Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Wine dinner at The Trident Gurgaon was special for two reasons. First, the presence of vivacious and feisty Erika Ribaldi, Area Manager Asia Pacific of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, one of Italy’s oldest wine companies going back an astounding 700 years. Second, the wines that we tasted were from two estates, Castello di Pomino & Castello di Nipozzano, both headed by women winemakers. For me the dinner was a celebration of woman power.
The world of wine is probably one of the few workplaces where gender divide is less prominent, with more and more women winemakers, sommeliers, and wine writers steadily rising to the top. Frecobaldi is one such company where women reign supreme on the vineyard and hold important positions in the winery.
Erika Ribaldi considers herself fortunate to be a part of this establishment and speaks with a lot of pride about the Frescobaldis, one of the oldest and most revered wine dynasties of Italy, who began producing wines in Tuscany in 1308, traded them for works of art with Michelangelo, and supplied them to the court of King Henry VIII of England and to several Popes and Renaissance artists like Donatello.
Not many wine families can boast of such connections. Listening to Erika narrate their history, I couldn’t help but admire her passion for wine and her commitment to her job. A trained winemaker herself, she is well versed with the technical aspect of wine-making even though she now handles sales and marketing.
The first wine that she chose for us was 2014 Pomino Bianco DOC from the estate Castello di Pomino. Pomino which mean “little apple” is a premium wine producing region which falls within the Chianti Rufina sub-zone in the province of Florence.
It is here that a talented woman wine maker, Francesca Pratesi, who has been responsible for operations since July 2007 and supervises all matters relating to the cellar. Her wines, which are a blend of international varietals, have extraordinary elegance and finesse and her effort is to make them as naturally as possible, without too much interference. The one we tasted was primarily Chardonnay with just 5% Pinot Blanc. Soft and mellow with medium acidity it made a perfect pairing with an amuse bouche of slow roast beetroot, herbed cheese and orange.
Frescobaldis incidentally were the first to plant Chardonnay in Italy in 1855 and were also the first Italian producers of barrique (small oak barrel) aged white wines.
The other wines chosen for the evening were Marchesi de’ Frescobladi Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2007 & 2012 and a luxurious “Super Tuscan” Mormoreto IGT 2007 & 2012, both from Castello di Nipozzano, in the heart of Chianti Rufina region, to the east Florence.
29 year old wine maker Eleonora Marconi joined Castello di Nipozzano as the chief wine maker in 2012, having worked there earlier as an intern while studying at the University of Marche, from where she has a degree in Viticulture & Oenology. It is amazing how she has mastered the intricate and complex craft of winemaking at such a young age. Her wines are elegant and ageable.
So the story of Frescobaldis is not just about their superb wines but also about these women winemakers who have so much love and passion for their craft and an aptitude for making quality wine.
It was not surprising therefore that Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi wines were chosen for another wine dinner “A Toast to Women” celebrating the achievements of Women Entrepreneurs. Hosted by Madhulika Bhattacharya Dhall of La Cave, Simran Dhingra of Kindly Cook, and Kavita Sawhney Dhingra of Peela Pages, the proceeds were given to a charity “Khushi” to fuel the spirit of entrepreneurship in young girls.
Talking of La Cave ( French for wine cellar), a well-appointed wine & liquor store at Select City Walk Saket, New Delhi and an answer to the prayers of all wine lovers in the city as it has made shopping for wine not only an easy task but also a pleasurable one. Run by Madhulika Bhattacharya Dhall (a former PR professional, part time Radio Jockey and wife of India’s most successful wine importer Aman Dhall ) it houses wines in all categories, from everyday drinking to super premium ones, from all around the world. Many premium labels which feature only on the wine list of 5 star hotels are now available here.
Coming back to the dinner, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the contribution of Rakesh Awaghade, who joined The Oberoi & Trident Gurgaon as Resident Sommelier after having worked at Cinnamon Club and Gordon Ramsay’s Classic Savoy Grill in London. He has initiated some innovative wine programmes like “Tasting at the Cellar” and introduced a Sunday Brunch offering 10 Champagnes and several sparkling wines at value for money rates, a laudable step in making premium wines accessible at fairly reasonable prices. For the Frescobaldi Wine Dinner his pairing of Italian Burrata with Chianti Rufina Reserva and Mesquite grilled Australian Lamb Chops with Mormoreto was spot on.
All in all, the Frescobaldi Wine Dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable one made special by the presence of Erika Ribaldi, not to mention the exquisite wines paired with sumptuous food. Even though wine makers Eleonara Marconi & Francesca Pratesi were not physically present, they were with us in spirit. So here is to more such dinners celebrating the power of women. Salute !
By : Lavina Kharkwal
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