'Pour Boys' for a wine dinner at Chicago's classic Italian Village Vivere Restaurant included a tour of the legendary wine cellar and some premier cellar selections.
Following a recent visit to meet Jared Gelband in his role as the new Wine Director of the extraordinary cellar that supports Italian Village's three restaurants, we returned with our wine group for a dinner featuring a selection of classic wines.
Readers of this column know I have a very sparse collection of Italian wines in our cellar but I pulled and brought from home BYOB a vintage Sangiovese Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from 1997. Jared matched that from his extensive winelist with a 2007 for a mini-horizontal comparison tasting.
The Italian Village wine cellar boasts over 30,000 bottles from over 1200 different labels as Jared is working to restore it to its historical Spectator Grand Award eminence. Currently they hold a 2 glass Wine Spectator Best of Award for their collection,
Dan and Ernie then dipped into the wine list to select a Château Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan Bordeaux 1996 that we know well, in a large format magnum. Clearly the highlight of the evening was a bottle of ultra-premium Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Masseto Toscana IGT Merlot 2001.
We closed the evening with an Le Ragose Amarone della Valpolicella 2006 to complement the dessert course.
Prior to dinner we were served an antipasta course. Our dinner selections included seared prime Rib-eye steak with asparagus and red potatoes, baby New Zealand rack of Lamb, and Risotto with jumbo Lump Crab with charred white sweet corn and pesto.
A classic label from this legendary producer, a uncustomary rare Bordeaux single varietal Merlot from Northern Italy. This is one of the most sophisticated and expressive Merlot's I've ever had and its hard to believe it is from Italy.
Dark garnet colored, medium to full bodied, this was focused, polished, a well-balanced symphony of plush concentrated black and red berry fruit flavors accented by subtle tones of mocha and truffle and hints of expresso and cassis turning to a elegant mouth gripping but silky smooth layer of acid and tannins.
RM 94 points.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac-Léognan Bordeaux 1996
Tasted from large format magnum.
Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, black berry fruits with earthy tones of cigar box, cedar, and leather.
Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 1997 and 2007
The younger '07 was brighter and more expressive than the older '97. It was also less balanced and polished and a bit bolder but more obtuse. Both exhibited concentrated bright black and red berry fruits with the '97 coming across as more layered in earthy leather, tobacco leaf and tones of creosote and cassis. Initially a bit closed it opened up quite a bit over the next 2 hours. While the '07 was brighter and more forward with its more lively acidity, the older vintage came across as slightly more subdued, polished, with greater balance and complexity, turning to a long polished finish.
Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 1997
RM 91 points.
Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 2007
RM 90 points.
Le Ragose Amarone della Valpolicella 2006
Served with the dessert course that included a selection of flourless chocolate lava cake, tiramisu, creme brulee, a chocolate banana bread cake and selection of fresh fruits and gelato.
Dark blackish garnet colored, full bodied, intense, unctuous black berry raisin with a layer of alcohol and bitter dark chocolate notes with bright acidity on a thick tongue coating finish.
RM 88 points.