Thursday, July 14, 2011

Frescobaldi Wines-An Italian wine for every summer occassion

Dwight The Wine Doctor

A Frescobaldi wine for every summer occasion

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

Wines reviewed June 21, 2011

Lamberto Frescobaldi, scion of the Frescobaldi estate with Dwight The Wine Doctor at Vinitaly, Verona 2011

The Frescobaldi tasting pavilion at Vinitaly

Alessandro Lunardi, US Business Agent for Frescobaldi wines

Frescobaldi wines with a selection of salumi and Italian cheeses from Eataly, New York

Tasters at the Frescobaldi pavilion, Vinitaly 2011

NEW YORK---I first became acquainted with the wines of Marchesi de Frescobaldi at the Vinitaly wine exposition in Verona, Italy three years ago, when I met the affable owner, Lamberto Frescobaldi at the introduction of Michael Mondavi. Already familiar with the illustrious history of the winery and the family, which dates back to the Renaissance, I was not surprised to taste wines that reflected a diversity and sophistication that have made the wines of the Tuscany region a distinct pleasure.

It was with a great deal of anticipation that I responded to an invitation to attend a private tasting of everyday Frescobaldi wines, presided over by Alessandro Lunardi, the Frescobaldi U.S. Business Manager. Sitting at the head of a long conference table, laden with platters of artisinal cheeses and salumi and bottles of wine at the brand’s marketing office near Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Lunardi proceeded to uncork the magic inside the bottles and weave an interesting mix of fact and fable surrounding the magnificent wines.

“A wine should be like the GPS in your car. It should tell you where you are going. Otherwise, it’s a postcard, specific to nothing.” That was Lunardi’s opening statement as he uncorked bottles of Attems Pinot Grigio 2010 ($19), Remole 2009 ($10), a stellar Sangiovese/Cabernet blend, Nipozzano Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva 2007 (a steal at $22) and Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2008 ($25). As you can see, none of these wines involves spending anything more than pocket money; yet, the flavor profiles and versatility put them in the league wines that are far more costly. The great thing about the wines, as we learned during the tasting, is they are great with a variety of light, summertime foods and can also stand on their own as superlative examples of their region and vineyard designations.

Attems Pinto Grigio is from an area between the Collion and alluvial area of Isonzo in the most eastern part of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. It was among the first wine areas in Italy to introduce and develop the noble varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, Cardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot, alongside its native grapes. The 2010 Attems is rich with classic mineral quality and a full-bodied fruit flavor that maintains a good balance between acid, sugar and berries. The taste is like biting into citrus fruits and pears and having the juice explode from under the skin into your mouth. They’re a great accompaniment to cheeses, salads and seafood, such as scallops, oysters and shrimp.

Remole 2009 at 10 bucks is a terrific buy! It delivers a flavor and complexity far beyond its price. “Spring 2009 was a challenge in the fields,” Lunardi recounted, adding dramatic narrative to the tasting experience. “There were endless rainstorms that tested the reserves of the vineyard staff. They persevered and were able to balance vine growth and control pests. September’s cool nights and warm, sunny days were just the combination needed to bring forth grapes with good acidity and complex aromatics. The Sangiovese and the Cabernet were of exceptional quality.” The results are evident in the bottle and in the glass. Remole is one of the finest red wine blends to come out of Tuscany. It’s exceptionally versatile. It goes with pizza, grilled steak or ribs, a hearty burger with a hunk of Gorgonzola cheese or just on its own with a bite of cheese, some bread and good salami. Abondanza!

Nipozanno Chianti was the wine that brought out the poet/philosopher in Lunardi. “Nipozzano is one of the noble wines of Italy,” he waxed philosophically. “It has a great fruit focus touched with wild berries. It drinks beautifully now, but can be laid down for future enjoyment. It has all of the minerality of Tuscan soil, yet possesses bright fruit that makes it a wine that can go with any great meal, red sauced pastas, prime cuts of meat, a hearty Osso Bucco.”

Lunardi said the grapes were produced using a method known as “dry farming.”

“This is a wine that the land decides. The vineyards are difficult to farm. We use horses, not tractors to work the rich, clay and limestone soil. The dry, well-ventilated weather produces wine that is elegant and well balanced, with a full body and firm structure. This is a wine that has consistently been rated among the “Top 100.”

The rich, elegant Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2008

Is a Cabernet blend that is dense and complex. Its dark Indian ink color is striking. It is a deep reddish purple that is striking in its luminosity. It is like watching a lunar eclipse in a glass!

The taste experience is similarly absorbing. The flavors a kaleidoscopic. Dark chocolate and cassis morphs into Cohiba tobacco and hints of Hermes saddle leather. It is a wine that demands some time aerating in the glass and should be decanted before drinking. I’d save this one for a special night, when the coals on the grill have burned down to just the right white-hot when you put on that prime aged cut of steak that sears in just a few minutes on each side. Don’t wait for the meat to rest as they often recommend on the Food Network. Bite right into it and let the juices run over your mouth as you quaff a healthy mouthful of this gorgeous, red beauty. It is an experience that will transport you.

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