Leonardo Frescobaldi at A Voce restaurant, New York; a memorable evening of Mormoreto wines
Story and photos by Dwight Casimere
1. Leonardo Frescobaldi, President, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi with Dwight The Wine Doctor
2. Bistecca-grilled strip steak, lardo and figs from Chef Missy Robbins, A Voce, with a flight of Mormoreto wines, 2004-2007
3. Alessandro Lunardi-Director of the Frescobaldi U.S. Market
4. Mormoreto wines served at the Historical Vertical of Mormoreto dinner
5. Leonardo Frescobaldi proudly presents his 1985 vintage Mormoreto wine
New York—It was a thrilling surprise and a pleasure to meet Leonard Frescobaldi, President of Marchesi de Frescobaldi wines of Tuscany at a dinner pairing 12 of his Mormoreto wine vintages with the cuisine of Chef Missy Robbins at A Voce restaurant in the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle near Central Park.
Considered among the best of all Tuscan wines, this was a rare opportunity to sample the wines of Tuscany’s most important and largest producer in an absolutely exquisite setting.
Frescobaldi is a name that dates back to antiquity. The family has been an integral part of the growth and development of the Tuscan region since the Renaissance. “We still have the original estate, Castello di Nipozzano,” Frescobaldi said.
Besides their strong ties to tradition, the family has always believed in new technology and innovation. “That is the energy that drives us in everything we do—both tradition and innovation.” Leonardo Frescobaldi said as he guided a tasting and dinner that paired 12 Mormoreto vintages from 1985 to 2007.
“Our first wine was produced in 1983,” he said. “Frescobaldi di Nipozzano is remembered as one of the best Tuscan wines ever made. Our 1983 Mormoreto was produced from the vineyard of the same name in 1976. The wine is composed primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A small amount of Petit Verdot was planted and added to the blend later. Unfortunately, there is no more of the 1983 to be had, so we will start our retrospective with the Mormoreto 1985 ($65).”
((Editor’s note: Prices reflect average prices of readily available vintages. Check your local wine merchant for availability and price.))
Mormoreto is the Frescobaldi estate’s iconic wine. Its imprint is distinctive and indicative of its unique terroir. Complex and bold with extraordinary depth and elegance, it paired wonderfully with the first course of Chanterelle mushrooms, cippollini (wild onions which are actually the spring flowering bulbs of grape hyacinth), cavalo nero (black leaf kale) and Tuscan bread. For comparison, a flight of 1988 ($119), 1990 ($51) and 1994 ($55) were proffered, each varying in depth and expression.
Mormoreto is a single vineyard cru produced at the flagship estate, Castello di Nipozzano, which has been in the Frescobaldi family for over 150 years. “It is named for the sound of the wine in the tree lives in the valley,” explained Alessandro Lunardi, Director of the Frescobaldi U.S. Market. “The Tuscan wind and its unique terroir inform the wines and make them among the most prized of connoisseurs.” What a privilege it was to taste them with great Italian cuisine in the company of their creator.
Wild boar with rosemary and young pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese was accompaniment to a flight of Mormoreto 1997 ($63), 1999 ($46), 2001 ($52) and 2003 ($52). “There is no Sangiovese in any of these wines,” Frescobaldi noted. “What you are tasting is the difference in the harvest. The 1997 harvest in particular was notable for the high quality of the fruit. A spring freeze greatly reduced the size of the crop, but the fruit that was left was highly concentrated with a great saturation of fruit flavor.”
This is a great wine to pair with duck, pheasant or game meat and strong cheeses. The hints of nutmeg and clove make one think of the fall season and the approaching Holidays.
The centerpiece of the evening’s dining experience was the Bistecca-grilled strip steak with lardo (a type of Italian charcuterie made with fatback cured in a mixture of rosemary, herbs and spices) and figs, which provided a lovely flavor contrast to the mineral quality of the aged meat. No steak knife was needed. It was literally fork tender! The waiter came by with a bottle of Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($49) pressed from olives grown on the Frescobaldi estate and poured a generous amount over the steak. “This is how we serve our steaks in Italy,” Frescobaldi explained. The olive oil added further to the depth of the dish.
A flight of Mormoreto 2004 ($54.99) through 2007 ($58) accompanied this lavish main course. Of the wines, the 2006 ($49.99) was most memorable for its elegance and long finish. It melded beautifully with the flavor of the meat and the slight sweetness of the fig brought out its deep, red berry flavors. It was harmonious and well balanced with a superb structure.
As a treat with the dessert of roasted apples and honey gelato covered in almond tuile (a light, crispy cookie made with shaved almonds and typically served with gelato) and white pepper, Vinsanto di Pomino ($39.95) was served. This wine has ancient roots, steeped in Tuscan tradition. Dating back to the 19th century, it combines Trebbiano, Malvasia and other local varieties that are part of the traditional Tuscan landscape. This wine is a great aperitif or dessert wine. Here, it was the perfect finale to a spectacular display of the art of winemaking.