Future Trade, International (FTI) recently hosted a “Speakeasy”- themed dinner highlighting not the dark memories of deprivation but the fashion sense of the American prohibition era of the 1920’s towards the early half of the 1930s.
The wine-pairing dinner was held in honour of the late Robert Mondavi at the well-loved Italiano restaurant of EDSA Shangri-La, Paparazzi. From Mondavi's fine private collection, and especially handpicked collaborations with the Italian winemakers Marchesi de Frescobaldi and Danzante vineyards, came a total of seven bottles offering a symphony of spectacular flavours. Mondavi was one of the pioneers of the California wine movement from Napa Valley in the sixties and he ultimately became a prominent figure as the acknowledged spokesman of the powerful American wine industry until his death recently. The 1976 blind tasting in Paris propelled Californian winemakers to greatness and respectability to register Napa Valley in the map of the wine world.
FTI, being the exclusive distributor of Mondavi wines, among many other fine wine brands, also swivelled the limelight on a handful of stars from some other cellars. As James Du Vivier, CEO of FTI, pointed out, the brightest star was the Luce: "Tonight we bear witness to the partnership of the two premier brands, Robert Mondavi and Marchesi de Frescobaldi, resulting in the masterpiece of wines - Luce, which will be tonight's highlight!"
This elegant and refined wine-tasting experience went hand-in-hand with great Italian flavours, which were explored by guests through a fabulous six-course feast, created by Paparazzi's chef extraordinaire, Robbie Cimino. Before guests sat down to partake of this decadence, the Danzante 2010 Pinot Grigio, a charming and fruity white, and the Woodbridge 2009 White Zinfandel were served chilled. This sweet berry-infused wine does wonders on a hot summer's day and took a hold of the reins. Both are of Mondavi invention.
The dinner began with the salad of micro greens, topped with dill cured Salmon carpaccio, desiccated berries, honey feta, yogurt and ginger lime oil, served with Southern Italian cuisine (the lighter Mediterranean kind). This went well with the Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from the Robert Mondavi cellar. Made from Muscat Canelli grapes grown in the Wappo Hill Vineyard in Napa Valley's Stags Leap District, the Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect pair to the complex flavours of the dish.
A light and clear soup of Caramella, duck and truffle stuffed multigrain dough (a dumpling filled with duck and truffle if you will) and consommé went superbly well with the Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, another superbly young wine which already has the richness of smoky oak and a roundness of flavours. This wine is also the pride of Robert Mondavi private selection.
Such a beautiful marriage of seafood with a spirited and vibrant white wine occurred through the pairing of the Roasted John dory fillet with clams and broth and saffron with Frescobaldi's Pomino Bianco Chardonnay 2010. A stunning combination of a fine blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc grapes grown in the hills of Tuscany, the Marchesi de Frescobaldi brand renders a wine that is flowery, fruity and nutty with a crisp, hazelnut finish.
An interesting palate cleanser piqued the curiosity of all the diners (and brought about a wave of nostalgia), which came by the way of a Coca - Cola pop rock sorbet - a refreshing mouthful of fireworks that effectively removed the aftertaste of the previous dishes.
Palates cleansed and raring to go, the diners were served the juicy 9+ Wagyu Striploin with fennel purée and potato fondant. The star of the show, the Luce 2005 (Sangiovese Blend) byFrescobaldi and Mondavi, did not disappoint on its own and enhanced every mouthful of the beautifully marbled Wagyu. It had to be explained that trade secrets in winemaking are highly guarded and partnerships between two formidable wine patriarchs is practically unheard of - but not in this case. Here, Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi provided a basis for balance and harmony in this subtle yet arresting wine.
The grand finale was the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with caramelised banana and toasted hazelnut caramel that was enjoyed with the fruity and spicy Woodbridge Moscato D'Oro 2005. And so it was that some of the world's most prestigious cellars were represented on this charming evening and vino lovers-cum-foodies came away with an experience they would soon not forget.