By Rick Riozza

CIAO! TUTTI! Hey Everyone! One of the best wine dinner series in our valley is coming to an Italian Finale. On Friday March 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm the Miramonte Resort and Spa’s Le Serate di Vino—The Evenings of Wine, will conclude for the season.

Ahh—no one likes to see the ending of a good thing—ma festeggiano!, but let’s celebrate the joys of great cooking & great wine and come and join in Miramonte’s Italian Family-Style Reception & Dinner sotto la luna et le stelle—beneath the moon and stars among the twinkle-lit trees on the resort’s Olive Arbor. Here, we’ll be enjoying a fantastic selection of wine from Tuscany to be paired with superb Italian-inspired cuisine served over five courses.

No longer in the shadow of France as far as wine pre-eminence, Italy has established her own highly distinctive wine personality that matches perfectly with the wonderful flavors of its famed and envied cookery. Indeed, as a wine enthusiast and foodie, one could spend an entire life doing Italia.


Tuscany is the dynamic heart of Italy when it comes to wine. How fortunate we are to have the panoply of Banfi Wine set for us on the Miramonte family table: Truly a Tuscan taste of Italy in our desert with an outdoor Italian banquet where the food and wine will be served family style.

General Manager Stan Kantowski and Jim Pedone, Director of Sales and Marketing both chime in, “This will be a very relaxed dining—in fact, we look to everyone having a wonderful time chatting and casually mingling about! And we’ll have ‘rustic’ type surroundings—hinting at an artistic mis-match of tableware & settings. Our great staff of servers will be on hand as always attentive to our needs.”

And if I may—a well-deserved shout-out to Stan and Jim for their consummate and professional handling of the exquisite wine dinners. They have continually put out the best spread!

As is usually the course when I preview these Miramonte wine dinners, my appetite swirls. This event cannot come quick enough. Presto! Let’s discuss the meal and wine:

The Reception will begin with Asparagus Prosciutto, Eggplant Bruschetta, and Shrimp Panchetta. The opening sparkling wine will be the Prosecco Bolla. One of the many varieties of wine in the Banfi stable, this sparkler is operetta-like—bright, deep straw in color; bouquet of appealing ripe fruit with hints of apple, pear and peach; taste—fresh and fruity with a great vein of acidity and lively finish.

For the Antipasto Course served family style, look for grilled vegetables, olives, artichokes, tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Tuscan Salami, Coppa, and Cappacola, Fontina and Gorgonzola Cheeses and Lemon Marinated Calamari. The perfect wine match to the antipasti will be the San Angelo Pinot Grigio which is crisp and light-bodied with light tropical aromas that follow into a clean, refreshing taste. Produced by Banfi in Tuscany, this is not the “boorish” type of Pinot Grige usually experienced. This is unique and aristocratic.

The plated 2nd Course will be Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato Ravioli with Tomato Saffron and Basil. These delicious flavors will meet Castello Banfi’s BelNerO—a “super-Tuscan” which means there is some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend with the Sangiovese.

BelNerO comes from Castello Banfi’s estate vineyards on the stony southern hills of Montalcino — the same winegrowing region that produces Italy’s greatest wine Brunello di Montalcino. Look for gentle aromas of vanilla, tobacco and coffee that follow into a mix of flavors that include cherry jam and prunes. It’s full of finesse; I really look forward to enjoying this wine with the ravioli.

For the main course and perhaps the star of the show is the Brunello di Montalcino Poggio Alle Mura: We’re told that this wine “is the result of more than two decades of experimental research. Poggio alle Mura is a super example of the best synthesis of Italian terroir, selection and technological innovation. Estate-bottled from the splendid sun drenched vineyard adjacent to the Castello, this Brunello encompasses a full body and complexity unique to the area.”

Mauve red, intense and very deep, its bouquet is complex, but immediately captivating with both fresh and sweet nuanced aromas. Look for essences of plum, cherry, blackberry and raspberry jam combined with hints of chocolate, cigar box, vanilla and licorice that follow into the palate. The wine is muscular and toned with a surprising combination of power and softness, with sweet and gentle tannins. A wine for an Italian finale banquet indeed!

And the food to match! A family style Main Course of Sea Bass Picatta with Preserved Lemon and Capers; Barolo Marinated Grilled Prime Flat Iron Steak with Carmelized Cippolini Onions; Lamb Osso Buco with Cremolata; Mascarpone Polenta, Braised Rapini and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes. Did we just hear an Italian “Abbondanza!!” yelp?

And good minds think alike: My Valentine’s wine pick a couple of columns ago was the Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Aqui light sparkling wine. This fine dessert sparkler will play pleasantly with the Cannoli, Fruit Tartes, Chocolate Decadence, Lemon Curd and Opera Cake.

When speaking about this wine dinner event with Mirko Marchi, Director of Resort Operations, he mentioned he was born in Tuscany. Allora! Let’s hope he opens the banquet with a lovely Italian toast to the night’s festivities!

The fantastic price for this Banfi-Tuscan Family Style Dinner is $65 plus tax & gratuity. Reservations are required & seating is limited! 760.837.2327

Miramonte Resort & Spa 4500 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells Ca. 92210.

Buon Appetito! e Salute!

Rick continues to host & entertain at wine events and tastings. Contact

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