Bona Frescobaldi, wife of Marchesi de' Frescobaldi CEO Vittorio Frescobaldi, enlisted her friend Gianfranco Ferre, the fashion designer, to help come up with original packaging for a limited release of magnums of 1993 Brunello Riserva. The wine came from a special parcel of vines in the family-owned Castelgiocondo estate in Montalcino.
Ferre, an Italian designer long known for haute couture, created a dark-red silk label featuring two intersecting golden Fs. A red silk ribbon wrapped around the neck wears Ferre's seal and below it is a gilded Frescobaldi coat of arms. The bottle comes cradled in a silk-lined black Chinese lacquered wooden box with the F&F logo carved into the top.
"This might be the only millennium bottle not intended to be opened at midnight on Dec. 31," said Leonardo Frescobaldi, one of six family members who are heirs to the centuries-old winemaking dynasty and own more than 4,000 acres in Tuscany. "It could be drunk then, but it also could be kept for 20, 30 or even 50 years."
The firm bottled 20,000 magnums of F&F, the rough equivalent of 3,300 cases of regular bottles. About 2,000 magnums at $450 each will be coming to U.S. wine shops in October via Paterno Imports.
The F&F is not simply the family's Castelgiocondo Riserva in disguise, Leonardo Frescobaldi said. (The traditional Riserva 1993 will be released in December; the last release, 1990, was rated 89 points and cost $85 per bottle.) F&F is a different wine, kept separate since the harvest and made before the Ferre packaging was devised. It comes from a 35-acre section of Sangiovese vines in a portion of the estate called Riguardo. Half of it was aged in new French oak barrels and the other half in larger oak vats. It was bottled unfiltered in January.
1993 is a good year for Brunello; Frescobaldi described the vintage as dry during the growing season, yielding generally lean Brunellos. The Riguardo parcel fared exceptionally well, though, because its soil is composed of clay and limestone and tends to conserve moisture for the vines' roots. "Usually Sangiovese is austere, not that forward and open in flavor," he said, "but this parcel was exceptional, with lots of fruit and soft, round tannins."
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