Monday, July 26, 2021

Italian Village Team Dinner

Team Wine and Dine Dinner at  Italian Village Chicago

After fifteen months of Covid shut-in WFH - (Work From Home) controlled work rules, we brought my leadership team into Chicago for re-engagement and strategic planning. 

I hosted a dinner at our regular roost, my mainstay wine and dine site, Italian Village Chicago. This is our go-to site for such occasions given its proximity to the office, extraordinary winelist, dependable food service from the three restaurants, kitchens, chefs under one roof, and long standing friendship with Wine Director Jared Gelband

As is our custom, we dined in one of the private dining rooms, Seeking Italian varietal wines for the Italian cuisine,  Jared selected the initial wine course from special selections off the extensive winelist, and I selected a second follow on wine. I mentioned Barolo as a starter wine and Jared pulled an aged ten year old 2011 vintage from the cellar. To follow suit, I selected from the winelist another 2011 release wine for a mini-horizontal. As is customary, I selected a 'bigger' more exuberant wine so as not to be overshadowed or overpowered by the first selection. 

Aurelio Settimo Rocche Dell Anunziata Barolo 2011

For native Italian faire we selected Italian varietal and produced wines. I suggested Barolo, a delicious red wine from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. 

Barolo is made strictly from Nebbiolo grapes. The Nebbiolo grape does not travel well and is high maintenance, hence it has not been adopted by other regions and gained wider popularity beyond the Piemontese slopes of Northern Italy. It is much like another finicky or fickle grape varietal, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo is a reflection and expression of its terroir, and displays the subtleties of its environment. 

The center of the universe for production of this varietal based world class exclusive and age-worthy red wines made from Nebbiolo is the Barolo wine region. The region consists of five core townships: La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and the Barolo village itself, as well as a few outlying villages. 

The landscape of Barolo, characterized by prominent and castle-topped hills, is full of history and romance centered on the Nebbiolo grape. Barolo wines are known for their signature character profile: “tar and roses” aromas, a deceptively light garnet color, but full presence on the palate and plenty of tannins and acidity. A well-made Barolo wine will be complex and big with and aging profile that at its best needs 10-15 years before its ready to drink, and can further age for several decades. 

Jared pulled from the vast Italian Village cellar and decade old Aurelio Settimo Rocche Dell Anunziata. This is a single vineyard designated label, the flagship top label for the reputable producer.

This producer and label dates back to 1962. Long before that, Domenico Settimo settled in the hamlet of Annunziata in the area known as La Morra in Piemonte in 1943, in an old farmhouse built at the end of the 19th century. Up until 1962 Settimos were farmers, working the land (vineyards, fruit trees, hazelnuts) and breeding animals (hens, rabbits, cows). They produced some grapes that were sold to big local wineries except a small amount that they held back for the family to produce wine for themselves, friends and relatives.

In the late 1950s, Domenico began bottling some of the wine under the Settimo Domenico label. Son, Aurelio worked by his side and learned how special the land and its terroir were. After Domenico died in 1962 Aurelio decided to specialize solely on growing grapes and producing wine.

Aurelio began extending the winery and growing production but 50% of the grapes grown on the estate continued to be sold to the larger local wineries up until 1974. Since that 1974 vintage all the production has been vinified on site. The estate vineyards cover 14 acres and have been planted and replanted over the years such that the vines range in age between 18 and 46 years, mostly planted in Nebbiolo, with a couple with Dolcetto. The estate’s 8.5 acre prime vineyard, considered to be one of the area’s very finest crus, is the celebrated Rocche Dell’Annunziata. The remaining 5.5 acres of Nebbiolo is used for their standard estate Barolo DOCG.

Since 2007, Aurelio’s daughter, Tiziana has been at the helm managing the company, holding to the long held philosophy to focus on quality and maintain respect for tradition. They produce only red DOC wines, exclusively from their own grapes. Their vineyards, all in Annunziata hamlet adjacent to the cellar, are cultivated with Nebbiolo for Barolo grapes. The best of those are set aside for the prestigeous cru Rocche dell’Annunziata. A small part is dedicated to dolcetto vine. 
This was dark garnet with brick edges in colour, medium full bodied with aromatic plum, blackberry and black cherry fruits with earthy peppercorn, rose, and notes of cigar box, licorice and spice with a dry acidic rounded finish.
RM 89 points.


Allegrini Amarone della Volpolicella Classico 2011

We moved to a bigger bolder wine for the entree course, selecting another 2011 vintage release for a mini-horizontal comparison, a perfect pairing with spicy pasta and dark Marsalla sauces. 

This DOCG Amarone della Valpolicella Classico from Allegriniis is always popular and one of the most awarded wines of its class and highest esteemed producers in Italy. 

Drawing on more than six generations of Veneto winegrowing tradition and a long running serious of successful vintage releasesm Allegrini has received its 30th Tre Bicchieri (“Three Glasses”) award from Gambero Rosso in 2014, placing it among the top producers in Italy. Individually, Allegrini Amarone has received 16 Tre Bicchieri designations, more than any other Amarone.

Family owned and operated by the Allegrini family, which has had roots in the Valpolicella since the sixteenth century, they have nearly 250 acres of hillside vineyards in the Classico zone. All Allegrini  wines are 100% from grapes grown in the Estate’s vineyards. 

Amarone is the result of unique production technique where Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta grapes are left to air dry at least until December, checked daily to ensure perfectly healthy grapes. Lengthy refining and aging finally yields a red wine that has become emblematic of Italian oenology, alongside Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. The result is wine with imposing structure and depth, as much in its aromas of mature fruit and spices, as on the palate, where the alcohol is sustained by the right degree of acidity and refined tannins.
This release was awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. 91 by James Suckling.
Dark ruby colored, full bodied and firm structure, expressive vibrant intense classic ripened raisin flavored dark cherry and raspberry fruits fronted by spice and herb notes with accents of graphite, mocha, mineral and licorice. 
RM 92 points.