La Grotta showcases some of the restaurant's 30,000-bottle inventory.
Photo by: La Grotta
The tasting room at La Grotta showcases some of the restaurant's 30,000-bottle inventory.

Posted: December 6, 2018

In South Korea’s Konjiam Resort, La Grotta delivers a wine-centric experience inspired by vineyard dining. Named for the Italian term for “the cave,” La Grotta is located in an actual wine cave, carved into the side of a mountain to create natural temperature control. The space protects an inventory of 30,000 bottles supplying the 800-selection, Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list. Overseen by wine director Hyo Keun Lee, the program is strongest in Bordeaux, with numerous vintages from the region’s top producers such as Château Mouton-Rothschild, Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour.

There are also exceptional labels from Italy, California and Burgundy. Selections are presented on an iPad for regularly updated inventory and vintage information, and to make the list easier to read in the dimly lit atmosphere. Elements like the soft lighting, arched ceilings and warm color palette are meant to evoke the feeling of dining in a Napa Valley winery. Yet the cuisine is distinct, blending Italian tradition with seasonal ingredients and Korean flair. Chef Jong Hun Ahn’s menu consists of signature entrées and pastas like spaghetti in an olive oil sauce with mackerel and basil. Except during a few months in winter, the herbs and vegetables are sourced from the on-site organic garden.

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