Florence and Frescobaldi wines are both heady and irresistible. I have been to Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, home of sumptuous Renaissance art, the Statue of David, the Gates of Paradise and more. Tuscany is where the Frescobaldi family wine dynasty was established more than 700 years ago, passing down through 30 generations.
The Frescobaldi wines were stellar, as was the food at a recent wine dinner at Topshelf in Kuala Lumpur. Thomas Ling, a seasoned certified sommelier and wine specialist from Entwine, fed us nuggets of information about the wines, leading us through a “tour” of the Frescobaldi wine estates in Tuscany.
Pomino Bianco DOC 2018, the first wine which is Chardonnay with Pinot Blanc, was dry and refreshing. We stayed with this wine for the Seafood Cioppino, in a light broth with saffron, tomato and spring vegetables.
Then the Alie Rose Toscana IGT 2017 was poured, tinged a pretty pale pink with Syrah in a balanced blend with Vermentino, an Italian grape. It has elegant flavours, with notes of raspberry, peach, melon and citrus. Alie Rose is named after (H)alie, a sea nymph who is a symbol of sensuality and beauty. I liked the Alie Rose so much that I did not refuse the offer of a well- chilled glass of it at the end of dinner.
The Open Ravioli with leek, egg yolk, shaved truffle and brown butter lit up the dinner at Topshelf. It was superb: the smooth, thin pasta sheet covering the delicious leek filling, the egg yolk flowing out beneath and the truffle shavings giving that inimitable, aromatic lift.
We encounter our first red at this course – the Castiglioni Chianti DOCG 2018. Thomas spoke about rolling hills and cypress trees in this Castiglioni wine estate in the warmer south west Florence which dates back to 1300. “There’s the accent of spices, herbs and violets in interesting layers,” he said of this classic Chianti. Made with Sangiovese and some Merlot, it’s a lively wine that’s good to drink young.
The Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Chianti Rufina Reserva DOCG 2015 is a rounder, softer and more elegant Chianti, an expression of old vines in a more defined area on a higher altitude. Stressed vines beating the odds in a dry and breezy climate produce Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that yield a full-bodied wine with supple tannins and a lingering finish. The nose is of cherries, blueberries and blackberries.
This Chianti was perfectly paired with the main courses of Angus Beef, and Dry Aged French Duck with Mushroom Ragout, Parsnip and Red Wine Jus. I had the duck and enjoyed the smoky, juicy meat with the lovely wine.
In the 1500s Frescobaldi wines were served at the Papal Courts, so we could relate the sweet Pomino Vinsanto DOC 2009 to the fact that it’s traditionally used as the holy wine during mass. White grapes are harvested before ripening, spread on straw mats and left to dry on the roof under the Tuscan sun. The sweet nectar is stored and aged in smaller oak barrels, and is usually drunk as a digestive after dinner. “It’s a sweet ending to a tough year,” said Thomas, as fatboybakes aka Cheng Yi doused his tiramisu with the Vinsanto, bringing the classic Italian dessert to another level. The Vinsanto has the aroma of nutmeg and vanilla, with flavours of honey, walnut and hazelnut.
Frescobaldi wines are distributed by Albert Wines & Spirits Malaysia.