Beverly Hills’ Nerano, an upscale Italian restaurant owned by the Toscana Restaurant Group, hosted its first in a series of monthly wine dinners.
For this inaugural dinner in its swank BG Lounge, Nerano’s sommelier, Samantha Johnston, and executive chef, Michele Lisi, teamed up with Marchesi Antinori Wines ambassador Alessia Botturi to pair its wines during a five-course dinner.
The dinner was what dreams are made of for an Italian food and wine aficionado. Not only does Nerano have a longstanding reputation in LA as a favorite eatery among Hollywood power-players, but Antinori can trace its history back to 1385, making the company one of the oldest Italian wine producers. This Italian wine powerhouse has been owned by 26 generations of the same family but was only popularized in the US during the “Super Tuscan” boom of the 1970s.
The first course began with a stuzzichini, crostini topped with Apulian burrata and green tomato marmellata and bruschetta with grilled rustic crostino, diced Campari tomato, arugula, and Parmigiano-Reggiano paired with Col de Salici Rosé Brut NV. These lighter crostini were perfect little bites to start. I believe dinner should always begin with bubbles, so this blush with fruity notes of berries was a delight.
The second course, antipasti, was the crudo di ricciola with Pacific yellowtail, crispy capers, Fresno chile peppers, rainbow micro greens, and citronette paired with Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Vermentino 2015. I used to work at an Italian restaurant, and the vermentino, a lighter-bodied, Sardinian white, was always a favorite. I was a little bit tickled when Botturi announced it would be a pairing. If you love sauvignon blanc, you’d love vermentino; it pairs very well with the Pacific yellowtail and the spices from the pepper.
The third course was the burrata caprese with heirloom tomatoes, Apulian burrata, and arugula paired with Castello Della Sala “Cervaro” Chardonnay 2014. This classic dish never goes out of style, but what surprised me the most about this was the wine selection. I had a chardonnay obsession in 2007, specifically any bottle from Alexander Valley. They used to be so buttery, lightly oaky, and easy to drink. I don’t know what’s going on in the wine world, or perhaps my palette changed, but I just haven’t been into chardonnay anymore.
Botturi’s selection, the 2014 Castello Della Sala “Cervaro,” restored my faith in chardonnay. It’s lightly acidic, refreshing but still rich, and savory — and there’s just a hint of oakiness. The oakiness is not overpowering like many of the others I’ve sipped as of late. This was my favorite wine selection of the night — I love to be surprised!
Next up was the pasta: house-made orecchiette with Colorado lamb ragù, English peas, Tuscan mint, and fiocchi di burrata paired with Guado al Tasso “Il Bruciato” 2015. This was my favorite food course. The orecchiette was chewy and al dente; the lamb ragù was savory and earthy.
For secondi, the main course, we were served tagliata di manzo, a USDA Prime New York steak with Yukon gold potato focaccia and sautéed spinach paired with Antinori “Tignanello” 2014. This was one juicy cut of steak! The focaccia potatoes are very similar to scalloped potatoes, but the cheese is a bit more caramelized, which I loved.
The meal completed with a dolci of panna cotta e frutti di bosco, a Tahitian vanilla panna cotta with fresh wild berries, orange zest and vincotto paired with Fattoria Aldobrandesca “Aleatico” 2011. The vincotto is a fig balsamic vinegar, but don’t let that scare you off. Once the panna cotta is mixed with the vincotto, it becomes lightly tart while still soft and creamy.
The wine pairings selected for the 14 guests validated the vineyard’s staying power. Through this dinner, Botturi proved that Antinori wines truly offer something for everyone and for every occasion.
According to Nerano’s resident sommelier, there will be one more dinner next month, with a guest winemaker. After August, the restaurant won’t host another wine dinner until October or November due to harvest. But they will come back, and Johnston hints there may be a spirits pairing on the way as well.
Pricing for Nerano’s Antinori Wine Dinner was $140 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. There was limited availability and reservations were required.
For information on the next dinner, please follow posts on the Nerano Facebook page.
Thanks to Nerano for their generous hospitality. Although my meal was provided by Nerano, all opinions are my own.