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(Pictured from left to right) Southern Glazer's sommelier David Sheline and Italian wine specialist Marco Barat, and Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria. Photo by Rico Cassoni
(Pictured from left to right) Southern Glazer's sommelier David Sheline and Italian wine specialist Marco Barat, and Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria. Photo by Rico Cassoni
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Frescobaldi Italian wine dinner at Vittorio’s

Vittorio’s Italian Trattoria in San Diego’s Highland Village recently hosted Italy’s Frescobaldi Winery for its February wine dinner.

Owner Victor Magalhaes invited sommelier David Sheline and Italian wine specialist Marco Barat, both of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits Signature division, to share Frescobaldi’s robust 700-plus year winemaking history, starting with its Tenuta Castiglioni in 1308.

Making wines this long provides an opportunity to grow throughout Tuscany.

Today, the Frescobaldis own nine vineyards across Tuscany, including their original Tenuta Castiglioni, Gorgona Island at a penal institution where inmates make wine, Tenuta Calimaia in central Montepulciano, and Tenuta CastelGiocondo in southern Montalcino.

In 2020, the winemakers earned Gambero Rosso’s Winery of the Year award.

The first wine of the evening was the 2021 Pomino Blanco from Castello Pomino. The Florentine mountains provide elevation resulting in brightness, higher acidity, and lower sugar for this Chardonnay dominant blend with Pinot Blanco. The crispness paired well with the Hamachi carpaccio topped with colorful wildflowers and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

The second course was my favorite. Large ravioli were stuffed with duck confit and topped with a creamy mushroom sauce. This was matched up with the 2018 Perano Chianti Classico made from Sangiovese fruit, the most planted grape in Italy.

Chianti Classico Tenuta Perano is produced in the hills of Gaiole in Chianti from vineyards 500 meters above sea level. The south/south-west exposure and the amphitheater shape of the vineyards concentrate the heat.

The combination of altitude, exposure, configuration and slope of the vineyards produced purple color, intense fruit aromas, and solid structure. The third course showcased the 2018 Nipozzano Reserve Vicchie from Northeast Florence, the foothills of the Apennine Alps.

This sangiovese blend is aged six months longer than most of the other labels, creating a zesty profile. This melded well with the zest in the wild boar sausage ragu and polenta plate.

The fourth course was grilled petite filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes, and broccolini topped with a Gorgonzola cream sauce. This was paired with the 2019 Tenuta Castiglioni, the birthplace of Frescobaldi. These wines were enjoyed by both the Papal court and the English court of Henry VIII. The Castiglioni is a Super Tuscan blended with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, and sangiovese fruit.

The nose and palate had blackberries, blueberries, and plums. The nose also had hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and coffee. The back palate had an excellent finish with pleasant tannins. Discussing Castiglioni at our table led to a spirited discussion of what defines a Super Tuscan. There were several differing opinions. One included Super Tuscan representing blends of varietals.

Another was that it was a category to place wines that did not fit in the Disciplinare, which is the wine laws of Italy, and what defines types such as DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or Controlled Denomination of Origin and DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) or “Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin.”

DOCG is a more stringent version of DOC and usually places caps on yields and requires a government committee to pass the wine via analysis, evaluation, and tasting.

After researching, both opinions were correct but potentially better when blended. This pun was intended. Per my research, Super Tuscans are classified as wines made in Tuscany, outside the well-known Chianti and lesser-known Tuscan regions per DOC guidelines.

In the 1970s, winemakers wanted to experiment with blending Sangiovese with Bordeaux varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot, malbec, and occasionally carménère.

Since this did not fit DOC guidelines for winemaking, at the time, the winemakers were forced to put the lower-end VdT (table wine) designation on these wines, but after wide acclaim and the introduction of the IGT level of designation translating to “Typical Geographical Indication” Super Tuscans were able to shift from Vdt to IGT, winning more recognition.

Some of the best Italian wines, such as Antinori’s Tignanello, are rated Super Tuscan, fetching over $150 per bottle.

Due to the flexibility of the IGT laws, Super Tuscans can range in a wide variety of blends and styles, some being 100% sangiovese, others Sangiovese blended with cabernet sauvignon and/or merlot, along with 100% merlot or cabernet sauvignon as a few examples. So, as I said previously, the table opinions were a great blend! More Frescobaldi wine info at

Next up for Vittorio’s is a Cass Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. on March 30 with co-proprietor Ted Plemons traveling from Paso Robles. Wine dinners do not get more entertaining than with Rockin’ Ted in the house. The main course features grilled beef tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes paired with 2019 Cass C-A-B Cabernet Sauvignon. Cost is $75 per person + tax/gratuity. RSVP at 858-538-5884.

— Story by Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

Sal Ercolano, owner of West End Bar & Kitchen, is hosting a Duckhorn Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. on March 23. The main course features Beef Wellington tenderloin with creamy polenta paired with Paraduxx Red Blend. The cost is $85 + tax/gratuity. RSVP at 858-259-5878.

Rico Cassoni is the executive producer for Taste of Wine and Food. Cassoni and founder/advisor Frank Mangio, a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator, are two of the leading reviewers on the web. View their columns at Reach them at [email protected].