Frescobaldi Winemaker’s Dinner
The Frescobaldi family are one of Italy’s most renowned winemaking dynasties. Originating in Tuscany, their vigneron heritage has spanned 700 years and 30 generations. Word has it that they’ve supplied their wines to the likes of Michaelangelo and Henry VIII himself over the years! My first encounter with their wines was over 10 years ago on my first visit to Florence. Since then, we’ve washed down many a Bistecca Fiorentina with their delicious Chianti and Montalcino wines on subsequent visits to Tuscany.
Last month, I was invited along to one of Frescobaldi’s quarterly winemaker’s dinners hosted at their London outpost – Ristorante Frescobaldi. Located in Mayfair just off the hustle bustle of Regent street, the plush interior oozes of opulence. Vines and starlights hang from the high ceilings. There’s gorgeous wooden paneling, intricate tiling and eye-catching murals throughout. On this occasion, the spotlight was on the wines of their Attems and Luce Della Vite estates, paired with an exclusive 4-course menu specially crafted for the evening by Head Chef Roberto Reatini (formerly of Zafferano’s).
Located in the Friuli region of Northeast Italy, the focus of the Attems estate is on white wines made from Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc & the local Friulano grape varieties. Of the lot we tasted, I was most intrigued by their 2014 vintage of Pinot Grigio Ramato – named as such because of the wine’s copper colour which is the result of a 24 hour period of skin contact during the maceration process. The fresh notes of citrus fruits and pineapple were a great match for the antipasti course of sea bass carpaccio with cherries.
Also a highlight from the Attems range was the Cicinis 2013 – a rich, complex, single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc that was bursting with peaches & minerality. It’s long finish and full-body paired beautifully with the next pasta course – scrumptious courgette-stuffed Ravioli topped with veal ragu and toasted almonds.
However, if there was one standout wine from the evening for me, it was the “Luce 2012”, a 20th anniversary vintage from their famous Montalcino-based Lucce Della Vite estate. Originally a joint venture in the early 90s between the Frescobaldi family and California’s Robert Mondavi, the estate’s goal was to create a unique blend of Merlot and Sangiovese, grown in the terroir of Montalcino. The Frescobaldis have been sole owners of the estate since 2004. A blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Sangiovese, the perfume of ripened red & black fruits was just gorgeous. Rich & velvety on the palate, there were notes of cassis, currants & sour plum that soon gave way to spice & smoke. A stunner of a Super Tuscan that’s easily up there with the very best red wines I’ve ever tasted. Matching the Luce 2012 was a cracking rack of lamb – pink, succulent and bursting with flavour, it was cooked immaculately by the kitchen.
A glass of rich, intensely fruity Attems’ ‘Picolit’ 2011 and a creamy semifreddo with fresh melon brought proceedings to a close. By the end of the evening, we had sampled 7 wines in total of the very highest quality. At £80 per person all-in, I’d say it’s fairly decent value especially considering you get a 4-course menu thrown in on top of the wines as part of the parcel.
All in all, a fantastic evening made all the more enjoyable by the accomplished food from the kitchen, an attentive front of house team as well as the storytelling of Frescobaldi’s Peter Ferguson who introduced all the wines to us with much gusto and enthusiasm. I also had the chance to chat briefly with co-owner Diana Frescobaldi herself who had flown in from Italy for the event. It was great to hear first-hand about her family’s incredible winemaking legacy.
If this meal was anything to go by, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for their next winemaker’s dinner. In the meantime, their signature Veal Chop and Tuscan red wines are already calling my name for a return visit…
15 New Burlington Place, Mayfair, London W1S 2HX | www.frescobaldi.london
* theboywhoatetheworld was a guest of the restaurant. As always, all views expressed are my own.