Princess Cruises is getting serious about Tuscan wine.
The first remarks from Diletta Frescobaldi, the guest of honour at the Wine Maker’s Dinner onboard Princess Cruises’ latest ship, Royal Princess, leave no question about her own authority on the subject (or, for that matter, her aristocratic heritage).
“Our family has been making wine for more than 700 years,” says Frescobaldi, one of many descendants of the large and ancient Florentine noble family. “There have been more than 30 generations involved in the production of wine on our family estates.”
It’s an impressive opening, and as the wine and conversation flow throughout the course of the Wine Maker’s Dinner and into the following day’s wine tasting event, Princess Cruises‘ investment in the renegade royalty of Tuscan wines becomes even more remarkable.
Princess has 25 of the top 29 so-called Super Tuscan wines onboard Royal Princess, Frescobaldi informs the large group of would-be oenophiles gathered in Sabatini’s restaurant for the tasting. And she takes us through five wines produced on her family’s estates — Remole, Lucente della Vite, Le Serre Nuove, Mormoreto, and an Ornellaia, the best known (and most expensive) of the group. With such a number of Tuscan wines available, the selection of wines at each tasting varies, with the Maitre d’Hotel making his own pairings to accompany the canapés coming from the kitchen.
The Frescobaldi family seems a fittingly-paired accompaniment to Princess’ investment in the wines of Tuscany, too. The family’s current patriarch, Vittorio, the Marchesi de Frescobaldi, partnered with the well-known American wine family Mondavi in 1995 to produce wines. The fruit born from the partnership included the Super Tuscan 2001 vintage of Ornellaia, winner of Wine Spectator magazine’s Wine of the Year award.
What’s more, according to Diletta, the family pioneered the practice of blending French grapes with Tuscan grapes more than 100 years before the early producers of Super Tuscans flouted the rules of the Italian wine regulating bodies by using French varieties like Cabarnet Sauvignon and Merlot with Tuscan varieties in the 1970’s. As she tells it, one of the family’s ancestors — from a branch of the family tree that had been exiled to France in the middle of the 16th century — brought French grapes back to Tuscany to produce blended wine in the region as early as 1850. It’s all there in the family records, she says. Just check the archives at the family’s 1,000-year-old castle, the Castello di Nipozzano. And while you’re there, taste the wine. It’s molto bene.
Editor’s note: The Wine Maker’s Dinner is offered in two of Royal Princess’ three main dining rooms, Symphony and Concerto, and costs $40 per person. Super Tuscan wine tasting events also cost $40 per person and are held in the for-fee eatery, Sabatini’s. At Vines, the wine bar and lounge on Deck 5, passengers can try Super Tuscan wines before buying. Prices start at $27 a bottle.
For all of your questions on at-sea libations, consult our Ultimate Guide to Alcohol on Cruise Ships.