What higher compliment can Italy’s greatest vintner pay to the sun and soil of California’s vineyards than to purchaser and plant 600 acres to Cabernet Sauvignon high above the Napa Valley and to vinify the grapes for his Atlas peak label under the name of “Consenso”?
The Italian winemaster, Marquese Piero Antinori—who is referred to in Hugh Johnson’s “Encyclopedia of Wine” as “the voice of Italy in world wine circles”—told The Pine Cone this week, “I’m in love with that property!”
Comparing his Napa Valley vineyard to similar vineyards he owns in Tuscany, the marquese said the Atlas peak property is hilly and has rocky soil. On a clear day, he says, from the 1,400-foot altitude vineyards, “you can see the whole Napa Valley and San Francisco, too.”
The marquese says he visits the Atlas Peak vineyards two or three times a year, and plans to have the staff of the newest Pebble Beach/Inn at Spanish Bay restaurant, Péppoli, visit there soon. A winery was built on the property in 1992-1993, but has no tasting room and is closed to the public.
Publishers of The Pine Cone, Paul Miller and Kirstie Wilde, and this food and wine writer, were invited to a private luncheon with Marquese Antinori and the Péppoli restaurant at The Inn at Spanish Bay (see story on page one) on Monday, May 1, at which six Antinori wines were poured and paired with three courses—Tuscan-style rabbit salad, pan-roasted striped bass, and wild strawberry Marsala tart—prepared by Péppoli chef de cuisine Stephen Blackwell.
Wine served with the rotisseried rabbit, baby arugula, Belgian endive, radicchio and pecorino cheese salad were Campogrande, Orvieto Classico, D.O.C. 1998; Cervaro della Sala, Castello della Sala 1997.
With the striped bass (served with salted, very crispy skin), purple potatoes, fire roasted peppers, Treviso radicchio and Péppoli olive oil, wines poured were Péppoli, Chianti Classico, D.O.C.G. 1997; Badia a Passignano, Chianti Classico Riserva, D.O.C.G. 1996; Guado al Tasso, Tenuta Belvedere, Bolgheri, D.O.C. 1996.
The wild strawberry Marsala tart was complemented perfectly with a Muffato della Sala, Castello della Sala 1997. Dignitaries assembled Other dignitaries at the luncheon were Pebble Beach President and Chief Operating Officer John Chadwell; Kevin Peterson, food and beverage director; Executive Chef Pascal Rifflart; Manoel Errico, the restaurant’s manager; Val Ramsey, public relations and marketing director; Richard Pepe, owner of the two Carmel “Napoli” restaurants and partners with Antinori in the Péppoli restaurant concept; and Luca Vannini, “on premise specialist,” for Antinori wines.
Olive oil from the Antinori olive orchards in Puglia—80 hectares planted to trees, some of which are 150 years old—was served at the luncheon form unique glass cruets in wooden holders from the marquese’s “La Cantinetta Antinori,” The restaurant is situated on the ground floor of the family’s 15th Century palazzo in the center of Florence. Palazzo Antinori has been in the family since 1506.
The Carmel Pine Cone
Food & Wine
by Margot Petit Nichols