By Rick Riozza

Ciao! Tutti!! Hey Eveyone! I’ve got great news for wine lovers in our valley. Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa announces the new wine dinner series, “Le Serate di Vino,” meaning “Evenings of Wine”, to be held at the resort’s beautiful Pinzimini [Peen-zuh-Mee-nee] Restaurant.

The first dinner, titled, “Il Meglio di Italia, (“the Best of Italy”) will showcase world class wines from the most famous Marchesi De Frescobaldi Winery, as well as the fresh delicious wines of Friuli. The wines will be paired with a four course display of signature dishes of the resort’s James Beard Honored Executive Chef Joel Delmond and Chef de Cuisine Juan Leon.

Many of you readers remember both my coverage of this great wine dinner series held elsewhere, and, my annual Pinzimini Italian-Christmas wine dinner articles. Che fortuna! So how fortunate is this to have the celebrated event held at this outstanding venue together.


Pinzimini is one of the most romantic Italian eatery locales in our valley that is both stunning in design but relaxed in dining. I’ve always referred to this restaurant as “Milano-chic but with Tuscan family comfort”. The authentic cuisine, the stellar wine list, and the atmosphere always set this place at the top for an exquisite dining experience.

The Frescobaldi family has been a part of the history of Florence, and, are one of the most significant wine producers in Italy. From the Middle Ages to the present day Frescobaldi has been a select wine for King Edward I and II in the 14th century, and wine was traded with renowned 16th century Renaissance artists. The extensive vineyards include nine estates producing unique wines that reflect the rich diversity of Tuscany.

For generations, Attems Winery, which is associated with Frescobaldi, has been considered synonymous with viticulture in Friuli Venezia that borders the Alps to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south. At Attems a philosophy exists that sees the true expression of its territory in the wine’s quality and personality, indisputably Friuli with a unique style, reflecting its tradition in the times of today.

We recently sat with Chef Delmond, his team, and wine wise guy Ray Croteau, who will be on hand for the evening’s wine talk. It was like being inside a music studio where the consummate professionals talked through their artistic ideas, reasoning with each other how to bring the best in the performance. Of course we’re talking total cuisine here with the guys enthusiastic to bringing the best in Italian food & wine pairing.

Here’s a look at the prospective courses and wine line-up:

To showcase the Italian white wines, the chefs will be matching a Bruchetta Liguria, prepared with artichoke pesto, walnuts and pecorino, to the Frescobaldi Pomino Chardonnay from Tuscany. This is a beautiful wine with fragrances of white flowers and jasmine, apple and passion fruit that lead into the palate along with delicate mineral notes. It’s both elegant and fresh with an enchanting finish. Will be wonderful surprise for Chard enthusiasts.

Next look for a dish of Goat Cheese Arancini atop baby beets, citrus segments, and pomegranate vinaigrette to match the Attems Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a classic and consummate match—that of goat cheese and a Sauv Blanc.

And then we’ll all be awaiting one of Chef’s signature dishes, the Grilled Branzino to be paired with the world famous Attems Pinot Grigio. This is a beautiful presentation and a match made-in-heaven type combo. The Pinot Grigeis set apart from the usual with a bouquet marked by impressive fruitiness, and the palate demonstrates all of the amazing qualities of the terroir: superb weight and viscosity, mineral-edged, savory, tangy, and lively.

Moving to the Italian reds, the Frescobaldi Nippozano will be paired with Agnolotti, a stuffed pasta pocket of butternut squash, sage, and butter Parmesan. The Nippozano is one of my all-time favorite wine, which I’m always recommending when customers wish to try a delicious Reserved Chianti.

And another signature dish will be the Wild Boar Braised in Barolo Wine along with Accasciato Creamy polenta, cipollini, Portobello mushrooms and rapini. This wine sauce is one of the best that I’ve ever had, and, I usually enjoy it with Chef’s Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Now to be trying the Barolo wine sauce with wild boar sounds like a gastronomic dream ready to happen; especially, when the dish is teamed with the renowned 2012 Frescobaldi La Vite Lucente wine from Tuscany. A full-bodied red blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon that exhibit some gorgeous aromas of dried black cherry, cedar, smoke, and fleshy blackberries. Such an elegant wine with great balance and lasting finish.

For dessert, expect a luscious Panna Cotta of vanilla and pistachio custard, seasonal berries and Amarena cherries, that will meet up with an in-house Moscato.

As you can tell, I really love this place with its authentic Italian cuisine along with the most friendly and attentive staff. I’m really looking forward to the dining experience. Hope to see you there! And the good news is that this Italian wine dinner series will continue for the next couple of months—so stay tuned. Arrivederla!

The cost of the “Il Meglio di Italia” dinner is $85 plus tax and gratuity, with limited seating available. Reservations are required asap by calling (760) 770-2150.

Buon Appetito and Saluté !