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The Wine List

July 28, 1991|Dan Berger

If there is no table when you show up on time for your reservation, Oli Ola immediately offers you a complimentary glass of the house wine. When I dined there recently, three parties with reservations were asked to wait a few moments, and all were immediately offered wine.

The house wines at Oli Ola are worth waiting for: The white is either a Chardonnay (an Italian or a Californian alternate) or an Italian Pinot Grigio (the red is one of two well-made Chiantis). And the five-ounce pour is generous.

So for about $2 per person (the cost of the wine), the owner reduces the patron's boil to a simmer. Moreover, when diners are finally seated, they are in the mood to buy wine. The house wines, should you wish to order more, are $4.50 a glass.

The Oli Ola wine list is a good one, small but well selected and quite reasonably priced. Most wines run about twice their wholesale price, and some of the more expensive wines are priced even lower than that.

The list, assembled by co-owner Agostino Sciandri, includes such bargains as the delightfully spicy Ceretto Arneis ($25), the elegant Fisher Chardonnay ($18) and the fruity and rich Giacosa Dolcetto d'Alba ($25).

The drawback to this list, however, is that in almost all cases, the vintages for the wines are not indicated. So although pricing appears to be reasonable, there are pitfalls. When I ordered the Ceretto Barbaresco "Asij" for $30, I expected the 1986, perhaps the '85, both terrific wines. I got the '87, from a lesser vintage, and the wine, although OK, was fairly astringent.

The list has a number of minor errors (it has "Riserva del Marchese" but does not tell you that this is the spectacular Antinori Tenuta Marchese Chianti Classico Riserva). On the plus side, there are all the high-image names of the wine world--Tignanello, Ornellaia, Gaja, Sassicaia, Clos du Val, Heitz Martha's Vineyard, Dominus, Far Niente and even the cult wine Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon.

The list, numbering fewer than 80 wines, concludes with three ports by the glass, including the excellent 1970 Warre for $12.

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