Dinner with a Baron: Argentinian Beef and Italian Wine Make a Perfect Pair at La Cabrera
Baron Francesco Ricasoli of Brolio, the oldest estate in Chianti, was recently in Manila to dine with fellow wine lovers and to share his celebrated wines.
Francesco Ricasoli, 32nd Baron of Brolio
The 32nd baron of Ricasoli resides Castello di Brolio, a family-owned fortress since 1141, in the commune of Gaiole, known for its rolling hills and forests of chestnuts and oak. The family’s 1200-hectare estate “in the middle of nowhere,” according to the baron, includes 240 hectares of vineyards, rows and rows of beautiful olive trees, and “lots of wild boar.” It is also the site of Baroni Ricasoli, the oldest winery in Italy.
The Ricasoli estate encompasses 240 hectares of vineyards.
The baron was in Manila to showcase his different wines, distributed in the Philippines by Boca Juan Filipinas. Two of its owners, Carlo Calma Lorenzana and Bobby Tenchavez, hosted a dinner in honor of the baron at La Cabrera, also owned by the duo, where the Italian wines were paired with the Argentinian dishes of chef Agustin Figueroa and his team.
La Cabrera owners Bobby Tenchavez (second from left) and Carlo Calma Lorenzana (second from right), with Mike Ozaeta (leftmost) and Miguel Vecin (rightmost).
Sea bass braised in olive oil with black olives and tomatoes over pasta was served with Brolio Bettino 2016. Francesco called this a shy wine meant to be paired and balanced with food. It was named for his great-great-grandfather, Baron Bettino Ricasoli, who, in 1872, came up with the modern formulation of what the world now knows as Chianti Classico, primarily from the sangiovese grape. Bettino, also known as the Iron Baron, was the second Prime Minister of Italy after it was finally unified after centuries of strife.
Bottles of Ricasoli wine served at La Cabrera Manila at dinner in honor of Baron Francesco Ricasoli.
Next, a grilled rib eye, Ojo de Bife, was served with Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2015. The baron says this wine is meant to be kept in one’s cellar and taken out for grand occasions. This particular wine has a prestigious heritage. On May 12, 1937, Castello di Brolio was served at Buckingham Palace in England, for the coronation lunch of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the parents of the current queen, Elizabeth II.
Thick, meaty cuadril (rump) and flavorful entraña (skirt) steak were paired with what the baron called “spectacular wines,” the Colledila Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2016 and Casalferro Toscana IGT 2013. The Colledila, 100 percent sangiovese, is from a very good year, the 2016 vintage having an elegant complexity of dark cherries and a long finish. Meanwhile, the Casalferro was different from the others that night, made with merlot that the baron said, was “Chianti-fied” since it was grown in sangiovese terroir. It has the fragrance of peppercorns but the freshness and acidity on the palate like its sangiovese cousins.
Baron Francesco Ricasoli (center), with Marco Vazzoler, general manager of EDSA Shangri-la, and Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino.
Dinner ended with a traditional Argentinian dish, ice cream infused with whiskey and almonds. By then everyone was in an exceptionally jovial mood, and the baron happily autographed bottles of wine for guests to take home, a memento of his visit.
As Italian ambassor to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino said, the Ricasoli label perfectly embodies what Italian culture is all about: heritage and history on one side, and Italian food and wine on the other.