Grotto Lotto

Peter Tarantino, who with the help of his brothers tried to plant his sophisticated brand of Mediterranean cuisine near Fair Park with Tarantino's before that project was undone by a backed-up and bubbling sewer line, is champing at the bit to get CAVA launched. CAVA is Tarantino's traditional Spanish restaurant, tapas bar, wine cellar and subterranean lounge off the ground floor and below in the Davis building downtown. Tarantino says the project is being held at bay as crews disembowel Davis, ripping out wiring, plumbing and asbestos. He assures CAVA's build-out will begin sometime in March with a grand opening slated for next September. But don't bet your plunger on it.

Winemaker Bill Arbios admits he's having trouble moving his relatively pricey Sonoma Alexander Valley cabernet--telecom, dot-com and Dow Jones aren't the only bubbles popping, it seems. That's why he came to Dallas to hawk his boutique cab, a wine that ordinarily would have been slurped up as the corks were inserted. Arbios has carved an interesting résumé for himself, passing through wineries such as Chateau Souverain, Fieldstone Winery, William Wheeler Winery, Lyeth and Napa's Jarvis Vineyards, a massive 45,000-square-foot parabolic underground operation tunneled into the Vacas Mountains. Founded in 1993, Arbios' operation feeds off some 25 acres planted on Pine Mountain and produces just one wine: a 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. His 1999 vintage netted just 2,500 cases. He boasts that he's achieved "minor cult status," though, and at roughly 32 bucks a bottle, it's a few sawbucks shy of major bottle worship. Deep violet in color, the wine is clean and restrained with ample fruit notes that never bomb the nostrils or trudge the tongue. Tucked between those layers are generous inklings of spice, mint, tobacco and smoke. This is a wine that never calls undue attention to itself--a good thing for a post-bubble dinner companion. Arbios' cab is available (for now) exclusively at Marty's...After nine years in business, Mediterraneo in North Dallas is closed...America, what a country. It's now legal to ship wine you've purchased at an out-of-state winery to your own house. Imagine that. President Bush signed earlier this month the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorizations Act, which permits such gaudy privileges (up to three gallons in Texas). The Wine Institute bills this piece of handiwork as a "practical and responsible help winery visitors get their wine home." The Institute says Congress adopted this measure as a result of heightened airline security, which means shipping wine purchases is more practical than loading it into your luggage. Or your circulatory system.


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