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Wine List Confidential: Cantinetta Antinori London

Douglas Blyde tries the London restaurant of winemaking dynasty Antinori. Tasting wines from across the family’s Italian estates, as well from its “foray into Napa”, he sees whether this little slice of Tuscany in the UK really is super.

“The Antinori wine family is one of the grandest in Italy, making wine in Tuscany since 1385,” wrote critic, Andy Hayler, adding, “It is the ninth oldest family business in the world, though it is not even the oldest wine-making one; that accolade goes to Barone Ricasoli in Sienna, est. 1141.”


Brought to you by Riccardo Giraudi Hospitality Concepts of Beefbar/Le Petit Beefbar global fame, the London debut of Cantinetta Antinori, which includes outposts in Florence, Monte Carlo, Vienna, and Zurich, occupies the former boutique of leather maker, Berluti, known for its calfskin, kangaroo, and alligator skin finishes. Atmospheric shots from the family album line the walls, while lights are shaped like vine leaves. The names of Antinori’s vinous icons are inscribed in gold above pharmacy-like shelves. Present throughout is Antinori’s rhombus logo. Plates and bowls formed from bespoke bone china are beautiful, though seemingly too small for restaurant service, resulting in cutlery often toppling during clearing. Softening their fall to the floor is the programme of live music, set to expand beyond Friday and Saturday evenings.


Although Malbec was his metier at his previous employer, M Victoria Street (RIP), Sicilian head sommelier Nicola Di Giuseppe may still purvey the variety from Antinori’s Fattoria Aldobrandesca. Supplied by Berkmann, the list exclusively draws from the vineyards under the control of the 26-generation Antinori family, whose mighty operation is led by President Albiera Antinori.

The 21-strong by-the-glass selection covers fifteen estates, ranging from 2023 Tormaresca Puglian Chardonnay (£9.50/125ml) to Tignanello 2019 (£61.50). For particularly interested guests, Di Giuseppe will also deploy a popular wine preservation tool to show portions of even higher-end wines, such as the finespun Matarocchio.

By the bottle, options range from a 2022 Chardonnay from the Chilean Haras de Pirque property, acquired in 2017, (£45) to 1996 Solaia at £1,000. Notable are the line-ups featuring older vintages, including Tignanello to 1998 (£575), and with both libraries reaching to 1999, Solaia (£920) and Guado al Tasso (£455). Others include Pian delle Vigne Vignaferrovia to 2010 (£300), Cervaro della Sala to 2007 (£550), Bocca di Lupo to 2006 (£230), and Barolo Riserva Bussia to 2008 (£410).

Large formats embrace a double magnum of 2008 Solaia (£3,500), and the imperial of 2010 Solaia (£7,000). Spent vessels of this magnitude are displayed on window sills.

From outside Italy, the fruits of Antinori’s foray into Napa are evident in the white A26 and red Townsend Vineyard. Set, generally, at, or just under, three times retail, mark-ups seem relatively gentle for Kensington and Chelsea.


Formerly of Le Petit Beefbar, Chelsea, the Calabria-born Salvatore Rizzuto leads the front of the house, connected by an earpiece, while Turin-born head chef Vittorio Franco (ex of Temper) deploys Mediterranean ingredients in both classical and contemporary Italian-inclined dishes, applying seasoning with a welcome restraint.

Lunch began with olives and Franciacorta. From Tenuta Montenisa in Lombardy, the Chardonnay led, green apple and yuzu scented Blanc de Blancs had sufficient bite for buttery Nocellara olives, as well as charcoal-coloured pane carasau and springy, homemade focaccia baked with ripe tomatoes. The latter was best dipped in the juicy, grassy, wonderful, organic, stone-milled, extra virgin olive oil from Antinori’s Pèppoli estate three miles northeast of Tenuta Tignanello. The zesty aperitif continued with almost imperceptibly seared, notably delicate tuna topped, in a balanced way, with more olives, in the form of chopped taggiasche in the puttanesca.

Next, Di Giuseppe chose the fulsome, oak and smoked-scented, Chardonnay-led 2021 from Cervaro della Sala. Debuting in 1985, the structural wine, which is built to last, became one of Italy’s first white wines to experience both malolactic fermentation and barrel ageing, he said. It brought freshness borne of a trace of Grechetto, to a Carpaccio of yellow tail with nimble ponzu, coriander, and gallantly aromatic truffle.

More Italianate was the long homemade pappardelle with veal and wagyu ragu, based on a sofrito enriched with dried porcini. This was paired with the precise, violet-scented 2015 Matarocchio, which yielded flavours of dark chocolate. The pure Cabernet Franc was picked “berry by berry” said Di Giuseppe, who previously visited the Guado al Tasso estate from where it comes.

Taken from a distinctively quadrate Chianina cow, filet mignon followed, cooked pink, in veal jus with buttery mash. Alongside, elegant Tignanello 2013 was the first release since the departure from this mortal coil of Giacomo Tachis, creator of it, Sassicaia, Solaia, and San Leonardo. Unyielding at first, deep, dark cherry scents emerged in time.

With a shared pistachio tiramisu starring pistachio mascarpone cream, prepared tableside, Di Giuseppe poured the marzipan and marmalade scented Vinsanto Tenute Marchese Antinori 2018, produced from Trebbiano and Malvasia.

Last word

On our first visit last April, we found a muddled team bereft of a sommelier, purveying absentminded wine choices and implausibly obnoxious coffee. Since Rizzuto and his team manifested, the offer has improved, right down to a replacement coffee supplier. Although the site is not without its problems, given issues persist concerning the municipal paving outside, what can be controlled within Cantinetta Antinori’s richly-decorated walls is managed with pride – to the benefit of truly pampered guests.

Best for

  • The stable of Antinori wines, from draft horses to thoroughbreds
  • Events, including ‘The New Tuscany’ and ‘Rosé by Antinori’
  • Live music, Friday and Saturdays
  • Private room

Value: 93, Size: 94, Range: 95, Originality: 95, Experience: 98; Total: 95

Cantinetta Antinori London – 4 Harriet St, London, SW1X 9JR; 020 4580 1354;;

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