Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Taste of Piemonte: Vietti Wine Dinner at Ombra (Studio City)

What better wines to pair Italian food with than Italian wines? Recently, the newly opened Ombra in Studio City held a wine pairing dinner with an old winery from Piemonte, Vietti. Mario Vietti started making Vietti wines in 1919, although the history of the winery itself traces back to the 19th century.

Ombra is chef Michael Young's first venture as a chef/owner, but he has trained under some big Italian names in Los Angeles including Angelo Auriana at Valentino and Celestino Drago. Story has it that the lawyer working with French Laundry was impressed by his cooking at Domenico's in Silver Lake. He then suggested that Young open his own restaurant - and that was Ombra.

As with any meal at Ombra, our wine dinner started with arancini (fried risotto) and bread with eggplant caponata.


Vitello Tonnato (roast veal with tuna sauce)
Vitello Tonnato
Apparently this is a traditional dish from Piedmont. Why have I not had this before? All the garnishes that normally come on smoked fish is here, but with veal! I will have to keep an eye out for this dish in the future.

This was paired with a 2010 Vietti Arneis

A very clear white, with hints of stone fruit and light acidity - refreshing but does not overpower the dish. The wine takes away the sharpness of the onion and the fishiness a bit, while the creamy tuna sauce cuts the acidity.

Next is Agnolotti del Plin (traditional Piemontese ravioli)
Agnolotti del Plin

The name "plin" comes from the same word meaning "pinch" - when you make them by pinching the edges with your fingers. Our particular dish was a ricotta agnolotti with butter Parmesan sauce topped with sage.

This was one paired with a 2008 Vietti "Tre Vigne" Barbera d'Asti
Vietti owns the oldest barbera vineyard in Asti. This wine was a little tannic at first but the creamy ricotta really helps.

Risotto al Barolo e Radicchio (red wine and radicchio risotto)
Quite a simple risotto, yet flavorful nonetheless.

Paired with: 2008 Vietti "Perbacco" Nebbiolo
The Nebbiolog was a light and smooth wine, with very nice light tannin. The risotto rounds out the wine.

Main course: "Il Spezzatino" (red wine braised Angus sirloin)
Braised Sirloin
The sirloin was made with Paso Prime grass fed beef, which is the largest grass ranch in Paso. The cow is a  cross bred between French Charolais and Angus. Very tender and meaty.

Paired with: 2007 Vietti "Catiglione" Barolo
For a wine to be a Barolo needs minimum of 4 years of aging. Vietti ages them 3 years in the barrel and a year in the bottle. (The batches not selected for Barolo bottled as nebbiolo). The wine has a long finish, smooth with light refreshing tannin. The sirloin brings out the fruitiness of the wine.

Dessert: Panna Cotta (potted vanilla cream, local strawberries)
Panna Cotta
The panna cotta was smooth, rich, and dense. Just the way I like it.

The dessert was paired 2010 Vietti "Cascinetta" Moscato D'Asti
I love sweet sparkling wines, what can I say? This was sweet but not cloying. I initially thought it would be even sweeter or too sweet with the panna cotta but surprisingly, it actually toned down the sweetness of the wine. A nice pairing.


All in all, I enjoyed the Vietti wines, and their prices were also pretty reasonable (I bought a bottle of the Moscato d'Asti for my family). If you had noticed the labels of the wines above, you may notice each one has a different artwork. Vietti works with international artists to create the individual labels.

For me, this was a nice and educational wine dinner. The dishes may not be very extravagant, but as a learner, pairing wines from an old winery in Piedmont with these simple, traditional Piedmontese dishes is the best way to go. Plus, I learned about a new dish I never knew existed and also learned that agnolotti came from this region. I'm looking forward to similar dinners in the future. Help me explore the regional food of Italy!

Ombra Ristorante
3737 Cahuenga Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 985-7337
Ombra Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: this meal was hosted



I've actually had that Vietti "Perbacco" Nebbiolo before! I can't remember much about it, but do remember the dandelion on the label. Sounds like a fun dinner! Been curious about Ombra.

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