For a special business dinner with staff and a business partner we dined at my usual venue for such occasions - Italian Village, Chicago. I've written often in these pages about our dinners and meetings at IV, the oldest and longest continuing operating Italian restaurant in Chicago.
I selected from the wine list this Tuscan Sangiovese based blend, an old and reliable favorite, Casalferro from Baron Ricasoli. Our friend and wine colleague Jared Gelband, Wine Director, pulled from the vast IV cellar this 2000 vintage release bottle.
Barone Ricasoli Casalferro (Sangiovese) Toscana IGT 2000
Barone Ricasoli is one of Chianti’s largest estates, with nearly 650 acres of vineyards in Gaiole in Chianti, in the southern part of the Tuscany’s Chianti appellation. The estate has been in the hands of Ricasoli family for more than 500 years. The winery today is run by Francesco Ricasoli and other family members, and it calls itself the oldest commercial winery in Italy.
This release was a blend of Sangiovese 75% and Merlot 25%. It is aged in small french oak barrels for 18 months which along with the Merlot in the blend, softens the tannins.
Wine Spectator awarded this vintage release 90 points.
This was dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, powerful full and forward black fruits are accented by a layer of oak with notes of cedar, tea, leather and hints creosote on the deep, full lingering tannic finish.
RM 88 points.
Livio Felluga Sossó Fruili 2012
This is a blend of three different grapes - two uniquely from the Fruili region, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Pignolo, and a Bordeaux varietal - Merlot. Friuli took on French varieties after phylloxera devastated most of their native grapes, and this wine is a testament to that history, with two indigenous varieties blended with Merlot.
Created in 1989, this wine is named after the Sossó stream, which runs at the foot of the hill where the grapes grow. Made with carefully selected and oldest vines of Merlot and Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso grapes, together with a small percentage of Pignolo, from Rosazzo. Sossò is the result of skilful vinification and barrique maturation that lasts for 18 months. A supremely complex and well-structured wine, it stands out for its elegant, ripe, sweet, fruity tannins.
Winemaker notes: The Refosco brings the soft, peppery notes and earth tones while the Pignolo hefts up the wine with blackberry fruit and a tannic backbone allowing the Merlot to shine with soft juicy blueberry notes mingling with a hint of oak and vanilla. This is an amazingly structured wine from the banks of the Sosso river in Collio.
Winemaker's Notes: Dark blackish ruby colored, medium full bodied, complex red currant and black fruits accented by floral lily blossoms, cedar wood, with notes of spice, almond, rosemary, undergrowth, short crust pastry and pomegranate, elegant, pleasant and well-balanced tannins; aftertaste has notes of red berries, vanilla pod, and elder berries.